Allie often gets races, classes, and backgrounds mixed up. In this episode, Greg goes over what races and classes and background are for, how they help build characters, and things to keep in mind when choosing them. Soon to come – deep dives into specific races, classes, and backgrounds!

Allie: So  would you say someone driven by revenge is – would be, like, revenge… and like they want justice, right, for somebody. Would that be then a chaotic good or is that kind of… I would think that would be kind of like, neutral because it’s selfish. 

Greg: There is where the alignment system kind of breaks down because the alignment system is assuming that people don’t change.

Welcome to Roll Mates, the DnD podcasts, where I teach my wife and you about Dungeons and Dragons. I’m Greg.

Allie: I’m Allie. Welcome to session one: our official, very first episode of all time!

Greg:  We can start the campaign now, right? Well, we’re not-

Allie: –we’re not playing. We don’t play DnD in this podcast.

Greg: We don’t play, we don’t play on this podcast. You’re in the wrong podcast. 

Allie: If you want to listen to people playing that you’re not in the right place. 

Greg: So what do we do on this podcast? 

Allie: Well, I’m going to ask you questions about DnD for you to explain to me a newbie who doesn’t really know anything about DnD. Or who knows the very basics.

Today’s Question

So, so my question for you today, Gregory, what is alignment? I see all these memes everywhere with these alignment charts and people are chaotic and they’re lawful and all these other things. And I have a general understanding of what all of that means, but I feel like a lot of times when you see memes of things, it’s not entirely accurate.

So if I’m sitting down and I’m getting ready to create my character or I’m playing and I’ve already set my alignment, what do I need? What do I need to know? What are the actual rules about, you know, picking an alignment for your character? And then the way that, you know, the alignment for your character dictates the things that they do in the game and like how they act, how they behave, all of those sorts of things.

Greg: So the alignment system is a tool that is both a help and a hindrance to players. A DM that does their homework on alignment will come to understand the nuances of alignment. So alignment is a system by which we frame our morality and our attitudes toward society. Would you like to know what the official rule book says of alignment?

All right. So, um, page 122 of the player’s handbook. 

Allie: How long is the player’s handbook? How many pages in total? 

Greg: Um, so like counting the index, 

Allie: Jeez. 

Greg: Counting the index. It is 316 pages. 

Allie: Oh my gosh. Yeah. So when you get ready to get to go play, like for the first time, do you have to read all that?

Greg: Um, no, not really. What’s helpful with the player’s handbook is like rules are like… it has the classes, the base classes, the base races, you know, rules on combat and, uh, spell casting and stuff like that, that the player should at least familiarize themselves a bit with those core rules.

Allie: So like read the SparkNotes. 

Greg: Yeah. And actually in the player’s handbook, they do have like a SparkNotes actually in every rule book or in every book. There’s a section toward the beginning. It’s addressed at the end, but you should – players should see it too, it’s the things you need to know most.

And outside of that, you could just refer to a book if you want to go in depth and stuff like that. Okay. 

Allie: So we got really off topic with the- let’s look at what it actually says about alignments.

What are alignments? 

Greg:  [Reading from book] A typical creature in the worlds of Dungeons and Dragons has an alignment. Which broadly describes its moral and personal attitudes.

Alignment is a combination of two factors. One identifies morality.” So that’s good, evil or neutral. And the other describes attitudes towards society and order and its lawful chaotic or neutral, thus nine distinct alignments define the possible combinations. Right. 

Allie: So you can make combinations of all of those things together.

Greg: Yeah. Right. So just to roll through them. We have:

  • lawful good
  • neutral good
  • chaotic good
  • lawful neutral
  • neutral
  • chaotic neutral
  • lawful evil
  • neutral evil
  • chaotic evil.

If you’ve seen social media or anything on the internet, at some point, you’ll probably come across a chart of your favorite pop culture, TV show, book, or video game.

And it’ll have the characters arrayed on this chart by their “alignment”. Right.

Allie: Which I feel like are pretty handy, like quick reference, if you just want to get a general idea of like what the alignments mean. Cause they’re probably pretty handy, but they’re probably not like super accurate, right?

Greg: I mean, yeah. They’re…

Allie: …debatable.

Greg:  To Wizards of the Coast’s credit, they’ve taken many steps at simplifying the game and the alignment system goes way back. Um, there are instances in the game where a spell or some kind of effect is dependent on an alignment. Yeah. So like, there might be a magic item, like a Holy sword that ca only be attuned by a good Cleric or Paladin or something like that. And an evil creature, if they try to use it, it will harm them or something like that. There’s a detect good and evil spell where it can detect a creature of that kind of alignment. But what alignment basically is, is it’s an easy way for players to get into the mindset of… it’s like, in addition to your characters personality, and how they view the world and make decisions.

Allie: Right. 

Why are alignments helpful for players?

Greg: And I say, it’s helpful because, you know, let’s say I make a character. I make a barbarian and my barbarian is chaotic. Good. Right? I’m as a player, if I’m new to the game, I’m gonna seek to do good things, but I’m not gonna do good things because the law says they’re good. But it’s more, my own moral code is saying they’re good.

Allie: It’s a “beat of your own drum” sort of thing. 

Greg: Exactly, yeah. It’s by the beat of your own drum. Whereas a lawful good character might, um, do it because this is the law and and it is this act of, you know, altruism. Like me catching a bandit is a good thing cause we don’t like bandits. But it’s also a lawful thing. But if I find out that this bandit is stealing to feed their starving brother, it might pull at my heart strings and I let them go.

Allie: Even if you’re lawful?

Greg: Well no, if I’m not a lawful character, you know, but if I’m a neutral good character who kind of, you know..

Allie: You might bend the rules a little bit. 

Greg: Yeah. You’d bend the rules and stuff like that. Um, so it can be helpful, especially for new players, because when new players- they’re getting bombarded with all kinds of information. And it’s just an- especially if they’re new and they don’t have, you know, especially if they’re new to role-playing in general and they don’t have a focus, it’s helpful for them to just say, this is my alignment.

I am going to, I’m going to adhere to this and that it will be like a crutch for role-playing. 

Allie: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, because I feel like it’s tough sometimes. Like I’ve experienced that with writing. Like I’m trying to write a story. To write… how would the- not how would I approach this problem, which feels very natural. But how would my character approach the problem? So like when you face, I guess when you’re playing, you’re faced with a decision, it’s kind of like a, “What Would Jesus Do,” but it’s what would a true neutral person do? Or what would a lawful good person do? 

So give me, let’s look at each one.

I’m curious, like to understand, like… okay, so take lawful good. You’re talking about lawful good just now. Give me an example of like a character who would fall into the lawful good slot, or maybe like one you see frequently that could fall into that, but like maybe it doesn’t exactly…

Lawful Good

Greg: Yeah. So a lawful good slot. It would be like Superman. Superman is lawful good because-

Allie: He’s a vigilante, vigilantes operate outside of the law. 

