Interview: The Mortal Path
Hello everyone! Today we have an exciting topic to cover…our very first interview! Today we will be talking with The Mortal Path Podcast members! This is something we’ve been wanting to do as it gives The Goblin Gazette team another opportunity to connect with content creators or game developers. The Mortal Path is a brand new podcast that just launched yesterday! They are a great group of people and I had a lot of fun talking with them. Be sure to check the out on Twitter, podbean, as well as their site to learn more. So without further ado, our interview with The Mortal Path.
[Scott] Alright so I already asked your names, but just so I have it as part of the recording, so again guys, thank you for letting us interview you. This is actually our first interview, we’ve been wanting to start up interviews so. I’m guessing Yubi is the one I spoke to on Twitter?
[Yubi] Yes I’m the one doing the marketing stuff
[Scott] Marketing stuff is a lot of work, I do most of the marketing for us and it takes a lot of time.
[Yubi] It does take a lot of time. There is a lot of 3am sending messages on a whim before you go to sleep.
[Scott] I know I messaged you and I’m like “why is she still up right now?” I’m going to bed at 9 o’clock and you’re still up!
[Yubi] But yeah I’m Yubi and I’m the DM. Thank you so much for having us on. We really appreciate it.
Players, Characters, And Intro To Dungeons & Dragons
[Scott] So go ahead and introduce yourselves, talk a little about how you got into Dungeons & Dragons, and a little bit about your characters. Let’s start with Gary since you are the farthest on my screen.
[Gary] I’m Gary, I play Natalia. And I got into D&D actually playing the board game with my parents. Played that for…I’d say a year but it was more like kind of…you know when your parents don’t really get board games but they’re indulging you? It was that kind of thing. Then I went to University, met Ed and a few others and we played Mutants & Masterminds. Which is like D&D but with Superheroes and comic books kind of things. After a while we changed over to D&D to test out that setting. Played that for a couple years, then got into podcasts, just listening to podcasts, D&D podcasts. Loved them, and that kind of how I got here.
[Scott] Alright so Kitty, what about you?
[Kitty] Well I think I started listening to the Adventure Zone. At the time I had already met Yubi through a shared interest in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. And we were chatting away about it and they said “you should start watching Critical Roll”. And I’m like “Are you fucking kidding, there are literally years worth of recordings. And unfortunately I am now completely caught up on it! And then they said “I’ve got a really good idea. I’m going to try to DM something do you want to join in?” I was like “Yes, yes I would really like to try that. Because its the sort of thing that you are vaguely aware of and I’ve never been in the sort of social group where that was ever likely to happen or I was ever likely to persuade anyone. It was sort of a thing that sounded cool but I would never likely be able to get into. So it was actually really exciting they said “oh yeah you can join in, you can play!” And I was like “I won’t know anything! it’ll be great!”
[Scott] So was this your first game? Was this the first campaign you were part of?
[Kitty] Well no, because we actually started a Pathfinder game which the 3 of us are in and Yubi DMs that one and it moved across to 5th edition. And I put together a genuinely terrible character but I love her very much! So this was actually my first campaign where I’d sat down and read the book in advance and had a clue about what any of the stats meant or anything. And hopefully I have constructed someone *Nerium/Meridith* who is a bit less incompetent.
[Yubi] Let me really quickly talk about Ed since he won’t be appearing today. I knew Gary through university and I met Ed at the same time about 7 years ago. We had met through that and he had always gotten along really well. Ed brings the level of absurdity and off-the-world thinking and situational awareness that I though perfectly would balance out Kitty and Gary. There are many moments in the later episodes where Gary in particular will go “what are you saying?” When Taro starts to tell one of his infamous stories about something.
[Scott] Alright, Yubi how about you?
[Yubi] I first got into D&D through being very confused about what Gary was doing. I almost said by what Gary and Ed were doing but that’s not quite what I meant! I was very confused by the situation of the game that I didn’t understand. Then Gary tried to help us understand, and I say try to because we really just didn’t get it at that point, to DM this Lord of the Rings type game. And then I actually got into TAZ, and when I listened to TAZ it clicked in this sort of way that I was like “Oh its storytelling, its communal storytelling. You sit there and make a story with people and that is exactly what I am into.” So after The Adventure Zone, which I binged, I did not stop listening to that. I think that I finished The Adventure Zone in like a month. Then I binged Critical Roll, which is slightly more difficult to do because each episode is like four or five hour long! And when it kind of got to that point, for me at least, of understanding that the point of D&D was to sit with friends and make really cool stories that everyone was a part of. That is when I was like “Ok, I’ve got to try DMing.” We started in Pathfinder because the only one of us who had a lot of experience was a mutual friend who was really into the rules of Pathfinder.
