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Saving the Game

A Christian podcast about tabletop roleplaying games, collaborative storytelling in RPGs, and other interesting topics

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Episode 23 - Narrative Structure (Science of Storytelling, Part 1)

Two major announcements: This is the first episode in our new "Science of Storytelling" series; and Save Against Fear, a remarkable gaming convention and fundraiser for sexually traumatized kids, is the weekend of October 11th-13th. You're going to be hearing much more about Save Against Fear in the future! In this episode, Grant, Peter, and Branden (but mostly Branden) explain the continuous plot structure used in almost all movie scripts. (See our full show notes for a copy of that outline!) Then, Branden walks us through creating an actual plot for a game using the outline he laid out in the first half of the episode. Scripture for this episode: Psalms 19:14, Philippians 4:8 ----more---- The full outline we used in this episode: Opening Image The Set-up/Theme Stated The Catalyst Changes the world irrevocably; no going back The Debate Sometimes the refusal of the call; provide choices and alternative actions Break into 2 B Story In movies, usually romantic; in a game, perhaps one per PC Fun and Games The promise of the premise Mid point Either a “false defeat” or a “false victory” Bad guys close in All is lost Either “false victory” or “false defeat” (The opposite of what ever the midpoint was, but it should be related to the midpoint twist) The ‘whiff of death’ Dark Night of the Soul Break into 3 B-story should pay off here to provide hope Finale Final Image

52mins

27 Aug 2013

Rank #1

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STG 168 - Lawful Evil (Alignments 3)

With the holidays over, we're back to our normal episode format, and in this one we wrap up the first batch of 3 from our alignment series with Lawful Evil. We start off with a brief holiday check-in and run down some interesting gifts we received and gave. (Guess which one of us unironically gave someone a rock for Christmas!) The Patreon question this episode comes from Chris Bissel who asks a three-part food-related question: "What do you like to put on hot dogs? What is the weirdest thing you've had on a hot dog? Where is the best hot dog you've ever tasted?" After answering that and also digressing mightily as is our custom, we settle into our main topic: lawful evil. Lawful Evil is one of the most useful and versatile alignments for villains, and we talk about a lot of them, including Deathsronke, Bane and Lex Luthor from DC, and Thanos, Dr. Doom, and Magneto from Marvel. We didn't have a lot of disagreement this time, but it's a veritable flood of information. Scripture: Judges 6:1-6, Matthew 27:1-8, 1 John 4:13-18

1hr 27mins

7 Jan 2020

Rank #2

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STG 135 - Moral Accountability, Part 2 (with Allen Mowers, Ashley Mowers, and Kyle Stainbrook)

Continuing our previous episode, Allen Mowers, Ashley Mowers, and Kyle Stainbrook from the Min/Max Podcast join us to finish our discussion on  moral accountability for our in-character choices. Just how much accountability do we have for the things our characters do in our games? How do we handle bleed, and how do we handle it when our own characters engage matters we aren’t fully comfortable with? If you missed Part One of this conversation, you can find it here. Enjoy! Relevant links: STG 111, “Larp and the Psychology of Play (with Dr. Sarah Lynne-Bowman)”; Dr. Sarah Lynne-Bowman’s articles on bleed and playing nasty characters; and STG 17, “Lines and Veils”. Scripture: Psalm 7:14-16, Matthew 5:21, Matthew 13:13, Mark 7:14-23

52mins

8 Aug 2018

Rank #3

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Episode 134 - Moral Accountability, Part 1 (with Allen Mowers, Ashley Mowers, and Kyle Stainbrook)

