Dice, Camera, Action (or DCA) is the second show I have reviewed that features DM Chris Perkins from Wizards of the Coast. This is also the first crossover show where players and characters are featured in other games that I have or will review. This show features four permanent players who had reached relative levels of prominence in nerd culture through streaming, music, and association with major streaming platforms like Twitch.tv prior to being cast on the show.
|Dice, Camera, Action||Audio and Video||http://dnd.wizards.com/dice-camera-action/podcast-hub||Weekly||PC-MA L|
DCA started in March of 2016 at the same time that D&D released the Curse of Strahd hardback adventure for purchase and for Adventurer’s League organized play. Chris Perkins, who was the Lead Designer for the Curse of Strahd adventure, started running his cast of four players through the new adventure from the beginning. This resulted in a fun way to see an adventure unfold in real time with the lead designer in the role of DM. As Wizards of the Coast released subsequent hardback adventures, the party found themselves fighting the giants from Storm King’s Thunder and then battling the death curse from the Tomb of Annihilation before landing in Waterdeep to be caught up in the gang war between the Zhentarim and the Xanathar Guild.
As an official podcast from the publishers of D&D running stories from the published adventures, the show is based in the Forgotten Realms, which is the first of the classic D&D game worlds to be fleshed out and explored in the 5th Edition publications. This setting is important because at least one of the main characters from DCA makes an appearance in a game that is related to the main Acquisitions Incorporated game (Acquisitions Incorporated, The “C” Team). I will review that show in my next post in this series. And that same character from DCA also makes an appearance in the main Acquisitions Incorporated game, which is the other show I reviewed where Chris Perkins is the DM.
As an official game from Wizards of the Coast, DCA is accessible through the Podcast Hub page on the D&D web site, and live sessions are played weekly on Twitch.tv on Tuesday afternoons in the Pacific time zone.
There are many reasons I like this show. Chris Perkins seems to go out of his way to demonstrate how the rules and stories as written in official game publications are more like guidelines than gospel. He constantly allows his players to take the story in directions the written adventure never explores and he liberally bends or breaks the rules if doing so serves to tell a better story than could be told by the constraints of the exact rule as written.
This show also has a much different tone than the other show that features Perkins as DM. Acquisitions Incorporated is a slapstick laugh riot, filled with fart and poop jokes that are every bit as silly—and funny—as you can imagine. But DCA clings to the darkness of Barovia where the characters first grew their roots. The Curse of Strahd is supposed to be a bit of a spooky adventure, and the land of Barovia is filled with a sadness and sense of hopelessness that permeates everyone and everything that lives there. Even though the characters eventually escape Barovia, that sense of sadness and melancholy never quite leaves them, and regardless of their efforts, they always find themselves drawn into some dark shadow that is sometimes terrifying and sometimes heartbreaking for the characters. That element of having a theme that runs through the game regardless of what adventure they are pursuing is also something I really like about this game, and it gives me some great ideas for how to approach running my own games when I’m behind the DM screen.
The players are all excellent role-players, including one who can sometimes come across as disinterested and distracted until you gradually realize that’s just how his character interacts with the world and the people around them. The episodes of this show are also long, streamed in three-hour blocks every week and usually taking up almost all of that time on their Twitch.tv channel.