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Thinking Critically: A D&D Discussion

Thinking Critically: A D&D Discussion

By Danilo Vujevic
A discussion show with different guests each episode. We take a single concept or idea and discuss what that means within the D&D framework to help you get the most out your sessions, whatever side of the screen you sit on. Consider it an NPR-style, variety bucket of thought-provoking analysis and humorous anecdotes!
All music by Kevin MacLeod.
Art by Béi: https://www.beiworkshop.com/
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Thinking Critically: A D&D Discussion

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Live
This very special episode was recorded on location at Geek Retreat Southampton! As such, it has a slightly different format to all my previous episodes. I was fortunate enough to have Simon, James, Anastazia, and Anri share with me their TTRPG experiences and what bought them to the store that night. We cover a broad range of topics including how playing "in public" affects the experience, the concept of a "co-DM", and what it's like to play with a pick-up-group of strangers. It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to such a talented and diverse group of people, each overflowing with excitement for Dungeons & Dragons. This episode is not sponsored, supported, or endorsed by 'Geek Retreat' in any way. 00:56 - Simon 13:24 - James 24:38 - Anastazia 01:08:40 - Anri Find Geek Retreat on: Website (UK): https://geek-retreat.uk/ Twitter (UK): https://twitter.com/GeekRetreatUK Instagram (UK): https://www.instagram.com/geekretreatuk/ Facebook (UK): https://www.facebook.com/GeekRetreatUK Website (local branch): https://southampton.geek-retreat.com/ Instagram (local branch): https://www.instagram.com/geek_retreat_southampton/ Facebook (local branch): https://www.facebook.com/GeekRetreatSouthampton Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThinkCritDnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: "Happiness": Simon's episode of Thinking Critically "Conflict": Episode of Thinking Critically "Macro": Episode of Thinking Critically Dungeons, Dice, and Dudes The DM Lair Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:24:10
October 15, 2021
Growth
This episode I'm joined by Aaron Preuss (@Primus_Casts) to discuss growth within Dungeons & Dragons, and there's a lot to unpack here. Most people find their own character designs evolve and mature over time, and Aaron takes us through a couple of his own examples which can serve as inspiration and springboards for your own creations. Having genuine and believable flaws for your character is a fantastic thing, as it provides room for growth over the course of the adventure. More difficult, however, is figuring out how to make those flaws work effectively within a party, each struggling with their own issues. The second half of the episode focuses on how the gameplay dynamic shifts considerably at higher level play. How can you enjoyably roleplay a character which can be the embodiment of a god? How can the DM create engaging encounters and NPCs when the PCs are beyond mortal concerns? 04:32 - Player and Character Growth: Exploring your Personality 10:26 - Making Interesting Characters 31:32 - Higher Levels Campaigns: How to Entertain Doctor Manhattan Find Aaron on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/Primus_Casts Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThinkCritDnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Dungeons and Randomness podcast Not Another D&D Podcast The Underground Oracle Toys for Tots Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
56:13
October 8, 2021
Humour
This episode I'm joined by table top game creator and narrative designer Geoffrey Golden to dissect humour, which we all know is everyone's favourite thing to do! I start by absolutely butchering Kevin MacLeod's surname and for that, I can never apologise enough. Once that horrible faux pas is left behind, we move on to the juicy topic how the mechanics of a TTRPG impact and guide humour within a particular setting, and ways you can use the mechanics to elicit emotion. Indeed, most games have something a stake, be it existential obliteration or a more personal plight, and DMs and players must remain flexible to ensure those stakes aren't undermined by goofs. There is often and underlying tug-of-war between immersion and humour, but it's more nuanced than that as humour can take many forms from in-universe tropes, through pop culture references, to meta table banter. Being aware of where the knot is on that rope is an exceptionally valuable skill for both players and DMs, to avoid tonal whiplash as one team slips up and the rope goes flying. Full disclosure, the single moment of unprofessionalism in my entire career at 29:00 has been deliberately left in for historical and hilarity purposes. Please don't let me cease to be. 06:56 - Divining Humour from Mechanics 23:12 - Running a Humour Based Actual Play 29:54 - Tone Versus Immersion: The Eternal Seesaw 37:00 - Character Comedy Find Geoffrey on: Website: http://www.geoffreygolden.com Target Run on DM's Guild: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/372247/Target-Run Twitter: https://twitter.com/geoffreygolden Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThinkCritDnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: 'Aesthetic' episode of Thinking Critically 'Trinity Continuum: Aberrant' by Onyx Path Publishing 'Straight to VHS' by Lost Cat Games Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:03:20
October 1, 2021
Narrative
This episode I'm joined by Adam from Snyder's Return to debate the pros and cons of narrative focused TTRPG systems. Such an interesting topic overflowing with meaning, subjectivity, and design intent; this episode covers it all! Firstly, Adam and I set the scope of the show by defining the terms and systems, setting the foundation for next 55 minutes. We then go on to dissect how the relatively crunchy, mechanics-heavy D&D system inevitably impacts the narrative, and the steps you can take to either mitigate, or engage this direction. For example, having a character sheet full of numbers can suggest that bigger numbers are better, and therefore the pursuit of those bigger numbers should be the driving focus of your character. To quote, it's a form of mechanical coercion, where the systems encourage maths, rather than meaning. To round out the episode, Adam explains how the mindset of a GM needs to shift, be almost transient, when dealing with different systems and games. Although the mental overhead is the same between say, D&D and PbtA, the feeling and direction can be quite radically different. 02:17 - Different Flavours of Campaigns 07:44 - How System Impacts Narrative 21:11 - Considerations of a Narrative-Driven Campaign 34:39 - The GM Overhead of Running a Game 56:00 - What Makes Great Narrative Find Adam (@ReturnSnyder) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReturnSnyder Website: https://snydersreturn.squarespace.com/ Linktree: https://linktr.ee/snydersreturn Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThinkCritDnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: 'Random' episode of Thinking Critically with Beholder to No One Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:02:29
September 24, 2021
Aesthetic
CW: 36:40-37:10 Single reference to rape and sexual coercion in the context of the Vampire trope. Philippa Mort joins me to talk about the varied and wonderful topic of aesthetic. The discussion starts around the different approaches to TTRPG and campaign design; a different perspective to the typical top down/bottom up paradigm. How does one approach "visual design", and how does it differ from "mechanical design"? Philippa shares her experience in designing from visual prompts, and we talk through the various pros and cons when compared to my own meticulous, detail-centric process. A solid campaign aesthetic not only aids world building and provides a strong identify, but it can also help guide players through character creation. 01:10 - Aesthetic Design Process 08:16 - Mechanical Design Process 13:15 - How to Design for a Specific Aesthetic 21:13 - How Clear Theming Supports Character Creation 25:36 - Two Sessions Zeroes 33:12 - Safely Leveraging Tropes 40:16 - Catharsis, not Therapy 49:19 - Flavouring your Table Find Philippa (@MortPhilippa) on: Linktree: https://linktr.ee/PhilippaMort Twitter: https://twitter.com/MortPhilippa DMs Guild: https://www.dmsguild.com/browse.php?author=Philippa%20Mort&page=1&sort=4a?affiliate_id=2197041 DriveThruRPG: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/18041/Philippa-Mort?affiliate_id=2197041 itch.io: https://philippa-mort.itch.io Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThinkCritDnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: 'Romance' episode of Thinking Critically The Crystal Maze Uncaged Anthology Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
59:44
September 17, 2021
Streaming
