Welcome to the first episode of series 22, everyone! This episode we cover character creation for Questlandia 2, get into some great discussion about game design and collaboration, and stumble into a really flattering design decision with Hannah Shaffer and Evan Rowland, designers of the game and hosts of the Design Doc podcast, also part of the One Shot Podcast Network!
Welcome to the first episode of series 22, everyone! This episode we cover character creation for Questlandia 2, get into some great discussion about game design and collaboration, and stumble into a really flattering design decision with Hannah Shaffer and Evan Rowland, designers of the game and hosts of the Design Doc podcast, also part of the One Shot Podcast Network!
Character Creation Cast on Apple Podcasts (The best place to leave reviews for us)
Character Creation Cast on Podchaser
Character Creation Cast on Stitcher
Character Creation Cast on Facebook
Hannah Shaffer @hanbandit
Evan Rowland @adrawnnovel
Make Big Things @makebigthings
Design Doc @designdocpod
Character Creation Cast:
Ryan Boelter 0:01
Welcome to the first episode of The 22nd series everyone. We're going to be exploring character creation for quest landed to in today's episode with fellow one chat network hosts of the design doc podcast, Hannah Schaefer, and Evan Roland. But before we get to that, we have a few announcements. First up, we aren't going to be at a cat con this week. That's right, it is already here. We might be freaking out a little bit about how it snuck up on us, but it's promising to be a really good time. So if you see us definitely say hi. I know I would love to grab a selfie with you and I can't speak for Amelia but I assume if you ask, there is probably a good chance to get a selfie with her as well. Also remember our panel is scheduled for Sunday morning at
Ryan Boelter 1:00
10am and we have plenty of tickets available. We would love to see you there. We are going to be creating some characters and a world together with the audience through some random tables and some wonderful ideas. So come participate or just enjoy the show. We would love to see you there. I already said that. Finally, we have it on good authority that quest Linda to might be available on h.io very soon. If not, they're already check the show notes for a direct link. If you're interested after hearing this series. If it is available, it will be in the show notes. If it is not, then you might have to wait a little bit and we will post about it as soon as it is. That's all for announcements today. We can't wait for
Ryan Boelter 2:00
You to hear this amazing series. So let's get on with the show. Enjoy.
Ryan Boelter 2:39
Welcome to Character Creation Cast a show where we discuss and create characters The best part of role playing games with guests using their favorite systems. I am one of your hosts Ryan and this episode my co host, Emily and I are thrilled to welcome Hannah Schaefer and Evan Rolen designers of quest play India and India to a collaborative fantasy world.
Ryan Boelter 3:00
Amelia Antrim 3:01
Welcome to Character Creation Cast. We're excited
Hannah Shaffer 3:03
that you're both here. Hi.
Evan Rowland 3:05
Hey, thanks for having us.
Ryan Boelter 3:07
So let's start by introducing you to our audience. Hannah, can you tell us a bit more about yourself and any projects that you're currently involved in? Yeah,
Hannah Shaffer 3:14
I am Hannah Schaefer. I'm part of make big things with Evan. We are a three person game design Co Op. Also with our coworker Brian Vance. Like we make board games and role playing games you might be familiar with quest lay India.
Hannah Shaffer 3:33
I've worked on damn the man save the music, which is a role playing game about a bunch of teenagers in the 90s trying to save their indie record store from collapse. I worked with Evan on his game new Islandia. And most recently, we all as a cooperative made our first board game Good dog bad zombie, which is about dogs saving humans from the zombie apocalypse and it's very sweet.
Hannah Shaffer 4:00
So that's, that's a little
Amelia Antrim 4:01
bit about me. And what about you, Evan?
Evan Rowland 4:03
Um, I'm also a part of make big things as was given away.
Evan Rowland 4:10
All those old thing. I'm currently working on a sequel to India. And we're working on another role playing game
Evan Rowland 4:19
called starship ultra Luxe, which is a futuristic space cruise that we can't get off of after it's a million years off course. So, keeping busy with the role playing games and outside of make big things, I make a lot of board games that I bring to publishers and try to, you know, get them to keep it.
Evan Rowland 4:46
I work on a couple of video games, about friendly goblins and sad Nice,
Ryan Boelter 4:52
very nice. All right, well, let's go ahead and get into this. We will start by discussing what this game is all about.
Marie-Claire Segues 5:00
What's in a game?
Ryan Boelter 5:02
Can you tell us a little bit about the settings both for India and India too?
Hannah Shaffer 5:09
Yeah. So quest land do was our first role playing game that we made in 2014. And I think at the time, we were thinking a lot about world's falling apart. So quickly, India is a game about people trying to take on a big or small personal goal, while their society changes rapidly around them. So it can be something as small as like, I really just want to find saffron for this loaf of bread. Like I want to find this special ingredient in my cupboard, and I can't find it, or something as big as like I want to overthrow the king and be a part of the proletariat revolution. And it tends to tell stories like Weird fantasy. So you know if you think like Miyazaki or neverending story kind of this environmentalists leaning fantasy with slug kings and you know weird multi limbed fairies and stuff. That is Queensland do one. Evan, do you want to talk about crystal India too?
Evan Rowland 6:20
Yeah. So, Crystal India one had a habit of making really interesting fantasy worlds. It has a collaborative world building element that did a good job getting everybody at the table, excited about the settings that they made. And then it played out in a one shot. So in a single evening, it all fell apart. You told the epilogue and you were done. And often it felt like these worlds deserved more attention and the game was giving them it was hard not to feel attached to the cool settings that everybody just built out of nothing. So the goal with Christian India to was to create a system where you could have the best of both worlds. I don't want to, I really didn't want that to be any kind of
Evan Rowland 7:15
where you can create weird fantasy worlds to explore. You can spend a long time in them. Or you can have a short trip through a car accident of a kingdom. And you can follow the people who are traveling between the worlds and are learning from the different places they explore.
