You can watch this show here at the Achievement Hunter site.
You can also watch this episode on youtube here.
Heroes & Halfwits is a brand new D&D show from Achievement Hunter, a very popular video game site.
As usual, I'm going to recap what happened, provide time stamps and then give my overall thoughts and observations.
(Gus) Bor Ealis - Human Paladin (Lawful Good)
(Ryan) Albus Cumberbatch - Half-Elf Warlock (Chaotic Neutral)
(Michael) Mogar Jones - Dragonborn Paladin (Lawful Good)
(Griffon) Orma - Half-Orc Barbarian (Chaotic Good)
(Geoff) Mr. Bo Jingles - Tiefling Bard ("Chaotic")
It's interesting that they go out of their way to tell us the alignment of each hero. Two lawful good paladins in the same group! That's pretty rare.
Everything is very loose in this session. There isn't much tension between the lawful good people and the chaotic people.
Frank, our dungeon master, kicks the campaign off by reading a lengthy intro. Normally I'd be bored out of my mind listening to a long pre-written diatribe, but in this case it is awesome. Frank put together one of the coolest campaigns I have seen in a long time.
Here's the basics:
The heroes have spent three months sailing across the sea with the armada. Their ship is massive and is armed with ten cannons. The crew poops off the side of the ship into hanging nets. Later in the adventure, we learn that the group is so used to pooping in nets that they have a hard time going to the bathroom without one.
The cannons are powered by "dragonpowder." They can shatter magical barriers!
The group is a special unit who will have to make their way through enemy territory and construct a campaign of disruption. The king's spymaster, The Kumian, infiltrated Jackalheart a year ago. The group needs to find and collaborate with The Kumian.
As the armada nears Jackalheart, a storm hits. Water elementals attack! Huge water spouts rise out of the ocean, destroying the ships and causing barrels of dragonpowder to explode.
The group survives the assault and washes up on the beach.
Crazy, right? The DM needs to write this campaign up and sell it.
The group debates what to do. They decide to check out a wrecked ship to see if there are survivors or supplies to be looted.
They battle a giant snake that is lurking up in a tree. More snakes jump in. Bor Ealis is apparently a racist human, who looks down on dragonborn, orcs and others.
The group kills the snakes and thinks about eating them. They inspect the snakes and see that they are covered in sores and have cataracts.
The DM actually hands out XP. It's weird how few of these shows dole out actual experience points. Maybe they do it off camera.
There is a ton of chatter and cross-talk. It's hard to watch when everyone is talking at once. I actually feel drunk just watching this.
The upside of this is that the players are relaxed and having a good time. There are quite a few pauses to look up rules, but the group is so rambunctious that those moments are not boring.
When you look at the professional set-up of this show, your first thought might be that this is going to be like Critical Role, where they are very aware that they are on a show and tailor the game accordingly. This is literally a 'real' d&d game, with all of the warts included.
I really think they should edit this and cut out the discussion of bonuses and rules clarifications. I think that kind of thing will erode viewer interest, but who knows. This show has a ton of views on youtube already so I'm not sure if I should argue with success.
The group is attacked by stirges, and the group wipes them out in another chaotic battle. That's where we stop.
I almost feel like I am doing these shows a disservice by writing about their first episode. They haven't had a chance to work out the kinks. From what I am told, Critical Role really tightened up as it went.
The problem is that I want to watch every D&D show from the beginning. Campaigns are very complex and I don't think a one minute recap is going to help too much. Plus, if I like the show, I'm going to go back and start from the beginning anyway.
Epic Setting: Good god, what an awesome setting. You should watch the first ten minutes of the show just for that. DM Frank came up with a ton of great ideas. I've always wanted to run a D&D campaign that is entirely set in a war with the characters as soldiers. I really liked the setting of Lightfall on High Rollers and this one is right up there with it. Fantastic!
Decent Run Time: One hour and twenty minutes seems like a good amount of time for a show. Unfortunately, in this episode the group didn't accomplish much at all. They fought snakes and stirges.
The Group is Loose: The players drink throughout this show, which is good and bad. It is good because everyone is lively and ready for hijinks. It is bad because there is a fine line between buzzed and sloppy.
The game devolved into a bunch of people blurting out whatever came into their mind at the same time. They're pretty funny people, but this show is unwatchable at points. Some of the players get pretty obnoxious.
Missed Opportunity: I would have liked to see the DM start this session with the group on the boat as it is attacked. We could have had some low-level elementals attack, attempts to rescue crew members trapped in a burning room, maybe a dive in a submerged section of the ship and a thrilling escape as the ship is destroyed by the water spout.
Once this session got underway, it contained a few encounters with wandering monsters. I feel like the DM didn't capitalize on his own awesome ideas.
I think the most accurate thing to say about this show is that it has potential. For now, you might want to listen to this show while you do other things. I get the feeling that they are going to iron things out over the stretch of a few episodes. The setting alone makes this show worth keeping an eye on.