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Fantasy Web Series
Joining the Party
Tracy Hurley

L ooking for inspiration for your game or perhaps a pleasant diversion on a rainy day (and these sweltering days, who couldn't use a rainy day)? Seeking to introduce someone new to gaming but they don’t know what to expect? A number of fantasy web series might fit your needs. Most of them are independently made and fan-supported.

Let's consider just a few:

The First Paladin

For those of you attending Gen Con, you likely watched none other than Peter Atkinson introduce the inaugural Keynote Address ("The Future of Dungeons & Dragons"). He also introduced the start of his new web series, The First Paladin. Set in Peter's World of Chaldea, the first episodes are available now, along with a wealth of background information on the main characters, players, and NPCs (several played by various guest stars).

JourneyQuest

From the creators of The Gamers and The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, JourneyQuest follows a group of adventurers in the world of Fartherall. They meet intellectual orcs and holy zombies along the way as they attempt to find and destroy the Sword of Fighting. The comedy web series is fan funded and released under a Creative Commons license that allows for non-commercial sharing, remixing, and more (with attribution).

Standard Action

Standard Action is a fantasy-comedy webseries dealing with a number of topics—everything from dealing with the barbarian’s outbursts to what happens when you split the party. Season 1 has 13 episodes. They raised funds for a second season last year which they are currently filming.

Spellfury

Spellfury , a fantasy-action webseries, started in late 2008 and follows the adventures of the half-elf Druinia and her magic sword, on a quest to avenge her father’s death. Kruskull, an evil sorceror, believes the sword is his, and hunts her in hopes of reclaiming it.

Brothers Barbarian

The Brothers Barbarian is a story of two teenage barbarian brothers turned middle-aged men by an evil witch. Naturally, they now seek to reverse the spell and regain their youth. Viewers might recognize a face or two in the series—both Larry Elmore and Margaret Weis have roles in the production.

Walking in Circles

Walking in Circles is an epic tale about "dragons n' stuff". Follow the band of five adventurers in a mockumentary as they go on an epic quest… or just try to survive another day at the adventuring mines. Nerds in Babeland has a nice introduction and interview with the producers.

Legends of Atoll

For over ten years, the crew of Dungeon Master has performed roleplaying games with a party of audience members testing their knowledge and wits against a new scenario each week. Inspired by these experiences, Legends of Atoll brings humor, action, adventure, and improv to their quest to survive the dark sorcerer, "The Endless One."

These aren’t all of the fantasy web series out there. FantasyWebseries.net attempts to catalog them all, and reviews can be found on the Legend of the Seeker forums. Topless Robot also recently rounded up some of the best nerdy and non-professional web series. If I missed your favorite, feel free to add it in the comments!

Tavern Tales

  • Campaign Inspiration
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  • Researchers at Stanford University mapped the travel routes during the Roman Empire. Their interactive map even calculates travel times and cost.

  • Games set in Earth’s real world past are pretty common. Here are some topics to consider when creating a character for historical settings.

  • Seeking unconventional inspiration, especially for some of the outer planes? Land of Nod lists four off-beat public domain cartoons.

  • The Trollish Delver suggests some comic books to read, including the popular Adventure Time.
  • Character Resources
  • New characters—even if they are freshly rolled—might be new to us but they still have a backstory and rich history that drives their decisions. The Rhetorical Gamer discusses starting in the middle of their story as a way to improve our games.

  • Uniting the characters’ stories with that of a published module can be tricky for some. One idea is to borrow from Fiasco and tie the PCs’ origin stories, themes, and NPC relationships to elements from the adventure.

  • Searching for a way to challenge your players without resorting to the latest big bad monster? How about adding a mystery to your game?

  • Over time, groups often have to add a new player and character to an ongoing game. Evil Machinations has some tips for bringing the player up to speed and making the introduction go as smoothly as possible.

  • On Critical-Hits.com, Vanir looks at how the threat of PC death can influence the game and the players and DM.
  • DM Tips and Tricks
  • Have you seen the acronym OSR but wasn’t sure what it stood for? Steve Winter covers the basics of Old-School Renaissance and links to some of the well-known sites.

  • Adding accents to your game can help differentiate characters and gives players cues that they might miss in a description.

  • Public initiative cards help make sure everyone knows when their turn is, aiding in planning and keeping the game running smoothly. Mike Shea from SlyFlourish and Teos Abadia share their own initiative cards.

  • Finding a good end point for a session is an art form. Reading your players’ attention level is vital and finding a good end point can improve the next session. Reality Refracted provides some insight on finding that sweet spot.

  • Having the DM run all of the villains can be tricky and time consuming. The DM often has information that the villain would not. Also, it’s often nice to have someone to plan with—so if you can find a willing friend, why not subcontract out the villain?

  • How do you make a mini of something that isn’t visible? Ben’s RPG Pile describes how to represent an invisible imprisoned imp.

About the Author

Tracy Hurley is a D&D blogger, podcaster, and freelance game designer. On any given night, there is a 50% chance you will find her on Twitter as @SarahDarkmagic, a 10% chance you'll find her on the Tome Show, 4Geeks4e, or the DM Round Table, a 25% chance she's home plotting world domination with her husband, and a 15% chance she's planning a sneak attack. She is rarely surprised, never flat-footed, and uses Encounter powers as At-Wills.

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