So we got in that way, and as both Gary and Kitty said, they are both part of this home campaign that we run. So when I was almost starting I began thinking “actually I’d really like to make a recorded one.” So I got really into the idea of that. And what I really wanted to have were people that I know worked well together and played well together. And its actually one of the reasons why, when I was starting to ask people if they were interested, that I asked Gary and Kitty especially because they play two character in this home campaign who are like diametrically opposed at the beginning and so very different. And they really come together and their role-playing has always been outstanding. They just work really well together as people and as characters.
[Scott] So you guys are launching your podcast on January 17th. Can you tell me a little bit about the podcast?
[Yubi] So it is a D&D 5th edition play podcast. Its edited, so its not just a recording of the session that we put out. We are using Xanathar’s Guide as well which came out really recently. So quite a lot of people have chosen things from there to put in which I thought was quite exciting.
[Scott] You mean this? *holds up Xanathar’s Guide to Everything*
[Yubi] *laughs* yes! So each episode is about an hour long. Its set in a homebrew universe. When we were starting to think about the concept of a universe. I gave the players an outline of what the universe looked like. It doesn’t work in terms of science.
[Kitty] It is so nice to hear you admit that out loud!
[Yubi] I’m very happy to admit when I don’t do something quite totally accurate! So it doesn’t work science-wise but aesthetically I think its pretty 10 out of 10. And when i was doing the creation it was really important to me for everyone else to have a hand in it. So I didn’t say “you are from this kingdom” or “here are some kingdoms you can be part of”. I said “write your character, write where they’re from, write me a story. And whatever you give me that will be canon. I’ll make it work.” So that is what we’ve done so everybody has this really intimate knowledge of where their from because they wrote it. And they know it better than me, better than anyone else. I think a homebrew setting allows you to do that.
So its set in a homebrew world which I then completely mess everyone about with because we take them straight from wherever they were previously and I dump them all in the middle of a cave and go “you guys have never met each other”. And actually when we were doing the planning, they didn’t tell each other their character names, races, classes, nothing. None of them had any idea what the others were going into it. They didn’t know the party composition, if anyone was going to be a duplicate or anything like that. They just found that they are in there, they walk for a bit, and now they are meeting each other. Which I thought was a pretty fun way to start a campaign.
[Kitty] Yeah, for you!
[Scott] Well that leads into my next question. So you talked about this a bit on the behind the scenes episode, but you guys didn’t know the party composition going into the session and now you have a Bard, Warlock, and Rogue. Are you a little worried you guys don’t have a healer or a tank?
[Kitty] Yeah, a little, just a little. The nice bit is beforehand the one thing that Yubi would say was, I’d ask “are we balanced? Have we got the bases covered?” And she was like “Oh yeah you’re totally fine!” And I’m like “brilliant”. And then I woke up and found that I had two magic users, Charisma based and went “fuck ahhh ok, that is fine.” I hope we don’t meet any big strong enemies, ever.
[Gary] It looks like I’m playing a tank…Warlock.
[Scott] I’m sure there is a way you could build it out as a tank.
[Yubi] Well it was a really funny reveal because they had all been discussing it. And actually the cast that we have now, was not the very first cast we originally had. We originally had two different people and no Ed. But for very reasons the other two players dropped out, long before we started recording or anything like that. I wrote a huge document basically detailing all the time people would have to give, what they’d have to do and said listen “you’ve got to read this. Think about it for a week, then come back to me with an answer.” Well then two people ended up dropping out, so then I brought Ed in. The previous party composition did include a Cleric that was very kind of hitting things based, and did include another healing based character that was also another spell-caster. So when they dropped out I was like “well this is how it will be.” I think we described them as “three limp noodles”.
[Kitty] I mean the thing is a Bard a Bard can do lots and lots of healing, but having met Taro…I don’t think that is one I want to bank on really.
[Yubi] Well when this was all coming together I knew I’d have to give you guys some wiggle room. Allow you to find some healing items. Basically so you guys don’t feel like you are missing someone.
[Gary] To be honest I think there are lots of ways around it. You can give out wands of healing and stuff like that. So its not going to be too bad. I just really excited to play the Hexblade Warlock from Xanathar’s Guide.
[Kitty] Is that what you are? I was hoping you were!