We reach maximum hosting with not one, not two, but three guests this week! Allen Mowers, Ashley Mowers, and Kyle Stainbrook from the much-loved Min/Max Podcast join us to discuss moral accountability for our in-character choices. After we manage to get through an introduction, we all briefly talk about what we've been playing. Grant plugs our new "oh my gosh what if story" t-shirt, Peter and Jenny plug appearances on City on a Hill Gaming and Bard and Bible, and then we all answer a question from Patreon supporter Richard Lorenz about which fictional character we'd each want to run a game for us. After reading Scripture, we then dive into this complex issue together: Just how much accountability do we have for the things our characters do in our games? How do we handle bleed, and how do we handle it when our own characters engage matters we aren't fully comfortable with? We'll wrap up this conversation in Part Two next time, so stay tuned! Relevant links: STG 111, "Larp and the Psychology of Play (with Dr. Sarah Lynne-Bowman)"; Dr. Sarah Lynne-Bowman's articles on bleed and playing nasty characters; and STG 17, "Lines and Veils". Scripture: Psalm 7:14-16, Matthew 5:21, Matthew 13:13, Mark 7:14-23

49mins

24 Jul 2018

Rank #4

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Episode 119 - Gaming Evangelism (with Gospel and Gaming)

Peter and Jenny have two special guests this week: Jacob Toman and Michael Mendis from Gospel & Gaming! Gospel & Gaming is, in their own words, "a ministry dedicated to sharing the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ with gamers all over the world." Jacob and Michael did a great job representing them, explaining their mission in online gaming communities and tabletop gaming communities alike. We also addressed a question from Patreon backer Jim Nanban, who asked us about the coolest piece of RPG paraphernalia we each own. (As promised, there's a picture of Peter's dice bag right here in the show notes.) We also briefly plug our Discord channel, which is continuing to grow as a community. Then everyone settles in to talk about evangelism and how Gospel & Gaming approaches it—even to the point where Michael and Jacob turn the interview around and start asking the hosts questions! A couple of quick notes about this episode: First, Grant was very sick and missed out on a pair of awesome guests. (He's better now.) Second, Peter's audio sounds very bad this episode; there was a hardware problem writing his track to disk that wasn't apparent during the discussion. And third, as hard as Grant tried we simply could not edit Blarey the Podcast Train out of this episode. That means that this is Blarey's first official podcast appearance. Enjoy! Also mentioned in this episode were three books Jacob highly recommended as primers for Gospel & Gaming's mission: Michael Green's Evangelism in the Early Church; Jerram Barr's The Heart of Evangelism; and Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Scripture: Psalm 105:1-4, Matthew 13:10-13, Romans 10:11-15

1hr 1min

17 Oct 2017

Rank #5

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STG 152 - Biblical Figures: Jonah

Peter and Jenny have the mics to themselves this episode, and they're talking about one of the funniest and most imaginative books of the Bible: Jonah! First, though, we take a moment to mention the unfortunate and early passing of Rachel Held Evans, a Christian writer and thinker we're all quite fond of taken from us too soon. We also have to put a call out for more questions from our Patreon supporters! And speaking of Patreon, our Patreon question this week comes from Shawn Stauffer, who asks "If you had to spend a year as any one of the characters you've made for an RPG, in their world, which would you choose and why?" That answered and our Scripture read (including the entirety of Jonah 4, which might be the first time we've ever read an entire chapter of Scripture on this podcast) we dive into Jonah—pun intended. It's a work unlike any other in the Bible: A parodic work featuring a prophet doing his best to disobey God and being frustrated when God succeeds! It's also a work enjoining mercy and compassion over reveling in the punishment of others. Plus it's got a prophet people actually listen to; and ... did you know there's a big fish in this one? Scripture: Jonah 1:1-3; Jonah 4:1-11; Titus 3:3-8

39mins

14 May 2019

Rank #6

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Episode 136 - Destiny (with Kris Newton)

Gaming podcaster extraordinaire Kris Newton returns to discuss handling destiny in our games! Kris hosts two of our favorite podcasts: The Gameable Saturday Morning Podcast (neé Gameable Disney and Gameable Pixar) and the much-more-NSFW MegaDumbCast. He's been on several times before, just as we've all been on various episodes of Gameable, and we're delighted to have him back again. After catching up for a bit and hearing what Kris has been playing lately, we answer a spot-on Patreon question from Shawn Stauffer, who asks us to put together an adventuring party consisting entirely of Disney characters. That done, and our Scripture for this episode read, we go deep into the idea of "destiny" in traditional storytelling and in tabletop gaming. What are some different approaches for including it in our games? How can we maintain player autonomy and input while getting full value from this powerful and familiar story element? What purpose does a destiny serve in our stories or as a metagame tool? And how do we mechanically define a destiny, if we do so at all? Also mentioned in this episode: Steve Jackson Games's In Nomine RPG; the Machine of Death anthology; the Protean City Comics podcast; and Magpie Games's Masks RPG. Scripture: Deuteronomy 31:19-22, Isaiah 46:10, Jeremiah 1:4-5, 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

