Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 39 – Marc Allie

Marc Allie

Marc Allie

Marc Allie joins me to talk about his history of “being geeky when geeky wasn’t cool.” He talks about his early memories of playing Dungeons & Dragons and how he jumped into the online community with his blog, The Learning DM, during the 4th Edition era. We spend some time remembering fondly elements of 4e D&D and talk about the transition to 5th Edition. Marc and I spend a good portion of the show talking about our shared enjoyment of Transformers, which hit us both in our formative year in the mid-80s. We talk about why Transformers persists while other franchises from that era have fallen in terms of greater public consciousness. He details his efforts to write a haiku for each episode of the original animated series, and we discuss our enjoyment (or lack thereof) of the Transformer films in recent years. We both agree that Bumblebee is wonderful, and hope the future is bright for additional films that will come from Bumblebee’s creative team. Enjoy our stroll down the space bridge memory lane!

Enjoy the 39th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

Listen here!

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. 

New episodes are (typically) released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month!

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

Posted in Ego Check, Podcast | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Childhood Ruined – A(war)d Show, What Is It Good For?

ChildhoodRuinedLogo_final smallWe take the Presidents Day holiday to record a new episode and give each other an update on our son’s behavior. Chris prods me on my lofty expectations for my two-year-old son, and I encouraged him to follow his son’s diet of recreational activities. Chris brings up the topic of the Grammys, and discusses how they seem even more irrelevant than usual. The hosts ponder if an organization like the Grammys is losing prominence as the pace of the music accelerates and the scope of music broadens. The conversations expands to discuss the Oscars, and how the film industry in heading in a similar direction. The hosts debate over whether awards shows do (or should) mean anything to a wide audience given that they are still decided by a group of people that are older, wealthier and whiter than the general population.

Enjoy the new episode of Childhood Ruined!

 

Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 38 – Ed Grabianowski

Ed Grabianowski bio pic

Ed Grabianowski

Ed Grabianowski (aka, “The Grabster”) joins me on the show to talk about his career as a freelance writer for outlets over the years including io9 and How Stuff Works. He speaks to his start as a writer for a local newspaper in Buffalo and how that led to other writing opportunities as he continues to work on a novel. He discusses the pressures involved in producing content for an online audience that is bombarded with an endless stream of content. Ed also talks about his musical project, Spacelord. Ed performs vocals for the band, and he details their journey in the independent rock scene. While Ed provides details about Spacelord’s influences, a few samples of their music are including to give listeners a taste of their sound. The band is GOOD, and you should give them a listen! Ed shares a hilarious story about the cover art for the latest Spacelord album, and we close the show by rehashing our efforts in 2016 to narrow down to the best 12 songs from the Use Your Illusion albums by Guns N’ Roses. If you haven’t read our takes on this, then go do that now.

Enjoy the 38th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

Listen here!

Please consider leaving a review on iTunes and help spread the word about the show. 

New episodes are (typically) released the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month!

If you are interested in coming on the show for an interview, or would like to become a sponsor, contact me to make arrangements.

Posted in Ego Check, Podcast | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Go Nowhere with Side Quests

In recent months, I’ve been slowly working my way through Red Dead Redemption 2. I started before the holidays, and the slow pace of the early game tripped me up. It took some cognitive adjustment (and a few tutorial articles) to get my bearings in this new version of the Old West. The game is beautiful, and gives players a vast canvas to devote countless hours to do – well, just about anything.

From hunting wildlife to donating to beggars to playing poker to bonding with a horse to furthering women’s rights to shooting up a “the whole damn town” with a frenemy, Red Dead Redemption 2 gives players a trainload of options for how to spend their time while controlling Arthur Morgan. In addition to tens of hours of primary plot lines to follow, which I’m still nowhere near completing yet, the game has various tiers of what I’ll label Random Encounters. It is these encounters – and how they could relate to a tabletop role-playing game like Dungeons & Dragons – that have been on my mind in recent days.

Arthur

Arthur Morgan – Friend. Outlaw. Legend.

I wrote years ago how I learned to structure D&D sessions like the original Red Dead Redemption. At the time, I was running a 4th Edition campaign setting that I was making up on the fly. I needed to build a foundation in my mind so I didn’t get lost in my own world. Enter my experience with games like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption:

In games such as Red Dead Redemption, the NPCs drive the story forward. I mentioned above that a player can travel to specific locations on the world map to trigger the next story mission; the icons on the map are the names of important NPCs in the world. The player knows at any time during the game the NPCs that are available to trigger a story mission. I used this design to build my campaign.

Back then, I channeled my preparation time into creating prominent NPCs that players could interact with during sessions, knowing the general areas and missions those NPCs would trigger. It was a formula that worked well with my group, and helped me prepare for each session. Clearly, adventure books and modules accomplish this same goal; those texts provide details on important NPCs, and the DM steers the players in the direction of those NPCs to advance the plot.

