For the past few years, Geek and Sundry has been at the forefront of quality games programming with shows like the Dungeons and Dragons phenomenon, Critical Role, Tabletop hosted by Wil Wheaton, and VAST, an original sci-fi RPG hosted by creator, Jackson Lanzing. Now, G&S brings us Sagas of Sundry: Dread, and it’s nothing short of fantastic! Exclusively available through Project Alpha, Sagas of Sundry follows game master Ivan Van Norman as he guides a cast of five players through the horror-themed indie RPG, Dread.
The cast, Satine Phoenix (Maze Arcana), Taliesin Jaffe (Critical Role, The Wednesday Club), Amy Vorpahl (The Newsroom), Amy Dallen (The Wednesday Club), and Matt Mercer (Critical Role), first played the game last May during Geek and Sundry’s International Tabletop Day stream on Twitch where we were first introduced to their characters. Set in the early 80’s, the game followed a group of friends as they began their adventure by heading into the woods for a weekend camping trip where they encountered a mysterious monster with a taste for campers. If you’re familiar with horror movies, you’ll be quick to notice the group almost immediately broke nearly every rule of how to survive a horror scenario (drug use, trespassing, going into the woods and other dark places). Yet through clever decisions and dexterous fingers, the group survived and Sagas of Sundry picks up with the same group one year after their terrifying experience.
SoS isn’t your typical RPG game show; the players don’t sit around a table in a brightly lit studio with the game master hidden behind a screen on the other side, nor do they roll any dice. Instead, the players surround a campfire on a darkened interactive set in front of an old cabin that conjures images of Evil Dead and they pull from a towering pile of blocks as they encounter challenges; topple the tower, and tragedy follows. Van Norman uses the tower to brilliantly amp up the tension in the game, spinning his tale to inspire anxiety in players as they work to gingerly remove blocks and stay alive.
Role play is the primary element of what makes the show work. The players all bring their A-game, creating vivid characters that are engaging, sympathetic, and incredibly fun to watch. They each play their characters with just the right balance of humor and drama and they are all gloriously flawed in their own way. Because, let’s face it, nothing is more boring than watching (or playing in) a game where all the characters are superhero-shiny perfect. They don’t shy away from in-character confrontation and they fully embrace the more emotional moments to make for a truly show-worthy experience.
Sagas of Sundry dares to push the boundaries of RPG games; how we watch them, and how we play them. The show bends and twists Dread, creating something new that walks the line between scripted web series and streaming games. Personally, I can’t wait to see what other RPGs get this treatment and hopefully, it will inspire gamers to push the boundaries of their own games and create unforgettable, unique experiences for their own friends.
Catch Sagas of Sundry: Dread over on Alpha. New episodes go live every Thursday and if you don’t have a subscription, sign up for the free trial! You can also check out the G&S stream that started it all below: