Getting Representative Brink’s attention, creating an anarchist group and calling up a Harry Potter expert. This is the Afterparty, where we sit down after every episode to break down our game and answer your questions about how to play at home.
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Cast & Crew
- Dungeon Master: Eric Silver
- TR8c (Tracey): Brandon Grugle
- Inara Harthorn: Amanda McLoughlin
- Johnny B. Goodlight: Michael Fische
- Multitude: multitude.productions
Amanda: Hey, hi, hello! Welcome to the After Party, where I am still recovering from that long, long set-up to a horse pun. Eric, how dare you.
Brandon: It’s the longest pun set-up of all puns.
Amanda: I at some point during the game just sat back and shook my head, and Brandon looked at me like, “Oh my god are you okay?” and then I whispered, “Night. Mare.” and he goes, “Goddamnit.”
Brandon: Is this more Rapidash, Ponyta, uh…
Amanda: It’s like dark Rapidash.
Brandon: Like Flareon situation maybe?
Eric: Yeah, I got a picture in the Monster Manual.
Brandon: Oh, so it’s- it’s Ponyta. That is just Ponyta but black.
Amanda: Yup. Actually it’s in the same pose as Ponyta.
Brandon: Yup. Which one…
Eric: PONY-ta? What is the wrong em-PHA-sis of the wrong syl-LA-ble?
Brandon: Do you think it’s Pony-ta?
Eric: It’s Pony-ta.
Brandon: No, it’s not.
Amanda: Mr. Gal-AY-ga, let’s not discuss this.
Eric: Wow. Woooooooooow! That was a good burn.
Brandon: It is Pon-Y-ta.
Eric: Whatever. It’s Rapidash.
Amanda: In any case, I’m sure that this horse looks demonic and scary, and the fact that it can fly is just a whole ‘nother game.
Brandon: Does it have wings, or does it just fly and…
Eric: Actually, that’s a very good question. Nightmares are created when cultists-
Brandon: When I have too big of a meal before bed?
Amanda: When you watch Twin Peaks before falling asleep on your couch.
Michael: Your first mount in World of Warcraft if you’re a warlock.
Eric: Oh, there you go! Good job! A Nightmare is created when cultists get ahold of a Pegasus and, like through a ritual, rip its wings off.
Eric: And then it becomes a fiend and evil.
Amanda: Oh, god.
Brandon: Yeah, I don’t like this game anymore.
Amanda: That’s horrifying.
Eric: Monster Manual, man.
Michael: When you Find Steed, you can get a Nightmare.
Brandon: Er, are these cultists alive in our game? Can I revenge this horse?
Eric: Well, this is a little bit different. This is a Figurine of Wondrous Power. You can take like a figure- a special magical figurine that is in the shape of an animal, and if you say the command word, it turns from a figurine into the thing. So this one is called the Obsidian Steed, which turns into a Nightmare.
Michael: No wings were clipped in the filming of JTP.
Eric: Exactly. I really like items that go from, like, immobile nothing to animal. The Figurine of Wondrous Power and then the Bag of Tricks is another one, where it’s really a big bag that has, like, balls of yarn in it, but if you take one out and you throw it, it turns into a certain animal depending on what the color is and what your dice roll is.
Michael: I’m sorry, you just described Pokémon.
Eric: It’s pretty much Pokémon.
Brandon: If I shoot a Pokéball out of my cannon towards this horse, we can capture it. This is my plan now.
Amanda: Okay, how about a magical Chia Pet where there’s just accelerated growth into like a carnivorous vine that eats everything in its path.
Brandon: Mhm. Mhm.
Amanda: How about that?
Brandon: I like this a lot.
[all talking at once]
Michael: That’s called bamboo, it has that real-
Amanda: Mint, actually.
Brandon: Eric’s writing-
Michael: Ooh, mint as well-
Amanda: Just takes over everything.
Brandon: Eric’s just writing notes in his DM journal.
Eric: Magic Chia Pet add 2...
Brandon: Now, would it be Garfield shaped?
Michael: [singing Chia Pet jingle] Ch-ch-ch-Chia!
Amanda: Oh my god, what if as a wedding favor there were Alonzo and Greg shaped Chia Pets. That would be a freakin’ adorable wedding favor.
Brandon: I want that.
