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Welcome to Ludology, an analytical discussion of the hows and whys of the world of board games. Rather than news and reviews, Ludology explores a variety of topics about games from a wider lens, as well as discuss game history, game design and game players.

We post a new Ludology episode every other week. In these episodes, hosts Erica Bouyouris, Gil Hova, Scott Rogers, and Sen-Foong Lim deep-dive into a single topic within game design, often with a well-regarded guest from the game industry. We generally focus on tabletop game design (mainly board games and RPGs), but we often pull in experts from all forms of games, from video games to escape rooms to slot machines.

On weeks where there is no flagship Ludology episode, we will alternate between two smaller mini-sodes.

GameTek is a long-running feature from the Dice Tower podcast by Ludology co-founder Geoff Engelstein that explores the math and science behind games.  GameTek Classic episodes were once broadcast on The Dice Tower podcast, while other GameTek episodes were recorded specially for Ludology.

Biography of a Board Game is a series hosted by Scott Rogers that explores the history behind classic and modern board games. It was once on The Dice Tower, but has since moved full-time to Ludology.

We aim for most Ludology episodes to be timeless, so you are welcome to explore our entire catalog. Most of it should age quite well. The podcast was started in 2011 by Geoff Engelstein and Ryan Sturm, with Mike Fitzgerald taking over for Ryan in 2015. Gil joined the show in 2017 when Mike stepped aside, and Emma joined in 2019 when Geoff ended his tenure as host. Emma left in 2021, and Erica and Sen joined us.

Have your own thoughts about our topics? We encourage you to visit us at our guild on Boardgamegeek to get involved in a continuing discussion.

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Oct 18, 2020

Emma and Gil welcome Sen-Foong Lim back to the show to discuss the differences—and similarities—between board games and roleplaying games. We go through the perspectives of playing them, designing them, and examining the culture of play between both.

Sen originally appeared on Ludology 134: There's No "I" in Team with frequent co-designer Jay Cormier.


0m41s: Board games Sen has designed or co-designed: Junk Art, Belfort, D&D: Rock Paper Wizard. RPGs Sen has designed, co-designed, or written for: Jiang-Shi: Blood in the Banquet Hall, Kids on Bikes, The Curse of the House of Rookwood, North Sea Epilogues

3m39s: If the comparison between RPG and improv intrigues you, wait till you hear Ludology 237...

4m47s: An example of a crunchy old-school RPG: Traveller

5m10s: Chainmail was the game that D&D evolved from.

5m20s: While Gil agrees with Sen that encumbrance as implemented by a game like D&D tends to bog down gameplay, a nice counter-example is Torchbearer, a dungeon-crawling TTRPG in which encumbrance is a central mechanism.

7m44s: You can see one Emma's chats with Peter Adkison (who founded Wizards of the Coast and owns Gen Con) here.

11m34s: Sen is currently watching Black Sails.

12m31s: RPGs where your character is likely to die: Fiasco, Paranoia

17m55s: The RPG Masks: A New Generation.

19m14s: Gil and Sen's friend and beloved loudmouth Errol Elumir.

19m40s: This is literally Errol's first rule of escape room puzzle design.

20m36s: Critical Role (with GM Matt Mercer) is the most popular of the vibrant active play scene.

21m46s: The party game Cranium.

22m25s: Save Against Fear, a convention about gaming in therapy.

23m01s: Roll20 is an online platform for playing RPGs, as is Role. Tabletop Simulator can handle crunchy RPGs like D&D as well.

28m21s: Formula D (née Formula Dé)

30m00s: We had Mike Selinker on the show for Ludology 189: Missing Selinker.

31m13s: Sen's favorite D&D module, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

31m30s: Star Frontiers

33m05s: You can hear more from Jiang-Shi co-designer Banana Chan on Ludology 228: The Roles We Play.

35m51s: Emma's storytelling games ...And Then We Died (...And Then We Held Hands is a different game)

45m02s: "Jay" is Jay Cormier, Sen's frequent collaborator. "Jesse" is game designer Jesse Wright.

45m30s: Jay and Sen's tabletop escape game Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion.

47m20s: The TV show Bob's Burgers.

48m50s: Itch is an online platform for digital games, but has a lot of downloadable PDFs for tabletop games. DriveThruRPG
offers PDFs and PODs of many RPGs.

50m12s: RPGs that Emma mentions: Burning Wheel, Paranoia, FATE Core System, Ryuutama, Over the Edge.

51m58s: For more about safety tools in RPGs, check out Ludology 227: Respect the X.

53m04s: You can access all these tools via the TTRPG Safety Kit.

56m05s: Gil's board game safety tool Check-In Cards.

1h07m06s: Board games that allow for relaxed conversation: Sagrada, Lotus.

1h08m27s: More about the semiotic function.

1h09m57s: Sen mentions psychologist Lev Vygotsky.

1h10m30s: Emma is a Mythic-tier Magic player!

1h11m55s: More info about the D&D Adventurers League.

1h14m13s: Jay and Graeme's game In the Hall of the Mountain King. Jay also created the Fail Faster playtesting notebook.

1h19m31s: Sen's web series, the Meeple Syrup Show, with Jessey Wright and Erica Hayes-Bouyouris. 

1h20m59s: Sen's licensed games: Batman: The Animated Series - Rogues Gallery, Legend of Korra: Pro-Bending Arena, and the Scooby Doo and D&D games mentioned above.

1h22m01s: The manga and anime My Hero Academia.

1h23m08s: Follow Sen on Twitter!