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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dungeons & Dragons Podcast Reviews 10/20/16

I thought I'd try something new and review some D&D podcasts. I grabbed shows that had topics that interested me from the past few months and I've been listening to them while I do other stuff. If there is a podcast you think I should check out, let me know in the comments or email me and I'll try it.

Title: If you have a better name for this feature, let me know. I am sure that there's something good out there in the ether but I can't quite grasp it. Something about clairaudience? Here's a terrible one: "Podcast Mindblast." Maybe I should just use the most terrible name I can think of. 

I'm interested in D&D-focused podcasts for the most part, especially those that interview people who worked on products I like. I love to hear little factoids about that stuff.

Dragon Talk 9/8/16

You can listen to this here.

This is the official D&D podcast, hosted by Shelly Mazzanoble and Greg Tito who are really fun to listen to. They get along great and they just seem like really happy people. On this episode, they concocted a phrase that I want to work into my D&D lexicon: Lore insertion.

On this show, they interview two people from Twits and Crits. I really like that show. They interviewed Elyse (aka Grimo Rudefellow) and Dan (the Dungeon Master).

Crossover: I had no idea that this exists in the same campaign world as Heroes and Halfwits. The plan is for them to cross over at some point. That is really awesome. One crew in LA and the other is in Texas, so they're not sure how they're going to work it out.

I didn't know this. In that campaign world, there is an eclipse once a month, creating a "dark day." That's just an awesome idea. I really like the stuff that the Heroes and Halfwits DM comes up with.

We learn that Elyse is a muppet enthusiast and that she is pretty new to D&D. She's big on board games.

New to the Game: I didn't realize that the DM Dan was so new to the game. I think he's doing very well so far. It was interesting to hear him and Elise asking Greg and Shelly questions about the game.

Problem Player: Dan seemed to be concerned about the meta-gaming of the dude who plays Decker Rootkit and was wondering what to do about it. From what I saw on the show, the guy playing Decker is going out of his way to be difficult for some reason. 

I don't think the issue is that he's meta-gaming. It seems like a symptom of a larger problem. I think it could be one of two things:
  1. He's new and doesn't understand that he is behaving poorly.
  2. He knows he's causing problems and he doesn't care.
I'm pretty sure it is the latter. I could be wrong, but that's the vibe I get.

Elise was actually trying to rein him in on a few episodes and it did work to a degree, but I get the feeling that they're better off without him at the table. They have too many players as it is, anyway.

Dead Games Society - Zeb Cook interview

You can listen to this here.

This show has really good audio quality and the host has a good voice. This is a nice, long interview and Zeb is extremely humble and self-deprecating. This guy made so much awesome stuff. He wrote AD&D second edition! He created Planescape!

TSR Job Application: Zeb says that when he first applied to work at TSR in the '70's, he was sent a "test" in the mail made by Gary Gygax that tested Zeb's knowledge on obscure medieval topics. There was a big section on polearms. I swear that's what he said.

Zeb's "resume" included an adventure - Dwellers of the Forbidden City. Boggles my mind.

They flew Zeb out for an interview but they didn't buy him a hotel room and he had to buy his own plane ticket. He slept on Gary's couch.

Up until that point, Zeb was an english teacher and it wasn't working out. His job at TSR actually paid less than the teaching job.

We learn a ton of things:
  • Zeb feels that Against the Slave Lords was very formulaic and he cringes when he looks at it now.
  • He thinks his ideas for Planescape sometimes weren't so playable. 
  • Ascending AC in 2e: When making 2e, they actually wanted to have an ascending AC, but the company felt that would make all of the old product useless, and they still had a lot of books in their inventory.
  • They Didn't Use Their Own Rules: Back when they played D&D in the office, they never used weapon speed or casting times (!) in 1e! The host is really taken aback by this.
Gary Guarded Greyhawk: The writers proposed a lot of stuff for Greyhawk, but Gary wouldn't allow them to set anything there unless he got to review it and he didn't have the time to do so. So a lot of products were purposely set in a vague, generic realm.

Bunch of Hacks: Zeb says that they were a bunch of hack adventure writers churning out stuff for a deadline. He said that the "manufacturing" process was actually very beneficial, as he learned how to cut corners to get stuff done on time.

D&D in Space: Zeb says that Spelljammer never really took off like they wanted. He thinks that players didn't view it as a campaign setting, but more as a method for travel. So people would have a few spelljamming adventures and then go back to a planet.

All I can say is that we played tons of spelljammer and loved it. Some of the best campaigns I ever played in were Spelljammer.

He talks about a lot of other things, including Star Frontiers and more about Planescape. This is a great interview and well worth listening to!

The Tome Show 9/23/16 - Interview with Craig Campbell

You can listen to this here.

I definitely wanted to listen to this because Craig wrote a fantastic 4e version of Baba Yaga's Hut which, in my opinion, made the 1e version playable. I could not believe how much content in the 1e adventure was left up to you, the DM, to create.

Craig is awesome. He's very fun to listen to. He definitely has the gift of gab and he has a real strong personality/charm about him.

He started off in D&D by writing a Living Greyhawk adventure that he now thinks is bad. He got this gig because he was friends with Jason Buhlman, who ended up working for Paizo. So basically every time Buhlman got a job somewhere, he'd farm out work to Craig.

Craig loves Deadlands and he has apparently run a lot of it. I always wanted to run that game, but I never quite got it all together. It seems like you could do some really cool stuff with it. Mixing the supernatural and cowboys sounds weird, but I think they pulled it off really well.

Baba Yaga: There was a list of D&D projects to choose from. Craig decided to go big and he took on Baba Yaga for 4e. The adventure is huge and he had to keep asking Chris Perkins if they could make it bigger. It took him two weeks to plan it out and a month to write it. Writing this thing was a major ordeal but Craig takes pride in getting stuff done on time.

Murders & Acquisitions: Craig has spent the last three years making his new game - Murders and Acquisitions. The game is about killing your way up the corporate ladder. He says that the character sheet looks like a resume. That is hilarious.

He kickstarted that game and now he's working on another game about superheroes in the prohibition era.

Another great interview! Craig does a podcast called nerdburger and I think I definitely need to check that out.

Know Direction #140 - 10/19/16

You can listen to this here.

This podcast is all about Pathfinder. This episode has an interview with Erik Mona, who is one of the main guys at Paizo. I was hoping to hear about Golarion and lore about the NPCs, tidbits about the adventures that kind of thing. Erik was a huge Greyhawk guy in the Paizo Dungeon Magazine era and I was hoping to hear about that, too. But this podcast was focused more on product release schedules rather than lore.

Pathfinder 100: Erik talks about how when they did Pathfinder 100, he was shocked at the lack of a reaction. Apparently this issue has a ton of stuff and major reveals.

Issue 100 was a big deal to him because in the early days, things were so uncertain that he remembers asking the Paizo CEO to guarantee that they'd print up to issue 6  just so that the first path would be complete.

There was all sorts of special stuff in issue 100 and he says it felt like it went unnoticed. That's when he decided they needed to shake things up, and that led to their sci fi game Starfinder.

Iconic NPCs: Bestiary 6 (yes, they are making their 6th monster manual) is going have all of the archdevils in it. This book actually sounds awesome. It is going to detail a lot of major entities. This sounds like something I will buy.

Technology: Erik says that all of their Pathfinder products that integrate sci fi technology sell really well. That actually shocks me. I didn't realize people liked that kind of mixing so much.

Erik talks a lot about Starfinder. The heroes will have a spaceship and go on adventures. There will be outer planes as well.

Red Sonja: Then he talks a ton about Pathfinder Worldscape, a comic where the pathfinder iconics cross over with Red Sonja, John Carter of Mars and other pulp heroes. He is super excited about this thing.

On this show, the hosts just wind Erik up and let him go. He's fun to listen to, but I just didn't have a lot of interest in these topics.

Down With D&D 69 - What's New, UA Encounter Building, and Personal Tips Grab Bag

You can listen to this here.

This podcast is by two guys who write Adventurers League adventures. One of them is Shawn Merwin. He writes the first adventure of every season, which from what I can tell is the most important one.

Shawn sounds really run down. The poor guy is overworked or something. He mentions a problem player in his Curse of Strahd game, and I wish he would have said more about it. I am always interested in that stuff. The whole problem player thing needs to be nipped in the bud if we want the game to get bigger and stay that way.

Encounter Building: They start off talking about the problems with the encounter building rules and writing adventurers league stuff. They are saying that it is hard to scale encounters because the power levels between classes is too swingy.

They think that a good idea would be to have a section in each adventure that tells the DM how to modify each encounter based on the style of play.

Tips: They offer some tips to DMs. They talk about the dangers of handing out powerful magic items. One of them solves this by modifying them so that they have a drawback. For example, he gave out a sword that shoots a powerful beam that does tons of damage, but then it needs to be left in the sun for a year to recharge.

In my opinion, if you have a player who is trying to take advantage of things - that's the problem. Not the item. To me what that means is that you want a different style of game than your players and that you should work something out or separate.

This show is really short. Too short! It's a half hour and it flew by. It felt like they barely got any thoughts out and then it was over.

There you go! Let me know if there's any shows that you think I should check out.


Anonymous said...

No Adventure Zone?

Sean said...

Anonymous: I just looked at it. What episode do you think I should do? Can I just jump in on the newest one and know what is going on?

Felix Felicis said...

I wouldn't jump in, it's pretty linear, but it does get better as it goes. So... I recommend listening to the first ep in one of the first four arcs: Here be Gerblins, Moonlighting, Murder on the Rockport Limited, or Petals to the Metal. It might be a little confusing, but they're self-contained enough that it should mostly make sense, and the latter two will give you a good idea of how they play and what the podcast is like overall, since the first ep is a lot of "can I do this? how do I do this? These are the rules" etc.

Anonymous said...

Godsfall is an amazing podcast, probably one of the best I've ever heard.

Len said...

Thanks for this article, i discovered a few new podcasts as a result. If you haven't heard of it, take a look at Total Party Thrill. They release new episodes every Thursday.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Sneak Attack.
I did not like Godsfall due to all the use of porfane languages. Although the world is very well done.

Sean said...

Anonymous: I might check it out! Thanks!

Len: Awesome, thanks I will check out total party thrill.

Anonymous: Sneak Attack.. I shall add it to my list. Thank you!