Shows that focus on watching other people play games are a growing category of popular entertainment. Reality shows are already a huge hit. Surely it’s only a matter of time before we start getting tabletop game reality shows! Here are my top ten pitches, in no particular order. (I am available to exchange ideas and expertise for producer credits. 😛 )
10. Game Night Takeover: A home group with a game night that isn’t as fun as it used to be has a group of game experts come in and change how they play. The experts look at ergonomics, home rules, lighting, scheduling, personal interactions, and even run a game night for the group themselves, to show how their proposed changes make things better.
9. Sideboard: Follows professional trading card gameplayers during one season of competition. Discusses tactics, buying expensive cards, highlights rivalries among them, touches on various controversies, and includes sextions explaining gameplay.
8. Dungeon Survivor: Contestants make ttRPG characters before the show, picking the genre, concept, and game system of their preference but with no input on what kinds of games they’ll be playing. They then live together in austere conditions, playing their characters in a series of adventures run by professional GMs, with each player’s character interacting with the game within their own ruleset. Success within the game earns all contestants quality of life improvements in their living conditions. One player is voted out of the show every week by all the players. In case of a tie, some item gained within the week’s session is revealed to grant tiebreaker powers. When there are just 3 players left, all removed contestants gather to vote for one of them a the winner, who gains a financial prize.
7. Pawns Shop
People bring in old games they think are collectable and valuable, and experts from the industry and game shops break their hearts while teaching a little about the history of each game.
6. The Dice
Four professional game designers hear elevator pitches for new games from newbie designers, without getting to know anything about the new designers. Each pro then selects a team of newbies to assist throughout the season in completing their games, which are playtested by other teams.
5. Iron GM
GMs are given a series of mystery theme elements, and they have an hour to craft them into an adventure for experienced players. I mean, come on. It’s right there, ready for TV.
4. All Alone
Ten constants are put in apartments with no access to streaming services, internet, phones, television or Zoom. They get food and necessity deliveries, but can never leave or talk to anyone. Each can bring 10 game projects they mean to get done into the apartment when they start — campaigns to plan, miniature armies to paint, and so on. Their lives are broadcast to anyone who wants to watch. otherwise it’s just 2020 pandemic quarantine, as entertainment.
3. The Gamemaster
A Gamemaster with a reliable schedule, mastery of the game system everyone wants to play, complete but flexible campaign notes, great place to run games, and a game room with plenty of seating, tablespace, and light, begins with a pool of prospective players. Each week, the GM and players engage in group and single activities, such as watching movies, playing video- and boardgames, and discussing house-rules. The GM then asks all but one of the prospective players to stay by giving them a d20 in a Die Giving Ceremony. When there are just 4 players left, they then get to play a tabletop rpg.
2. The UnReal World
A group of game players with different backgrounds, experiences, and playstyles all move into the same ginormous apartment suite above a game store. Each day, they play a different tabletop game, drawn from a wide variety of genres, rulesets, eras, and types. If all the players ask one of the members to leave, that member goes. If all the players ask a type of game not be played anymore, it isn’t. The whole thing is filmed 24/7.
1. The Great British Play-Off
Twelve players are brought t the Big Dungeon, where they compete to be named Britain’s Best Role-Player. In a series of challenges, they are given elements that must be worked into ttRPG characters they design. These may include things like making paladins that aren’t annoying, designing back-stories that include a happy childhood and all parents still being alive and beloved, or characters built around unusual specific weapons (such as harmonica guns).
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A lot of shows got cancelled recently. That’s fine. Good, even. It’s part of the Entertainment Cycle of Life.
So, here are my top ten pitches for new Geeky TV series. Note that in many cases while I am pitching it, I’d be the WRONG person to write, direct, or produce these.
It’s a single-room comedy… in space! Think of it as Cheers, but set at Quarks.
The US Civil War was about slavery. In a world where the heroes of the ancient world were real, and super-science and magic are just beginning to develop, this is the story of early mystery men (and women) operating during the civil war.
8. Lower Decks
The U.E.S. Topeka is the jewel of the United Earth fleet. On its upper decks negotiations decide the fate of systems, bluffs end wars, and strange creatures on contacted for the first time.
On its lower decks the sanitation systems have to be maintained, the quantum torpedoes polished, and the missing synthetics crate from storage 141 has to be found before the new official review. What goes on above deck 50 doesn’t make much difference down here.
Unless there’s a hull breach. Or a Krangin prisoner escapes. Or a visiting alien turns out to be accompanied by a vampiric slime that got into the air ducts.
A therapy group on loss decides they are tired of just mourning their dead. They have MMA fighters, engineers, paramedics, even a cop. No one of them could be a hero, but as a group? As a group they can forge one new figure to make a difference.
