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John August: Hello and welcome. My name is John August.
Craig Mazin: Oh, ah.
John: You got it.
Craig: My name is Craig Mazin.
John: This is Episode 416 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.
Today on the program we’ll be talking with a senior narrative designer at Wizards of the Coast about fantasy world-building as a profession. It’s a great conversation about what is probably a lot of listeners’ dream job.
But first we have a ton of follow up to get through, so Craig let’s get at this.
Craig: Let’s go.
John: All right. So in the last regular episode before the Veep episode I was talking about this movie The Shadows that I’m planning to go off and direct. We’re starting casting on it because there’s this one very specific role that’s going to be challenging to cast. It is a 15-year-old girl who is blind. And to find a 15-year-old blind actress could be a challenge. But luckily a lot of people have sent in stuff and, you know, I’m starting to get audition reels and people out there have been really great about passing the message out there. And so it’s been really gratifying over the past two weeks to see a ton of stuff come in from people who kind of want to be in the movie or want to help find the actress for this movie.
Craig: That’s great. And so how are you doing it? You’ve set kind of, you know, a tricky goal for yourself. You went to America and said–
John: America and English-speaking countries outside of America.
Craig: And English-speaking countries outside of America. And you said let’s crowd-source this. Let’s see if we can do it. How has it been going?
John: It’s been going pretty well. So the things I did for the announcement was obviously Scriptnotes and I put out a tweet. That tweet got shared a lot which was terrific. And people sort of reached out beyond and into their networks. Now we’re doing the systematic outreach to all of the organizations we can find in the US and English-speaking countries that work with blind youth because the theory is that this actor may not realize that she’s actually an actor yet because she may not have had the opportunity. And so we’re reaching out to them. We’re sending the casting notice which you can find at johnaugust.com/casting.
But we’ve also brought in a casting director who has done a lot of big movies, but has also worked on projects that involve actors who are blind or low-vis. And she is also helping us do some more outreach there. So I’m optimistic that we will be able to find the actress for this role.
Craig: Great. I am, too. I’m sure you will. When there’s a will there’s a way. And, also, let’s just say, people generally want to star in movies, don’t they? It’s not you’re looking for somebody to clear out your P trap underneath your sink.
Craig: So, yeah, I feel like you’ll get there.
John: I think we’ll get there. Along the way in this process people sent through this link to something that was really great, so we’ll put a link in the show notes. It’s the Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit put out by an organization called Respectability. It’s a really good website that talks through what to be thinking about when you’re thinking about inclusion in your project, in this case looking at people who have different abilities. And it’s just really great. So I was happy that this thing existed. I would not have known about it if people hadn’t sent me the link, so I’m going to pass on this link to you guys. If you are writing a project that includes people who are not in your realm of experience this may be a really good place to start looking and start thinking about the questions to ask and the issues to keep in mind.
Craig: And it’s good that we have these resources now. I mean, it’s one thing to say to creators, look, you have to do better, right? That’s the Twitter phrase, do better. It’s the all-purpose Twitter phrase for shame on you, I’ve noticed by the way. Any time somebody doesn’t like what you say or do they just go, “Do better.” But in some cases we really can do better. We have not done well as a community on this particular topic of casting people with disabilities. And people who don’t have disabilities, writing for characters who have disabilities, even just the amount of writers with disabilities is pretty low, like a lot of our marginalized groups in our business.
But you can say to people, well OK, do better. And then they think I want to, where do I start, what do I do, how do I get there? The last thing you want to do is call up your one blind friend and say, “So can you tell me about blind stuff?” That’s no good.
John: That’s what I do with Ryan Knighton all the time, but yes. Ryan Knighton cannot be everyone’s resource.
Craig: [laughs] He can’t be everyone’s resource. And also I should say like, yeah, there’s like three phases. There’s I don’t know you, so don’t talk to me. Then there’s I casually know you so this is awkward. And then, OK, we’re friends, I can ask you anything. If you haven’t crossed all the way over into we’re friends and we have a certain understanding and trust of each other. So, it’s nice that organizations are providing these resources. And when they do they’re not only offering you help, they’re removing one of the great excuses of all time: well I don’t know where to go, I don’t know who to talk to. Well, now you do know where to go and now you do know who to talk to.
John: So we have a couple listener questions about this. I’m going to mash two of them together because they were both long but they covered some really good territory.
Craig: Mash them up. Let’s do it.
John: So Ian wrote in to ask, “After listening to this week’s podcast I was very intrigued by John’s movie concept and casting call for a young blind actor to play Abby. At what point does an actor cease becoming an actor. Actors exist to portray people they are not. Some examples like gay actors should be able to play a straight person. A kind, caring actor should be able to play an unspeakable evil. A younger actor can portray an older actor, especially with the help of makeup. A native English-speaking actor can portray somebody from another country with an accent, for now anyway.” That was his parenthetical there.
“A qualified actor should be able to inhabit the role of the living person, for example Queen Elizabeth.” I’ll continue on with Matt who wrote in to say, “Perhaps you and Craig could speak to the larger trend of increased casting scrutiny currently coursing through Hollywood.”
So, Craig, what do you think of these questions? Have you noticed over the past few years a change in what is considered proper for casting in certain roles?
Craig: Oh yeah. I think what we’ve seen is there’s a change in what is considered inappropriate casting. So there have been a couple of very high profile incidents where white actors were being cast to play characters that either were not white in source material or were not really even white in an original screenplay for instance. So there’s a sense that you do want to – I mean, look, I’m with Ian in one sense. The whole point of acting is that you’re being somebody you’re not. Just like the whole point of writing is that you’re writing somebody that you’re not. In fact, you’re writing lots of people you’re not. And the last thing we want to do is balkanize everyone so that you can only write what’s in front of your eyes. That would be disastrous.
However, in the case of acting it is reasonable and I think it’s desirable to say to people there are certain actors that are underemployed and under-utilized and they have really interesting things to offer your part that others don’t. If I am making a show about the life and the challenges of an obese woman, OK. I could hire a thin actor. You may have noticed there’s quite a few of those. And pad her up. I could do that. And she can act that. That’s doable. In fact, it’s been done.
But, when you do that not only are you taking – you’re taking something away from a kind of actor that generally is under-utilized, but you’re also robbing yourself of an actor who may bring a certain emotional depth and truth to that part that someone else wouldn’t have access to. There is an authenticity there that you no longer have access to.