Greg: Superman is interesting because he’s not really a vigilante. No, no. So like in the comics, people kind of expect him to show up, like, it’s not like-

Allie: Wouldn’t you say more like Captain America.

Greg: I’d say both. I think both. 

Allie: Yeah it’s not really exclusive. 

Greg: Yeah. I mean, okay. Let’s… DC and Marvel. We don’t to pick sides. I’m neutral on both of them. So, uh, captain America, or, you know, Superman. In Captain America’s case, he is a state sanctioned, right? Superman’s case, he’s more of a society sanctioned superhero.

Like the government had didn’t come out and just say, yeah, Superman is officially law enforcement. In The Dark Knight returns where Frank Miller tried to push the two, like Superman and Batman to their furthest extremes. Superman did become a government sanctioned like crony kind of thing.

But they’re both good examples of lawful good because they want to do the good thing. But it in accordance to what society thinks.

Allie: Yeah. So like they don’t kill people. They don’t use like excessive violence… 

Greg: Right. Superman… yes, he does- everyone has their own moral code, of course. But Superman does his best to act within the limits of the law or what the law says.

Um, same as Captain America. Okay. Um- 

Allie: So you just mentioned Batman. What does Batman fall? 

Neutral Good

Greg: Batman’s an interesting case. Yeah. Batman, I would say, is a neutral good character. Okay. Because he- 

Allie: Are we thinking like Christopher Nolan Batman? Are we talking Adam West Batman? Like, does it matter? I feel like it kind of matters. 

Greg: Kind of, yeah, because –

Allie: Adam West Batman was chaotic good. I’m sorry. And it was insane. 

Greg: No, his methods were chaotic. Well, no, the, the writers were chaotic. But it does kind of matter cause the Adam West Batman, as far as I’m aware was it was.. He was kind of a state sanctioned Batman

It was like Superman where the cops are just happy to see him. Then, you know, everyone loved him in the modern comic books. Tim Burton Batman, Christopher Nolan Batman. He’s not state sanctioned. He is clearly vigilante. He like he apprehends criminals that are deemed criminals by law. Like they break crimes at society. 

Allie: He doesn’t decide who he’s going to attack.  Like he waits for them to commit a crime and then he goes up to them-

Greg: Yeah. But at the same time, He knows the system is corrupt. And so if he does encounter a law, that’s kind of icky he’s not really going to say, “Oh, this law says this person’s a criminal.”

No, he he’s. He, he does operate- and he’s a vigilante. He is breaking the law, doing his thing. So I would say he’s neutral good because he has his own moral compass. He’s a free agent. He acts according to that. And he makes a conscious effort to keep the spirit of the law in mind versus what the law should be.

Yeah, because his thing is not to follow the law. It’s to fix the system.

Allie: Or I would argue it’s not even that, he sees the every day-  like due to his like experiences, his parents, he sees the everyday effect of violence and crime on the streets. And so he’s like… if I can pick up one criminal today, that makes the street safer.

I mean, I guess Bruce Wayne addresses the issues on a more overarching level by like, doing like the asylum and like giving money to the charities and all that kind of stuff. But Batman is like, no, I’m going to get that criminal. And I’m going to get that criminal and like… I don’t, I never saw Batman as like, “Oh, I want to fix the system!”

Greg: That’s true. 

Allie: Yeah. I wanna prevent that one kid from getting murdered right now.

Greg: That’s more of his like lawyer friends. Yeah, he actually, yeah. You’re right. 

Allie: Interesting question: Would you say Batman and Bruce Wayne have different alignments? 

Greg: No.

Allie: But Bruce Wayne, I would argue, is more lawful good, because he is this upright, upstanding citizen who, you know, operates within the law.

He doesn’t… he does everything like by the book, he starts businesses and charities and funds and like, does things that way. And then he turns around in his Batman who does things in a more vigilante way.

Greg: But yeah, but that’s him presenting this persona that doesn’t exist. Like his inner morality, his way of thinking about the system and viewing the system didn’t change.

It’s his presentation, you know. He’s deceiving people, but, but you are right. Um, he- 

Allie: But like, if you just knew Bruce Wayne is Bruce Wayne, you didn’t know Batman, you just thought Bruce Wayne was who he was on the surface. You would say that’s a lawful good person. 

Greg: I mean, he might be chaotic. He gets into parties, a Playboy and all that stuff.

(Laughter)

Chaotic Good

Allie: So then, okay, so we have Superman, Captain America is lawful good. Batman is neutral good. Gimme a chaotic good.

Greg: Classic: Robin Hood.

Allie: Oh shit, yeah.

Greg: Easy. He steals from the rich gives the poor, like he’s breaking the law. But according to him, it’s, you know, these people are squandering- or not squandering – but these people are withholding from people who are less well off.

And this is his moral compass: That stealing, at least from the rich, is an acceptable trade-off to feeding people.

Allie: I like that a lot, because I feel like Robin hood is a very, like, single-minded… like he has one mission. He’s very focused. He’s organized. He has a team. He gets away with it all the time.

Like he’s not just this like insane person, but it has to do with like his, his decision about what rules to follow. Is he going to follow the rules on paper or is he going to follow the rules of like ethics and morality and fairness and justice and that kind of stuff. So I feel like a chaotic good person still has like, rules that govern what they do. It’s just which side of the fence those rules are on. 

Greg: And I mean, if you want to like start diving into pop culture:  Arya Stark is an iconic chaotic good. I mean, that girl was wild.

Allie: So would you say someone driven by revenge is, would be like… revenge and like they want justice, right? For somebody. Would that be then a chaotic good or is that, I kind of, I would think that would be kind of like neutral because it’s selfish. 

Greg: This is where the alignment system kind of breaks down. Because the alignment system is assuming that people don’t change. Arya Stark, when, you know, in the first book she’s-

Allie: Yeah  don’t recognize the TV show on this podcast. We don’t acknowledge that.

Greg: Season One does exist.

Allie: Well, season one is the book. They are one in the same. 

Greg: So in the beginning Arya stark is, you know, all about, “I want my own castle. I want to be a knight.”  Being a lady of society is just not a thing for her. She doesn’t care what’s expected of her. It’s what she wants to do. 

And she wants to do good. She does want to please her parents, she wants to fit in, in a way, but she wants to fit in in her own way. So she goes out of her way to, you know, show up  Bran in archery. And she wants to practice with the sword and stuff like that.

And then over the course of the series, she starts seeing stuff. And realizes that maybe, you know the world is a lot crueler than I thought and I have to harden myself up to that. She doesn’t necessarily lose that chaotic sense in her.

Allie: But so you’re saying she kind of goes from like chaotic good to chaotic neutral a little bit?

