Prior to the official launch of the show, we're releasing five mini-episodes that allow you the chance to meet the cast and characters. This is part five of the series, and introduces you to Dungeon Master Scott and his creation, the World of Telunor.
Hello, and welcome to Shocking Gasp a D&D podcast. I'm Scott, the dungeon master. Before we start the podcast proper, we're doing a series of mini spotlight episodes so you can get to know the Cast and characters. This is the fifth and final part of a five part series. Today, we have some of the cast members here are going to interview me. So joining us is Stephanie, Alex and Jake. Hey, guys, how are you?
Hey, doin' all right.
So the way we'll kick this off is you guys can just, I think, ask me any questions you have about my world. And I will try and answer them to the best of my ability and avoid any spoilers where possible. Who wants to go first?
I will, because I think that my question will answer a lot of others.
Can you tell me a quick history of the world?
Sure. So the name of the world is Telenor T-E-L-U-N-O-R. And it is currently the year 4762 Solarion Reckoning. Those years are counted from the discovery of the Aldurian city of Solarion. Which is basically, I guess, to put it easy, it's like the New York City of the world. So we're almost 5000 years into...into history, I guess. And in that time, there have been several major wars. But I think the most important one to know about is called the Race Wars. They were brought about by the Dread Mage ofAlduria, Lord Cyprus DeVane, and they resulted in the near complete eradication of both the Elven and the Gnoll races. Neither was completely destroyed, but they won't be found frequently, and certainly not very often in Alduria. So the Race Wars lasted from 4638 to 4687 SR. And that's only 75 years ago. And when you consider that most of the races in D&D can live several centuries, 75 years is not that long. So as you're playing through the game, we'll see a lot of people still have some sentiment and some some baggage that they're carrying from these wars.
I just got really insecure about being a human. Puny life spans.
Not in game, I mean, in real life.
So the war actually lasted for like 30...29 years? 39 years?
Yeah, it lasted for a good a good long bit.
Let me do that math. I think it's 49 years, almost 50 years.
Because I mean, his...Lord Cyprus DeVane, his goal was to eradicate all the elves throughout the entire world. And there was this group of heroes that have now been called the Saviors of Alduria, that they rose up. And as I think D&D heroes do, they kind of bumbled their way around and somehow convinced the Gnoll to go fight against Cyprus's forces. And in that battle, the Gnoll ended up, um, I mean, they were they were the meat shields, and they got chewed up pretty hard. So there's some history there with the Saviors of Alduria.
They wound up going on trial, because essentially, they did a complete genocide of the know people by convincing them to go fight this war on their behalf. So there was this big long trial where both Cyprus and the Savior's were on trial for genocide. And the Aldurian courts didn't want to take these heroes that just ended this 40 some year long war and cast them down as criminals. So they basically ended up letting both the heroes and Cyprus off the hook. But Cyprus was banished from the whole world of Telenor. And so they cast them out into the Planes. And nobody really knows where he went, or what he did after that. So he could still be lurking out there. But chances are, he was just a human dude. And it's 75 years ago. So the assumption is, is that he died of old age.
Yeah, I mean, a quick a quick history of a 5000 year old world is really hard to do. So I'm just that's the most recent big event that people are going to be talking about.
I mean, really, it's, "World existed for 5000 years, Tychus showed up." Boom. History. We just went over the important stuff.
That's it. That's, that's it. Year One: Tychus born.
So I guess that's a good question with you know, having a couple D&D races so far with the Gnolls and the Elves and our characters as it is. What, er, is there any other differences in this world compared to a typical Forgotten Realms D&D campaign style world? Do we have similar races or terrains?
On the surface, this is going to be very similar to a Forgotten Realms type setting. I haven't really created many unique races or classes. So any of those that you find in the core rule books are going to be in here. So elves...you know anything from Elves to the Tabaxi to the Tortle people, any all that stuff that'll all be here. And the same thing for the classes, I really haven't done very many unique classes. And as far as the timeline, we are still firmly set in the fantasy medieval timeframe. So you know, it's all going to be swords and sorcery and shields and armor, I wouldn't expect a lot of guns or cannons, or anything like that anytime soon. I'd like to like to keep that stuff a little separate, but I'm not open to [not] involving it.
