Afterparty: Labor Party VII

Discussing big changes for Join the Party and the rest of the story. 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

- Creative Contributors: Connor McLoughlin, Julia Schifini, Heddy Hunt

- Multitude:


[theme music]

Amanda: Hey, hi, hello. I'm taking a little slower version of the intro today to this After Party because it is a different day than normal.

Michael: I feel a little more ethereal in this room.

Amanda: You should feel a little lighter.

Michael: I feel a little lighter.

Amanda: You should feel a little warmer.

Brandon: Guys, where did Fish go? Do you see him?

[Amanda laughs]

Michael: Yeah, see, it's a little weird. Brandon's been acting like he can't see me this entire time.

Brandon: He's gaseous.

Amanda: Brandon actually lost object permanence during his battle with that oozy guy.

Michael: It is fun though because you can do the whole baby like, "Peekaboo".

Amanda: Oh, he's back.

Michael: And it's like he gets all excited about it and it's cute.

Brandon: Do it for me one more time?

Michael: Where'd I go? Peekaboo!

Brandon: Oh my god, I love it. It's adorable.

Michael: Peekaboo!

Brandon: So cute.

Michael: So yeah, that's basically been the last 20 minutes here.

[Brandon laughs]

Amanda: Yeah. Well Johnny discovered something old and new this episode.

Brandon: Wedding Party throwback.

Amanda: Let's talk about it. So what is Johnny doing? What's going on, Fische?

Michael: Yeah, so Johnny is joining the Ethereal Realm to help keep the Trinity a little bit in line. It makes me feel good about the whole Undying Light and Undying Shadow, having some interaction with the Trinity there.

He's gone ethereal to help keep his friends and the world a little saner as there's some divine mischievousness and mischief and shenanigans happening. At the same time, I am also getting ethereal and not ghosting, but also stepping back from-

Amanda: Responsibly ...

Michael: Responsibly ghosting.

Amanda: Stepping back.

Michael: Yeah, responsibly ghosting. Responsibly stepping back.

Brandon: That's the most millennial phrase to ever be uttered. [all laughing] Responsibly ghosting.

Amanda: It's a conscious uncoupling of-

Michael: Oh, that's good.

Amanda: Players.

Michael: Yeah, it's a conscious uncoupling of players and stepping back. The thing I've liked most about Johnny from the beginning, obviously has been his pursuit of ...  At first trying to bring more light, realizing that there probably needs to be a balance, seeking like, "Okay, do I need some darkness in here?" And then ultimately being told, "Yeah, you're going to be basically used as a way to balance the world."

I've always thought of that as nice but it's like a nice balance of balancing the good days and bad of day-to-day. No one around this table hasn't dealt with mental health issues, definitely myself is part of that. And yeah, as the saying goes, I'm taking a step back to work on myself, and mental health, make sure that like Johnny, I can be in a good place and find balance where right now I'm not finding it. That being said, I basically have indoctrinated the Speaker into the Light now from that one camel ride, so she's absolutely gonna continue to spread the word-

Amanda: Your legacy continues.

Michael: -of the Light. I'm absolutely ... No, the light of the Speaker hates it. So, yeah.

Amanda: But we found out in this moment ... Obviously you've been working toward finding a way to make this meaningful for the character and for the story. So we learned something really big about Ze’ol this episode. Eric, can you expand a little bit on what's happening with Ze’ol and the Speaker?

Michael: No spoilies. Or not too many spoilies.

Brandon: Give me all the spoilies.

Eric: Yeah, it turns out Ze’ol was pretending to be an old codger the entire time and he lured the Speaker here to switch in the Compass.

Amanda: So how do ethereal beings work? So they have a flesh form here and then they can go to a different plane? Are they ... What is the need for him to have the Speaker here for him to escape this compass prison?

Eric: I think it's more he just is trying to swap with a divine thing. Whoever started Chronopolis, as we talked about way back in the first episode of this arc. They trapped a bit of divine in the Compass to keep their entire weather system and farming system going. So Ze’ol’s trying to swap out with an equally powerful being. Why he is able to do so, what is loosened is still a mystery to all of you, I know. But you guys will figure it out eventually.

Brandon: That's an Eric guarantee. Da-ding.

[Amanda giggles]

Michael: As a fan of this world and story, there's a lot of good tidbits in that final scene, specifically when the undying light, voiced of course by the wonderful Misha, is like Ademah’s in death's grip. That's really interesting. I don't know what that means other than Ze’ol is the god of death so ... Is there a celestial coup happening? Put on your tinfoil hats now kids.

