Adventure Tourism Podcast

Episode 1 - What Child Is This? feat. Batts

Chris: Welcome to the Adventure Tourism Podcast where I talk to creators in the tabletop role playing games industry about the adventures that have influenced and inspired them. I’m Chris from Loot The Room and today I am joined by Batts.

Batts, who are you?

Batts: Ah well, I am Batts. I guess that answers that question. I make tabletop games mostly. I have made a few adventures but mostly everything I’ve made have been systems.

Yeah, I think that’s about it. Most people, I think, know me at this point because of .dungeon. Uhm, that’s the thing that has kind of gotten the most coverage, at least media coverage. You know when if if that’s what you can call it?

Other than that, though, people might know me from when I posted on Reddit because I posted a lot there, but that was at this point years ago.

So yeah, probably .dungeon is what I’m known for at this point.

Chris: I don’t want to do the whole. How did you get into do RPGs thing? Because that’s every podcast ever, right? You started out doing like 5E stuff. Same as me but you started out on Reddit, right?

Batts: Yeah, uhm, I think you know of the subreddit. The D&D behind the screen.

Chris: Yeah, I used to post a bit on there.

Batts: Yeah, I started there when it was really small because the D&D subreddit they didn’t ban me, but they they weren’t very receptive to my… Arguably they were pretty bad ideas ’cause this was years ago, but. They, they wanted. You know pictures of dice and maps and character art, and so the the person who created the DND behind the screen subreddit messaged me personally was like “hey, quit wasting your time. Come post here instead,” and so I did that and me and him were friends, probably for a long time.

And that’s sort of, I guess, the first relationship I made in the scene was with the person who ran that subreddit, and I just posted there for years, like from 2015 till last year, maybe a year before that, I don’t know it. I suppose a long time.

Chris: Nice. So Reddit, not always a hell site.

Batts: Uh, yeah, I mean it was. It was pretty horrible, but. Twitter has been much nicer. Even though that’s not the nicest either.

Chris: So uhm, the whole point of this is to talk about an adventure that was like formative for you or important for you, or has informed your work in some way. I know what adventure you picked, but… Well, so do the listeners ’cause it’ll be in the title of the episode, probably, but maybe it won’t be. Maybe I’ll surprise them. What adventure are we talking about?

Batts: Well and it’s uh. I think it’s a pretty interesting question. ’cause formative adventure would probably be deep carbon observatory.

But the adventure, I think that’s sort of become what I think of is probably even the gold standard of what an adventure can be. Maybe not what it should be, but what it can be is What Child Is This? from Nate Treme. I still don’t know how to pronounce his last name.

Chris: I think he must hate us all mangling his name at this point.

Batts: Right? It’s just ’N8 ’at this point. That’s that’s how I refer to him. I guess better known as Highland Paranormal Society.

But yeah, that’s the adventure I chose. Based primarily on the fact that I think it’s launched 3 campaigns that would start it out as one shots using it. Uhm, which I think is I don’t know. It’s I’m currently running one right now too so.

It’s just, it’s just a campaign generator just based on its premise alone.

Chris: So for people who don’t know, how would you, how would you pitch what child is this?

Batts: Uh, I think pitching it’s actually very easy. The the adventure itself is just that. You get called to a village or you come to a village that there has been a baby born recently that is at least alleged to be the baby of a God or or a God in baby form. Something like that and it even has like a crown.

Like floating above its head, but that’s the whole. The whole pitch is just there is a God baby.

And you have to figure out where to take it or what to do with it. Uhm, and each of those, sort of questions can be answered hundreds of different ways. The adventure does give a few possible solutions, or at least places to take it. If you don’t want to carry around a baby.

But uhm, yeah, from from that simple decision of what do we do with this God baby? I mean anything can happen after that I feel like but.

Chris: Literally anything could happen.

Batts: Yeah, but that that’s that’s the pitch you want to take care of a baby. Here’s the adventure.

Chris I think one of my favourite things about it is it gives you this really cool choice ’cause you start like the bottom left of the map and you’re given a goal of like take it to the top right?

Yeah, but then at the top left of the hex map. There’s a dungeon. And I really like that. I ran it once and I really like that moment where you seed the existence of the dungeon to the players while they’re halfway across the desert with a baby and then you see that moment in their eyes where they’re like.

What now?

Batts: Yeah, yeah, ’cause it’s it’s again I feel like it’s it’s so simple. That’s kind of like the the brilliance of it is like you have a kind of like you said you’re trying to basically get to the top right corner of the map and they give you 2 like roads to take and one of them leads you either through a forest. But then you could go through the desert.

