May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and the D&D Adventurers League is partnering with the DMs Guild in support of the Asian American and Pacific Islander members of our community. We've organized an 18-adventure bundle showcasing the work of some of our Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Asian authors, and all proceeds from sales of this bundle with benefit the Asian Mental Health Collective, as chosen by our contributing authors.
We're also taking time this month and next to learn a little bit about some of the authors who have donated their work to this cause. Up first: some of our American authors of Asian heritage.
What is your heritage? I am a Chinese-American second generation immigrant.
What’s some little-known information about yourself (including any identities you’d like to share, projects you’re proud of, hobbies you nerd out about, etc.)? I'm most known for D&D adventure design, but I'm really proud of my whimsical game design beyond Dungeons & Dragons. I'm working on a fun, eerie, secret project right now, but folks should totally check out Mundane Magic for a narrative game where you play a coven of fates, arguing a lot and saving reality a little. I'm also a public IRL witch, and if folks are interested in where witchery meets gaming, they should check out panels from my virtual convention ArCONa over on my YouTube channel.
What does your writing process look like? I outline, outline, outline until my fingers fall off or I accidentally write an adventure by filling in all the details already. I also tend to start with what I want the feel of an adventure or game to be. I'm trying to capture a tone, an atmosphere, a feeling.
Are there media (books/television/music) that inspire or motivate you? Honestly, I'm most inspired by other games. Good Society and Ten Candles have both been very influential for me. Remember to always prioritize time to play!
Do you have a favorite DDAL adventure that you've DMed or played? I love mysteries and puzzles!! Two of my favorite DDAL adventures that made me fall in love with that D&D style of play are: CCC-BMG-01 CORE 1-1 A Scream in the Night and DDA04-10 The Artifact.
What is your heritage? Taiwanese
How can people support you? All my work can be found on ethanyen.com
Where on social media can people find you? Twitter: @ethnyen
Do you have a favorite DDAL adventure that you've DMed or played? DDAL-OPEN-2018 Gangs of Waterdeep
What is your heritage? Malaysian Chinese
How can people support you? DMs Guild! Bert’s Collection
Where on social media can people find you? I don’t have a writer-based social media page. But I do reply to questions through email firstname.lastname@example.org or comments on DMs Guild.
Do you have a favorite DDAL adventure that you've DMed or played? DDAL03-16 Assault on Maerimydra (Tier 3) is definitely one of my favorites. I love Season 3 and it was a great finale to the season. A mini-epic for those who never had the opportunity to play conventions Epics back in the “old days”.
What is your heritage? I am Filipino-American! Though I was born in Sydney, Australia, I became a naturalized citizen during my college years. The citizenship interview was the scariest test of my life, but I only missed one question.
Where on social media can people find you? Twitter: @adri_dcdm
What’s some little-known information about yourself? Before I knew what a 20-sided die was, I was a musician. Whether I was singing karaoke with friends and family, strumming ukulele on the quad, or playing with the Washington Metropolitan Gamer Symphony Orchestra, I enjoyed combining music with other parts of myself. In a handful of my modules it shines through: a menagerie of animals bursting into song, ghosts of the past dancing to a macabre waltz. I know this love of music started from listening to my mother and father singing Tagalog hymns and songs from their youth.
Aside from my parents and my extended family in Chicago, I grew up pretty isolated from my Filipino heritage. There were only a handful of other Filipino students in high school, and we never had an opportunity to approach the subject. It wasn't until college that I started learning Tagalog on my own, learned to cook lumpia and chicken adobo, or learned dances like the tinikling with our school's Filipino Cultural Association. But the more I delved into it, the more I saw myself in the community, one that struggles to straddle the line between two worlds, and one that strives to make a name for itself in all aspects, from food and music to the halls of Capitol Hill. Today, I feel a lot of pride belonging to a great Filipino-American community here in the Washington DC area. That, and getting lechon for dinner before DMing at the store is fantastic.
