Out of Character

"Has anyone seen my D20?"


July 2013

Episode 3: Waxing Heroic

I just uploaded the third episode of the podcast, and it is the first time we discuss a topic rather than playing a game. We spend some time discussing how we wandered into the world of tabletop RPGs, gaming groups we’ve been a a part of, past campaigns and characters, and dice. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I hope a few others will find it enjoyable too.



I spent a couple of hours at a local Barnes and Noble last night waiting for Jade to finish up with some business she had in the area. As always I ended up browsing over their selection of board games and RPG books. Two products in particular caught my eye and since I had some time to burn I examined them a bit more closely.

One of the products happened to be the latest version of the Dungeon board game released by Wizards of the Coast some time ago. When I was a kid I bought the original version of this game during a family vacation in Ocean City, and I spent that trip holed up in my aunt’s beach house playing it over and over again. I love that game and I played it hundreds of time, I still have it on my shelf of games. The new edition seems like a nice reproduction at a glance and I was tempted to buy it just to see what changes if any had been made. For twenty dollars it would have been a minor investment.

The Pathfinder Beginner Box also called out to be purchased, and I’ve been curious about Pathfinder for some time so I had to remind myself that the price tag still put it outside of my reach as usual.

Both products, although radically different in many ways, did have one thing in common. Rather than offering plastic miniatures both feature the cardboard cutouts that are beginning a more and more common sight in tabletop games. I loathe those things. The miniatures in the original Dungeon were simple plastic figures cast in the shapes of some of the classic Dungeons and Dragons classes, they all stared up at the players from their sprawling Dungeon urging them onward to new adventures. A nice piece of art printed on durable card stock just doesn’t have the same effect. The fact that the Pathfinder Beginner box didn’t include miniatures really aggravates me, because they should assume it will be the first time many of the people who purchase that product are playing any RPG at all, and they should act accordingly. For nearly forty dollars I think they should include for minis for the basic classes that the product offers.

I have always loved miniatures, ever since the first time I played Dungeon and traced D&D maps onto sheets of graph paper to today. There’s something wonderful about having the right figure to represent the character you’ve painstakingly crafted story around. Digging through bins of used and discarded miniatures in search of the perfect one always gives me a rush of excitement. When I started taking on the role of the parties Dungeons Master my love of miniatures became all consuming. I loved watching players reactions when I set down a towering cyclops or parties of foul little goblins.

I’m not saying I’ve never used a cardboard figure to represent a member of a mob. I have, as I’m sure many other Game Masters have been forced. Sometimes you just don’t have enough goblins and you can’t manage to get your hands on any more in time for that week’s game. However I don’t like this trend that suggests that these are an acceptable replacement for minis because in my book they aren’t. Their a temporary solution, or a placeholder until you can find something better.

Gary Gygax Day

For those of you who don’t know, July 27th is Gary Gygax Day, a day in which people celebrate the life and imagination of one the men who gave us Dungeons and Dragons. Since it’s Saturday I’m sure many folks will be getting together to roll some dice, and I hope they’ll all take a moment to thank the original Dungeon Master.


Episode 2: Science is So Expensive

Jade and I sat down to record the second episode of Out of Character yesterday. We decided to try to play one of the Catan games, partly due to their popularity, and also because they’re usually good fun. We ended up playing fo rnearly three hours and I spent most of the last two days editing the podcast down to a more manageable length. We still ended up with something that was nearly two hours long. If you’re curious about Starships of Catan please give it a look.

Editing Software

I’ve been recording and editing our next episode for most of the day and I have to say I really love the Audacity program that I’ve been using to do so. I’m not the most computer savvy person on the block but Audacity makes it easy to edit and convert audio files as I need to. I can only imagine what I will learn to do with it as the podcast goes on.

New Games

I grabbed a couple of new games that were on sale at the local game store today. I’ve been hoping to get Zombie Dice and Munchkin for a while now but Chupacabra just looked like it might be fun so I decided to give it a shot. Plus the dice glow in the dark so it’s the perfect game to play if the power ever goes out. I’d love to do an episode for each of the new games.


New Equipment

While I was out today I acquired a fancy new flash drive so that I can back up all of the podcasts I make. That way if something happens I don’t lose the original data or anything which seemed like a good idea. Of course I had to buy the nerdiest one I could find.


Tales Madthorn Forest

Today I had the chance to carry on with the monthly ongoing Dungeons and Dragons campaign I’ve been running the local library. The game is a teen program which the library was nice enough to let me run on their premises without charge. I’ve been running the program for about six months, aside from playing D&D I’ve also played Mutants and Masterminds and Gamma World with the teens.

I’ve run a few one-shot campaigns at conventions and festivals, usually some younger players have taken part so I’m used to working with a younger group. As a matter of fact the first gaming group I ever GMed for had two excellent teenage players in it. However I wasn’t certain how well this campaign would go when we started it, but then you can never be sure of that I suppose. It has been a wonderful experience and it’s given me a chance to run a game I love with a group of passionate young players.

The current party consists of six players who have been coming to the game from day one. Calliope, an Eladrin invoker of Sehanine who was discovered alone after she was cast out of the Feywild as an infant. Mack, a Human fighter and a mercenary for hire. Belkar Bitteleaf, a cursed Halfling ranger who has a special hatred in his little heart for the goblins. Safin Riverblade, a Half-Elf swordmage who abandoned his teaching career to seek out a bit of adventure. Willow Thorn, an Elf druid whose bond with nature and all of its creatures is especially deep. Talos Turathi, a Drgaonborn Warlord who once commanded a band of fierce Dragonborn who carved a path of war across the countryside. He has since abandoned the path of a warlord and gone in search of redemption.

Since this is a monthly campaign and their play sessions are only about two hours in length they have a limited amount of time to adventure, but they certainly make the most of it. They’ve already managed to track a group of bandits to their hidden lair, talk their way out of trouble with a savage ogre, defeat a savage force of mercenaries, skeletons, and goblins, and found their way through a deadly dwarven maze.

This campaign began as an attempt to introduce some younger players to Dungeons and Dragons and tabletop gaming. It has shown me that despite the fact that we are living in an age of technological wonders the fun of sitting around a table with a group of friends and playing pretend isn’t lost on anyone. I have plans to carry on with the program for as long as I am allowed to do so, and I’m also going to bring out a few more systems as we carry on. Star Wars Sagas is next on the list and a few of the players are really looking forward to playing droid characters.

In the future I will definitely be doing some podcasts about teen gamers so if that’s a topic you’re interested in be sure to keep an eye out for future updates.

If you’re interested in learning more about the campaign, the players, or Madthorn Forest there is an obsidian portal page for the campaign. I set it up so the players could show off their characters to friends who have yet to take up the dice themselves.Feel free to give it a look.

Out of Character Episode One: Harry Potter and the Trading Card Game

In our first episode Jade and I sat down to play the Harry Potter trading game using our two player starter deck. We also find plenty of time to discuss Harry Potter and joke around. If you’re curious about the mechanics of the game, interested in TCGs, or a Harry Potter fan give it a listen.

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