1hr 21mins

21 Aug 2018

Rank #7

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STG 147 - Angels and Angelology

It's time for our Patreon-selected topic for the quarter, and this one's so big it'll take up two episodes! Our topic this week is angels, and with so much material to work with we just had to break this topic up. This episode has relatively little pure gaming content, because we had to push all of that off until next week! First, though, we talk about recording another session with City on a Hill Gaming, and Peter's side quest episode, as well as a brief note about Grant's upcoming Vampire game. Our Patreon question this week comes from Kenning, who asks, "What is your favorite movie to talk about? Not necessarily a good movie, but an interesting one to talk about?" After quite a lot of Scripture to read—turns out there's plenty of verses about angels!—we tackle our main topic: Angels and angelology! What even are angels? What's their purpose? What do we know about them, and from what sources? How do they appear in popular culture? And why do we care about the opinions of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite on the matter? Mentioned in this episode: Gustav Davidson’s A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels, Gill's Exposition of the Bible, STG 110, "Spiritual Warfare (with Rev. Derek White)", Min/Max Podcast #83, "Devastation: By Kobold" Scripture: Genesis 3:23-24, 2 Kings 6:17, Isaiah 6:1-4, Ezekiel 1:4-21, Daniel 10:5-14, Luke 2:8-14, Colossians 1:16

55mins

5 Mar 2019

Rank #8

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STG 144 - Hacking Published Adventures

With Jenny traveling for the holidays, we're back to Grant and Peter on the mics for an episode! We cover our Christmas stories and Grant's Christmas stream of the Link to the Past Holiday Randomizer, and remind our listeners about the very exciting upcoming Actual Play series we're doing courtesy of City on a Hill Gaming. Our Patreon question this week comes from Kevin VonFeldt, who asks us about the Kickstarters we wish we'd backed, but didn't. This is also a good excuse to prompt our ever-generous Patreon supporters to send in questions like these! Our main topic this episode is how to hack published adventure material into your game. For what was supposed to be a quick-and-easy Christmas topic, we had a ton to say about this! We briefly cover the pros and cons of adventures themselves, then start tearing down pieces of modules to explain why you might want to borrow those pieces, and how to adjust them for your own game. From maps to encounters to entire plot lines, we tackle everything you can think of—and wrap up with an idea about running entire modules in your own campaign in ways that don't detract from your own homebrew settings. Scripture: Proverbs 22:29, Colossians 3:23-24

1hr 7mins

8 Jan 2019

Rank #9

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STG 164 - Monsters

After several episodes with either more or less than the three main hosts, Grant, Peter, and Jenny finally get to sit down together and talk about monsters just in time for Halloween! First, though, there's a bit of catching up to do, and a delightful question from Patreon supporter Richard Lorenz who asks a simple, seasonally-appropriate question: "Favorite holiday?" Once our Scripture's read, we dive into monsters, and specifically monsters as representations of the monstrous and of the diseased. We touch on what few monsters appear in Scripture, and then run through a number of classic monsters and terrific archetypes to discuss them. We also talk a bit about monsters as representations of the 'other.' Enjoy! Also mentioned in this episode: "Action Oriented Monsters" by Matthew Colville; E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series; and Kei-Con. Scripture: Job 41:1-10, 1 Samuel 28:8-13, 1 Corinthians 10:17-22

1hr 18mins

29 Oct 2019

Rank #10

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STG 149 - Unlikely Heroes (with Rev. Derek White)

