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Raising the Stakes (with Brian Murphy) *FANTASY HIGH SPOILERS*

– Hello and welcome to
Adventuring Academy. I’m your host, Brennan Lee Mulligan, and with me as my guest
is Mr. Brian Murphy! – Hi, intrepid heroes! – Ooh, there it is! Brian, aka Murph, you know
and love as a CH alumnus, the dungeon master of
Not Another D&D Podcast, aka NADDPod, which you gotta
go check out, and also, Riz Gukgak from Fantasy High,
season one of Dimension 20. – That’s right. – Thanks for coming, Murph. – Thank you for having me. And, Brennan is also my first ever DM. – We started playing, what,
like two, three years ago? – [Brian] Three years ago now, yeah. – Three years ago. Right when I first moved to Los Angeles. I think there was like
a weird rooftop party that, it was like the first time I was, like you and Emily were both there and you guys were like, we wanna play D&D. And I was like, I can make that happen. I hadn’t even transitioned to 5E yet, so we have a three-year-long edition 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons game
that we’ve been running, and every December we get a
little cabin in Lake Arrowhead. – [Brian] It’s nice. – It’s nice, it’s very nice.
– Yeah, it’s very nice. – Well thanks for coming on, man. This is so dope. It’s been really fun, so
we have this home campaign we’ve been playing in for a long time, you started playing in it three years ago, your character Sir Bulrick Ghoulbane. – Dwarf paladin. – [Brennan] Fuck yes. Murph and I share a fondness for dwarves at the expense of elves,
I will say right now. – [Brian] Well we like rules. – Rules! – This is why we’re DMs. – If you go watch the behind
the scenes of Fantasy High, I haven’t tweeted this or commented on it, I laughed my fucking ass
off, ’cause it’s like Siobahn and Zac and a
couple people being like, it’s just so amazing to have
a place to express yourself and to go on an adventure in a
magic land with your friends. Cut to Murph: “There are
consequences for stupid actions. “That’s why D&D is good.” And honestly, I feel you.
– Yeah. It’s like, I wanna play a video game where I can die forever. That’s why I play D&D. That’s what makes it fun
to me, is consequences, is being like, I rolled this
nat 20 when I needed to, and now we don’t die,
or we save the world. – It’s something that I think I’ve said some version of before on this podcast, but, to elaborate, my favorite games, the number one favorite game, far and away, is Dungeons
& Dragons, but I also, weirdly, I don’t think this
is my brand necessarily, love poker, love Texas Hold ‘Em. And one of the things I love
about it is playing for money. And weirdly, what it comes down to for me, and also affects my taste
in stories that I like, is the idea of stakes, what is at stake. This is more fun the
more it matters, right? And what’s interesting about that is what is represented in a
game of poker by money, your real actual finances, your ability to walk away and be like, oh, I can get a nicer dinner
tonight ’cause I won money here, the stakes of D&D are equally real because loving characters
and being invested in a story is extremely emotionally real. – [Brian] Of course. – And I think there are elements of, like, in Fantasy High when, you know, Eggfort kills himself to
bring, and kills Mr. Gibbons, to bring Kristen and Gorgug back. There is a matter of, okay,
you guys might have survived, but this NPC, even just like, you maybe thought he was funny or liked him, he’s gone and that – And you made him kill himself. Because you’re stupid. And that’s awesome. – Right, like, okay, we
tried to jump on some tables, and we went after these corn gremlins. Watching that, you as Riz are
the Cassandra of that battle. Round one, you’re like,
gotta get that corn blob, and then round two you’re
like, gotta get that corn blob. And it’s like, tables,
fun, swinging at cuties, ha ha ha, they’re cute, they’re cute. Not so fucking cute now. – You like, you could probably
watching sometimes on like, on Fantasy High, and watch
me trying not to be like an optimizing, like, not
even like rules lawyer, ’cause you know the rules, but more like, for the rest of the party,
like wanting to be like, ha ha, focus up gang! This isn’t funny. This is Dungeons & Dragons
and we need to win. – Well there is something about, which is I think a lesson
that everyone learns playing, and, you know, to the
extent that we’re here giving advice to, like, dungeon
masters that are starting, you will find, as you begin a campaign, and especially for
people that are starting a new campaign with new players, that there should be a grace period as you are breaking people in. And introducing the idea of consequences, I think I’ve already shared
this story on the podcast, but remembering, in
Errol, in our home game, when you guys saw the healer that had, like, been mentoring Emily hanging from a noose ’cause
the Baron’s man had killed her. And it was the first time in the campaign that you guys saw, like, oh,
we kinda breezed out of town knowing there were dangerous men here. It was literally the very first session, so it was like, under the
assumption that, like, sort of Final Fantasy
style, you leave town, nothing changes in town, right? But oh no, the world is extremely liquid, extremely dynamic, choices matter. She’s dead, and full stop
dead and not coming back. And I remember the grim
look of determination in everyone’s face as you all went, like, we’re gonna avenge her death. And I was like, cool. It was like, you guys just
got that taste for blood. And I think that, to
the degree that you can, kinda like a baseball
glove, break your players in to the idea of consequences
and lasting changes to the game world and the story, it’s nice to do that in a way that doesn’t TPK your players in the first session. – [Brian] Totally, yeah. I think NPCs are kind of there for you to torture your players emotionally. Like, NPCs are there to die, kind of. And it’s up to the players
to save them, essentially. Like, that’s kinda how
I approach it, is like, these NPCs that you care
about are going to die and it’s up to you to, like, affect the world in such a
way that they get to live. – [Brennan] I love, it’s
just in the spectrum of dungeon masters, Murph
is so like the dark Russian, like this insane, grim,
like, pain is coming. And I fucking love it. But it’s true, you do us, and it, like, in the same way
psychologically that, like, a lot of kids learn about death the first time with like a childhood pet, something like that,
where they go, like, oh. Seeing it externally is the first step to processing it internally, and eventually making PCs ready, potentially, for a PC to die. Or to at least understand that
that is what’s on the table. Rare, it’s rare for a PC to die, mostly because PCs have
a more intuitive time acting in their own self-preservation than for the preservation
of things around them. But it can happen. – Certainly. – Has there ever been a time in NADDPod where you got close to a PC death? – We’ve had a lot that were very close. We do, we’ve had a lot of, like, near total party knockouts, like we had Siobahn on for an arc where, literally just
because she was a barbarian is the only reason she survived, ’cause in 5E barbarians are ridiculous. They can, they take like half damage. So there was a total party knockout that only she was still alive. And it was because the players weren’t kinda taking the
wink wink, you’re gonna die, this is, you know, a kind
of serious situation. There were these, like,
machine gun turrets that were on the first level of this boat that kept shooting them,
and they kept trying to disarm the guns even though
they were getting shot. And it’s like, you’re gonna die, guys. – I will say that I think part
of the trick of being a DM is you actually have some
ritual that you have to observe if you are going to allow a PC to die. Now I say allow. The dice are the boss. Sometimes you’re in a situation where, like someone said, like, were
you gonna let the PCs die? And I sort of went, like, by the time initiative gets rolled, I kind of stop being a
creator and am now a referee. Like, we put the bad guys on the table, it’s kinda up to fate
at that point, right? That being said, I think
that you have a job to set the tone for when
things get really bad. The example I use is, like, do you remember when the trailer
