By Phil Harris
Roleplaying is apparently just for geeks, which explains why Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) Live sold out so quickly, because they pay attention. Indeed Bleeding Cool never really expected to be here at all but were delighted when the Glasgow Film Festival thought of us when a cancellation was made. So on a cold, dank night we attended the Glasgow CCA to see what was in store.
Those who have not heard Rab Florence should know he’s been a long standing gamer in all its forms, part of the creative force behind Consolevania and videoGaiden as well as being as being involved in a successful set of comedy projects and now promoting his first horror film The House of Him. He has always providing challenging views and opinions of the industry and its critics as well as doing much to make gaming more accessible to the general public and D&D Live was another excellent example of this work.
Considering his audience, Rab checked who had played before whilst ensuring the rest were included; explaining the game and features with the help of his players Louise Stewart, Iain Davidson (Noddy) and Greg Hemphill. In fact by using familiar faces and humour you quickly break down any barriers and audience members who were not used to roleplaying games warmed to the “ad-lib” nature of the event. They were also invited to engage more directly with the play; with some members joining the group and taking an active part in the game.
Roleplaying itself is a group activity and once you have hooked your players, and in this case the audience too, you’ve won half the battle. With jokes flying across the table thick and fast, from fairground to fantasy cardigans, the team delved into dungeons, poked fun at Rab’s limited number of character voices, “…three voices in many different volumes..” and questioned why they would ever be in the same party together. We followed their adventures as they missed the main plot point, got distracted and then got back on track with the help of a monkey, a naked man and the audience: So they could vanquish the evil and become victorious.
To explain more would take too long because you had to be there and experience it to be part of the story and jokes. In fact, each person in the audience took this unique experience away with them – just as players do in a game – because the very nature of roleplaying is that no two sessions are the same and you get to tell your own stories. The other thing they will have taken away is that roleplaying games are fun.
We hope D&D Live happens again and if there was one gripe about the whole show it was that it should have been done in-the-round (Where the audience surrounds the performers on all sides). This would have added to audience engagement and made everyone feel an even greater part of the action, yet D&D Live provided an entertaining two hours in the company of people who obviously enjoyed sharing their pastimes and allowed all to unleash their inner hero.
Phil Harris (@PhilipGHarris) is a games developer and writer currently working with One Thumb Mobile on their MMORPG Celtic Heroes. He also created Zentorii, helped design Nevistech’s Pet Roulette for Android devices and is the story writer for Blazing Griffin’s new space strategy game Distant Star: Revenant Fleet. To read more about Phil check out his profile on Indie Teamup.