Monday, January 15, 2018

Podcast Questions Redux

The logo needs work.  I'm content with the spear, the body ... but the text is just awful.  Ah well, I will figure out something.

During a conversation yesterday, I realized something that had been crossing just below my radar.  All the advice that is being given fits the same template: name the problem, then ignore the details of the problem and rush straight towards the solution.

I understand this, given that these are largely single voices speaking to an audience, who have untold variations on the problem being named.  But if we're not examining the problem, how exactly do we expect to come up with the solution?

From this, I think the DMs I interview have to be ready to talk about their problems.  As individual conversations and the greater podcast expands, we can talk about solutions, but I really think there is room to identify specifically what is going on in our heads, in our observations and in the frustrations we're feeling with knowing how to play the game.

So I want to shift my agenda in that direction.  The basic premise hasn't changed; the DMs are still the voices, the plan is still to give the guest a full understanding of the questions ahead of time.  But I just want to make a small adjustment to the original questions:

1.  How did the sequence of events at the beginning of your game help or hinder your understanding of RPGs?  When the game took hold of you, how well did you understand what you were getting into?

2.  How would you describe your issues when you started DMing?  Did you understand the game at the time, or would you say you were just a step ahead of your players.  Has this improved, and if so, how?

3.  Are there any other things you've done in your life that you feel gives you a better insight into role-playing games in general, than other participants you've know.  How so and in what ways?  Are there things you've done that make it actually harder to DM?

4.  In your opinion, are your difficulties or successes different from other DMs?  If you have little or no experience with other DMs, do you still feel that there must be issues that everyone is having? What with the language, the manner in which players respond to rules, your troubles maintaining order and so on?

5.  Are your players benefiting from your style, or your game?  Is it just a slog ... or does it seem to go easy some nights, or most nights, and once in awhile there is a hiccup?  Do you feel this is a fault that rests with you, or is it an attitude or misunderstanding that the players have?

6.  How much trouble have you had structuring your campaign?  Does it take a lot of preparation, more than you expected, more than you're really able to give?  Does this leave you scrambling each week?  Do you think time is part of the problem, or is it not knowing for sure what you need to prepare for?

7.  Do you get much resistance when you push the concept of your game, adding elements to the rules or to the setting?  Are there subjects you fear to venture upon?  Are there subjects you've banned from the table?  If so, what are your reasons?

8.  How often do you think about quitting?  If you quit, what do you think you would be losing from that decision?  In forging on, what do you think you are gaining?

9.  Is it hopeless to try to teach most people the game?  Or do you find that players take to your campaign, or the idea of DMing, rather easily?  Have you spun off a DM from your campaign, one whose world you run in?  If not, do you think this is a rare phenomenon?

10.  If you have quit, why?  Do you miss it?  Do you think about starting it again, or would that be impossible?  If you had the time and the money, do you think there's a possibility you would come back to this game, or is it basically a genie in a memory bottle you'll never recapture?

Slightly stronger questions, I think.  A bit harder.  I'm asking would-be guests if they would be prepared to talk more about the problems than the solutions.

There are a lot of solutions out there; my argument these last couple of months is that most of them sound good, but probably won't produce the effect they promise.  I want to on exploring that, with real people, running authentic games, who don't feel compelled to be "experts" or "phenomenal" in their efforts.  Most who are out there, running, aren't experts and they know it.  They need to hear voices that are the same as they are, saying the things they would say, complaining about players and bad decisions just like they would complain.

We're all in this together.


If anyone wants to give a little help with the logo, jump in!


  1. I like these questions more than the first 10. And the point about not investigating the problem is spot on from what I have seen of other blogs, podcasts, vlogs, and live DMs that try to trouble shoot things.

  2. Yep. Practice helps make better questions.

  3. It will be interesting to compare interviews with people of different ages and experience.

  4. And different parts of the world. I am making arrangements with people in France and Australia.

  5. What's the turnout like so far?

    Should those of us who've said we'll participate let you know when we're prepared?

  6. Like connor mckay, I find those questions more interesting.
    The idea of discussing more the problems than the solutions is also a nice addition, it makes me think of those deconstructions of yours. And there is a definite need to speak in details about the problems, gaining a clear view of them, before even considering proposing a solution.

    Anyway, I'm still game.

  7. I like these questions better as well. They certainly seem more challenging and more personal.

    Also, as a humanities scholar, the word "authentic" just irks me.

  8. With regards to the logo, I think that moving "A Podcast with Alexis Smolenk" to a single line in the area below the corpse would improve it. Also, I think "Authentic Role-playing" flows off the tongue better than "Authentic Role-Play". Each word of the title should be on the same line, even if it adds additional blank space to the logo.

    I'm torn on the font used. I get what you are going for, using something easily readable, but it needs something with a little more pop. Using a font like Copperplate Gothic or Felix Titling would help with that.

  9. I'm interested in participating in the podcast; I'll email you today or tomorrow about scheduling, etc.

  10. Discord, I tried copperplate and it looked too desperate. I ended up settling on the boring font because I didn't like any option.

    There has to be some site on the internet that will let me paint in a more elaborate font than what office offers.

    I'll try the image with a sword and flatten the image; giving more attention to the dead fellow's jersey; I'll adjust the text to two lines and make it Authentic Role-playing. I think I'll drop my name and work up a proper tag line.

  11. Maxwell,

    I'd rather not give specific numbers for the turnout; let's say that a weekly podcast would survive its first month.


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