D&D: Reroll

[fades into Rogan signing, clearly a Zoom recording] Mountains everywhere, huge mountains rising up in the sky. Moving over a dense forest, there’s a river, a big one. At a distance, it looks small, but as we get closer, you can see it’s a really wide and slow-flowing river. Moving in more, you see a little town, a really cute small town…

[cuts to a woman with very curly black hair] I’m Emerson. I’m small, tiny. It’s easy for me to hide and sneak around, steal things. I enjoy stealing, because–

[cuts to a person with shorter hair wearing a beanie] I’m Ziggy. My real name is Zilbus, but don’t call me that. Call me Ziggy, okay? I’m barely 3 feet tall, but I am handsome. BIG flirt, just saying.

[cuts to a woman with shoulder-length brown hair] Hi, I’m Holynn. I’m a half-elf. I’m an intelligent person, but for me to think clearly, I drink. I’m a really clumsy person.

[cuts to a person with short wavy hair] Hello, I’m Tudar. My sign name is this, because I have long hair, and I always have my nose in books. My head is always bent over, my hair falling down, and I’m always pushing it back.

[Rogan’s usual intro plays, triangles appearing and disappearing, eventually combining to make a R]

[pauses then zooms in] So. [zooms in] Things have changed. [zooms out] Let’s talk about it! I’m Rogan and welcome back! The past couple months have been wild for multiple reasons. I had an increased workload, and just a lot happening in general. A couple cool projects too, which I’ll talk about a little later in this post!

As you’ve seen, things have changed quite a bit since my video talking about D&D and the Deaf community. That video was posted over a year and half ago, and thanks to that video, I’ve gotten several great opportunities! I joined the Discord for Deaf Tabletop Gaming Online, and have played in several RPG systems with them, such as Spire, Mörk Borg, Troika!, and some others. I really enjoy learning what other systems are out there, and these are fun people to play with. There are a couple livestreams that I’m in (but they’re a year old at this point). A friend of mine reached out and asked if I’d like to join their D&D group, which I did! We played several sessions together, which was a lot of fun. I’ll always have a soft spot for my first character, a wood elf paladin with ridiculously high dex. It didn’t take me long to start DMing, as you saw from the beginning of this video. Those clips were from my first ever time DMing, and I was doing a homebrewed one-shot with a group of four players, three newbies and one experienced player. That one-shot turned into a kind of West Marches campaign, which is essentially a bunch of one-shots chained together into a longer story. I also started another campaign with the same group of players that is somewhat inspired by the universe of Studio Ghibli, but that one is currently on hold for a bit. We were on hold in general for a while there, *ahem* several months, but we just got back into it and wrapped up a big combat! I have been talking with people about potentially GMing more one-shots for people who are curious and want to give D&D or other systems a try before diving in as a GM themselves. I would love to figure out a way to get my games streamed, but that is a bit challenging since my group plays in-person now. We also don’t have a consistent schedule as of now, so that’s another thing! If you have any questions about this, let me know in the comments!

I want to talk a bit more about D&D in general. Since I made the other video, I’ve been keeping an eye out for more actual plays to check out. But not much has changed. The huge majority of them are very audio reliant, and are available only as podcasts. Transcripts are available for some of them, which is great, but those lose a lot of the nuance you can get from video, like body language, facial expressions, reactions to what people say/do, physical acting in addition to talking, and so on. And then those who DO have video often aren’t captioned at all (not even auto captions, which suck anyway). This is where accessibility in the streaming world is difficult. For signers who want to play or stream, we HAVE to have good quality video to be understood. Our video sizes have to stay at a certain size so we’re still visible and understandable, which usually means the map, if there’s one, has to be kept at a smaller size. Hearing people can just listen and not worry too much about video quality or size. Another restriction that comes along with that is if we want to record a game, we have to make sure we have enough space to save a lot of data from video recordings. We also have to make sure we capture the whole screen, not just the map (which Zoom will do if the screen is shared). Point is, signers have several more hurdles to figure out if we want to stream a game compared to people who do just audio, or don’t care too much about video. And for me personally, I want to have any content I create be as accessible as possible, which means adding captions at the very least. Which can take forever, especially with RPG sessions that can be hours long, because we don’t have the luxury of using auto captions. If I were to take the extra step and add voiceovers, that’s a whole another set of things to figure out.

