This year saw the release of The Tomb of Horrors, a continuation of the deadliest dungeon in the game’s long history. To help celebrate its release, Wizards of the Coast worked with Jennifer Shiman of 30-Second Bunnies Theater to create an animated expedition into the dungeon.
While these animations are coming soon, we wanted to first ask Jennifer about Bunnies Theater and her new party getting ready to explore the Tomb of Horrors!
Wizards of the Coast: You’ve produced 30-Second Bunnies Theater for 6 years and 60+ installments. For those who haven’t heard the story… why bunnies?
Jennifer Shiman: I figured that in order to summarize a movie rapidly and succinctly, while providing subjective interpretation, I needed an earnest, modest forest creature who could assume any personality necessary. The bunnies fit the bill, and they had a great audition.
Wizards of the Coast: Which movie did you first tackle with the bunnies (and how did you pick that one)? Were there any movies you would never re-enact (Watership Down, perhaps)?
JS: The bunnies began their series with The Exorcist, as I had recently re-watched it and remembered how scary it was. I thought to myself, this movie is perfect for bunnies. One movie trilogy I hesitate to bunnify is the Lord of the Rings. I get a lot of requests for it, but I am afraid to attempt it because it is so epic and awesome, I get nervous we couldn’t do it justice.
Wizards of the Coast: What’s next for the bunnies?
JS: The bunnies plan a few encore re-enactments in the new year, starting with Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, then the creepy classic Freaks (1932), and the last re-enactment is TBD… we’re taking requests!
Wizards of the Coast: A party of yours is soon heading into D&D’s fabled Tomb of Horrors. Can you tell us who they are, and how they ended up together? Why not an entire party of bunnies?
JS: I thought it would be interesting to explore additional animals in the bunnies’ universe. As such, a remote village called Birchbark Barrow made itself known. There dwells a large-eared rodent named Rolen, who is also a cleric. Rolen decided to gather a party of adventurers to investigate the legendary Tomb of Horrors. Joining Rolen is Layla the Swift (a skilled bunny wizard); Sigford Morningstar (a paladin, badger, and know-it-all pain in the butt); Orsik, Friend of Bees (a well-meaning though bulky bear fighter); and Callie Lightpaws, a rogue raccoon who’s between jobs right now.
Wizards of the Coast: Does the party have a name (The Knights Who Say Aieee! perhaps, or The Royal Order of Mammals)? And is there a party leader in that group?
JS: Rolen considers himself the party leader, having been the one to assemble the group and hatch the plan. A longtime resident of Birchbark Barrow, Rolen decided to call their group “The Birchbark Heroes.”
Wizards of the Coast: I see that Orsik the Bear has a bee on his shield, and Rolen’s holy symbol is an acorn around his neck. What type of blessing does an acorn god provide?
JS: Rolen’s holy acorn symbol represents his service to Toadflax: Deity of Virtually All Seeds, Nuts, and Berries. To serve Toadflax entails a sense of oneness with Nature’s bounty, an ability to tell good nuts from bad, a shower of green crabapples wherever you go, and so forth.
Wizards of the Coast: So what led this party on their quest to the Tomb of Horrors? Can we ask how far they might have reached? (In the still, we see them slide into a pit of flame and molten lava.) Do they ever reach Acererak?
JS: Rolen assembled the party after he had heard of the Tomb and its legendary magical treasures. Rolen's goal (so he says) is to collect the treasures for their assured safety and gain their arcane wisdom in the name of Toadflax. What the party encounters in the Tomb of Horrors, well… I’ll let you all watch their adventures and find out for yourselves. I will say that they repeatedly meet their doom in multiple, colorful ways.
Wizards of the Coast: Can you tell us who’s doing the voicework for this party?
JS: The fine talents who did work on the bunny re-enactments will provide voices for The Birchbark Heroes: Doug McInnes, John Mathot, Amy Forstadt and myself.
Wizards of the Coast: Are Duck and Snortleby involved in this production?
JS: They are not! But they’ll be looking on with interest.
Wizards of the Coast: You’ve mentioned your D&D background and that you’ve played a bit with your husband now -- have you had the pleasure of exploring the Tomb of Horrors yourself or has the terror of making the cartoon now scared you clear of that place?
JS: I don’t think I would personally last two minutes in the Tomb of Horrors, based on the depth and variety of carnage I’ve seen unfold.
Bart CarrollBart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll).