Episodes
For this inspirational episode I'm joined by Russel E Welch III, owner of Lingering Shadows Productions and Dungeon Master for their Spawn of Chaos actual-play series. Inspiration is about bringing something exemplary, be that from yourself or your character, and being able to promote harness that inspiration is of critical importance. But before we get to the philosophical, we first talk mechanical. We've found players often hoard their re-rolls, for various reasons. This is perhaps a...
Published 11/19/21
This episode I'm joined by Mike "The Birdman" Dodd from This Week in Geek to discuss all about how TTRPGs make us feel. Part of the Game Master's job is to elicit emotions from their players, so we discuss a few ways this can be achieved in your system of choice. Often this will take the form of some classic tropes such as "victory, but at a cost", however it really depends on what you want them to feel at that specific time. Sometimes it's excitement, others is shock or even horror. The...
Published 11/12/21
This week I am joined by Lucas Zellers, host of the 'Making a Monster' podcast to talk, unsurprisingly, about monsters! This episode is broadly split into two halves, the first focusing on mechanical minutia of running stat blocks, including various tips and tricks, such as "do your homework"! We also discuss the elegance of Matt Coville's Action Oriented Monster design approach and how it highlights shortcomings in the design of Dungeons & Dragons. Running higher level monsters RAW is...
Published 11/05/21
Jon from the 'Tale of the Manticore' (@ManticoreTale) actual-play podcast joins me to talk about creating stories in Dungeons and Dragons. We open by tackling the academic: the seven story archetypes and how to crack the "code" of a compelling narrative. However, this quickly breaks down as the collaborative nature of TTPRGs inherently sets them apart from traditional media; the eternal struggle of story versus agency. There can be pressure on DMs to "tell a good story", but how does this...
Published 10/29/21
This very special episode was recorded on location at Geek Retreat Southampton! As such, it has a slightly different format to all my previous episodes. I was fortunate enough to have Simon, James, Anastazia, and Anri share with me their TTRPG experiences and what bought them to the store that night. We cover a broad range of topics including how playing "in public" affects the experience, the concept of a "co-DM", and what it's like to play with a pick-up-group of strangers. It was such a...
Published 10/15/21
This episode I'm joined by Aaron Preuss (@Primus_Casts) to discuss growth within Dungeons & Dragons, and there's a lot to unpack here. Most people find their own character designs evolve and mature over time, and Aaron takes us through a couple of his own examples which can serve as inspiration and springboards for your own creations. Having genuine and believable flaws for your character is a fantastic thing, as it provides room for growth over the course of the adventure. More...
Published 10/08/21
This episode I'm joined by table top game creator and narrative designer Geoffrey Golden to dissect humour, which we all know is everyone's favourite thing to do! I start by absolutely butchering Kevin MacLeod's surname and for that, I can never apologise enough. Once that horrible faux pas is left behind, we move on to the juicy topic how the mechanics of a TTRPG impact and guide humour within a particular setting, and ways you can use the mechanics to elicit emotion. Indeed, most games have...
Published 10/01/21
This episode I'm joined by Adam from Snyder's Return to debate the pros and cons of narrative focused TTRPG systems. Such an interesting topic overflowing with meaning, subjectivity, and design intent; this episode covers it all! Firstly, Adam and I set the scope of the show by defining the terms and systems, setting the foundation for next 55 minutes. We then go on to dissect how the relatively crunchy, mechanics-heavy D&D system inevitably impacts the narrative, and the steps you can...
Published 09/24/21
CW: 36:40-37:10 Single reference to rape and sexual coercion in the context of the Vampire trope. Philippa Mort joins me to talk about the varied and wonderful topic of aesthetic. The discussion starts around the different approaches to TTRPG and campaign design; a different perspective to the typical top down/bottom up paradigm. How does one approach "visual design", and how does it differ from "mechanical design"? Philippa shares her experience in designing from visual prompts, and we talk...
Published 09/17/21
CW: A fictional anecdote containing references to NPC children dying and descriptions of gore & bodily harm to children, all within a Dungeons & Dragons context. This episode Robert Hartley, the DM for Viva La Dirt League, joins me to discuss his streaming experience and why he finds it so addictive. We go through the considerations of running a streamed actual play, compared to just a game at home with friends. Typically, this comes in the form of concessions; inevitably the...
Published 09/10/21
This week I'm joined by Quinn the GM to talk about content creation! Quinn is a serial producer, having released 15 products on Dungeon Masters Guild and showing no signs of slowing down, and he takes us through a BTS of his content creation process. We talk about the difficulties of balancing homebrew, and how the concerns shift based on whether it's for your personal game or for public consumption. As a sign of fellowship, Quinn and I share stories of our own self doubt and battles with...
Published 09/03/21
This episode, Fabio Vollono of Morgue Miniatures takes us on a trip through time and all the varied & fantastical incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons. Edition by edition, we discuss how the game has changed over the last 30+ years, such as the concept of "boxes" versus our current reality of books. We briefly touch upon some hot topics such as gender stereotypes and the class-agnostic subclasses from Strixhaven through a lens of learning from past mistakes. The history of D&D can...
Published 08/27/21
I'm joined by one of the hosts of the Double DM podcast, Emil Auerbach, to talk all about failure: how it comes about, how to mitigate it, and most importantly, how to learn from it. Failure is an intrinsic part of Dungeons & Dragons because as soon as you roll a dice, you run the chance of failing. Emil and I discuss several methods to mitigate this as players controlling characters who everyone at the table wants to succeed. From pandering to NPC desires to taking realistic notes, there...
