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. Today we talk about Greg’s escapades, hero’s journeys, steampunk, and of course Harry Potter.
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Amanda: Welcome to the Afterparty, the part of the show where we talk about what just happened, what might have happened, and answer your questions about the game. And we have so many great questions to answer later in the show so thank you so much for sending them in. On Twitter @jointhepartypod and on Facebook as well, @JointhePartyPod. We're going to start though with the battle that takes up the first half of this episode. Oh man that was like the most dire almost mortal battle that we have had so far.
Michael: Don't mess with Johnny when he's mad. Some stuff could have happened there but didn't which is great.
Amanda: And rage mode means real consequences.
Brandon: That it does.
Eric: Greg's fine, like. I’d tell you! He’s OK. It's bad news, but it was fine.
Brandon: I do personally feel pretty liable for Greg's well-being. So that's a relief.
Michael: I don't. You know, he knew better. We gave him so many chances! On him. That’s on him.
Amanda: During that whole battle Michael/Johnny was just like, they're being aggressive so I'm going to kill them.
Michael: I think it's very clear, not to get to character motivation, but like you mess with the person trying to bring the light to everyone. The light is going to hit back.
Amanda: OK but let's talk rage mode real quick.
Brandon: Tracey you very clearly went into rage mode and then just tried to kill whatever was coming at us as a party. Is that how rage mode works?
Brandon: I did do that thing. OK. So just for clarity sake real fast. If you guys listen to the back story you'll get a clearer picture of this, but basically I was made to quell any dissent in the town I was made in. And I think how I envision the rage switch going, is that while in rage mode anytime an aggressor comes towards Tracey he will react to it. That does not mean he is consciously reacting to it. In fact he cannot remember for his own sake what happens. But I think that's how it works.
Amanda: So basically you were invented as an enforcer, like you were invented to kind of carry out the whims of the person who made you. And now resurrected by Johnny and being, you know, having morals and being conscious. It's a little bit more discretionary when you go into a rage and when you don't.
Brandon: Yeah I think the interesting thing is that his profession was one detective but detective with an asterisk. You know he was investigating...
Amanda: Detective plus the reckoning.
Amanda: I'm just saying listeners I would really enjoy that webcomic.
Brandon: He was investigating on the whims of his creator not on actual crimes or necessarily like any wrongdoing. And I think the great thing about Tracey is the fact that he has entrusted that part of himself with Johnny. Johnny is the one person that knows when exactly to turn on and turn off his rage switch. And that is a full, that is a full amount of trust that he's given to Johnny.
Michael: And what's great is Johnny, for being the dad-like figure he can be sometimes, doesn't always use rage at the right time. Like the time that we used it just to tear down a door...
Amanda: Listen, there was some potions in there that we really wanted.
Michael: We really wanted those potions.
Brandon: We were trying to make a show.
Amanda: They were really hungry.
Michael: We didn't know that....
Amanda: But we finally got the bagels I'm very excited about.
Michael: Oh my god yes. Sorry. We got breakfast but, I'm sure Johnny knows... (Sarcastically) I'm sure Johnny knows the consequences of rage and he would never use rage indiscriminately and at the wrong times. Without understanding the full consequences slash probably doesn't care too much. But I do like that, as evidenced by extra dad mode-ing by Johnny that it really is that Tracey is there to, you know, protect his friends. And I love that Inara has so quickly just joined the people he considers so important to Tracey and in return, Johnny you know is there to help him and calm him down. Whether or not that means turning off the rage switch or stop him from flipping chairs.
Brandon: Beautifully said.
Amanda: Thanks boys. And we were facing a really cool enemy, Eric. So at some point you mentioned pack dynamics or sort of like the three guards were like leaning together as if they were one entity. So I'm curious about that. And then also why whistling was a big part of this combat. At some point you said that Greg whistled and Michael leaned forward like I have not seen before.
Brandon: Hey Fish did you just see Guardians of the Galaxy as well?
Michael: I love that movie.
