To the uninitiated, Dungeons and Dragons seems like an odd commitment to make. Sitting around a table pretending to be great warriors and magicians for hours at a time seems weird. For those that have never played it is understandable to find it odd. Nevertheless, one podcast that really helps to clarify why people play D&D is: A Quest for Magic and Steele (the extra E is for entertainment).
The family podcast, which usually sits down together once a week, finished their first season a few weeks ago after a year of recording. The cast members have different feelings about being done.
While Amara Steele (Dungeon Master of season one) and Elisha Mitchell (She’Kan, the Dwarven Wizard) feel weird that the first season is over, Josiah Steele (Escalus, the Human Fighter) jokes that he is relieved. But all their feelings come back to an excitement for the future, trying out new things and ways of playing.
Many different players sit down for Dungeons and Dragons, as Elisha explains, “There are different kinds of D&D players. There are some people that are power gamers, which there not really into the role-playing at all, they just want to fight. They just want to get the experience and they don’t really care about anything else. And then there are people that are only into the role playing. Then you have people who are a healthy mixture of both. Which is, what I think we are.”
That is what makes A Quest for Magic and Steele so balanced: it has interesting battles that have stakes because of compelling characters and storytelling. All of the characters had their own motivation, alliances, and enemies. Though the story had some planned elements, the team revealed that 90% of the podcast was improv.
Brian Giordano (Geb, the Elven Druid) jokes that, “Amara would ask me on the way here (“at 7:45 in the morning,” David adds in) and be like, ‘what happened last week?’ or ‘what should we do this week.’”
When you listen to A Quest For Magic And Steele this fact will shock you, especially with Roshandella’s prequel storyline. What seems like a fully scripted and beautiful story, prepared for a day when the whole cast could not get together, was almost entirely improv.
David Steele (Nunu the Gnome Bard) explains what it was like recording that episode, “Part of it [Amara’s] sitting there talking, and I’m like, ‘who am I supposed to be?…am I the dad? I don’t even know who I am!’”
Improv like this led to some of the group’s favorite moments in the series, and shows part the magic of this podcast. They are a family that works and creates together.
From his experience with other campaigns, David reflects on season one, “[as a DM] I’ll give them a couple story lines, plot lines. And I’ll even have characters come up to them that I want to tell them things… And they don’t get into it at all, these people just sit there, like they don’t ask questions, I have so much to give them. And I think with our group, we just gelled. I think the improv was awesome, how we bounced off each other.”
Say what you will about Dungeons and Dragons. You can argue the positives and the negatives all day long. But, sometimes through the insanity and imagination of long hours and something truly special can make its way out, and A Quest For Magic And Steele is something special.