CW: A fictional anecdote containing references to NPC children dying and descriptions of gore & bodily harm to children, all within a Dungeons & Dragons context. This episode Robert Hartley, the DM for Viva La Dirt League, joins me to discuss his streaming experience and why he finds it so addictive. We go through the considerations of running a streamed actual play, compared to just a game at home with friends. Typically, this comes in the form of concessions; inevitably the streamer is distracted from the game. But, as with most things in life, an appreciation of the format is required when planning. The theme or vibe are you trying to achieve with your stream impacts how you approach the content creation process, and with a medium as inherently flexible as D&D, this has a large impact! One of Robert's big draws to streaming though, is interacting with the audience. It's a unique element of the medium, and as such should be leveraged as much of possible. Of course you can see how competes with giving any given D&D game your full attention! Rounding out the episode, when debate the importance of consistency and the parallels between starting D&D, podcasting, and streaming. 04:52 - Transitioning from Home to Streamed Games 16:49 - Streaming an Actual-Play 27:34 - Alternative D&D Content 34:05 - Scratching that twItch 37:34 - Consistency is Key 56:12 - Giving Back Find Robert on: Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/roberthartleygm Viva La Dirt League D&D: https://www.youtube.com/vivaladirtleaguednd 'D&D Logic' Web Series - Episode 1: https://youtu.be/QoO2eI9IioE Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertHartleyGM Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThinkCritDnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Viva La Dirt League Dead Aussie Gamer DreadedGM Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:00:41
September 10, 2021
Content
This week I'm joined by Quinn the GM to talk about content creation! Quinn is a serial producer, having released 15 products on Dungeon Masters Guild and showing no signs of slowing down, and he takes us through a BTS of his content creation process. We talk about the difficulties of balancing homebrew, and how the concerns shift based on whether it's for your personal game or for public consumption. As a sign of fellowship, Quinn and I share stories of our own self doubt and battles with imposter syndrome, and more importantly, how to overcome them, the answer to which is delightfully simple. Closing the episode, we discuss how the homebrew 5e market has become saturated, and the ways and means to stand out from the crowd. 02:09 - Content Considerations 05:53 - Such a Thing as a "Fair Advantage" when Designing Homebrew? 14:17 - Overcoming Self-Doubt Through Constructive Criticism 18:05 - Getting Noticed and Finding Internal Value 33:22 - Balancing Spells 39:14 - Inverting Tropes & Subverting Expectations 49:00 - Surfacing in a Saturated Market Find Quinn on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/quinnthegm DMs Guild: https://www.dmsguild.com/browse.php?author=Quinn%20The%20GM Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThinkCritDnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Inkcarnate map creator Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
55:06
September 3, 2021
Editions
This episode, Fabio Vollono of Morgue Miniatures takes us on a trip through time and all the varied & fantastical incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons. Edition by edition, we discuss how the game has changed over the last 30+ years, such as the concept of "boxes" versus our current reality of books. We briefly touch upon some hot topics such as gender stereotypes and the class-agnostic subclasses from Strixhaven through a lens of learning from past mistakes. The history of D&D can be storied and romantic, and in some ways has changed very little; there are still starter sets which fulfil the same purpose as they always have, and the pursuit of profit will always subtlety but substantially affect the design. We round out the episode looking to the future and debate what a potential "6e" might look like. What do you think WOTC will do next? 01:45 - Boxes & Books - The Journey from First to Fifth 21:05 - Reactionary Editions 30:10 - The Genesis of D&D - When Fifth Edition isn't Fifth Edition 39:42 - How the Starter Sets have changed 48:40 - Looking Forward - Will we see a 6e? Find Fabio on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/fabiovollono1 Morgue Miniatures Twitter: https://twitter.com/MorgueMiniature Morgue Miniatures Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MorgueMiniatures Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThinkCritDnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Swords & Wizardry Necrotic Gnome - Old School Essentials 'Experience' episode of Thinking Critically Leisure Games London Goodman Games Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:06:18
August 27, 2021
Failure
I'm joined by one of the hosts of the Double DM podcast, Emil Auerbach, to talk all about failure: how it comes about, how to mitigate it, and most importantly, how to learn from it. Failure is an intrinsic part of Dungeons & Dragons because as soon as you roll a dice, you run the chance of failing. Emil and I discuss several methods to mitigate this as players controlling characters who everyone at the table wants to succeed. From pandering to NPC desires to taking realistic notes, there are always ways to tip the balance in your favour! We then go on to talk about how, as a DM, you can work with your players to overcome challenges and reframe failure as a positive occurrence. Another tricky thing as Dungeon Master is deciding where the line is between introducing realistic consequences for failure versus trying to keep the story progressing and seeing character arcs to fruition. And finally, to make you all feel better, Emil and I take you through a couple of personal examples of where we've failed, so if you ever feel you've made a mistake, know full well you're not alone. 01:20 - Avoiding a single point of failure 10:24 - Ways to reducing failing PCs 16:46 - Working together to mitigate knowledge gaps 22:42 - Failing to prepare != preparing to fail 43:12 - You're not alone - our personal anecdotes 52:55 - Balancing cost of failure versus story progression Find Emil (@DoubleDMpod) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/DoubleDMpod Double DM Podcast: https://linktr.ee/DoubleDM Hope for TTRPGs Discord: https://discord.com/invite/sYpH7vKvJh?ltclid=4427d97d-72d2-49c4-9b9c-4f2b002ec462 Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThinkCritDnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:01:51
August 20, 2021
Puzzles
Puzzles, the marmite of Dungeons & Dragons! I'm joined by Michael Wu, a.k.a. DM Micycle, to discuss the nuances of designing puzzles for TTRPGs. Certain considerations have to made during the design process, as puzzles are a unique gameplay element in that they are challenges for the players, rather than their characters. Not only do we have to deal with regular awkward rolls (Wizard rolls low on INT, Barbarian rolls natural 20 to solve the puzzle, etc.), but also how to bridge the various gaps between players and their characters. This is a two-way problem, in that not only do characters have vast and innate understanding of the world that players do not (history, magic, science, creatures), but players are also often stronger than their characters (arithmetic, logic, reasoning). Accounting for both these is a critical component in designing challenging but fun puzzles. Michael explains the differences between what he calls "escape room" and "interactive" puzzles. The former you're likely to find in official material as they are easier to produce and slot into campaigns, however they have several substantial drawbacks. Interactive puzzles on the other hand, although having a larger upfront overhead, are much more flexible, expandable, and engaging for both players and their characters. Ultimately it comes down to understanding; the rules are arbitrary and contrived. Bespoke interactive puzzles, however, have transparent constraints upfront meaning the players and their characters have everything they need to be able to solve it. 03:20 - "Required metagaming" - bridging the player/PC knowledge chasm 12:54 - The escape rooms of Tasha's Cauldron 21:10 - Designing robust puzzles 34:26 - Examples of in-universe applications 46:29 - Puzzles without an answer 52:16 - Handholding - bridging the player/PC strength ravine 55:14 - Incorporating real-world physical props Find Michael on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/DMmicycle Game Master's Toolkit 5e iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/id1528248704 Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/dmmicycle Website: https://dmmicycle.company.site/ Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:02:28
August 13, 2021
Magic
"Perpetuating the success of fireball." Cat McDonald of Peach Garden Games brings her perspective of being an indie TTRPG designer and knowledge of the occult to this talk about magic in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. She takes us through the design processes used when working on Heroic Chord and her other TTRPGs. Unsurprisingly, we discuss at length her freeform magic system where players must homebrew spells on the fly through bargaining with the GM. When you compare this method with the one found in D&D, it's clear to see that 5e encourages power gaming through bread & butter magic items such as a +1 weapons. We world build settings and hooks to how to mitigate this potential lacklustre pitfall, such as a high-magic world which suddenly loses all magic! This brings us to how magic saturation affects a setting, with Cat asking the critical question of "are there bread baking robots in Eberron?" This episode, for the first time, you can hear my cheeky dog barking in the background at a few points. Apologies! 03:07 - Designing magic systems for TTRPGs 12:03 - Escaping the logistics of spell slots: free form magic 16:37 - Inventive homebrew solutions to 'spell fatigue' 23:15 - How magic rarity impacts a setting 40:03 - Eberron or Eberroff? (Have I made that pun before?) 44:51 - Managing magical minutiae 53:48 - The "magic" of TTRPGs Find Cat (@CatlingGun) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/peachgardenrpgs Website: https://www.peachgardengames.com/ itch.io: https://peachgardengames.itch.io/ Heroic Chord: https://www.peachgardengames.com/heroic-chord Sword of Symphonies: https://www.peachgardengames.com/about Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Inspirisles Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
