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Triple Advantage
Triple Advantage

Season 3, Episode 9 · 2 years ago

Bonus Action - DM Profile: David

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

On this Triple Advantage bonus action, we sit down with David, the author of the new 5e module Into the Jaws of the Mimic Queen. We discuss the background of this module, his experience writing with the Royal City Society, his thoughts on theater of mind combat, and how he structures his campaigns.

Welcome everyone to an episode of triple advantage. This is a bonus action episode where we bring on are our guests are David, who has just created a new module for the Royal City Society. We're hoping that we can get some insights and talk to him about this exciting new thing. It is called, I believe, the into the jaws of the Mimic Queen. David, why don't you tell us a little bit about that? Sure. Thanks for having me on, guys. Yeah, this is a an adventure module for level five players that we've all developed, of develop with you guys at the real city society, and it's based on an old adventure that I ran for some of my players, probably about five years ago, and it was one that I can of ran off the cuff at the time and my players seem to like it and I always had a soft spot for it. So when I was given the opportunity to work with you guys to write something, I was like, let's do it, this is the one. I'll let's do this one. I was I was I was super excited to work on this with you, David, because you and I've been talking dd for a little bit now. Yeah, why Mimics? I'm curious at I know like the obvious answers by not mimics, but what mimics are. Of I feel like they're almost a scourge of players, like everybody's got a mimic story. So I'm wondering why mimics specifically Pique your interest. Honestly, they're kind of a classic DD Monster and at the time I've been I've been a DM more than I've been a player, but at the time I hadn't played against mimics or ran mimics and I figured, well, I was just kind of kind of working on this adventure and I players kind of went off off the off the rails a little bit and I kind of to make things up. I kind of decided on the spot, like I haven't ever used mimics before, like they're kind of a ubiquitous dunts and dragons thing, like why don't I try and use them? That was really it as far as mimics go and I don't really have much more rational than that. That and I like the movie Monster House. So I was I was wondering, not not to spoil anything for for those that have not yet read the module, but there's a. That was one of my first thoughts as I was reading through this adventure was that connection. I do have a question. Actually, you said you hadn't run it at that point. Have you used it since you ran that first time with the mimics? Have you? Did you find that you your players really liked it and so you started implementing mimics more into your campaigns, or do you have to have like a really like good setting for it? No, I think you can drop them in pretty much anywhere. I haven't use mimics since I have a couple, like when I run games, I have a couple staples that I use, but otherwise I try and only include things that I haven't already run, partially because I have usually from the same roster of players and all my games for the last I don't know, decade, so they know most of my tricks right, and also just because it gets kind of boring running you know, your eight hundred ORC war chief fight. You know I mean, I agreed. Yeah, so I think after the after I ran this adventure my players, I was all mimicked out and I don't think I've run them since. Maybe once or twice as a little offhanded thing, but I don't think I've made an adventure around them since that. I've that I've ran for my players, at least now. I'm curious. You've kind of you've kind of alluded to it a little bit, but you've you've been playing dd a lot longer than the three of us and, I'm pretty sure, a lot longer than the three of US combined. How long have you guys are playing DD? What like three years? The piece about?...

Is that right? Less sound my bad, or has it been longer than that? I feel like the three or four years. Are you ancient as what we're asking? I I will not disclose my age, but docks, David, on the ad everybody, you never never asked a DM their age. But if you guys have been playing, if you guys have been playing for three years, apiece, I have been. I have been running games for longer than all three of you guys combined. Wow, nice, terrifying. But my one of my biggest questions is I know that you're a huge theater of mind person. Yes, when you run your games versus using actual combat maps, Yep, and the same for when we got together to do this adventure and to help you kind of flesh it out a bit. You you would run this as a theater of mind? Correct? Yes, totally. Now the three of us are very battle map oriented. I've been experimenting a bit more with theater of mind to mix degrees up by choice. Not By choice, but definitely. I think that a lot of people almost expect maps these days versus when they're buying new modules and new content, they pretty much expect maps versus being able to kind of flesh it out in their minds. I'm wondering if there was any challenges between that you had bringing the bringing the maps to life and kind of describing the scene, making the jump between theater of mind and actual mapping. Well, that part of the adventure was handled more by the members of the Royal City Society that I put. I put on you guys for pulling all the hell, all the heavy wait because, yeah, because I do. I do theaters the mind. I don't have a lot of experience with maps. I used to use them a lot when I ran three, point, five and fourth edition, but once it's edition came out, I just ditched them entirely and never look back. And those it was like. I can't say I had, I had a handed and much of that I really treated you guys like a like a design firm. I just kind of went like hey, I wanted to be in a here with the this Gud is with the aerial looks like. Then somebody made a map and I went, Oh shit, sick, this is what I want and pasting, which is fantastic because to anybody listening, that's pretty much what we're aiming for. We're aiming to help local people that we know right now, because it's easy, but we're looking to just help whoever wants to get a story out. We're just trying to figure most of our taming out, as you might hear from our regular podcast, but that's really just the gold to just connect with the community. So it's been great to like hear new ideas because I think for the most part we've all kind of fallen into themes with our dming and unfortunately, Joe, I haven't even gotten to play with you as a DM. Yeah, yeah, I will do this one day. So it's always it's been refreshing kind of working on these projects because are like sorry, just let me clarify. It's been freshly watching you guys work on these projects because it's it's really interesting just reading so many more of these ideas and adventures and I can't help it to think with your experience and feeder of mind. One of the difficulties that I'm having with my game is that I'm it's hard to find like spacing, like describing spacing and keeping that sort of in check. So I've always defaulted to maps to kind of keep where players locations are and how far away they might be able to interact with...