Eric: All right, I guess I'll start there. The best part of making a homebrew D&D campaign is that you can steal from anywhere and the whole time I was looking at Yandu's arrow the one that he controls just by whistling that flies through and just kind of kills everybody. I tried to think of how I could put that in a D&D Campaign. And I figured that it would actually be a performance check. So what I did was I made this thing kind of autonomous and it would go as a bonus action and if you made a performance check or performance role and you beat a certain level it would automatically attack any enemy you wanted. And then they have to do a dex save to save their damage. I also like, it's kind of it's extra like Greg did hold person on Inara and then he sent out the arrow. And Greg is a bard. He's actually a higher level than all of you, he's level four
Amanda: I really want to read his poems. I did not see his entrance coming at all! Man I was so surprised. I was so into it. I was like Oh mother-GAH I didn't know why it was happening. I just want to read his chatbooks
Michael: I actually love Bards. That is a very unpopular... That's the hot take of the week I think.
Brandon: Loving bards? yeah.
Michael: I love bards!
Amanda: JTP Hot Take.
Michael: And I was so surprised that it was Greg, that I was like I don't believe you and I wanted to keep doing perception to see if he was someone else. I think the entire time, until Tracey hits him and he bleeds I was, I personally was convinced that he was a... one of the like the shallow creatures from the alchemy room.
Amanda: Yeah you were convinced, you were like, don't worry folks, he's not Greg.
Michael: He's not Greg, it’s fine, like you know. Yeah.
Brandon: And then I murdered him.
Eric: You didn't murder him!
Amanda: I mean almost... We got there, we got there.
Eric: I will tell you you did take out more than two thirds of his HP in one hit.
Eric: I'll just be really quick about the guards. I re-skinned the thug from the back of the Monster Manual and one of the things they have is called Pack Tactics. If you are within five feet of one of your allies, and they usually use this for like kobolds and like monsters that literally run in packs, but I figured that guards were similar and they have this thing and they get advantage of a pack of them are together. So if you're within five feet of another one of your allies you get advantage. They were blinded. So I just kind of canceled that out and then they just have regular attack roles. I also re-flavored their weapons. I came up with them. We didn't really get to use them that much but I actually use like a whip that was like ensnaring vine which is supposed to restrain. And then the baton which is pretty much, was like a magic taser. It was going to paralyze you and make you incapacitated. Ooooh. Shout out to Maria Martenson one of our first patrons. She's the one with the football picture of her playing football.
Amanda: Hell yes. We love it. She looks so badass! Just seemed like a football uniform like American football with the helmet of a football like damn Maria.
Eric: And so you are now the Speaker of Concentra.
Amanda: Love it.
Michael: So how did she get that?
Eric: She got it by being one of our patrons. If you go to patreon.com/jointhepartypod starting at the $5 teir you can be a part of our NPC lottery where, when I come up with NPC's who I want I go through the patron list and I pick one randomly totally randomly I promise. And then I picked Maria's name and I thought that Martenson would also kind of fit as a name for a government overseer. And I felt that was pretty good. And also Greg was being a butthole because Greg's a butthole and he called her by her first name which I thought was funny.
Michael: Very rude
Eric: Very rude. The spell she cast with the big circle in the middle that is called Hallow is a fifth level spell. I think it's Cleric, if my research is correct. Basically it becomes like a magical like area of 60 feet, very large, where Fey, Celestials, and Demons can't go in. But then you can add other effects, all of them were like frighten or like they can't be like possessed or something. But I just decided that it would be pacify. So like really Tracey if you wanted to attack the speaker I wouldn't let you because Hallow would have stopped you.
Michael: It's so flavorful. I love it.
Amanda: (To the tune of Beyonce’s “Halo”) I can see your hallow, hallow hallow hallow hallow. hallow.
Eric: Can we put that joke to the left to the left?
Amanda: Oh thank you. And then a final thing about combat is I did something new which I was really proud of myself for, which is readying an action so can somebody help me explain readying an action which is like preparing something to do before you have to do it. Getting ready to react in a snap in a moment versus skipping a turn which you can also do in D&D.
Michael: Basically what it means is you can say if X happens then Y happens.
Amanda: Shoutout to IFTTT.com, my favorite website on the internet.