Amelia Antrim 7:37
What sorts of things do we need to play this game? Like what kind of dice are there other additional tools that we need? Well,
Hannah Shaffer 7:45
Queensland do one in India to would sort of require different answers. I am going to just jump straight into India to currently the one you need like a deck of cards and Bunch of six sided dice and some tokens. Question, Linda to that question is still totally up in the air. So, one thing that I should mention is that part of making crystal India too is that we have been redesigning the game on a podcast called design doc. So we're essentially redesigning it live from week to week, where every week we work on a new part of the game and sort of bring the audience along with us in the design. So if we, you know, make a design change in a version and everybody reacts really well to it, it sort of shapes our relationship to the game moving forward. So question 92 has taken a pretty big arc of like, this game is going to be unfolding maps that ship in sealed envelopes. It's going to be I don't know Evan, Can you think of any of the some of the weirder things there have been so many?
Evan Rowland 8:56
Well, in the very beginning, we were very dedicated to the idea of having little journals, like the mist books from the video game that described the different worlds you're in and keep your your discoveries organized. And that got ditched fairly early on. Because there's a problem with journals, which is that they have a certain number of pages in them. Oh, yeah. And you feel bad if you run out and you feel bad if you don't use them up. So then we were looking at binders decks of cards, unfolding maps. And
Evan Rowland 9:35
I don't know where
Hannah Shaffer 9:38
the only thing I think that has been a constant is that the game will likely have a custom dice with little symbols on them because they're pretty. I think that's the only thing that's been a constant from version to version so far. So at least the version that we're going to do today we will play with the symbol dice, but Who knows, it's like, maybe eventually the game will just be a gift basket of fruit leather that
Amelia Antrim 10:11
this is a really unwritten future here. This is kind of fun because we've you know, we cover a lot of games like right before they go to Kickstarter is or you know, in some cases games that have been around for a really long time. And so this is kind of fun to, to cover one that's still kind of being shaped and changed and to sort of see like, you know, like, what some of your sticking points are too and like what things you know, you're you're very sure about
Evan Rowland 10:39
Unknown Speaker 10:41
We'll see by the end of
Amelia Antrim 10:44
it, you want to ask like, I mean, those are all like, sort of interesting and like, specific ways of doing things, you know, like a lot of games are just like the differences. How big are the dice you're using, you know, how many sides do they have? Is there a reason that you want it to go with like, journals or maps or playing cards or any of those things over just like D sixes or D 20 years or something like that.
Hannah Shaffer 11:11
And this is going to sound kind of weird, but in some ways, it's to increase the accessibility of the game, which I know sounds totally strange when we're talking about like unfolding maps and special dice that you need. But, like, part of the reason that remaking this game has taken so long is that we, our goal is to eventually make it a game that somebody who has never even heard of a role playing game can step into and can feel really guided by. So we're trying to find like the exact mix of components for the chick that can like hit that sweet spot between a person who've been playing role playing games for years and a person who's like, I know board games, and this looks a little bit like a board game. We want it to be potentially something that's like, you know, really easy Take on a plane. We've also like been playing the game recently while going for walks and seeing like how much we can really limit the components. So I think the hope, ultimately is that, you know, it can be a game that comes in this little box where the components feel really accessible. But also there could be some sort of print and play version. That does make it really easy to translate it to components you might have at home. Very cool.
Amelia Antrim 12:25
That's actually super interesting considering what we're going to do for like the end of the month because we do our like our Character evolution cast ones that are like about playing the games then too, and we are planning on recording with one of my siblings about like, introducing new people haven't played before, because they have not like they've been wanting to and have been asking me to run things and I've done like one or two, but they haven't really played before. So I'm always like looking at games like, is this something that I can explain to the rest of my
Ryan Boelter 12:56
so that'll be fun. That's awesome. So you got rid of the The little the little dangly thing. Remember, you talked about with Bob?
Evan Rowland 13:04
Yes. I mean, what about the plumb bob lives on in spirit?
Ryan Boelter 13:11
I just thought that was interesting when I heard that.
Evan Rowland 13:14
Yeah. part of the fun part is, can you have a element in your game and object that is so unusual and borderline mystical, but it helps bring you into the setting that literally using this, you feel like you're more involved. And I think the original Dungeons and Dragons did this with multi sided dice, which it's not like a requirement to use the 20s to make that system work. But it was written with them. And when you roll them, it has an arcane feeling. You're using strange, iconic platonic songs. Yeah, reality change because of it. And what we've ended up with at this point, that's the closest to that, I think, is our sim Bull chart. Yeah, which is a, it's inspired by the elite the amateur in the his mark His Dark Materials series. It is a web of symbols, or a compass rows of symbols where the meaning of these various symbols are interpreted by the players as we go, which is a way to both tie the worlds together because it's familiar symbols and let them be wildly divergent. Because the symbols mean whatever we want them to mean, in the context of the world we're in.
Ryan Boelter 14:39
Like it it's it's a for the the people in the audio only portion of the podcast the listeners. It's it's kind of a chart that has like six symbols on the inside. And then each of those has six symbols attached to it creates this this cool, like, multi service Cool pattern of sorts that's really interesting. It's just just a bunch of cool symbols. So 36 symbols on the outside, right?
Evan Rowland 15:08
That's right. Yeah.
Ryan Boelter 15:09
I like that a lot.
Amelia Antrim 15:11
And so then it's open for people to kind of like interpret what those things mean in relation to the story that you're telling that.
Evan Rowland 15:17
That's right. Exactly. Oh, that's so good.
