After each episode we sit down for the Afterparty, where we break down our game and answer your questions about how to play Dungeons & Dragons and other roleplaying games at home. Today, we’re talking about our D&D cred, magic, barbarian rage, the relationship between players and their characters, and Kermit the Frog. It’s a party, and you’re invited!
The party continues on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr @JointhePartyPod! On our Patreon page (patreon.com/jointhepartypod), you can unlock exclusive bonus content like cut scenes, bloopers, character backstories, player blog posts, Dungeons & Dragons game tips, and so much more. Have stories or questions for the next Afterparty? Email email@example.com or visit http://jointhepartypod.com/contact.
Amanda: Hey, what's up and welcome to the Afterparty. What's up, guys?
Eric: It's us, the gamers!
A: I was about to use my character voice which I have not been doing.
Brandon: I'm stuck!
A: This is where we chat about the, I don't know, the thing that just happened. We debrief, we talked about the choices that we made, when I shoot someone a weird glance across the table and you're like, "Oh okay we'll talk about it later." This is where we talk about it! 'Cause I think D&D is not only a super fun game to participate in and listen to but it's fun to actually see how that all happens and I assume questions myself. Before we get into it all of us are coming out this from very different places. This is my 4th time playing DMV ever. I started listening to D&D podcasts about six months ago. My brother has played it our whole lives and so I've known as like the thing that he and his friends do every Friday night but I am very new to the game, very new the mechanics, new to the whole universe. So I have a lot of questions that I think probably some of our listeners who are new to the game we'll have as well. But that's where I'm coming from. And besides, you know, writing a long time, reading fantasy books, doing theater and things, this is my first foray into D&D Geekdom. Eric?
E: Sure! I guess I'm only been playing D&D for five, six months now. I have a lot less experience than I definitely should. But I read the player's handbook like immediately and just tore through it. During my first session, I was actually teaching people how to roll up characters, I was super into it.
A: It's like you're a nerd and also a former teacher.
E: I know, I'm really good at reading and shit. [laughter] Can we swear in these?
B: Can we use the fuck words?
A: Yes, Brando, we can use the fuck words.
E: I started DMing, I guess, how long ago? When did we start?
A: Like a month and a half? Two months ago?
E: I started DMing 2 months ago 'cause I jumped in the game that I play casually with Amanda and with her co-host from Spirits, Julia. I don't know, I guess I always feel like I should have more experience doing this. But I just love games, I love playing through and there's... it's like when I first started building these worlds, I'm just like, why would I do anything else? Where has this been? So I'm your enthusiastic and green baby DM.
A: Have you written fantasy stories before this?
E: Not prose, really. I was writing poetry for a really, really long time and writing is kind of like in my blood. And writing people's voices and getting in their heads and just the improv there... like, the latent theater kid from high school is always there. It's great, I love it so much.
A: Awesome. Brandon?
A: What is your experience playing D&D or other gaming things... games. That's a noun. [laughter]
B: I love playing games in general. I have like board game nights at my house all the time. But I start playing D&D after listening to The Adventure Zone, actually. I got hooked up with some people who love the show and want to start playing. So I started playing like a year-and-a-half for two years ago or so, with this really enthusiastic group, who are super fun. And at this point, including this game, I think I'm involved in four separate campaigns.
E: By God. Wow.
B: One of them DMing, the other three playing. I love Dungeons and Dragons 'cause it's, it's, it's... I love the storytelling aspect of it. I like being able to embody four different characters and really playing to who they are and what their strengths are, what their weakness are. But yeah, it's been a really fun ride. I also, when I picked up the Player's Handbook, I just tore through it and read the whole thing cover to cover. I don't think you need to do that...
E: You shouldn't!
B: ...but... you probably shouldn't.
E: Probably shouldn't do that.
Michael: You do not want to. V bad.
B: But I know a lot about swim speed! [laughs]
M: It matters.
A: Michael, what has your experience been with D&D so far?
