Sep 282016

GenCon 2016 Game review – Ice Cool


At a glance –

School is almost out in Antarctica but a few of the penguins are too hungry to wait!  They skip out on class and, racing through the hallways, make their way to the cafeteria to grab an afternoon snack.  Will they make it before being caught by the dreaded hall monitor?  Welcome to “Ice Cool”.

“Ice Cool” is a surprisingly fun and innovative “flicking” game for 2-4 players published by Brain Games.  The gameplay is fast and intuitive.  Although it’s geared to younger players, I’ve played the game with several different age groups, including a mixed session, and the result is always the same, LOTS OF FUN!


The Object -

 The players choose a color and collect the corresponding penguin and ID card.  One of the players is chosen to be the Hall Monitor (called the Catcher). The other players (called Runners) take turns flicking their penguins, trying to get them through the doorways that have their fish clipped to the top.  If they make it through, they collect their fish and score a fish card.  On their next turn, they begin making their way toward their next fish.

The Catcher has a different goal.  He or she is trying to collect the IDs of the Runners by flicking their penguin so that it touches the penguins of the Runners, thus, collecting their ID cards.  A round ends when either, one of the Runners collects all of their fish, or the Catcher has all of the IDs.  There are as many rounds as there are players so that everyone gets a turn to be the Catcher.  Also, there is a bit of a “rubber band” mechanic built in.  You look at the ‘fish cards” as you collect them.  If, at any point in the game you have collected two cards that only have a “1” on them, you can “ice skate”.  You turn over your two “1” cards and get to take an extra turn.  After all of the rounds have been completed, the players total up the numbers on their “fish cards” and the highest total wins.

The Board – pic3188780_md

The board for this game is a VERY innovative design called “Box in a Box”.  Inside the box are 5 smaller boxes with holes in the sides and art depicting the different rooms of the school.  These all clip together with the holes matching up to create the doorways and a kind of obstacle course for the players to navigate by flicking their penguins from room to room, collecting fish and (hopefully) avoiding the Hall Monitor.  The art on the board/boxes themselves is a convincing depiction of what a penguin school would look like, complete with overhead views of desks, chairs, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, all of which are complete with nice little touches like posters, drinking fountains, and basketball rims.  (Even though I’m sure that penguins are terrible at basketball)



What’s in the Box? -

(4) Plastic penguins;

(5) Cardboard boxes – rooms;

(16) Wooden fish tokens (12 fish in 4 player colors and 4 fish in white color);

(45) Fish cards (each showing 1, 2 or 3 victory points);

(4) Color reminder cards;

(4) Penguin ID cards;

(1) Rules booklet

Several re-sealable bags for component storage

Components –

The components for this game are quite nice. The cards are of good quality, and the “fish” are solid wood and seem to be very durable.  The real features of this game are, as described above, the board itself, and the adorable little penguins.  The penguins are rounded at the bottom, and weighted so that they can’t lie on their side.

For those of you who know what they are, think Weebles.


When flicked, they flop and flounder, spin and turn, but what they don’t do, is lay still.  With a little practice, you can begin to steer them around corners, make them jump over walls and, if you’re really good, you may even be able to get them to travel in a straight line!

Check out the “Ice Cool” promo video on YouTube to see an AMAZING shot near the end.

If you’d like to listen to our interview with the man who, both, made that trick shot, and helped design this game, it can be found here: ‎

Learning Curve –

This is an easy one to grasp for kids and adults alike.  If you’ve ever flicked things on a table you already have the basics down.  Spend a few minutes reading the rules and a couple of minutes setting up the board and you’re ready to go. There is a bit of a learning curve as you figure out how to make those pesky penguins do what you want, but not so much as to make the concept unattainable.  In any case, in a game like this failure can be just as entertaining as success!



Packaging –

As I said before, I’m absolutely enamored with this box.  Not only does it hold all of the smaller boxes, but, because there is no insert for the smaller pieces, the designers included small, re-sealable bags for storing the other components.  This allows “Ice Cool” to pass the “shake test” with flying colors.  Store it however you’d like!

Rules –

The rules document for this game is clear and concise, has little comic-style penguins all over it making it fun for kids to read, and even covers some of the unpredictable things that can happen when you get a few people around a table flicking plastic things through cardboard things.

Play time – 30 minutes


The “Sweet Spot” –

The game is rated for 2-4 players.  The sweet spot for this game, in my opinion, is 4 players.  The more pieces that you have flying around the board, the better!

Replay Value –

Due to the shape of its components and the nature of dexterity games in general, the replay value of this game is quite high.

Price Point - $39.99


Notes - 

Even though most of the components are cast or printed in bold primary colors, color blindness may be a concern.  That said, because of the gameplay and the mechanics involved, this could be overcome with just a little assistance by other players. The cards are easily read, but the penguins and wooden fish are all the same, only differing in color.  However, adding multiple casts to a game is extremely expensive, sometimes adding tens of thousands of dollars to a game’s initial bottom line.  This would have probably priced it out of its market and, all things considered, is probably not necessary for our chromodysoptic friends to enjoy it.

Rating –  9 out of 10


Final Thoughts -

Even though “Ice Cool” is targeted toward younger players, I think gamers of all ages will have a lot of fun with it.  I’ve seen older gamers pull the chairs away from the table so that they can line up their perfect shot as if they’re playing a tiny game of billiards, while a game with younger players looks and sounds exactly like what you may think;

 Raucous excitement sometimes mixed with the spell cast by a basketball circling the hoop in an Antarctic gymnasium.

