At long last I finished the first season of Dice, Camera, Action!, a D&D webshow much in the vein of others such as The Adventure Zone and Critical Role. The events leading up to the final showdown with the vampire lord Strahd was as about as intense and chaotic as one could expect, yet as the dust settled I found myself wanting more. Yes, there’s another season out—which I started—but something about the way things finished left me seeking out some comfort fic both for the characters and to ease my shaken heart. Luckily, even amidst the seemingly small bounty, fanfic provides.
My obsession with Dungeons & Dragons is still in full swing, and lately I have been striving to improve my Dungeon Master game. A while back, I talked about Acreletae and her advice for beginner DMs. Although it’s very nice to have a female DM voice, her channel doesn’t really have that many videos. So today I would like to introduce you all to a veritable goldmine of DMing advice—Matthew Colville’s YouTube series called Running The Game. Currently at 47 videos and counting, this series first goes through the basics of DMing and adventure creation before Colville delves into topics such as calendar creation, how to deal with or avoid certain mistakes, and how to make a game fun.
In the hype of larger productions and bigger fanbases, it’s all too easy to completely miss out on less spoken of productions that are equally as good. With this seeming boom of Dungeons & Dragons webshows, it perhaps comes as no surprise that they suffer from the same thing—it’s definitely easy to fall in the shadow of amazing shows like Critical Role and The Adventure Zone. So today I bring you a beginner-friendly D&D webshow starring some of my favorite YouTubers and led by Wizards of the Coast’s own DM extraordinaire, Chris Perkins. Friends, readers, dim the lights, because it’s time for some Dice, Camera, Action.
Since I started watching Critical Role a few months ago, I have become quite obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons. I quickly realized that while playing D&D is a lot of fun, what I really wanted to be is a Dungeon Master. It unites some of my favorite creative outlets: writing, drawing, acting, and directing. Despite my enthusiasm, it seemed quite daunting at first because there appeared to be so many aspects to it, so I started reading the source books and searching the internet for tips and advice. There is a lot of great stuff out there, so this might become a series of sorts, and I want to start today by talking about one of my more obscure finds—a series of YouTube videos titled Dungeon Master 101 by Acreletae. She has a lot of great advice on the basics of DMing: from organizing your notes and planning strategies for sessions and campaigns to creating non-player characters and cities.
Once upon a time I was one of the many people trying to catch up with Critical Role. During this fantastical, entertaining slog (and it was a slog at times) fellow fan Noodle suggested to me that I take a different route with my catch up plans: instead of watching each 3+ hour episode, I read the summaries of the episodes instead. “What a perfectly logical solution!” I thought. While my stubbornness eventually saw me through the twenty-some episodes I was behind on, I ended up enjoying the site Noodle linked me to, Project Derailed, for its other nerdy content and reviews.
In mid-2016, the U.S. presidential election had just kicked into high gear with the announcement of Orange Cheeto Dust as the Republican presidential nominee, and I started looking for a comical podcast to take my mind off things. A friend of mine recommended The Adventure Zone, a podcast by the McElroy brothers, without really telling me what it was about. Mostly what I knew about the McElroys was that they were from my own home state and had some well-known podcasts, so I went in with absolutely no knowledge of the game they were playing, laughed at some jokes, and listened to an episode or so when I had the time. Before I knew it, I had somehow gone from “an ep whenever” to “three or four eps a day” because I was so invested in the story, and it’s definitely one of the few things that keeps me laughing even in this news vortex of despair. Now that The Adventure Zone is hurtling towards a sure-to-be hilarious and heartrending finale, I feel like it’s past time to try to get some of you to jump on this train with me.
Minor spoilers below!
Finally having caught up with Critical Role, I found myself with a hole in my schedule that I didn’t quite know how to fill. Luckily enough the internet was there in my time of need, and while several other D&D streams and podcasts failed to grab me, I managed to find one that did. The Adventure Zone is a D&D podcast put out by the McElroy brothers (also known for My Brother, My Brother, And Me and their various other podcasts on the Maximum Fun network) that follows three quirky characters—Magnus the warrior, Merle the cleric, and Taako the wizard—as they do everything in their power to derail all that Griffin, the DM, creates for them. Despite the fact that I’m nowhere near caught up with TAZ, I decided that this was a perfect time to look for fic. The obvious choice would have been to look for AU fic where I wouldn’t necessarily need to worry about spoilers. What ended up grabbing me, though, was the complete opposite: a post-canon fic that explores the struggles, tragedies, and joys that come with being an adventurer.
Warning for potential spoilers—not like I would know—and discussions of depression and self-harm.