I think the biggest difference between this world and a Forgotten Realms settings is that I created my own pantheon of deities, so many of the classic D&D deities are gone. But that being said, some of them had to stay around because they're just too ingrained in the game. A good example is the Drow and Lolth. I don't see how you can separate those two, you know, they're they're married together. You can't have one without the other.
But other than that, I really tried to avoid racial deities. I don't really like the idea that, "I'm a dwarf and I have to worship Moradin because he created me." I think that's a little weird. So I prefer my deities to be, you know, they created the entire world and in Telunor they're worshiped the world over you know, they're very real tangible beings, you can travel to their plane. And if you gain enough favor with the deity, you can stand before them. So you don't have a lot of different countries worshiping different deities, because everybody knows they exist. So there's, there's like the big 16. And then underneath them, there's like demigods, you know. Little deities that they've created to run around and do tasks for him. So that's where most of the variants comes from.
Go. That's pretty neat. I like that.
Alright, so kind of a follow up question to that. Alduria, you said it's like New York City, great war, lots of history. Are we going to be living in a world that is very like structured? Is there relationships between like nations and cities across the entire, you know, world of Telunor? Or is it definitely more of like a, everything is super isolated as we go from like town to town where everyone's like, "I don't know anything about the mayor of so and so." Like, how's that work?
So I have built kind of a rough framework of continents and countries and so on. So Telunor contains six continents that are home to eleven major countries, and I could name those if you want, but you know, it might just be easier to explore them as we get there. But each of those countries has its own unique personalities and dialects and customs. And some of them are currently at war with each other. Some of them are in the middle of setting up peace accords with each other. So the world isn't, isn't super small. But that being said, there are still some countries and some continents that are like the unexplored frontier, where no one has really gone there, and really understands what's in there. So when we explore that, it'll be with new eyes. Once you dive within each country, you know, I'm not trying to set it up to be static. I mean, there are still lords and Nobles within the realm that are vying for their own power. So if we start digging into the that aspect of it we'll find that, you know, cities and regions can be very, very different. And they can be at conflicts with their neighbors, and, and so on, and stuff like that.
So you've been working on this world for a long time, right?
Is there a certain place in this world that if you could actually go there, that would be your first choice?
Yeah, sure. So, um...
If you were a tourist in Telunor.
To address your first question. I started playing D&D in 2001, shortly after the third edition came out, and then I introduced it to my high school friends, one of which actually is Alex, around 2003, shortly after 3.5 came out. And at that time, you know, the mighty two years below my belt made me the most experienced. So I started being the dungeon master almost straight away. And that is really when I started building this world. And it's actually gone through, I'm going to say, four major iterations in that time. So it started out the world was actually Alduria. And then I needed to make it bigger at one point, so I expanded it, we went outside Alduria, and at that point, the world became Tellus, T-E-L-L-U-S. An d then I found out tons of other people were using that name as their world. So then I changed it to Telunor. And then the entire continents of Telunor changed after that. But so the point is, is like this is a 15 year work. But it has been constantly changing the whole time, which I don't know if that's a good or bad thing.
So Alex basically has the upper hand because he's played some of this content. Albeit be it 15 years ago.
But has cheated already.
I mean, I remember everything that ever happened.
Yeah. And he's up to date on all the changes.
Scott'll confirm I was asleep for half the time that we'd be playing back then.
He was. Alex slept a lot.
Alex is going to get to see some familiar names and some familiar places. My spoiler, I think, for Episode One, is I bring up the name of a ship as the Pecan Sandy and the captain is Captain Meergan. And that is a real character that we've encountered before actually, for a one off when Alex was being the DM. So the PCs have traveled around with Captain Meergan for a little bit.
So to get back to Stephanie's second question, if there was a place in Telunor that I would like to visit most. Man, there's a lot of...I made it up, right? So the whole world is is my brainchild. So I think every part of it is cool. And it's extremely difficult to pick one part and be like, I want to go there. But I think my most the country I would want to visit most is the country called and Nanoi. And I don't really want to spoil anything. So I can't really reveal why it's my favorite. But what I can say is that it is heavily influenced by, say Chinese, Japanese and other Asian cultures. And so it's the land of this very lawful minded group of people. And they're focused on honor and familial traditions. And they have also developed a keen understanding of psionics, which is D&D talk for like psychic powers and stuff. Fifth Edition doesn't really have much in the way psionics. But when Wizards of the Coast finally gets around to introducing that it's all going to be coming out of Nanoi.