I highly recommend this one, particularly if you have children.  However, I think this game would be a welcome addition to any collection, whether it’s found in a kid’s closet or the college campus.

In a word, “Ice Cool” is white-hot!

But then again, this is just my humble opinion.

 -Dan Whorl

( Game Reviews)



A review copy of Ice Cool was given to me at GenCon 2016 by the game designer.  No money or further compensation changed hands or has been promised for a good review.  They earned it!


Sep 102016

GenCon 2016 Game review – Mr. Game!


At a glance –

Part board game, part social experiment, all chaos…

Mr. Game! challenges nearly every convention of the classic roll and move board game.  This modern spin on retro style gaming has become a family favorite for game night at my house. It checks boxes that I didn’t know existed and jumps through hoops that I had no idea I was holding…Refreshing!

The object is simple.  Everyone starts on one space and races to land on the “goal” space to win.  That’s pretty conventional stuff, right?  Wrong.   Mr. Game! creates an atmosphere where even the concept of “what is a space?” can be challenged.  The road to victory is complicated by an ever-changing board, as well as an array of cards with different types of wacky functions, a goal that just won’t sit still, and of course, Mr. Game!.

Mr game board

The board – 

The board is a pretty straight forward design with the numbers 1-4 in the four corners and some wandering paths of spaces in between.  You start on “1” at the beginning of the game and you’re trying to land on “4”. This is subject to change.

The cards –

There are 3 types of cards in the game, “Actions”, “Badges”, and “Powerups”.


Actions” are the most common cards in the deck and are played immediately when drawn.  The effects of these cards vary wildly including (but not limited to) moving other people’s pawns, adding or moving spaces on the board, changing the goal, etc.



Badges” are cards that are kept secretly in your hand to be played at just the right moment. Some of the effects may be similar to “Action” cards but the ability to weaponize them makes them valuable.  The results of a well-timed “Badge” can range from devastating to hilarious…

…or both…

…or neither…


Never mind. Moving on.


A “Powerup” is a card that is played immediately when drawn and changes the way your pawn behaves, giving you some sort of ability or taking one away.  For better or worse, you’re stuck with these until someone takes them or you roll doubles.

There are also four blank cards found in the deck that prompt you to use your imagination…or not.  It’s up to you.

Spaces –

Given the ubiquity and familiarity of spaces in tabletop games, I hadn’t really considered the idea of describing them until I got to this point in the review.  On one hand, because of the nature of this game, they need to be discussed.  But on the other hand, it feels a little like describing to someone how it feels to blink.


 The spaces on the board, at a glance, are rudimentary.  You have normal spaces that prompt no action. As mentioned before, there are four spaces in the corners of the board that are numbered 1-4 and serve as the “goal” spaces.  There are spaces marked with an exclamation point that prompt the player to draw a card.  There are also spaces found sporadically about the board that prompt you to “roll again”.   If that’s not enough, all of these spaces can be different colors depending on where they are found on the board.  The colors of the spaces have no bearing on their function when playing with the rules as written.  That said, the colors, location, and even the null area between spaces can (and probably will) routinely come into play because of this game’s chaotic nature.

Tiles –

Tiles are essentially spaces that can be added or moved on the board once prompted by a card, changing the effect of a space or adding a new one altogether!  There are several types of tiles.  Nearly all of the spaces described above can be found in the stack of tiles, as well as webs in which your pawn can get “stuck”, portals that allow you to quickly traverse the board, and null spaces to cut off possible avenues for your opponents.

Mr. Game! – 

Last but certainly not least, there’s Mr. Game!.  Before you begin playing, you decide who will act as Mr. Game!.  While all players are expected to interpret the rules, this player will have the final word on any decisions to be made concerning them.

From this mechanic, chaos is born.

While the other players are constantly trying to take advantage of any given situation that may get them closer to winning, they invariably will be challenging the very conventions of a roll and move game.  This, coupled with a purposefully minimalistic set of written rules, creates an environment where house rules are necessary.  This is where Mr. Game! comes in.  During play, Mr. Game! will have to make any number of probably ridiculous and unforeseen rules decisions.  As these situations are arbitrated, they become rules for the remainder of the game.  Keep in mind that whoever is playing as Mr. Game is also playing the game with everyone else and, as such, must uphold and is subject to his or her own rulings throughout the game.

What’s in the box? – 

( 1 ) Game BoardMr game board

( 1 ) How To Play Booklet

( 1 ) Alternate Game Types Booklet

( 104 ) Cards

( 18 ) Tiles

( 8 ) Player Pieces

( 8 ) Player Cards

( 2 ) Four Sided Dice

( 2 ) Goal Markers

( 4 ) Blank Cards

Components –

The components of the game are all of very good quality and have weathered several plays with little to no wear and tear.

Learning Curve –

If you read every word of the rules pamphlet it’ll take you about 10 minutes to learn to play. The set-up is minimal and the core mechanics of the game are extremely intuitive.

Packaging –

The storage space in the box holds all of the components well and passes the “shake test” with minimal movement.

Rules –

Ordinarily, a rules document that leaves so many unanswered questions would receive bad marks in this category. However, this one, because of the nature of the game, is perfect.

Play time –

The play time varies from game to game.  Most of them last 20 to 60 minutes with 4-6 players,

The “Sweet Spot” –

Rated for 2 – 8 players, the more the merrier! We’ve played with as many as 7 players with no negative experience regarding gameplay.  That said, after having experienced the game several times with varying group sizes, I’m going to put the sweet spot somewhere between 4 – 6 players.

