GM Word of the Week: A Review

Many years ago there was a show called Connections that aired. Each episode would begin with the host James Burke introducing an innovation or event from history and then through the length of the show would begin a mental travel through what might seem like unconnected events and developments, but with a payoff that would lead back to the initial innovation or event. I bring this up because two very good folks in the RPG community do a podcast that is in some ways the child of this series.

I look forward to Fridays for many reasons, but my primary joy is Friday is the day when GM Word of the Week comes out. Hosted by Fiddleback and written by The Angry GM, the podcast explores terms often found in role playing products, especially Dungeons and Dragons. Each episode clocks in around an hour and if you ask about making the podcast longer on Twitter, Fiddleback will weep. But seriously I would love for it be a longer podcast.

Episodes often begin with vignettes that could come from any DM reading the description of an encounter to their players. From there, Fiddleback then presents the word to be discussed. He looks into the origin of the word, either in world in general or in Dungeons and Dragons. Sometimes this means going way back into history and talking about how the word has changed meaning, especially in game terms. I think one of the best parts of these explorations are the tangents. Sometimes these can go very far afield of the original topic, but I feel all the better for the diversion.

The end of each episode, Fiddleback wraps back around and tries to explain how you can now use the new knowledge to enhance your game. I’ll admit that these have worked these suggestions have helped me with improving the games I run.

I’ve yet to listen to one of their episodes and not enjoyed it. I could easily list every episode with a bit of a synopsis and my highlight from it, but you should listen to this podcast. I will however share some episodes that I truly enjoyed or really learned from.

The episode that discussed the term sarcophagus was a masterwork in my opinion. Learning about Ancient Greek funerary rites and correcting the image this word conjures was doubly good.

Think you know what a morningstar is? Not until you listen to the episode they did on the topic. A great episode.

The last one I will mention was the actual first episode they produced, discussing the terms forte and foible. This has a place in my heart because for brief period I participated with a reenactment group and in learning to fight with swords, learned these terms. To hear them discussed and properly was very pleasing and honestly hooked me on this show.

In discussing this podcast, I have to talk about two websites that are already listed in my Resources page, The Angry GM’s page and The Mad Adventurer’s Society. The Angry GM’s site has a lot of good advice for GMs and players. This advice is often wrapped up, okay almost always wrapped up in snark and sarcasm. Having a sense of humor is a requirement for most of the advice there. And the Angry GM will always remind you that you don’t need his permission to run your game wrong.

The Mad Advenuter’s Society was a great collection of RPG resources that spanned across various games. Unfortunately, the site is now more an archive of what was accumulated over the years, with nothing else new being added. There is still a lot of good information to get their and for those who are into the Fifth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, check out Stories of the Fifth Age. I might even do a review of this podcast in the near future.

I can’t recommend strongly enough that you should begin listening to this podcast and go ahead, be a completionist and listen to all of the back episodes. And if you can, they have a Patreon campaign. Throw them some loot for their hard work.



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