[Intro audio: “There is a Dark Place,” by Tom Rosenthal]
There is a dark place, but I’m not going there, no, no, no. [inaudible].
There is a dark place, but I’m not going there, no, no, no. [inaudible]
Hi, I’m Jordan.
And I’m Lex.
[sound of can opening] And I’m Sean.
[Laughter] Oh you- you a******! You absolute piece of shit!
[Laughter] I saw it, I saw the drink on the counter, and I was like, that’s weird, why hasn’t Sean..
Why hasn’t he cracked it open yet, I wonder?
and now we know.
I saw it… unopened, and then before we started, you said, those infamous unholy words, [laughter] and so I just… [laughter] kind of expected it, but I didn’t expect it so soon-
[whisper] Oh wow!
But that was… so good, and I hate you so much. This is our good friend, Sean Hendrickson.
Founder of Carpe DM.
And Sean is here to talk to us today about what he does, and how to play D and D when you can’t sit still.
Yeah, no. Also, worth noting, Sean is our friend. We do not actually hate him; our love still stands!
Oh! Yeah no, we love Sean.
Very mutual, very mutual.
[Laughter] Insufferable. This is my friend, I cherish them, but I also would love to punch them at some point.
This is my favorite bastard. Yes.
Yes, all right. Well, now that we have gripped it and ripped it, do we wanna like, do a podcast?
Well shit, I’ll give you one. All right, everybody. Welcome to Sean’s podcast corner. [laughter] I’ve got my two favorite guests here, Jordan and Lex. Welcome
Who’s your favorite favorite though?
That’s valid. That’s so valid
It’s gotta be one of the cats.
They give the best audio.
Yeah, it’s true. Yeah. So welcome to “Or Learn Parkour”.
Thank you for having me. I’m really excited to be here with y’all.
We’re excited to have ya. [whisper] or not.
Do you wanna…[Laughter] just kidding Um, just yeah, just so the listeners can know what we’re dealing with right now. Sean, would you like to introduce yourself a little bit and talk about what you do, and Carpe DM, and give us a little flavor on anything
A little tasty, a little tasty tastes? Sure!
A little bit, please.
Yeah, so Jordan mentioned I’m the founder of Carpe DM, a really bad pun that I really enjoy. I am a [laughter] Oddly enough, I am a professional game master, and dungeon master for tabletop RPGs.
I think we’ve mentioned that in the show before
You might have, I do recall a certain broadening of my portfolio of offerings to my clients.
May or may not have insinuated that uh, Sean is a dungeon master in multiple senses of the word, which is not founded on any fact-
Hey! you know the job market is tough right now. We’re just trying to…
And I don’t yuck any yums.
Help you hustle.
Yeah no, we’ve talked about Sean before on this podcast.
Sean, do you want to talk about yourself more on this podcast? Cause we’ve done it enough.
Yeah, I’ll take a second, sure. So, I run games for a bunch of folks in a bunch of different games, systems. Dungeons and dragon’s fifth edition is hot. It is hot on fire baby and let people play in it. But, there are other systems that I have run in before. Uh, the world of darkness games, the powered by the apocalypse systems, funner smaller games, like uh the dread RPG. I also write content and publish content for, uh, tabletop games, and I am an educator and a teaching artist, and I write curriculum for using RPGs in the classroom.
Hell yeah! Hell yeah! Thank you, Sean.
That was delightful. I know that we have both had Sean as a DM and can confirm he’s pretty cool.
Wait so sorry. I’m just going to keep saying that, I’m not going to contribute anything else to this podcast. I’m so consistent. Wink! It’s the Jordan and Sean episode wink!
Oh no. My mom listens to this podcast.
Mrs. Rawlings, wink!
[Laughter] Oh no! That was too powerful. Oh God, it’s okay, he’s her favorite child.
This is true. This is very true.
Thank you for your faith in me, Mrs. Rawlings.
Sean, do you want to talk about how we all know each other, and how you know my mom? Or should we talk about that?
How about we go piece by piece, first piece? Uh, Jordan and I grew up in the same small town and went to the same small schools.
We sure did… Yeah, we did. [laughter]
It sounds like you were gonna like expand on it and you just didn’t [laughter]. Cool, cool.
I think the first time we were in school together was middle school.
Yeah, it was sixth grade. I mean, you had my aunt as a teacher in elementary school.
So, I was aware of you. I laminated a lot of things with your name on it…
But it wasn’t until later, I got to be in your presence. But your reputation as a person named Sean Hendrickson, who was the same age as me-
As a fourth grader who went through the dare program twice.
Did you fail the first time?
I think they just… so when I was in fourth grade, it was a combined fourth and fifth grade classroom to play around, and… the fifth graders at our elementary school went through the D A R E program, and so then when I went into fifth grade, they were like, why don’t we go for round two? Make sure this one sticks.
I was just imagining like-
Did it? Did it?
I was just imagining like you know, whatever cop is in your classroom or something like “This is a cigarette, what do you say to cigarettes in fourth grade?”, and Sean being like…
Smoke em’ If you got them!
(in a child voice) Hell yeah! Thanks! (in a gruff voice) No!
What do you have? A cigarette? No! Tase him again!
But we did uh, I think we got to be closer friends when we went to high school together-
When we both took part in our high school’s theater program.
Oh, did we just.
Did we just indeed, but…the relationship continued in the years that followed.
For some reason you kept putting up with me.
Stop that right now! Negative self-talk is not allowed on this really cramped, sweaty blanket fort.
Thank you Lex, Thank you.
Happy to help.
Jordan has mentioned that she has a theater degree. We both went to the same college and received the same theater degree.
We sure did! And it’s honestly in large part that you were there that I ended up there because I remember being like “Hey, does this place have a bubble tea shop?” And you were like, “No.” and then I moved there anyways for some ridiculous reason.
It did have a bubble tea shop.
Not when I moved there, that was later.
It was there-
It was there in your second-
Like it was there my senior year, but it wasn’t there my junior year when I moved to Idaho.
Okay, so this was there the whole time that I was there, but that would have been your senior year.
But now we live in a beautiful Chicago, where we have as many bubble tea shops as we need.
So many, it’s wonderful.
Yes, so we have known each other for a long time. We all went to the university of Idaho together. So that was kind of the… fondue pot there.
But would I be right in saying that our friendship really kicked off when we started playing D and D together?
Yes, I think so. Uh, Sean and I met and hung out by extension with the groups of people that like, we still, we like overlapped for sure. Like, I remember being around you in Idaho,
Within the orbit!
And like, cause I remember like hanging out with you and like talking to you at like the senior roast party and like, things like that. But then…it wasn’t till Chicago, when we live like 10 minutes away from one another, and then Jordan was like, “Hey, people are gonna play D and D here.” And I was like, “Oh cool, I’ll sit in,” and I had just joined and have like almost never missed a session since.
(mimicking Lex) I might hop in for like one or two sessions, if you need a guest character.
Yeah, and then I was like, I’m in it. Which really should have been no surprise to any of us, especially I’m sure the audience who knows way too much about me. You’re like, yeah, of course this idiot loves D and D. Of course, she’s just like super into that.
Hey hey, that negative self-talk though.
Oh, right. Yeah, sorry. Idiot, in a fun way.
There we go! Bit of a [inaudible].
Yeah, I do though, I do have pretty big [inaudible] energy.
This was true, can confirm.
Yeah, no. But I mean, I don’t know when this come up or come out, but I definitely went on some Tinder dates with a friend, and that’s how I met Jordan and Sean.
Getting ahead of the reveal.
I think yeah. Gonna get ahead of that before any slander comes out.
But… see, I liked just explaining to people when they ask how you and I met and just saying Tinder and not elaborating, but we can, we can delve more into it if you’d like.
Well so yeah, I mean I went on a few dates with a friend who was also in the theater department with these two, and uh… we hung out a few times and then… uh, he invited me to a party, and I was like-
The rest is history.
Well, and I specifically was like, “I’m going to go make more friends because, I don’t have friends because I’m in grad school, across the country.”
Speaking of making friends in Tinder, do y’all think that like tinder group date thing is a-
This is a real part of this application.
I haven’t been on tinder in a while.
And I have to wonder, do any humans populate that portion of the app or is it just lizard folk disguise?
I don’t know, it’s gotta be lizard folk right? I wouldn’t do that, that’d be really scary for me.
It is perhaps the scariest circumstance possible where you can flick a tab and be like, “Hey, I’m out with multiple people, and we’re all looking to meet strangers and have a bad time and forget about it the next day.”
That’s coming from me? Who had a night out with one person? I don’t know, sounds terrible. So take that with a grain of salt.
Well it sounds like the beginning of a true crime podcast. [Laughter] It’s what it sounds like to me.
No! Murder club wasn’t supposed to be like that.
Yeah! Exactly, exactly.
Yeah, so I went to a party with the intention, not to hang out with the person I had gone on a few dates with, but to make friends with… [laughter] his friends, and I did!
Here we all are in a blanket fort together.
Someday, someday that lovely boy who we are all friends with. Like I’m, I’m friends with him now.
[He’s in] The current D and D campaign that you were playing.
So many private plots in our little private zoom chats, he and I.
This is true. I think that’s a question we will get to later about your current campaign. Yes?
I- I did see something related to that.
You wrote these questions.
No, there’s one at the end… [laughter], that Sean has for us. That is like, I’m pretty sure either of them are related to the campaign that you were a part of, but I think you would probably be able to answer anyways.
Wow! I should have read this, before we started recording, huh?
Oh my gosh.
It’s chill, don’t worry about it.
Um, I say that like, I didn’t read it right before we started.
I think I read it, but then had the super fun ADHD moment of like, yup. I stared at that screen for the amount of time it took to probably read that.
Check that box.
Yeah, my favorite is when you read something, but then like, and you know, you read it. You’re like, I, I definitely looked over every single letter, and word and sentence. Couldn’t tell you what they say though.
My brain is a colander.
Yeah, okay. So that’s how we all know Sean. And I’m currently, in one of Sean’s campaigns over zoom, which is very fun.
And Jordan, obviously you can probably infer, was a part of a campaign last year.
I was! that was my very first D and D campaign, or any sort of tabletop game-campaign last year, and I had to take some time off of continuing to do that because, I have multiple jobs right now. And, no time, but it was a delight, and I think we’re going to talk about that more later? but yes. So we’ve both had Sean as a DM for a little bit, we’ve both had Sean as a friend for a while, and now here we all are, in a blanket fort.
Yes. Talk about it.
I am very excited to contribute.
Do we wanna talk about why this is something worth talking about for folks with ADHD?
Oh right! Okay, so yeah, you’re probably wondering why we’re talking about D and D in an ADHD podcast and that’s cause- [laughter]. Sean’s over there nodding like yeah “I just said I’d show up for this, but I would also like to know.”
Yeah, no, I want you on blast. Sean.
I’ve got a little bit of an idea, but I’d love to hear more.
Well, so here’s the thing. One: Jordan and I are two people with ADHD, as you probably know [laughter]. I hope you do at this point in the show. This is what episode eight? TDo and/or B? I can’t remember if I used letters or numbers. But the second thing on the list,
We both play Dungeons and dragons. The next reason that we have Sean on here, is because Sean has done a really awesome job in the campaigns that we’ve been a part of, of making those accessible for people who have auditory processing disorders and general, attention, issues, problems, what have you. But the main reason is because this is our Halloween episode, and so we wanted to like do something fun. Cause I mean, I don’t know about y’all I’m having a pretty shit time on this here uhh bitch of an earth so
At least we’ll have Halloween?
Shh shh. Do you hear that? Ch-ch-chh-chh. The bones, they’re rattling, ch ch ch chh it’s that season ch ch ch chh. [Laughter]
I hate this!
You brought me here!
This is the worst ASMR I’ve ever listened to! [Laughter].