Replay ability –

Having many variants and additional rules included in the “Alternate Gametypes” book that comes with the game, several more variants published at, along with the fact that you can play a completely different game just by changing the people playing or who presides as Mr. Game!, the replay ability of this one is off the charts!

Price – $35

You can purchase your copy here.

Final Thoughts –

The charm of Mr. Game! is rooted in the unpredictability that spawns from just playing the game. This provides the players with an experience that is unique not only to their gaming group, but to the individual session, which prompts the telling of stories and anecdotes about those sessions.  This is a trait usually found in meatier board games and tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons rather than a simple roll and move game.  But then again…

Just a simple roll and move board game, Mr. Game! is not…

I believe that Mr. Game! is, in and of itself, an experience.

Rating – 10 out of 10

But then again, this is just my humble opinion.

-Dan Whorl

Check out our interview with the creator of Mr. Game!, Frank DiCola, here.

A review copy of Mr. Game! was given to me at GenCon 2016 by the game designer.  No money or further compensation changed hands or has been promised for a good review.  They earned it!


Aug 152016


Indianapolis – The numbers are in…

Yet another record shredding year for GenCon 2016!

The “Best Four Days in Gaming” in the past few years. This year’s show featured more than 500 exhibitors, along with continued growth of turnstile attendance with more than 201,000 attendees, a sold out pre-show Trade Day program with more than 550 attendees, over 16,500 ticketed events, and more than $35,000 raised via on-site programming for their official charity partner:

The Pour House

The convention this year also just seemed to feel better.  There was a palpable excitement in the air that I didn’t even notice was missing from the past couple of years until I arrived. It was positively electric. Perhaps this was due to a few changes that the owners and organizers made in the hopes of enhancing the experience for the attendees.  Namely, the expansion into Lucas Oil Stadium and the conference spacing found therein, as well as, among other things, a rerouting of the Annual Cosplay Parade, and a new pricing structure allowing for better planning of events.  This added consideration created a much more inviting and less cloistered feel to the entire show.  Unique attendance was nearly the same as last year.  While that may not be another record shattered, it did serve to create a very clear dichotomy of the convention with and without the added space and considerations.

The owners and staff of GenCon were not the only ones on top of their game.  The vendors, exhibitors, and contributors hit it out of the park as well.  The convention is always a hotbed of gaming and geek pop culture with many events and releases that can only be found during the best four days in gaming.

Along with a few of the show’s staples like True Dungeon (a live action dungeon crawl), the charity auction, a very nice costume contest, 24 hour gaming, and countless other reasons people come out to Indy in the middle of summer every year, there were some new goings on that caught my attention.  There was not one, but two, live action escape rooms.  One of which was right in the dealer hall!

(Interviews with representatives of both, Think Fun and Spin Master Games, as well as reviews of their room escape board games are forthcoming)


Also to be found in the dealer hall, was the white-hot, penguin flicking, dexterity game, Ice Cool by Brain Games, as well as  the potato-weighing mayhem of UK game designers, Big Potato Games debuting their library of games in the USA.


(Interviews with both companies and reviews of their respective games, are also forthcoming)

In addition to games, some attendees may have wandered into the exhibitor section of the hall where you could find scores of authors, craftsmen, and art like the critters created by Creature Curator, Brian Colin.

Brian Colin

These are his aptly named Pocket Monsters!!


By all accounts, GenCon 2016 was a complete success. The convention will be returning to Indianapolis August 17-20, 2017 for the 50th anniversary of the show.  This is sure to be a fantastic spectacle. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

As the title states, this is just an overview of this year’s show.  Over the next couple of weeks, you’ll be seeing loads of GenCon content here including several interviews with some very innovative game designers, and LOTS of reviews of new titles and GenCon exclusives.  We’ll also be posting audio from some of the panels that we attended given by some very important individuals in the gaming community as well as written articles about some of the highlights of the show and our Convention Tradition where we scour the con for something old, something new, something redone, and something cool.

Lastly, The CarpeGM Gamecast will soon have a new show on the feed…

With a trial by fire, no safety net, live with random strangers, we’ve recorded the first episodes of a little show that we’re calling Geek 16.





GenCon2016-logo big

-About Gen Con


Gen Con, LLC produces the largest consumer hobby, fantasy, science fiction and adventure game convention in North America. Gen Con, The Best Four Days in Gaming!™. Acquired in 2002 by former CEO and founder of Wizards of the Coast, Peter Adkison, the company is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Gen Con 2016 was sponsored by Mayfair Games, Paizo, Inc., and Rio Grande Games.

Oct 042013

Archon logo

Hello all! If you’re in the St. Louis area, the place to be this weekend is : Archon – a sci fi and fantasy convention held every year in Collinsville, Illinois, about 25 minutes from downtown St Louis.

This is the 37th annual Archon. It’s sure to be a good time. I’ll be trying to score a few interviews while I’m here. Stay tunes to the feed for more info!
Check out Archon’s homepage for more info

Aug 052013
SU Kickstarter

As you all know, I’m a HUGE advocate for gaming in education.  My  experiences with my children opened my eyes to the reality of RPGs as a curriculum tool.

Currently, Seekers Unlimited has a very interesting Kickstarter campaign going that is taking this idea to the next level.  I have attached the press release.

Please give this a look!



Edu-LARP Comes to Kickstarter!!!

