Critical Hit: A Major Spoilers D and D podcast
Four Against The Void

This episode: You asked for it, and we’re delivering – a series of episodes walking those who want to become a Game Master through the process. This time out: Stephen rolls out his first Dungeons and Dragons adventure as a novice game master.


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  1. Darth Achaeron on

    Hello chaps!
    Absolutely massive fan of the podcast, listened to it practically nonstop to get through the first 50 episodes in a week, and had a wonderful time explaining the concept of biomechanical arms, thoni stark, and “uhh.. Wuht?” at my home game. It’s now our rule that anything that can be cracked on the head will be.

    I just wanted to congratulate Stephen on his excellent GMing, with brilliant atmosphere and actual flavour. Beautiful job keeping the game going, so by hat is off to you, and hopefully I’ll do as well as you in my first game GMing in a couple of weeks.
    Also, to mathew, you will always be Thork, so hearing you shout ‘I am Erol Flynn’ and shooting off a curse at a sniper on a balcony was incredibly surreal. So keep on crackin’ em on the head, Codan Firewalker

    To the rest of you, sorry I don’t remember your shtick, but you’re awesome too. So remember, here’s hoping that all your rolls are critical hits.

  2. It was finally good to hear Alex, who sounded a bit like Rodrigo. He added a lot to the game with his halfing. (Though it’s been said a few times, he’d be a great 5th for the group.)Props to Brian, Rob and Alex for helping Stephen with some of the minor rules.

    I wouldn’t want a recap episode to eat into the CH schedule, but it might be nice to have a short discussion between members of the group about the sucesses and possible improvements of the run. In other words, if you knew what you know now… would you change anything?

  3. First of all, great job GMing, Stephen! I loved the old man voices. :)

    Secondly, I was cracking up at the random mention of Mormons :D I am Mormon and I love your podcast. Why was Matthew getting all tense at the mention of us, though? :( I still love him and Torq even if he does not like us. :)

    Also, I think that Bahamut is the closest to the Judeo-Christian God, being a god of justice. Also, Mormons are totally lawful good. :)

    • Secondly, I was cracking up at the random mention of Mormons :D I am Mormon and I love your podcast. Why was Matthew getting all tense at the mention of us, though? :( I still love him and Torq even if he does not like us. :)

      I have a dear friend who was raised Mormon, and she likes to take potshots at her childhood faith, I’m sure I was just channelling that… I honestly don’t remember what I said, though.

      • You just said “Noooo” repeatedly when the other people were saying things about Mormons, in a way that could be interpreted as “Don’t get me started, I don’t like them.” I’m glad that’s not so, though. :)

        *leaves giant funnel cake for Torq*

          • Okay…sorry for the delay in replying. Here is what was said, for what it’s worth (it’s nothing huge or anything, it mostly interested me because I was surprised to hear ‘Mormons’ in the middle of a DnD podcast. :))

            Stephen: Now that you are fully into the room, you can see that there are some more characters…
            Rob: More mans?
            Stephen: Some more mans, yes. But not Mormons.
            Alex: That’s good. (Brian laughs) I’d hate to have to deal with —
            Matthew: (emphatically) NO.
            Alex: — healing powers going on.
            Matthew: NO.
            (Brian laughs more)
            Alex: Hey, if they’re religious, then they probably can heal —
            Matthew: NO.
            Alex: — at least in 4th — in DnD.
            Brian: ‘By the power of John Smith!’
            (Somebody, I’m not sure): Okay, that’s enough (laughing)
            Matthew: It makes you wonder though, what alignment are the Latter-Day Saints? (pause) NO!
            (Everybody laughs)
            Brian: I was going to say, no, don’t start that discussion.

            and then you went back to what you had been doing. :)

            This started right around the 1:10 mark in the podcast (maybe a few seconds before.)

  4. Cool episode, great job Stephen! I was dreading you talking too quickly and forgeting your words (what I usually do when I’m nervous) but as soon as you started the old man’s story you got into a really good pace.

    I’m suprised how easy it was for the players to defeat the enemies, it’s specialy odd seen how Brian and Ron were part of the party…

  5. Loved it! But now you’re going to have to have a new Major Spoilers poll of the week: who is the better Dungeon Master: Stephen or Rodrigo?

  6. Your first kick at the proverbial can was excellent, Stephen. My only minor criticism is that there were a few times where the old adage “show don’t tell” would apply – for instance when the second old man came in, instead of saying that he was obviously in poor health, you could have described what would make his condition obvious – shallow breathing? sweat beading on his forehead? But on the whole you did a great job creating the world… oh and one time you accidentally called one of the old men by the name of the owner of the manor, which was probably just a slip but might make people wonder if perhaps that character really *is* the owner of the manor… although that could be my soap opera background making me instantly think of a character being someone else in disguise after having come back from the dead. :D

  7. Awesome episode guys! All and all, I think this was a very good first time ’round the block for Stephen. Other then a lingering lack of familiarity with a few rules here and there, I would not have thought that was your first time DM/GMing, well done! Your voices were great and you did a good job of hooking the party into the plot. I do agree with Alex though, the combat was too easy, but if that’s about the worst that can be said… that’s a good sign indeed!

    I don’t know if it was just that “new party smell” or what, but I think I like this group more then the 4 vs the Void crew!

    Thanks for making my workdays go by that much faster guys!

  8. Your voice acting and atmosphere work was excellent. A few fumbles on the rules but your players had your back and that often happens to the most experienced DMs. Excellent work.

    I thinks its sad we didn’t get to hear Rodrigo as a player, that would have been interesting.