They can be Vigilance.
Foresee a fight? Then have one of the fighters wear the suit. Need to interrogate someone? Send the psychologist. Someone in the Vigilance suit gets hurt? Patch them up in secret at a member’s house, and send out someone else the next night.
No one has all the skills to be Vigilance. But between the twenty of them, they have this covered.
6. Lost City
Under Seattle is the famous and well known Seattle Underground.
Beneath that are the Tunnels and Cellars.
Beneath that is the Lost City. Things that have been lost, forgotten, or abandoned often end up in the Lost City. Atlantis may never have existed, but there are a few Atlanteans here. the Rat emperor is always lurking at the edges. And this is where the Sasquatch went when they were driven out of their native homes.
Debbie Darbaski’s little brother disappeared when they were children. Now a young adult she gets a letter from him, asking for help. In the Lost City.
5. Perri Hotter and the Arcane Adult Education Class
Look, not everyone in the Magic World can make it at the ivy-wand-league schools, like Warthogs, or Bullbrakes. Sometimes when you AREN’T the chosen one, your life takes an unexpected turn, and you best bet is Arcane Adult Education Class.
Of course that means if some villain DOES manage to encase all the major magic schools in dream ice, you and your evenings-and-online-classmates may the the only hope the Magic World has. And as the best-of-the-worst, everyone is looking to Perri Hotter, who was once mistaken for the Chosen One, to save the day!
Which doesn’t mean she can skip her day job, either. Saving the world doesn’t pay the bills.
The year is 2100. Asmara is the major, mobile solar-system traveling space station controlled by the African Union. With unlimited solar power and self-sufficient hydroponics, it is beholden to no one, and on it cultures suppressed for millennia are having a Renaissance.
3. The Game Masters
As the world gets weirder, the governments of the world often need experts who can tell the difference between real satanic rituals, and circles taken from the Paladin Roleplaying Game. Combining esoteric knowledge, game theory, and a host of friends with weird hobbies. Han Kite, Robin Kaos, and Mike Selinker (as himself!) tackle the weird cases the more traditional agencies have thrown up their hands and given up on.
A group of US firefighters go to help with an out-of-control blaze in Europe, but are cut off and surrounded by flame. they take refuge in a root-encrusted cave, pass out, and when they wake up and come out, it’s the 9th century.
And the locals mistake them for “ashmen,” Dane raiders famous for their ash-wood ships.
They have what was on them at the time, and their collection of modern knowledge. Can they make a new life in the dim past? Can they even learn the language? And, once they befriend a local village, can they protect it from the REAL ashmen, who are coming to raid?
1. The Morrigan
Erin Gabanna always loved her grandmother, but is still shocked when she inherits everything upon her grandmother’s death. In a letter, her gran warns her that this includes the title of The Morrigan–Erin is now the harbinger of death, lady of crows and wolves, and a member of the unseelie court.
Erin will be drawn to death and war for the rest of her life, and will be hunted by the one-eyed Cuchulainn as her geas.
Erin’s grandmother hid her connection to death, but Erin is going to fight it. Or, at least, seek to bring justice to those deaths she is drawn to. In this she leans on her friends of college, which include a paramedic, a lawyer, and her best friend, a celebrity bodyguard.
The Morrigan is a murder-of-the week procedural, as Erin is supernaturally drawn to death but decides to solve these crimes on her own accord, with a running B-plot of supernatural politics with Maeb, Dagda, and other entities trying to draw Erin in as a young, inexperienced member of the court with a lot of enemies, and few allies.
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I haven’t done one of these for a while, so:
TOP TEN INEVITABLE GEEK SHOWS
10. The Southsons Family Park and Morty
Irreverent animated family comedy that riffs off more popular shows, while trying to create its own catchphrases and making all the same mistakes and with less original writing.
Look, Supernatural has gone on forever, all the main characters have died (most more than once), and no spin-off has been produced. So:
Young hunky gender-swapped clones of the most popular characters–Deanne, Samantha, Charlie, and Cassielle, try to make their own path and escape the shadow of their originals.
A reboot of the T-Rex Transformer as a high-functioning sociopath robot that solves crimes. Seven episodes over four years!
7. Mithral Girls
Linda Carter heads up this heroines-of-a-certain-age sitcom when powerful, confident women who saved the world in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s decide retirement isn’t the best use of their golden years.
6. Crowd Hoot
UNIT was disbanded for budgetary reasons… but not everyone is willing to leave the Earth undefended. Every time a new threat looms, rogue “Companion’s Companions” gather a different force of people who have traveled in a TARDIS before to deal with it. All under the direction of the mysterious mastermind “DN.”
