In this podcast we hope to provide examples and reusable material for you, the DM, to use in your stories and campaigns. We hope to inspire you with functional content that you bring to your own table to the delight (or potential misery) of your players.
Season 3, Episode 9
We know it's been almost four years. We know that 2016 was horrible. We know that the world is a different, scarier place. But Chad and William just so happened to be in the same place at the same time for a couple days, and whaddya know... when two DM's really love eachother, sometimes they make a podcast. We have received dozens of emails collected over the years, about campaigns that were starting but now probably finished, kids that were born that are now in college, questions that needed answering that by now have probably already been answered. So these emails arrived to our podcast slower than they would have if they'd just be mails. But these choice, hand-selected emails are new to the podcast, and so with the same fervor, research, jokes, and microphone, we sat down to record the answers to these exemplary questions. First off, huge thank yous to two listeners who really stepped up their game for this episode's cold open, "The Great Return." ExemplarymDM fan and professional Canadian Trombonist (or a Trombonist Canadian?) Aaron Good wrote it unprompted and emailed it to us back in 2015. Professional voice actor Joshua Bentley recently recorded all three parts. We have been in a state of humble blown-awayism since Aaron emailed the script to us back in November 2015, and we never lost the hope of one day using it. This is that day.
Announcing: The Exemplary Tome of Gadgets!
You've noticed we've been quiet for a while. Well this time, we have a really good excuse! Announcing: available internationally in paperback today, the Exemplary DM Podcast Presents: The Exemplary Tome of Gadgets! UPDATE: Now Available on Kindle for just $4.00 or FREE if you buy the print edition! It is available at special price of 4.99 with Amazon coupon code HOLIDAY30 until November 30, 2014 at 11:59pm PST. This special prices the book BELOW cost! The book is currently onsale for US$6.75! The normal price of US$7.50 - just above the cost to print - means this is a perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite RPG table runner. Also a special offer - do you own/operate/frequent an exemplary local game store? We'd be happy to send - while supplies last - an introductory package of copies of the book FOR FREE. CreateSpace Direct Resellers can also purchase the book at significant discount. From the creative loins of the voices behind the Exemplary DM podcast (exemplarydm.com) comes a 50-page pocket handbook of Adventure Hooks, Encounter Ideas, and Character Concepts for tabletop role playing games that you can bring to your table, tonight! Each gadget comes with follow-up text on how this knowledge has been applied to real-life campaigns, giving you both conceptual and applied knowledge of the concept, as well as a surface large enough to act as a coaster for two (2) cold drinks! Bargain priced and indexed for quick reference, this gift is a perfect stocking stuffer for the aspiring or experienced Dungeon Master in your life. The plot twists, encounter ideas and NPC/PCs concepts inside are system-agnostic for easy adoption into any game system. Our 6"x9" pocket-sized reference book, with table of context and keyword index, is perfectly proportioned for: hiding behind your DM screen fanning the flames of creativity literally fanning real flames soaking up your player's tears soaking up your own tears stopping bullets!* holding pastries wrapping fresh fish scooping up dead insects protecting your precious wooden table from condensation softening the thunderous impacts of your critical hit rolls recycling into cookbooks padding uncomfortable seating surfaces gifting to a player in your campaign when you've used every gadget and watching in horror as they realize every plot twist came from a book! *Will not stop bullets. Published November 2014. 50 pages. While the ExemplaryDM podcast is definitely Not Safe For Kids to listen to (as we say in the intro of every episode), the book is family-friendly. Listen to the special announcement recording from author Chad and co-author William here! Right-click and Save-As below, or us the RSS feed built into this page. Mirror 1 (196kbps) (Oregon US) (154.3mb) You'll notice our new bumper music on this podcast, used with permission from Mississippi Bones, check them out on bandcamp and iTunes. We used their song "Dungeon Hustle" on this episode, tell us what you think! Also check out the music lyrics video for Dungeon Hustle, which is what really turned us on to the band. Once again big thanks to the Diablo String Orchestra for the intro music! Check us out on iTunes and give us some reviews and/or ratings and/or hurtful criticism! What do you think? Welcome all our new listeners to the family of ExemplaryDM! Give us reviews in the comments below, hit us up on Twitter @ExemplaryDM where William tweets, or @Exemplary_Chad where Chad tweets, or shoot us an email at exemplary d m at gmail dot com.
