New Local Webseries: Dank Dungeons!

Local heroes Dan Ouellette, Lizzy Dorrell, Lance Vincent, and Davis Hall are are exploring dark Dank Dungeons for fun and profit in a brand new local webseries!

You can meet them and hear their own explanations of their respective characters and roles in this little video series below! They’re pretty quick! In what we can only imagine was intentional editing, all of them have a real awkward like half-second or so at the end where people don’t know what they’re supposed to say.

When we spoke to the Danksters, they were anticipating their premiere episode and getting ready to shoot another in the lovely NCTV studios located in the dank dungeons of the Northampton High School.

They’re an interesting crew! Davis, the one we feel is most likely to un-ironically describe himself as a bit of a troublemaker, is studying astrophysics at UMass Amherst. Lance, a friendly if slightly quiet fellow, often works crew for local filmmakers. Lizzy, the one who told the best jokes during the interview, works admissions at Hampshire. Dan, the Dank Master (DM), has been DMing D&D sessions since he was eleven years old.

All of them were brought together by a mutual friendship with Lex Mandrake, a local who’s doing the hard work of producing the series and bringing everyone together. Most of the cast and crew of Dank Dungeon pointed to their enduring friendships with Lex as the primary reason they showed up every session, with the additional inducement that Dan is a good DM. Davis also mentioned that his life is empty of meaning between semesters,  a sort of sickening void from which any escape is relief. He didn’t use exactly those phrases but we’re pretty sure we picked up what he was putting down.

A lot of who the Danksters are seems to be reflected in their characters. Davis is the one that “role-plays” not being able to stop himself from poking and prodding and lighting on fire every object or person the team encounters. Lance is the one that calmly attempts to figure out whether or not a course of action makes any sense. And tries to wrangle his wolf, usually poorly. And finally Lizzy gravitated to a character suited to comedy, both because Wizards in Dungeon World come with a myriad of opportunities to trip over their own glass cannon status in interesting ways but also because she explicitly designed a wizard who’s trying to fit in with the cool kids by pretending she thinks reading and studying is lame.

The world reflects both the Dan as a DM and the direction he thinks his players will be interested in heading. Which is to say it’s goofy as heck. It takes place in a world that suffered a cool-pocalypse, with all of the really neat and magical stuff like dino-people and goblins and wizards banished in the aftermath to the Radlands. The players, some from the deepest Un-Cool, some from the edges of the Radlands, are tasked with entering the deepest, most awesome parts of the world in order to save it from your standard extra-double apocalypse.

Both Dan and the players said there’s little different about playing under the hot lights excepting the fact that the lights make them kind of warm. They quickly forget the fact that they’re playing for a crowd and focus on the immediate issues presented in the game. Although they’re all new to Dungeon World, they’re all veterans of other RPG systems.

Although we do think that based on the first few episodes it seems a bit tough for them to get completely immersed in their characters, despite the fact that they’re clearly comfortable playing for the cameras. We tend to see the players and the DM interact more as people playing a game than as actual inhabitants of the world.

That’s also a style thing, we think. Some people really dig into roleplay as a chance to play-act as a different person, while others are a bit more comfortable keeping themselves at arm’s length from the proceedings and focusing more on the tactical elements of the game, solving puzzles and defeating monsters with the stats they have available.

Part of what’s interesting about seeing them play is that while they seem much more comfortable with the tactical element than the role-playing one, Dungeon World is Powered by the Apocalypse. That means it’s based on local creator Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World system. This involves mostly role-play-heavy experiences based on a sort of question-and-answer mutual storytelling with much less in the way of direct tactical combat. So for instance, bad rolls involve “drawing unwanted attention” or “messing with the fabric of reality” and they’re open to a lot more interpretation by both players and the DM than simply “you missed” or “you did less damage”.

But as much as there are some early role-playing jitters, the inherent silliness of the world makes for entertaining viewing. The first episode features a Legasaurus, which is a Stegasaurus made entirely out of legs and absolutely bonkers for kicking, as well as a bunch of bumbling mummy/dinosaur fights and some classic poking the beehive by Davis/Dula.

There’s a mildly obvious DM intervention at one point via a mystical, probably evil goat that players unleash while immediately determining they’ve made a terrible mistake. It becomes a great running joke when it turns out that Lance’s character Todd the Ranger can speak with animals. Which means that all of a sudden a portentous immortal goat mystic needs to start explaining itself to the group. Also, Todd’s got some explaining to do to his wolf, who he doesn’t really realize he can speak to until late in the third episode. They also fight a huge mummy that flexes a lot and mostly attacks via power-bombs and suplexes.

There are currently three episodes, each an hour long, and we can say that it’s worth a look if you’re into actual-play RPG shows that focus on the fun. It’s also a great way to get a look at first-timers playing a game of Dungeon World! Give it a look starting at Episode One!


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