geekery

Nights at the Round Table (webshow)

Greetings, cyber traveler.

I see your weary eyes have traveled through many windows. Your fingers have clicked through many posts of friends.

You have now stumbled upon another window. It looks different from the others. You walk through and come upon a room. The minute you step through, the window shuts behind you! The room is now a spinning vortex of windows! You glimpse flashes of half naked torsos….a shiny hammer….wings…spaceships. You begin to get dizzy, your knees buckle.

Then you hear a chuckle. The chuckle grows into giggles.You look up at the sound of full blown laughter.

You blink and realize that all the windows have shattered around you. Only one window, rimmed in red. You move towards it. Your foot catches on a button by your feet.A white triangular symbol is etched in a shiny white color jewel. Your hand hovers it but you hesitate. The red rimmed window flashes through so many images. Images that draw you in.

What do you do?

Roll for initiative.

And I have now warped you into my own take on Dungeons and Dragons (D and D). Many people have heard of it but quickly associates  it with basement anti-social nerds.It is usually dismissed. Which is a HUGE shame.

A wonderful local store near me  hosted a day of role playing games. After a brief hesitation, I sat down to a demo of DnD next. I did not know what to expect and I was so nervous. As I quickly learned, your first experience greatly depends on your dungeon master.  David from Crit Juice was mine and he was phenomenal!

These are the basics. DnD is a role playing game. Each person creates a character (I think mine was a shape shifting scholar cat mage). Once the party is created, they all start at the doors of a dungeon. The game can be played over a grid mat or landscape table.  The dungeon master is the narrator. This person also controls the fate of your character by rolling a die and telling you the outcome. A scene is dictated to you and you choose what you do. The dungeon master then rolls and tells you if you succeeded, failed, or  something unexpected occurs.

Now how does any of that sounds anti-social?!??!

I quickly got to know the rest of my party who were strangers tome  mere minutes beforehand. One person took forever making decisions but they were so logical and precise. Another person was reckless but nabbed some pretty awesome surprises. I was the weird one with a penchant for stabbing creatures with ice missiles.

In twenty minutes, we were laughing, interacting, and debating. This is a story telling game that involves the whole group.

Sadly I have not been able to participate in any local DnD games since my spare time is scatters and few. If you are interested I would recommend visiting your local game/comic book store and meetup.com.

A few weeks after my first DnD game, I was given this web show to peruse.

The webshow is “Nights at the Round Table”. Five people meet every Thursday evening for a game . Except one of their members is gone and they need a replacement. The whole web show evolves around the search for  this fifth player amidst silliness and  geeky references.

With the use of neat and geektastic introductions, we meet out players:

Max Turtleson (a.k.a Moriciove the Wise), a mage.

Harmony Hollister (a.k.a  Salmissra the awesome),necromancer

(I have to admit, I kept mistaking her for Aeryn Sun from Farscape.They look so alike)

Millie Gordon (a.k.a Amerial the nice), the game master and librarian.

Samuel P. Hastings (a.k.a just Sam), the newbie.

 

It did a great job of showing how this game brings people together. Even with all the silly gags, jokes, outlandish effects, they grow together as a group. It was fun and very entertaining at most points.

This was the kind of show that teetered between me loving it or just forgetting it. For those who are seasoned players, this webshow may come off as over simplified and cheesy. For the uninitiated, this may just be confusing. Also, some of the jokes seemed tacked on for geek cred sake and the flow of it seemed to stumble a little bit.

The more I did watch, the more I did enjoy though. It might have been the British accents ( I am a huge sucker for accents. I am not ashamed. Just honest) that kept me going. The first season did end in a type of cliff hanger and I am VERY curious to know what happened.

Now since I have magical awesome blogger cred, I was able to throw out some questions to some of the cast  members. Their responses have pretty much solidified in keeping me hooked into a show. Sometimes, when you know the actors themselves a little bit, you view a show a tad bit differently for the favorable.

Warning: I have no degree in journalism. These questions greatly reflect that and my need for pure entertainment.

 

1. Are any of the cast members serious D&D players? If so, did your experience as a D&D play influence your character portrayal?

AMELIA TYLER (Harmony)

I love board games but I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never played anything as complex as D&D. I was always curious about the game when I was growing up but nobody I knew back then played, so it wasn’t really an option. Since ‘Nights’ launched, however, I’ve discovered that quite a few of my friends have played for years (one of whom is apparently a somewhat legendary DM!), so we’re planning to get a game going very soon. I’m a little concerned about it, to be honest – I may play a badass in the show but I’m clearly going to get my ass well and truly handed to me!

