May 31

Faculty Meeting # 95 – Games Within Games


New RPG Academy Crest Hi Rez clean edges

Hello and welcome to Faculty Meetings: The general advice and discussion podcasts from The Rpg Academy. This is Faculty Meeting # 95 – Games Within Games

In this episode Caleb and I begin with a quick update about AcadeCon, most notably that Author Tim Waggoner is joining the ranks of our Special Guest lists.  Tim is local to Dayton and I know him from the Eberron Set series; The Blade of the Flame.  Tim is going to be scheduling some writer workshops in addition to games if anyone is interested.


We then move into our two main topics, the first comes from Twitter Follower @Gamesdisk who was asking for some help regarding having a PC who is a player of a CCG type game and how to make that part of the character important and not just come down to a die roll.


We then talk a bit about a concept brought up by Jonathan Scott on our Google+ Page regarding how in fiction it’s often ingenuity or luck that leads to defeating a BBEG, like breaking out the darkened windows to defeat a vampire who has forgotten the sunrise or how the medusa head was able to defeat the Kraken in Clash of the Titans.  While not a direct question, these comments got me thinking about could you mirror this trope in an RPG and how



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    • Jerry H. on May 31, 2016 at 12:38 pm
    • Reply

    Regarding a game within a game, Michael and Caleb both touched on this briefly off an on during their comments, but I think it should be stressed that you shouldn’t have this game within a game negatively impact your other players at the table so that the other players become bored. It would be better to do the game outside of the regular session or involve all of the players somehow in the game. Another route to go is to have the other players doing something else interesting while the one player plays the game, and you as the GM go back and forth between the two groups so that all of the players stay engaged and have fun.

    1. I very much agree with you on this point. To make a game within a game fun and important to the plot, it should incorporate all players and PCs. If not all the players are interested, the ones that are can work directly with the GM over email or before or after a main game session.

  1. So my thoughts on the game within the game, what I would lean towards doing is use that skill challenge idea. I don’t remember which podcast it was for sure, think One Shot Podcast, where they were playing a game that was computer based in the game, but you were playing against other people, so they came up with different ways to try and cheat the system and different people would do different things. That is what my brain went to immediately, and there just needs to be a good way to describe it, or on Critical Role there will be times when a DC is set, but based on help from other people, that DC goes down on a success by two (I believe) and up by one on a failure. I think both of those ways are interesting and something that can keep everyone involved while keeping both games moving quickly.

    The ability to stumble onto a win should be based on the fact that there are some things you can just stumble across of environmentally. Your example of getting a vampire talking is good, no need to set-up windows specifically there or try and lead them into that, but maybe they can talk long enough that they can break windows, or maybe they can talk long enough so that they can just leave without the vampire killing them because they seem like such a little threat. I do think that there are times where the players can have a different type of battle, maybe the monster is unkillable but there are runes around the room that they can destroy to just turn the hobgoblin into a normal hobgoblin instead of a super powered fighting machine. But don’t set it up as that, set it up as here is a scary hobgoblin, he might kill you completely if you just continue to beat him with a stick or he might throw you in prison or he might just kick you out because you can’t touch him, but if you come across those runes and start destroying them, you can win this fight. It’s a good non-combat objective to a combat situation and will keep the players who are less hack and slash involved when there is combat.

    1. A skill challenge is a great middle ground, I think. It’s not perfect, due to the limitation of some skills, but it does open the game to creative narration and use of skills. If the players are on board, go for it. No-matter the method chosen, the solution absolutely requires player buy-in.

      I like your suggestions for non-combat objectives. I think that this requires some pre-planning from the GM. Or at least a few notes about how a challenge could be overcome without fighting. But on the other hand, if the players walk into an encounter and start asking about other ways to overcome the objective, the GM can easily adapt his or her plans based on the players’ input and suggestions. There is a lot of give and take between players and GMs here. Ultimately, I think that the point we were trying to make is that trying to force a specific type of even to occur is probably not the best idea. You can try to encourage events to happen by providing resources or creating problems, but the players should always have the final word on how an encounter is resolved.

    • Pixie on June 2, 2016 at 4:38 pm
    • Reply

    On the topic of the players killing a monster to high, what if that’s the opening to the campaign? Maybe the party comes up on the dragon that’s already wounded, but has killed the other adventurers. The party kills the dragon, now the town thinks they are super heros. It might be fun to see how they deal with the fallout; NPCs saying “oh, you killed a dragon at level 1,at level 5 you can take the nest! “

    1. That is a great hook to build a campaign on. Even better, what if the party kills the monster on accident? Or a mysterious individual killed the monster and the PCs just happen to come across the scene and are viewed as heroes? There are a lot of interesting ways this can go.

    • Red Rabbit on June 18, 2016 at 7:12 pm
    • Reply

    Picked up the 5e phb and dmg back in late 2014. But after hundreds and hundreds of hours of mock combats, books of homebrew and dozens of characters. Id yet to play with anyone. Yesterday I dmed/played two encounters for my stepson. Next week I plan to run horde of the dragon queen using 95 table topics I’ve heard about 5 times each. Just wanted to share that with the site. Wish me luck.

    1. Red Rabbit,

      Best of luck – let us know if you need any specific help and please let us know how it goes – good or ill we can learn from it 🙂


        • Red Rabbit on June 23, 2016 at 2:47 am
        • Reply

        My first time Dming went decent, we opted not to run HotDQ, and instead just aimlessly fight monsters ala mercenary style. We ran 5 combats, using both tokens and theater of the mind. I plan to continue dming and get better though.

        1. RR,

          That’s not a bad way to start. For many combat is the most fun and they enjoy the challenge of it as well as having fun figuring out how best to use their characters. The Role playing part is easiest. it’s just pretend. Keep going and try to work as much RP in to the combats as you can and you’ll be running time-travel campaigns before you know it.


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