And then the other thing I really like about Nanoi is it's, it's a region of essentially wild magic. So it's the place where if you've ever seen in like a fantasy story when you walk around, and there's like whole cities floating in the air and like waterfalls that flow upwards, and, and magic has just made this whole land so different from everywhere else. That's, that's what Nanoi is. So I think if I had to visit Telunor, that would be the fascinating place I want to go visit just because it'd be not what I'm used to.
But I think it's interesting, you've been DM-ing for 15 years. And you know, this story is obviously very close to you. So I think, you know, that, that opens up its own interesting challenges for you. But what, over the past 15 years, what's been some of the most challenging parts of being a dungeon master or game master? From like, the player perspective, like dealing with your players, as well as from creating this content?
Oh, boy. For me, the best part of being a dungeon master is watching my players have a character make a decision that they would not make themselves. So like the character the players are, will do some - the character will do something, and the player will be like, "God, I have no idea why she did that." And I think at that point, that's the point when you've thought through it in the eyes of your character. And that really highlights the role play part. I love the role play part of this game. And it's in those moments when we lose control of the character when the character starts making its own decisions, that I think this game really shines. So as a DM, if I can get players to reach that point, that's the most rewarding thing for me.
The hardest. The hardest part for me if being a DM is that I spend days and weeks and months and years, carefully building this world and leading players to these like critical points in the world where like big decisions need to be made. And then I have no choice but to let go. And that's super hard. Like I'm going to lay these world shaking decisions at the feet of the player characters. And no matter what I want, no matter what I hope happens, I have zero control. It's whatever those players decide, is what I have to go with when I write the next section, so they can completely wreck my world. And I just have to live with it. And I think for every for every DM that's exciting and terrifying all at once to give up that control.
So it's like you're trying to lead your horses to water, but all your horses want to do is make dick jokes. And that's gonna be really challenging.
Yeah. Yep. One horse in particular is really, it's probably an unhealthy obsession with dick jokes. I think, dicks in general.
Is it me?
The name rhymes with "Jake." Ah, fuck! There I went and said it.
So building on your experience as a DM, I guess here's a here's a question for you. Admittedly, D&D is full of tropes that are pretty commonly associated with it. Do you have from your years of experience, not a specific, you know, character, per se, but a favorite and least favorite kind of character trope that you've had people create their characters around that you've had to deal with?
Oh, man, I kind of...I have a love hate relationship with tropes. Because, I mean, they're comfortable you...they're easy to do so like you're gonna fight- there's stuff I stole I've straight up stole stuff for my world and any DM it says otherwise is a fucking liar. So like I've stolen shows. I've stolen stuff from other people. And that's that I think is fine. I guess what I'm always a little put off by I think is that every dwarf is angry, you know, or that every elf is some sort of pompous ass. You know, like, I don't get that I don't enjoy at all that D&D writes the races into corners. You know, like if you're a half orc, you have to be aggressive, you know, and you have to be shunned by the rest of the world because you have part orc blood in you and I just I think that's fucked up. I think that's like, sort of like D&D racist and that's the stuff where I get annoyed. Like if you want to play an angry gnome, go for it you know. If you want to be an angry halfling, but the book says halflings are always like happy and love to farm or whatever, go be an angry halffling. I don't...those are the tropes I get that I'm upset by is when the when the book tells you w hat all these races and classes have to be. That, it doesn't-
How about a, how about a dwarf, a very pious dwarf that just wanted to serve Moradin...
...but was unfortunately cut down in his youth.
But a child.
He wasn't cut down, he was stabbed in the eye in his very first combat. He died fair and square.
[Sarcastically sad] He didn't and it was unfair, and you know it!
[Laughing] So in Jake is in my weekly group. And so is Alex. And Jake introduced this character and the very first combat for the character, he got stabbed in the eye and killed the very first time he was even hit by a foe.
And the very best part was I didn't even get to play him that day.
Jake wasn't there! Jake had to miss the session. So someone else was playing Jake's character and he got stabbed in the eye and died and like, I feel so bad, but it's hilarious!
From here on out, I'm just going to have every character be an angry dwarf or a really conniving elf.