Published 08/20/21
Puzzles, the marmite of Dungeons & Dragons! I'm joined by Michael Wu, a.k.a. DM Micycle, to discuss the nuances of designing puzzles for TTRPGs. Certain considerations have to made during the design process, as puzzles are a unique gameplay element in that they are challenges for the players, rather than their characters. Not only do we have to deal with regular awkward rolls (Wizard rolls low on INT, Barbarian rolls natural 20 to solve the puzzle, etc.), but also how to bridge the...
Published 08/13/21
"Perpetuating the success of fireball." Cat McDonald of Peach Garden Games brings her perspective of being an indie TTRPG designer and knowledge of the occult to this talk about magic in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. She takes us through the design processes used when working on Heroic Chord and her other TTRPGs. Unsurprisingly, we discuss at length her freeform magic system where players must homebrew spells on the fly through bargaining with the GM. When you compare this method with...
Published 08/06/21
For this discussion I'm joined by Matt Perkins, DM/podcaster/YouTuber extraordinaire, to talk all about pressure in your TTRPGs! We split the term down the middle by differentiating narrative (in-game) from "meta" (OoG) pressure, however there are often more parallels than initially thought. Join us as we jaunt through topics such as effectively communicating the stakes, how to realise meaningful choices, and why to avoid punitive measures. All with a casual sprinkling of the Jason Statham...
Published 07/30/21
This episode I am joined by professional marketer Zack Applewhite, of Applewhite Games, who takes us on a whistle-stop masterclass of content marketing tips, advice, and real-world examples to help us better promote the amazing work we do! Starting with his suggestion of a "content chop shop" where you disassemble the content you create to vastly increase quality output. Aside from the academic and business tactics, one thing we discuss at length is comfort. Perhaps unintuitively, it's more...
Published 07/23/21
This episode I'm joined by Pete, a.k.a. @BadDMPete, to discuss all about voices! If I can start off by apologising for the embarrassing mistake of confusing the Akira Kurosawa epic Seven Samurai with the Tom Cruise bombast of The Last Samurai, please forgive me! Now that's out of the way, I can tell you about the rest of the episode! Pete and I discuss how mistakes should be learned from to improve oneself, and that no one should ever feel pressured at the game table. In fact, understanding...
Published 07/16/21
CW: Discussion around sexuality and relationships. References to sex. This weeks guest is Declan, the "forever DM" of the Romancing the Dungeon podcast where the characters are all searching for that special someone! We discuss the what romance can mean in Dungeons & Dragons, such as the many forms it can take and reasons why it does, and does not, show up in campaigns. One of the most fundamental things to bear in mind is the comfort of those at the table, which can be monitored and...
Published 07/09/21
This episode I'm joined by Nikki from Beholder to No One, the award winning TTRPG podcast featuring discussions and one-shots. Broadly this episode can be summed up as "how random elements affect gameplay", however as we quickly find out that's a much deeper and multifaceted discussion. For example, even character generation (standard array versus rolling) can dramatically affect the theming of a character and how you approach role play. It's often considered that to embrace randomness, one...
Published 07/02/21
This episode I'm joined by Joe Dunn (@jcd0818) to talk about a very stylish topic. Joe has 17 years TTRPG experience across multiple systems including D&D, Pathfinder, and Powered by the Apocalypse, so is exceptionally qualified to discuss all things "style". The first bulk of the episode is around the broad topic of "styles of gameplay" and how that differs between editions, modules, and players. For example, how do you marry the metaphysical, high-heroism style of Theros with...
Published 06/25/21
This episode was recorded 8th April 2021 and includes lots of swearing, puns, and memes. You have been warned! For this extended episode I gathered the cast of Cosmopunk, the actual-play homebrew Starfinder podcast, to discuss friction. Now, we do spend an awful lot of time talking about coffee, but nestled betwixt the brilliant puns and segues are nuggets of insight, raucous laughter, and life lessons. To begin, we discuss how drama between characters can cause friction at the table, and we...
Published 06/18/21
This week I'm joined by Aaron Saltzman (@five2lif), host of Feats & Fantasies actual-play podcasts Cataclysm Rising and Trivium of Time, to discuss everything about dice. We start by talking about how the requirement of random dice rolls fundamentally changes the nature of the "game" from what might be considered a "pure" role-playing experience. Despite my hypocrisy, Aaron and I share stories and anecdotes centred on dice and their oft whimsical nature. Although dice start as an esoteric...
Published 06/11/21
This episode is all about "Planning" campaigns, chapters, sessions, calendars, and characters. I'm joined by Jeff Nabors, the DM for the Reroll Expectations actual-play podcast and media director for Chasing XP. We discuss our various methods for planning our campaigns from the micro of moment-to-moment improv, to the macro of embedding meaningful character development into grand campaign arcs. There's a line between over-planning, and failure to plan (is planning to fail), and the thickness...
Published 06/04/21
For this whirlwind tour I'm joined by Colin Anderson, a.k.a. Family Fantasy RPG, and we take you through what it means to find a family through TTPRGs. Colin has a wealth of experience in the family-friendly homebrew and TTRPG space, and he shares his insight and experience gained from designing child-focused role-playing games. One thread which is universal, however, is that D&D is an evergreen learning activity for all ages and experience, and every sessions is a learning opportunity....
Published 05/28/21