Monday, January 30, 2017

Twitch Stream Review: HowReRoll

*These blogs will contain constructive criticism of my own opinion and does not reflect what the streamer does or supports. They are my own humble opinions on things that could be improved upon.

Official Sitehowreroll.com

This stream is all about Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) and run by the Dungeon Master, Gorebad. He decided to put together a stream on Twitch where he and his players play D&D live... but focus more on the story than the mechanics of the game. Yes, they still roll dice and have character sheets with stats. However, as you see with progression over time, this group makes sure that viewers get to enjoy a rich story, drawn in by the players who portray their characters for you. This isn't a "I take my +2 sword and slay the ogre" type game. This is more like having a book read to you by the characters themselves and the tales of their adventures. I cannot tell you how many times I've laughed until my stomach hurts, or bawled my eyes out in grief over these characters. The Dungeon Master Gorebad also makes you thoroughly interested in the NPC's (Non-Player Characters) in this world, with a mix of his voice acting, and the thorough depth of these background character's personalities and histories. Anyone who has watched HowReRoll (HRR) will always remember "poor Bill."



If you are interested in watching from the very start of their stream, you can visit their YouTube and click on the 'Marks of Intrigue' playlist. Find episode 1, part 1... and enjoy the start of your journey with them. As of this blog, they have had five campaigns, currently streaming their fifth Mindenbrook's Sorrow . So if you'd prefer to just catch up on the current campaign, you'll want to start in Mindenbrook on episode 1. I recommend doing this if you'd like to start watching their streams now but be caught up on the current characters and story. They DO give quick recaps of the episodes, and full recaps on Tuesdays with Dialogs & Dice, so if you don't want to watch past episodes, you'll still get an idea of what has happened up to now.

I began watching this stream in January of 2015, a ways into their first campaign. They quickly drew me into their world with the stories and characters, and I was immediately hooked. I only wish that I had found them from the very start! Though having the past episodes available on YouTube was much appreciated so I could see what I had missed. I while later, my participation in the community was recognized and I was given 'mod' power in their stream, letting me help them keep their community productive and troll free. It was a great honor that they trusted me enough to help them, and while modding a Twitch chat can be a headache sometimes, I think that HowReRoll has a mostly positive community which doesn't make the mods work too hard.


Gorebad
Dungeon Master & NPC's

This is the DM (Dungeon Master) who put HowReRoll together. He creates the maps, sound bytes, music, tokens, story and more for the game. He is in charge of creating the story, and guiding the players' characters through the world. He also plays out the NPC's, with a wide variety of voice acting and mannerisms that viewers absolutely love. He knows the system, and as has been shown, is a hard core D&D enthusiast with years of experience and a collection that makes most players green with envy. 

I've personally learned quite a lot from Gorebad by watching this stream. I too, have DM'd games in the past in MUD (text role play) form and only wish that I'd learned from Gorebad sooner to avoid some of the biggest mistakes I often made running my games. He has a blog of his own, and has shared on streams his insight, opinions and experiences to help people like me become better DM's.

See some cosplay by him, and some musical talent as well (Demon Song to Aria), (Blame it on the Dice)


Bane Blackstar
Raica, Piper, Elemi & More
(See my blog review on Bane here)

Bane played the character Raica in the first and third campaigns. This character was a rogue and loved to collect "all the things" especially if they were shiny. I thoroughly enjoyed Bane's portrayal of this character both the first and second time around. 

As a player, you can see her taking and keeping notes so she doesn't forget important details. Her characters are often quieter than the others, choosing to observe more than initiate actions. Raica never shied away from getting her hands dirty though, and enemies rarely saw when she snuck up on them with her "stabby stabby goodness."

