Are Tabletop Games More Social Than Video Games?

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Are Tabletop Games More Social Than Video Games?

In a time when Coronavirus is keeping us apart from our friends and family, you may be feeling the need to socialize more than ever. Perhaps part of that need has taken you to playing more multiplayer video games. Does that actually provide better socialization than playing tabletop games? The answer may surprise you. 

1. Toxicity is Less Apparent in Tabletop Games

As someone who plays both video games and tabletop games, I am well aware of the toxicity that exists in video games. PVP games or even MMOs are key examples where toxicity can really impact a player emotionally and psychologically. Because large-scale games have an open chat that exists across the server, players are constantly subject to speaking with tons of people in a given time.

Some of those people are genuine players who are just enjoying the games. Others are what are considered Trolls. These are individuals who have taken it upon themselves to grief the other players as much as possible. That may be by hurling insults in the chat, using sexist, racist, or homophobic language in the chat, or performing some action in-game that impedes the progress of the character deliberately. 

Because most online games don’t allow you to choose the kind of players you’re settled with, there’s no real way to escape the toxicity in a video game. You may be able to turn off the chat, but that also means that you may miss vital information given by a genuine player. 

Toxicity in video games is well-known. 

It also exists in tabletop games. Many DMs have nightmare experiences of players trying to sabotage one another–and not for fun’s sake either. Players also have nightmare experiences with DMs with control issues. However, it isn’t as prevalent in tabletop games. 

This is because players are, usually, face-to-face with one another. Even when playing virtually, many opt to use a camera or at least have audio recording enabled. Being face-to-face with someone, rather than being protected by the anonymity of the Internet, automatically puts a person on slightly better behavior. 

It doesn’t work for everyone. Yet when comparing video games to tabletop games, there’s less toxicity that gets in the way of proper socialization. 

Except for that one extremely competitive family member that always ruins things . . . 

2. Tabletop RPG Games Encourage Socialization

Unless you’re playing a multiplayer video game, most video games are designed to be played on your own. They’re great and fantastic experiences, but they’re not going to give you that sense of socialization that you need. Even if you talk to your friends or an online community about the game, they’re all separate experiences that aren’t shared together in the moment.

Tabletop RPG games provide that experience. They have groups of friends, or strangers, come together and play a silly game that encourages working as a team. The best part is you don’t even have to play yourself. This can give people an opportunity to come out of their shells if they’re naturally shy. 

I’m an introvert. Yet when I’m DMing and playing my NPCs for my players, it’s a freeing sensation. I’m able to get out of my own head and just have fun. Tabletop RPG games reward socialization. It rewards players that speak with one another to overcome an obstacle. A good DM always rewards its players when they take their roleplaying in earnest. 

Socialization is at the very heart of tabletop RPG games. 

Unless you find yourself with a party of murderhobos

3. Tabletop RPG Games Let You Share Emotions Together

One of the hurdles that video games have yet to jump successfully is being able to make players share emotions simultaneously. We may all choke up over a particular part of a game, but we rarely do it together at the same time. 

Tabletop RPG games, because they happen live, means your emotions are also unfiltered. A great DM can bring a party together, take them through several adventures, and make them care about each other and their own characters. When something terrible happens, like the death of a party member, the rest of the party can allow themselves to feel it.

Sharing emotions like grief or anxiety builds bonds between people. 

The same goes for feelings of triumph or victory. When the players defeat a difficult boss, they’re ecstatic. They celebrate together. They go home taking that feeling with them. It’s something they continue to talk about several campaigns down the road. 

 By sharing emotions together, especially for men, it can help break down the stigma associated with feeling emotions. 

And toxic masculinity is definitely something that needs to die with the old world. 

And the Winner is . . .

It’s pretty clear that tabletop games, particularly RPGs, are more social than video games. While video games can bring friends together over long distances, it doesn’t provide the same enriching socialization that tabletop games do. If you want to feel connected to your friends more or just want to enhance the bonds that you have with them–or to meet new friends!–starting up a tabletop RPG like Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, or Pathfinder is a great choice to make. 

Let us know in the comments some of the great experiences you’ve had when playing tabletop games with your friends!

