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Passive (Aggressive) Perception
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Passive (Aggressive) Perception

Author: Ivan Potocnik & Steve Jones

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🎲System-agnostic tabletop roleplaying game discussions. Level up your TTRPG sessions with topic deep-dives, news, and tips for D&D and so much more. 🌲New EVERGREEN episodes every Wednesday. 🤹‍♂️Always as goofy as they are sincere, Ivan and Steve are two forever GMs obsessed with making your next TTRPG session the best one yet. 🗣Covering topics including •metagaming •interviews with industry leaders •bringing real life socio-political issues into your campaigns •TTRPG news, and beyond. 🧙‍♂️Passive (Aggressive) Perception investigates any and all games/systems including D&D, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars, Vampire the Masquerade, and anything else they can get their hands on. If it can be played it's fair game. 📚The conversation is never limited by any one game, but all of the topics, tips, and core principles easily apply to Dungeons & Dragons or whatever else you happen to be playing at the time. 💻 & anywhere you get podcasts.
63 Episodes
Today we're talking about some of the stresses behind and strategies for more successfully bringing brand new systems to the table.  We discuss the shifting responsibility for learning rules, how to navigate first sessions when no one at the table is familiar with the system, and the merits of broadening your repertoire.   || Twitter: @passive_podcast || Email:
I won't bore you with an overly-verbose description for this one. I'll only use this opportunity to say THANK YOU for accompanying us on this grand journey, and we hope that your next session is the best one yet.-Ivan & Steve
Do your players (or yourself as a player) behave differently when your PCs enter a city, village, or township? Today we're discussing some of the unique challenges of playing in a city setting.We go in-depth on how specific game times associated with city play differ from a traditional gaming model which heavily incorporates the TTRPG pillar of exploration. We run down several methods for keeping the action moving, avoiding boredom, and maintaining canon.We also cover the idea of player pragmatism, and the unique phenomenon of behavioral shifts caused by a change of locale.Our Website: https://icastspells.comOur Twitter: @passive_podcastOur Email: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro0:30: TTRPG News08:35: How some adventure types lend themselves to city settings.09:30: Adapting the TTRPG pillar of exploration for intuitive city play.11:50: Making a locale robust without getting stuck in the trap of endless prep.20:15: Lore is great for reinforcing a city's character.22:43: Maintaining canon.26:32: Cities provide much more immediate consequence for questionable behavior.31:58: How to avoid alienating certain player types while in different locales.36:48: Pragmatism, character integrity, and how locale can influence the behavioral shifts of players.44:07: Ways to regain tone after out-of-character conversations short circuit encounters.49:44: Avoiding getting into a boring string of fetch quests.54:33: Outro
To have the problem of finishing a campaign milestone and have your players still wanting more, even though the story is over, is a much better problem to have than your players being bored because there is no end in sight.How many campaigns have you been a part of that have languished and died because of a lack of payoff. Is your gaming group losing steam? Are you scrambling to wrap up story arcs? We address these challenges and more as we discuss how we think many stories are better for having an ending.Our Website: https://icastspells.comOur Twitter: @passive_podcastOur Email: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro02:40: TTRPG News16:19: Main Topic18:32: Personal examples of TTRPG campaigns that suffered from having shaky conclusions.22:30: Consider playing your TTRPG campaign in chapters.27:23: How unclear campaign goals can affect pacing.29:20: The fantasy of the never-ending campaign can stand in the way of good games.32:03: How many times have you as a GM/DM had to scramble to tie up a campaign?33:42: Examples of TTRPG systems that nudge players toward campaign conclusions.35:39: Foregoing a game's natural conclusion can prevent you from trying other things that you might find you enjoy.37:52: Framing the conclusion of your game.45:40: Outro47:31: Absolute Mayhem
Do you ever run entire sessions without a combat encounter? This week we analyze how varying level of combat work in your TTRPG games. We discuss engaging the players in a way that simulates the thrill of combat but in social and exploration encounters. We also talk about the message of "might makes right" and how realism can affect players' enthusiasm or aversion to in-game violence.Mad Jack Churchill: Website: https://icastspells.comOur Twitter: @passive_podcastOur Email: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro0:44: TTRPG News13:41: Main Topic14:32: How much combat should I be including in my TTRPG sessions?25:49: Making non-combat encounters feel like combat.28:05: Giving individual players a chance to shine.31:53: Putting just as much prep energy into exploration and social encounters as you would stat blocks.34:00: Giving the players the tools to define the terms of their own fun.39:43: The message of "might makes right" in games.46:13: Outro
The incredible and prolific TTRPG designer, Alex Clippinger has joined us this week to give us an inside look into Cubicle 7's new project, Broken Weave, drop some game design knowledge, and talk through some of the benefits and pitfalls of adapting Dungeons & Dragons: Fifth Edition. This was a fantastic conversation covering several topics including points of focus for growing as a designer, expectations we bring to the table, burgeoning out into playing non-D&D systems, and much more.We ended with some pretty major takeaways from this episode that were unique to Alex's experience. A huge THANK YOU to Alex for doing this interview and hopefully this won't be the last time we hear from him. Find Alex here:Website: @AclippingerDM's Guild: RPG: Website: https://icastspells.comOur Twitter: @passive_podcastOur Email: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro03:06: A little about Alex03:58: "How did you get into freelancing?"05:37: "Were you a writer before you started doing TTRPG work?"08:49: "How did you get into the hobby of TTRPGs in general?"12:44: "How have you evolved as a designer and a writer since you first started out?"17:52: "How does genre play into your design process, and how do you utilize your influences?"24:47: Inside look at Broken Weave from Cubicle 7; one of Alex's newest unreleased projects34:36: "In the modern trend of 5e adaptations, why do you think it's so common?"38:01: "What is your interest in making 5e adaptations and how is it different from the alternatives?"39:34: "Do you think underdevelopment of the D&D: 5e system is a major design pitfall?"42:53: "What are you gaining and what are you sacrificing when you make the decision to adapt D&D: 5e?"46:17: "Do you think that people sometimes limit themselves by trying to adapt certain game types to D&D: 5e when other systems might already d that thing better?"53:38: Outro
Is your TTRPG character affiliated with anything larger than themselves or the party they roll with (heheh puns)? This week we cover TTRPG factions, guilds, and other big-picture affiliations. We discuss how they can provide scope, inform character backstory, create fascinating and useful narrative drivers for your campaigns, and much more.Website: https://icastspells.comTwitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro01:12: TTRPG News10:12 Main Topic12:50: Some TTRPGs lean more heavily on factions than others13:32: TTRPG factions serving as patrons15:53: Forged in the Dark and juggling power between factions16:58: Big factions that span entire peoples and how they can inform character backstory and disposition21:14: TTRPG factions can help characters realize end-game aspirations22:44: Using factions as a trump card26: 18: Factions can be a way to introduce lore and legacy setting characters27:17: Factions can be a great way to explain the 'start of things'33:05: Watch out for misaligned goals and disparate faction affiliations within your TTRPG party35:25: Outro
What would you do if your GM said "because I said so" during a session? Talking about when GMs flex their table authority 'just because.' There are two sides of the GM using unilateral decision making, and we investigate both the positive and the negative aspects of this contentious issue. We talk through deus ex machina and offer our hot takes on popularized forms of it, plus much more.Website: https://icastspells.comTwitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro0:57: TTRPG News13:00 Main Topic14:43: Ways GM fiat can be used for bad.23:35: On TTRPG deus ex machina.33:56: Ways GM fiat can be used for good.44:02: Outro
This week we talk about the ancient and honored tradition of human storytelling, its base components, what defines a great storyteller, and how all of this applies to the TTRPG experience. We discuss how examining this discipline can improve our games, and how the idea of collaborative storytelling (i.e., story building) has evolved to accommodate the modern gaming paradigm. We try to cut through the haze of  semantic arguments and getting stuck on specific language, and hope to unify some of our perspectives on this contentious topic.Website: https://icastspells.comTwitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro3:57: TTRPG News4:57: GMs ARE storytellers... but so are players.15:25: Base definition of storytelling and how it applies to TTRPGs.19:09: The 5 tenets a good storyteller, and how these apply to the GMs role at the table.28:54: Who at the table shoulders the most story responsibility is a spectrum.33:33: Thought experiment #1 (actors & playwrights).39:17: Thought experiment #2 (AI copywriters).42:22: Improve your game by re-framing the table experience as one of collaborative story building.45:17: The foundation of gaming is mutual respect. Apply this to your table roles.46:19: Outro.
