Teos Abadia joins me to present his thoughts on visual aids in D&D adventures and how they may not accomplish their intended goals. He offers examples of graphics and flowcharts that do not seem to add helpful information to the DM as they attempt to run an adventure. We discuss player choice and the utility of the *illusion of player choice and how to incorporate both in a campaign. Teos address some common pitfalls in published D&D content and how that might be remedied in the future.
Dr. Katie Gordon joins me to discuss The Suicidal Thoughts Workbook, a fantastic collection of practical tools to reduce suffering, find meaning and increase hope. She talks about her initial interest in suicide research and how that evolved into writing the workbook. She describes how the tone of the book became more conversational with the reader over time and how the text has resonated with clinicians and patients since its release.
We start out 2021 by going in the "sorta-way-back machine" to discuss 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons with Mark Meredith. He has been writing for Dice Monkey for over 10 years and recently started to rediscover 4e with his family. He talks about surprising aspects of the edition after years away from it. He speaks to the forward-facing design and energy from the tactile nature of combat. We highlight some of our memories of the edition and focus on positive elements of the 4e experience.
Ronen Givony joins me to talk about his latest book, Not For You: Pearl Jam and the Present Tense, which attempts to chronicle and place into context Pearl Jam's career. Ronen talks about his work his relationship to the music industry and how he developed the concept for Not For You. We share origin stories of our Pearl Jam fandom and then enter into a discussion about the structure of Not For You - and the various forces that shaped the band and our experience of them. We close with a discussion on why the band always seems to have memorable shows in Philly. This was a fun episode. Enjoy!
Matt Forbeck joins me to discuss his career as a an author and game designer. He discusses his world of Dragon City, which has spawned numerous books and the recent tabletop roleplaying game, Shotguns & Sorcery. He speaks to his inspirations for the game and how he wanted to create a new iconic hero in Max Gibson. He details some of his successes as a freelancer over the years and describes why returning to Dragon City was important. Matt explores why racism very much exists in Dragon City and how that is fused into the game system. Matt talks about the reckoning that roleplaying games are having at this time with race and other issues that affect player safety. He offers a glimpse at what is next for Shotguns & Sorcery including a new monster book, a Pathfinder conversion, and other projects.
Kelly Carlin joins me to talk about her life as the daughter of famed comedian, George Carlin. She previously wrote a memoir, A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George, which was published in 2015. She has earned a bachelors degree from UCLA and a masters degree in Jungian Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Weaving in her psychological training, Kelly talks about her journey toward finding her own meaning while also managing the weight of her father's legacy. She speaks to basking in his glow as a child and later feel trapped in his shadow as an adult. She explores how we all go through confusion about our self-identity and how she pursued graduate education in psychology to further understand herself and the world around her. She talks about the powerful forces of "shame and greed" that hold us back and how we can overcome that to led meaningful lives.
Tomo Moriwaki talks about his career in videogame design and how his experiences led him to the latest endeavor, Epic Tavern. In Epic Tavern, players are tasked with building up a tavern to cater to adventure needs AND with sending those adventurers on quests. Tomo talks about his goals to design an engaging gameplay loop that encourages players to spend more time with Epic Tavern; it was fascinating to learn about the decisions that are made to create a successful gameplay loop that cultivates that "one more turn" feeling for players! He discusses obstacles to creating a game "like fantasy football for fantasty fantasy" and how the small team has overcome those challenges. Tomo educates me about the logic behind Epic Tavern gameplay, including the encounter system involved in questing.
I'm joined by Stacy King and Andrew Wheeler, two of the minds responsible for the wonderful Dungeons & Dragons Young Adventurer's Guide series. They talk about the latest entry, Wizards & Spells, and detail how they took the vast magical information in D&D and organized that into a clean framework for young readers (and us creaky adults!) to absorb. They talk about the joys of creating new Legendary Characters for the D&D universe and how choices were made to highlight specific spells and magical items. Stacy and Andrew speak about their contributions to all books in the series and explain how the books fit together to form a coherent and warm invitation to all readers to play D&D. They respond to the glowing reception the books have received by an audience ranging in age, and briefly mention plans for the next two books in the series. These books are a treasure for any fan of D&D!
Keith Ammann joins me to discuss his book, The Monsters Know What They're Doing, which provides highly-detailed tactical guidance for monsters in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. He speaks about his interest in strategy games and how that influenced his approach to running gaming sessions. He discusses how to run monsters realistically to further engage players and make their achievement at the table more meaningful. We explore multiple aspects of combats including complexity, difficulty, and morality.
Dr. Connell comes back to Ego Check to talk about the developments in the therapeutic use of Dungeons & Dragons in therapy. She talks about how the game allows players to achieve personal growth through exposure. She offers insights into how to manage an improv-heavy campaign. We talk about balancing a professional life with hobby goals and values, and explore how to navigate the fatigue and burnout that can arise from generating content.