I watched the first episode of Deborah Ann Woll‘s new show, Relics and Rarities.
Short version: it’s awesome!
Long version: the show is a session of D&D, DMed by Deborah Ann Woll. There are many similar shows already, Critical Role is the biggest name, but this show, in my humble opinion, is on a new level: it’s not just a livestream but the shooting of a D&D session with proper editing. The job was really accurate and I really liked their communication design.
With an audio/video, use both video and audio
The first big wow-factor for me was the use of visual communication to send informations to viewers. The curio shop hosting the quest assignment, the secret passage behind the bookshelf and the room of the actual play with table, dice and so on, it’s beautiful design.
That separation set up a straight intro, with no plain explanation required: there wasn’t, for instance, a physical description of the characters but for the two very non-human ones, the gnome and the dragonborn. There was no rules explanation, their target was surgically defined and just showing the dice rolling was enough: the gnome rolled a lot above 16 and succeeded in almost everything, the dragonborn rolled always below 5 and cryed “these dice will be the death of me”, and the noble rolled 9 to 12, qith average results.
Intentional and not random? Maybe.
Who cares? Not me.
Descriptions and handouts
Everyone following Deborah Ann Woll on Twitter already knew that she is an expert DM fond of handouts and props. So I wasn’t surprised to watch a very high level DM performance: descriptions, gestures, character definition, you can feel sensations and moods from her descriptions. Being a talented actress is, in the end, kinda useful for a DM. I like her style, probably because it’s the style I try to use when I DM – ok, without being a proper actor, but, hey!, I’m improving.
Her usage of handouts is interesting. They were good and most of them were possible to create homemade without a high budget: a high budget, I suppose, is required for the location, shooting and editing, which I loved.
This show is, in my opinion, a turning point for this kind of product. Shootings are accurate, like a talk show or a TV series, cameras set on one side of the table, so that the viewer has the feeling of being at the table with the troupe, is well-designed, characters and rules were not explained explicitly, inducing a higher attention and involvement – every D&D player watching the show was watching the show trying to snatch infos about them, like “oh, he’s a druid!”, “uh, the Xanathar’s barbarian!”.
I wish a great success for them, I like the show.
New episodes of Relics and Rarities are available on Project Alpha, every tuesday 3.00am CET. I don’t know if it will be available later on youtube – If I’ll find it out, I’ll update the article.