Moderator: Dungeon Masters
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Chat with the D maker.
Interview with Deider
Jazz: Deider! Welcome. Great to have you with us. When I offered to do some interviews, your name was the first that popped into my head!
Jazz: You’ve been on Avlis for a long time, almost from the start?
Deider: I started in spring of 2003 as a player, and I think about two months later I became a DM. Then I left around 2007 or 8 and didn't come back until 2017.
Jazz: That's a long hiatus, we'll come back to that later. What was it that brought you to Avlis?
Deider: Brock Fanning, player of Hargas Steelhead, and I went to university together and were in the same D&D group. He actually sent me the NWN CD! I played the single-player campaign a bit, but ended up joining Avlis and was hooked immediately.
Jazz: Nice. What exactly was it that made you stay on Avlis?
Deider: As a player, the opportunity to roleplay. Back then the DM/player ratio was much lower, so most of the time you had to make your own fun, and a lot of us did. Then I think the team posted about accepting DM applications, and things just sort of took off from there.
Jazz: You are currently on The Team and have been a few times before. I can remember at least 3 different periods where we were both on that side of the curtain, actually. What made you apply in the first place?
Deider: The first time, I enjoyed the community and I wanted to help out. That time and the times since then, I always apply the same logic: as a player, I can ensure that I am having fun, and maybe sometimes the people around me. But as a DM or any team member, you have the opportunity to have a lot of people have fun. And that becomes infectious, especially since D&D is such a cooperative game.
Jazz: That's a nice answer. You once came back as The Janitor. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Deider: Ha! Yes, yes I did. I have this need to complete things. I call it my borderline OCD. So I wanted to finish a lot of unfinished plots, as well as work on a few systems on the CCC side. I don't think that stint lasted very long though. Of course in the year I've been back on the team, I have had the opportunity to do that again, and have brought back (and killed off, sometimes) a lot of NPCs from plots run by former DMs, as well as finish off some unfinished plots.
Jazz: Yeah! So many unfinished plots or even plot hooks you've used for your own tales. I really like it how old lore is being used years later. Right now you’re doing awesome work building & coding again! Thank you for that, really.
Deider: Thanks for playing! Avlis has a lot of lore and a lot of history, much of which has been made by players and DMs, and I enjoy using it to create new adventures.
Jazz: So, back to the beginning. Who was the first PC you ever created?
Deider: My first PC was a gnome ranger of Pelar named Deider!! Yes, with the exclamation points. He lasted about five minutes before Choraldances told me that wasn't allowed. So I rerolled him as a druid, and Deider of Pelar was born.
Jazz: Haha. I actually met PC Deider a year ago or more. He’s a strange guy. Some kind of Smurf, no?
Deider: Ha! We all try to be different, right? I made up some back-story where his clan of gnomish druids of Pelar dye their skin blue. Why, who knows?
Jazz: Not even you, it seems! I’ve met you once in real life, only a hundred meters from where I live now, actually. You’re a small guy. Is that why you love Gnomes so much?
Deider: It probably has something to do with it. I started playing D&D in middle school, and when I started I was very into min/maxing and power builds. But by the time I got to college, I was more into the roleplaying aspect of it, and started trying more "fruity" characters. My PC for the campaign I played in with Brock was a human wizard who started his adventuring career as an old man. The DM allowed me to use the aging rules, so he had great INT but terrible physical stats.
Deider of Pelar and Gram are certainly not powerbuilds. But I enjoy playing them a lot.
Jazz: That's the most important thing! Brock's a funny guy, isn't he?
Deider: Brock is hilarious. In RL and in roleplaying. I tried to get him to come back to Avlis but he's very busy - he has 3 kids now!
Jazz: Aww, a shame. I assume you're a funny guy as well in RL, must have been a great DnD group?
(Deider's interview with Brock Fanning can be read on our forum, under Chats)
Deider: It was. We had a great DM, from which I learned a lot about gaming and DMing. This was 2nd edition AD&D, and we were using psionics, which had sort of been tacked on at that time. Brock played this psion/priest of peace, who ended up being the most powerful character in our party. Meanwhile, my wizard was getting captured all the time.
liephus, player of Magnus Khan, was also in our group.
Jazz: Wow! That's an interesting fact. Did you two build the Underdark together?
Deider: Liephus and I, yeah. At the time there was a discussion that there wasn't a lot of things for "evil PCs" to do, and the end result of that discussion was the creation of Verloghokbol and the Worm Road.
