RPG Themed Web Series

edited October 2012 in Directed Promotion
Hey guys,

I had an idea for a web series themed around a group of table top gamers and their misadventures, wrote a script and got some interest in the professional film community out her in Vegas. We got funding to produce a pilot with professional actors, camera crew etc. We're going to use the pilot to help get funding for a full season through Kickstarter.

Before we can start production on the pilot though, we need two things: a digital artist to produce art (for this episode and each recurring episode) and a fantasy game to use as the RPG that the group plays with throughout the series (there will be two RPG's featured in the first season).

Another producer talked about getting D&D for the show, and I'm sure that we could get permission to use their products just as The Gamers: Dorkness Rising did, but I told him that a major goal of this project is to grow the hobby, and the best way to grow the hobby is to help those who contribute to it and show what else is out there to play that the masses don't know about. Thus, I want to use independently developed games in the show as often as is possible.

If anyone has a game, or knows of one, with good art that would likely be willing to let us use their product (we'll link to their site and talk about the game in making of videos), please let me know. Also, if anyone is willing to help us with art for the project, please send me a link to some of your work.

Thanks for your help guys.

(Moderators, if there is a better spot for this post, please move it there. I looked, but I wasn't sure where it would fit best. Thanks.)


  • edited October 2012
    Cool! How would you say this series' concept compares to something like Gold (I'm assuming you're familiar)?
  • I guess it would be similar, because it is about gamers, but it would be more to the style of The Guild, both in how the story is told and the quality (of the fourth and fifth season of The Guild, which was better quality and closer to what we can do with our professional crew).

    We are also using professional actors that have been on television shows and movies. Two of them are long time gamers and the rest played a game with the other cast members to get an idea of what it is they'll be doing and they love it. They've been calling me to set up another game lol. If all else fails, at least I have a new gaming group :).
  • Fantastic! Sounds fun. Good luck.
  • Fantastic! Sounds fun. Good luck.
    Thanks very much!
  • Dungeon World and Fiasco would totally rock for this.
  • Do you know of a better contact for Dungeon World developers than Facebook? I looked through all of their related sites and they don't have a "Contact Us" form anywhere and they haven't gotten back to me through Facebook. Maybe they don't monitor it very often?
  • GM@dungeon-world.com
  • edited October 2012
    I agree that Fiasco would be excellent, though it is more geared toward one-shot scenarios. So there's less of the character/player connection over time to explore. But still totally great. It films well, as evidenced by the episode of Tabletop.

    With Dungeon World, there's so much crossover with D&D that, for viewers familiar with D&D who haven't heard of Dungeon World, they might just think the show characters were playing D&D wrong.

    I would suggest Monsterhearts over Dungeon World, when it comes to AW hacks. Tons of great potential there for crossover issues between character and player relationships, assuming that you're including some typical dysfunctional group elements. Also, people in some other threads here have produced some visual elements (cards and such) that would look really good on screen.

    Sorcerer might work really well. Lots of moral issue play that would be fun to explore.

    Having them play The Quiet Year would play well to the visual elements of video. Or How To Host A Dungeon. For the same reason. Drawing things during play would translate well to screen, I would think.

    Dread would be neat. Scary stories plus Jenga. Or even Dread House, which would tone down the horror elements a bit and increase the visual appeal, since it has board game elements to it.
  • In general, I would suggest looking at how Wil Wheaton's Tabletop show uses graphics on the screen to help the viewer keep aware of what is happening in the game. That sort of element might help for times when what is happening in the show is tied closely to what is happening in the game at a mechanics level.

    Not that you necessarily have to break into full screen graphics, but you could do some sort of overlay or something. Just a thought that might be worth considering.
  • Those are great ideas, and I'm really interested in Dread/Dread House. We have a character that jumps ship and joins a gothic LARP group and the players he left, after trying and failing to replace him, have to get him back.

    We don't spend a huge amount of time in game. Mostly, the game is the backdrop and catalyst for the issues they have to deal with. Kind of like The Guild, where the game is seen only rarely and the story revolves mostly around the dysfunctional players.

    I'll check out Monsterhearts - never heard of that game.

