For the more keen-eyed among those of you who use the site, this blog won’t come as much of a shock, but since we have recently posted our fifth episode and things are going strong, I decided it was time to start drawing some public attention to a bi-weekly podcast I’m a part of: Authors & Dragons. Now while it has been hosted on the site for a couple of months, I have a firm policy about never promoting something until there’s enough content to enjoy, hence the delay.
Essentially, Authors & Dragons is just what it sounds like, a bunch of writers playing a tabletop game. In this case, the authors are fellow comedic fantasy writers Robert Bevan, Rick Gualtieri, John Hartness, Rob Kroese, and Joseph Brassey. The game is Pathfinder, which is basically D&D 3.5 if they hadn’t discontinued it, and the GM is me, Drew Hayes.
The idea came from a discussion with Robert back when Undeath & Taxes was releasing, and grew from there as we found more authors who fit the bill and wanted to play. Now, five episodes deep, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve learned just because we write about fantasy settings doesn’t mean we’d survived them. Some favorite highlights include:
Drinking untested potions, because why not?
A rock and roll battle with demons while the town burns around them.
Multiple near drownings, even though the party has been in a land locked area the entire time.
It’s been a bit of a shitshow, but to be honest that’s what I was hoping for when the game started, so I’m not complaining. Now then, rather than just let the blog end there, much too short by usual standards, I’m going to use the rest of this space to answer some of the questions listeners have been asking so far. Think of it as a Q&A for those who already like the show, and a preemptive FAQ for those who just want to give it a shot.
Q: What system do you guys use?
A: We play on roll20.net, and we talk over Skype, since that’s the most stable platform that’s easiest to record. For editing, I use Audacity (badly) to cut out the boring bits. I don’t think anyone wants to hear us announcing our pee breaks, and if they do… I guess we’ll look into a premium service. Also, ew.
Q: Could you do this on a video channel as well, so we can see the gameplay?
A: Short answer: No. Long answer: Not right now. Adding a video element ups the amount of time, editing, and software needed by a shitload, since again you still have to trim down the boring bits to make it enjoyable to watch. Right now the editing team is just me, working in my limited spare time on weekends to put it together, and I’m pretty much at capacity as it stands. In the future, if a lot of people really like the show and we can afford to outsource that work, then it’s on the table. But for the moment, we’re audio only, though we do take steps to make sure the action is easy to follow. Which sort of leads to the next question I’ve gotten more than expected:
Q: Why do you refer to your characters in the third person so much?
A: We added this based on feedback from the first episode. Since some of us sound alike, it’s a lot easier to track what’s happening if a player says “Silas rolls perception” than just “I roll perception.” Based on what I’ve heard so far, this actually helped out a lot, but without context it can seem like a weird habit we all just suddenly fell into.
Q: If I’ve never played a tabletop game, will I enjoy listening to this?
A: Um… maybe? I can’t say for sure, honestly. I’ve gotten feedback in both directions. I’ll say that while we don’t do much in the way of explanations for how everything works, the show is far more focused on the antics than the mechanics. Essentially, all you really have to know is that when they roll dice, low is bad and high is good. Everything else flows from that concept, and truth be told the dice are the least interesting part of the game. It’s what the characters do with the rolls that makes these things worth playing.
Q: You know that you used X rule wrong in episode X, right?
A: On the opposite side of the fence, some veteran players might notice that occasionally I’ll interpret a rule differently than they have, or even ignore one outright. First off, Rule Zero suckas, and secondly, these are usually choices I make for the expediency of the game and the podcast. One example: I don’t make players calculate the weight of their gold for encumbrance, because that would be really boring to play and listen to, and I’d rather let them just get into trouble. If it helps, think of the whole thing as house rules.
Q: This is ridiculous and idiotic. I want in. Are you taking players?
A: Not directly, no, as a five-person party is pretty much my limit as a DM to oversee efficiently. However, if you’re a published comedic fantasy author (sort of a requirement for the Authors part of Authors & Dragons) and you love role-playing games, I’m certainly open to having some guest NPCs to liven things up. E-mail me at NovelistDrew@gmail.com and we’ll talk details.
Q: Why isn’t every player in every episode?
A: This is a real gaming group, and with that comes the real issues that plague one. Sometimes life gets in the way of playing, no matter how well we try to schedule. When those situations happen, the options are to skip a game or play on, and since we’re podcasting sessions we elected the “play on” option. It’s something we want to avoid whenever possible, but life comes first.
Q: How long will it run for?
A: As long as it’s still fun. And I can’t speak for everyone, but as a guy who’s been playing D&D for over half of his life, I don’t see it losing the luster anytime soon.