Jazz: Yeah, I remember that discussion.
Deider: He came up with most of the lore (the houses vying for control) and I did a lot of the scripted quests. He also built most of those areas.
Jazz: You did the dialogue and named the NPCs?
Deider: For the quests, yes. So the collector NPCs, Grimli & Xerto, the kobold with the fighting cocks, the rothe shit guy outside of town, etc.
Jazz: I thought as much.
Deider: I try to mix seriousness and humor. And I have a certain sense of humor which is probably noticeable in the NPCs I write dialog for. One influence for me has been the manga Full Metal Alchemist, which has some very serious themes but a lot of jokes thrown in as well.
Jazz: It's a good mix, Deider. Don't forget those perfect ratios. So, a bit more on the Real Life Deider. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Deider:Sure. I work for a Japanese chemical company. I used to be a researcher, but as time has gone on I got transferred and promoted, and now I am a business development manager working at one of my company's US subsidiaries. I'm from the US but lived in Japan for 13 years - I was actually in Japan during all of my previous Avlis stints. I've got a son, who is also a gamer, though he's mostly into different games than I am these days.
Jazz: Ah, that brings me to a question I had already written down: has your son showed any interest in role-playing or anything like that?
Deider: A little bit. He's watched me play NWN and has asked about it. But he hasn't shown much of an interest in computer or console RPGs. He's more into phone and app games like Clash Royale, and multiplayer games like Minecraft and Fortnite.
Jazz: Do you think he’ll ever play with his dad on Avlis?
Deider: We'll see! It's one of those things where I would enjoy it but I don't want to push him into it.
Jazz: Sure, makes sense. Besides role-playing, what else interests you?
Deider: I'm not much of an outdoors guy. I play a few other games - I dusted off Breath of the Wild during winter break, because... I hadn't completed it! (And I still haven't, that game is huge.) I like chess and shogi (Japanese chess), though I don't play as much as I watch now. And I still try to study Japanese when I have time - I am jealous of Europeans like you who are good at multiple languages, and now that I don't live in Japan anymore I can feel my language ability slipping.
Jazz: Sure, that does make it easier. If you live in a small country with a lot of international trade, you're bound to have several foreign languages taught at school. I think I'm actually the first non-native English speaker to do an Avlis interview. That might explain some of my weird sentences You said earlier you were away from Avlis for 10 years or so. Spreading the love on The Known Lands, I think? Can you tell us a bit about that?
Deider:Lasher was another Avlis player and team member. He and I met in graduate school - he was DMing a D&D group but wanted to get back to playing, so he asked me to take over. It was my first time DMing - it was a great experience and a lot of fun. I had come up with a campaign setting in university and used that for the campaign I ran in grad school. Fast forward to around 2006 or 2007 and NWN2 had just come out. There were some things I wanted to do differently than were being done in Avlis at the time, so Lasher and I decided to start a PW in NWN2. We used the campaign setting I had run in grad school and adapted it to NWN2 a bit, and TKL was born. I was a DM there for 5 years, and then I stopped roleplaying altogether for another 5 before returning to Avlis in 2017. Interestingly enough, some of the stuff I wanted to do in TKL, such as a weekly XP cap, had since been adopted by Avlis. TKL's main thing was also weekly party groups - at our peak, I think we had about 10 a week. And of course, now weekly parties is the main thing I DM in Avlis.
Jazz: Luckily for us, you’re now back at Avlis for what, 2 years now? Again you’ve joined the Team. How’s your experience there?
Deider: It's been great and being older helps. When I was younger I was in a hurry to do a lot of things, and ended up taking on too much, though I didn't think that at the time. It's fair to say that I burned myself out. I also had some very entrenched opinions about how certain things should be. And to put it bluntly, I was an asshole, which gets amplified on the internet. These days I am mellower - I just try to focus on having fun, and making sure other people are having fun. I like doing things on the CCC side, but I am no longer in a hurry to push things through - Avlis isn't going anywhere, and there's plenty of time to make incremental changes and improvements.
Jazz: That's true! When I first joined The Team I never heard the word ‘asshat’ before. You used it daily on the Team Forum. I’ve not seen you use that word since your return. Have you matured?