Greg: Yeah, I would say so. So, and you mentioned like vengeance. Batman is fueled by vengeance. He’s fueled by vengeance, not, not toward a specific criminal, but to like the idea of crime.

Allie: Yeah. But the difference between him and Aria is he’s like, well, my parents are dead. I can’t do anything about that, but I can help prevent other people’s parents from dying and Aria is just like, I’m going to kill the people who are mean to me. And that’s it. (Laughter)

Greg: Yes. But also in some interpretations of, of Batman, his viewpoint is… every time I stopped crime,  to him, it’s the possibility of bringing his parents back in some way.

Allie: That’s messed up. That’s dark.

Greg:  Yeah. I mean they’re just interpretations of him that, you know-

Allie: Like that that’s what makes it hard to put comic book characters into these things too, because a lot of these characters have existed in so many different facets.

Greg: I mean, there’s like a spectrum to their personality, but to some, the most iconic of the comic book characters, they have kind of fallen into this sort of specific ground.

How Alignments Change

Allie: I would find it really hard to “sort” and air quotes, like, like Tony stark, if you’re looking at the films.

Greg: He’s chaotic good.

Allie: Right, he is chaotic good. But I feel like closer to the end of, you know, the Avengers series, he gets a little bit less chaotic and it goes a little bit- cause he argued for those Accords and like he gets to be, maybe not fully lawful, but I feel like he starts to inch up back a little bit along this spectrum.  He like settles down with Pepper.

Greg: He pushes toward neutral.

Allie:  Yeah. He like kind of chills down a little bit.  So yeah. I like that idea that, you know, maybe… I always liked that you could be a GriffinClaw, right? Like you could straddle Gryffindor and Ravenclaw.

So I like the idea that you could kind of straddle – or your character can straddle – two alignments.

Greg: Yeah. An  that eventually becomes the crutch that starts to pull out the seams in the campaign and the role-playing when you have a player who’s lawful good. And they’re thinking, “Oh, well my character won’t do this.” 

Well. Yeah, your character can, you know, because maybe your character does have a change of heart or maybe your character just can’t accept what is going on and they have to change it. And even that doesn’t just completely change your alignment. Unless it’s, you know, really egregious. But the alignments should be fluid and as you become more and more experienced in Dungeons and Dragons, you become less reliant on them.

True Neutral

Allie: So talk to me about like… I’ve always been confused by true neutral. Like, to me, that just sounds like, okay, you’re not, you’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re in that like neutral zone that I kind of get. But like the first neutral of like… I dunno. Give me an example of a true neutral character.

Greg: So a true neutral character is someone who doesn’t want to take sides, you know, they don’t want to get into the middle of things. 

Allie: Sounds so boring. It sounds like a boring character. 

Greg: Well, no, in many ways, it’s interesting because they have the most potential for growth in any direction. 

Allie: I Googled true neutral, just cause I’m curious to see some examples and I want to see if you agree with them. The first one is Thanos. 

Greg:  No, that doesn’t make sense. 

Allie: The second one, I love a lot. Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation. 

Greg:  No, no. 

Allie: This one has four true neutral characters. James Bond, Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen. Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey and..  . oh, this guy from that movie that we watched…? Dr. Strangelove.

So this is saying that they are all true neutral. Do you think any of those are?

Greg: The one that I would say is true neutral out of those four is Dr. Manhattan. 

Allie: Yeah, he just goes and sits on the moon and doesn’t-

Greg: do anything because he’s done with it. The thing with him is he’s turned into a being that has taken him beyond humanity and morality is meaningless to him.

Allie: He’s essentially like a God.

Greg: Yeah. Everyone is an ant to him. Whatever world events happen, don’t really matter. Um, I mean, do 

Allie: How how do you play that as a character in DnD? Like, you’re in an adventure you’re supposed to be driven by something, right? You’re supposed to be driven by some desire or some goal. And you have these characters around you that you’re supposed to form like camaraderie with.

So how do you play true neutral if you don’t care about anything?

Greg: So, yeah, that’s very difficult. And it’s something that a player really needs to sit down and have a clear character concept in mind. One way of doing it, I think that is actually perfect, is Finn from Force Awakens, um, at least Finn in the… The second half of the first act.

Allie: Can this be reliable since they basically stopped writing his character after the first movie? 

Greg: Yes, it can. Because in the first movie he is a character. He’s a person 

Allie: And he’s true neutral?

Greg: Yes, because… so in the beginning of the movie, he’s, he’s a child soldier.

He like, he was like grown, he was bred up to be this soldier, have no emotion whatsoever. Just do the thing. But something in him, when he sees his comrade die, he’s like, I don’t like this, you know? And a lot of people point to that as that’s the first time the force has awaken in him. 

Allie: The force awakens!

Greg: The force awakens! (Laughter)

Throughout much of the movie, he wants to get away.

It’s completely about survival for him. He doesn’t want to be a part of first order. He doesn’t want to be a part of the resistance. Whatever his thoughts as to who’s right, who’s wrong… Those are his actions. He doesn’t want to be a part of it. And whether or not something is… whatever circumstances he finds himself in, his driving motivation is survival and to just get out of it, remove himself from all of these circumstances.

Allie: Would you say the same thing about like Han solo, at least at the beginning of the original trilogy where he’s just like, I don’t want to be involved in any of this. I just want to do crimes and-

Greg: Han Solo’s totally chaotic.

Allie: Chaotic what, chaotic neutral? I’m talking about when you first meet him.

Greg: I mean, yeah, chaotic neutral at first. Yeah. I would say… I would still lean on chaotic good a bit because, you know, he doesn’t go out and just kill random people. 

Allie: No but I think one of the appeals of Han Solo to so many people is that he is this morally gray….He will lie. He will cheat. He will steal…

Greg: Yeah 

Allie: He’s not going to hold to his word. 

Greg: That’s the chaotic side of-

Allie: Right. But he’s like very, self-serving.

Greg: Yes, yes. That’s true. 

Allie: Talking about his moral compass, at least at the beginning. And like that’s such, that’s such an important thing to think about is that, what makes stories good, when you think about the really good stories, there is almost always a change in how what alignment the person would be at the beginning and what alignment they would be at the end, right? With those really good characters. 

And I think that’s why people like characters like Han Solo, because they see this kind of selfish kind of childish person. Who realizes that there is a, like a calling above him. Like he doesn’t have to have the force. He just sees like, there’s good to be done. And I have the means to do it. I can give you, like my ship and stuff. And it’s really gratifying to watch. 

And I wish that Fin had had more of that…

Greg: But see, so here’s the thing. That is why Fin is a character. And we gave an example of a chaotic neutral – Han Solo – and a neutral – Fin. A lawful neutral would be Ned Stark from-

Allie: He’s not lawful good?

Greg: Oh, no. Sorry.

Allie: Ned is lawful good.

Greg: No-

Allie: Don’t do Sean Bean like that.

