Dungeons & Dragons is an amazing game, and part of what has made the trend so successful in recent years is the community that has sprung up around it. Scratticus Academy is part of that community, and their focus on building a safe and inclusive game space is the reason we wanted to do a feature on them. Jumping in as a new player isn’t always easy, but this group’s goal is making it as painless and stress-free as possible.
Please join us in welcoming Scrat*, who is the brains behind the piece of the D&D community known as Scratticus Academy.
How did Scratticus Academy come to be?
It was an amalgamation of many things! I kept hearing horror stories about people’s first foray into D&D and I just wanted to protect them all! Also I had an IRL campaign that was falling apart due to lack of interest, lack of safety systems… lack of communication. Lots of lessons there. I had a whole bunch of people talking about D&D on my stream. I was originally a (terrible) video game streamer, but I did one D&D campaign with some online friends once a week and a lot of people got interested in playing. SO I started running one shots once a week, twice a week. Ok I capped it at three times a week. Yep, four times a week.
Real talk: I was organising and running one shots for as many hours as I was working my full time job… and the academy was born.
What was your first foray into tabletop gaming?
Hero Quest! My brother is significantly older than me and ran me and my little sister through the first book (or some of it at least.) We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked I don’t think we ever managed to play through the whole thing. I got into D&D myself running some starter packs for people with a passing interest at uni and then ran 5e for some engineers from my factory.
What is your preferred tabletop system, and why?
Ooo. Thats a tough one.
I love the fighting system in Ryuutama (It’s kind of ironic, I don’t think I have ever played that game like the Oregon trail it’s supposed to be. xD)
For narrative play… Honestly I don’t think I have found a system that does it right. I love the freedom of Cypher. I understand the mechanics of DnD to make them fit anything…but when the RP really starts going, I don’t think there is a single rule used. Those games are magic!
What inspired you to create a more inclusive community?
Not a thing. I just want people to have fun. So inclusivity and safety just make sense. Problems come from a lack of communication. So I like to address as many potential issues as I can as soon as I get the game group live. Racism, xenophobia, toxicity and gate-keeping, these things aren’t fun, so they aren’t welcome at my table!
Tell us about the rules you have to help players feel safe throughout your games. What led to you developing the strategies you use?
I have put a lot of effort into developing a streamed version of the flower system that we use to stay in communication whilst live. I make a big point of going through it with groups and I create a document for every game where people can anonymously fill out subjects that they don’t want to address on stream and things that they are ok with, but don’t want to go into detail.
Our channel-wide examples are sexual assault as a line, so we don’t touch that at all. And sex as a veil, so when things need to get steamy we pan to a fireplace and it happens but we the players don’t look at it.
Unfortunately, no safety system is currently perfect as it always puts the impetus on the party under pressure to play a card. But I am consistently researching new things to do!
How has the RPG community surprised you over the time you’ve been involved in it?
The sheer love and affection of the community. About twice a year there’s that one Gatekeeper who does something outrageous and there is another wave of people talking about toxicity, but for the most part the community is just so lovely. And it’s not fake either. I have met many people from the community IRL, spent an intimate amount of time with them and it’s not an act, they are genuinely as nice as they present! Considering the salt you find in other communities, it’s very refreshing. (I also have a zero tolerance for trolls and gatekeepers policy, so my mute list probably also helps!!)
What advice do you have for new players?
Don’t judge yourself too harshly at first. A lot of new players come in, and they are nervous as heck and unsure of the rules and then after the session they go back and judge the way they played. It’s just not fair on yourself. My advice is that you shouldn’t do any personal reflection until you feel comfortable at the table. Otherwise you are just judging nerves. I would say the sweet spot is somewhere between 2 and 10 games. There are exceptions, people who need a little longer or are dealing with other things, and also people who will find self assessment helps with the nerves. But my advice to everyone is to give yourself a couple of games before you start assessing.
If people want to play with you, how can they reach out?
Hit me up on Twitter! I currently have 4 viewer games a week between 2pm and 1.30am EST with room for up to 12 new players a week. I love bringing new people in and you will be safe and welcomed on my channel and in my community. Guaranteed.
Any upcoming projects you are super excited about?
Lets just say that for Scrat this is the year of conventions and collaborations. I have some big things in the works, but I’m not really able to talk about them yet.
Here at the IGGPPC, we’re all about embracing all things geek. What are your top 5 geek loves?
My Top 5 geek loves?
- Tekken (specifically 3&5, but any port in a storm)
- Star Wars the Old Republic
- Old Assassins Creed games (Black Flag and previous)
- Nerf gunslinging tricks (I gotta make a McCree cosplay happen at some point!)
- Different accents and Voices!
That’s a wrap! Stay tuned for more D&D content, including a continuation of our primer series. If you want to jump into a game, head on over to Scratticus and sign up to join one of their viewer games!
*Scrat is the creator’s preferred moniker.