I wanted to begin this episode by talking about your character sheet. I figure that if you’re interested in geeky gaming stories, then you have a high wisdom score and you have a high intelligence score. If you’re listening to this podcast, then you have a high perception score as well – because you found it.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #4]
The previous three episodes were only available on Soundcloud and embedded on Geek Native. This is the very first episode that is available on Spotify, TuneIn or a few other podcast platforms.
Audio EXP is not yet available on iTunes. We’ve tried. There’s been a submission, and Apple said ‘Your podcast contains test content and therefore is not suitable’.
I don’t remember tapping the microphone and saying “1, 2, 3, test, 1, 2, 3” … but maybe Apple are right. I mean this entire podcast is experimental. We are testing the style and changing the format with each episode.
If the last episode was about exploring through fire forests, then this episode is a continuation of that. In fact, we’re now so far off the track that the map has caught fire.
By the way, ‘fire forests’ is an idea I have stolen from a book called Hyperion by Dan Simmons. It’s a bit of a sci-fi ‘1,000 Arabian Nights’ style book with stories within stories. The first story within the story is set on the alien planet of Hyperion where a brave adventuring Jesuit priest has to cross through a forest with alien trees that sprout electricity and fire.
That priest kept on experimenting until he reached his destination so we’ll do the same thing. We’ll keep on testing and changing the format, and we’ll keep on submitting to Itunes, and we’ll see what happens.
The first story of the podcast also happens to be about maps. Image being the publisher of the worlds most popular roleplaying game. Imagine, then, the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons being hugely successful, waking the internet up and reclaiming its throne.
This is what happened to Paizo. For a while, Pathfinder was the most popular tabletop roleplaying game. And now, Pathfinder 2 has just been released.
I can only imagine that they are under a lot of pressure and have a lot of expectations as well.
What they did at Gen Con was publish a two-year roadmap of what the future of Pathfinder looks like. And this was a good idea. I think this is exactly what their fan-base needed to see. It is a promise that the game is being supported and that there are more books coming.
It is also visibility and stability and predictability. Possibly things that attracted people to Pathfinder in the first place.
So, in 2019 we have the Lost Omens guides and critical hit decks and the like for Pathfinder 2 coming out. And then, come 2020, we move into the city of Absalom. This was the centre of the era of Lost Omens, and I think Absalom will become Paizo’s own Baldur’s Gate; a familiar and recognisable brand within the Pathfinder brand.
Pathfinder 2 isn’t the only sequel RPG that has people excited. I’m seeing quite a lot of buzz around the forthcoming release of SLA Industries 2.
The Quickstart is out now, and it’s free. It’s 40 pages to download from DriveThruRPG.
We’ve taken a look and yeah… it brings back old memories. I played a lot of SLA Industries at University (so that was many years ago). I still remember it fondly.
The game is set in a city called Mort where it rains all the time. Players are Operatives; these are law enforcement agents for SLA Industries who are sent in against the monsters that grow in sewers, against terrorist organisations and very often against serial killers.
Now, serial killers are a big part of SLA Industries. They are reality TV. They are the TV spectacle that stops people grumbling about the harsh unreality of life and distracts them with headlines, and glare, and gore.
What I don’t remember so clearly about SLA Industries is whether it is a World of Darkness-esq setting where people put their heads down, and they go about their daily business and believe it can’t happen to then. The serial killers, I mean. Or whether it’s more of a cyberpunk setting where people hang around in gangs, on street corners and there’s neon and nightclubs.
In my head, I always relate Mort more to Glasgow on a rainy winter night, where you’ve forgotten your bus change, and you’re wondering how to get home, and you have a dangerous walk ahead of you.
The Quickstart doesn’t have much on the setting so I’m looking forward to this fresher in the second edition when it’s finally released.
I think, though, there’s only one setting I really worry about running in. That’s any historic setting. My concern is that a player at the table will pop their hand up and say “It didn’t happen like that.” and then I’ve ruined everything.
But I might be a worrywart. I might have been a bit of a coward.
So I spoke to Jameson Proctor and Kimber VanRy who have a Kickstarter out now called Feast of the Dead which uses 5e mechanics in a North American 17th and 18th-century setting.
We asked for some tips and tricks on how to make historical settings more manageable for DMs.