Amanda: Project managers!
Michael: Readying an action is really useful if you're in a situation where kind of nothing's popped off yet but you kind of know how you would act if certain things would happen. The difference between that and skipping means you'll be able to come in later in the order and kind of determine when but you won't be able to immediately interrupt.
Amanda: So if for example Greg had come at me with a dagger and I had readied my action to respond against somebody coming at me with a lethal weapon, I would be able to, even if it wasn't my turn in the initiative, to jump up against him and respond. Versus if I skipped my turn after Greg had done his action which might have been jumping at me, might have been directing one of his guards, might have been going somewhere else, then Inara could have like jumped into the order if she hadn't done something before. But this is more like preparing against the immediate that I anticipate happening.
Michael: It's almost like an interrupt. And you just said lethal weapon so I just thought, I'm getting too old for this shit...
Eric: I shot a kid!!!
Michael: Damnit Murdock.
Amanda: I don't know your reference...
Michael: Really Lethal Weapon?
Eric: We have to watch Lethal Weapon.
Amanda: JTP Movie Night!
Michael: Ugh we have so many things we have to watch...
Amanda: So my favorite part of this episode is that we got to see Stoneface again. I just wanted to summon him because, I don't know, he's around, he knew what happened. He could tell Greg that we weren't actually kidnapping actually Alonzo but I don't know. I'm happy for the callback.
Brandon: He's the, he's the greatest, he's the greatest.
Amanda: Greatest NPC of all time.
Brandon: He's the best. Yeah.
Michael: I'd like to remind everyone that he has a business card of mine that he can always use to make me feel like a little scratchy scratch in the back of my neck and I know that it's him.
Amanda: Oh my gosh. But also Thieves Cant! Like, that was a throwaway action for me, and I'm so happy Eric that you gave me some kind of continuity there. Thank you.
Michael: There's just so much about that rookery and about that guy.
Amanda: That rookery is going to be like the heart of the plot. I'm just saying.
Michael: Perhaps it is the sandwich meat of the plot...
Amanda: Oh no.
Brandon: At some point Tracey is going to go into a cocoon and then emerge a Bumbleade.
Eric: Also like my head Stoneface was just like hanging out somewhere else... Or you called him, but like when you call someone, they're not necessarily going to show up. I don't know. This is super weird that I'm talking about like you calling to a random gargoyle.
Amanda: No, but like, your mapping of the castle is a real part of this adventure that we have to kind of reckon with. And also I was curious Eric about your kind of zooming out of the plot like for going from the sort of politics and situation of a particular city state to our party determining the like political dynastic cultural future of...
Amanda: Potentially, all of the Concentric States. I will get to why we have opted in or out of this adventure in a minute. But Eric did you plan to zoom out as the adventure went on?
Eric: I did. This is kind of like in the hero's journey you’re getting the quest. But like before you get the quest you have to do the challenge to get to do the quest right?
Eric: So this is it. I've been thinking about this for a really long time. I mean there have been snatches of what's been going on in the Concentric States even from the trailer episode where you first learn vaguely about the story of the Centering. And you've gotten some parts, you got the benediction from the priest in Episode 2. Kohl tells you a little bit more in her office.
Amanda: Shout out, Zach Valenti and Julia Schifini.
Eric: Two lovely lovely guests. And like this thing definitely hangs over the Concentric States like a political wedding isn't just a wedding. And I think that was like the driving force of everything I wanted to talk about. Yeah... people aren't straight with anyone here. So I don't want you to take offense especially Tracey who was very upset when he gets lied to. Obviously no one has the right information. Maximillian hired you for whatever reason. Who knows if he actually told anybody about it. Alonzo sneaks out of the castle grounds by himself. You know that's super duper dangerous. And he got kidnapped. Who knows what Silvanas Kiko tells his sons or tells everybody else and who knows what even happened in that conference room when they were yelling at each other. People aren't straight with people here. And I think it's up to you to roll with or try to shake out something but you actually got a big chunk of story of real-ness from... thats what the speaker was trying to convince you. Like, I'm gonna tell you the gravity of why we need you and I'm going to hire you and give you that dat cash if you do it.
Amanda: And shout-out to Stoneface for giving us actual information. Thanks bro.
Brandon: Yeah is Stoneface the literally the only person we can trust in this castle?
Amanda: I mean so far that's who Inara trusts outside this party.
Brandon: That's like...
Amanda: So improbable... His accent is so annoying.
Brandon: I love him just so much.
Eric: I guess I don't know. I think information is a currency, so far. And I think that might be something for you to think about as you play.
Michael: Well I'm glad I have a plus four to deception.
Amanda: Speaking of which I think all of us opted into this journey pretty readily. I know I can speak to why my character said yes to Speaker Martinson about this particular assignment, but Johnny, why did you say yes?
Michael: It was an easy yes I think for Johnny because this probably... I don't see it as the only quest he's ever been on but also since he is on a much larger much more important quest and that is to bring the light to everyone and to push out the darkness. This just seems like a great stepping stone to make that happen. And also when a being of a celestial type nature asks of someone who is very, who is a very big believer of like the... let's call it the positive plane. Yeah Johnny's going to listen. Johnny is going to be very into it. You know cautious of course because there's a lot of issues with it but it's going to be a yes and I'll deal with the problems I have with it later, kind of thing.
Amanda: And Tracey you seem to have some conditions but you also opted in, so what was the thought process there?
Brandon: At this point Tracey doesn't believe literally anyone except in our party and maybe Stoneface. And I think he didn't just off the bat didn't trust or believe the speaker. But when you know when when the cards are dealt. What he's going to do is beat that rock for his party which now very much includes Inara and obviously has included Johnny for a long time. And if he can he's going to get some help or guidance or items or whatever it is from people who are more powerful than him in order to complete that task. But he's going to be along the road for whatever comes and he's going to take the beating when it needs to happen.
Amanda: Yeah. And as for Inara's part her goal, leaving her settlement was to seem more of the world and to learn more skills and what better learning opportunity is there than to follow someone famous and well resourced with people who she respects and wants to learn stuff from. So I think that was her sort of calculus like OK I'll be paid. I won't be a prisoner. I have seven bagels in my mouth right now. So it seems like a pretty good thing to say yes to.
Brandon: Is Inara just in it for the bagels?
Amanda: She's not not in it for the bagels.
Brandon: She's not willing to risk it for the bagel?
Amanda: She risks it for any type of biscuit, bagel, bread, scone, quick bread, slow bread, peasant bread, sourdough.
Michael: 15 minutes later...
Eric: Dinner Rolls! Matzoh, crakcers, Ritz...
Michael: Thirty eight minutes later.
Eric: Triscuit, reduced fat Triscuit, dried tomato Triscuit...
Brandon: Sesame and garlic buiscuit.
Amanda: In conclusion, she will risk it for the Triscuit. Hey, Triscuit, get at us. We are looking for sponsors.
Brandon: This afterparty brought to you by Triscuit, Risk it for a Triscuit.
Amanda: Listen I wouldn't say no!
Eric: Triscuit: Put it in your mouth.
Amanda: Triscuit: Figure out what this spyglass means!
Michael: Triscuit: Not that great. I mean! Oh no! Triscuit we love you! I messed it up...
Brandon: We just ended any opportunity for sponsorship from Triscuit.
Amanda: We just courted and alienated a sponser in the same breath.
Brandon: Thats pretty good, thats impressive for us.
Amanda: So we are starting Arc Two of this beautiful podcast. I am so excited about it! So Eric, tell us a little bit about the name of this arc and why it is what it is.
Eric: Sure. It's called Political Party as you might have figured out the convention of our arcs is we're going to have party in the name of each one.
Amanda: We did a brainstorming document and we have like 45 choices don't worry.
Eric: I'm very excited.
Brandon: So don't support us too long like past 45 arcs.
Eric: I'm very excited to use Bachelor Party that's going to be a good one.
Brandon: It's my party and I'll cry if I want to.
Michael: Does Tracey get married?