...one another. How do you manage that at your games and how do you sort of helped your players understand your sort of whacky mechanic so that it keeps the flow of the game going? Ah, good question. I keep it very simple. I run my game is very fast and loose and if I can provide any insight people who want to play more feeder of the mind, it's, I guess, to two main things. And I'm guessing we're talking more combats right, like when you're when you're doing you know, going around down and you know, playing it whatever, you don't really everything else has like hazy time. You know. Yeah, things happen whenever you want them to happen, but in combat. You know it's a little bit different. Yeah, so we still take turns, we still do initiative order. So everything still takes six seconds per turn or around, whatever it is. You can tell how how strictly I am with the rules. I don't even know how long around is. But the two things that go buy are, at least when ones when designing encounters and ones when running them. When designing encounters, instead of laying out a map, I will lay out a flack of a word of setting. So let's make up on right now. Like a bar. We're going to have a bar fight. Right, so we know that it's in a tavern, it's in a big room, and then what you can do is, and there's things that you always assume. You know a tavern has, right, and I think if you were to do it on like in in a swamp, you know what a swamp looks like, and in a tavern everyone can reasonably assume there's tables, there's chairs, there's bottles and glasses to be smashed, there's a bar, bartender, patrons, all that's there. And then what you do is you pick out key features that you want to add into that kind of base setting. Dressing. So let's say it's a bar and we pick whatever, two, three or, if you really want like more, more things, so you can say there's there's a big fireplace on one side, there's a chandelier hanging from the top of the room, there's like a second floor mezzanine where the all the rooms are, and there's a door to the kitchen, I don't know, something like that. There's your there's your three ish fourish things, right. So that's when I'm designing it, I make a point to include those things. So now in my head, my head's going and I'm like, okay, players can swing off chandeliers, they can jump off the top floor, they can kick people into the fire, they can throw people into other rooms or back out the bar or whatever. Like there's things to do. They can cut the chandelier down, like there's things they can interact with in that environment, regardless of how where I place them, you know, I mean how far apart they are. Yeah, and then it's it also gives them a point of like contact, I guess right. So they can say, okay, I'm going to stand underneath the chandelier or something like that, or exactly the fireplace exactly. So now they know kind of if I can explain, like you walk into the bar, to your right on the right wall as a fire the back wall is the Bar, above you in the center of the room is a chandelier and on the left hand side, overhanging over the bar, is the the half second floor mezzanine where the rooms are. And now everyone kind of visualize it. And then when I run the encounters, I run with a rule and a I honestly can't rememb where I found it and if I find it, I'll, I'll, I'll, I'll give them credit. But the the rule they kind of went is they cut the kind of outline was. It's called close as close enough and far as too far away. So instead of it being like well, how big the Bar? Oh well, it's fifty by forty, five foot room. I don't care, it doesn't matter. It's you're close, you're close enough. You want to run across the entire bar and smack the bartender. That's how you want to start the fight. Perfect. I'm okay with it. I'M NOT gonna I'm not going to force you to go like them will. Actually, you don't have enough movement to reach the end of the Bar? It's fine, you can do it. It's cool. Will your hand across bow reach the...

...bad guy and pin him against the wall? Sure, why not? It's cool. Can you swing across the Chandelier? Will you have enough lateral movement from your athletics check to do it? If you roll high enough? Yeah, sure, whatever, I don't care. That's the kind of way that I rule it. Or if the combats gonna be like a big open space, like a battlefield or whatever, you know, any kind of large, large space. All usually make a point of saying things are very far away. And and again, I have the luxury of having players who played me for a long time, so they know my style. But I make a point. We're just saying like it's too far and there's not going to be like a an issue word like some I like sometimes like Oh, can I cast fireball? And I'll say, well, what's range on fireball, and they just give me a number and on my off the top of my head, I'll be like yeah, sure, or no, it's not. Are they actually that distance? I don't know, but that will then set the distance. If it needs to be. A president, that needs to be met later. Right, if they're out in a out in the field and somebody casts our spell with a range of a hundred and twenty feet and I say yeah, yeah, I could hit that guy, I now moving forward. I have to keep my mental note that that guy is now within a hundred twenty feet. So later if somebody's like I cast a spell that is has a range of two hundred feet, I can't say, oh well, it's too far away from you. So it's a little bit of mental juggling. But I try and keep it light on that because, to be honest, I have enough to worry about. Will I dm but that's that's really it is. Is you set up the the scene, give the players things to play with and then you just let them do the things they want to do. I don't, I don't try and restrict what they want to do. I don't to simplify it, I don't like making the India tactical game. I like making it a cinematic game. So I'm not going to restrict how what you can move, how long the range is on certain things, just to just to I'm actually my players, when I can just say like yeah, that sounds super sick go do it, that'll be Rad and let them do it. Like, why would I not let them do it if I wanted to? Like, like, as the DM, you can do whatever you wants. Like, why would you not let your players do cool shit? HMM. So when you ran this encounter the first time, what kind of cool shit that end up playing? Do you remember? They ran the encounter next to a cliff. So that was kind of my setup. Was the the the one of the encounters in this in this adventure, in this game that I was running, end up taking place next to a cliff, just a big canyon effectively, and that was kind of pulled from a boss fight from final fantasy ten that I really liked. The thought was really neat, so I just lifted it straight out of final fantasy. was like, yet is what we're doing now, this is the setting for this, this, this thing, and in that case that was the only thing that I gave them to interact with, other than, obviously the enemies. But in that case I made the enemies themselves have more nuanced interaction, and I don't know if that would get into too much spoilers of of the of the module, but there was a lot of movement based abilities. I guess use on both sides, because as soon as the players came into this intense encounter and they went oh, you know, there's a cliff, they're like, we don't have to fight this thing, we can just push it and it falls three hundred feet to its death. You know I mean. So giving them an option like that can even some, even just one thing, can give them a really, really good alternative justice. Yeah, yeah, just I'll turn it to just like I hit it with my sword, I cast magic missile again. It can help make it a little more of a nuance and it entertaining fight, because it's far as I concertained, that's the bottom line, is entertaining everybody at the table. So yeah, that's nothing going...

