What on Earth had I gotten myself into now?
When the request to interview the ‘Dragon Friends’ came across my desk, I was forced to wonder what a Dragon Friend was. Some sort of support group for recovering roleplaying addicts? A company that does Team Building exercises based on Medieval codes of chivalry? (Mental note – look into that one). Some sort of hippie commune filled with fantasy creatures? A too-fresh, too-hip law firm?
The truth, dear reader, is all of these things and more. The Dragon Friends are a troupe of comedians who battle (bungle) their way through their first Dungeons and Dragons campaign, in front of a live audience. More than that, they record it and broadcast it to the world on their podcast. These are people with guts – it takes a lot of courage to put your sessions out there, even as an experienced roleplayer and even more to do it in front of hundreds of screaming fans at PAX Australia.
More than that, having listened to a few episodes, the Dragon Friends are seriously funny and clever. The Friends just started their third season, in which they are playing not D&D, but Shadowrun, the Cyberpunk-Fantasy smashup RPG and from the sounds of things so far, it’s going to be a doozy. I organised a chat with Alex Lee and David Harmon, two members of the team.
So guys, if I rock up to my first Dragon Friends show, what can I expect to see?
A: To be honest, we never know what’s going to happen! our valiant DM Dave “Dungeon Dave” Harmon comes in with a beautifully written story in a fully realised fantasy world that goes off the rails about five minutes in. Usually there will be looting/desecration of a corpse, meeting and then fighting new friends, discovering fun hats, and bullying Dave.
D: We still find it a bit surreal how much people seem to like the show. We were a bit wary going in that this was something that was too oddball, too indulgent to find an audience. Like Alex says so much of it is just us bullying our friends, but as long as people are into it I guess we can keep up the bullying!
How many of you had played D&D before the show started? Were you all veteran Roleplayers?
A: None of the original Dragon Friends had ever played before, except the DM. I thought it was a board game. I still only have a 60% grasp on it. That’s part of the fun for a listener, even if you have never played before you can still enjoy the characters and the story, and if you have played, you can enjoy us having no idea what we are doing. Then we got Edan Lacey on board who has played since he was a little kid, and he marvels every show at how terrible we all are.
D: It’s true, I played all through university with a bunch of fellow dorks most of whom work in comedy now. At the time we were playing 3.5 edition which is really fun if you want your D&D to be full of prestige classes, bonus feats and four dense pages of rules explaining unarmed combat. It still has a special place in my heart.
What’s your favourite class to play and why?
A: Ummm like lower class? My answer is lower class. With a heart of gold. Or do you mean what monster type I am? I am a half orc and that is all I have played so i can confidently say half orc.
D: I’m really enjoying DMing but at the moment I’m playing a 5e campaign run by Carlo Ritchie who appeared in the podcast last season as Edvard Ostwick the bravest man in Wickshire. I’m playing a Human fighter who’s basically a cross between Inigo Montoya and a Bravoosi water dancer and it’s a lot of fun.
Has there ever been a moment when having this game played live caused more chaos than you expected?
A: We did a one off special where we foolishly let our audience choose which world they wanted it set in. They chose the rich world of 90s Tim Allen sitcom, Home Improvement. I had to DM. It was meant to be a sitcom romp where they had to rescue a cat from a tree. They murdered the youngest son with a hammer in the first 20 minutes.
D: The story I always tell is our very first show when Hing murdered the big story hook NPC five minutes into the adventure. In a lot of ways we’ve sort of been reeling from that decision ever since just going from one reaction to another. It’s made the whole basically anarchy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s the Dragon Friends story you’ll be telling to your grandkids one day?
A: Did grandma ever tell you the story about how she had a dungeons and dragons podcast in the mid-late 2010’s? Yes, that’s right, the game they play in Stranger Things Season 51. Do you know what a podcast is? Well anyway it was very special, and grandma got to play it with her best friends and wonderful people from all around the world listened to it and drew amazing fan art. Then one day in 2025, your old Uncle Hing forgot what was real and what was pretend, and murdered most of the other people in the show. Hmm I really shouldn’t let him be your uncle. Oh well!
D: Oh god, but what if they’re a bunch of cool jocks? I don’t want my grandkids to beat me up.
While we eagerly wait to find out if David’s Grandchildren are cool jocks or not, you can catch up on past episodes of the Dragon Friends at their website. If you happen to be in Sydney, go see one of their shows (proudly sponsored by Good Games!) at Giant Dwarf. If, on the other hand, you’re ready to embark on your own friendly romp through Dragon-infested waters, check out your local Good Games store (usually on a Wednesday Night) for some Dungeons and Dragons action or grab the books from our online store! (Australia)