Roadworthy: Judge Cole Niblett

Welcome to Roadworthy! This is a chance to show off a Road Crew Judge and allow them to share their experience and wisdom. We provide these profiles to help provide insight into their personality and style, and maybe give up-and-coming Judges some advice on improving their game.

Today we give you a Judge with a kernel of merit to him. A Judge whose love for DCC and the community truly bloomed after the pandemic hit.

Let’s meet Judge Cole Niblett!


Roadworthy: Judge Cole Niblett!

What’s your name, where do you live (and game), and how would you describe yourself?

My name’s Cole Niblett! I’m a proud resident of Campbell, CA, a municipal suburb of San Jose. Away from the gaming table, I’m a 3rd-grade teacher, lucky enough to teach a wide curriculum ranging from world history to creative writing—and although we don’t read any Appendix N, we do read some classic fantasy works like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Adventures of Pinocchio.

How did you first discover Dungeon Crawl Classics?

As a young guy I grew up mostly playing third edition D&D, and I think I dismissed earlier editions as not having the gloss and polish I was used to – I literally judged them by the cover. Then one day, out of curiosity, I watched a video on OD&D character creation, and found its differences fascinating. I started reading up on retroclones and other systems, and realized there were so many awesome games I could explore. I was curious about DCC, so I found a video of Joseph Goodman giving what was essentially a pitch on what made DCC unique compared to all of the other games. The deliberate focus on reimagining fantasy roleplaying beyond the tropes and conventions that had become so ubiquitous really appealed to me, and so in November of last year I visited my friendly local gaming store (Game Kastle in Santa Clara, CA) and picked up a copy of the core rulebook alongside DCC #86: Hole in the Sky. Compared to what I was used to, the adventure felt packed full of action and the fantasy elements stuck in my head because of how truly unknown and disconnected from regular reality they seemed to be. After that, I was totally hooked.

How many Road Crew games have your ran so far?

I just ran my first Road Crew game! It was a run-through of Hole in the Sky, the adventure that started it all. I had four players, three of whom were new to DCC (including a friend of mine from work who had never played a roleplaying game before!). We kept our sessions relatively short and finished the adventure in three sessions over the span of a week. When everything was said and done, everyone had an awesome experience and decided they wanted to keep playing, so we’ll be getting online soon to go over 1st-level characters.

How did the quarantine change your gaming life?

The isolation of the quarantine has been pretty tough at times, but it has really driven me to a more active and vibrant gaming life than I’ve ever had. Before the quarantine, I had a regular gaming group I was running, but now I’ve got two weekly games and playing in a third! I’ve reconnected with a ton of old friends who I had been out of touch with, in many cases for geographic reasons, and that has probably been the best part of the quarantine. I’m very lucky to be able to keep my paycheck and not face financial hardship during this time, and so I have also allowed myself to expand my RPG library in the name of supporting our creator community.

Give us a favorite gaming highlight from this year.

I’ve never been to a convention, mostly just due to work restrictions, and so I played my first ever con game at Cyclops Con! It was just myself and one other player, and the judge Christian Cotten-Dixon ran us through “Contemplation of the Dust,” an adventure he wrote for Gongfarmer’s Almanac 2020. It felt like a really personalized experience, and Christian was amazing at asking us questions to help involve us as participants in the storytelling. It had everything I love about DCC—supernatural entities to treat with, horrifying monsters to slay, and mysterious magical forces to foolishly manipulate.

What advice would you give to other Road Crew judges running online games?

If you’re looking to introduce new people to DCC or are unsure about the learning curve of virtual tabletops like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds, give Discord a try. It’s a really simple way to get a game going, especially with a dicebot, and I wish I had realized its potential before this quarantine.

Author: pandabrett

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