Cue the lights, the dramatic music and the mysterious hooded figure, and prepare yourself, for tonight we roll! The Massively Multiplayer Onstage Role Playing Game Show sees audience members brought on stage to create their characters, and embark on a quest in a fantasy realm. Delightful humour results from the mix of odd facts and ludicrous audience suggestions.
Paul Flannery warms the audience up quickly with some fabulously geeky jokes, before selecting willing victims – I mean volunteers – to play the familiar Dungeons and Dragons classes of rogue, wizard and fighter. Encouraged to pick unusual races and armed with a glowing 20-sided die, these players embark on a quest, accompanied by ‘helpful’ input from the audience.
Each night will of course be different – so much is dependent on the audience and volunteers. But Flannery is a skilful as games master (GM), exercising just enough to control to direct the piece, keep the pace up and encourage the players to take action. He uses humour, storytelling ability and just a little absurdism to create a unique and enjoyable show – and that’s how, on the night I attended, we ended up with the tale of the Trojan Christmas Tree and an evening of laughter.
The show is well thought-out, able to appeal to both those who are familiar with role playing games and those who aren’t – and to fit within the allotted time. By encouraging people to suggest things outside of the norm of fantasy realms, everyone can join in. The initial ‘games’ to get the players into a character and provide them with special abilities are a good way of warming them up, as well as creating call-back opportunities. But although it’s traditional, I’m not sure that a tavern is the best starting point for the story; I felt the players needed either a little more warm-up or more to play with, meaning the GM ended up doing a lot of work in the initial scenes.
If you're a fan of RPGs, you'll love the tongue-in-cheek references and off-the-wall adventure, while if you've never been part of a role playing game this will show you how funny and unexpected they are (no really, I once fought an Elder God with a longbow and a basket of kittens!) A lot will depend on the audience members on the particular day that you see it – but Flannery clearly has the skills and quick wit to get the best from whoever he has.