And because it is spooky season, and because there are also some unique challenges to doing a thing where you have to sit still and process auditory information for a very long time as a person with ADHD. but also, some really fun things about getting to use your imagination, and being creative, and thinking on the go, and it’s, it’s a blessing and a curse with ADHD. So, we’re gonna talk a little bit about our experience with that, and Sean’s experience with that. Um, and making games accessible, and then we’re going to talk about some more spooky stuff. Oh! actually. Okay, for a real final point, we wanted to. That’s it.
[Laughter] And no one can stop you!
Yes! This is our podcast, and no one’s stopped us yet!
Wild, and that seems like it’s a y’all problems [laughter].
Right! We wanna hop into this interview?
Well, I do have two guests here for interviewing today. I have Jordan and Lex, hosts of the wonderful podcast “Or Learn Parkour”.
Hehe, now you might be wondering why I’ve invited them both.
Since when is that what we do?
Since, hamboning in the blanket fort?
Just, hitting me, just punching me, just swacking.
That’s normally what we make parkour noises with, we hit objects around us, and since I’m sitting next to Jordan-
Yeah, we are not usually sitting next to each other.
Yeah no, I am in the unfortunate position where I just got, you know what object next to me now, this is your fate. Uhhhhhhh
So! Sean! How do you make space accessibility in D and D [Laughter]
Okay, feed it to me one more time. What do we got?
How- [laughter] give me a second.
No, you have to do it now.
I got cramps! Oh no, no. Okay, Sean Hendrickson.
It just came out.
We’re the same age!
I don’t know what happened.
We’re going to try that again-
I am older than both of you, haha!
And they are so many pillows to hit you with, if it happens again.
Or she could just hit you with her hands. Cause that’s already happened
There’s also that stick right in between us. So, I have many options, so speak wisely, so I’ll say
I’ve positioned myself carefully with both of the expensive microphones between myself, and Jordan in the event… of a violent altercation. [Laughter]
All right, Sean.
Nicely done. How have you made space for accessibility in D and D, especially now with the pandemic and a lot of campaigning being virtual?
So, when I think about making space in a tabletop game, there is for the person organizing that game for the game master, or the dungeon master, or whatever title that game uses or that you use personally. There is a bit of a responsibility there because you have a group of friends, or acquaintances or strangers, or even clients who have entrusted you with bringing them a evening that they will be able to talk about for years to come, will they’ll feel invested and have a good time? It’s really the thing that I care about most in my, I guess, company as Carpe DM. There are many… pan of points we try to hit. Uh, in how we build our games, of course, but if there was a mission statement for this company, it would have to do with, with this question in particular. D and D, and games like it are a vehicle to tell stories of your own invention.
And that can be a really powerful thing for a lot of folks and something that I think a lot of newer game masters might not realize, is that the players or the people who are writing this story, and we’re just the editors, or compilers of their adventure. Uh, in person, there are a lot of things we can do to make that space for folks. Um, sometimes literally, uh, in terms of making a larger play area for, with an appeal to like move their bodies, having props and manipulables, that’s where dice come in real handy as a thing that you can- like a fidget we’re used with to get that body movement. One of the most important strategies, both in person and virtually is to take regular breaks, and check-ins, and recaps about the session length along with summaries of what’s been going on, getting everyone back up to speed.
But the biggest thing, I think is really making it an open conversation from the first time the group meets, especially as the game master, that I think is the most important thing you can do with a new group of players. Uh, this is- you might’ve heard of the term “session zero”. If you’re someone in the TRPG community, this is something that’s talked about a lot online as a way to open the conversation to inclusivity in your games. Its starting out with a session where you’re not necessarily playing the game. You are setting your guidelines and expectations for the game as a group, what content you want in your game, how often you meet per month, per week, how you go about playing your game, what is acceptable? What people’s boundaries are, and establishing that at the outset and also making it clear that that is an ongoing conversation and not something set in stone from the beginning, I think is incredibly valuable.
Yeah, no, I mean speaking, sorry, I’m just going to interrupt you because you know-
Go for it.
That’s what we do. Um, I mean, yeah, speaking as someone who has done two campaigns in a row with Sean now, where we’ve done a session zero. It really is so helpful in terms of like setting expectations, I think, and also setting a tone, and like, in terms of like consent, it’s been super great to just know where everyone stands, where everyone is comfortable, and where everyone’s uncomfortable, and how Sean has facilitated that sort of communication. Not just between him as the DM and us as players, but also like all of us as one cohesive group. And I think that, especially with the campaign we’re doing right now, it’s just been pretty great for everyone to just be on the same page. And I think part of the reason that we’re all on the same page as Sean was like, Hey, so this was a really dark and heavy campaign cause we’re doing the curse of Strahd and its spooky and creepy.
And there’s a lot of, it has a lot of baggage as a campaign, if I understand correctly myself.
It’s has a challenging content for sure.
But just saying from the outset like, Hey, here’s what you can expect. Content-wise what do we not want to have? What do we kind of have to have given the nature of the plot itself? Uh, and then also Sean was very clear in being like, “because of this content, like there may be points further along in the story where your characters have different goals, but at the beginning we are all going to be working together, and this is going to be collaborative.” And so like having that tone set, I think was really helpful for me. Um, especially someone who like, how do I put this, loves betrayal in fantasy worlds?
The knife is already out of its sheeth.
Yeah, no, like I’m always, I mean, well, cause yeah, the campaign before I was like, all right… here we go. My little Sibel son caster, how is she going to f*** this up for everyone? And I kind of just had that from the outset. Which was very fun, and very fun to work with Sean on that backstory, like behind the scenes, but it did not result in collaborative gameplay all the time. And so that’s like a big difference I’ve noticed and something that I’ve noticed Sean, in particular is very committed to. And so I would just second that the session zero, just even just to set expectations is huge and has been for me anyways.
Yeah. I can speak to that a little bit too, just on the one campaign that I’ve played with Sean and my general life. I know for me, just having an expectation, knowing what to expect, whether that’s time-wise, whether that’s the tone, whether this is going to be a light and funny and we’re just going to play the standard adventure, or we’re going to get really deep into it. Like, that is so helpful for me. Knowing that we’re going to take a break at this time, we’re going to play until this time, knowing like that basic stuff, but then also knowing the deeper expectations makes it a lot easier for me to ration, I suppose? My, my time and energy and focus and know how to take care of myself, to stay present for that. And I will be the first person to admit a huge learning curve for me, with D and D, but having seen campaigns with that is super helpful. So, thank you for that.
And it always is a learning curve, especially when people are kind of first dipping their toes in. I’ve heard it described before as, if you can remember, you know, playing pretend with your friends on the playground, but there’s also a person there telling you that you’re wrong about it [laughter] as one way of interpreting a tabletop RPGs. But there’s always a learning curve there, and I think when we’re talking about setting these expectations, it is also so so so important to talk about these boundaries with your players, or if you are a player, to encourage that conversation with your game master, because these are things that when they are trespassed, it is easier for the person who’s been slighted to not speak up. Uhm, because you’re in the middle of a moment of play you’re in the middle of a collaborative action. If something goes across your boundaries, many people might not feel comfortable raising a hand and saying, “Hey, can we pause for a minute?” Unless, if someone at the beginning of all this had established that that was a thing you could do.
Mhmm mhmm. Yeah, kind of branching off of that. What has been your personal experience with, uh, I mean, I guess aside from playing with Jordan and I, with uh neurodivergence and D and D?
Well in particular, D and D was introduced to me when I was but a wee wee lad by my older brother. Um, both of my siblings have neurodivergent diagnoses. My oldest brother, uh, was originally diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, and when that was removed in the DSMV it was, he was rediagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, as is my middle brother. Uh, so I was brought into tabletop role-playing by a neurodivergent community. Which is also why I really appreciate the conversation y’all had just in the last episode about folks having access to diagnostic support. As I’m in kind of a, having heard more about both of your passive discovery with your own diagnosis. I am currently unable to see the psychiatrist that I was, um, meeting as I was furloughed from my, from my job lost that to that good, good tasty health insurance.
Yeah. I will be the first to admit also, like I do not have a therapist right now because I can’t. Like my insurance doesn’t cover that, and I can’t afford it on my own. So
We’re all living vicariously through Margaret [laughter].
Yeah, yeah, no, I mean, I had a very great therapist for a few years and so I’ve been able to sort of just ride on the coattails of my experience with that.
But anyways, yeah. Sorry, so since you don’t, you personally do not have access to your psych right now.
Yeah. So I have, uh, I was recommended to receive a neuropsych exam to be screened for autism spectrum disorder, myself. Um, and my psychiatrist believed I might have a history of major depression as well, but none of that is confirmed as I have not been able to schedule these things or go to these things. And also, the diagnosis for a lot of these things are usually designed for school-aged children.
Jordan & 2 (00:24:55):
Yup! Mhmm yup!
I am not one of them [laughter]. It makes it kind of odd when you call in and you, and you try to schedule something and say, so is this for your son or daughter?
Yeah. It’s for me, it’s, it’s worse when you get there and they know it’s for you. And they’re like, so like, do you have a hard time playing peacefully with others? And you’re like, “um… hello?” Well, no, but that’s, that’s more out of not doing that at all. That’s that’s preventative,
You’ve restrained your gamer rage.
I had to cut back on the mountain Dew, and it really did wonders-
Um, Halo to Death Match. Jordan’s Katy is impeccable.
I’m just going to go pwned some noobs, but my docs that I had to lay off.
Oh my gosh. Y’all, I just remember as a child… throwing controllers, and like slamming the computer mouse all the time. But like, I personally don’t remember doing this very much, but my brother and my cousin have consistently brought it up to me in recent history of like, “Hey, remember when you used to be like really angry when you lost games.” And again [laughter], why didn’t anybody? Like, how did anyone look at this little kid who was clearly just doing things. Just existing in some ways and was like, yeah, totally. Neuro-typical, they’re fine, send them on.
Hindsight’s 2020. But Sean, how would you say that your experience affects how you DM or interact with the community?
Well, my involvement with the neurodivergent community, I’m not a very active online presence. There is a Twitter out there. It’s nothing folks, it is a barren wasteland. There are no crops that that field will yield. But I used to work in the care industry, which I think ties over into how I approach working with my players, but for myself as a DM and the way that I connect ideas in my own, my own personal head space jamming is really, really fun because, I am constantly referencing a bunch of different information, right? I’m pulling on information about the world, information about the mechanics of the game, information about what the players characters mechanics are, and what their backstories are, the current plot that’s happening, the past plot that was happening, the stats for particular creatures or NPCs, et cetera. And that is all that big kind of… flow chart soup, that I can pull through and reference at high speed, is really stimulating and fun, and I would recommend it to anyone who uh feels comfortable, that you try running a game, or participating in one. Highly recommend, 10 out of 10.
And for those who haven’t had the chance to play a game with Sean, he’s terrifying like good at doing that.
Yeah, Sean knows everything. And as I- I’ve mentioned, I think on every single episode of this podcast, I can’t do math. And I decided to bury him with a bunch of magic shit in my first game, and every single time, it’s like, “Oh no, that’s 13 plus five, plus your Dex modifier plus.” And that’s it. It’s incredible. It’s, it’s astounding and I’m always so impressed! You’re very good at doing that.
Yeah no, literally last week I had a moment on zoom where I was like seven plus three, Oh my uh- seven, 10! 10, and everyone on the zoom call is just “Mhmm, yup.”
But we’re all there for it.
Yeah, no, everyone’s like, “Yep, she’ll get there, she’ll get there.” Im just very supportive atmosphere.
And that’s something to consider, especially when you pull back into the DM advice corner. When you’re running, when you’re running a game for people who are, neurodivergent definitely, one of the most important things you can do is to give people the time they need to think and put information together. Especially, if you’re in a moment in your game that is tense or, that draws on information about their character, or is it all a risk moment because this heightened emotion can cause people to need more time to put the numbers together, or to make the decision or to, you know, connect things in their head. And nothing hurts worse than when your friend shames you for not thinking fast enough for your imaginary game. A lesson that I’ve learned, because I used to be that DM, who in moments of tension, I thought it would raise the stakes to be like a “Quick, quick, make the call, make the call.” Probably much to the detriment of my friends. Fun. So that is something that I will advocate to the day I die, to give people the time they need.