Amanda: I want it, too.
Brandon: I want it. It would just be long, flowing plant.
Amanda: Looking lovingly at each other, with a little heart between them.
Brandon: You could make ‘em kiss.
Amanda: Yeah! Aww! Well, the master of impulsive actions for this game today was Fish.
Michael: It wasn’t Tracey for once.
Amanda: Fish, can you walk us through your mindset here. We wake up, you do some Tai Chi, you really center yourself, you prestidige- your favorite activity, and you walk out onto the pool deck and immediately kill one of our fellow contestants.
Michael: Well, apparently the Tai Chi instead really gave me an adrenaline rush this morning.
Amanda: I guess.
Michael: Player Mikey is a little punchy this morning- not in a bad way, I’m having fun- but, errrr didn’t really have enough personal Constitution- Michael didn’t have enough personal Constitution to deal with Kevin Vacation, so something had to be done. I think it also works in a few ways. It worked because, one, Tracey is able to go and start punching the scenery to try to leave.
Michael: Johnny is gonna send a different kind of direct message, which is, “We ain’t playing around. Boom. Kill one of your contestants.” So I kept asking, annoyingly asking, to the point that the three other people in this room were like, “They understand. Don’t worry.” I kept asking, “Does the Representative get what I did there…”
Michael: “Do they understand?!”
Amanda: “Is my message coming across?”
Michael: “Is my message clear?!”
Eric: “Can I make an Insight check to see if the Representative understands my threat?”
Michael: Yeah, that weird-
Brandon: It’s not really a threat when you murder someone. It’s just-
Michael: We aren’t gonna play this game forever-
Brandon: It’s just murder.
Amanda: Yeah, or like a sign. Flag in the ground.
Michael: Let’s just be very clear, I was ready in the moment to cast Spare the Dying. I wasn’t gonna kill an endangered species. I was just gonna make sure that a message was sent.
Brandon: Well, no, but you did- like you did murder them, you just like-
Michael: Brought them back to life!
Brandon: Okay, but… [sighs]
Michael: I’m that good.
Brandon: First step is murder.
Eric: What I love about this is that Kevin Vacation is this very rare type of elf that has wings, like I found this buried in Sword Coast I think, that there’s like a type of elf that has wings, and is very, like, they are really close to the Fey and they’re Fey-touched.
Michael: They’re like one step before ascending-
Amanda: Celestial, yeah.
Eric: A straight-up angel.
Eric: And Fish just like- it’s like he punched a bald eagle in the face.
Michael: Okay but that bald eagle doesn’t go “Wazzzuuuuuup.”
Michael: So, like I’m not gonna punch a bald eagle, but I will Eldritch Blast a Kevin.
Brandon: I mean if a bald eagle did do that, I’d punch it.
Michael: I am justified.
[all still giggling]
Amanda: And I guess my version of that this game was going up to the Representative and being like, “Hey how do I win this game, like what- whatcha doin,” So I don’t really know any other way to say to the Representative like, “What are we all doing here and is this as straightforward as it appears?”
Michael: I personally don’t see the three of us playing ball to the end of this entire thing if it were to go without us interfering with how this goes.
Michael: If that is Tracey getting instructions because he tried to break down the literal world, Johnny killing contestants so this goes faster, or Inara just being like very straightforward, “Yo, give me what I want.”
Amanda: Yeah, we went to one party and we’re playing’ ball for as long as we need to, meaning as short as we possibly need to to get what we need.
Brandon: The amount of effort and awesome moves that Eric has put together to make us play ball, like he has not been off mic been like, “Guys, just play along!” It’s like... [laughing]
Brandon: We’re actively trying to sabotage your game, like as players, and you have been able to steer us all in the directions and poke us and prod us in the right ways to get us back on track.
Eric: No, please, kick- kick my sand- kick someone in the face in my sandbox. Um…
Brandon: Don’t, uh, don’t do that guys. Anyone listening-
Amanda: Maybe knock over my sandcastle, that’s a little bit more-
Brandon: Don’t knock over people’s sandcastles, that’s-
Michael: That’s really rude.
Amanda: Aww, that’s true. That’s true.
Brandon: Just be cool to each other.
Amanda: How about like throw a shell at the turret of my sandcastle?
Michael: Just Eldritch Blast people you don't’ like.
