D&D — Aleor, A Shattered Empire

I’m gearing up for a diary of my current D&D campaign, as we’ve just finished our 12th session and have spent roughly 40 hours in this world. Before telling the story of some lowly commoners, though, I thought: what better place to start than with an overview of the world?

 

Our story begins in the region of Aleor, named after the once-great empire that tamed much of the southwest portion of the large continent of Irumos. At its peak, the Aloran Empire spanned thousands of miles, and its growth was only hindered by deserts to the south, mountains to the north, and a vast chasm to the east.

At that point, the empire had consumed virtually every sovereignty in the region, but to refer to the Aloran Empire’s golden age as a time of peace would be a gross simplification of the details. When the Empire annexed lands into its controls, the laymen were largely unaffected, as the taxes they paid often remained consistent. Their lords, however, were then required to pay taxes of their own to their new kings, and so on to the Emperor themselves. This often bred conflict between local lords and kings, and the empire rarely intervened so long as it meant that they were getting their taxes.

But even beyond the infighting of men, the other forces of the world are always at work in Aleor, some more mysterious and more malevolent than others. The northern city of Dûnmarch fell prey to these forces in a sudden and violent eruption. In a matter of hours, what was once a bustling city built at the pinnacle of the Drowsy Peaks became an abandoned ruin in the deepest crevice of a fresh cavern at the mountain range’s base. A few short years later, what was once a small rain forest exploded into a voracious jungle, growing and overgrowing everything in its path, consuming the Lockjaw Peninsula despite the best efforts of the tens of thousands of people that lived in that region, including the capital city itself.

Hundreds of years later, the Aloran Empire is still prevalent, though it is a mere shadow of its former self. Its new capital is Ashfall to the the north, and though the city is one of the largest in Aleor, the empire itself has little influence on matters more than a few hundred miles outside of it. And though much the the region’s largest cities have fallen and returned to the wilds, new cities are forged. Aqila, the city of craft and magic, is now one of the leading centers of power in the region, rivaling Ashfall and Port Artellis to the south.

Much remains hidden about Aleor’s past, as the civilized world has only recently been starting to get back on its feet. Dark times threaten to persist, and there are forces that threaten to destroy everything now that there is no mighty empire to protect the people. With a little help, though, perhaps new fires can be forged to shine a light into that darkness. After all, one of the major themes for the campaign in this new setting is simple.

Reclamation.

Review — The Ideal Team Player

I haven’t done a book review in some time, or a review at all really, so I thought I’d take a break from my voice acting samples to change the pace a bit. (Though I’m just realizing I haven’t reviewed Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward—a crime I will amend soon.)

The Ideal Team Player is a nonfiction book—a book about work environments, in fact. I would never pick up something like this on my own, but it is required reading for my job, so I picked up the audiobook to listen to on my down time.

I have to admit, it was actually a pretty neat read.

I’ll give you a rundown of how it’s structured. It’s 226 pages or 5 hours long, and as a writer I hate that I can’t give you a more useful, calculable number like word count, but there you go. There are two portions to the book: the story, and the explanation of the concept that uses examples from the story. The story is slightly longer than the nonfiction portion, but the nonfiction portion is, in my opinion, more useful.

The plot of the book is very rudimentary. An amiable guy is promoted to CEO well before he’s ready, because the guy before him is retiring and trusts him a lot. They have to hire a bunch of new people to complete two large jobs coming up, and it’s up to the new guy and his team of two executive to establish and execute a new hiring process in order to make the company have a sense of cohesion and teamwork.

The writing of the story is, well, not amazing. It was obviously written by somebody who doesn’t read or write fiction; it gets the point across, but holds little intrigue and focuses on the information without caring about the finesse of the craft of writing. I started to grind my teeth a bit every time I heard the phrase [“Why would yadda-yadda?”, Tabatha wanted to know]. Please don’t ever use ‘wanted to know’ as a dialogue tag. It just looks and sounds awful. The plot isn’t bad per se, but it isn’t a page turner, either.

What’s more interesting is the nonfiction instruction manual at the end, outlining the concept of what makes “The Ideal Team Player”. As established in the story, the ideal team player requires three attributes. They must be humble, hungry, and smart. The book will do a much better job at describing each of these concepts, as it has a much larger span of time to work with, but the jist of it is that somebody will hold the most value in a company if they are [nice and willing to accept fault and blame], [an overachiever who is passionate about their work and is always pushing themselves], and [knows how to communicate their ideas and work with people (not necessarily “intelligent”)].

