Friday, September 2, 2016

Antagonist Relations Actual Play Podcast 6 - GM Commentary + Bonus Antagonist Relations Commentary

First, go listen to Because They're Suckers - Antagonist Relations Actual Play Podcast 6 as that is the session that I'll be commenting on. A Red and Pleasant Land is abbreviated as aR&PL below. Also, spoilers for the podcast, though I'll hide any spoilers for the players about upcoming sessions.

Comments are in roughly chronological order as I listen to the podcast for the umpteenth time...

A Mome-rath... a boar that's a... bore...


  • Opening music is "The Thousandfold Epicentre" by Devil's Blood
  • On that note, strap in because this one hit the 2-hour mark...
  • Meliares got a new Vampiric Heritage move, now that she's officially part Vampire.
  • I tried not to be too annoyed by the players not paying attention to what was new from leveling up. Listening to the tone of my voice, I'm not sure I succeeded. 
  • We're joined by James, who is known to you if you follow the Ginger Giant's Wrestling Podcasts, playing Harry Froggy Hoppington, who I immediately pictured as looking just like Hopper from Steven Universe...
  • "I don't remember it that way at all" This quote could apply to so many player recaps of games I've run...
  • I had the players run on the THE ALICE: D100 LEVEL UP TABLE and they all got "Falling down wells really improves the hand-eye coordination"
  • Looking over my notes and re-reading old commentaries, I was reminded that Thomasina had promised Ochen some sleeping potion, so I rectified that.
  • I am 100% certain that I'm mispronouncing Castle Cachtice.
  • My obsession with keeping track of dates, picked up from al-Qadim church, continues. This session starts day 4.
  • I'm again blind-sided by the player's obsession with the "Shifty Pond". I let it pay off a little as the place they met Hoppington, but I should re-use it later.
  • Everyone should see Time Bandits, here's the scene I'm referencing. 
  • Introducing new PCs is always awkward as the players know that they should trust and join up with the PC, but the PCs would naturally be suspicious. 
  • Glad, I used Moth to try and push the group along.
  • And in his first scene Hoppington eats some human blood when Ochen gives him food from the pie witch.
  • Hopefully the players remember that they have these golden pears later.
  • Here is a small shot of the map for the sample dungeon, "Your Worst Halves", that I'm running. Small enough that there aren't even any spoilers for my players