M: I have been playing D&D or forms of it since probably around 12 or 13 when I was making RPG games for me and my brother to play. And playing D&D without knowing it, rolling dice and try to do stuff without actually having a Player's Guide, but doing it. And then I fell in love with 3.5 [Edition], and I have been a DM since then. It's one of my favorite things to do. I've played a lot of games as well [as a player]. I have countless campaigns under my belt in not just fantasy but in, sci-fi, modern-day, zombie, one in the Wild Wild West. And this time I'm playing, and it's actually really nice to see the perspective of a player and seeing, what I think is so far good job. We're only day one here, but so far, so good.
A: Setting the bar real low for your praise? I see how that's going.
M: We'll see how this goes.
A: So 3.5 was... how long was that the default for?
M: Woo, 3.5 was the default for a lot of people, even when they had newer ones, because it was the most feature-complete.
A: What does that mean?
M: I mean... [laughs] Let's see. 3.5 was, I don't know the dates. I know that around 2010 or so, they really started pushing 4. 3.5 had been the...
A: We're on 5 now.
M: Yeah. So 3.5 had been... or 3, then 3.5 had been the standard for a long time because they just kept adding to it and fixing it. It put a heavy emphasis on the DM, the dungeon master, or the game master, depending on how you say it--some say even referee. 4 became a little more... video gamey. It made it a lot easier to get into, but it really offended some of the older fans, people who’d stuck with it for a while.
A: It sounds like geek culture.
M: Yeah, pretty much. And they did a beta for a long time of D&D Next, which I really loved. And it turned into this, which is the fifth edition, which I think is a great marriage between the freedom a DM has to create a world from 3.5 but enough player -- not control but a sense of identity within the system that four had. You can see that in the way that... we would have our characters today... we were all, maybe not necessarily doing things strictly by the book, but the book's okay with that. And that takes a good DM to recognize that. And 3.5 wouldn't have allowed that. 4 would, and 5, I think, really nails it there.
B: Almost, kind of encourages it, I think.
M: If you're not... if you're following all the rules from the book, you're really doing D&D wrong. But that's, that is a controversial statement. I'm a heavy believer of Rule of Cool, which I've been pushing onto our DM.
A: What is that?
E: The Rule of Cool basically means: if it's dope, you should just figure out a way to justify it.
A: Got it.
E: And, all of this has to be within reason. It's not like Michael just going to be like, "Dragons come out of the sky and eat all the people!"
B: I mean he is going to be like that.
E: He does do that. Not in-game, like in his regular life.
A: That is something that really interests me, is the moments where we go awry from the DM’s plans. Like a couple times, Eric, you kind of had a look on your face like, "What are you guys doing?!" So was there where there a moment today where we did something that you were not planning?
E: There were two. [laughter] Well actually, there's one that definitely wasn't planned, and another one that kind of complicated the game. TR8c, Brandon, when you--
E: When you made TR8c just shout out to be two evil dudes news, [in an impression of TR8c] "Hey, what, what, what are you doing?"
B: That's a bad impression of TR8c.
E: "What are you dooooin?"
A: [In Mickey Mouse voice] "What are you doing, guys?" ...no, wait, that's Mickey Mouse.
B: We've gone into Mickey territory.
E: When you said, what are you do-- when you literally shouted out to help the bad guys? I did not know what to do. Because it's like... what would these guys do, who are trying to be sneaky as hell, and not only are you like calling them out but like you're not even trying to be confrontational, you're just like being helpful? So it's like... they can't just like punch you in the face... [laughter] they can't punch you in the face, but they can't ignore you. And that was just like, oh what do I do next?
A: So you had to step into the mind of the characters, of the bad guys and figure out what they were going to do, and then balance that against, like, where the plot has to go?
E: Yes, exactly. Like I needed Fabious to go in his head and he's the mastermind. So he's like, "Okay, I'm the head chef, people feel this way about me, this guy's trying to blow up my spot. What can I do that is nonviolent?" I had a moment in my head, I was like, oh the bartender stabs you in the eye. But I was like, no I can't do that. And he had to do something else.
