FGC Times: Interview with Laerun about the Background of FG College
I have been a member of Fantasy Grounds College since June of 2018, when I found the website by searching for help with role-playing. At that time, there wasn’t anyone teaching a role-playing class, but I started my journey taking a Character Creation class, and many classes later, in just about all the classes that are available, I know enough to teach Character Creation myself. I got together with Founder, Laerun and we talked a little bit about the history of the college, and how it went from a post on the Official Fantasy Grounds forums to a discord server with members from across the globe, numbering over 4700 strong and still growing. Lady Shel: So, my first question would be, why did you choose Discord?
Laerun: I tried Teamspeak and I didn’t care for it. I thought it was confusing. I tried Google Hangouts, but there were not enough options that people were using. Discord was fairly new at the time and it had all the right features.
Lady Shel: I know that you co-founded FGC with Paddyjuice. Can you talk about how you two met, and how you decided to join forces to create a place where people could learn all about Fantasy Grounds?
Laerun: Right before I met Paddy, I decided that I wanted to teach other people how to use Fantasy Grounds, because I struggled with it myself. After some frustration, and running my own table, I posted a link on the official Fantasy Grounds forum around June 2017 looking for people who wanted to get together as a group to learn how to use Fantasy Grounds together. This is where I met Paddyjuice, who would soon become the Co-Founder with me on what would become Fantasy Grounds College. By September 2017, our membership grew to 253 people.
Lady Shel: What classes did you offer to start out?
Laerun: It was just Character Creation at that time. We were just trying to get people to make characters so they could play with us.
Lady Shel: When did you start getting more volunteers to help you teach other things?
Laerun: It was around September that we first got some additional people to volunteer. Dragon and Rogue were some of the first few that joined. Then, Marswipp joined and he was part of my first group. He was also the discord’s moderator, and he played a Paladin in our game.
Lady Shel: Were you the GM or were you one of the players?
Laerun: I was the game master.
Lady Shel: What type of game did you first play? Was it a published game, or did you homebrew?
Laerun: It was a fifth edition homebrew called “March into the Silvers.” Furied Fate was also part of that group.
Lady Shel: When did you first get the idea that you needed to teach more than just Character Creation?
Laerun: We knew that to begin with, but we were first concentrating on getting characters made to play in the game. Eventually, around September, we got an instructor named Collin who took on teaching the Combat Class. Collin was a teacher in real life, and he helped develop the curriculum for the classes. I would teach Character Creation, and Collin would take those students and bring them into Combat class.
Lady Shel: What do you think the best features of Fantasy Grounds were at that time, vs. playing Face to Face?
Laerun: The ability to play with people al over the world. Also, the ease in which you can present data as a DM.
Lady Shel: When did you start to think… you know, I think we need to start training people to be GMs, as there is a lack of GMs available to run games vs. the number of players wanting to play?
Laerun: Well, I was looking at the forums at the time, and I started thinking, wow, there’s really not enough games for people to join. It was a problem, and it still exists today.
Lady Shel: Do you remember who taught your DM101 class in the beginning?
Laerun: That was me. I was the one that started that around January of 2018. I think I had about 30 people to sign up for that, and because we had so many, we had to do the class on Twitch.
Lady Shel: When did you first meet Rob2e?
Laerun: I met him in September of 2017 when I saw him post in the Fantasy Grounds Forums, in regards to my organizing people with the D&D5e Church. He seemed to think the idea was “awesome!”
Lady Shel: Whose idea was it to create a Twitch stream that would be called “All About Fantasy Grounds,” where you would talk about different topics related to the program, and have guests too?
Laerun: Rob and I were talking one night, and we started thinking (I think it was my idea, initially), that it would be a good idea to start a Twitch stream together, to bring attention to both Fantasy Grounds as a program and the College, as a place where people could learn how to use it.
Lady Shel: With the Fantasy Grounds Kickstarter having been a rousing success, where do you see FGC, regarding the newer features that FGU will offer? Will we see classes featuring some of the new additions after the full release is out?
Laerun: I see FGC as a supplemental learning center, as it is already. We won’t have to change much, except for possibly offering a Map Tools classes.
Lady Shel: Have any scoop on some exciting things we may be seeing in FGC’s future later this year, or beyond?
Laerun: We are potentially thinking about having a Beta lounge where people that have access to the Beta release can go to find others to play with, and where they can share bug reports which would later be submitted to SmiteWorks.
Lady Shel: Well, I know you’re still unpacking from your move, so I will let you go. Thank you for taking the time to give us a look at how things all started. We appreciate you!
Laerun: I appreciate all of our members, and I look forward to continuing to help people down the road.
Founder Laerun with Vinnie
We at Fantasy Grounds College are fans of the Fantasy Grounds program, and advocate its use in playing D&D and other RPGs online. We are not affiliated or officially endorsed by SmiteWorks USA LLC or Fantasy Grounds.