It’s my goal to draw 26 monsters from the original D&D Monster Manual, each with a 20 minute time limit. I have recorded my twitch livestream which you can find here: https://www.twitch.tv/torenatkinson
Hey, betcha didn’t know I have a Patreon? Support the stuff you love! https://www.patreon.com/torenatkinson
In which I learn the British pronounce catacombs ‘catacoombs.’
This story introduces the new companion Romana, a recently graduated Time Lord, and the White Guardian, who sends the Doctor on a season long quest to find the 6 hidden segments of the Key to Time, which are disguised as other objects. In this case the key segment is disguised as a hunk of the rare and powerful element jethrik in a museum on the planet Ribos. The Doctor, K9 and Romana have to compete with a pair of other thieves who are likewise trying to break into the museum. The lead thief, Garron is also trying to swindle an exiled tyrant to buy the planet itself. It all leads to a deadly game of cat and mouse in the catacombs with a fanged lizard-like monster and a melodramatic witch.
The characters in this story are great across the board, including the doom-yelling witch and an elderly hobo who was a would-be scientist exiled for heresy. Quite a fun watch for the acting and dialogue.
Shimmering, mind-reading, non-corporeal aliens are too powerful for the Time Lords to thwart, so The Doctor has to trick everyone by becoming Time Lord President and de-activating the forcefield that protects Gallifrey. Only then will the mysterious Vardans reveal their true form – white dudes in jumpsuits. The Doctor institutes a ‘time lock’ which nullifies the Vardans in some hand-wavey fashion, but the lack of forcefield allows the warlike Sontarans to invade Gallifrey, with the full force of maybe four or five of them. The Doctor leads them on a merry chase through the bowels of the TARDIS and then shoots them with a space gun.
Overall a pretty embarrassing story that’s tough to slog through, punctuated with a few gags from Tom Baker.
The last story with Leela, I will miss her feisty penchant for knifing people.
Communicate often with your players. Do this both as a group and one-on-one. Converse with them, not to them. Tell them what your expectations are of your players and ask what they expect out of their DM. If you see conflicts, address them. Understand that what works for some of your players may not work for others, and you may have to make some hard choices to play the game you want to play. But above all – communicate.
TOREN’S TIP: You are the game referee, but you are not your player’s conflict mediator outside of the game. Set healthy boundaries. Seth Skorkowsky has an excellent video on his channel about this.
2. People these days talk a lot about ‘Session Zero’ – this is basically a subset of point 1. It could be in person or it could be virtual, or even just an email. It’s a communication of what the tone, gaming style, rules restrictions, setting, and everything else about your game will be, including what you will allow and what you won’t allow. This happens before the first adventuring session and it’s a great time to find out what your players are comfortable with (remembering that many of your friends have deep traumas that you might now know about including sexual assault, death of close relatives at young age, etc.).
Is alcohol allowed at the table? How about cell phones? Will characters level up via XP or milestones? What’s the balance between crunchy combat and roleplay-heavy social encounters?
TOREN’S TIP: Ask each character to have a connection or bond to any 1 or 2 other player characters (the fighter and I escaped the slave mines together; I follow the cleric’s god and look to her for advice; the druid is my adopted sister!)
There are lots of articles and youtube videos about what you should cover in a session zero. Here is a good one:
3. Watch your Group Size. It’s legendarily difficult to find a good, stable gaming group (congrats if you have one) and there are different philosophies as to the perfect size. You can absolutely have a game with 1 player and 1 DM. Typically the magic number is 4 players and 1 DM. With smaller groups, you risk having to cancel the entire session if 1 or 2 players has to cancel, whereas if you have a larger group of 5 or more, the danger becomes when everyone shows up and you get very little done in the session because there is more time used up between players’ turns. It really depends the reliability of your players so all I can say is good luck!
4a. Set reasonable standards for yourself. Everyone wants to be the greatest DM/GM in the world, and many feel like podcasters and youtuber like Matt Mercer are the gold standard to aspire to. Keep in mind these are professional actors and what you are watching are performances for a medium, rather than a casual gaming group of friends. Look to them for inspiration and ideas, but remember you will never be Matt Mercer, and you shouldn’t. Just be a good you.
4b. Don’t burn yourself out! I find preparing for my RPG sessions very therapeutic, but manage your expectations. The players will inevitably thwart or avoid many of your lovingly crafted encounters, so just try to roll with it (pun). Also, find a balance for how often you play. Most people try to have a weekly game, but if that seems to be too much for you, adjust the schedule. See if anyone in your group is interested in running a separate game (even a different system) and you can alternate weeks as a GM and a player. Also, consider the idea of a co-DM, if you have a friend that you have a good relationship to work with, having two DMs can ‘share the load’ as Samwise Gamgee once said.