59:49
August 6, 2021
Pressure
For this discussion I'm joined by Matt Perkins, DM/podcaster/YouTuber extraordinaire, to talk all about pressure in your TTRPGs! We split the term down the middle by differentiating narrative (in-game) from "meta" (OoG) pressure, however there are often more parallels than initially thought. Join us as we jaunt through topics such as effectively communicating the stakes, how to realise meaningful choices, and why to avoid punitive measures. All with a casual sprinkling of the Jason Statham classic Crank, worldbuilding, and all round tomfoolery. We round out the discussion with our personal struggles with pressure and negativity, from both internal and external sources. 02:43 - How to safely apply narrative pressure 31:30 - Galvanising PCs 39:32 - Self-imposed meta-pressure 49:17 - The pressures of DM'ing Find Matt on: Website: https://www.matthewperkins.net Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/matthewperkins Twitter: https://twitter.com/mperkinsDM Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mperkinsdm/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MatthewPerkinsDM/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/matthewperkinsDM TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@matthewperkinsdm Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/matthewperkinsdm Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: 'Conflict' episode of Thinking Critically Mass Effect Firewatch Bo Burnham Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:05:13
July 30, 2021
Marketing
This episode I am joined by professional marketer Zack Applewhite, of Applewhite Games, who takes us on a whistle-stop masterclass of content marketing tips, advice, and real-world examples to help us better promote the amazing work we do! Starting with his suggestion of a "content chop shop" where you disassemble the content you create to vastly increase quality output. Aside from the academic and business tactics, one thing we discuss at length is comfort. Perhaps unintuitively, it's more beneficial to stick with just the mediums you're comfortable with, to avoid saturation and a loss of quality; persisting with the socials you know and understand holds much more value than spreading yourself thinly over anything and everything. Furthermore, it pays to do your research, as most social media platforms employ various sneaky tricks meaning that you rarely reach your interested audience, let alone new people. Being aware of this can have a huge impact on your mental health; it's a marathon, not a race. As long as you stay consistent and comfortable, your audience will grow. Please ignore the amateurish splicing of some extra advice Zack thoughtfully provided post-recording, at around the 59:00 mark! And this week I give you all some homework, to think about the following question: "One definition of 'Marketing' is 'finding out what people want'. How do you do this when the TTRPG hobby is inherently flexible and transient?" 02:20 - Content marketing tips for small creators 27:55 - How to stand out in a saturated market 37:39 - Email lists & demographic considerations 46:56 - 'Lifetime Customer Value' 51:42 - To split or not to split Find Zack (@ApplewhiteGames) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/ApplewhiteGames Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dndunlimited YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7r-XEWm-W-8AFML-LAaT_A/ TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@zackapplewhite Guilds of Eraegarth: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/applewhitegames/guilds-of-eraegarth-a-dandd5e-expansion-and-campaign?ref=discovery_newest Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:05:06
July 23, 2021
Voices
This episode I'm joined by Pete, a.k.a. @BadDMPete, to discuss all about voices! If I can start off by apologising for the embarrassing mistake of confusing the Akira Kurosawa epic Seven Samurai with the Tom Cruise bombast of The Last Samurai, please forgive me! Now that's out of the way, I can tell you about the rest of the episode! Pete and I discuss how mistakes should be learned from to improve oneself, and that no one should ever feel pressured at the game table. In fact, understanding your own "voice" as a player is far more important than trying to find any unique or special character voice. Performance is an acquired talent, one that comes naturally, albeit slowly. A far more useful talent is being able to look after yourself, and support and guide others. Remember, this is ostensibly a podcast on Dungeons and Dragons! We also go into detail about how all NPCs are, whether it's liked or not, a mouthpiece for the DM. This means they can be used to subtlety or obnoxiously flavour and colour the universe. Another tool in the Dungeon Master toolkit! 04:21 - How to leverage the verbal component 12:42 - Finding your character's "voice" 32:03 - NPCs as a vehicle for the DM 42:35 - Guiding others to find their own voice Find Peter (@BadDMPete) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/BadDMPete Folk n' Fantasy: https://folknfantasy.simplecast.com/ Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: 'Everyone is John' TTRPG Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
58:53
July 16, 2021
Romance
CW: Discussion around sexuality and relationships. References to sex. This weeks guest is Declan, the "forever DM" of the Romancing the Dungeon podcast where the characters are all searching for that special someone! We discuss the what romance can mean in Dungeons & Dragons, such as the many forms it can take and reasons why it does, and does not, show up in campaigns. One of the most fundamental things to bear in mind is the comfort of those at the table, which can be monitored and achieved through regular check ins and open discussion. We regale each other with anecdotes featuring romance from our campaigns, or at least an interpretation of it. And that's really a core talking point of this episode: "romance" means many different things to many different people. Therefore it's as exciting and interesting as it is fraught with faux pas and potential missteps. However, adding an extra dimension to your character, in the form of romantic inclinations, can lead to fulfilling revelations and realisations that otherwise might've been missed. As with most leisure activities, D&D is a form of escapism, and not everyone wants the very real complications of relationships brought across into their fantasy universe, and so we must approach these topics with mindfulness and appreciation. 03:57 - What romance can really mean 27:14 - Risk and risqué: the pitfalls of romance 40:02 - An exercise in vulnerability 49:46 - Mindfulness and consent Find Declan (@DeclanDdy) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeclanDdy Romancing the Dungeon: https://romancing-the-dungeon.simplecast.com/ Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Agency episode of Thinking Critically Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
56:54
July 9, 2021
Random
This episode I'm joined by Nikki from Beholder to No One, the award winning TTRPG podcast featuring discussions and one-shots. Broadly this episode can be summed up as "how random elements affect gameplay", however as we quickly find out that's a much deeper and multifaceted discussion. For example, even character generation (standard array versus rolling) can dramatically affect the theming of a character and how you approach role play. It's often considered that to embrace randomness, one must relinquish control, but Nikki and I discuss how this isn't always the case in Dungeons & Dragons, and despite D20s ostensibly "dictating" everything, the DM still has control. We propose a number of interesting discussions, such how the game is in a constant tug-of-war with itself: player agency is undoubtedly critically important, but the outcomes of their decisions are inherently unknown. Furthermore, how can we collaborate on a compelling story when the dice sit primed and ready to undermine our actions? 01:27 - How character and setting generation affect role play 17:02 - The impact of dice rolls on a story 22:47 - Mitigating the chaotic nature of dice 38:22 - Less random alternative TTRPGs Find Nikki (@beholdertonoone) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/beholdertonoone Dice Before Dawn: https://twitter.com/DiceBeforeDawn Sound Control TTRPG: https://twitter.com/SoundControlRPG Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Kobold Fight Club Hamund's Harvesting Handbook (DMs Guild) Fudging episode of Thinking Critically Honey Heist Zweihänder RPG Fiasco Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
57:39
July 2, 2021
Style