Where Red Dead Redemption 2 is intriguing is that some tiers of the Random Encounters do not serve a purpose in the classic sense of game design. Completing the encounters does not increase skills, earn your character money, or unlock new items. The encounters are simply there; they exist to be experienced by the player. It’s rather strange because many other areas of the game drive you to complete specific actions to craft an item, earn more money, or improve your character or equipment in some way.

Continue reading

Posted in DM Advice, Steal This NPC | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writer’s Block? Use Songs for Inspiration

I participated in a writing series for Boccob’s Blessed Blog, which is a site with useful resources for role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. I wrote 20 Cleric Quest Ideas that can be used to spark the interest of players who are holier than thou. The individual behind Boccob’s Blessed Blog is Andy Hand, and he previously agreed to an interview with me in 2016 and joined me on a podcast last year after we collaborated on a book of monsters for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, which has raised a substantial amount of money for suicide prevention.

Cleric

“Maybe heaven’s got a back door too?”

I was happy to contribute to Andy’s article series, though I struggled to get started on the quest ideas – the kind of struggle when an open document is starring you in the face and the blinking cursor is simply taunting you with every repetitive blink. I considered using some of the random tables from the Dungeon Master’s Guide, which I’ve put to great use when designing a delve for my players. The “been there, done that” vibe got in the way, so the cursor continued to blink with nary a word written.

I was scrolling through earlier articles in Andy’s Quest Ideas series, and noted that the Ranger quests started with a brief title. I considered the option of using song titles as a starting place for each Cleric Quest Idea, and from that point – I was cooking with gas! I briefly considered Pearl Jam songs (as they remain my favorite band), though I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to reach new eyeballs to persuade readers to listen to a band they may not have heard of, Dead Sara.

I listed each Dead Sara song in my blank document and vanquished the blinking cursor! I deleted some songs to get down to 20 tracks, which now functioned as quest ideas for a Cleric. From there, it was a matter of writing a few sentences for each song title to create a quest that would relate to a Cleric in D&D. It was enjoyable to write once I unlocked a way to get the article started.

Check out the 20 Cleric Quest Ideas at Boccob’s Blessed Blog, and be sure to read through to the end of the article as I linked to a Spotify playlist of Dead Sara songs arranged in the same order as the quests; this wrinkle may delight only me, though I’m sharing that delight with everyone!

Also, experiment with this device when preparing sessions. Start with song titles – or even movies titles – and use those as a jumping-off point for ideas for characters and quests in the campaign. For example, what would the NPCs in the next important location be like if the starting point for each NPC’s backstory were a title from the last five films that won the Academy Award for Best Picture?

  • The Shape of Water
  • Moonlight
  • Spotlight
  • Birdman
  • 12 Years a Slave

Fun little puzzle to sort out, right?!

Quick note, I’ll be appearing on and episode of Dragon Talk next Friday, February 8th at 1PM PST. The show is hosted by staff with Wizards of the Coast, and you can watch live on Twitch or the show will appear as a podcast later in the month.

Finally, it has been quite some time since I openly plugged my Patreon site. If you enjoy the content including the articles and podcasts I’ve been posting and would like to support my creative efforts, then please visit my Patreon to consider getting involved for as little as $1/month. Every little bit helps with improving the articles and podcasts that I put out into the world for free, and there are some fun ways to get involved with the content.

Posted in DM Advice, Steal This NPC | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Nostalgia Grab

ChildhoodRuinedLogo_final smallWe’re back with another episode of Childhood Ruined this week!

Your hosts briefly detail how the polar vortex scraped their original plans for this evening, which involved a brewery and a night of music trivia. Michael introduces a topic that has been burning his mind, which is the various forms of nostalgia that seem to be spinning in the news. The possible looming death of GameStop is discussed including how purchasing trends of physical media seem to be declining to the point of extinction. Chris talks about some of the unpleasant aspects of the GameStop experience, and Michael ties this into other efforts to capture the attention of similar demographics with nostalgia efforts in games like Dungeons & Dragons and franchises such as Transformers and Star Wars.

Chris and Michael detail their reactions to Bumblebee, which both agree was a quality movie that “felt” like it was right out of the 1980’s. Michael inquires about the problems with nostalgia, and wonders if the glossed-over-the-rough-edges Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, is a sign of people being too keen to celebrate nostalgia in a safe way while overlooking reality.

Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Teal Podcast

ChildhoodRuinedLogo_final smallChildhood Ruined is back with an emergency episode dedicated to Weezer’s Teal Album. We discuss our shared confusion about the aims of the artistic endeavor while going through the album track-by-track, and explore why a popular band from the mid-90’s still inspires such blazing-hot takes across the internet. Chris and I talk about what makes a good cover album, or even a good cover song. We throw around the question, “What is the best Weezer album?” while being completely self-aware that Saturday Night Live already executed the best version of this conversation! As a bonus, I got to test out a new microphone-and-headset combo for the podcast, so it feels good to be back. Stay tuned for more episodes in 2019!

In other news, I have two articles about Dungeons & Dragons marinating, and those will be posted in the next week or two. For now, here’s the emergency episode….

Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments