The following is a transcript of the recent broadcast of “Run Up to the Monsterous Mansion Season 4”, the first episode in this season’s summer pre-show. It consists primarily of a conversation between the three hosts; Suzuki Omaya the show’s historical specialist on the mansion and previous seasons, Tom McCallister the color commentator for this season, and Greg Oyotonombe the magical arts specialist and contestant bio specialist. There are two on-the-ground reporters for the team, Maria Patel and David Silverman, who put together the bio packages and interviews for the show. Here they will be referred to as their first names.

In case this transcript skips dimensions like last year’s finale did due to the actions in the Second Foyer, a brief description of “Monsterous Mansion” – in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains of the Paiute Protectorate and Confederacy a sorcerer that assited in the War of Resistance built a massive mansion complex in the mid-19th century that was slowly expanded either by his descendants or the Mansion itself. It is ¬†a somewhat intelligent complex that housed the family for over 100 years. In 1997, the family was abruptly dislocated from the premises and sent to one of their European homes as the Mansion twisted itself into something dangerous but did not move beyond its own borders. No one yet knows what is wrong with the buildings themselves or why they would do this. After ten years of attempting to infiltrate the complex themselves and with professional help, including the shaman of the Paiute Protectorate, an agremeent was reached with the International Broadcasting Board to allow a competitive telescry show to be broadcast on restricted channels showing self-selected teams to breach the Mansion and attempt to repair or recover what they can. Cash prizes are offered as well as access to the family’s extensive artifact holdings. While these forrays can be deadly, resurrection has been unsealed for these contestants and the necessary materials have been provided by numerous organizations across the world, from the New England Freestates to the Flying Cities. Contestants only gain cash prizes and artifact access if they survive; otherwise they are resurected at the end of the season.

Here is the transcript –

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Seeking the Form

June 22, 2017

So, we’ve already explored why magic in D&D, traditionally, is basically madness given form. The big reason for this is there’s no design format or structure for where spells go, what they do, and how powerful they are for each spell slot. In order to fix this, make my job easier as a designer, and empower players to make their own spells I’m giving each school¬†Spell Forms rather than just spells directly, then building spells out of those rules. It’s like a video game designer first creating level creating tools or something similar then using those to build the elements of the game.

We’re going to start with the Universal school, things all Arcanists have access to intuitively. These are raw forms, things that are born out of feeling rather than direction, and are unrefined. When an Arcanist moves into their specialty, they start learning more structured forms that are informed by their schooling; Warlocks learn to shape their spells using the Forms granted by their patrons, Wizards learn to refine these basic forms into highly technical and specific forms, and even more esoteric spell casters learn even stranger systems.

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Temples of Violence

June 19, 2017

You stand on a wide, green field. An elysium field. This field is dotted with hills, some massive and some small, and usually in clusters. This green field waves with unseen winds, some coming from the hillsides and some falling from some spectre that haunts it in certain places.

There are places in this field, though, where dark things dwell. Where the grass dies, where the sky seems dark only there, and where the earth feels pitiless and hard. Places where the hills seem meanacing and the winds cut deep within the soul and burn the bones.

Scattered around these places, some on hills and some in the wide valleys between, are temples made of clean stone and strong timbers, even in the dark places. These temples are built to a variety of styles and focuses, each hung with the trappings of their devotion.

This is your emotional landscape and the temples, themselves, your emotions.

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Drestin rotated the lock on his pipe with one deft hand, setting bowl sideways on the small table near his chair, and pulled a small leather pouch off of his belt. “Do you mind if I imbibe, zev?”

Hashim chuckled, “Yes, and there’s no reason to call me teacher anymore. Though it does warm my heart to know that you remember the Words of the Law still.” Hashim sat himself in another chair, opposite Drestin, and poured a small amount of a glassy, amber liquid for himself.

Passa, mouth still agape, stared at the two in turn. “You still haven’t explained what’s going on here. How is this man with mecka older than I am supposed to help with the Duke?”

Drestin looked up from his task of moving the black, tar-like substance from his pouch to the pipe. “Yes, Hashim. Now would be a good time to tell both of us about my task.” Looking at the mass for a second to appraise it, Drestin decided it was fine, used his hand to seal the pipe back up, and pushed a small artfully hidden button to light the greaseweed. A small, delicate sigh escaped him as he settled into the chair and a dark cloud already forming above them.

Hashim took a long, slow sip of his drink, leaned over his knees and held the glass in both hands. “Yes, Drestin, I suppose now is a good time to tell you about the zesh’desor, the blood-eater, that I asked you to come for.”

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Back to School

June 7, 2017

So, the hard part. The real hard part. Schools.

Why are schools important? Well, look at literally all of D&D’s history – schools of magic have influenced what any magician can do as well as what they do well or poorly. This goes even to those that echew schools, like Mages, Warlocks, and Sorcerers. So schools must be addressed in any rewrite.

The problem is schools are so slapdash as a design element that they are nearly impossible to do without just adopting the bad system that already exists.

So I’m gonna have to change them a lot.

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Systems in Systems

June 6, 2017

Tyr’s Hand, everyone, D&D’s magic is obnoxiously complex. There’s, like, nine systems in here and none of them are talking to each other.

We’re gonna have to break this down; first system is the spells themselves and how they’re designed, the second system is how they’re allocated between levels based on their power, the third is how they scale, and the fourth is how they interact with other systems (like damage resistance, AC, HP, saves, etc).

Today we’re gonna start at the bottom – what a spell level is and what it’s worth.

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While this is primarily aimed at Dungeons and Dragons, especially my focuses on my rewrite, a lot of what I’m going to say here applies to other games as well. Well, board and card games. Balance is a much more complex issue when you get into anything with visuals and dexterity-based mechanics. The principles are basically the same in video games and dexterity games (like those weird games that came out in the 90s that involve catching butterfly toys or tapping out fake ice cubes from a plastic frame) but there are far more variables and more assumptions that have to be made during design.

So, anyway, what is balance? And why does it matter?

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