Another thing that you do kind of in that realm is that like, when we’re in combat, you will tell people who’s up next. Like, you’ll be like, “All right, so X it’s your turn and while you are on deck for after that.” And like, you’ll always kind of keep us updated on where we are at in the initiative, which I think that’s always so helpful for me because it reminds me to be like. Okay, pay attention to what this person’s doing in front of me so that I can have a better idea of what’s happening in this whole combat scenario so that I know what I’m doing.
And like I think that’s really helped me anyways. So like being prepared, so that there isn’t as much of that pressure in the first place to figure things out quickly and on the fly, cause I’ve been given a heads up, especially virtually when we don’t have like the visual initiative order in front of us.
Yes, exactly, because I also recommend handmade props or, uh, whatever you have at hand. I use clothes pins, with whiteboard material on them to write things down. Uh, anything you can do to visualize the stuff that is going on in people’s heads: maps, tokens. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but if that helps people keep in touch with the story as it’s happening, rather than trying to go back through their own heads and remember everything that’s occurred, you might have it all in your head, but you have to make sure it translates into theirs. Which is something that I always struggle with as a DM, trying to take all that information, and I assume like. Oh, of course they know about the history of these last 12 centuries of this fantasy kingdom that I made up. It is a, it is a constant practice to make sure that you are making accessible the story, and the gameplay, and also the space.
Yeah. Well, and one thing too, that I’ve noticed Sean doing in particular. Sorry, I just keep like bragging on Sean doing good things that I appreciate, but I’m not, I’m not going to stop.
It’s like you’re good at your job or something.
But one thing is that, even if I’ve been paying attention, screw the initiative order. And I’m like clear on what everyone’s done, but I am very visual at times. So I’m like, what is happening? Where is everyone? Sean is always very patient, and considerate, and will explain when I’m just like, “Hey Sean, can you just like, give us a rundown real quick on what- what’s happening so that I can just make sure I’m not about to do something completely out of left field and wrong here.” And Sean is always very happy to supply a sort of brief like, “Yes. so-and-so is over here-
This is where this villain is, you are close to this villain, and here’s what just happened, here’s who’s most hurt and who’s not.” You know, like that’s been really helpful in a virtual setting, cause normally when we’ve played in person with Sean, Sean has so many fun props, and like maps, and things that you can stand up and look down at the table and actually see. So, there is that benefit to being in person.
Mhmm, that makes it so easy. It’s so good.
But in a virtual setting, obviously that’s not as possible. So, just appreciate the accommodations that you’ve made for folks like me, and I think the rest of the party too, is also kind of on that realm of like, wait, okay, hold on. Can you explain what’s happening here? Because I think no matter who you are, it’s kind of hard to do that.
I think when the shelter in place orders first started coming out and everyone across our little branch, the globe started playing virtually. There was a lot of discussion online about, okay. DMs, be ready when you’re running your games. What you expected to accomplish in 30 minutes in person, will take you an hour online. And that is totally reasonable, totally normal as people make that adjustment. And also because we are, you know, a lot of the information that we transmit to each other, we do with our bodies, with our voices, with our faces. And that is a little more difficult to get through a zoom window or a Google Hangouts or a roll 20 video screen in the bottom of the corner. So just to be aware of those things and to, you know, give yourself some grace for them, it’s not on you, it’s on the circumstances [laughter]. As you said earlier, on this b**** of an earth.
Mhmm, mhmm. That’s all fantastic, and those were a lot of really good tips. It sounds like for the GM-DM perspective, do you have anything that you would suggest, or encourage, or toss out, to the folks on the players and, uh, who might have trouble paying attention during a session? Cue me, pulling out a notebook! [Laughter] to take notes.
I was about to say, get out of the highlighters we’re going! No, but really most of the tips I have are things that I’ve picked up from players of mine who have been neurodivergent or, who have had other problems focusing on the game. So most of this is just me borrowing from other folks who did me the, you know, kindness of playing with me. So, a couple of tips that I have picked up from those kind, kind folks who’ve rolled dice with me, uh, and a couple of things that I’ve seen help. Um, like I mentioned, I’m an educator too, I work in K through 12 classrooms. And one of the things that I share with my students, no matter what we’re studying, whether it’s how to slay dragon, or if it’s math. is to reframe the challenges in your head from negative to positive statements. So, instead of giving yourself the negative advice, don’t look at your phone during your friend’s turn, try reframing it.
As, “When I have a hard time focusing, I’ll doodle what’s happening in the game in my notebook.” That is one way to, as we talked about positive, self-talk earlier. Trying to reframe those negative statements to positive ones, just for your own happiness, and joy. And if you feel better about yourself on the table, talking about phones at the table, that’s a pretty fraught discussion for some folks. I used to implement a hard, no-phones at the table rule, but I think that that is a little too restrictive and usually not very, um, inclusive for folks who might need their phone to mitigate anxieties or, for work and life reasons. I do suggest, because especially with many GMs, this is not something that bothers me too deeply, but many uh GM’s can feel very disrespected and ignored by players who are on their devices during the game.
Some people will say, well, I put six to 10 hours this week into making this adventure for you, could you please put down your phone and play it with me? If you’re in a situation like that, which is again, reasonable on both sides, you might need your phone to mitigate this, they might need your attention to, you know, for their fulfillment. Um, so it’s a difficult needle to thread. So one thing I’ll recommend is having something physical and manipulable near you; like a pad and paper, or dice. So you can manipulate something that helps you still, you know, engage auditorily without fully disengaging through a screen. Yeah, I always suggest a space for your body fidgets, like dice or notepads, and also I saw this great tip online. Someone had mentioned one way that they help make sure that they haven’t missed any information is in character,
they’ll ask questions to the group when they need to recap. Like, so we need to do A, go to B, and bring back C to D. Am I missing anything? Um, that way, there’s still one engaged in character, which I love, I love a good in character conversation. And two, their you know, checking in with the group and getting the info they need.
Like I mentioned, I got these tips from other folks. I would love to hear what are some of the strategies that you two have tried in this situation that have worked for ya?
I would knit during sessions a lot,
Which is incredible.
[Laughter] Which was very in-character for me at the specific point. Um, in-character for the game in-character for me is Jordan, um and a good thing to keep my hands busy. Um, and there’s like a very low level of mental engagement with that, so that it would, it would give me that baseline of stimulation so that I could have more focus. That would be, I think my main thing to contribute. You’ve played a lot more than I have at this point, Lex.
So I know for me, uh, I’ve done three campaigns, or I’m on the third campaign with Sean, but like over the past year and a half… Has been almost a year and a half now?
It’s been almost a year and a half.
That’s wild! But yeah. So for me, big learning curve overall, because I played D and D one time, in the summer between eighth grade and ninth grade at my friend Cameron’s birthday party.
And I had a really big crush on this dude, who didn’t want to play D and D and he was playing guitar hero instead. And that was like 2000.
Oh we know that hottie, yeah [laughter].
Yeah, no. Um, so Max [laughter]. If you’re, if you ever, for some reason, listen to this godforsaken podcast, no you didn’t, anyways [laughter].
[laughter] No, I think maybe one of Max’s uh friends listens to the podcast sometimes.
Oh no, I mean, yes, we’re glad you’re listening, but Oh goodness.
Yeah, no, it’s fine. But, I also have a couple of different friends in my life named Max. They’re all going to be like, “Was it me?” Great, it’s gonna be good. So that, so that decision. Mhmm. So, I had a crush on this dude and he was playing guitar hero, and so I wanted to play guitar hero instead because I- I mean this was 2006 or 2007 or something. So, I don’t know what was that like three?
Regardless, you had the urge to shred and I respect it.
Yeah, well, and I just remember being bored to tears by what was happening and at the table and everyone else was so into it. And I was like, what is happening? This is the worst! And then like Max was playing guitar hero, and so I was like, “I’m going to go hang out with him.” And then we watched In Bruges and like [laughter], like Max went on like a weird recon mission to get goldfish and soda, but it was like off-brand soda because Cameron’s parents were like super healthy, and all this other stuff. It was very weird. I think Cameron might listen to this podcast too, Hi Cameron!
This is such a particular memory.
Yeah, no, I have a visceral memory. So this was like my only experience with Dungeons and dragons. And so I-
But not your only experience with Dungeons or dragons?
I mean, I was obsessed with dragons as a kid. I watched that one documentary that was like, if dragons were real, this is what they would have been like, it was on like discovery or animal planet or something. Yeah, it was like really horrible CGI, but I’m so in it, um.
Water bottle cannot catch a break from you this episode.
Sorry, my arms were numb. Um, all that being said, I sorta just hopped into the D and D world because I did listen to a few podcasts, about Dungeons and dragons and was like. “I think I would like this.” I used to play so much pretend, and video games, and other stuff. And wouldn’t you know it? I do. I do like the Dungeons and the dragons. Yeah. So having only really experienced D and D with Sean as a DM, I’ve been very lucky to A, have a great DM and also B, like have a lot of accommodations already sort of just there because of the things that Sean has already talked about. Um, but for me, I guess I’ll give more of the virtual advice. Cause I think that’s how most people are going to be playing for the foreseeable future. Cause like, in-person, it was really just like good to be able to make eye contact with other people at the table, like, and like almost like be plotting things uh-
Be plotting things. [Laughter], and so, um, that was really helpful for me. And that’s a little bit harder to do now, although it is fun to like text people who are in our campaign and then see them look at their phone and then watch the reaction on their face, on zoom.
I did endorse, we also use a discord server, a tool that I highly recommend because it’s free. Um, and I did endorse this sort of, this sort of skullduggery, when I gave them a private channel within the server that I’m not allowed to look in.
Yeah, yeah. So virtually some tips that I would give to people who are, uh, neurodivergent and have issues with attention. Um, I do use my phone sometimes, but only during combat, cause it’s easier for me to look at my phone for my spell stats and everything like, cause right now I’m I have a warlock, I talked about this in another episode. Yeah, so I use my phone during combat, but then, I make a point to set my phone like face down when we’re not in combat. So that I can pay more attention to the storytelling aspect. So, I use my phone sparingly. Uh, and then I will always have my in-person character sheet, and a character sheet on my computer so that I can sort of just pick whichever one feels better for me at any given moment, but like having a clipboard with my character sheet in front of me and being able to like play with my little Ticonderoga pencils. Uh, I play with my dice sometimes, but again, the pencil is usually pretty good for me for a fidget.
It’s very reminiscent of my school days where I would bounce erasers. And another thing that I’ve done a lot of is I will get snacks or drinks, things to sort of occupy multiple facets of my senses. Um, and then I’ll just mute myself so that no one has to hear my chewing. I don’t know if anyone else cares about it, but I just, I don’t like mouth noises, and I don’t like the idea of my mouth noises being heard or perceived. So I’ll, I’ll mute myself. Uh, and then also the other thing that’s been really helpful for me is Sean will let us know when we’re going to take a break and Sean will keep us posted on how many breaks and all of those things, which is great. I don’t know. Even a few times I’ve just like stood up and like walked around to the other side of my bed so I can like hear everything that’s happening down on the zoom call and it’s fine and I’m still paying attention, but I just do, like, I take a turn around the room. So, like mixture I’m doing okay.
About the ballroom.
Mhmm um, some things that I have had really bad experiences with and would like caution against, would be like, if you are a fan of drinking or smoking or anything while playing D and D I know a lot of people are, that’s not something that I can do in excess. Uh, cause it will completely just take away all of my creativity, all of my reactionary prowess. If you could call it that, like I just, I- I’m completely taken out of it.
Right, that’s a big double-down on me from that. Especially. Uh, any sort of substances you take also just like, if food affects you in a certain way, if you know, you have a hard time focusing after eating a bunch of carbohydrates. You know, give yourself the brain food or whatever that you need to be there for the game.