came out for Infinity War? And I remember watching that trailer for Infinity War and going, oh no, because of how reverse
psychology works in tonal stuff. Like, you know, you’re
used to watching a trailer and it’s like, I will make you pay, I will bend the world to my
will, I am going to destroy, and you’re like, this
dude’s about to get clowned. He’s gonna get fucking
owned hard, fuck you dude. And the trailer for Infinity War started, and it was Thanos going
“I feel sorry for you.” And you’re like, why am I
being cared for tenderly? What’s about to happen? And it immediately let me know, like, I should be emotionally
prepared to lose something here. And I think, as a DM, you can do, if you kill a PC in a
battle where you’re like, hey, big fucking scorpion
comes up, blah blah blah blah, and someone dies, they’re gonna
be rightfully pissed at you. But if you set up a battle like, you see, like, a ship
escaping from the harbor, things are coming from the city, in other words, there’s
an opportunity to escape, you feel an air of dread
settle over the city, and you start to get, you
paint a picture for them of, like, make the
choices you’re gonna make, but I’m giving you tonal clues about what’s at stake here, rather than normal. – Yeah, I think that, and to bring it back to Infinity War, which I haven’t seen, but just ’cause of pop culture
I know what’s going on. I don’t like superheroes. I like going to a different world. I don’t want, like, like
you have superpowers, but you live in fucking New York? Give me a break. – Yeah, I hear you. – [Brian] Aragorn’s cool, I like Aragorn. But the, I think the
idea of, like, a PC death is like, they make the choice
themselves a little bit, either they’re being stupid
or they’re being brave, and then luck, and then bad luck. And I think that’s kind of
what happens in Infinity War with, like, Thor, is like,
he could have killed Thanos by hitting him in the
head, was that the thing? He’s like, shoulda aimed
for the head? He says that? – Yeah. – [Brian] He doesn’t do that. So he makes a bad choice,
and then it’s some bad luck ’cause it’s Thanos’ initiative
next, and he gets to go (snaps) everybody’s dead.
– Right. – That’s Thor’s fault,
you know what I mean? – [Brennan] Right, and I think there is an element of handling PC death, of, and it sounds manipulative
and borderline not okay, of making it clear that it’s the PC’s, I won’t say fault, but that
there were choice they made that made this a compelling
part of the story. You know, in other words, like, okay, you were in this pyramid that we made you enter
’cause of the adventure, but did you run back
for some more treasure? If you ran back for some more treasure, you know what I mean? Like, where it goes, like, ooh, there is something
actually poetic about this. I think the only time where, as a DM, you gotta be really careful, is if the PC’s about to die
in a way that’s not poetic. And I know that you might
be watching this and going, like, well how do I control that? What if a battle just goes sideways? And I would say that this
is part of the reason that you should be making sure that your combats are carefully planned out. If you’re gonna have
an overwhelming combat, make sure that it’s in a setting where people are emotionally
prepared to maybe die. Don’t throw an overwhelming combat into a scenario where it doesn’t seem to play into the idea of a
PC maybe saying sayonara. – Right, yeah, there’s a huge difference between being like, oh,
you’re three level fours and eight trolls attack
you and they just kill you, like, that’s stupid and that sucks, but if it’s like, oh, one of our NPCs that we’re friends with
or something is captured, and they’re in a cave with a
bunch of trolls or something, and then somebody dies trying to sneak in and get that guy back? That’s cool.
– Yeah. So that’s kinda on the DM, to be like, to make sure that you don’t
have combat for no reason. – [Brennan] Yes. I totally agree with that. It’s interesting, too, to look back and see in terms of, like, when overwhelming combats are appropriate. Like, now that the season’s fully out, Kalvaxis Goldenhoard was an impossible encounter for you guys. I mean, challenge rating wise, he was fucking off the spectrum. Because I knew that that needed
to be a climactic battle, but also because you guys
had this magical stopwatch, but just didn’t, never
– Forgot about it. – Fucking forgot about it! So I was like, there’s their – We don’t see the recap, guys! – But what was so funny is that people were like, oh this is, one of the things about that combat, actually, looking at it, is you guys, aside from the rolls for
the police to show up, – God dammit.
– God dammit. – Truly the only cursed human being I know in real life, we were
talking about it earlier. – So bad at rolling dice. Emily’s pretty good at it. As a household, we’re like
50/50, we’re pretty good. – For sure. It’s wild, though, because the, you guys really held your
own against Kalvaxis. In terms of actual
combat and dealing damage and yada yada yada, you
guys did really well. You guys did, to the point where, like, you guys survived for so long and rolled so well on
your death saving throws, that by the time your pulled the watch, you guys came back and
Kalvaxis was actually a little bit on the ropes
by that point already, and you kinda shut him down real quick when you guys came back
from the time stop. To the point where I was like, oh, they’re gonna have him in the
bag, this dragon is toast. Which was fucking dope. – But at that point, it’s like, you feel like you’ve earned
it, you know what I mean? Like for us, in that
moment, we’re not thinking, oh, this fight’s really
easy now, or something, we’re just like, fuck yes let me hit him! Like, I actually get to
do something and roll! It’s awesome. – [Brennan] Yeah, that last round was insane, that you guys all did uncut. It was like, lightning
bolts, some kind of sonic, it was like shatter or
thunder something from Fig, Kristen jumps down his
mouth, Gorgug saves Sklonda. I think Fabian got four attacks on him and then you hit him for some
absurd sneak attack damage. Dude was toast. What a wonderful thing. We wanted to talk about some stuff today, specifically, there are
some things you brought up that I thought were really interesting, which is starting locations
for D&D campaigns. Moonstone Jamboree, we’re talking about the very beginning, setting
NADDPod in Moonstone. I think it is a classic and iconic way to start a D&D campaign, to go to a small little
town beset by monsters. – It’s so easy. Like that’s what I would, any new DM, like, start with a village so that you don’t have to build a whole city. – [Brennan] Whether it be Moonstone or, in my case, Finnery,
which is where you guys – Which was also a fishing village. [Brennan] Little fishing
village on a river, yeah. – But yeah, like, as
you look through, like, the DM’s guide and everything,
you’ll see, it’ll be like, city, population size,
400,000 to two million. It’s like, you do not wanna start by having to make two million people. That’s too much. And villages, it’s like, a village can have 100 people in it. It can have 20 people in it if you wanna have a really
small hamlet, or whatever. Is that a hamlet? – [Brennan] A hamlet. – A hamlet. – I think in the old second edition, it went even one smaller
than hamlet, to thorp, which, the population for
a thorp was like one to 20. – That’s just a house, that’s
just, a dude lives there. – [Brennan] If you were
in the middle of the woods and some fucking guy
wandered out and was like – It’s my thorp! – Welcome to the thorp! The population of the
thorp has just quadrupled! Yeah, that’s crazy. – Yeah, Yoda lives in a thorp, I guess, by himself, on Dagoba. But yeah, I think starting
in a village is great. And also, just, it makes it easy for you to kinda come up with how
to make it feel lived in, like the logic of it, of just being like, it’s a fishing village, they make their money by
fishing, and that’s it. You don’t need to come up
with like a bunch of guilds or anything like that,
and you can kind of, you know, build off that from there once you, like, kinda learn how to DM. – My friend Jack Covell, who is the lead character designer at Hard Machine, an awesome video game company, who I’ve been playing D&D
with since we were kids, playing with him for like 10
year in this one campaign, he did a campaign when
