DovahQueen: Bend the Knee
Since 2015, the DovahQueen has been taking your questions and giving advice to improve your games. Now the tables are turned in this DovahQueen series; Loren is asking the questions and a panel of three guests—an RPG-industry veteran, a Know Direction network staff member, and a fan—answers. It’s time to Bend the Knee!
First, let’s meet today’s guests.
RPG-Industry Veteran: BJ Hensley
I am the founder of Playground Adventures and all-around bardic freelancer for games of all shapes and sizes. Over several decades of playing, running, and creating games, I’ve worked as an author, editor, artist, creative director, marketing strategist, and more for a plethora of companies such as Gallant Knight Games, PEG, Kobold Press, Paizo, Rite Publishing, Rogue Genius Games, and Wizards of the Coast. I believe that RPGs bring us together, help polish our social skills, and can even be tools for education and mental health. I am the proud leader (parent) of a six-person adventuring party and their two furry companions.
Know Direction Network Staff Member: Danielle Reynolds aka the TokenGaymer
I dove into tabletop game design about 3 years ago after being introduced to Settlers of Catan by Ryan Costello. Since then, I have signed my first game Inn Keeper, illustrated an upcoming game and done layout for a few third party Pathfinder RPG products. I am the host of the Chicago Tabletop Game Design Group, an admin on Board Game Broads, on the Board for the Unpub Convention and started the Know Direction’s Game Design Unboxed: Inspiration to Publication podcast. I am a proud LGBT member who enjoys game design, travel and quality time with friends and family.
Fan: Jimmy Dick aka Xathos of Varisia
I began playing D&D in 1979 when a friend held ran B2 Keep on the Borderlands for his 16th birthday party sleepover. That venture into the Caves of Chaos led me to AD&D and several other RPGs and even MMORPGs before discovering Pathfinder Society in 2016. Here I am four years later as the Venture-Lieutenant for three lodges, and a 5-Star PFS1 and 4-Glyph PFS2 GM. In the mundane world I am an adjunct professor for two colleges where I teach history courses.
“It was just a routine trip in your car. You think you remember that you were going to some kind of store, but your head is a little fuzzy after the impact. All you can remember for sure is that you were going through a tunnel when the lights flickered before everything went black. Next thing you knew, you and your car were falling out of the sky and into a…medieval(?) village. The villagers are now too afraid to approach you and your wholly-totaled vehicle, but you do hear them call out for someone to fetch ‘Lyster?’ Apparently they think he’s some sort of wizard. Oh! Now you remember where you were going. It was to get lunch. You skipped breakfast and your stomach isn’t happy.”
That’s right! You, the possessions which are currently in your car in real life, and the completely busted wreckage that used to be your vehicle were transported to an unknown fantasy world. What are you going to do?
BJ: I stumble from the wreckage and glance around at the dated buildings and frightened people, my mind reeling, attempting to make sense of everything I see. I file away worry over the whereabouts of my loved ones and note the ruins of my prized truck, processing details like the sight of my favorite umbrella lying mangled on the ground and the hundreds of apples littering the area from the several bushels I’d just acquired for canning applesauce. Applesauce… I skipped breakfast. I’m hungry. Lunch! I was on my way to lunch! Did I make it there? Am I drunk? Did someone spike my drink after I arrived? Where am I?! I lift my wrist to ask Siri the same question. Nothing happens. I glance down. No signal. In what feels like an eternity but is a few minutes at best, I partially process all of these things and more, pushing most aside for later contemplation.
A growing seed of fear unfurls in the pit of my stomach as I yet again glance at the onlookers, none of whom are coming forward to help. Is this one of those reenactment villages? No, that can’t be right; modern-day people of any kind would be rushing to my aid or calling 911, not standing in fear of a car wreck. These people look afraid; their body language almost shocked at the sights before them. What is going on here?! Again, I wonder where I am.
As the locals call for a village wizard, mumbling about monsters and curses, demons and magic, it dawns on me how similar this is to the many realms of fantasy I’ve encountered or created in stories and legends over the course of my life. Everything begins to feel like the beginning of a nasty adventure. This can’t be real. Yet, to some degree, it is what all of us who create in these worlds wish for, a chance to play in the very realms we help build. Is it a delusion? Insanity? Reality? A head injury? In an instant, I decide it doesn’t matter what it is; it only matters what I do with it. If this truly is the fantasy world it appears to be, my only option is to convince these people that I have heroically slain this “monster,” and it can no longer cause them harm. Ignoring the growing crowd, I gather my wits about me the best I can and begin to sift through the wreckage. A flash of red catches my eye; relieved, I grab a bright red handbag, which holds the many “wonderous” items that I can hopefully use to fund my adventures in this strange new place. Slinging the bag over my shoulder, I reach down and pick up one of the many apples to help satiate my hunger. Taking a healthy bite, I step forward and grin at the crowd around me.
“Have I got a tale for you!”
Danielle: Why does this keep happening to me? One moment I’m cruising down the highway and the next I decide to hold my breath and make a wish in a tunnel and poof! I appear in this village with some crazy lady yelling for some guy named Lyster. I love making wishes but I can’t remember what I wished for that could have landed me here. I guess this time I wasn’t thinking about winning the lottery because I’d have a pile of money or something. Oh god, how am I going to afford a new car? My poor Toyota Corolla did not deserve this. I guess this is why every genie wish goes awry.