...to that spoiling it. What made this campaign, or this particular module that you ran stand out as something that you wanted to write with the row city society? To be honest, it was one of the only ones that can refer I run. I run a lot of adventures. I run a boatload of them, about load of campaigns and there's there's a lot that I actually sorr. I shouldn't stay. It's the one of the ones that I remember. It's one of those are remembered really fondly because there's a lot that I ran that I like, but I would change a bunch, like a lot. I wouldn't. I couldn't just lift it out of my game and come to you guys and we can hack it out. It would require like a major overhaul. So it was one of the few ones that I thought could be used pretty pretty easily. And then I think it was also because, like I said earlier, I just hadn't used mimics since so I just hadn't had a lot of time working with them since that encounter or that adventure like five years ago, whatever it was. So I figured hey, why not? Why not just pull up, pull open the books again and take a look at at how all this works and and revisit some classic DD monsters. I think my first experience with mimics, I can date it back to one of the first campaigns that I ran, which was the the extra little adventure of the mini module. That's and curse of Strawd I got to remember the name of this, that death house, the death house, that's correct. One of my players chose to just walk through a door and price through a door. He means into a door, like yeah, he did. He described it in like a very cartoonish manner that his character would just sort of cool aid man through the door standing up right. Except this store happened to be a mimic. And and you're wonders why we ask you to describe doors. Now it's definitely got like long lasting traumatization effects with my party and long running friends, but I think that that first surprise with the mimic just kind of shows you how how players are always, I don't know, I feel like they're you're never really expecting it or you're kind of a paranoid character that's just like thinking everything around them is a mimic. You know, I think that's I think I can go. Sorry, go ahead, I was cutting you off. No, go for it, if you had a thought. Oh, others. I feel like that comes down to how it's presented and how it slots into the greater like narrative, because at the very least, like running a very mimic heavy adventure for my players. I can't say that they were like paranoid after they weren't like constantly looking over the shoulders, like poking every every chard or chest and doorway with a ten foot pole. There's a reference for old DD players, but because I the way it was presented was at least like it wasn't just that they were walking around and like, Nope, sorry, this is a mimic. You know, screw that, you're getting eaten. It was kind of just like a selfcontained thing. So when it wrapped up, they felt like, okay, well, now if I go open this chest like it's it's not gonna be a mimic unless there's another mimic story to be unfolded here. So at the very least that's kind of how I've been able to rationalize how my players behaved after a big adventure like that, which which makes sense. Honestly, I can't really imagine wanting to to run as a player that's is constantly like afraid that a mimic is going to pop out, and so by having it self contained within your campaign's I think that's probably the best way to run it. Every now and then...