I was getting very busy and we were running
Eredaine a little bit less, he came in and was like, I’m gonna run a thing called,
it was called Goblin Trouble. And he’s like, you’re in
a village in thick woods. The old empire fell, there’s no maps. Goblins are everywhere. And every PC was like, got it, great. And what was so funny is he was like, I’m doing this so that I don’t have to think about world background, ’cause we all just wanna play, and I’m gonna make my life easy, you know. – Cut to me, like, world
background, design, this, that. But it’s exhausting to
do that, and he was like, I don’t have that bandwidth,
I’m gonna do this. And it was fucking awesome. Not every world needs to have pages and pages and
pages of world (mumbles) But what was funny is that we played it for like two years and got really fucking into it. I had this character who was this, like, he was a giant, but who
was like an armored, he was like a holdover from this imperial time when giants were these shock troops of these wizard emperors. And he was lawful evil, but was
not like, an evil character, he was just like a violent thuggish, like, – [Brian] But he likes rules. – Likes rules, and was like, I’m gonna find a wizard, this
place has fallen into chaos, what is needed is a strong
iron fist to rule this land. And I will find a wizard to do that and I will kill his enemies. What was, in other words, a
weirdly relatable character that in any other setting would
be like, this is an enemy, but in a setting beset by
goblins terrorizing everywhere, it was like, oh the giant came in and killed all those goblins, and then told us we have
to pay a tithe of our farms to this wizard, but we’re
glad the goblins are gone. – Yeah, yeah. – But like, what was so funny is in the making of that world,
session by session by session, as Jack further developed and
moved us village to village, the world started to accrue
a really awesome backstory, just by piecemealing it together. And having the world design happen in that really organic
way never deprived us of a feeling of the richness
of the world at all. – Yeah, you just, you need to know, like, you know, what’s in the
little circle for the session, and then what’s in a
little circle around that. You don’t need to know everything. Like, George R.R. Martin doesn’t know what’s going on with Bran. Like he’s making shit up as he goes, and he’s the most famous fantasy author. You don’t need to know
everything right away. And that’s why, just like, start with, start with a little village, guys. Little village. – It’s very, yeah, there is a, I think picking your starting locations is really important for that reason. I will say, though, to
do something that’s maybe counter to the classic wisdom is, I think your location can be very humble and I think that your
amount of world background can be as developed or
non-developed as you like, because again, your PCs,
they’re experiencing the game from their point of view, so as long as they understand themselves and what they’re up
to, just make the world around them and their
experience, that’s fine. Or flip out and make a
ton of stuff if you want. But just, like, don’t get it twisted. The focus is on the PCs. – Do the fun part of world-building. If you’re like, oh, I’ve got awesome ideas for all these gods in this
pantheon and everything, go ahead and do that, but
don’t feel like you need to, you know, iron out all the rules for every guild in the main city if you’re just starting
with a fishing village. – [Brennan] Exactly. – You’ll figure that out
when they get to the city. – As you’re developing the pantheon, keep in mind, you’re developing this because theoretically one
of the PCs will worship one. Or have a connection. Like, in other words
– Or just, like, ask. They’ll just be like, what god do I like? And you’re just like, you just pull something out of your ass. You don’t need, like,
you know what I mean? – 100 percent. One thing I will say,
though, is I think that to go counter to classic wisdom, I would recommend starting
your PCs in a location, but not throwing them into a situation where you’re like, you’re in a tavern. You guys all like each other, right? You guys are all friends, right? Because even if your PCs
are very good natured, like I’m a pretty easy going PC, and if you, like, Brennan, can you just get along with all these other characters, I’ll go like, yeah, of course
I’ll get along with them. But if I don’t know why I’m
getting along with them, I will have to do a little bit of extra legwork on my
own to figure that out. I think one of the
things I would recommend, especially looking back at Fantasy High, is I think the party
got so close so quickly and the friendship was so real partially because every single character got their own little window
into starting together, and had that thing of, like, Riz knows he’s looking
for the missing girls, Kristen knows that she’s trying
to convert people to Helio. And I think that there’s
a lot to be said for starting your PCs off feeling heroic, meaning that they feel like there’s a reason they’re adventuring. Rather than, like, you’re in
a tavern, some shit goes down. What are you gonna do about it? – Like, I think definitely DMs should talk to their players first, and
get their player backgrounds, because then, ’cause even with NADDPod, it was easy to get
Caldwell, Jake, and Emily hooked into the first
question, because it was like, Caldwell’s character is
like a halfling boy scout as part of the group
called the Green Teens, and the Green Teens get captured. So he instantly has to go save them. And then Jake’s character, being this wannabe adventurer heroic guy, is like, missing children is, he is
going to make that choice on his own to care about that. Whereas, if you make your starting quest and you’re just like, there’s
some orcs on the edge of town and we got 20 gold for you if you, it’s just, it’s not the same. – I totally agree. And I think it’s one
of those things where, when you’re talking about plot
hooks or an adventure hook, I think it’s important to remember that a static PC or a PC that is
just a collection of abilities, or even a personality with no desire, like, if you’re like,
I’m a sarcastic warlock, and you’re like, sarcasm has never motivated anyone to do anything. What drives your character forward? You need your PCs to be in motion and to have wants and desires in order to be able to hook them at all. So it’s so much better
if you have a wizard, if a wizard’s like, I’m a
brilliant but befuddled wizard, it’s like, cool, those
are personality traits, but if you’re like, I’m
searching for scrolls because my order has collapsed, or like, I want to prove that I’m the
best wizard in the world, these active wants, then
it’s easy to hook people, ’cause you go, like,
you heard that the orcs at the edge of town have
some scrolls, have a thing, and you’re like, got it,
I know why I’m doing this. It might feel unfair as a DM to be like, well why is the motivation
of a PC my responsibility? And the question is, often, especially if you have new players, it’s not intuitive for people that haven’t, like, taken
a creative writing seminar to know to give themselves that. – Yeah. – So you can do a lot
in character creation to be like, this is a
funny thing, but again, to look at someone who’s a PC and be like, hey, I see you’re designing your character and you want them to be,
like, an edgelord loner, even if we’re gonna say that
let’s definitely have you be this shadowy ranger who has no friends, let’s give you something that makes you put one foot in front
of the other every day. – Yeah. – Because that’s going to
make this all feel fun. – Yeah, you have to care about something. – Gotta care about something. – So that there are stakes. – Yeah, 100 percent, so there are stakes and there can be consequences
for stupid choices. – Which we love. We love killing people, we love it. – [Brennan] Questions,
thank you very much. This first question comes to us from Mr. Rick Perry himself, the maestro. Rick Perry creates all of
our sets for Fantasy High. – Brilliant. – Minis, he’s the maestro,
he’s a genuine wizard. “I’m always curious to know “exactly what a DM has
behind their screen. “Monster note cards, stuff
bookmarked, et cetera.” Murph, what do you got behind your DM screen when you’re DMing NADDPod? – I usually print out my