So, my feeling is this. If the part could be played by somebody who is of the sort that is under-utilized and underemployed, try and find the person that’s under-utilized and underemployed. Go for that. Yes, a gay actor can play a straight person because straight actors are not under-utilized or underemployed. Can a straight actor play a gay person? I would have said, you know, it’s an interesting kind of thing. And I’m interested in what you have to say about this. Because I feel like it used to happen all the time because gay characters weren’t really people, they were characters. And then there was a stretch there where it was sort of like, OK, let’s not do that. And now I feel like there are so many gay characters that maybe – for instance on Modern Family, Eric Stonestreet is not gay and he plays a gay character. And his husband is played by an actor who is gay. There are enough gay characters where maybe you can say well that’s OK. What about Jewish characters? There are a lot of Jewish characters, so I guess I don’t mind as a Jewish person that an Irish woman plays Mrs. Maisel. [laughs] It just doesn’t really bother me that much.
But, yeah, I think if you’re talking about under-represented characters then why not try and help people that have been ignored. It only works to your benefit as far as I’m concerned creatively.
John: Yeah. I think it does work to your benefit creatively. And I think a thing to look through in the examples you gave, but also the examples that Ian gave in his initial question, I think it may be interesting to draw a distinction between external realities of a character that we’re seeing onscreen and internal realities of that character. And so the idea of whether a gay person can play a straight role or a straight person can play a gay role that is internal acting that is 100 percent sort of what the actor inside is doing. That is not the physical reality of how that character presents onscreen.
And so I feel like we’re in a moment as we approach 2020 and probably this next bit of time where you’re going to try to cast the person who physically can inhabit that role sort of natively and naturally wherever possible. And so that’s part of the motivation behind looking for a blind actor for the role of Abby is that I don’t want the blindness to be a thing that the character is acting. I want the blindness to be a thing that is just naturally part of what comes in that performance.
Craig: So that’s a purely creative justification. And I would love to live in a world where you have purely creative justifications. There is a layer of our businesses is a very public business and it’s a very publicized business. And I think part of the reality that we have to steer through, I don’t want to sound like I’m naïve or a child, we also are aware that we live in a world now where these things are scrutinized.
Craig: And if you’re going to make a film about somebody who is say deaf, or someone who is hearing-impaired, who is sight-impaired, who is blind, someone who is in a wheelchair because they are a paraplegic, and you don’t cast somebody who has that then you’re going to be criticized wildly and heavily. That’s something that did not exist ten years ago.
Now, let me take that back. We weren’t aware of it ten years ago. So what’s been happening is people have been yelling in their own homes. Right? People have been yelling at the screen saying, “Not again.” Right? And now we all hear it. So I think that’s the difference is that we now hear it. If we are not naturally responsive to it, and I think we should be, then at the very least there are enough people in this business who just from a cynical point of view are aware that products that we make here in Hollywood can be damaged if we are stepping on people’s toes and being dismissive of needs for representation.
So, we have to take that into account. And I don’t take those things into account with my eyes rolling like, ugh, I guess we have to. No, I mean, look, all we’re doing is working for an audience. If there are people upset in the audience then we screwed up. So, why not do it the right way?
John: Yeah. So I think we have at least articulated three reasons why at this moment it feels important. First it’s creative reasons. Second is looking for access for actors who would otherwise not get a chance to be in these movies. And third is the realities of putting out these movies and TV shows in our environment right now and that there is an increased scrutiny which is probably merited.
So, those are three reasons why I think anyone who is looking at casting these roles is going to be thinking about with this role written a certain way how do I find the actor to best fit that role.
Craig: Exactly. And that’s something that happens I’d imagine in the beginning. When you started working on this I’m sure the second thought after so a blind girl, dot-dot-dot, you went, “And I’m going to need a blind actor.”
John: Yeah. And so as we get into this process and hopefully this movie gets made, you never know if this movie gets made, I’d love to talk more about how this all comes together and sort of the specific challenges not just with the Abby role but with the movie altogether in the next 100 episodes of Scriptnotes.
John: Cool. Further follow up. We had a How Would This Be a Movie where we talked about ice cream wars. We talked about Mister Softee in China and in Brooklyn. Ed in DC wrote in to say, “I’m surprised neither of you remember the 1984 film Comfort and Joy which was a dark comedy about such a turf war between ice cream companies. If you haven’t seen it it’s great. And he puts in a link in the show notes. I didn’t know about Comfort and Joy. Did you?
Craig: No. And I’m surprised that Ed is surprised. It’s not that I’m not familiar with the director of Comfort and Joy, Bill Forsyth, because Bill Forsyth directed Local Hero which I think a lot of people have seen. It’s a fantastic movie. But suffice to say that Local Hero was far more popular than Comfort and Joy. I’ve never heard of Comfort and Joy. Obviously it made it over here because Ed is in DC, unless Ed is Edinburgh. I don’t know. I don’t remember Comfort and Joy rolling on HBO with the same frequency as Beastmaster in 1984. So, sorry Ed.
No, I mean, I will check it out because, again, huge fan of Local Hero. You’ve seen Local Hero I assume?
John: I’ve never seen Local Hero.
Craig: Oh my gosh.
John: The list of movies I’ve not seen is long and embarrassing.
Craig: You know what John? Here’s the thing. That’s OK. No one has seen everything except weirdos. But Local Hero is one of those movies that is just a ray of sunshine. It’s just an absurdly positive, happy-making movie. It’s sweet. It’s adorable. Yeah, you will–
John: I’ll love it.
Craig: You will love it. Everyone loves it. It’s just got this wonderful whimsy to it. You’ll think it’s great.
John: I’m excited to see it. Jason Pace also wrote in with a link to 99 Problems which is a short film by Ross Killeen in Ireland. I think it may be becoming a feature. But his point was that it’s definitely universal. This idea of ice cream trucks which might seem so specific to the East Coast, there’s a universal quality because they’re happening in other places.
Craig: [laughs] Is there? So wait, hold on. There’s been a movie in Scotland and a movie in Ireland. So we’re now saying that this is a universal thing?
John: It is universal. Because if you have Brooklyn plus Scotland and Ireland? Come on, that’s like three different islands. So come on.
Craig: So how many Irelands, Americas, and Scotlands are needed to equal one India? Just out of curiosity. I think like six. I don’t think that this is necessarily indicating that we have a universal property or universal cultural point of view. But that’s OK. It’s not that everybody needs to know about the same thing. Sometimes you’re learning about them. Yeah, no, the fact that something has happened with a topic does not quite get us into universal territory.
John: Maybe not. But speaking of specificity and universality, do you want to do the follow up on Akashinga rangers?
Craig: Akashinga rangers. Meg writes, “I was so excited to hear you guys talking about the possibility of making a movie about the Akashinga rangers. This past spring at the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival I was lucky enough to see the Black Mambas, a short doc by Bruce Donnelly about the all-woman, all-badass anti-poaching crew who patrol Kruger National Park in South Africa. It was a great short doc and it was followed by an even more mind-blowing feature-length doc, When Lambs Become Lions, which I cannot recommend enough, even if you were already expressing some interest in how to make a story about anti-poaching units. Really gripping. It is hands-down the most stunning drama I’ve seen in years.” Hold on a second. Sorry. I’ve just got to back up a second.
Meg, I’m right here. Come on. I mean, I just – I tried so hard. Come on.
John: Yeah. I mean, Chernobyl, I don’t know.
Craig: I’m not saying it has to be the most stunning drama you’ve seen, but anyway. That’s Meg’s question. I’m just joking Meg. “I was constantly forgetting that it’s a documentary because it was just so beautifully constructed to keep you right on the edge of your seat the whole damn time. Its complexity hinges on the fact that the anti-poaching units in this small Kenyan town are so inconsistently funded that many locals go back and forth between working as poachers and working to prevent poachers, depending on which best allows them to feed their families. Friends and family members can easily find themselves on opposite sides and maintain close personal ties outside of the elephant refuge while hunting each other to death within. It is completely crazy. It is a fragile system to try and wrap your head around. And by the end of the movie you feel like everything you thought you knew about anything is maybe not so certain.”
Craig: I want to watch that.
John: Meg wrote a good review of When Lambs Become Lions. And, yeah, I think that if you’re going to make this movie about the Akashinga rangers that’s going to be a great aspect of this where even if it’s not our central characters that we’re following, the community that they’re in flips back and forth based on just economic need and necessity. And that’s great. That’s true. That’s human drama.
Craig: I mean, that does actually sound like possibly the most stunning drama I would see in years. I’m feeling a little bad.
John: Also, I mean, I’ve been to Kruger National Park and it is stunningly gorgeous. So just imagine that against that backdrop? Yeah, it’s good.
Craig: Ugh. [laughs] Darn it. We have another question. This is coming in from Leann and we’ve got an audio follow up from Episode 315, 100 episodes ago.
John: Let’s take a listen.
Leann: Hi John and Craig. Over two years ago on the show you gave your thoughts on a question of mine about waiting to hear back from a producer who is considering one of my scripts. A couple months later I briefly met you, John, at McNally Jackson Bookstore in SoHo after an episode recording. I told you that the producer had indeed come onboard the project and the film was now in development. You told me to write in again when my movie became ‘more real.’ I am very pleased to say that this film, my debut feature as a writer-director, recently wrapped production and is now in post.
We’ve had a wonderful cast and team behind it and things look exciting for the film’s future. Also, before we shot I submitted a different script to the Nichol and just found out it has advanced to the semi-finals.
I mention this because both of these events are a culmination of many years, hard work, and learning and your show has played a significant role in both my screenwriting craft and my understanding of the business. So thank you very much, again, for all your invaluable guidance over the years. You truly help so many people with your work. Thanks.
John: Congratulations, Leann. So congratulations on wrapping your film. Post is a wonderful and terrifying time where you will question why you’ve made this movie in the very first place. But I hope it comes through in spectacular form and you get it to a good venue, be it a festival, be it a distributor. However it ends up in the world, congratulations. And congratulations on your script placing well at the Nichol.
Craig: That’s fantastic. First of all, thank you also for writing in Leann, or speaking in and letting us know. It’s really nice to hear those things. And it’s particularly great that after all of this time we can chart people’s progress from the very, very start to here you are with a movie. And I think what John’s saying is absolutely true. No matter what happens with this film, and I hope it is everything you ever wanted it to be, tons of great careers started by people falling on their faces immediately after the starter pistol went off. Like mine. Just, you know, just right away face plant. And that’s OK.
That is not a predictor of future failure or anything. It’s just great that you’re through this now. You have gotten the hardest part done. You are now one of the very few people in the world who has written a screenplay that has become a movie. You now have access to a certain experience and information that 98% of screenwriters do not have. And so take all the lessons from this. Think of this as this great opportunity to learn all these lessons and I’m very glad in particular that when you did run into John at that bookstore that he wasn’t a monster to you. Because you know that’s – I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had to talk down after they’ve had a run-in with that monster. [laughs]
John: The Jekyll and Hyde quality. Sometimes it’s just, ugh, it’s just the worst. I know.
Craig: How great would that be, by the way, if you really were a monster? Like every time people met you in person they were like oh my god he is not what he is on the podcast at all.
John: Yeah, I mean, it’s Matthew’s clever editing that makes me sound like a rational human being when in fact I’m just–
Craig: No, you’re a nightmare.
John: Completely crazy.
Craig: Nightmare on wheels. So, anyway, thank you Leann. That’s wonderful.
John: Hooray. Craig, I don’t think we’ve actually talked about the fact that there’s an election happening, a WGA election that’s happening for the West. So I don’t know if you’re aware of it.
John: But it’s happening right now.
Craig: W, G, oh, the Writers Guild.
John: The Writers Guild. We’re both in the Writers Guild.
Craig: Here’s I think practically speaking this is my point of view about this election. Any Writers Guild election will favor the incumbents. I don’t remember the last time an incumbent ran for reelection and didn’t win, for anything. Officer or board. But this year is different because there’s quite a bit of controversy and the union has been undergoing an internal disagreement. Which I think is good.
I think there’s a generation of writers that have grown up inside a guild that has never argued. And you and I come from an earlier time when the guild would argue all the time with itself and I think that that was healthy.
I would love to see dissenting voices in the mix. I would love to frankly have more disagreement inside the room because I think when there is more disagreement ideas can be better stress-tested and evaluated and you will get better results. That’s my working theory here. That’s the board that I was on. I remember the way it functioned. In fact, in two consecutive years there were two wildly different leaderships and a consistent disagreement inside the room which was terrific.
So, I am supporting all the members of the, what is it, Writers Forward. I think they call themselves Writers Forward. They always come up with names. I don’t care about the names. Nobody cares about the names. But that, because I want to get some of those dissenting opinions in there, particularly as it regards the agency issue which I think is a terrific cause that has not been prosecuted correctly.
And so, you know, even if all that happens is everybody votes and it’s clear from the voting that a lot of people are unhappy with the way leadership has been doing things to this point that too will impact how leadership behaves following the election.
