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Fluff N Crunch

Fluff N Crunch

By FluffNCrunch
Two longtime gamers, one from America and the other England, discuss tabletop roleplaying games, with a focus on how story, setting, and system can work together, and how sometimes they don't. We talk about 2d20 games, 5e, review books and resources, and share advice from our years of gaming to help you strike the right balance between story, setting, and system.

New episodes published every Wednesday. You can reach us on Facebook at Fluff N' Crunch or directly by email at
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"Balance" in Character and Encounter Creation
What is this thing called "balance" and why do so many game systems attempt to ensure it in character and encounter design? We pick at this issue and offer our thoughts.
August 10, 2022
The 2d20 SRD in Some Depth
Herein Chris and Jeremy review and reflect on the newly-released SRD and the good things it can provide players and GMs (especially GMs). SRD via DriveThruRPG
August 03, 2022
Homeworld Corebook Review
Herein Chris and Jeremy present their review of the new Homeworld RPG from Modiphius, discussing the system, setting, and story possibilities presented in this 340-some page book. There's been a lot of discussion on the official Discord about errors, typos, and inconsistencies in this book; however, we do not address these...if you want those lists, go to the Discord and prepare to read.
July 27, 2022
2d20 Supers pt2: Powers!
Herein we discuss our ideas for using 2d20 for a Supers game, with most of this episode focused on powers and how to account for them mechanically. We'll have a linked document of our notes ready within the next few weeks and will discuss it in a future episode. Here's the link to our shabby notes - we'll flesh these out more over the next few weeks.
July 20, 2022
Chris is Running Vampire 5th Edition...Why that Version?
Chris has decided to go back to his college roots and run Vampire, and after wrestling with the decision over which version to run, he has settled on 5th edition. Herein we discuss a little of the history of Vampire as a setting and system, compare changes to the rules and settings over the last 30 years, and focus on some of the particulars of 5th ed as he begins his campaign set in Las Vegas.
July 13, 2022
Homeworld Free Quickstart Commentary
Herein we discuss the Homeworld Quickstart/Free RPG Day materials, including the rules, adventure, and what seem like the direction of this game.
July 06, 2022
The Great 50th Episode Show
Chris and I met over a year ago, and started recording FnC shortly thereafter, and upon reaching this, our 50th episode, we decided to look back on what we've done, what we think of it, and what we'd like to do over the next 50+ episodes. It might include some rambling and reminiscing, so be warned. 
June 29, 2022
2d20 Supers! Part One
Chris and Jeremy frame the basic needs of a Supers mod for 2d20, discussing stats, skills, and starting to discuss powers. Part Two will follow within the next few weeks.
June 22, 2022
Curse of Strahd: Story-System Commentary
Chris is nearly done running CoS, and I ran it when it first came out. Herein we discuss the story and how it interacts with the current 5e rules and DnD player norms. If you've not listened to our episode on running investigation-heavy stories, we call back to some of those ideas, by implication, in this episode. Our older episode on running published adventures is also implied.
June 15, 2022
2d20 in Place of Gumshoe for a Vampire Spy Thriller Campaign? Let's find out...
I (Jeremy) am going run the Dracula Dossier for my group, but I'm not hip on Gumshoe as a system after having run it a decent amount. The challenge, then, is whether or not 2d20 can be modified to emulate the necessary tropes for Jason Bourne meets Dracula. Can it? Let's see.
June 08, 2022
Chris, Supers RPGs, and Hope for the Future
In Chris' first solo episode, he works through a list of well-known and lesser-known Supers RPGs from over the years, addressing some of their strengths and shortcomings, and then foreshadows future commentary on the new Marvel RPG, and expresses some hope for the future of Supers games.
June 01, 2022
An Interview with Nathan Dowdell of Modiphius
We had the pleasure of talking with Nathan Dowdell, the 2d20 System Manager for Modiphius Entertainment. Our discussion ranged from how he and his team have modified the core system to fit various existing properties, to some talk about the upcoming SRD, to other ideas related to 2d20 and gaming in general.
May 25, 2022
Our Thoughts on Cortex Prime
Kickstarted in 2015 and fulfilled in 2020, the Cortex Prime toolkit hardback presents the Cortex system and myriad options for how you might use it in your games. Chris and I discuss what we think of the core mechanic and, more importantly, what else is in the book, how it might be used, and for whom this might be an interesting purchase.