And yeah, there’s like this. I guess it’s supposed to be hidden like a secretive, maybe cult related temple out in the middle of the desert of this giant owl.

Chris: Oh shit it’s got an owl at the bottom of it hasn’t it? Big owl statue.

Batts: Yeah, like the dungeon itself is super… the dungeon is super simple, but just like yeah like you said the seed of maybe there’s something more going on. I mean more beyond the fact that you have a God baby.

But just the fact that. There could be some cult interference or or maybe some answers down out in the desert if you feel like carrying a baby through the dunes. Uhm?

It’s it’s super simple, but it just, uh, there’s so many ways that you can go about it that make it so… I don’t know unique for everybody who plays it. It’s very… like I said. I’ve started three different campaigns with it.

None of them have gone even slightly the same, no matter how similar the opening is. And that’s just. It’s always blown my mind. How simple.

Uhm, uhm, you can really make an adventure like that.

Chris: Earlier you called it like the gold standard of adventures or what adventures could be, uhm?

Can you expand on that? What makes you say that, like in what way, I guess.

Batts: Yeah, I think I think the best way to expand on it is is UM.

As a one shot, I think it works perfectly because there is a simple premise and a single end goal.

Like if you just want to take the baby to this fortress and let these people you know take care of it and raise it, that’s totally doable, but also along the way. Like if you are, say, running this for 5th edition or or either some kind of fantasy dungeon crawler there’s a lot of random encounters that are completely out there. There’s like a Demon Hunter. There’s like a powerful like Sorceress living in a tower. There are so many what would be considered overpowered things for like a first level character to run into that having this God baby makes manageable.

Uhm, so you can have like conversations with super powerful spellcasters, which could possibly lead to other things, but you kind of get the full experience of a dungeon crawler or just an adventure game? Because you have this this equaliser this great equaliser of being the holder of this this godbaby which allows Nate to just throw things that only high level characters would ever see.

So even if you just run for one session, you can kind of introduce people to all these ideas that might make them want to play again.

Or continue with the story.

And in that way I think it it. That’s one thing I think Nate does really well just in general is not really caring about levels and balance, but somehow he kind of really nailed it here by by keeping it balanced with with the God baby that has like special powers and stuff like that. But I think of that.

Especially when it comes to one shots, you want to show people what’s up. You want to show them all the cool things that you have hiding behind the the world. You want to be able to have them experience something more than just? Yeah, there’s a dungeon with five rooms in it, and maybe you’ll see something cool you want to kind of get them hooked and this this it has so many hooks like the random encounters, every one of them is is.

I don’t, I don’t even know how to explain it. Each one of them is like an adventure on its own, or it could be.

Chris: I was talking to someone about this the other day and I think I used the phrase… Uhm catalysts for adventure. Yeah, and and that’s something that Nate is like so ******* good at.

Batts: Yeah, that’s aa good word.

Yeah, it’s it’s just like he… It almost feels like he trusts you when you’re reading it, like you could. You could roll something that as wild as it’s like #7 on the random encounters is 100 white doves circle around the child and he just he just kind of is like yeah what do you want to do with that? Like that’s it could be nothing. It could just happen.

Or it could mean that like he, he just trusts you too.

Yeah, to take it as a catalyst and be be creative with it or ignore it too, but he just he trusts you not to, to… I don’t know to get lost like he, he’s just like. Yeah, here’s this stuff. You know you’re a person you know what to do.

Chris: I feel like with a lot of stuff like there’s that classic DND thing of like, the GM presents a situation and then says, “What do you do next?” Yeah, and I feel like a lot of Nate stuff is asking that of the GM.

Batts: Yeah, no. That’s a good point I. Think yeah he…

Chris: Like the random encounter table is D20 random encounters and there’s 21 entries on it.

Batts: That is honestly something I always forget until I go and start reading through through them again ’cause. Yeah, he’s just like. Just that simple. I don’t want to call it that like an anachronism, but that simple thing that just doesn’t quite click.

You know, like where do you get the extra 1 from? It’s like Nate doesn’t care, he just he’s letting you know. Basically you know the rules aren’t what’s important here? It’s the adventure that’s important, ultimately.

Chris: God it’s so good. That’s so good, I haven’t read it since I ran it, and when you said you were picking it, I read it again. I just sat here angry at how good it is, like even the dungeon is like it’s only 5 rooms. There’s not a lot going on in it.

But there’s so much going on in it at the same time, not even 5 rooms, 4 rooms.

Batts: Yeah, it’s super tiny.