Season 3, Episode 8
We're back, and we're responding to your emails! We love doing listener feedback episodes - it's like a handful (or in this case, eight) main topics in one engorged podcast member! We picked out the best top-quality emails then read through their amazing, insightful, hilarious and thought-provoking questions from our listeners. These emails represent the finest choice quality organic grass-fed cruelty free emails from our genetically-modified listenership. We then printed out and burned the other emails. They just weren't good enough! In case you're new, our carefully-planned strategy involves releasing a podcast, making outrageous promises to future frequency, not recording as frequently as promised, having a baby, then recording a podcast. And we're glad to say that we're accomplished just that strategy before your very ears. We're catching up on several - and let's just leave it at that - months' worth of listener emails. First we give our first pre-play takes on DND5e PHB, including another recommendation for Roll20.net, some talk about new DND5e character build and combat feel. Don't worry, we don't get too deep in to system-specific mechanics. What Chad likes the most about the new edition? A focus on non-combat mechanics and gameplay. Meanwhile, William liked the artwork but was terrified by this, even critics agree! Again, we restate that the game system mechanics shouldn't matter that much - if you're not having fun, it's probably not the game system, you're doing it wrong. Just keep rolling 20s like a '68 Impala. Now onto the listener emails: First email from Joe from the UK talks about some of his own house rules dealing with action points (similar to how we use drama points), minions, escalation dice, monster level balancing. Hunter writes in to subtly complain that Chad moved cross-country, then provokes advice on poor roleplaying and how to - as a player - respond to it at the table. Our advice: Lead by exemplary example, externalize your rationale for being a good role player, without being a passive aggressive dick about it. Remind fellow players that "we don't really know that" or "we can't have that conversation right now". Use speed and stress to tell a fellow player to make a call. "Did you really say that out loud?" But don't be a passive aggressive dick about it. Refers to the other players in character name, encourage them to do the same, without being a passive aggressive dick about it. Blair writes in to contribute some of his buddy Jon's preposterous recurring disguises. They're like three ridiculous bonus character concepts that you'll never ever want to use, and we read them anyway! Michael #00-0000A1 wrote from England to tell us lies, a vignette idea, and how he used his vignette allowed him to organically and spontaneously insert an NPC into a vignette, brilliantly welding an NPC into a vignette on the spot. Pan the camera to a different area and you'll be surprised how well you might be able to tie new things together and create "ah ha!" moments. Bravo, Michael F., you most exemplary of all Michaels. Also, William continues to work through his inability to pronounce "benelovent" correctly. A link to Michael's map: http://dungeon-architect.tumblr.com/image/75315727444 Here in the podcast is the second bump from new ExemplaryDM bumper band Mississippi Bones (used proudly with their permission via Twitter). And yes, you heard it right, they're singing about Dante's Inferno. Charles made a huge contribution with his Patriotic Delve idea, featuring PC's as U.S. Presidents (while writing us an email from Montreal): George Washington, the Paladin - devoted to the Goddess Freedom, Washington takes his two-handed axe (of cherry tree fame) from town to town, smiting any Redcoats who may be trying to impose the Quartering Act. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter - a rogue who uses his slender build to hide in the shadows. He fights with silver blades and shurikens, better to smite the undead risin
Season 3, Episode 7
"Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?" ... "Of course." It's the Etiquette Episode of ExemplaryDM Podcast! It's a bit of a spiritual successor and followup to the beloved Player Penetration episode from Season 2, Episode 7. This is also an extension from our Player Tip of the podcast from Season 3, Episode 6, Part Two. In this podcast we open to discussion good and bad manners for DM's and players at the table, with some great ideas on how to improve and smooth out behavior at your gaming table. We briefly discussed such behavior in our previous podcast's Player Tip of the Podcast, but found so much more content, we decided to dedicate an entire episode to it. First, a trio of emails to cover: "Effusive praise from Michael, monster design"... from Andy Do we fudge monster stats? Yes. Do we try to make it fun? Yes. Fast paced, dynamic combat is what most players tend to prefer. Higher damage, lower HP. Remember that combat is not just about monsters, but about environment, hazards, terrain, and plot. How tactically smart are your monsters supposed to be? Low intelligence creatures shouldn't necessarily be tactical warfare geniuses. You as the DM know better than to provoke that opportunity attack, but your monsters don't. A Michael Sponsored Email from Michael of Michaelton to be read in a British accent Podcast. Foreshadowing to the gadgets... Exemplary Local Game Stores recommendations from Erns. A reminder that we mostly play D&D4e, but we try not to be system-specific, and we're big proponents of adding rules to your game that seem to be lacking, especially the ones we come up with. In conclusion, if you're not having fun playing D&D, it isn't the rules system. Hey-oooo! When sharing this podcast, please remember our