May 18, 2022
For the Achtung! Cthulhu GM: Adventure Reviews
Since Chris was sick this week, I decided to offer short reviews of several of Modiphius' published A!C adventures, with commentary and suggestions for GMs who might want to run them.
May 11, 2022
First Reactions to the New Marvel Supers Playtest
In this one I interview Chris about the new Marvel supers game, and I get an earful. Below are links to his blog, wherein you can see examples of the infamous Archetype Tables, and read about his suggestions for improving the game (that is, making it playable). Post 1: Overview Post 2: Comparisons and Conclusions
May 04, 2022
A High(er) Magic System for 2d20?
Herein I seek feedback on a very rough draft of a more traditional fantasy magic system for use with 2d20. It's rough, and I think I'm coming away with some good ideas to improve it.
April 27, 2022
A Novel Source for GM Inspiration
As GMs, we draw inspiration for ideas - and life ideas whole-cloth - from books, movies, tv, and mythology. I propose another valid source: the lyrics and album covers of many Metal bands. Below are linked some of those mentioned in the episode, and a few others. Lyrics Iron Maiden, "Sun and Steel" Iron Maiden, "The Wicker Man" Iron Maiden, "The Duellists" Iron Maiden, "The Prophecy" Judas Priest, "Tyrant" Judas Priest, "Bloodstone" Judas Priest, "The Sentinel" Type O Negative, "Wolf Moon" Rainbow, "Man on the Silver Mountain" Bolt Thrower, "Granite Wall" Album Covers Iron Maiden, Somewhere in Time Iron Maiden, Brave New World Iron Maiden, Powerslave Bolt Thrower - various wallpapers
April 20, 2022
Our Wishlist for a 2d20 Fantasy Core Rules Book
I think that says it...herein we discuss what we'd like to see in a fantasy core rulebook...not tied to an existing property or setting.
April 13, 2022
One-Offs, Adventures, and Campaigns: Different Needs for Planning and Management
Our mainly GM-focused discussion of the differences in planning and management needs between one-offs, adventures, and campaigns.
April 06, 2022
Dishonored: Thoughts On and Reactions to This Narrative-Heavy RPG
In this episode we discuss the highly narrative Dishonored 2d20 RPG, and talk about what we like and dislike about it as a setting, as a vehicle for storytelling, and as a version of our favorite system.
March 30, 2022
The Don'ts and Do's of Planning and Running Investigations
Investigations and mysteries are interesting, can be a lot of fun, and are also a challenge to plan and run. Digging into our long experience of mistakes in trying to do this, Chris and I discuss what we believe to be the biggest pitfalls to avoid in planning and running these. In the episode I refer to Chill 3e and some potentially useful (free) materials related to that game available on DriveThruRPG - see that all here.
March 23, 2022
The Scientific Method Subsystem in Star Trek Adventures
What is Star Trek without problem solving through gonzo science, engineering, and medicine? We think not much, and Modiphius agrees, as evidenced by their inclusion of a subsystem for using a riff on the scientific method within the game. It's simple and story and character focused if done well, and you should go out of your way to put it to use. In this episode we explain and discuss it, run through a sample of it, and provide some commentary and house rules for it, too.
March 16, 2022
When, Why, and How to Roll the Dice in Support of the Story
TTRPGs have gone through a lot of development over the last 45+ years, and over that time we've seen different views on when and how to use the dice...when to call for rolls, what those rolls should be used to accomplish, and even when to hide and possibly fudge rolls (by the GM, of course...GMs fudge; players cheat!). In this episode Chris and I talk a little about that evolution, and focus mostly on ideas of how a GM can go about deciding when to call for the dice, when not to, and how to accept their results. And, of course, we use lots of examples related to 2d20. Reach us at
March 09, 2022
How to Introduce Players to 2d20
In this episode we discuss how to get people to play a 2d20 game, and then how to explain and make sense of the most important mechanics during that first session.
March 02, 2022
Original Adventures in Story-Heavy Settings Part 2
Part 2 of our discussion of the challenges of running original adventures and campaigns in story-heavy settings, wherein we move on from easier settings to more difficult ones - that is, those with little daylight between story and setting, like Dune or The Expanse.
February 23, 2022
Original Adventures in Story-Heavy Settings Part 1
Part 1 of our discussion of the challenges of running original adventures and campaigns in story-heavy settings. In this episode we first discuss those settings with established stories that don't present too much of a challenge to writing original adventures, and offer some opportunities, then move on to those settings where there is less daylight between story and setting.
