What is Dragon Friends?
Dragon Friends is a monthly improvised comedy show and bi-weekly podcast in which a group of comedians and novice role-players play through campaigns in D&D.
Comedy show AND podcast? How?
The Dragon Friends show runs at the Giant Dwarf Theater in New South Wales, Australia each month. The session is recorded live on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, divided into two sections and then released as a podcast once every two weeks (although occasionally delayed if the 2nd Tuesday of a month is awkwardly placed).
The Stream of Annihilation was on the DnD twitch channel in a combination of pre-recorded sessions and live broadcasts with chat interaction.
Do I need to know D&D to listen to Dragon Friends?
Nope! The D&D rules are kept very unintrusive, and the majority of humor is based on the setting and characters rather than the game system being used. You can understand and enjoy all of the show without knowing anything about D&D, other than what you'll learn by listening.
What makes this different from other D&D podcasts?
Dragon Friends is a D&D themed comedy show, not an actual play podcast, although there are improvisational components. The players are professional comedians performing in front of an audience, which gives the sessions a unique humor and energy. The game rules and settings are designed to emphasize this and create a fast-moving storytelling experience. There's ongoing background music played on the spot by Benny Davis or a rotating cast of featured musical guests. And alcohol may also be involved.
What game system do the Dragon Friends play?
Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, but with some changes and adaptations. In the Star Wars Special, they played Edge Of The Empire. Although Season 3 is themed on the cyberpunk setting of Shadowrun, the rules used are still those of D&D 5E.
What changes are made to the game system?
Note that this section is most definitely for D&D nerds, and you don't need to understand any of this to listen to the podcast!
Most of the changes made are to reduce on-camera (or on-microphone) bookkeeping and maintain the fast pace of the sessions.
- XP is milestone based.
- Initiative values are taken from a pre-generated list rather than rolled at the time of combat.
- HP of enemies is reduced to avoid repetitive combats.
- The effects of skill checks, especially social ones, is deliberately exaggerated and DCs are lower.
What adventures are they playing?
In Season 2 they play a variant of the Ravenloft 2nd edition module adapted by Dave Harmon. Although there is an "official" adaptation of this module for 5th edition, Curse Of Strahd, that is not used in this season.
In the Stream of Annihilation they play the official module Tomb Of Annihilation.
In the Star Wars Special they play the Edge of the Empire Beginner's Set adventure Escape from Mos Shuuta, using the pregenerated characters from that set.
What does (X) D&D term mean?
Most of the time, you can understand the story without needing to know the occasional bits of D&D jargon that are used in the episodes. But here's a very quick glossary of a few of the common ones:
Roll/Check: Rolling a 20-sided dice (or "d20" for short) to determine how well a character performs at a task. This is D&D's standard mechanic for introducing uncertainty about how well the heroes will do. The most common types are Attack Rolls, used to see if an attack hits an opponent during combat, and Ability Checks, used to perform any other action with a chance of failure.
Modifier: A number that is added to or subtracted from a roll or check (as above), to account for the differing abilities of characters. For example Philge is stronger than Freezo, so for rolls based on Strength - bashing down a door, pulling on a rope etc - Alex Lee gets to add a higher number to her roll than Michael Hing does.
DC: The number a player needs to succeed on a roll or check. If the result of a roll (including any appropriate modifiers) is equal to or greater than the DC, the task succeeds; otherwise it fails. God/Dave usually just says "roll, you need a [number]", but occasionally he uses DC, which is the term from the D&D rulebook. (It stands for "difficulty class", but even most D&D players don't remember that.)
Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Charisma: The six standard Ability Scores in D&D which represent a character's abilities and talents. Most players call them "stats".
Skills: Areas in which a character can be "proficient", which means they have a level of training or expertise in that area. When making a roll or check where the skill is relevant, the character adds an extra "proficiency bonus" to the roll, on top of their Ability modifier. Examples include Deception, Intimidation, Perception, Persuasion and Sleight of Hand. God/Dave will usually call for a check using just the skill name (e.g. "a Perception check" or "Intimidation check") as short-hand. Michael Hing frequently calls for Arcana checks.
Save (or Saving Throw): Another form of roll, only instead of being made to find out if a hero does something successfully, it's made to find out if they avoid something bad happening to them. In 5th edition D&D, saves are based on the six ability scores above; since God/Dave is an old-school GM, he sometimes asks for a save based on "Fortitude" (Constitution), "Reflex" (Dexterity), or "Will" (Wisdom), the saves used in the 3rd edition.
Hit Points: A measure of how healthy a character is. If someone gets hit with a sword or spell, or is otherwise injured, they lose hit points. If they run out of hit points, they're either dead (for background characters or monsters) or incapacitated by wounds (for heroes and big villains).
Damage: A measure of how many hit points a character loses when something dangerous happens to them. This is usually determined by rolling dice of varying sizes; the bigger and more numerous the dice, the more dangerous the source of the damage: a longsword uses an eight-sided dice (a d8), while a Witch Bolt spell uses a twelve-sided one (a d12). Physical attacks generally add the attacker's Strength or Dexterity bonus to the damage.
Death Save: A special kind of Saving Throw made by a character who has 0 hit points. Each round, the character rolls a d20 without adding any modifiers; if they roll 10 or above they succeed, otherwise they fail. If they fail three times, they die; if they succeed three times, they become stable, and don't make any more death saves. Normally a miraculous recovery is only possible when rolling a natural 20, but God/Dave is pretty merciful and has often allowed this to happen with less impressive rolls.
Spell Slot: Most magic users in D&D, such as Freezo, have a limit on how many times they can use magic in an in-game day. A spell slot represents one opportunity to cast a spell of a given power level per day. As a warlock, Freezo's spell slots are all the same level, while most other spell casters (including Bobby, Bassbass Wihouveberry and potentially Philge) have spell slots of various levels. In many cases, casting a lower level spell using a higher level spell slot makes that spell more powerful.