Chris: Yeah, but it’s it’s very Nate like. I think if you put that page in front of me and said, who wrote this? I would immediately know, yeah.

Batts: I haven’t got to run the dungeon itself that that often. Mostly people like focus in on the baby, but just the fact that.

In the second room, there’s like there’s a ghost, which I personally find ghosts to be some of the most fun things to talk to you, but in DND, and even has the monster manual page and everything like in 5th Edition, a ghost is pretty powerful against the first level party, it like possesses people, it does so many things and the fact that he’s just like.

Here’s a ghost. What are you first level players with a God baby like? What are you gonna do about it? Like.

I don’t know. It is totally made up.

Chris: I love the potential. I love the potential of the last sentence of that encounter. “The spirit is bound to the rug and will go where it goes.”

Batts: Yeah, like that’s like a whole adventure on its own, yeah.

Chris: Earlier you said about the baby being the great equaliser that lets these first level players characters interact with all this super powerful sheet. And I’ve never made that connection in my head with this adventure before.

Batts: Yeah, it’s it’s so it’s so so it’s almost like that last sentence really, ’cause I it’s only one line.

Come in in the little stat block that he that Nate gives you for this God baby, which in and of itself having a stat block for a baby… It’s pretty funny, UM, but it has the ability to just laugh and everybody has to make a rather high wisdom save for 5th Edition a DC-15 wisdom save.

Or they can’t do anything hostile. It’s like just just the fact that the baby could laugh. There could be, like, literally a dragon in front of you, and the baby could laugh and there’s a chance that the dragon will not be hostile to you for that.

Just one little you can you give the players one little ability that’s not on their character sheet. Uhm, and suddenly they can be forced to reckon with not using combat, which I think is a lot of what people critiques of 5th edition, yes.

Chris: And like, there’s even stuff like.

Animals will not be hostile to the baby or the party.

Batts: Yeah, and it heals you it can. It can see… what’s it. He says that it has advantage on detecting illusions. Just there’s. It has a lot of abilities, but like there’s some that are…

Just like here’s, here’s here’s some common issues that a first level party might run into, and the baby will will. Not solve them, but not make combat. The most obvious answer to them.

Chris: Yeah, mitigate them a bit. I really like that the benefits you get from the baby only apply if you take care of the baby.

Feed it, burp it, change it, rest it like you can’t just shove this thing in a bag of holding.

And you know some groups want to do that.

Batts: Oh 100% yeah. Like taking care of the baby is.

You you either get the players that think it that’s a really great idea and it’s really fun and they want to be like you know the mom or the dad or just some sort of cool caretaker for this child.

And then you have the people who are like this baby cries every five minutes. I don’t want. I can’t walk across the desert and and not be seen with this thing.

But even even then, like you know. If you have those angry party members who do want to just get rid of the baby that presents so many other problems besides just not having the baby anymore because people think you do have the baby and like the random encounter is the table is just full of possibly powerful things that will come knocking and looking for that child, and if you don’t have it then that might be a bigger problem for you than if you had tried to take care of it.

Chris: That’s awesome.

So, uhm, I guess the the obvious question is. Like how has this had an influence on your work and I know that Nate in general has influenced some of your work quite directly, like Radikal Souls obviously was like a response to Radikal Quest, and like the map which I I have on my wall you can see….

Batts: Yeah, look at that. That’s so cool. I don’t even have it on my wall.

Chris: So like, obviously that that looks like a Nate dungeon. Yeah, like you did a really great job of like channelling that Nate style. But yeah, how like.

How would you say this has impacted your work, if at all? Or? I mean, I’m assuming it has ’cause you picked it.

To talk about.

Batts: But yeah, I think I think the main thing. The main thing I’ve tried to remember whenever I do write an adventure is is it’s less about.

I don’t even know how to word it. When it comes to creating it, at least an adventure. It’s it’s more about just putting something in the way like it’s. It’s less about giving even a challenge. It’s less about giving them… You know, problems,

It’s just more about putting anything between where they are and where they’re going, whether that be a ghost that wants to talk to them or a God baby that they have to take care of just…

Just putting anything in between where they are and where they want to go automatically will create.

And I know people have many definitions for this word, but it will create a story of some kind. I mean, that’s the most basic form of story is you want something, and there’s something in the way. Whether that thing is stopping you or not

Chris: That’s like Writing 101, conflict drives story.

Batts: Yeah, exactly, it’s like.

And with the the Radikal Souls in particular, it has souls in there because you know. Uhm, it’s it’s kind of based around Dark Souls at least, but like the idea was like, I’m just going to draw things on here.

And people will figure out what they are or or.

