Part mystery, part reality TV-show, part interactive LARP, just what the heck is D&D Live’s new ‘Reality RP’? Greg Tito wants you to know.
When they announced D&D Live 2020, one of the murkier aspects of the announcement was something called “reality RP.” At the time, the staff at WotC would only say that it was something like a reality TV show where viewers would be voting on their favorite NPC. Now Greg Tito has come out with more details about what it actually is, and it turns out, it’s a few familiar concepts mashed together.
Greg Tito sat down with Screen Rant to go into more detail:
via Screen Rant
So what is Reality RP? As Tito explains, the concept is something that the team came up with to bring some of the more successful parts of D&D Live to the online version that we’re seeing. With the event being entirely livestreamed and “remote” it means there isn’t an opportunity for fans to enjoy some of the phenomenal live sets and costumed performers that have been a staple of D&D Live in the past.
We’ve had great success doing it in person at places in Southern California and we have worked with a lot of the community down there who like to participate and cosplay, LARPING, that type of roleplaying that is a facet of playing Dungeons & Dragons. And with the quarantine revolving around COVID-19, we were busy trying to work out how we could adapt the excitement and creativity around that kind of physical event into an online event and many of us were inspired by what we had done before. I had gotten together a group of narrative designers, five of them, to kind of brainstorm some initial design work for the live event before we had to switch it and we realized that a lot of that work could be put towards something that’s perhaps greater than the sum of its parts.
What they came up with is Reality RP. From Tito’s description, it’s somewhere between a massive party game (Werewolf springs to mind) and a reality show. You’ll have all the pageantry of a live show–costumes, makeup, actors performing different characters–but the show is designed with the ‘gamified’ parts of reality TV built in. Characters are taking on a role and trying to make people like them. All of this is going to be played out over social media and live streams to give players a chance to shape events as they unfold. What events, you might ask? Well the whole Reality RP enchilada is one big storyline that talks about a secret cultist who is up to no good:
The basic storyline is that a wizard who is a warden of a magical prison believes there is a secret cultist who has been sabotaging the food storage in the region and he traps ten representatives from the settlements who he believes are the most suspicious. He sets a series of challenges for them which he believes will be instructive in finding out who is the cultist and, hopefully, root them out, and choose a champion that is worthy of support to lead the region through the dark times that are happening right now.
[L]ike Mafia, we’re trying to figure out who the bad guy is, but everyone who is there has secrets and has things that they might not want to reveal. A lot of the gameplay will be with the cast members calling each other out or trying to figure out amongst themselves who is the cultist as well as the audience at home, who can play along with that deductive reasoning.
So that’s the social layer of it. Players following the game/show from home will be trying to figure out who the cultist is, while voting for their favorite characters. But this is only one side of it. Interactivity is key here, and to that end, WotC is developing an “explorable map” that will contain hidden information”
[Players will have] a chance to explore a map of the region on a web interface similar to Google Maps, where you will be able to drag and scroll and zoom in on a map of the region and there will be these nodes you can click on which will provide background information for the region as a whole and get people to explore all that in an organic way. There will also be information hidden within those nodes that could be instructive in trying to figure out who is telling the truth and who may be lying.
For example, say one of the cast member says they were at a certain place and talked to a certain person, and then, they might discover that alibi doesn’t check out if they’re exploring the map and realizing that the information they provided was wrong. That might not even prove that they are the cultist though, it might just prove that they were lying about that specific thing for their own personal problems going on.
The whole thing smacks of an ARG, or augmented reality game for those unfamiliar with the term. It’s basically a game that everyone buys into and treats as though it’s real, and these typically include multiple layers of gameplay as you stumble across different puzzles and rabbit holes to fall down. You can expect to need all kinds of methods to get at what’s really going on.
This isn’t the first time WotC has played around with an ARG and their big live event. We saw that with Volo/Halaster Blackcloak on social media previously. There were a big round of puzzles and keys and packages that were sent to members of the community. So look for more of that, this time around.
The audience will slowly eliminate players, voting them off essentially, until there is only one person put forward as hero of the region. On that final day, we’ll all learn if players picked right…or if they put the cultist in power. Regardless, it’s a fair bet that whatever players pick will have some kind of big reveal associated with it.
For the first D&D Live we saw Volo sort of reappear but that storyline included a Halaster Blackcloak easter egg that hinted at next year’s Dungeon of the Mad Mage. So keep a careful eye out, you never know what you might learn.