[Gary] Yes, it just stuck out to me as interesting. I actually revised my character about a week before we first did the recordings because that is when Xanathar’s came out.
Why Did You Guys Decide To Start A Podcast?
[Scott] So I think you guys already hit on this next question, but why did you guys decide to start a podcast? Yubi, I think you already hit on that. You said you guys were playing in a campaign together and you thought it may just be a good idea to start up a podcast?
[Yubi] Yes, I’m actually in another one with a housemate called “Let’s Enjoy Japan”. So we were already thinking about doing one. And we were all big fans of podcasts and media anyway. A lot of it kind of banked on when I was DMing and listening to Kitty and Gary, I would think “that is just really good acting. They are really good actors and they are really interesting to listen to And they’ve got a really got an interesting way of playing.” And it wasn’t a way of playing where they aren’t holding all of this meta knowledge, it was just something I really like to listen to in a podcast. I just really liked listening to them. And when we were playing our campaign we were testing Ed out. I brought him in as an NPC. He played the Faerie Lord…um Fuck who lived in the Feywild and was dating a Rock shutter. And then tried to just annihilate everyone. He did kill a very important NPC of mine.
[Gary] He was actually one constitution saving throw away from killing my character permanently.
[Yubi] Which seems to be a bit of a theme for Ed and his characters! So when we were playtesting with everyone I was just thinking “this is a really good group to listen to”. And I just thought it would be really great fun. And I’ve managed to convince everyone else that they’d also have fun and love doing it.
[Gary] We actually went out to dinner one night and we started talking about D&D. And very quickly it went to D&D podcasts and we literally talked for 5 hours about it.
[Yubi] I think of the current group, you were the only one who wasn’t an immediate yes for the podcast.
[Kitty] That is really only because I am much older than everyone else and I have family commitments. I’ve got a nine year old son so I need to make sure that if I’m recording we’re not doing that BBC interview whilst child walks in the background and go “woah woah move move!” Or you know I gut the Orc from button to top and yell “fuck you” then “oh hi darling sorry”. That is basically the only reason I was like “I don’t know if I can go for it.
[Yubi] Ed was the easiest to convince but was the one I was least sure would have an interest because basically after a couple of people had dropped out I was thinking “who do I know that is going to be that perfect 3rd point of the triangle.” Because Gary and Kitty are, I don’t want to say you are quite serious but you tend to…Kitty tends to be a very people focused player. So she will interact with people and that is really great. Whereas Gary is very good at driving a story forward. Gary is very good at picking up on what the plot hooks are and where I’m trying to take the story. But you know you need someone who is going to take everything, look at it, and go “fuck it!” And so Ed popped into my mind as a possibility. So I sent him a message was like “do you want to be in a D&D podcast?” and he was like “yes, that sounds great. Send me the information”.
[Scott] So my next question was going to be “could you tell me a bit about your group dynamics” but you pretty well hit it right there. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
[Gary] Well we all think in different ways. Like I am constantly surprised, especially by Ed, and Kitty in terms of the solutions they come up with and the way they think things through.
[Kitty] Yeah, that is absolutely true. I really enjoy the people focused stuff and character focused stuff. And whilst I’m sort of aware of the plot hooks going on and the story that could be told. It is never my first thought. I’m thinking more “well no where are we going? What are we all going to be doing in this situation? And so quite often there will be problems that arise, puzzles to solve, where I sit there and go “I don’t know!” So its very interesting and unusual seeing people who will go “hmm well we need to do X, Y, and Z” and I’m like “oh…oh yeah that would be a sensible thing to do.” I’ll help but I won’t have the idea.
[Gary] I’ve been computer gaming since I was, I don’t know 5 or 6. So for me the best challenge for this whole project is working in ideas of character and plot development and things like that. Rather than just Min Maxing and building in a particular way.
[Yubi] It is really interesting to throw a challenge at them. Because in the first episode we had the magical stair team building exercise, which was absolutely lifted from some google search for “how to build team synergy”, to see how they all kind of react to puzzles as simple as which door do you want to open to getting up the stairs, to your about to have a fight with a thing. That was something i really wanted to do in the first episode, throw a couple of different things at them so they could out where their character stood and how their companions also worked through that.
[Scott] Man your just hitting my questions left and right…it’s almost like you have my questions! My next questions was going to be if you guys had encountered any unexpected challenges. But it sounds like you had some with two players dropping out.