Mhmm. So, uh, one last thing that I forgot about until just now, Oh, that’s been really helpful for me as someone who is more visual, I was inspired by some other people in our party who just started doing this, but they drew their characters portraits and they put them as their zoom background. So, you have their head, in front of the other people, like the character’s head, and yes, it looked very silly.
Sort of a death mask staring at you from the other end of the screen.
It’s really wild, but so I was like, “Oh, that’s fun!” And so I started doing that and I’ve realized that actually really helps me stay in character because I see my character’s face. Cause, I don’t know about y’all, but like, I don’t think there’s anybody on this planet in a zoom meeting who isn’t just narcissists in front of the pond where you’re like, you just keep looking at your own screen. And I know that’s like an issue for me.
Oh, I turn off speaker mode, and I zoom in on that baby. [Laughter] I get right in there, just Sean on the screen.
Okay, all right.
On Sean all the time.
So when I do end up sort of looking at my screen, I’m always like, Oh, there there’s- there’s Tamsen, I need to emulate this character and not myself. So that’s been really helpful for me too, to just have my character, like a picture of my character, either in front of me, or on the screen.
Right on, right on. One thing I will drop in there for folks with ADHD who are interested in trying D and D or another tabletop game that I didn’t realize until I experienced it very strongly in my first campaign, is that it can be an emotional dysregulation trigger. If you’re really invested in your game or your character. If you, you know, have the experience of hyper-focusing on this and getting really into it, into your character and development, it can be kind of overwhelming. I know that I was kind of blindsided by that in my first D and D experience, but that was also partially because I didn’t have the tools to deal with that at this point. Cause I don’t think that I was diagnosed when we started playing. [Laughter]
Getting sh- getting head shakes from around the table.
Yeah no, no. I still remember like the horror on your face when I was like, I’m going to take some Adderall before the next session[laughter], and you were like “Okay!”. Which turned out all right. Uh, but that is just something that everybody deals with in their own way. And everybody has a different emotional dysregulation experience as we’ve talked about a couple of episodes back, but just for folks who don’t have experience with this. Um, I would just say keep those, uh, coping mechanisms for that on hand and be aware that it can happen, and that’s an awesome thing in some ways that you can be so invested in have such a powerful experience with it, but it makes it hard to keep it collaborative with other people when that experience bowls you over. So that’s the last kind of ADHD- D and D
Thing I will say, but it sounds like Lex has something?
So, I didn’t even think about the emotional aspect of it. Uh, they call it emotional bleed, right?
Yeah. Emotional bleed is way more common than a lot of people realize. Um, that term comes from the LARPing community, and I am so glad to see that it’s being picked up more by the TRPG community, because it is something that a lot of folks don’t consider, and a lot of folks don’t make space for in a similar vein to how I would say no cell phones. Other people might say, keep playing whatever, play through it. Rather than using any of the many, many tools we have to make that a fun experience rather than a traumatic one. Can I plug a few tools?
Jordan & 2 (00:45:53):
Yes! Please do.
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Okay. So first and foremost is session zero. Definitely a useful tool, no matter what system you’re planning, no matter what game you’re playing, no matter how long you’re playing, even if, it doesn’t have to be a full session, if you’re playing a one-time adventure. 15 minutes at the start of your game, going over some of the guidelines or expectations and setting boundaries worth it every time. If he likes some extra support, especially for if you’re playing a story that can be more emotionally challenging, or more just challenging content across the board, I would suggest the X card. Uh the X card is happily, a well wide spread tool for tabletop role-playing games.
It is very simply a, either a token or a card that is placed on the table that if something occurs and there are a lot of variations of this tool, if something occurs that you need to discuss, pause, walk away from for a moment or redo. Y’all, you can redo things in a TRPG it’s not set in stone. You can just say, whoop, let’s rewind the tapes. Uh, you just put a finger on the card, or you say, “I’m playing the X card.” It’s very important for the person hosting the event to establish the norm of this for the players right off the bat. Because then all you’re saying is, okay, this is a very low stakes way of saying, “We need to redo that.” Or “We need to pause this.” Or “I need a second to just chill out and, recuperate.” Highly recommend that tool.
Yeah. I definitely have a sneaking suspicion that I will probably end up having to do something of that nature at some point in our current campaign.
That is very fair. I have given them as you would say, a toughie.
But like we all are in it. [Laughter] I think we’re all having a good time,
But that sounds like a good lead into one of our next questions, which is. Do you Sean, have a favorite moment from a recent session?
Oh, do I Jordan? [Laughter]
By that sultry little, Sean ASMR moment you just gave us all. I’m going to guess the answer’s, yes?
Pull up a chair, to the tavern table, as I tell you the tale, there’s so many chairs around just grab one.
This whole thing will come- don’t you dare [laguhter].
This foundation cannot hold! [Laughter]
Ah but please, please. Sean, will you paint us, a word picture of this moment, please?
How about I give you the cliff notes and then we can back up and go from there.
Uh, summary, the Noam artificer unwillingly basketball dunking at 200 monkeys in Europe at 60 miles per hour [laughter], and then cradling its dead corpse, and trying in vain to resuscitate it over and over and over again. That’s my top moment of the recent games Jordan!
Thanks for that, Sean! And now moving on to uhh-
Current highlights [laughter]
Worth noting, Jordan heard me screaming in laughter.
Oh yes, I experienced that moment third hand? Um, in my room, minding by a business, just hearing muffled shrieks from Lex’s room.
I muted myself because I was like, this is a monstrosity [laughter].
I saw you go rocketing out of your chair. It was the most I have cried as a dungeon master. In quite some time embodying this broken sad man, whose monkey was just smashed into the earth, at many Newtons of force, and yet laughing at the same time internally.
[Laughter] Can you please skip the details of the story?
Gather around children [laughter].
Thank you, mother golf [laughter].
We are, uh, as, uh, Lex mentioned earlier, my home game alongside the other games that run for carpet DM and other, such with friends is playing uh through “The curse of Strahd.” Uh, one of the modules, not the old Raven loft journey to castle Raven loft to return to castle Raven loft for my, uh, Raven loft heads out there. What up? Um, the fifth edition adventure written by Chris Perkins.
I love you so f****** much. Go ahead.
So, our party has just arrived in one of the hub cities of the Locky, and have received a- what you call, I guess, a side quest to go get a toy from the toy store. How could this possibly go wrong you ask?
Well, to be fair! I didn’t think it would. I didn’t think this could go wrong. I-we didn’t go with them because we assumed they’d be fine.
Going a little bit into your Tamsen voice, just a touch.
Didn’t know we’d welcome- Tampson! welcome to the studio today!
Would you shut up for one second! This man has just had a crisis.
Uh, two of our party members went to the toy store, to gather a toy! Um, made by a, uh a lovely character. [Inaudible] blinsky it’s no fun it’s not Glinsky. Um, who just has a way of making creepy toys. And currently when they met him, he had a pet monkey named Piccolo, who he had dressed in a tiny pink Tutu.
Oh the past tense,
Past tense indeed. Um, while exploring the shop, one of the fun and freaky creepy things that I thought I knew was, I’d put a doll there that was made to look like one of the characters for reasons they have yet to discover. And upon discovering this- [whispering], the gnome. The gnome artificer, Professor Applesauce [laughter], played by a dear friend of ours, who I know is listening, Shea. Was questioning, uh, Blinsky quite severely about the toy, um, and failed an intimidation check quite severely. And so Blinksy [inaudible] Piccolo on him to try to distract the gnome. Upon doing so, Shay asked me how much the monkey weighed. I said, you know, but it’s a little Capuchins between three and four pounds. And he said, Oh, okay, I cast magic stone on the monkey.
Oh no, no. I think what Sean is missing here, is that okay. Having just played a gnome artificer in our last campaign, I knew exactly what Shay was doing here, and I go, “Oh no!” And Shay, didn’t just say, “Okay, thanks!” He just said, “Sean, you just gave me the perfect answer!” In the most maniacal evil voice I’ve ever heard!
And they’re five pounds, I’ve got it.
Yeah, and back to you, sorry. I just needed to like really clarify that, like this was not an innocent act.
I also need to clarify for the definition of magic stone, it can be only cast on pebbles, but I thought this was more fun. Back to the story, as he was about to team rocket punch this monkey through the door, into the sky beyond. The other character in the room with him stuck out their hoof because, they’re a Sator. Uh,
Those are hooves you b****! [Laughter]
Attempting to save the monkey and stop Applesauce’s grim pursuit. However, what this became after they had a contested acrobatics check was that their hoof became a fulcrum PON, which he spun the monkey and dunked it straight into the earth, unwilling and unable to control his actions. As it left his hand and wisdom down into the ground [laughter]
Just space jam, come on and slam dunk this monkey into the floor.
There was a lot of crying. His attempts to cast spare the dying, the monkey had taken enough damage to instantly eject it’s soul from its body. There was no- Piccolo was gone! [laughter].
Death upon impact for sure.
At least you didn’t suffer.
Oh, another good part of the story I think is that the other character hyacinth, uh is played by-
By Shay’s partner [laughter].
Who upon leaving the toy store, and watching Shay attempt and fail to resurrect the monkey after telling Blinkski, “I can fix it.” He started screaming at the top of their lungs four [inaudible].
Assuming that you’re warlock tied to the patron of death, would somehow be able to fix this broken monkey, which you couldn’t know.
Instead, you informed the shopkeeper that the monkey had contracted a terrible plague and is bound to die. Anyway.
Yeah, I’m pretty proud of my- my lies. Wow. Pretty proud of my ability to get at least some of the guards off of Professor Applesauce’s trail and, you know, keep everyone from immediately being evicted from the city. Uh-
So to that plan,
Slam, dunked and retribution. Yeah, no, I can guarantee the first thing Campson will say to Professor Applesauce in this next session is “You owe f***** owe me.”
I do actually have a click interim question about that. Is there, a space jam D and D adventure or tabletop adventure? And we wanna, we wanna be inclusive here.
Now, per the realm space. Laura space jam does exist within uh, the forgotten realms.
I’m sorry, what!
And could be explored through the system spelled-
No, no, no, no. Back up. What?
Oh yeah. Uh, the universe is of a fifth edition. There was universes are in little glass, bubbles that float through a primordial soup. One of those bubbles is the one we’re in. So Elmanstir Omar. The major of the Dale lens is a huge fan of black horse comics I believe?. That you wouldn’t buy in London. It gets wild y’all.
Okay. Okay. Follow up question. When can we play that adventure?
You got any free time this week?
I can make free time this week for space jam Seanathon. That’s incredible? And I would like to play that now, please. Thank you.
Um, can I volunteer to be on the mon stars.
If I hit em high, I hit em high, hit em high. Hit em low, hit em low, hit em low. Hit em high, hit em high, hit em high [laughter]
This has gotta be copy righted!
How many seconds in this audio can we get? [Laughter]
If its under 30, we’re fine.
And also, there’s no way someone can say that I sound like the freaking space jam soundtrack. I’m one person with a head cold.
Great. We’re set then.
Great. Let’s uh, roll em’.
Oh, I should also say you can just make your own space jam adventure. It doesn’t have to be D and D, it doesn’t have to be in Pharaoh and it can be anywhere! Make your own games, have fun.
You can just play pretend.
I think at this point that would just be playing basketball.
Which is to be fair, much more difficult for me than playing Dungeons and dragons.
Yes. That’s hard.
This is true. If playing basketball and being good at basketball, like they are in space jam. I can role play that. I can.
I think if I, if I was tasked with designing a TRPG system to just simulate playing basketball, I would have to really deeply reevaluate where I’m at in my own physical fitness journey.
That does bring us to one more question on our interview list, which is… What are you wanting to do with your DM skills?
You’re so on top of it, I have not looked at this google docs
Somebody has got to have the brain cell this episode. I think it’s most. I was going to say, I think it’s mostly Sean, but I occasionally have my little, he lets me borrow it.