Part two of our special 2-part series where we give our answers (and encourage you to give yours) to the questions presented from #RPGaDay2022, an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying games conceptualized by @autocratik which you can find at In part one we answer the first 16 questions from this highly hash-tag-able social experience, and we hope you will respond with your interesting answers and anecdotes. In this episode we cover questions 17-31.Website: https://icastspells.comTwitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro1:33: TTRPG News8:49: @xerjester "What are your 4 TTRPG character archetypes?"10:47: Main Topic & Recap12:43: Past, present, or future? When is your favorite TTRPG set?15:04: Where is your favorite place to play TTRPGs?17:20: Why has your favorite TTRPG stayed with you?20:01: How long do your TTRPGs last?23:07: Setting Sunday: Share an intriguing detail about a game setting you enjoy.26:15: Who is your current TTRPG character?29:10: What situation is your TTRPG character currently in?31:29: When did you starting playing this TTRPG character?31:47: Where has that TTRPG character been?33:25: Why does your TTRPG character do what they do?35:07: How has your TTRPG character changed?35:59: Who would you like to see take part in #RPGaDAY2022?37:22: What should #RPGaDAY do for its 10th anniversary next year?37:56: When did you first participate in #RPGaDAY?39:43: Outro
A special 2-part series where we give our answers (and encourage you to give yours) to the questions presented from #RPGaDay2022, an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying games conceptualized by @autocratik which you can find at In part one we answer the first 16 questions from this highly hash-tag-able social experience, and we hope you will respond with your interesting answers and anecdotes. Website: https://icastspells.comTwitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro0:48: TTRPG News 7:16: Who would you like to introduce to RPGs?13:02: What is a great introductory RPG?17:15: When were you introduced to RPGs?22:17: Where would you host a first game?27:08: Why would a player like the game in the previous question?31:23: How would you get more people paying RPGs?34:38: System Sunday - Describe a cool part of a system that you love.40:11: Who introduced you to RPGs?43:08: What is the 2nd RPG you bought?47: 45: When did/will you start GMing?50:12: If you could live in a game setting, where would it be?54: 32: Why did you starting RPG-ing?57:31: How would you change how you started playing RPGs?1:00:08: Who would you want to GM for you?1:07:25: What would be your perfect game?1:09:36: Outro
Discussing everyone's favorite stomping ground, tabletop roleplaying game taverns. We cover a lot of ground ranging from tips and advice on how to keep your players on their toes, to how we think adding extra flavor to a tavern setting can prevent this part of gaming from becoming just another uninteresting place to take a long rest. NPC generation tips, keeping continuity in questing, listener feedback, TTRPG news, and much more.Website: https://icastspells.comTwitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro1:00: @bddc_pod "On TTRPG Lore"10:56: Tabletop Roleplaying Games as film22:39: TTRPG News25:24: Main Topic25:25: Why we think how we have been playing taverns needs an overhaul40:53: Taking your players' cues45:55: Give your TTRPG tavern proprietor genuine life51:11: Subvert your players' expectations to keep things interesting57:20: Continuity in questing and making it relevant in your taverns/waypoints1:02:59: Home bases vs oases1:08:13: Outro
Ep 51 - Lore

Ep 51 - Lore


This week we cover the importance of a tabletop roleplaying game's setting lore. We discuss why we think it's sometimes neglected and cover the potential risks of not being wholly acquainted with your in-game world. We touch on topics such as setting uniqueness, campaign scope, bringing real-world assumptions into sessions, the loremaster player archetype, and much more.Website: https://icastspells.comTwitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro0:59: TTRPG News13:20: @BurnelDan "What is your favorite character you've had in any game?"21:36: Main Topic23:19: Dispelling the misconception that some games don't have lore24:53: What exactly we mean by TTRPG lore25:56: The subtlety of deep lore games28:37: TTRPG lore is what players fall in love with and remember29:55: Lore knowledge helps us play our most genuine characters31:27: Not using the available lore can strip a setting of its uniqueness34:29: The absence of lore can serve as a hook35:18: Emergent lore, while useful sometimes, can be a cop-out for players who don't want to do their research39:47: Gaining a working knowledge of a game's lore informs the scope of the players' actions41:02: Gaining a baseline of lore knowledge shows respect to the game and the GM42:40: Knowing lore prevents us from bringing real-world assumptions into the game44:45 Knowing game lore cuts down on lengthy exposition dumps (employing the loremaster player archetype)49:27: Wanting emergent story has merit, as does targeted learning53:32: Outro
