On Podcasts

I complain about podcasts a lot because I listen to a lot of podcasts. It's amazing how many podcasters can't do the basics of podcasting - turn off the TV/radio in the background, edit out your long pauses, and tag your fucking files properly - and no, "show-####-####" isn't a proper tag scheme.

That said, there are a few podcasts I've been listening to regularly and, in light of having any gaming projects finished to talk about (there's a GENERALA dungeon coming soon, I'm just waiting for playtesters to get back to me) I'm filling my blog void with podcast recommendations. I've ditched the radio and TV shows that release podcast versions and listed, in no particular order, what's currently in my subscriptions.


Kumail Nanjiani's X-Files Files - This podcast started out as another b-celeb invites other b-celebs on to talk about something and then plug their stuff, but Kumail's genuine fanship for X-Files made it so much more than that in just a few short episodes.

Cocktail Nation - Koop Kooper is the standard by which other music podcasts must be measured. Even toned, interesting, and he spins a pretty good tune. If you like lounge music, this is a good use of an hour of your time.

Fear the Boot - RPG podcast that sometimes strays dangerously close to dudebro chest beating with a few of the hosts, but Dan always brings it back before it gets obnoxious.

Blurry Photos - Supernatural and esoteric topics. I've been getting a little bored lately with their ever-increasingly-complex intro pieces, and I frequently skip over their pun runs, but the rest of the show is well produced and does a decent job of talking about the weird and paranormal without being too pro- or anti-.

Welcome to Night Vale - Narrative about a weird little town, you might have heard of it. I've been losing interest since the election ended, actually a little before the election ended, but I'm willing to give them time to come back to the random silliness of the first 20 or so episodes.

Nearly Enough Dice - RPG related, but also covers computer games. Basically, it's two people just sitting and talking about the geeky things they've done or played in the last week. It's a gaming podcast that doesn't interview all the same people every other gaming podcast is interviewing. Also the hosts are fun people.

How Did This Get Made - Honestly, I skip every other HDTGM episode because they do these dumb, half hour "previews" of upcoming episodes. Which is dumb. Just give me the episode. Their actual episodes are entertaining if you like bad movies.

The Bugle - Do you find John Oliver funny? Because this is John Oliver. It's the funniest current events podcast out there.

The Moth - Storytellers telling their stories. I'm amazed at how often someone starts telling a story and I'm really not interested in their story and by the end of their story I'm loving their story.

Geologic - Atheism, music, and, well, George. George likes to talk about himself a lot. Fortunately, he's usually entertaining. A few of his bits are not.

Getting On with James Urbaniak - James Urbaniak and a rotating cast of writers do a podcast that's James playing fictionalized versions of himself. What makes it work is how well he sells the character - whether it's James the wild west gangboss or James the dad who's hiding, along with his trick-or-treating kids, from a real life werewolf.

The Big Red Couch - Gaming inspiration. I used to love a podcast called Postcards from the DungeonK which was basically two guys picking a topic and talking about how to use said topic in roleplaying games. It was brilliant. Then they changed format to be just another interview podcast that talked about the latest gaming products and/or Kickstarters. Big Red Couch takes the run-with-an-idea concept and, well, runs with it. It's a handful of hosts, one of whom sounds remarkably like Fin Patterson from YSDC, who draw a phrase from a box and then spend a week designing either a campaign scenario, setting, or a new game concept based on that phrase. Then they all share and discuss their concepts. I'm probably not selling it right. It's a very entertaining listen, but be warned, they really need an upgrade in their recording equipment.

Mysterious Universe - Esoteric topics. MU fills that void that was left when Art Bell left the air, that mixture of wide-eyed wonder at supernatural topics combined with a decent dose of skepticism when fringe topics go too crazy.

Penn's Sunday School - Yeah, I know, I wear my atheism on my sleeve. Also, I took my first girlfriend to seen Penn & Teller. She hated them. We're not together anymore.

Regret Labs - Science. Aric McKeown was (is?) half of the, now sadly defunct, Mustache Rangers. This is his new podcast where he and cohost Levi Weinhagen ask the science questions that the rest of us don't ask because we're afraid of being laughed at for not knowing the answers to.

Revolutions - History. Mike Duncan, he of History of Rome fame, talks about actual revolutions from history. It's deep and dense at times, but Mike could discuss the history of the dictionary and still find a way to make it entertaining.

Nerd Poker - RPG actual play. D&D and fart jokes. This one's not for everyone.

RPPR Actual Play - RPG actual play. I've been listening to RPPR's actual play for a long time, since the first few episodes of the New World campaign. They are, without a doubt, some of the best actual plays out there.

WTF with Marc Maron - I find myself skipping this more often than not because I don't know/don't care about the interviewee. But when it's someone I know and I'm interested in knowing about, Marc puts on a fine show.


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Zombies in the Snow

A while back, a good friend of mine was getting fired up with his transition from film-making hobbyist to film making professional. He started an ambitious project to do 12 film works in a year and somehow, I forget the exact circumstances, I ended up working with him on a script for a 6-part episodic serial idea he'd had called "Zombies in the Snow". He had this idea of using HAARP as the backdrop for an Alaskan zombie movie and, knowing I'd published serial fiction in the past, eventually asked me to do a script for him. And I did.


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cover-1GENERALA has been available on my games site for a while now. Recently I updated the system with poisons and bard skills, and a new dungeon is in the works. All of the documents, from character sheet to covers, got updates.