Eric: So this one is called a Political Party. I wanted to introduce the machinations of just like the world as a whole and how the society holds itself together and really the political people who are involved and the stakes really. I mean this adventure is a political game although you're going to have plenty of time to run around fight people there's going to be magic and monsters, bad guys and good guys, and something in between. This still has the fate of an entire continent with a really kind of structured government at the center. But I think that it's important to recognize the politics at play. I mean politics can be fun.
Brandon: I think we're going to be seeing a lot more of Alonzo along the way.
Amanda: Yes we will.
Michael: As much as Johnny will be a nice dad-like figure to him. I already know he has no patience for his crap. He did not help us in that encounter. I'm not going to make pee-pee stops. I will turn this caravan around!
Amanda: Are we there yet? NOOOO.
Brandon: He will pee in the Gatorade bottle!
Amanda: Yeah we will see what happens there.
Michael: If we if we pass this challenge.
Amanda: So we've got a question in from Nora who asks, I love the integration of items like gears and guns. It was reminiscent of the steampunk genre. What is your inspiration for these particular additions into your ostensibly fantasy world? So I want to start with Eric and then also get to Brandon since you are doing a quasi-steampunk quasi-robot.
Eric: The interesting part about Steampunk is that it recalls a point in the American society and also world society where steam was the main source of energy in all these alternate like mechanical universes. All you're really talking about is energy source talking about electricity. Are you talking about coal or are you talking about steam. And in this point we're talking about arcane energy. So when I think about mechanics and I think about batteries I still can't believe that electricity was so widely used in the 19th century. That feels so long ago when someone figured out how to get this idea of energy and electricity to be used. So it's like if you can harness magical energy to do whatever you want when we're talking about the artificer the thing that Khol is that Julia played and all of the mechanics that she can work on or we're talking about Tracey or the gun, it really just is like in a place where magic is so prevalent. Why would anyone spend any time researching electricity or coal or steam when you can do magic! Which feels a lot more malleable to me than any of the sources that we have now. It can not only give life as we're talking about the iron golem or we're talking about Tracey but it's just like really high powered it can replace gunpowder and be dangerous. All that stuff just kind of like it, it fascinates me about what society's relationship to building stuff is and what is the energy source that is the most easily accessible.
Amanda: And also ambition, because when do you accept this thing we stumbled upon is the way forward and so we should stop discovering alternatives and start focusing on, you know, how to fully commit to this path. That's why I love steampunk so much. I love reading about inflection points, decision points, paths not taken, and everything steampunk, whether it's like a steampunk space situation or it's steampunk here on Earth or a steampunk fantasy whatever. It's such a, like, full exploration of a very specific granular what-if question. Where what if instead of continuing to, you know, futz with lightning and electricity and coal and all of that, we figure: this seems pretty good. And you know, and we continue to like allow the world to develop fully done.
Eric: The best part about that is that Steampunk like recalls that era which is why you have the goggles and the top hats. So I'm kind of like unbridling our society, the society of the concentric States from any sort of standards that exist now. So we can kind of build our own stuff like yeah you got a magical motorcycle, what does that look like? Is it the same thing as like a motorcycle gang in the 21st century in the 20th century? Like do the Hell's Angels still exist when you're not like filling up at gas stations.
Michael: To me the whole idea of this, it really reminds me of a system called Shadowrun which has subsequently become a video game where it's actually really cool in the video game you can set up and play an RPG almost under their systems just online with other people it's one of those games, I might end up doing a blog post because there's these other video games that you can play RPGs within their system as if you're playing the D&D in person. But Shadowrun is, I feel like the Concentric States in like a thousand years just become Shadowrun, which is a modern or futuristic setting where magic always existed, tech has always existed and it's all about energy, what powers the tech. It's generally magic based.
Amanda: I love that so much. I think it also helps open up your imagination, for lack of a better word, and like allows you to imagine more things existing in this space like this is not a high fantasy world as we traditionally conceive of it. And it's not a modernist world, right? And it's not a complete Victorian you know, England or U.S. steampunk world. And I think that's why I loved Blade Runner so much when I first saw it because it combined the sort of like grittiness of mercenaries and kind of big cities and the kind of seedy underworld type thing with really slick AI in a way that I you know had not seen combined in that way.