You know, if that's what you want, man. I'm not going to tell you what to be.
But I will-
-I won't do that.
-I will judge you from afar.
You're gonna judge us anyway.
Do you have a favorite?
Trope? Oh, man.
Whether it's the consistently "my parents were brutally murdered, so now I'm going to get a vengeance on them," that is like every fourth player character created ever.
Yeah, I was actually really surprised for this. So by now, I would hope the listeners have listened to the first four parts of the mini episodes. That you guys didn't have the, you know, "my family was burnt down by the goblins and now I have this vendetta against them." You know, I was I was happy for that. Um, I guess I think my favorite trope is like the old mystical wizard. You know, something, something about Gandalf, rings, and every time they do that, and I really, I enjoy that. Like the old bearded wizard who's not telling you everything he knows. He's just telling you enough to manipulate into doing- to manipulate you into doing what he wants you to.
Are you talking about Dumbledore?
That's the trope I like. Every old wizard! Every single old wizard! Gandalf, Dumbledore, they all do it, you know?
Sean Connery, he did that.
[Impersonating Darrell Hammond impersonating Sean Connery] I'll take the anal bum covers.
We'll miss you Burt Reynolds.
I know! Somebody told me they didn't know who he was.
Oh my god...
And I knew that they weren't going to know like any of his movies.
Did you smack them?
So then I was like, "You know, celebrity jeopardy?"
Did you just go, "Turd Ferguson...?"
And they're like, "I got nothing." Damn it!
Off the Christmas card list.
Right. Well, I'm going to ask a personal question, because I have a lot of these.
This is my chance to actually get my husband to answer my questions.
Oh, wow. This just turned into a marriage counseling session.
Yeah. I could just delet them, you know? I do all the editing.
That's true. Yeah. But I'll still get the answers
So this is the most important question I have. What's your favorite thing about your wife?
Oh, really? Not burying the lead there, are you?
No, she jumped right into it.
I don't know how to be subtle.
My, my wife is really good at finding ways to corner me into admitting things I like about her. And that's probably my favorite part.
That is a cop out.
So was that question! [Laughter]
No, answer it! Fine. Why don't you ever read any books that your wife recommends?
Oh, my God!
Hey, guys, I gotta jump off the call real quick.
Yeah, what is this?
You know, my favorite thing about Scott's wife is? How awkward she just made this call.
Guess whose character just died. Um, honestly, I don't really have time to read books anymore. I spend all the time working on this podcast and writing for the show. So I haven't read a book in over a year. And that's heartbreaking. But there it is.
So back to the world we're going to be living in. I feel like 5e tried to limit the ease of accessibility of magic items a little bit. How common are magic items in Alduria? Not just like, "Oh, I've got this magic +1 sword of fucking goblins up." But things like, "I've got a broom that sweeps the house for me or..."
Or a horseshoe?
Yeah, I have a lucky horseshoe-
-that no one knows is magic.
I love magic items. I loved that in third edition they were everywhere like candy because I mean, it's just fun to say you've got, you know, the handaxe that you can throw and it returns to your hand or the javelin that craps thunder and pisses lightning or something like that. And when fifth edition, when we first started digging into it, and I found out they reduced magic items so much, I was really bummed out about it. And I immediately thought, "Well screw that I'm going to drop magic items like nobody's business." And, it's, they made it very difficult to do that. The way they balanced the statistics of the game and the way they balanced everybody's attack rolls and armor class and all that stuff. It's actually really hard to give out magic items now. But as far as the campaign goes, I'm more a fan of story and badass moments. So it's likely that I'm going to give out a lot of magic items. But I might twist them a little bit sometimes to reduce their maximum benefit, you know, to kind of try and balance it out. So it'll be more like you get this cool ability, but you also lose effectiveness in this area. And I think that'll kind of help balance some of it. But i'm i'm hoping to hand out magic items fairly fairly often.
Okay, if you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
Does getting paid to do nothing count? Because that'd be awesome.
No, it's not a job.
Oh. I don't know. I feel like all the Instagram girls getting paid to go to beaches and stuff. They're basically getting paid to do nothing.
You want to be an Instagram girl?
Yes. Yes, I do. If someone gave me that much money to stand next to a pool and wear a bikini I would 100% do that. I don't care. Hell yeah. Give me them dollars. I'm gonna drink all the fancy drinks with the umbrellas.