This episode I'm joined by Joe Dunn (@jcd0818) to talk about a very stylish topic. Joe has 17 years TTRPG experience across multiple systems including D&D, Pathfinder, and Powered by the Apocalypse, so is exceptionally qualified to discuss all things "style". The first bulk of the episode is around the broad topic of "styles of gameplay" and how that differs between editions, modules, and players. For example, how do you marry the metaphysical, high-heroism style of Theros with traditional sword & sorcery D&D? A substantial part of the episode is dedicated to discussing how players with different styles can work together to achieve maximum enjoyment. I use one of my own players as the basis due to their noncommittal nature, despite sticking with my campaign for over a year! Some things never change though, such as the concept of "meta-acting" where the DM might find themselves in the position of performing for the players in real life, not just as an NPC. Finally, Joe and I round out the episode with some earnest self-reflection about our individual styles of GM'ing; I probably reveal more about myself than I realise! 03:12 - Style of gameplay and dealing with dissonance 26:59 - How the DM style has changed between editions 36:17 - Collaborating with players 55:47 - GM self assessment Find joe (@jcd0818) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/jcd0818 Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/commonspacegc Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:06:22
June 25, 2021
Friction
This episode was recorded 8th April 2021 and includes lots of swearing, puns, and memes. You have been warned! For this extended episode I gathered the cast of Cosmopunk, the actual-play homebrew Starfinder podcast, to discuss friction. Now, we do spend an awful lot of time talking about coffee, but nestled betwixt the brilliant puns and segues are nuggets of insight, raucous laughter, and life lessons. To begin, we discuss how drama between characters can cause friction at the table, and we talk though our various methods for dealing with it. The other side of the same coin is interaction between the players, and how that's fraught with it's own unique problems, exacerbated by playing remotely. Humans are social creatures, and so the lack of legitimate face-to-face communication can have a negative impact on TTRPGs. Eventually we get on to the topic of friction within a scientific context, and how that differs between fantasy (D&D) and science-fiction (Starfinder) settings. Don't worry, I got an 'E' in A Level Physics so the content is perfectly penetrable! Finally, listen to us realise in-situ that any friction between player characters and NPCs is, by extension, friction between the players and their DM. What this means for the game, and how you can use it to "fail forward", is discussed by this roguish group of experienced TTRPG'ers... and I'm also there. 07:27 - Character drama 23:44 - Friction bleed from PC to player 41:28 - The physics of friction in a made up universe 51:22 - Style dissonance - how to align expectations 01:01:33 - PC-NPC relationships: inherently antagonistic? Find the Cosmopunk crew on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/Cosmopunkpod Website: https://cosmopunk.carrd.co/ Scifer's Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sciferthebox Scifer's Website: https://scifer.co.uk/ Ty's Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/typhun Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Beanies Flavoured Coffee Reformat music Spectre in the Fog actual-play podcast "British Plugs Are Better Than All Other Plugs, And Here's Why" YouTube video by Tom Scott Monmouth Coffee Company Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:23:50
June 18, 2021
Dice
This week I'm joined by Aaron Saltzman (@five2lif), host of Feats & Fantasies actual-play podcasts Cataclysm Rising and Trivium of Time, to discuss everything about dice. We start by talking about how the requirement of random dice rolls fundamentally changes the nature of the "game" from what might be considered a "pure" role-playing experience. Despite my hypocrisy, Aaron and I share stories and anecdotes centred on dice and their oft whimsical nature. Although dice start as an esoteric prerequisite for D&D, they often transform into a completely different beast: a TCG-like collect-'em-up where it's worryingly easy to spend money on extra sets which are utterly surplus. Dice are possibly one of the only things that is the same for every D&D player, which brings us all together, no matter our differences. 02:21 - Dice as RNGs necessary to make it a "game" 07:00 - Anti-dice propaganda - the diminished need for physical dice during lockdown 17:57 - Dice Culture and how it brings us together 28:11 - Dice - The "craft beer" of D&D 37:01 - Accessorise! 43:52 - Awkward dissonance caused by randomness Find Aaron on (@five2lif) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/five2lif Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/five2lif/?hl=en Website: https://doubletake.xyz Cataclysm Rising: https://doubletake.xyz/cataclysm-rising-feed Trivium of Time: https://doubletake.xyz/trivium-of-time-feed Find me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Fiasco Dungeons, Dice, and Dudes Chessex mats Loke BattleMats Dispel Dice Pixels Dice Death Saves Kraken Dice Wrymwood Agency episode of Thinking Critically Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
56:49
June 11, 2021
Planning
This episode is all about "Planning" campaigns, chapters, sessions, calendars, and characters. I'm joined by Jeff Nabors, the DM for the Reroll Expectations actual-play podcast and media director for Chasing XP. We discuss our various methods for planning our campaigns from the micro of moment-to-moment improv, to the macro of embedding meaningful character development into grand campaign arcs. There's a line between over-planning, and failure to plan (is planning to fail), and the thickness of that line, and it's position, is different from person to person, campaign to campaign. Inevitably, there will be some encounter that never sees the light of day; take solace in that you are not alone, and learning from the loss is something every DM has to come to terms with. 01:11 - The challenges and rewards of planning a large homebrew campaign 17:15 - How to mitigate the impact of surprise incidents 23:54 - Coming to terms with lost potential of dungeons 28:46 - The meat in the middle - architecting chapters 39:33 - IRL TPK - Calendar Scheduling 45:45 - Frontloading character development 54:05 - Planning the proxy - divining divination requests Find Jeff (@_RKDnc) on: Website: https://jeffnabors.best/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/_RKDnc Reroll Expectations: https://rerollexpectations.com/ Chasing XP: https://chasingxp.com/ Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/rkdnc Follow me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: The Pomodoro Technique for time management Modular Prep Method by u/ElendFiasco Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:01:07
June 4, 2021
Family
For this whirlwind tour I'm joined by Colin Anderson, a.k.a. Family Fantasy RPG, and we take you through what it means to find a family through TTPRGs. Colin has a wealth of experience in the family-friendly homebrew and TTRPG space, and he shares his insight and experience gained from designing child-focused role-playing games. One thread which is universal, however, is that D&D is an evergreen learning activity for all ages and experience, and every sessions is a learning opportunity. This is true whether you're playing with three-year olds, or grizzled OD&D veterans. Having run games with both his child and partner, Colin explains the challenges that accompany a group of younger players, and how it can be uniquely rewarding. We also discuss why child-friendly TTRPGs are even required; the inherent complexity of the rules that I struggle with to this day! By offering simplified tiers of play through games such as Dino Riderz and Hero Kids, you can slowly and safely introduce new players to the wonders of RPGs, without the dense baggage of three hardback rule books. 02:44 - The role of "family" within D&D 09:36 - TTRPG'ers: The extended family you get to pick 20:00 - Family friendly games and their hidden benefits 36:03 - Tying family into character backstories 49:19 - Constructive criticism in the TTRPG family Follow Colin (@FamFantasyRPG) on: Website: https://familyfantasyrpg.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/FamFantasyRPG Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/familyfantasy_rpg/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FamilyFantasyRPG YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM_jSH6OOILuH5w_PXf2xgw Heroes of Sol'an: https://familyfantasyrpg.com/other-projects The Turtle Guild: https://www.instagram.com/the_turtle_guild/ Follow me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: WildSpire Miniatures Expeditious Retreat Press Hero Kids by Hero Forge Games No Thank You, Evil! Amazing Tales by Martin Lloyd Fairies of the Mistglade on DMs Guild Dino Riderz on DMs Guild Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:00:58
May 28, 2021
Environment
