Bull Mountain-based online roleplaying podcast gains following
Each Thursday, Tom Green and a collection of his friends eat dinner and socialize before retreating to a space beneath the bowels of his kitchen at his Bull Mountain home.
It's there, in a space where the insulation is still visible in the ceiling, that Green takes charge of the laptops, microphones and large video screen that he uses to create his weekly online roleplaying game podcast, "Inglorious Bards."
"I would describe us as an adventure-comedy podcast," said Green, producer and game master. "I think is the best way to describe it."
The Inglorious Bards, as Green's website tells it, "comically bumble their way through danger" in a world of elves, goblins, barbarian dwarfs and gnomes.
"The last four or five years we've been having a lot of fun, pretty much just laughing like crazy, and thinking, 'Maybe if we record this, there might be some folks out there that would enjoy it as well,'" said Green, who has been playing roleplaying games for 38 years. "So, we gave it a shot and put it out there and people have taken to it."
In a big way.
"Since we've launched (a year ago), we've had 42,000 downloads of all of our contents, which has blown away all my expectations," said Green.
The Bards aren't kids playing computer games in their parents' basements. They're all grown-ups with steady day jobs, sharing a love of roleplaying games and fantasy worlds.
Their preparation is meticulous. The cast heads to the makeshift studio at 6:15 p.m. each Thursday to do a mic check and listen to an intro song to get the cast in the mood, before digging into a five- to six-page script. Once they're through the script, they rely on improv — and lots of it — as recording typically runs from 6:30 to 10 p.m.
"It's the only time … that I know on Thursday nights you're guaranteed to be just laughing your butt off — guaranteed. And most people don't have that," said Green, who, by day, creates training content for a software company.
The cast of characters ranges from first-time gamers to seasoned veterans.
Green said when he was looking for players, he wasn't looking for those who were necessarily good at roleplaying games. Rather, he was looking for players who were good people and fun to hang out with.
"It's easier to teach them the game than it is to teach gamers to be good people, so (I) start with good people first," said Green.
To get the website up, Green reached out to an illustrator to create the online characters. He said it took lots of work as he and the others worked to get the characters to look the way they wanted, knowing that the illustrator nailed the appearance they were looking for when there was a lot of laughter among the group.
Seth Clough, who plays Ignal, a dwarf barbarian, said he's been playing a role since the podcast started and loves it, having never participated in roleplaying games before — not even the granddaddy of them all, "Dungeons & Dragons."
Another player, Tim Sisk, who has known Green for a dozen years, said he coming to Green's house each week, playing the character Jix, a teenage goblin whose weapon of choice during the dice-rolling game is a firebomb. His character isn't the best behaved of the lot.
"I get to do and say things ... that I'd probably get slapped for just being a regular person," said Sisk.
Jeremy Spray, who plays Zanner, a gnome sorcerer, said he takes time to think out his characters, delving into which one would be the most fun to play.
"Zanner takes a lot of my kind of youthful optimism and a lot of my hopefulness for just kind of the mystery and the magic of the world, and then completely, obviously throws himself into it, assuming it's all going to work out, (which) is not always the case," said Spray.
Alastair Simpson, who answered an ad posted by Green looking for a voice actor, is the de facto "voice guy," using a Scottish accent to voice Irisyl, an elf ranger. Born in the United Kingdom and of Scottish descent, Simpson said Green has created more than a roleplaying game. He thinks of it more, he said, as an "Improv 101" class taught by "a master teacher in improv and storytelling."
"The production quality is completely in Tom's hands, and he fulfills that 100 percent, and I just try to bring my best effort to the cast," said Simpson.
Chris Beattie, who portrays the human cleric Kylian Fennel, called Green a "next-level" game master for his attention to detail.
"The effort he puts into it is just absolutely amazing," said Beattie.
The prep work is almost like a part-time job. Green does hours and hours of editing, and he said at times, the Inglorious Bards actors will prep for days and days just to get an accent correct.
For the future, Green said he wants to grow his podcast's audience. He loves the fans the show has attracted so far.
"We get tons of great feedback," Green said. "All over the world, we've got fans from Germany, China, Australia, Europe, all over."
His favorite story of fans comes from a husband and wife who told him they will wake up in the middle of the night to take care of their infant child and start listening to the show.
"That was amazing," said Green.
When an Inglorious Bards character passed away, some fans told him they were moved to tears.
What: "Inglorious Bards," the Bull Mountain-based podcast of a fantasy roleplaying game
Where: Available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Podbean and more
When: New episode released every Tuesday
Cost: Free to stream
More info: ingloriousbards.com
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