Holly Conrad on D&D's 'Trapped In The Birdcage'

Todd Kenreck: Today I'm talking to the esteemed Holly Conrad about her new live stream to D&D campaign that will delve into Planescape.

Holly Conrad: I have a new show where I'm DM-ing and I've DM-ed before. I've just DM-ed at home with friends. This is the first time I've ever DM-ed on stream. Yeah, it's very nerve wracking but it's mostly just because I want everyone to have fun. I'm thinking of the joy of the viewers and the joy of the players. But my group is very, they're bad people, so it works out fine ... in game, in real life they're lovely. I'm a huge Planescape fan. I grew up reading the Planescape books. I didn't have a lot of friends to play them with but I read them all, all the time. I love Sigil. I love everything about it. I think, I of course just wanted to set it there because I love the weird stuff. It's kind of like in the Birdcage, it's kind of a mix with Dark Crystal with Wereravens with Sigil with this band of people that are just always sunny, the show. They're so bad.

I think the thing about Planescape I enjoy so much is that I feel like you can do anything there. And I also feel like it's very scary and bizarre and weird. And I love fantasy settings, you know what to expect if you're in a fantast setting. It's like, okay, say you're in Waterdeep. That's a big city. It's a big fantasy city. There's Skullport. That's cool. But, and there's UnderMountain and all this crazy stuff but in the sense of Planescape, there could be anything. There could be demons and there could be the angels. There could be underground things. There could be Wererats. There could be ... It's more of like the Thor: Ragnarok of D&D. You're in the multi-verse and it's very apparent that you're some place out of the ordinary. And I really like that.

My group is made up of my friend Jimmy, Jimmy Whetzel, my friend Chad, Chad Quandt, my friend Hadeel and my friend Anna Prosser. Jimmy is playing Saturn, who is a Human Bard who was cursed. It's a secret. Then my Hadeel is playing Nejma, who is an elf wizard who is the worst wizard and ran away to the circus and sets fire to everything. And then my friend Chad is playing Reader, who is a Warforged Rogue. And it's cool to have a Warforged because they're not, they don't have a lot of representation so far in all of the 5e stuff. So it's cool to have that. And then last is Anna from my Dice Camera Action Game. She's playing a totally opposite character to Evelyn and her name is Wilhelmina and she's another Human Rogue who literally steals everything. She's stolen something in every game so far.

Yeah, I formed this group because I wanted some brand new players and I wanted some players that had played before. Jimmy and Hadeel are both brand new players. Jimmy has never played before and neither has Hadeel. Of course, Anna has played before. And Anna was the first who was like, "I want to be in your show". I was like, "Okay, Anna". Anna's ... and that crossover is fun too because actually spoil alert, there's going to be some DCA crossover in my show with some back story, so it's going to be cool. And my friend Chad, I've been friends with him for a long time and all of the people that I brought in are all very funny and good writers. I wanted people that weren't just streaming people. I wanted people that were writers and very, very funny and I knew were going to get along together. I think they all mesh really well and I've been ... They've got me laughing so hard that I can't even DM at this point.

Like on the last episode, Saturn tried to steal a rug, like an actual rug. I'm like, "I don't know why you want to steal a rug but okay". And I had already planned this in counter, so it was a rug of smothering. The guy wasn't selling rugs. He was selling security rugs. So he gets smothered by the rug and then Reader comes on and was like, "Please don't. I don't, don't steal." And then the other rug grabs him. And then Nejma sets him on fire. Reader passes out in the rug, which is now on fire, so they literally almost killed one of their own party members. And it's amazing. If you get a bunch of people that are creative and funny together and are all friends, it's just a great fun time. And they all kill each other and it's great.

My DM-ing style is like I really like just to laugh. I love funny stuff and I love reoccurring jokes and things like that. In the last episode, I don't think anyone noticed but they have mirror shard that showing them different ... it's a broken shard of a Scrying Mirror and it's showing them clues to the campaign. And sometimes it'll just flicker and it'll just ... I describe it really vaguely but it's just showing a Taco Bell. It's just showing a straight up Taco Bell here in our world. And I'm like, "You see a strange sign with a yellow bell on it". They're exchanged green items for some wrapped delicacy and they didn't get it and just like slowly working. So the shard's going to show different fast food restaurants and they're just like ... I'm just waiting for them to get it. I just love putting dumb stuff in there to make them laugh. But also scary stuff. I want them to laugh and have that humor but then also be bring back like, "Oh, no. This is messed up. We need to actually solve this problem."

I think I love putting weird, whimsical stuff into my games. And that's what I think, hopefully maybe, sets mine apart. D&D gives you a place that you are in control of. In our lives, we're out of control, our circumstances are out of control. The world at large, like politics and the greater geopolitical sphere is out of our control but in D&D, you are control of a small part of this massive world and your own actions. And you can just be whoever you want. You don't have to be a certain person. You can be a kleptomaniac if you want, if you want to have fun with that. You can be brave and maybe you don't feel brave in the real world. And that actually, that helps you because your lizard brain can't tell the difference between the things you experience in D&D and the things you experience in real life because it's imagined and you actually see it happening. It's like reading a book.

It's those sorts of experiences can help you and help you just even experience things that you normally wouldn't everyday. I know it helps my mental health constantly. Yeah, the sudden popularity (Dungeons & Dragons) honestly is scary to me. I think it's awesome but it's also scary because I'm just like, "Ah, this is just so much bigger than it's ever been." I think it's amazing but I want people to experience it in their own way. It doesn't matter how you experience it. If you want to be a person that just does combat and that's what you like. You like numbers, do it. If you want to role play and just do that, do it. Just have fun with it and enjoy it and let it be yours. And connect with your friends because that's what it's about is getting together with your friend and connecting over story-telling. And that's like ... we've been doing that since we were literally in caves making fires. That's what humans do. They get together, they connect and they tell stories. And that's what it is. It's our primal need to do that.

With it's popularity, I think it's going to bring back a lot of that joy of having that connection with other people.


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