It’s time for another game day blog here at spalanz.com, and today I’m doing something a little different, as I ramble about the amazing series from Geek & Sundry, Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana!
So I know I’m a bit late with this, the series having ended back in August, but I’ve inexplicably only now been able to actually catch up with this! Well, finished watching it last week, but anyway.
I love a good roleplaying game, so when it was announced during the funding for season 3 of Tabletop they were going to produce a RPG show, I was really intrigued. I mean, most of the joy of playing in a RPG campaign comes from the imagination as you weave this tale with the group. So how would that translate to the show? Well, “fabulously” is the answer there!
If you have watched only one of the ten episodes from this series, you’ll see the amazing way in which footage of the group is interspersed with full-on art depicting the action, combined with the special effects that make this almost like a real tv show.
But what about the game?
The RPG itself is the relatively straightforward d6 Fantasy AGE system from Green Ronin Games. I’ve talked about RPGs briefly here, so moving on from that, the system uses three six-sided dice, one of which is a different colour, when completing any skill tests. If doubles are rolled, the differently-coloured die is used to give the player stunt points, which can be used to make the test more interesting that merely pass or fail. It’s quite a straightforward system that seems to allow more focus for storytelling than for working out dice results, as is sometimes the case other systems. This really shows in the show, where the characters roll the dice, a pass or fail is determined, stunt points are applied if rolled, then the story advances with what that roll actually meant.
For me, this is where the show really shines as a truly beautiful creation. Watching Wil take the group through the story he has come up with, from the relatively inane saving of the beer quest, to the fight with the hellions and all the way up to the battle with the Prophet, it reminds me of just how amazing a role playing game can be – not just as a game, but as a whole experience. The structure is classic, throwing more and more at the characters as they level up, and allowing plenty of player-creativity as the story moves along. Indeed, I was quite surprised by the ninth episode, which almost does away completely with the latter, and takes on the mantle of a choose your own adventure, almost. While I’ve played that sort of RPG before, it’s usually done because the players aren’t coming up with enough story by themselves, and yet we’ve obviously seen the group is more than capable of doing this.
The setting is also worth mentioning as being astonishingly interesting. Wil says it was inspired by Thundarr the Barbarian, though that was a little too old for me – I grew up with He-Man, which is another of these science-fantasy type shows, so I still feel a little bit of nostalgia creeping in by watching this. Inspiration aside, it’s awesome to see the sense of history and the dramatic depth come out as the show moves ahead. While in retrospect I felt that the confrontation leading up to the finale could perhaps have benefited from a greater sense of mystery, with the players uncovering information as they moved through the story, it nevertheless felt like a really immersive experience just as a spectator!
I don’t get to play RPGs any more, so I haven’t bought the book for this game. However, it looks like it’s certainly worth checking out, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for season two!