Dungeons & Dragons/D&D Beyond Video Commentary, Continued

If you've ever wanted to learn more about the lich Acererak, the intricacies of character alignment, the life of chest-cloaking Mimics, various regions and dungeons within the Forgotten Realms, and other general Dungeons & Dragons-related stuff, then I'm going to continue to point you at the D&D Beyond website, where many such articles and videos now exist. Seven of those videos are embedded below:

And then I'll share some snippets from the transcriptions that populate the related articles:
Mike Mearls: We very specifically, in Fifth Edition, tried to position it more as a roleplaying descriptor and a shorthand for ... In terms of the D&D cosmos, there are these certain ... And this goes back to Planescape. There are these certain ... like, beliefs can shape things. And so there's this idea that on a cosmic level, there's a tension between law and chaos and good and evil, and creatures pick sides.

Mike Mearls: It's no different than saying ... Oh, well, then the idea is, then, you pick a side that reflects how you act. And I think there's a lot of ways you can approach it, right? As a DM, you can decide, is alignment ... like, does it describe someone, or does it define someone? And you can say, "I'm Lawful Good, because I act lawful and good." Or you can say, "I've chosen to be lawful and good, so now I have to act lawful and good." And we actually don't try to answer that in the game, because I think that's something that's really up to the players and dungeon masters.

Mike Mearls: And I also think it's something that, cosmologically ... on one hand, it's very useful just to say, "Orcs are Chaotic Evil. That means you can beat them up and not feel guilty." And I think in D&D's history, that worked. But now that you have, like, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings on TV or movies, there's a lot more nuance now coming into fantasy.

Mike Mearls: Fantasy used to be all about those mythic archetypes. Loki is the trickster. That's what he is. He'll always be the trickster. If Loki stopped being the trickster, he'd stop being Loki. He'd be a different character. But now, I think, especially with Game of Thrones, people now are more used to a more science fiction or modern-day story approach to people, like that people can change, that evil is relative. Not absolutely relative, but some ... it is about point of view.

Mike Mearls: And the way I see alignment in D&D is the further you get out into the cosmic ... the Outer Planes, the more alignment is almost this elementary force, that ... Mount Celestia is a realm of law and good, but law and good isn't necessarily the answer to every question, that evil has a place in the cosmos. Being selfish has a place in the cosmos. And evil might not be very good for a group in terms of its prosperity ... like, that it's good for all. Good would say, "Hey, everyone should prosper." Evil can say, "The individual should prosper."


Matt Sernett: I think that there's lots of things in monsters in D&D lore that we laugh at or poke fun of but it's just 'cause we haven't given them enough thought. We haven't given the opportunity to surface what's really cool about them. I think one of them's the mimic. I think if you go on the internet it's one of those, "This is the dumbest monster ever," kind of a thing. It's a treasure chest that eats you or that kind of thing. Honestly, if you think about it, the mimic's really fascinating. What does a mimic look like when it's not mimicking something? Right? Is it a puddle of goo? Is it purple? What does it do? And then how big or flat or whatever can a mimic get? Can it mimic a tablecloth? What's happening? If you start to sort of think about those questions and then come up with the right answers, neat ideas start happening.

Matt Sernett: Maybe the mimic isn't just the treasure chest that eats you. It is a predator, obviously. It eats meat and it's a carnivore and so on. It's taken this shape and it's hiding as objects. Is there another predator that goes after mimics? Is that why it turns itself into objects and things like that? Does the mimic mimic these other things so that it can just go over things like rats and so on? It typically wouldn't attack an adventurer because they're big and they're scary. Why would you attack that thing when you can eat rats and just go off and be a normal predator? Then it's like well maybe the mimic could, at some point, be the party's friend. Could you have a mimic that's basically to ply a character's pet?

Matt Sernett: There's all kinds of adventure opportunities there and fun for the DM role playing. 'Cause now you've got this thing that's in the party that's their pet. They have to feed it and take care of it and stuff like that. But it's a thing that can turn into other things and maybe there's fun things that you can do with role playing. Like if every time they're looking for it and they need it for something really critical, it's turned into their bedroll and doesn't wanna be bothered or whatever might be. There's all kinds of interesting things you can do with what seems to be a really silly creature.