Christopher Perkins (born February 29, 1968) is a game designer and editor who works for Wizards of the Coast. He is also the Dungeon Master in "Dice, Camera, Action!".
Under the nom de plume "Christopher Zarathustra", Christopher Perkins got his start in 1988 as a teenager, writing the adventure "Wards of Witching Ways" for Dungeon magazine #11. Perkins joined Wizards of the Coast (WotC) in 1997 as the editor of Dungeon magazine. He became the editor in chief of Wizards periodicals. He later became the senior producer for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) roleplaying game (RPG), leading the team of designers, developers, and editors who produce D&D RPG products. Perkins was the story manager for D&D in 2007 before the release of the game's 4th edition. Perkins was working on the Star Wars Saga Edition while D&D fourth edition was being developed, and ideas flowed freely back and forth between Perkins and the 4e team. Perkins was on the SCRAMJET team, led by Richard Baker, and including James Wyatt, Matthew Sernett, Ed Stark, Michele Carter, and Stacy Longstreet; this team updated the setting and cosmology of D&D as the fourth edition was being developed.
He ran a D&D campaign set in his homegrown world of Iomandra. He wrote a blog, "The Dungeon Master Experience", on the Wizards of the Coast website for over two years, where he shared tricks and advice about the challenge of 'Dungeon Mastering' a campaign; specifically through the lens of his homebrew world. However, in the penultimate posting of March 2013 Chris announced the following post would be the last "at least for a while", whereupon the blog became inert.
For 11 years, he was the Dungeon Master for Penny Arcade's "Acquisitions Incorporated" (Acq Inc) Dungeons & Dragons games, played at their office or during the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) shows. He stepped down from this role in November 2018 due to conflicts traveling to conventions and his commitments to WotC and DCA.
Perkins has been part of WotC's recent efforts to convert early D&D adventure modules to 5th edition versions, and was the Lead Designer of the Ravenloft 5E reboot 'Curse of Strahd', released in 2016.
Role in Dice, Camera, Action! Edit
Given Perkins's long experience as a Dungeon Master and his heavy involvement with their D&D adventure reboots, WotC charged him with running a weekly live-streamed 5E campaign that would run through their recent products and demystify the game for an audience that was new to pen and paper RPGs. It would center around a team of four players who he had never before met, but who were chosen as representative "warm, open and creative souls...who share a common nerdy language". Although he had already done live recordings for his Acq Inc campaign, he admitted to being very nervous around a live audience, and that he tended to focus only on the players and ignore the viewers' reactions (he would also not read viewer comments during the live chat, although the rest of the cast do and will sometimes point out those comments to him). He has tried to involve himself with the fandom, however, occasionally releasing bonus material related to the show. For show recordings that take place at conventions, he has dressed up as both Strahd von Zarovich and Acererak (for the latter, he uses a strong Canadian accent when in character, which is amusing given that he is a Canadian-American).
Although working at WotC implies that he is very familiar with the rules, Perkins has been noted to forget them or let them slide for the sake of having the adventure flow at a good pace. He has also on occasion let the DCA adventure deviate quite significantly from the published modules, inventing new backstories for NPCs, artifacts or locales to accommodate their story. Sometimes, these ideas are recycled from material that never made it into the published modules. When Tomb of Annihilation was released, Chris put both his Acq Inc players and DCA players through the adventure at the same time, allowing crossovers to happen within the larger multiverse, nicknamed by fans as the "Perkinsverse". This also flowed into the offshoot "C-Team" Acq Inc series, where both Jerry Holkins and Chris Perkins co-DM'ed a marathon of episodes between the C-Team and DCA where they all appeared in person.
During the PAX West 2017 DCA Q&A, Perkins described the Waffle Crew as "sub-optimal", a tagline that they have been notorious for ever since, however he says that he appreciates that the cast are "funny...wonderful players...[that] make it so easy on me, because they'll do things that [are] not optimal for their characters simply because it will be entertaining, or fun, or because it is in character for them to behave that way, so they put themselves in all the glorious predicaments quite nicely, and that makes me happy from a storyteller point of view." Although fans often accuse him of appearing to enjoy torturing the players, he had joked that "I don't kill characters; players kill characters, and I let them". However, he has also explained that it is simply to "give them the best experience I can", and that putting them in uncomfortable situations can be a way to force them to "improvise, and possibly do wacky things...but I don't have an ulterior motive beyond that".
- Baichtal, John (2008-03-05). "Chris Perkins Answers D&D 4E Questions | GeekDad | Wired.com". Archive.wired.com. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "Christopher Perkins D&D Creative Manager". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Wizard Periodicals. Archived from the original on May 3, 2014. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- Villoria, Gerald (September 10, 2007). "Dungeons & Dragons: The 4th Edition Interview". Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 298. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
- "Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Archive". Archive.wizards.com. Archived from the original on 2014-10-12. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- Perkins, Chris (2013-03-14). "Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Article (Until the Next Encounter)". Archive.wizards.com. Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "News - Acquisitions Inc". Penny Arcade. 2011-08-01. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "Chris Perkins and Tracy Hickman on Curse of Strahd | Dungeons & Dragons". dnd.wizards.com. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
- "Dragon+: The Wafflecrew. 9/5/17".
- Psychology at the Table; Anxiety Talk with Chris Perkins, Tips for DMs/GMs. G33ks Like Us.
- "Chris Perkins On Anxiety, D&D Live Shows And Challenging Yourself". Dungeon Life.
- DCA AMA Session. Twitch.com.
- Acquisitions Incorporated episode list. Penny Arcade.
- Chris Perkins AMA. DCA Reddit.
- WafflesInc Crossover. YouTube
- "Ask the Wafflecrew Anything Panel at PAX West". Twitch.com.
- "Todd Talks with Chris Perkins, Amy Vorpahl and Jerry Holkins about Storytelling". D&D Beyond.