One last thing I’ll say. There has been this what I consider a very poisonous notion that has been introduced into our body politic and I’ve seen it – really this is the first time I’ve ever seen it. And the notion is this. That disagreement with leadership weakens the union. This is a terrible notion on its face. I don’t even think that people who are proposing it and promoting actually believe it in their hearts anyway. Because if Phyllis Nagy and her slate sweep the election, which is unlikely, but let’s just say that happens, those people aren’t going to immediately say, right, well we disagree with everything she says but she’s in charge now so now we have to agree with it completely. No one is going to do that. And no one should do that. That’s not what it’s about.
What’s behind the whole disagreement weakens us – the converse is therefore just do what we tell you to do. And agree with what we say. And I think that’s terrible. It’s particularly terrible for a writers’ union when the whole point is that our livelihoods are based on a kind of necessary free expression. So, I believe actually disagreement, public disagreement, rigorous discussion makes us stronger and actually makes our union mean something. As opposed to a kind of compulsory solidarity which is nothing more than a lot of people being ordered to drudge in together in the same direction.
I don’t want to be drudging in the same direction. I want us all to be running in the same direction thrilled. So, I think we get this from this agreement. That’s why I’m supporting this group. John, the floor is yours.
John: I disagree with this characterization that the folks who are supportive of the current agency action are poisoning everything with their trying to ask questions of the dissenters. What I’ve seen again and again is at any time that the folks on the Nagy slate are questioned or trying to hit down at specifically what they’re trying to do that theme portrayed that you are being too aggressive, you’re being too lockstep with the guild. I don’t see that actually being the case. But in terms of the folks I’m supporting, listen, I was part of the group that is prosecuting the agency campaign right now. So I’ve been in all those rooms and I sort of know what’s actually happening. That’s why I think the incumbents that I’m supporting are fantastic because I’ve seen them do the work day in and day out.
The folks who are not incumbents who I’m supporting I also saw them sort of independently reach out and do a lot of really amazing things for writers during this time. So that’s why I picked the other writers who I’m supporting. So voting is really important. I think it’s great that everyone vote and a big vote this time will show both the guild and the town sort of how active and engaged membership is.
Craig: Yeah. I think engagement is a sign of our power. The more we engage I think the stronger more formidable I think we are. And to be clear I would never ever defend anyone who has said, hey, you can’t question a candidate. Question them all you want. For sure. It’s just that there’s – it’s not even a support necessarily all supporters of the incumbents. It’s just a few people have made very public statements that no one should disagree openly with their leadership. I just think down that road is insanity.
John: I think it’s also unfair to put blame for that on the incumbents. Or that the incumbents are directing that kind of thing.
Craig: They are not. I would agree with you completely. In fact, I don’t think, I can’t speak for all of the incumbents but I can certainly speak for David Goodman on this because I’ve spoken with him. I mean, we talk all the time. And there’s no way that David Goodman would agree with that. I just don’t believe he would agree with that. I wish he would say it more. I wish he would directly rebut some of these people who do this in his name. But I agree with you.
I don’t think anybody that has gone through the process of being in guild leadership which you and I both know requires a certain kind of, oh, you know, magnanimity and responsibility to all would ever suggest such a thing. It’s really more kind of the people on the fringes or the edges of things. But, you know, that’s what Twitter and Facebook can do is they sort of magnify voices on the edges. And I don’t mean to say that the people are on the edges, but rather their positions where they’re staking themselves out in terms of political point of view is a bit far.
If anybody out there is feeling slightly guilty that they would disagreement with leadership please don’t feel guilty about that. You should always disagree with leadership. I’m an incredibly disagreeable person. My feeling is my job is to quiz and question leadership. I was doing that when I was in leadership. I think that’s how you get better leaders.
John: Cool. Two last bits of news. First off, Highland2 the upgrade to pro is on sale this week. So if you’re a person who has been using Highland2 and have been holding off upgrading to pro this is the week because it’s on sale. So you should do it. I guess it’s a back to school sale. I don’t know. It was Labor Day. We decided to put it on sale. We will do this like once a year. So this is your chance to get it for a break.
Also if you would like to order the NaNoWriMo classroom kit, so this is a kit that goes out to classes across the US, you can order it for your kid’s class or for some other class that you just want to have this thing. It’s a great program that gets kids writing in the month of November. It’s a really structured thing for teachers to use in grade schools and junior highs as well. Writer Emergency Pack is included is included in that. So if you want to get that for your school there is a link in the show notes to that.
And now it is time to get to our special guest. Alison Luhrs is Senior Narrative Designer at Wizards of the Coast where she works on properties including Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. Welcome Alison.
Alison Luhrs: Hello.
John: Hello. Alison, where are we talking to you right now?
Alison: You are talking to me from a weird little phone booth thing inside of our office in rainy Renton, Washington State.
John: So Renton is near Seattle?
Alison: Yeah, it’s about 20 minutes south of Seattle. It’s sort of its kind of ugly cousin to the south. But I live in Seattle and commute down here.
John: Fantastic. So I introduced you as a Senior Narrative Designer. What does that actually mean? What do you do for a living?
Alison: So my job is to advocate for characters and story inside of the games that we make. So, it can be in the tabletop space for the tabletop version of Magic: The Gathering or Dungeons & Dragons. But right now I work for digital publishing. So it’s my job to be in charge of expressions of story within the digital games that we’re currently working on.
John: Great. So you’re a storyteller. So like most of the people listening to this podcast you’re involved with characters and worlds and story, but in a very different sense than sort of a normal 120-page screenplay. You are dealing with whole giant fantasy worlds and then populating those worlds with characters.
Alison: For sure. It’s super esoteric and weird. So I kind of do everything from actual writing of scripts and barks and different communications between characters in the game as well as doing a ton of documentation on the designer’s end for what is the overall arc structure. What are the different narrative choices that can happen in the script? As well as world-building. So coming up with what are the rules of the world. What does it look like? What is the structure of the different cultures that inhabit this place? And using that documentation to hand off to the folks who are in charge of actually doing the art and the audio and the creative verticals for game design.
Craig: So basically you have the coolest job ever. I mean, that’s what I’m hearing. You have the coolest job in the world.
Alison: It is the coolest job in the world and I had no idea it existed until about five or six years ago. Yeah.
Craig: Now one thing that I imagine you have to deal with that would be blow my mind – I mean, you know, John and I both love Dungeons & Dragons and my son is a huge Magic player.
Alison: Awesome. Nice.
Craig: So we’re Wizards of the Coast people.
