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‘HarmonQuest’ (review)

timthumbRegular readers, both of you, may recall that one of my interesting little quirks is a fondness for watching or listening to live RPG gaming sessions. While sitting at my computer all day, I have another screen nearby playing such shows as Acquisitions Incorporated, Critical Role, Titansgrave, Force Grey Giant Hunters, and many more.

And now…

And now there is HarmonQuest.

HarmonQuest?

Like… like in Dan Harmon? That guy from Community and Rick and Morty? That guy who has his own podcast show featuring improv-comedy and roleplaying games? That documentary?

Yeah, that guy.

I suppose it comes as no surprise that someone who created a hit animation show, and had a rather popular roleplaying game podcast managed to combine the two to create HarmonQuest, a half live-action and half animation comedy roleplaying ten-part series.

In each episode, Dan, along with regular partners Erin McGathy and Jeff B. Davis join game master Spencer Crittenden for a sweeping fantasy adventure in which they must defeat the Heralds of the Manticore, restore the magic rune stones that keep a dimension of demons at bay, and defeat the Great Manticore. While the specific game is hardly mentioned, they’re playing Pathfinder–or a variant thereof. You don’t need to know the specifics of the gameplay mechanics. When you get right down to it, most RPGs are pretty much the same.

s_t_16x9_HarmonQuest_3000x1688The adventures start out in Earthscar Village with Fondue Zoobag the half-orc fighter (Harmon), goblin rogue Bone Weevil (Davis), and barbarian warrior Biaro Shift (McGathy) failing to protect magic rune stones from attacking cultists. This sets them on a journey to warn other villages of the breaking of a protective seal between dimensions, and a quest to get the stones back and restore the seal before all hell breaks loose.

Each week they’re joined by a featured guest star who plays a special player character in that game’s episode. Guests have included such folk as Chelsea Peretti, John Hodgman, Kumail Nanjiani, and Nathan Fillion. The guests’ roles are limited to their own specific part of the story, but sometimes bring with them special clues or abilities that allow the adventure to go forward. Sometimes they even survive their experience with the adventurers.

Improv comedy plays a big role in HarmonQuest. While the regular players may be more than familiar with roleplaying games, the guest stars are not always. While all get into the spirit of the game, some of the guests’ game choices may seem a bit odd. Funny, but odd. Always entertaining, though.

HarmonQuestCast

The show’s format introduces the players as themselves sitting at a table in front of a live audience, then moves into an animated version of the group’s adventure. The production values are professional. The characters all look vaguely like their players. A special shout-out has to go out to game master Spencer Crittenden. Not only does he look like a guy who has been playing RPGs all his life, he sounds like it and runs the game like a real pro. I would not mind gaming with this guy.

It’s a fun show. Really fun.

So… how to view it?

Officially, you’d be watching it using a Seeso subscription.

Seeso launched in January of this year as a digital branch of NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises specializing in streaming comedy video. When they started out, it was mostly just some NBC programming, remastered British comedies, and some stand-up comedy specials. It is slowly adding more original programming and does show some decent potential to becoming an innovative streaming service aimed at geeks with an appreciation for humor. It can be watched on most mobile devices via an app, or on Amazon Prime. The subscription rate is $3.99 per month which may have seemed a little high at the beginning, but is proving to worth its value as it continues to grow.

Oh… and no ads. How about that?

GamemasterThe entire first season was released July 14 of this year, but, alas, there is no word yet on a second season. The show seems to be quickly attracting a following, so I’m fairly confident this is not the last we’ve seen of this merry band of adventurers.

The first full episode is available on YouTube, as well as some trailers and other vignettes. I noticed a couple of less-than-official additional episodes posted by folk other than Seeso, so there’s a chance you can view later episodes without a subscription, but I’d recommend going with the official channel.

Cheers!

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