Two that spring to mind are character backstories and period snacks. So the idea of character backstories is that if your NPCs and characters have important and relevant information attached to them, then it is easier to remember, focuses the player attention and it’s just easier for everyone to get it right.
And period snacks is just a tasty idea! However, they are utterly beyond me! If I can’t order period snacks on Deliveroo, then I don’t think I can provide them for my players.
While period snacks might be challenging, at least I’ve never had a setting go fully legal on me. And that’s what has happened to Wil Wheaton.
Do you remember Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana?
That was a roleplaying world that Wil Wheaton created himself and I think it was the first to use Green Ronin’s Fantasy AGE system. It was a show on Geek & Sundry and players included people like Hank Green and Laura Bailey.
Now the contract Wheaton had with Geek & Sundry was $50 thousand to create the setting, produce the show, edit the show, host the show and 50% of any of the profits thereafter.
Now, because it was a profit-related deal, it was important that he was involved in the decisions that the producers and promoters made. Now, Wil Wheaton alleges that Legendary went ahead and stuck a number of deals and that there should be money with those details, but he has not been able to look at the books. So he cannot verify whether he’s been given his 50% or not.
The implication is that not very much money has been transferred and that they are withholding money. So he’s taken it to court.
My first reaction when I heard this was – hold on? Are you not suing yourself?
But, of course, I forgot that Geek & Sundry – only about two years after it was founded by Felicia Day – was sold to Legendary.
That was a good business deal by Felicia Day. A quick sale. They had about 1.4 million fans on YouTube at the time.
So this isn’t, as far as I understand it, Wil Wheaton suing himself or Wil Wheaton suing Felicia Day. This is Wil Wheaton suing the Hollywood powerhouse that is Legendary.
I’ve seen already on Facebook may people supporting that decision.
Now, a legal fight with a Hollywood powerhouse is a bad situation for any DM to find themselves in. Fortunately, it’s not a very common one.
A more common problem is the Matt Mercer effect. What is the Matt Mercer effect? Well, it’s really when players have an unnatural and artificial expectation of what Dungeons & Dragons will be like thanks to the absolutely brilliant GMing skills of Matt Mercer of Critical Role.
Now, Critical Role, if you’re not heard about it, is probably the world’s most popular Dungeons & Dragons live stream and podcast. It’s done by professional voice actors. No wonder it’s awesome. They’ve been playing together for ages and so are very good with one another, and very comfortable, very natural.
It’s easy to see why some newbies might take a look at this and wonder, ‘Hey, is our Dungeons & Dragons going to be exactly the same thing and if not is that the fault of the DM?’
It’s on record that Matt Mercer himself really doesn’t like that this is happening. In fact, I think he used the phrase ‘heartbroken’ to describe it.
Mercer encourages a session 0 where players and GMs can set out their expectations, and there’s a chance for group harmony and dynamic to build.
I think that’s right but I think that’s quite kind on the players, especially on the players who are grumbling about it.
Dungeons & Dragons is not a one-man, or one woman, show. It’s not about the DM doing all the work, and then the players having fun off that back of that effort.
It’s very easy to forget, or not to know if you’re new, that as a player you have responsibility for adding to the story. For doing interesting things. For taking actions that make the story expansive and give other players opportunities for their characters to join in.
It’s very easy to be a bad player. A player who shuts down options. A player who doesn’t create scenes for other people to interact with.
The Critical Role team are good players. Their characters do interesting things, and they create opportunities for the rest of the gaming group to get involved.
If that sounds a bit heavy for you then I recommend D&D memes!
This week Geek Native blogged a whole bunch of D&D memes with the evil Dungeon Master in mind. That brings the total of D&D memes on the site up to 93.
So either check them out on the site, or hit Google with ‘geek native D&D memes’ or just ‘D&D memes’. There are thousands out there.
Lastly, let’s talk about the Blade Runner comic book series from Titan Comics. We have teasers of episode one and episode two on the site.
I think it’s really timely. Cyberpunk is hot right now with the new Mike Pondsmith roleplaying game, Cyberpunk RED, and Shadowrun 6th edition out at the same time.
I recommend the Blade Runner comic book so far. Okay, we’re only two in so don’t have the full extent of the story, but it is looking really promising. It feels very Blade Runner-esq but different at the same time, and the artwork is absolutely stunning.
So I’m leaving the podcast with that positive recommendation.
Hope to see you next week.
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