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Digital Dungeon Master: How AI Shapes DMJeffChronicles' TTRPG Experience

(All images in this article were created by DMJeffChroicle.)

DMJeffChronicle stands at the crossroads between AI art and TTRPGs. Alongside his AI images, he posts about worldbuilding, resource creation, and his current campaign. We talk to Jeff about his use of creative AI.

Q: Why did you start using AI generators?

A: As a nerdy tech guy, my fascination with the latest technological developments naturally led me to AI generators. The moment I saw images created by DALL-E 2, I was blown away by its potential. It was like discovering a new playground where I could unleash my creativity, which had been bottled up for years. As a Dungeon Master, I realized the immense value these tools hold in bringing imaginative worlds to life. This intersection of technology and creativity has been a thrilling exploration for me.

Q: What are the major inspirations for your art?

A: I don't necessarily consider myself an artist; rather, I view AI as a tool that I'm striving to utilize to its fullest. My content creation is deeply rooted in fantasy aesthetics. I have a fondness for modern, colorful fantasy, but of late, my focus has shifted towards incorporating an old-school horror vibe into my images. This means delving into the realms of 1970s dark fantasy, gothic horror, and the unsettling universe of Lovecraftian and cosmic horror. Essentially, my style blends traditional fantasy elements with a cosmic horror twist. For video game enthusiasts, it's like reimagining the haunting atmosphere of Bloodborne in a more classic, less Victorian fantasy setting.

Q: How much do you use AI materials in your TTRPG campaigns? What have your players’ reactions been like?

A: The use of AI in my Dungeons & Dragons campaigns has been incredibly impactful in two main areas. ChatGPT has dramatically reduced my preparation time, assisting with everything from writing game recaps to brainstorming ideas, crafting monster stat blocks, and structuring the overarching game setting. 

Visually, AI has revolutionized my approach. I create all character portraits and monster art using AI, as well as the majority of NPCs and item imagery. This has allowed me to convey my precise vision and add a unique flair to our gameplay. Additionally, I'm eager to use AI more for scenery generation. However, since my players have been navigating a dungeon setting for a while, the opportunity hasn't fully presented itself yet. My players have responded extremely positively.

Q: Can you share a memorable experience where AI-generated content significantly enhanced a gaming session or storyline?

A: A particularly memorable moment in our Dark Souls TTRPG campaign involved a player's character undergoing a dramatic transformation. In this game, when a player's character dies, they roll on a table to determine a permanent negative effect. On one occasion, a player's character developed strange bone protrusions from their body, which increased their armor class.

Reacting swiftly, I used Midjourney to modify the character's portrait to reflect this new change, showcasing the bone protrusions emerging from their body. When I revealed this updated portrait during the game, my players were absolutely mind-blown.

Q: What can you tell us about the Echovald Campaign?

A: Echovald is very much a work in progress, a burgeoning game setting that I'm developing with a Creative Commons, system-agnostic approach. It's in its infancy, and I'm open to evolving and refining it through community input and collaboration, much like projects in the open-source software community.

Set in a post-fantasy-apocalyptic landscape, Echovald is adaptable to most fantasy-themed TTRPGs. It's the setting I chose for my Dark Souls TTRPG, specifically because I wanted a fresh backdrop distinct from the established Dark Souls universe. The setting is open-ended and flexible yet thematically rich. In Echovald, traditional societal structures have crumbled; there are hardly any NPCs, and cities are non-existent. It’s a meta world, remnants of a once vibrant past, providing a canvas for players to navigate, influence, and rebuild. This setting is particularly designed for players who prefer low roleplay games. It's ideal for groups like mine, where the emphasis is on enjoying a relaxed game with friends, strategic combat, solving mysteries, and impacting the game world, rather than on deep role-playing and character portrayal.

Q: In what ways has AI technology influenced or changed your approach to worldbuilding and campaign design?

A: AI technology has been a game-changer for me, primarily in terms of efficiency and feasibility. With multiple projects, a full-time job, and two young kids, my free time is incredibly limited. AI has essentially enabled me to engage in worldbuilding and campaign design, tasks I wouldn't have been able to undertake otherwise.

The speed at which I can operate with AI assistance is remarkable. It helps me quickly brainstorm ideas, structure my thoughts, and even improve my English. This efficiency is crucial for me to make the most of the limited time I have for creative endeavors. Without AI, managing a project like this would be practically impossible.

Q: 2023 was a fantastic year for AI. Do you have any predictions about what we'll see in 2024?

A: For 2024, on a lighter note, I'm hoping to see those missing features from Midjourney v5 make their way into v6 – fingers crossed! More seriously though, I expect significant advancements in video generation AI, which could be a game-changer across multiple sectors. We're likely to see more affordable text-based Large Language Models, making them accessible to a wider audience. Open-source AI models should gain momentum, leading to community-driven progress. And on the enterprise side, I predict a major increase in AI adoption, as businesses start to fully realize its capabilities and advantages.

Q: How might people support you and your work?

A: The best way for people to support my work is to follow me on X and engage with my content if they find it interesting. I greatly value constructive criticism and welcome it as part of my creative process. Additionally, I encourage participation in the creation of the Echovald setting. I'll be sharing more information about this on my X account soon, so stay tuned for updates. 

Following me on other social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram also helps a lot. All the links can be found on my Linktree.

Thank you, Jeff, for talking with us! If you would like to ask Jeff more questions or just leave a comment, head to this X thread. Don't forget to follow him on X!

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