It’s just the fact that I am drawing something on the map.

Doesn’t matter what it is, that alone will create, you know, an encounter or something interesting to happen, and I think that’s what Nate you…

I mean, Nate has even posted it on Twitter and things like that. How he creates a dungeon is he just draws the dungeon yeah, and then he just draws random stuff in it like he doesn’t. He doesn’t start with the writing part, he just starts with like let me just put something in here and then I’ll put words afterwards to try to explain myself.

And that’s I think the main thing I’ve tried to take from Nate is to just not not worry as much really just kind of let it.

You know when you’re at the table, you can balance it however you need to balance it if you think that’s important, but it’s just about putting.

Putting things and then afterwards interesting things in the way of the players, and they’ll. They’ll kind of, you know, make it a story on their own.

You don’t really have to try to do all the heavy lifting yourself as a writer. It looks when it comes to tabletop.

Chris: Like you said, it’s more about trusting the GM and the players to to figure out.

Batts: Yeah, like come… Like you’re just kind of like 1 dimension of the thing you know you like you as the writer or the artist or whatever. You’re just the idea. You’re like the seed.

That you’re sort of planting in in the the the table. You know the group and the dungeon master, and it’s then that that are going to actually turn it into something you know usable.

Uhm, you you don’t really have that control. As as the writer to know.

What 6 individuals are going to think about the words you put on the page? The best you can do is just put something interesting there, uhm.

So that way, like with Nate, you’ll remember who did it, and maybe go looking for more of their stuff, but you put something interesting there, and that’s more likely to you know… Make whatever they do. Interesting, you know if it’s interesting they will have to be just as interesting to, uh, create solutions for it. Or you know.

Whatever you do, however, your players end up taking care of it depending on…

Chris: Yeah, totally.

I had something I had, something that I was going to ask you.

Batts: I hate that so much. It happens to me all the time.

Chris: Sun King’s Palace.

Batts: Oh yeah.

Chris: Let’s talk about Sun King’s Palace.

’cause you’ve done. You’ve done some cool **** here.

Batts: And I was running that just yesterday actually.

Chris: Oh **** how did it go?

Batts: Well, they left so.

Chris: I mean, that’s what you want from a mega dungeon.

Batts: Right? Yeah they they they left ’cause they wanted to finally sleep. That’s what they. I think their goal was. They just.

Chris: You want them to run away.

Batts: Wanted to sleep for a night.

Uhm, but yeah, that’s uhm I. I mean, I don’t even know what to say about it. I’ve been. I’ve had this dungeon for ages at this point since the Reddit days because that’s kind of where it started to grow.

Uhm, and I’ve only got to use it a few times because itself it’s it’s sort of a very mythic place to go.

Uhm, so you really only go there for reasons and you know those are usually very specific to to the campaigns that I run.

But yeah, it’s dumb as a thing. I’m not really sure how to feel about it yet.

Just because I I don’t know, I don’t know. It feels like something I’m not quite sure what it is myself yet, as as like, uh, as a dungeon or as a… you know?

I hate to call it a product or whatever but yeah.

Chris: The twine format for presenting it’s so cool and… You were saying about? Like that design philosophy of just like.

Put things in the way of the characters. I feel like there’s a lot of that going on in Sun King like…

There’s a room in it, the railway. It’s like an abandoned rail station being eaten by the abyss, and that’s just such a cool thing to just like drop in the way of the players.

Batts: Yeah, and see what they do with it. When it can’t. Like I guess, the the story behind even where this came from is maybe. Maybe of note like.

When I was posting on Reddit quite a bit, uh, I had people knew my name, at least on the subreddit, and there came a point where some of the more well known creators were doing like an AMA, and I wanted mine to be different, so I said I’m going to turn every question and like everybody who asks a question.

Into a dungeon room for a dungeon. Uhm, and so I got a bunch of questions and I put. I just put all their names and their questions into a document.

And turned them into rooms, and that’s kind of what did the basis for the Sun King’s Palace. It’s changed a lot over the years.

But the whole idea, I think the whole idea with that like including the railway, it it was sort of that idea of I wanted to put mainly people. I consider this to be like a talking dungeon. There are just lots of people in this dungeon that you get to as a DM. My favourite part is playing people getting to be that NPC and talk, and be goofy, uhm?

And I think that was my main goal. Was I just wanted each room to kind of be a conversation.

Uhm, so I guess in that way I never really thought of it as like a dungeon crawl. Maybe you know where like you’re going through the rooms and plotting out a pathway, and I thought more of each room is almost being like it’s its own scene.