I am joined once more by Karim, a.k.a. FeverDreamStudios, and we talk about the environments we create, play in, and maintain. Again, a surprisingly broad topic with varied interpretations and connotations. We begin with the mechanical, discussing how to design dynamic combat environments to encourage and empower PCs and NPCs alike. One major benefit this has is making "non-attack actions" useful in combat, enabled by making the space full of "tools". This helps makes some classes, which can often be perceived as two-dimensional, more versatile and viable in several different environments and settings. Karim then takes us through his three-step method for constructing interesting environments: hazards, tools, home-field advantage. The last part of the episode is around how to enable a healthy and effective mental wellbeing caring for and maintaining your environments - micro and macro. The desktop and DM screen is one thing, but the world we live in impacts us all, and is important for a healthy lifestyle, which is of course conducive to optimised game time! 01:31 - From training rooms to certain doom - designing combat environments 12:31 - Environmental story telling 21:41 - Facilitating dynamic combat through the environments 32:51 - The World Stage 41:30 - Moving from an in-person to online games 48:14 - Physical, mental, and interpersonal wellbeing Follow (@studios_fever) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/studios_fever Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/FeverDreamStudios YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXy8rL0kRJ5e4_hicJe1XNw/featured TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@feverdreamstudios?lang=en 'Karrnathi Killers' on DMs Guild: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/351804/Karrnathi-Killers Follow me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Design episode of Thinking Critically Azgaar Fantasy Map Generator FoundryVTT Dungeons, Dice, and Dudes actual-play podcast Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:03:26
May 21, 2021
Tactics
This episode I'm joined by Kyle, a.k.a. @Kibidiko, and we talk all things tactical. Broadly, the episode is split down between tactics for PCs and NPCs. To start, we talk about how PCs can work together, and by using little known options and combinations, can increase their chances of survival. D&D sometimes exists in this dissonant state of combat being extremely tactical, yet the PCs don't operate as a tight, effective team. There's some food for thought in this one about how this can be improved. The second half of the episode is all about tactics for the DM, everything from how to effectively play "conscious" creatures, utilising the environment, and the consequences of a fight to the death. Kyle eloquently puts it when he states "not everything has to be a brawl", and we provide anecdotes and examples of how combat can end without bloodshed.  01:54 - To flank or not to flank, that is the question - the tactics of PCs 09:28 - The wood for the trees - missing strategy by focusing on tactics 15:21 - Advantageous character tactics - using feats, alternative rules, and combinations 25:21 - Over and underrated spells 34:51 - The monsters can know what they're doing - strategies and tactics for combatants and encounters 51:32 - Tactics of intelligent creatures Follow Kyle (@Kibidiko) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kibidiko Follow me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Matt Colville The Monsters Know What They're Doing Kobold Fight Club Tucker's Kobolds Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:05:45
May 14, 2021
Disaster
This episode I am joined by Heath, a.k.a Dag of Dahgda's Cauldron, and we discuss the surprisingly vast topic of "Disaster". With we start with how, much like conflict, it's an essential part of any adventure whether it's small-scale or apocalyptic. We they go on to compare the merits of setting a campaign either before, or after, a disaster, and how that flavours and shapes the experience. Of course, not all disastrous events happen in-universe, many take the form of social and interpersonal issues at the table. Dag and I discuss a couple of these including the D&D rite of passage of hearing "sorry, I can't make it" five minutes before the session! Finally, the finish the episode by chatting about ways to manage and reframe disaster, real or misconceived, including the dreaded TPK! 01:39 - The scale of "personal" disaster as a necessity of adventure 13:16 - Pre- or post-apocalypse 20:44 - Avoiding disaster at the table 28:08 - Off the rails, on to opportunity! 34:40 - Contingency management 43:14 - Dealing with "The Biggest Disaster" - The aftermath of a TPK 57:04 - The micro impact of macro disaster Follow (@DahgdaC) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/DahgdaC Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/dahgdac Follow me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Acting episode of Thinking Critically Dungeons, Dice, And Dudes Foundry VTT & The Forge Tribality Publishing Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:02:19
May 7, 2021
Lore
Welcome to the season 2 opener! We are flying out of the gate with a super interesting discussion all about lore with Steven from The Travel Log. This episode will be useful for both DMs and players looking to flesh out their creations using published work, lightening the creative load. I start by quizzing Steven on a few places I've heard of, but have no idea where they are or what they're like. Steven explains how the Sword Coast and the Forgotten Realms fit together, alongside a brief history on other famous locations such as Neverwinter and Baldur's Gate. He goes on to explain how the different editions of D&D aren't just a rules update, but also directly impact the setting and lore - I never expected the mechanics and setting to be so intrinsically linked! After detailing the hidden history of his favourite race, the Yuan-Ti, we discuss ways players can add dimension and flavour to their characters by integrating pre-existing lore into their backstories. Finally, to bring us home, we debate how retconning "new" settings (such as Exandria) into established material impacts the game. 05:38 - A Tourists Guide to Faerûn 10:33 - Faerin or Faeroût? 16:15 - Cataclysmic lore resets - how lore impacts mechanics 24:15 - The secret history of the Yuan-Ti 31:00 - Integrating pre-existing lore into your character 46:15 - The intimidating baggage of lore 52:40 - How the landscape shifts with the introduction of new "lore" Follow The Travel Log (@DndTravellog) on: Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/thetravellog Twitter: https://twitter.com/DndTravellog Steven's Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeartGolem Lily's Twitter: https://twitter.com/awweheck Lily's IG: https://www.instagram.com/awweheck/ Follow me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:01:39
April 30, 2021
Season 1 Wrap Up
Well, here we are, 25 episodes later and a whole lot wiser! This is the wrap up and retrospective for season 1 and boy, what a journey it has been. This episode doesn't feature a guest, but instead you can humour me for an hour as I take a look back at the past six months and what it's meant to me as a player, DM, and human being. But first, the show would be nothing without the listeners and guests, so I take some time to thank all you lovely people, it's not hyperbole to say you've changed my life. Then I take a listen to a few of the episode snippets that I never got round to publishing, and embellish a little as to how they made the cut. Fair warning you'll have to excuse me tooting my own horn in this section, you have been warned! Then the second half of the show is dedicated to the Q&A. I had questions submitted from my guests, listeners, and my players and some are really spicy! It's a varied bunch, so if you want to hear about how it's impossible to disassociate the "human" from the "DM" alongside me gushing about my favourite NPCs, this is the section! And to close out the episode, I announce the listener-only competition that went out in episode 25. 01:50 - Thank you all 05:24 - Retrospective 17:35 - Unreleased episode snippets & follow up 26:58 - Q&A 01:00:24 - Competition results Follow me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:02:17
April 16, 2021
Health
CW: In-game, player-character death, injury, harm, sexual identity, allusions to suicide and euthanasia. Player mental health & disorders and physical exhaustion. For this season finale, I'm joined by Cal a.k.a The Baron to talk all about "Health", an important subject both in and out of the game. We start off by talking about the understandable misconception of "HP" as one-dimensional indicator before deep diving into how the mechanics of exhaustion are the other side of the same coin. Humour Join us as we gush over the Path of the Zealot, and how there's the potential for romance on the battlefield between the often unlikely duet of Wizards and Barbarians. After admitting our unqualified status, we tentatively debate how the concept of healing is affected by an inherently theistic setting, and consider some earthly alternatives. Bringing the episode to a close I bare my soul as I talk about how D&D has been my lifeline in these trying times, and how I've been blown away by the support of the TTRPG community. This episode also contains spoilers for the Gloomhaven board game. 03:55 - The implications of HP meaning "fighting energy" 17:21 - If HP is a spring, then exhaustion is a rubber band 26:11 - Mitigating the "yo-yo" effect of healing at 0 HP 37:17 - The debilitating reality of exhaustion 45:53 - Healing in a theistic universe 56:37 - Benefits of TTPRGs on mental health Follow Cal (@Baron_Von_Balls) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/Baron_Von_Balls YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6R4sngT4oIj6t2dvC24Clg Ask questions and enter the competition on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Gloomhaven Happiness episode of Thinking Critically Gametee Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:08:55
April 9, 2021
Fudging