At the behest of several listeners, we're finally doing a general "Getting To Know Us" episode. In this episode we talk briefly about our roots, who we are, and what led us to gaming. The majority of the episode is comprised of individual questions from listeners and friends of the show that had questions for us as GMs that they might otherwise not have had the opportunity to ask. We cover narcissism in GMing, character quirks that people might find distasteful, using pop-culture references, how the times have changed and how we've grown with them as gamers, our favorite types of character archetypes, and so much more.Website: https://icastspells.comTwitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro1:55: @GazpachoTT "What is the 101 on Ivan and Steve?"17:01: Sabz "How would you describe the difference between being a GM and being a player? What is your preference and why?"25:22: @0_0blique "Using non-heroic characters in a heroic-setting campaign"30:52: @SJohnRoss "Why the ponytail?"31:46: @TenuousDnD "How many pop culture references are too many to include in your homebrew world?"35:42: @TenuousDnD "What is the first piece of advice you give to a new GM?"38:06: @TenuousDnD "What is the difference between a GM and a DM?"39:58: @TenuousDnD "Why do GMs seem to love puns so much?"41:49: @SwampRob "How do you make different cities with different cultures seem different?"46:47: Jay R "Do you want your players to have as much control over the universe as the GM? How do you manage the tone in a collaborative framework without keeping the reigns too tight?"50:27: Eric C "While GMing, what is the ideal blend of improv, sandbox, and intended story following the beaten path? Are there times where you prefer one or the other, or does it depend on the group?"55:33 : Jenny V "... What do you do if the PCs are doing something in the game that you find personally distasteful?1:02:36: Bill P "What changes do you see, or perhaps growth have you experienced in your years of gaming... keeping in mind age and culture?"1:07:37: ToxicSquirrel "What's the most difficult type of player that you have ever had in a group you were GMing? Do you have a favorite type of player?"1:10:32: @Ivrione "What is a game you would love to run but not play? Vice versa?"1:14:18: @Ivrione "What is your biggest TTRPG regret? What is your biggest TTRPG triumph?"1:20:20: Craig K "Do you consider the GM a storyteller or a rule adjudicator? Which do you consider yourself?"1:24:56: Craig K "What is the most important trait of a storyteller/GM?"1:26:49: Craig K "Narcissism and the GM. Do you think there is a certain amount of narcissism necessary to be a good GM?"1:37:35: Outro
This week we cover incorporating diseases, curses, maladies, and other general afflictions into your tabletop roleplaying games. We analyze why we think this aspect of gaming doesn't get as much love as it should and talk about some interesting ways to make it work at your table. We go over how to run diseases and curses, pick apart how they can affect your campaign, give tips on how to make them a more meaningful part of the world, and offer examples that bridge the gap between the mundane and the supernatural.Website: https://icastspells.comTwitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro2:23: TTRPG News17:31: @Flyingfox369 "Being tasteful with diseases in games"21:14: Main Topic30:42: @FightGuyStudio "Making disease the basis for an entire TTRPG campaign"35:17: @LucyDnDPrincess "using the looming possibility of a disease as a potential apocalypse event"41:58: @DiceTherapy "Lycanthropy, weresharks, vampirism, and other supernatural afflictions"54:08: Social Information55:05: Examples of curses, diseases, and other afflictions to use in your TTRPG campaigns01:02:07: The Malady Workshop (Unique maladies created for 5e written by med students)