Eric: I always get a bit worried the fact that we play D&D on mic that it’s just like not as loose and you guys do what I want. Especially for this one where it’s a little more involved and I’ve literally set up rules of a contest, like the game inside of a game I have even more structure, so like I want you to mess around, and my world will be resilient enough to bounce back.
Brandon: It’s almost like your world is made of, like… mud, or…
Amanda: Some viscous, like really just…
Brandon: Something that can be built…
Amanda: Substance that can take a lot of, yeah, like elastic…
Brandon: Clay… yeah.
Amanda: Yeah, or like a building block of narrative.
Brandon: Yeah, exactly.
Eric: I just want to do a quick shout out to the NPC names that I used. Noto Oto, that is Rachel Noto. Papa Ross is Ross Papa. You have a great name, I just switched your name!
Amanda: [laughing] Gee thanks!
Eric: Yeah, I just switched your name! And we didn't get to this, but the halflings in the jacket- one was Darcy and one was Kennedy, which is your full name, Darcy, so thank you for giving me your names, and these rich goofy people.
I want to give a shout out to Michelle Nikolaisen who is running the podcast ‘Serendipity City,’ which is set in the 1920s, and she has a lot of like anarchist groups running around, but they’re like embedded in unions, and embedded in companies, and they just kind of want to like shake shit up. And I was thinking about the Red Throat Gang when she was talking about her podcast, and I’m like, “I have this anarchist group and they don’t really do anything. They're just like these regular old bad guys.” So I was like, “What would be the craziest thing that they want to happen during this challenge,” and it’s like, oh if an ooze won this it’s obviously a farce and it proves- the way that anarchists can just show things through demonstration, like a public demonstration. So it doesn’t always have to be like murder- it can be like farcical and ridiculous.
Amanda: It’s destabilizing in another way that isn’t violence, which I think is really interesting. Satirical art is the same way, like painting people in power in ridiculous situations. And, you know, making like the institution of this leadership and this kind of oligarchy situation that we have going on seem crazy, you know, and silly is one way to do it.
Michael: And I think that’s all great, and I super support any kind of resistance of any kind of whatever in peaceful or in farcical ways, but when our first introduction of the Red Throat Gang is multiple times attempted murder, I personally am going to label anyone who’s part of this group- like this is a real problem for groups that have a sorted past, that are trying to change-
Amanda: Yeah, especially decentralized, right-
Michael: Absolutely, it’s a marketing problem. We literally just dealt with the Red Throat Gang not too far a time ago, so Johnny and Michael have no patience for these terrorists, I will call them.
Brandon: Um, Tracey’s not a terrorist. Just…
Michael: Honestly, you are a- I mean, I don’t know this. Johnny does not know this, but if Johnny does find out…
Amanda: It’s a real debate though, right. Like the enemy of my enemy is my friend, maybe? Is king of the strategy that Tracey is going with here. I, Amanda, am speculating, but I would not work with those guys. I would probably put them at dagger-point on sight.
Brandon: No, I- I hear you. I think that was the debate that was going on in my head of how I wanted to play that situation. There was three options: there was one where I just take out my great axe at the moment and kill them, there was enemy of my-
Eric: Thanks for not doing that. My world isn’t that resilient.
Brandon: Yeah, death is kind of permanent. Except for- sort of. Um…
Michael: Spare the Dying is a thing! You can Spare the Dying!
Amanda: Sometimes you come back a foot shorter, you know, it just happens.
Michael: Oh, that. Yes.
Amanda: And maybe blue.
Brandon: Second option was the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” situation, where I play along and then stop playing along. And then the third situation is what I think is happening- is that Tracey’s done this before. He’s been undercover. This is what his whole career was before adventuring. He knows what he’s doing, he plays his naivety to his advantage, and I think in the end- we’ll see what happens, but I think in the end, his goal is to take these people in.
Eric: I’m excited. I sometimes forget that Tracey’s putting on the naivety sometimes.
Brandon: I’m a really good actor.
Brandon: It’s not that I’m forgetful, or like bad, no, I’m very good.
Eric: I mean, it definitely helps. If I believe it when I’m controlling the characters, then good for me.
Michael: And your rolls really do help with that, usually.
Brandon: That’s true.
Amanda: Yeah, and I think maybe the most interesting choice, so here we are.