Alison: We’re all nerds here. Yes.
Craig: Yeah. We’re all wizards here. But I would imagine that one of the things that you have to deal with as a kind of burden is this massive quantity of canon and lore that you need to consistent inside of. How often do you run afoul of this where you step on a landmine you didn’t even know was there? Or you create a character and someone says, “Oh actually there was a character.” I mean, what’s that like?
Alison: It is something that is constantly on my mind. And luckily we have folks in the building who I can go to as the experts to ask. Like, hey, have we already done this 25 years ago? And usually the answer is yes. One of the nice things about working on properties like Magic or Dungeons & Dragons that have been around for so long is that there’s only a certain point where you can really be specific to everything. You know what I mean? Like you can only match canon so much of the time.
And so one of the ways that we kind of approach this is by recognizing that canon is something that has to grow alongside your audience. There are things that we would do for an audience today enjoying one of our games that we wouldn’t necessarily do 25 years ago, or wouldn’t even really be on our mind. So, when we are producing a new character or producing some sort of new world or new work the question that we ask first is how is this appropriate for the audience that’s playing it today. If there’s a way to tie that into the old lore without stepping on anything, cool. But if it does step on something that’s a point to pause, talk to the experts inside the building, and say how can we make this work. Or, what do we need to actively address and actively shift to move forward.
So we never really want to get pigeon-holed into wanting to be dogmatic about sticking to canon. Canon is the most important thing of all. Instead we have ways to work alongside it and move it forward to a modern audience.
John: It sounds like what you’re saying is that canon is an incredibly useful resource. You have all these characters and all these worlds and in the case of D&D decades of history going back to like these characters Mordenkainen who was back there from the very start.
John: But you have to always be asking what is that helpful for the game right now.
John: How does that character fit into the universe that you’re establishing right now and the stories that you want to tell.
Alison: Right. Mordenkainen is a really good example, too, because what’s his personality? Origin story? What are the bits about this character, one who has been around for forever? There isn’t necessarily a lot that’s been written about the guy.
Craig: He’s a spell brand name. I just think of him as he’s got his magnificent mansion. He’s put his name on spells. Him and Mordenkainen.
Alison: Yeah. They’re both very busy dudes.
John: But I can imagine looking through the more recent hard cover books you’ve done on Mordenkainen is it’s a character who kind of feels like a Doctor Strange in the sense that he’s an incredibly powerful magic user and also bridges between different universes within D&D lore. So, he actually seems to have an awareness that there are other dimensions and other possibilities. Like he can talk about the elves in this universe versus the elves in that universe. So it’s a way of sort of bridging across things.
Alison: Absolutely. Right. And the really convenient thing as a creator is that that’s about as much as we have on him. With D&D specifically there’s a huge breadth of knowledge about these worlds and about all the space that D&D has to play in. But it’s very flat. There isn’t a lot of depth that’s been done about specific places. Because it’s been added to so many times by so many hundreds of creators, it’s very horizontal and not necessarily deep. So even though there is a lot of different things that you can cover, because there’s so many different things there’s a lot of chances to go really deep on character. So even though there hadn’t been too much written about Mordenkainen before, a lot of the textbooks about him recently came out, it was a chance to really explore the depths that hadn’t been established yet.
John: Let’s talk about the work you’re doing. So what kind of documents are you writing? And are these things that are just internal? Because we’ll put in links to some of the stuff that shows up on the web. So these are short stories you’ve written. They are explanations of new Magic: The Gathering cards or sort of the backstory behind this new character that you’re introducing into the world. But does the actual document look like? What application are you in? What is your cursor blinking in as you’re doing most of your work?
Alison: Sure. So when we’re developing a new set for Magic: The Gathering or a new world for D&D a lot of the work that we’ll do is creating the world guide. So the world guide is documentation not just for us narrative designers but it also guides our visual artists, our game designers to help come up with mechanics later. And these world guides are around 40 to 60,000 words. It’s kind of a Wikipedia article. The imaginary world that we’re coming up with.
So the world guide will go over not just visually going through the different cultures and environments and biomes look like here, but what are the cultures that live here. What are their real world inspirations? How do they function with inside the world itself? How do they operate with different cultures? What are the economies that work here? It’s really just like picking up on a Wikipedia article about a country and then translating that to a fictional place.
So even though it sounds really minute that we would need to know the tiny specifics of how an imaginary culture works within this world, we’re creating experiences that our fans will enjoy for 60 hours at a time. So we need to have all that information in our back pockets so that we can develop those long experiences they want to come back to again and again.
Craig: So you’re leaving room ultimately for everybody participating to do their own storytelling. I mean, that’s kind of the point of Dungeons & Dragons. So you’re creating all the details and the playgrounds and then people can come along and sort of grow inside of those things.
Craig: But there is – I mean, I know they’re trying to make a Dungeons & Dragons movie. And they tried that for a while. And there are some properties where I guess you can – you have two spaces. You have the space where people make their own stories inside of like the world guide. So I understand right now we’re running Dragon Heist. So, I can—
Alison: Oh fun.
Craig: Yeah. So I can tell these guys a lot about the city because I have the guide to Waterdeep and I can walk them through things. The stories inside obviously I’m playing off of the narrative prompts, but they’re kind of making the story as they go. That’s how Dungeons & Dragons works. You know that. I’m just telling it for people at home. But then there’s like living next to that is the opportunity to do fixed narrative where you’re telling stories, beginnings, middles, and ends, and people are absorbing it passively like they would a movie. Do you have interest in that? Do you think that Wizards is going to be doing more of that? Or are they going to kind of stay in that sort of hybrid space where they create a world and then they invite you to tell stories within it?
Alison: Our plan is to feature a variety of trans-media experiences. There’s going to be a world where we do have beginnings, and middles, and endings for experiences. And in narrative design the thing that makes it different from sitting down and writing a screenplay or writing a novel is the element of choice. There always has to be room for our audience to choose what happens to them. And the trick as a narrative designer is finding ways to make all of those choices feel like they were intentional and feel like they’re part of the experience.
And so the way that you nail that is by aiming for tone and theme rather than for specific arcs. So that way you can build in lots of different endings for your player experiences but they all still feel like they were intentional and part of the experience because they match the same tone. So, when we do end up doing some kind of TV show or a movie or whatever for any of our properties we would be aiming to match that same tone that we have when you sit down at the table to play with your friends. Or when you are playing a game of Magic against somebody else.