This episode is (unfortunately?) not about the delicious sugary treat, but instead the DM tool of "fudging dice"; changing the outcome of a roll behind the screen. For this discussion, I'm joined by Bart Wynants, a.k.a @critographer, author, historian, and all-round inspiration machine. Off the back of Bart's extensive, seven-part Twitter thread, we discuss the finer points of this particular incarnation of DM fiat, and how it's a bit of an iceberg of unseen issues. Firstly, it's not limited to just altering the result of a dice roll in secret, and it's pervasiveness can take many forms: dice tables, magic items, difficulty DCs, etc. I go through my personal realisation of how public rolling completely changed the game for the better, with no drawbacks! We come to the conclusion that fudging is less a DM tool, and actually a symptom of a deeper problem - seen as an exceptional occurrence. Through the use of the "five-whys" methodology we can get to the bottom of why the need for fudging has manifested, and fix it at the root, which is easier than you might expect! 02:32 - Transparent rolling: the silver bullet? 09:19 - Improvising/fudging DCs 18:46 - Single points of failure and the 'rule-of-three' cure 26:20 - Finding peace in the absolution of responsibility 32:13 - Fudging dice table results - why bother & how to remain flexible 38:04 - Tier 1 life support - a failing of the framework? 43:48 - Miscellaneous fudge 53:26 - The Five Whys - how to get to the root of your fudging habit Follow Bart (@critographer) on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/critographer He’s done some recent work for: Raging Swan Press: https://www.ragingswanpress.com/ Hansor Publishing - The Gaia Complex: https://thegaiacomplex.com/hansor Nightfall Games - The Terminator RPG: https://nightfall.games/terminator Follow me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Bart's "THOU SHALT NOT FUDGE" Twitter thread: Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7 Gloomhaven The Alexandrian Agency episode of Thinking Critically Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:02:25
April 2, 2021
Agency
For this insightful episode I am joined by Scott, a.k.a @optionalrule, and we talk about the incredibly important topic of agency. It's a term that gets bandied around a lot, carrying with it an awful lot of weight. In this hour, Scott and I begin to unpack some of that weight and how it can drastically and dramatically impact the gameplay experience. Starting by clarifying some common misconceptions and misinterpretations, we define what "agency" really is within the TTRPG experience. When you have so many options on the table, where do you draw the line? Indeed, the GM is player too with their own pool of agency, and it's that trading of agency which leads to interesting and dynamic games. We finish on the importance of trust, something not always directly associated with agency, but the two are often intrinsically linked. The more you trust each other, the more you're willing to part with to increase the enjoyment of everyone at the table, and I can't think of a more poetic explanation than that! 02:30 - Nobody puts agency in the the corner - the common misconceptions 13:33 - What constitutes "meaningful" actions 24:16 - Taking player agency away through in-game mechanics 42:04 - An ethical tug of war - sacrificing agency for others 52:43 - Railroading versus sandbox - the analysis paralysis of too much agency Follow Scott (@optionalrule) on: Website: https://optionalrule.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/optionalrule Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/optionalrule/ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi7AoQ6KbaZQqhdO7heKPqw Follow me on: Website: https://www.thinkingcritically.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD References: Dungeons, Dice & Dudes Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:07:02
March 26, 2021
Rules
Oh dear, hopefully we don't make any enemies with this episode all about the rules! Andrew Block and I discuss a range of topics interspersed with luke-warm takes and personal opinions. If that doesn't sell it, I don't know what will! We open with a discussion around the 'Rule of Cool' (RoC) and how it often belies the tricky nuances around modifying rules on the fly; there's often a wider impact that isn't always immediately visible. Indeed, D&D is a game of two halves where all the players work together to maintain a satisfying balance. Do you focus on verisimilitude and a believable universe potentially at the expense of "cool" set pieces? Or do you throw caution to the wind and allow audacious feats of heroism, possibly sacrificing standardisation and consistency? Ultimately, the rules are there to facilitate a story, so if you're achieving that, you're doing fantastic! 03:03 - RAW versus RoC - verisimilitude versus spontaneity 15:53 - A tale of two systems 21:10 - Empathy with interpretation 41:42 - Does the existence of clarification services and common issues suggest a weakness in the framework? 4940 - The house (rule) always wins Follow Andrew (@Nominrath) on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/Nominrath) YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC--jFXPcBpcM5sxOLrHEKpw) Follow me on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) References: Gloomhaven @OptionalRule on Twitter Conflict episode of Thinking Critically Archetypes episode of Thinking Critically RPG Stack Exchange Sage Advice Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:05:41
March 19, 2021
Encounters
This meaty episode is all about encounters within your TTRPG game. I'm joined by @XhangoGames and somehow we manage to squeeze an awful lot into a little over an hour! We sandwich mechanical examples for spicing up encounters alongside ways to reframe interactions with NPCs; turn "misses" into misfortune! Xhango opens the episode up with the elegant definition that all encounters should be a "dramatic question" - every interaction (environment, NPCs, and adversaries) should all put something at stake, what could be lost? This includes benign encounters with merchants and even each other. Check out Xhango's latest product on DM's Guild, the Candlekeep Codex! 01:20 - The Dramatic Question - non-combat encounters 17:42 - Time as an expendable resource 19:58 - Balancing encounters and "shifting the blame" 26:38 - Engaging players through the environment 32:47 - Higher level encounters 38:47 - Reappraising CR: designing multi-dimensional combat Follow (@XhangoGames) on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/XhangoGames) DMs Guild (https://www.dmsguild.com/browse.php?author=Xhango%20Games) Follow me on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) References: Time episode of Thinking Critically Mistakes episode of Thinking Critically Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:13:50
March 12, 2021
Acting
For this special [natural] twentieth episode, it's my pleasure to welcome Ben, Darrel, Vicky, Grace, and David from No Small Rolls (@nosmallrolls), the amazing actual-play podcast where there are no small rolls! It's a laugh a minute as they take me through their experiences in producing NSR, and how they've approached portraying a character based on a sheet full of numbers. It was interesting to find out how a career in acting affects the D&D experience, or more accurately, how it doesn't. Ultimately, there is no silver bullet to successful role play (whatever that means!), and no single person is "more suited" to the experience than any other. Alongside such earnest guidance, you can also hear me mess up in literally my first sentence, learn how to buy friends, and appreciate how slippers can give you proficiency in stealth! 00:56 - Meet the cast! 21:06 - How acting and podcasting affects the D&D experience 35:49 - The character sheet - your "Director" 46:58 - Dealing with the misconception of stage fright 58:08 - Finding your voice 70:00 - Performance as performers 78:26 - Darrel's Pearls of Wisdom™ Follow No Small Rolls (@nosmallrolls) on: Website (http://www.nosmallrolls.com/) Twitter (https://twitter.com/nosmallrolls) Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/nosmallrolls/) Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/nosmallrollsdnd) Follow me on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) References: Open Bar Theatre Mistakes episode of Thinking Critically Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:23:49
March 5, 2021
Improvisation
This episode I'm joined by Daniel, a.k.a @eos_rakonto, and we talk about the fine art of improvisation. Starting with the frankly embarrassing realisation on my part that almost everything that happens in a given game is improvised, we move on to discuss a number of tips for DMs on how to deal with the dynamic nature of play, and role playing on the fly. We end on ways to improve your own character role play at the table, especially for those that find it intimidating. Daniel is sincere, knowledgeable and insightful, and it was a pleasure to have him on the show. 01:25 - How improvisation is at the core of D&D 03:38 - Improvising NPCs - tips for maintaining role play 18:37 - Improvising encounters - dealing with the unpredictability of players 32:05 - Setting difficulty dynamically 38:43 - Order from improv - a purely improvised game 44:34 - Campfire talk - PC to PC RP 56:03 - Encouraging improvisational RP Follow Daniel (@eos_rakonto) on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/eos_rakonto) Twitch (https://www.twitch.tv/eos_rakonto) Follow me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) References: Kobold Fight Club Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:05:33
February 26, 2021
Space