Amanda: Could be.

Michael: Could be.

Amanda: Really, yeah.

Michael: I definitely think that the Speaker has shown herself to be so powerful so many times. Of course, if you're going to have a mortal casing as you try to do shenanigans, anyone would pick the Speaker as that choice. Hence-

Amanda: Yeah, over a compass especially.

Michael: Oh yeah. Still, the Compass ain't bad, but use that to lure the like big fish.

Brandon: No, compass is bad.

Amanda: So, he could have disrupted the weather patterns himself. That's what I'm assuming, to lure her there because it's serious enough that the Speaker would have to show up. But we, I guess, will figure that out in episodes to come.

Brandon: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah.

Brandon: I'm just realizing that the Speaker goes purple and the cheese was also purple.

Eric: The cheese was actually just based on Midnight Moon from Murray so totally unrelated.

Amanda: Damn.

Eric: But yeah, I think we're going to learn a little bit more about the compass in the coming episodes so that's pretty exciting. We'll see what happens. There is a lot of tidbits in that scene, so I hope that people go back and listen and maybe put some stuff together about the story at large.

Amanda: The question that haunts me though after this episode, is: would you rather fight one basilisk sized rat or 100 rat sized basilisks? [Michael sighs] Listen, 100 rat sized basilisk: 200 eyes.

Michael: But that's the thing, right? You're just gonna get seen and yous just gonna gets stones’s.

Amanda: Yeah. Oh yeah.

Michael: Don't know why the 'S's were there.

Brandon: It's a technical terms, stones’s.

Michael: Stones’s.

Brandon: Did a lot of that in high school.

Michael: You got real stones?

Brandon: I got stones. I was a rock collector.

Michael: Yeah. 6:30 man.

Brandon: I had a rock polisher.

Amanda: Oh yeah. I collected rocks too.

Michael: Actually, we were looking at our inventories today and we all realized that we're just not adventurous. We're rock collectors.

[Amanda and Brandon laughing]

Amanda: So many rocks.

Michael: Because we have so many-

Brandon: We're geologists.

Michael: We're geologists. We have just rocks of different kinds. Mud in a martini glass. All these different things.

Amanda: Yeah. I never realized yours is in a martini glass.

Michael: We had to scoop some-

[Amanda laughing]

Brandon: Is that mud shaken or stirred?   

All: Ooooooo.

Michael: Oh ... Brandon. Probably a bit shaken.

Brandon: Was that because it was a bad joke or was it inappropriate in some way?

Michael: I was groaning it because I was thinking what the answer was. They were groaning it because they hate it.

Amanda: Well, Eric is very generous slash I was very lucky that the rock was a similar weight to a giant hunk of midnight moon sheep's milk Gouda TMTM.

Eric: Yeah, you guys did not solve those first two the way that it should've been solved.

[all laugh]

Brandon: Can you take us through all the permutations?

Amanda: Tell us, please.

Eric: You want all the options?

Amanda: Oh, I really do.

Eric: So the first one is the basilisk puzzle. Amanda is a goddamned mythology nerd so I should have seen this one coming.

Amanda: I know one thing and it's a basilisk because I read Harry Potter when I was six.

Michael: And you gave her the mirror.

Eric: Well, at least she used the-

Brandon: She used an item.

Eric: Yeah. So the way that you were supposed to do that was you were supposed to get the basilisk to look at the statue.

Michael: Oh.

Eric: The statue had human eyes. You guys eventually figured it out that it was this very, very heavy immovable metal, turned it to stone, then you can push it over or crush it like Tracy did.

Amanda: Okay, but did-did- did we do a murder?

Eric: No. It was literally a statue.

Amanda: Oh, good.

Brandon: Okay, whew.

Amanda: Whew. I was nervous.

Eric: Yeah, I don't know why you guys thought it was a person.

Michael: We were very concerned.

Brandon: It had human eyes!

Eric: I know. Well, that was supposed to signal that it was able to be a basilisk’d.

Amanda: Oh.

Michael: Is the lyric, human eyes, eagle eyes or eager eyes? That's the question.

Eric: It's eagle eyes.

Michael: [singing] With your human eyes.

Brandon: It's definitely not that one.

Eric: It's eagle eyes.

Amanda: Oh, yeah. I'm just now trying to assess why in my soul parts I was not sad about having done actual murders on actual people in this game, your Honor, but I was so nervous about killing this statue.

Brandon: Oh no.

Eric: The second thing, the rat ... It was literally the rat trap or the mouse trap.