monsters so that I don’t have to flip through a
million different books. ‘Cause I have, like, you know, I like to collect D&D books at this point. So I print them out by,
like, possible encounter. So if people are going
into, like, this castle, and there’s like, you know, some, like, commander knight that they might fight, and then a bunch of guards, I’ll have the knight and the
commanders all on one sheet. And then if there’s,
like, if they’re gonna go into the swamp and there’s, like, bullywugs and a snake or something, they’re all on a separate sheet, and based on kind of what
the players decide to do, you know, I’ll have that sheet ready. And then, you know, just in case they fuck up and do something insane like throw a knife at
the king or something, you’ll be like, alright, I guess I’ll have the monster manual
here in case I have to, like, look up what a sick
noble’s stats would be. – The haunted expression on your face when you talk about them
throwing a knife at the king just makes me all the more excited to one day play with Caldwell. – [Brian] Well he hasn’t, nobody ever, everybody always does things that are, like, very brave but too brave. It’ll be more like, ah, the main bad guy of the entire campaign is
giving a speech to them and they’re only level five and they’re gonna try to kill him. It’s like, I was planning on having him disappear in a puff of smoke, but I guess he’s gotta smack
you around a little bit now. – I love that. Printing them out is great. I use my laptop all the time, which someone commented recently, like, what do you have your
laptop back there for? And it’s like, dog, that’s vital. – [Brian] I do that too. – Laptop, and what I
do is I have tabs open to monsters, spells, and I just make sure that I’m playing in a place with wifi, because that command+F, that
find function is so critical. – Ooh, that’s helpful for me. I should start doing that. – It’s great, to just zoom
around in a spell list somewhere or look up some ability really quickly that’s buried in a larger file. And, for 5E at least, but with most games, they have their content available on, like, some website somewhere that you can go to and click, whether it’s like a
wiki or something else, you can quickly find material. I’ll do that for monsters,
for lots of stuff. It’s really really helpful and just gives me a
flexibility and ease of mind. I also, especially with giant combats like we have for Fantasy High, where also we’re on a timetable, of like, ooh, the episode, we want the episode to come in at around a certain time, I started making these little
initiative sheets for myself that also have, so it’s like a grid of the number of the
round, the initiative, or after initiative is rolled
I’ll put in everyone’s name, then I’ll go round up here, and then, in addition to checking people one by one as we go through the initiative order, I’ll have little boxes
for marked reminders, be they status conditions like poisoned, grappled, stunned, whatever, or I’ll have stuff like
remembering wild magic surges. I will then usually have loose hit points for PCs on the bottom, just
for me to keep track of, like, who’s getting really banged
around and who’s not, and I’ll have the same for villains, along with, not only hit point totals, but spell slots for them,
legendary resistances. And then, the fucking bane of my life, which is concentration spells, which I always fucking forget. I will have spell cards in a little, they have a little, like,
I draw a little jail for them on the sheet,
and they live there, and then every time someone takes damage, I spread them out a
little bit and go like, is there a spell that’s gotta happen now? I still forget sometimes. It’s hard.
– It’s tough. You have it harder as
somebody who is on video. ‘Cause it’s easier for me to
edit myself, like, with audio. Like I can just be like, stop guys, I need to go check the book, and you know, like,
we’ll just take a minute and everybody will go to the bathroom, and I’ll go through the books
and make sure, you know. It’s a little easier in audio form I feel. – It’s also hard because,
you know, like, there’s a, yeah, I mean like, for Fantasy High and Dimension 20 in general, we don’t edit at all, pretty much. I mean like, the editors obviously do a tremendous amount of
work polishing stuff. – [Brian] Sound effects
and things like that. – The editors do a herculean
task, they’re incredible. But, you know, we leave the vast majority of the material in there. So, you know, there’s a lot of things where I will also go, like,
we’re gonna skip that, not ’cause I’m taking it easy on the PCs but just because I can’t do another – [Brian] It needs to be entertaining. – This needs to be
entertaining, we gotta move. – We’ll have, on NADDPod,
it’ll literally be like, somebody will take a whole
turn and then just be like, wait, I didn’t actually have
a second level spell slot, and it’s just like, okay,
we’ll do your turn again. And I’ll just delete it. – God, that sounds rad. – It’s great, yeah. – That’s so fun. Trying to think of other
things behind the screen. Oh, having things taped
up on the screen is nice. I have a little index card that has, and I started doing this recently, I don’t even think I did
this during fantasy high, I’ve streamlined a lot, I’ve
been doing this for 20 years. – [Brian] You have to. – You gotta.
– You have to be fast. – I have every PC’s armor
class, the DC of their spells, all that stuff pre-listed, so I don’t have to check in with them, I know if a monster hits
them and I know if a monster – ‘Cause they don’t know it. – [Brennan] Yeah. – The DM needs to know everything. It’s generally how it works. Actually, because of Rick, Rick suggested this to me one time, which is to write out your initiative, like literally write
20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, and mark people off that way. ‘Cause I had previously, I’m just like a very messy, not organized person, I would literally just be like, uh, Jake, then Emily, then Caldwell, and there’d be little arrows
as monsters rolled in. And it’s gotten a lot easier for me. I also sometimes will roll initiative ahead of time for monsters. So I have pages of, like, this is what this
encounter could look like, this encounter could look like. And if it’s any time that
they’re fighting a big battle, I have that all, if it’s gonna be like, there’s gnolls and then
there’s burly gnolls and there’s a flint that is gonna do this and the purple worm, it’s like, if there’s five or six different category of monsters, I have them all pre-rolled. – That’s extremely good. That rules, you should do that. Something else, this is
not true for Fantasy High, in my home game, in Errol that we play, we recently had a combat, and I have a bunch of
little counters and tokens. My favorite tokens that I have, I just have the mat and marker on it, because, you know, it’s
like, a little bit more, what’s the word I’m
looking for here? Homey? – [Brian] Yeah, yeah. – Informal. I use Othello tokens,
which are white and black, and I’ll flip the token
over to the white side, and you can use erasable marker to keep track of how much
damage an enemy has taken right on top of the little guy. Which is a handy thing you can do. The most recent battle we had in Errol, I couldn’t do that because I needed to use all the little gemstones, ’cause there were so many bandits. We had a fun – Zac Oyama got us into a fight against every bandit in the world. By failing a, he failed
like a persuasion check. His character’s name is
Guseffi, and he went in, anda bunch of people asked who he was and he really unconvincingly said that his name was Museffi,
and then he rolled like a one. And there were just like 90 guys around. – [Brennan] He just decided to walk in, it was a camp of very scary bandits in a world that’s experiencing, like, undergoing a kind of arcane
collapse of civilization almost, and there’s all these fucking bandits, and he’s like, there’s so many bandits, I’ll just walk in, they
won’t recognize me. And it’s the kind of
thing where you’re like, yeah, but also, like,
if you’re in a group of, like, 90 people’s a lot of people, but it’s not that many people. – If you go to a townie bar, people know that you’re not from there. – They know right away. It can be a bar packed
to the gills, 150 people. They know you’re not, so they’re like, hey dude, what’s your deal? And he’s like “I am Museffi.” And everyone drew swords and stabbed him. Like literally, eight people