Greg:  So yes, yes, yes. No, he is lawful. He is lawful good. Stannis  is lawful neutral.

Allie: Book Stannis. 

Pause

Greg: Book Stannis is… I don’t know what he is. 

Allie: Burned his child alive… something evil.

Greg: Lawful stupid.

But with Han solo and Finn.. and this is why I think neutral is so interesting because you can nudge them in any direction and when a character goes from neutral to towards good, it’s typically because they care about someone. Yeah. Like for Finn, it was Rey. For Han, it was Leia.

Allie: He cared about both. 

Greg: Yeah. He cared about his friend.

Allie: But he also wanted to bone Leia. He’s like-

Greg: Totally, because in the middle of, or not in the middle, but in the beginning of Empire Strikes Back, he’s like, I got to clear my debt. I’m out of this rebellion and Leia is arguing with him about it, but then, you know, it becomes all about Leia. Yeah.

Lawful Neutral

But they care about someone because at the end of the day, you know, we seek connections with people and that’s what we’re gonna go toward. 

Um, I would argue in his early days, Albus Dumbledore was lawful natural. I think.

Allie: In his early- like his Grindelwald days?

Greg: Yeah, his Grindelwald days

Allie: He wanted to enslave all the muggles. That’s not lawful.

Greg: For their own. Well-

Allie: No, no, no. I disagree with that hard. 

Greg: Yeah, no, no. So his thinking was that it was for their own good. I’m not saying whether the act itself-

Allie: But they were still talking about basically staging an uprising.

Like, if you look into history and look at rebellions or uprisings that were, yeah. They believed it was for the good of society. It’s still not lawful. Think of like the French Revolution or the Haitian Revolution or the American Revolution. Like they did believe it was for everyone’s own good morally, but they broke all the laws in order to do it because they wanted it to change the law. Right? So I wouldn’t argue that that was lawful at all. I would say beginning of like Sorcerer’s Stone Dumbledore was more lawful neutral because he was just teaching. Not really doing anything, not causing any trouble. He wouldn’t argue with anybody like the Ministry in each book is doing more and more stupid shit and he’s just like, I’m out of it. I’m not involved.

Greg: His early days are kind of weird. 

Allie: His early days are kind of weird cause he’s like floating in the background, but it’s because he’s just kind of like letting things play out. With slight little nudges here and there, but he’s operating within the law. He’s not doing anything that is lawfully reprehensible by anyone’s definition, but he’s not like out there doing super good deeds and like, you know, fighting for whatever, he’s not even teaching teaching. He’s just sitting in his office alone with a bird and he’s not doing anything evil, obviously. So I would say more, you know, first four books before they start the Order of the Phoenix.

Greg: Yeah, 

Allie: Maybe I would say he’s more lawful neutral then. 

Greg: Well, okay. Yeah, that is, yeah. You do make a good point. So lawful neutral. Yeah. I was trying to think and so obvious to me: religious zealots.

Allie: Can you be lawful chaotic?

Greg: Not the ones that go crazy and, you know, do all kinds of crazy acts, but, ones who see their, you know, book or their tenants, their commandments, whatever

Allie: That to them is law.

Greg: That to them is law. That is how they live their life. Doesn’t matter what other people think about it. They’re not open to interpretation at all. What is written here is how it goes. That is the thing. And so-

Allie: But if they’re zealots, how are they neutral? Cause doesn’t “zealots” mean like they are kind of intense, like really intense. And like-

Greg: Well yeah you can be passionate and intense without killing someone. 

Allie: Well, does the evil column of the alignment mean you’re a murderer? 

Greg: Well, the evil column is more like you are acting purely in self-interest without regards to others. Aand even if, so, basically if you come to a decision that could harm others, you have no qualms about taking that. 

Allie: But there are religious zealots who are into like, uh, you know, conversion, like torturing gay kids to make them straight and robbing Native Americans of their culture to make them Christians. Like that to me is a religious zealot. And that’s awful evil. 

Greg: Yeah. So that is where alignments start to break down.

Allie: Okay but you use the term zealot.I think I know what you’re getting at as far as like the lawful neutral, like religion being the law, but I don’t think a zealot is a neutral person. I think that is like automatically by definition in the evil category or at least very, very, very, very close. So not a good example. 

Greg: No, because Jesus Christ was a zealot. 

Allie: Yeah. And he wasn’t neutral. That guy was-

Greg: He was lawful good.

Allie: –chaotic as heck.I wouldn’t say lawful because he intentionally was going against what the law of the time was.

Greg: Uh, but that’s the law of society, but not the law of his religion. So there-

Allie: But Christianity didn’t exist yet. He made all that stuff up.

Greg: But Judaism did. He’s following Judaism.

Allie: (laughter) When you forget that Jesus was actually Jewish.

Greg: And that’s the thing, he didn’t make up Christianity, his followers-

Allie: It’s based off of him. 

Greg:  It’s based off his teachings. So, but that’s the thing is he’s operating on two different axes that… Yes, there is that…. because here’s the thing. 

To be human is to be a hypocrite. It’s that even though there are state laws, there are also other laws. And in this case would be religious laws. Now some of those are in alignment with each other. When you have a theocracy it’s in complete alignment, but then when you have a state that has certain laws and a religion that has other laws that may or may not conflict, are you going to be a pure Patriot or a pure zealot? 

So that’s why a zealot can fall on any… And I mean, even the barbarian has a path of the zealot kind of thing. But it’s like, to me, a zealot is someone who is so gung-ho for whatever their belief is that they are living their life according to this. 

Now, it goes back to… When we get to the good or evil part of it: Does my religion or does my law state say this? You can have lawful neutral people. I mean, the Supreme Court’s supposed to be lawful neutral, but )laughter) but it’s like, does the law say this or does the commandments say this?

Allie: Supreme Court is not supposed to be lawful good?

Greg: No, because they are, they’re supposed to say, “What does the constitution say? And what did the the framers intend for the constitution?” 

Allie: They don’t make morality calls. They make… what do the books say?

Greg: They can’t make morality calls because… good morality today could be evil 30 years from now, and that can just swing back and forth and back and forth like it’s done forever. But they are supposed to be lawful neutral. If you are a… for Christianity, like just you – actually, all religions – they say you should be a good person. You should do acts of kindness. You should show compassion. 

But then there are those who say, “I’m living my life according to whatever this says. Now, does that mean I kill this other person for not following this? Or does it mean I should reach out to this person because they’re not following this?” 

You know, to me, zealotry has nothing to do with good and evil. I think it’s taken that way because there is extremism, there is fundamentalism.

But it’s their actions that, to me, determine good and evil.

Allie: Okay. We’re getting in like a-

Greg: Yeah, I know, philosophical. You know, learning is important.

Allie: Let’s touch on the only ones we haven’t touched on so far. We’re coming close to time, but the ones we haven’t touched on so far are the chaotic line.