...maybe throw them like a surprise or two, but yeah, he definitely don't want to like, you know, have it so that the you know, every five sessions there's another mimic or something like that. Yeah, not, not, unless it's what they signed up for. Unless you, like you said the down at the beginning, like this is going to be a very mimic heavy campaign, and like they're the main antagonist. Yada, Yada, Yadah, and they I'll go, okay, yeah, I want to play that, like if you're if they don't want to do that, then I wouldn't. Yeah, I wouldn't stick them everywhere just to mess with them. That's just mean, mean, mean scared. I'm curious to David, you play with primarily players that are quite experienced to DD. Right, yes, but I have had my fair sure of new DD players come in and out with the years. I'm I'm thinking specifically when you ran this module. What are in this module I was playing with? If I can access the memory banks here, let's see here. One, two, three experienced players at that point. They had been playing for about five years so, but as long as I had. And then to non experienced players, one who had literally just started playing when this module, or not one this module when I started running this campaign, and one who had I think I might have been his first campaign to as a player it. Maybe maybe he'd run a couple one shots of this beforehand, before we kind of fully inducted into the group, but at that actual first time I ran it was a mix of new and old players. Okay, because I'm interested. Like you said, the Mimic is kind of a quintessential DD creature. But I'm curious to see if there'd be a different reaction Visa v absolutely starting your players into investigating everything if it was like a very fresh new group of players, because if they if they didn't even know what to expect and all of a sudden they're being eaten by bed I know one of the players when I was played testing this. One of them had never been faced with a mimic and they were the one to you investigate one of the objects that turned out to be a mimic and it started chewing on them. And there they took their attack. Turn to be like, I don't even know what to do. I'm just going to stand here and try and figure out what this is because I'm freaking out so much. So I'm curious as to whether this module will be the reason why, like in Carlos has campaign, people investigate the hell out of every door that's described just a little bit too well, Oh, yeah, I mean, I don't know, I will. I think you should always reward the players that put in the extra effort to check everything, to cross all their teas and Don all their eyes while they're adventuring exploring. But on the same on the other side of that coin, I I not want to be the person whose name is attached to a module that makes the tables their GM's want the DM's to never throw mimics it to everything anything ever again and ruined friendships. I think that would be not fun and not cool. So please, everybody, don't take it that way. I think this has become a psychological experiment. You know, we're going to see. You know, how many players can we scarre for life? Yeah, I don't know. We should have. We should have run like a should have thrown in a whole cast of of Rock Shassa's and Doppel gangers and and Devil's need to sign contracts with. That would have made a very trust breaching yes, be sure, I saw that, mother. I think that the release of this is just well, I think we're Britain was alluding to, but I think the release of this is just version one of it. This is a if you if you...

...would like, you can keep this in open iteration and just expand as new creativity flows. There you go. Yeah, well, mix, mix equels. You Go. With regards to your module writing, I notice at least this is a very sort of one shot directed. It's a you have like two main quest lines, right. You're either finding people that lead you to I don't want to spoil it, but you know, you're either pulling on a couple of very large thematic narrative threats. I don't want to very general here, but it's right. It's ultimately a rather quick and well packaged and counter. It doesn't let you get too carried away and it definitely you can like, you can definitely feel that you can complete this and the allotted time. Is that? When you're writing stories, is that something that you factor in to how your players are sort of discovering their world? Is it? Do you normally just let them roam free, or do you have these sort of modules that you write to tie them through, where you kind of want to direct them or amaze? This is going to be. This is even a long. Okay, when I'm just going to transition this to the first official DM packaged all in one, packaged all in one. So go on. Okay, the so on. Repeat your question at the little bit. So you're asking how Duhy? What House? What? How do you use like how do you define your players progression through the game? Do you write in these little modules to keep them busy at times, or do you write these two sort of guide them towards locations that you're sort of building story? Was Sorry, like I is a do you do sort of let them sandbox or do you have these? We were reading about this in the DM's manual and the DM's got and it's just the like episodic nature of your writing style. Or, oh a wittle, let them sandbox across wherever they'd like to roam and you kind of just pull from random encounters that I think there's kind of two avenues there. The first is the episodic thing, which I only recently have realized as a thing and really want to try and do better. Is the actually pacing my dd sessions as TV shows, where there's like an Intro, a couple story beats and then it ends on like a cliffhanger, like like my favorite show ever is battlestor GALACTICA. And every single episode ends on either a cliffhanger where you're like who, what's gonna Happen next, or it ends like a really nice, warm and fuzzy resolution to an arc or a problem. And only recently have I really realized I'm like, I can try and do this my DD Games. So moving forward that that's what I try and do to pace my sessions. But as far as the narrative and the adventures and that kind of like sandbox versus railroad versus like drive them here, drive them their thing. How special would explain this? The way that I run my campaigns is very, lack of better term, layered. I don't mean I do not mean nuanced. I will not use nuance. I...

...am not a subtle person, but I will layer them with layers of sandbox and railroad and sandbox and railroad and sandbox and railroad, and I usually start with a big overarching plot that I want to explore or run. So, for instance, the that that campaign that I was running, I was thinking of the one running now. I don't want to give spoilers any at any of my players in case they listen to this, but that that campaign that I was running back then the big, big, big, big, big overarching plot was there's a bunch of mine flares and they're trying to control the minds of everybody by placing these macuffins and in certain places and amplifying their mind controlling powers. Then subject at the world. That's the big you know, take a character to level twenty and and slay God. You know, over arching tags there. Yes, and that was the first layer, which is railroad. Is I don't care, that is happening. You have to deal with this problem right now. It's a problem that's so enormous and nebulous that they can get there however they want. Right. So then I break it down into like okay, well, what are you know, what are the these mine flayers, these Illa fids objectives? And then I have their objectives and they go like, okay, well, they got to do these three things to the mind flayers. Those things need to be need to be done. Those, I guess, Railroad. They have to be done. How acts? Yeah, how do they do them? Irrelevant, they can. Players can do whatever they want if like. For like, I'm try remember all the things out. I can't. I can't remember because a long time ago. But like let's say it was, oh, they had to return a certain artifacts to a to a town, really simple fetch quest, and they it was. It was being guarded by a noble who also ran a really vicious mercenary truth, if I remember this correctly, and so this is one of the kind of the small little arcs they had to do. or it was like you, you have to get this back in order to kind of continue the story. And obviously if they don't do it, like if my players go well, let's do something else, get they get sidetrack with something else, then you know they don't do the thing, bad stuff happens and then they're I'll find another story beat for them to to do. Right. It's not like it's they have to do it or else the game stops. But how they do it is totally after that. It's not that I don't write down that they have to infiltrate the Nobles House and steal the thing out of this one spot and then they have to escape from security as they chase after them, like no, none of that's written out. That is all totally up to them on how they want to approach it. They want to Shmoose it off of them in a party, get the info from them there. They want heisted on his house. They want to wait for of the transport it somewhere and kill them on the side of the road, like whatever. That's up to them. That's the sandbox and those have the knock on consequences that that I don't know from the beginning, and then I will then take new account when adjusting all of the railroaded parts, and I kind of slowly do that more and more granulurs, alternating between like okay, well, these things have to be done and and then how they're done is totally up to the players, and I kind of keep going down until eventually I get down to the encounter level, where that's when I can just present it to the Party and and they can do the stuff and then I know whatever they do there's because they have full, full control, full sandbox over what they do and I know all the layers that go up to the top. I can then track all the knock on effects where it's like, Oh, they do kill this guy, it's like, well, he answers to this...

