Insight Check: Carlos Luna (NocNoc)

Carlos Luna (@carlostcrits) took a break from making people cry with his stories to answer some questions about NocNoc and the process he goes through to really milk our tears.

Group photo of the Rivals of Waterdeep crew in black and white, with the exception of Carlos.
Order is: Cicero, Brandon, Surena, Tanya, Carlos, Shareef

Carlos Luna plays NocNoc, Half-Orc Fighter, the from left field heartbreaker of the series. Carlos is a man of many talents, from content producer for Roll20, editor for The Dungeon Rats, to making DM tips on youtube. He does a lot, including talking at conventions on inclusion and diversity. He’s been in the community for quite some time, but only took up DM’ing at episode 8 of Rivals, though it doesn’t seem like it.
NocNoc was formed as a throwaway joke character, but has become something more. His back story has consistently been emotional rides for all involved, from getting his two magical arrows, to getting his name. He’s still silly at times, soothing the crying he brought about with laughter. He’s been missed throughout Season 2, but word is that he’s ready to rumble in Season 3.

How did you come up with the concept for you character? What was the process?

Originally I wasn’t going to be a Player, I was going to play all the NPCs. But when we got to Stream of Many eyes, D&D had someone playing the NPC I had planned to play. That night I wrote up this funny new character. The was the first time a lot of the cast had played in front of an audience this big before and I knew a lot of us would be nervous, so I thought the best thing I could do is try to help them by playing a character that wasn’t afraid of looking dumb or making mistake… I mean, he tells NocNoc jokes.

If you could switch characters with anyone, who would you choose?

Perrin for sure. Cicereo was out one session and I did a bit as his character and it was a lot of fun. The backstory stuff that he’s done for his character and his presence is all you need to know to easily play Perrin.

Would you change up any aspects of your character if given the opportunity?

I think I’ve already made the changes I wanted to with my character. After The Stream of Many Eyes, it was obvious that people really liked NocNoc and I should continue playing him. Which to be honest, bummed me out a bit, cause I had a lot planned for NPC’s and he was a “one note bit”. So on the plane ride back to Chicago I had my earbuds in and I was just thinking about this character and if I could make him real, and I came up with these stories from his past that were both sad and happy and that literally made me tear up. After that I was pretty stoked to play him.

What has been your favorite moment of the entire series so far? Season 1? Season 2?

Oh wow. Episode 8 is pretty special to me cause it was the first episode I DMed. I was really nervous and over prepared (which all DMs are). Other then that there are so many great moments:
Rinn’s heart to heart with Selise when is unconcious
Perrin flashback to his family in the house and the choice he must make
Ashbourne talking to Duo after he saves her
Shaka pulling an Oceans 11 at the start of Season 2
Selise’s moments with Zirage are always so real to me

What is something that you are very much looking forward to in Season 3?

SHAREEF!!! Shareef is DMing for the first time, I’m super stoked about that. I think everyone is. Shareef is way more analytical then I am, so I’m preparing myself for layered puzzles and things that work on different levels. I expect to get my brain broken.

Who has been your favorite NPC of the show? Least favorite?

DIRTY D. Hands down. I love the idea of a shy uptight tiefling meeting another tiefling at a bar and then over analyzing their relationship to the point he thinks their best friends. Man, I hope that dude comes back.
Least favorite was probably Captain Sargents. I felt the air get sucked out of the room when I played him. I thought about it afterwards, and I think what he represented was a little too real. We play this game to escape, not feel captured. In my head that dude died in some stupid way. Like got a paper cut and it got infected. Something not deserving of a “blaze of glory”.

Are there any decisions made that you wish you could redo?

Not so much redo, but I wish we had more time to see and explore stuff I had planned…But atlas, that is the DM’s cross to bear. 

What is your opinion on the, while not directly implied, but obvious representation related aspect of the show? It’s a show of PoC and LGBGTQIA+ people, which is a very important thing these days, which really sends a message to others of marginalized identities that this game can be for them also.

WE ARE!?!?! WHAT!?!
(kidding)
I talk about this on panels a lot: this game feels different. The players react differently to the world, their filter is different. I didn’t think it would be that prevalent but it is.
It was important to me not to be heavy handed with anything. Our game is not an after school special to teach anyone anything. The stuff I put in our game is usually heavily mapped over different events and ideas, the morals are there though. 

What is it like playing with this group?

It’s a lot of fun. We’ve been together for almost a year now and when we all get together to play we’re all happy and beaming. It’s just like playing with your friends because they are.

What does game prep consist of for you?

Episode 8 was the most prep I’ve ever done for anything ha. I was taking over the story I had half written, so there was a lot of stuff I didn’t like at all that I had to come up with answers for. Not only that I had to incorporate the ACTUAL adventure, the one D&D asked us to play! And after all that, I had to find my own voice.
For Season 2, I would write a feeling. How I wanted the intro and outro to feel and then I would just write those. I would then just add in NPC’s, monsters and puzzles to tap in to as they went along. But I would seriously put off writing those Intros and Outros all week cause it filled me with such anxiety. I would not go out some nights because I was “Planning” on “writing” but really I was just taking showers and thinking about how I can’t write.

Are you aiming to be the George R.R. Martin of D&D, sans sex?

HAHA I’ve actually never read any of his stuff. I’m honestly not trying to be like anyone (writer or DM) I feel like I don’t know enough about either to actually try to mimic. I think cause I spent the last 6 years in the Chicago Improv comedy community my mind decided it didn’t want to play with being ‘funny’ anymore, it wanted to cry or sit with drama, and I think that’s whats coming out in the story.

How difficult was it to stop yourself from accidentally revealing the answer to the Black Staff Tower puzzle at the Stream of Many Eyes?

HA it was a little hard. I kept drilling down on some of the same character flaws. At a certain point I think I went too far when I had him  wonder if the stone would reveal rice.

Was it always the plan to hand the reins over to Shareef for Season 3?
After I took over as DM in the back of my head I thought I can pass it on to someone if it doesn’t pan out for me. I love DMing, but I think it’s a lot of pressure and prep, and honestly I found myself more worried every week that I would disappoint or that I had to be ‘impressive’. I’m glad we all talked about it and everyone is interested in DMing at some point, because it made the decision really easy to hand the reins over.

Are there any story ideas/threads that you didn’t get to touch on that won’t show up down the line, that you could share?

Gah, I feel like there’s a lot of stuff that can still happen, so I’m keeping it zip lipped

How excited are you to be back fully in Noc Noc’s shoes?

HA I’m pretty stoked. It’s funny because its been an entire season for the players but only 24hours for the character, so in this world he’s not gone at all. 

You can find Carlos here on Twitter & here on Youtube.

If you want to support the work being done here, here’s how:
PayPal: https://www.paypal.me/doctorvoodoo
Ko-Fi: https://ko-fi.com/pocdnd
Retweeting and letting PoC know that there is a space here for them, especially those who have been hesitant to play.

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