So we touched on chaotic good, but we haven’t talked about chaotic neutral and chaotic evil. 

Chaotic Evil

So I feel like chaotic evil is just sort of like bat shit crazy. Like, the Joker is chaotic evil. 

Greg: Or like most of the people in Madmax. 

Allie: Yeah, yeah. Like the just crazy villainous… like absolutely no regard for other people or the law.

Like that one to me is kind of easy and I feel like, again, probably pretty hard to play as a real character. If you’re taking it seriously. 

Greg: No, because… and let’s just take Madmax as a full example. Furiosa: Chaotic good. To the max. Mad Max himself: I would say chaotic neutral. 

Allie: Okay.

So explain to me how you can be chaotic neutral. Cause chaotic to me just is like… Yeah. Explain to me how you can be chaotic neutral.

Chaotic Neutral

Greg:  To me, Max, he doesn’t want a part of any of this. He’s like, I want, you know, I watched my family die. I seen some shit. Yeah. And I’m just like, I don’t want to be a part of these crazy people here and these crazy people here.

I want to do my own thing. I want to, you know, I want to travel. Travel around, be in my car and just not take a side in this. And when you see him in the movie, you know, in Fury Road, he gets captured, like, he’s being used as a blood bag and to him now it’s just survival. I’m going to get out of this no matter what. When he-

Allie: So, the means by which he accomplishes that end are chaotic. 

Greg: Yes. Yes.

Allie: Okay. That makes a lot of sense. 

Greg: And I mean, to be fair, that whole movie, it’s hard to think of a lawful person there. 

Allie: Is that a good formula of like… if you are chaotic neutral, what you want is fairly neutral. But the means that you use to accomplish what you want is chaotic.

So like, if you are lawful good, you want to do good. And the means by which you choose to accomplish that are lawful. 

Greg: Yeah. So you’re not breaking into that house. 

Allie: I found the formula!

Greg: Yeah. You’re not, you’re not breaking into that house. No, I’m trying to think of… so you want to do good, right? Oh, well we just saw Bob’s Burgers.

Allie: Yeah we just watched some Bob’s Burgers.

Greg: The kids, they messed up and they were trying to get their dad a part. 

Allie: For the grill.

Greg: Yeah so they tracked down the part and they’re like, Oh man, like if we just get the part.

Allie: They were going to steal it by breaking a window.

Greg: Yeah. Break a window, steal it, leave a note. 

Allie: Spoilers for Bob’s Burgers.

Greg: Yeah, I know. (Laughter) Say we’re borrowing it for a day and then we’ll pay for it later. They’re trying to do good. It’s chaotic. They’re breaking the law to do it.

Allie: But it’s very Robin Hood-y.

Greg: Yeah. But a lawful character wouldn’t do that. So, yeah, chaotic means you are going to break into a house to get a-

Greg: It’s your means to achieving an end. So, uh, let’s go all the way to evil. 

Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic Evil

Allie: Great. So yeah, I missed that one. So we didn’t talk about lawful evil.

Greg: We didn’t talk about lawful evil or chaotic evil, or neutral evil. And the reason why players are discouraged from being evil is because it ruins the party dynamic. Because at the end of the day-

Allie: Cause we should say too, like, the alignments are not just for players. They’re also for like, NPCs and other creatures and stuff, right?

Greg: Yeah. It’s for the non-player characters, creatures have them. So like, you know, there are good aligned dragons. Some of them, like the gold dragon, is lawful good. The copper dragon is chaotic good. But then there’s also evil aligned dragons.

You know? So a chaotic evil character is just going to go nuts. They’re going to go on murder sprees. They’re going to be like the Joker in Batman of course, or Harley Quinn. They don’t care. I mean, most criminals you see…. It doesn’t even have to fall into violence, but they’ll be like chaotic evil. In DnD demons are chaotic evil.

On the other side, devils are lawful evil. Devils in the nine Hells, there is a strict hierarchy.

Allie: That reminds me of, I don’t think you watched…. I watched The Good Place last year. I don’t think you really watched much of it with me, but that makes me think of like in the Bad Place you have all these, basically demons, but it’s this huge bureaucracy. So that’s what makes me like, yeah, they were very lawful evil because they like used copiers and printer machines and fax machines, but they were evil demons in hell. (Laughter)

Greg: Actually that’s, that’s great because the places that some of these beings inhabit are indicative of the alignment. So like the abyss where the demons are is just a chaotic warping… Yeah. Like the landscape changes and the layers realign themselves. And it’s just crazy.  And the demons… when they make an incursion into the material plane it’s describing like an infection. 

Allie: So the material plane is like, like where we would be.

Greg: Where we would be. Yeah. Yeah. The nine Hells, there are nine layers of Hells. There’s a whole hierarchy you have… You have the Dukes. The Dukes like the arch devils. And you have ranks of devils. And in the Blood War, which is the war between the devils and the demons.

I mean, the demons come out, they’re monstrous, just like destroying things left and right. The devils are regimented, you know, like they had their bat battalions and their legions and their… It is orderly. And so lawful evil characters or villains, they believe they can bring order to this universe.

So Thanos? Lawful evil. Because his reasoning, in the Marvel universe, in the movies, his reasoning is there’s way too many people. It’s a struggle for resources. This is too chaotic, so I’m going to cut everything in half so that everyone has an equal-

Allie: Spoilers for Avengers, by the way. (Laughter) 

Greg: Oh, well if you haven’t seen it… Well, I don’t know what to do for you.

Same with Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine or when Darth Vader… When Darth Vader tells Luke, “I’m your father” he’s like, join me and together we can bring order to the galaxy. The Sith-

Allie: But do the Sith really want to bring order? I thought they were just a bunch of like horny emotional babies. 

Greg: Well, no, because think of it- think about what their end goal was.

Allie: Oh my God, I just upset any like Star Wars stans listening right now. (Laughter)

Greg: But look at what their goal was. It was to overthrow the Republic and replace it with an Empire. Basically a lawful evil character wants to upset the current order and create their own… like they want to rule over everything. Sauron wants to rule over everything. 

Allie: I guess that’s where I keep kind of getting stuck is like, when I think of lawful, I want to think of like… good laws.

Greg: You want to think of good laws.

Allie: But no throwing and ruling over other people. So would you say that Hitler…?

Greg: Lawfully evil. 

Allie: Daaaaaaamn.

Greg: Tyrants. That’s where tyrants, dictators, that’s where they come from. Like Stalin. I mean, he kind of makes his own laws, but, that is lawful evil. Now neutral evil might be a serial killer.  Because they’re not just running around, just like randomly killing people.

Allie: It’s based on like their own personal individual desires. 

Greg: Yeah. They’re very selective. And that’s a key thing with lawful and chaotic. You’re kind of, “Oh, the law, or my personal law is saying this, I’m going to do this.” Chaotic: I’m doing whatever. I’m doing whatever means necessary to achieve this. Neutral is… I want to achieve it in my own way. And that could change, you know, every now and then. 

