Episode Archives

Building Character Depth. Creating Odessa.

I have played many characters in my time, I have fallen in love with each and every one of them, but Odessa feels special.

I wanted to sew more of myself into her than I typically would, but still allow her to evolve independently. So when I was figuring out how she thinks, or how she acts I decided to take a trip into the past. In this day in age I am in a serious relationship and I’m neck deep in school with the goal of getting my graduate degree and a mountain of certifications. I wanted Odessa to be free to do whatever she wanted. So I took pieces of myself from when I was in my early 20’s: sassy, flirty, kind of a bitch, crazy hair colors.

From there I just went nuts. I gave her some trauma, set her up with some goals of her own, and motivation to drive her. While we are definitely separate, I relate to her a lot.

Dustin will probably be the first to tell you about how crazy in depth I tend to go with my character history and background. But I tend to keep it up my sleeve until it becomes necessary in game. It’s definitely a gamble because if the worst should happen there’s a lot the world will never know. But I’m proud of her. I very much hope she survives long enough to tell her story.

Episode 04 – Ten-Penny for your thoughts

After finally reaching level 2, Abby, Angel, Dustin, and Kay discuss the new elements being added to the game and touch on the interpersonal relationships between their characters.

This week our heroes finally make their way to the High Sentinel Lodge where the team learns a lesson in hippology. They make a tentative alliance with a fairly untrustworthy person, whose name Odessa can’t seem to pronounce, and Pippa has no patience for. Bonus, Abraxas may or may not get a fancy bear skin rug.

Will our heroes make it out of the lodge in one piece? Or will their salty sense of humor get them killed by Game Dad?

Join us to find out!   

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The Fantastic Worlds Podcast is a Fantastic Pods production. We would like to thank Amy Hankenson for writing our wonderful theme song.

Dustin Alexander (@dustinalexander)
Abbie Lammel (@bonanzafamine)
Angel Espinoza (@espinoza916)
Kay O’Connor (@shesladymacbeth)
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Thank you for listening!

Finding Inspiration. Creating Pippa.

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(Pictured) Natalie Dormer
Photo Credit: Doane Gregory
© Touchstone Pictures, All rights Reserved

When we started dreaming up what we wanted to do for this podcast, I was pretty sure right away that I either wanted to go Wizard or Rogue. Honestly I was leaning more toward wizard, BUT I was scrolling through Netflix one fateful Sunday morning with nothing better to do than watch a movie and I stumbled on an old favorite: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. And my initial concept for a high class con-artist was born.

Originally I saw her as a (more) dishonest Carrie Bradshaw – witty, quick to anger, obsessed with shoes and a hater of the outdoors. Some of that survived (the shoes and the temper). She was going to be human, but since the rest of the party was turning up ostensibly human I wanted to mix it up a bit. Also, those Stealth bonuses for Halflings are no joke.  

Pippa didn’t have a name for the longest time. It was actually the last thing about her I decided on! I eventually landed on naming her after my all-time favorite “Halfling”, Peregrine “Pippin” Took from LOTR. There’s also a bit of a Pippi Longstocking sound to her name as well, which I also thought suited her. Her last name is shared with Robin Hood, for obvious reasons.

When I was creating her character, I honestly never envisioned her as someone so kind and committed to a general concept of good. She was going to have a pretty average moral compass for a thief – an every Halfling for herself kind of attitude. Dustin laid out an excellent argument for making her a good character, partially that it would be a more interesting choice for a thief – but also because I am a known villain sympathizer and playing a Good aligned person would be a fun challenge for me.

So far I’m having a blast with her! We’ll see how long I can keep her alive – the longer we can go without bumping into someone who needs our help against overwhelming odds the better. Or someone with lots of money that’s also smart enough to know Pippa’s not really a princess. 

P.S. She’s currently being played by Natalie Dormer. Don’t sue me Natalie, this is a great honor for you. 

I never wanted to be a DM: Confessions of a new Dungeon Master

I never ever wanted to be a Dungeon Master, I have been playing for decades at this point, but it never interested me. In part because I thought I lacked the creativity to pull it off. Additionally I thought the people for whom I have historically played with would tear me alive and that freaked me out.