February 16, 2022
Achtung! Cthulhu Combat Encounter with Commentary
This is a long one, in which we work through a combat encounter and provide running rules and gameplay commentary throughout. We made a mistake, however, with the rules and I went back and plugged in a few interludes of commentary to smooth things out and set up our recognition of the mistake, which we talked about at the end of the episode. One bit of advice for running combat in AC: make sure you have your Momentum charts and weapon Qualities and Effects lists handy - they will both come up, and there are subtle differences between AC and some other 2d20 titles.
February 09, 2022
Published Adventures vs. Home Brew, and Some Unexpected GM Therapy
The episode in which we discuss the comparative merits and challenges in using published vs. homebrew adventures and campaigns, which led us quite organically to some realizations about us as GMs - and probably GMs in general - from which we drew what we believe is solid advice for those of us who spend most of our gaming time 'behind the screen.' Find us on Facebook or email us at
February 02, 2022
Space, Range, and Distance - in 2d20 and Other Games
The episode in which we discuss range, space, and distance, and how it's handled through theater of the mind and minis-based games, as well as how 2d20s concept of 'zones' can work well with either. And feel free to contact us directly through our new email:
January 26, 2022
Our Gaming Plans, Hopes, and Dreams for 2022...and some Covid
What are Chris and I looking forward to, individually, in gaming over 2022? What releases have our interest, and what do we hope to do with our respective groups? We discuss these, and some Covid, in this episode.
January 19, 2022
What We Like, and Dislike, About DnD 5e
We take shots at the game and the system a lot, we know, and so we thought it was time to devote an episode to explaining ourselves to you. Spoiler: we actually think there is quite a lot to like about 5e...and yet...
January 12, 2022
Twilight: 2000 - Initial Reaction and Combat Commentary
Recorded while Jeremy and Chris could not harmonize their schedules, this episode includes our first guest host, John - military combat veteran and current law enforcement officer - whose life experiences color his views on gaming and game rules. We had an interesting discussion of the core mechanic and how we think it's a significant improvement over the stock Year Zero Engine, and spent time on how the combat system creates situations and forces decisions that closely resemble the real thing.
January 05, 2022
2021: Our Year in Review
After about six months of podcasting and a lot of gaming, we decided to look back on all of 2021 and reflect on the good.
December 29, 2021
...It Was the Worst of Games
A follow-up to our favorites discussion, herein we talk about some of our worst gaming experiences by system. And don't get your nose out of joint over these - we all have games we've played that we just didn't like, for some reason or another. On the upside, consider this: if some of your favorites are some of our least favorites, we will never compete over the last copy.
December 22, 2021
It Was the Best of Games...
Herein Chris and I go full-frontal op-ed, sharing our fondest and best game memories by system.
December 15, 2021
The Pathfinders: 1st and 2nd Editions Compared
I played a lot of PF 1e when it replaced DnD 4e at our table, and it was great...up to about 6th level. Having moved away from PF when DnD 5e came out, I have to date only give PF 2e a cursory glance. Chris, on the other hand, has played and run it and promises that there are many noteworthy improvements in 2e...and so we took this episode to talk about the newest version of the system.
December 08, 2021
Combat in Conan
A notional combat encounter between Conan and pirate cultists and their vile leader...
December 01, 2021
Personnel Combat in Star Trek Adventures
The first in a series of 'notional combat encounters' we're going to work through for different 2d20 games, to help nail down how combat flows and what options are available, and also to compare combat between the different games.
November 24, 2021
Who Ya Gonna Call? - 2d20 for Ghostbusters
In celebration of the release of the new movie, we decided to put our model for hacks & mods to the test by working through the a version of 2d20 to use for a Ghostbusters game. You can read Chris' notes and our combined ideas on his blog right here.
November 17, 2021
Achtung Cthulhu GM's Guide: First Thoughts
We do a deeper dive into this one than the PG...spoiler: it's a good book.
November 10, 2021
Achtung Cthulhu Player's Guide: First Thoughts
I think the episode title does the trick. We'll address the GM's Guide in the next episode, and in greater depth.
