How kiwi is #kiwiRPG? Kiwi as!
Aotearoa New Zealand’s cultural output has its own unique flavour – as does the kiwifruit (which we imported from overseas and then made our own, naming it after a bird that can’t fly, has its nostrils at the end of its beak, and carries an absolutely enormous egg compared to its body weight).
Like the kiwifruit, the first online TTRPG shows may have come from overseas but we have definitely taken to them and done some surprising things with the idea.
Earlier in the week local game makers and players spoke to Gizmondo about what makes our scene special, but here are a few particularly kiwi things we reckon you can find in some #kiwiRPG shows, and some that break the mold.
Everyone knows each other As a kiwi overseas, there’s a thing where someone asks you if you know, say, Sharon, who is also a New Zealander. And you have to explain that it’s ridiculous to expect people in a country of five million people to know each other but, yes, Sharon’s mum was your teacher at school.
Our shows mostly know each other, too. More people than there’s room to list here have played in multiple kiwi RPG shows, or made guest appearances. Beyond that, there have also been regular crossover supergroup streams (and here), and, in 2021, people from throughout the New Zealand D&D community joined together for a marathon 24 hour live stream, raising more than $6000 for charity.
For #kiwiRPG Week 2022, hand picked teams streamed Monster of the Week: The Faces of Toltetotl on Sunday May 3, and will be running newly launched kiwi RPG d12GO on May 6 with Robot Island! and playing D&D in The Cult of Keviine (setup for the YES AND! Charity Stream 2022). Check the #kiwiRPG Week schedule for details.
Punching above our weight We like beating the world here every once in a while, so also like the phrase ‘per capita’. Aotearoa has heaps of TTRPG shows and not that many people. Are we beating the world, per capita? I don’t know, the maths was too hard.
I can tell you that Brad Thompson, kiwi game designer, writer, and DM, placed in the top three of Wizards of the Coast’s Global DM Challenge 2021. That’s pretty awesome. And now he’s sharing heaps of advice at Cutting Words.
And then there’s Viva La Dirt League. They’ve been producing sketches about computer RPGs since 2013. In 2019 they started the NPC D&D campaign, with characters from the NPC parody videos, and have since turned their sights on TTRPGs with their D&D Logic series. They have 3.76 million YouTube subscribers and earlier this year raised $2.5 million on Kickstarter to make themselves an actual studio. And they’re pretty funny. (Their GM, Robert Hartley, has his own twitch channel including D&D advice and interviews along with VLDL extra content.)
That accent The New Zealand accent was voted the sexiest in the world. If you want to hear it, you’ve definitely come to the right place. For a particularly strong example, Dungeons & Dipshits somehow convinced Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt to record an introduction for their episodes. Does this reflect the somehow apt chaos of that podcast’s adventures? Yes. (Dipshits has stopped production, catch it while you can.)
There are plenty of different accents to be found in Aotearoa, though. Check out Asian-influenced setting and kiwi-Asian stars of Dumplings & Dragons. Or if people doing accents is your thing, have a look at the finely-voiced and lovable characters of Saturday Knights or Waterdeep Mountain High, but don’t miss out on the relentless all-round vocal (and everything else) experience that is Danger Team GO!
Or try For Crits and Giggles where, basically by accident, all the dwarves canonically have an Australian accent.
Friendly Often visitors to Aotearoa will be asked “How do you like the country?” before they’ve properly gotten off the plane. The correct answer is, it’s beautiful and the people are very friendly.
We’re helpful, too. There are a lot of shows of kiwis just providing some advice for your games: creator interviews from Diceratops and Dice Legenz; Mud & Blood on dark and grim gameplay; Hearts and Dice on social psychology, social contracts and consent in tabletop gaming; or gameplay advice and reviews from AJ Pickett, Russell Kirkby, or Cutting Words.
Music Aotearoa has produced more than its share of international pop hits, and its own way of strumming a guitar. We also bring you the stirring themes of Saturday Knights and Dungeons & Comedians, a 20-minute chill vibes remix of the The Tear-able Adventures of the Janderson Breffords Parchment Company’s theme tune, the basically-an-overture DM Vahid Qualis has created for Dice Legenz, the 90s-action-cartoon-esque brilliance of the music for Danger Team GO!, and Don’t Forget Your Towel, who deserve special mention for recording a different intro for each of the many game systems they explore.
Swearing We swear a lot in this country, often in a nice but extreme way, while casually roasting our friends. I’m looking at you, Season Quest.
On the other hand, if you want to hear the players from somewhat-sweary podcast The Fate of Isen doing an entirely family friendly show, about a pigeon and a mouse saving the world, check out The Gigantic Adventures of Jeff & Simon.
Reticence Kiwis can be suspicious of boasting, and don’t like people who “think too much of themselves”. This is probably a good thing politics-wise but you have to understand the highest possible praise a New Zealander can usually give, for example, their own podcast, is something like, “I think we’ve got something pretty good here.” So please do like, subscribe, and leave a review.
And then there’s Dice Legenz, who call their streams things like “The Most Exciting Episode ?!?”. And if that makes you guess that their streams are full of action, quickfire gameplay, and startling story revelation – well, you’re not wrong.
Office workers Did you know that service industries make up two thirds of New Zealand’s GDP? The Tear-able Adventures of the Janderson Breffords Parchment Company dares to ask the question: What if everyone in the adventuring party had day jobs?
Special connection to nature In the Diceratops Presents D&D universe, they have canonically killed the moon.
Fungus Might just be me, but listening across various kiwi actual play podcasts, there seemed to more mushrooms that you’d expect. Exploding (Dumplings & Dragons), being recklessly ingested (The Fate of Isen), giving potentially deadly poisoning (GM Breakout), destroying the world (Dungeons & Comedians), and – if I recall correctly? – impersonating people (Waterdeep Mountain High). There are probably more, I lost track.
No gardens We’re a nation of storytellers, and a traditional pastime is trying to convince foreigners of bizarre falsehoods about our country. Unrelatedly: gardening is banned in New Zealand. I challenge you to find mention of gardening in New Zealand TTRPG content. If you do, it will be passing, and furtive.
On the other hand Jewels From NZ has actual facts about New Zealand as well as TTRPG gameplay and opinion from Julz from Fate of Isen (who should not be confused with Jules from Fate of Isen).
Big OE There’s a tradition of young New Zealanders going on OE (Overseas Experience) to see the world. Travel has been tricky lately, so what about a Big Online Experience? Tonnes of kiwis are meeting the world by streaming their games, with a little bit of local flare.
I’ve got personal streaming favorites in Getting Dicey (currently trying to remain the good guys as they explore The Curse of Strahd’s Amber Temple, and hosts to other Kiwi RPG events) and the high energy adventures of Dice Legenz (also good if you like minis and terrain!). But there’s also live streams or replays from The Road Unknown, Māori Nerd, Russell Kirkby, Dice Dice Baby, Evldoa, Table Tales, and anyone who wants to share the story they’re making with the world.
Now head off and sample every flavour of #kiwiRPG show! Start with all the links on our shows page!
— Lyndon and the #KiwiRPG crew