It’s own, it’s own, sort of, I don’t know it’s own ecosystem, it’s own thing. Uhm, and when it comes, I guess to the railway itself. Uhm, I think there’s maybe a few things in the dungeon where it… It’s sort of it’s I guess…

Catalyst. I like that word a lot. It’s sort of a catalyst of like do you want to go on this train out into this… This space that even I haven’t mapped yet. An invitation to add on to what is there and find out what is outside of the palace and this weird, uhm, plane of existence? And that’s… I haven’t had anybody do that yet.

Chris: One day.

Batts: But I am very curious to see you know what happens when when they do ’cause, I don’t. I don’t know what’s out there yet, I mean. No one’s paid me to think about it so…

Chris: I’ve heard you say… Uhm… I’ve heard you used the word “talking dungeons” before. Uhm, is that something you came up with, or is that a thing from elsewhere or?

Batts: Uhm, I feel like it’s something- at least that phrase talking dungeon is something that I came up with because it’s not a very clever name. It doesn’t have like a cool name to it like fun house, dungeon or.

Chris: But it says a lot. It says a lot about what to expect, though, like.

Batts: Yeah, I know I agree. Uhm, it definitely came from not liking, I guess, a lot of what the OSR at the time was doing with kind of the old school dungeon crawls where people would die a lot and maybe fight creatures and have to think cleverly tactically. And I was like, I just want to talk? That was my main thing is like I just I want interesting people to talk to because the conversation alone.

Uhm, is. I mean, that’s kind of a puzzle on its own. Figuring out what people like and what they don’t like, and making enemies and things like that. And so I was just like I just want to make a dungeon that’s full of people.

That’s what I want to do, mostly in my… And when it comes to adventures, uhm.

So yeah, I don’t. I think I think if I can say I coined the phrase talking dungeon, I don’t know if anybody else has really used it.

Chris: You’re the first person I’ve ever heard used the phrase though.

Batts: Yeah, if it becomes a phrase.. I mean more power to people? I hope they… I would love for people to make more dungeons where you both mainly talk to weird people, but.

Uhm, yeah, I think I guess… That is my term for how I run games. Lots of talking.

Chris: And like now that you said that, like, Sun King’s Palace definitely fits that model. Like I can click on any room and there’s like a solid 90% chance there’s going to be a weird little person doing some weird little things inside it.

Batts: Yeah, I that was probably the ’cause. Like I said, I’ve had this dungeon for a long time. And I never like got to the point where I was writing it down because I was like, how am I going to write down all of this, like I guess, role play information, and it wasn’t until twine that I was like, oh I can just like link things to get… and even if it’s still a lot of writing in my head, it makes it so much easier to parse things.

Chris: Split into those chunks helps, right?

Batts: Yeah, exactly ’cause. The idea of writing. I think there’s like 60 or 70 different individual creatures, people in this, this dungeon, and the thought of like sitting there and writing them all out, just made me my. My mind just went completely numb. But yeah, I tried to put at least one thing in each room, and most of those things are people.

Chris: That compartmentalization, I guess, or segmentation of the process is something that going back to like What Child Is this? and Nate’s videos about his process and stuff. When I was doing Reivdenein December I… I decided I was gonna do some little dungeons and I… ’cause I wanted to turn them out quick I stole Nate’s process of like, just draw a map, put some **** in it, write it later and that really helped with that segmentation of like.

’cause you usually… when I’ve written adventures before ,and I guess you maybe you might have had the same thing, where you like, you try and go through it room by room, in your head and be like what’s next. What’s coming up next? And it’s so much different when you’ve got the map in front of you and you’ve drawn some weird **** on and you can just go. I’m going to write this room. What’s this? I’m going to write this room. What’s this? Like, it makes the process so much quicker and easier.

Batts: Yeah, I think. I think in a way the idea that like it turns, it turns like the creation of the dungeon into into like sort of a game in itself because it it sort of allows you.

’cause like you said, I try to do the same thing where I go room by room in my head, but when you have the map, you actually get to sit there and kind of explore it yourself like.

Especially if you draw it yourself, or if you take it from somebody else there, there, there automatically becomes that distance just from the fact that you finished the drawing and then when you can kind of come back and look at it, you get to then take on that role of like exploring it as like a as a player might, and figuring out like, oh, I walk into this room. What is there you know? What would I want to see?

Or what what? What would I hate to see if it’s like supposed to be a scary room or more of a horror dungeon. Sort of like what you were doing with.

Uhm Reivdene? Yeah, it’s more like that or even with some of your your other stuff. You’ve kind of focused more on the horror, so I guess that’s probably more of a, uh.

“What would I hate to see in this room?” moment.

That’s that’s something that I have very little experience with. But yeah, I think I think turning I think like how you worded it compartmentalising it. And being able to take on a different role kind of for each step.

Is is definitely something that Nate I think champions without even knowing he champions it. Uhm, but even just like watching him work in in and of itself is like. A teaching moment is is learning. I feel like Nate yeah without knowing it has been one of the bigger influences for like, that “just do it kind” of phrase phrasing or terminology, and it’s it’s something that I hope people take note of and at least even if it takes, you know years into the future can look back on and be like.

Yeah, Nate was like… Nate was always doing the work you know.

Chris: His output is astonishing, like it makes me angry.

Batts: It’s.. the man, the man’s gotta stop. Holy crap Nate. He’s even got kids since like… come on man.

Chris: He makes the rest of us look slow and lazy.

Batts: He really does. Especially with the fact that he can. He literally can do it all. He does the drawing, the layout, the writing. Like I just I just saw before we started this recording, he had posted another adventure on Twitter and he was flipping through his little book that he printed out himself and I was like… come on!

Chris: Here’s an 8 pager I just knocked out.

Batts: Exactly! Something that would take me forever and it’s like, OK, sure, Nate, whatever thanks dude. I appreciate it.

You know, I think.

I think… I don’t know exactly what your what your hopes are for this, or even if you look at projects like, I hope to that it does this or whatever. Uh, I know I do that probably more so than I should, and it definitely is a problem, but.

When it comes to like, at least when it comes to me talking about Nate’s adventure, uhm?

I hope that that people either watching or who go and read Nate’s adventure, can kind of get the same experience that I had of of.

I hate to be like cliché and say like personal growth or something like that, but seeing how somebody else does something uhm and how they do it almost naturally.

It makes me want to know how to do that, and Nate… Nate’s way of doing things is very different from how I do things, but there are still tons of things that I try to take from Nate and I try to take from other adventures as well all the time and I I hope that people come.

If they hear me talk. If you know hearing me talk about Nate’s adventure, at least I hope they at least want to look at it. Uh, and I hope that they can get something from it, even if they don’t run it. I think if more people.

If more people took from Nate what I try to take from Nate and maybe don’t accomplish, then there might be an increase of quality. Uh, when it comes to adventures and not quality of it as in production, but just quality, as in like I look at it and I think, “I want to run this like right now,” uh, because I think that’s very rare when it comes to adventures at least.

Personally, it’s very rare that I read an adventure and I I feel like I have to run it, and that’s something that I feel like Nate has nailed.

And obviously probably doesn’t even know how he did it. He that’s just what he does, uhm?

Chris: He’s very good at just putting the good stuff in, yeah?

Batts: Yeah, not even worrying about and I don’t even like. I don’t know if he does a lot of editing, like when you watch him draw stuff.

He’s not like erasing a lot. It’s almost like he’s nailed that sort of Moebius. I forget exactly what it’s called, but how Moebius would just not thinking would just draw shapes and just draw.

And let the picture kind of create itself. Uhm, Nate, definitely has that quality of just like. I’m not going to make a list of what I want, I’m. Just going to go.

And somehow, always hitting home runs, which I think is maybe the hard part for a lot of people.

Chris: Yeah, although I guess maybe we don’t see the 800 things he draws at home that he says, “this is ****.”

Batts: Yeah, maybe maybe. Maybe he. Maybe he does edit himself and he’s just good about making it seem like he does it. Then maybe he’s tricked us.

Chris: It’s a good trick if he’s managed it.

Batts: Exactly, even even if not, I think I think people should have the courage to fail as many times as Nate has probably failed to get to the point where he’s at, and to where they they can hopefully create adventures that make the rRest of us have to step it up ’cause…

Chris: I think the other thing Nate is a great example of and you mentioned this very briefly earlier. Is that whole. Just do it ethos? Yeah, like a lot of people want to write stuff and I think, especially if you’re coming from 5E, it’s easy to look at at 100 and 200 page 5E adventures and be like, “this is what an adventure looks like. Yeah, I can’t write that. I can’t produce that artwork I can’t XYZ”. And like What Child Is This? is 2 pages?

Batts: Yeah, I think he I think he’s printed it as even just like a two sided piece of paper I think was done before so.

Chris: It’s it’s…. It’s a hex map with some key entries. It’s a stat block. And it’s, uh, a four room dungeon with some keyed entries and it’s.

Yeah, it’s great. It’s really good. It’s like aspirationally good.

Batts: Yeah, it’s it’s I. I’m kind of curious if Nate is annoyed with how much I say it’s his best thing considering how much he’s made after it.