regular Player Tip of the Podcast: don't be a dick. Seriously. Take it EZ on the Pass Aggro if given the opportunity. Discussion Points for D&D Table Etiquette: The first rule of table etiquette for players: “Be ready” When in combat, when it is your turn, be ready to go. Umbrella term for the rest of these. BRING YOUR SHIT TO THE TABLE Dice and UP-TO-DATE character sheet. James, William's Pathfinder DM: I personally get very frustrated with people showing up to the game with a "Give me everything I need so that you can entertain me" Wastes so much time and really is just the wrong attitude for players to have. As a DM, make that known. Note about tangents: http://skarr.obsidianportal.com/wikis/house-rules this puts the whole table in charge of being responsible for a productive night, removing the DM vs players for attention span relationship. Everyone is responsible for keeping us on track, not just the DM. A sense of ownership makes people care. James: For me the biggest issue is being ready when your initiative comes around. I really dislike having to rouse someone from their phone because its their turn and they go "Okay, what's going on?" Or Twitter, Flappy Birds, FriendFace, etc. For me, if you are at the table, you should be paying attention. Have the courtesy to bow out temporarily if you need, but when you are there, be present. Especially if you're in a healing/buff mode in combat. Should the DM keep track of PC hit points? Veteran player on new player relationships - There is also a very fine line between suggesting good options to newer players, and browbeating them to perform the actions to set up your character in combat for example. It is very easy to be misunderstood there, as a veteran player. As a DM, you do want that veteran, experienced ally at the table, but be aware of his or her interactions with n00bs, because it is a reflection on you as the DM. Make sure your veteran players are using the phrase "one possible action" "you may want to consider" or not “the only smart move is to do this” or “you’d be an idiot not to…”. Make sure you or your veteran players are explaining why something would be good, but without “mansplaining” it or bel
Season 3, Episode 6 - The Cliffhanger Episode, Part Two
And now, the conclusion... This is Part Two of the Exemplary DM's oh-so-meta two-part Cliffhanger Episode! How can you as a Dungeon Master take advantage of the dramatic mechanic of the cliffhanger in your campaign tonight? How can you avoid disappointment while preparing for excellence when setting your players up to maximum anticipation? This episode contains items six through ten of our very own tips for pulling off a Cliffhanger in your D&D session tonight! Bad cliffhangers may do one of these: Change the genre. Send the heroes back to medieval Japan. Introduce an unprepared-for permanent change. Bring back someone the players are already f*****g sick and tired of, or a villain they literally just killed. Like Harry Potter. Cheat. Have Patrick Duffy walk into a shower Sorry, your princess is in another castle. Railroad the players into a scripted action or reaction that they probably would not have otherwise done, robbing them of a decision. Remember, a cliffhanger is supposed to prepare the party for action, not spoil any action. You don't want to rip control away from players. Tailor the cliffhanger to each one of your characters. End of William's last game session, in which he cliffhangered each of the PC’s. The players, who are underground hunting Drow, are traveling through a tunnel to find themselves overlooking a breeding ground for the spider queen spider’s. Two of the players notice that the prize artifact of their tribe, missing for years, is embedded in the boss spider’s head, serving as its power source. One of the players sees a figure across the room on the far wall, hiding in the shadows, and upon catching a glimpse of her face, realizes it is his long lost love interest. Another player receives a foreboding warning from her sentient artifact. And the final player’s sight returns before the battle, just in time for him to open a long lost letter from his time travelling girlfriend, which contains a heart breaking goodbye and a character backstory-referencing warning... oooOOOOOoooohhhh.... Now remember, ending a session on a cliffhanger is going to give the players lots of time to think about their reaction. When you reconvene, have your prep work done and your “yes, and” face on, because they may decide to go in a different direction from the one you were hoping. Be willing to be flexible enough to allow them to react. Use a cliffhanger at the beginning of the campaign, which changes the world and shocks the players, much like what happened at the beginning of the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movie, where Kirk’s dad dies. Or similarly, when you use a cliffhanger at the end of a vignette, the PC’s can discover the resolution of later on. This is pretty much the default use of a vignette. A cliffhanger is not something to be overused, because it can have some negative effects. For example, a cliffhanger can also be a big disappointment if on the return trip, you cheap out and “nerf” the action. (Have Patrick Duffy step out of the shower and say it was all a dream.) No Deus Ex Machina resolutions to your suspenseful conflict, such as Lord of the Rings Eagles sweeping all the dwarves away to safety, unless that was somehow set up or cool for other reasons. If you’re afraid of how everybody is going to react, find a way to incorporate your post-cliffhanger goodness without letting them off easy or unrealistically defusing the danger. Put your "yes, and" face on, but don't let it destroy your tension or session. There's a balance. Don't be afraid to ask for a five minute break. Don’t hit them too hard, too brutally, too fatal. For example, at the end of Star Trek II, the Wrath of Khan. Spock’s dead, they have a funeral, “the most… human.” In the original version of the movie, it ended right there. The test audience reacted very negatively, it was too depressing. They revised the end of the movie to allow for the glimmer of hope that Spock's torpedo pod landed safely on