I do play a lot of video games, though, and Harmony’s definitely very similar to the style of character I play in games like Skyrim. I tend to just max out the strength and charge in, screaming, then hit stuff ’til it stops moving. None of that stealthy nonsense for me!

JENNIFER JORDAN (Millie)

Er no, I’ve never played D&D, though I wish I had and am now determined to get in on the sessions a friend of mine runs. I’m pretty keen on tabletop gaming in general though and have spent many a boozy, snack fuelled evening playing various games long into the night. Zombie Flux and Zombicide are my current favourites (though you really have to clear you schedule for Zombicide as it takes an age to play). Weirdly though I didn’t get much into them until after we’d shot the first batch of Nights. Purely coincidentally. I didn’t really understand much of what was happening when we were filming and I remember having several ‘click’ moments after some actual game sessions where I suddenly understood what I’d been saying in certain episodes.

JAMIE MCKELLER (Creator)

I played a little when I was a teenager, but was more interested in Warhammer. I became obsessed with painting Space Marines. When writing the show I went and sat in on several D&D games, but quickly discovered that although the gameplay can be intense and exciting it’s not something that you would want to watch for a whole show (unless you came at it like Tabletop, playing and reviewing). When I asked the gamers what they enjoyed most about playing, they all talked about the social side of it. People fall in love over the table, and apparently… things can get a little sexy in game.

2. In terms of the UK, how is D&D perceived? In the US, it’s more seen to be played by awkward, anti-social basement dwellers (although every D&D player I have encountered is very social and friendly).

AMELIA TYLER (Harmony)

I think that’s probably just a result of the gaming culture that was around in the 80s and 90s where it was seen as far less socially acceptable to be a geek. These days everyone’s at it! I’m sure that that perception’s still around, but only really among people who’ve never actually played, and thankfully those numbers are swiftly dwindling.

JENNIFER JORDAN (Millie)

I suppose it has much the same perception here, though it’s hard to tell as most of my social group are people that used to or still do play, and I don’t have that perception of them. I think it’s pretty cool. But I’ve never been perceived as cool myself, so I’m not much of a yardstick there.

JAMIE MCKELLER (Creator)

The Geeks shall inherit the Earth, so who cares what the rest of the humans think.

3. This is a geek web series made for geeks. How would you promote this to a non-geek or a new person to the world of D&D?

AMELIA TYLER (Harmony)

The thing I really love about the series is that while, yes, it does contain a lot of geeky stuff, it’s completely character-driven – it’s a show about a bunch of silly, weird, wonderful people who just happen to play games. You don’t have to know anything about tabletop gaming at all to warm to the characters and follow what’s going on, plus you might find yourself getting so intrigued by the games that you decide to try one for yourself (I speak from experience here as ‘Nights’ was responsible for my new, mildly unhealthy addiction to Munchkin, Carcasonne and Zombies).

JENNIFER JORDAN (Millie)

It’s more about the relationships between the characters really, who are all very unique and interesting in their own right. Despite being based around a particular area of geek culture, the comedy doesn’t rely much on referencing but is more just well written comedy banter which is character driven. The references are extra gold nuggets for those who get them but it’s not what the series relies on. It’s just good clean slightly surreal fun. 

JAMIE MCKELLER (Creator)

I’d ask them to press play on episode 1 and give it 3 minutes. If it doesn’t crack a smile… move along. This isn’t the series you’re looking for. I know all manner of people have found the show and love it. It’s just a matter of giving it a chance.

4. The cast has some great comedic moments and I suspect some great outtake stories. Care to divulge any?

AMELIA TYLER (Harmony)

Haha! Oh god, SO many. Something strange happens when we sit down around that table – it’s like a kind of collective madness. Silly voices and weirdness all over the place, pretty much non-stop. Jamie (the director) was always very tolerant of it but he didn’t get to really experience it for himself until the Halloween special when he finally took off his directing hat and joined the cast to play Ricky the 5th. Within minutes he was bright red from laughing at Arron wearing a horse mask and just gasped “I get it now!” You just can’t not go a little bit crazy, and that’s definitely for the best. The shoots are intense and you need that comedic energy to keep things fun and sparky.