  • And here is a shot from later in the evening of the map I'd been drawing for the players.
  • A photo posted by Zack Schwartz (@thatwordyguy) on
  • The four bottles in the pool were labelled:
    • Sir Octavious Ashdown (Gray square with white fish)
    • Cyril Beechworth (Black square with red crown)
    • Dearing Sinnett (Red heart on white square)
    • Enock Whipple (Black 'Z' on grey square)
  • They chose to open Enock's, here's the full letter.
Enock Whipple
Dearest Sir and/or Madam,
I am being held prisoner in this dungeon and would appreciate your assistance in acquiring my freedom. It goes without saying that I would attempt to reward you to the best of my ability should you do so.
Beware the Mirror Guards; I believe that were you to kill one that bears your reflection it would cause mental distress.
From a previous confederate who was going to assist me but has now disappeared, I have gleaned the following.
I believe that the key to my cell is in the north west of this dungeon, upstairs from the WC and the Glockenspiel room.
Waiting to know your judgement, I am,
Yours very truly and devoted,
Enock Whipple
PS. I am also very much desiring a jar of jam.
  • There is a story behind the 7-minute turn and scouting, basically a player in one of Ben's games insisted on scouting, got into combat, could not decide what to do and ended up taking 7 minutes to try and make a decision and ended up dying in that combat. The very next session, with a new PC the same player wanted to scout and the group told him the last guy who did that died. The lesson for players is, don't take a 7-minute turn and don't be surprised when the other players mock you for taking an action that got your last PC killed.
  • "I light the pile of furniture on fire" I must say I was not expecting this at all, but I respect Mike's commitment to forcing the party to make a decision and stick to it.
  • Listening to the players discuss all the keys they have, reminds me that I need to let one of the keys unlock something for them.
  • Here, for the record are all of the Mome Rath's dad jokes. I failed completely to make the Irrelephant joke land due to some beer and exhaustion making it so I didn't nail the pronunciation to make it still sound like 'elephant'.
    • What does a wicked chicken lay?
      • Deviled eggs.
    • Did you hear about the fire at the circus?
      • It was in tents.
    • What’s brown and sounds like a bell?
      • Dung
    • What’s large, grey, and doesn’t matter?
      • An irrelephant
    • Why do vampires believe everything you tell them?
      • Because they’re suckers!
    • What did one wall say to the other?
      • Meet you at the corner
    • How do you make a clown cry?
      • You kill his family.
    • What do you call a guy with no shins?
      • Toe-knee!
    • What do you call somebody with no body and just a nose?
      • Nobody knows
    • A plateau is a high form of flattery
    • A backwards poet writes inverse.
    • When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds
    • What do you call a fly without wings? A walk.
    • Why are skeletons so calm? Because nothing gets under their skin.
    • A wizard got crushed by a pile of books, but he’s only got his shelf to blame.
  • Apparently it took me all of a minute to decide to let the players have Special Spice Blend #3.
  • "What exactly goes into the stew? Ochen asks cringingly" and with that the PCs officially know that Thomasina uses human flesh in her food.
  • Again, the Player obsession with the Pond strikes when they hear that the Colorless Knight, Horsefall, might need a pawn (with a 'w') to be found.
  • Outro music is "Luna Moth Speaks" by Jex Thoth, chosen when I though Moth might have said more during the session.
I feel like this commentary was a bit lacking, probably because I waited over a month to write it up, apologies for that. To make up for that, I'm going to add a bit of commentary on the Antagonist Relations podcast we recorded after.  This is also from the point of view of having read Thomas' reaction to our podding which you can read here. So enjoy some bonus half-assed commentary.
  • Fair warning, by the time we started this podcast I'd had three beers on not too much sleep and you can tell. Listening back, you can hear how I struggle to focus and the bits where I don't quite grok what the Ginger Giant is laying down. That plus the fact that we rambled on for another hour and forty-five minutes and you can really hear at the end how we ended just because I couldn't form coherent thoughts anymore.
  • Have to agree that there is D&D that is separate from the Dungeons and Dragons brand, that most fantasy heartbreakers fall under.
  • Since al-Qadim church came up again and I don't sing its praises as often as I should, I want to say again on the record that it is a highlight of my week.
  • I've come to think that I need to strengthen the social contracts of my games and not just set table rules, but also to force the players to agree more on the kind of game and story they want to play. Recently that came up in my Shadow of the Demon Lord game, which I will hopefully discuss with Ben tonight or blog about next week. 
  • I've also had some 5e D&D players have the "that was so tough!" reaction when they have lots of resources left,where because it was not a cakewalk and PCs went unconscious that clearly it was BRUTAL. 
  • Going back to the social contract, I need to figure out how to get my players to make PCs who have some relationship beyond "we're all in a party for some reason", there's a lot of focus in my groups on making a PC that is fun to play just for that one player and not a PC that ties into the group at all. Perhaps for Numenera I'll give bonus starting XP for PCs who have a relationship to another PC. Just odd that it's not something that seems to happen organically at all in my groups.
  • I need to steal Ben's phrasing of "this is something you've never seen before, but this it seems similar to..."
  • It's cute that Ben thought there was any chance at all that I would have watched a wrestling show... :-P
  • I looked back at the Honor System (and Insanity System) in the 5e DMG and found them... severely lacking. It's another ability score mechanics wise but then changes from session to session which no other ability scores do. I also ended up running Viking World instead of D&D for that session.
  • It's weird to think that the game that sticks out in my mind as "most moral" is the game where I play an evil priestess dedicated to a goddess of murder and deceit.
  • Thomas does pose a solution to the "kill all goblins" problem of having goblins be intrinsically and cosmically evil.
  • I'm leaning more and more towards having PCs have codes of honor that the players come up with in place of generic "alignment".
  • Ben bringing up the "any enemy the players let get away alive being a future problem" thing really puzzles me. With so many movies, TV shows, books, comics, etc, relying on recurring villains that you want to finally see taken out, why wouldn't players be fine with the random goblin getting away and becoming a thorn in the party's side for them to celebrate when they finally capture that enemy. Maybe that's just me, but then again in al-Qadim church I always enjoyed finding more of the goblins who we chased out of the sanctuary that we could punish.
  • Here's the discussion of Table Rules, which were apparently in the 5e DMG. This reminds me that for my upcoming Numenera campaign and Planescape mini-campaigns that I need to draft up table rules.
  • Here again, at the bottom of this post, is my pitch for Death Grind D&D...
  • And here is the link to Dungeon Robber. Apologies for the hour+ you lose to it.
  • And just like I lost energy at the end of the podcast, I'm running out of steam on commenting on the podcast.
  • Talking of players hoarding resources, reminds me of Thomas needling me the other day about our church group holding onto a lot of stuff, but I will say that I don't worry about memorizing remove curse anymore now that I have a remove curse scroll. And a few other things we have, like the staff that will summon an umberhulk, are things that we need to be in really desperate straits before we use.
  • Listening to Ben sign off as the Ginger Giant, I think I need a better nom de jeu, Thomas referst to me occasionally on his blog as the Antagonizer but I don't know if I could say that with a straight face.
A reminder that if you want to hear the Ginger Giant and I ramble on interminably about a specific subject to get in touch with us. 

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