B: Hey, thanks for not doing that.
E: No problem! So had him roll an intimidation check and it worked really well.
M: I mean this is why not everyone can be a DM 'cause you are... you're trying to follow a story that you have, your players... The players and the DM aren't against each other but they're really trying to mess with the story to fit kind of how they think things should go. And you have to find a balance and I think even with the second issue, it still worked out pretty OK.
E: The second issue I was happier with. I think it all kind of sunk together that way. The hard part about being a DM, especially for this one, is usually you don't split the party up. But since this is like an intrigue and like a Wedding Crasher sort of thing, I want them all to have their own jobs. So you two were out, Brandon and Amanda, took their characters out into the courtyard and let this woman... First of all, Brandon did a masterful job in taking out this woman. He... he literally did something that I thought was a great move.
B: I also want to say, I don't know if the listeners will pick this up but like... TR8c's obviously like very lawfully good. And that move was actually a big, big deal for TR8c. To actually attack someone that not only did he have a relationship with and who trusted him, but to attack someone that he knew was trying to basically help do the same thing he was. He just realized that he didn't have enough time to deal with this.
A: And so was the equation there that you were there to protect someone and you sensed her as a threat to the target of your protection? Or that she was just, like, in the way of you doing something else? Like, what was the calculus in TR8c's head?
B: I think the calculus in TR8c's head was that he put two and two together this point and realized that something was about to go down with the frogs and the bartender and Mario Batali.
E: You've solved my restaurant puzzle!
A: I'm sorry, I think we did the listeners a great disservice by not mentioning whether or not Charlene was wearing orange Crocs.
E: She was not, but I'd like to think that Fabious was wearing orange crocs.
A: Was she wearing orange clogs?
E: Yes. Sure. Yes, yes. Here's the thing though: that was great, and you roleplayed that great, and I think that was a very smart move to get Charlene out of the way. The thing was is that TR8c is so bad at communicating that you guys were just like futzing around in the courtyard that I had to count what I would think were the seconds, the in-game seconds, that it took you until you actually moved back into the hall. And that was equal to -- what I keep saying I'm aligning the time streams -- that's like equal to you, to Michael and Johnny B not making a good perception check. So neither people were there to, like, immediately hop on everything it was about to pop off.
A: Yes, 'cause you looked really distressed when I was just trying my very best to understand, to scry what the word black bread could possibly mean.
M: It was hilarious 'cause for Eric and myself - since we were, I mean Eric's the DM and I wasn't in that scene - we were basically watching you guys do this and freaking out because it's... it's when you watch a movie and you know what's happening in the other room but the people there don't know. We're just like, ‘Oh no, stop it, get over there! Ahhhh!’
B: On that, like, maybe I'm wrong, but like I think you had seen something move on the shelves. So I assumed when I said "black bread," you would understand that something was afoot. And it just did not take.
A: No, it did not take.
B: I was like, I tried so hard to say "this is happening" without saying it out loud.
A: Yeah, and obviously as a player, I was here at the table when I saw you get almost poisoned. So I knew that there was, like, poisonous shit happening on the black bread shelf.
E: That's my emo album. "Poisonous Shit on the Black Bread Shelf."
B: For real, though. Whenever I was saying "black bread," I felt like I yelling "Black Briar! Black Briar!"
A: But Inara didn't know that. She was looking in the dark and seeing some kind of like shifty shit. But like I don't think that she would have put that together. That was the moment I was sitting here like "oh god." Like, A) I think it's bad tape to just be confused, so I was trying my best to vocalize what my character would probably be sitting there frozen, thinking. But also, you know, I didn't want to falsely, you know, know something that my character would not know.
B: Yeah, I appreciate that. I think it made for an exciting turn of events.
A: But Eric, what would have happened if we were going into the banquet hall in time?