I got more downloads since the update than the previous version got in its entire existence. But that was still less than 100 individual user downloads. If I was going to grow this game, I realized, I need to add new ways for people to get the game. But how to rope in players who don't want to download the game and all the materials for the game for free?

By making it pay!

That's right, if you were unsure about grabbing the game before because it was a free game placed on a website you aren't familiar with, now you have the option of paying for the game on DriveThruRPG!

Check it out, write reviews.


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Campaign idea I’ll never use – Acroamia’s Got Talent

The characters are professional adventure entertainers. A beholder follows each character, magically broadcasting their exploits around the kingdom. It doesn't take long for the other competitors to start banding together in groups to survive, so the player characters join forces with each other. They gear up by getting sponsors through heroic deeds. The competition is part The Great Race, part Indiana Jones, and a healthy chunk of dungeon crawl. At the end of each session, each player gets a minute or two to do an interview segment with their own beholder offering up their opinion of the other characters and the events of the day.

Bard-en your horizons!

bard_skils_imgIf you've been thinking to yourself, "Man, I'd really like to play GENERALA, but what that game is really missing is an obnoxious support character class" then have we got some big news for you!

GENERALA Bard Skills are here!

Honestly, I can think of nothing more appropriate to the ridiculous, over-the-top play of GENERALA than bards, and, frankly, I'm sheepishly surprised I forgot to include them in the original rules.

Speak of the original rules, currently, the new bard songs (linked right) are only available in a supplemental PDF file. They'll be getting some good playtesting shaking down before they go into the full rule book so only you reading this post even know they even exist.


In the meantime, you can still download the original rules document, minus the bard skills at generala.playaarg.com.


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Campaign idea I’ll never use – The God Makers

The local religioustry of Generic Fantasy City #7 has put out a general call for reps from the various social organizations in town. Many of the factions will not view this as a great honor and will likely send unskilled and/or untrustworthy but immensely replaceable members - ie. the player characters. Turns out, the mystics have a really important reason for asking for this meeting - God is about to come back to the world. S/He does this every 1000 years or so. The religious order has compiled a likely set of families, all about to produce offspring around the same time that all meet the criteria for also siring God's new avatar. It's been a decade since that work began, now it's time to go out and find out which kid is God. The representatives who show up are all ordered, on pain of death by imperial decree, to travel the countryside looking for the 10 year old God. They're given a list of towns and family names, handed a copy of an ancient scroll with God tests on it, and told to go fetch any likely candidates. It won't take long for the party to learn that dragging a bunch of 10 year-olds who all think they might be God across the countryside is not only a pain in the ass, but a potential danger as the various communities attempt to woo and/or threaten them into declaring their particular child the winner (possibly even going so far as to wipe out any competition the party may be dragging along with them).
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Campaign idea I’ll never use – Galactic Smokejumpers

The party are freelance hazard mercenaries. They get hired to fly around the galaxy and drop into dangerous areas to perform rescues and recoveries. Natural disasters wrecking your planet and you need to get your family off? Call the Smokejumpers. Zombie disease outbreak and you need to recover some databanks? Smokejumpers. Space bus full of nuns crashed on a prison planet? Smokejumpers.
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Campaign idea I’ll never use – Vehement

The party are part of a secret US government agency tasked with studying / protecting a cache of alien weapons and technology discovered in a cave in the New Mexico badlands. Thanks to a rosetta stone of sorts found in the Roswell crash, some of the text accompanying the find is translated. Phrases such as "extinction" and "the infestation" and "designed to exterminate the horrible creatures" and "protect the colonies" lead the group the belief that the alien weapons were designed to fight off some sort of invading horde.


They'll have to fight off other black ops agencies from other countries, and even some in the US government, that have also made similar discoveries and either want to be the only ones controlling the weapons or to force public disclosure. Eventually, they're authorized to use the weapons against other enemy agencies, to viciously deadly effect.


And then a hologram is unlocked. Even without understanding the aliens' spoken language, the images displayed are enough to explain that the infestation ... is man.

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Dynamo for download

I've updated my games download page to include Dynamo. I haven't updated the artwork yet, but the game is playable, and I'm proud of it, so there you go.

One thing - in updating the site today, I added games.steveospage.com as a sub domain, and then added games.suburbanrobot.net. I'll be using SuburbanRobot as my game name since I already have the business license and I'll eventually convert the main page to reflect that.

Anyway, I noticed that GCI was super fast in updating the games.suburbanrobot.net domain, but as of this writing (several hours after creating the domain) it still hasn't updated games.steveospage.com, although that was made first.

So if you're on GCI, use games.suburbanrobot.net.

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AARG is here! (Mostly)

So I've been on a sort of radio silence lately here on the blog for a few reasons -

1. My regular gaming group broke up. I won't go into details, but "I'm an asshole, that's just how I am" doesn't make it OK that you're an asshole.

2. My regular gaming group got back together - minus the asshole. And we're moving forward with the American Auror campaign.

3. Because American Auror is actually going to get played this century, I needed to finish the AARG magic rules ...

And I did! The AARG Pre-Flight Edition is here!

What's the difference between Pre-Flight and the "real" edition? Functionally, nothing. My plan is to have everything AARG be free. However, free doesn't pay hosting fees, so AARG will be split into Pre-Flight and Universal editions. The rules content will be the same in both versions, but the Universal Edition will have skill indexes to quickly find skills based on name, cost, and related stat, will include an expanded Narrator's guide with advice on running AARG games written with new GM's in mind, and will be designed with an eye for printing the books instead of the digital-only expectation for the Pre-Flight edition.

Anyway, you can now download the Pre-Flight edition which is a completely playable version of the rules.

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