...person. It will be upset that this that he's dead and will want to go looking for whoever kill them and you know, yeah, yeah, yeah, and that will slow down this bad guy's project. So this other thing will happen instead, because you couldn't get to that, like the big you know, butterfly effect happens. MMM, once I have all those layers set in my overarching campaign. That makes any sense? Oh, totally makes sense. I yeah, a hundred percent. You agree with you. The DM kind of has to weave their story together with the players. That's just how you make a good story. I think I will. I also share a little bit of DM knowledge I've picked up over the years. No player that I've ever encountered, that I've ever ran a game four and set at my table, has ever wanted a one hundred percent sandbox game. None of them. Zero percent. They have said they did. And as soon as you give it to them, you like, here's the I have written the Lore of this world and here's a map and here's everything and the entire culture. What do you want to do? And they go, I don't know, that's something to do. What do I do? Yeah, okay, well, now I got a force your hand and I'm going to rail road you and say, Oh, there's a fight breaks out here and you know whatever. So I feel like putting those layers in. You can direct the players and and they'll have you can talk to the ahead of time, right, like I used talk my players ahead of time and say, like, you know, I us have a story I want to tell, like I expect you to come to my table wanting to play in it. You know, I can give you like broad strokes of what it is so that you can, you know, understand if it's like a pulp action or like a more something refuge one or whatever, and if you want to play it, you can. If you don't, it's all good. And then that social contract, that beginning of my talk to them is like we're going to kind of work together to do this, so there doesn't end up that, like you know, here's a total free sandbox. Then ever, just kind of tiddle their thumbs and does nothing for you know, a five hour second yes session, or you end up in a murder Hobo campaign, or you have any murder Hobo campaign. Yeah, do you be like that sometimes? Yes, the I had that exact problem actually, and it's nice to kind of hear out loud your rush not behind that, because I had that exact problem last Thursday in a campaign where, because I'm trying to I did the same thing. When I started up this campaign that I'm running. I essentially created a very comprehensive world with several different leads in it and several different threads in a world where, you know, they cut consequences means something and everything kind of ties back to everything else, and I kind of set them off on one specific starting plot line, but beyond that I was like, you know, the world's written. Go as you please, you'll run into something and you'll have something to do. And one of my players last week was was very stuck for something to do and it was a situation where they were in the the the capital of this world, where there's literally anything they can do, and I'm just like well, yeah, go go ahead and do anything. Well, what can I do? Well, anything, yeah, but what? Yeah, exactly. I literally mean anything. Pick, pick what you want to do. Well, I don't know, Canada. Okay, yeah, exactly, that's exactly it. Something I've worked sorry, go ahead now. I was just I like, I it's nice to it's nice to hear you talk about that, because I was trying to figure out how to rate myself out of that one in the moment and it did not happen. So yeah, that's it. That's a tough thing to do, is writing yourself out of something like that, out of an out of a zero leads scenario, is always tough to do. What I was gonna say was I something I've learned and I've done in the last two campaigns that I've run is don't be afraid to pause the game and literally ask your players to make it to...