Brandon: My favorirte board game.

Amanda: Oh, damn it. Like the game Mousetrap.

Eric: Yeah. If you touched the cheese at all, the trap started and it conjures rats to come through the seal.

Michael:  So was the door unlocked the whole time?

Eric: Yes it was. [laughing]

Brandon: You're shitting me.

Eric: Nope. It was unlocked the entire time.

Brandon: Oh, fucking kill me.

Michael: Classic.

Amanda: What? Why?

Michael: Classic. Oh, that's so good.

Eric: It was a-

Michael: Oh, so good.

Eric: It was a Constitution puzzle, so it was about whether or not you guys could resist fucking with the trap.

Michael: So good.

Amanda: Goddamn it.

Brandon: That’s mean, ‘cause you know there's no way we couldn't.

Michael: I love that. I love that.

Amanda: You know what guys, this is on me. I touched the hydra and I touched the cheese.

Michael: That being said, Eric was not pleased with my-

Brandon: Nuclear-

Michael: Using my spell slots.

Brandon: Nuclear fission.

Eric: What a goddamn good idea though. No, that's the way to do it.

Amanda: I guess eventually the rat carcasses would have outweighed the trap.

Michael: Well yeah. We would have been able to gather enough rat carcasses to make it work.

Brandon: Now were the carcasses coming down through the fire or were they vaporizing?

Michael: So I have the thought that some are grazing the sun, burning to a nice medium rare and then falling very singed and dead.

Brandon: Let ‘em die. Great.

Eric: I don't know what the stats are of rats. I was using the swarm of rat stat which is different. It's like a medium sized swarm of - can be up to 10 feet by 10 feet-

Amanda: God I love D&D.

Eric: -of tiny animals that are rat sized. So I would say that I was trying to do dexterity saving throws to see if they got around the fire, but if they touched the fire which the majority of them did, they would've gotten torched.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: Also if it had continued to stream I would have made it bigger, and bigger, and bigger and-

Michael: It would have been like-

Eric: It would have been more dangerous and you would've gotten more bites and stuff like that. But really you just needed to put the cheese back on the pedestal.

Brandon: So I was cool to eat the cheese then?

Eric: No, not before the trap was done.

Michael: Because it would have changed the weight.

Amanda: If we didn't have a rock.

Michael: If you had just eaten-

Brandon: But we always had the rock.

Amanda: Yeah.

Michael: But we didn’t know - if you had changed the weight of the cheese by eating some of it, it would have been-

Amanda: In a locked room puzzle. There's a dead body inside, a door locked from the inside, and no key. It was ice.

Michael: There's a puddle.

[all laughing]

Eric: If you didn't have the rock, you didn't think to use the rock and you would've given Tallahassee some of the cheese, the rats would have continuously attacked you and Tallahassee.

Brandon: My biggest concern: are these rats ethereal or are they actual rats?

Eric: No, those are real rats.

Amanda: Oh.

Brandon: So Tallahassee does have a good strong belly full of rats?

Eric: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael: The third challenge is one of my favorite-

Brandon: Don't wake Daddy.

Michael: I mean, yeah. Kinda.

Amanda: Kinda.

Michael: It's one of my favorite creatures that exists in D&D which is these oozes. Eric, hit us up with some good ooze knowledge.

Eric: Yeah, this is a new monster. It's called the oblex. It is from Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. This was actually created by a kid from Make a Wish, kicking ass child.

Amanda: What an awesome contribution to D&D canon though.

Eric: Yeah. So the way that oblex works is that it steals memories from people and then it can conjure simulacrums of actual people and can control up to 1d6 +2 of them. So in theory, the people who ran the Labyrinth got some memories from all these people who did it or didn't do such a good job and then the oblex can recreate them.

Brandon: Shit. Are they all dead?

Eric: No, you would just get memory. You get memories. It feeds off of memories.

Brandon: They didn't complete the thing then?

Eric: Some of them did, but Autumn and Corelia are good examples. In theory, both of them ... You know both of them are probably alive. Autumn is probably alive, you just saw Corelia, right? They went through and they got attacked by that thing that Johnny was dealing with at the end, it's called “eat memories” and you get a whole lot of psychic damage, 44 is what they suggest.

Amanda: Oh dang.

Eric: 44 points of psychic damage. And they eat your memories and then they hold onto them and they can recreate that person. So it's terrifying, but I really like that I can put it at the end there.

Amanda: And at least while we were kind of frozen watching Johnny fight the monster, I really found it poignant your description of Tracey's state. I know I've had panic attacks before, and that really to me is what it feels like. A fog, an inability to act knowing that something is wrong without being able to fix it right away and just overwhelmed.