“Hi, I’m Lyster.” Stated a man that appeared next to me in my front seat. Out of instinct I grabbed the mace on my key chain and sprayed directly into Lysters eyes as he screamed in pain from the pepper spray. Did I feel bad? No. A random man in what appeared to be a purple snuggy or bathrobe came way too close to me. It’s called self-defense. But, the villagers didn’t seem to feel the same way. They began to rock back and forth what was left of my car out of anger for hurting this Lyster character. He continued to cry and scream as I finished off what was left in my can of pepper spray. I had already tried to open the door before the angry villagers took hold of the car so I knew the door wasn’t budging thanks to the damage. But I had an idea. I punched the horn and out of shock the villagers disbanded as I rolled down the car window. Thank goodness this car was built in the early 90’s so I could manually roll the windows. I quickly grabbed my gym bag and flopped out the window of my car accidentally kicking Lyster in the face as I struggled to get out.
Okay, looking back I may have been a tad cruel to Lyster. But the angry mob of villagers following me as I ran helped keep my mind off of it. So here I am, in some random village with my lacrosse bag and stick as the only weapons to defend me against an angry mob of what I would describe as unattractive hairy cherubs.
So what do I do? I run until I find another tunnel and hope to god that holding my breath and making a wish gets me back to where I started aka heading to lunch. Man am I hungry. After all this running I could eat a horse. Now to find a tunnel….
Poof! Smack! I ran into Lyster. This poor guy can’t seem to take a hint that he should stop following me. The weight of me and my bag crushed the quote and quote wizard. I struggled to get to my feet but a hand caught me by the ankle. Wrong move buddy. I kicked and once again the poor wizard was in pain.
I decided to leave the bag and just carry my lacrosse stick since it was significantly lighter. At this point I was nearing the edge of the village with no tunnel in sight. Only a dirt path and a lot of trees. Once again another poof and thud happened. This time I decided to ask, “Lyster, what is your problem? Why are all of you chasing me?”
Lyster replied, “I am here to help you. I saw you fall from the sky in that metal beast.”
“Help me?” I replied thinking back on how much I’d injured this poor man.
“Yes, I didn’t mean to startle you. I have seen this happen before. I wished to offer my assistance in getting you back home.”
“Oh, okay. Sorry about the pepper spray and kicks to the face,” I apologized.
So now, here I am. Currently rotating on a pike being cooked for these villager’s lunches. Is it sad that I’m so hungry the smell of me cooking is actually making my mouth water? Well this has officially been the worst day of my life. Stupid Lyster. If I could just kick him one more time before they all ate me that would be great.
“Thanks Lyster,” shouted a villager as they licked their lips and fingers from the feast that was Danielle. “Next time can we not get fast food? I’m getting too old to run after these people you make land here.”
Xathos: Somehow, I doubt my insurance company is going to cover this loss. I would start to look for something familiar like powerlines, mailboxes, or something from my modern world which might account for the odd-looking setting I find myself. If my car still has any electrical power, I will check the radio and Sirius XM to see if anything is coming in. If I hear no stations or any sound (wouldn’t it be odd if dragons used radio to communicate?) I might start to freak out. I would then check my cell phone to see if I could contact anyone or if there was any Wi-Fi (again, dragons using the Internet!). I would then listen to these villagers to see if I understand anything they are saying. It would be helpful if I could communicate with them.
If I have not seen anything from the modern world, I would start to look for things I know a village would have, specifically a church, temple, or mosque. Those would be the central buildings in a medieval village. If I did see one that would at least let me know I was either in my world in a different time or a similar world. I do not have much in my car other than a nice blanket, pair of gloves, some emergency peanuts, and some CDs. Who is this Lyster person and why do I think he is a wizard? That would probably remind me of novels I have read where someone was suddenly transported to a different world like in The Doomfarers of Coramonde or Guardians of Flame, or maybe even to Barsoom!
If I was sent somewhere else, who sent me and why did they send me? Is there a note? I would start looking through the car and maybe underneath it too. Are there a pair of feet sticking out from under it? I would also keep an eye on these villagers, so they do not take it into their minds that I am a demon or devil that just appeared out of nowhere to attack them. For that matter, do they have any weapons? How are they dressed? Now I would start getting curious as to who they were and start trying to identify them.
Once Lyster appears, I would try to communicate with him to let him and the others know I am not a threat to them and am totally lost, having no idea why I am there. I do not have any modern weapons, but I do know how to use a bow and arrow, how to start a fire from scratch, and how to survive in my own world’s wilderness. I would have no clue what was in this wilderness. What I do need is information, but first, I need something to eat! After that I can begin to figure out where and when I am. Then I would try to find out where people with knowledge are in this world. Someone has records and books.
I need to find them so I can figure out a clue as to where I am and maybe why I am there. I also might be able to trade some of my knowledge of rudimentary science like steam power, gunpowder, and history for things in this world. You never know. Maybe my knowledge of moveable type might start an information revolution. For that matter, so might my knowledge of political science. Maybe I will take a page from Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee! Does magic work in this world? If so, how does it work? I need to find out if I can work magic in this world. It could be Xathos time!
I’ve heard from my guests; now I want to hear from you. What’s would your fantasy life look like? Leave a comment below, on our Discord, or on Know Direction’s Facebook page.
Each Bend the Knee features three guests. One is from the RPG industry. Another is from the Know Direction network. The third guest could be you! Leave a comment on Know Direction’s Facebook, Discord, or Twitter, or you can send an email to DearDovahQueen@gmail.com for your chance to be featured on the next Bend the Knee.