Having a meaningful discussion about how skills and experiences at the tabletop roleplaying game table can apply to one's 'real life.' We cover career impacts, its influence on self-improvement and self-exploration, how it can aid in developing and nurturing strong interpersonal relationships, its applications in psychotherapy, using it as a tool for learning, and much more. We also cover some TTRPG news and discuss several replies from listeners.Website: https://icastspells.comTwitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro0:34: TTRPG News16:07: @grenchaw "Passive (Aggressive) Perception custom magic item"17:57: Main Topic20:55: @Cyber_Trout "3-hour watches with the kids and scenarios for customer service"22:30: @LochTheFoxGod "how to incorporate D&D into your resume"23:05: @Brian_Gerken "RPGs helped me get a legal internship"26:44: @JackGogsbane "Learning history and myth through games"31:25: @BurnelDan "Learning vocabulary through roleplaying games"33:24: @JormofYore "LARPing helped me get over my shyness"41:09: @Ramethzer0 "Tabletop roleplaying games helped to hone my communication skills"42:41: PSYCHODRAMA.WORLD "General Effects of Roleplay Techniques In Psychotherapy"45:13: @GuardianNoodle "D&D helped me get over my fear of public speaking"47:37: TTRPGs as cultural unifiers51:14: @TiaTruths "My gaming group is a party IRL and we consider each other family"53:11: Applications to session zero56:09: Outro
In this episode we're asking important questions about traveling in tabletop roleplaying games. We go in-depth into the handwaving paradigm, why we think that is, and methods you can employ to make it a more meaningful part of your table experience.  We also discuss some of our favorite travel systems from games, how we've hacked them to work for us, and why it can be important to explore this particular pillar of RPGs.Website: Twitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro1:20: TTRPG News10:42: Main Topic11:15: @MicahRRogers "Travel encounters for every city block."14:13: @Eat_Bray_Love "OSR hex/point crawl."16:34: @LikesPierogi "Contextually relevant encounters."19:13: "Why do we choose to handwave TTRPG travel?"23:08: @AbyssalBrews "Campfire travel system." (also mentioned at 29:06)26:58: "The One Ring 1e Journey System."32:30: "Savage Worlds Interludes."33:42: "How Ivan runs TTRPG travel."36:20: "Random encounter tables."37:52: "Travel encounters that evolve into social encounters or combat encounters.)42:45: "How is implementing a TTRPG travel system better than just handwaving?"49:50: Outro
We talk about getting your campaign back on track after a layoff, whether that be a week, a month, a year, or beyond. We address some of the challenges of getting players re-bought in , how to set the table for the best possible return experience, and some of the things that can kill a campaign. We also cover some new TTRPG releases and the return of a style of gaming which, to many, has been lost to time.  Twitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: Intro1:48: @candleisles "High Trust Trad"5:53: TTRPG News12:45: Main Topic40:13: Outro
In this episode we cover some of the strategies behind, and the implications of, splitting your TTRPG party. We discuss how it can help expedite the action, but also increase work load and slow down your pacing. We go in-depth with several person and listener-sourced examples and dig into when splitting the party may be a good idea and when it may be ill-advised. Tune in for help running a split party, TTRPG news, listener feedback, and more. Twitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: IntroTTRPG News: 1:23Main Topic/Poll From @RpgMatch: 11:45@CYBERKING9906 "I never Split The Party": 12:25@JayDubTheGamer "Shopping & Downtime": 16:42@Attercap "Staying Invested/Limiting In-Game Knowledge": 26:21@NoTMock "Tuning Out": 28:00@CandleIsles "Spotlight Juggling": 30:48@TNotsolidsnake "Using Text Chat": 35:06@GeekPostNet "12-Player Split": 36:30@DiceTherapy "5 Players, 5 Puzzles": 37:34@Vegasucks "Split The PLAYERS": 38:21
NEW COVER ARTThis week we're talking about what makes for an ideal session length? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of shorter vs longer sessions. Do we still have it in us to run marathon sessions that last the whole weekend? Tune in for insights on how to structure your games for time, TTRPG news, listener feedback, and more. Twitter: @passive_podcastEmail: passiveaggropod@protonmail.comShow Breakdown:0:00: IntroTTRPG News: 1:00@gazpachoTT "Playing I Spy": 7:32@34thGingerbread "The Fountain of Going to Jail"Main Topic/Poll By @RpgMatch: 12:04@TA_Stangroom "Whole Weekend Sessions": 14:49@yum_dm "Real Life Happens": 16:07@AcademicFoxhole "Session Frequency Chart": 18:58
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