…And Forge Games pulled the cast of the inaugural podcast series “The Mine Children”, out just long enough to chat about their building online success, before they delved back in to record more sessions of gameplay.

Each episode features actual play, 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, based in the fictional world of Demipia created by Max Chambers, and starring:
– Max Chambers as DM
– Libby Nears as Erdei (companion, Parduc)
– Corrie Bowers as Garesch Woad Sky
– Wemmy Ogonyonkin as Anastasia Rarenscothnighbury
– Camille Brouard as C’tharn (daughter of Xathan)
– Sophie Maxwell as Accth’um Icetooth
– Adam Bradshaw as Malagri’ir Andhorin

As the party tackles morbid affairs surrounding the troubled village of Goll’s Fall, their escapades have engrossed listeners, breaking 1000 followers on twitter, 4000 downloads on podbean and even more on iTunes. The podcast has clearly found its niche audience, but this following was never anticipated by the group.

Adam described that initially there was no strategy for such a thing when setting out; “It was always for fun- I was a bit surprised that anyone other than us wanted to listen to it- and now there’s 200 listeners an episode!”

At the time of our meeting, Camille had found that their Twitter follower ratio stood at around 80% male and 20% female listeners. But the concept of who plays D&D is steadily changing. The boys are outnumbered in this group, and for some of the group, The Mine Children was their first experience of D&D.

Wemmy: “I swear one day we were just in the pub and the next thing I know I’m Anastasia in a D&D. I think we were in a wetherspoons and you waited until I was drunk and I was like YEAH MAN!”

Yet, not all in the RPG community are as welcoming for a female demographic:

Camille: “In a lot of ‘nerd communities’ there is a bit of a stigma for being a woman, people kind of test you a bit and I’ve had that before.”

Fortunately, this is actually the 21st century, and as noted by Corrie, “Generally things like D&D and RPG games are becoming more mainstream… people seem more open to the idea of it.”

The party became friends at the university’s very own RockSoc. “Oh god we’re all wearing black!” exclaimed Sophie as the group steadily realised they had turned up unintentionally wearing similar clothing. After taking a few minutes to praise Libby’s cooking, the group described themselves as “basically a dinner club”, and their dynamic as a group of 6 good friends has naturally engaged listeners, even if personal agendas may begin to emerge as the story unfolds.

Adam: “It’s almost unplayable to have a character that doesn’t like anyone else in the party. If your characters don’t care about anything, then it’s not engaging.”

The podcast maintains a dynamic pace through its collaborative storytelling, and though situations may seem bleak they are generally unpredictable. The stakes rise and fall dramatically, and there is no railroading in sight.

Max: “I don’t know what’s going to happen, I have an idea of what might happen- their actions drive the story, and I build the framework.”

Not only receiving positive feedback from those who are new to D&D, The Mine Children also received praise from The Glass Cannon podcast, one of the biggest RPG podcast series’ going.

Wemmy: “It’s something I would never really listen to, but I really care about character development, and I think what sticks about ours is because we all have different personalities and you want to know what happens next to individuals.”

A lot of the success of the podcast however, also comes down to Max. Max started with the D&D video games, and after playing D&D over time, found that the decades of published histories had become somewhat stale. With intentions to “Mash my inspirations into something interesting and horrifying”- and contrast with the many comedy D&D podcasts available- Demipia was created, taking inspiration from Lovecraftian horror and high fantasy. When asked how much time is needed for preparing and editing each episode of the podcast, he retorted “Ages. Fucking ages!”

Max: “Every episode takes 4-8 hours of editing, and every ten minutes of content takes about half an hour to an hour to edit. Each D&D session makes about an episode and a half.”
Max’s own original twist succeeds in many areas; Camille revealed that at times their followers will message “this really traumatised me!” but that doesn’t mean it’s all misery. Corrie added that the terrifying nature brings a lot of the jokes out, although Sophie was quick to dismiss this: “I think that’s hysteria… laughing through the tears!”

In other areas of the games industry there is growing attention to presenting altered sanity states or episodes of mental illness. But particularly in The Mine Children, the sanity mechanics are used to a potential not often seen. Camille described this as avoiding gameplay reminiscent of “killing all the pidgeys”, for this mechanic interferes with how characters can approach objects or situations that may result in scarring outcomes. Like the taxidermy babies encounter. I won’t say anymore.

Shadows of Esteren- a medieval horror RPG- heavily influenced the execution of the sanity mechanic in The Mine Children. Max had played it previously and after coming to the conclusion it drove him and his friends quite mad, he thought it was the perfect system to adopt for The Mine Children.

Adam “I think Demipia manages to avoid a lot of tropes- I know the ‘obvious’ things in D&D and the way the mental health mechanics are written into the game really sets Demipia apart.”

At 20 episodes, The Mine Children is approaching its finale. But hopefully there is plenty more to come from Demipia yet…

Max: “It would be really cool to establish it as a proper entertainment system. That would be really fucking cool. Although I have no time… and I have no money! But I’ve got passion and plans.”

Max hopes to expand onto a website independent of podbean, possibly move episodes to Youtube, and launch a patreon to support the creation of more content from Demipia and all of its ghastly inhabitants. Plenty of listening distress to look forward to!

Like them on facebook: facebook.com/DemipiaT3A
Follow them on Twitter: @DemipiaT3A
Listen on Podbean: Demipia.podbean.com

All Graphics provided by Max Chambers

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