E: I think it’s a combination of two things. One, you would have caught... you two might have caught them before they got all the way to the dais. And then, you, Johnny B, Michael, might have caught them before they got so close to the dais as to being frog-throwing range. Also, for all the monster heads out there, those frogs were Grungs. They come from Volo's Guide to Monsters. They are super poisonous and they have poisonous skin, much like exotic frogs, and they're very brightly colored. Obviously, no one was able to do an arcana or nature check to identify these frog things.
M: Yeah, we didn’t have time.
E: So hopefully, when you hear frogs, if you want to do some research, they're Grungs.
B: So in my head, they were just three Kermits.
M: Three full Kermits, you say?
B: Three full Kermits.
E: Well, then they would have done Rainbow Connection. Hold on... [in Kermit voice, sings] “Someday we'll find it...”
A: Oh no...
E: “...the Rainbow Connection / the lovers, the dreamers and me.”
M: and Grungs.
E: [still singing] “And Grungs. La la la lalalalalaaaaa lalalalala.”
A: [sarcastically] That sounds great.
E: I really want to know more about TR8c's button. Because TR8c is a barbarian and they have a thing called barbarian rage. Where, basically, they turn... they get really heightened and stats and can kick butt really well. I think it what you're doing with TR8c is really interesting. So TR8c has a button that turns on rage.
B: It's a switch but, yeah.
A: And that's what Inara karate-chopped.
E: So what like... what's going on there? Are you putting yourself at a disadvantage by not being able to turn on rage? That's like the Barbarian thing.
B: Yeah, I mean definitely. In character, this is what helped me actually decide to be a Barbarian is that -- I don't know if you haven't, listeners, if haven't listened to the backstory, you know, this is all included in there, but basically, the woman that created me, I was in service to this woman and she didn't want me to be able to turn on my rage at my own choosing. She wanted to be able to control when I would be able to go into that rage. So I physically cannot reach the switch that turns me into the rage. But I am feeling indebted to Johnny and I trust Johnny, and now Inara, with my rage ability. ... You know, just kind of discovering who TR8c is, it's not that he really likes going into this rage. He kind of sees it as a tool and a necessary evil. As I described in the episode, his eyes turn off, like the lights in his eyes turn off. And he actually doesn't remember what happens during his rage, so he doesn't actually like to go into this rage. But he knows it’s necessary sometimes.
A: And listeners, that's Episode 0, so if you haven't, you haven't found that, just roll back in our podcast feed and you'll see kind of background episodes before Episode One, that you can learn a little bit more about the world and about our characters.
M: Maybe about why the heck Johnny loves the light so much.
E: No, I want that to be a secret. [in Johnny voice] "No, I'm gonna turn flowers into torches."
A: I want to know more about spells. So when Michael or I cast a spell, we have some parameters to know what it can and can't do. But Eric, how do you decide, like, what kind of effect it has on the game?
E: Sure. 5E is really interesting because, in 4E, it is like everyone was kind of a magic-user. It's like - you had the power or the magic of punching if you were a fighter, and like the magic of rage if you are Barbarian. But 5E is kind of like giving some people like a little bit of magic spice and then there are some magic users.
A: So I have a cantrip, I don't have actual spells. I am just allowed as a rogue or something to have a wizard cantrip.
E: Right, so Rogue is like the least magical, though--
B: Can you explain what a cantrip is, though? Because that always confused me when I first started.
E: Magic in 5E is really interesting. You can use spell slots to do higher magic, and then you expend those slots. Like you only have like a certain capacity for magic when you're off on one certain adventure. Like you do a level 1 spell, and use a level 1 spell slot. You have a level 2 spell slot to use a level 2 spell.
A: And they aggregate, right? When you level up, you get more and more capacity.
E: Mmmhmm. And then when you have cantrips, you can just kind of fire them off whenever you want. Which is like your innate magical ability.
M: What's wonderful about all this is -- you say all that, but there are exceptions to literally everything he just said.
E: Oh yeah.