What does your writing process look like? Every Dungeoncraft I've written starts with the given story hook. I ask myself, how do I turn this hook on its head? How do I use my background to give it a little extra flavor and create something unique and (hopefully) unforgettable? With Macabre Nightal and Let It Goat, I infuse music in the module by writing lyrics and even creating an mp3 of a waltz in Musescore. In The Big Ticket, I use another love of my life: sports. I tried bringing my adulation of Premier League football into the module, suggesting songs for supporters to sing and creating a fast-paced version of goat-ball that players can experience. From there, I build an outline, fill out the details, playtest with my friends, scribble a bit of art on my tablet, and go back and forth with editors until it is ready to put on DMsGuild.
Are there media (books/television/music) that inspire or motivate you? Those who play with me most know my propensity to break into song, especially with songs from the musical Hamilton . It's a story of a young man arriving in a new land who worked relentlessly to shape its future. As a first-generation Filipino-American, it resonates with my experience and my ambitions in a way few other stories do.
Since it's AAPI Heritage Month, I would be remiss if I did not talk about this book about another arrival to the American shores, America Is In The Heart, by Carlos Bulosan. In this semi-autobiographical work, Bulosan outlined his journey to America, his struggles as a farmhand facing racism in a Depression-era America, and his growth as a writer. Though decades have passed, I feel the battles he faced then echo the battles we face now. Though America was unkind to him, he believed with all his heart that we could all find and create the American dream for ourselves. "I knew that no man could destroy my faith in America that had sprung from all our hopes and aspirations, ever." His words inspire me to give it my all in everything I do, no matter how bleak the world seems. So long as our hearts still beat, our dream lives on. (Shout out to my Filipino-American professor, Gem Daus!)
Do you have a favorite DDAL adventure that you've DMed or played? If we're including hardcovers in this, I would say Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. I ran it four times. I loved watching players navigate this elaborate city. They learned about factions, made friends with powerful politicians, explored the streets, and faced different perils at every turn. Aside from that, I usually go for the sillier modules, like DDAL 05-10 Giant Diplomacy. I love modules that have a lot of roleplay opportunities and encourage players to think outside the box.
What is your heritage? Thai (I grew up in multi-cultured, interracial family; Thai/Puerto-Rican/African-American)
How can people support you? Other than Adventurers League, a couple of folks in the community convinced me to create a ko-fi account.
Where on social media can people find you? Twitch: deemerald573, Twitter: @VALiant573
What’s some little-known information about yourself (including any identities you’d like to share, projects you’re proud of, hobbies you nerd out about, etc.)? I'm an aspiring mental health counselor apprentice who is balancing graduate school with keeping as fit as I can. I have a recipe collection where Thai, Puerto Rican and Italian cuisines dominate! I like the smell of a cinnamon-anything and fresh basil. I have 6 years of sobriety. I strive to live a Buddhism-led life. My first community-created content that I designed for D&D Adventurers League I did as a check on my bucket list. I never did expect Bill Benham to ask me if I wanted to write another one!
What does your writing process look like? Starts with an idea that I write down or capture on my Notes App. I then get it on paper and flesh out the story. The meta comes in next and the formatting (ugh, stat blocks!). No matter what though, a picture of my mother and my sisters are always nearby, my little Dungeon Master Statue, a cup of coconut-brewed coffee with cinnamon and some lofi-beats.
Are there media (books/television/music) that inspire or motivate you? The Teachings of Buddha, LofiGirl on YouTube, Classic Rock & Metal and uplifting voices in the TTRPG community!
Do you have a favorite DDAL adventure that you've DMed or played? Tie between Rob Silva's Best Friends Forever and Shawn Merwin's Treasure of the Broken Hoard. That I've played in? Travis Woodall's A Thousand Tiny Deaths.
Bum Lee [he/him], author of Seaside Salvage: Eberron Salvage Mission Anthology
What is your heritage? I'm Korean-American. I was born in South Korea and grew up in the US. After university, I spent a year in Korea on a Fulbright research grant. At first, I could hardly speak the language. I began to relearn Korean by playing D&D with my then-girlfriend and her group of friends. It helped me enormously with my speaking and listening ability. After that year, I decided to come back to Korea and I've lived here ever since. Today, I work as a professional translator and editor. I also run bilingual D&D games in English and Korean by interpreting between the players, giving people who don't speak each other's language a chance to play together.
