Episode 147: How Did It Make You Feel when You Got Hit by The Kobold?

The Overthinkers tackle RPGs with special guest Zack Johnson of Kingdom of Loathing.

Matthew Wrather hosts with John Perich, David Shechner, and special guest Zack Johnson of Kingdom of Loathing to discuss KoL, RPGs, Gary Gygax, and the TI-85 calculator.


→ Download Episode 147 (MP3)

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27 Comments on “Episode 147: How Did It Make You Feel when You Got Hit by The Kobold?”

  1. Rob #

    Quickly, before it’s too late, somebody book the OverHuffing It domain…


  2. LordHuffnPuff #

    Perich — interestingly enough, your idea of a Venture Capitalist class has sort of been done before. The game Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King put you in the seat of a kingdom’s ruler. You had to manage your gold to build up the city and hire adventurers, who you would instruct to go out to various dungeons (either in parties or solo,) beat up monsters, and bring you back the sundry goods they looted. You could never leave your little city, but instead the game was simply a weird yet enjoyable cross between Sim City and being the Dungeon Master for a game of D&D. As you described, all you risked was your funding, while your hired warriors, mages, rogues and such went out and got beaten up, all in your quest for more gold. Said gold would be invested in constructing more buildings in your city, hiring more adventurers, or investing in shops and taverns for your hirelings to make use of.

    Anyway, that’s probably a bit more than you ever wanted to know about this relatively obscure game, but it’s a neat bit of esoterica in case you were wondering.


  3. Entropy of the Turnips #

    “There isn’t a lot of time spent on inconsequential, unimportant contests.”

    Play Call of Cthulu. The main goal is to investigate weird shit. I’m a jazz musician addicted to cocaine, so yeah sure, I kind of want to find this weird shape-shifting monster that will surely kill me, but I’d rather steal cocaine from the rich party goers.


  4. Oddtwang #

    Not listened yet (looking forward to this one especially), but the comment above re: venture capitalist class made me think of the game Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, which is a very cute title in which the player manages a supply shop for dungeon crawling adventurers. Definitely worth a look (and available on Steam).


    • Howard #

      Yes! I wanted to talk about that game. The main character is a girl named Recette whose dad has skipped out on a bunch of debt and a fairy named Tear who works for the collection company, and they team up to start an item store so Recette can try and pay off the debt. It’s essentially a bargaining game, trying to bargain for the highest price when selling and the lowest price when buying. Plus, there are dungeon crawling sections where you hire adventurers to go and kill monsters to take their loot, which play a little like the 2D Legend of Zelda games.

      The translation is also pretty hilarious. Capitalism, ho!


  5. gragaband #

    I was wondering when I’d hear Jick guest starring on the OTI podcast. Great episode!


  6. Timothy J Swann #

    I would definitely have my new class be Therapist. They have chances to better the rest of the party both temporarily and permanently, but risk either a rethink of the adventurer life and the slaughter of monsters, or exacerbating old issues. This is especially risky with mages/clerics etc. Also, don’t convince a Paladin he has an Oedipal complex.

    I presently play only one browser-based MMO and that’s Battlestar Online, which has a fair amount of the feel of the show and the obvious addiction to levelling, and is free-to-play but makes money on currency conversions. Currency conversions unnecessary for the patient. Which you’d think any MMO player would be.

    I am looking forward to The Old Republic, but it does seem to be a weird mix of appealing to fans of KOTOR/Star Wars in general and completely new players.


    • Howard #

      In Final Fantasy Tactics, there’s actually a class called the Mediator, whose class skill is called “Talk Skill”. The skillset includes skills that add status effects, like berserk or sleep (yes, that’s right, you can put people to sleep with the power of your voice).

      The game also has two stats called Bravery and Faith in addition to the usual hit points and attack and stuff – Bravery affects some damage dealing abilities and Faith affects how much damage and the success rate of magic, I suppose on the theory that if you don’t believe in magic it doesn’t hurt you. But the awesome thing is that if a unit’s Bravery gets too low in a battle, they turn into an actual chicken. If a unit’s permanent Bravery gets too low, they leave your party, on the basis that they’re too scared to continue fighting. If a unit’s permanent Faith gets too high, they leave the party as well, on the basis that they are so pious they want to devote their lives to God.

      Final Fantasy Tactics was an amazing game.


