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 guests answers. It’s time to Bend the Knee!
First, let’s meet today’s guests.
Guests – The Dimension Door Podcast
The Dimension Door Podcast
The Dimension Door Podcast is a bi-weekly Pathfinder 1e actual-play of Paizo’s Reign of Winter adventure path. We first officially launched our podcast in December 2019, and have recently started our second season as we entered Book 2 of the adventure. Last fall, we also launched a sister podcast, Severed Fate, which is playing through Carrion Crown and releases new episodes on Dimension Door’s off-weeks. We’ve all been playing Pathfinder together regularly for the past five years, and love that we are now sharing some of our adventures with an audience. We’re lucky enough to play with an experienced audio engineer and composer, and we take full advantage of his skills; Zac Kreitler edits our episodes, and also composes a fully original score for us.
Think you might be interested in what we do? Check out our website! We’ve got cast bios, character sheets, art, transcripts, and more! We also have an active Discord community, a Patreon with some great bonus content (including in-character interviews and some of the music tracks Zac has composed for us), and a merch store. All of our links are available on our website: dimensiondoorpodcast.com
James Schwarz – Producer and Game Master for The Dimension Door Podcast
My experience in TTRPGs started in 2017. I started as a player in my friend’s Pathfinder Rise Of The Runelords game which consisted of my best friend, two strangers to me (Zac and Amanda), and a woman whom I had gone on several dates with (Elizabeth). Several weeks later, we experienced a near TPK (my character was the only one to survive). The current GM wanted a chance to play, so I stepped in to try my hand at Game Mastering and was hooked. Several years into playing, one of the party members approached me and said, “You know, I think you’re entertaining to listen to, we should do a podcast.” And so it was. Since then, we have managed to push out new episodes that are fully scored and edited every two weeks, and have launched a second show to post on off weeks; Elizabeth and I have gotten married; and I plan to never stop telling stories with my friends.
When I’m not pumping coffee into my veins behind a GM screen, I pursue my career as an independent artist specializing in photography and ceramics.
Elizabeth Wilcox – Vasilisa Morozova on The Dimension Door Podcast
I play Vasilisa Morozova on The Dimension Door Podcast, and I also handle the social media for all of Dimension Door. I’ve been playing TTRPGs off and on for over a decade, but it’s only been in the past five years, since moving to Arizona and meeting the friends that I now play with on Dimension Door, that I’ve been able to really play regularly. Although I’ve tried a lot of different games and settings, most of my experience is in Pathfinder 1e. I absolutely love creating characters and really situating them in the world. I’m a massive fan of immersion, story-building and character development; it’s definitely the role-play that keeps me coming back to the game table.
My love of character and story can certainly partly be blamed on the creative writer within me. I have a degree in English Literature, and I keep a blog and co-run a fairy-tale book club (The Enchanted Garden Book Club) on a book-based website I co-founded called Briarbook Lane. I always have several creative writing projects in progress. I also wrote a novel-like narrative adaptation of the first ten episodes of The Dimension Door (available to read on our website), and am currently working on transcribing all of our episodes. In addition to all things TTRPG and book, I love mixology. I dabble in crafting custom cocktails, often inspired by characters from TTRPG campaigns (both ours and from other actual-play podcasts) or from books.
A yellow, old-fashioned, New York style taxi cab meets your vision; it says ‘Grint and Stingos Transportation.’ A man with a funny hat and a round, hairy face beckons for you to come over. ‘You called?’ he asks croaky voice. As you begin to form an answer in your mouth, his door opens to reveal that it’s actually two gnomes with pointy shoes in the driver seat—one standing at the wheel and another laying on his belly to push the pedals with his little gnomey hands. “Well c’mon! We `aven’t got all day” the pedal-gnome squeaks. You realize that you should have about a million different questions in your head, but for some reason, the only one that comes to the surface is ‘why not?’
Grint and Stingo’s magical taxicab has transported you to your favorite fantasy setting. What is it? Why is it your favorite? And what are you going to try to do now that you’re there?
Being thrust into a fantasy world by a pair of gnomes has always been a dream of mine. As much as I love the lore and setting of Golarion from Pathfinder, I have to return to my first love of fantasy. Now, when I mention a type of stand alone callbox that has the ability to take you somewhere, I’m sure most people jump to thinking of Dr. Who and will shout from the rooftops “James, that’s Science Fiction, not fantasy!” To which I respond, “you are correct, but I speak of the children’s classic The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster from 1961!”
