Friday, December 24, 2010

Actual Replay #2: Epiphany: A Christmas Story-Game

I had the opportunity to design and run a brief story-game at Sunday school this month. No, really! There's actually a small cohort of middle and high school boys who play Magic: The Gathering who go to our church, and my wife (who's on a committee) invited me to design and run an "Advent-themed role-play game" (as she says) as part of a whole month's worth of intergenerational Sunday school to bring them into the fold, as it were. Some people did useful stuff like baking cookies or making wooden candelabras--the folks in my group played games. Anyway, we came up with what I thought was a pretty neat idea: the Wise Men in the desert, headed for Bethlehem, with Herod trying to stop them. The game ran pretty well, too, although I'll tweak it before I run it again to make it pop a little more. I don't think it's a terribly serious game, but I didn't realize that it's making a run at a pretty well-established niche.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Virtual (Re)Play: Skill Challenges in Dungeons & Dragons

I'm posting a link to Virtual Play 34 in the Internet Archive, since someone expressed interest in it. It gets mentioned in Narrative Control #39, and so I'm glad I was able to find it and put it up here.

Mel excerpts the game of D&D 4th edition I ran during Fall 2008 for the fellows down at the Compleat Strategist in Falls Church, VA, a few times. I had a lot of fun, and tested the principles for story-gaming D&D I would use in a mini-campaign at home the next summer. As Mel points out, here are the basic principles:

(1) Skill rolls by players add facts to the setting during fight scenes. This worked in a sort of fast-and-loose sort of way; I think some mechanism for letting other players "steal" the ability to answer the question from a player might be a fun idea.

(2) Everything happens during the tactical action (but that can include skill challenges). This was quite successful, and the ability to segue back and forth from pure fight scene to scene-setting skill challenge was pretty sweet.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Actual Replay #1: Structured Freeform in the Indie RPG Design Community

Finally! Here is the first new episode of this actual play podcast in a long time. It marks a departure in format, though, since it consists of excerpts of conversations I had with indie RPG designers about "structured freeform," a game design aesthetic that emphasizes shaping the social experience of play rather than providing rules for resolving conflict in the fiction. I hope you'll find it interesting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Virtual (Re)Play: How to Run Ganakagok

The last episode of Virtual Play was #42, How to Run Ganakagok. It's available on the Internet Archive here.

We're Starting Over

"Virtual Play" is dead; long live virtual play!

We don't know what happened or how, but apparently there was a problem with the files for Virtual Play, the podcast of RPG audio excerpts and commentary my brother Mel White created over two years ago. For weeks, anyone typing in the Web address "" would get only a blank page. The people at investigated and determined that something got corrupted, which meant that two years of posts were gone, even if the podcast files behind them were still on the ftp server.

So Mel and I talked about it, and decided to make a fresh start. This is where we'll make old episodes available, and create new ones as well, because using actual play recordings to figure out what's going on at the table, and how to play better, is still too good an idea to pass up.

Contact me at, or Mel at, if you have questions, comments, or suggestions.

-- Bill