Amelia Antrim 15:21
I'm a sucker for things like that. Like, like Ryan and I are always like, Oh, cool. We don't know what it means. That's amazing. So excited about that.
Unknown Speaker 15:33
Amelia Antrim 15:34
What do you want it to be?
Ryan Boelter 15:38
Well, speaking of stories and themes, what what sort of stories and themes? Did you mean for this game? To explore
Hannah Shaffer 15:47
a f1? Do you kind of want to like divide this answer up?
Evan Rowland 15:50
Sure. Do you want to do stories or Oh,
Hannah Shaffer 15:54
I'll do I'll do stories.
Hannah Shaffer 15:58
So You know, when when we first had made the first version of India, the name had been that this was not supposed to be the final name of the game like it was sort of a joke placeholder name to represent like a sweeping fantasy story with a Lord of the Rings style journey that like something like India and sort of by accident through play testing in most of the games, the characters never actually went anywhere. Because I think the intention was for them to eventually leave and have a journey, but the kingdoms fell into chaos so quickly that like they rarely got started. And maybe maybe it was just where I wasn't my life. At the time where I was like, Oh, it's like a metaphor you always just are trying to get started. But it came to tell these stories of people sort of coming together to find community and to you know, make the best of what was often like a really challenging or unpredictable situation. So I feel like even in India to those are stories that we're trying to tell crystal India to is a little bit different because it introduces this meta plot element which quest Libya one didn't have. So, you know in India one like Evan said it was a one shot you play this weird Kingdom you watch it fall and you're done in India to you are ghosts who are sort of floating between worlds and you are watching people's lives unfold, and then you're sort of floating to the next place. I don't really know exactly what that is a metaphor for yet. But it's still kind of telling these stories of you know, people trying to really come together in these sort of harrowing moments of challenge and change
Ryan Boelter 17:54
some of those themes having Oh yeah.
Evan Rowland 17:59
So And we're not starting with some set metaphors in play. But the ghosts, you know, and aspects of the metaphor of the ghosts is, it's a metaphor for role playing game players, because they are they're exploring these worlds having a sort of dual role of both creating the worlds and experiencing them, influencing them, but also just witnessing them and watching them. And the attitudes of the different ghosts that are traveling to these worlds reflect different motivations and themes that people might want to get out of this game. So I don't want to jump ahead, obviously, we're going to be doing this for real, but part of the game is choosing what archetype of ghost you're going to play as, and that choice is about what kind of theme and story you want to see in the world's that we're going to. And well, soon we'll get to a lot of examples of that.
Ryan Boelter 19:09
That's so interesting that you've, you've kind of pulled the camera back from people playing characters at a table two people playing people playing Character.
Hannah Shaffer 19:23
It's been a real balance to not get too annoyingly meta.
Unknown Speaker 19:32
That's really cool, though.
Amelia Antrim 19:33
That's, like, fascinating to me, because I don't, this is a part of game design that I just don't like, I don't know if my brain just doesn't work in that way or like, but people say things like that, like, Oh, this game does this. And I'm like, how did you even think that that was a thing that you could do or would want to do or
Unknown Speaker 19:54
did like, I don't understand.
Amelia Antrim 19:58
Like, I want to know where these ideas come from because I'm always just like, Oh, I didn't even consider that.
Hannah Shaffer 20:05
Yeah. I mean, it's I, I think sometimes when I'm sitting down as a player at a table, I have this moment where I sort of, you know, it's almost like an out of body experience where I'm like, What is a role playing game? And I am totally like, not going to be the one to come up with the definitive answer to that question. And I don't think it has a definitive answer. But it's really a strange experience of like, embodying this person who is you but not you for, you know, sometimes many hours are like, even years of your life, if you're playing a campaign game at a time and weird. Yeah, so I guess the idea comes from that sort of obsessive fascination with like, what is this thing that we're doing?
Amelia Antrim 20:54
Do think role playing games have an ability to like sort of Teach empathy in a that a lot of other media doesn't because it's one of the few times where like, I'm just going to be someone else for a while. And to like, look through someone else's eyes and see what it is to, like interact with the world in different ways. And that part is always fascinating to me to like how we just like decide to be someone else for a while.
Hannah Shaffer 21:20
Evan Rowland 21:21
Evan Rowland 21:23
I think it, you know, it doubles back to it. It can create a kind of self awareness that we are all playing roles. And we are, you know, playing our favorite character from day to day.
Amelia Antrim 21:37
I mean, I would hope so,
Evan Rowland 21:39
when you choose.
Evan Rowland 21:44
And it's mind expanding, to play something else, and to appreciate different views. I think there's something beautiful about it. The group of people. exploring a world is different people, all sort of sharing their message. nations with each other. And you know that beauty is maybe in a role playing game by default. But we kind of just want to drive right into the game rules anyway. We're now
Amelia Antrim 22:15
but I think that's the thing that different game systems do. And that's, you know, like part of that question about themes and stories is that like, lots of role playing games and do lots of things. But I think the reason that we use different systems and different mechanics are because there's certain portions of that experience that we want to highlight, and, you know, like, different games sort of tug on different parts of that or like, bring certain things forward. Totally. I want to talk a little bit about the history of this game. Obviously, lambda two is still a work in progress. But as far as like Queensland do one I want to start with why why did you want to make this game Like, where did this come from?
Hannah Shaffer 23:01
FN, you want to take that one? I feel like I've sort of talked a little bit about some of what, where it came from for me. So maybe you have some thoughts.
Evan Rowland 23:10
Yeah, there's a, there's a distant inspiration, which is the 2008 housing crash
Evan Rowland 23:21
Evan Rowland 23:24
growing recognition at that point in our lives, about the instability of the society that we lived in. And that question of, does that have to be my problem? Do I have to deal with my society being unstable? And that question is what all the characters in Queensland do, one are asking themselves.