But the trick is managing to find a way to replicate that experience without having to have the same pitfalls. Like I said earlier, because D&D is so horizontal we don’t really have a ton of named characters. Those characters that everybody knows off the top of their heads. And so there’s our chance to establish that when we do eventually go down that path. But until then it’s my job to make sure that we’re maintaining the same tone that you have when you are playing at your kitchen table with your friends as when you sit down to a console game to play D&D or to play Magic.
John: So obviously in the fantasy space we think back to Tolkien who wrote the novels Lord of the Rings but also really did the rest of the world-building there. He was drawing his own maps. He was sort of figuring out everything around that, even if it didn’t necessarily directly fit into the books. Here it’s sort of the reverse situation where you had a lot of the landscape and you kept filling out the landscape, but now you’re trying to find who are the characters and what are the stories that are pulling us through this.
I feel like so many of our listeners probably kind of want your job rather than our job, because it’s a chance to sort of just really – you have this giant sandbox so you can just build and build and build and build and there’s not this responsibility that everything has to fit neatly into a two-hour chunk of entertainment.
Alison: Absolutely. Sometimes the challenge with doing this is remembering that you have to create a 60 to 80-hour experience. You know? Like there are people who play campaigns for years at a time. Or folks who return to the same Magic set again and again and again. I think that a lot of folks who want to create for the sake of constantly creating would thrive in this career. I had no idea this existed until a couple of years ago when I was inside the building.
There isn’t really a class structure that you can take to get in here. There’s no real college course to major in narrative design. It’s still a really young field. And what my job looks like from company to company is vastly different. So even though I’m writing world guides here inside of Wizards, if I were to go to another study I would likely be doing a much different job just because these two companies are different. And the value of narrative design inside of videogame design is still really undervalued. It’s usually not something that’s added to a game until it’s nearly out the door.
Narrative is the most flexible part of game design. You can change what the word in a sentence is while you’re having a conversation a lot more easily than you can change the mechanics of a how a videogame is actually played. So frequently a narrative designer won’t even really be brought in until they’re at the very end of the process of development.
John: Yeah. They may have figured out the art before they actually figured out the story that was really behind that art. And that’s a huge mistake. That’s an opportunity that’s missed.
Alison: Absolutely. Yeah. And I mean one of the secrets to Wizard’s success is that we include story from the very beginning. So my job has to always be ready to adapt to whatever the developers change. It’s kind of my job to sort of think on my toes and change whatever I need to change at a moment’s notice. So I can imagine that would be a little off-putting to someone who is more used to having story be the thing that’s driving the car.
John: Now talk about sort of you’re working with a team because some of what you describe sort of sounds like the experience of being in a TV writers’ room where there’s a bunch of people and there’s probably a whiteboard and you’re thinking through stuff. But I’ve also done some work with videogame companies and ultimately they might sort of – you describe it as sort of being like a Wikipedia article, ultimately their source of truth is this internal Wiki that basically lists everything and every character and everything that’s been established.
Obviously it’s collaborative, but is it collaborative with a bunch of folks in the room together, or is collaborative in the sense of someone breaks off a chunk of the world and goes off and does it and it falls into a bigger document? What is the work flow?
Alison: So the way that we work internally is that I typically will do world-building alongside other members of different creative verticals. So I’ll usually do it alongside maybe a member of the D&D team or the Magic team, but also our lead art director and our lead producers and the members of the creative team who are going to be involved with creating other aspects of the project. I want to make sure that their brains are in the room because they’ll usually be thinking about something that I’m not necessarily.
So, when we do those big brain-stormy meetings I’ll usually take the notes and then go back into my desk and dive in the writer hole for a few hours. And emerge, you know, days later with a couple 10,000 words worth of stuff that we just discussed.
My goal is to usually have that documentation finished early that way when folks are developing stuff later on they can refer to it and hopefully I was smart enough to include something that they’ll need an answer to later on. But if not they’ll come to me directly and say, hey, we want to have this kind of feature in the game. Can you find a creative reason why it makes sense we would ask the player to do X. And so it will be my job to kind of figure out, OK, what’s the high level creative of what we’re asking the player to do. How can we fit that in to what we’ve already established?
Craig: So I have a question about your audience, because I think that every writer should be and naturally is consumed with what the audience is going to think. You have a very particular audience. And I mean they are particular. At the same time I feel like Wizards is doing a really good job of kind of progressing. They’re moving the ball forward. I mean, classically speaking all of the kind of Dungeons & Dragons stuff was an echo back to European Middle Ages, just like Lord of the Rings was. So white guys with swords. And scantily-clad women being rescued from mythological creatures.
And it’s not that anymore. But as you—
Alison: No it’s not.
Craig: But as you go through and you tell your new stories how do you manage – this is really a personal question. It’s not about the company. It’s actually just about you as you’re writing. How do you manage the kind of push and pull knowing, well, I’m dealing with some people that may be resistant here so I have to figure out how to move the ball forward without freaking people out? But still I don’t want to be regressive. Talk me through that process.
Alison: I believe in listening to what the audience at large wants. We often talk inside the building about the bell curve of fans. So, on the left side of a bell curve that will be folks who don’t really have any knowledge of the lore or the stories that we already tell inside the building or in our games. And on the far right end you’ll have the people who know absolutely everything about it. And the bulk of your fans are going to fall a little bit to the left of center in this curve. Most people don’t know everything. And most people know a little bit more than the folks who don’t know anything about the game. But the folks that we’re aiming for live in that part that isn’t going to be angry at every major change and isn’t going to be upset that we aren’t featuring women being rescued in every single adventure that we have and having every single major character be played by a white guy.
What we’re aiming for is what the culture at large is moving towards. And I like to hold an audience responsible for keeping up. It’s our job to make sure that we bring in more people and we do that by listening to what the trend of the audience is moving towards, not trying to hold on to what it used to be in the ‘80s and the ‘90s.
Craig: Yeah. I think that’s great. I mean, I’ve noticed even as we’re running Dragon Heist that there are characters that are just casually gay couples. And what I liked is it wasn’t part of the story. It’s not particularly relevant.
Craig: We just make note that he works as a blacksmith and his husband is in the back helping. So it is interesting to see how in a strange way – and I don’t know why it is that in imaginary world – imaginary world should be more progressive than our world. I mean, that’s the point, right?
Alison: Yes, they should. Absolutely. The last thing I want to do when I’m playing pretend is imagine that I’m in a world where I have to deal with sexism on a daily basis.
Craig: Right. Exactly.
Alison: Why would I want that to be part of my fantasy?