Deider: I would like to think so! Though I probably still have the sense of humor of a 13-year-old, I'm afraid. And I think the community has matured as well. It's smaller, but also tighter, in a good way. Not insular, but more understanding. A dozen years ago discussions in GD would get a lot more contentious, and we had a lot more players who seemed to complain just for the sake of complaining, to the extent that back then I stopped reading GD. There was a much more palpable Us vs. Them mentality between players and the team. I don't feel that now - I think we all realize that we're in this together and that the team does all this in our spare time, because we love it
Jazz: I think you're right about that, we're all a bit older now, and the real asshats have moved on or matured as well. And yet you say this while you resurrected the Cockmagic plot. Tell us a bit about that.
Deider: When I read about that old plot, I could not resist. It has two things I love, gnomes and dick jokes.
Jazz: Classic Deider.
Deider: Worry not, though - the Master of Cock Magic will not rise again.
Jazz: Phew! You know, it was plots such as those that made me hesitant to join your weekly DM group, but I’m so glad I did! I got to know the more serious Deider side as well. You really seem to be talented in having many reoccurring NPCs. They all have their own personality and are unique and rarely generic. How do you do that
Deider: In the past when I became a DM I stopped playing my characters. I've realized now that that was not a good idea, because you start to lose the player perspective, so I try to play Gram and Deider of Pelar when I can. But I don't miss playing them, because I have all these NPCs I get to roleplay. In a way, all these NPCs - Martok, Co'Beir, Caedmon, etc. - are like PCs for me. They have personalities, which can change over time. It's probably why I only have two PCs, because I get a lot of enjoyment from assuming the roles of those NPCs.
Jazz: You do a crazy amount of work as a Team Member. Besides Toolsetting, you also manage 3 weekly groups you DM and you often hold open events on Sunday. I assume you don't need sleep. Without giving any dark secrets away, can you tell us something about the 3 groups?
Deider: Gladly! The Golden Legacy is the prototypical good-aligned group of heroes. I love them because we get to do classic "slaying the dragon and saving the princess" high adventure stuff. Daer en'Grantir conducts a lot of secret missions and plots; I love them because it's a very different type of event and a very different type of group. And then you have Co'Beir's Beetches, which... well, to be honest, it's hard to describe exactly what the Beetches are. I've been very lucky because the difference in group dynamics makes it impossible for me to get bored - the weekly events are all different. And the players are fantastic. I wish I could do more parties, but three is definitely my limit.
Jazz: Yeah, I bet! I just want to say I’ve had the privilege of being in one of those weekly groups, and I’d like to say that it’s been my best Avlis experience in my 14 playing here. Well done!
Deider: Thanks! And thanks for coming every week! That's really what has made it great, is the consistency of the players.
Jazz: It really is. I know our group members do everything they can to be there, sleepgriefing themselves so often.
… why is Snow always blamed?
Deider:That's a team secret I cannot divulge. He just is.
Jazz: Darn! So, you just said you only played 2 PCs. Little Gram is a naughty boy. You must crack yourself up playing him?
Deider: I do. Gram is great because he has evolved due to interaction with other players. He has veered far away from my original concept for him, and in a good way. He's a character where I try to have some give and take with whoever he is interacting with, and not just have him hamming it up and chewing scenery with the jokes. It's hard to tell if I'm pulling that off or not, but that's the idea.
Jazz: I think you are. But it might not be for everyone, I suppose. Besides the cock joke plot, you just finished The Return of the Gentleman. What can you tell us about it?
Deider: Katroine had posted a poll asking what would get people to play more, and one of the responses that got a lot of votes was, to paraphrase, "a big plot." I hadn't planned on bringing The Gentleman back - he was good and dead - but after some great feedback team side, he became the antagonist. I was a bit anxious at first - the last time I had run such a big plot was when he was slain - but overall, I think it went well. So much so that I'd like to do something on that scale again, later this year.
Jazz: Looking forward to it! Was The Gentleman your first plot when you started DMing in 2003?
Deider: No. I ran a plot called Sun & Moon or something similar. It was more of a mystery - there was an elf female ghost, and this indestructible golem and the PCs had to figure out how they were connected and how to stop the golem from rampaging all over M'Chek & T'Nanshi. The Gentleman came after that.
Jazz: You had all 3 of your weekly groups play a role in this I believe, AND you had many open Sunday sessions and even some random other sessions in this plot. Was this a logistical nightmare?