So I bet there's actually a small contingent of people that would want to see you today in a bikini laying next to a pool and would probably pay you money.
Do their names rhyme with Jake?
I'll pay you in fancy drink umbrellas so that you can have your fancy drinks.
I'll take that.
Wait, just the umbrellas or the drink and the umbrella?
Just the umbrellas.
Do you have leftover umbrellas or something?
I mean, I'll go buy like a Cosco pack. Like you get a million fancy drink umbrellas and then apparently I can just make Scott do whatever I want for the rest of my life.
Not whatever you want. Specifically sit by a body of water in a bikini. [Laughing] Somehow that's better.
That's exactly what wants. Yeah, that's fine.
Oh, God. This is turning out exactly how I thought it would.
What's the first thing on your bucket list?
The first thing on my bucket list? I don't think I have a bucket list.
Meet Matthew Mercer, probably.
No, totally Griffin McElroy.
You have a boner for Griffin and Matt Mercer, don't you?
Dude, Matt Mercer is...yes. Yeah, I do.
Did you guys see that Matt Mercer commented on one of his Twitter comments?
It was the greatest moment of my life.
Yeah, Scott only talks about it every waking moment.
He's still creaming his jeans.
This won't get cut on the off chance that Matt, Matt Merther- Matt Mercer, man.
You're bumbling over his name, you love him so much!
I'm getting faint. I have to fight the swoon that's coming on.
[Dreamily] Matt Mercer...
Matt Mercer. I tell you what. If I walked into a room and it was Matt Mercer and Griffin McElroy, I'd probably...I'd probably just have a heart attack right there.
What if they walked into a pool and you were sitting next to the pool in a bikini?
Would you talk to them or die of embarrassment?
Are they the ones that paid me to do it?
No, it's still me. I'm in the corner. Laughing at you.
He's throwing umbrellas at you.
I think they would get it. They're both showman they understand that you got to shake it for the money. You know?
Oh my god.
We'd probably High Five about it. That'd be all right. They're open minded dudes.
In this world, what's your favorite place you've ever been to? And what's the place you've always wanted to go to?
This world as in like the world we live in?
Yes. Not D&D.
I think my favorite place I've been to totally caught me off guard. I did not expect it last year. Stephanie and I went to Europe. And we, she, her family's from Slovenia. So we went to Slovenia. And we went specifically to, Lake Bled. And it was, it was awesome. It was awesome. I can't- I don't know what else to say about it. It was like that picture esque, perfect little European countryside town that, you know, you picture and you see in all the movies and stuff. And it was just, it was really cool. And the food was awesome. And we got to see this sweet ass castle. If you Google any pictures of Lake Bled. It looks fantastic. And I think it's even better in person. So that was that was a fantastic trip. That's probably my favorite place I've been in real life.
Yeah, a place that I've always wanted to go? I think it'd be pretty sweet to go see the redwood forest.
Cool. That would be cool.
I think that'd be really good. The idea of like these humongous giant trees. It baffles my mind to read about how big they are. And I really want to see him in person. I'm super bummed that the really famous one that people were able to drive their cars through fell down, I think a year or two ago. I guess there's others they have others that they did that to, where you can drive your car through it. But like the one that was the most famous, collapsed, and that's that's a big bummer. So I guess I'll never get to see that one.
Good. Good answers.
Since you're always DM-ing and never getting to be a player, what's the one character idea that you've had just sitting in the back your head that you can't wait to get a chance to play?
I actually, there was a character I was super, super excited about playing. And we started to play the campaign that he was in. And then I think it ended early. So I never really got to- to explore very many levels with him. But he was a war forged in third edition. He was an artificer. And the whole idea was that instead of being like the classic war forged, he was a robot. Like a leftover robot from a, from a, from another age and these party members, they just happen to find him. And they turned them on. And he booted up and he was all like broken down and messed up and scratched and dented. He didn't work right. But he had this box on his back that he could put raw materials in and it was like a little factory. And it would spit out magic items and stuff. Which, that's what the artificer class did is they were able to create magic items, basically, items that duplicated magical effects. And the way I just wrote it off in the game was that he had this little thing on his back and he'd stick stuff in there and after an hour or so it would ding and spit out like a one wand of Magic Missile or something. And I I was really excited about playing him. And then I, honestly I don't remember what campaign he was in, but we didn't get too far. So I'm definitely planning on sneaking him into this campaign as an NPC.