  9. Not a bad episode. Stephen certainly has the knack for DM-ing and really seemed to go the extra mile to make it more than just hack-n-slash.

    Loved Alex! His voice acting was a treat, and I’d love to see him involved in the next season of CH. Though the level of damage his “housecat” was doing to the gnoll seemed a bit absurd. Makes me glad my cats don’t have at-will powers. ;)

  10. This episode was awesome. The sniper was a good touch, I remember it being mentioned in the earlier podcast, it was cool seeing/hearing it in use.

  11. Man that was awesone. You could tell just how much preparation you put into it. I rally enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong, Rodrigo is an awesome experienced and quick on his feet dm. But you created an atmosphere in your world that made up for any lack of expertise you might have. I honestly think that just as you have a lot that you can learn from Rodrigo he could also take some creative pointers from you to make 4vsV even cooler than what it already is for listeners. Cheers

  12. You had a way better first time than I did many years ago. I guess it helps to be teached by an experience DM like Rodrigo and having experienced players which are not rule lawyers! There are some minor adjustments here and there to be done for futur adventures but you have the potential to be an awesome DM. I guess your biggest challenge for the next time is to avoid having a too linear story and as Matthew said ”bloody hooks”. This imply that you create a much more longer adventure than a one-shot like this one.

    But what I like the most about this game is that you understand the basics of role playing games. It’s not about having the most bad ass history but to create an athmosphere in which every player can have an influence on the story and having fun! And great voice acting as well.

    As some unknown guy said: ” Two thumbs up”

      • Have we ever seen the two of them together? “Convienent” that when Alex was hanging out during previous sessions that he didn’t have a mic. And “convienent” that when Alex joined the podcast for the first time, Rodrigo was absent. ;)

        • XantharTheFlame on

          Hmm… I was wondering the same thing! They not only sound alike, they also use some of the same expressions. I heard or read that Alex and Rodrigo met in college (didn’t I?) — perhaps it is deeper than that… maybe they are even brothers?

  13. Stephen, your one-shot was excellent. Your story of the origin of the mansion was straight out of a Lovecraft or Clive Barker story and it gave me chills listening to it. I’d definitely say one of your biggest strengths in GMing is your ability to get into playing your NPCs and doing their voices. Also, it was nice to hear a newbie GM who wasn’t afraid to ask his players about rules he wasn’t clear on – I’ve played in a group in which the GM was clearly less familiar with the system than his players, and instead of being open about it, tried to hide it.

    As to constructive criticism, definitely work on learning the rules as you continue to GM. There is nothing wrong with not knowing rules, but your GMing will only improve the more you know.

  14. Thanks as always for a great podcast. I really thought from the previous podcast there was going to be a hyper-realistic multilevel set for the library with individually crafted bookshelves and books. You did manage a nicer drawing that Rodrigo usually does. I love making elaborate sets for the encounters I run and could totally see spending the kids collage fund on Dwarven Forge if I were a less responsible person. Keep up the good work.

  15. Strongest DM debut ever! Good flavor text, nice setting, too. Reminds of good ole’ Ravenloft!

    More Cousin Balki Housecat, too!

  16. From the world, to the moon, and now the Reikland. This is such an excellent podcast.

    Great voice acting. Great story! Lots of detail, was very entertaining.

    Matthew, is no stereotype safe? This character is as hilarious as the last.

  17. XantharTheFlame on

    Same feedback as many others, Stephen — Awesome debut! From listening to how quickly you got into your role as Orem and developed personality for that character, and how you easily grasp the storytelling aspect of the game, I knew that you would be strong on that front, and you certainly did NOT disappoint! Two minor, hopefully constructive comments, purely in the light of helping you become a truly great DM if you choose that path:

    1. Try not to lead the characters quite so much. I’m not referring to the obvious setup (you all are sitting at the same table in an inn), because for a one-shot adventure there is absolutely nothing wrong with contriving a quick start. No, I’m talking more about once the story got going, the first 2 NPC’s basically pulled the characters right into the plot, with little to no feedback from the players. Examples… after they accept the quest and they agree to meet the first old man in the morning, ask the players what their characters do next. Let them decide whether to do anything in the town that night. And in the morning, and on the trip, it seemed like they were rushed toward the mansion, when you could have asked them how they proceed, or even if they take off right away. At the mansion, you basically tell them what they find are 3 ways to get in (after a fantastic description of their first view of the place by the way!), when you could have stopped after the description and asked them what they do next. Make them tell you they are exploring the outside looking for ways in — or see if they just go open the front door! I think you understand where I’m going…

    2. Don’t underestimate the players or their characters abilities. That to me is why the first encounter in the library was too easy. In the first 3 parts you basically designed this encounter as 5th level, but at the start of the game they were all 6th level. I don’t know why the change (you don’t say), but I wonder if you were worried about killing one of them off in your first fight? Don’t forget, in Four Against the Void, the Torqeltones were only 5th level when they traveled to the moon and took on a fledgling deity! Make the encounters tougher than you think they should be, and most of the time they will still get through it all right, and if they aren’t they still have two basic options — (a) Run! or (b) die!

    Again, please don’t take this as major criticism. You were amazing for a first timer. I’m only trying to make suggestions for improvement.

    Keep it up all of you!

    P.S. I love how DND Brian’s character still says “very well…” :-)

    • Congrats to your first effort at DMing! I respect your willingness to do attempt it in front of the entire community. Takes a bit of courage, I’d say. Well done!

      I think XantharTheFlame’s comments were right on the money. You’ve probably got the hang of this stuff by now (I’m way behind on the podcasts). I thought maybe your long exposition was likely the result of so much WoW influence…felt kind of like that – linear with minimal participation from the PCs.

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