[Yubi] That was more a challenge for me because when I originally went into this I had this grand plot. In my head I had this big idea of the story I wanted to tell. So when we people started dropping out I began thinking “ugh my plot won;t work” but then I was like “well actually this is really good because this plot would never work. You can’t play D&D like you’ve written a book.” So I scrapped my original plot completely in terms of points I wanted to hit and wrote something that the ending is ultimately a choice. That all of the choices made in the campaign build up to this final choice and its all focused around what they do and not what I want them to do. Other than that mic issues!
[Gary] Yes mic issues!
[Yubi] We recorded episode three before Christmas and after taking a small break for Christmas I opened my file to discover that my Audacity program had decided to switch from my very nice audio microphone to my laptops in house tin can! So I had to then spend a good couple of hours dubbing myself with the nice microphone to put myself back into it.
[Kitty] I think for me, the biggest unexpected challenge that has arisen is counting to four. It is really difficult!
[Gary] I think for me its living on a road. I don’t think I can show because of how precarious my whole set up is. But I am in a hallway with cardboard boxes filled with pillows on either side. I have a blanket and then a duvet over the top to muffle out the sound. And it kind of works but…
[Yubi] Yeah Gary gets sent to the Gary Cave during our sessions. He has to sometimes just get into the cave.
[Gary] I think we actually started recording stuff about 6 months ago, its been a long time. Yubi has gone through everything…a lot of detail.
[Kitty] And told people off about little things like me going *taps pen on desk* while I’m thinking with my pen.
[Yubi] And also things like when you’re recording try not to move around a lot.
[Kitty] I find that so hard
[Yubi] I know! I edit so much out!
[Kitty] I’m so sorry. I just wriggle, a lot.
Most Enjoyable Part Of The Podcast
[Scott] Maybe you’ll have to have an outtakes podcast! So what would you say has been the most enjoyable part of the podcasting process?
[Gary] To be honest, doing the episodes is really fun. Especially because it is pretty new for all of us. The idea of being recorded, everyone is quite hyper and it feels really good doing it. You know how sometimes you get different D&D groups and the people don’t knit quite well or there is not that right feeling there. But this group it feels awesome. And we’ve got a lot of work in our characters, our backstories which just adds another whole layer to it when you’re playing. And when we stop recording we’re all still hyper. Sometimes we just laugh for like half an hour or something, its great.
[Yubi] The first episode is not as funny as practically every episode after that. There are a lot of, without giving away spoilers, various terrible escapes from basically a prison type thing. It is very bad, there are a lot of nat 1s rolled and there is just a lot of Taro as Ed saying the most unbelievable crap. Just spouting these massive lies and I’m like “you can’t roll for that because no one would ever believe it…ever. Not even a nat 20 could save you from that”. So they definitely get very very funny, especially with these three all kind of riffing off each other.
[Kitty] Actually I will say, going off of Gary’s point, the really nice thing about putting an enormous amount of work into the backstories and having completely free rein with it, it does come through. Because when you talking to each other and just casually mention something like a person would like “oh I remember this back in such and such place” and they’re not struggling to find it, it is just there because that’s the background that they’re really invested in. And I’m use to that from the fact that the only games I’ve ever played have been DMed by Yubi. And I know that they are always really good about being fully aware of everything that’s going on. But I think because I’m paying more attention to the early stages of it. Getting to know these others characters and the depth of research that’s gone into them is definitely one of the enjoyable parts of it.
[Yubi] And I would also so your guys’ ability to not meta splurg. You have this secret and I can tell you really want people to know this really cool thing you’ve wrote in your backstory. And you’ve hinted at it but you don’t give it away! And that makes for fantastic listening I think. And I think because we didn’t do that classic session zero, your still intriguing to the other players. One of you will say something and the others will be like “whaaaat??” Which is really fun to listen to. I mean absolutely the most fun is listening to these 3 doing their thing.
Keeping The Air of Mystery Going?
[Scott] So my next question is for Yubi. The podcasts kind of starts on episode one quite mysteriously. So are you intending on keeping that air of mystery going? Sounds like that is what you are trying to convey by not going into the whole “Oh yeah I’m an Assassin Rogue”.
[Yubi] Exactly. I think one of the strengths of the players are their abilities to role-play and to act in certain situations. So to immediately throw them off. To not start with “you all meet in a tavern” or “please be willing to do an adventure to be paid money” or something like that. Because they had no idea how we were going to start. All they knew were there characters. I ask them to be prepared to work as a group or this is going to be a very short podcast. I think it was a really fun way to start, but it was definitely not the easiest way to start for anyone. I mean Nerium immediately throws a curve-ball, even for me, by immediately using Meredith which is not her name. And the whole episode is me just saying the wrong name constantly. But I really wanted to give the listeners the same sense of the characters. The character know who they are but they don’t know who anyone else is and they don’t know where they are. And I think that, rather than having a five minute speech from me, we just should get right into it. So I’m like “everyone make me a constitution saving throw.
