In episode 13 of our podcast we talked about a variety of genres, why we like what we like, can we overlook genre in favor of good rules, and can we overlook subpar rules in favor of genre. In the next few interviews, I and my guests are going to be digging deeper into specific genres, and in this episode I interview game designer and former podcaster Robert Bohl. His game Misspent Youth, is a role-playing game about friendship, rebellion, and kicking ass. Join us as we talk about the punk genre!
Fiction mentioned in this interview
China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station
Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange effluents of alchemy, and the ghettos contain a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, junkies, and whores. In New Crobuzon, the unsavory deal is stranger to none—not even to Isaac, a brilliant scientist with a penchant for Crisis Theory.
Isaac has spent a lifetime quietly carrying out his unique research. But when a half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda comes to him from afar, Isaac is faced with challenges he has never before fathomed. Though the Garuda’s request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger.
While Isaac’s experiments for the Garuda turn into an obsession, one of his lab specimens demands attention: a brilliantly colored caterpillar that feeds on nothing but a hallucinatory drug and grows larger — and more consuming — by the day. What finally emerges from the silken cocoon will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon — and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it invokes.
Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastard Series
In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling.…
An orphan’s life is harsh–and often short–in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains–a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans–a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.
Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful–and more ambitious–than Locke has yet imagined.
James Merendino’s SLC Punk
To grow up in America is to, at one point or another, rebel against the world around you. If you’re Stevo and you live in Reagan-era Salt Lake City, then, well…you just have to rebel a little bit harder. To this recent grad, the world is his enemy, anarchy his religion, and the Ramones, The Specials and the Dead Kennedys his muses. As he takes us on a guided tour of his life, we meet all sorts of punks, poseurs, mods, freaks and a few others best described as indescribable.
Stevo’s ex-hippie father sees his lifestyle as a rite of passage and urges him to attend Harvard Law School like himself. Not to sell out to the system, but to buy in. For Stevo, underneath the mohawk haircuts, earrings and leather, the idea, painfully, has some merit. The question becomes; how do you stay hard-core and still hope for a life beyond?
Games mentioned in this interview
Robert Bohl’s Misspent Youth
Misspent Youth is a tabletop pen-and-paper roleplaying game about friendship, rebellion, and kicking ass. In the game, you play 12- to 17-year-old kids in a future world fucked-up beyond recognition by The Authority. The Authority is a force that you create together at the start of the series and played by one person.
Julia B. Ellingboe’s Steal Away Jordan
Steal Away Jordan is a role playing game written in the spirit of neo slave narratives like Margaret Walker’s Jubilee, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Octavia Butler’s Kindred. Like these fictional accounts of slave life, players explore the social and psychological implications of life in a society where people can be property. Ultimately, players consider slavery’s long-term impact on a society and on the descendants of slaves and slave owners.
Paul Czege’s My Life With Master
A role-playing game of villainy, self-loathing and unrequited love.