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That Clever Space-Baby Move

I wanted to go back and highlight one bit of the “space-baby” game, namely the part where Patrick reacted to Ace saying the situation was a trap, because there’s actually more going on there than might meet the eye. What’s interesting about that moment was that Patrick took a player reaction (Ace thinking the situation […]

Ben Robbins | June 25th, 2024 | ,

Dice For A Desert Island

Remember Finger Dice, my method for simulating dice when you have no dice? Ever say to yourself, I would really like a deep dive into participatory randomness, its implications and limitations? Well Aaron P. MacSween has you covered. The magic of participatory randomness Full points for a critical analysis while sticking to the desert island […]

Ben Robbins | June 19th, 2024 | ,

Campaign Zero

The idea of “session zero” is a genuine step forward in the technology of gaming. Instead of just leaping into a game blindly and hoping we all enjoy the same things, we sit down together and talk about it. What kind of world do we want? Want kind of themes do we want to explore? […]

Ben Robbins | March 20th, 2024 | , | 4 comments

A Place to Talk About GMless Games

I’m trying a little experiment. Role-playing games with no GM are… let’s face it, a tiny weird niche in the tabletop RPG universe. So when you try to talk about GMless games in a forum that is 99.9% about games with a GM, it’s hard to generate any useful discussion density. Lots of people have […]

Ben Robbins | July 2nd, 2023 | , , | 3 comments

The Shackles of Precognition

In the past few years I’ve had a lot more regular weekly games than one-shots. Mostly games with no GM, so no one is writing a story for us to follow. We are all just playing in the moment and seeing what happens. I love it. Except for one thing, which I’m doing to myself. […]

Ben Robbins | March 31st, 2023 | , , | 4 comments

Where the Ball Lies

We play these games together to be surprised and satisfied by ideas we wouldn’t have created on our own. How all our contributions combine is something no one of us can predict. For that to happen, we have to let go what we individually *expect* or *want* and just see what *does* happen. We had […]

Ben Robbins | March 30th, 2023 | , , , , ,

Emic vs Etic: Invent Words You Can Use

Way back in college, when I was taking anthropology courses instead of focusing on my major, I learned the idea of “emic vs etic”. Anthropologists, being clever folks who have spent a lot of time studying cultures, recognized a distinction between terms and concepts that were part of the culture they were studying (emic), versus […]

Ben Robbins | February 16th, 2023 | , , , | 8 comments

Finger Dice

You and your friends are trapped on a desert island. What better way to pass the time than to play games? But you have no dice! What do you do? You could whittle some out of coconut, but instead here’s an easy way for a group of people to simulate rolling a six-sided die. I […]

Ben Robbins | August 29th, 2022 | , , | 6 comments

Festival of Rain

Story gamers make shit up constantly. It’s a big part of the process. We invent whole cities, cultures, and worlds at the drop of a hat and then maybe burn them down two hours later. We build and explore fast fast fast… and also slow slow slow. And we share our toys. We create specifically […]

Ben Robbins | July 12th, 2022 | , , , , ,

Lockdown Level-Up: Mind Over Matter

I was chatting with Pat, part of the old school Story Games Seattle braintrust, about how the online games I’ve been in have gotten so much better since the lockdown. And the logical thought is, yeah, practice makes perfect. We’re playing all our tabletop games online instead of at, y’know, a table, so we’re getting […]

Ben Robbins | April 27th, 2022 | , | 3 comments

Building Better Gods

“I’m the god of fire. I have fire powers” “Fire powers? What are you, a superhero?” We’re in the middle of a game and you need to make up a god. Because you know, we’re gamers, we have to create whole worlds, gods, civilizations on the fly. What do you do? The number one approach […]

Ben Robbins | November 17th, 2021 | , , , | 2 comments

Only Say Yes to a Yes

“Say yes” is a fundamental principle of just about every shared creative process. “Yes and”, “yes but” — either way, say yes. And it is absolutely good advice for role-playing games. Accept what other people contribute. Embrace what’s been said as established truth and build on it. Don’t contradict it. But there’s a big caveat […]

Ben Robbins | August 19th, 2021 | , , , | 1 comment

Feelings > Actions

When I’m playing a role-playing game, I’m much more interested in hearing what someone’s character feels about a situation than what they do. If we understand the character’s feelings, even taking no action is informative. And if we don’t know their feelings, any action remains a mystery. Why did they do that? We don’t know. […]

Ben Robbins | July 9th, 2021 | , | 3 comments

Teaching Games

A snippet from the discussion section of the new edition of Kingdom: If you’re reading this, you are probably the person teaching everyone else the rules and how to play: what we call a “facilitator”. First of all, thank you! Learning and teaching other people games is a great public service. You are already a […]

Ben Robbins | March 30th, 2021 | , , , | 3 comments