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DM Notes: Episode Zero Parts 1-3

Hey, Dice Droppers!

So, first and foremost, I must say thank you to all our supporters over the weekend you helped us have an amazing launch weekend. We did so much better than we expected at launch, and that is all thanks to you guys. We are putting the finishing touches on this week’s episode at the time of writing so be sure to tune in on Friday at 1:00 PM for Episode 2: “The Breakfast Club”.

Now, let’s talk about this week’s episodes.

As I said in Friday’s post, today I am going to talk to you guys about the Episode 0s and the thought that went into planning them and how they will connect to the story going forward. Wednesday I will be talking about Episode 1 so be sure to come back for that.

The three episode zeroes were an idea pitched by Allie (as was the entire concept for the campaign). She wanted each of them to have an intimate episode with the DM to build their characters and find their personalities before bringing the party together. Now, as a storyteller and comic book fan, this was an interesting concept. Every hero has an origin story, from the Spider-Man losing his uncle after being bitten by a radioactive spider to Superman falling from the sky and landing in the middle of a cornfield in Kansas, every hero has a major event that defines their story.

That was what I wanted for each of the PCs going into the campaign. I wanted to give each player a chance to discover their power and give them an event that would kick off their own Hero’s Journey.

For those unfamiliar, Joseph Campbell published a theory on the mythological structure of the journey of the archetypal “Hero” in legends and stories. Each of the seventeen steps defines the Hero’s Journey from his departure from his “Normal world” to his triumphant return.

Looking back on each of the Episode Zeroes, I realized that each of our heroes had taken their first three steps on their individual journeys. Each hero received a call to adventure, refused the call (in River’s case, she refused the call many times), and met their mentor. As far as what each of those steps was, I think that is a great thing to discuss in the comments. If you think you know what the steps were, please put your thoughts in the comments. I would love to see them.

So, there were a couple of things with each individual episode I wanted to address:


So, Xander was a late introduction in the planning process but turned out to be quite integral to River’s story. This was an addition to River’s backstory that was sent to me by Allie the night before we recorded her episode. I did not reply back for a couple of reasons. 1)I was tired and did not really feel up to replying and 2) I needed to process the information. I already had a story thought up for River, but there was a piece missing.

Once Xander was thrown into the mix, everything came together. I knew exactly how I was going to get River into the episode. So, I started to come up with a personality for Xander and everything else came together in the episode. Everything else with Xander was Allie and I playing off each other. Xander also gave me a way to get River to want to make an escape, bringing in Shade to the rescue.

Anticlimax in “Safe and Sound”

So, there is a bit of anticlimax in Safe and Sound. This also gives me a chance to tell you guys about how the powers worked. Before we recorded each episode, I had each of the players roll on a table to determine their character’s powers (Also Allie’s suggestion). I didn’t tell them their powers, so their reactions to their powers were genuine. I also didn’t know what powers I was working with until a few minutes before the session.

It was a test of my improvisation skills.

Oswald’s power he rolled was called “Comprehend” and he rolled the abilities to understand and communicate with Animals, Computers, and understand and speak languages. Now, Oswald already had two pets and was a freelance worker by trade so this worked out for his character perfectly…

…however, this also meant that he had an early warning system of what was to come.

And so, to all the Dungeon Master’s out there, be prepared for things like that. I wasn’t prepared for an advantage like that. And now I have learned and adapted.

The Lancasters

So, we come to Part 3, which had one of the most heart-wrenching moments in the series thus far. And I will do my best not to spoil it, but if you have listened to the episode, you know which one I am talking about. Great for the character, not great on the player or DM. I think you can hear my voice crack a bit in the episode.

The Lancasters are known members of the community and some of the greatest minds in the city of Eden. In short, Remi gave me a hook for the rest of the story, which I am not going to spoil here. Remi’s episode, in particular, has so much that would spoil the episode for you guys so I will leave you guys with this.

The Lancasters are some of the greatest minds in Eden. They are at the top, and you don’t get there without making a few enemies.

So, this is where I leave you for this post. Check out Wednesday’s post for my thoughts on Episode 1 “I don’t know how, but you found me.” Please post your thoughts on each character’s Hero’s Journey in the comments down below. I may even join in the discussion. Also, be sure to tune in on Friday for Episode 2 “The Breakfast Club”.

Your Dungeon Master,


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