Allie: So real question. This is the most important question. 

The Mandalorian. Would you say…? My argument is that he started the show as true neutral. And he, now that he has a son…  A biological natural born son. He is moving to neutral good. Because he cares about baby Yoda and he wants what’s best for him.

And so in like season two (spoilers for The Mandalorian) he’s doing all these good deeds, saving people, like liberating people, delivering fish babies, doing all this good shit because he cares about his son. 

Greg: Well, I would say… I would say he’s actually in the beginning lawful neutral. And the reason is he-

Allie: But bounty hunters… is that under the law?

That’s not under the law. That’s very, very under the table.

Greg: The bounty hunting isn’t. But…. “This is the way.”

Allie: Oh, by the law of his society, damn. Okay. 

Greg: He’s sticking to the Mandalorian code. Because even when he’s bounty hunting, as soon as he sees bescar… He’s like, give me that bescar. Where did you get that armor?

You know, I’m setting aside whatever my bounty is right now to return what is mine back to my people.

Allie: He has a higher lawful code.

Greg: Yeah. He has a higher code than that. So lawful neutral for sure. In the beginning, moving toward… you know he did questionable things. Yeah. And he still does questionable things. That’s why alignment is whatever.

Allie: Not super questionable. I mean, even when he was bounty hunting, it wasn’t like killing people, bounty hunting. He would put them in a kryptonite. What the hell is that thing called?

Greg: (laughter) Carbonite? 

Allie: Carbonite? Thank you. Oh God, I’m upsetting everybody. He puts them in kryptonite and like takes them to wherever it is that they get to go. So it was, it was actually very like kind of chill the way he would do it.

Greg: Yeah. Okay. 

Allie: Cool. Well, we got to… so we touched on all nine.

Greg: Yeah we did. I think  with the various, I mean, I think each alignment could have its own episode…. maybe we can revisit that.

Allie: Yeah, I think so.

Greg: Actually, we should, at least in regards to role play.

Allie: How bout this? If you liked this episode, if you like this conversation, you should leave us a review, let us know what you thought. And in that review, let us know what we should talk about. What questions should I ask Greg? Do you want us to dive deeper into one of the alignments? Do you take issue with one of Greg’s decisions about who is what?

We want to hear what you think. We want to hear that. And if you leave a review that lets us know that you’re listening and you’re picking up what we’re putting down and you want us to make more of these. 

Did you have a good time? 

Greg: Yeah, I feel neutral good about it.

Allie: Oh my God. I’m going to divorce you.

Greg: That’s a chaotic decision.

Allie: Yeah. What you just said makes me feel chaotic. It’s okay. I forgive you already. So. We will see you all in session two!

Greg: Yeah. Next step of our campaign.

Allie: Not a real campaign, we’re not playing now. It’s not a real campaign. Okay. But maybe another time, not on the podcast

Greg: Okay. Okay. 

Allie:  Bye. 

Greg: Bye.

Welcome to Roll Mates!

Greg: Welcome to Roll Mates, the podcast where I teach my wife and you about Dungeons and Dragons. I’m Greg.  

Allie: And I’m Allie, welcome to our very first ever episode. 

Greg: Number one! 

Allie: Number one! 

Greg: This is awesome!

Allie: This is so cool. So in this episode, we are just going to kind of talk about:

  • what you can expect from this podcast series
  • some trigger warnings maybe for what we’re going to talk about
  • what we might mention
  • shat we’re interested in, like what we’re excited to talk about together
  • and maybe our history a little bit, with D&D, and why we like it, and why we decided to start this podcast. Right? 

Greg: Oh, so this is like a Session Zero, for real. 

Allie: What is that?

What is a Session Zero?

Greg: Well, you have the DM, right? And the players. 

Allie: Dungeon 

Greg: Master.

Allie: Yeah, 

Greg: DM for Dungeon Master. You could just pick up the books and make your characters and all that stuff and get started. But over time, it’s become a practice to run a Session 0, which may or may not have actual play involved. It’s when the dungeon master and the players get together and it’s where the dungeon master basically sets the tone for the campaign that he or she or they are going to run. 

Allie: Cool. That’s exactly what this is. Sets the tone.

Greg: That’s important because it makes it clear what everyone’s getting into. And a lot of the things that you listed are things that they go over because not everyone gets into D and D for the same reason.

Allie: Yeah. That’s so cool. So it’s kind of like if somebody is new to D and D the session zero is a good chance for them to ask questions and figure out exactly what they need to know in order to play and actually have a good time and be successful at it. 

Greg: Yeah, exactly. A good party and a good DM help the new players as they go, because it is easier to get into the game or learn the game while you’re playing, instead of just getting bombarded with all this information. But everyone, when they approach session zero, whether they’re new players or experienced players, they’re all on the same playing field coming in because they don’t really know what the campaign is about. They don’t know what kind of adventure they’re going to have. They don’t know the DM’s style. Of course, if they’ve played with the DM before then they might be familiar, but you never know if the DM wants to change things up and stuff like that. And so that’s the DM’s chance to let them know all that information.

So typically, everyone gets together. It’s not just about the game itself, but that’s where they decide logistics: how often they’re going to meet, who’s going to bring food, who’s going to host or if they’re going to meet at a game shop or something like that. They discuss trigger warnings because some DMs might have children die in their game and some people are just not into that.

Some DMs- there could be visceral descriptions of violence-

Allie: Nasty stuff-

Greg: -Yeah, yeah. Nasty stuff, as you say. 

Allie: I don’t like nasty stuff-  (laughs) 

Greg: -And all that falls under the sun. I would say most D and D players and DMs don’t. Want to take their games to the extreme in terms of content. But there are some  who do that and it’s best to just make that known first.

What you can expect from this podcast

Allie: First let’s just talk about like what to expect. What are we going to talk about? What can people expect from this series? In the car the other day, we just happened to devolve into this conversation about Dungeons and Dragons. I don’t know-

Greg: -As we do- 

Allie: -Yeah, we do frequently. I don’t know what started it this time, but- 

Greg: -uh, I think it was-

Allie: -we were talking about charisma. 

Greg: Yeah. Intelligence, charisma and wisdom. 

Allie: We were like listening to a whole different podcast. We started talking about that and it was like this 30 minute long conversation where you were explaining to me. The mechanics of the game, which I find really fun. I like learning from you about the game. I don’t really like playing Dungeons and Dragons. It’s just not for me. It’s not my bag, but I think on an intellectual level of like talking about the way the game works and the way that you can think about the different components, I find really interesting.

And so we were like- which I feel like a lot of people that’s how a podcast gets started, right? People are having a conversation. They’re think, “I bet other people would find this interesting.” So I thought it would be really cool and we thought it would be really cool and we should record this and put it out there because I’m sure there are other people who are interested in this facet of the game.

Right. But also maybe beginners. I still think of myself as a beginner because I haven’t I’ve played what, twice with you? 

Greg: Yes. 

Allie: And on two different occasions. And they were basically one shots. 

Greg: Well, the first  time you made it to the character creation. 

Allie: I got frustrated or bored or I don’t know- 

Greg: I think frustrated.

Allie: Yeah.

We thought there would be other people who would be interested in learning from somebody like you, who you are an experienced dungeon master. How many times do you think you’ve DM’d games? How many sessions under your belt? A lot. 

Greg’s experience with DnD

Greg: Oh yeah, a lot. 

Allie: You played with friends since you were in like high school, right? You would play with friends. Um, so like, I would say 15 years you’ve been playing on and off. 

Greg: Um, 50? 

Allie: Games? 50 sessions. And then, you teach Dungeons and Dragons to a degree. So explain what, what, how that works and how you got into that. 

Greg: My experience with D&D didn’t even start with D&D, it was a star Wars version of a 20 sided dice game. Basically my friends pitched it as D&D but Star Wars. And that’s basically what it was. You had the classes and the races, butof course, Star Wars has trillions more races.

But that’s what got me in. We played two separate campaigns. One of them, we were all paranoid about each other, which is the worst thing a party you can be- 

Allie: -Paranoid, like mistrusted each other?

Greg: Exactly. Our characters all had secret pasts. And we just didn’t trust each other, unless two of the party members already knew each other. We came together throughout the course of the campaign, but it did end with some frustrations. Then the second time, it was a Sith campaign. So of course, we’re backstabbing each other and writing secret messages to the DM.

Allie: Yeah, full disclosure: that’s typically not the way that you’re supposed to play D&D. You’re supposed to play in a collaborative way with other people. 

Greg: Yes, typically. That’s where a session zero is very important. 

Allie: Yeah. No one is trying to win here. You’re not trying to win over the other people. You’re just trying to get through the story and solve problems.

Greg: From there, I discovered a Game of Thrones RPG, role-playing game. I ran that for a time and it was just a problem because this is pre-COVID. As a group we’re spread out across the United States. So the- 

Allie: -Like your college friends? 

Greg: Yeah. The technological infrastructure wasn’t really there, so it kind of fell apart.

But when I really started DMing was at the school. My friend over there… he wanted to start a D&D club at the school. And now it’s become- 

Allie: -So you’re a teacher-

Greg: -Yes. 

Allie: I don’t think we said that you teach. You used to co-teach at the time. Was it fifth graders? Was it fourth grade at the time? 

At the 

Greg: time, it was fourth grade.

Allie: Okay. 

Greg: Yes. 

Allie: So one of your other teacher friends- 

Greg: -Yeah, he was in the upper grades. He, I, and another started the D&D club and then another teacher joined in and some upper school kids joined in. And that  (laughs)  

Allie: It was wildly successful. 

Greg: Yeah, it was. It was successful in some ways and crazy and others.

It was successful in that it generated a lot of interests amongst the kids. It changed the kids because of course with Dungeons and Dragons, you know, it’s a nerdy game for nerdy people. And not just nerdy people. It’s a game for everyone. If they know what they’re getting into; because like I said, people approach the game for different reasons.

And at the end of the day, it’s a game. People like games. 

Allie: But it’s a very immersive game. If you look at someone and say, “Oh, they’re a nerd,” typically that’s a person who has become very passionate about a specific thing, right? And usually it’s like pop culture, media sort of stuff.

That’s what we think of: like a Star Wars or Harry Potter nerd or whatever. But I feel like D&D is good for that nerdy type of person because they understand what it means to completely immerse yourself in all of the details.

Greg: Right and nerds come in all shapes and sizes. But even with pop culture nerds, they can fall under a whole umbrella, of course, and D&D is the fantasy genre. I’d argue that the most popular genres tend to be, in no particular order: fantasy, romance, horror, and crime or mystery. I think because they have tropes that everyone is familiar with. Everyone is familiar with the boogeyman, or vampires, for better or for worse. Everyone’s familiar with Dungeons and Dragons. 

Allie: What’s cool  about D&D too is that you could take all those things that you just said and put them in a D&D campaign. You can have horror D&D campaigns. You have, um, what was the other stuff you said?  (Laughs) 

Greg: You have in the game. You could run a game of intrigued or-

Allie: -Crime, that was the other one. 

Greg: Right, you could have something like an urban fantasy, you could have high fantasy or epic fantasy where it’s like-

Allie: -Lord of The Rings style.

Greg: Yeah. But to the nth degree for super nerds. The great thing with D&D is that it attracts all these people whose approach to fantasy and role play come from many different angles. It allows for many different ways of expressing oneself. So for the kids, this was a great outlet for them to pursue that expression.

But even through that pursuit, they became more assertive and more confident and not afraid to just be themselves kind of thing. When we all sit down at a table, like you said, it’s not a competitive thing. That is one thing about D&D, is if you’re coming at it from a competitive angle-

Allie:  -You’re going to ruin it for everybody and yourself. 

Greg: Yeah, exactly. And that’s the most important thing. Well, not the most important… Ruining it for everyone is the most important, but you will ruin it for yourself because you are creating unrealistic expectations. 

Allie: And school is so competitive these days as it is.

I’m sure it was nice for them at the end of the day to sit down and do something completely creative where, while there are rules, it’s not as rigid a game like sports are. If you go afterschool and play sports, you’re kind of going to a drill sergeant basically and getting tortured. So you’re sitting down and playing a game where there are rules, but you can kind of do whatever you want. That must be super freeing for those kids. 

Greg: Yeah and interesting because there are rules but the books continue to state that they’re not set in stone.

The DM can take the rules and insert their own creative freedom. If they decide a rule isn’t working for either their style or for the game, or if they’re running a pre-made campaign module and they decide that a section or a story point of the campaign isn’t really working, they don’t have to run it as is.

That is very freeing but it also sets up an interesting social dynamic because you come into the game and you have many different kinds of players. You have some players who are really shy and don’t. They don’t want to step on people’s toes. They don’t want to look like they don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t want-

Allie: -like afraid of role-playing or looking silly.

Greg: Yeah. They might be afraid of roleplaying, looking silly. Then you’ll have other players who want to be the star of the show or be the leader of the party or they want to show off that their character is so powerful in combat because on paper they- 

Allie: -I mean, we have adult friends who do that.

Greg: Oh yeah, it’s everywhere. There are merits, but it’s like in acting where… By the way, I want to just say this podcast isn’t just for people who want to play D&D, but it’s for people who want to get better at improv or who want to design their own games.

People who want to see social dynamics of groups of strangers or groups of friends and how the roleplaying changes that. Because what you are in real life might be different in the game, especially if you’re playing different from yourself.