5. Agents of G.O.T.H.A.M
It practically writes itself, continuity be damned.
4. Throne of Games
Political intrigue, sex, betrayal, and war as a single shared video game universe groans under the weight of Smash Brothers, Tekken, Mortal Combat, and Kingdom Hearts all fighting to control the Grid. The mash-up you never asked for!
3. The Mighty Crusaders
Heroes are big, in movies and on TV. Archie Comics characters are making a big push on TV and streaming. So doesn’t it make sense for the heroes originally written by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel to get their own show?
The Shield, Flygirl, the Black Hood, War Eagle (if the rights can be ironed out), the Shadow (again, rights), the Comet. The Crusade starts now!
2. Star Trek: Eugenics War
After the war, the records of what happened when got badly confused. The Eugenics War is now, and Khan is Earth’s last, best hope.
I mean, it’s worth a shot…
1. CSI: Brainiac
He’s stolen cities and destroyed planets to collect all the knowledge in the universe. But there are some unsolved mysteries throughout the galaxy Brainiac can’t stand not knowing the answers to. So the all-powerful artificial intelligence has gathered the best CSIs of all worlds and sets them to solve one mystery each week.
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Sometimes things don’t go well in an RPG, and all the player characters die. This sad event is often known as a Total party Kill, or TPK.
But what ELSE could you call it, if someone asks you what your game was like the day after a wipeout?
TOP TEN ALTERNATIVES TO CALL THE GAME IF IT WAS A TPK
10. The ultimate validation of our sense that our characters faced real risks during gametime.
9. Teambuilding exercise to all travel beyond the pale.
8. Once-in-a-lifetime investment prospect involving buying a farm together.
7. Impressive group effort to push up ALL the daisies.
6. Six-way tie of the world “playing opossum” championships.
5. Story-driven opportunity for everyone to make new characters.
4. Achievement of biological function zero.
3. The “Last Stand of the Swiss Guard” memorial game session.
2. An involuntary change of the campaign to an all-outer-planes petitioners game.
1. Unscheduled playtest of the we are all dead and dying and not coming back rules.
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The idea you might wake up and find yourself living in a MMORPG for no conceivable reason, generally as a powerful hero, seems increasingly common these days. (Especially in anime.) For those of you worried you might not immediately grasp what has happened to you if this should occur, we present:
Top Ten Signs You’ve Woken Up in a MMORPG
10. Smashing random people’s wardrobes, chests, flower-pots, and vases is a reliable and reasonable way to make money. Also, no one ever complains about it. Even if they’re standing right there when you smash their stuff.
9. You have one job. It’s healing people, drawing the attention of the enemy, or killing things. That’s it. As a hobby, you may make multidimensional bags and sell them in the only auction house in the universe to have perfect security.
8. You can picture the most important lore of the world as clearly as if you had watched it on a screen, but rarely know the names of the townspeople you meet or have any idea why they are paying you to kill 60 wolves.
7. There’s no refrigeration that you can see, but your food never spoils. Or goes stale. Or leaves stains on your gloves, even when you are eating Hero Quest Stew without benefit of a bowl or spoon.
6. It takes you hours or even days to gather the materials needed to make something (no matter how simple it is), but only 7 seconds to actually make it (no matter how complex it is).
5. While the exact range varies by foe, as long as you stand far enough away from someone they don’t react at all when you kill their friends and countrymen. You can see them, so they can see you, but it’s like the Batlovian guards don’t care how many Batlovian wolf-trainers you slaughter.
4. When you check the body of the wolf you killed, you find a rusty dagger, some magic pants, and a well-worn book.
You have NO idea where the wolf was keeping these things, or what use it had for them.
3. The absolute limit of what you can carry is not based on total weight or size of your gear, but just how many individual things you have. Fifty greatswords? Fine. Fifty horses? Sure. Fifty-one pebbles? Impossible.
2. Aside from a few close friends, everyone else in the world seems to either only say the same three things, or constantly cuss, insult each other, and talk about stupid political ideas.
1. After 10 months of quests and battles you finally grasp the Artifact of Unlimited Power, which is the most effective magic augmentation you can even conceive of. Then, 12 months later, you begin picking up random loot that is far more powerful. But NOW you are on a mission to acquire the Relic of Incomparable Potency. … Which will also turn out to be eclipsed by random things you find in wolf pelts a year or so later.
I has it.
I decided to get a jar of old-fashioned hard candies, like grandmas everywhere kept in candy dishes in the old days, to enjoy for the holidays. There were a huge variety of shapes and colors among the candies, which were really fun to look at. The packaging didn’t include any information on what flavor any of them were, but I think I’ve worked most of them out.