M: And one of the best exceptions is the warlock, specifically a Pact of the Tome, as my character is. The Tome allows me to have access to more cantrips, which means at any point I can just, boom, do it. Spells can be really complicated because there are different components: verbal, concentration. Like you need sometimes materials, you sometimes have to say something. It could take time, it could be instant. Sometimes you need like random things. It's super complicated. The more... the simpler you can get a spell to work in a game, the better. It is easier to play and it's easier to listen to. You may find, if you know things, like light or prestid— prestidiga--
E: Let's say it all at the same time. One, two, three.
M: I'm never gonna get it right the first time.
A: [To the tune of Billy Joel’s “Get It Right the First Time”] “That's the main thing, oh-oh-woah-woooooah.”
E: [To the tune of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”] “Super-cali-fragi-listic prestidigitation. If you say it loud enough the Flames will go again-gang. La la la la la la la.”
A: For me, it's just "press the digit-ation."
M: Prestidigitation, yeah, I have no idea.
A: We'll get there. Character growth over the course of the year.
M: Just don't get too angry, fellow D&D nerds, about how the magic works. I just think it's a little more, not that it's forgiving, but it allows for more fun. It's the whole concept of Rule of Cool that the Mage Hand is able to do two actions, like Amanda did. Or the fact that Light, that there were multiple flowers that were lit up. Or that Johnny's able to do many things, even prestidigitation having many multiple affects, more than the three, I think, at one point.
E: But then again we literally... change that. When you cast the dazzling light...
M: Uh, dancing light.
E: No, when you cast... you know, the one that blinded everyone.
M: Oh! Color spray!
E: When you did Color Spray, I'm like, there is no way you were still entertaining this owlbear. Because you are expending a spell slot, so it's like it all kind of balances out because it has to make sense.
M: Yeah, I didn't mention in the game but Color Spray is a level 1 illusion while dancing light is a cantrip, at will. You can have it just still going, but it makes more sense that even like a cantrip that you can do with your eyes closed goes away when you're actually focusing.
A: Yeah, or again. My cantrip did a little extra so yours, kind of, goes away, like that's a decision Eric will make the kind of like balance how the scene is going.
M: And I think it's more than fair. Because, otherwise, any magic user becomes very overpowered in any of these games, way beyond any other physical user. It does make up for the fact of low health and low armor class for any magic user though.
B: I also think that like when we're thinking about...this is this is D&D on tape, not D&D in person. And that's it's very important to keep the game going and keep things interesting. So I think adapting magic to the audio realm is actually really hard and a really important thing to do.
M: You'll notice you'll not have heard the math that had to be done for Color Spray, a specifically complicated [laughs] spell.
A Yeah, I took a bathroom break, checked my cell phone and came back, and you're still doing math.
M: Yeah, we did math for a bit. It involves rolling 6d10 plus a whole other [bunch of] stuff. And it was just lots of math. But even that wasn't too bad. It could get much, much worse with magic.
E: I'd also like to point out for D&D nerds out there -- we are using some stuff from Unearthed Arcana because it's coming out kind of when we're starting this campaign and there's a lot of cool, cool shit. Brandon, as you noticed, is a warforged, which came out of UA, and Michael's warlock pact person is... what is that, the Plane of the Positive? What is that called?
M: [laughs] The Undying Light. Basically, instead of the typical -- there are positive forces warlock can make a connection with to gain its power, but not very often. And this one specifically isn't even a being, it's just positive energy. Which could also explain, I think, in something that will have to work on in back story, why TR8c is, is, like, feeling more positive as a part of the energy that brought him and restored him.
B: I think that's part of it. This is also in the backstory Episode 0s that listeners can go check out again. I do think it’s part of it. But I think TR8c, if you guys listen to backstory, TR8c was kind of ousted by his town and he feels almost like he's trying to make up for the fact that he was trying to do so much good in the town, and was utterly rejected by other townsfolk. And so he's trying to like, he's overcompensating for the goodness that he failed at doing.