How can people support you? You can find a catalogue of my work on my homepage.
Where on social media can people find you? You can find me on Facebook.
What’s some little-known information about yourself I'm a multidisciplinary artist with several different practices, including animation, illustration, and in recent years fiber art. I'm particularly proud of my macrame sculpture of Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut, which I also used as a tabletop mini in a Curse of Strahd campaign.
What does your writing process look like? Before Covid-19, I ran a weekly Eberron game at a LFGS. I wanted to use my own original adventures, but I had more players interested than I could DM for at once. So, I asked other DMs to run the games with me and wrote out the adventures as AL-style modules. They became the first adventures I published on the DMs Guild, The Branches of Time series. The experience taught me how to organize my ideas and provide the tools necessary to help the DM run a smooth game.
Are there media (books/television/music) that inspire or motivate you? I like action/adventure movies, especially ones that bring fantasy into the modern world and don't take themselves too seriously, like Big Trouble in Little China and Jeon Woo-chi: The Taoist Wizard. I'm also a fan of pulp, noir, and gothic horror genres, but I try to keep a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor in my writing.
Do you have a favorite DDAL adventure that you've DMed or played? The second Oracle of War epic, Rolling Thunder, was my favorite AL adventure to run so far. It was a challenge to prep, but it had lots of interesting scenes and situations. Since it was part of an online event, I created some tools to run the game more smoothly, including an Oracle Prophecy randomizer (it was a simple HTML page that printed a random prophecy by refreshing the page). As an event organizer and DM for both FR and Eberron AL epics, I think epics are some of the most interesting adventures to prep and run. My salvage mission collections, Saving Salvation and Seaside Salvage, were made to help players level up new characters ahead of the Eberron AL epics.
What is your heritage? Biracial (Asian & White)
How can people support you? / Where on social media can people find you? All of my information can be found on my Linktree page.
What’s some little-known information about yourself? Before diving into game design, I've had a lot of interesting jobs including: window dresser, arts journalist, Young Adult novelist. That said, I've known since first grade that I wanted to be a "writer" of some sort.
What does your writing process look like? My writing process is very messy. I'm a "pantser" (fly by the seat of your pants) kind of writer so I don't do much outlining and prefer to see where things go as I develop an idea.
Are there media (books/television/music) that inspire or motivate you? I find inspiration in a lot of places, but usually my writing comes from the influence of movies and mythology. Whether it's The Mandalorian or nine-tailed foxes, a lot of what I do is looking at different ways to tell the same story or use the source material as a jumping off point.
What is your heritage? Filipino
What’s some little known information about yourself? I'm a trained actor and put those skills to use when bringing NPCs to life in my games. I've got two kids, ages 10 and 7, with whom I love to play D&D. My 7-year-old DMed his first game for his big brother a few months ago!
What does your writing process look like? It depends on the project, of course. I try to determine early on the themes an adventure will tackle, so I can get into the frame of mind of writing to support those themes. Once I have the theme of an adventure solidified, I often move on to figuring out where the adventure takes place and what maps I need to create. Map-making is one of my favorite design activities! From there, I determine monsters, NPCs, hazards, and other elements to populate the maps. Then I weave the story around those elements.
Are there media (books/television/music) that inspire or motivate you? Past editions of D&D are my biggest sources of inspiration. One of the best things about writing DDAL adventures is that they're an excuse to plumb the rich depths of lore from 1st Ed. through my beloved 4th Ed. Beyond that, I get tons of inspiration from shows I watch with my kids.
Do you have a favorite DDAL adventure that you've DMed or played? There are so many wonderful adventures, it's hard to choose. Of the 5th Ed. hardcovers, I love Curse of Strahd and Tomb of Annihilation the most. I greatly enjoy running Secrets of Sokol Keep, Shadows Over the Moonsea, Cloaks and Shadows, and No Foolish Matter. Also, I love pretty much anything by Will Doyle and Teos Abadia.