Every week, Recall Knowledge recaps the Know Direction content of the past week, a preview of the Know Direction content of the week to come, and the director of operations, Ryan Costello, thoughts on the state of the network.
In the latest of Know Direction, episode 238 – For Love of Crunch, Jessica Redekop kicked off the conversation with the somewhat controversial opinion that she likes alignment.
My take on whether true neutral is the best alignment is the polar opposite of hers, but I agree with her original take: Alignment is great for the game. I didn’t bring it up during the episode (because the advertised topic wasn’t alignment and we’d already spent a lot of time on it) but I love it as a storytelling tool. Not just as a GM. I love when I’m watching a show or movie and the tension in an argument pivots from good vs evil to lawful vs chaotic. A few days after the episode, I came across a great example of it in an episode of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo are fighting Rocksteady. The turtles have a McGuffin that Rocksteady wants for Shredder’s evil plans. The lines are clear: the turtles are on the side of good and Rocksteady is on the side of evil.
Rocksteady gets his hands on Michelangelo and threatens to kill him unless the turtles hand over the McGuffin. Leonardo and Rocksteady start negotiating, and both give their word that they’ll honour their end of the exchange.
In case you aren’t familiar, this version of Rocksteady was a Russian military officer pre-mutation. When Leonardo swears he will hand over the McGuffin in exchange for Michelangelo’s life, there’s a telling moment of hesitation on Rocksteady’s part. Rocksteady is lawful evil. More lawful than evil. Among the attributes of a lawful mindset, he believed orchestrating a scenario of tactical superiority overshadowed the moral conflict they were engaging in. And when Leonardo gave his word, he made the exchange, believing he’d invariably won in that scenario.
The Raphael swoops in after Michelangelo and the McGuffin had been exchanges, grabbing the McGuffin. Rocksteady doesn’t lament losing. He laments that they had a deal that the turtles didn’t honour. Raphael notes the chaotic (or neutral) fact that he didn’t have a deal with Rocksteady, while Leonardo remains silent on the issue. Maybe he knew the chaotic Raphael would not honour the deal, maybe the lawful part of his brain was upset with Raph and in conflict with the good part of his brain that was happy to have Michelangelo and the McGuffin.
Alignment contextualizes the scene and informs the choices the actors made, Rocksteady’s actor, Fred Tatasciore, in particular. I’m curious how people who don’t use alignment systems to similarly inform their choices and enhance their games look at that scene.
Enough about Ninja Turtles alignment, here’s a recap of what you might have missed last week from the Know Direction Network:
Recap of November 30th to December 5th
What happened last week on knowdirectionpodcast.com and twitch.tv/knowdirection?
Monday, November 30th
I already summarized this episode of Adventurous in last week’s Recall Knowledge, but I’m writing about it here in case you missed it and to future proof the next Block 1 Recall Knowledge.
This is that “last week’s Recall Knowledge” you’ve heard so much about!
Tuesday, December 1st
Cathy’s been sending adorable art of our Adventurous heroes, so I shared a few pieces that showed off a little of everyone. This is free for all, so even if you aren’t an patron, you can check these out.
John and Ron chat about how their American Thanksgivings went, before taking a broad look at Starfinder encounter design particularities.
Wednesday, December 2nd
I know I say this a lot lately, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from this topic. Fortunately, James and Jess were not only interesting guests, they were great conversationalists, and passionate gamers with thoughts on game mechanics.
I’ve long believed there is more room for rules for religious characters other than divine casters. Crystal proposes a great subsystem to tie a characters faith and actions towards that faith into a points system with miraculous rewards.
Thursday, December 3rd
We talk alignment, the planes, rules for players, rules for GMs, and rules for designers in this absolute marathon chat. We crammed a lot into the hour we had with our guests.
Something Creates – A Planet
By Andrew Sturtevant
What is Andrew creating today? Why a whole planet! And he makes it look easy, thanks to Paizo’s Starfinder: Deck of Many Worlds. This is not an ad, it’s a network consensus that the Deck of Many Worlds is a marvel of game design meets graphic design, and an asset for every Starfinder GM.
Friday, December 4th
I think of this episode as the exposition power of NPC journals! Our Intrepid Heroes fight some monsters, discover that these monsters are transmuted hosts, then find a journal and learn about the experience these people-turned-creatures went through. Between the journal writing and Ron’s reading, it’s poignant and moving, an excellent example of how to make exposition entertaining.
Bend the Knee – Wizard of Odd
By Loren Sieg
Imagine you’re just driving along when *snap* you and your car get sucked away to a fantasy land. Your most powerful technology is useless without WiFi, meanwhile technology you take for granted is indistinguishable from magic to the locals.
Fun group of guests answer this week’s question: BJ Hensley, who has worked just about every game industry job you can think of for a wide ranger of publishers. Danielle Reynolds, co-host of Game Desgn Unboxed, snuck in the announcement that one of her board game designs, Inn Keeper, has been signed! And listener Jimmy Dick aka Xathos of Varisia, fixture in the Know Direction live streams and Patron’s Private Sanctum aftershow.
Saturday, December 5th
Eric is unapologetically all about party games, and I dig that. Party games don’t always get the respect they deserve. Fun and light does not mean easy to design. When heavier games need to be updated, the designer can just add rules. Party game designers do not share that luxury, since their games need quick and easily digested rules.
Preview of December 7th to December 11th
This is back to Block 1 of our 2-block schedule.
Monday, December 7th
Recall Knowledge – Chaotic Lawful Neutral Turtles
Back to naming these after the subject of the editorial. I think it’s the direction I will go from now now.
Tuesday, December 8th
Perram and I discussed our plans for the Know Direction episodes recording on the 16th and 30th and how we might follow-up last year’s Holiday Special.
Legend Lore 016 – Druid
I’ve talked a lot about how complicated the 2e druid is lately, so you know I am excited to hear Luis and Loren dissect this class.
Wednesday, December 9th
Probably. We’re working out what the episode could look like.
Thursday, December 10th
Friday, December 11th
One last note: Credit to listener Paul Fields for improving upon my title’s joke.
Now you know,