Unfamiliar with the Domains of Dread, besides a short dip into Barovia back in my original gaming group’s Interview with a Vampire phase, I’ve been drinking up the recent Lore You Should Know segments in Dragontalk, which helps. But, as a pandemic-retired DM and current player it helps to see the different angles to horror. The Black Dice Society does that.
The show involves an intricate plot, with dream sequences and appearances by various Darklords who are pushing the characters through the mists, using them as pawns in the struggles between various Domains. Those Lords of Dread are ever present, even if merely as shadowy figures that the characters know could interfere with their lives and hopes. Sometimes they are much more than that.
Within BDS is a group of characters who have grown up within the Domains and those who are from “normal” places. This dynamic leads to some characters having powers that are a bit creepy for the normies. This twist helps immerse the viewer or listener in the Mists. You are made as uncomfortable as the characters, who roleplay this quite well. As the group bands together these outsiders will become familiar with each other, but until then there will be a bit more creepy factor that is unusual within streamed shows. This dynamic is perfect for the story and genre of Black Dice Society.
The whole thing is horror, PG-13 horror. Fear is ever present. Death and afterlife are significant themes. B.Dave Walters has crafted a tale that is much more complex than my other listens (NADDPod, D20 Dames). The buy-in from the players helps create a tale that is full of apprehension and unease.
Then he spins another story over the PCs, creating a dizzying disquiet Walters has the Darklords observing. Their plots and treatment of the PCs as potential minions keeps a watcher-listener worried about betrayal. There is a sense of cosmic horror because they are all just so puny against those that rule the Domains. So far, the balance has allowed success with a constant fear of failure. That delicate string could break at any time.
And that’s why I keep watching. What started as a desire for me to learn more about Ravenloft became an attachment to the story. What started as background audio is now foreground audio – no longer my second screen, but my first.
How to Watch: Playlist of The Black Dice Society on YouTube
It’s live on Twitch.TV/DnD on Thursday, without interfering with your Critical Role schedule. You can also catch up on the D&D YouTube channel.
Cast of Characters
- B.Dave Walters – DM
- Deejay Knight – Desmond, a human Ranger or light Fighter
- Tanya DePass – Fen, a Bloodhunter dhampir drow
- Becca Scott – Tatyana, a genasi Barbarian
- Saige Ryan – Valentine, a reborn abberant mind Sorcerer
- Mark Meer – Brother Uriah, a Cleric of the Grave
- Nora Ibrahim – Nahara, a reborn fallen aasimar Warlock