Eric: I think this is also like the difference between cities. They’re willing to kill Alonzo, but they wanna do a public demonstration in Tortipolis, which the Representative said is like a looked-down-upon city, city-state. I think, I really wanna make clear that like all the city-states are different here, just as much in landscape as one is a city on a hill and one is literally in the ground.
Amanda: Would you say that it’s an underdog? Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh.
Eric: I would… I would say that.
[Amanda giggling about her pun]
Brandon: You’re the frontrunner, and you can’t even make this joke.
Eric: Um, I definitely want like, their status and the way that people interact with their city-state government to change as well.
Brandon: Inara, how does it feel to know that Chad the ooze is gonna beat you? Just asking you.
Eric: I got $20 on Chad.
Amanda: You know, it is difficult when you’re painted as the frontrunner early on, because that makes you a big target, right? So-
Brandon: Yeah, it means you’re gonna lose, I think.
Amanda: Or you can have a redemption arc and lose status only to gain it back in the end, which is going to be my strategy.
Eric: I would like to know how you feel about a girl you were crushin’ on turns out to be your cousin.
Amanda: Listen. It’s happened to the best of us.
Amanda: Second cousin, that’s pretty far apart. Also I was- I will, I will- Okay, so there's a thing where you-
Eric: We’re just gonna let that slide?
Michael: And now-
Brandon: I mean, look-
Michael: The justification for incest-
Brandon: I try really hard not to judge, but like, genetics and stuff, you know? It ain’t good. Doesn’t look good.
Michael: This is a fantasy world. There’s cousin sex-times happening all the time.
Brandon: Is this a fantasy world in like the 17th century? What are you talking about?
Eric: What goes on in the Great Green that we don’t know about?
Brandon: Exactly. It’s a very closed off community.
Amanda: We have discussed before, “life goals or wife goals” is a thing that ladies experience who are attracted to ladies also, and so you can just be awestruck by somebody and be unsure if it’s, you know, someone you want to date or someone you want to be, so I’m going to go ahead and retcon that it’s someone that Inara wanted to be, and not to make out with.
Brandon: [whispering loudly] You don’t get to retcon that. No.
Eric: That’s the thing about being an audio medium where we keep everything on tape. It’s public.
Amanda: Inara would be freaked out by it. What I am slightly freaked out by is that she has my same story. This has felt like something that only I experienced and only I ever would experience, you know, and so to have somebody see right into the most secret part of my life, I think we’re rolling with it for now, but we’ll see where that ends up.
Brandon: Nice. Rolling. What I wanna see is you guys play marbles. Like actually play marbles.
Amanda: Oh, yeah.
Brandon: And see what happens when two of those marbles collide.
Amanda: Yeah, and Oatcake can kind of like lay between us like the tennis judge looking back and forth, umpire person, and it would be- it would be cute.
Eric: I’m gonna have to teach you guys how to play marbles.
Brandon: I think you play for keeps, too. If you win, you get her marbles.
Amanda: That is how you play marbles, yes.
Eric: You play for-
Brandon: And then you kill her.
Amanda: Well, we’ll see.
Michael: Maybe it summons my good friend, the guy. The guy who gave the marbles.
Brandon: Yeah, your good good friend, The Guy.
Michael: My good friend what’s-his-name.
Eric: Your friend, the guy who showed up with the halberd on.
Michael: Yeah, yeah, the good friend of mine. The head of the Assassin’s Guild.
Eric: [laughing] You know how we’re best friends?
Michael: We’re very good friends. This is- I’m going to say it until it is true.
Michael: It’s like, “I know that guy.” We’re gonna be friends. We summer together in the… Southern Concentra…
Brandon: Does he also wear socks with sandals?
Amanda: Mont-tauk-polis. Hamp-tompolis.
Eric: Rohobi- [laughing]
We have some questions for the After Party. Let’s do it. This one comes from our email- remember you can reach us for After Party questions through our email at email@example.com, through Twitter or Facebook, or on our Discord in the After Party channel, which- get out of my lawn, kids.
Amanda: But- but we have to invite them into our lawn to ask questions.
Eric: Okay, come to my lawn, ask the questions-
Michael: Then get off my lawn!
Brandon: Come onto my lawn, be respectful about my lawn!