E: I love the Undying Light pact and I really love everything has been coming out from UA. The fact that they made rangers a lot better, I really like just all of the content they're throwing at people. And, of course, like I read these extensively, I hear some of you like tensing up. I know, I know, I'm not running a tournament, this is not playtested. But I really don't think any of these are overpowered. I think it just... this is the flavor. And cantrips are not that strong! You [Michael] have a bajillion cantrips and I'm okay with that.
M: Yeah, as a DM, you're never gonna let someone just cantrip their way through like a big event. Most cantrips, most interesting cantrips, I'd say, have a lot more to do with flavor or out-of-combat stuff. You still have your Eldritch Blasts and your Shillelaghs.., but things like Light and Prestidigitation and Dancing Lights, they're just fun. It's just a fun time. And to better explain, Unearthed Arcana is what Wizards of the Coast are releasing after... to give more to Dungeon Master, Monster Manuals and the Player's Guides 'cause they can only release a book once and you can't really add to that. The problem with...
A: Are they like addenda?
M: It's basically like addenda, it's just that...
A: That's the plural of addendum.
B: Oooooh. I did not know that.
M: The problem is, none of this can really be play-tested and the idea that you only choose something because it's overpowered... it's silly. Like, if that's how you're going to play, then you're not playing to have fun. I know the Warlock can be overpowered but I don't think... we’ll see if I plan to...
B: Yeah, I don't think it that's in the right spirit of play if you're focusing on that. I play a ranger that's from the Unearthed Arcana in a different game, and it's it a little overpowered, but I play him well and I am careful in how my decisions...
A: It's like when you're first starting to cook your own food and you add all of the sugar or all of the salt to the food that you're making. And that's fun for a minute but then you realize that a balanced thing is better.
A: And so having a super powerful character that can blast or magic your way out of any situation is not fun. Like it can be fun for you in that you dominate for a second, but for the rest of your party, for the good of the campaign, that's not sustainable.
M: That being said, Johnny B Goodlight is a level 3 warlock, while the other two characters are level 2. So Johnny does have a few more spells, a few more powers, and specifically, invocations, which is a warlock thing that make him probably a little more suited, but so far, definitely hasn't affected gameplay.
B: You showin' off, bro?
M: No, more like explaining why Johnny can do so much.
A: And I think it makes sense too. Because my character Inara is like a, like a fledgling pickpocket, assassin, and rogue. Like, she's pretty new to the world and learning her powers so I mean she doesn't know much. That's why she is drawn to stay with Johnny and with TR8c because, like, you guys know things and it's interesting. So it makes sense that someone to the party should know what they're doing and, you know, isn't a robot.
B: Yeah, and I've been turned off for countless years. So I was not able to level up and learn things.
A: You're rusty.
E: Beep boop.
B: I'm rusty.
E: Beep. Boop. I also want to say...
B: I DON'T BEEP BOOP.
E: I'm also excited for other stuff from UA. And I don't want to leave Amanda out of it, just 'cause Amanda wanted to play... actually, no, well, here's the thing. We're using something from Sword's Coast Adventurer's Guide for Amanda's background: she has a faction. So there's just so much stuff out there in the D&D universe so if something doesn't really make sense to you, I mean, we have the books behind it but we're to try to have a good time. I just really want to see what happens when you guys have to confront guns. The gunslinger is something that I love so much. And basically, it's like a fantasy gun. It’s like he's crafted it out of sort of like... there's magic behind it, and kinda discovering how gunpowder works.
B: Kind of like how TR8c's built.
E: Yeah like in a very sort of...
A: Kind of steampunk, like fantasy steampunk...
E: Like the other side of steampunk where that there's a lot of wood which is super dangerous.
M: Instead of using steam, they use the magic to hold it all together.
E: I want to see what happens when an assassin goes up against someone with a gun.
A: Yeah, me too.
M: And I think any concern that any of the diehards like me would have, I would love to... I think, ask it. Ask us in any of our social medias and we’d love to answer it even in one of these Afterparties or just on the social media. Because you know... I've already gotten in a couple of discussions with these guys about certain ways we're doing rules. But I think that's part of the fun. You know, balancing what is cool, what is fun, and makes sense. Don't worry, you'll have an advocate for rules, but also I just think that too many rules just doesn't make it fun.