Season 3, Episode 6 - The Cliffhanger Episode, Part One
How can you as a Dungeon Master take advantage of the dramatic mechanic of the cliffhanger in your campaign tonight? How can you avoid disappointment while preparing for excellence when setting your players up to maximum anticipation? Are you sitting at the edge of your ear seats? Because we're about to drop a cliffhanger on you. And no, Sylvester Stallone is not involved. We recorded so much content about cliffhangers that we couldn't resist the oh-so-meta urge to split one ginormous cliffhanger episode into more than one episode about ... dun dun dunnnnn ... cliffhanger endings to your campaign sessions! But first ... dun dun dunnnn... we read some emails! from William: Wulfgar's real life manifesto of war Tweet from @rzrstrm: with a recommendation for Game Night Games in Salt Lake from Robert: EDM stuff and validation of William's Wayne's World reference from Blair: Hey Exemplary DM! Who can recommend online Pathfinder char generation tools? perhaps HeroLab? In which we discussed Zero Charisma. Twitter convo about winter from the sprawling metropolis of Rochester, MN, as a preview of the stuff we discuss on twitter, aside from funny dnd quips. Many metals become brittle in cold weather. The frost, sometimes it makes the blade stick. Also, mutated Alpacas in Gamma World. from the wife : i can haz moar podcast? Skill challenges should be well described, not just math, a "choose your own adventure" The side conversations and camaraderie during long journeys and uneventful time from adam: re: Thoughts on a horror campaign? http://weir-with-awl.obsidianportal.com and their professional cartographer Highly recommend DM's do NPC accents, "the better the worse" from andy: DM appreciation picking up the torch thanks Andy for warming our cockles Top 10 Tips to Implementing Cliffhangers At the end of your next D&D session, pull an old trick from: the end of every Dan Brown chapter, the end of Star Trek:TNG The Best Of Both Worlds Pt. 1, the end of Christopher Nolan’s Inception and all three of his Batman films, the final episode of Twin Peaks, the end of X- Men II, the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Back to the Future movies, the end of Matrix Reloaded, the end of the first Kill Bill, the end of the first season of Jericho, the end of the patched version of Portal 1 which came out right before Portal 2, the end of the old BBC show Blake’s 7, the end of Half Life 2, the end of Mass Effect 2, the last episode before the break in the middle of The Walking Dead season three, end of the Sopranos, the end of every season of Lost, the every episode of 24 or really right before the commercial break of any action prime time action television show, and of course, that movie Cliffhanger (with Stallone and Merle from The Walking Dead). Why do they use cliffhangers? The Zeigarnik Effect (Ignore the cat in the background. It isn't a cliffhanging cat. Yet.) What we’re trying to do here is create a memorable anticipation for the next game session. So like the end of Inception, you really want to know the ending, but unlike Inception, you really want to resolve the action in the next campaign but more importantly - make your characters look forward to it. Cliffhangers require setup in order to connect you to the suspense and the new danger or intrigue that has been introduced and left in the balance. This is where you planning capabilities as a DM come into play. (But don't railroad!) Good cliffhangers do one or more of the following: Reference character backstory Change the timing of a well thought out plan Provide new and sudden inspiration Place one or more loved ones in mortal danger Reveal a terrible betrayal Pervert the ending to an otherwise innocent quest (but in a fun way) Renew an old love, hatred, stress, fear or desire Introduce a new villain or ally, or change an ally to a villain or villain to any ally Change the weather, stars above, lightning, atmosphere or tone, or height of the flame of the candl
Chad and William are fantastic! They are hilarious and quite clever. Their DM tips are inspirational. The downfall is they have a life...we (I’ll speak for them all) just wish we could have more, more I tell you, more, more, more mwah ahaha - the never ending American dream!
This is an amazingly entertaining podcast that uncannily provides incredibly insightful information in a fantastically fun form. Every episode makes me cry with laughter and betters me as a person. Thanks to Chad and William for making such an awesome show that I will cherish forever.
Orange Man Bad! Huurrrr! Derp!
Came here to find inspiration and good ideas for increasing my abilities as a DM and storyteller. Instead I got “hurrr hurrr Drumph Drumph huurr hurrr Orange Man Bad!”. It’s a shame because these guys, when they’re not allowing their insane amount of self-inflicted White Guilt to control the narrative, have real talent as storytellers; however, even as men around 40 or so they lack the maturity and wisdom to keep politics out of the show that has nothing at all to do with politics. I’m here for D&D; I’m not interested in brainless Liberalism any more than I am interested in militant Conservatism.
It was almost four years between episodes and has been just shy of a year since the last one so it looks like the show is finally dead. Honestly, that’s probably for the best.