Amelia Antrim 23:52
Yeah, just like a financial time.
Evan Rowland 23:54
Yeah. I mean, and that is where the joyous uplifting game of India was born.
Evan Rowland 24:01
I'm in a very practical level.
Evan Rowland 24:05
Hannah and I started a community center in our town. And on opening day, you know, we had a little its opening day event. And everybody who showed up was a role playing game designer,
Unknown Speaker 24:20
Midwestern switches what we learned.
Evan Rowland 24:25
And that was the first time we learned that role playing games are made and not born. We became friends with some very wonderful designers. And slowly got the feeling that maybe we could do this too.
Hannah Shaffer 24:43
Yeah, that's fair. It was it definitely sort of shaped I mean, it ended up shaping the entire direction of this community center that we had started because you know, it was like on day one, Vincent Baker and make a baker and Emily care boss and Roger Rabbit cha and Joshua AC Newman you know, all these people walked in the door and we're like, Who are you fewer this conclave of power and weird.
Evan Rowland 25:15
I've always wanted power.
Hannah Shaffer 25:19
Yeah. And it was kind of cool. I think. I mean, Evan had played role playing games before, but I really hadn't. And so it was to meet a bunch of people who made games without any context for like, who these folks were and what they did was a neat so
Hannah Shaffer 25:37
Amelia Antrim 25:38
How did they all like, end up at your community center opening like I guess in my head when you first said that I was like, Oh, you guys were game designers and they were like, hey, will support but like no, apparently not.
Hannah Shaffer 25:52
Like about as random a thing. As you can imagine, I think somebody had posted on like a vegan message. so bored being like, this is not a specifically vegan thing, but there's this community thing happening. And I, I think it was a message board like in New York City like none of this should have come together.
Amelia Antrim 26:14
Oh my god, and
Hannah Shaffer 26:17
somehow, somehow word spread.
Ryan Boelter 26:22
Evan Rowland 26:23
I like how your start in the industry. Vegans Yeah.
Amelia Antrim 26:29
I just I'm fascinated by people like all the time it seems like people just sort of like fall into game design. Like I feel like there are very few people who are like, I'm going to grow up to be a game designer. It's just like, it's it seems to be a thing that accidentally happens to a lot of people. And like I know I always say like, that's been my experience is like, I swear I will never be a game designer. I will talk about games I will play games. But I think I said on another podcast at one point I was like, that's a nerd thing for like, nerds. I like I will play games. I will talk about games. I will Read the games, I will not make games that is a bridge too far. And then here I am, like kind of maybe working on like two different ones. Thank you for your support in this difficult time. But it's like you have an idea and then it just like won't go away. Or, you know, like you just fall into a group of people that are doing that. And then that's like your hobby now or I just It feels like very few people wake up and they're like, I'm gonna make a game just like a thing that you're like, well,
Hannah Shaffer 27:29
I guess I gotta do. Yeah, it is this like creative outlet that can also bring together so many different passions. I mean, if you like writing, you can make role playing games. If you like to do design, like layout design, you can make role playing games, if you're an artist, like it feels like it just like converges on all of these different things. So for me, it really scratched the itch of like all of this weird creative stuff that I never had a place for. And I was like, Whoa, Yeah, it's a game and a book and it does it all weird.
Amelia Antrim 28:07
I want to ask to them because because that is a thing that I love about game design is that like, it connects all of those different pieces. But have you found it easier harder when you are collaborating with somebody else? Because I know it changes the dynamic and like the work process and all that kind of stuff for different games, do you find it easier, Harder, Better, in some places, harder and some places better and it's it?
Hannah Shaffer 28:39
I mean, you know, in my in our work collaborating like me and Evan, you know, we were like in a relationship for many years and game design both brought us together and really put pressure on the seams, collaborate collaborating, takes like so much trust and you have to Trust, like your own voice. Also, I think that as a person who can be really skeptical of whether I'm contributing anything, you know, sometimes like Evan and I would be sort of riffing on each other's ideas. And I'd be like, Oh, is this my idea anymore? Like, did I contribute anything to this? So, it it is really great to collaborate. And it's, I think, at this point, it's the way that I love most making things. And also, it's like, heart wrenching. So, I don't know how you feel, Evan.
Evan Rowland 29:34
Um, I agree that it's, I mean, it's, I mean, for me, it's necessary. I'm not making anything on my own. I love collaborating. But it definitely puts special pressures on the two or three or however many of you, you know, it's less like hiking a mountain together and more like being lost in the woods together. You know, you want to get some place, it's not clear where you're going. Sometimes it will be clear that you've been going the wrong way. And like, what's it going to be like with you and your friends? And those moments?
Evan Rowland 30:14
You'll get to find out. But yeah,
Amelia Antrim 30:18
I feel like that's a really good metaphor for it too. Because there's, you know, there's always those people that are like, I'm really good at this thing. And then to have somebody else that's really good at the other thing to sort of balance that out is really nice. But then I think sometimes you're like, no, you're not seeing my vision, standing what I'm trying to tell, and then like trying really hard to either find a better way to communicate that or to like, understand that it's okay, and maybe, maybe your vision isn't the only one and I have a hard time with that part of it. When I collaborate on things. It's like no, but like, my thing is right. Mental like hand over
Evan Rowland 30:58
some of that who who listened to me? And they say, oh, you're definitely right. Like, that's really important to me. If I was putting together a team to collaborate, I would be less interested in making all the skill sets combined and having the cleric in the tank and everybody. And I'd be more interested in a group that seemed able to communicate really well and honestly to each other, and had good conflict resolution. Yeah,
Amelia Antrim 31:28
yeah, I think that's super important. And like trying to collaborate with people who, like you can still come out on the other side of that disagreement too. Because I think sometimes things do get heated because I think in creative projects, you're doing it because it's the thing you're passionate about, right? Like you're not just like, man, I guess I don't know, I got some free time. It's definitely not why. Um, but to have a collaboration with somebody who like, you know, you can get really heated and really passionate and then that's NV like we're still cool, right? Like things are fine. Like, this is the game. We're still friends. Yeah, it's all okay at the end. Totally.