So these kinds of psychic monsters are resonant for a reason. I don't know. This is one of the reasons that I love role playing games is that the struggle of the Light and the Dark can be a metaphor, the psychic damage from the red oozy foe can be a metaphor. It's something that makes me feel less alone.

Eric: Yeah, the spells that this thing can do are entirely terrifying. So the one that I did around Tracey was confusion, which Tracey couldn't move or could move in a ... Depending on what you rolled could move in a certain direction, or you just attacked her in a person which would have been crazy. There's Detect Thoughts, there's Hold Person. Dimension door, it can just create a door that goes somewhere-

Amanda: Yikes.

Eric: Dominate Person, which is the higher level of hold person. Fear, just straight up fear. Hallucinatory Terrain is crazy. It just creates a 10 by 10 square of whatever terrain it wants of environment.

Brandon: AstroTurf.

Eric: Like a forest. You feel like you're lost in a forest.

Michael: Probably not AstroTurf.

[Amanda laughs]

Eric: And then Telekinesis and Hold Monster, so it can even hold other monsters that are trying to attack it.

Amanda: Wow.

Eric: Which is pretty, pretty terrifying.

Brandon: I think the thing for Tracey is well he is quite literally is immortal, he can't die from natural causes. And so it gets in his head sometimes. He's bold, he's brash, he doesn't do things that are smart but it's because he has very little fear and then these things happen and it brings him back down to earth.

Eric: Yep.

Brandon: It makes him realize that he is- can be affected by many different things which I think is an apt metaphor for me as a player. I won't speak for y'all, but we've doing this for a long time now. It's over a year, and it is the hardest and obviously most rewarding project I've done, but emphasis on hardest.

Speaking from my personal experience, my depression and anxiety often manifest in overworking myself or holding myself to too high a standard that I'll never reach. And working on a show that literally takes 35 to 40 hours a week on top of my 40 hour a week, 50 hour a week, 60 hour a week day job, often makes me feel accomplished but it's not a healthy thing for me to do. I

And I'm taking active steps to fix that as well, but I understand your position, Fish. I understand that this is something that we're all doing in our own free time, and we're doing it because we love it and the worse thing possible for me would be for someone to be making a creative project alongside me that was not actively making their life better.

Michael: I mean, ultimately this is, you know, jokes aside, it's about finding a balance. It's been incredible to see how each of you have evolved throughout the making of this podcast from when I first met you guys-

Amanda: 'Cause we were all strangers. I know people are surprised to learn that sometimes. I knew Eric a little bit from school, but the three of you guys worked together but I was just like, "Hey, what's up guys." I met you once and then we started podcast pre-production.

Michael: Yeah, and it's just been an incredible journey to like see all of us, myself included, how we've changed just adapting to our jobs and our lives. I moved up to New York basically the same week I showed up for the job.

And then like the evolution of the Patreon and Discord, like for me, it's been amazing to see and to read along, and seeing all the tweets as well. Hopefully we bring some level of joy and interestingness to someone's life, through a crappy one hour, two hour commute or just a bad day or a good day.

Brandon: Yeah, I think the only way I could've sustained myself when it's literally maybe 2 or 3AM on a Sunday and I'm still finishing music for an episode that's gonna be released the next morning ... The only way that is tenable is the fact that it has resonated with you, all of- everyone listening, and the fact that it brings joy to other people's life, and it brings comfort in the good and bad times, and the fact that y’all can relate to our characters and our stories and find some meaning in it for your personal lives as well.

I think a lot of the meaning that we derive from this show is stuff that comes from outside of the show, like not the story directly, but a lot of the experiences, and discussions, and relationships that have been formed around it.

Amanda: Like the fact that we did a live show with 100 people who showed up from all over the country and different countries for reasons including our live show, not just our live show in their case.

Brandon: No, it's just the live show.

Amanda: But it's absolutely the same for me. I don't put in the insane hours that Brandon and Eric both put in in preparing for our sessions and then preparing the episodes to go out, but the challenges that I deal with make playing Dungeons and Dragons with you guys very hard. Like my depression and anxiety manifest in self-criticism, in fear of new experiences, in social isolation, and just really limited energy in general but also in social and intellectual and creative ways.

A lot of my stress around the show is just wanting to be able to bring my full self to bear because all of you have been such incredible collaborators and at this point we have an audience that cares so much that I don't want to let down on a weekly basis when we show up to record. But it hasn't been without its struggles, and I know I've been not an ideal player at times, and I've had to apologize to people for being short or not showing up and bringing my best.

