I’ll tell you what you don’t see

I started being interested in stories when I was quite young. I vividly remember sitting at a birthday party for my aunt and uncle. They celebrated it in some sort of inn. I say inn and not restaurant because the way it was built and tabled was very rustic – as they say – and felt like what I assume an inn in a fantasy world would look like. I was probably nine or ten here and had only just started writing stories. At this birthday party was someone who was a professional storyteller. They came in and told a story, mainly to entertain the kids. Like any good performer, they were very good and I remember being enthralled by what they were saying. Now I will admit, I don’t really remember what the story was about, but that’s also not the point of this post. I remember that this storyteller managed to teleport us all to a different world with his descriptions of places and people. Nowadays a lot of the media I consume is more visual with anime, youtube and even manga. But there is one thing that was true then, and is true now and if you’d ask me will be true forever. If you tell a good story, the format isn’t relevant. That’s not to say the format can’t add to, or change the story, but that’s more to say that any format can produce good stories. And in the Dungeons & Dragons space, that story is being told by the cast of Worlds Beyond Number in their first campaign: The Wizard, The Witch & The Wild One.

The Wizard, The Witch & The Wild One is a podcast of a Dungeons & Dragons Campaign. That means we get to listen to four people tell a story together. Brennan plays the role of the world and its people. Suvi the wizard is played by Aabria, Ame the witch is played by Erika and Eursulon the wild one is played by Lou. The four of them play this game together while audio and things are done by a producer. The main reason I’m talking about this show is because of something they decided to do that I think is absolutely brilliant. To explain to those who don’t play D&D, you create a character before you start playing. There are premade characters you can choose from if you wish, but it is a ton of fun to make your own and it’s something anyone should try to do if they get into D&D. I’ve made numerous characters, some of which I even got to play. You basically roll some statistics and choose a class, species and some feature you like. Then if you want to get creative, you write a backstory for your character. Who are they, where did they come from, what do they value in life, where did they pick up the skills they have. You can make this as detailed or as vague as you like, that’s the beauty of it. Just insert enough for your DM to use for stories later down the line. 

What this podcast does, that’s unique as far as I’m aware, is take this process of creating a character and play it out in the game. That means the players get to play their characters as children. They roleplay through the formative moments in their youth and roll stats and pick abilities that fit those moments. It makes for a very different story where you’re not so much fighting monsters and saving villages, but instead you’re running around on a farm doing chores. It’s such a simple concept when you think about it, but it definitely would have never occurred to me to do something like that. It does help that these are professionally trained improvisers and I’m a guy who can barely make it through a social interaction on a good day. The joy you hear in the voices of the players when something interesting or emotional happens comes across so well in the audio that we don’t even need a video to accompany it. And that brings me to the next thing I want to talk about pertaining to this podcast.

Image taken from the Worlds Beyond Number twitter account. Even the artwork for this show is good.

I can tell you in a million ways what I liked about this podcast and what makes it so good. The talent of the four actors playing in the show. The sound design that’s added in post by a very talented person. The story itself and the way it portrays emotions and atmosphere. The nice characters that everyone has created that play so well off of each other. The insane amount of talent that these three players bring to the table. But there’s one small thing that I’ve noticed that I think is so subtle but helps elevate the story a lot. There’s a lot of luck in D&D. You roll a twenty-sided die and that will decide what happens. Sometimes there’s something important going on around you, but you only roll an 8 on your perception check and your character has no idea what is happening. Because this isn’t just a game, but also a podcast for people to consume, it’s sometimes important to keep that in mind. And a brilliant way that Brennan does this is by saying:

I’ll tell you what you don’t see.

It’s such a simple thing to do, but it requires your players to understand that their characters are missing this information but it gives such a cool insight into the world and the things we might not otherwise see. Whenever I hear Brennan say it in this series, which has only barely started but due to the children’s campaign I’m super invested in already, it just brightens my mood. I know something of value is coming. I think I needed to talk about this a little bit. I’ve been writing a lot of depressing posts lately, most of which don’t make it to the blog, but it’s like an outlet for me. If I only focus on the things that suck, then I’ll go crazy at a more rapid pace than I already am. So instead let’s have some positivity and talk about something joyful. We’re nearing the last stretch of my internship and although I’ve learned a lot and will take a lot of positive experiences with me, it’s also exhausting and not for me. This demographic of kids is much too energetic and extroverted. They’re loud and they often lack respect. They’re good kids, but I don’t have the energy to deal with all of them, and I kind of knew that already. But you don’t know for certain until you try. So when I get home on Tuesday, after sitting in detention for the second week in a row – which is more boring as a teacher than as a kid, I can tell you that much – I’ll listen to episode two of The Wizard, The Witch & The Wild One. Thanks for reading.

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