My obsession with Dungeons & Dragons doesn’t seem to be going away. Playing it is so much fun, and there’s so many great D&D stories told in various podcasts and webshows, that I just can’t stop watching and listening and looking for more. I especially try to look for shows featuring female DMs and female players since most popular D&D productions, such as The Adventure Zone and even Critical Role, are male-dominated. And so today, I want to tell you about about a cool and funny all-women D&D actual play podcast: Dungeons, Dice, & Everything Nice.
My obsession with Dungeons & Dragons is still in full swing, and lately I have been striving to improve my Dungeon Master game. A while back, I talked about Acreletae and her advice for beginner DMs. Although it’s very nice to have a female DM voice, her channel doesn’t really have that many videos. So today I would like to introduce you all to a veritable goldmine of DMing advice—Matthew Colville’s YouTube series called Running The Game. Currently at 47 videos and counting, this series first goes through the basics of DMing and adventure creation before Colville delves into topics such as calendar creation, how to deal with or avoid certain mistakes, and how to make a game fun.
Discovering Critical Role led me to find a form of media entertainment and storytelling that I didn’t know existed before: a world of tabletop RPG streams and podcasts. Many of the popular shows are set in original fantasy worlds, most often running on Dungeons & Dragons rule sets. However, today I want to tell you about one of my most unexpected finds, a little hidden gem in the landscape of RPG streams—Eric’s TBD RPG, a show on Geek & Sundry’sstreamingservices, currently playing the official Doctor Who RPG. Although it was initially conceived as an anthology show to run short adventures in different RPG systems, the creators got so attached to their very first characters that it turned into a full Doctor Who campaign. The show combines the best things about the original canon material — wanderlust, curiosity, saving the universe, and whimsy — and it’s carried out by creators who appear to be very mindful of issues of representation.
As I was writing about Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood of the Shadowhunters series, I was actually thinking about their relationship a lot as well. So it’s only fitting, having discussed these characters separately, to also discuss their relationship, especially since it is such an important part of both Magnus and Alec’s character development. As such, it’s interesting to look at their relationship through the lens of their age difference, as Magnus is hundreds of years old and Alec is barely out of his teenage years, as far as we can tell. If not handled well, this kind of age difference can (and often does) lead to an unfair and creepy power imbalance in the relationship, which most works of fiction conveniently ignore. However, Malec, as they’re known, is a pairing portrayed in such a way that both Magnus and Alec are on more or less equal footing despite their different experiences.
Spoilers for the Shadowhunters series below. Trigger warnings for mentions of pedophilia and statutory rape.
For this installment of Throwback Thursdays, I decided to revisit Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)—the first installment in the Indiana Jones trilogy—since I didn’t realize how long rewatching the whole trilogy would take. The movie trilogy and the character of Indiana Joneswere some of my formative influences as a child. I dreamed of unlocking the world’s mysteries and these movies showed an academic leading a glamorous life of adventure, hunting mysterious artifacts and overcoming difficulties using his knowledge and reasoning powers. However, watching Raiders of the Lost Ark as an adult rather requires that I turn my brain off if I want to actually enjoy it because of the number of glaring issues regarding racial and cultural representation, as well as gendered character tropes.
Shadowhunters may not be the best show out there, both in terms of writing and acting, but it does get a few things right in terms of diversity and representation. I talked about my love for Magnus Bane as a bisexual character before, and I just recently finished catching up with the second season, which had a lot of great moments between Magnus and Alec, his boyfriend. So, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at Alec Lightwood and how he is presented in the show as a gay man.
Some spoilers for the Shadowhunters TV show below.
Since I started watching Critical Role a few months ago, I have become quite obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons. I quickly realized that while playing D&D is a lot of fun, what I really wanted to be is a Dungeon Master. It unites some of my favorite creative outlets: writing, drawing, acting, and directing. Despite my enthusiasm, it seemed quite daunting at first because there appeared to be so many aspects to it, so I started reading the source books and searching the internet for tips and advice. There is a lot of great stuff out there, so this might become a series of sorts, and I want to start today by talking about one of my more obscure finds—a series of YouTube videos titled Dungeon Master 101 by Acreletae. She has a lot of great advice on the basics of DMing: from organizing your notes and planning strategies for sessions and campaigns to creating non-player characters and cities.
The major point of fantasy novels is, of course, showing a world that is different from ours, where magic is alive and where people have amazing powers. Despite the fact that I read them to escape my mundane life, I’m often annoyed when fantasy books include people experiencing real-life issues, such as trauma, and then gloss over said issues instead of addressing and dealing with them. Other big offenders are the lack of inclusion of LGBTQ+ people and examination of mental illness. Authors and readers seem to think that you cannot address such topics because you cannot use modern-day vocabulary in a fantasy setting. However, once in a while I find a fantasy series which doesn’t shy away from using its medium to examine issues we deal with in real life. As such, today I want to talk about the Graceling trilogy by Kristin Cashore, and in particular its final book—Bitterblue.
Spoilers for the Graceling trilogy below. Also, content warnings for abuse, mental illness, PTSD, and rape.
I’ll be honest, I’m kind of tired of gay coming out arcs on TV by now. The angst, the panic, and the not knowing how their family and friends will react to the gay character aren’t really appealing to me anymore (I’ve had enough of that in my own life). I want to see LGBTQ+ characters living their lives, working, dating, asserting their identities, and standing up to bigotry. However, coming out remains an experience most of us, LGBTQ+ folks, share. And even though representation on mainstream media is disappointing more often than not, it seems that once in a while it’s still possible to be pleasantly surprised and moved to tears by a character figuring out their sexuality on a superhero show, of all places. I am talking, as you can tell by the title, about Alex Danvers—one of the main characters on Supergirl—and her character arc in the first half of the second season.
Over the past few months, I’ve gotten really into Dungeons & Dragons, a role-playing and story-telling game that relies on improvisation and dice. A game of D&D is led by a Dungeon Master who provides a fantasy world for the players to interact with, and together, they build a story. I discovered D&D through Critical Role, which is a weekly livestream showing a group of people playing the game. It’s quite unlike any other media content I consume, as it doesn’t have a team of writers and is largely improvised. Moreover, it started as a private home game, so it wasn’t even initially created with an audience in mind (although the players did make the decision to continue their game instead of starting a new one for the broadcast).
However, since it started streaming two years ago, it has become quite a phenomenon, inspiring people to play D&D and to create. I wrote about the show several weeks ago while I was still frantically trying to catch up and as such didn’t really stop to think much about anything. I was very excited, for instance, about the mere fact that the show includes LGBTQ+ representation. Since then, I’ve finished catching up and had time to reflect on and look at this representation a little more critically. While Critical Role does have characters of differing gender identities and sexualities who are portrayed with care and respect, some of the actions of the players show a lack of consideration towards the LGBTQ+ characters and the people they represent.