Craig: Right. And there’s more room in a fantasy world to do these things. And yet oddly, traditionally fantasy rooms have been more restrictive and more regressive in that regard because they were, I don’t know, this is like strange fake nostalgia for a time that really didn’t even exist.
Alison: No, that’s totally what it is. And a lot of it, too, has to come with who was creating that fantasy and those worlds. When you have creators who are from a background that hasn’t been traditionally represented you’re going to have fantasy that is more deep and more complex than you ever would if it was written by a specific kind of person.
Craig: Yeah, no, it’s great.
John: So, Alison, there’s maybe a new world or a new sort of section of an existing world that you want to sort of explore, so maybe thinking about it for a campaign or for some other materials. It could be based on some sort of world mythology or some idea that sparks for you. What would be the process of pitching that idea internally? Would it be just you coming in with an idea? Do you enlist artists to help you draw stuff up? What is the process of developing a new world or a new section of world inside the company?
Alison: Yeah, so we’re fortunate enough to have a couple of concept artists inside the building. So if I ever have an idea for something I’d like to do in the future usually I’ll find a concept artist that I get along with and sit down for a couple hours and just jam out some ideas. Like think what are some different visual approaches that we can use. What are some cool narrative approaches? How can we marry these together so we come up with an elevator pitch that everybody thinks is super rad?
A couple times a year we’ll have opportunities internally to pitch those kinds of ideas depending on what game that you’re doing. We usually plan out our products a solid three or four years into the future. So, when we are pitching and developing these ideas it’s for way, way, way down the line.
But that collaboration between narrative and art is what makes for a really cohesive experience. And so after we come up with the pitch for what a world could be we’ll typically bring on a game designer fairly early so we can try and figure out, OK, what’s a cool mechanical hook based off of these things that we know are happening creatively. And from there it can ideally enter into the development process for whatever game that we’re attaching it to.
John: Yeah, so for example if you want to bring back a Psionics mechanic there might be some interesting world in which the Psionics makes a lot of sense even though it’s not most of what we’re seeing in Fifth Edition.
Alison: Right. And Magic is really easy for this, too. So maybe I could go back and say, hey, you know what? I miss Morph. Morph was really cool. Let’s find some way to bring it back for a different setting. And then we’ll use that as kind of the jump-off point for, OK, we know that we want to use this kind of play style or this kind of mechanic, what creatively facilitates that in a fun and interesting way. And sometimes that’s how different world ideas start off.
John: So I bet we have a bunch of listeners who are eager to get your job. Let’s talk through how did you get hired into doing your spot? You were a community manager? What was your responsibility before then?
Alison: I was. I did social media management for my day job. But my background is in theater. So after I graduated from college me and a couple friends of mine cofounded a theater company up here in Seattle. And so while I was doing my crummy day job of slinging social media tweets and dealing with the masses, in my evenings I was playwriting and I was collaboratively creating. And I was working alongside a team of different artists to create and write different things.
So, I was playwriting. I was writing long-form fiction. And once I got inside the building at Wizards doing social media I remember learning that there were people who were paid to write about dragons and elves. And I said, well, I can do that. That’s easy. And it’s only because of all that time I’d spent creating with a team and grinding my narrative skills on my own and with my own play groups that I was able to kind of bring to the table and say, hey, I can do this too.
There really isn’t a straightforward way into doing narrative design professionally. You kind of have to do your own thing on your own and then make opportunities happen for yourself by applying smaller gigs and working your way up. I think a recommendation if someone wanted to start doing narrative design would be to just start DM-ing. Start running your own play groups.
Alison: DM-ing will only make you a better storyteller no matter what medium you are writing in. You will learn everything you need to know about narrative by sitting down and forcing your friends to play through whatever you came up with.
Craig: And then being accountable to whatever they come up with.
Alison: Yes. Learning how to listen to other people’s ideas and respond to that and find ways to solve narrative problems. It’s the most valuable skill you can have. For something actionable that you can do right now if you want to practice using choice as an element of writing, Twine is a really excellent program. It’s free to download and you can use it to make sort of text-based adventures. So you know like Choose Your Own Adventure style narratives? It’s basically that. When hiring for narrative design jobs often we’ll ask people to just submit a short like 10 or 20-minute Twine game. And usually that can show how good you are at integrating choice into the narrative experience. And showing that you understand how different trees of narrative work.
So, start building a Twine game. It’s super easy and super-fast. And it’s industry standard for applying for a job.
Craig: I want to do it now.
John: It definitely feels like we’re at a moment—
Alison: Do it, yeah!
John: We’re at a moment where there’s a tremendous intersection between what we think of as cinematic writing, with film and television, and game writing, and comics, and other sort of fiction stuff, where people are building out these bigger things. And university programs haven’t quite caught up. USC’s School of Cinematic Arts has game design and has some aspects of this, but it’s really much more steered towards videogames.
Alison: Programming, yeah.
John: Programming and sort of animation and that aspect of it. But it’s really this meta concept of a sort of what is the universe of this idea and then what are the physical things we’re going to see come out of it. And balancing those two things is tricky but I think we’re going to find a generation that has less of a distinction between this person is this kind of writer or that kind of writer. They’re all working together to sort of make a cohesive thing.
Alison: Absolutely. It’s just different mediums. And being able to understand the rules of one will only make you stronger in the other. It bums me out that there aren’t a lot of opportunities, especially for college kids, to really learn these skills and develop them if you aren’t going to a game design specific school. But as far as like what kinds of writing that you can get good at if you want to do the things that I do, dramaturgical writing which is something that a lot of folks outside of theater don’t really know about is probably the closest thing.
So dramaturgy is the person in a usually well-paying show whose job is to research the time period that it takes place in or the world that the play is set around. And come up with a sort of similar document that I do for that specific experience. Weirdly enough there’s a lot of crossover between the skills that are necessary for theater and live performance and for videogames. And I think it’s that presence of choice or presence of an audience that you’re always trying to work around into your experience.
But, yeah, dramaturgy weirdly enough has a lot of crossover. I would also recommend studying screenwriting as much as possible since that’s still kind of the format that most people in the game industry use for writing scripts and such. But instead of a fairly easy to hold in your hand script we usually churn out one that’s a couple hundred pages long rather than a couple dozen.
John: Cool. Alison, thank you so much for this overview. I think we’re going to have a lot of follow up questions for you down the road. But if people need to find you on Twitter where should they reach out to you?
Alison: My handle is @alisontheperson but I usually answer work-related questions @alisonthewizard.
Craig: Of course you do.
Craig: Of course you do.