Amanda: It’s like reverse trick-or-treating- you come onto our porch, ring the bell, give us a question, and then go into the other channels.
Eric: Don’t touch my gnomes! Um, this one [laughing too hard]
Amanda: Can we talk about how buckwild doxies are? Like the fact that in Harry Potter- I’m sorry, this is the wrong Multitude podcast, but like in-
Eric: Sorry, do you want me to call up Schubes for you?
Amanda: I would.
Brandon: Can you please do it right now- actually call him and put him on the fucking microphone while we do this?
Eric: Alright, cool.
Amanda: Who calls people anymore?
Eric: Oh, when we were on- Hey Schubes.
Mike Schubert (of ‘Potterless’): [through phone] Hey, what’s up Eric?
[Amanda bursts out laughing]
Eric: We’re recording and Amanda has some wacky shit to say about Harry Potter. Do you wanna listen to her while she does that?
Mike Schubert: Okay. Sure!
Amanda: I was just saying-
Michael: You’re- tell him he’s on mic.
Eric: Oh, you’re also on the microphone. [laughing]
Mike Schubert: Oh, beautiful. Okay, hello, everyone.
Brandon: Hey welcome- thanks for guesting on Join the Party.
Amanda: Welcome to the After Party.
Mike Schubert: Oh, wow, I’m really excited to begin the gala. I’m really excited to attend the shindig. I’m really excited to be at the event.
Eric: There you go.
Amanda: Welcome to friendship with Schubes.
Eric: This is good.
Amanda: So my- my hot take is that isn’t it buckwild how, like underfey or like non-speaking creatures are treated in Harry Potter? Like they just kick doxies around like moths.
Mike Schubert: Oh yeah.
Amanda: In The Burrow before Christmas that one time, they were just like kicking gnomes around, like literally kicking them, and it is so crazy. Like Hermione is made fun of for wanting House Elf rights, but they just completely like murder and mistreat other species that aren’t like four-legged centaurs or something.
Michael: Defend yourself and all of Harry Potter!
Mike Schubert: No, I don’t- Amanda’s point is exactly correct, because like even when people are like “Oh yeah Hagrid, he was great” and then he’s like “Hagrid’s half giant” everyone’s like “I don’t like Hagrid anymore.”
Mike Schubert: Like it’s very strange. They treat the giant strangely. Even with Lupin the werewolf, everyone’s like, “Lupin’s the best teacher ever!” and someone’s like, “Oh he’s a werewolf,” everyone’s like, “just kidding! I don’t like Lupin anymore!”
Amanda: You guys are wizards what are you talking about! Like, yeah.
Mike Schubert: Yeah, like strange-
Eric: Isn’t that like a prominent feature in the Harry Potter games? Like the tutorials are always like-
Eric: Doing chores at The Burrow and it’s always like throwing- what are the guys who are underground and then you pull them out and they go [unintelligible muttering] bledeledobelepdo.
Mike Schubert: It’s the gnomes. The gnomes and then-
Mike Schubert: They do the things with like the little fairies that they have to get out of Grimmauld Place.
Mike Schubert: It’s like yes they’re these pests, but they’re still like sentient beings. It’s not like getting rid of termites or something, these are like- it’s very strange-
Amanda: I know, like they respect-
Mike Schubert: -that wizards are put on this super high pedestal above everything else that exists.
Amanda: They respect Aragog, they respect the centaurs, they fear the giants, but whatever they can live their lives. Dragons, they you know have whole economies set up to deal with them, and give them a sanctuary, and give them a nice place to live, then they’re like, “Fuck you, doxies,” it’s like ugh. It’s crazy.
Eric: But isn’t this how-
Mike Schubert: I thought goblins, like the ones who work in Gringotts and everything, they make fun of those all the time.
Eric: Yeah, because they’re supposed to be Jews.
[all talking at once]
Amanda: They’re very Anti-Semitic.
Michael: They’re obviously the Jews.
Amanda: Very, very problematic.
Eric: I mean, you can see from the movies.
Mike Schubert: J.K. said that one Jewish kid was definitely in Harry Potter.
Eric: It’s like, “He was definitely there celebrating Hanukkah during the fucking…” Oh my god, I don’t wanna go off on that again.
Michael: Oh, yeah, do they only celebrate Christmas? I don’t see a single menorah.
