When you hear “Dungeons and Dragons”, what do you think of? Questionable fashion choices? The kids from Stranger Things? Maybe even this?
Since it started in 1974, Dungeons and Dragons has since acclaimed players of all age, race, gender, and creeds. As someone who has only been playing for a year, I can say that even my preconceived notions of the game were nothing like I expected. Anyone with an imagination can play, anywhere. Even prison.
Perhaps surprising no one, Dungeons and Dragons has a strong presence online, not just as a fandom but actual game play. Sites like Roll20.net provide virtual tabletops for groups, while D&D has its own twitch channel where you can watch and follow along to your favorite ongoing campaigns. But perhaps the most viewable place to watch D&D in motion is Youtube. That’s what Geekbomb boss Maude Garrett hopes with her series, Fungeons and Flagons.
As dungeon master Maude reminds the viewer at the start of each episode, Fungeons and Flagons is more of a d20 improv storytelling game, and less 5th edition of D&D. Because the players in F&F are new to the world of tabletop roleplaying, there are no mentions of stats, multiple die (other than the d20s), or character attributes. What Fungeons focuses on, instead, is the roleplaying, the creative problem solving, the organic way the story progresses in hilarious and bizarre ways.
The players still are assigned classic D&D races and classes, asked to give their characters’ backgrounds, goals, strengths, and weaknesses which are crafted and called back to throughout Maude’s campaign in hilarious ways. (One of the players’ deceased brother’s soul now possesses a hat that the player wears). They also have an inventory, have a set of skills and spells specific to them, as well as level up throughout the campaign.
Fans of the former Sourcefed and SourcefedNerd (RIP </3) will recognize not only the format of the show from SFN’s Saturday content, but the players as well! Maude Garrett reprises her role as the Mauderator (pun very much intended), Matt Lieberman as the pixie Tauryn Tummy Touch, Jeremy Azavedo as the halfling Hellgarth Trinkledink, and Sam Bashor as the gnome Maester. Whether you play D&D or not, fans of SF can reminisce to their hearts’ content watching these four.
And they’re not the only SF alumni. Fans of the talented cartoonist Starline Hodge and editor Brett Houston also play pivotal behind-the-scenes support, giving it that extra SF flair. Not only that, but appearances have been made by Starline, Steve Zaragoza, Filip Molina, and Joel Rubin as various NPCs throughout Team Tiny Boys’ adventure.
The purists of D&D may not like Fungeons and its watered-down, improv-based version of the game. But as someone who enjoys both 5e and a well-written campaign with plenty of creative ways to play, I enjoy what Maude Garrett is doing with her series. From the props (the pixie wears a flower crown; the halfling has his nose taped up because it was now a pig snout), to the graphics, to the players’ improv, there is something for hardcore players and newcomers alike to love. Perhaps the most fun is Maude’s house rule whenever a natural 1 or 20 is rolled – 1, and the player has to take a shot; 20, and the player gets to tell someone else to (usually Maude). This has led to a few holes in all four’s memories; good thing it’s recorded!
Like most channels on Youtube, Geekbomb is not immune to the Great Adpocalypse of 2017. Because of this, contributors to their Patreon have helped fund for Fungeons, earning perks like assigning special attributes to the players’ items, which has led to some pretty funny improv on their part. This type of audience interaction, even if it’s with the patrons, is a refreshing take on a game that usually only consists of a few people, and hopefully has inspired a few future players as well.
Do you play D&D? Are you still mourning Sourcefed? Did Maester kill his wife? Let me know!