The Bad Spot on the Apple
The Tears of Children
Plaque Control Toothpaste
Leftover pancakes soaked in too much syrup
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Sometimes, you need something out of the ordinary for a fantasy RPG dinner scene.
Sometimes, you just need a laugh.
Top Ten Iffy RPG Dinners
“No, it’s not seafood. But it is peeled, coated in flour, pepper and salt, and deep-fried!”
“It’s a one-ingredent fusion food! Also popular with chimera crisps, griffon au grautin, and manticore fries.
“It provides both the hare meat and the veggies, all in one butchering.”
8. Owlbear Mole Poblano
“No not owl-bear-mole. Mole poblano. The sauce. It really brings out the, ah… the gamy flavor of the wild mammal-and-fowl meat.”
5. Mimic Meat.
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In preparation for seeing Blade Runner 2049, Lj and I opted to watch a version of the original.
I’d like to claim it inspired me to write a post about how the only innocent character isn’t the protagonist or antagonist, or thoughts on what we owe our inheritors, an essay on the value of a life lived for a single moment, or my analysis on why the universe itself cries throughout the entire film, or something classy like that.
But that just wouldn’t be me.
Instead you get:
Ten Mash-Ups I’d Watch But Have Never Heard Anyone Suggest
(and their advertising tag lines).
Blade Runner vs. Predator
Who hunts the hunter?
Robocop V – Chucky Cop
When the police are demonic dolls, who do you turn to for help?
Evil is changing.
Dungeons and Dagon
You are not high enough level.
Men in Black Mirror
Whatever’s going on, it’s weird and depressing.
Master Mustard, in the 11th century, with the lead pipe.
G.I Joe vs the Volcano
Amercia’s Best can Get the Job, but can they Do the Job?
Who You Gonna Feed After Midnight?
The Last Star Writer
A fanfiction forum is a test from an alien alliance to pick the one geek who can think of ideas awesome enough to save the galaxy.
Guardians of the Galaxy Quest
They’re going to need Guy’s leg.
The Fhtagn Four
Mr. Fhtagn. His mind can bend into any shape!
Invisible and Insane Woman. Out of Sight, Out of Mind.
Eldritch Thing. It’s Cthulhuing Time!
Human Torch. We set a guy on fire. He… doesn’t do much.
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I should add writing this to my previous list.
10. Friendly Neighborhood Eviscerator
Does whatever viscera can?
9. Terror Bull
It almost works, and then your rescuer leaps toward you yelling “I’m Terror Bull!”
Yes, it SOUNDS awesome. But it’s proof you didn’t research the meaning of your hero name.
7. Battle Flying Spaghetti Monster
It almost worked for the pope, but in this context it just doesn’t make sense. I mean who is your sidekick, word salad?
6. Puce Lantern
Can be an awesome color. The name does not lend itself to striking fear in the hearts of men.
5. The Amazing Pink Fairy Armadillo
It’d be easier to call yourself “Iron Unicorn”
4. Captain Doctor
Sure, you have superhuman abilities to heal others. And the name’s format is a classic. But this one didn’t work out for you. Try Blue Cross or Caregiver or something.
Yes, a shark-themed hero seems cool. And yes, a lot of the cool shark names are already in use with other costumed character. But this is still a mistake.
2. Soviet Dodo
He’ll extinct YOU.
Actually I’d be okay with this one – fair’s fair. Also acceptable; Palkyrie, Himazon, and Bat-Himbo.
Patreon Exclusive: DisHonorable Mentions
I put a short selection of rejected ideas for the list over on my Patreon page, for patrons.
Check it out!
Why no, I DON’T normally post at 7am PST…
10. You have gained a much strong understanding of what Friar’s Club Roasts, Best of the Tonight Show, and I Love Lucy Classics are available on DVD for 4 low, easy payments.
9. Also, those all sound like worthwhile uses of your time and money.
8. You really DO spend time wondering how the script for Gremlins 2 got approved.
7. You can hear time.
6. You realize you are becoming short-tempered, especially in arguments with your bowl of M&Ms.
5. You receive an Eviction Notice from the Land of Nod.
4. You keep remembering the Death of Bing Bong from inside Out, and bursting into tears.
3. You realize just how passive-aggressive it is to constantly ask who’s a good boy. The dog doesn’t need to validate your canine valuation system. Just TELL him he’s a good boy. Stand by your decision.
2. You daydream about being focused and alert enough to not daydream all the time.
1. You finally manage to have some lovely conversations and real-time chats with old friends. Who live on different continents. In time zones offset from yours by 8 to 16 hours.