      • Timothy J Swann #

        That’s pretty cool. I started the rough design of a non-combat RPG a while back, but I’m waiting to have a media franchise before I do anymore on it. Classes were Journalist
        Military Leader


  7. Catalust #

    I love you Jick! KoL ftw!


  8. Hassenfeffer #

    If you want to find an RPG that does have mechanics geared for consumption just for the benefit of the settings you are in, look at Lord of the Rings Online. There is a large player base devoted to heavy duty role playing and the game allows you to farm tabac for smoking in pipes, growing barley to brew beers, woodworkers can make instruments that you can actually play in the game, and there’s a large market for dyes so players can customize the appearance of their outfits. These activities do not advance your character in terms of experience or levels, it’s just flavor to the game that the more rabid fans have whole heartedly embraced.


    • Sylvia #

      Technology makes playing dress up really complicated.


  9. cat #

    I feel alienated and confounded… And yet I still listened all the way through.


    • Amanda #

      That’s cause you’re a faithful TFT listener. We’re all used to being CONSTANTLY alienated and confounded – well, actually, no, not really – but we still love and wait anxiously for the podcast every week. :)


        • Gab #

          Every week in the hopes it’ll show up, knowing the likelihood is quite low. That’s my position, anyway.


          • Amanda #

            That’s my position too. And you know what? Having just listened to every single podcast from the start I can say that at some point, there was so much to talk about and so little time that in one of the earlier podcasts you and Ryan were actually wondering – and asking us, the ever faithful and dedicated listeners – if maybe there shouldn’t be TWO weekly instalments of TFT. Yes, you heard me right, you wanted to record two podcasts per week! That would have been my dream come true, but really, I’ll take whatever you guys can manage to record.
            But on the subject of too much to say and too little time, you barely scratched the surface of the last Gossip Girl episode. The overthinking of the Modern Royalty plot was awesome but that was a small portion of everything that happened in that episode. I can’t think of anything right now but there was so much more to be overthunk or just plain mentioned… A girl can dream…

          • cat #

            Amanda, come join us in the comments for that episode. We can talk it out.

  10. Chris #

    The only thing RPG related I ever played was Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, and I only really played that to go fishing. I also only briefly ever had a scientific calculator, and I just used it for Honors Physics. However, I do happen to listen to a ton of podcasts, so there’s that. One podcast that may jive well with the OTI audience is the Geek A Week Podcast. An artist created a series of trading cards based on sundry guests, and a fair amount of them he recorded a podcast with. He asked the same questions pretty much every time, but a lot of them are still worth listening to. http://geekaweek.net/podcasts/


  11. Timothy J Swann #

    I was going to say that it got to its nerdiest when talking about programming in BASIC, but then I remembered I’d programmed a fair amount of ZZT-OOP as a child and had no grounds to accuse.


  12. Chris Moyer #

    Love the discussion about D&D, 1st->4th edition. Especially as Zack and I had a similar discussion a few months ago on the KoL podcast.

    As a long time D&D player, I will readily admit that I think 4th edition is a good game. My problem is that by making it well balanced, they abandon many of the D&D tropes. My group likes that wizards suck for a few levels, and then start to get powerful, that fighters focus on swinging their swords, that a halfling may be a lame fighter (although, in my group, this tends to just be a role-play opportunity).

    D&D, it just feels like everyone is a wizard. And fighters cast their “sword spell” each round. And rogues cast their “stab with a dagger” spell and wizards cast their “zap with a spell.”

    Admittedly, my group has always been into the world-building/character-building aspects, and the game just gives us a framework for that.

    On Gygax, I was always of the impression that he was primarily a simulationist. The old-school adventures with a giant hex map to explore, kobolds to subjugate, and a world to build together in a sandbox. And most computer RPGs don’t allow the player to really influence the world. At least at the point he was critiquing them. I image that modern MMOs would be a different beast in his mind.


  13. James T #

    As someone who discovered the Overthinking It podcast through a recommendation from Zack Johnson, I must say it’s truly awesome to hear him talk to you guys.

    I’m currently on hiatus from KoL (I’m one of those people who came for the jokes and stayed for the mechanics, and planning contests and chaining speedruns tends to burn me out after a while), but I’d recommend it, and Advice Hot Dog, to anyone who enjoys laughing.