November 03, 2021
Chris' Game System Quandary
Chris wanted to select a game system to run a homebrew Supers game with his family, and he wanted it to be simple and streamlined for them, and varied and detailed enough to keep him interested as GM. That's a tough needle to thread, and so we decided to discuss it to try and reach a solution. I think I might have won him over, and in a future episode (this was recorded in July before his vacation) we'll discuss his decision and its outcome.
October 27, 2021
Hacks, Mods, and Conversions: Using 2d20 Outside of Published Settings
We like the properties published for 2d20, but there are plenty of settings and genres that Modiphius doesn't publish for - so we decided to think through how to reskin, hack, modify, or convert to use some version(s) of 2d20 with other settings. You can read the notes, cleaned up, to which we referred in the episode here. We will add more to that page over time as we revisit this topic in future episodes.
October 20, 2021
Threat: Essential for the GM
Threat, also known as Doom and some other names in different 2d20 properties, is an essential element of the game for the GM and if you're not using it well, you're not going to get the most out of the system. In this episode we discuss three categories of Threat, as we see it, and give some experience-based advice about how to understand and use it. We mentioned a few of the quickstarts, and those are linked below. Acthung! Cthulhu QS Conan Free RPG Day Scenario STA QS STA Klingon QS
October 13, 2021
The Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide: Reactions & Review
We discuss the newest book for STA from Modiphius and how GMs (especially) will be able to get a lot of mileage out of it, even if you've no interest in playing in the Expanse.
October 06, 2021
Starship Combat in Star Trek Adventures
Although the mechanics are still stock 2d20, running starship combat is a lot more involved than that at the personnel level, and requires a more even burden of GM and player knowledge requirements. In this episode Chris and I work through two rounds of starship combat, stopping throughout to comment on how the rules work and how they evoke the right feel at the table. We recommend that, to get the most out of this, you re-read, or at least scan, the starship operations and combat rules in whichever STA rulebook you have (and if you've a choice, use the Klingon book - it's a lot more clear than the original!).
September 29, 2021
A Review of the Star Trek Adventures Quadrant Books, and Expert Star Trek Commentary
We decided to treat all four Quadrant books in one review, discussing what is and isn't in each and how each can fit into different types of Star Trek Adventures games. And then I tried to convince Chris that Voyager is pretty good, and we agreed and provided clear evidence that Wesley Crushed is annoying.
September 22, 2021
Short Episode: Change in Publishing Schedule
Here's a brief update on our change to our publishing schedule - we're going weekly!
September 16, 2021
A Review: Star Trek Adventures Command Division Sourcebook
Herein we discuss what's in and what's good about the Command Division book for Star Trek Adventures, with commentary aimed at both players and GMs.
September 15, 2021
The Different Types of Conflict in the Dune RPG
In addition to a generic conflict resolution system - the basic 2d20 mechanic with a few tweaks - Dune offers five different versions of that system, intended for use in story-specific situation: dueling, skirmish combat, espionage (break-ins and sabotage and such), intrigue (social conflicts), and warfare ("send the horse! full attack!"). Herein we discuss what we like, don't like, and are confused by in these systems.
September 01, 2021
Our First Thought on the New Dune RPG
Chris has a physical copy and I have the what do we think of Modiphius' 2d20 version of Dune? This is a highly narrative implementation of the rules, closer to John Carter of Mars than Star Trek, so we're going to see a different kind of feel expressed...or so we assume.
August 18, 2021
Some Settings and Genres are Tough to Model in TTRPGs
Herein we discuss why it's tough to model some settings and genres in TTRPGs.
August 04, 2021
Combat in the 2d20 System
Herein we discuss how combat works across the 2d20 games, building on our discussion of the metacurrencies - Momentum and Threat, in particular - and how central they are to gameplay.
July 21, 2021
The Metacurrencies of 2d20
Herein we discuss Momentum, Threat, and Determination, player and GM metacurrencies that appear in all 2d20 games, albeit sometimes with different names. These currencies are what give 2d20 it's cinematic dimension, through which players and GM can shape situations in ways that are mechanically coherent and make sense for the story.
July 07, 2021
2d20's Novel Core Mechanic
We've both run a lot of 2d20 games and confusion always comes up around the core mechanic for players new to the system. Herein we discuss how it works, what it does, and give some indication as to why these are all good (really good!) things.
July 02, 2021
Introductions and Our Gaming Backgrounds
Chris and Jeremy introduce themselves in this first episode and discuss their gaming backgrounds, interests, and current work.
July 02, 2021