I don’t, I hope. I hope it doesn’t annoy him a lot. But yeah, I would consider like, if I made that? I would consider that my magnum opus right there. I don’t care how short it is like that’s…

The energy to launch an entire campaign’s-worth of adventure based on like, yeah, like 2 pages is, that’s that that doesn’t happen. No, that, that’s magic right there, like…

Chris: Very rarely.

Batts: Ah, and and I think like you, you’ve come up in 5E too. I remember you said that you started on the DM’s Guild, which I don’t have a lot of experience with that, but-

Chris: Lucky you.

Batts: Definitely coming from 5E. The biggest eye opener is that idea of…. You can do it and you just have to do it uhm, you don’t-

Chris: No one will do it for you.

Batts: Exactly 5E… and 5E doesn’t help you at all. 5E I, I feel like does not make you want to be creative. It tries to give you answers all the time and learning that you can ask the questions instead of looking for answers is.

When you when you when you learn that, especially if you come from 5E, you’re going to have to remind yourself all the time. I constantly have to remind myself based on those things and give myself the permission to just ask the questions and and not worry about the answers.

Chris: I think one of the other things that Nate does that 5E doesn’t allow for is he leaves space for play to provide the answers.

Like I haven’t run 5E for a while, but I’m running Pathfinder 2 at the minute and I’m running Abomination Vaults, which is one of the Adventure Paths and Pathfinder 2 has that same thing of 5E… as a trad game, where it’s… I don’t want to say overwritten.

It’s… reading the modules is almost like reading two different things. It’s like reading a dungeon for players to explore and like reading a short story for the GM to discover because there’s all this information about the history of the dungeon and XY and Z, that’s never going to come up in play, there’s no way for it to come up in play. But you, as the GM are expected to know it and somehow make use of it, and it doesn’t leave you a lot of room for improvisation when you’re running it.

Because the players will ask a question about something and you think, well, I could make up an answer. But yeah, in six pages time there might be an answer and I might be wrong.

And I think one of the things Nate does really well is just says, hey, look. You have the answers. Here is the space for you to produce them.

If that makes any sense.

Batts: 100% yeah, no. That that’s exactly I mean I feel the same way like it’s but it I think it does come from coming from, you know I started with 3.5 edition and then went to 4th for a little bit.

And then fifth, being given all the answers for so long, you know, being.

Or not even being asked questions, but just being told answers all the time in these books and trying to run these adventures.

It it takes, it’s it’s a hard thing to learn to to learn the job of. No. You can ask the questions instead.

And Nate has just naturally done that or has learned it over years. And so the God maybe doesn’t give you answers. He just asks questions and and the simple fact of like reading that.

And your mind automatically filling in those gaps because that’s kind of just what you do, I think. Naturally, as a human and as a creative person and as an artist you, your brain naturally tries to fill in those gaps.

And it’s it’s a total mind opener. I feel like when it comes to getting away from from always being given the answers. And it’s it’s something it’s a hard thing to learn. I feel like like I said, I have to remind myself about it all the time.

And Nate sort of just kind of, I feel like gives you that gives you the permission. You know he’s he’s. He’s a very good you know Father figure.

Just says, hey go do something. Don’t worry about it you’ll you’ll figure it out. And in figuring it out, you kind of, you know, hopefully gain confidence in yourself to be able to start taking on that role yourself, yeah?

Chris: I don’t think I have anything to add to that.

I feel that’s a good place to wrap it up. How about you?

Batts: I mean, yeah, I don’t know. Unless I wanted to go through and and just read off more random encounters and say how cool they are.

Chris: Feel free to read off some random encounters that you love from the dungeon. You are welcome to.

Batts: Uh, I will say my favourite one. My favourite one is number 3 and it says uh, “Demon Lord Hezrou, who wishes to kidnap the baby and raise it to be evil”. That’s the best random encounter I think anybody’s ever written when it comes to a baby that will make that demon Lord not be able to hurt you.

I I think you just put those two things into a room and it happened in my last campaign and the demon Lord became like a in in his own way.

Kind of like a father figure to this group because he wanted to protect the baby after that and like that alone, I don’t know that’s.

It’s it’s magical if if people just need to read this and they just need to read it.

Chris: I think my favourite thing about…. My favourite unanswered question is what the **** is going on with the owls?

Yeah, ’cause there’s owls all the way through the random encounter table. Like yeah, #17 a dozen dead owls lie on the ground shot with black arrows. The baby cries uncontrollably until they are buried, burned, or at least 100 feet away.