The book goes on to explain the problems that arise in employees that exhibit only one or two of these traits, and how to get them to emulate all of them. It goes beyond employers, too. This book is also meant to be read by employees, so it helps you understand where your own faults are as far as forwarding the momentum of your workplace, and for that I find it very useful. For example, I’m not hungry at my current job simply because I have no passion for the work I’m doing. That mostly tells me that I should find a better job where I enjoy the work more, but you get the idea.

This book isn’t useful for every job. Pretty much any minimum wage employee wouldn’t be in a workplace that cares about progress simply because they don’t need you to be your best, they just need you to exist. You might get a slight wage increase if you are an ideal team player in that environment, but this book is more tailored towards companies that are striving for quality of both atmosphere in service rather than sheer output of product and income of cash flow, like any huge corporation.

Overall solid book. It’s a quick read and didn’t feel like a waste of my time. And I’ll be honest, I rarely enjoy nonfiction books, so the fact that I approve this one is saying something.

Voice Acting — Fantasy Script Samples 3

I’m having a lot of fun writing these voice acting monologues, so I’m just gonna keep doing it! Previous two posts can be found here and here! As usual, I’m going to try to keep these gender neutral and vague so they can be practiced with a myriad of voices. Feel free to use these at your leisure, and if you’d like to add some to my list I would be happy to include them in the next post.

(Obviously you can do different voices than what I have labeled for each paragraph, I just made labels and wrote dialogues based on them.)

  • Naive youngster:
    I just don’t understand why people can be so mean sometimes. I know it’s not a big deal, and it wasn’t really any of my business, but today when I was walking down the Green Row I saw a bunch of kids bullying one of the shop owners. One of those small-time guys that barely has a stall of peaches to sell. He wasn’t bothering anyone, he was just trying to live his life and these kids come up and toss all his peaches into the street! I didn’t want to make any more of a scene, and those kids probably would have just beat me up if I stepped in, but I just can’t believe how cruel people can be. I mean it’s not like they got anything out of being mean, they just did it to ruin that guy’s day. Whatever. I’ll get over it. I’m going to go find a cat to pet.

 

  • Eloquent Elf:
    Greetings, friends. Welcome to the Embassy of Glass. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Feel free to make yourselves at home here, take a walk amongst the fauna, if you so wish. I might caution you away from any of the flowers that look too pleasant, though, these gardens cultivate a number of carnivorous plants, and it would be inconvenient to ruin any perfectly good specimens in order to rescue you. Also, if you please, be mindful of the stones you tread upon. These walkways were built from stones of the Feywild, and a number of them don’t take kindly to being stepped on if they aren’t acquainted with your feet.  Don’t worry too much, though, the more irritable ones are few and far between, and I’ve taken care to place them outside the typical areas of foot traffic. Enjoy your stay.

 

  • Amiable Barkeep:
    Hey, how goes it? It’s always a nice change of pace to see some new faces around here. Oh, wait a minute. You must be the adventurers from Wakefield I’ve heard about. Everyone’s been talking about you! I shouldn’t do this, but the first round will be on the house, okay? Don’t be shy, don’t be shy. Here, stay a while and let’s have a chat about the news from outside. There’s been talk about increased fey presence in the woods, you know. Apparently they’ve been getting aggressive and coming closer to settlements. Is that true? I’ve got a boy that works down at the mill just outside town, and I’ve been getting a bit worried, to be honest. Oh, there I go again, talking about me. Here, I’ll shut up… So, got any fun stories?

 

  • Dragonborn Oracle (enunciating the ‘s’ sound):
    You come to me seeking answers to your quest to attain peace? Your kind is so foolish. Always pretending you want peace but only starting new fires once you succeed in putting the old ones out. No, you will find no answers from me, humans. Like everyone else that shares your blood you seem to be lost in your delusions that I owe you something when you have only just set foot in my home unannounced. It is as though the world is built to accommodate you and to bend to your every whim. I have helped you one too many times, and you shall find no more assistance from me. In fact, you can—wait. What is that you wear on your arm? …it has been some time since I’ve seen those markings. The influence of the Grovewardens does not often reach this far south, but it is a pleasant sight to see. Fine. I will answer one question, but then you must leave, and quickly.