Rev. Derek "The GeekPreacher" White joins us once again, and this time it's even more special than usual. This episode is a sort of test case for a new thing we might be doing with Derek more regularly—having Derek on to talk about specific theological topics from a geek perspective! First, though we've got a Patreon question to answer from Doug Hagler, who asks us what our individual D&D alignments are, and some Scripture we've picked out for the topic. Then we let Derek take the lead as we discuss the unlikely sorts of heroes we see in both Scripture and in pop culture, from Moses and David to Frodo and Hawkeye. Accidental heroes, broken heroes, screwed-up heroes—we've got them all, and we're happy to talk about them! Also mentioned in this episode: Unsong; the Critical Core Kickstarter from Game to Grow; and STG 115, "RPGs in Social Skills Therapy (with Adam Davis and Adam Johns)". Scripture: Exodus 4:10-17, Isaiah 6:5-8, 1 Corinthians 15:2-11

1hr 8mins

2 Apr 2019

Rank #11

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STG 145 - Roleplaying Mental Illnesses

We're tackling a difficult and complex topic in this episode: How to roleplay characters with mental illnesses with sensitivity and grace. First, though, we've got a bit of other business to talk about, starting with our forthcoming appearances on City on a Hill Gaming (including Jenny's very cool special episode, Side Quest #4 - The Crimson In Your Veins.) Grant's also very happy to talk about his officially-started Eberron game, which went great! We also take a minute to remind everyone about our YouTube channel, which is finally updating with new episodes like this one and old episodes as we can. Our Patreon question is from Raymond Dickson, who asks: How do you like to deal with a planned hiatus in a game (summer, scheduled surgery, travel, etc.)—not just going ahead with someone missing from the game, but putting the whole thing on hold for a bit? Unfortunately, our advice to Raymond is ... not optimistic. But we do our best! After an enthusiastic Scripture reading, we get right into this one, starting off with a lot of caveats and notes. We then break this down into three general (and largely artificial) categories, talking about persistent and ongoing mental illnesses; temporary, acute insanities; and artificial "madnesses" brought on by the sort of external causes we encounter in genre fiction. We talk a lot about the use of these at the table, but also do our best—within our limited abilities as non-experts—to give what advice we can about helping others deal with these issues at the table and in life, too. Mentioned in this episode: Our previous episodes on mental health with mental health experts; "spoon theory"; and Sea Lions. Scripture: Isaiah 1:17; Matthew 25:41-43; James 5:14; 1 John 3:17-18

1hr 10mins

5 Feb 2019

Rank #12

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Episode 166 - Lawful Good (Alignments 1)

We've been promising it for a while and here it is, the first episode in our series on alignment. We last talked about alignments as a topic waaaaaayyyy back in episode 2 of the podcast (if you listen, we're so sorry about the audio quality), and we figured it was high time we updated things and also let Jenny weigh in! We start of with a shoutout to a couple of podcasts we've been enjoying; Grant has been listening to Pontifacts and Peter has been listening to Stats Will Roll. Our friends over at MegaDumbCast have also recently released an episode on autism representation in games (and how not to do it) that is worth a listen. In gaming news, Grant is porting his Vampire game over to a PbtA variant called Powered by Dark and his Sharn game has started up again. Peter's new D&D game continues to go strong, and he mentions a great thing one of his players is doing that he loves. We also briefly mention some behind-the-scenes change we're making. Our Patreon question this episode comes from Joseph Linardon who asks us " If you could make a 1 page RPG, what would it be? What would be the main dice you use (if not a D20)?"From there, we get into our main topic and argue about alignment like proper nerds for the rest of the episode, complete with fictional examples (some of which may actually be Neutral Good) and a lengthy amount of discussions about what Lawful Good is not. It gets a little heated in points, but we had fun and it was a good (and somewhat cathartic) discussion.Also mentioned in this episode: https://www.amykathleenryan.com/books.phpScripture: Psalm 119:12-16, Proverbs 24:30-32, Matthew 22:34-40

1hr 10mins

26 Nov 2019

Rank #13

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Episode 120 - Six Clickbaity GMing Traditions We Need To Stop