...do list. That's what happened in my last session of this current campaign I'm running. Is they've been doing a bunch of stuff and I've been kind of running to the story and there came a point where they're like we don't know what the priority is here, like we have a lot to do, and I mean that's kind of on me for not not playing my card. It's perfectly straight here, but they kind of went like there's a lot going on that we can deal narratively, but we don't know what the best thing to do is. So I just pause the game and went like let's make it to do list. Just dawn all down his paper, like what are we going to do? Oh, we gotta stop the Gods from dying. We gotta Stop US Litch, we gotta visit our bar that we found in a building. I have a set of plate mail that I ordered. Yeah, yeah, yeah, like all these individual things, no matter how big or how small, so that any time that does come up where everyone goes like hmm, what do we do, they just pull up the piece paper and go like well, what's what? Pick something. Let's just the this one. Oh, we got to go this place. Okay, this loose end, let's go tie off and then at the very least you can keep the game moving, because that, to me, is more important than making a coherent narrative at the end of the day, because, like, it's always going to get all goofed up because every play, every table of players is going to just, you know, massacre your story beyond recognition. So I would rather have them entertained and do the work in the background to kind of make it all tied all together, but keep them, keep them moving and doing something in the in the immediate time, just so there's not a lot of dead table time over and over and over again because they can't decide what to do or they don't have they don't they're not aware of an option. That's often a big thing is that you present them with information or stuff and then they just kind of forget about it or don't pick up on something. So, you know, working with them to make to do lists can help a lot in the in the last campaign I ran, I formatted it more like a quest menu, like in like in the witcher, like which are three, because I buy a bunch of players had played that. So we literally just made it like a drop down menu of like here's here's the one objective line of like go here and talk to this person, like that's it. It's not like, you know, the nobles in this city have what that's gonna just go talk to Bob. That's your objective, like, don't worry about it, go talk to Bob, and then that will feed into this big group jacket, which is figure out how to get bobbed to do Xyz that like that kind of stuff, and I feel like it it's something that I've seen a lot of DM's like online, be hesitant about because it feels like it's going to break your immersion and like it's not. I'll sentic DD, you know, but it keeps you game rolling. It's functional. I'm about functions. So I'm okay, you know, pausing the game for thirty seconds to let the players pick an objective and go we orging to this now. Okay, cool. Everything else will be on pause and you can go do this thing if you want, know, just to keep keep the table moving. Yeah, I don't know. That's my that's my ramble. I'm an old man rambling here. It's funny that you mentioned that, because the entire time that you're saying drop down, many of my head's going that sounds phenomenal. But then at the same time I'm thinking, I wonder what Jordan's thinking about this right now. Jordan, do you have worries? Honestly, wow, Carlos is only pointing this out because I am more of a pen and paper Guy Myself. So, but in recent you know, the recent times nowadays, that a lot of my stuff has had to be online and stuff like that. So having dropped on menus and stuff like that not a huge issue. But I I yeah, if I were too I don't...

...know, I don't know, running along. When I said dropped down menus, I mean like like I didn't like program at Ui. My players ract. Okay, let's it was literally a word doc and I had like the bullet points in the sub bullet points. It's all. Don't really fancy thing here. Again, nuance is not my not my worst. Okay, it's yeah, so I would then. I'm totally on board with what you're doing there. Like I love making sure that the players know what they're doing or have options, at least I'm. I'm when I created my campaign, I started the same as you. Overarching theme, followed by what are the different bad guys or like larger players at in this world, followed by what are their objectives? Okay, how can they perform these objectives? What kind of locations are involved here? How can I get the players on board with this? What are different threads that they can pull and in this area and somehow lead them on to this sort of trail, not like very broad trail, but still a trail of some sorts going towards certain objectives or something like that. I I am all for making sure the players, like, have some sort of a plan going forward. Mind you, I play with a lot of new players and I think that's something you should would have for new players, because, again, they're not entirely sure what is available for them. So for more experienced players they might have an idea like Oh, I want to go and do this in the world, because they know that's a thing they can do. Yeah, yeah, that's that's kind of what inspired it for me was that my last game I was running, the game we're running right now is only experienced players, but that last campaign, right the first time I did the the to do Liston I had a guy who had never actually I had a few people who had never played dd before in their lives, like the only exposure was, like, you know, the community episode of DD or whatever, right, like yeah, yeah, so they had no idea how it worked and they came up point where one of them just told me's like I don't know what to do. That's like, like I've been doing this for so long, like I forget what it's like to be new at the game and I feel like if he, if he hadn't had brought that up to me, I think our game would have suffered. So I'm glad he did. And then I that's something I think I'm going to carry forward and every game I run from now on, experience or not, like they don't have to yet, but at the tool that if they ever want to. Yeah, well, guys, yeah, all right. So every time that I talked to these guys I always try to splice in a little bit about how I try to interpret game mechanics, and one of the big things that I like to do is like changing the way the game feels, if that makes any sense to you, sort of a quick change in rules that might make it easier for a player to connect with a character or connect with the scene. So I was wondering, since you love running theater of mind, how do you drive your players immersion in the game? What do you mean by that? How do you keep them sort of entertained in the story? Okay, it's for the gear. It's as far as I've experienced. It's really comes down to keeping them having a clear goal that they can work towards, which I also should be the first admit that sometimes I told the goof that up and I make things way too messy for my players.