Brandon: I also don't buy that like if you are trying to create a real world where there are races that don't have magic. The only way forward is that like non-magical races are going to build technology. So there is going to be a mix of technology and magic. So like if you're trying to build a real world that's not, you know, fantasy Lord of the Rings, like there is going to be the interplay and it's going to be a really interesting cross-section of like how do the human races deal with these wizards that can destroy them with a wand flick you know. And they do it by building machines. That's what humans do.
Amanda: That is what occupied all of my brain when I was reading Harry Potter as it was coming out, is like: Oh OK but like medicine, like wizards need medicine and humans need magic. And like how are we not talking to each other about all of this stuff. And that's one place where fan works come in, is there are so many hundreds of thousands of fan works that imagine like, OK so what if Herminie became a chemist and what if Draco Malfoy went into like medical development, or what if the Aurors and the London police actually worked together what if politicians crossed over? Like, there are endless thousands of ways that people have actually thought through the logistics of what that kind of integration might look like and it's the best thing. I love fans. I love that kind of infrastructure logic. Thinking about the elemental facts of magic and also like the actual sociopolitical world in which it exists.
Brandon: My most favorite and most memorable part of Harry Potter was when the prime minister met up with...
Amanda: Oh my god the beginning of book 5?
Brandon: Yeah, it’s the best scene.
Amanda: It was! It was the best scene because it, like, it punctured the veil of the wizarding world. At the beginning of the book that kind of punctured the idea that this is still a children's story. It was such a good beginning. Oh my God. If you guys don't listen to the Potterless Podcast, my friend Mike Schubert is reading Harry Potter as a 26 year old man and interviews fans like me about the various chapters of the book and I talked at length about this subject with him when I did Chamber of Secrets. Well thank you so much Nora for sending in that question. And anyone can e-mail us anytime at email@example.com and you can also jointhepartypod.com and click the contact form there. We also have transcripts of all these episodes, all the Afterparties our Punch-Bowl interviews which are amazing and really worth listening to. All on the Web site and then you can also find us of course @jointhepartypod on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. We post pictures of our actual faces on Instagram if you wondered what we look like, if you don't that's fine.
Eric: We are really cute. Super cute.
Amanda: In any case, you can do what you like, but we would love to hear from you to get your questions for future Afterparties so send them to us anytime. What we would actually love though even more than afterparty questions and we love Afterparty questions are reviews on iTunes. It is really really helpful for you to on your desktop or on your Apple device to go to iTunes, subscribe to us, give us a rating, write something nice. It really helps us to get in front of new listeners and at this point that is what we want to do the most is to get the show in front of new folks. We love seeing you recommending the show to friends on Twitter #jointhepartypod. Invite your friends to join the party. That's the reason we chose this title. The reason we're doing what we're doing, trying to make this open to beginners and folks who don't think of themselves as D&D fans, if you like the show, I know that you know people who will like it as well. Thank you so much to people who have done it already. And if you really want to go above and beyond, if you want to read the amazing blog posts that we are writing for you every single week! Every single week one of us writes a blog post for all of our patrons. Eric writes NPC backstories for every single episode. Little snippets of life for the NPCs, the characters that we meet along the way. We have bloopers. We have extras of all sorts we have photos, we have polls. It is a really really awesome community. The best part is the Discord where all of our patrons and all of us are in that chat room every single day. They're setting up overwatch campaigns together, we're trading ice cream recommendationsm or posting photos of dogs. Guys it's a really great community.
Eric: There are so many dogs.
Amanda: So many dogs.
Brandon: I love the dogs.
Eric: Cats, dogs. Squirrels.
Amanda: Birds. There was a creepy bird. It was awesome. And for as little as two bucks, two bucks!, you can join us and make some new friends and tell us all about your stories and your life and ask questions. It is really really amazing and I'm so grateful for those of you who have already joined but you can join us there at patreon.com/jointhepartypod.
Brandon: Thanks for listening guys.
Eric: See you later.
Michael: Undying Light be with you.