A: And that's also why I'm excited about the direction that we're taking this in. Like I said earlier, my brother has played D&D for, you know, our whole lives growing up, pretty much. We had a bunch of similar friends but I never knew what the game was about, and they never took the time to explain it to me, because when they were together they were playing it. And you know, seeing online, seeing the forums, there is no easy point of entry, besides going to that corner of the bookstore, opening the Player's Manual and being like "I guess I'll just read this now." But I didn't know that existed until I started playing. So the fact that we can be heard and talk through our decisions, answer your questions, have listener Q+A in Afterparties with our various episodes. That's what we're here to do. This game is amazing. I think it is so, like, malleable and you're really able to, you and your group of friends, whatever you're interested in, you can take this gigantic universe and like tailor a path through it that makes sense to you. So hopefully, we're here for you, to help folks who don't have that, you know, cool friend who has a bunch of time in their life to like start a D&D campaign with you IRL. We can be that friend.
E: And shout out to Connor for being my creative consultant.
A: My bro.
B: Yeah, thanks, Connor!
E: I've been Facebook Messaging Amanda's brother just like randomly, out of nowhere. Like, "LISTEN TO ALL THIS LORE I WROTE." So thank you, Connor!
A: And he owns an actual shillelagh, so I was really excited when we walked in today! We're Irish and one of our uncles got him a shillelagh, which is this gigantic club/walking stick for like his 14th birthday or something, and it's always been a funny thing. So I'm happy that the shillelagh makes its way into our game.
E: Shoutout to the dice for making sure that Michael did not hit a beautiful man in the face with a magical stick.
A: God, his perfect Grecian features were like set up to be clubbed!
E: Gee whiz.
M: It's amazing to me as someone who always, as a DM, I've never seen so many 1s, as in I rolled so badly as a dungeon master.
E: We should talk about this.
B: We legit did not fake those rolls.
A: We did not.
M: Those were real.
B: We got THREE Nat 20s in one episode.
A: So a Nat 20 is: you have a 20-sided dice as part of your dice set. And when it itself rolls to be at 20 none of the additions from your various, you know, modifiers, that's a Nat 20, that's a natural 20. And when you roll a one, as I did on I think on my stealth check or something, that is a crit fail.
M: Meaning that, getting a 20 means the best possible outcome happens, a 1 being the worst possible outcome happens. You could roll a 19, or, let's make it 18. It's complicated with 19s, you can get a crit at 19... You can roll it an 18 and add plus five, so that’s over 20, but that's still not the best possible thing that can happen.
A: It’s like the ends of the bell curve.
M: I mean, I've had, in a campaign once, someone prayed, a cleric prayed to their god -- sorry, a paladin prayed to their god, rolled a 20, and the god had an ethereal dragon fly through the battle ground, healing all allies and damaging all the enemies. 'Cause that's just what happened.
B: What a good dragon, like what a very cool dragon. [laughs]
M: Yeah, that was a very neat dragon. Well, if, they would all wipe if... all the player characters were gonna die if the dragon didn't show up so.
A: The Deus Ex Machina, yeah.
M: He rolled a very timely D20.
E: What I love about the D20... some people see that as a flaw in Dungeons & Dragons as an RPG. But I love how much is based on the D20, that there is so much variance. And that, since everything uses it, you are, you might roll a natural 20 on like a basic sort of check. Like what you guys did on your nature check, what you did on the owlbear. It's like I wanted to tell you everything that I had written, and like, extra! It's like "Nessie is its middle name also. It is Nessie Nessie Nesserson."
B: Hold up. That's its real name? 'Cause I'm real excited about that.
E: Yup. It is Nessie Nessie Nesserson. That's canon.
A: That is so cute.
E: Everything we say here in the Afterparty is canon.
B: Oh, for sure.