A bumper landmark episode, as for the first time I'm joined by two guests! Two-thirds of Tabletop Journeys, Josh and Lewanika, join me to talk all about space within D&D 5e. They share their extensive experience of role playing, not only table top but also live action. Starting with the nitty gritty of combat, we discuss how well the framework emulates the real world, and ways to enhance your combat encounters through interesting use of space. There is also lots of useful information on how to build a compelling sense of exploration of the unknown, in the absence of space travel in vanilla 5e. And we bring to a wholesome close about how D&D improves our own personal mental space, something of huge importance in these critical times. 02:22 - The theatre of combat - using the space to stage epic encounters 39:07 - To boldly go - exploring "space" 62:13 - The abstraction of distance and occupying a space 72:33 - Mental space - why we play Follow Josh & Lewanika (@ttjourneys) on: Tabletop Journeys website (https://www.ttjourneys.com/) Twitter (https://twitter.com/ttjourneys) Follow me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) References: Society for Creative Anachronism Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:22:30
February 19, 2021
Archetypes
For this archetypical chat, I'm joined by Adam Gumbert, a.k.a AdamGumby, where we go through a bunch of different stereotypes and styles of play. Even though some archetypes have negative connotations, when managed and viewed effectively, they can always serve the story. We realise that what matters more than the "edgy rogue" or "adversarial DM", is communication, a topic we've heard time and time again on this podcast. Seriously, we can't stress it enough! No problem is too big for a chat, even if that ends up being "hey, this game isn't for me, and that's alright!". Also included in this episode are ways to reframe the perceived negative archetypes of "rules lawyer" and "my guy" in a positive light for the betterment of the table. And yes, leaving the unprofessional interruption in was a deliberate choice! 01:24 - Alternative character archetypes - limits and expectations 16:35 - What type of DM are you? 30:45 - Managing different kinds of players 47:58 - "Bad guys!" feat. Google Follow Adam (@AdamGumby) on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/AdamGumby) E.C.G. Podcast (https://twitter.com/ecgpod) Misfit Rolls (https://linktr.ee/Misfitrolls) Follow me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:04:48
February 12, 2021
Utilities
In this useful episode I'm joined by Phill, a.k.a Blue Munchkinite, to discuss all the different utilities DMs and players use to help them play and generally increase the quality of their experience. Everything from maps, music, and VoIP is covered in this episode, and all the utilities we use are linked below in the references. Despite the potentially dry sounding topic, Phill deftly ties his years of experience together to explain why all these mechanical tools all serve the same purpose: to increase the enjoyment of all the players. Obviously, a lot has changed in recent times and now it's not only the DMs playing behind "screens", we can all appreciate some fireside talk about what unites us, and the tips and tricks we can use to make that easier. 04:49 - Creative tools for DMs 16:08 - DMing in the remote "new normal" 28:30 - Campaign prep 38:40 - Calendars, cartographies, & characters 49:52 - Player utilities, in-game and out Follow Phill (@BlueMunchkinite) on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/BlueMunchkinite) YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyd_3FIvv1EAyJ4ByVLjfow) Find me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) References: Loke BattleMats Inkarnate Dungeon Painter Studio Atlas Architect Open Broadcaster Software Bad Wolf Gaming EncounterPlus PrismScroll World Anvil Diagrams.net Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:08:40
February 5, 2021
Enhancements
This episode I am joined by the creator of the My Sound Delve mobile app, Christian Borchert, and we talk about all the tricks, tools, and talents used to enhance your gameplay experience. Although we have different approaches and preferences to our TTRPG experience, some things never change and it's always about the camaraderie and social experience. This episode is split pretty cleanly between digital and physical enhancements, as Christian takes us through his splendid sound-board app before some tips for creating table-top terrain. 05:07 - Enhancing published modules 12:31 - Improving as a DM 21:38 - Enabling different systems/editions 29:54 - Benefits of remote play 38:31 - Adding another dimension through terrain 51:58 - The key enhancement for a player 64:35 - My Sound Delve Find Christian on on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/MySoundDelve) MySoundDelve website (https://mysounddelve.com/) The app is available on: Google Play (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eveninghuddle.app) Apple App Store (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/my-sound-delve-dice-roller/id1534739333) Find me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) References: The DM's Craft with DM Scotty Black Magic Craft Gaslands by Mike Hutchinson, published by Osprey Games Wyloch's Armory Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod This episode was not sponsored or supported in any way.
01:10:31
January 29, 2021
Progression
I'm joined once again by my DM confidant and close friend of 20 years, Jamie Mitchell, where we talk all about "Progression". We spend a lot of time talking about the age-old discussion of milestone versus XP. Despite the pros and cons of both, ultimately there is only one clear choice. Once we get out of the mire of mechanically progressing characters, we move on to trickier concepts such as player and DM progression not only within the 5e framework, but also as human beings. A big take away from this episode, apparently a theme of this podcast, is there's no silver bullet and if you're ever anxious of embarrassing yourself at the table, don't worry, because Jamie and I have done it all before! Lot's of swearing in this one. 01:41 - Milestone versus XP levelling 28:33 - Progression compared to video games 33:58 - The bell curve PC level trends 39:45 - Managing progression as a DM 52:25 - Character narrative progression 58:54 - How we've become better DMs Find Jamie on: "Mistakes" episode of Thinking Critically Find me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) References: The Order of the Stick web comic Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:13:48
January 22, 2021
Podcasts
In this meta-episode we find ourselves discussing "Podcasts". I'm joined by Mike Hibbert (@MikeHDnD), who has been in the TTRPG and board game space for 40 years, and had 1000 listeners on his first podcast 15 years ago. We approach the topic from both general and D&D perspectives, discussing them as a creative medium alongside the gotchas of producing actual-plays and the responsibility of celebrity status it might bring. If you've thought about DMing or podcasting before, listen to the irony of us "umm"ing and "errrr"ing through a discussion on filler words and feel much better about yourself! 03:02 - The value of podcasts 06:33 - How podcasting has(n't) changed 11:09 - The "joys" of editing 19:11 - Concessions of actual-play podcasts 27:26 - What defines the quality of actual-plays and how they differ from private games 46:55 - Improvised versus scripted 54:49 - Alternative shows Find Mike (@MikeHDnD) on: His website (https://mikehdnd.carrd.co/) Twitter (https://twitter.com/MikeHDnD) Find me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) Referenced Podcasts: Dice and Desire Roll the Damn Dice Dice & Die Roll Britannia Intelligence Check Not Another D&D Podcast Dads & Dragons Bellingcat "Tunnel 29" episode of Intrigue by BBC Radio 4 Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:05:60
January 15, 2021
Homebrew
This episode is all about homebrew, and once again we manage to squeeze a surprising amount into a single hour. I'm joined by Kyle Wagner-Totty (@MrBakudan), a DMs Guild author with seven published products! If you've ever had any questions about homebrewing for D&D 5e then this is the episode for you. From balance to publishing, you're bound to find something in here. Kyle is kind enough to share his wisdom and perhaps the biggest curveball, that subclasses are the easiest thing to make! 02:41 - Differences between "private" and "public" 14:17 - The tribulations of publishing 19:54 - Balancing homebrew 32:44 - Design approach: bottom up or top down 48:40 - Spell and item creation 59:20 - Homebrewing subclasses Find Kyle on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/MrBakudan) DMs Guild (https://www.dmsguild.com/browse.php?author=Kyle%20Wagner-Totty) Find me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:06:33
January 8, 2021
Time
Back on home turf with Tim Hill who plays Ulrik in our actual-play podcast Dungeons, Dice, and Dudes. In this episode we discuss not only the mechanical impact of time in-universe on topics such as split parties, but also all the way up to the metaphysical ramifications of our endless march towards entropy. Hey, bet you never thought you'd get that from a D&D podcast! 06:24 - Time: the rubber band resource 18:53 - Should you skip the boring parts? 22:43 - Reconciling a split party 28:33 - Gaining experience by spending time together 38:00 - Character age and class disparity 45:31 - Alternative rules for rests & levelling 57:58 - Entropy; how to spend your time wisely Find the gang on: Tim on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/timlington737/ Simon (Frederick & Gideon in DD&D) features on the Happiness episode Nathan (the DM of DD&D) features on the Macro episode Find me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:07:05
