With the coming release of the new season of the Void Saga on the Critical Hit podcast, I, your all-knowing, all-powerful Robot Overlord, has once again taken the time to talk with Game Master Rodrigo Lopez about what happened last time… ON CRITICAL HIT!
ROBOT OVERLORD: Hello Spoilerites and Critters. it is I, your Robot Overlord here with another Critical Hit Exit Interview, this time for the Legacy of Ghosts season. Once again I am joined by Rodrigo.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Yes, thank you for joining us.
RODRIGO: Anything to get out of that suspended animation chamber you had me in.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Was it not to your liking?
RODRIGO: If I say “no” will you stick me back in there anyway?
ROBOT OVERLORD: TO BE DETERMINED! For now, let us attack this past season chronologically. The first episodes featured several new voices.
RODRIGO: That’s right, George and KayCee, along with Sam.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Why add three new players?
RODRIGO: A lot of reasons. It’s always interesting to have new voices in the game, also different players can bring out different things from each other, so having Orem interact with a handful of new characters, not voiced by the usual crew, made things a little more interesting.
ROBOT OVERLORD: But there was a bigger reason.
RODRIGO: Yes. Normally my first priority is the experience for the players at the table, and after that, I think about our audience. This time I chose to prioritize the audience experience, throwing a crazy curveball to start the season off.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Did it work?
RODRIGO: I believe so, I think people were really expecting to get maybe one new player and by introducing three it threw our listeners for a loop.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Positively?
RODRIGO: Mostly, I do think some people did get stressed out by it, not because of all the new people, but because they thought maybe Matthew, Rob, and Brian weren’t coming back.
ROBOT OVERLORD: But they did.
RODRIGO: They did! And then Sam stayed, too.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Tell me about Samantha.
RODRIGO: Yeah! Sam is a great new addition to the show. She’s a resourceful player and an accomplished game master.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Her Pathfinder game was well received.
RODRIGO: It was a lot of fun to play too. Bang! Bang! …+1 to hit…
ROBOT OVERLORD: Anyway… Eventually, the party is joined by Matthew’s new character.
RODRIGO: Yes. Sekhar, we’ve talked on the show about Sekhar’s genesis, but I think it’s also important to talk about what Sekhar was not.
ROBOT OVERLORD: And what is that?
RODRIGO: Torq. We wanted to make a character that played differently from Torq but was still effective at being a defender.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Did that succeed?
RODRIGO: I think so, Sekhar has a bigger, wackier toolkit to work with. He can teleport, he can transform, he has a handful of secret vampire powers! Or so I’m told.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Does that make him better than Torq mechanically?
RODRIGO: No, just different. Sekhar goes broad, whereas Torq went pretty deep into dealing damage. Sekhar has lots of ways to hinder and punish enemies, all Torq had (and needed) was the threat of big damage.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Matthew seems to enjoy playing Sekhar.
RODRIGO: Yes, although the mechanics of what makes Sekhar different may be difficult to see at first, it’s very obvious how Sekhar allows Matthew a very different character to roleplay.
ROBOT OVERLORD: And then eventually the whole party comes together when Ket rejoins.
RODRIGO: Yes, again, I wanted there to be some twists and turns for the audience (and the other players) so Rob started the game “as another character.”
ROBOT OVERLORD: Are you counting Ket’s alternate personas in the ongoing tally of characters Rob has played?
RODRIGO: I’m not, but I think enterprising fans who are keeping score will enjoy discussing the parentheticals.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Ket returned, but so did Orem and Randus.
RODRIGO: Yes. Randus, (played by D&D Brian, of course) is by far the most useful character for me as a game master. So much in Critical Hit gets explained through time travel super science shenanigans and Randus gives the other players (and the audience) a window into that.
ROBOT OVERLORD: How does Brian feel about that?