Amanda: Only Christmas. Only Christmas.
Eric: No, only Christmas.
Michael: No dreidels.
Amanda: No Eid. No Hanukkah. No nothin’.
Eric: You can tell that Harry Potter functions within like the larger fantasy context, because like race of like creature also means race like in person, and you’re- only when you’re scared of a thing or it can hurt you, then do you give it respect.
Mike Schubert: Yeah, totally, totally, totally. So yes, I agree with Amanda’s hot take.
Amanda: Cool, thanks Schubes.
Eric: Thank you, Schubes. Thanks for talking to us.
Brandon: Bye, Schubes!
Mike Schubert: Oh yeah - hope that you guys all roll some sick nat-20s.
Eric: Good. Very good.
Amanda: Awww, thanks bud.
Mike Schubert: See you guys later.
Eric: Bye. Okay. This question is from Elise Armstrong, and the subject, because it’s an email is “Driving the Strugglebus.”
Brandon: Love it.
Amanda: Love it. Love it already.
Eric: I shortened this just to get it all out there, but Elise is asking: I participated as a PC in an amazing group that, despite including seven players, was hilarious and a well-developed campaign. Unfortunately, I moved out of state and had to find myself another group. My newfound friends are interested in playing, but we had no DM, and then- you have to do the thing where she has to DM and teach everybody how to play.
After two sessions of character building and five sessions of the campaign, things are not going as well as I planned. I knew the process would be slow-going, but each week I am increasingly more annoyed with my group of five players. I don’t wanna be that DM, but a few of my players are not putting in as much effort as I want. Each session moves at a glacial speed because I have to re-explain basic concepts.
She also explains more how the players just like are not putting in effort, or it seems like they are not putting in the effort to learn the game, while there are two people who are like really know their character sheet and really want to play, some of the other ones are just really making this move slowly.
So, are my expectations for players too high? What is a good timeline for learning the game? How can I incorporate the learning process into our sessions? Should I hold sessions to explain the mechanics like an After Party? Or should I put my foot down and stop hand-holding? I am figuratively hitting my head against the table as we play. I don’t wanna be a DM tyrant, but I may have to drive the struggle bus off a cliff if my folks don’t get organized.
Amanda: I like Elise. That was a great email.
Brandon: Yeah, this is something that happens to a lot of people, I think, just off the bat.
Michael: Yeah, I think every DM has this experience. I think we literally had this experience the first run-through of what was like the pre-beta like super alpha version of Join The Party, was-
Brandon: You and me being a dick to Eric? [laughing]
Michael: Technically speaking, yes. It’s tough because you put so much effort into something when, as a DM, really you’re like- you’re the ultimate support person. You’re building and doing so much work so that others can like build and play with you and have their own adventures, and when there are people who aren’t appreciating it, it just hurts so much because they don’t know or dont realize that what they’re doing is hurting you because you’re putting so much effort into it. But they are, and sometimes they just won’t get it.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, I’ve been DM a lot, I’ve played a lot. It happens. It hurts. Sometimes you can fix it, sometimes you can get that group to work out, sometimes you can’t. I guess in terms of your specific situation, here’s some advice that I would give. Have a frank conversation with your players asking them what it is they’re looking out of the game. One of the biggest misconceptions about D&D is that it’s all about going into a dungeon and fighting some dragons, because it’s usually called Dungeons & Dragons.
Brandon: [laughing] It’s weird how people think that.
Michael: I know! Crazy! But, you know, as we’ve said in other After Parties, you can be accountants in space, you can be chefs, you can do whatever you want and it’s about finding something that you as the DM and them as the players really clicks on. There’s something happening in that game that if you have two people who are really into it, really putting in the work as you say and the other two aren’t, the first step if you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, is to find out what it is that got them interested in D&D. It honestly might be that they just wanna hang out, in which case, you say, “Guys, let’s do board game nights.” and you don’t play D&D with them, and you start playing D&D with just the other two who are into it and maybe find others. Because there’s the other side of this where they might just be going along with this and not really be interested. And that sucks, definitely sucks for you because you’ve put a lot of work and effort into it, but it happens.