January 1, 2021
Structure
The first European episode! Despite the relatively benign sounding topic of "Structure", Ian (@thefoolishswamidm) and I discuss many thoughtful and deep topics, such as empathy, care, and responsibility. In this episode you can learn how to structure both your one shots and longer-form campaigns, how to set player expectations both "in-universe" and at the table, and how both those approaches serve different needs. If you want to hear me have quite a candid introspection, then this is the episode for you! 05:05 - How to tell a compelling short-form story through structure 15:16 - Structure & care: two sides of the same coin 20:41 - Using structure to prepare players for a long-form story 30:58 - Having a meta-structure to facilitate different types of players 40:26 - Improvisation while foreshadowing 46:14 - Why holding up the game structure is a joint responsibility 53:52 - Rules to support your structure, and not the other way around Find Ian (@thefoolishswamidm) on: Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thefoolishswamidm/) 'The Nine of Himdal' on DMs Guild (https://www.dmsguild.com/product/337972/The-Nine-of-Himdal) Find me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) 'The Ultimate Guide to 5 Room Dungeons' by Johnn Four 'Honey Heist' by Grant Howitt Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
59:40
December 25, 2020
Macro
This episode I talk about all the big things with Nathan Briggs, my DM from our Dungeons, Dice, and Dudes actual-play podcast. We discuss how Dungeons & Dragons has changed over the years, from "nerds in the basement" to prime-time, multimillion dollar productions, and what that means for the hobby. The second half is all about prepping and planning at a high level, away from all the muck of combat encounters and fudging dice rolls. 02:39 - D&D in popular culture and the effect of Critical Role 23:53 - D&D as a hobby 33:57 - Macro world/story building 57:00 - Planning a long-form campaign Find Nathan on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/TheBriggzy) Twitch (https://www.twitch.tv/thebriggsy) Dungeons, Dice and Dudes (https://linktr.ee/DDandD) Find me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:04:31
December 18, 2020
Emotion
Another international episode! I found my "Dungeon Master Friend" in Manny, a.k.a Growed Up Geek, who's enthusiasm is infectious. We cover the gamut from DM loneliness and anxiety, all the way up to eliciting those emotional responses from your players. A topic we've talked about plenty before, is the the positive feedback loop in D&D where the more you put in, the more you get out, and Manny puts it really well in this one. I can't effectively communicate it kind of nuance of human experience that we cover in this session. If you're feeling lonely or frustrated with your game, take a listen and find comfort in the fact you're not alone. 03:23 - D&D - an intrinsically human experience 07:40 - Player emotions 15:28 - TTRPGs versus VGRPGs 24:44 - Emotion in combat 30:40 - Why people play; scratching that itch 37:55 - No DM is an island - emotional responsibility 45:46 - Published adventures - emotional investment 53:39 - Subverting expectations to surprise and enthral 58:47 - Differences in player desires Find Manny (@Growedupgeek) on: Twitter (https://twitter.com/Growedupgeek) Twitch (https://www.twitch.tv/growedupgeek) Mysteries in the Dalelands on Twitch (https://www.twitch.tv/wilyhobbit) Find me on: Twitter @Danilo_DnD (https://twitter.com/Danilo_DnD) Instagram thinking_critically_dnd (https://www.instagram.com/thinking_critically_dnd/) Facebook ThinkingCriticallyDnD (https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingCriticallyDnD) Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:11:09
December 11, 2020
Mistakes
"A crazy babble of death and anteaters." My good friend of 20 years, Jamie Mitchell, joins me to talk about all the mistakes we've made on our parallel journey to DM-hood. How these mistakes have shaped us and the mitigation strategies we take to ensure everyone continues to have fun. This one get's real crazy in the last 10 minutes so stick with it as you may not have heard such a segue from D&D into hentai before, and if anyone says I couldn't fight an anteater, they're lying! 02:15 - A game of happy accidents 04:08 - Player mistakes - creation & mitigation 28:28 - DM mistakes - embarrassing coverups 69:12 - Narrative fluidity to change mistakes into opportunities Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:13:09
December 4, 2020
Happiness
This time I'm joined by Simon Eustace, and this episode is chock full of life lessons; you're going to come out the other side a better human being. Simon brings his four years of experience of playing unique D&D characters, and is my table-buddy in our Dungeons, Dice, and Dudes real play podcast (of which this episode is full of spoilers for). We talk about what makes each of us happy, and how to be happier both at and away from the gaming table. Donate to Simon's Movember! https://uk.movember.com/mospace/14460089 P.S. See if you can spot my sneaky audio addition in post! 02:06 - Happiness: the goal of D&D 05:29 - Is player happiness intrinsically tied to their character? 16:13 - What makes us happy 23:18 - Unhappiness sandwich 35:45 - What makes a DM happy 46:00 - Player character happiness 55:52 - Non-player character happiness 63:02 - What to do if you're not happy Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:08:37
November 27, 2020
Roles
The second international episode! I'm joined by Howie, a.k.a the Blue Collar DM, and hooo boy do we hit some big topics. Everything from representing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to how to role play earnestly, and staying honest to yourself. 03:47 - DM Facilitation of party role composition 12:56 - Class stereotypical roles 23:48 - How the role of the DM differs from the players 28:34 - Disassociation and 'my guy' syndrome 39:14 - Ebb & flow 43:01 - Presumptions of role playing classes 48:02 - The role of NPCs 62:30 - Sincere role playing and earnest characters Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:15:19
November 20, 2020
Design
A landmark episode! I'm joined by Karim, a.k.a FeverDreamStudios, and we get real deep into the design of D&D. How it's designed, how to design for it, and ways that PCs and DMs can design around and with each other. Too many nuggets of wisdom to list here, if I do say so myself! 01:49 - The design of Fifth Edition 08:26 - How PHB design affect player expectations 16:59 - How to start homebrewing 22:18 - Magic in a homebrew setting 31:35 - Designing adventures 39:05 - Integrating PC backstories 43:12 - Designing antagonists 52:30 - Avatar and alignments 57:00 - Designing social encounters Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:04:30
November 13, 2020
Experience
In this first of a two-parter, Ian Langton and I discuss how the "experience" of Dungeons & Dragons has shifted, not only since earlier editions, but also as the players mature. Ways to get "good" experience, and how differing levels of play experience can dramatically impact the moment-to-moment gameplay. 03:04 - What makes a fun experience 06:44 - How the DM experience has changed 15:25 - Difficulties of DM'ing 25:33 - How DM experience shapes player experience 33:45 - Good ways to get more experience 52:54 - The DM "experience" 59:55 - Anecdotal evidence Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod Reference to 'The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange' by Mark Barrowcliffe
01:11:18
November 6, 2020
Ability
Jack Wain and I discuss what "ability" means within the 5e context. We take a look at what makes an effective player and how those skills are transferable to being a successful DM. We discuss ability skills and how some, such as the oft derided Animal Handling, get a bad rap through no fault of their own. This episode's Big Question is ability modifiers: big box or small box? 00:01:41 - How to determine player ability 00:08:58 - Signifiers of a good DM 00:20:40 - Ability scores 00:40:59 - Dissonance between player and character ability 00:50:36 - Improvisation in published adventures 00:55:26 - Impact of score simplification over earlier editions 01:00:30 - Big box or little box? Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod Reference to The Monsters Know What They're Doing by Keith Ammann.
01:04:16
October 30, 2020
Conflict
Rob McPerhson and I discuss how "conflict" is an intrinsic part of the D&D experience; constructive and destructive conflict between PCs, but also how every PC requires an internalised conflict pushing them to adventure. We cover a few tools for resolving conflict both at the table and away from it, and how "my guy" syndrome can quickly and easily ruin an otherwise good game. Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:05:32
October 24, 2020
Trailer
Podcast trailer for Thinking Critically: A D&D Discussion. A discussion show with different guests each episode. We take a single concept or idea and discuss what that means within the D&D framework to help you get the most out your sessions, whatever side of the screen you sit on. Consider it an NPR-style, bitesize mix of thought-provoking analysis and humorous anecdotes! Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod
01:04
October 7, 2020