Hannah Shaffer 32:08
Yeah. I think that sometimes people who are going into something and collaborating for the first time, that's the hardest part to get past is like to realize that like, there are going to be moments of saying no, like that idea. Like, I'm not saying My idea is the right one. But like this thing. This thing doesn't work for me and that hits it's really hard to say no to your friends creative input, and it's hard to hear that yourself. Or at least for me, it hasn't been because you have to like, you want to deliver a soft, a soft blow like a gentle Pat. That's like No, no. So I it's, it's really challenging. I've definitely learned a lot about myself in the process.
Ryan Boelter 32:55
And sometimes you just have to kind of say no to yourself. Thanks. And and also like say somebody in your design team has a really like completely off the wall idea that seems like it probably wouldn't work but maybe it could you have to kind of just try it out that's kind of the beauty of game design is you can you can try something out and if you if it doesn't work you don't need to keep it
Amelia Antrim 33:26
yeah right which is why we do play exactly have you have you been able to do some play testing for cosplay India to yet Are you still early enough in the process that that hasn't I mean, I saw outside the two of you working on it
Hannah Shaffer 33:41
hasn't really, we've actually done a ton of play testing but it's like this game is so changeable, that you know every version it really ends up sort of becoming a new game. But we've we've been played testing it calmly and kind of in the background for about a year and a half.
Amelia Antrim 34:01
Are there any particular things that you've like any lessons that you've taken away that have really, like really changed the process? Obviously, it sounds like everything has kind of, you know, had some influence on it. But is there anything that's like, fundamentally changed the way you looked at the game?
Evan Rowland 34:17
one lesson we learned really early on, which hit hard was that we had our meta level characters, the people who go between the worlds, and we had all of our mechanics for how characters within the worlds worked. But then we didn't actually have any rules about how your meta level characters do anything. And we ended up just stuck in a room with nobody even clear on like, how do I walk out the room?
Hannah Shaffer 34:49
It's very dramatic. We're like, okay, we're gonna run the game for the first time for our friends and we're like, your whole ghost travelers between worlds. You're in a library. It's very mysterious. You know, we kind of set the scene and then people were like, Can I just like walk out of a room? What can I do? And we're like, Okay, everybody go home now.
Amelia Antrim 35:10
Like, I can't see the forest for the trees, like, I've got, like, Okay, I've got this and then nobody's like, Yeah, but like, yeah. That's amazing. I feel like that's, I mean, that's one of those things that that's why you play tests. Because when you've looked at something for so long, you you kind of forget that, like, you know, all of these things that I know in my head, like, Oh, I have to translate that to everybody else to like, I'm not the only person playing this game. Other people need to understand like, what this is that I'm trying to? Yeah, totally. So
Ryan Boelter 35:44
how, Oh, go ahead. I was gonna say so how did you make a design doc that affect the the process of creating the game?
Hannah Shaffer 35:52
I'll see. One thing is that it's inspired us to keep some things that maybe we would have kind of glossed over Like the symbol reader was something that we threw together. I think we'd both been like rereading Golden Compass or like the elite the amateurs. Cool. You know, we want to not feel totally bound by using dice in like a really familiar way in this game. Let's try symbols for random generation. Also in question, do one all of the tables that were random generators tended to kind of lean towards Middle Earth type of fantasy, you know, like you had a high nobility, you had a messenger you had, you know, people who were peasants, and we thought that making them symbols would push the game even farther in this direction of weird fantasy. I don't think we really planned on keeping the symbol reader but we ensured it on Twitter and people just went bananas for it.
Hannah Shaffer 36:55
Oh, that's cool. I guess people like this thing.
Evan Rowland 37:00
It's been useful to have a recurring obligation around this game design project. It's like, well, we gotta report the level of accountability. And you know, did we make progress on the game? And what actual lessons did we learn from it? And not just that, how are the lessons that we learned about this specific game? useful for game design in general? If at all possible, can it be generalized? One nice effective that has been when we turn to our other projects that are question idea to we actually have a whole bunch of new strategies and sort of tool sets for designing those games that have worked, which is cool. So I feel really grateful for having this podcast and accountability and the the pressure of, you know, bringing thought to every aspect of the design and being able to defend the decisions of it.
Amelia Antrim 38:09
Yeah, I think having some of that accountability is really, really important because I've had so many creative projects that kind of stall out because you're just like, I don't quite know where to go and like, nobody's checking up on me. So like, I'll come back to it, and then you don't. But the thing that I've loved about like, even just about podcasting, like with my other podcast, too, it's like, oh, this is an excuse, like, my friend and I now have to hang out. Because we have to make this podcast every day. And we had to put this out every two weeks. And so it's like, Okay, well now every week we have to make time to work on this thing. And so it's like, now through podcasting. I have scheduled friend time. But I think sometimes you need to have that level of like accountability or scheduling or something like that to still like, hold yourself to that standard.
Evan Rowland 38:54
Ryan Boelter 38:55
I really like the the kind of the transparency that you have in the podcast. of the design process. And and how even in some episodes, it's like, you're starting to talk about something and then you can kind of almost see the light bulbs. Yeah, show up as you're talking, and then you're like, Okay, well, now we're down this path. And now this thing has completely changed. It's a really interesting experience as a designer listening to that.