So I apologize to my players for whatever that happens. But a tree, try and make it clear where it's like Oh, ghost, ap this, go do whatever. and to be totally honest, when I when I start new campaigns. I have a like a preamble I do every session, zero even if the people have played with me before, and it goes over the like this is going to be generally like a pulp action adventure game where it's kind of, I don't think, goofy, but like a little lighthearted, usually pretty self be like the big overworking plot. There's a lot of like selfcontained stories and whatever, and they know going into the game where it's like they don't need to you know, it's not like they I describe a scene and they can like, you know, smell the bread from the bakery in town and and here the the whistling of the Pan flutes from the Bard on the street corner like like. That to me is not, is not what my games are about. I know some people are very good at that, but like that's never been my for day. So for me it's keeping things like, keeping things moving, keeping things entertaining with like a fun cast of characters, interesting locations, factions that people want to know more about. I'm big on providing my players in a world, or fronting a world to my players with a lot of factions, good, bad and otherwise, and that way they every time a new piece of information plot wise comes forward, they can always be like, oh, I wonder how that affects x, Y Z and the other, this person, this faction, this location, whatever. That's kind of how I do it. I'm not like I'm not a particularly good describer of things. It's not like I'm a Matt Mercer who can, you know, get you swooning over, you know, an NPC or whatever. Like I'm not. I'm not like a an expert at that. To me, as far as engagement goes, is yeah, it's going back to what I was saying earlier, like entertained my players. That's it, because the people, the people who play at my table are the ones who like fast at pulp action adventure stories, not role playing nuance. You know, if a character, if an NPC they're talking to, changes demeanor a little bit from scene to scene or, you know, one time to see them to the other time, like they're not going to call me out on it because they know that's not really what it's about, you know. I mean. So stuff like that, like I have a little leeway with. So I don't know if I'm the best to kind of answer that question for you. I'm I have I don't know. Yeah, no, well, it's more so with regards to like how the game runs at your table, I guess. Right, it's about how everybody sort of keep strucking along the story, whether it's because they are inspired to do so by the narrative elements of it, or whether it's you kind of keeping a little bit of a clearer path for them, like you mentioned. It's just an interesting thing that I always like to consider because, like, ultimately, right, when you're writing these stories, when you're sort of creating this, I guess in my head it seems more like it's just game design, right, like you're creating this so like a mini little game engine of how I like people are supposed to traverse this world, you know, or story or module or whatever. I don't know if I don't know if I agree with that. I don't think I feel that way at all when I'd really writing on my games. I don't think of it as a, yeah, as a game engine or like a medium for my players to I don't know. Yeah, I don't think. I don't know. Maybe I'm just not interpreting what you're saying correctly, but I feel like I feel like. My answer is like an a like, not a plicable that's fair, sotly fair. No, like. I mean for me it's it's for me it's all about the design of...

...the thing of the world, and I'm trying to get better at timing and counters and sort of being able to how do I wear this, being able to create little chunks of my world in a manner so that when my players reverse it, I kind of have like the prep for those little locations. So for me I kind of think of the game, at least from my DM world building style, as like a little mini engine of like decision trees, for example. I love using decision trees to write the lore of where players can travel, because it makes it really easy for me to say, Oh, if they're going to this region, right, they have this list of encounters here, and to me that helps me sort of move this story along. So I guess for me it's about no, yeah, my answer is Nope, absolutely not. Nope. I'm a big exist. I'm a big Improv Guy. I sorry, that's ound. That's that's not correct. I don't do Improv. I'm not like a I don't go to Improv school or take classes or take partner in prove activities. I have friends who do Improv so I want to make a distinct distinction because I am not on their level. But a lot of my design of locations or NPCs or like regions, something that kind of you're talking about, where it's like, oh, they could go here. Like recently in my current game, my players went to the capital, which is like a holy city. It's a theocracy, and I didn't know what was in the capital until they decided to go there at the end of a session. They were like, you know what, let's go to the capital, and I went all right, like I I knew the story was eventually going to take them there. But I never I don't I don't send my time writing down the what ifs, but before sessions happen I'll just write down what I hope or expect them to go for, and more often than not I keep a Google doc for every single session that I run and more often than not my google docs are are pretty blank, because I'll write something be like this is what I expect them to do, and then obviously they'll go in another direction because that's had done the Dragon's works, and then that's it and I'll just we'll just go and roll with it there. And I don't have a really deep connection with my world where I can know exactly like, oh, they go to this region, this is going to happen. So maybe there's a little, you know, a little hiccup along the way, I'll just throw in a some tiny encounter or whatever. To Buy, do you know, five minutes so I can think up something in my head while I'm just rolling dice behind a screen. Go like yeah, you'll you kill the ORC, good job, and then what's ready to go? They all they'll do the thing like it's it's not. I don't know. I don't even I don't know the overarching story. Yeah, yeah, I don't. I don't premeditate a lot of the locations and stuff like that. Well, like this doesn't really have anything to do with like the story aspect of it, like I care about this story of the game, but I just find the comfort of knowing the locations that the players have available to them. I find it. I get that. I get that. For me, it's just more of a Oh, you're going there. Perfect. I kind of already know the description, and that might be because largely the longest running campaign that I've done is too of annihilation and for the most part the last dungeon. There's no way that I can just leave that as like well, I'll just figure out each, each each dungeon that they are like each door that they go into as they get there, because there's traps in there that will literally kill the party right away. So I've had learned everything different, a different thing. That's a tough day of Prov the tube of annihilation doesn't. The thing is, I don't know if it's because in general it's I don't know if it's because they're that experience with the dungeons,...

...like with that dungeon, that sort of like overflowed into the general world building now, because now, like when I think of regions, I'm like, Oh, like these are the key spots and these are the little line kind of like I think of the kind of like a Mario World, if you remember like a mare three words, like you have a little dots across. That's kind of how I think of like my regions and each dot has a couple of encounters in it that I can just kind of pick from. Yeah, I don't know. Do you make a big world map before you run your career. I kind of just do like like you knows, like brain mapping APPs and stuff like that, like a spiderweb kind of map. Yeah, like that. I that's pretty much what I use. It's now because that's represent like location and like distance or just really just how things are. It's not even about distance, it's just okay, the location, like justsance, because I don't like the travel. I don't like the travel personally. I hate, hate, overland travel. Do you just you just get there? It's fine. I try to do it in chalt and it's abysmal. Right, it's supposed to be raining like three out of four days there. There's disadvantage everywhere, like the party's going to get nowhere if I don't just like he here's the wind go? Yeah, exactly, but so so over that. I kind of don't really think about travel too much at least. Yeah, fair, I think. I think travel unless there's something narratively you want to do during travel, like the party gets ambushed by this specific faction because they are going to play in to the story at some point and you want to introduce them or whatever. Right, unless that happens, I see, I hate you know, Oh, you traveling through the woods for nine days. I'm going to roll a D twenty every single day and I have a random encounter table and you're going to fight three goblins this day and one d four plus one wolves the next. Like now, I don't no one cares, like past level like three. It's their trivial right. Like I got a party of level nine adventures now, like there's nothing that's gonna stand in their way in a random encounter table, traveling over land. So they just go places. They just say, I want to go to the capital. Okay, it takes you two weeks to ride there. You're there now, but it's heart like the feeling comfortable, going back to that feeling comfortable in the locations that you that you invent for me three personally, like I'm also very lazy, so I don't like to sit down at my computer and like type out a novel of all the Lore of all my cities and where everything is in the districts. And Yeah, yet who the noble families are like like that to me is not as not a fun time for me personally. I know people do enjoy it. I have some friends to doing this is fur first level bullet points. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I'll, I will. I will go in with like a couple bullet points or I will only make the locations that tie into the story. Like in my current campaign there are, at least they have been visited to, cities. There is the capital, which is where the theocracy lives, and there is another city called Pudun, where the PC's were they started it. That's it, and everything else is like a village, a hamlet, shack in the woods, like they're things that are small enough that you can just kind of make up, or at least I can just kind of make up off the on the spot. But when it comes to the big locations, like I have other ones that I have waiting in the wings for when, eventually my players get there, or choose to go there whatever, stumble upon them. But they are there's no they're only there because they can serve a purpose to the story. Like like the other there's a stronghold to the east that I have that's on the map and it's there and it's ready. They haven't gone there. They've heard about it a couple times, but it's only there so...

...that when they go there it's like thinking like a video game when you have like a quest trigger, you have to talk to this person or walk past this invisible wall and then the game goes Yep, this is now the next thing happening the Yadi had Yada. So it doesn't necessarily like the next step of the story, but it's some part of the story. Only gets kicked off when they go there and it's never there's never a point to go to, you know, large metropolis x, when the only thing there for them is like everything in a normal metropolis, but nothing else. You know, like like it's nice, it's a lot of stuff, but there's no reason to go there. You know, I mean like the reason to go to the capital because the story revolves around the theocracy and and the religion that everybody worships in my game. So there's a reason to go visit and like talk to priests and do whatever. And yet Yadi Yada see how the people work. But if it wasn't a theocracy in the game that revolve around religion, there would be no reason to even include the capital in my world building. I would just move the capital somewhere else or make it that first city that they are in. You know. I mean, like it's I only add stuff to my world if I'm going to guaranteed use it in my story. Otherwise it's something small I can whip up off off the cuff. I don't know if I helped. Certainly helped, and it's certainly confused a little bit, but I think that's I think it's part of the interpretation of like how everybody sort of runs their game, right. Yeah, it's so personal that, like I don't expect anybody to listen to me and go like, Oh, yeah, that's exactly how I want to do it. Like it's a very personal process, booting your frequency and like that. Right, we're the same. Yeah, yeah, that's is, but it's always good to hear different perspectives so that you can kind of incorporate different pieces that you found. Oh yeah, hey, that sounds like something that we'd make my game better. So yeah, it's yeah, I do agree with that. Is having more voices and perspectives is always good, whether you agree with them or not. HMM, I say, it's nice to hear them and and take them under advisement. Yeah, well, this has been a great conversation. I think we're officially coming up on the point where we're longer than most full length triple advantage episodes. Hey, which is which is awesome. This was a great talk, but unless anybody has any final questions, I think we're about ready to wrap this. I'm good, cool. Well in that case, David, it has been absolutely lovely. Thank our thank you for having me. Our pleasure. Thanks for coming on. Going back to why we were here in the first place, remember, everybody, into the jails of the Mimic Queen is available now on DMS guild. Search for into the jazz and the Mimic Queen or David by name, or search for real state society. Any of those three you will be able to find David's module, along with the rest of those that are published by real state society. A side than that. Sorry. Last last little thing, David, a thing that you would like to plug. Does not have to be dndi related, just something that you're passionate about. Oh sure. I am currently working on a solo death metal project for all you dd metal nerds, called world leaders. I have my first demo made completely diy. It was a quarantine project. It's on bandcamp, world leaders dot band campcom. I'm currently working on a on a split cassette with another Guelph band called Hell Breather, and that will be out whenever we get our shit together to release super shitty cassette. Big Art on those fields. Yeah, yeah, if you, if you like bolt...

...thrower. That's a band. If you like them, you will like my music, because all I do is rip them off. So give it a listen, give it a buy it, buy it, give me money so I can pay for all these records I like to buy as a as a big world leaders fan, I can. I can second that plug. So everybody listening, go check out David stuff on dam skilled. Go check out world eaters. Let him buy his records and stay tuned for a new episode of triple advantage coming on Monday. Will catch you next time.

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