Hold my beer, YouTube

I'm living colour and ready to inflict myself on the world.

I reckon YouTube is a good place to consolidate my D&D design efforts. I've never made a video before, but I'm about to make a short introductory clip for a bit of practice. Pretty excited about putting it online tomorrow!

Influences

I watch a lot of D&D talk — a whole damn lot — but the two channels I keep coming back to are Runehammer (formerly Drunkens & Dragons) and Matt Colville. Runehammer's content is just crazy good; I don't always like his ideas, but I love that his format is about showcasing his projects. I don't generally watch D&D channels that promise to teach their audience anything, but I watch Matt Colville because he has great production quality.

With those two in mind, I'm hoping to make a channel where I can showcase my projects and workshop ideas like Runehammer, but rely on the framing and production quality of Matt Colville. That's the end goal at least.

I promise to never make one of those list videos, "Top five mistakes DMs make," or whatever.

Content

Here's a hip-fire list of things I could make videos about:

  • Tide pod challenge
  • Compare official character sheets to my custom ones
  • Work through different versions of my spell cards
  • Design wacky monsters
  • Talk through how I run my favourite DMs Guild one-shots
  • Trade gamin stories
  • Publish homebrew rules
  • Weekly play-of-the-day from Critical Role
  • Compare old editions of D&D to 5e
  • Discuss history of D&D visual style

Schedule

I think I can upload a video every Saturday night. Let's try weekly to begin with and see how we go.

This Is Your Life: Gwendolen (Part 2)

Earlier this week I posted my five-step process when making a new character. We used Xanather’s Guide to Everything to generate a few ideas and now I’m ready to expand my results from the This Is Your Life table for Gwendolen the gnome war wizard.

The general idea was to take each result and flesh it out into a paragraph or so of story. I used around eighty per cent my results and I’m pretty happy with Gwendolen’s background. Even if it’s a bit rushed, it’s really fun to write again! Here’s what we had to work with:

Parents: I know who my parents are.
Birthplace: I was born at home.
Siblings: I have no siblings.
Family: I was raised by my single mother.
Family lifestyle: My family had a modest lifestyle.
Childhood home: I grew up in a mansion.
Childhood memories: Others saw me as being different or strange, so I had few companions.
Criminal: I fell in with a group of rogues and learned my craft from them.
Life events: I had eight major life events.
LE 1: I fought in a battle. I suffered only minor injuries and the wounds healed without scars.
LE 2: I spent time working as a criminal and earned 5GP.
LE 3: I spent time working as a criminal and earned 9GP.
LE 4: I committed a crime (theft). I was caught and convicted, spending four years in prison.
LE 5: I made an enemy of an adventurer. They are responsible for the rift.
LE 6: I made an enemy of an adventurer. I am responsible for the rift.
LE 7: I gained a bit of good fortune. A friendly alchemist gifted me a flask of acid.
LE 8: I encountered something magical. I was affected by teleportation magic.

Gwendolen's story

“I don’t know why you’re interested,” Gwendolen says. “Do you have a job for me? Should I wait your tables?” She laughs.

Gwendolen pauses to pick her teeth with a blackened fingernail. Mocking eyes smile at you.

“I’ll tell you, then. But fair warning: this is a love story.”

“I got this scar when they hanged me.” She traces the twisted line across her pale throat. “But I am a tricksy gnome, so I vanished before they choked the life out of me. In truth, I thought I could convince them to stop; I did not think they would actually kick the stool from under me. But in truth again, this is not my worst scar.”

“This wee one on my finger is my favourite, though it is not my worst neither. I earned this when I walloped a halfling boy I grew up with. My darling mother was his nanny, so we lived in that great family’s house. His name was Bobo,” She hides her smile behind her mug. “I punched him in the back of the head at breakfast so hard I swear he almost choked on that silver spoon.”

“My mother made me leave after that, and although it was rough for a while, I eventually made some unfriendly friends who taught me some unfriendly things. We called ourselves the Consortium. A silly name, but we scraped together a living.”

“But no, my worst scar is the one I carry in my dainty heart — oh don’t roll your eyes at me, it’s true! I fell in love with a human: Balthier the Great, no less. This was before any of his proper stories, though. He was a young rake when I met him on a job one night, both of us caught elbow deep in the same cookie jar. We were fighting when the guards took us both away. Now imagine my surprise when my lanky rival teleported to safety, leaving me — a poor mundane sneak, mind you — to take the fall.”

“Well they locked me up, but I wasn’t much for breaking rocks. They instead had me working the county’s books for most of my sentence.” She holds up four fingers. “It was a while.”

“When they let me loose, the only thing on my mind was tracking down that scoundrel, that treacherous boy named Balthier. He was easy to find, too, because he had already began to carve his constellation across the heavens. The young hero was enjoying his fame after parleying with the dread necromancer not six months earlier.”

“One night, Balthier woke to the feeling of my cold blade pressed against his pretty neck. I don’t know what he expected me to say. ‘Prepare to die, villain,’ maybe? But no, instead I said—and this is precisely what I told that man—I said, ‘When we last met, you took four years of my life, so I will have four years of yours.’ I put my weapon away and asked him to teach me his teleportation magic. He agreed.”

“So every night I could, I would sneak into his home and he would teach me magic. Of course his star rose over those four years; sometimes he would be away for months acting the hero, but he had books and I had time. Sometimes his lessons took a devious turn, and he would leave arcane traps or puzzles in his home to occupy me. I’m not sure exactly how we became friends—I was just so angry all the time—but we did.”

“On the last morning of that fourth year, I found Balthier the Great drinking tea in my kitchen. He told me, ‘Lenny, our business is settled, but I have a favour to ask of you.’ No longer the scrappy youth whom I once kicked in the throat, but a man of discipline and purpose, he asked me to join a group of adventurers and make something of my life.”

Gwendolen sighs.

“But time passes and life isn’t fair. I saw him on perhaps a dozen occasions since our lessons ended sixty years ago. Although I am still young, I watched Balthier turn grey and I loved him still. His friends and I grieved at the telling of his heroic death, so a few of us pooled our money and tried to have the old fool brought back.” She shrugs and flips her empty mug upside down on your table. “But I’m sure you can guess how that went.”

She stands up quickly, knocking over the circle of empty tankards on the table. All of three feet tall and reeling drunk. Her companions have left the tavern.

“Anyway, to answer your question: that’s why we’re here. Me, that jangly dwarf and those two smelly Goliaths are going to master your damn jungle and fix this resurrection shite.”

It’s not until she’s out the door and you hear her voice calling from the street that you realise nobody settled their tab.

“You’ll thank us when you’re dead!”

This Is Your Life: Gwendolen (Part 1)

Since we're gearing up to start Tomb of Annihilation next month, I want to use Xanather's Guide to Everything to help me generate my new character. Here's a breakdown of my five-step process when making a new character.

1. Voice

My characters are based around their roleplaying voice — the actual accent I'd use at the table. When doing the dishes or working from home, I practised a few accents and landed on a soft, northern Scottish accent. It started out as Mrs. Doubtfire, but I managed to dial it back by mimicking some Youtube videos.

2. Hypotheticals

Once the voice felt natural, I planted my character in a few hypothetical situations. One I kept coming back to was a bar scene where some belligerent drunk tried to start my character. I flipped between a few punch-on and talk-down solutions, but ended up somewhere in the middle. My character's voice doesn't cross into aggressive very well, but it's still firm and calm rather than cowardly. In this scene, my character is the kind of person who would say anything to avoid the fight but king hit the aggressor a week later.

I realised my character was evil. I imagined a male dwarf rogue.

3. Key phrases

Using that scene as a framework, I wanted to feel out my character's values. I used my character voice to test some phrases aloud, fishing for something the felt natural. Here's what I ended up with:

"Nothing bring's me greater pleasure than to see a proud man brought low."
"I can't respect someone who doesn't respect themselves."
"I'm not afraid of any person, because people all people hold weakness in their hearts."
"Life isn't fair. It is what it is."
"The ends justify the means."

A weird thing happened here; the visual I'd been keeping in my head of a burly dwarf with quick hands and bells in his beard no longer fit my character's mould. Instead I imagined a young woman, proud and happy, but vindictive and unforgiving. In the end, I'm rolling a gnome war wizard named Gwendolen "Lenny" Greer with a criminal background.

4. This Is Your Life

Xanather's Guide to Everything is my favourite Dungeons & Dragons book. The best section is a set of random tables to help generate your character's history called This Is Your Life. It scratches the fluff and flavour itch and fits perfectly with my personal loosey-goosey style.

After rolling on the This Is Your Life tables, this is what I ended up with:

Parents: I know who my parents are.
Birthplace: I was born at home.
Siblings: I have no siblings.
Family: I was raised by my single mother.
Family lifestyle: My family had a modest lifestyle.
Childhood home: I grew up in a mansion.
Childhood memories: Others saw me as being different or strange, so I had few companions.
Criminal: I fell in with a group of rogues and learned my craft from them.
Life events: I had eight major life events.
LE 1: I fought in a battle. I suffered only minor injuries and the wounds healed without scars.
LE 2: I spent time working as a criminal and earned 5GP.
LE 3: I spent time working as a criminal and earned 9GP.
LE 4: I committed a crime (theft). I was caught and convicted, spending four years in prison.
LE 5: I made an enemy of an adventurer. They are responsible for the rift.
LE 6: I made an enemy of an adventurer. I am responsible for the rift.
LE 7: I gained a bit of good fortune. A friendly alchemist gifted me a flask of acid.
LE 8: I encountered something magical. I was affected by teleportation magic.

5. Why?

The cool thing about these tables is that your imagination immediately plots a path for the character. Every outcome is useful — you just have interrogate each result and find some context. This is where I'm up to for Lenny. I plan to write a short paragraph for each result and post it this week.