Evan Rowland 39:22
I've really enjoyed those moments. It's like, the most fun thing at all is going into the podcast, starting recording and having no idea what kind of game will end up at the other end. Yeah.
Amelia Antrim 39:34
And if you like, that's cool to have it recorded for posterity to to be like, Oh, I can watch this process happen because I think it does happen in a lot of creative projects where you sit down, you're like, I don't know where we're going with this. And then you know, like, it sort of snowballs and you have this idea that gets bigger and bigger. And then, you know, you end up with something at the end, but it's really cool that you guys can go back and look at it and you know, see how it all kind of developed and then to know too, because it's recorded, like you can see the progress over time to know that like, I think we all have those days where it's like, I'm getting nowhere. And so to be able to have that to look back on and be like, Oh, this is where we started, like, we've definitely done a lot, you know?
Hannah Shaffer 40:14
Yeah, definitely. Um, and you know, in that spirit I've because I don't plan on re listening to design talk, because I hate having to listen to my own voice
Unknown Speaker 40:25
editing of like, Lou.
Hannah Shaffer 40:28
But I've been trying to get better at like, even just version control where rather than overriding files even if I know I'm never going to use this version of the game again that I save it is like version 1.2 and being able to open up those PDFs and see this arc of development where I'm like, okay, we're, we're building out this game at like turtle pace, but it is moving forward and there are changes.
Ryan Boelter 40:53
So, before we actually dive into character creation and world creation for questions, India to Are there any basic terms and concepts that we need to understand?
Evan Rowland 41:06
We have some brand new term Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 41:07
All right, I'm ready
Unknown Speaker 41:11
with a fresh Lacy terms of
Evan Rowland 41:15
spooky ghost edition of Christmas.
Evan Rowland 41:19
Because they were not always ghosts,
Ryan Boelter 41:21
Evan Rowland 41:23
we don't have to get into that. In fact, we've all forgotten our pasts. Um, so as a ghost, you were a denizen of one of the many worlds of this universe of worlds. And now without memories, you're traveling between them. The way you travel between them is through ghost passages. And this is a sort of tunnel between worlds where you have a very limited amount of control of what world do you end up in, and they're not always available. If you spend enough time Middle world, you might have the opportunity to go through another ghost passage that opens up. And at that point in play, you would have a choice of whether to remain in the world or to seek greener pastures and someplace completely new altogether. We are a Concord, which is a group of spirits that have agreed to journey together and support each other in their search for their own memories, and their own meanings in the worlds that we go to. So to recap, Ghost, Ghost passage, Concord, any other really good terms.
Hannah Shaffer 42:41
I think that a lot of things will end up either being explained during play or will be sort of self evident like the symbol reader is a simple read this
Hannah Shaffer 42:58
and any other terms also may be in flux you know like the mechanics of the game are just like a real light touch right now. Very cool.
Amelia Antrim 43:08
Are we ready to get into it? Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 43:11
yeah so let's make
Unknown Speaker 43:15
let's make some people
Amelia Antrim 43:18
are ghosts people Ryan go
Ryan Boelter 43:19
sir people. Okay, as we have established any sentient creature is a person.
Amelia Antrim 43:24
Okay? This is Ryan has strong opinions about what it's like
Unknown Speaker 43:30
all the time.
Amelia Antrim 43:34
All right so where do we start in this process? What's the first thing we have to do to make some characters?
Evan Rowland 43:42
So the first thing that we're doing to create characters and quest line dia, two is creating the universe. Alright, cool
Amelia Antrim 43:48
fun. This is Ryan's first creatively
Unknown Speaker 43:51
Evan Rowland 43:54
So, the game picks up as we're traveling through a ghost passage. On our way to a new world, and there are two places that are going to be come possibilities for us to travel to. All we can tell about those two places to begin with is what symbol represents them. So the first thing we're going to do is roll the symbol die twice to get to one of the outer symbols on our symbol, reader.
Hannah Shaffer 44:24
Nice. All right, I'm happy to handle the rolling and other people can interpret the symbols. Alright, so
Ryan Boelter 44:31
before we roll, do the descriptions on the inside of the symbol chart mean anything? In this particular particular portion, are we just paying attention to the outside symbols that we roll
Evan Rowland 44:46
for this moment? It's just the outside symbols. Okay, cool, cool, cool. those definitions will come into play more later. from each of the outer symbols that we're going to get. We're going to get two of them. We'll have you interpret them and give them basically a title. That'll be the title of the world that we can go to. And there's no right or wrong answers. Your interpretation can be super literal. It doesn't have to be clever, but it can also be clever. Oh, good. I don't like things where
Amelia Antrim 45:17
there's not a right or wrong answer to know Am I doing it correctly?
Ryan Boelter 45:25
The answer is yes.
Evan Rowland 45:26
Just imagine somebody saying yes to every question.
Unknown Speaker 45:29
Hannah Shaffer 45:32
So, I'll roll the die. I will not describe the symbol though because I you know, want to leave that interpretation to you all, but I will ask somebody to interpret the symbol. Alright, so let me roll for the inner symbol first. Okay, I got a hand. Alright, so we are heading down the path of the hand symbol and the second symbol I rolled a moon. So if you follow the hand and the moon Ryan, do you want to say what you see? And that will be the title of one possible world that we visit. Oh boy.
Ryan Boelter 46:16
Okay, so alright, I don't want to just have the title be eyeball, right?
Hannah Shaffer 46:25
Oh it is.