    Incidentally, KoL does actually pay a great deal of attention to consumption, in that certain classes of consumables gives you more turns, but also in that there are leaderboards for these consumables, so you can, for example, be recognized for being the person who’s consumed the most tomato daiquiris. That’s conspicuous consumption if I’ve ever heard of it…


  14. Gab #

    I’d create a pundit class. They’re good at giving fiery speeches to either motivate or de-motivate the people around them. High cha and int, really good diplomacy, but they’d have really low speed, strength, and hp. But they’d also have a high dex and thus be able to sneak out of lots of sticky situations. And I’d say a low wis, too, since they’d be kind of oblivious to reality.

    Most of the students at my hs had Mario and Tetris on their calculators.

    I used to play a wrestling game on Genesis. I only remember there being a Hulk Hogan and Undertaker- I was always the latter.

    Parody of while still being part? Sounds like Munchkin! I do so enjoy Munchkin. And its myriad expansions.

    I’ve played 3.5 and 4th Ed., and I don’t think you’d necessarily have to play 4th to have a halfling fighter. It’s sort of at the discretion of the DM- you could work with them to make a combat system and attacks/spells particular to your character in any version by finding attacks/spells and skills that are close enough to what you’re aiming for elsewhere within the system (for example, I once played a necromancer with a miniature Boneyard as a familiar, so the DM modified some attacks and stats from Bears and I think a snake or something to make it work- since “my” version wasn’t a full-sized one). Or you could even just agree on what seems “reasonable” for whatever you want to do (so again, my DM and I made up some spells for my necromancer that were “fair”- my podshot/ Magic Missile-type spell was a spell that “sucked the life” out of the target limb for a turn, meaning they’d take a little damage and be unable to use that limb until the end of my next turn- led to some funny acting moments when my character got pissed off and would podshot at birds and bunnies to make her point, heh). ANYHOO, I’ve done that sort of thing in both versions before because my DMs were gracious enough to let me play the character I really wanted to play (since I’m more of a ROLE-player as opposed to a ROLL-player). Unless we were doing it wrong…?

    (Tangent: I also insisted on being the undertaker character in the Twisted Metal franchise every time I played. I wonder when this obsession with undead things and what-have-you started… horror flicks, zombies, necromancers, undertakers…)

    I really enjoyed this one, dudes. It’s too bad Fenzel wasn’t available for an RPG-themed podcast (I expect a very long comment from you, man), but even so, very nicely done.


  15. Lee OTI Staff #

    New RPG character class: The Panhandler

    You’re not allowed to earn money by means other than begging. You can’t sell items in your inventory, and you can’t earn money through exchange of services (questing, entertainment, etc.).

    Experience points & level-ups are earned through crafting & successfuly executing more elaborate cover stories for your begging. E.g., a level 1 panhandler can only muster shuffling through the village square, wordlessly rattling a cup with change in it. Perhaps a level 5 pandhandler can convincingly convince people that he’s recently lost his job, is homeless, and just needs a few gold pieces for a night at the shelter. But only a level 10 panhandler can use the awesome power of the “just need $2 for a bus ticket back to Jersey” story.

    P.S. I’ll be back on the podcast soon…in a couple weeks.


    • Gab #

      But what if you multiclassed as a bard? A feat could be Homeric recitations or some kinda jazz.


  16. Howard #


    In general, I’d say the various hard sciences rank like that. It doesn’t include economics or some of the other social sciences, but that’s what the feeling is. I guess math doesn’t really have experiments (maybe in game theory?).

    I’m a grad student in condensed matter physics, and I’m really impressed by a lot of the people in theory. Like you said, they combine a lot of really abstract concepts and heavy doses of math. Physics is complicated by the fact that there really aren’t that many problems we can solve exactly, so a lot of what we work in are approximations. Approximations that work incredibly well, but approximations nonetheless.


  17. Acez13 #

    Hey so I’m not sure if this has been mentioned in the above posts, and if it has I apologize.

    However, I’ve noted a trend. It seems that KoL started at a niche and went outward, which is to say that they made it more accessible. Overthinking it, on the other hand, has become more and more niche. This is made abundantly clear when you talk with Zack on your podcasts and their respective offshoots. Zack started with a KoL podcast and then made a general video game podcast, whereas you here at Overthinking it started a general overthinking podcast and then created a Glee/Gossip Girl overthinking podcast. This I feel might have something to do with the disparity in success.


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