Contact: Rosalind Helfand

Phone: 310-869-5749

Revolutionary New Learning Tool “Edu-LARP” Goes to Kickstarter

Teachers and Students in Los Angeles and Nationwide Will Benefit from This Game Changing Campaign
LOS ANGELES, CA—July 26, 2013—While communities across the United States mourn the state of education, the non-profit Seekers Unlimited is changing the very nature of education for the better with Live Action Role Playing games or LARPs. Seekers Unlimited has been testing its educational LARPs in classrooms in Los Angeles for over a year. Now Seekers wants to bring six of its “edu-LARPs” to the nation through a game changing Kickstarter campaign. People who believe that kids should love learning and succeed in school are helping Seekers to reach its goal of raising $8,000 by August 30, 2013.

Live action role-playing, or play pretend, has been around since the dawn of humanity, but only recently are people realizing that it’s a powerful learning tool. Edu-LARPs invoke the power of play pretend to teach subjects like math, history, and science. What’s more fun: reading about Benjamin Franklin or being Benjamin Franklin for a day? Kids get out of their chairs and interact with one another as they become characters in stories with goals that require them to solve problems, collaborate, and retain information.

Seekers Executive Director Aaron Vanek believes that edu-LARP will reinvigorate the traditional classroom, stating, “Seekers Unlimited plays to excite education like punk rock motivated music.

Past Seekers edu-LARPs include “Hit Seekers” where students used math to make it in the music industry, and “Mesopotamia” where students became ancient Mesopotamian characters like governors, merchants, and priests to gain a deeper understanding of the “Cradle of Civilization.”

Now Seekers has developed six classroom tested science themed edu-LARPs. Seekers donates most of its services since schools have little or no funds for innovative learning activities. By supporting the Kickstarter campaign, donors will make it possible for Seekers to share these new edu-LARPs with the nation and continue its work.

Improving education is not easy nor simple, but it is imperative that we press on. With people’s help, we can lift mountains,” Aaron continues.

The science edu-LARPs to be funded for distribution by Kickstarter include:

* The Great Phlogiston Debate: Students role-play scientists active at the end of the Age of Enlightenment.
* Noir: Students role-play detectives, forensic scientists, and suspects in a series of possible crimes.
* Element Heroes: Students stop villains with super powers based on the elements.
* Monster Maker: Students learn chemistry in a Dr. Frankenstein scenario.
* Be Your Own Planet!: Students create their own star systems and protect them from interstellar dangers.
* Balloon Race: Students learn about forces and gravity through racing balloons.

Educators, game designers and community members are speaking out about the difference that edu-LARP can make to education if people pitch in.

Sarah Lynne Bowman, Ph.D., is the author of  The Functions of Role-playing Games: How Participants Create Community, Solve Problems, and Explore Identity .  Bowman, who also serves on the Seekers Board of Directors, strongly believes in edu-LARP, stating, “LARPing has changed my life in all facets: professionally, personally, socially, academically. Role-playing allows us to explore unfamiliar concepts and portray new roles that transcend our normal reality. I want to share the transformative power of LARP with the next generation.

Graydon Schlichter, co-designer of numerous LARPs and Director or Publicity for Evertide Games says, “Teachers are pressured to prepare students for tests rather than educate them, or even better, open their minds and invite them to educate themselves. Seekers Unlimited, through the edu-LARPs it creates, gives educators additional tools to reach students, further exposing them to the reality that there is more to learning than bubble-tests and vocabulary sheets.

Besides the great feeling contributors will get for helping to bring edu-LARPs to the nation, Seekers Unlimited is offering a number of perks to its Kickstarter donors.

The perks include experiences like:

* LARP Design 101: A four-hour seminar with our LARP designers to help you design your own LARP.
* Name Branding: Name a character, thing, or place in one of Seekers’ edu-LARPS.
* Basic Larper: Copies of original LARPs “Secret Ante” by Aaron Vanek and “Exodus 22:18” by Michael Tice.
* Edu-LARPs: Receive one or more of the new science edu-LARPs.
* Your Own Custom Designed and Produced LARP
To donate to Seekers Unlimited’s Kickstarter campaign, visit Seekers is also available on Facebook and Twitter @SeekersUnLtd. More information about Seekers Unlimited and how you can get involved is also available at

Jan 302013

Hey all!

Our good friends at Prismatic Tsunami Publishing have released the first Tsunami Quarterly Review.

I managed to write an article, as well as some of my favorite hosts from other podcasts.  Please help support the community!

For only $1:

In the first issue of Tsunami Quarterly Review, you will find the following great features:

RPG Crucible: Told by the Victor: Advice on building backstory that leaves room for suprises!

Are Game Masters Playing Too?: A philosophical look at the GM’s role in the game.

Tsunami City Project: Fourteen fantastic city locations discussed on Metagamers Anonymous and the Tsunami forums, plus an additional location found only in this publication!

In the Commander’s Chair: One man’s journey into the world of his latest video game excursion.

A Few Words on Insanity: A retrospective look at the application of insanity in your RPG experience.


Help support the Prismatic Tsunami community and the popular Metagamers Anonymous RPG podcast!




Nov 262012
coin block

A few weeks ago, I was generating the show notes for an episode of the Gamecast. I had just reached the point where I was adding the little button that asks our listeners to “rate and review us on iTunes”, when I realized that I don’t rate and review the shows that I listen to!

In the spirit of “support, support, support”, I decided to do just that.

