HarmonQuest

Last night, I went to see a screen­ing of Dan Harmon’s new show, Har­mon­Quest.

HarmonQuest

I am a big fan of Com­mu­ni­ty, Rick and Morty, and RPGs, so I was pret­ty excit­ed about this. Oh, and there was a Q & A ses­sion with a pan­el of cast mem­bers after, too. I did not know much about the show before­hand, oth­er than that it was going to be a tap­ing of Dan Har­mon and friends play­ing Dun­geons and Drag­ons. I was expect­ing some­thing like Crit­i­cal Role, where we watch the Dun­geon Mas­ter and par­ty as they play for a cou­ple of hours.

Instead, it was short­er, about 23 min­utes like a TV com­e­dy, and start­ed with the play­ers gath­ered around a con­fer­ence table. Spencer Crit­ten­den is the Dun­geon Mas­ter and sits at the head, and Dan Har­mon, Erin McGathy, and Jeff B. Davis are par­ty reg­u­lars who sit along one side. Join­ing them each episode is a guest star. In the first episode, that was Paul F. Tomp­kins, but they will also have Chelsea Peretti, Steve Agee, Aubrey Plaza, Thomas Mid­dled­itch, and Kumail Nan­jiani, among oth­ers. They briefly talk about their RPG expe­ri­ence and then dive into the gam­ing ses­sion. The “in-char­ac­ter” seg­ments are all ani­mat­ed, and the char­ac­ters look like the actors, except in fan­ta­sy garb. The show is filmed in front of a live audi­ence.

The gam­ing ses­sion itself is much lighter than Crit­i­cal Role. The char­ac­ters are less coor­di­nat­ed with one anoth­er and seem to try weird things for the hell of it. The fight­ing is sim­pli­fied and Spencer han­dles all dice rolls. The only time I saw a char­ac­ter sheet ref­er­enced was when Spencer asked a char­ac­ter to dou­ble-check his total hit points to see if he died. The ani­mat­ed com­bat is quite fun to watch, though. Every­one enjoyed see­ing lit­tle num­bers float up every time some­one took a hit, just like in video games. The lighter nature also opened up the group to be goofy and ban­ter more, which was hilar­i­ous.

After the episode, it was time for the Q & A pan­el. Jeff B. Davis, Spencer Crit­ten­den, and Dan Har­mon took some ques­tions from the mod­er­a­tor and then the crowd.

HarmonQuest panel

Sor­ry about the poor qual­i­ty. I turned off flash and held my phone over my head to get a clear line of sight. A few ques­tions in, Dan pulled out a flask and every­one was like, “We’re at a bar, we can get you a real drink.”

I learned that:

  • Har­mon­Quest is a spin-off of Dan’s Har­mon­town pod­cast, where Spencer just showed up in the audi­ence because “he knew it was their des­tiny to get togeth­er and play DnD.”
  • NBC Uni­ver­sal expressed inter­est in Har­mon­Quest before SeeSo (their com­e­dy stream­ing site) was even cre­at­ed.
  • The actu­al taping/gaming ses­sion is about an hour long, which they then edit down to the 23 min­ute mark. (If he could go back, Dan would want to make each episode a bit longer so they would not have to cut out as much mate­ri­al.)
  • Dan said this was his first time doing a mul­ti-cam show, and edit­ing was sur­pris­ing­ly chal­leng­ing. (The hard­est part was get­ting audi­ence laugh­ter to not sound canned.)
  • When asked about the gam­ing expe­ri­ence of the guests, Spencer said that most guests had played 0 – 2 times. Thomas Mid­dled­itch is very expe­ri­enced and actu­al­ly drove straight from their tap­ing to his reg­u­lar Call of Cthul­hu game. One of his favorite episode was with Aubrey Plaza, who real­ly drove her ses­sion despite not hav­ing any pre­vi­ous RPG expe­ri­ence.
  • Dan as a play­er did not want too much infor­ma­tion or input about the over­all plot, but Spencer worked a lot with the net­work to flesh out a sat­is­fy­ing cam­paign over the course of the sea­son.
  • Spencer will also pri­vate­ly hint to guests ahead of time if there is any­thing “above and beyond” expect­ed of them. In the first episode, he asked Paul F. Tomp­kins to come up with a “great oath.”

The entire 10-episode sea­son goes up tomor­row on SeeSo for your bing­ing plea­sure. I will def­i­nite­ly be check­ing out the rest of the series.

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