Michael: Inara is as tall as she needs to be. Don't give her-

Amanda: It's really escapist because I'm too tall in life so I make myself too short in the game.

Michael: Well, so that's the thing. You're saying you've felt like you've had to apologize for being short in the game but when we started we had played maybe a couple of sessions of D&D ever and now I feel like in this episode you were the one who thought of every single solution that stumped Eric.

Brandon: Except for, the door is already unlocked.

Amanda: Yep, nope. I didn't get that one.

Michael: Well, none of us got that one. None of us got that one.

[all chuckling]

Amanda: Thank you. Thank you for saying so. All of you have made me feel really welcome, not just by accidentally creating a queer Trojan horse show, but you Fish specifically have been such a kind of mentor to me as I learn to role play and talking to me outside the game about different strategies.

Like we sat down and talked about what Inara's background is, and what my motivations are. Brandon does it too, Eric does it as well. You guys design the game and help set up choices that make me feel empowered and not lost, but I know that I wouldn't be able to make choices that I made today without having played beside you for a year and a half.

Michael: Every time I sit at the table, no matter which table it is, if it's this particular table or a janky-

Amanda: The table's a metaphor.

Michael: The table's a metaphor, yeah. Everyone is chomping at the bit to "yes and" and to help the other person because this is still a real play D&D game, which is amazing how it ends up because of all the work that Brandon does of course, but Eric like molding the story, and work with us towards an audio drama that's compelling and it's still actual play, and we're rolling the dice, and we're able to say and do random things is the versatility and the flexibility of Eric being able to "yes and" all of our decisions.

And it's why one of the best parts of the community in the Discord but then also on Twitter and elsewhere has been people talking about D&D and role playing games in general. Because I feel like what differentiates this podcast, and this group, and Eric's DMing style in particular has been this flexibility that is the people who ask, "How do I deal with 'X' even though it's in one of the pre-printed books?" And being like, "Well, just 'cause it's there doesn't mean you have to do it", and that's a hard thing to wrap your head around.

And so when you have a game that's played in such a flexible way and it's still compelling because it doesn't devolve is a testament not just to three of us who are playing and to Brandon especially for editing it, but really to Eric for letting us inhabit this world and our characters, collaborate on this world. Yeah, it’s been pretty cool.

Brandon: I mean, yeah. Bottom line, at the end of the day, this is not only the best game of D&D that I've ever played, it is the most rewarding personally and professionally creative endeavor I've ever done, maybe will ever do. I've gotten to do some fun things I think and I think it's because of the struggles, because of the successes and because of the personalities and friendships and bonds and yeah. I'll just infinitely forever be grateful for everything all three of you put into it.

Amanda: Yeah. And at this point it's a force in our lives that feels like it's always been there, at least for me. But this is very unusual. We have a podcast and a community that really means something where people make real friendships, where folks travel to see each other and send us beautiful gifts, and support each other every single day on Twitter and on our Discord, and our show means something to people.

I don't like to toot our own horn a lot but it's remarkable and I really believe in it, and I hope that we get to grow and I hope that more people can join in. Because we work so hard and it's always really rewarding to see people discover this and be like, "Ah, where has this been?" We are here and help us find people who would like it too. I just admire the work that everyone does so much. And I'm just so glad that the four of us met when we did to get the party started.

Michael: Ooo, nice.

Eric: Although we're reminiscing here, and I wholeheartedly agree with everything that everyone is saying, the story is not over. We're going to miss Fish, we're going to miss Johnny, but Tracey and Inara still need to reckon with some stuff. The story is not over.

Amanda: Wait. You mean our actions have consequences?

Eric: Yeah, it totally does.

Amanda: No!

Michael: I would say Johnny's actions have some consequences too. And I'm excited to listen to the episode because this will be the first time I really have no idea what's going on.

Brandon: Oh no, you're actually going to hear it. That's not good.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: So in two weeks there will be a new episode of Labor Party so keep listening.

Brandon: Yeah, it's going to be a different story, it's going to be an interesting story, it's going to be a super fun story, it's going to be a super serious story. It's going to be dramatic, it's going to be lighthearted, it's going to be fun, everything you'd expect from JTP-

Amanda: And more.

Eric: And I'm excited for it.

Amanda: Yeah. Alright. Well I think that's about it for this After Party.

Michael: Bye guys.

Eric: See you later.

Michael: And Undying Light be with you.

[theme music]