Deider: It all ran pretty smoothly. I had run plots in the past that dragged on, so I decided early on that this one would run on a tighter schedule. The calendar and being able to schedule events really helped with this. I knew that if the plot dragged on into the new year we'd lose momentum, so I decided that I wanted to conclude it before the winter holiday. And that worked out, mainly because of all of the players who dug into the plot and did research, both in the forums and in-game. That level of interest was fantastic and really kept me going and spurred me to log on at random times to toss in some more undead attacks or interactions with plot NPCs.
Jazz: That was some good planning, D. It was great to see so many different PC's work together, even those who would normally despise each other and stay away from each other.
We're getting to the end of the interview now. Let's look back a bit, back in the day, who were your favourite PCs to RP with?
Deider: When I first joined I remember playing a lot with Lycanthropy and Mothrandric. They would help Deider of Pelar on his hunt for the Elusive M'Chekian Beaver... which he still has yet to find! To be honest, though I don't remember what PCs they were playing at the time. Gram interacted a lot with an elf monk named Jade, who led the Order of the Dragon. Jade was Gram's master, kind of in the way that Sith operate. (cackles)
Jazz: By the way, did you start the whole Gnomish language on Avlis?
Deider: Yes! I didn't want Deider of Pelar to be completely fluent in Common since he was from Deglos. So at first I just started making up greetings, expressions, words, etc. From there it sort of grew, to the point where I asked Orl if we could actually create a language, at least to the extent that Nanshilae had been documented at the time. And that's how Ganoom was born! Now I have Deider of Pelar only speak in Ganoom - ICly, he was trapped on other planes for several decades and ended up almost completely forgetting all the Common he had learned.
Jazz: That poor blue Gnome! I've used many of those words in the past for my Gnomish PC's
Did you have a favourite DM as well?
Deider: In terms of being DMed, no. But that's because back then the DM/player ratio was so low, you didn't run into a DM as often as you do now. I can remember Deider of Pelar taking part in a one-off, where he got his first magical item ever (Sickle +1!!), but I have no idea who the DM was and a week later he lost it when some PC ambushed and dry looted him (Avlis was very different in 2003). Then when I became a DM I basically stopped playing my PCs, so they never had a chance for any DM interaction. Once I joined the team... there were so many team members back then, it's hard to single someone out. Sindol was a great DM and a smart guy. And Twiggs has been a calm voice of reason and overall great guy since 2003, though I'm a bit biased in his case since we've had the chance to meet in person.
Jazz: Japan buddies!
Jazz: Yeah, dry looting, ugh! So glad I never got to experience that side of Avlis.
Any people in particular you miss?
Deider: Hmm... obviously Brock & liephus, though I have chances to see them in RL occasionally. Sindol & Moth, Camb (who added Gram's hometown of Huntingcreek Hills to Ferrell!), Lasher, Jade's player and the old Order of the Dragon crew, PJ, Fifty, Fuzz... there are a lot of people who have come and gone.
Jazz: Camb did that? Aww, that's so cute!
Okay, let’s get to the obligatory ‘5 songs random shuffle’. And even though I say obligatory, I actually love this part! If you have some kind of playlist, what are the next 5 songs that come by on shuffle
Deider: Oh wow, ok, let's find out!
Deider: Be warned, I probably haven't bought a new CD since the mid-2000s.
Jazz: Hehe. That's okay, most good music is from before that period.
Deider: Here we go: Hell Yes (Beck, Guero)
A song from the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack
Hangin' Around (Counting Crows, This Desert Life)
Help Yourself (Amy Winehouse, Frank)
And last but not least…
Red River (Lead Belly)
Jazz:Not bad, Deider! Here I was fearing it would all be anime or Japanese songs.
You watch Netflix. Which movies and/or series do you recommend?
Deider: Breaking Bad of course if you haven't seen it. I'm currently finishing off House of Cards. They have a short anime series called Kuromukuro which I enjoyed. Black Mirror I liked. On the comedy side, I liked Maron. Also Cuckoo - I love Greg Davies. I'm also into "real crime" - a lot of times when I am messing around in the toolset I have Forensic Files on in the background - so I enjoyed Making a Murderer and Staircase. And to mash those last two genres up, American Vandal - as you would expect, the humor in that was right up my alley.
Jazz: Cheers! Don't know that last one, but I'll have to take your word for it!
Is there anything you’d like to say before we finish? Or is there anything you like to ask me?
Deider: When is Rodrick going to become the Pope of Gorethar?
Jazz: Hahaha, with your help, soon! Deider, thank you so much for this interview. The three (!) hours flew by!
Deider: I know! Thanks for taking the time to do it.
Jazz: My pleasure.