Ryan McRae

Ryan McRae

Creator of Burn the Tavern Down.
Bringing Creativity Back to Gaming.

BTTD #3

Greetings. It’s Gen Con Weekend, the biggest gaming event in the US and I’m not there! But next year, I shall be!
Let’s get to it!

The Only Thing I Know About Gaming

I consider board gaming and RPGs like tacos. If you don’t like them, you haven’t had the right one. If you aren’t into competition, there are a ton of board games that are cooperative. If you don’t dig the fantasy life, but you like a show like Narcos or The Wire, there are RPGs that are about intrigue and unclear villains and heroes (Fiasco, Over the Edge).
I believe that games are actually for everyone. Everyone should play them and I believe in my weird DNA that games build community, especially board games and RPGs.
I’ve introduced a ton of people to gaming. They were stuck in what’s called The Monopoly Limit. They played Monopoly and well, they hated it.
Here’s why Monopoly is a terrible, terrible game. (Besides this.)
It’s a bit complex simply for the fact that it doesn’t make sense. Free parking? Jail for rolling doubles? What? It’s super arbitrary; I believe this game was designed around a Mad-Men-Esque drinking cart and they just made it up.
 It’s super long no matter how you play it. And then it gets frustrating for people who don’t have the patience.
When you lose, you lose hard. A roll of the dice is all it takes.
Because that’s the last game that people play, that’s the last game they remember. Just like if you got food poisoning from eating egg rolls in college your freshman year, and then you didn’t eat them for 30 years. . . . Yeah. . . .that.
I can literally get most people to try a game if I utter this simple incantation: “It’s nothing like Monopoly.” Their soul starts to glow again and they breathe a sigh of relief.
If you have someone who is like, “Die in a tornado. I’m not touching one of your fancy board games.” Then there are a ton of card games out there that might peek their interest (one of my favorites: Pairs from Cheapass Games is a great intro game.)
I believe games are for everyone; it’s the only thing I know. From a game of Cribbage, a massively fun game like Terraforming Mars or a dungeon crawl in Dungeons and Dragons—I believe we find that rare spark of community from sitting across a table, having some friendly competition and/or telling a great story.

When Everything Starts with a Comet

I’m reading the book Wanderers by Chuck Wendig and I am grateful that the book is over 700 pages. It’s that good. The story starts out with a comet; a comet is seen in the sky and everything goes south (I don’t know if it impacts the plot. So consider that spoiler free.)
But it got me thinking about comets and how you could incorporate a comet or meteor into your RPG game.
Four meteors fall and start to bestow powers to whoever comes in contact with them. Do orcs appear metallic now with tough armor? Do the local fauna mutate and the druids are fine with it, cause that’s nature, baby? Does the comet overhead fulfill a prophecy, setting your telepathic detectives down a certain path?
Are there more meteors landing? Does a comet in the sky augment your mage’s powers? Does it spawn a new religion (spoiler: not a nice one.)
You could have the meteor fall during a basic little adventure and it isn’t until later that the comet or meteor comes into play. Boom! Foreshadowing!

Your Quest for This Week

Blow some dust off the games you have, sitting abadonded on your shelf. Invite some friends over. Have a nice charcuteire board or simply some chips and dip and roll some dice or play some cards. Let me know how it goes. Even if it’s Monopoly. 😤🤮
I’d love to see your group pic!

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