I mean, we have shared custody of the brain cell.
Of the single neuron that we fire back and forth to each other.
Yeah, and then when Sean’s not in the apartment, there are no brain cells.
How to knit and [inaudible]?
There’s no brain cell.
Yeah, we’re all head empty.
Heartful, head empty, ass is big.
[Laughter] But beyond our big asses, you asked me what I would like to do professionally with my career.
Besides, uh, you know, the act of carrying my thick dump truck ass from room to room.
Yeah. Please tell us about your Pixar mom ass.
Uh, I also, like I said-
Please tell us more about that cake.
Oh God. Now I’m being bullied. I’m being- I’m being verbally bullied, mom! Mrs Rawlings come and help please! [Laughter] I brought this on myself.
Mom, they’re being really mean to me in the Blanket Fort, can you come pick me up?
So, Carpe DM!
Yeah, [laughter]. Your- your actual literal business that people pay you money to do.
Correct! Yes, they do that. So I am right now, I am working more so to expand our educational programs. I work with some schools in the Chicago area to develop elementary curriculum, which can range from imaginary, imaginative play, using systems like D and D to game design courses, where we play with a number of tabletop RPG systems, and break them apart, and put them back together in our own, in our own image. I also publish content on the DMs Guild, which is, um, a website, uh, administered by wizards of the coast for people to use their IP content for their publications.
You have a new adventure out there recently, right?
Well I do, I got a little fun and flirty 25 page adventure.
We’ll put a link to that in our episode description-
Oh yeah no.
If y’all want to, we’ll get to the rest of that later. But if y’all do want to check out some of Sean’s work, uh we’ll we’ll direct you to that.
Yeah. Surprise. This whole episode was actually just a long con to plug all of Sean’s work.
This has been just one long dopamine trampoline for me at my friends being very kind. Uh, they’re going to plug a little adventure called “Salt In the Wound,” which I think is a great one right now because it is in the season. It is, it’s got some vibes to it that are spooky ooky.
Spooky as all heck.
And it can be brought into any setting world of your choice. It’s written for the fifth edition of Dungeons and dragons. If you’re looking for other, um, supporting content. I was also a part of a project with Quill n’ Cauldron. When we produced older ones: Guides to the Plains, Akren. A truly massive book that you can order printed, hard copies, soft pack or PDFs. It’s excellent. If you are looking to bring your adventures into the outer planes in the dandy setting, and it’s also just got a massive beast cherry full of tons of creatures, you can put in any game. Plans for DND in the future? I, I do hope to, uh, start a uh, streamed game or a podcast game when time allows. But mostly I just want to continue scheduling games with both friends for fun and, um, expanding to other people. I run games virtually and in person. So if you are, uh, well not so much in person right now.
Um, but if you are looking for a group to play with, reach out, we love putting folks together.
Yeah, and we will definitely put all of the Carpe DM website and social media links and all of that. So that y’all can check all this out and support Sean. Cause A, we love him and B, you should too.
I do want to take a quick aside in regards to salt in the wound and just say-
RIP and BSA, swamp Rocky.
Oh, I forgot to mention this is the adventure where I killed Jordan!
Yeah, we- me and Jordan played this game. Just the two of us with Sean is our DM. And I had a Blast! My character also did not die though.
And Jordan’s character got strangled in a cavern full of spiders.
I would like to believe that you had a blast.
Sean wrote a very nice adventure for us all, and I played a catfish SoundCloud rapper. So I guess I kind of had it coming, but catfish in terms of actual, an actual literal catfish. what’s the race or what’s the-
I believe you were playing a Triton
Who have expanded rule set in the new mythic Odysseys of Pharaoh’s book.
Oh, sick! So cool.
So check that out.
So cool. So, Jordan was a Trekkie. Yeah. So I, and I played a Witcher. That was the Witcher adventure for me. Cause I was like, I want to play a Witcher, and Sean was like, okay.
This does have a lot of Slavic vibes, but it can be, um, retooled in any way you need uh, it’s uh fun time.
Jordan and I did have a really good time with the adventure itself.
Yeah! So can vouch for salt, [inaudible] is a fun game to play.
Yeah. Do we have any other questions we wanted to?
Well, I have questions for you two!
I was like, that’s it for the questions we had written down. I always have questions for Sean.
You can ask em’.
Why are you like this? [Laughter]
Well, you see…
Oh yeah! Um, okay. So yeah, you have questions for us though? That sounds fun.
Yeah! um, well we talked a little bit about strategies that you two have used for yourselves, and this is kind of me trying to get advice for myself and my company and also for all of the other, uh, game masters who might be running their games and listening to this and thinking, “Oh hey, this is cool, useful information.” What advice would you give to a new game master who is welcoming neurodivergent folks to their game for the first time?
One thing that you do, uh, and that I think other people should be more willing to do, is you actually give written summaries at the end of each session. And they’re not- It’s just like bullet points, basically visual written things to look at, and be able to rely on, which has been really helpful for me.
If your table doesn’t use discord, another great alternative is a Google Drive that you share their special- they’re specialized tools for this like world envelope, where you make a Wiki for your players.
But I find that for ease of use and lightweight tools, discord works great.
I will find some links to pop in our episode description or share on our Twitter, but in terms of more practical things, I know that there are some resources online. As far as character sheets that are more easily readable for folks who are low vision, or who have learning disabilities and have a hard time visually uh tracking some of that stuff. I know, one of the other players from the campaign that I was in, I was very impressively highlighted their sheet, and I was very impressed by that, and that was a great tool. Um, but there are people who have kind of done that for you online. So that’s a good tool to have to offer to players.
I mean, a lot of things, Sean, you’ve already touched on.
So. it’s kinda hard. Cause you’re like, “What are some, what’s some advice you have for me?” And I’m like, “I don’t have any because you’ve been great.” But also, I am coming from a strictly ADHD combined type perspective, so I- yeah. Like we can say like generally having something written, you know, like how you would have a transcript for an audio medium is really good for our accessibility. And I think just, well, how you’ve talked about being patient with people and giving them time to think, giving them time to add up the math, um, answering questions when they’re asked and not.
Oh yeah, I will. I’ll double down on that one as well. Don’t harsh on people for not knowing all of the rules.
There are so many.
There can be a lot, particularly spouse. Yeah. Just to be patient with folks. And if you’re the GM, it helps to know the rules inside and out. So you can quickly slide in information.
Another thing that you’ve done a few times, uh, or that you’ve been very open to doing with me in particular, is when I’ve had some instances of like emotional bleed or leaving a session feeling, not quite okay about whatever’s happening. Just you being super open to talking about that, one-on-one. That’s been really huge for me in the past. And then, I think other times where if we’ve had like a heavier session where you’ve just been like, so how’s everyone feeling after that, and kind of making space for that. Like, everyone it’s okay to reflect on your feelings. And I am also like we’re here to support and listen to one another and all of that. So, I think, you’ve already talked about setting that sort of environment and tone, but I guess I would just like reiterate that and highlight it. It’s been really helpful, especially in the like emotional dysregulation and RSD environment.
Yeah, I would absolutely second that, and I will also say if anyone is listening to this later and they have questions. Please feel free and send them to us, and we will find you some answers.
Yeah. If you’re looking to get in touch with me in particular for, um- Also! if you have any tips for how to better support neurodivergent people at the game table, you can reach out to, I assume Jordan and Lex would love to get those emails, but you can also reach out to me via my website, we have a contact forum.
Okay, and that will all be available on our sosh meeds, so people can get ahold of us all. It’s never going to die.
You haven’t stopped her yet?
No, there’s no way to stop her.
That was horrifying, and when did you become a child in a haunted house? [Laughter]
Well, we can’t have haunted houses this year, so somebody has got to do it.
Okay, this is coming from someone who’s like, “No, I don’t like haunted houses, no thank you.”
Well, I don’t like other people trying to scare me.
Don’t dish it. If you can’t take it,
We all have our place in this world.
That’s not how that works at all, but okay. [Laughter]
Some of us are the hunters and some of us are the hunted Alexa.
I- Im like, I love being feared, and I love to scare people.
Oh! I think, even just verbally being like, “Hey, if you’re neurodivergent, this is still a community that you can be a part of.” And I am someone who wants to be able to facilitate that. I think that’s a huge thing as a GM of just openly being like, Hey, if you’re MD like, let me know what I can do to, you know, make this more applicable and tailored to you and everyone else at the table and everything. But also like, just know that like, I’m cool, right? Like just know that like-
I’m not a narc! [Laughter]
Yeah no, like just kinda like, I don’t know.
It helps for the person who is organizing the event to be the one who opens that conversation, because some folks might not feel comfortable advocating for themselves that openly. So just normalize it as much as you can, make it a part of the conversation, have a conversation.
Absolutely, and everyone’s needs are so different. I mean, even between Lex and I, even between anybody who was any mixture of flavors on whatever spectrum you’re on. Letting it be an open conversation rather than just here’s the list of things you need to have. Is I think, and I have experienced a very fruitful way of making that an accepting space.
Lex & 3 (01:06:46):
Ya! Ya! Ya!
Well, that’s all the questions. Did you have-
Oh yeah. I’ve got more questions for you.
Oh! It’s a whole list.
First up, uh who’s hotter, Strat or Asmodeus?
I mean, you already know my answer.
Sean (01:06: 59):
Jordan can contribute, I don’t believe.
Yeah no, I have no idea who you’re talking about [laughter]
Yeah so, this was in the last campaign I did with you.
Lord of the nine Hells, Prince of darkness, Old Hoof and horn, The cloven one. [inaudible].
Yeah. Um, didn’t actually get to meet him in the campaign. I think in hindsight, Sibyl probably would have been like, “Hello, okay.” Uh, but also Sibyl was like, ready to commit war crimes if it meant saving her dad. So like, you know,
I respect that.
Well, she’d already committed several war crimes. She personally violated the Geneva convention.
Poor Sibyl, poor sweet little gnome.
Might’ve released the recipe for a nerve toxin gas, to a mercenary organization.
Yep, may or may not have unleashed a plague on the forgotten Reynolds.
But hotter, not Strahd [inaudible].
I know that I’m wrong, but Strahd…
Here’s the thing I’ve heard a lot of- I’ve heard a lot of good things about Strahd, I’ve gotten the vibes.
Probably also heard a lot of bad things about Strahd. Cause he’s a horrible dude.
Oh yeah, but the other guy was just introduced to me as Lord of the Seven Hells the-
Nine hells- Oh nine hells, excuse me. Um, however, I think just in terms of who I would want to meet more, the potential to just be the most irritating person in the world and saying Rockne Asmodeus to choice [laughter]. So I would have to go that route.
I think you’d dig it.
That’s fair. Yeah, I do think I’m biased because we are in the curse of Strahd right now, and Sean has done a horrific job of making Straud like this- an awful dude, who’s done awful, awful nonconsensual things to people. It’s I mean, it’s a vampire story, right? Like that’s kind of a thing.
Somatically with vampires is the nonconsensual- everything.
The violence, which again session zero! Bring up if you got any vampire plots going along. That’s a big one to cover.
Yeah, and I know I’m not the only person in our current campaign group who thinks this, but Sean has done a horrible job because he’s made Straud like-
Way too hot.
Sean, can you just like use your Strahd voice for a second? Just so like, everyone else can get the horrible ASMR of like. I hate that I’m like mildly attracted to this dude right now. This horrible dude.
Let’s see what I can do, ah. [Laughter].
Can you- Oh do “Step on me Tatianna.”
[inaudible]. You want that one? [Laughter]
[Laughter] Just- in the group chat just oh do “Step on me Tatianna”.
Welcome home, Tatianna [inaudible], [laughter]. Please, step on me [laughter].
Um, ohh. Yeah, so I know I’m not the only person- I won’t call this, anyone else out by name on this, but I know I’m not the only one who’s been like.
I think the quote was “I simp for Strahd?”
I hate it here.