Ryan Boelter 46:28
It is up to me. But for the the people at home, it looks like an eyeball with with like a half closed eyelid on it, maybe some some wrinkle spots around it to indicate that it is part of a face, which is very interesting. But I'm going to say Iris Cool, cool cuz that sounds
Hannah Shaffer 46:57
pretty cool. Alright, so we Have Iris as one possible world. I'm gonna roll again. It is again, a hand for the first path. Let's see what the second one and the second one is a skull. So, Amelia Yes, that's that's very Amelia
Amelia Antrim 47:21
Huh? Oh gosh, what do we call this
Hannah Shaffer 47:24
though? What does it look like to you start there?
Amelia Antrim 47:28
Well, it's okay literal interpretation, audio medium for audience. It is. scales. Cool. So that to me is like, Justice order. Those are good names for things. I mean, they could be, they could be at home. If you want to do that, that's fine. I'm trying to think of like synonyms for this. But also we can as a group, that's fine. If any Anyone else has ideas?
Unknown Speaker 48:02
I mean, wait.
Ryan Boelter 48:04
My first thought was balance, balance.
Amelia Antrim 48:07
Yeah. So I feel like To me, it's like something like, orderly and codified
Hannah Shaffer 48:13
if you could pick one word to sort of sum up the world. Mm hmm.
Amelia Antrim 48:18
My vocabulary is failing.
Hannah Shaffer 48:21
Modified, codified as a world name is is kind of interesting to me.
Evan Rowland 48:27
And just to be clear, this isn't necessarily the name that the people of this world have for their work. Okay, that
Amelia Antrim 48:34
makes me feel less stressed. Yeah, okay. If we will just say codified
Evan Rowland 48:40
caught it. Cool. So now as a whole group, we need to make the decision. We can control if we're going to pop out of this passage into Kingdom codified or kingdom, Iris.
Evan Rowland 48:55
Does anybody feel old leaning
Amelia Antrim 48:58
and so literally at this point, this is all about You are establishing about this right? Like we can't. We have to like, we don't know anything about them before we get to decide.
Ryan Boelter 49:08
I know. It's almost like we're we're playing the game as these ghosts we
Hannah Shaffer 49:15
Amelia Antrim 49:18
Don't Don't bring your seriousness. I want to go with Iris.
Ryan Boelter 49:26
I kind of want to go with Iris as well.
Hannah Shaffer 49:28
Okay, let's do it.
Hannah Shaffer 49:29
Let's go with Iris.
Evan Rowland 49:31
Alright, so we emerged into the kingdom of Iris and the first thing we're going to find out about this world about these people is their ambition. This is what the society is striving towards. And it's going to be another role and to interpret this time one of the six internal symbols. So Hannah, do you want to
Hannah Shaffer 49:55
roll? Yeah, so I'm just rolling once. All right. I rolled in. Is our favorite symbol a hand?
Evan Rowland 50:05
So now we can look at those extra. What's the word? We can look at those suggested interpretations. The hand symbol, which are skill, labor, and creation. So it's ambition is along those lines. Hannah, do you want to take a stab at what might be the ambition of these people?
Hannah Shaffer 50:26
Sure, I can propose something and see what people think. I like the idea. When I think of Iris I kind of think of like close inspection or like, you know, really looking something over. So I feel like maybe their ambition is somehow connected to like, I don't know like the careful consideration of a craft that a lot of people do. Just, is that something that resonates with people are you
Evan Rowland 50:53
that perfection of
Amelia Antrim 50:55
ideas to me like I was to say along with like the labor and skill part of it. Think of like, building things and so to me would be like very like intricate architecture.
Ryan Boelter 51:08
Do we want to go like super super meta?
Amelia Antrim 51:11
You tell me more
Ryan Boelter 51:13
like the iris in the eyes are the gateway to the soul. What if they're creating people?
Amelia Antrim 51:22
Which is what we're doing right now?
Evan Rowland 51:27
They want to perfect the craft of creating people. Yes. A special industry and this one that's a spooky Yes, I like
Hannah Shaffer 51:36
I like it because I feel like I can go pee or go Golem or like LA and all these difficult directions. All right, great.
Evan Rowland 51:43
Great. At this point, we are going to choose our ghosts. So we have is it five right now? 12345. There's a PDF that's been distributed. This is five different Ghost archetypes.
Evan Rowland 52:02
You can imagine these printed out laid out.
Evan Rowland 52:06
And we're going to choose the one that speaks to you as the kind of aspects of this world that you want to learn about and explore and expand on the most.
Ryan Boelter 52:19
So it looks like we have the investigator, the mischief maker, the adventurer, the gardener and the builder. Interesting.
Hannah Shaffer 52:29
So I'll start by asking if there's anything that immediately speaks to anybody or immediately doesn't.
Ryan Boelter 52:36
I don't think I want the I don't think I want that mischief maker.
Unknown Speaker 52:38
I'll take the mischief maker bam.
Ryan Boelter 52:47
I've got a brand and I'm sticking to it.
Amelia Antrim 52:48
I think I would like the investigator.
Hannah Shaffer 52:55
Cool. Cool. So the mischief maker the investigator huh?
Ryan Boelter 53:00
I'll go with between the gardener and the builder, thinking probably the builder.
Evan Rowland 53:07
All right, then I'll snack the gardener. Right. So on your sheets, you have a few things to look over. That will give you a sense of the kind of things you're going to be doing. One of those is something you're not going to be doing in this particular play test is calling for a scene. But this is one of the most major powers that you have as a ghost, you can create a moment in this world that we are going to follow. You can talk about what characters will be there and what they'll be doing. And for every ghost, the kinds of scenes that you call for the ways that they're set up, what can happen in them and what happens as a result of them is all different. So just for example, as the gardener I can have a scene about a special plant which is a Using a particular plant of this world to cause a sort of targeted effect or impact on characters of the story, there's a shared ritual where people are coming together and through a ritual, changing their relationship to each other or learning new information. And it can heal or it can harm a time where nature damages or restores a part of the society. That's sort of the aspect that that's a big part of the framework that I'm using and understand this setting.