You’re doing the best you can. You do have to kind of be that DM and be like, “What is it that you guys want to do because i’m seeing that you guys aren’t as interested as maybe you could be and that’s okay. Let’s find a way to make this work.” Or end it, because you’re putting a lot of time and effort into it and, you know, one thing that’s great about D&D is you can take your character that you built and you had in another game and move it to another one. And that’s for the two players, but you as the DM, you can take the world and all the work you’ve done, and you know, you can try again. You do Version 2. I have something called the Western Reaches that I’ve done five or six times, and each time it gets better, and you can do the same thing. I don’t see this as negative. It sucks now, absolutely, but this is only gonna be a positive for you because you get to evolve and move on. Yeah.
Eric: I think the answer to the first question that is, “Are my expectations for the players too high?” It’s both yes and no.
Eric: It’s like you cant’ get people who don’t want to play to play.
Eric: But if they really didn’t have a problem with what’s happening here, they would probably have picked it up by now. This is second question, which is, “What is a good timeline for learning the game?” Amanda, how do you feel about picking this up? We’ve- what are we on, like-
Amanda: At the time of recording, we’ve played like 25 or 26 sessions of, you know, 3-ish hours.
Eric: Yeah, and you’ve played like- four other games.
Eric: So you’ve played D&D like 30 times. How do you feel about how to learn how to play the game?
Amanda: Well, I still have to look up Sneak Attack every time it comes up, so-
Brandon: I will say this ‘til the day I die: Rogues are haaaaaaaard. [laughing]
Amanda: Thank you.
Eric: Rogues are secretly the hardest non-magic users.
Amanda: By now, it’s both getting to know our dynamic as players and getting to know the game. Something that I really appreciate that Eric did as the DM early on for me is when he said, “What do you wanna do?” and I just looked at him blankly, he came back with, “Okay, so you can do, you know, one of three things.” And when I needed it, he was able to extend to me, like, “Well okay, so you’re in the dungeon, and you can go down the hallway, you can go back into your cell, or you can, you know, look around and see if there's other things you aren’t aware of yet.”
And so until I was able to ask things, like- it took me maybe 15 sessions to remember that I can do checks. Like I can do Perception checks on places. Like I just kept forgetting. And so I would see Brandon and Fish do them and be like, “Ah shit! That’s right. I forgot.” Or I, you know, wouldn't use my items, or I forgot that I had abilities to do things in combat that weren’t just like punch and stab. So, just for me that kind of menu of options. I kept looking down at my character sheet and being like, “I don’t know what’s here.”
So something Fish did for me is make a Mage Hand magic card, like he has spell cards for all of his spells as Johnny and made one for me for Mage Hand, so in combat, maybe it’s having a few flashcards in front of you and being like, “I can run away, I can punch, I can stab, I can use my longbow, or I can do Mage Hand,” if you have a cantrip, whatever.
So just making more concrete instead of just an open world wherein you can do whatever you want whenever you want, and you have to... you know- it felt to me like I had to be way more creative than I was able to be. Having discrete options that I can choose from and then incorporate into the role play was for me really huge, so giving your players perhaps the benefit of the doubt for a second- they might be a little bit overwhelmed. And giving them options or asking, “What is challenging to you in this moment?” You know, it feels like you’re failing, at least for me when I just sat there blankly and wasn’t saying anything and wasn't sure what to do. So that could be overwhelming and scary. And for me, having a limited choice of things that I could choose from until I was ready to move out of that really helped me to kind of open up as a player.
Michael: And one suggestion could be that maybe you should try a different system. D&D 5 is amazing but it is also, like- it might not be the best one for you. I mean, I definitely-
Eric: It’s very open.
Michael: It’s very open while 4 is a little more limiting in that it gives you- it makes you have to pick and choose as opposed to just say anything, and definitely don’t do 3.5, because you can do anything you want.
Michael: Which I love, but is not for everyone.
Eric: I think, yeah, at the end of this it’s like putting your foot down is not a bad thing.
Eric: Sometimes you need to be- like, I always say the Dungeon Master is sometimes Dungeon Mom, and you just gotta like let them know. Brandon, you’ve run a game for all newbies. How did you teach them how to play?