Yeah, no, I think there was also like, I know Strahd is the uh, big, bad end guy, but I would let him big, bad end me if you know what I mean. And then I was like, Oh, so I’m not the only one who was like, my character is supposed to hate this dude so much, but I’m sitting here like Marina, isn’t Marina and the diamonds like, Hey, like, Oh, say I, for me, it’s probably strong. But also I do get the whole, like, you know, Lord of the nine Hells. Like, that’s powerful, that’s real estate. That’s an incredible, it’s free real estate. [Laughter]
Its free real estate! There was Oh, there was also the voice of Black Racer who I thought was particulary tasty.
Oh! Yeah, the interesting sexual tension that you had created between you and Bradley with those two characters of Nuffle and Black Racer. It’s very interesting for everyone else. I think
Giving your uh, players, intelligent items can be real fun and a little horny. So pursue at your own risk
That might’ve just been you and Bradley’s friendship
Kind of facilitating that. But you speaking like Daniel Craig in knives out to Bradley,.
Is that what did it?
You don’t-, you don’t want a sword with a deep Georgian accent? [Laughter]
I mean, that was- what?
Were you about to say something there Bud?
I don’t know what you’re talking about [laughter]
Help me, um, okay. Do you have any other questions?
Top five pets for your D and D party to adopt? Go!
Stoe! Number one is Stoe.
A Henchman from the Big Bad. We’ve just- your ours now.
Two. Oh yes. I’m counting.
Let’s see, uh, uh, just like a bear, a big bear.
Full sized bear, Three.
Any talking weapon.
Any talking weapon, four.
Lancelot, the dog fight.
There you go.
We did it folks. That’s your top tier list. Don’t forget to- smack that bel,l like and subscribe for more content.
All right. I think that’s enough of the question and answers.
We’ve only been recording for two hours. Do you think we have enough content?
But, um, I was wondering if you would want to maybe like hop onto a spooky, little dopamine trampoline with us?
Ooh, can we do the thing where like one person bounces the other person higher and higher, to rocket launch them into the sky?
Yes. Did you ever play crack the egg?
Oh, of course I did.
Thank you. Thank you. I- I had like some moments of like, was that just a game that me and my siblings and cousins, and friends just sort of made up, but no. I’m pretty sure universally children are monsters and anything they can do to harm one another and themselves, they will do.
I just didn’t know it was called that.
Would you feel good about getting rocket launched into the sky, off of a dopamine trampoline?
Send me away! My great escape.
Okay, all right. Sure. Come sail away. Come sail away. Come sail away with us. What’s your dopamine train this week?
Oh, I go first!
You’re our guest! [Laughter] Okay, that is Strange.
The hive mind is-
Yeah, beauty and the beast moment there. Not loving that for us [laughter]
So, my dopamine trampoline for you two this week is, uh, for, since there’s two of you, two party games. Like a lot of folks who have been self-isolating in their homes, or with their work. I have been mostly staying in touch with people digitally over platforms like discord and zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook, FaceTime, whatever you need, and playing games or watching movies with those folks is a great time. Um, there was a certain kind of zone in group gaming that I think was filled by the Jackbox party pack for a great deal of time. From those fine folks, and for this season, however, there are two new contenders that have- There’s a good chance that everyone has heard of these two things, but I want to plug them anyway because they’re great. The first game is among us, which is from the team at Inner Sloth, which is just three folks. They were previously known for their Henry Stickman collection. If you wanted to go back to your flash game days back in the early 2000s. Do either of you know what “Among Us” is?
I have seen so much about it and still have no idea what it really is. Other than people have been like it’s mafia, but online
It’s a space game!
I was about to say it’s like mafia or werewolf, but in space! Uh, the basic premise is you have a group of people.
People are “sus”, right? That’s the game where people are sus.
Well calling out that someone “sus” is making you pretty sus right now Jordan.
Ah! Just- I’m just trying-
I’m going to hit the button.
I’m just trying-
Open the airlock!
What’s with the lingo!
See, okay. Here’s the, here’s the thing,
Please, please do tell us about among us. Let’s get, get, get that little synopsis out there.
Yeah. A group of folks, a number of folks within that group are imposters. Their goal is to kill everybody before the team finishes all their tasks. If you’re a crew member, you have a set of tasks, which are like Mario party ask really basic mini games, like hitting the numbers one through 10 in order on a keypad. Um, or like the- the most challenging thing you’re going to get is a “Simon Says”, and you’re walking around the ship, completing these tasks while someone is trying to murder you all. If you finish all your tasks before everyone dies, the crewmates win. If everyone dies before the tasks are finished, the imposters win. If you encounter a body, then you can call a team meeting to be like, “Hey, what’s up, George is dead in electrical, I think it was Jordan.” And you can all discuss who to communally murder by throwing them out the airlock.
This is how you can get rid of imposters.
Normally people play this by keeping their voice chat off during the game and only turning it on during the meetings. That way you can’t betray what’s going on, and of course the impostors can also hit the report button. So, it is a very simple, very fun, very quick game.
Which has some spooky murder on the ship vibes. Wh, do monitor with your friend group to make sure no one’s getting too salty though. Uh, this is one of those games like, Werewolf or Mafia that you want to take in small doses.
Mhmm, yeah. I was the young life leader for uh, a weirdly long amount of time for those of you who know me in real life. So I can second that, one time me and my brother, also a young life leader in youth pastor sort of figure for a while. Uh, we have both tried to play mafia with our family or extended family at family parties. No one else had fun, [laughter] except for me and my brother, I think. So, I second that, that this is not everyone’s cup of tea.
And the second thing that I think might be if you’re okay with getting a little haunted is the game Phasmophobia by Kinetic Games. This is a newer one, have either of you heard of this game?
Is this the frog one?
Jordan & 3 (01:16:07):
Is this the frog one?
What? Frog game?
I don’t know. I thought I saw something about amphibians in games.
This game is a simulation of uh, essentially a genre of TV shows that I have not partaken in, which is the ghost hunting TV show.
Where you have a crew of people go into a haunted location and attempt to contact and identify the spirit that resides there in. Tt is a game designed for VR in case you really want to s*** your pants [laughter].
Wait, is it a serious game?
So, you are on a team. Normally this team is limited to four people at the most. Though, there is a community mode that can raise that up to eight. Uh, you have a set of supplies that you can add to, by buying more materials and throwing them in the pot. You know, flashlights, EMF sensors, motion detectors, video cameras, pictures, salt, Sage, crucifixes, ghost writing books, UV lights, whatever you might need to locate the signs of the spirit. You choose a location to go to, you infiltrate, and you begin. You have five minutes to try to set up your site, before the ghost can become active and start hunting you. Um there you have a journal in the game with a bunch of different types of ghosties, everything from Phantoms to URIs, to Onies, to Specters, et cetera. And they each have three different symptoms? I guess, signs of their haunting. So you might say this thing shows itself by having a ghost orb, writing in ghost books, and causing freezing temperatures. And so, you are using all of your tools as a team, to try to identify which of those boxes it ticks. To learn what kind of ghost it is, in time before it kills you all. Additionally-
Okay, in our reactions, I think, I think the energy that Sean is getting from each of us separately is just a wild combo.
It’s baffling. I am thrown between the poles, uhm.
I’m- for context, Jordan is horrified, and I’m staring at Sean like wrapped with attention and like, I’m ready. I’m like, I wanna play this now please!
Let me make this worse for you Jordan.
It uses local in-game voice chat.
So it’s directional. You can also, when you’re in the mission with your friends, you can talk on a radio. Um, but you can you talk in person and the ghost hears you, and responds to it’s the name.
So you attempt to antagonize the spirit into showing itself by calling out to it and asking it questions,
F*** you goat man!
Demons [laughter]. I hate that! I hate that we both just went full like f*** you Goat man! Demon-Demon.
Oh this is how most people play the game.
Hey Demons! It’s me! Your boy!
I was like that I can get with I- when you said this, I immediately- there was no space in my brain to take, ghosts hunting shows seriously. So I was like, is this like a ghost hunting joke? And I was about ready to be a complete total shit head in it. So I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in that.
Oh yeah, oh yeah, no. You have to for your own sanity. Um, because this is not like a jump scary game. The way that the horror manifests itself is in little things. Like, when you close a door, it just opens up a little bit again. Or, as you’re walking down a hallway, the light flickers, and for a moment, there’s the outline of a child. And then when the flicker ends, it’s gone on.
No thank you, no thank you.
These signs of the haunting get more severe, the longer you take and the more you antagonize the spirit. So, this is, I would say…a great fall game for your crew!
I’m so ready! [Laughter].
See, for context, I was the person who did go to haunted houses, but, was the person walking around yelling “No thank you!”at actors like coming towards me, so.
I do not consent! Please no,!
You’re doing great! Please do not touch me.
Well, I should say this game is an early access, it’s not a completed title. I think it’s made by just a couple of people. This Kinetic Games, I’m not super familiar with their structure. So some of the assets are a little goofy. It’s not like a fully, like a really high production value game. Both of these are from small teams. Uh, so be prepared for some wackiness, especially in VR. When you see someone’s arms move, they are, a different brand of horror.
Interesting. Interesting. we love some good body horror.
Do we? Do we?
Fabulous! I do.
Well that’s mine! What do you guys have for us this week?
Do you I go? Or do you want to go?
Hey, you should go.
All right, I’m gonna go, and I’m going to take us all to.. world war one.
Will we come back?
We’re going way way back.
Not world war one, world war one is not my dopamine trampoline. It does not bring me joy.
I was gonna say, when did you turn into a teenage white boy? [Laughter]
But something may that may have existed before, but was first documented in world war one was my spooky dopamine trampoline that has been a long lasting hyper fixation in my life, and that is.. “Number Stations.” Sean looks so tired, Sean look so tired!
I knew what I signed up for.
I- you did! You’re still here, but it’s been how many years at this point?
Oh God, the passage of time, the true spookiest dopamine trampoline [laughter].
The unending journey into the abyss!
Well, like 14 years now?
Something like that, yeah.
Good gravy, and you’re still here! So, number stations. Alexa, are you familiar with this? I know Sean. I’ve talked your ear off about this.
Uh yeah! I am also friends with you.
Yeah, all right. That was my dopamine trampoline! [Laughter]
Please! Please! Uh- uh- I- I need a refresher, as I’m sure our listeners do as well.
Who haven’t turned the podcast off yet. So, “Number Stations” are a very neat, very spooky, very real phenomenon of largely short wave radio stations that are intercepted and they do pretty much what they sound like on the tin. You tune in, and it is numbers. It’s not music, it’s not talk radio. Used to be when they first sort of hit the airwaves and were recorded human voices just reading off strings of numbers. Now, they are largely digital voices, or transmitting information through phase shift or frequency shift keying, which is a way of transmitting data over radio. So you don’t hear people’s voices anymore, but that makes it creepier, in my opinion, is just the robot voice going seven, nine, two, three, five, like-
The cold uncaring heart of a machine
Yes! And the weird sort of glitchy low-fi like, they’re just- they’re, they’re weird to listen to, and they’re even weirder when you get the context of them. Which is, it’s just straight up espionage, like countries have confirmed that at this point, because we heard them, and part of the mystery, and the mystique , and the reason that the organizations that exist.
Hold on, Pause. I just really want to say that I loved the way you said the word “mystery”.
Miss Theory! Welcome to the podcast!
It was so! This is not- this is not a drag on you at all. This was, it was just so delightful.
It was very sincere.
Well, there’s your dopamine trampoline for this week, I guess!
Uh, you’re so, so welcome. Anyways, some of the organizations that have cropped up to investigate, and document these number stations that happened in our intercepted around the world. This is not just an American thing, or a World War One Countries European thing. This is all over the world. Um… I forgot where I was going with that. You threw me off by making fun of me.
I didn’t- I wasn’t- I very clearly stated I was not making fun of you! I just like the way you say things.
[Laughter] Oh God, where was I?
The organizations that crop up around.