I asked my co-hosts to do the same.  The following list of podcasts is not necessarily all of the shows that we listen to, but they are the shows to which we gave a 5 star rating.  We posted the ratings and reviews on iTunes to help support the shows individually.

I have compiled the following list, hoping to spread the word about some of these great shows.  I hope you find something you like.

If there are other shows that you guys think we should listen to, feel free to let us know in the “comments” section below.


2 GMs 1 Mic

– Great chemistry and engaging subject matter with an interesting format…and a dragon.  ‘Nuff Said!          -Dan




Action Nerds Go!

– This podcast’s knowledgeable and engaging hosts have free form discussions about a wide array of topics.  I didn’t realize it before I listened to this show, but, apparently, I too am an “Action Nerd”.  So with that being said, heed the call to arms…..

Action Nerds!  GO!                               -Dan
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.



All Games Considered

– I looooove this show!  The hosts are well spoken and interesting.  They cover everything from tabletop war games to indie RPGs.  Also, unlike some other news casts…they actually play the games……RPG Buffet for the win!       -Dan

CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.



Fat Man on Batman

– Kevin Smith is back again with a new podcast, and just like all of the other ones, it’s about something he loves….The Caped Crusader himself!  The Dark Knight returns in podcast form.  Every week, Kevin brings on a new guest to talk about The Bat, Mark Hamill, Paul Dini, and Adam West to name a few.   His love for the character may only be matched by the respect that he holds for those that are involved with the work.  I hope to see Christian Bale, or some of the other people involved with Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

Another great work presented by the Smodcast network!

Light the Bat Signal and keep on talkin’..                                -Bryan
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.


Fear the Boot

– What else is left to say about these guys?  They’ve been around for a long time and have inspired countless game ideas.  With the evolution of the roster of hosts throughout the years,  they could literally start over from episode 1, re-discuss the topics, and have entirely different conversations.  All of which, I’m sure, would be stimulating, informative, and enlightening.  A must listen for RP gamers!

CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.


Film Sack

– Scott Johnson and crew discuss movies.  While exploring the seedy underbelly of cinematic entertainment, they pin back the flaps, reach in, and pull out the good stuff.   Brilliant!!!  Film Sack has well spoken, knowledgeable hosts, and excellent production quality.  Hopefully, as long as Hollywood keeps turning out stinkers, tongue-in-cheekers, and box office sinkers, Scott, Randy, Brian, and Brian will be there to dissect them.           -Dan

- 4 guys gather to joke about the best and worst of Netflix Streaming. They’ll get you watching movies you hadn’t thought of since reading the back of the VHS in the local rental store, laughing your tuchus off, and yelling the trivia they can’t remember at your computer screen. I highly encourage a tour through their back catalog for your favorites. Heck, listen to all of ‘em, it’ll help with the rare inside joke.        -Mack
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.




– So much information and great banter packed into 30 minute episodes.  This is a great show with intelligent and informed hosts who care about the subject matter.  These guys do a fantastic job with production and really do their part to give back to the community.  Check them out!!

Openly Gamer Theatre – A fresh look at actual play podcasts complete with a vocal and ambient sound effects presented with rock solid GMing and a great group of role players!                -Dan

-This is my favorite RPG podcast!  This show has a large cast, full of knowledgeable and unique hosts, and as a result, you get quite a few differing opinions on the subject matter.  These opinions are thrown out rapidly, yet, somehow, they manage to stay cohesive!  Great show!                 -Tyler
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.


Happy Jack’s RPG Podcast

– A diverse collection of talented and funny hosts explore the table top RPG hobby in a round table discussion whose topics range from GM advice to beer snobbery.  All of this is presented with AMAZING sound quality and supported by an active and equally talented community.  College humor, amplified belching, and taint jokes….keep ‘em coming!                            -Dan
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.


Hollywood Babble-on

- Kev Smith and Ralph Garman’s show on pop culture, humor, lots of satire, movies, comics, and no shortage of obscurities.  The show is recorded live, and while recording, they post links to the media that is being discussed so that the audience can play along at home in real time.  A great show for those who like pop culture humor!   -Steve

-Once a week, Kevin Smith brings his friend, Ralph Garman, a man of 10,000 voices, to talk about the ins and outs of Hollywood business, including movies, celebrities, music, with a sprinkle of nerd news and pop culture.   The conversation usually takes an adult and funny twist, with Ralph portraying some of my favorite characters, including, “McDonald’s Fry Girl”, “The Cosby Clown”, and “The Gay Ghost”. I recommend this podcast to anyone who enjoys Kevin Smith’s brand of dark, twisted humor.

Garmy Strong!!!               -Bryan
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.


Indie Talks

– Ben Gerber is a man of many talents and many projects.  This show explores indie gaming from the perspective of an indie game designer.  The host is a font of knowledge on the topic, a good speaker, a skilled interviewer, and has a knack for understanding game mechanics that makes for some fantastic game reviews.  It’s all packaged in a show with very good audio quality that functions beautifully as a platform for getting the word out on new games and game systems.

Great Job!           -Dan
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.


The Instance

- The best World of Warcraft news and commentary this side of the bleeding edge. Scott, Dills and Turpster guide you through the cake of this week’s WoW, without making you read every blue post or data-miner’s forum, and do so with the flavor of their own perspectives, the filling of their experiences, and a nice frosting of funny. Is it a cupcake? Is it a doughnut?

No: it’s the Instance.                      -Mack
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.


The Jennisodes

– An awesome show with a catalogue of episode containing interviews the who’s who about the what’s what of the gaming community and geek culture…

…and pandas.  Great show!         -Dan
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.


Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff

– Kenneth Hite and Robin D. Laws get together and talk about a countless topics, including but not limited to, gaming, game theory, politics, history, current events, even the correction of real world problems through time travel.  A very cerebral podcast, but what else would you expect from intellectual heavy hitters such as Hite and Laws?  Great Show!  One of my favorites!   -Dan
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Metagamers Anonymous

– A brilliant show with well-spoken, and informed hosts.  Centering around immersive play, Met-Anon explores the RPG hobby with an eye toward the experience rather than the mechanics.  With fantastic production value, and the added bonus of an interview series that includes some of the biggest names in the gaming community, this show NEEDS to be in your playlist.            -Dan
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Monkey in the Cage

– The hosts of this show are funny and a little weird, and the chemistry is perfect!  Every episode is like sitting down with a group of friends.  Their informed commentary on gaming and geek culture shows a deep love for the subject matter.  This is definitely one of my favorite podcasts and I hope that as long as there are geeks…..there is a Monkey in the Cage!                      -Dan
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Monsters of the Shattered World

– A throwback to the radio dramas of the 1930s, the show follows an explorer/scribe writing home to his patron about his exploits and encounters while away.  Great production value!  Solid story lines!  Very fun!       -Dan
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The Morning Stream

A nerdy conversation to replace bad talk radio and commercials during your morning commute. Whether talking about current events, doing a regular interview, or taking a listener call, Scott and Ibbott leave no joke in the barrel. A special treat: you’ve never really felt the Stream hot and fresh until you’ve watched it live and dived into the tadpool. I highly recommend it if you have the morning off.                        -Mack
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The Moth

-Short stories told live without notes. You know the best stories you ever told your friends around a bar table or campfire, or maybe the stuff you only ever told somebody alone, close, late at night? Well, these are the best of those, stories that make you laugh, cry, or get mad, but all of which make you grow. Careful: you never know which story is gonna touch you deeply, but eventually one will.                                         -Mack
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Penn’s Sunday school

– Penn Jillette and Michael Goudeau discuss show business (old and new) and the human condition from the skeptic’s perspective.  Throw in a roster of fantastic guests, such as, Gilbert Gottfried, Billy West, George Takei, and Monkey Tuesday, and you have a show that SHOULD NOT BE MISSED!          -Dan
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Planet Arbitrary

- Several podcasts are distributed through this feed, all of which are great!  Topics include, video game news, game reviews, comedy, current events, game nostalgia, you name it!  Planet Arbitrary is a great effort by the cast, presented in various formats by a group of knowledgeable and well-spoken hosts.  GOOD SHOWS!        -Dan
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Postcards From the Dungeon

– An absolutely amazing show!  PFTD is a creative look at the hobby that we all know and love.  The hosts have found the perfect mix of news, tips, gaming stories, and banter, giving the listener more RPG inspiration than any one show should be able to give.  They’ve stoked the fires of my own gaming creativity numerous times since I discovered the show!

Thanks Guys!!!                 -Dan
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- Everything you never knew you needed to know, but do, presented in a way to make the complex accessible to the lay. Start with an idea, then. ask smart people about it. Use the right questions, and you just might have some remarkable revelations. Edit for sound, and you’ve got Radiolab. Enjoy.                 -Mack
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Role Playing Public Radio

– Ross Payton and Tom Church deliver a great show with a nice mix of content and banter.  This show is one of my favorites, and they earned every carat of the Gold Innie awards for best podcast.  Congrats guys!  Keep ‘em coming!       -Dan

-I cannot say enough good things about this show and it’s hosts.  Ross Payton has an approach that allows him to get things done, not just in podcasting, but in his other ventures as well.  I love the topics.  I love the banter.  Ross and Tom just really seem to “get it”.

This show is a powerhouse!        -Tyler
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RPPR Actual Play

– This is a fantastic actual play podcast with diversity in both games and GMs, a great group of role players, and good sound quality.  This is easily one of the best on the web!                          -Dan
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.



RPG Circus

– Content, content, content!  This show is non-stop material from bumper to bumper, and the hosts bring great topics to the mics show after show.  It’s a fantastic effort with solid production quality delivered by well-spoken hosts.  I’m extremely happy that I found this one! -Dan
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.



Shark Bone

– Funny, extremely informative, and inspirational!  The concept for this show is based on extracting game ideas from movies.  Take notes because these guys bring SO many RPG ideas to the mics SO fast, that you won’t have time to ponder them.  Love the format! Love the show! A must listen for GMs with hungry brains!          -Dan
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.



-You want a podcast?  You got a Smodcast.  This was Kevin Smith’s inaugural podcasting effort with his producer, and friend for life, Scott Mosier.  I’ve been listening since the beginning, and this is the funniest thing I have ever heard in my life….hands down.  It’s absolute perfection.  It’ll make you laugh, cry, think, and feel like you not only know these guys, but that they’re your two best friends.  The show is beautifully put together, and with Kevin’s weed smoking antics and Scott’s deadpan delivery the chemistry is amazing.  If you’re not listening, do yourself a favor and start ….NOW!               -Bryan
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.


Tell ‘em Steve Dave

-The Jersey boys are back again!  Walt Flanagan, Bryan Johnson, and Brian Quinn are Tell ‘em Steve Dave.  Having been friends with Kevin Smith for years, they have many stories to tell.  The laughs ensue with many yuks and some hot button topics.  Walt’s outlook and attitude has inspired me!

I love this podcast!

