Dungeons and Dragons is a roleplaying game that feels as old as time itself. First created in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc, the fantasy-themed tabletop experience was thoroughly revitalized 20 years later when Wizards of the Coast acquired the property. Since then, the Hasbro subsidiary has created newer editions of the game to keep up with the needs and wants of modern players all around the world. There have also been a number of D&D episodic series popping up all over the internet recently, like the YouTube-based series Critical Role and Dropout’s Dimension 20, which have both garnered a dedicated fan base. Seeing that there is still an untapped market out there of D&D fans who love to watch others play, Hasbro themselves are getting in on the action with a D&D channel that is currently streaming 24 hours a day on Amazon Freevee and Plex.
Not only will this FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television) station be showing the original cartoon from the 1980s, but three new original shows will be premiering on this platform too. While Heroes Feast highlights the many culinary recipes that come from D&D lore and Encounter Party will be more akin to what we are used to seeing, where personalities play through a campaign in dramatic fashion: Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! offers a similar angle but through a unique and comedic lens.
Executive producers and cast members Matthew Lillard and Jon Ciccolini sat down with MovieWeb recently to discuss everything that is spectacularly contained in this unique take on D&D.
Being Unique and Inclusive
Unlike the other shows out there that easily last over two hours per episode, the creators and executive producers behind Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! aimed for the opposite with just hour-long entries. “We first pitched the show to be Dungeons and Dragons meets Whose Line Is It Anyways. That was the basic idea,” said Lillard (who is currently in the spotlight thanks to his surprising turn in Five Nights at Freddy’s). “We really wanted to make a concerted effort to create something that was original to our voice and was different from everything else.” But most importantly, he and Ciccolini agreed early on that humor was the most important factor in conceptualizing the show.
The premise of Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! is built upon four cast members that step into the role of level one adventurers who somehow end up fighting a legendary Dungeons and Dragons entity. Whether it’s a valiant swordsman or a nightmarish evil creature, the group always ends up in a TPK (that is, a total party kill). With death always on the horizon, Lillard shows how life always prevails:
“The more we shot, the more we realized the show becomes this very human story — what do real heroes do when they are confronted with their ultimate demise? Our host, Bill Rehor, conducts an Epitaph at the end of every show. In those last moments, we ask our players to seek emotional closure for their characters, so the audience can experience closure too. In the end, we’re going to find a way to draw you into the human journey.”
For such a D&D show that leans on comedic tendencies, viewers will be very surprised that between the dice rolling and spell casting, emotions will run high at times as well.
Another refreshing feature found in this new D&D show is the revolving door of cast members. While some names may come back for two or three additional games, Ciccolini emphasizes that new groups always heighten the excitement around storytelling. “To be able to tap into so many different points of view — it ended up being more powerful than we imagined. What was fascinating to see was when DM’s and players come back for their second or third games and see the light that goes on. It’s as if they say, ‘Wait a minute, this is not normal D&D. I should be treating it differently.’” Lillard touched upon the fact that this large number of cast members is a great example of the show’s inclusivity :
“One of the things that we’re most proud of is the cast and who they are. Such a rich tapestry and a diverse collection of people. Color, race, creed, sexual identity, gender, ableism — we really tried to represent the entire community.”
Being Comedic In the Role-Playing World
With Faster, Purple Worm, Kill, Kill compacting Dungeons and Dragons into a relatively bite-sized form, the two executive producers do realize that this show could bring D&D to new spaces. Talking about this exciting endeavor, Lillard says: “I think that when you have 20 episodes, different DMs, and four different players, that shows that there is no right way to play D&D. If you want to sit around a table and play, you can. Hopefully that inspires people to jump in.” Ciccolini goes deeper with a revelation:
We’ve known from the start that a show this short, this funny and this accessible could introduce D&D to people beyond the superfans. That has been part of our plan from the beginning, and we’re hoping to find new audiences with this show.
He also emphasizes that if there are any individuals out there who are motivated to play for the first time from what they see on the show, you do not need an encyclopedic knowledge to have a good time!
There is always a question of authenticity when it comes to improv shows. Viewers always tend to wonder about how much information participants receive beforehand about what lies ahead of them. Ciccolini answers that inquiry by saying: “They do, but only if there’s information that they need in order to create their character. We might say the conceit of this episode is going to be four goblins, so make sure you create a goblin. Outside of character creation, most of what happens is a surprise to them.” Lillard replies by showcasing specific aspects of the show:
We have a host on the show, we do it in front of a live studio audience, and we have somebody playing live accompaniment. These three elements really lend to the improv nature of the show. Also, we get suggestions from the audience a lot of the time. This will not only change what the characters are doing but also keep the game electric.
A D&D Inspired Title and Theme Song
For just a moment, both EPs took turns detailing the origins behind the show’s vibrant title and the rock-infused theme song that begins every episode. Lillard says that the tone of the opening music sets the tone for the show.
“The thing that’s fun about the song is that it’s got this irreverent sort of punk rock, surf pop vibe. It’s got an energy to it and I think it’s a really great way to set the table for what people are about to experience over the next 48 minutes.”
Regarding the very monster-focused title, Ciccolini explained that it was derived from one of the oldest D&D materials: “On the original monster manual, there is a picture of a monstrous purple worm chasing two horrified goblins. That picture coupled with the old Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! movie logo design, we sort of decided to merge those two ideas.”
Rounding all the way back to the humble beginnings of this show, Lillard explained how they had to first reroute production to a gaming bar in order to get a better hold on the technicalities of Dungeons and Dragons. “We had this idea, we had these concepts, but we really hadn’t put the game into the lab. So we came together with a place called Guild Hall in Burbank. We did a six-week show every Wednesday night and started out with like eight people. Then sixteen people in the second week and fifty in the third. We [were building] something that people were super excited about. The last game we did was standing room only – a smash hit. I just remember feeling super proud that we had taken something, and it had organically found its way into its last successful night. That was a really amazing way to start.”
Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures will launch three original series on the free ad-supported (FAST) Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures Channel available on Amazon Freevee and Plex. It’s a really amazing way to start. The schedule is as follows:
- Heroes’ Feast – Mondays & Wednesdays at 6PM PST and 9PM PST
- Encounter Party – Tuesdays & Fridays at 6PM PST and 9PM PST
- Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! – Thursdays & Saturdays at 6PM PST and 9PM PST
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