Ryan Boelter 54:35
Evan Rowland 54:36
So for looking over those
Hannah Shaffer 54:38
No, no continue up and I like not having to act as GM. Nice.
Evan Rowland 54:47
Um, the other thing that you'll definitely want to glance over are the touchstones for your character. These are basically plot hooks that you can insert into a world, only one per world. And it sets up a problem or a mystery, or a goal that he wants to see answered over the course of our stay in this world. And by answering that are bringing closure to that that hook that you've introduced into the world. You learn something about your past, who you were before you became a ghosts, things like what your name was, or how you ended up joining this Concord. For the gardener. I can plant a tree in the setting. And if I learn who will sit in the shade of this tree, I unlock a memory. I can also introduce a plant that is being sought by the people of this world. And if we learn how it changes the people that have unlocked my memory and finally I can create a place that is lifeless barren, and if nature reclaims it, I gain a memory.
Ryan Boelter 56:04
Wow, that's awesome.
Evan Rowland 56:10
When you've looked over those, then take a look at the left side of your sheet, you're going to just choose an appearance and a manner for your particular ghost. So in terms of character creation of your ghost at this moment
Unknown Speaker 56:27
you're going to choose your appearance and your character creation done.
Amelia Antrim 56:33
All right, we did it.
Evan Rowland 56:38
really gonna get
Ryan Boelter 56:39
That's amazing. Okay.
Amelia Antrim 56:41
Alright, so for the investigator, for my appearance, I'm going to pick up right and dapper and for my manner I don't know if I want to go to the point or dangerously curious. I'm going to go with dangerously curious because that's how I like To play in games, yes, tell anybody who's running a game. I'm like, if you put a thing in front of me, I will go touch it. Just because they need to know.
Evan Rowland 57:09
I really like that combination, though. Yeah,
Hannah Shaffer 57:12
like damper and just like, I gotta touch it.
Amelia Antrim 57:17
But I hope it doesn't get on me.
Ryan Boelter 57:23
And for myself for the builder for my appearance, I think I'm gonna go with constructed from many pieces. Oh, yeah, that's, that sounded really interesting. My other options were large and solid, or a bug with a hard hat.
Amelia Antrim 57:41
I love how different these are. Oh, I wanted to ask about that too. Because one of my choices was also a handsome red fox. And I was like, that's cool. I don't want to be a fox. And then I was like, wait, but what does that mean? Probably, it's up to you know, it's like I don't want to think about that.
Hannah Shaffer 58:02
I think it's also just like, sort of to, you know, inspire people to think about their ghosts as not necessarily human.
Ryan Boelter 58:10
Yeah, that's awesome. And then the manner I chose full of enthusiasm were always always tinkering and focused on the plan where the other options I had Yeah, full of enthusiasm is kind of like super out and brand.
Hannah Shaffer 58:30
I so I wrote these in this morning, that was there was no rushing. Some of them were written and literally wrote in full of enthusiasm thinking of you, Brian, so
Hannah Shaffer 58:44
glad that it's fall into the right place.
Ryan Boelter 58:47
That's really hilarious that I chose to build. Yeah,
Amelia Antrim 58:50
that's, that's great. Thank you so happy.
Evan Rowland 58:58
How many times have you got in the answer that this part of character creation was created specifically to create it all
Ryan Boelter 59:12
on so many levels, man,
Hannah Shaffer 59:15
so I am going to be the mischief maker. For my appearance I'm gonna choose large, furry and scruffy and for my manner I'm gonna say a happy menace
Unknown Speaker 59:31
Evan Rowland 59:33
as the gardener
Evan Rowland 59:36
I've chose in that my appearance is a small garden snake race and my manner is rough edged and loving. So a affectionate if
Unknown Speaker 59:54
very good nature.
Ryan Boelter 59:55
Cool. Well, we just be people
Unknown Speaker 59:58
we made people
Evan Rowland 59:59
did We've made our people.
Amelia Antrim 1:00:05
Thank you for joining us for part one of this character creation series. We'll be back in part two picking up right where we left off.
Ryan Boelter 1:00:11
Character Creation Cast is a production of the one shot Podcast Network and can be found online at www Character Creation cast.com. Add to the website to get more information on our hosts this show and even our press kit. Character Creation Cast can also be found on Twitter at Creation Cast or on our Discord server at discord Character Creation cast.com i one of your hosts Ryan bolter, and I can be found on twitter at Lord Neptune or online at Lord Neptune calm or other host Emily Antrim can be found on twitter at ginger reckoning. Music for this episode is used with a Creative Commons license, or with permission from the podcast they originated from. Further information can be found within the show notes are made theme music is hero remix by Steve combs, and it's used with a Creative Commons license. This podcast is owned by us under Creative Commons. This episode was edited by Ryan bolter. Further information for the game systems used and today's guests can be found in the show notes. If you'd like to leave us a rating or review, we have links to various premium platforms out there, including Apple podcasts in our show notes. Also, check the show notes for links to our other projects. Thanks for joining us. And remember, we find that the best part of any role playing game is character creation. So go out there and create some amazing people. We will see you next time.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:58
Now we got a ransom showboater Show blurbs
Unknown Speaker 1:02:01
show show by
Amelia Antrim 1:02:03
show blurbs. Character Creation Cast is hosted by the one shot Podcast Network. If you enjoyed our show, visit one shot podcast com, where you'll find other great shows like session zero.
Ryan Boelter 1:02:16
Social zero is a discussion podcast that seeks to explore the psychology of roleplaying. Each episode will feature RP concepts, stories and tropes viewed through the lens of psychology by clinical psychologist Porter green, and industrial organizational psychologist Steve discount. Join us on the couch for the next session.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai