Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 34 – Elizabeth Roithmayr-Clemens

Elizabeth Roithmayr-Clemens
Elizabeth Roithmayr-Clemens

I am joined this week by Elizabeth Roithmayr-Clemens, the New Jersey Area Director for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). She shares her experience organizing community activities and advocating for greater suicide awareness and education. She speaks about losing a family member to suicide when she was 14 years-old and losing a friend to suicide more recently in 2013. Elizabeth describes her work for AFSP, and highlights how donations to the non-profit organization are used to educate the public, advocate for better policy, support survivors, and fund additional research on suicide. We discuss our ideas for reducing the stigma about mental health services, and increasing the likelihood that people will be willing to talk openly about mental health symptoms.

Enjoy the 34th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

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Ego Check: Grant Gould, Freelance Illustrator

In Spring 1999, Pacey Witter was a season away from kissing Joey PotterPresident Bill Clinton was dealing with the Monica Lewinsky scandal and Star Wars fans around the globe were camping out to buy tickets to the long-anticipated Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Remember that feeling of anticipation? There’s going to be a new Star Wars movie! And we’re going to see it on the big screen soon! At the time, I was in the process of completing my first year of graduate school at University of Minnesota – where Jesse “The Body” Ventura was residing as Governor of Minnesota. Looking back, it was a strange time!

Being a huge fan of Star Wars and not wanting to miss out on getting a ticket to the first show, I searched online for the nearest organized line – a task that was not as easy as it sound because social media like Facebook and Twitter didn’t really exist yet. I found a nearby group through an online message board and not knowing what to expect, I left class and drove 20 minutes outside of Minneapolis to a suburban theater. I immediately connected with the other guys and girls in what became simply known as The Line. There was a shared language we all understood – we were all nerds, damn proud of it and the enthusiasm and camaraderie was contagious. During the following days when I wasn’t in class, at work or home sleeping – I was at The Line.

New roleplaying game in development from Grant Gould.

One of the great people I met in that movie theater parking lot was Grant Gould. Grant is currently a freelance illustrator and developing a new roleplaying game, Blade Raiders, but back in 1999 he was just another guy camping out in line for Star Wars tickets. We shared many of the same interests and he and his friends were hilarious. If you’d like to read some truly unfortunate quotes – including several from yours truly – from The Line regarding Star Wars fandom and the build-up to Episode I, then check out this issue of The Minnesota Daily – the student newspaper for University of Minnesota – which profiled the people waiting in line to buy tickets. None of us knew about the trainwreck that was thundering in our direction. How could we have known!?

Grant and I stayed in touch after the hoopla of Episode I died down and he invited me to a party the next year in June 2000. I had recently graduated with my Masters degree and was leaving Minneapolis for good, but I really wanted to see all the people from The Line one last time. I decided to stay an extra week in town for the party and leave the next morning. At the party, Grant introduced me to his cousin, Emily. Four years later, Emily and I got married and we celebrate our eighth anniversary tomorrow. Without Star Wars – I don’t meet the love of my life – and I owe the equivalent of a Wookie Life Debt to Grant Gould.

Below, I interview Grant Gould about his journey from standing in line for Episode I tickets to working officially as a freelance illustrator for Luscasfilm and other big-name franchises like The Lord of the Rings. He talks about his long history of playing roleplaying games and his motivations for designing his own game, Blade Raiders. I’m obviously biased, but Grant is good people – and if you feel so inclined, then please check out his Kickstarter page for Blade Raiders.

Continue reading “Ego Check: Grant Gould, Freelance Illustrator”

No Assembly Required: Thurl Bal’zud, Cleric of Laduguer

The May edition of my monthly monster-building column, No Assembly Required, is now posted at This Is My Game.

The column, No Assembly Required, features a monster that can be inserted into a Dungeon & Dragons 4th Edition campaign. Each monster in the series includes comprehensive information including Origin, Lore, Combat Tactics, Power Descriptions and Stat Block. Visit This Is My Game to review this month’s monster, Thurl Bal’zud, Cleric of Laduguer. Thurl an Epic-Tier duergar who can be added to any campaign that might venture into the Underdark.

My goal with the character was to capture the vibe of fighting a Boss in an old Final Fantasy game where the Boss would have two stages. The first would be a defensive shell and the second would be a devastating attack. Going through the design process, I discovered that D&D 4th Edition already has this type of mechanic in the form of Lurkers. However, I don’t think Thurl plays like a Lurker.

Visit This is My Game for the full description of Thurl Bal’zud, Cleric of Laduguer, and decide for yourself. And be sure to check out previous entries in the series!

Many thanks to Grant Gould who provided the fantastic design and illustration for the evil duergar.

No Assembly Required: Kemah Timmonen

The April edition of my monthly monster-building column, No Assembly Required, is now posted at This Is My Game.

The column, No Assembly Required, features a monster that can be inserted into a Dungeon & Dragons 4th Edition campaign. Each monster in the series includes comprehensive information including Origin, Lore, Combat Tactics, Power Descriptions and Stat Block. Visit This Is My Game to review this month’s monster, Kemah Timmonen. Kemah is an Paragon-Tier female shadar-kai that will feel right at home in any campaign, but certainly an adventure in The Shadowfell.

My goal with Kemah was to create a ruthless villain to go along with the uneasy and violent themes of The Shadowfell. I wanted her to enhance her abilities as a Controller and crafted powers to fit into this theme. I modified what it means to be Dominated and created a new status effect, Conflicted.

And I also wanted her to have orange and black in her color schedule because it’s playoff hockey time and I’m a huge Philadelphia Flyers fan. The Flyers are currently battling in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs – so Let’s Go Flyers!

Visit This is My Game for the full description of Kemah Timmonen, and check out previous entries in the series!

Many thanks to Grant Gould who provided the fantastic design and illustration for Kemah.

No Assembly Required – Weta Swarm

The March edition of my monthly monster-building column, No Assembly Required, is now posted at This Is My Game.

The column, No Assembly Required, features a monster that can be inserted into a Dungeon & Dragons 4th Edition campaign. Each monster in the series includes comprehensive information including Origin, Lore, Combat Tactics, Power Descriptions and Stat Block. Visit This Is My Game to review this month’s monster, Weta Swarm. The Weta Swarm is an Heroic-Tier monster who can serve as a pesky creature and hopefully adds more “swarming” flavor than other monster options.

The Weta Swarm was inspired by my recent travels to New Zealand. I have thought about creating a swarm monster in the past because I often find that the current swarm options do not feel all that “swarmish.” Other than taking half damage from melee and ranged attacks, many swarms simply feel too much like other monsters. It was my intention to make the Weta Swarm feel like a significant threat just by sheer numbers alone. As always, I’m open to feedback so please post any questions or comments about the monster here or at This Is My Game, and come back next month for another ready-to-use monster.

The fantastic artwork is provided by Grant Gould. Visit This is My Game for the full description of Weta Swarm.

No Assembly Required – Durgauthbalavoar, Ghost Dragon

My monthly monster-building column, No Assembly Required, has once again returned to This Is My Game as the site has been taken over by Randall Walker and Tracy Barnett. They are eager to maintain and improve the site, so I am excited they will be hosting the No Assembly Required series moving forward!

The column, No Assembly Required, features a monster that can be inserted into a Dungeon & Dragons 4th Edition campaign. Each monster in the series includes comprehensive information including Origin, Lore, Combat Tactics, Power Descriptions and Stat Block. Visit This Is My Game to review this month’s monster, Durgauthbalavoar, Ghost Dragon. Durgauthbalavoar is an Epic-Tier monster who should provide the foundation for a dynamic combat encounter for any group of adventurers.

The mechanics for the dragon were inspired by my frustration of having too many combat encounters turn into static slugfests where enemies and players rush to one spot in a room and then trade blows until one group dies. Durgauthbalavoar is surrounded by various Auras – some that effect PCs nearby, and some that effect PCs far away – in addition to a teleportation power that will shift the flow of battle.

As always, the fantastic artwork is provided by Grant Gould. Visit This is My Game for the full description of Durgauthbalavoar, the spirit of an evil dragon slain long ago only to return to terrorize the lands once again! Please post any questions or comments about the monster here or at This Is My Game, and come back next month for another ready-to-use monster.

No Assembly Required: Wobet

Welcome to the January 2012 Edition of No Assembly Required, a monthly column that provides DMs with a ready-to-use monster for a Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition campaign. The monster can of course be adjusted for other gaming systems as well. Each monster in the series is displayed complete with Stat Block, Lore, Tactics, Power Descriptions and potential plotlines that a DM can use in a campaign.

Of special note is the spectacular artwork provided by Grant Gould. He previously designed the mascot for my blog, Iddy the Lich, and is illustrating each monster in the No Assembly Required series. He also developed the sweet logo below for the column. Visit his site to learn about commission pricing and view galleries of artwork.

Previous editions of No Assembly Required were hosted at This is My Game, but I have decided to post the entries here moving forward. Please be sure to come back at the beginning of each month for a new monster that can be used in your campaign. Batteries Included! This month, I present a monster for the late Paragon Tier, Wobet. Design and details are below.

Continue reading “No Assembly Required: Wobet”