The format of the show

Allie: Yeah, we’re going to talk about all of those things. We haven’t really talked fully about like the format of the show, but basically, I have a whole list of questions about specific facets of the game or general facets of the game. And every episode, I’m just going to start by asking Greg a question like, “What are things people should know about role-playing?” or like dispelling that fear, that like discomfort with role-playing and like “What makes a good DM versus a bad DM?” 

I know in at least one of the games that I played with you, we had a moment where you set up an environment and we just were kind of like, “Okay, I guess we’ll just sit down.”

How do you get past those moments where your players are just- 

Greg: don’t know-  (laughs) 

Allie: -Just don’t know at all what to do. There’s so many concepts and things to talk about that we talk about on our own. We end up talking about going into all of these kind of psychological and philosophical topics about how people play, how people play games, how people think about problem solving, and all of these deeper kind of concepts.

I’m really interested in learning about all of those sub level things. I’m really interested in sociology and psychology and why people are the way that they are and why different people approach different things the way that they do. I think it would be so cool to have a study about what you can learn from someone based on the way that they played Dungeons and Dragons.

What can you learn about somebodies inner-self based on the class they pick, the race they pick, the attributes they choose, how they move through the game, how they collaborate with other people. You have to think that it’s informative in some way.

So it’s almost like a giant inkblot test. What do they see when they look into this world of possibility and they can reinvent themselves however they want. I’m interested in all of that sort of stuff. I feel that even though you know a lot about the game, in our conversations that we’ve had in the past I feel like you kind of dig up concepts or ideas that you’d never really thought of before, prior to talking it through. So what kind of things are you interested in digging deeper into and learning more about? 

Greg: There’s so many.  (laughs) 

What Greg wants to explore

I like exploring the connections between world-building and how players process and interact with the dungeon master’s world and, in some ways, the player’s own world building. Because they’re creating not only the story, but they’re creating their own character.

And even if they just create  a bare bones character that has no backstory, over time, that backstory could develop through the course of the game. Some players might come in with a heavy backstory, which both have their merits and have their drawbacks. But where they thought their character was going to go might not be where they end up. I’m really interested in the aspects of, of world building. As a creative person, that’s what I liked. That’s why I DM more than I play. I love playing because then I can be creative in my problem solving.

Allie: This is creativity in a different way. 

Greg: Yeah, exactly. On the DM side, you think, “how can you be creative at creating problems?” On the player side, you think, “how can you be creative at solving problems?” I do like the creative side of D&D. Yeah. I also like the psychological side in the sense of how I can challenge players or how I can challenge other people’s  perceptions of the game or of what they know. At the end of the day, you are playing a story and it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. But to get players to keep coming back, you want to hit the hallmarks of great stories. You want it to be surprising. You want it to have some kind of message or moral argument or something.

You want to put those players into the shoes of those who have to make the decisions. That’s always a fascinating thing. When you get to know your players over time, then you know what buttons to push and how to challenge them. I’m, I’m also very curious about the mechanical interactions with the flavor of the game and how the mechanics weaves with the story. So, you have a charisma score, but what does that mean for your character? What does that signify or not signify? You have hit points. I know to some of you this might be gobbledegook.. What do those hip points actually represent because people have their own conceptions from video games as to what hit points are. There’s a difference between D&D and a video game, there’s the theater of the mind and wrapping your head around a conceptual thing versus watching it unfold on screen.

Allie: All the things you’re talking about…. It’s like all of these specific rules can be interpreted differently. This means that, it doesn’t mean that, or if you decide to be this class or this race, these are your limitations on your character, you have certain limitations, you have certain skills or bonuses or whatever.

There’s a shape that you’re in and you can play within that shape. And it’s really interesting to me how that shape, how you can be flexible, I guess, with that shape. They say you need to know the rules before you can break them, right? You need to master them before you can break them.

With D&D it’s really interesting how all of these designed pieces come together. Like how you use dice and what that means for what you can and cannot do in a game. If you roll a “1” you’re very limited with what you can and can’t do next. But you can be super creative about what happens next, you know what I mean? Or the DM can at least like, be creative. I’ve seen you take pity on people that roll really low and you think “I’m not going to have this thing kill the entire party because reasonably that’s what would happen. So I’m going to be creative and try and figure out a way for them to get out of this.”

Even though by the rules of the game, they should all be dead. That’s really fascinating to me.  (Laughs) 

Greg: Wizards of the Coast, which publish Dungeon and Dragons and Magic, the Gathering. They really make an effort to say that these are not rules that are set in stone. They are more “guidelines.” If the player rolls a 1, you don’t have to make up a catastrophic failure. You can make a failure that could potentially lead to another success, you know? Or if they roll a 20… By the definition of the rules, they should be successful, but that doesn’t mean-

Allie: -They win the entire encounter. 

Greg: Right they don’t have to completely succeed, whatever it is they’re trying to achieve. There is a spectrum of success to failure because life isn’t just, “Oh yeah, I completely succeeded in starting up my business and it’s doing really well.”

Milestones.

Exactly. So it is very interpretive on both sides. 

Some trigger warnings for the show

Allie: Yeah. So before we wrap up, we’ll briefly touch on trigger warnings. We will probably curse, but what we’ll do is put advisory warnings at the beginning of each episode, that there’s strong language in that episode.

Just in case we have young folk who would like to listen, we’ll have that advisory up there. I don’t think we’re going to get into any sensitive subject matter or, you know, intense anything really intense. If we do for some reason, we will put an advisory warning at the beginning of the episode and in the episode description.

But I think at the most, you can expect to some cuss words. 

Greg: think, I don’t think we’ll get too deep into the sensitive. Only if there’s some education involved.

Allie: Cause we might have an episode about, “should you or should you not have really sensitive material in your campaign?”

Greg: Right, because this is educational and this is a conversation. These do crop up at tables and some tables struggle with these things. A player or a dungeon master might try to be edgy or something like that and they might not know how to… It’s very easy to write this stuff down and plan it out.

But as I’ve discovered over the years, things do not go as planned and it could make or break a table. Sensitive subjects will be addressed, but I don’t think we’re going to get in the nitty gritty.  

Allie: We’re not going to beat it over the head and I’ll make sure to let you guys know what’s coming and when. 

I think that wraps up our session zero. I feel prepared. Do you feel prepared?

 (pause) 

Greg: Yeah!

Allie: Good. Cool. Alrighty. We’ll copy things off there and we’ll see you in the next session. 

Greg: Yes. Session one. Where we actually play? 

Allie: No, no, no. We’re not going to play. 

Greg: Oh, we’re not playing in this podcast. 

Allie: No, we’re not playing in this podcast. 

Greg: That’s what you can expect. 

Allie: Yeah. Nope. No actual playing just lots and lots of talking.

Greg: Yeah. 

Allie: Okay. Bye! 

Greg: Bye!