[Scott] I know when I was listening I’m like “alright when are they going to do the hi I’m so-and-so and I’m playing a Barbarian.”
[Yubi] I think what we really wanted to concentrate on was that we are making a podcast. We are doing an audio piece of entertainment. We are mediatizing D&D. And I told them that there would be parts with a lack of player tension for listener enjoy-ability. There are some parts where I say something, and maybe I have to explain it, but then that part would be cut out and then it would go straight on in the story. So in episode two when they make it out of the cave, there is a quick bit of me actually explaining where they are, but that bit got cut. So we are playing D&D but the end product is edited down, never changed, just condensed or shortened. So like when you roll the dice and have to figure out what the roll is, or if someone messes up a line, things like that are edited out.
[Scott] So focusing more on the story instead of your live session of D&D.
[Yubi] Exactly. None of it is ever scripted. I never tell the characters “say this, do this”. But we try and play it with the thought in mind that somebody is going to be listening to it.
What Do You Think Sets The Mortal Path Apart?
[Scott] So that goes right into my question, what do you think sets The Mortal Path apart?
[Gary] I quite like how all of the players have had a hand in making the world. I think a lot of the times the DM just makes the world and the players just jump into it or something like that. I really like the idea that I got to make a city, and I got a hand in saying what the technology is up to. So I think there is a difference in that. Because I listen to a lot of podcasts and I was aware that I didn’t want it to blend in to all of the other podcasts. So some of the world is not standard D&D. And when we bounce off each other, I think it’s funny. I hope it’s funny. I don’t know, I really enjoy listening to it. I’d say for people, give it a shot. I know I’ve been through like 10 D&D podcasts, but now there is mainly one I listen to. And all those others have been good in different ways, but that is the one that has really caught me, so give it a go.
[Kitty] Ed also had an answer for this question, and it was “I’m in it”. So as far as he is concerned that is the selling point.
[Yubi] He really is wonderful in quite a lot of ways! I think another thing is our soundscape. We have a theme that has been commissioned. So that was actually written, composed, and recorded by Rachel Graff who has her own website by the same name. She did this amazing workshop session with me where I told her the vague idea for the over-arching plot. And she came back with these amazing ideas and we sat down and picked out the ones that we liked. And she composed this completely original, absolutely fantastic opening theme that I think brings in that kind of fantasy setting that brings in that dark undertone. And one of the things I wanted to do with a podcast was to turn the focus toward the listeners rather than the players. So I write a lot of music for the rest of it, so the rest of the stuff you hear is composed by me.
[Scott] I know something I thought was really cool was the part where Natalia is talking to the people in the mirror and when the people in the mirror were talking you did something to your voice. That caught me off guard, I wasn’t expecting that.
[Yubi] Yes, I really sat down with Audacity trying to understand how to do stuff like that so it would feel much more natural. And there is a part later where Gary is yelling a curse and he yells “fuck you”. But I ask Gary what would it look like and he says “well I think my voice changes”. So then we are able to redo it to add the effect the second time.
What Do You Hope To See?
[Scott] So you guys are about to release your podcast, what are you hoping to see from this?
[Kitty] Well I really hope Neriam doesn’t die in the first five minutes
[Gary] I just really hope be listen to be honest. We could put it out there and it is just our friends who listen to it, which would be fine. But it would be nice if other people listen. One of the reasons I joined this, is because I’ve had so much fun over the years listening to D&D podcasts. So hopefully someone else can get some enjoyment from listening to this.
[Yubi] I get the weekly pleasure to sit down and listen to these guys when we play our homebrew. I really want others to hear these amazing players, and hear them getting into character and caring about what they say, and getting to explore a world, and doing all of this. It’s captivating. So my hope is that others can enjoy these wonderful players and wonderful characters.
[Kitty] I hope people are not going to hate it!
[Scott] Well guys that was all the questions I had. Thanks for talking with me today, it was fun!
[All] Thank you!
I had a great time talking with The Mortal Path Podcast team! Be sure to check out their podcast, follow them on twitter, and share with your friends if you enjoy! As always, thank you so much for reading today. If you are part of a podcast and you’d like to be interviewed, or you know someone, send them our way, so long!