Brandon: So this is actually super interesting, because I did run into the same thing where two players really love it, one player liked it but- it’s just different expectations, like Fish what you were saying. So like, what I did in the beginning was I did hold a session zero where I walked though- to be honest I ended up rolling their characters for them and like walking through everything, and I think that was helpful for understanding how all the mechanics work. But I’m a big believer in- and this is just how I learn- like diving in and you sort of learn along the way, but that doesn’t work for everyone, so you have to sometimes run through the mechanics that way.
One thing that I’ve heard from other folks is they sometimes give people D&D podcasts to listen to. There’s an abundance of them and they’re all different. So there's ones like ‘Critical Role’ that’s basically just a mic on a table and you hear exactly how things work. There’s things like TAZ, which is very story-focused. Mechanics are minimal. So you can use those to kind of figure out what your players want to do. Do they actually just want to hang out, as Fish said, and eat pizza and drink beer? Those are fun. I’ve had those sessions, like you’re just actually hanging out with this loose reason to get together, but you actually just wanna hang out.
Then there's also games where it’s a trust exercise where you’re saying, “We’re entering this room,” like we play on JTP, “We’re entering this room. We’re going to be role playing, open and vulnerable.” That’s hard to get people to trust you to do that. It’s another style of gameplay. But yeah, at the end of the day, everyone’s a newbie at some point, so a little hand-holding isn't so bad, but I do think when you get down to seven sessions, someone’s expectations and someone’s desires are different from what you’re doing, and that’s fine. You just have to figure out how to address those best.
Michael: I can’t express enough how much this much suck because you’re putting in so much effort. It does happen, though.
Brandon: It’s sort of like dating in a way. Where you kind of just like have to click or not click and decide whether or not these people are, like, worth the extra effort it might take to get to that click point or not, you know what I mean?
Michael: And we’re definitely, to be clear- we’re not saying they’re not worth the effort of being friends, or-
Brandon: Absolutely not.
Michael: Or hanging out, it’s just maybe this- D&D’s just not the right thing for them.
Amanda: That’s completely okay, and actually I really recommend the podcast Friendshipping, if you, like most people, find the idea of like bringing someone your like big tender heart, and like putting it on the table, and saying, “This is how I feel,” and it’s uncomfortable and blah. They give you some really good scripts for how to have conversations with your friends about stuff that might be vulnerable, or slightly icky, or slightly hard.
Brandon: May I suggest laser tag is also a fun alternative?
Michael: Mmm, yes.
Brandon: Um, rock climbing. Good way.
Michael: No, laser tag.
Amanda: Um, making cookies.
Michael: Especially if it’s like you guys against a lot of little kids.
Brandon: Making cookies.
Amanda: Yeah, a, uh, uh…
Michael: And then eating cookies in front of their faces and not sharing.
Eric: That’s good.
Amanda: Mixology class.
Brandon: Ooh! That’s good.
Michael: And then drinking in front of those kids and not sharing.
Brandon: Go-karts after the mixology class?
[all talking at once, unintelligible]
Eric: I would say before-
Brandon: No, you wanna go drunk go-kart driving, trust me.
Eric: Brandon, do you-
Michael: Is that legal?
Eric: Know how drinking and driving...
Brandon: In a go-kart works?
Eric: Like the theme, like the theme of- have you heard of that?
Brandon: I have.
Eric: I think the last thing I would say is that you want to do an After Party style session- that is a really interesting way to dive it. I’ve actually never thought of it, doing it off of like audio, but I think if you’re gonna do it in person, and if you’re running the game, it’s like you do the thing- I’m trying to tap into my teacher brain here- it’s like you do it and then they don’t understand what it is so you spend extra time-
Michael: And you debrief.
Eric: - showing them how to do it. Then you need to re-introduce it into your game, and then see if they have learned when you do it. So it’s like if you wanna talk about like being stealthy, and like how do you avoid guards, and role playing that, and like doing a real stealth mission. Then it’s like, “Okay you could have done all of these things and you didn't.” And like you show them their character sheet. And I feel like you’ve gotta do another stealthy thing to see if they’ve learned from that.
Amanda: Thank you very much for listening to this episode of the After Party. As always, we would love to hear your questions. If you are a member of our Patron-only Discord, you can leave those in the After Party questions channel. Everyone else can tweet them to us, you can email them to us, you can Tumblr or Facebook us to send them to us, we are @JoinThePartyPod on all the places, and our email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Brandon: Bye guys!
Eric: See you later!
Michael: Undying Light be with you.