Oh Yes! So, people were, of course originally fascinated by just like what is going on here, and started cataloging these things. Um, there’s a Conant project, which is probably the most well-known one. Um, there is a Enigma which was the European numbers investigation, the rest of the acronym… bu-da da da da, they shut down, and now as a Enigma-2000? Um, who runs the database that-
What a powerful reboot! Enigma- 2000 wins their album dropping.
I know, you know they all have like Justin Timberlake Ramen hair too.
Oh God, with like a green visor, slightly tilted to the side?
And upside down.
Lex and 3 (01:24:31):
Um, but their favorite movie is American Pie. [Laughter]
Oh! You’re making it, you’re making it worse, Lex! You’re making it worse!
That’s what I’m here for.
Uh, but the enigma project is responsible for the official name list of recorded number stations that other communities used to refer to them. A lot of number stations have like colloquial names. One of the most popular ones is The Lincolnshire Poacher, which it was originally broadcasting out of Bletchley Park in the fifties. But then I believe in the seventies, was re triangulated to a royal Air Force base in Cyprus? And it’s called the Lincolnshire Poacher because it plays the very, very freaky first couple bars of the folk song, The Lincolnshire Poacher on like bells before each broadcast, because each number of station’s broadcast is sort of set up in three parts. You have the opener, which is the sound in this case, the Lincolnshire Poacher, there was a famous one out of Cuba that just said “Atencion! Atencion!” Uh, that’s where the colloquial names come from.
But you have the beginning, whatever unique sound signifies, the start of the broadcast, you will usually have a bit of contextual coded information that usually includes like who this broadcast is meant for what code is going to be used to decipher it. Uh, and then how many sets of numbers there will be, and then you actually have the numbers of the numbers station.
Can I just- for clarification
Number stations are stations on the radio that list off numbers, and for a while, people didn’t know what they were.
And it turns out that they’re actually coded.
And it’s actually espionage.
So cool, sorry. You just, like, there was no statement of like what they actually are.
That’s super fair.
So I just wanted to like, make sure I had that correct.
You do have that correct.
I do imagine it must’ve been a lot more unsettling before we knew that they were espionage, right?
I mean, yes and no, because I- it’s been the theory for a very long time. It wasn’t until, I’d say the nineties, if not early two thousands, that documents from, uh, Swedish intelligence and the Czech Republic came out.
Well, luckily I do remember the nineties.
We got two nineties kids, three nineties kids!
We sure do! We’re all-
What am I?
Nineties kids all the way down!
Um, some intelligence documents were declassified, that confirmed that they were using those. Some pretty high profile espionage trials have also cited the people who were on trial using number stations, like the “Cuban Five”. Uh, there’s a Russian couple in like 2013 that was using this technology. Uh, that was arrested in Germany and Anna Montez who was arrested, she was a very high-level analyst in the-I’m blanking on what department she was in, but in the government where she shouldn’t have been, um, was arrested for espionage and trialed and convicted in 2001. Uh, so this is still a thing that’s in use , and a fair amount of them have stopped broadcasting that people have been keeping track of since the advent of internet and cell phone availability. But, the thing about radio that you just can’t beat is it’s anonymous. You can kind of triangulate where a signal is, but with the right equipment at the right time, you can broadcast shore wave signals around the world. So even if they can triangulate you, you know, if you’re a spy in Croatia or something, and you send a signal out ,or you’re a handler, I should say-
Oh, you’re just really putting my people on blast. Huh?
You were sitting right here, I was just trying to think of a country. Sorry. If you’re a- if you’re a handler in Estonia, or something.
You can send a signal to your person in the field. You’re still in Estonia! You’re safe. No one can really do anything about that, and this signals going around the world so nobody can track it to a specific person. It’s just out there to listen to, to whoever, and they’re largely encoded with one-time pads. Which if used correctly and destroyed after use are uncrackable.
Would you consider your podcast supply network to also be broadcasting you worldwide from a secure location? Are you encoding these podcasts?
Red number five! Red number five! Delta! Delta! Red number five!
So, we’re not responsible for whatever that just triggered. I’m also not sure if I would call this blanket fort a secure location, but! Yeah, so these are still in use today, which is wild. There was an article that came out in the UK in 1998, um where they actually interviewed somebody from the department of trade and industry, who at that time was in charge of radio laws. Um, and this was like one of my favorite and most blahzay quotes ever. Someone asked like, you know, like, “What are these number stations? what’s going on?” And they just say, these are what you suppose they are. People shouldn’t be mystified by them. They are not for, shall we say, public consumption? So there you go.
That’s a big old spoonful of nothing! [Laughter].
It’s the- we can neither confirm nor deny of radio broadcasting. So there, the history of them is fascinating. There’s a lot of clips online where you can listen to them. My favorite ones are the ones where you can like hear that there’s clearly just like a computer speaker in front of a microphone, and you can hear what else is going on in the room. Like the radio operator playing computer games or something [laughter]. There’s a station out of Russia that they’re theorizing as part of their Southern Military district. That’s commonly called [inaudible]. I believe it’s E… one… 25 on the enigma list? But they just like, they’re having a good time over there. Those ones are really fun when you can kind of hear what’s going on in the background a little bit, of what people are doing. So I love those. I love listening to all the weird things that people broadcast on them. And two things. I love that so many of them still exist on radio, despite all of the technological advancements of today. I think that there’s something that’s really, kind of charming in a way about the fact that that technology has persisted and still remains sort of steadfast and useful for what it’s made for. But there are modern day numbers stations.
How do… How do?
So there’s a, there’s some on YouTube. Where it’s just, uh, an anonymous account that’s uploading clips of numbers, which is terrifying.
And… YouTube is fine with posting the, it doesn’t screen for these? It doesn’t.
Oh no, they’re- No. Not at all, I don’t think YouTube has cared in a very long time.
Well, yeah. Espionage, fine. Human bodies? How dare we. There’s also Twitter number stations, and there’s a couple Twitter accounts that just every single day repeat and post strings of what appear to be nonsense numbers.
What’s their- what’s their retweet count look like what’s their follower count like?
Well, I, I think most of them don’t follow anybody? But-
It would be bit of a giveaway, right? If it’s just like, Steve in the Department of Defense follows three of these number stations! [Laughter]
Well, I don’t think that anybody who is, you know, in high level espionage has the time to like follow for follow.
Trying to grow a brand, grow followers.
Well, no, they have plenty of followers, cause you have weirdos like me who were like, what? “This is spooky, and I love it!” Yeah. So that’s my, a super nerdy, slightly spooky dopamine trampoline as I love number stations. Lex? What do you got for us?
Oh boy. Well, uh, cause we decided to do spooky stuff. I decided to just talk about some of the things that have happened to people I know, and also to me as a child. Um, whether you believe in a supernatural or preternatural thing or not. Uh, some weird things have happened to me, and I just figured I would share some of it cause I, to this day still like looking into stuff, and kind of trying to keep tabs on whatever’s happening in the area that I grew up in, in Southwest Michigan. So this is going to be kind of all over the place. Cause it’s just like a, bunch of random anecdotes.
So, I’m going to try and make this like pretty quick, but uh, let’s see. Uh, I- we lived next door to someone who was a practicing Wiccan. Which in a conservative, rural area, people were like [gasp] “Witchcraft!”
Um, she’s pretty cool. I would hang out at her house a lot. She was, uh, an older lady and she was like a teacher and, she had a nephew or grandson or something who would come over sometimes. So I would hang out with him, and she had a dog that I would play with.
Um, a little, a little chocolate lab.
Her name was Coco maybe? But apparently like, some of her mail got sent to one of our neighbor’s houses instead on accident, and it was like pamphlet/ information type things relating to WCA. And then apparently, they had had gatherings.
Indoors and outdoors at their house, that really seemed to freak some of the neighbors out. So my mom told all of this to me as an adult when I was like, I really miss that um neighbor, who I’m not going to name drop because that’s-
So I didn’t know any of this was happening as a kid, uh but I’ve heard stories from adults, after telling stories to adults in my life, uh, what-ha- like what I experienced as a child. Um, which one should I tell y’all first? Uh, the things my parents and other adults in my life have told me? Or the things that I experienced?
I wanna hear the things you experienced, cause then I feel like the either context, or contrast of adults will be interesting.
Okay, yeah, that makes sense. I, uh- I played outside a lot as a kid. I think I’ve mentioned that before. We had like about an acre, acre and a half maybe of land. So not a lot, but we were in a neighborhood surrounded by cornfields and cattle pastures and you know, what have you, and the woods behind our property butted up against a corn field.
And I never went into the field. I always got a little scared of it, just because it was too open for me, but I would play in the woods all the time, and there were like Onion Hills, and a lot of different felled trees to climb on, and a lot of different trees to climb into, and up, and lots of Moss to play in, and I had a grand ol’ time. Uh, as a kid,I would build like houses for the elves is what me and my friend would say. Um, when asked, we would build houses out of like bark and twigs and twine. And what have you on like these different little onion and Moss Hills?
So, wait, you were a landlord, you were a renter?
No, I was just a construction.
I was a construction worker, I think would be more accurate.
Tool of the [inaudible].
Sure. I spent a lot of time in the woods with friends, but also by myself, uh, there was a tree near the edge of the woods that had a large sort of, uh, like I think it was like maybe two or three trees that had kind of grown together. So, it had like a little alcove.
Oh, that’s fine. That’s a place that completely normal things happen.
Me and my friend Kelly would go and like sit in the tree. Right? Cause it, you were like in a little sheltered room almost.
Oh yeah! My friend Kristen had a tree like that.
Yeah! So we would go sit in that tree and hang out. And then when I was maybe in like middle school or high school, cause this was all happening when I was like five or six. I remember going back into the woods, and to this day. Cause I think the last time I checked was in college before my parents moved from this home, to this day, there is no tree that has, uh, that opening like that.
Yeah. So yeah, no and it’s a small area of woods! Like the woods itself that butts up against this acre of land is probably only about two acres itself.
Are you perhaps changeling, sent from the Fay?
So there’s that. Uh, another thing that happened to me often in the woods, cause I would play out there alone and with friends. Is, there was often a large black dog- thing that would be usually up on like the Onion Hills um.
Hold up! This is straight like, Irish mythology you’re dropping here Lex.
I know this, I know this. I’m just telling you what-
And you’ve lived this.
I’m just only what I,as a child experienced. Uh, and I don’t know if any of this stuff is real, or not real, you know, that’s for other people to figure out and decide. I just know… that my little kid brain experienced these things, and shaped me, and formed me as a person as a result I think. Um, so there’s like this large black dog thing and it’s worth noting that there was a like big black German shepherd type dog in the neighborhood. It was not this dog. I want to clarify that like I recognized it was not that dog, and it was also not Coco, the chocolate lab.
Um, and the reason I gave the context of this woman who lived next door is because the woods that butted up against our yard, they were all a part of her property.
And so, there’s that. Maybe a coincidence? maybe not. I don’t know, but there was always this big black spectral type of- not spectral, like it looked very solid. I never touched it, never did- like it never bothered me. I never, tried to interact with it. I just remember I would be playing in the woods and there would just be a dog watching me from the Onion Hills. Um, I remember at one point I had a friend over from school, and I had gone back towards the house. Um, like I was, I think we maybe were like racing back to the door. Cause it was like snack time- I don’t know, we were going to have snacks and like watch TV. Cause you know.
As you do.
And I remember, she came like tearing after me a few seconds after I had started running and was like screaming and crying about some large black, cat, animal, jaguar looking thing.
Like she was very freaked out, and my mom doesn’t remember any of this, so that’s fun. Uh, and then across the street there was a family and I had mentioned my friend Kelly and she and I would play. Uh, it was her grandparents’ house, and she and her family were living there while her parents built their own house like in the town over. So she and I were only neighbors for a few years, but it was very fun. And she became like my BFF at the time, and we played, pretend together a lot and explore the woods, rode bikes, all the fun things you do with your friends when you’re a child in a rural area. And we also would play in her grandparents’ basement and uh, the rest of the house that was apparently quite haunted. I remember sitting in the- in a broom cupboard sort of like a cupboard under the stairs, in the basement.