E: So, so it's funny that you can “expend” - I'm making big quotes for all my math nerds out there -- you can “expend” your luck rolling 20 on a simple check, but it's like you guys rolled really poorly when the shit started to pop off. So it's... that's how it goes.
A: But I love when dice rolls go bad.
A: Because, again, not knowing this game at all from the outside, I was like, "Oh, so you just sit around a table and order pizza and just talk through a game." Which to me sounded so intimidating because like, I don't know what I'm going to do!
E: I really want pizza.
B: The pizza is very important.
A: Okay, we're gonna get pizza post-Afterparty. That's our hotel lobby.
ALL: Yeaaaaaah! Woo! [high-five]
A: But the fact that there are that there are constraints, that you like hit the walls sometimes, you know, that not every single thing is just in your imagination. That is, at least for me, what made this game like fun from the very beginning, is that it wasn't just all on me to make decisions.
M: Well it’s great because, I mean, I personally see D&D as a DM telling a story with their characters. Some will argue that it's the characters versus the DM, I think those people could not be more wrong.
E: Strong opinion, Michael Fische.
A: Find Michael Fische on Twitter @JoinThePartyPod.
E: And @MichaeFischeIsTheBest.
M: Don't do that.
E: Real Twitter account.
M: Oh god. But telling a story with your characters and, so, the DM has an idea of what they want to do, the characters, the players have an idea of what they want from their characters. And then that dice, that bit of chaos that happens in [the] real world, that happens everywhere, just throws a wrench into it. I think it's just... it's, it's sublime, it's wonderful.
B: I think it's the mark of a good DM when you when you roll a Nat 20 or Crit Fail One that... like if you roll a Crit Fail One, it's not that the DM's like, [sarcastically] "Alright, you trip over a rock and hit a spike and now you take 30 damage." Like, I think the mark of a good DM is like, "Oh alright, so you crit-failed but... you do this thing but that thing also sets up something interesting." It might be an impediment, but like, it’s super cool. The same thing with a Nat 20. It's not like you know, an asteroid falls on this bad guy and now the bad guy's dead. It's something cool and interesting that that puts the plot forward.
A: Yeah, you adapt in-universe and improv or something. It's never, you never end the action and make things harder for people with your addition to the story. It's never, “No.” It's always “No, but...”
E: My favorite example of Crit One, it was just one that someone threw out just as an example. It was very... I don't know if it was in an actual handbook or someone was like writing a basic guide for DMs. It's like, "When you roll a crit one, make sure you do something that's, like, funny, but also as consequences. Like, you fail, you swipe your sword so hard that it cuts the buckle off your belt and now your player has his pants down!"
E: That's just the dumbest, like after-school special version of that, but that's so good!
B: Guarantee we're gonna see that in the campaign later.
E: I would love it.
A: Yeah, like, when I realized that none of the clothing there would fit Inara 'cause there aren't probably elf servers in this universe, like I had the loose pants set up for you, either as comedic or like plot potential where that could be something that like comes into effect to handicap me later.
E: You rolled your dex too high for me to make you trip over your pants. You had them hiked... Like, I like to imagine you had them hiked up in one hand and you were holding the tray in the other and just juking around people at this party.
B: Just like real life, Amanda.
A: That's how I do! So thank you so much listening to our first episode, but to our first Afterparty. Like we said, the afterparty continues all the time online. So we are @JoinThePartyPod on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com, whenever you feel like, we have both. Please send us your anecdotes, send us your stories from your party. There's nothing we love more than hearing people's jokes and failures and stuff from their own D&D games. Ask us questions and we will save them for the next Afterparty.
E: Bdap bdap bdap bdap.
B: Thanks for listening, guys.
M: Thank you.
E: I like turtles.
M: [In Johnny B Goodlight voice] “May the undying light stay with you.”
E: [In Johnny B Goodlight voice] "Ohhh this is Johnny B Good and the Grung on WFM blah blah blahhhh"
A: We'll see you in two weeks.