John: We do a segment on the show called One Cool Things and so I’m going to start with my One Cool Thing. It is a book I just finished called Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch. It is just terrific. It is a look at sort of how English is changing with the rise of the Internet. And in a weird way you’d assume like, oh, it must be changing faster because of the Internet, but she also points out things like spell check are slowing down some of the changes that would naturally happen. So it’s just a really great funny overview of what’s happening in our language right now, the rise of meme culture. So, Craig, you will love it because you love John McWhorter. Through him I found this book.
Craig: I do. And I read a fairly thorough article by her that was sort of I guess a chapter and it seemed great. By the way, did she talk about Grammarly? Because if I see one more damn ad for that stupid thing I’m going to lose every ounce of S in my body. I’m trying to stay Internet safe here. I can’t handle it.
John: Craig, we should put the transcripts of this show through Grammarly and see if they have suggestions for improving it.
Craig: F-in Grammarly. It’s like “Writing is hard. Sometimes you…” Shut up. Shut. Up. Also, your stupid program isn’t going to change anything. If you don’t know how to write you don’t know how to write. I swear to god. So, anyway, there’s my umbrage for that. I haven’t gotten angry in a while. Weird that I would pick a—
Alison: No, feel it. By all means.
Craig: Now Grammarly of all things is getting it.
Alison: Stand in your truth, dude.
Craig: Thank you. Thank you. Freaking Grammarly. So, the first thing I do when I install a fresh copy of Word or something like that on a computer I’m like turn off the stupid green underline. I don’t need you to tell me how to structure a sentence. How dare you, Microsoft Word.
John: How dare you.
Craig: How dare you. My One Cool Thing this week, it’s a little pricy. I’m just going to be honest. It’s a little pricy. But Thanksgiving is not so far off. We’re a couple of months away. Three months away. Why am I starting to talk about it now so early? Because if you were going to get a Heritage turkey you would need to think about ordering it now. What is a Heritage turkey? Have either of you had one for Thanksgiving?
John: I’ve had a Heritage turkey. It was delicious.
Alison: I have. Yes.
Craig: Great. Well, you two are freaking cool. So here’s what’s up. The regular turkeys that you get in the store are – and I didn’t know this – there’s a name for them. They have a breed name and it’s called Broad Breasted White, which sounds—
Alison: Typical. Typical.
Craig: Yeah, it just sounds dirty. So, Broad Breasted White turkeys were literally manipulated in a laboratory by USDA scientists and the point of them was basically Americans like white meat turkey. Apparently. I’m kind of a dark meat guy myself. But regardless, they like white—
Alison: The same. It’s a shame.
Craig: It’s a shame. They like white meat so let’s come up with a turkey that has this massive breast and also grows really fast so we can make a lot of them and they’re huge. And that’s what they’ve done. These companies that sell Heritage turkeys, they’re basically unmanipulated turkeys. They’re the original breeds. They tend to be a bit smaller. Well, some people think of it as a gamier taste. I think of it as a more flavorful taste. There’s less white meat. There’s more dark meat. There’s lots of different kinds. They come in all sorts of sizes. But they’re expensive.
So it’s a little bit of a thing. If you’re feeling fancy for Thanksgiving, you know, I honestly say I think they’re way better. Brine it. You know, brine it. Because they can tend toward the dry if you don’t. But lots of places to buy them. I won’t recommend any particular place. I’m sure they’re all excellent. The one place do not get a Heritage turkey from Grammarly. Because you know what? Screw Grammarly. Honestly. How dare they?
John: I think we’re going to do a search through the transcripts to find how many times Craig has brought up turkeys on this podcast. Because I feel like it’s got to be at least 10 where you’ve mentioned something about Thanksgiving or brining turkeys. It feels like it’s a subtext for so many episodes.
Alison: It’s a really important topic. I’m glad someone is talking about the turkeys.
Craig: Thank you.
John: Someone has to talk about them.
Craig: Well Alison and I have our own podcast called Brinecast where we just—
Alison: Brinecast. Absolutely.
Craig: Where we talk about different brines. Wet brines. Dry brines. There’s a lot of different kinds.
Craig: Thank you.
Alison: Apple cider vinegar. There’s a million different things that you can pour on your dead meat.
Craig: Correct. And you can also kind of go sous-vide to maybe avoid the brining. That’s an episode.
Alison: Oh yeah.
Craig: That’s our show.
Alison: It is.
John: Alison, do you have a One Cool Thing that you can share with our audience?
Alison: I do. Yeah. So, Airbnb has a search function where you can look for offbeat houses. So eight of my friends just went to Ireland for a friend’s wedding. He went to Dublin, found an adorable Irish lady, and they got married. Yay for them. And we just came back from staying in a castle for two or three nights. So, on Airbnb you can search to stay in an actual castle. And with eight of us staying in the same place at the same time it only came out to about $110 per person per night.
Craig: What? [laughs]
Alison: Yeah. It’s way more affordable than you think. You can live and sleep in an actual castle. Please do it.
Craig: Hold on a second. Is this castle like the one where Sauron is slowly regathering his strength? There’s got to be a reason that—
Alison: No. It was like a cozy Downton Abbey style. This used to be one tower and then someone added on a fancy estate. We had the whole run of the place. So we got out the nice goblets and celebrating in the dining room.
Craig: Did you guys LARP? I mean, you were in a castle.
Alison: No, we did not LARP. We did play hide and seek. Yeah. Had a really, really fantastic time celebrating in a fancy ass castle. Highly recommend it.
Craig: Wow. All right. That’s way cheaper than I thought it would be. Nice.
Alison: I know. I know. That’s why we did it.
John: Nice. Cool. And that’s our show for this week. Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao. It is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Our outro this week is by Rajesh Naroth. If you have an outro you can send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s also where you can send longer questions. But for short questions I’m on Twitter @johnaugust. Craig is @clmazin. Alison you can find @alisonthewizard.
You can find the show notes for this episode and all episodes at johnaugust.com. You can also find transcripts. Those go up the week after the episode airs.
Alison, thank you so much for talking through your job. I think there’s going to be a whole new generation of senior narrative designers in the making who are going to be coming after your job hard. But you helped inspire them. So thank you very much for talking through.
Alison: I look forward to sharing the stage. Thank you so much.
Craig: Thanks Alison. Thanks.
John: Thanks. All right. Bye.
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- Alison Luhrs on Twitter or here for game related questions
- John August on Twitter
- Craig Mazin on Twitter
- John on Instagram
- Outro by Rajesh Naroth (send us yours!)
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You can download the episode here.