stabbed him right away. And then the four kings came out. It was manticore, a chimera, a basilisk, and a cockatrice all came out. – And they were all
really stupid and sucked, but because our first round was so bad, of Zac getting stabbed like 10 times, we thought we were fucked. So we were all, like, and
we’re all like level 10, so bandits are like nothing to us, but we were so fucked at first that we all start, like, retreating, but we’re killing like
10 dudes every turn. – So Murph has just leveled
up to become a cavalier and has a lance with the
valorous trait on it, and the funniest move I’ve ever seen. The manticore, well first of all, all four of these monsters jumped out, the manticore was talking, so there was an implication
that they were all brilliant. Turns out, only the manticore, so the manticore was
like “We are four kings!” And the other three are like (screeches) Completely unthinking. – [Brian] Sucky idiots. – Sucky idiots. And Murph goes “We must
flee!” and charges, and on the way out is like, I’ll get one glancing strike on the
manticore as I charge past him, completely obliterates his skull, and just whips around to rejoin. So like, “We must go!” (riding noises) “Nope, turn around.” – Never mind, the leader
sucks so the other guys suck. – Very very funny. – That is a good thing, though,
for a starting location. Speaking of, like, bandits and stuff, and you did this for our Errol campaign, for our off-camera campaign,
which is to just have bad guys, like, making trouble in town. – Great. – So it’s like, you have
the goblins outside of town, you have the bad guys
making trouble inside town, whether it’s, like, a
baron’s men or, you know, some kind of barbarians
or bandits or something. Then the players feel
like they’re choosing. But the only stuff you need to, you just, like, create some bullies. You don’t need to, like, write for that. You’re just like, there’s a
guy who is mean at the tavern. – [Brennan] It’s true. And I think there is also something, I mean I do this a lot
in my campaigns as well, especially Errol where there’s, like, multiple different bad guys, some of which are working together, some of which are working
at cross-purposes. And it’s a really easy way to make it feel like there’s adventure everywhere, when the PCs are like,
what do we wanna do? Which is all the fun of D&D anyway, is just getting to choose what your adventure’s gonna look like. “How can you get into D&D if
you didn’t play it as a child? “I’ve been having an
extremely difficult time “finding anyone in my area
that takes brand new players. “If I ever find one, I’d hate to be “the annoying newbie in the group.” Lizard. – I don’t think anybody
thinks newbies are annoying. People are usually excited to
share their hobby with people. – Yeah.
– I would say, right? – If you are getting shade
from people for being a newbie, – [Brian] Then those people suck. – You gotta dip. And actually, you just dodged a bullet, ’cause that was a bad campaign going on. Look, I’ll be honest. There’s a very common, I’ve
been DMing for 20 years, and there’s a really
common thread of like, that’s why you’re good, ’cause you’ve been doing it for 20 years. That’s not true. I don’t know that I’ve improved
that much since I was 12. You know? – You must have been pretty
good when you were 12, then. – [Brennan] But you know what I mean? – People were having fun in
your games when you were 12, and that’s the point of it. – That’s the point of it, right? It doesn’t take that
long to get really good. – I DM’d the second game I ever played. – There you go, exactly. – And it didn’t go, like crazy smoothly, there were a ton of things I got wrong, there were moments where, you know, I got tripped up or something, but my friends had fun and it was good. – By the way, you don’t get,
like, you can’t win D&D. If people had a good
time, that’s a success. – [Brian] Exactly, that’s a win. – That’s a win. I 100 percent agree. And I think it’s important to
try to dispel some of that, like, you gotta bank a lot
of time to get good at this. Nope, you don’t. And honestly, if you are fucking up, like, it doesn’t detract from the fun. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and will get through a battle and be like, oh, we got that rule wrong, we were doing that wrong the whole time. And you go like, still ruled. And also, because magic is
real in these universes, you’re like, I guess that
spell was extra potent because you were in a lay line. And then everything’s groovy
and you just keep moving on. I think it’s, so I will
say that no one cool is gonna have a bad time with
you because you’re a newbie. People are usually, I’m always
excited to share with people. I played as a PC in Molly
Ostertag’s home game, and people had a running joke
of me as the rules lawyer. ‘Cause every once in a
while someone would be like, I rolled, and it’d be like, you know, ugh, I only got a 13, and I’d be like, you’re forgetting your bless, and like, come in and be like,
there’s actually a modifier. – [Brian] That’s not rules
lawyering, that’s helping. – Right, exactly. But that’s the thing is I’m
a rules lawyer for good. For the forces of justice. – Lawful good instead of lawful evil. – [Brennan] Exactly, there you go. So like, if you’re playing
with people that are advanced, they will love to help you. Ally had never played D&D before, and they had a fucking ball, and I think everyone was
excited to help Ally. You can go and see Murph being
a lawful good rules lawyer and helping Ally out with stuff. Find your buddy at the table that’s gonna help you out with that 100 percent. – Yeah, it’s fun to
like, teach other people and to learn with other
people and stuff like that. It reminds you of why you love the game. You know what I mean? – 100 percent. – And then also, I think
that people, you know, maybe this was true five or six years ago before there were all of these D&D shows, that you can’t DM or something because you’ve never played
before or something like that, but like, somebody who’s
watched Dimension 20 for 30 or 40 hours has a
much better grasp on the game than somebody who’s played
like three times, right? – I 100 percent agree. – Like there are people who have watched Critical Roll for four years, and they think they don’t
know how to play D&D. – I guarantee you, you are not missing anything but the sliver of a
fraction of what’s going on. Like if you’ve watched all
of Fantasy High, you can DM. – [Brian] Buy the starter set. It’s very easy, it’s
this thin little booklet. You can go through it.
– 100 percent. I will say, to the practical
element of this question, about how do I find a group,
that’s really challenging. Part of what’s beautiful about D&D is that you’re playing in real
time with other human beings, part of what’s challenging about D&D is you’re playing in real
time with other human beings. Schedules have to align. Even if you’re playing remotely. I would say, if you’re living in a place that’s not very population-dense, try to find players online, there’s great Skype games going on. And if that proves to
be challenging as well, I would say that, I used to play, when I
was a wee little child, when I was like 11 and 12, my brother and I, who
were already playing D&D all day Saturday and Sunday
every week with our friends, would usually, after schoolwork was done, like around dinnertime and after, would literally sit on
our beds in our bedroom and play one-on-one with
each other, one-on-one D&D, like psychopaths, like crazy people. We would just play and play and play. So, you know, you have
three PCs in NADDPod. – In NADDPod it’s just
three people and me. So you don’t even need, like, I think a lot of people too will see Dimension 20 or something
and they’re like, well how do I get eight
or nine people together? You don’t need to. We’ve done, I play with Emily’s family, I’ll DM for Emily and her dad. And it’ll be like a
little two-person party, and it’s super fun.
– That’s so fun. – Yeah. – That’s so fun
– It’s great. – So I would say, try your
best to either, you know, telecommute or play remotely if you can. If not, you can scale down
the size of your party. And also, if you’re worried about DMing, you can also take turns. You can, you know, like,
share the responsibility. And I think that, you know,