Piper was part of The Dark Inquest campaign. Piper is a human warrioress with a drive to protect her sister Aria whom she had recently reunited with after a long time part. She also wants vengeance on those who killed her parents, and the dark magic users corrupting the land. Unlike the first campaign where the characters emotions had to be kept in check (for story reasons), she was free to express emotion with Piper to the fullest extent... and she did. When Piper was angry, you as the viewer felt the rage. When Piper was sad... Bane's real tears would trigger the entire chat to cry with her. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Piper's story and growth through this campaign.

Bane has also played characters in other 'one off' campaigns, and had taken a vacation due to personal life circumstances from one campaign (Wrath of the Fallen) where she was temporarily replaced with the streamer dicetress.


JayneIvana
Kia-Lianna, Aria, Tolgar, Lira, & more.

Jayne played 4 characters throughout the main campaigns, as well as some in "one off" campaigns. She is a very vibrant and energetic player, which comes through in her characters making them fiery or spunky. She doesn't stream too much on her own yet, but she did make a short character story on YouTube called Lira vs Legend which I HIGHLY recommend watching. Sadly due to circumstances in her life, she had to cut the series short, but what little we got was worth watching 100% and if you want more of Lira, Jayne now plays her in the current Mindenbrook campaign.

In the first and third campaigns, Jayne played Kia-Lianna, the elven sorceress. We as viewers got to see so many golden moments with this character and the way Jayne played her. From starting a devastating forest fire, to sitting on her familiar Cal who then ran away from her much to her despair. Kia was firey, both in personality and magic. Her fireballs caused quite a bit of damage to foes and allies alike through the campaigns. Her end fate was also quite ironic. Anyone who watched one of these two campaigns will never forget this character.

For a little Kia cosplay, see her Christmas PSA and Story Rap

Aria was a human bard, going on an adventure alongside her warrior sister Piper. She joined the party and used her musical talents to buff her allies. Aria wasn't the brightest character however... and had quite a few funny "ignorant" moments. We got to see Jayne sing, rhyme, and play instruments during this campaign which was wonderful. One of my personal favorites is her rap with the demon (sung by Gorebad) which you can see: here.

Tolgar was a male character played by Jayne, much to viewer's surprise. He turned out to be hilarious to watch however with his straight forward, simplistic views on things. His large stature made for quite a few awkward scenarios as well. Jayne did an excellent job portraying this character however, regardless of gender.

Jayne often helps Gorebad with videos, music and art. Her contributions to the stream have been invaluable.

Shaggit
Radovan, Veslar, Emlen, Asher & more.

Shaggit is one of the most consistent players on HowReRoll, seen not only in nearly all episodes, but also on the Dialog & Dice recaps. For a while, he also hosted a 'Hearthstone Academy' once a week on the show to add some more content inbetween shows. As the sole male player (DM excluded) in the group, he often gets a lot of flak, but he rolls with the punches and jokes right back. His channel emote 'Shiggle' is quite appropriate for when he succumbs to a fit of giggles on occasion. Shaggit is both a writer and a streamer, to which he mostly plays Rainbow Six Siege with friends and HRR viewers. When it comes to HRR, Shaggit often has the worst rolls consistently which leads to quite a few laughs from viewers. Hopefully his luck will turn around with those dice eventually!

Radovan is a cleric of Saint Cuthbert and part of the first and third campaigns. This character was often conflicted and put in moral situations where he had to make tough choices that drastically affected both his character and the party. At one point, he loses favor with his God and has to go on an atonement quest. See his character history for more.

Veslar is a human witch hunter seeking to eradicate magic in all its forms, because he sees it as nothing but evil and corruption of good men. Throughout the Dark Inquest campaign, you'll see Veslar make some morally questionable actions. If any character caused "oh my god" moments in HowReRoll, it was Veslar.

Emlen the tiefling warlock in Wrath of the Fallen I admit is my favorite character in all the campaigns. Being an evil campaign, you got to see Shaggit play this character with a lot of wit. Even the smallest details of the character, such as the fact Emlen cut off his own tail, made a viewer scratch their head and wonder why. Things became clearer as the story continued, but one thing is certain... this character will give you a lot of laughs.