 

Bonus (This is a snippet from a short story I wrote):

  • Excited Fairy:
    Oh, right. Old Lady Picnic. Anyways, she sits down under the tree I’m in and takes out a little blanket from her basket. She unfolds it and lays it on the grass. It’s this cute pink and white quilt patterned with baby elephants and rabbits. Stars above it was the most adorable thing I had ever seen. She probably made it herself! I would never sit on something like that. A work of art like that should never be laid on the grass. But she put it there and started taking out food. Bananas, tiny sandwiches, potato salad, and a gorgeous apple cinnamon pie, and in that moment I knew that if that pie was half as good as it looked and smelled, I would die a happy fairy, wings earned or no. Have you ever felt like that? Where you’re so sure of something that hasn’t happened yet? What am I saying, of course you haven’t.

Voice Acting — Fantasy Script Samples 2

In my last post I mentioned how I have a hard time finding good pieces of dialogue to practice voice acting on—for fantasy character archetypes in particular. Well, I’m continuing the series, and I foresee even more of these posts in the future. Feel free to use at your leisure. If you’d like to add some to my list I would be happy to include them in the next post.

(Obviously you can do different voices than what I have labeled for each paragraph, I just made labels and wrote dialogues based on them.)

  • Grumpy Old Man:
    What are you lowlifes doing in my fields traipsing all over my petunias?! You’re going—oh. Don’t tell me. You’re adventurers, aren’t you. Always the adventurers that come around here bringing trouble with no regard for the working folk around them. You’re probably going to ask me about the Lost Cave of Cadavra. Only reason your type comes this way. It’s about a mile north of here, but you better make sure your affairs are in order if you mean to go that way. I send a group of travelers that way once every few months, and none of them have come back yet, so I can only imagine what horrible beasties are lurking in there. Now get out of here, and watch the petunias!

 

  • Demon Lord:
    Mortals of Aleor: behold my visage and tremble! For I, Thruz’kel, once again set foot on this realm. This time, no power of man or god can stop me—all shall lie broken beneath my feet. Even now my legions lay siege upon your cities like the surging tide of the sea. Bow before me, and I may yet spare your miserable lives. Resist, and you shall know suffering the likes of which have never been dreamed. The end is nigh. Embrace or resist: it is of little consequence to me. This realm will be as ash before the next moon rises.

 

  • Tiny Sidekick. Never been sure of anything in their life:
    Oh, dear. You’re, um… you’re going to go fight the demons? Oh, well, umm… okay. That’s very brave. Umm… Would you maybe… umm… no… Okay, yes. Would you, uh, maybe consider… umm… bringing me along? I know I’m not, uh… as strong, but… umm… it’s my home, too, and, and, umm… I want to help. Even though it’s really scary! I don’t know if I could… uh, fight demons all by myself, but… umm… with you and me together, they won’t stand a chance, right? Umm… I mean… if you want, to. I don’t want to… you know, umm… be too pushy… I won’t come if you don’t want me to, but, um, if you want me to, uh, we can beat them!

 

  • Merchant. Won’t take ‘no’ for an answer:
    Hey, how’s it going? Come to buy some masks for the festival tonight? I’ve got a variety of wares. Made them myself you know. Cotton, wood, resin, you name it. You folks look like the type to be looking for more exotic masks. Don’t deny it! I can see that look in your eye. Yeah, you, the tall one. I see one has caught your fancy. Oh! You must be eyeing the dragon mask. Rather perceptive I see. That one’s the best of the bunch! Took me a full week’s work to make it, you know. Those are real dragon horns affixed to a nice resin. I wanted to use real dragon scales, but it made the thing far too heavy. Now, I won’t lie to you, that one’s the most expensive of the batch, but I’ll make you folks a deal. If you tell people where you got that mask, I’ll give you a bargain of 500 gold pieces, what do you say?

 

Any character archetypes you’d like some samples for? Let me know and I’ll include them in the next post!

Voice Acting — Fantasy Script Samples 1

Any time I try to look up bits of dialogue to practice interesting voices on, I’m always disappointed because I invariably end up with ad copies (commercial scripts) or cheesy dialogue from anime 20 or more years old. So you know what? I’ll do it myself, internet. Thanks for nothing. Feel free to use at your leisure. Here are the first four, with more to come in the future.

(Obviously you can do different voices than what I have labeled for each paragraph, I just made labels and wrote dialogues based on them.)

  • Shady thief-type. Face is probably covered in shadows:
    “A little birdie told me you were headed for the Swindler’s Claw. Dangerous place if you don’t know the right folks. If you’ve got the coin I can take you there. I’ll introduce you to some colleagues of mine. Just don’t make the mistake thinking that anyone you meet around those parts is trustworthy. Half the town would shiv you as soon as look at you, the other half will just pickpocket you. The good news is, if you give me your coin now, you won’t have to worry about misplacing it when we get there.”

