Discover more from TEETH
Mixed News From The West
Savagely wrecked a great chunk of them.
You are reading the TEETH newsletter, written and compiled by astrological interpretation Jim Rossignol and astronomical event Marsh Davies. This is a newsletter about table-top role-playing games: our own—that we’re publishing over here and also here —as well as interviews, links, and general noodling. Want us to see your work? Get in touch!
This month we have been BUSY. And not just in our day job as game development bees placing the honey of our labour in the wax-capped hexagons of capital, but as independent publishers and writers extraordinaire. We have been creating the additional digital materials that will come with any tier of TEETH from the Kickstarter, and Marsh has been arranging the printing and shipping of our materials. We’ve even finished printing the zines based on Blood Cotillion, Night Of The Hogmen and Stranger & Stranger! Only - oh God no! - to find the couriers had savagely wrecked a great chunk of them and delivered the mess to our US fulfilment friends unexpectedly, leaving us with a significant problem to sort out. Forgive us any tardiness while we get that resolved. What a horrible thing to happen!
Also, we are trying to make sure that we have a way to exit the orbit of the X-Twitter ecosystem, since that has been poisoned and despoiled to the point of being a Boschian nazi-thugscape, and as such we can be found on Bluesky here and here, or on Mastodon here and here. Which of these will become our predominant mode isn’t yet clear, but exact Twitter clone Bluesky does seem to be getting more of our attention, even if Mastodon is far better for news-gathering and community (not to mention the obvious issue of Bluesky not yet being freely open to sign ups!)
Anyway, stick with us right here for the bulk of the communication, as the TEETH letter will remain the centre of our activities in the future, whatever that may hold.
-Marsh & Jim
Previously mentioned mountain-mining dwarf FiTD title Mountain Home has been getting a bunch of attention lately, with it reaching a mature phase in development and tantalising us with its dwarven possibilities. People have, unsurprisingly, begun asking about a print version, and creator Karl Scheer has so far demurred on the potential double-charging issue of the crowd-fund, while observing that print-on-demand costs are also now prohibitively high. No physical option would certainly be a shame, because we desperately want a thje book of this game! We’ll have to wait and see what happens. Whatever that might be, it seems inevitable that one of my regular groups will run a campaign of this, because of dwarves and of Risky Standards. Oh my goodness, this one is drawing us in like delving too deep for precious metals.
The Ink That Bleeds sound super interesting, courtesy of this piece over at Cannibal Halfling. As far as I understand it this is a journaling game that links together a number of different games with the same character, while also being a sort of exercise in how to play journaling games. I feel obliged to take a look.
This discussion of workshopping and how it related to running at RPGs, and how RPG-running skills are transferrable, was a stimulating read. The best part, to my mind was the identification of specific skills from specific gaming systems, such as listening and interpreting from the PBTA way of doing things. “[U]nlike many other games where a roll means a success or failure, in PBTA games, most rolls create situations that must be interpreted. For instance, if a player says they hot wire a car and drive off, and rolls a mixed success (the most common outcome in the game) the GM must decide what that means. Maybe they drive off and then realize there’s a baby in the car. Maybe the car loudly backfires and draws attention. But it boils down to “OK, you said this, so therefore, that.” This is very similar to workshopping when people are following the procedures of exercises and sharing their thoughts. It’s not enough to just record the thoughts, they must be interpreted and built upon. But most importantly, a good facilitator is always, always listening to what the participants say, and pulling out the bits that need to be unpacked and built upon.”
A couple of people shared Jay Dragon’s The Storyteller Technique with us this month, and they’re right that it is one of those simple and brilliant observations, basically “find the voice in your fiction”, that does a huge amount of work for you. I have even applied it to something I am working in the background which had stalled a bit. Here’s the key passage, but please read it all if this is useful to you: “One of the first pieces of advice I give for anyone when I’ve been brought on to consult on a project is to imagine the game as an artifact of the world which itself creates. A game in a cyberpunk future might be an illegally-downloaded .exe file or a corporate memo passed down from on high. A fantasy game might be found within a wizard’s spellbook, the prayer-chants of a barbarian, or the research notes of an inventor. Imagining the relationship the game-text would have with the world it depicts will inform every aspect of the project, from art and layout to writing and design. Once you know where the game is in the world, imagine the writer or storyteller teaching it to you. Are they a grizzled veteran of a thousand wars, or a bright-faced researcher imagining a glorious world that she’s never been to? If you were in this world, and you were documenting this game as instructed to you by the people in it, how would they speak to you? What would that be like?”
Another piece of veteran thinking that came to our attention this month was Monte Cook talking about the difference between experiencing the story and creating the story in games. This is something of a pet topic of my own, and I might write an essay riffing off this, but for now, take a read and Cook’s always-insightful discussion: “Metaphorically speaking, in the immersion approach, the characters are standing in the street and the story is a speeding car coming right for them. They can react in any way they wish, but the story is extraneous to them. It is happening to them. But in the participation approach, that same story racing down the street is, at least in part, driven by the players. The story is just as interesting and exciting, but it’s not extraneous to the players because they’re helping to steer. It’s still happening to the characters, but not the players. These two approaches don’t rely on what the GM does. The GM can run the game however they wish—carefully crafted story, character-focused events, all randomly generated locations and obstacles, etc.—in either style. The difference is what is expected of the players.” All of which links to my next thing.
THING OF THE WEEK: Barkeep On The Borderlands
Prismatic Wasteland’s Barkeep On The Borderlands is quite the thing, and produced by a meteoric cast. And, I mean, just look at it.
“Barkeep on the Borderlands is a barhopping, fantasy adventure amidst Mardi Gras-like festivities, including 20 detailed pubs and dynamic drinking rules.”
And what detail!
Very much recommended.
I can’t remember whether I mentioned this previously, but a few years ago I ran a long campaign of D&D for my wife and her friends, which was my last outing into that game and a pleasant one. It spluttered out, as these things do, when one of the key players left for London. Now that he has returned a new campaign is on the table and I have begun my prep. A lurid and caricatured fantasy world is definitely the thing, but instead of rolling my own it’s time to deploy the many, many adventures and OSR settings I have collected in the intervening years.
I do not, I should mention, intend to run D&D this time, because the overhead was too great before, and it will be far too much this time, especially as this is a group who definitely prefer the Experiencing role that Cook was talking about in the link upthread.
Nevertheless D&D, or as close a facsimile as I can manage, is what they will be expecting. And so it will be time to introduce that group - unfamiliar with anything outside of the Hasbro circle - to an OSR ruleset with the vibe and icon thematics that these folks will be familiar with.
Given the nature of this particular gang of habitual festival-going drinkers, I cannot imagine a better opening salvo to the campaign than this, a system-agnostic fantasy pub crawl: why start your campaign in a tavern, it asks, when you could start it by getting hammered across twenty taverns?
I’ll let you know how we get on.
More soon! x