Goodman Games recently caught up with “mean ‘ol Judge” Zac Braddy to talk Road Crew, online gaming, chaos-infused storytelling, and how to keep your players from zoning out to cat videos. Take it away, Zac!
Roadworthy: Zac Braddy
What’s your name, where do you live (and game), and what should Goodman Games fans know about you?
My name is Judge Zac Braddy and I live in Nottingham, England. I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia, and 5-year-old me would’ve gone nuts if you told him that when he grows up he’d be living in the town where “Robin hood and little John went running through the for-rest, ooda lully!” Now, as a grown-up gamer I do love traveling the English countryside imagining the adventures you could have here!
How did you first discover DCC?
My good friend Judge Bruce slammed down the death stamp on my first level 0 character at a LAN (video game meetup) in 2017, opening a new much weirder world of roleplaying than I was used to, and I’ve been hooked ever since!
As of “right now,” how many Road Crew games have you run this year?
As of right now, I’ve run 3 sessions for my ongoing Road Crew youtube show that runs on The Dark Orb. These are played live on twitch, and the replays are also uploaded to youtube once we finish each story arc. I’ve also run a game live at EpicLAN and I plan to run another at their tabletop event at the end of the month.
How has online gaming changed your playstyle?
My playstyle hasn’t really changed at all. I still love to throw bones in meatspace. I’m a software engineer but I don’t like using computers for dice rolling and automation. When I do, I kind of feel like the game is being played on my behalf.
I’m also still able to run the goofy, heavily pop culture referencing, “let the dice fall where they may” chaos-infused games that I’ve always run. I think the only thing that has changed is where I’m playing those games. I never used to play online because I preferred to revel in the sights and sounds of my players as they realized what was about to happen to their characters! What I will say is that online play has opened me up to meeting and playing with a lot more new friends, that I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the company of, had it not been for online gaming.
Give us a favorite gaming highlight from this year.
I’ll be honest with you here and hope none of my players read this. I revel in playing the character of the adversarial Judge. I see this as being my character that I play around the table. I’m never unfair but I’ll never miss the opportunity to produce a big belly laugh as the characters (and by extension players) realize the mess they’re in.
I do this because I think in the end it makes it more fun for the players. They always feel like they had a tough battle but in the end they got the last laugh; all this despite that “mean ‘ol Judge” throwing everything he had at them. And all the Judge could do in the end was shake his fist at the party and loudly lament: “I’ll get you next time adventurers!!” as they walk away . . . *end scene*
All that said, my favorite gaming moment was playing at epicLAN when a player who was playing a wizard high-rolled Sleep no less than three times to completely cheese the party past some of the hardest fights in the adventure. One of those three being the final boss fight no less! I got to pretend to wipe sweat from my forehead, pray for high rolls and yell “why didn’t I put more bad guys in this fight?!” It was a knee-slapping good time and gave the player a lasting memory. Every time we talk about DCC they always mentions, “I guess I won’t be allowed Sleep from now on, huh?” To which I say with a smile, “You won’t be allowed at my table again until the nightmares of that game have passed!”
What advice would you give to other Road Crew judges running online games?
Don’t let your tools take the spotlight away from your adventure. I’ve played in plenty of games as a player since we all started playing online that have been 20 minutes of gameplay and 2 hours 40 of “Hang on, I’ve got this really great automation that will do this for us….no that didn’t work….that didn’t either.” If the tools make your life easier (or they’re just fun) then use them. But if they break, you’ve got one 25-second chance to fix it and if you can’t do it in that time, move on and work it out in between games!
It is for these reasons my VTT of choice is owlbear rodeo. I love its simplicity and the way it gets out of the way of your gaming and lets you get on with telling the story you want to tell. Not having your players stare at you for great lengths of time as your blood pressure grows and your eyes go crossed is super important to playing online. Because when we were gaming in person you were only competing for your player’s attention against their phone and it was kind of rude of them to look at while you were talking. Now you’re probably competing against an entire gaming machine and all of the internet and you won’t even know if you’ve lost the battle! Online gaming needs to be engaging, fast-paced, decision-a-minute type gaming or else you’re doomed to a table full of players watching cat videos.
Interested in learning about our other amazing Road Crew judges? Click here for all the Roadworthy profiles!