I hope everything works out after hurricane Sandy.

Congrats on Comic Book Men, and thanks for the free funny!    -Bryan

- When a dude like me wants to listen to a good podcast, I listen to Tell ‘em Steve Dave on the Smodco Network.  This is one of the only podcasts that I listen to that I will give 5 stars.  It’s got a little something for everyone.  Great show!         -Steve
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.


This American Life

-Host, Ira Glass, and a wonderful team of producers tell you the stories you need to hear with a little dramatic style and keen editorial insight.  Important perspectives abound, and though each episode is itself pretty focused and stays on target, each episode tends to be on a different topic. The Thanksgiving episodes have long been background listening in my house, and I actually consider their episodes on Banking and governmental Monetary Policy to be a service to the US.                            -Mack
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.


Wait Wait, Don’t Tell me

-The weekly news quiz show. Join a revolving panel of comedians for an irreverent look at the week’s events. A good brush up on current events both trivial and topical, I always fill the weekend news doldrums with this fresh perspective.   -Mack
CLICK HERE to read more reviews of this podcast, or write one of your own.



A special thank you to all of these shows for filling the hours with entertainment and our hearts with inspiration.



Aug 142012
coin block



For both those of you who missed  us, I apologize for the recent inactivity.

The last couple of weeks have been a perfect storm of setbacks and obstacles.   Not including changing schedules at both jobs, it began with a software malfunction in which an entire episode of the Gamecast sounded like it was being played on an old cassette player that had fallen in a toilet.

There was no saving it, the recycle bin thought it was delicious.

At this time, I was also making a lot of changes to the website.  Due to my own technological ineptitude, this process was quite a daunting task.  My family had planned a vacation, and I had hoped to complete the change-over before we left…no such luck.  After a couple of days of rather involved preparation for our sabbatical,  we finally made our exit.

We drove to Indianapolis and spent the rest of a beautiful day just wandering around downtown with big plans for the following day.  Those plans were cut short by a phone call shortly after we checked into our hotel telling us that one of our dogs was extremely ill.  By unanimous decision, we repacked the van and made the mad dash home through dark of night, lightning, thunder, a torrential downpour, all the while, beating back sleep by playing road games and having some very silly conversations.


Penny is doing fine now.

I have since changed our recording software ( I just need to learn to use it), and we have a new episode ready for editing, and, as you can see, I’ve finished the website.  The next episode should be up Monday, August 20th.

With the ashes of the last two weeks still smoldering, we should be able to settle into a rhythm once again.

It is said that from the ashes, rises the phoenix.  While I don’t know if will be able to rival the majesty or magic of that mythical bird, I think we’ve at least attained the stature of a cool looking chicken.



Jul 302012


Metagamers Anonymous

Metagamers Anonymous is a young podcast that I discovered while sifting for gold on iTunes.  Lo and behold! I found it.  These guys, and girl, are knowledgeable, well spoken, and creative.  Their bi-weekly podcast has become one that I find myself waiting for.

A little while ago, I wrote them an e-mail, I’m posting it here for all to see…

In previous episodes, you’ve brought up the concept of “organic 
roleplaying,”and, indeed, this seems to be a key principle in your own game
play.  While this is a valuable tool around the game table to be sure, I feel
that “organic roleplaying” tends to reward those on the player’s side of the
screen more often than the GM.

Now, before you send me a “Dear listener, Please go [smurf] yourself” letter,
please allow me to explain.

Most of the time, players are experiencing the game world and all of it’s events
through the eyes one character.  This means that every bit of role-playing
energy that the player puts into the game is being used to define the emotions,
attitudes, actions, and reactions of one individual, as opposed to the GM, who
is responsible for what goes on in the heads, hearts, and hands of everyone else
in the game world.  Because of this, it’s more difficult for a GM to become as
deeply rooted in one character’s persona than it is for the players.

So what then, does a GM get out of a game with “organic roleplayers?…”

…The opportunity to take advantage of another gaming concept…”dynamic

While a GM may be hard pressed to get down to the nuts and bolts
of every NPC’s emotion and motivation, he can use every descriptive tool at his
disposal to create a vibrant and immersive world around the PCs.  The GM’s reward
for having good roleplayers is that he can tell a story and be confident that
his players will pull every but of excitement and fun out of any tale he tells.
It’s my point of view that, the more believable and dynamic the world and it’s
inhabitants, the more fulfilling the game.

That’s the concept that’s been bouncing around on the ping pong table of my mind
lately… player immersion.  If immersion is the ball, then “dynamic
storytelling” and “organic roleplaying” are the paddles.  It’s been my
experience that, while player immersion is a simple thing to define, it is not always
an easy thing to execute.

So here is my purely hypothetical question:

Which is more important to achieving player immersion, organic roleplay, or dynamic storytelling?

Once again, great show!  Looking forward to the discussion.

The on-air responses and discussion can be found on Metagamers Anonymous Episode #7.

With the exception of their divulging of a weird furniture fetish, admitting to using Facebook in a manner in which, I’m sure, Mark Zuckerburg never intended, and something about a gazebo,  the discussion went pretty much as I expected.  Some tug o’ war occurred between the two sides, both with valid points.  However, ultimately, I think they came to the same conclusion that I did….

RPGs take place, almost exclusively, through the cinematography of the minds eye. Therefore, a GM can “dynamically” tell a story until his lungs collapse, but, if he does not have receptive players, he may as well be reading them a grocery list.  Conversely, a good organic player can allow his or her character take the wheel, steer, and  role-play Tic-Tac-Toe if they set their mind to it.