Then a few years ago I was really starting to struggle with character creation. Nothing seemed exciting, I would create a character and have ZERO desire to build a backstory or develop their background. What was the point? I even started to wonder if maybe it was time to stop playing. To find some new hobby that might capture my interest once again.

Then I ran across the podcast Friends at the Table. The first episodes had poor audio quality, but I stuck with it, and was glad I did. Little did I know I would listen to a incredible world and cast of character be created in front of my very eyes.

It was a game rich in team development. A bard was not just a Bard with a spell list, he was a Bard who would explain how and why his spell worked. He was not merely a storyteller, he was a member of a group that collected and archived information across the world. The fighter came from a land where she would eventually have to choose between her people and her friends. A Paladin was not just a protector of his god, but possibly just used as tool by his god. Zombie pirates were not undead evil creatures, they were nearly immortal beings at a stage in the life cycle. These beings pillaged to bring supplies to their city. The world was not just there to exist enough to live in, it was given life by its characters and the imaginations of the players. The DMs job was to weave it all together into a rich tapestry of a game. For the first time I was excited to play again.

I immediately bought the book and showed it to my gaming friends, hopeful I could convince them to give it a try, they were all interested, but I could quickly tell their enthusiasm was not quite where I was or what was needed to build a world.

So it was at that point, for the first time ever, I realized it was time to take matters into my own hands. I had to find another group people that were as excited about building a world as I was. Almost all the people who are in this podcast now were the members of that original group. Quickly my concerns about my lack of creativity and my shaky confidence began to improve.

I will admit, at first I borrowed heavily from Friends at the Table, but it did not take long with everyone’s involvement in the creation of that world to slowly become something different. It also helped to have an amazing group just as excited about the land of Locke and the City of San Madque as I was. Before I knew it I was having discussions with the players about their characters round the clock. They didn’t just create a backstory they created entire cultures and pantheons, or in some cases, destroyed gods.

Just a few days into being a Dungeon Master for an intrepid group of friends and I found a fire I thought had been long extinguished. It found its way because of a desire to tell stories first and focus on the math second. To use our surroundings and go on Fantastic Adventures and to create new and interesting stories.

Some may wonder why we switched from Dungeon World a place where you can build unlimited worlds to that of Pathfinder game. For me it was one of curiosity, what if we put story first and math second in a Pathfinder game. I love the Dungeon World, but a part of me craved a little more guidance and Adventure Paths allow us to focus on character development and put them in an active outline of a story. We still get to put characters first, we still get to develop a world rich in history in our own way. We can take the guidance provided and make it our own. That excited me.

Whether or not we do it well? My dear reader I will leave that decision up to you.

When you put the story first. Creating Abraxas.

I am playing a few online games at the moment. It is not uncommon for me to look up talent or ship builds. Y’all know what I am talking about, right? Yah you do, you delightful nerds. I don’t do that as often when building pen and paper characters. When it was time to roll up a toon for the Reign of Winter campaign, I didn’t scour the internet for THE best first level toon. I had a basic idea revolving around a winter druid. Lucky for me the arctic druid archetype existed. I will be honest with you, I immediately thought about rolling an Aasimar. They pack some sweet racial traits. What druid wouldn’t like a nice Wisdom and Charisma boost? He looked pretty good by the time I finished up. Then I got to thinking about a Mowgli character. Raised by wolves prior to finding the path of the druid. A few days passed, and I still liked the idea. The week progressed, and I kept on musing about a feral background. Story first, math second. Says it right on our website. So, I scrapped the Aasimar druid build and wrote a decent character background. I chose feats and skills based on wilderness survival instead of boosting my AC or damage. When the time comes to increase an ability score at level 4, I am leaving my Wisdom as is. I have never done that with any prior character; ability increase equals primary stat boost. I am excited to see how far Abraxas can go and see his story unfold. I am really excited to see how his interactions with his companions affect his growth. Maybe he will pick up a bit of gunsmithing or learn to how to pick a few pockets. Only time and the story will tell.

“The week progressed, and I kept on musing about a feral background. Story first, math second. Says it right on our website.”