We're back with our angriest, most rant-filled episode yet! Well, not really—but there's a lot of passion in this episode, because we're talking about GMing traditions the gaming community still seems to support despite being destructive, uncomfortable, and simply wrong. First, though, we've got a question from Patreon backer Paige Lowe about how blatantly one should steal from other media when planning a game. After that, we tackle our Scripture as usual before diving into six common behaviors we still see: Adversarial GMing; monopolizing narrative control; turning exceptional successes into failures; misunderstanding metagaming; harming characters to punish players; and creating in-game penalties for missed gaming sessions. Also: Grant was recently on the Gameable Saturday Morning Podcast (who are of course long-time friends of ours) to analyze an amazing and difficult cartoon from his childhood—Exo Squad. It's very long, because that's what happens when our podcasts combine! Here's Part 1, an introduction to the show and a breakdown of episodes and characters; and here's Part 2, an analysis of thematic elements and considerations for gaming in this setting. Enjoy! Scripture: Leviticus 19:14-15, Ephesians 4:22-25, 2 Timothy 2:22-26

1hr

14 Nov 2017

Rank #14

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STG 162 - Safety and Bleed with Dr. Sarah Lynne Bowman

Professor, researcher, leading thinker in the psychology of RPGS both tabletop and LARP, and contributor to the first college textbook on RPGs Dr. Sarah Lynne Bowman joins us for a second time (we first spoke to Sarah back in episode 111) to discuss more of the psychology around RPGs. The episode starts with a quick discussion of the new game Peter is going to be starting up in October with some StG listeners, and an excellent and thoughtful question about playing characters of the opposite sex from John and Ginny Swann.From there, we move into our scripture and a discussion of the player archetypes that Sarah codified in her book The Functions of Role-Playing Games. These are a useful tool descriptive tool to discuss who we are in games on a more psychological level and complement more traditional player types (like tactician and actor) nicely. With that groundwork laid, the conversation turns to a discussion of the phenomenon of bleed (psychological transference from player to character or vice versa) in gaming and how that's tied up with safety techniques. As you'd expect, we touched on the free (and excellent) Consent in Gaming document recently published by Monte Cook games, but also used an experience of Peter's from a few years back to illustrate why safety techniques are a good idea. We also spent a bit of time talking about how gaming can go past mere safety and into growth, another topic that Dr. Bowman is passionate about. Scripture: Proverbs 4:5-6 , Galatians 6:2, Philippians 2:1-4, 3 John 1-6

1hr 25mins

1 Oct 2019

Rank #15

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Episode 139 - Character Backstories (with Krissi Woodward)

Krissi Woodward joins us again this episode to help Grant and Jenny speak a little less, since they're both pretty sick in this episode, and to talk about character backstories with everyone! Krissi's been on a few previous episodes can be found on Twitter as @d20mom. We catch up a bit and talk about our upcoming streaming schedule over on Twitch, and then answer a question about fictional characters we'd want to GM for from Patreon supporter Richard Lorenz. Then after our Scripture readings, we dive into character backstories: What makes a good background, common pitfalls, some general advice, and the methods we each use for coming up with backstories for our characters. Scripture: Genesis 37: 19-26, Isaiah 43: 18-19, Acts 9:1-6, 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

1hr 11mins

16 Oct 2018

Rank #16

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STG 167 - Lawful Neutral (Alignments 2)

This is the corrected version of 167. The first version ran the main episode audio into the outro due to an editing mistake on my part. My apologies. -PeterWe're back with episode 2 of our alignments series, this time talking about Lawful Neutral. We start off with the story of some adorable kittens in Grant's home, check in about Thanksgiving, and then get into some gaming chat. Peter's game is going well and starting to get active on a big picture level, Grant's vampire game has made the move to Powered by the Dark, and the "hosts and friends" gaming group will be doing a published adventure for the first time ever! Grant has picked up Princes of the Apocalypse and will be running it for us. Our Patreon question comes from Aaron Arnold (who is one of Peter's players, despite his uncertainty about last names in the episode!) who asks " Have you roleplayed in a game that wasn't D&D? I ask because I played a cyberpunk noir game and I enjoyed the RP I got to create in it." We had a lot to say by way of answering that question; all of us have been regular game convention attendees at various points in our lives and it prompted some reminiscence and few recommendations. With that discussion concluded, we move into scripture and then onto our main topic: Lawful Neutral, or, as Grant so aptly put it: the obstacle alignment. We're a bit less ranty than last time, but it's still a productive discussion. Scripture: Deuteronomy 4:5-8, Mark 2: 23-28, John 8: 1-11