    Thanks for that contact, TildeSee. I searched for hours to try and find another way of contacting them.
  • If you have one female player and the rest are males, have them play Kagematsu with the girl playing the ronin and the guys play the townswomen. Good fodder ensues.
  • If you have one female player and the rest are males, have them play Kagematsu with the girl playing the ronin and the guys play the townswomen. Good fodder ensues.
    Lmao, that's awesome!
  • Thanks very much, Harlequin. I'll look into that game. Two people referenced it, so it definitely bears consideration.
  • I would totally love to see fiasco used, with some of the RPG themed playsets
    but it would fall flat as a game for whole season (maybe a christmas special)

    Dresden files? just cause i love the game
  • I still need to research Fiasco. I got the impression that it was a modern day setting game - we want to go fantasy for the first season for the protagonists (have plans to switch the game later, possibly).

    Dresden Files was a novel and TV show, so rights for that are probably very sticky. Otherwise, I'd totally be down for it as I'm a fan of the RPG and show, never read the books.
  • Lady Blackbird comes to mind, and I would second Dungeon World.

    Another good option might be the Shadow of Yesterday.
  • Lady Blackbird would be amazing, but I need to keep the protagonist's game fantasy-based for the first season (for script purposes). I've read about Shadow of Yesterday before but never played it. I'll have to look into that.

  • Go Sci-Fi (even though you said fantasy)

    -Burning Empires
    -Stars Without Number
    -Freemarket (OMG)
    -Remember Tomorrow

    Seriously, though, if you're doing fantasy, talk to Luke Crane about his game, Burning Wheel.
  • Burning Wheel is something I hadn't thought of yet. Nice one. It's another that I haven't played, but has been highly recommended to me.

    I want to go sci-fi, and we have plans to incorporate some sci-fi in season 2, but story needs pushed fantasy on us for the beginning.
  • edited October 2012
    Well if you're already planning on the game being fantasy, use Dungeon World. My recommendation against it was partly because I didn't know you were already planning on that sort of content.

    That being said, I think you should have the gamers occasionally branch out and do one-shots of Fiasco, Kagematsu, Monsterhearts, and Lady Blackbird.

    But use Dungeon World for the core fantasy stuff. It's easy to learn, so your cast can actually really play it and not just fake it (Burning Wheel has a much sharper learning curve, in my experience). It's relatively easy for observers to watch and have a sense of what's happening. It hits on the D&D tropes, but does so in fun and exciting ways.
  • I'll second Burning Wheel for medieval high fantasy and player-PC friction. Beliefs can get... kind of personal, in an RL kind of way! Especially with players that highly identify with their PCs (which is sort of a risky way to play BW, as the GM is supposed to push at them hard).

    Would Spirit of the Century be fantastic enough? You might be the first to go to the pulp genre (qua gaming) in a web series (as you know, you are far from the first to go to D&D/high fantasy).

    It might help to know to what extent the system engagement is going to be featured. I mean, for D&D4E, a HUGE majority of the table talk is around granular positioning, very specific rules and terms, etc. Fun to watch if you know it and the players are knowledegable and skilled; confusing as hell if you don't (much like the difference between two baseball viewers: one who understands all those pitching and hitting stats and in on the edge of their seat every pitch; and one who only watches for the big plays and doesn't get all the "slow, time-wasting" stuff).

    Some systems (BW is largely one; Fiasco is utterly one) really drive in-character conflicts, dialog, and vivid descriptions and, thus, even if "the rules" are being discussed, it's more like "OK, that's Ob4" or "don't forget to get +1 die to maneuvering for having the longest weapon" or "you keep that die in Act II, remember"; and they don't distract much from the surrounding drama.

    So, yeah... GREAT to see such a project coming; obviously, you're at a site with it's own darlings and demons (hey! my new fantasy heartbreaker is born!); and without really knowing the RPG's role in the show's narrative, it's hard to make effective suggestions.