RODRIGO: I think he’s cool with it. I appreciate it because he’s also good at improvising technobabble which is very useful; especially since I often throw him into new weird situations without much warning or prompting. He’s fast on the DM’s chair too. I think there were a couple times during Hays of Shadows where we must have gone off the rails, but he kept a good handle on the game the whole time.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Hays of Shadows was a very different game from what Critical Hit has done before.
RODRIGO: Yes. This is why it’s nice to have other people take the reins. You get a very different experience when you combine different game masters, settings and systems.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Speaking of new situations, can you talk about Orem’s trials during this past season of the Void Saga?
RODRIGO: Stephen (Orem’s player and the producer for Critical Hit) was a real sport, as I literally stretched and squashed his character through the first third of the season.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Where did the idea for Flat Orem and Beefy Orem come from?
RODRIGO: It was something that I had wanted to do for a long time. Originally, I was going to say that being in any of “The Bloom’s” demiplanes might have a weird effect on him; but since we ended up in the Astral Sea pretty early on I didn’t execute on that. I just didn’t want him to have to deal with that sort of wackiness for an entire season. So I kept it in my pocket until Legacy of Ghosts.
ROBOT OVERLORD: You have spoken of themes before, what major themes were you trying to hit with Legacy of Ghosts?
RODRIGO: On a very basic level I was trying to see if we could play different games entirely with the same system, characters, and story. I feel like we successfully did a Sliders/Exiles/Planescape riff upfront, then followed it up with Shadowrun at the end.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Are you ever concerned that a drastic change in direction for the story will alienate some listeners?
RODRIGO: I think the majority of our listeners know that Critical Hit is frequently trying new things out. Lots of stuff that was once unheard of is now expected, The “Other Half” segments and playing other games in-between Void Saga seasons, for example.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Speaking of which, this was a particularly long break between “off-seasons” of The Void Saga.
RODRIGO: It was. In fact, you’ll note that we started referring to the breaks as an “Off-Season” less and less, and mostly just focused on the individual games we were playing.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Why is that?
RODRIGO: We don’t have a lot of time and resources, so a lot of our tests have to happen on the fly and live on the air. Critical Hit spawned from The Major Spoilers Podcast that way, for example. And this past handful of games were also a test of sorts.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Yellow Light’s Binaural Audio.
RODRIGO: Not just that. This past “Let’s-not-call-it-an-off-season” was a dry run for what Critical Hit might look like in the future since this coming season, Devilish Research will be the last in the Void Saga.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Gasp.
RODRIGO: It sounds so disingenuous when you do that.
ROBOT OVERLORD: So the future of Critical Hit is smaller discrete games?
RODRIGO: Certainly smaller than Void Saga. Are we never going to do another sprawling epic story? I can’t say that for sure, but we’re definitely going to focus on other experiences for a bit.
ROBOT OVERLORD: Have the ensuing games been decided?
RODRIGO: Almost. Stephen has set up a process where we are pitching and voting internally to figure out what games come next. But likely there will be games that at least some of us are familiar with.
ROBOT OVERLORD: So fan suggestions will not be accepted?
RODRIGO: I mean we’re not going to block you on twitter for suggesting 13th Age, but if no one on the show wants to run 13th Age, we’re probably not going to do it. At least not in this go-round. That being said, there are some fan suggestions that have made it on to the initial list because of interest from the players.
ROBOT OVERLORD: It sounds as though you are stepping down as the main game master for Critical Hit.
RODRIGO: I’d like to think of it as stepping up as the most intense player on Critical Hit.
ROBOT OVERLORD: After Hays of Shadows that is certainly a possibility.
RODRIGO: I’ll be back to run games, I’m not hanging up my pointy, moon-and-stars hat. Just putting it away for a bit.
RODRIGO: Correct, we still have that to do.
ROBOT OVERLORD: What should listeners expect?
RODRIGO: For everything to be tied up with a neat little bow and/or be smashed with a hammer.
ROBOT OVERLORD: EXCELLENT! Expect the first episode of Devilish Research, the last chapter in the Void Saga to arrive on or around April 7, 2018.