Episode 2024.6 Published on 20 June 2024

Nature and Wilderness in Your Campaign | TheNatureGM Interview

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Velkommen! I'm Jon de Nor and this is Goblin Points.

In this special episode I'm trying something new. My goal has always been to make this podcast about the community for the community, and this is the first step in that direction. In this episode of Goblin Points I'm having a chat with TheNatureGM. I will leave the introduction to them, so without further ado, let's jump to my conversation with TheNatureGM.


Jon: Welcome, The Nature Game Master to Goblin Points.

Novina: Thank you Jon. Glad to be here.

Jon: You've been creating homebrew creations for D&D and I've included some of those in my episode of Goblin Points. Can you say a bit about what kind of creations you make, and what inspires you to make them?

Novina: Absolutely. So I'm Novina, I go by the The Nature Game Master online, and you can find my blog at thenaturegm.com, and this blog covers how inspiration from nature can make your TTRPGs both more terrifying and delightful to your players. So this blog covers homebrew monsters, campaign outlines, general GM advice and other drop-in content that you can add to your games. And a lot of the technique that I use have been inspired by Matt Colville and MCDM's products. As you observed I do mostly run D&D, I run fifth edition games, so my content kind of leans in that direction.

Jon: When did you did you get started with D&D and how early did you start creating your own stuff?

Novina: Yeah, I started playing D&D in about 2015. Before that I had played a little bit of Pathfinder and GURPS, which I was not a fan. And in 2015 when I ran my first session fifth edition I didn't use an out of the box set, I didn't run the Lost Mines of Phandelver. Instead I decided to write a short adventure that was inspired by Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, and it was terrible, Jon.

Jon: Risky.

Novina: But since then, I have spent some years of trial and error of writing adventures, and I've developed a style of what I think works and what doesn't work. My blog is quite new. I started the blog in December, and I chose the concept of The Nature Game Master because my degree and early career history in enviornmental science and forestry. And I've noticed that my content tends to have a lot more of an environmental influence, than what other creators produce. And really what it comes down to is that I had some extra free time, and I thought that I would try my hand at publishing some of my content and so far I've gotten really positive feedback.

Jon: Yeah. I really like your very specific kind of angle of coming from like a nature and environment angle. How did you get involved with like MCDM or the Matt Colville, kind of, community in general?

Novina: As memory serves YouTube recommended a Running the Game video, not even the first one, just a random one in the middle of the series, and I wathed it, and I liked it. I really like Matt Colville approach to dungeon mastering, and how thoughtful he is about breaking down his intent whenever he gives advice. So I watched the whole series at least, at least one and half times, maybe more than that. And whenever being a Matt Colville fan transitioned to being an MCDM fan I started backing some of the projects as well. I love Flee, Mortals!, that has been a huge inspiration for how I create monsters now.

Jon: Yeah. I think, at least for me, Flee, Mortals!, so far at least, is kind of like the pinnacle of what they've created.

Novina: Yes, I agree.

Jon: In the most recent episode of Goblin Points, I featured basically a Reddit post you had with, I think it was six side quests, you can just drop in to your adventures. Can you tell us a bit more about those?

Novina: Yes. So those were inspired by the MCDM Reddit community in fact, because I had seen a lot discussion about taking a modular approach to adventure building, and I think that there's lots of strong opinions online about wilderness travel and whether or not to do it. And I think if your players are in the wilderness, then it serves both the game msster and the players to have something interesting happen, and have some amount exploration and wonder that makes the world really deep, and realistic, or at least fantastical. And I wanted to have side quests that you could drop into different wilderness settings wherever your party might be, that would evoke that sense of adventure. And would be sort of agnostic, so they wouldn't interrupt the flow you have going on in your higher level adventure.

Jon: I feel like wilderness is very underutilized, both in the base rules of D&D, but also in homebrew creations. I feel like... I really like the concept of small, just like, small drop-in side quests that are... That can fill out, like, the world so much more. I'm a really a big fan of these small modules, yeah modules.

Novina: Thank you, I appreciate that. And yes, I think that wilderness is also underutilized, however, I did have a party that was lost in the wilderness for ten days, and I did exhaust my creativity trying to come up with a daytime and a nighttime encounter for ten days. They eventually made it out.

Jon: Speaking of stuff you create, I guess, are you working on anything new or anything that you can give us a sneak peak of?

Novina: Well. The latest blog miniseries I've started is pitches for adventure concepts using a photoshopped fantasy image as cover art, the latest The Cult of the Forgotten God, and the image that I chose is this gigantic, massive stone foot that is preparing to crush the land. And I see photoshopped images like this very often in stock libraries that rally delight, and I wanted to find an excuse to use them. So I've written a little adventure concept to justify this stone god's crushing the land. I had a lot of fun doing it, and I have few other images picked out that I would like to make posts for. So that's going on on my blog. And becuase I have had positive feedback on some of the other content that I've created, I do intend to formalize some of it. So you might have caught those better nature monsters, the list of better nature monsters, that where kind of sketches of how these monsters might operate. I'll create stat blocks for those, and I'll publish those on DriveThruRPG, to be purchased for a few bucks. This is definitely a passion project, I'm not making any money of The Nature GM.

Jon: We'll definitely link to those in Goblin Points' future episodes.

Novina: Thank you.

Jon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I... As I mentioned, I really your unique angle to this, I love, I love the concept of going off of the photoshopped images, and just finding out "how did this happen?" Kind of reverse engineering it.

Novina: Some of them will definitely test the limits of my creativity.

Jon: That sounds like a, like a wonderful way to kind of, try to excercise your brain, and excercise your creativity.

Novina: Mhm. Speaking of, maybe what's up next. Whenever the MCDM RPG gets a little more finalized, I would like to create content for that, but one thing that I'm not sure about at this time though, is that my GM style is to play by theater of the mind. And the MCDM RPG seems to be very oriented around combat using battle maps. So if I can get the RPG to work with theater of the mind, then I would love to create content for it, and move my players over to that system. We'll see. Time will tell.

Jon: Time will tell. Outside of creating stuff for D&D and the community bubble that we know you from, is there anything else you kind of wanna recommend, whatever it might be? A movie, a TV show, some kind of music or something that you might find inspiring, or just back to for anything, basically.

Novina: Yeah. I brought my favorite publication here to show you. It's called Remarkable Inns and Their Drinks, published by Loresmyth, maybe Loresmyth with the Y. And this is a small, but mighty fifth edition plus really any RPG compatible book, that's stuffed full with colorful inns, exotic NPC, food and drink, and tons of plot hooks. So whenever stuck, whenever I've run, whenever the creativity well has run dry, I go to Remarkable Inns and Their Drinks to just enjoy what it has to say, and feel inspired. So that's my TTRPG related recommendation. I also highly recommend a YouTube channel called Tasting History by Max Miller to learn about foods and table manners from different eras. I haven't really incorporated too much of that into my content, but I think there's potential to in the future. And then my last recommendation is to visit your local natural areas, especially if you can find a special event or class at the state parks here in the United States. i've done some really neat things, like I watched a demonstration of someone make terepentine out of pine sap. And I've even petted a baby alligator.

Jon: Well, we don't get many of those in Norway.

Novina: Yes, I mean, I'd expect so.

Jon: Outside of, of here I guess, where can people find you? Where are you to find online?

Novina: I am, have a lot of irons in the fire, and The Nature GM is only a couple of them, so right now I'm only on Reddit, and I publish my blog, thenaturegm.com, which you can subscribe to, to receive a wildly exciting and interesting post every other week.

Jon: Ah, nice. We'll of course put links to everything in the show notes, so that people can find your stuff easily. Thank you very much, Novina, for coming on to Goblin Poiints. As I mentioned in the intro, this is the first interview of the podcast and I very, very much appreciate you coming on and being my first guest.

Novina: Well, I'm so glad I had the chance to be here, and thank you for putting together Goblin Points, and keeping us in the community up-to-date with everythihng that's happening with MCDM. it's very valuable.

Jon: Well, thank you. Thanks for coming on and have a good one...

Novina: You too.

Jon: ...I guess...


Thank you so much to Novina for chatting with me, it was great having her on. And, as mentioned, everything will be linked in the show notes and on goblinpoints.com.

If you want to be on next time, do not hesitate to send me an e-mail on [email protected].

Until next time. Snakkes.