Paul Aponte writes for Bleeding Cool:
Reading comics can be a lonely habit. For years, the only person I talked to about comics was the guy who sold me my comics and, even then, I didn't get into long conversations with him. It's pretty rare to find someone who shares the deep abiding love for the hobby that we have as comics readers, but years ago I bumped into a guy named Aron and we instantly bonded over a Silver Surfer reference that no one else probably would have gotten. A bromance was instantly formed.
After chatting via e-mail for a while, we eventually branched into our own geek culture website, Ideology of Madness, and started a weekly podcast with the Funnybooks name.
Since then, we've recorded over 200 weekly episodes, not including our interviews with some of comics biggest talents, and some of the guys that we grew up reading – guys like Jim Starlin and Ron Marz, Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction. We don't do interviews as much lately, as a matter of just not having enough time, but we get together every week to discuss comics, and now we've got a rotating cast of five co-hosts, including myself (Paulie), Aron, Tim, Wayne, and Andrew.
It was a couple of years ago that the guys on the show admitted another of their passions – gaming. I hadn't done played any RPG's since I was a wee Paul, so when the guys tried to convince me to jump on board with the whole gaming thing, I was hesitant. I mean, have you ever read a gaming book? It's like reading a text book for me – I get about five pages in before I put it down and reach for the latest issue of Superior Spider-Man.
But, with four out of the five guys on the podcast into gaming, it was only a matter of time before we decided to combine the two into something, and that something ended up being Knights of Reignsborough, an actual play podcast where we would record our gaming sessions. We found that using the Savage Worlds ruleset allowed us to be rules-lite and focus on the story, which was important for us.
We recorded what we now call Season Zero of Knights of Reignsborough (you can listen to it in its entirety at Reignsborough.com), which was our "sandboxing" season. You know how sometime you hear about these summits that the Marvel and DC guys go to where they plan their stories for the upcoming year? That's essentially what sandboxing is…except that we were creating our superhero universe from scratch. You can hear our influences pretty heavy early on – we were loving Geoff Johns run on The Flash, reading Ron Marz' Velocity mini-series from Top Cow, things like that. In Season Zero, you can hear us decide on the rules of the universe, the feel of the universe, and who the heroes would be that populate the universe. We all came with multiple ideas and let the group vote in order to find something that would be fun for all of us to play. It's a good primer, and involves a ton of raunchy conversation.
Season One of Knights of Reignsborough, which is also now out in its entirety (at Reignsborough.Com and IdeologyOfMadness.com), was our 13-episode first season. It took FOREVER to record it, due to our day job schedules, but the entire season is now out there, and we are extremely proud of it. The heroes came into their own as characters, and we had a ton of fun playing the game. And even though Knights of Reignsborough is a role playing game actual play podcast, it was never our intent to teach a system, rather to entertain. As such, much of the game mechanic discussion has been edited from the audio. I think it's this focus on story that makes the show a great listen for both fans of RPG's, as well as just fans of comics. Though it's hardly well-acted, Knights of Reignsborough is, for the most part, a superhero audio drama, with a bit of RPG mechanics thrown in, if you like that kinda thing.
After recording Season Two of Knights of Reignsborough, which is currently being released, we decided to have a fun little horror-themed spin off that we would release on Halloween this year. We titled it Ghosts of Reignsborough and, since one of our usual players wasn't able to join us, we were instead joined by our pal Mikey Mason, a truly talented comedian, and geek just like the rest of us. We approached Ghosts in a similar manner to Knights, but through a much shorter season. We had three sandboxing sessions, and three gaming sessions.
In Ghosts of Reignsborough, a group of heroes is called together to investigate the disappearance of a number of children in the city of Reignsborough. Along the way, they uncover a secret lab beneath the city, lose one of their fellow heroes, and have to fight against numerous grostesque creatures including hellworms, a baby-eating giant horned devil, and a man we have lovingly been referring to as "Spring Roll Man," due to the opacity of his skin.
Ghosts of Reignsborough is easily the best gaming I've ever been involved in. We created a new set of supernatural heroes (we're all fans of the 90's era Midnight Sons books from Marvel), and Aron (our game master) truly crafted a horrifying story to put them through the ringer.
We packed a lot of our horror love into the show, and really amped it up into an ending that, as a horror fan, had me grinning from ear to ear. The other players, all with years of gaming behind them, unanimously agreed it's the most f*cked up gaming experience they've ever been in, and the last six minutes of the season finale have pretty much shocked everyone that's listened to them, and had them dying for more story (which will come next year).
Though it helps to have listened to Knights of Reignsborough, you don't have to have to pop on Ghosts, which is a quick six-episode listen that we hope you'll enjoy. It's totally free, and actually available on iTunes to download (keyword: Ideology of Madness) and at the links below.
We'd really like to release a setting book for Reignsborough, so that our listeners can play their own adventures in the setting we've built. Not only that, we've got a ton of ideas in the coming year for it, and we'd love to have some new folks on board. When we feel we've gotten a stronger foundation, you'll be hearing back from us about a Kickstarter (or something like that) so we can get the book off the ground, but, until then, we're here to provide you with some fun audio, and some great superhero action!
Ghosts of Reignsborough is available to listen to at IdeologyOfMadness.com. Look for the banner on the right.
Same with Knights of Reignsborough, which is also available at IdeologyOfMadness.com, with the Season Two finale releasing in December. However, should you want to start over from the beginning, you can do that at Reignsborough.com, where we've also got a ton of character art and character sheets for all the lead characters.
If you listen to any of the episodes and like what you hear, leave us a comment, or give us a call at the Ideology of Madness hotline, 972-763-5903, with your thoughts. Let us know specifically that you came about our show through Bleeding Cool and we'll pick a couple of folks at random to mail some free comics to!