Jason Massey joins the pod to talk about his start with 4th Edition D&D and how that evolved into a full-time career in creating the actual play podcast, Dungeons & Randomness. He speaks about his enjoyment of 4th Edition, and elements of that system that complicated the creation of podcast content. He reviews how the shift to 5th Edition smoothed the podcasting enterprise, and details how his homebrew campaign setting, Theria, came to exist. He discusses the current Kickstarter campaign for The Adventurer’s Guide to Theria, and explains how the book will be useful for those running D&D adventures.
Enjoy the 47th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:
There are an amazing array of available podcasts devoted to roleplaying games. One of the podcasts you should have in your rotation is Jennisodes, which is the creation of Jennifer Steen. With almost 100 episodes, Jennisodes offers a fantastic collection of interviews with a variety of movers and shakers in the RPG universe. I was able to turn the tables a bit on the creator of Jennisodes as she spoke with me about working on the podcast, developing her own game and whether or not she’s planning to take over the world.
Thank you for agreeing to spend some time with me. You’ve been recording the Jennisodes podcast for over two years now with 90 episodes and counting. Before we begin, congratulations on that accomplishment! How did you get started with the podcast in the first place, and how did you decide on the interview-style format for each episode?
Thanks! It has been a busy but very rewarding two years. I started recording Jennisodes after the Trapcast podcast ended in late 2009. Once the show ended I found myself wanting to get back on the airwaves and podcasting again. The Trapcast was a co-hosted show with 4 members and we always had issues scheduling the recording sessions. I decided on doing an interview-style show because it worked with my schedule and I could line up guests weeks in advance. Over the past four years I have learned so much about gaming and the community and I wanted to give something back. I noticed that there wasn’t a podcast that strictly did interviews and this was a way to get more voices heard, from game designers to players and editors.
I had the pleasure of talking about Dungeons & Dragons and several psychological components of roleplaying games with Mike Shea for the Critical Hits Podcast. You may know Mike Shea from his popular blog, Sly Flourish. Long-time readers of this site may remember he spent some time being interviewed by me last summer; but the roles have now been reversed!
During the podcast, Mike asked me questions about my approach to playing and running 4th Edition D&D games, which is certainly influenced by my education and professional work as a psychologist. I present ideas for how to monitor and manage communication before, during and after sessions, and we discuss how to respond if you happen to be “a bad DM” in addition to the notion that the DM is primarily an Entertainer. He also reviewed my previous research efforts on tracking combat speed and the progression of status effects in 4th Edition.
The 70-minute conversation is available for your downloading pleasure at Critical Hits, which should be included in your “I go to these sites at least a few times each week” list.
It is my pleasure to bring you the second installment of Ego Check. Over the last few weeks, I was able to interview Carl Bussler, host and producer of the Flagons & Dragons podcast series. He was kind enough to answer a wide variety of questions about his gaming background and creative process. Below, we discuss some of the challenges inherent to designing and creating adventures for our campaign. Carl describes his enjoyment of Gamma World and how it allows him to design an “anything-goes” setting for his players. Finally, we discuss the genesis of the Flagons & Dragons podcast in addition to unique aspects of connecting with other gamers through podcasts.
Thank you for agreeing to speak with me about your gaming influences and motivations. Can you please start off by introducing yourself, and talk a bit how and when you stepped into the world of roleplaying games?
My pleasure, I’m one of the hosts and the producer of Flagons and Dragons, a podcast in which we talk about tabletop games… and beer!
My introduction to roleplaying games was gradual, and until 7th grade, the Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks and the Lone Wolf gamebooks were the closest thing I’d seen to a roleplaying game. I grew-up in rural Pennsylvania and we didn’t have much in the way of comic shops or malls, but we did have a library and a book store. I loved the fantasy genre, and I’d read Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, and any other author who could offer me a temporary escape from reality.
It was around the time I’d started reading the Dragonlance Chronicles that I discovered Dragon magazine and learned about Dungeons & Dragons. The idea of a roleplaying game was an easy sell, but I couldn’t actually find it, let alone find anybody willing to play it. After a year or so, fate stepped in. A friend’s older brother was going off to college and wanted to unload his old 1st edition D&D books. I happily paid the $20 for all three books, which I still have to this day.
I didn’t actually get to play much until college, but I made up for lost time during those wonderful 4 years.
Excellent, those Choose Your Own Adventure books were one of my first exposures to the fantasy genre as well. I loved those books, but I always made the wrong decision and ended up eaten by monsters! It sounds like you had quite a few years between first getting your hands on the D&D books and actually getting to play regularly. How did you cultivate your interest in roleplaying games in the meantime?
On the few occasions in high school when I was able to pull a group together, I was the Dungeon Master. But between those rare and wonderful moments, I found myself writing adventures, developing NPC’s, drawing maps of dungeons and continents, and even sketching magic items.
I think in the beginning it was denial, or perhaps hope that I’d find some willing players. But in the end it didn’t matter, since I was having fun. I found that creating the places, the people, and the stories that tied them together, was just as enjoyable as experiencing those worlds as a player.
And, rather than exploring Middle Earth or Hyperborea, I was exploring places that were the product of my own imagination. This was, and still is, incredibly rewarding for me. I relish being the creative force behind a memorable game.