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Rising beyond tabletop fantasy nerdom

by Fern Clair April 2, 2019
Rising beyond tabletop fantasy nerdom

Get to know Concordia’s RPG Club and learn why D&D is for all

While many of us are familiar with the name Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), few can say with confidence what the tabletop, fantasy roleplaying game entails. Concordia Roleplay Game (RPG) Club opened up about what D&D means for them and how it has risen from ‘nerdom’ to a highly popular game with the immense success of a weekly D&D livestream web series, Critical Role.

On March 4, Critical Role launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for an animated short of its original campaign with a goal of $750,000 in 45 days. In 45 minutes, the Kickstarter reached over $1 million. By the end of the day, it reached $4 million; and in eight days, $9 million. It currently sits at over $11.1 million, with another 22 days left.

Joe Harris, a member of the RPG Club, said this amount of support is not surprising. “So many people are willing to contribute to something that makes them happy,” he said. Critical Role is what introduced Harris to D&D, which he now plays regularly with friends via Skype. “I can’t imagine a day where I don’t only look forward to playing D&D, but also seeing my friends who live 5 provinces over,” he said.

According to CNBC, Critical Role is the 15th most successful Kickstarter in the website’s history, and is now the most funded TV/film project. The previous project, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, finished at $5.76 million.

Alex Fourneaux, a founding member of the RPG Club, has witnessed a rise in D&D’s popularity over the nine years he’s been playing. “In my experience, the culture has gone from ‘that game we’re supposed to make fun of but know nothing about’ to a hugely popular game that everyone in my generation has heard of,” he said. Fourneaux explained that Critical Role is a major reason why D&D has become so popular. “I’d say about 60 per cent of our members who are new to the game, learned about it through Critical Role.”

Another popular D&D series is The Adventure Zone, a podcast which released a comic book of its campaign in 2018. It became the first graphic novel to top The New York Times’s fiction bestseller list, and came in third place overall. Michael Luger, a member of the RPG club, was introduced to D&D through The Adventure Zone, and said that The Adventure Zone and Critical Role made the game more appealing. “D&D is a great medium for cooperative storytelling while injecting a ton of humour. It’s a recipe for a good time.” said Luger.

Aida Blimine Chupitt, another member of the RPG Club, said a reason why Critical Role is successful is because of the 5th edition of D&D, which is by far the most accessible platform. Chupitt said people love Critical Role because it breaks down boundaries and the cast brings in diverse guests, voice actors and celebrities, such as Vin Diesel and Deborah Ann Woll. “I recognized celebrities/actors and thought ‘Wow they like D&D! I didn’t think this kind of person would like such a nerdy thing.’ It really broke down the idea that only a certain type of people can play D&D.”

The Critical Role animation, now a 10-episode series, will air in 2020. The series is aiming to appeal to a larger crowd and introduce D&D to hundreds, and Concordia’s RPG Club is excited to welcome anyone who wants to join them on the journey.

Feature graphic by @sundaemorningcoffee

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