    BUT... given this general point about the game-as-show-element:
    We don't spend a huge amount of time in game. Mostly, the game is the backdrop and catalyst for the issues they have to deal with. Kind of like The Guild, where the game is seen only rarely and the story revolves mostly around the dysfunctional players.
    I'd have to repeat Burning Wheel as a possible ideal choice:
    * High fantasy (or dark, or gritty-city, or low and realistic... Setting setup is a BIG deal, as is what emerges from player choices and character Beliefs)
    * Beliefs often "bleed' out of the game into RL
    * There's enough mechanics for play style conflicts (i.e., the grognard/power gamer vs the story's-the-thing guy)
    * It's GMful, so you have that central authority that many viewers will expect and against which some (all?) of the players can push. (And a BAD Burning Wheel GM is *really* bad, as PCs can't advance without the story flow aligning with their Beliefs, Instincts, and Traits.)

    Hope this helps;
  • I agree. The ease of use, and the popularity, of Dungeon World lead to it being the desired game early on. I've sent messages to the developer already. Nothing back yet, but I'm anxiously awaiting response.

    Looking up Monsterhearts was lots of fun. The script calls for a second group of LARPers who play a darker game (written with WoD Vampire in mind). Monsterhearts looks like it could be a lot of fun for that. And since you said it is based on the AW engine, it would be easy to learn the rules for the cast and viewers who choose to play both of games featured in the season. IMO, LARPing can be done with any rules system, so it doesn't exactly require Vampire, despite how well known that product is in the LARPing community.

    I'm more looking forward to season 2, which will give much more leeway to feature different games. Because of how the script is written, we really need season 1 to set things up. But season 2 is going to be a project of love for me because of the variety of games I can feature at that point. :)
  • If you like Lady Blackbird, you might consider using that game, and just rephrasing a few elements. There's no reason it couldn't be a fantasy game: the Owl is a small sailing ship (or still a coal-powered magical boat), the Lady is a noble, there's a Goblin who's good at repairs, etc.

    It would work just as well as a fantasy situation, I don't see why not.

    The Shadow of Yesterday would be my other favourite choice for the fantasy one, now that you've described your needs in a little more detail.
  • I really hope Monsterhearts makes it onto the show. Great game. Lady Blackbird as well.
  • I could also totally see Fiasco only being used in one episode, since it's a one shot - "The 'Fiasco' Fiasco."
  • Thanks, David!

    Burning Wheel has been thrown out several times. I'm going to have to find a copy and try it with my gaming group.

    To give you some insight, the first script we had was slimmed down because it was too rules heavy. We actually found The Gamers: Dorkness Rising after starting preproduction while looking for who had done something similar (The Guild for tabletop was our inspiration early on). Watching the opening scene where they argue of rules had us a bit cross-eyed and wanting to click off (watched on YouTube), and we're gamers who understood what they were talking about.

    A rules-lite system (story system? not sure we want to get into that debate here :)) is perfect to pare that arguing that we had - we had a similar level of it and started to cut a lot of the mechanics talk out. We do have our simulationist/rules lawyer character, and he absolutely pushes for a more rules heavy game, and the group does divide a bit on that point.

    As I said above, season 2 is going to give a lot of leeway for what we can do with games. For season 1, we want to introduce non-gamers to the hobby and provide some entertainment for established hobbyists. I think The Gamers franchise hits the diehard gaming community pretty well. Our focus is to grow the community by reaching a different audience, people on the fence or who have never tried gaming before, but still have something for the diehard's to enjoy. Introducing rules-lite systems in season 1 would meet that goal, especially if they are games that are popular with diehard gamers, and opens up season 2 for games that are a little more complicated.

    Our intention with the games we use is to also push marketing for them. The goal of growing the community is served by picking the right product that our audience will want to try out and won't get confused or feel like they need a college course to play.
  • I really hope Monsterhearts makes it onto the show.
    At this point, it's more about who will let us use their game rather than what makes it in. As of this post, we have no developer offers to use their products. We are working double-time to get in contact with them, as we're about ready to start filming on the pilot but need the actual product to feature in the show and the particular mechanics to alter the mechanical talk in the script. After filming and editing that, all we'll need is a digital artist for the show's opening sequence (which will be different each episode).

    We're not desperate yet, as the director of photography won't meet with us for another week to go over storyboarding, but we're looking to get started within the next three weeks or so.
  • Paul_T, I've played Lady Blackbird, and love it! Maybe John Harper would be open to writing a hack, or letting us do it, for a fantasy version that viewers can download and play without having to hack things themselves.

    It's a thought...
  • If you're looking to avoid "rules-heavy" gaming, that may be an issue with Burning Wheel for you. The game is very intense! However, you may be able to get something out of it if you leave the mechanics "off-screen". Still, of the games mentioned it's probably the most rules-heavy option by far.
  • Ryan,

    I just looked over Lady Blackbird, and I spotted a total of five or six words which would need to be changed to present it as "pirate fantasy" instead of a science fiction kind of thing ("skyship", "wireless", "mechanic", "Sky Fleet", "Atmospherics", and "Gunnery"). 99% of the text reads just fine as a "fantasy" adventure, with no real clues otherwise.

    The only thing that would need to be changed significantly is the page describing the Owl.

    However, if you're looking to market the use of a product "as-is" in your show, I can see how that might not do it for you.
  • Being a fan of Lady Blackbird though, it's definitely something I'd consider if we don't get games that mesh better. And even so, in future seasons, I'll definitely approach Mr. Harper to ask to use some of his games. Especially for one-shots. I haven't played a bad game that he's created, I'm happy to report.
  • By the way, does anyone have contact info for Joe Mcdaldno? Like the Dungeon World guys, there is no contact page on his website.
  • edited October 2012
    BW is rules-heavy if you use the Spokes (especially Fight, Range-and-Cover, and Dual of Wits). Without them, it's largely negotiations of outcomes followed by one- or two-roll resolutions. But, yeah, hit any of the"fiddly bits" that involve scripting sheets and you've got some complexity to convey.

    That said, maybe the rules lawyer pushes to use the Spokes but the GM and other players don't want the "grind" of them--in other words, you can have the *same system* provide the "rule-light v rules-heavy player" conflict as well as the "system mastery v story first" player conflicts to which I referred in my initial suggestion.

    Good luck; and post a link to the Pilot!
  • I definitely will. We'll need to launch a Kickstarter to produce the rest of the season. We were only able to get the funding/volunteer work for the pilot so far. We didn't want to move forward, even with Kickstarter, without at least that. It shows the value and quality of what we're doing and every backer will immediately know what to expect and have an episode of it already to base their decision whether or not to back off of.
  • You can find Joe on twitter: @mcdaldno
  • Thanks, Hans_c-o. I sent him a message on Facebook. It appears that he checks it often, given his post rate.
  • edited October 2012
    Looking up Monsterhearts was lots of fun. The script calls for a second group of LARPers who play a darker game (written with WoD Vampire in mind). Monsterhearts looks like it could be a lot of fun for that. And since you said it is based on the AW engine, it would be easy to learn the rules for the cast and viewers who choose to play both of games featured in the season. IMO, LARPing can be done with any rules system, so it doesn't exactly require Vampire, despite how well known that product is in the LARPing community.
    So here's the thing.

    Please, please, please learn about and experience larping before you try to portray it on screen. Please.

    Larping cannot be done (well) with any just rules system. It is not just a matter of standing up while you do tabletop play. Really, it's not.

    One of the biggest differences is this - the majority of good larp systems (Vampire being probably the biggest exception, though I hesitate to call the system good, just popular) do their best to remove chance/probability/dice as much as possible, and many remove it 100%.

    Most games do not translate well from tabletop to larp because most tabletop games are written assuming the use of chance/probability/dice will drive much of the game and that doesn't work well in larp. Generally speaking, the worst larp systems are the ones that are conversions from tabletop.

    Not understanding that results in on-screen portrayals that look more like Lloyd the Conqueror, which is a horrible portrayal of how larp works even though it's a funny movie, rather than Role Models or The Wild Hunt, which portray larp in a way that is far more accurate because they actually took the time to learn about it.

    That being said, the idea of using Monsterhearts as a conversion larp instead of Vampire is great. Especially if you have a player cast that is not all guys, because Monsterhearts really plays up the sex and relationships a lot (which, granted, do not have to be straight. But if you were planning to make homosexuality a big part of your storyline, I think you'd have mentioned it by now. But I could be wrong.)

    But one of the core driving mechanics in Monsterhearts is Strings. And in tabletop play, that's something driven by a die roll. I think for a larp version, you'd want to work out a completely different mechanic for that.

    I'd be willing to work with you on that, outside of this thread, if you'd like. I love designing larp mechanics. Send me a PM if you're interested.

    For the Monsterhearts characters having sex, there's a great larp technique called Ars Amandi that already exists and would look pretty awesome on screen. Basically it consists of players touching each others hands and arms and maybe shoulders while looking in each others eyes. I think it would film quite well.

    Here's an into to it. http://lizziestark.com/2011/11/09/intro-to-ars-amandi/
  • Thanks, RobMcDiarmid!

    I'll probably take you up on that offer as, I'll admit, my LARP experience is limited to secondhand knowledge from a friend who did it 15 years ago! It basically sounded like playing in the setting but replacing stats with Paper/Rock/Scissors - which seemed cheap to me as it didn't matter how you built your character, but maybe that was just his group.

    When we get closer to knowing which game we'll be using I'll see about contacting you.
  • Sounds good. I'll PM you with an email to use, since I occasionally disappear from here for longish stretches.
  • You might also want to experience a boffer LARP, for contrast. VERY different from parlor LARPs.

    I'd also try to find a parlor LARP that plays in public, not private--makes a BIG change in style and tone. Vampire LARP was inspired by playing in nightclubs and such, which made The Masquerade actually a big deal, thereby constraining power use so it didn't become "supers with fangs": a common degeneration of Vampire when the play location is private. It also made nightly feeding relevant, not hand-waved by a half hour of downtime or whatever: find someone to dance with and/or snog. AND it made expanding the Clans more realistic: you actively tried to recruit new players as you met folks at the club, and "turn" them when they agree that they want to play.

    Anyhow... not saying you need to try it all--and you couldn't in a reasonable amount of time and cost (Nordic LARP and big-fest LARPs in Europe are significantly different from parlor and boffer LARPs in the States). But those general elements of play--active v no-touch; public v private--are pretty key to understanding the basics of the art form.

  • Wow! I've played Vampire since just a couple years after the first one came out 20 years ago. I never knew that about the nightclub thing. That gives me a whole new perception of it. I can totally see why they implemented certain things. I'm keen to play that now! lol

    I had a friend who LARPed with the local Vampire crowd about 10-15 years ago. They went strong for a couple of years but has since died out. If I can find something local, I will. It actually sounds like great fun.

    By the way, the idea of public v private is great for what we have in mind. I thought that one of the LARPers would want to "turn it off" and so would always be IC, even in public. Now that I know there is such a thing as a public LARP, that is what she can be doing. Sounds amazing.

    Thanks for that information. It really connects some of the dots in the later episode outlines.
  • Good news, guys.

    I'm getting response from some of the developers we've approached. Still no word from Joe McDaldno, so I might have to vet something else for the horror game that will feature later in the season (although another producer is in talks with White Wolf right now, but that is not my first choice - I like independents).

    Fortunately, the horror/LARP game doesn't feature until the season releases and isn't needed for the pilot, so we have time on that one.

    Given that we're almost there - finalizing the pilot script, walking the sets and storyboarding this weekend - we are looking at a mid-November launch for the Kickstarter. I guess that means you'll see it in December, the way these things go. :)

    For those interested, I'll keep you updated as we progress. Maybe I should start a blog to follow the stages of production?
  • Joe is posting currently on Story Games (i.e. earlier today). Hopefully he'll respond to you soon! It would be really cool to see Monsterhearts on the show.
  • Hey! I totally missed this thread. Major thanks to Paul T for alerting me to it.

    I'd be happy to see Monsterhearts featured on this show. What do I need to do to make that happen? I officially give you permission. I'd be happy to hook you up with PDF copies of the game so that you can confirm that this is the game you'd like to go with. If you choose to have it be the thing, I can send you a kit in the mail: some copies of the game, its supplement, also some posters (since I have them and am not sure what to do with them).

    My email is my last name, which is also my S-G handle, at gmail. Message me and let's talk further!
  • Great to hear from you!

    I'll send you an email with details soon.
  • Ah! Great.
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