it’s one of those things where people will, you know, talk to me on the discord
for drop-out people and be like, you know, I am scared. And I always wanna go, like,
if you’ve watched the show, there’s nothing you’re not
getting, I promise you. You area ready.
– Right, yeah. And also, if you have
friends that are like, you know, some people
have completely different interests from their
friends, so that’s one thing, but if you have friends that are like, play video games or like kinda nerdy stuff or are into these sort of things, if you have a few friends
that want to play D&D, and you probably do, they would be happy to have somebody who is willing to DM, even if they didn’t know
what they were doing. You know what I mean? Just to give it a shot. – The amount of, honestly, I
think the biggest bottleneck for D&D in general is
finding people who wanna DM. – [Brian] Nobody’s willing to do it. – But be prepared, if you
do say that you’re gonna DM, just be prepared to DM all the time. And be prepared to have
played the game for 20 years and have only ever gotten a
character to seventh level. Hit me up in the comments
if you guys wanna DM for me. “Beyond official D&D book sources, “what do you primarily use
to create your universes? “With Dimension 20, you clearly have “a plethora of sources you draw from, “but what sources do you suggest “for aspiring DMs to
base their worlds on?” Whoa. That’s heavy. – I like video games. – Yeah. – I like, I like kinda steam-punky stuff, so I end up using Warcraft type things. – [Brennan] Sorry, that’s Official Bad Dad Official Bad Dad asked the question. – Official Bad Dad. Yeah, I kind of find that my campaigns end up skewing towards
whatever I’m into at the time. Like if I’m playing The
Witcher or something, suddenly there’ll be, you know, cool witch hunter alchemists
who are, you know, trying to track down monsters
or something like that. So I kind of just,
like, I find that I just naturally incorporate whatever other nerdy thing I am enjoying. But what do you? – I mean, I, you know, pre my first memories, like
three or four years old, my mom gave me a, like,
tabard and a wooden sword, and I would run around pretending to be Gareth of Orkney, who’s one of Sir Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. So I didn’t
(mumbling) What’s that? – What’d you read of Gareth, specifically? – [Brennan] He was the kitchen knight. He was, I used to say
“I’m the kitchen knight!” And he was the Orkney brother. He was like Gawain’s little brother. Now I love, Gawain might
be my favorite knight. He all got favorite knights
of the Round Table, right? – If it’s not Lancelot, you’re a nerd. If you know more than one of the knights. – Dude, fucking, Galahad,
Bedivere, fucking, – I know who Galahad is. – You fucking, dog, you
fucking know Galahad, come on, give me a break. Grail Quest! What I’m interested in does
change from time to time, but I was like steeped in fantasy. My mom is literally, look up Elaine Lee, she’s like an incredible
science fiction author, she wrote Starstruck. But I was steeped in
mythology and Joseph Campbell and fantasy and all that shit from like, it was, like, baked in kind of. And the campaigns I’ve run,
from when I was like 11 to 17, I ran the most classic
D&D high fantasy campaign, all the way to 20th level. We all were going off to college, we wept in a cabin as the campaign ended. Everyone became gods. What a hoot. – Hell yeah.
– Hell yeah. In college I had another campaign that was, and it was
interesting ’cause I was like, well I did high fantasy, so what the fuck? I wanted to do something new. So I did this thing called Storm City, which was fantasy noir, and it was like this insane ever-dark city of gritty crime fantasy stuff. And, using different inspiration, and when we’re talking about inspiration, I think often what you’re
talking about is tropes, you’re talking about genre,
archetypes, tone, mood, vibe. Eredaine, the 3.5 campaign that
I’ve been doing the longest, is very steam-punky,
and very Miyazaki-like, Laputa, Castle in the Sky. But notice that, again, I’m name-checking specific mythologies, fantasy things. If you wanna do straight
Lord of the Rings, do straight Lord of the Rings. Errol, I went kinda back to my
roots, of like, and honestly, the one I ran when I was a
kid was high high fantasy. There was a nation of dragons. That’s some goofy shit. – A whole city full of dragons? – Like, what is the ecosystem there? With Errol, I wanted to give you, ’cause you guys never played
D&D before, I was like, do I wanna make, and I
even pitched to you guys, I was like, do you wanna do fantasy noir? Do you wanna do this? And I think everyone was
like, give us the straight – I wanna be a dude who has a sword. – Yeah, I want the
straight fantasy, right? So there’s nothing wrong, especially if no one’s
every played before, all of us, who doesn’t
wanna be an elven princess? Who doesn’t wanna be a
fucking ancient old sorcerer? We want these archetypes. But you might that,
after years of playing, you’re like, I’m building a tolerance. I need some weirder shit to do it for me. So I think that there’s no wrong choice. – I think it’s interesting, and you see it with DMs that
have been DMing for longer, which is, it’s really weird that I’m gonna make this comparison, but it’s
almost like MMA a little bit, where if you look at the beginning of UFC, it’s like, all of those guys come from different traditional martial arts. And so it’s like, you
got your jujitsu guys fighting karate guys and stuff like that, kick-boxers, boxers, whatever. But now people are just learning MMA. Like you can go to, like
there are good fighters who instantly were, you know, when they were like 15 or 16 years old, are learning wrestling and kick-boxing and the foundations of MMA. That’s kind of what Dungeons
& Dragons is like now, is you’ve got, I think, good DMs and people who are
building worlds who, like, maybe haven’t even necessarily read Lord of the Rings or anything. And soon I think you will see DMs who only know Dungeons and Dragons. That’s the only fantasy
thing that they do. You know what I mean?
– Yeah. Now, where do you come into this? Are you like old man
crotchety, like, that’s wrong? Or are you like, dope? – No, ’cause I’m, I
think I’m in the middle, ’cause I’m a video games guy, or that’s how I came into it, like, my big experiences with fantasy are like playing Everquest and MMOs and playing Warcraft II and all that. Getting really nerdy about
the lore of all of that stuff was more my thing than Tolkien stuff, which I got into later, but only kind of, like I read more fantasy now that I’m DMing all of the time than I did, like, it didn’t inspire me to get into Dungeons &
Dragons like video games did. – [Brennan] Yeah. – Just being like,
DMing is a way for me to make my own video game, essentially. It’s just like, I can just write, like, Final Fantasy XX, that’s me buddy. And you guys are my players
and I’m the programmer. And you’re in my world. – Well I love that too,
because I think that it’s like, every, all of these differences between you and the other DMs that are working, and by you I mean that
rhetorically, all of us, is that no one can DM like you ’cause no one’s gonna have
your exact combo of influences. The second you started talking about that I started thinking about NADDPod, and I was like, fuck man,
like all the combat encounters are so well-designed, like in NADDPod, are so fun from the
idea of how to interact with the combat as a
game in and of itself, and also, the PCs got the airship. In your thing, literally. – It’s literally, it’s Final Fantasy. – [Brennan] It’s so fun, man. I fucking love that. So I think, never be afraid to use what makes you passionate. – Right, yeah. – Whatever you’re bringing from, even if your shit that you fucking love is like, you know, those
romance video games, like dating sim video games, bring that into your D&D thing. Do like, what is it, Dragon Age? The one where it’s all romance simulating? Like, bring whatever
you’re excited about to D&D and the game will be able to adapt to what your interests are. – You don’t need to have
read the Silmarion to DM. – [Brennan] Um, it’s
actually Silmarillion. You don’t, you absolutely don’t. – [Brian] Case in point. – Case in point. – [Brian] I don’t even know
the fucking name of it. The Hobbit’s better than
The Lord of the Rings. – We better go to another question. No, but it’s