As for other behind-the-scenes stuff… ok… Jamie has a pet bearded dragon and when we’re shooting she usually just sits in her vivarium, good as gold. One day, however, she decided to get VERY excited and was scrabbling about a lot so, as I wasn’t in shot at the time, I offered to sit on the sofa with her in my lap. MISTAKE. Mid-way through a take that lizard completely emptied her bowels all over my trousers. It was truly hellish. I don’t actually live in York and hadn’t brought a change of trousers with me so I ended up filming the whole of the rest of the episode with my Batman pyjama bottoms on under the round table!

Oh, and Jennifer (Milly) got pineapple juice right up inside her brain when we filmed the infamous ‘getting drunk’ scene. Those booze hats + physics = uncontrollable stream of neverending juice.

JENNIFER JORDAN (Millie)

I nearly died from inhaling too much pineapple juice.  Oh how we all laughed. It was hilarious.

JAMIE MCKELLER (Creator)

This one time… I poisoned Jennifer’s pineapple juice.

5. I demand some merchandise. When can I expect that?

AMELIA TYLER (Harmony)

I have absolutely no idea. I’d like some too, though!

JENNIFER JORDAN (Millie)

I don’t know. What do you want?

JAMIE MCKELLER (Creator)
Later this year! We’ll be releasing the series on a DVD as well as getting a batch of t-shirts once the budget… appears.

6. You arrive alone at a party. You know no one. Other than the host, no one greets you. There is a table full of snacks, a cooler of filled with beer, an old decrepit cat slunking in the corner, a bookcase crammed full of DVDs and books, another bookcase full of boardgames, a print from one of your favorite artists, a really handsome/beautiful guest lounging by themselves in a chair, an unmanned music player. 

Where do you go now?

AMELIA TYLER (Harmony)

Sorry? I can’t hear you, I’m over here playing with this cat. I belong to it now, apparently. It won’t let me leave.

JENNIFER JORDAN (Millie)

Snacks and beer. Every time. I’m straight there like a shot. Probably hang about there awkwardly not wanting to be the first to open the hummus. I would browse the games, wishing it was socially acceptable to say ‘hey, let’s have a game!’ then browse the DVDs and books, all the time hoping someone might notice I am alone and talkable to, then once the beer’s half gone I’d probably have a go at talking to that lounger – unless they seem all ‘I’m pretty and I know it’, then I’d just sit near the music and rifle through.

JAMIE MCKELLER (Creator)

I’d locate the beer, harvest the snacks and build a fort out of the books and DVDs.  

7. Dungeon Master: “Your group walks into the hidden room. The walls are covered with old spiderwebs and thick layers of dust. Pieces of stone statues are strewn all over the dirt floor. A painted mural can be seen on one wall depicting a warrior holding up a lance in front of the tiger. Above you, the ceiling contains various size holes. A broken pedestal with engravings sits haphazardly in the middle of the room.

     Three doors are on the opposite wall. Above each door is an image. The door to the right has an image of avian like creature with long legs. The middle door has an image of a potted plant. The last door has an image of a foot outline.

        What do you do?”

AMELIA TYLER (Harmony)

I spend a good half hour inspecting the broken pedestal and the ceiling holes and trying to figure out how all the bits of statue went together. I jot down notes and any clues I can find. I form some kind of rudimentary spreadsheet to log all the collected data in the hope that it’ll give me some hint about what to do next. Then I swear loudly, eenie-meenie-miney-mo it and end up going through the bird door.

JENNIFER JORDAN (Millie)

Check out the bits of statues and see if there’s a common theme. Check the room for weeping angels. Cry. 

JAMIE MCKELLER (Creator)

Everything in here is broken and probably covered in spiders. I’d set fire to the room and go for the foot door, never looking back.

8. You have one chance, one chance only, to convince someone to watch your webseries instead of the video of the surprised kitten for the 10th time. How would you convince them?

AMELIA TYLER (Harmony)

*Fetches the axe*

JENNIFER JORDAN (Millie)

Ooh, ooh, ooh! Have you seen that HILARIOUS thing with that cat sampled as the main character and all the other comedy animal stars from the web making cameos? Here – (link to Nights). It may be a lie, but once they’re into the series they’ll forgive me.

[END INTERVIEW QUESTIONS]

Suffice to say that these answers cracked me up and made me immediate fans. I definitely look forward to their second season.

Did my review sway you? Veer you away from DnD? Confuse you?

Well the best way to know how you feel about it is to just click on the link.  Check out the first video here. If nothing else, I hope it shed a different like on the world of role playing games. I also hope that it may encourage people to try it.

Adventures await you.

What will you roll?

 

 

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