But it’s not all annoyances! I LOVE seeing and playing D&D with sign language. I feel like it opens up the game to more cinematic storytelling, because by the nature of sign language, we tend to tell stories more visually rather than word by word. It is something that I still need to work on, shifting into storytelling mode or doing characters, but that’s what I’m excited about and love about this game. It’s a great opportunity to practice acting if that’s something you’re into. My home group is all deaf, and we all use ASL. DTGO, which I mentioned earlier, is also all done in ASL and has many public streamed games (not captioned or voiced). It’s also a great way to exercise your improv skills, especially as the GM, having to roll with whatever the players throw at you. They’ve certainly been tested with my home group! One of my favorite things is giving my players some information, and watching them figure out what to do with that information. I just love how creative they can be, there’s truly nothing like collaborative storytelling.

Speaking of telling stories with other people, I got asked to take part in a VERY cool project that I had to keep quiet about for a couple months, but I can yell about it now! For those who are in the D&D community, you will immediately recognize how this is a big deal. So for those who aren’t, a quick overview. Many people play D&D by using D&D Beyond, which is like *the* online tool for playing D&D 5th edition. It has all the source books, digital tools for creating characters, encounters, campaigns, etc. They are now managed by Wizards of the Coast, which is a publisher of games that specializes in roleplaying games, trading cards, digital games, mainly in the fantasy and sci-fi genres. D&D Beyond also creates original content, like interviews, content previews, and streams. In October, I was asked if I would be interested in taking part of a one-shot spotlighting disabled players and characters. Uh, [zooms in] yeah! [zooms out] To be asked by DDB in the first place was incredible, and they said it was because they’d seen my previous video about D&D, which goes to show you need to put things out there if you really want them! After many emails and a couple Zoom calls, everything got set up for two filming days. I was definitely nervous but SO excited. This was the first time I’d played with all hearing people, and of course they had ASL interpreters there. It was a blast working with them! This was also my first time playing a level 8 character, and the DM let us run wild in character creation. So I really went all in on the dragon theme, making a level 5 draconic sorcerer that multiclassed into a level 3 drakewarden ranger. I love Caelus SO much, LOOK AT THEM.

Can you guess the inspiration behind the look? [wink] Lauren Walsh is so good, I love all the art that they made! The first part of Galesong is already out, and the second part, where things get really wild, comes out today! There will also be some behind the scenes coming out this Saturday. I will have all the links below when they’re available! I have to tell y’all, when I found out we’d be playing with Aabria Iyengar and Sam de Leve, I just left my body. They’re both great people, and I will admit I’m an Aabria stan. I love seeing her play, and she’s an amazing DM as well! It was so much fun playing with them, and I think our party is pretty fantastic. I also have to hype up our DM, Makenzie De Armas. She is SO cool, and I loved the story she put together for our party. Dragons are just awesome, and I’m glad we got to play with that in this story. If I get the opportunity to play with everyone again, I’m absolutely jumping on it!

To close, I want to quickly mention that I did an interview with Matt Yancik for Roleplayer with a Thousand Faces. We chatted all about D&D, and also some about my personal life, how I relate to D&D, some linguistics, and a lot of different topics. It was a fun interview, it’s captioned AND interpreted by the fantastic Mark Weissglass. I really appreciate him pushing through the whole two hours! Next time, I’m going to make sure he has a team! There’s a bunch of links for you to check out if you want. Let me know in the comments if you want to see more D&D content from me, what you would like to see, and all that. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out Galesong! Bye!

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Published by Rogan Shannon

Hello there! I'm Rogan, a queer deaf guy who has a passion for leadership and advocacy. I create YouTube videos about a lot of different topics - being deaf, queer, reading, language, and whatever else interests me!

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