Wil Wheaton, certified Geek God, has a new show on the Geek and Sundry network. An expansion of his fantastically successful show Tabletop, Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana is super awesome. It’s fun, hilarious and beautiful, and you should watch it. This is why.
I’ve been a fan of the show Tabletop from the beginning, and absolutely started my gaming life with tabletop and paper and pen games like old school D&D and Risk. But ever since my first taste of FFVII some 15 odd years ago, my true gaming love has been video games. I enjoyed dipping back into the tabletop world for the occasional round of Munchkins or Cards Against Humanity, but really, nothing was as fun as logging into my Playstation and immersing myself in the beautiful graphics, epic soundtracks and dynamic game play of the electronic world.
When Wheaton and the team at G&S announced plans for an RPG special edition of Tabletop, I was excited to watch Wil and his friends play, but that’s really where my expectations ended. I had no idea how deeply I would fall in love with the world of Valkana and the story the group is telling.
There are a lot of things that are making me fall so hard for Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. The first is the depth of characterization that Wil, Alison, Laura, Yuri and Hank are bringing. Every one of their characters, even most of the NPCs voiced by Wil, are fully realized and fully committed. Certainly, it helps that this game is being played by professional entertainers, which makes watching it that much more fun, but it’s obvious that you don’t need acting training to create a fun and well designed character. Then there is the setting of Valkana itself. What a world! The mix of magic and tech is seamless and rational, and the combination of sci-fi and fantasy expands the play style opportunities. Basically, what I’m saying is this: Why wouldn’t you want to play in a world where you can have magic AND swords AND guns AND robots? Finally, the thing that truly puts Titansgrave over the top for me is the silliness, absurdity and joy. The absolute blast everyone is having bursts through my laptop screen every week. I can’t decided who is having more fun: Me watching or them playing. And that’s awesome.
To sum up, what I’m saying is this: Wil and company have proved, emphatically, with Titansgrave that you can play RPGs with an equal mix of seriousness and goofiness. You can have fun, and adventure and create a real sense of the stakes without getting bogged down in being SUPER SERIAL. And you can do that while still respecting the rules, respecting the work your GM has done to build the story and the world.
Waiting for the new episodes to load on Tuesdays is an exercise in patience, and I know I’m going to be incredibly sad when we reach the end of this journey. I’m anxious about the fate of Lemley, Killiel, Aankia and S’Lethkk. I want them to succeed and get more gold and more parties. I want to hang out with them and drink That Old Chaotic Neutral. (Seriously, Wil, please brew that beer for real. I beg you.) The team at Tabletop has produced a great show, but they’ve done more than that. They’ve reawakened my own interest in playing old school pen and paper RPGs around a table with my friends. I find myself outlining characters during down time at work.
Green Ronin is releasing the Fantasy AGE rules set at GenCon, as well as the Valkana setting. While Titansgrave might be almost over, my adventure in a new world with my friends is just beginning. I think I’m gonna play some sort of super stealthy spy who specializes in taking out enemies from really, really, really far away with magically enhanced sniper rifles. Or maybe I’ll dual wield daggers and specialize in thievery. Maybe I’ll have a pet space monkey, or be part fairy. These RPG worlds are full of endless possibilities, and that’s the beauty of it. You can be whoever you want.
You can watch Titansgrave on the Geek and Sundry network, as well as at the Geek and Sundry YouTube page. I also recommend the excellent show Critical Role on Geek and Sundry if you need more RPG adventure.