Season 2 is now airing!
The premier game of season 2 is Retrostar! A 70's sci-fi game both created and run by Barak Blackburn. This game should appeal to anyone who is a fan of science fiction at any level, whether it be space, time travel, superpowers, or cybernetics. The psychology focus for this game will be "Family Therapy".
Recommended Ages: 12+
Genre(s): 60s, 70s, Sci-Fi, TV Shows
Rules Depth/Difficulty: 3/10
Why you should play it: Warp into the past and run your own TV show during the grooviest decades. The game does a phenomenal job emulating the feel of television by breaking play into acts based on a set number of dice rolls. The structure creates forward moving and interesting narrative. There are also dials for things like cheese, special effects, or seriousness to modulate the themes and settings.
Challenges: Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects is the option to give up your control to the "Showrunner" (gamemaster) in exchange for success. Losing agency can be a struggle for some players and should be committed to in advance. Keeping a flowing show on track can be difficult for new gamemasters.
Therapy Focus: Family Therapy. Watch the way our family interacts and the dynamics in play. At the end of the final episode Nate and I will have a discussion reflecting back on the game while teaching about family therapy.
Click the header to be taken to their website! Interested about the development side of the game? We interview Barak Blackburn on the Degecast here!
RETROSTAR PREMIER EPISODE
The second game of season 2 is Realms of Pugmire!
This game utilizes Wizards of The Coast's open source license to create a high fantasy world filled with anthropomorphic animals. Taking key mechanics from Dungeons & Dragons, play is accessible running a simplified version of a proven structure. This game should appeal to animal lovers and fans of the classic high fantasy genre. The psychology focus for this game will be "Anxiety".
Recommended Ages: 10+
Genre(s): High Fantasy, Animal Themes
Rules Depth/Difficulty: 3/10
Why you should play it: Take on the roles of Labrador warriors, Boston Terrier spell casters, or Great Dane rogues far in the future after the disappearance of humanity. Dogs have been "uplifted" gaining greater intelligence alongside other animals and advanced culture to the medieval period. Roleplaying animal characters one has the ability to remove an additional layer of nerves to immerse themselves in the game. Telling human stories through the eyes of animals allows us to remove preconceived notions and biases while maintaining compelling essence.
Challenges: For some people the animal aspect will impede their play. It can be easy to focus on how dogs should behave and therefor disconnect too much from your character. Similarly the idea of animal violence can prevent enjoyment.
Therapy Focus: Anxiety. Watch how each character struggles with ideals, bonds, and flaws integrated into their backgrounds. Roleplaying dog characters affords players enough distance from reality to tackle challenges safely. At the end of the final episode Nate and I will have a discussion reflecting back on the game while teaching about anxiety.
Click the header to be taken to their website! Interested about the development side of the game? Hear our interview with game creator Eddy Webb on the Degecast!
The third game of season 2 is M A S H E D!
According to creator, Mark Plemmons, the game is inspired by Night Valkyries and the MASH TV show. The core book reads like a fun history text allowing for seemless entry into the Korean war setting. The dice rolling uses the Powered By The Apocalypse foundation, but adds a plethora of individual moves to make each job feel unique and help define your role in camp. Combat is basically nonexistent. Instead it focuses on the daily life of military stationed in a foreign country and the intensity of medical situations. This game should appeal to lovers of medical drama, history buffs, and veterans in a fun, educational, and therapeutic capacity. The psychology focus for this game will be trauma in the military and medical field.
Recommended Ages: 16+
Genre(s): Military, Medical, History
Rules Depth/Difficulty: 4/10
Why you should play it: Take on the roles of military personnel in the forms of warrant officers, chaplains, surgeons, and physicians. Experience some of the grittiest noncombat drama possible in a roleplaying game. Tackling the struggles of military in a foreign land during war can be an eye opening event or a healthy medium for veterans to discuss their own experiences. The game serves as an educational platform allowing people to make quick dramatic choices that may or may not save a fellow soldier's life.
Challenges: For some people the brutality of war will be too heavy. Playing with ultra realism, the nature of injuries will be graphic as they would be in an operating room. All the information you could possibly need about the war is within the text, but it may be a lot for first time players.
Therapy Focus: Trauma. Watch how each character struggles to remain calm and happy while their fellow members suffer grievous injuries. Every decision counts and impacts if a soldier lives or dies in the operating room. Every job matters in maintaining the sanity of the company, allowing them to perform their best. We learn that even the small things matter in daily life there like mail delivery, paperwork, or cleanliness. Everybody is simply trying to survive physically and mentally in a tough scenario. Beginning with this game series, we will have the gameplay separate from rules and wrap up discussions.
Click the header to be taken to their website! Interested about the development side of the game? Check out our interview with game creator Mark Plemmons on the Degecast!
M A S H E D
We're bringing you a campaign streamed and unedited. Strixhaven – imagine Hogwarts meets Harvard. This D&D plane of existence is actually a crossover with Magic The Gathering. Rather than the 4 houses in Harry Potter, we have 5 colleges that distinguish one’s path. The school was established by 5 ancient dragons, all still living to this day, on the plane of Arcavios. Each of these is overseen today by 2 opposing Deans that reflect the essence of the fields. Rather than our usual psychology focus for this game, the main themes will be education and self-exploration using roleplaying as a medium.
Recommended Ages: 14+
Genre(s): Fantasy, Magic The Gathering, School
Rules Depth/Difficulty: 5/10
Why you should play it: Take on the roles of students at the most prestigious magical school in the multiverse. This game focuses heavily on the antics of university life within a magical context. While there is certainly combat, one will worry more about deepening relationships and passing exams.
Challenges: There is a lot of material, so an experienced DM is best for managing the rules of D&D and the rich lore of Strixhaven. Using a multiverse setting, one could pull characters and ideas from any D&D or Magic The Gathering world. Combat first players will enjoy this less as a lot of the events aren't centered around battle.
Therapy Focus: Self-reflection and perspective building. The players were asked to create characters that would be sorted into the same unique colleges that they'd attend as themselves. This serves to establish a relatable tether while exploring new ideas and behaviors.
The fourth game of season 2 is EARLY DARK. The game is one featuring magick, but was designed as a realistic reflection of human ecologies. There are five main civilizations, which are all blends of real-world cultures. Co-creator Calvin Johns guides the deges through his campaign, explaining that a goal is to demonstrate and educate about social structures outside the traditional Western thought. Sometimes particularly harsh realities are highlighted, especially regarding social justice and class hierarchies. Our team digs deep into the mindsets of the heroes to best paint this cultural mural.
Recommended Ages: 16+
Genre(s): Dark Fantasy, Gritty, Anthropological Examination
Rules Depth/Difficulty: 10/10
Why you should play it: While this game is extremely entertaining for any gamer who loves rule depth, it's also a wonderful educational experience. The world is thought provoking, giving space for critical analysis of other cultures, and the system rewards players for roleplaying their aspects to help foster understanding. Additionally, the combat system is an entire game in itself, putting players against the GM in tactical warfare.
Challenges: The biggest challenge far and away will be to fully grasp what's offered in this game. There are rules for everything, but in the best way possible. Their function isn't to weigh one down, but to create balance and depth. The world itself is interesting to invest your time in, but you'll need help learning everything the first few times you play.
Therapy Focus: Culture. Cultural Psychology is its own unique discipline exploring how one's culture and social traditions affect behaviors and shape cognition. Early Dark's world is built from an anthropological foundation and roleplaying these milieu help us better understand.
With the gaming having so much information, we recommend downloading the free character sheets on the Game Master page to help follow along.
Be sure to download the character sheets here.