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Fictional Societies – Ep54

Who knows, he could be a real sweetheart if you got to know him.

How believable are the societies in roleplaying games? Many of the established game worlds we play in expect the suspension of belief, granted. If you really look at it, though, is an evil society sustainable? Are races inherently evil, like the drow or orcs?


In this Episode we take on these questions and ask a few more.


Fictional Societies – Ep54


Cast – Eric, Mike, Dan, Mark and Jayson


Running Time – 36:21


00:00     Intro

00:40     On to the Topic

Items Mentioned: Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer 40k, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Idiocracy

04:36     TANGENT: The Sex Perspective

05:57     TANGENT: Orcs (or Orks)

06:54     Back to Topic

Items Mentioned: Keep on the Borderlands, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Action Nerds: Go!, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, Firefly, World of Greyhawk, Rolemaster Classic

17:12     TANGENT: James Franco, Paul Walker and the Mark Hamel Society

Items Mentioned: James Franco, Paul Walker, Cracked Mark Hamill Scale

18:21     Back to Topic

Items Mentioned: Stan Nicholls Orcs, Markus Heitz Dwarves, Ice Pirates, World of Warcraft, Harry Potter

21:00     TANGENT: Goblins, Elves and Barney Stenson

Items Mentioned: Barney Stenson, The Karate Kid

21:59     Back to Topic

Items Mentioned: Starship Troopers, Men in Black

23:04     TANGENT: The Humans

Items Mentioned: Survivorman, Bear Grylls

25:42     Back to Topic

Items Mentioned: Star Trek, Legend of the Five Rings

32:12     TANGENT: How Evolved Are We?

Items Mentioned: The Hunger Games, Thor

33:27     Back to Topic

35:37     Outro



  1. Brian
    Brian April 28, 2012

    1st I love the podcast. I’m between gaming groups and this is like finding an oasis filled with fellow gamers offering you free drinks.

    2nd I think you guys missed something in the Orc Ecology discussions.This all boils down to development of the hobby itself. If you look through enough Dragon magazines (or the slew of others that were around in the 80’s) you will see dozens of segments were indeed done over the years on the ecology of different monsters. They even did one on these stupid floating farting mushrooms at one point.

    The thing is timing: These discussions didn’t really come up until TSR moved from a module (adventure) focus into developing campaign settings. When the players were not going to just make a single visit to a location, and it was going to be come a regular weekly event, you had to develop society for the first time.
    There were elements in early Greyhawk discussions (when TSR was taking them from Gary I’m sad to say) where how does one determine the population of the cities? Early Greyhawk had very few Minorities because Gygaxian style gameplay was basically humans vs the world of nasties. Its the classic quote about whats most likely to happen when you meet a Dragon:
    Do you say ‘hello’ to your steak?

    Settings were different because cities were more important. You could now have social dynamics that you couldn’t before. The first rogue development really happened in the cities as they suddenly had guilds and assassinations and politics. More social questions were asked, but at the end of the day decisions were made to keep the old style alive instead of loosing playerbase. People were used to (and it was fun) to slaughter Orcs. Suddenly interjecting social reality might be fun for certain advanced play, but conflict is key to the fun factor. Is the game really that much better without at least something to swing the axe at?

    White Wolf and other game companies took the approach you all discussed. It helped move the hobby into a more advanced gamestyle. That is one of the reasons I’m a diehard white wolf fan, but it is a very different style of game. Sometimes people just want to shoot some damn robots, or orcs, or whatever mook you currently set as the disposable targets.

    End of the day, Logic vs FUN… I’m gonna play the game that is most fun for me. Wouldn’t you?

  2. MikeB
    MikeB April 29, 2012

    That’s a great point. I’m a hardcore Greyhawk fan and I hadn’t thought of the hack n slash monster race vs storyline race treatment. I guess after being in the hobby for so long you hardwire your brain differently to whatever is in vogue. Drow culture and religion was present in Greyhawk, but as far as dungeon crawls go, they weren’t much above orcs at that point until Forgotten Realms took off and ran with them in Driz’zt and Menzoberranzan.

  3. Mark R
    Mark R August 28, 2013

    You guys should get a copy of “Fey” by Paul Kidd. It’s a hilarious riff on fantasy novels, geek culture, and fictitious societies living or dying by their own merits. It’s short and it has pictures too.

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