But we’re talking about immersive role-playing.  Throw out the dice and rules, and you get down to the quick of what our hobby is about…

playing make believe.

In the imagination of a child, it’s easy for a pencil to be a dragon-smiting holy sword, or a small patch of dirt in the backyard to transform into an arid wasteland that travelling heroes must cross to save the world.  While a good GM can keep his players well stocked with pencils and dirt, he can’t give his players the sight to see them for what they really are.  Only the child inside can make full use of such valuable tools.  Children are, hands down,  the most immersive gamers, even if they aren’t as refined and rules saavy.  We were all there at one time.  As role-players, most of us strive to reach, in our games, that point of full immersion we used to achieve so effortlessly as children.  With that goal in mind, we’ve quantified every aspect of “make believe,” and in turn, those rules and the fiddly bits of whatever system we may be playing, can keep some of us rooted in the world in which we exist, while the immersive gamer soars in the world that they imagine.

It seems to me that player immersion exists with or without dynamic storytelling and organic role-playing, these concepts just help us achieve it by giving our inner 9 year old more things to play with.

With that bit of conjecture, I must go.  But, you can all rest easy tonight, as I have recently purchased a new pencil sword and, as soon as I don my beach towel cloak, I’m off to save the world…..again.

- The Nondenominational GM


Jun 112012

The grizzled electrician takes the corner a little too tight as he enters the parking lot of 32nd National Bank,  the under-carriage of his old, light blue, service van chipping the curb just slightly further up than the last time he was here.  He squares the front of his baby blue beater with the “handicapped” parking space directly across from the main door.  Flicking his Pall Mall out of the driver’s side window, his hand moves toward the gearshift….

Just as the cigarette lands on the blacktop, exploding with a tiny, incendiary flourish, the van takes off.  Like a confused rocket, it shoots off in reverse, speeding toward the large, glass, double doors of the bank.  One patron, Mr. Giordano, looks up from counting his “Vegas” money just in time to see the bright orange “How’s My Driving?” sticker as it crashes through the glass and steel.   The powder blue wrecking ball turns the bank’s sleek, professional, (and streak-free if you ask the janitor), entryway into an eruption of twisted and mangled door frame accompanied by a barrage of shattered glass, death, and sky blue destruction.

The bank manager, Mrs. Pikney, steps out of her office and takes in the scene.  She gingerly steps over Mrs. Baumgartner, being careful not to ruin her shoes, and hurries over to “Ol’ Frankie”, ecstatic that he’s “finally showed up to replace that light fixture.  And…where is the janitor?”


So that’s not how that really goes down…

“Ol’ Frankie” pulls in, parks, goes to the back of his van, grabs his tool belt and the few tools that he knows he will need, and a couple “just in case” rather than bringing all of them.  He then, goes inside, fixes the light and leaves.  Everybody’s happy, and no bloodshed.

By now, you’re probably asking “What does all of this have to do with GMing?”

All Gms have what’s called the proverbial “GM toolbox.”  The amount of tools you have in your toolbox directly correlates with how long you’ve been practicing the craft and how much  research you do.  These tools include everything that you know about running a game, designing a game,world building, adventure generation, story-telling, and anything else that comes in handy at the game table.  This list also includes gaming ideas that you haven’t tried yet, story and/or villain concepts, variant mechanics, gimmicks, etc.

While these things are all wonderful additions to your gaming repertoire, they must be used sparingly!  You will not need everything in your “GM toolbox” every session.  This is why you need a “GM toolbelt.”  This is the group of tools that you need to bring to the table to get through the session that you have planned and a few “just in case” tools because your players will always surprise you.  If you want to put a gimmick or a new concept in your game, just make sure that it doesn’t ruin the concept that your players have of their game.

There must be some form of continuity in your game and some measure of player comfort around the game table in order for players to be able to appreciate a new concept or gimmick that you bring in.  Too many gimmicks, or constantly changing mechanics can make a game feel very disjointed to some players.  You should try to establish some constants in your game.  The lullaby of familiarity only elevates the level of impact that a skillfully executed surprise mechanic or gimmick can bring to the table.  However,  the opposite can also be true.  If every time you sit down to prepare for the next session, you’re planning on using “this new gimmick,” you can create a situation where the players are constantly on their heels and uncomfortable with the game as a whole.

You’re saying, “This is totally gonna blow their mind!”

They’re saying, “I hope we run into an old man at the inn.  Maybe he’ll give us a map, and we’ll head out for a dungeon crawl.” or “Hopefully the King needs us to rescue the Princess again’”

A GM who constantly tries to cram new concepts or mechanics into a game, regardless of story or setting continuity, runs the risk of destroying the foundations of his game just as effectively as “Ol’ Frankie” and his sky blue van.

In the next few posts, I will be discussing some of the tools that you can find in a good GM’s toolbelt.  Some of these will be old concepts with a new face, but I may throw in a few of my own tricks.

But, for today, I’ll leave you with this advice: (worth every penny you paid for it)

Approach your sessions with a toolbelt full of things that allow you to get the job done in the most efficient manner.  While creativity, novel ideas, and new gaming concepts are what make this great hobby as diverse and entertaining as it is, overuse can break the flow of any game and ruin the experience for your players.  Remember, it’s their game too!

So, don’t ruin Mrs. Pikney’s shoes, and don’t get in the way of old Italian men doing whatever it is they do with “Vegas” money.

-The NonD. GM


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