– Not the movie, the book. The movie is fucking bad. – Yeah, the movie is bad. But, no, it’s really true, and again, but in terms of the question, like, when we’re talking about inspiration, I will also say, my last
thought on that would be, like, don’t be afraid to be really, don’t feel like you have to have a weird mystery about what
your inspirations are. Like notice that me and Murph are saying the names of books and movies and games. – [Brian] Yeah, yeah. – Don’t be like, you know, if people are asking and they’re like, oh, this culture you’re creating feels kind of like weird
Celtic Ireland vibe, is that what you were going for? Don’t be like, no, it’s totally original. Be like, yeah, that’s
the vibe I’m going for. If you’re doing a Miyazaki thing, be like, yeah, this is all
about flight and travel, but with weird Mononoke vibes. Don’t be afraid to be like, yes, if these keys are helping you get in, these are my sources of inspiration. Share that with your PCs, ’cause it’s gonna help
them make a character that aligns with the themes of your world. And it feels good for a PC
when they don’t feel, like, rendered in a different
artistic style than the world. If a PC feels like, oh, I really am a character that belongs in this setting and plays into its themes, I think people have a better time. This is a perfect question
for having Murph on, which is why I wanted to get to it. “When it comes to being a DM, “where do you draw the line
at letting players do things? “At one point do you
just straight up say no?” – I’ve said this many
times on NADDPod, which is, the characters are Legolas,
they are not Bugs Bunny. I don’t wanna run that goofy shit. If you wanna take your shield and surfboard down some stairs
and shoot some elephants and ride down the trunk, dope, awesome, you can do that with a
good athletics check. But you’re not, like,
using a whoopee cushion to distract somebody, you’re
not doing a mating call to, like, trick a bullywug
into thinking you’re a frog. Like, not gonna work. They’re gonna come out and kill you because bullywugs are evil frog men who worship froghemoths,
and they will feed you to a big frog if you goof around. – Oh my god, it’s great,
I really love that. That’s very fun. I feel like, well first of all it’s like, your crew of Jake and
Caldwell and Emily on NADDPod are great, because I feel like you have a hard-line stance about that, and you have some players
who will try some shit. – [Brian] Yeah. – Shoutout to Sexy Rat from Fantasy High. – Was Emily Sexy Rat? – [Brennan] That was Emily’s. – Of course. – Listen, Emily is one of the
best D&D players in the world, endlessly creative, so fun to play with. She was also sent from hell to kill me. – [Brian] Yes, yes yes yes. – Yes, you understand. – She’s chaotic and we’re rules guys. – We’re rules guys, you
gotta play by the rules. But what’s interesting is I think that I, and this is pure hubris on my
part, I never wanna say no. I never wanna say no. So all I will do, I
think if you watch me DM, it’s all aikido, it’s
all redirecting energy. So if someone’s like, I wanna
pull a bomb out of my butt, and I’m like, it sounds
like what you wanna do is come up with a solution to create an area of effect spell. You have another spell that can do that. You know, like, I’m very Siri about it. Like, I didn’t get that. Are you trying to, you know? Like, I always wanna try
to redirect it in that way. – My other move is, roll
three nat 20s in a row. I’ve had, there was one time Caldwell tried to do standup to get a, it was some monster that
was literally born of hell, his name was, like, the
Loneliness or something in the monster manual, or in
Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, and it was like, just
a being of pure sadness that, like, they just needed to kill, but he was trying to do
standup, and I literally said roll three nat 20s in
a row, and he didn’t. He rolled one.
– Insane. – Yeah. – [Brennan] Insane. I do feel like, as a DM, what you can do is be
empathetic to your player. If your player is searching
for a creative solution and you can sense that it’s
because they’re actually frustrated with the options
that are available to them, like you’re reading their
face and they’re like, I don’t know, can I fucking try this? And you’re like, oh, this
is a good faith effort because you feel that you don’t have good options available to you, I think you can talk that
through with them at the table and be like, yeah, and
you can massage stuff. If someone’s like, can I use my magic to, like, kill everybody? And you’re like, well you can’t do that. – [Brian] But you can shoot a fireball. – You can shoot a fireball. Like, massaging, redirecting energy, and trying to help people find a solution that makes them feel like their character. I think as much as possible
if you can avoid saying no, and try to lead your
PC in the direction of, here’s what I think it sounds
like you’re trying to do, here’s something that, within the rules, would be possible, that’s very much in the direction of what you’re going for. That’s great to avoid those hard no’s. – And you can also kinda use
the rules to your advantage, where you can kinda be like a wink wink, this might not be the best idea, or this is gonna be
really hard to pull off. Like somebody like, I
wanna run up behind them and stab them in the neck. It’s like, well, you know,
the rules are in place ’cause AC is them moving around and stuff, so you have to hit to do that stuff. But you can be like, okay, I’ll give you advantage on the attack if you wanna do some
crazy acrobatics check and do like a flip off the
wall or something like that. But if you fail, then you flubbed it and you fell on your face and you don’t get to attack at all. – Deferring to the dice is always great, because you can always be like, I’m telling you how unlikely this is because I’m setting the DC so high. And that is a good way to do that, unless Ally Beardsley rolls a nat 20. – [Brian] Which happens a lot. – Which happens a lot. – It’s also, it’s interesting,
hearing you, like, me saying, like, tell them
roll three nat 20s in a row, and you being like, well it’s about using aikido to get your players It’s also like different
DMing styles a little bit. ‘Cause I also do that, but there’s also, I feel like the difference in our energies is that I think you’re, like, a dad, and I’m like their
older brother, in a way. Where it’s like, I feel
like our players, like, respect you more than my
players respect me in my game. Even though I think they both, they like, I think everybody
acknowledges how much work being the DM is and everything, but I think, just kinda depending on how you play the game or something
kinda effects how you, ’cause like, me and my
players are very antagonistic, where it’ll be like,
they’re literally be like we fucking beat you, we whomped you, like that kinda thing, like, fuck you. My characters say fuck you all the time, which always, in arguments with them. But I think, you know, it works both ways. You have to be high status and nice or low status and mean. Like you have to be willing to be one of the players and eat shit. You know what I mean? – The more adversarial you are as a DM, I will say that it does create that sense of them wanting to get you. I know, for example, that when my PCs are in a lot of danger, I don’t
get gleeful, I get very sad. And I think that has an effect on my PCs, because when I start rolling
dice and I’m going like, (sighs) my PCs go, no! ‘Cause I’m like, I don’t wanna see you go, but, you know, hey kiddo. – I revert to that when
things are very serious. I don’t wanna kill my guys. But when they’re really
ragging on my NPCs, I do wanna beat them up. – Oh, I definitely have a dad vibe in terms of, like, oh, you
guys are getting real cocky? Alright, well, you know. – We’re just gonna have
to knock you all out and hope you don’t bad on
your death saving throw. – Because if they start getting cocky they’re gonna enjoy the game less. There need to be stakes, full circle. – You’re Legolas, you’re not Bugs Bunny. – Guys, this has been Adventuring Academy. This has been my guest, Brian Murphy. Thanks so much for coming. – Thanks for having me. – And of course, you guys, if
you’re seeing this in YouTube, you could’ve seen it
earlier on – You fools. – You fools! – There are consequences. – There are consequences! Later!