TheDragonSpooker
Marlowe, Lilith, Cordelia, and more.

Spook joined the HRR cast a ways into the stream, but her addition was absolutely perfect to the cast. Her characters are full to the brim with personality. She also streams on occasion. If you are lucky, you might get to catch an adorable sneeze from her on stream which makes anyone grin at its cuteness. You'd never know she joined the cast late, because now we couldn't imagine having HRR without her.

Marlowe is a human monk who loves to get right to the punch... literally. Firey and full of opinion, Marlowe never backed down from a fight and often conflicted with her party when it came to times of retreat. Though we adored the character, we also mourned for her several times over moral dilemmas and tragedies around her.

Lilith was a character part of the evil campaign. As a human dancer, she had undeniable charisma which she could use to get her way most of the time. Her quest is to get back to her "girls" and make sure they are safe, after she'd been on her way to certain death at the start of the campaign. There was a lot of conflict around Lilith, and with a crack of her whip, she always got back the attention of the viewers.

dicetress
Olivia


For one campaign during which Bane had to take a leave of the cast temporarily due to life situations, a woman named dicetress joined the cast. A DM herself and acquaintance of Gorebad, she agreed to play for one campaign on HowReRoll. And thus, we got Olivia.

Olivia (Liv) was a human druidess, and had her owl companion Hoots. If ever there was a character to cause conflict and mischief in a party, this was her. Many times she would defy the advice and guidance of her party members to go off on her own or investigate things she shouldn't. Searching for information regarding her child who was taken from her, she was desperate and didn't exercise much patience. When she wasn't in animal form, she was usually naked. This became normal after some time for the rest of the party, but sometimes got her into awkward scenarios. One of my fondest memories of his character is when she turned into a bear while they were on a tiny boat...


Content

HowReRoll is a stream that I've had a wonderful time enjoying these past years. I truly hope that it keeps going for a while to come. Each campaign seems to out-do the last, but I'd be perfectly content if they kept with the same pace they have now. In fact, this newest campaign featured map/town designs and NPC's created and inspired by the viewers themselves. Gorebad wanted to make this campaign a bit more personal for the viewers, so when they ended up seeing a character they helped create die... its all the more tragic. And yes... even I submitted a character into this campaign. I based him off of a combination of my late Dad, and one of my favorite characters from past MUD role play sessions.

It gets even better though. If you are a hard core D&D fan, you'll be delighted to see THIS. That's right... an interview with Ernest "Gary" Gygax Jr. !! While this might be one of my favorite guest appearances on HowReRoll, it wasn't the only one. Several special guests join the Dialogs & Dice segments to share news or weigh in on HRR content.

As with any review, I offer some constructive criticism from my point of view on the stream. Mind you, there isn't a lot about HowReRoll I can honestly admonish. The hard work and passion put into it by all involved is astounding and clearly evident. So if I had to suggest something that could be improved upon, it would be consistency of casting. That said, most of their canceled streams involved cast illnesses, or technical issues. I don't think I've ever seen one canceled just because they didn't feel like it. Its just sad for those of us so enthralled with their stories to have to wait even longer to find out if there's going to be a TPK ('Total Party Kill') or if Shaggit is going to roll another 1.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I understand that it is a long one, but I hope it was worth your time. I'm sure it came across already, but I HIGHLY recommend this stream for its endless entertainment value. Plus, if you are a regular viewer of the stream, you have a chance to win raffles, or even join in on a rare subscriber play session. Please give them all the love and support you can, so we can continue to get amazing stories and streams for a long time to come.

HowReRoll Links

Website: http://howreroll.com/
Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/howreroll
Merchandise: http://www.cafepress.com/howreroll , https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/BaneWares
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/howreroll
Fan Art: http://howreroll.com/viewer-submissions/



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