It has been many a year since reading this book, but the cleverness and pun filled world of the Lands Beyond stuck with me. I would travel to many of the same locations as the protagonist, Milo. I would enjoy sinking my teeth into the very edible letters of the alphabet. Enjoy the feeling of rapidly becoming hungry while eating bowls of “minus soup.” The world Juster created seems to revolve around subtle puns. Like the “which”(witch), “whether (weather) man”, and Tock the watchdog, who has two large clocks positioned on either side of his haunches. The world is filled with these pockets of slight absurdities. Around every corner, there seems to be something new and unexpected. Experiencing them personally would flood me with nostalgia, and the amount of new things to experience and solve in the world outside of what is documented in the book staggers my mind.
The world isn’t perfect. There are plenty of dangers and problems faced along the way, but they all seem to have solutions. A brain teaser of sorts for any situation which might hold consequences. Puzzles in games have always been my favorite: finding the smallest strings to tug on in order to make the pieces fit. The intentional design of creating conflict while having solutions in mind is something that I appreciate. Knowing that there is a way to overcome a challenge makes me approach it with more confidence and the payoff for finally solving it is a rush of adrenaline I will never be tired of. I’m not saying I would thrive in this word, but I am saying I would enjoy almost every step.
This was a book that inspired me at a young age to ask more questions in the world around me. Trying to find those alternative solutions to problems and thinking of things in a different way to better understand them. Approaching challenging situations with the confidence that with a bit of thought, a solution could be found. With the encouragement of my wife, I plan on purchasing a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth and reading my favorite book for the first time in over 15 years.
Grint and Stingo’s magical taxicab screeches to a stop in a cloud of dust and smoke as we arrive on a well-traveled dirt road outside of a large city. I’ve arrived at the capital city of the kingdom of Ayortha, and I am beyond ready to see the sights and join in a community Sing! Ayortha is one of the kingdoms within the fairy-tale-inspired fantasy setting created by Gail Carson Levine for her book Ella Enchanted, and which she revisited in Fairest. (Note that I’m absolutely not talking about the Ella Enchanted film here; I like to pretend that movie doesn’t even exist, thank you very much. It’s hard to think about what Hollywood did to one of my favorite books.) It’s a bit unusual of a pick for a favorite fantasy setting, but it is absolutely a world I’d love to visit. Most fantasy settings I enjoy reading about would be far too bleak to actually enter; the war and strife that makes for good books doesn’t exactly make for a fun visit. The biggest threat when traveling in these kingdoms, however? You might be eaten by ogres. However, those ogres would also use their magically-persuasive voices to first convince you that they’re your best friends and that you would love to be eaten. There are worse ways to go, really.
There are plenty of places that would be really cool to visit in this setting: I could hang out in the forest with the elves, who eat only raw vegetation as fire would be unthinkable inside of their dwellings formed of living trees and other plant life, and who make some of the finest carvings and sculpture. I could visit a giant’s farm, and admire the care and thoughtfulness they put into their every action in an effort to avoid squishing their more delicate, tiny friends. A single bite for them could keep me full for a whole day, so that’s one household where I wouldn’t feel at all guilty about mooching for awhile as a houseguest. Another great place to see would be the gnomes’ caves. They could describe htun—the color they find most beautiful and rare, but which human eyes can’t discern at all—and I could admire their brilliant jewel, stone and metal crafts.
However, the reason I’d ask the gnomes to take their taxi right to the kingdom of Ayortha is that I’d love to start my visit by joining in the lovely Ayorthian tradition of a Sing. In Ayortha, singing is an integral part of society; they regularly gather together to sing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences to each other. They join in group song as communities to bond and to commemorate any occasion, joyful or sad. I’m not much of a singer, but I’d love to do my very best to take part, and to witness the beauty of a society centered around song.
If I’m in the setting to stay, I’m definitely going to try to make my way as a writer, gathering the stories of all the diverse peoples as I unabashedly get my tourist on throughout this beautiful world.
I’ve heard from my guests; now I want to hear from you. What’s your style? Leave a comment below, on our Discord, or on Know Direction’s Facebook page.