African Mythology You Should Study for Your Tabletop Lore

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African Mythology You Should Study for Your Tabletop Lore

In our last post dedicated solely to Black History Month 2021, we’re exploring the rich and fascinating mythology based in Africa. While many tabletop adventures typically use mythology and tropes centered around Western Europe, you’re only doing yourself a disservice by relying on the myth and lore from that world alone. Africa has just as many interesting myths and legends that can create a unique basis for your tabletop game, novel, or even your video game. Here are a few African myths you should study to inspire your next campaign. 

Twin Divinity

Several African religions place a focus on twin divinities. These twin divinities are either responsible for the creation of the world or are somehow linked to the superior creator that they follow. In Ghana, for example, the Asante people consider twins to have a divine status. They’re often treated as living shrines. 

You can use this concept for your own lore. Perhaps in a world where twins are rare, your characters or the great event of the particular continent surrounds the birth of a set of twins. In a tabletop setting, the twins may be player characters. Those who only have one or two players in their campaign can have an interesting and unique world if the rest of the country sees them as a kind of deity or some sort of special sign. 

Just as there are people who may worship or obey the twins, there are likely just as many actively out to remove them. Perhaps there’s another set of twins whose prophecy was taken from them because of the emergence of a new set of twins. Perhaps there’s a cult that opposes the ideals the twins embody. 

If none of your players or characters are the twins, then you can always use the birth of a pair of twins in the world as the main conflict of the story. Perhaps a war emerges because of the birth. Maybe it literally starts to rip the world apart. There are tons of different storylines and adventures that you can utilize the concept of twin divinity for. 

The Trickster

In almost every religion there is always a trickster. In Christianity, it’s the Devil or Satan. In Norse mythology, it’s Loki. In African mythology, there are also an abundance of tricksters. The interesting thing about African tricksters, however, is that they’re not simply causing chaos for chaos’s sake. It’s done with a purpose. The trickster of the Fon people is known as Legba. He goes around the world and causes havoc and turmoil. Yet the Fon people don’t consider Legba evil. 

This is because Legba also serves another purple. He takes the cryptic messages from their Superior Being, Mawu, and translates them for the Legba people. The idea behind the mythos is that the world is always in change. While divine order is something everyone wishes to experience, the reality is that mortals exist in a plane of constant change. Legba is only doing his part to maintain the divine order by causing change. 

This idea that tricksters aren’t always evil can also influence your campaign or story. Everyone has villains that they hate to love and love to hate. Those individuals are typically given a lot of life and three-dimensional character development. All villains believe that what they’re doing is right, either for themselves or for their cause. Using the African idea of what a trickster is, you can create some interesting and original villains. 

Those who play Dungeons and Dragons may even find that a Trickster could be a great Patron for the Warlock class. If a Party Patron is something you’re interested in, then a Trickster could also be an interesting entity that guides your adventurers in your campaign. 

Develop Your Lore!

This general overlook of African myths and religious beliefs is just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of legends, gods, goddesses, lesser spirits, and beliefs that are worth investigating and exploring. Not only can they give you a closer insight to African culture, but they can help inspire you to create your own lore for your tabletop game, book, video game, or other creative project. Let us know how these concepts inspire you in the comments!

How to Make Your Games Avoid Racism

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How to Make Your Games Avoid Racism

When worldbuilding, it can be easy to fall back on tropes and stereotypes in order to imagine up civilizations, societies, and people. However, those stereotypes and tropes can sometimes call to mind certain racist caricatures.  

To ensure you create a diverse and interesting world without including these stereotypes, here are a few tips to consider. 

Avoid Tropes

There are a lot of fantasy tropes that are problematic. Elves are typically lighter in color and are associated with goodness while dark elves are associated with evilness. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a common trope nonetheless. You only need to look at orcs to see that they are, typically, the only ones wearing dreds and are depicted as evil or monsters for heroes to defeat. 

Avoiding these tropes is easy. You can reinvent them. You can simply leave out the certain characteristics that are associated with certain racial qualities. Let’s examine elves. Why do they always have to be good? Surely living as long as they have might push them to feeling more godlike or superior over the races in the world? If you make elves as an enemy, regardless of their skin color, then you’re already starting to reinvent the common fantasy trope that light-skinned elves are good beings. 

Half-orcs and orcs can be difficult to get right. They’re often entrenched in African or African-American stereotypes. Some are even darker in color. To avoid racism and be able to keep your half-orcs and orcs in your world, then give them a diverse range of skin color. There are several shades of white just as there are several shades of black and tan. Think less about depicting your half-orcs and orcs on race and more on their environment. 

For example, half-orcs and orcs that live in the mountains may be greyer in color. There may even be different shades of grey based on how high in the mountains they live. Think about how they survive there. They must be able to keep warm, so perhaps they’re hairier. Then consider half-orcs and orcs that live in a different climate. Those that dwell in the forest may be greener in color. They may be smaller to hide in the brush or lithely in order to flee larger predators that live with them. 

When you create your characters and societies based on their environment, you can already shed several racial stereotypes. The key is to ensure that each society is diverse within itself. 

Keep Creating

Avoiding stereotypes and tropes that are rooted in racist requires a lot of effort of thought for those who aren’t part of a minority. Yet doing so is a great step towards removing racist culture from our own society. Following the tips above can help you worldbuild your game, novel, video game, etc., and keep those qualities absent from your own work. Do you know of any racist stereotypes or tropes that DMs, writers, and other creators should avoid? Let us know in the comments!

Forest Ruin Battlemap Part 1

Buried thick in a creeping forest is a ruin long forgotten by any local residents of the area. What sort of enemies and history can you uncover here? This forest ruin battlemap is part one of two for this map series! Check out our continuation next week for the final part of the map!

Top 5 Tabletop Games from Black Designers

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Top 5 Tabletop Games from Black Designers

February is Black History month and to do our part in ensuring the black community receives its rightful due, we’re going to be dedicating the month of February to blog posts centered around Black designers, black games, and how non-black creatives can ensure they don’t incorporate racial stereotypes into their creations. 

In our first February blog post, we’ll shine some light on some old and new tabletop games that were created by or drawn by black designers. Make sure you try the following five tabletop games from black designers and support their work. 

1. Tattoo Stories

There has been a lot of attention to the fun and creative tabletop game, Tattoo Stories. As its name might suggest, the game involves its players drawing tattoos on one another and coming up with a great story behind it. Whoever can impress their “customers” with the best story the most, wins. 

Tattoo Stories encourage creativity and quick-wittedness while embracing the art of tattoos. This game is great for kids as well as adults. It was designed by Bicycle, a team of black designers who are passionate about their craft. 

2. Rising Sun

Those who love Japanese history and lore will love playing Rising Sun. This game is primarily based on strategy. You and your fellow players have to partake in various missions in order to empower your clan to take on the invading Kami in Feudal Japan. There are several ways you can bolster your clan such as gaining resources, finding a monster to fight for your side, bolstering your forces, and even trying to earn favor with the Kami to weaken their defenses.

Rising Sun was designed by Eric Lang and its artists include Edgar Skomorowski and the talented Adrian Smith. This game is a great choice for those who love strategy games. 

3. Harlem Unbound

If you’re a history buff like myself, then you’re probably excited about Harlem Unbound. This RPG sourcebook runs in conjunction with the Call of Cthulhu or Gumshoe system. It’s set during the 1920s in Harlem. The Harlem Renaissance is in full swing, but things start to get a little strange with Lovecraftian monsters making their new homes in the sewers of Harlem. Add a little bit of class clashing and politics, and you have yourself a tasty and fun RPG. 

Harlem Unbound is created by Chris Spivey as well as Darker Hues Studios. If you want to experience a taste of the Harlem culture for yourself, then make sure your sanity is high. 

4. Chaos in the Old World

Ever wanted to be a God? Chaos in the Old World gives you that opportunity. Although it’s been a few years since Chaos came out, it’s been a must-play for many tabletop gamers. You get to choose from a collection of Gods to play as. Each god has their own unique abilities, power, and skills to use. The game requires you to pit yourself against your fellow players as well as the game, itself, as you try to dominate the Old World and make it your own. 

Chaos in the Old World is designed by Eric Lang and has the following artists attached to it: Tim Arney-O’Neil, Kevin Childress, Andrew Navaro, Brain Schomburg, Wil Springer. If you can manage to find the game, you’re sure to love corrupting the Old World. 

5. Cyberpunk

Before there was Cyberpunk 2077, there was Cyberpunk and its later editions, Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk Red. This roleplaying board game features a world which has its own timeline that splits off from history as we know it in the 1990s. You’ll see several staples of the Cyberpunk genre like megacorporations ruling the populace, bioengineering in warfare, casual violence, and plenty of technology. 

Cyberpunk is designed by game designer legend, Mike Pondsmith, and was published by R. Talsorian Games. Cyberpunk was the first tabletop game system that included using a 10-sided die, plus the character’s abilities, skills, etc., to beat a difficulty value assigned by the GM. If you want to experience the world of Cyberpunk how it’s supposed to be played, then you need to pick up this rulebook. 

Start Playing!

There are a ton of incredible games out there designed or drawn by black designers and artists. You can even find new indies being made every day on Kickstarter. If you want to experience new settings, new adventures, and a whole lot of fun, then be sure to give these games a try.

Inspirational Capital City Map

If you’re unsure of what your capital city should look like, then here’s a map to get you inspired! This map is based off of my own capital city that I have running in my current campaign. There’s plenty of fun DMs and other creatives can have when developing their own lore and history based off of this map! Let us know what kind of lore you come up with in the comments!

Tips on How to (Politely) Tell Others to Leave You Alone

How to (Politely) Tell Others to Leave You Alone

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If you’re like me, then talking to people can be particularly draining after awhile. It can extend to taking a toll on your creativity. If you’re not like me, then you may enjoy talking to other people extensively. However, you may find that it starts to creep into your time to be productive. At some point, you need to know how to tell people to leave you alone, so you can start working on your creative project or regular work project. Here are a few tips you can use. 

1. Master the Segue

One way to politely tell other people to leave you alone is to master segueing. How is this helpful? You can abruptly end a conversation that’s starting to drain you in a slightly humorous way. Segues are, at the very heart, a form of humor that is light-hearted and silly. It’s the kind of humor that you can’t help but roll your eyes at.

When you use this to politely exit a conversation, you leave the other participant in a bemused state. They may not particularly enjoy that the conversation is ending, but you’re not leaving them feeling as though you’re being rude or that they did something to make you leave. 

2. Reward System

It can be especially difficult to tell children that you need them to go leave you alone for a bit. One way that you can tell them to entertain themselves and leave you to your new worlds and work projects is to begin a reward system with them. By allowing you to work uninterrupted, they can receive a special reward when that time is over.

That reward may be as simple as an extra helping of dessert or it may be something even more special like spending the weekend doing something they love for a few hours. By exchanging some of their hours for your hours, you can have the time to get your work done and still give them plenty of attention and rewards when that slotted time is over. 

This works for adults as well. You can grab a movie or some game time with the friends later. Those who are working on campaigns can promise even greater quests if your players allow you to have the time to develop them. 

3. Make Them Feel Valued

The final tip is to ensure that when you’re informing the other person that you need to go that they still feel as though they’re valued. It can be difficult for some people not to feel like they’re a priority in your life. To ensure that they still feel that way, you can remark on how pleasant the conversation with them was or how nice it was to spend some time with them. You can even throw in a white lie and suggest that you wish you didn’t have to go “work” and instead spend more time with them. 

As long as you can walk away from the conversation with them feeling valued and as though you’re looking forward to re-engaging them, then they won’t take your departure or needs poorly. 

Of course, this can be down in a straight-forward manner as well. You can simply tell them that you need to get something done. That while you appreciate their time and attention, it’s time for you to get some work finished. Just make sure you end with them knowing that you want to speak with them or hang out with them again later. 

Get Back to Work!

Abruptly telling people that I need to leave or go to work is something I always struggle with. By using the tips above, I successfully leave my friends and family feeling positively about the time we’ve spent together instead of guilty that I need to disengage and go work on a passion project or some actual work. If you have any tips on how to tell people to leave you alone, then go ahead and put them in the comments! Fellow introverts (or extremely busy people) unite!

Forest Animal Den Battlemap

Today’s battlemap features a remote animal den tucked within a thick forest. With skeletons and carcasses littered around the forest floor, only something monstrous could lurk within the cave. What resides in and what’s in store for your adventurers?

Let us know in the comments!

Should You Use a Map for Worldbuilding?

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Do You Need Maps to Worldbuild?

When worldbuilding, you may wonder whether or not creating maps for your world is necessary. The short answer is that having a visual representation of your world can help you generate regions, filling those regions, and ensuring that you have a lived-in world rather than big gaps where nothing is happening. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits of creating a map for your world. 

Why Creating a Map Can Help Your Tabletop Campaign

Those who want to worldbuild for a tabletop campaign can find that generating a map for their world is extremely helpful. Before you start your campaign, create a few different maps. The first should be your continent. If you’re already using an existing world, then simply find a map of the continent. They likely have one. Those who are homebrewing their entire campaign, including the world, should start off with designing their continent. 

A map of your continent allows you to easily break it up into regions or kingdoms. You can include certain land barriers like large lakes or mountains to break these regions or realms up. Seeing your world as a whole gives you a visual representation of the kind of scope your adventurers are going to be placed in.

From a large continent map, you can then start to make region maps. These are similar to the continent map in that it still lacks the details of a city or town map. However, it grants you the ability, as the dungeon master or game master, to know what towns, farms, cities, dungeons, and other dangers lurk within the region. 

I love using region maps, myself. This is partially because I’m a visual learner. I need to see it in order to remember it and find inspiration from it. Region maps are also helpful in determining distances. One of the hardest parts of setting up a campaign is informing your adventurers how long it’s going to be to travel to a certain location. While you can always break up the travel with some bandit fights or side quests, you may also want your adventurers to arrive there as quickly as you can. 

A region map keeps your distances ordered and helps you make sense of the various distances that your adventurers will be traveling numerous times within that region. 

Region maps can also give your adventurers a sense of mystery. When I run a campaign, I allow my adventurers to see the continent map. It seems logical to me that they likely would have seen a map of the country at some point in their lives (with rare exceptions, of course). I do not, however, allow them to see the full region map if their characters have spent most of their lives in a single city. 

Instead, I’ll make a map with a fog over certain parts of the region where they haven’t explored. That sense of mysterious, a desire to explore, will encourage them to seek adventures in the misty unknown and further fill out their map. 

The final map that campaigners should create is a city or town map. This can help you as a world builder because it gives you a general layout of the city or town. When you need to describe it, the map can be extremely useful. It may even be something that you give to your players if they manage to find one or ask someone to create one for them. 

City or town maps can also help you create several quests that exist throughout the city. Even if your adventurers never unlock some of them, the map can contain a few secret DM notes to yourself on where those quests are located and what they involve. 

How Creating a Map Can Help Game Designers

Concept art exists for a reason. It gives game designers, animators, and other cogs in the game maker mechanical wheel direction. Maps are just another form of concept art, although they can certainly be used in the game itself. Creating a map for game design is just as useful as it is for those running a tabletop campaign. Except maps can also serve a more technical purpose for game designers.

Just like tabletop games, game designers should have a continent, region, and city/town map for reference. Yet game designers can also use these maps to physically mark where they want quests to take place or where they want specific levels to be. 

When it comes time to  create said levels or quests, your entire team knows where to just place them visually. It can also help with art design. A continent map can inform your designers that one part of the continent may be a bleak desert. As a result, the region and city/town map should reflect that. 

Designers and developers don’t want to create a lush city of trees and grass in a region that is known for its wasteland. Maps can keep everyone on the same page. 

Why Novel Writers Should Create a Fictional Map

Novel worldbuilders can also benefit from the use of a map. While I don’t always plan out a detailed map for a city or town that my characters visit, I do like to sketch out a continent or region map. Again, because I’m a visual learner, I like to see the journey that my characters are taking as I write it. 

In particular, I print out a large region map and place it on a pegboard. Then I use thumbtacks to mark off notes where cities or places of interest are located. From there, I use a string to mark the path of my characters. Not only does it help me keep track of their story so far, but it also helps me fill my world. 

One problem with attempting to worldbuild without a map is that you end up with a lot of dead space. In some cases, your characters or players may not notice it. However, if you only have a few regions with sparse adventures to be had there, then they’re going to start to notice and feel that the world is quite small. 

Novel writers should create a continent map and region maps. Whether you use it to track or just help fill in the gaps with towns, wastelands, or just undiscovered country, you’ll find that having the visual before you can really help with your inspiration and keeping track of your lore thus far. 

Start Creating Your Worldbuilding Maps!

Clearly, creating and using a map can help any facet in which worldbuilding needs to take place. If you’re able to keep it all in your head, then all the power to you. For those who are like me and prefer visual representations, a map is your best friend. We’ll go into detail about the different ways you can create maps later. For now, start with a simple sketch and let us know in the comments some of the things you keep in mind when creating a map for your world, region, or city/town.

The Throne Room Battlemap

Even wood elves need a nature-based throne room! Whether your adventurer are just visiting the woodland realm or they’re sent to a ruin buried deep within a forest, this battlemap may just what you need!

You can download the map at the link above! Let us know what happens in your adventure in the comments!