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85 thoughts on “Raising the Stakes (with Brian Murphy) *FANTASY HIGH SPOILERS*

  1. DM: "You can start out with 1 magic item each."
    PC1: "A portable hole."
    PC2: "I want a-"
    PC1: "Bag of holding, you want a bag of holding."
    DM: "Stop trying to nuke my villains at lvl 1."

  2. “Emily is one of the best D&D players in the world…but she was sent from hell to kill me.” This is the best sentence I’ve ever heard.

  3. I'll throw my hat it, I'd love to DM a game for Brennan. Level 1-20, high fantasy, low fantasy, medium-well fantasy, whatever.

    Just wrapped Fantasy High a week ago, and am currently getting every D&D player I know into it.

    Keep making awesome stuff, can't wait for season 2!

  4. Only one minute in, already surprised to hear Brian (and Emily) has only been playing for 3 years. They sound like such naturals when playing

    Edit: Okay one hour in, with a teacher like Brennan and hearing him give examples in this podcast, I get it 😉

  5. Hmm I've recently got into dming I've done 4ish oneshots cause no one got time for more then a day ;-; but as a young dm I also am a player in a 2 year campaign….rogues man there just adorable

  6. Wow this has been very hooking. I already know about a game shop that has guys there at 10pm playing d&d… Hmmm

  7. looks into Brennan's dead empty eyes when he talks about only ever levelling up a character to level 7 damn bro I'll give DMing a shot for you, you ok man?

  8. Brennan do you have an ethical theory you believe in? I saw the Erika Ishii vodcast on dropout and it made me wonder

    Also save me please, i'm an international subscriber so i don't have access to the discord and it sucks.

  9. Is Brennans home game with Emily & Murph available to the public? Like a podcast or something? I'm almost done with Naddpod and I miss college humor cast dnd!

  10. stakes is the issue we're having with my current campaign. the worldbuilding my GM came up with is that we were all born about a month ago, fully grown and formed with level one abilities and weapons we were just apparently also born with. and so far we've just been told that our mission is to transport our town population to a new town (i dont even remember if we were given a reason we left our old town) and then given errands at a town we stopped at on the way there. my character is ending up a True Neutral because i truly don't feel compelled by any goals, only a laid back nihilism that's willing to go along with the group even if that means we'll die. but so far we havent been given any villians or overaching conflict, just "here there be monsters" that pop up like pokemon in a field that we roll for initiative to kill

  11. one of the things i really liked about Fantasy High is the fucking around in the beginning raised the stakes of the first battle, that the funny things they were doing while roleplaying had huge consequences when they entered a battle already at half health. moreso than the fact that two PCs died and Fig had a connection to the lunch lady and two NCPs with personalities that they'd had full conversations with died, I most felt the stakes when the PCs had the realization of "oh fuck, the stupid shit we were doing when no Big Bad had shown up yet had huge consequences, every part of the game matters"

  12. Yep I started out rather grand – an entire city with classism and everything… but realized what i did so I shifted the start of the story to a nearby island, so the city is currently flavor so I can flesh it out while my PC's enjoy their quest on this much smaller focused island

  13. When I played my first game, with a 3 man party, a friend's work Buddy DM'd, after telling my other friends about it, it turned out everybody wanted to play d&d, so after my second session I DM'd for 7 players. We did a kind of session 0 that stretch in to session 0 + 0.5 as my prologue over ran a little,

    But during the 3rd game/campaign start proper the DM from the other game joined, bringing it up to 8, I had never met him before all of that and he plays several other games either weekly monthly or when he can, with work colleagues and friends and within 2 sessions he said it's the best campaign he's playing in.

    Mostly because I've binge watched critical role, and prepped with Matt Colville, How to be a great GM, XP to level 3, nerdarchy, monarchsfactory etc.

    Obviously I was proud to hear it, but it shows you don't need experience to tell a good story.

  14. holly tomb of chaos, thanks for making me feal old. I hit the D&D book when THAC0 was king and continued untill 4.0 started. have not DM'ed or played sence, December 2013

  15. World building is one of my favorite things to do, but it's hard. Then I got Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica. Then I got the Planeshift PDFs. Now I'm running a campaign with an interdimensional human trafficking ring headed by a huge organization headed by an evil wizard who wants to rule the world via summoning an evil god he thinks he can control by killing thousands of humans.

  16. I'd love to be your DM Brennan! bring some friends to Utah and I'll build you all a world and run a one shot for you!

  17. I had watched College Humor for a long time, and Murph was always my favorite. Now I'm just pissed that I learned his name isn't just Murph. I thought that was his first name.

  18. My brother and I started playing only verbally – no dice or character sheets or stats – just storytelling with a character and a DM – like psychos. haha

  19. Awwwww… I know how it goes, mate. If you ever come to Chicago, you're welcome to jump into my West Marches game!

  20. You have inspired me to not only take an improv class, but also to give d&d another chance (I started with Rifts and Vampire)

  21. 10:30 When Murph says that having super powers in New York is stupid I couldn’t help but laugh knowing he ends up becoming Kugrash in the unsleeping city.

  22. Like, I already knew that Murph was the perfect man, but the line "The Hobbit's better than Lord of the Rings" really made me remember that

  23. Did anyone else catch when Murph said “You have super powers but you live in fucking New York? Give me a break!” I fucking WHEEZED! Oh Murph little do you know what’s to come!!🤣🤣🤣

  24. I actually started running a modified Tyranny of Dragons campaign that incorporated elements of Ravnica in place of the normal factions for the Sword Coast. In Chapter 3 when the PCs are exploring the cave I set the boss fight mood by playing the Pillar Men theme song. I kept everything by the book but didn't actually adjust it for the number of players because I knew they wouldn't survive if I did.

    The whole thing was a tense battle. First up for the fight the group's Monk, an Elf who took the Way of Long Death specialization because he's a member of the Orzhov Syndicate squared up with the Half-Dragon boss and began to battle him on his own. This PC is the same one who fought him at the end of chapter 1 and managed to surprise the half-dragon with how strong this old elf turned out.
    The other five PCs fought the two Berzerker NPCs that were his bodyguards… and were rightly scared shitless when their own group paladin hit with everything he had and the berzerker practically shrugged it off. What followed was the most intense hour of dice rolling and desperate battle ever in our group as the PCs found themselves very evenly matched. The most clutch moment came down to the Monk and the Half-dragon being one strike away from death for each other… the only way the monk would live is if the half-dragon rolled minimum damage on his attack… and he did, dropped the monk to one HP and everyone celebrated because of the fact that the boss was one strike from the monk away from death.
    A small scene played out between the two, being lawful-evil, each one had gained a respect for the other. The boss didn't beg for mercy, only stated with the same steady faith that he had shown since their first encounter that they would never stop the cult's plans. With his death the monk was able to get enough temporary HP to turn the tide against the berzerker that was left.
    When the last enemy was slain in that fight the group took a few moments to let the adrenaline die down.

  25. Watching Murph breakdown why the avengers lost in infinity war so brashly dug up all that pain i thought had been resolved.

  26. Someone get Murph a dice tower! I curse every dice I touch and my stats improved once I got one and was able to take myself out of the rolling equation

  27. the look on brennans face when murph mentions a powered adventure in new york doesnt interest him is funny given he then proceeded to give them a powered adventure in new york.. great episode, love these guys

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