Wednesday, 15 May 2013

If you are a fantasy gaming geek you should really check out Standard Action

Like the title says, if you dig fantasy gaming and aren't already caught up on Standard Action you really should be. Standard Action is a live action fantasy RPG web series that started back in 2011 (actually the teaser episode was out in 2010). Unlike another rather popular RPG gaming series, The Guild this one is based on Pen and Paper RPGs instead of MMORPGs.

The series first introduces and then follows the adventures of a pretty typical adventuring party. There's the Elf Barbarian Edda played by +Joanna Gaskell, who is also the creative mind behind the project. Along with Edda we have Fernando the Half-Halfling Bard, Martin the Druid ("I'm not a healer") with his badger familiar and Gwenevere (don't call her Wendy) the Sorcerer. A myriad of other characters, villains and NPCs are added through the series with some guest appearances as well.

Overall I found the series to be very well produced. A step above most web series I've seen. This isn't just a filmed amateur LARP here but rather a real production. The costuming is great, the effects are decent and best of all the story is engaging and often time hilarious.

You can check out the series here, this is Episode 0 the teaser released in 2010 (which atually fits in at episode 6.5):

The Gamerati himself, +Ed Healy  recently hooked me up with Joanna and I was able to ask her a few questions about the series:

So how the heck did you get involved in a live action fantasy RPG web series?

Well, I wrote the scripts just for a lark, really - character studies with their roots in gaming humour. We never really thought we'd be able to make the show - fantasy is just too expensive! But we met Edwin (Fernando the Bard) on the set of a feature film we were making back in 2010, and we found out that not only was he a great actor, he was also a gamer, and he made costumes! So I showed him the scripts, and we were pretty much off to the races. We shot the teaser for Episode 1, and with that online we started to draw in a bunch more talented people who saw and were interested in Standard Action, and pretty soon we were holding auditions and scouting locations!

I have to assume the cast are gamers, am I right? If so what's your gaming history?

Actually - Edwin and I are gamers; we play and DM our own games, and have played D&D, as well as a variety of other roleplaying games - Pathfinder, Cthulhu, Shadowrun - for a very long time. But our other cast members - Tara and Daniel - are not gamers! Tara is a Star Trek: TNG geek, and Daniel dabbled in some Magic: the Gathering, but they are nerds of a different kind, for sure.

Watching Standard Action I can't help be reminded of The Guild. Was The Guild an inspiration for your series? What other inspirations did you have?

The Guild was certainly inspiring in that it was groundbreaking in the web world. I would say that it was one of the very first truly successful webseries, and it made the rest of us out here with great ideas believe that we might just be able to pull it off. I'm very grateful to Felicia Day and her team for that. :) However, my and Rob's real inspiration in the webseries world was "The Show" with Ze Frank, which was the first webseries we ever watched. It was incredibly fan-interactive, incredibly funny, and very intelligent, and it had a huge following.

In terms of my writing, I draw a lot of my inspiration from British comedy, such as The Mighty Bouche, Discworld, Red Dwarf and Monty Python. I love the slightly tongue-in-cheek, quirky, intelligently weird humour, that never underestimates the intelligence of the audience.

I can't help but wonder if some of the content is based on actual play at the table?

The humour for sure comes from the gaming table, but it's more the feel that's translated than the actual events. Some of the D&D gaming rules just lend themselves to great comedy when they're applied in weird situations, so I would often just take those quirks to their natural conclusions, and see what happened. We tried very hard to make our series accessible, though. You don't have to be a gamer to get the humour - we made sure to make it funny for anyone who's a fan of quirky comedy or comedy-fantasy. If you're a gamer, you'll just catch on to those extra jokes. And some of our "easter eggs" and extra jokes aren't for tabletop gamers - we have stuff in the show for Star Wars fans, Tolkein addicts, Browncoats, Trekkies, MMORPG'ers, video gamers, or even fans of great cult movies like Space Balls or The Princess Bride.

I see you are kickstarting a new season, two questions regarding this:
1) How is it you managed to produce such a professional looking series up to this point?

Our first season was entirely self-funded - so basically out of my own pocket, as the producer. For second season we ran an IndieGoGo fundraiser, which is similar to Kickstarter. That got us about half of our funds, and then the other half I supplied.

2) What led you to kickstarter to continue it?

Our hope for Season 3 is to have it almost completely fan-funded - I'm running out of spare cash. :) The reason we chose Kickstarter over IndieGoGo for this season is because of the visibility - Kickstarter is becoming so well known, and we decided to try to tap into the high-profile nature of the site. The functionality is also a lot nicer than IndieGoGo; it's easier to interact with your backers, and easier for your backers to manage their contributions.

What's your plan for the future of Standard Action, will you be doing another kickstarter for each future season?

The third season will wrap up many of the elements of this particular story arc. After that... I'm not sure. We may, if the support is there, continue into a Season 4, or we may branch off into a spinoff series. We also have plans for an Edda Backstory feature film, so there's that. It would be ideal for us to find another way to fund what we do, at least partially. I'm exploring options for corporate partnerships, and we're expanding our library of merchandise. Crowdsource fundraising is amazing, but I would love to not have to go back to the fans and ask for our entire budget every time we want to make something. Having a bit of income from another source would be ideal, and we're working on that.

So I see you are offering a card game as one of the backer rewards can you tell me a bit about the game?

For sure! But it's actually easier for you to watch this video that I just made. It'll give you the basics, ;)

So there you have it geeks and gamers. Everything I wanted to know about Standard Action. The series really is great and you really should check it out. As mentioned in the interview Joanna and her crew are currently looking for funds to support season 3. This is going on right now on kickstarter and the project has already hit it's goal. If you've checked out the series and enjoyed it, why not jump over there now and help them hit some stretch goals.

1 comment:

  1. As someone who has played a long running barbarian character I can not help but love Edda. She's a hoot. To discover that the lady playing her is actually the brains behind the operation only increases my enjoyment. And yes, I'm seriously tempted to back this Kickstarter.