Yeah, you'll know him when you see him. I like him a lot. Talking about DMs stealing stuff from other sources. He is almost entirely based on Andy, from one of the Dark Tower books by Stephen King. I don't remember the name of the book, Wolves of the Calla is the name of the book. And there was this robot in there and he wandered around town and nobody really knew where he came from. And I liked that part of it. He- spoiler for the book, I think his name is Andy- but he turned out he was evil. I don't plan on my character to be evil. He's just a...I like the wandering last robot the last relic of another age, half of his story.
Are there any other like books, video games, movies, things like that, that inspire the world?
So Stephen King's Dark Tower series is going to be in here lot, I really really love the idea of of a lost world that has these technological wonders leftover from an ancient civilization and like, nobody really understands where they came from. And they just talk about, you know, like the Golden Age relics or whatever. I don't think any fantasy world can escape the influence of Middle Earth. So there's no way I can get around that. I have been reading a whole lot of Brandon Sanderson lately, and I love how he does magic a little bit differently. And the way he tells some stories, and the way he grows his characters, and I would like to bring a lot of that influence into it as well. I guess those are the major ones. I've read tons and tons of the Forgotten Realms books. And I'll try and bring some of those in.
But I guess the big thing, most of those fantasy books, especially the Forgotten Realms one, is it's it's a very clear cut picture of good versus evil, you know? And it, it's like, "We're the good guys. And they're the bad guys. And nobody really has to worry about anything." But for this world, I don't plan on making a story of good versus evil. I don't, I don't think those are clearly defined things. And so I want this to be a story not about heroes, but about people. So your characters, you're not the four heroes of the story. You're just the four people this story is about. And you're going to come from from different backgrounds and have different outlooks. And some of you may drift towards, you know, not the good guy, kind of stance. I think Amos, when we learn more about his history, I feel like back there, there's like some shady stuff going on. And he might not be the good guy everyone expects him to be. But who knows? I'm not sure I didn't write that character.
But my thing is, is at some point, your characters are going to need to make these world shaking decisions. And because you're so diverse and different from different walks of life, it's going to be really interesting to watch you as players struggle with what decision would my character make? And then how would my character convince the other characters to go along with that decision? And that, that's calling back to what I said is the most enjoyable part of being a DM. So I'm scrambling to find books and stories and tales that, that focus on that kind of stuff to where it's, it's just a story and we're along for the ride.
What's your favorite superhero?
Batman is without a doubt my favorite superhero, specifically Frank Miller's dark brooding Batman. Batman shows us that a lawful good superhero doesn't have to be lawful nice.
Who's your least-
I don't have to think about that.
Cuz he's Henry Coville and I look at him all the time?
Well, that doesn't help his case. But I think Superman, he's too squeaky clean is too good. He's got too much going for him. And I don't like that.
If Matthew Mercer and Griffin McElroy both said that Superman was their favorite superhero, would you change your mind?
I would slowly turn and walk away into the storm cloud forming above my head and just off in the distance, I would hear someone saying, "Never meet your heroes kid."
And that's exactly why I'm comfortable that you are the DM.
Thanks? Well, all right. I want to thank you guys for joining me today. And I really appreciate you guys taking the time to come up with those questions and sit with me. I also want to thank the listeners for showing up to catch this episode. If you guys like what you hear, please, you know catch on to the, to the main podcast. It should be launching October 2 of this year. That's our official date. If you like what you hear, please hop on to iTunes or wherever you downloaded your podcasts and give us a favorable review. Let us know what you like. Let us know what you didn't like. And you can find the podcast on Twitter @ShockingGaspDnD. That's the letter N not the ampersand. And you can also follow me on twitter at @HecklerusPrime. Thank you for the listen and have a great day.
Shocking Gasp is a serialized actual play D&D 5e podcast. When an enigmatic being falls from the sky, four strangers investigate and find themselves on the run from a superhuman force. Now they must fight for their survival while attempting to unravel the mystery of who the being was and why they’re being hunted. New episodes released every other week on Tuesday at 6am EST. First time listeners advised to start at Episode 1 - Livin’ On a Prayer