5. Is Everyone Having Fun? If they are, then you are doing it right! This might be the most important tip, perhaps tied with #1. And if you are not having fun. Ask yourself why and what you might want to change.
Leela and K9 materialize with the doctor on a Minyan ship questing to find a DIFFERENT Minyan ship carrying their ‘race bank’ to populate a new homeworld. They find it at the center of a planet where as usual society has developed into a slave class and a ruler class, plus the supercomputer ruling them all. A very boring story with jarring chroma key/blue screen of the various characters running through the ‘underworld’ of caves.
The best part of this story is the pacifier guns which make angry people docile and dopey for a while.
I’m offering these at the $50 sale prices from now until Dec 23rd!
Prices are going up on everything! Except my art, which I’m marking down anywhere between $10 and $30 for these specific pieces listed here. These original pencil drawings (and a couple of inks) were produced for various D&D and other RPG books.
NEED A GIFT IDEA FOR YOUR NERDY LOVED ONE? I’m offering them now for only $50* each! I’ll be posting new pieces weekly.
*(USD, unless you’re in Vancouver and can pick up, then $50 CAD)
1000 years after a nuclear event, three factions fight for survival in the ruins of New York City. The Norms live a life of relative comfort underground, but are regularly raided by the Mutates, whose curse of deformity compels them to kidnap Norm women with whom to breed. Both groups are enemies of murderous raiders, the Upriver Men. It is this last group who, with the help of betrayer Jason, infiltrate a Norm wedding and murder the chief. Norms Robert (the groom to be) and his buddy Bram escape the Upriver plot but are captured by the Mutates. After a brief power struggle among the Mutates, the leader Riddon works with the escaped Norms to defeat the Upriver Men.
The first movie to show humans struggling to survive a post-nuclear wasteland, but with medieval style garb and sets, plus the pseudo classical language (“there is not a marksman in the land that can place an arrow in the wind and get such game”), it doesn’t seem like a the future. Religious themes are tossed around: the woman-kidnapping Mutates worship God and reference the bible, while the Norms worship the devil (we are told but don’t see). Apart from a short dinner table debate and the movie ending on crucifix, it’s pretty muddy.
Tropes: Prologue is a warning against possible future; women are made up and men are well groomed; kidnapped woman falls in love with captor; multiple women bathing scene; joke’s punchline is whispered in ear
As we are introduced to a family man, and, briefly, a comely young swimmer, as earthquakes, storms and floods destroy civilization worldwide. In the aftermath, the swimmer is found and ‘housed’ by a couple of creeps, one of whom murders the other while the girl swims away. She washes up on shore near the hovel of the lonely family man, who accepts his family has died. As they fight off Creep #1 and the rape gang he joined up with, they fall in love. Meanwhile, in nearby ruins, family man’s family lives in a hardscrabble community. The settlement, too, is menaced by the gang, and they organize a posse to eliminate them. After a pitched gunfight and melee between bad guys and good guys, the man is reunited with his wife and children, but can’t give up his new love. The swimmer, heartbroken, makes her own bold choice.
The first 18 minutes of this 106 minute film are the earthquakes and tsunamis that destroy civilization. It’s kind of astonishing how much has changed but also how much has stayed the same with regards to special effects in the past 90 years. You can see the ‘scoring’ lines on the miniature buildings as they topple but the whole sequence manages to sell the disaster fairly convincingly and brutally, I was reminded of Emmerich disaster porn from the early 21st Century. The ‘last stand’ against the rape gang in family man’s tunnel is quite competent (I especially appreciate the attention to ammunition), and the conflict between the two love interests isn’t as catty as you’d expect (but certainly doesn’t pass the Bechdel test). As a rare film made prior to the Hays Code, Deluge contains suggestive scenes the likes of which you wouldn’t see in Hollywood films until 1968.
Tropes: post apocalyptic women have perfect makeup and hair; sexual assault; biblical interpretation; spunky kid wants to join mob but it turned away; town leader makes inspiring speech about a fresh start
Here we see the red space suit used during the Spaceship Zero tour and elsewhere. Made of space-age materials and surprisingly breathable! $100 OBO
“Chain Dragger” – a classic that has gone through many iterations. The light helmet still works! The gun makes 8 different noises which was primarily used for the instrumental breaks in “Rock Lords”. Worn by Toren at PAX in 2008 and many other shows all the way back to the 90s. $100 or best offer
Satyr Pants! Worn by Warren AND Toren, including at our show at PAX in 2008. $50
Complete set of Thickets-branded Jones Soda beverages produced as promotional prizes for Cthulhupalooza in 2008. Stainage on one or two of them. $35 obo