FRINGE REVIEW: "How to Win Loot and Influence Dragons" is D&D for the Masses

FRINGE REVIEW: "How to Win Loot and Influence Dragons" is D&D for the Masses

Within the intimate setting of Lazy Susan’s Comedy Den, podcast turned live improv Fringe show How to Win Loot and Influence Dragons presented viewers with a glimpse into what Dungeons and Dragons has to offer. D&D is a dense hobby that can be a hard sell for the general public, so fortunately there were plenty of laughs along the way at this show.

In her maiden voyage as Dungeon Master, Grace Chapple wove a tale of a ‘nontrademarked’ fantasy land that had driven magic underground. Three heroes (Ben McAllister, Jackson Used and Thomas Owen) were set the seemingly simple task of meeting a stranger in a library. The session that followed was, naturally, filled with flying books, moving staircases, English wizards and a harrowing villain by the name of Val De Murte.

Going into the show as veteran nerds and long-time D&D players, our expectations were, perhaps, unrealistic for a 50-minute one-shot show marketed towards the general public. Through the eyes of an everyday player, the gameplay was heavily simplified so as not to exclude those who had never experienced the game before. And, based on a show of hands at the beginning, this was a wise choice, as the split between devotees and newbies was fairly even.

Fortunately, the cast had enough comedic weight to drive the show forward. Coming from a game that often gets bogged down with rules and endless dice rolls, these performers obviously knew how to keep the momentum rolling and the laughs flowing. Grace did a great job for her first time running a game (and in front of a live audience, no less), leaning into her inexperience with a healthy sense of humour. Both Grace and the players came dressed as their characters, with unique accents to match. The musical addition of Ben Thomas as the party bard was a nice touch and the group riffed well with each other. Although, at times the dialogue did feel a little pre-planned.

While How to Win Loot and Influence Dragons did a great job of catering to the general public, we both felt ourselves wanting a little more depth. Shows like this are inevitably going to attract an audience with experience or at least basic knowledge of D&D. With that in mind, it’d be great to see a show willing to develop a style that celebrates rather than simplifies the intricacies of this game and, in doing so, really show off what D&D has to offer.

3 out of 5 stars

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