 

  • Lord of the Realm. A valiant hero everyone respects:
    “This is a daunting quest you speak of. As far as I’m aware, there have been none brave or foolish enough to venture into the Sundered Wastes in ten years. I’m afraid I must decline your request for a detachment of my guard to accompany you. For as noble a goal as this is, I simply do not have the disposable resources for such a task. I’m afraid you’ll have to go alone. Still, I would never hear the end of it if my son caught word that I left you empty handed after all you’ve done. Here, take my signet ring. It bears the emblem of House Raidell, and can serve to protect you in times of dire need. I bid you a safe journey and a speedy return.”

 

  • Sword-master who’s getting too old for this:
    “There is no weapon made by man or elf that can harm the likes of Thaleus. His control over the darkness has grown too absolute. the only way to stop him is to shatter the crystal atop his staff. That crystal is the true source of his power, but it is also his greatest weakness. If you’re clever, you can find a way to separate him from his power. Without that crystal he is no more powerful than any typical conjurer. Now go! Time is of the essence, my friends. Thaleus grows more powerful with each passing minute. And remember—take the staff, then break the crystal. Only then can you defeat him.”

 

  • Evil Wizard. Might be nasally, but could instead be quite sinister:
    “It’s a shame you’ve come so far in your quest only to be defeated at the hands of mere pawns! Who do you fools think you are, anyway? That minotaur skeleton was hard to find, you know. He was my favorite, and for that you’ll pay dearly! Come to think of it, I do seem to be short a few undead servants now. How would you like to join the ranks of my minions? It won’t be so bad. You’ll never have to eat, sleep, or contemplate your meaningless existence ever again! Oh, what am I saying, you don’t have a choice! Now, hold still and I’ll only make this hurt to a moderate degree.”

 

Future dialogues to come! If you’d like to add some to my list I would be happy to include them in the next post.

  • Grumpy Old Man:
  • Demon Lord:
  • Tiny Sidekick. Never been sure of anything in their life:
  • Smallfolk. Won’t take ‘no’ for an answer:

 

Me — Tempering Life Expectations

I’ve been working my way out of a depression the last few months because of a few things, but central to it was an increasing feeling that I’m never going to have my life where I want it to be. (Don’t worry, I’m okay now, for reasons I’m about to get into.) I still have a bad night every week or so, but a few days ago I was talking to a friend of mine, and he commented that life is just always bad and people have to make their own happiness amidst the bad. We all have stuff to go through. It’s a conversation I’m sure we’ve all had in the past, but I guess it was the right time for me, because it sparked some thoughts.

That “revelation” might seem obvious, I know. Life is always a constant battle as we try to position it on a precarious pedestal and hope the slight breeze doesn’t ruin that balance, and that’s after you find the right life and the right pedestal. I’ve started to think, probably realistically, that there will never be a moment in my life where everything is exactly how I want it to be.

Sounds sad, but tangential to this is the opposite effect. Life might never be perfect, but it can get pretty good, so its imperfections shouldn’t disallow you from appreciating the times when it actually is pretty good. And for me, that’s right now. I’m doing great, all things considered. I have two passion projects (sort of three, if you count the play I’m working on), I’m hosting a D&D campaign that is going really, really well, and my school and work lives aren’t tearing me apart, even if they are a constant source of struggle.

So just because I don’t make as much money as I’d like to be, or my living situation isn’t ideal, or my social life needs a ton of work, doesn’t mean I haven’t made any progress. This time last year I had no job, was actively struggling with friendships/relationships, and my writing block was just starting to take hold. I’ve made some good strides since then.

I think it’s time to stop putting unrealistic expectations on myself. I’m not going to fix my financial situation or my social life by this time next year. They might improve, but the problems won’t be solved. But hey, I’m doing fine where I am now, and I can’t discredit that. Of course, we should never stop striving for more, trying to make things better where we can, but being disappointed when perfection isn’t achieved is just going to ruin things at every turn.

Also, if you’re no longer satisfied with being in a good position in life, waiting for it to get better, maybe that’s also a sign that things haven’t been bad for quite a while, and if that’s the cause, you should be thankful for that. It’s easy to forget harder times when you’re living in a period of mediocrity.

Bonus — Critical Role Animated Series Kickstarter

Hey everyone! For those who don’t know, Critical Role (a weekly D&D livestream) is hosting a Kickstarter project to fund an animated special of their D&D game. It’s already way, way overfunded, but just for the fun of it I did some number crunching for the projections of how much money the project is likely to end up with. Here’s the post:

I like numbers and stats, so I did some number crunching for the projections for the Kickstarter project. As I’m writing this, we’re nearing $6,000,000 raised. Having recently overtaken MST3K for the 15th most funded Kickstarter projects (and the #1 film project).

But with over 40 days left to go, we still have lots of time to chug along for new goals and new records… We just got our new target of $7,500,000, and the last goal will probably be close to 9 or 10 million at this rate… So where are we headed? Well, here is the current Top 10 most funded projects, a list Vox Machina is soon to terrorize.

(TL;DR at the bottom if numbers scare you)

Most Funded Kickstarters of All Time:

  1. Pebble Time — $20,340,000

  2. Coolest Cooler — $ 13,290,000

  3. Pebble 2 — $12,780,000

  4. Kingdom Death: Monster — $12,390,000

  5. Pebble E-Paper Watch — $10,270,000

  6. Travel Jacket — $9,190,000

  7. Exploding Kittens — $8,780,000

  8. OUYA — $8,600,000

  9. 7th Continent — $7,070,000

  10. Everyday Backpack — $6,570,000

Even if we made the next stretch goal and nothing else, we’d still already hit #9, and the Kickstarter would have raised 10x the original goal.

But I know what you’re thinking… There’s no way we’re getting anywhere near the top of that list, right? Surely we’ll run out of steam soon. Well… yeah, we’re going to slow down… but with how much time we still have left, even smaller numbers will have lots of impact.

So let’s do some projections, shall we?

08:27 PST: $5,892,000 Funded

Day 1: $3,550,000

Day 2: $1,180,000

Day 3: $920,000

Average Pledge Per Backer: $137

Right now we’re averaging $1,470,000 per day. Now, if you know anything about Kickstarter, you know that that number is not going to hold firm. Most of the funding usually happens on Day 1 and slows down drastically after that. But (just for fun,) if we did maintain that momentum… we’d end up with over $65,000,000. Almost enough to buy the next 5 most funded projects. That’s also enough to outweigh the GDP of some countries.

But that’s stupid, ain’t no way we’re going to hold those numbers. So let’s start with some healthy optimism. At $500,000 per day, we’ll end up with $26,700,000. Which would be most funded by a considerable margin. $500,000 per day is a lot, to be sure, but it’s also just over half of the worst day so far, and to compare, we’ve already raised over $200,000 on Day 4, and it’s only been roughly 9 hours.

If we instead hit a target of $350,000 per day, we’ll end up with $20,400,000… which would still be the most funded Kickstarter, but only barely. I’d say this number is the most likely here. Looking at charts from previous Kickstarters, that seems to be a good number. In my not-so-professional opinion, I’d say that’s doable, even with no more pledges over $750.

Also, we’ve had ~14,000 people pledge every day, at an average of $137. The pledge average will start to go down a bit because there’s no more super expensive ones, but even so…

If 1,460 people pledge the current average of $137 (barely 1/10th of our current daily average of backers), we’ll hit $200,000 per day. At that rate, the project will end up with $14,100,000. We’re not #1 anymore, but we do sit at #2 pretty comfortably.

But even if we only get half those numbers… At $100,000 a day for 42 more days, we’re still left with $9,930,000. Not quite #5 on the charts, but pretty good nonetheless.

Also, let’s not forget… the cast hasn’t even advertised the live Kickstarter on the show yet… We’ll undoubtedly get a little bit of a boost from that (though my guess is that it’ll be pretty minuscule with the numbers we already have.)

Edit: Alternatively, if we base these numbers off rate decay rather than a daily average, extending the 77% decay from Day 2 to Day 3 would total $8,730,000. (According to u/ChanceTheKnight). It’s very safe to say the KS will get at least that much.

TL;DR:

The Legend of Vox Machina is on track to hit Top 5 Most Funded… pretty easily, too. Meaning a full Briarwood Arc is looking pretty good. $7.5 Mil target will probably be hit tomorrow.

Here’s how much money the project will end up with at the following rates.

At $500,000 per day: $26,700,000 (#1 Most Funded)

At $350,000 per day: $20,400,000+ (STILL #1 Most Funded, and also my guess for roughest final estimate)

At $200,000 per day: $14,100,000+ (#2 Most Funded)

At $100,000 per day: $9,930,000+ (#6 Most Funded)

With 77% decay: $8,700,000 (#8 Most Funded)

(Source: Kicktraq. Neat tool for number crunchers like me.)