dungeons and dragons

Dragon Friends 2: Killers on the Run

Photography: Christopher Starnawski

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I don’t know about the lasting effects of a ‘cross-class’ skill, or the difference between a ‘figment subschool’ and a ‘phantasm subschool’. I don’t know a lot about Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) and entering the theatre space knowing that I was probably outnumbered by people with more weapon points, profane bonuses and tickets to the portal domain, was a little daunting.

I shouldn’t have been worried at all, however. My partner- an experienced D&D player- and I both had an excellent night catching ‘Dragon Friends: 2’ at the Giant Dwarf Theatre in Redfern.

Dungeons and Dragons has provided forty years of adventure for those of us who found refuge in fantasy realms and imagined agricultural communities. It’s a game of strategy where individuals roleplay characters with specific skillsets, in order to navigate the world of the story. More than that, it’s one of a few games where players aren’t necessarily set up to compete each other, rather they are united in traversing the unknown together.

Photographer: Christopher Starnawski

Photographer: Christopher Starnawski

What makes this choose-your-own-adventure style game unique is that the direction of the story is entirely dependant on the choices made by the players, while the roll of a die leaves the effectiveness of their decisions up to chance.

Any game played by a novice can be entertaining in and of itself. Add some of Australia’s comedic talent to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a night of hilarious chaos. Dragon Friends is a monthly event that sees Alex Lee (Buzzfeed Australia), Simon Greiner (National Theatresports champion), Michael Hing (Good Game TV) and Ben Jenkins (Story Club and the ABC’s Checkout) rely on their improvisation skills to survive. Watched by Dungeon Master and brainchild, Dave Harmon, the story is supported by the Bard, Benny Davis and special guest adventurer, Jordan Raskopoulos (both from the Axis of Awesome).

As a monthly adventure, I came into the second stage of the campaign, yet this was no problem as I was quickly caught up to speed and introduced to all the characters. Even though this was my first journey into the Dungeons and Dragons world, I felt very welcomed and not lacking at all. The comedians created mayhem with hyperbolic reactions to set challenges, and being first-timers themselves, paused to question the rules and explain things as they went along.

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I assumed this would be rather tedious to experienced D&D players in the audience. Apparently not so; my partner acknowledged that there was a bit of loose slippage with the strict rules of the game, but the ridiculous scenarios really lifted the experience. I was quite impressed to realise that this show managed to cater to those who had either a lot or no experience whatsoever. As a production, it’s very difficult to appeal to everyone and I commend them for that.

Being a part of the journey as it unfolded, being privvy to the side jokes and tangents, sitting in an audience that buzzed with excitement- all these elements added to a night that was electric. The players were like live wires on stage and only the inherent structure and rules of the game kept them on track and gave the night a purpose.

The production was supported with live ambience, with Benny Davis as the Bard on keyboard- creating atmosphere and helping us imagine the storyrealm.

L-R Michael Hing, Benny Davis, Ben Jenkins, Simon Greiner, Alex Lee, Jordan Raskopoulos, Dave Harmon

L-R
Michael Hing, Benny Davis, Ben Jenkins, Simon Greiner, Alex Lee, Jordan Raskopoulos, Dave Harmon

Each performance is recorded live and released online as a podcast, so that anyone can follow the campaign. I genuinely had a good time and I’m looking forward to the next stage of the Campaign, coming up on the 31st of August 2015.

For more information or access to the podcasts, visit :  http://www.thedragonfriends.com/
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