1hr 3mins

10 Dec 2019

Rank #17

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Episode 157 - Bearing False Witness (The Ten Commandments, Part 9)

We're nearing the end of our Ten Commandments series! This episode tackles lying—or as the Ten Commandments are commonly translated, "bearing false witness." First, though, Peter talks a bit about his entry in the World Anvil worldbuilding contest; we discuss Krissi's Innocents game and how it wrapped up, as well as Vampire and the various other games we have in the works; Grant's attempt to stream game design; and the extremely lovely GRIS. Aaron Arnold asks an extremely difficult Patreon question this week: What was the hardest lesson to learn as a Christian? So you also get to hear us puzzle through that! After our Scripture, we discuss the Ninth Commandment, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." Unlike many of these other commandments episodes, in this one we had a very easy time talking about the theology of speaking truths rather than lies, but a much harder time getting into the detailed uses of lies in roleplaying games—simply because it's such a big topic. We touch on the differences between lies and creativity; lies of malice and cowardice (and we get to use a different C. S. Lewis quote in this one!); several forms false witness takes that are harder to recognize than outright lies; prooftexting; logical fallacies; and much more. Enjoy! Mentioned in this episode: J. Ellsworth Kalas's The Ten Commandments from the Back Side; Wondermark #1062, "The Terrible Sea Lion"; YourLogicalFallacyIs.com Scripture: Exodus 20:16, Genesis 3:1-5, Matthew 7:1-5, Colossians 3:8-10

1hr 1min

23 Jul 2019

Rank #18

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STG 150 - Why We Love Games

It's our one hundred fiftieth episode, and we are excited! We've got a lot of people to thank, of course, and spend a couple minutes at the top of the show doing that. We've also got a touch of podcast business, and a mention of a recent episode of the Marengo Holy Happy Hour radio show that Peter appeared on to talk about gaming and Saving the Game. Finally, Grant has a specific shoutout to give to his friends Patrick and Tyler for helping with his Vampire game questions. (If you want a chance to play in their incredible games, by the way, check out The Gauntlet!) Oh, and there's an airhorn. Our incredibly timely Patreon question comes from Kenning, who asks "What is your favorite episode of this podcast so far?" After our Scripture readings, we start in on our topic proper: Why we love games! Our answers are mostly about stories and experiences, but also systems, community, self-exploration, and more. Naturally, we want to hear yours as well! Also mentioned in this episode: The Miskatonic University board game; Epidiah Ravachol, A Scoundrel in the Deep, and Worlds Without Master; One Shot's actual play of A Scoundrel in the Deep; LoadingReadyRun; and Adam Koebel. Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11, John 13:35, Acts 2:46-47, Hebrews 10:23-25

52mins

16 Apr 2019

Rank #19

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Bonus Episode 18 - Objectives and Key Results

We've got an unusual bonus episode this time around—one that in many ways recalls our old New Years' resolutions episodes! We're implementing an objectives and key results system behind-the-scenes here at Saving the Game, in order to grow the podcast and make sure we're doing everything we can to improve the quality of our show. Since Grant's also implementing it at work, it seemed like a good topic of conversation all on its own—a system any organization (from enterprises to families) can use to set measurable objectives. As such, we go over the basics of the OKR system, then follow it up with a description of the objectives we've set and the key results measuring our progress on those objectives—everything from increasing listenership to improving our YouTube channel. We also talk about our appearance on the forthcoming episodes of City on a Hill Gaming, and "Session Zero" of Grant's private-investigators-in-Sharn Eberron D&D game. We hope you find this edifying. We certainly did! The book mentioned in the episode is John Doerr's Measure What Matters.

50mins

22 Jan 2019

Rank #20