Number 19, a cloud in the shape of a great owl floats above and rains for one hour before dissipating. There’s a statue of an owl that makes the baby crown glow.

And then, like at the bottom of the dungeon, the tomb of the Owl Lord, there’s paintings of owls, and there’s a huge stone sarcophagus shaped like an owl. I think I just said “sar-ca-phagus”?

Huge stone sarcophagus shaped like an owl and it’s never explained. It’s not. There’s not even a hint of an explanation about what the **** is going on with these owls.

Batts: Yeah, I. I remember when I first read it I thought I missed something ’cause in my head I was like, “oh so the baby is is obviously maybe an owl Lord child or something”.

Maybe he’s… Maybe Nate just uhm…

I read over it and didn’t realise it and then I was just like no. Nate just put this here and either assumed you would guess that or didn’t care. It’s just like what you can make this connection if you want it. It’s not important, but yeah, it’s…

I think that again, I think that if you were to try to to put Nate’s style, or even like the uh.

The thing that you should take away from this adventure and from Nate, it would be that simply planting things is enough to make them grow, especially at least when it comes to an adventure.

Chris: Yeah, don’t be afraid to leave… Yeah, unanswered questions.

Batts: Just throw him in like what’s the worst that can happen? Somebody says, oh, I don’t. I’m not going to use this.

Yeah, that’s the worst that can happen. Like, or maybe if it’s on Reddit they’ll message you something horrible, but. If you’re… not read it. That’s the worst thing that can happen if somebody just doesn’t care.

And the best thing that can happen is that somebody can spend the next year of their life playing a game with their friends and figuring out the answers to those questions.

What’s what’s the harm like? Just do it, just ask the questions. Just do it.

Chris: I don’t know when this is going to go out. I think the next couple of weeks. When’s Wizards And The Wastes finished crowdfunding?

Batts: Well, I mean, without Kickstarter telling me when to stop it, I can stop it whenever I want.

I’m probably gonna stop it next weekend, like the weekend after this one coming up. OK, uh, because I said end of January, but I never really gave a date, but that’ll probably be when.

Chris: In that case I will try and get this out next week.

Batts: OK.

Chris: I love Wizards And The Wastes. It’s a really great game. I think it’s the first… No. Red Snow was the 1st thing of yours that I played.

Batts: Yes, I think that’s the first time I ever talked to you was that one, yeah.

Chris: Yeah, but then… Wizards And The Wastes was the first like big game of yours. I played and I fell in love with it. It’s great, uhm?

’cause I grew up on Diana Wynne Jones books. She’s my one of my favourite writers. So yeah, I’m very excited to see a second edition.

Where can people find that?

Batts: It’s pretty easy, I think it’s just nerves dot store.

Uh, so “Nerves” like the word and then dot store and it’ll take you straight to my store where it is on the front page and from there it’s pretty easy to find it. That’s where you can kind of find everything of mine. Other than that Twitter.

Uh, which is just my name, @JohnBattle117.

Uhm, but yeah, uh, Wizards is… Wizards and the Waste is the I. I think it is probably the first big game I ever released.

Besides it being the first one that you saw and it is now going to get the care and attention that it should have gotten those years ago, when I had originally released and I too am very excited to see it come, I can’t wait to get the test prints and all that stuff ’cause it is hopefully going to be very beautiful to hold in my hand.

But yeah I am super excited for that too like. I try not to think about it ’cause it’s just gonna make me very angry because crowdfunding is a horrible experience.

It is probably the worst thing I’ve experienced besides physical pain.

Chris: Cool, thank you so much for sitting down and talking to me tonight today. Whatever time it is. What is time?

Batts: It’s been a blast.

Chris: I really appreciate it. I think this… I enjoyed this. If people enjoy listening to it, that’s just a bonus.

Batts: Yeah, I hope they enjoy it too. ’cause, uh, it’s, uh, I can’t wait to see what other people pick for their adventures. ’cause I need more adventures to read, but…

People need to read this one like come on, it’s so it’s so short it’s so short just read it.

Chris: Yes, read it, run it.

There will be links and stuff in the show notes afterwards for anyone listening. I will put a link to What Child Is This? in the show notes, there will be a transcript available also linked in the show notes. So yeah, thank you for joining me. And thank you if you’ve been listening to this, and if you’ve stuck with us for nearly an hour. Thank you for listening to this first episode and I hope you’ll come back for the next one.

You can check out all of Batts’ stuff at nerves dot store. You can find everything that I do at Loot The Room dot IO.

This has been the first episode of Adventure Tourism. Hopefully the 1st of many. Thank you for listening.