Yeah! Like Kelly was like, “Let’s go hang out in this room, and talk to the man with the glowing eyes.” And I was like, “What?” She’s like, “Yeah, let’s go talk to this guy with glowing eyes.” And I was like, “Okay.” Cause I was, you know, like six, and so we go and we sit in the closet and she turns the light off. And I remember, we sat and talked with a guy who had like red, glowing eyes.
I don’t, yeah. I, I wasn’t particularly freaked? [Laughter] because Kelly wasn’t freaked and he seemed fine, like he was chilling I don’t-
You’ve heard all of this!
Yeah I know-
But its just never, okay, cool.
Its still very upsetting to hear that you just had a chat in the closet with someone from the shadow realm.
I guess. Yeah, again. I don’t know if this was like just my brain’s was very active imagination or like, what have you- I don’t know. My more religious friends and family are of the opinion that I was encountering a lot of evil. Uh, which that claim is pretty heavily backed up by the fact that there is also a- a death cult that was reported to live in the area where I grew up/
Give it to me again, what?
There was reportedly like a death cult. I don’t want to like, diss anybody’s religious beliefs or otherwise. Uh, so I just, I don’t want that to like, be a thing that y’all are experiencing from this. Uh, cause that’s not what I am meaning at all. Just this is what they were described as, and this is all like secondhand things. Now, that I’ve heard from my mom who has been told all of these things by her friend who was born into this cult. Um, and it was-
Oh woah, okay.
So here’s the thing, I’ve like tried to find this out and research this, like criminal records. There’s no evidence of this that I can find. Which is deeply unsettling because I definitely don’t know what- I don’t know, I don’t know! Uh, the people who are more religious and my family and friends from back home attribute a lot of the things that I experienced as a child to the, uh, evil things that had been done in our actual regional area. Uh, another thing about my town is that there’s a cemetery that I went to and took like pictures at, with my friend in high school, cause-
Jordan and 3 (01:41:29):
For like the, yeah, it’s- yup! I have no defense for that. Um, but I do remember my friend and I were the only ones in the cemetery, the day that we went, and I had boots with like pretty heavy- hefty traction on them. Cause it was a slightly rainy day. It was like early winter, which is perfect for cemetery pics-
But all that to say, the ground was slippery, but not that slippery, and I also had like the kind of country boots to not slip and fall and worth noting. I was an outdoor kid who like showed cattle in four H and rode horses. So I’m not particularly prone to falling, despite the everything about me. I think people assume that I might be clumsy, but I’m not. I don’t fall very often.
Um, the, all that to say, I fell down three different times that day. And each time I felt as if I had been pushed, while my friend was several yards away from me.
Oh! That’s fun.
You got a fun, prankster ghost!
Yeah, and the cemetery, uh- I’m not going to give the name of it. Cause like I, I’m gonna, I asked my mom about some of these things, and she very specifically told me to not encourage anybody listening to this podcast to seek out any of these places, or to seek out any of this information, uh, or to engage in any sort of a cult things, et cetera, and that is per my mom’s wishes. I do want to just add that clarification, but again, for myself. I don’t want to tell anyone what to do or what not to do, but I also don’t want to like violate the privacy of people in places where I grew up. So there is a cemetery that is ranked in the top 10, most haunted cemeteries in Michigan.
And it was at that cemetery. Uh, I know that I have friends and family who also grew up in the area who would go to the top of the Hill in the cemetery, and like play with Ouija boards, and have some weird experiences with that. Supposedly, several years ago there were lots of rumors about human sacrifice and animal sacrifice were things that happened in the cemetery, but that’s all a lot of hearsay. And I- I can’t find any evidence for that. Um, I know that public records in small towns don’t usually make it onto the internet. So, it’s something that I would probably have to go research in person if I wanted to really get down to the bottom of water of these things.
Right? Yeah, so It’s just- it’s very, very interesting and was very informative for me. And, um, I don’t know a lot of things that maybe, I’m superstitious, but if living somewhere where I’m not on the third floor of an apartment building, um, as soon as the sun goes down, I will always close all of the blinds and all of the curtains. Cause you don’t want people to be able to see in, and that’s something that I learned from my mom. Uh, I have never, ever, ever played with a Ouija board, and I never intend to mostly because for me personally, whether anything is real or not, I am not going to say, but just in case it is real. I’m not gonna f*** with that.
But I will say it’s just been a fascination. Uh, ever since I was probably, probably in college when I realized this wasn’t normal [laughter] these weren’t normal things to experience as a child. And when I finally talked to my mom about some of this stuff, I was like, “Hey, remember when this happened? Or like days, “So whatever happened to the XYZ person”. or like what? And my mom was like, rightly so, I think horrified by the things that I was telling her. But I thought I’d just kind of share some of those things, because what’s a spooky podcast episode without a little bit with some ghost stories.
Well, thanks for that Lex, that was terrifying.
You’ve heard all of these things before.
I know! But they’re still terrifying.
Like you’ve been to these places.
Yes! I know, and they’re still terrifying.
Yeah, that’s fair.
I will say, though, for the record, if I ever die, I don’t particularly want a gravestone? I’d rather do the thing where they like cremate me and then like put it in like a seed pod and it grows a tree and it’s nice and you, back to the earth.
But if I do have a gravestone, I’m super okay with kids taking pictures on it. Like I respect the aesthetic. Everyone has their goth phase-
Mary Shelley, just, old Mary Shelley.
Okay, don’t [inaudible] please?
That’s, um, that is more, [inaudible] actual nonsense that I need in my life, and it is sure more than I need in my death. But if you want to like, get a new- hopefully Facebook doesn’t exist at that point. But like, if you want to take some sick pics, like pop that squawk at your senior photos, so everybody knows how real you are on a yearbook.
Oh yeah, no. I mean-
I consent to that, after my death. Like as long as you put in the work to the aesthetic, I will be there for you.
I think I will make a point to find some of those pictures so that we can post them on our social media.
Uh, they definitely were edited on the MySpace photo editor.
Incredible [laughter] and speaking of Facebook and death. I think the scariest thing I’ve seen recently are those video ads for post-mortem like Facebook preservation.
Where they’re like, “What are you going to do? Who’s going to run your account for your followers after you die and perish you mortal being?”
Quick question though, is that better or worse than Facebook dating?
Uh, I forgot Facebook dating existed.
I’m trying to, but I keep getting notifications, although I will see it does soothe my soul a little bit, that every single time I see it. Cause it’s like, there’s so many singles in your area. Like the number gets smaller and smaller.
I, um, nice. Uh, I set my Facebook status to “in a relationship” because A, I am in a relationship, but my partner is not on Facebook. So I didn’t ever think to do that. But like, and I have it on private. Like no can see that shit. But like once I added that I stopped getting advertisements for Facebook dating. So, I don’t know if that’s actually a thing that works, but it worked for me.
But how else will I know if there are hot singles in my area? [Laughter]
Oh, there’s lots of websites for that Sean.
Porn! [Laughter] Go watch some porn!
I wasn’t gonna say porn. I was gonna say like one of those online games where it’s fantasy, but all the women have big ol’ badongga badonggas.
So that’s a- I mean.
It’s gotta be.
Uh- there’s- d- yes.
Y’all is there, is there a DMS and GM’s only dating site? Please, please say for a friend. [Laughter]
That- you heard it here first folks, if you have that link, if you know those, um.
I’m thinking in terms of like a Christian mingle sort of situation.
There’s gotta be right? Oh! I mean, and if you’re just like, “I like the way this dude talks as Strahd Von Zarvich”.
This is no what your podcast episode is for.
It is now! [Laughter]
Um sorry about that.
Yeah! That was my dopamine trampoline. Sorry for scaring the pants off of you. So let’s um, maybe wrap this up a little?
Yeah! If you, uh, want Sean’s number? Let us- No, I’m kidding. I’m not going to do that.
Oh, dear lord! [Laughter]
Um, so, uh, Sean, where can people, or where should people go?
Where should the people go?
Where should our audience go? If they want to contact or find out more about you, and Carpe DM.
To find out more about carpet DM, ou can find us at Carpe, C – A – R – P – E DM, the letters D, M games, G – A – M – E – S dot com. Carpe DM games dot com. There you can get all of our contact info, we are also on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram though. Like I mentioned, I’m not the best at updating those. Most of our stuff you’ll see on Facebook or Instagram and, we can drop my handle in the doop dee doo, under the episodes.
Yes! Absolutely we will. All of those links will be available. We will make sure to get them in the episode description and share them on our Twitter!
Quick housekeeping note. This will be our last episode before, uh, the election in the U S. And so Jordan and I did want to let y’all know that we are not going to be recording an episode until after the election, because we’re very tired. So, we will keep y’all posted. Other than that, I’ll just say, please go out and vote, and if you are celebrating Halloween this weekend, please do so safely, and responsibly and also send us sweet pics of your costumes.
We’re definitely going to be posting pics of our costumes
And probably playing some of those games that Sean talked about. Honestly, it was probably going to be our Halloween emo. I think, cause it’s a Saturday night this year.
Yeah, it is now!
So yeah, the- I think those are my two PSA’s on there. Please vote
And take care of yourselves.
And we’ll see you in two weeks, because this has been, “Or Learn Parkour” from Wholehearted Production Company.
Yeah, you can find us on Spotify, Apple podcast, and most other places cool people find their podcasts.
Special thanks to Krisha Pareto for our phantasmagorical cover art design. I don’t know what that word means. I hope it was the right one.
It’s a good one I’m sure! Sounded neat.
You can find her at petal hop. That’s P – E – T – A – L – H- O – P on Instagram, and Etsy and Twitter.
Yeah, no, I mean words aren’t real so-
It’s fine. On that note, thank you to Tom Rosenthal for our intro and outro song, “There is a Dark Place” off of the album, “Keep a Private Room Behind the Shop”.
Speaking of people you can find on Twitter, we are some of them! [Laughter] You can follow us on the social meeds.
God! This is the third time you got it in this episode
You can follow us on the social meeds at “Or Learn Parkour” on Twitter. We are at, “we are” W-P-C on Instagram and “we are” W-P-C dot com.
Yeah! And you will find all those links and links to our transcripts and links to all of our dear friends, Sean’s resources, and our episode description.
If you enjoy this podcast and would like to hear more, now is a great time to subscribe! To! This! Feed!
Yeah, that’s true! And another way you could support us, if you are able to right now, uh, share the show with your friends, your family, whomever you think would enjoy or benefit from listening to us talk about ADHD sometimes.
Share this podcast with the glowing eyed man in your basement, who knows?
Oh, well, yeah. That’s yeah, all right. You know, he, he probably would enjoy it!. Shout out to you glowing eyed man in a basement.
Especially if glowing eyed man in the basement is running a tabletop RPG and could use some tips on how to care for folks who are in D in their games.
Especially if that man in the basement is single and ready to mingle. Yes. Um,
The other thing you could do though, is you could donate to our COFA, if you were able, if you’re not, we get it super, super, super get it.
Yeah. It’s a time.
But the link to that is in our Twitter bio.
Yeah! That’s all of those things we had for you. Do we have an outro question this week?
So this is a question for Sean, obviously cause you know, he’s our guest. What’s your favorite character voice to use for an MPC?
Oh Lordy! Hmm, off the bat, it’s going to be uh, “Very Befuddled Old Man”.
Okay. Can you give us a little bit of that?
[High pitched]. You want a little bit of that! [Laughter] What? Speak up a bit, I can’t hear you!
[High pitched] What are we doing? What are these…meecraphones! [Laughter]. This has been! [inaudible]
And I’m Lex!
[High pitched] And I am… [Returns to normal pitch] Sean Hendrickson!
Oh my Gosh! What! [Laughter]
We will see you in two weeks.
Maybe! Take care.
We’ll see ya sometime!