Last fall The Guild took the web by storm. Now, another gamer web series is about to hit the scene. Gold brings to the table a high-stakes medley of fun and drama, featuring role-playing (RPG) table top gamers battling it out against their rivals from around the globe. It’s the whole world against the hodge-podge American team who battles demons, both personal and professional and in-game, as they fight to regain their title as Goblins and Gold world champions. Can the team get back in shape in time to beat their arch rivals from Britain? Will team leader Jonathan Drake recover from his gaming injury in time to play? Tubefilter caught up with Gold creator David Nett to see if he might give us any hints.
Tubefilter: When will the show launch?
David Nett: Our target for launch is this fall. We expect to drop Episode 0, the prologue, in mid-November. Once Episode 0 drops, subsequent episodes should follow every couple of weeks. The first season is six episodes, plus a prologue. The second season is sketched out at six episodes as well. Those two seasons tell the full story I originally wrote, so with luck we’ll get to shoot both of them. Right now, of course, we’re just focused on season 1.
Tubefilter: What was the genesis of the show?
DN: I’m a long-time tabletop gamer. Mostly D&D, but also Palladium Fantasy, Heroes, the White Wolf Vampire and Werewolf games, Call of Cthulu, etc. I started playing in junior high, and played all through college, but, sadly, only sporadically as an adult. I really love it, and if I could find time to play I’d still be doing so every week, much to my wife’s dismay.
So a few of years ago, missing my old gaming buddies badly, I wrote a short screenplay called Gold which imagined Dungeons & Dragons as an Olympic sport. It sat in a drawer for a long time while I continued to pursue my acting and writing careers. Then, last year, I had a sort of “upsight” moment: the rise of web series like The Guild and Clark and Michael collided with me just feeling like it was time to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak, and make something on my own. I dug Gold out of the drawer and began to adapt it to a series format.
I gathered a horde of really talented friends I’d met over the years acting in short films and working with my theater company (Lucid by Proxy), and tried to get them excited about it. I was shocked and delighted to find that it wasn’t too hard. From there we just gained momentum. A huge number of people have been key to assist in the creation of Gold. This is a lot of work — our near-zero budget means that everyone involved wears a lot of hats. I’m really lucky to have so many truly talented, dedicated friends — without them, Gold would not have been possible.
Tubefilter: Are your actors all gamers in real life?
DN: I was a bit surprised, when I first started floating the idea to my friends, to find that most of them are, or at least have been. I am a huge gaming geek — almost all of the gaming props in the series belong to me. Jacob, who wrote the original music, was my first Dungeon Master, and introduced me to the game. Andrew used to play a lot, as did James and Lilas (Jaz and one of our directors, respectively). Rick, who plays Richard, is more of a PC gamer, but he has played his share of D&D, MTG and other tabletop and CCG games. Nathan (Tim Calloway) is a gamer like me. Gary (Charles Subar) gamed a lot in his youth as did Chad. Shannon gamed with us once is college. She was actually asked to leave for being too disruptive. Alex, one of our editors, is a huge gamer, and is the only one of us who still plays pretty regularly. I envy him.
Most of the rest have played tabletop at least a few times, and pretty much everyone has played some form of RPG on a computer. Almost all of us are big comic book and sci-fi geeks as well. Gaming runs through the blood of our cast and production staff.
Tubefilter: Is “Gold” a game of your own invention?
DN: Yeah. The game we play in is actually called “Goblins and Gold.” It’s an imaginary game in the spirit of 1st and 2nd ed. Dungeons & Dragons — that’s where I got my start.
We decided to go with a game of our own construction so that we’d be free to let the rules of the game serve the story, rather than having to bend the story around the rules of an established game. Plus, we didn’t have to worry about copyright issues. WOC is actually typically pretty cool about fan stuff (they originated the open d20 system, after all), as are most companies in the space, so long as the property is treated positively — but in the end we felt it would just serve the series better to go our own way. Despite creating our own game, the series is filled with references tabletop gamers will enjoy.
Tubefilter: Can you give us a few tidbits on what may be going down in the first couple of episodes? It looks like you have a serious rivalry with some British gamers based on your website?
DN: Absolutely. The series is about the American and the British teams as they struggle through the last few months before the Goblins and Gold World Championships. The world of Gold is one where Role Playing Gaming, specifically Goblins and Gold, is a minor professional sport. In the U.S., it’s relatively fringe, like arena football, or maybe soccer five or ten years ago. In Europe it is huge and star players are like rock stars. The British team dominates the international circuit, and the American team are perennial runners-up.
The prologue takes place two years before the rest of the series. It’s Jonathan’s (the American team captain) bachelor party, and the American team, recent silver medalists, have gotten together to game. During the course of the game, we see the dynamic of the team changing as everyone adjusts to Jon getting married. It also sets up the rivalry between Jon and the team’s star player, Richard, who’s sort of the “loose cannon” of the group.
Episode 1 jumps ahead two years. In the interim, the American team have taken silver two more times, losing each time to the British team. There have also been some major shake-ups which change the dynamic of the team — Jon’s star is falling as Richard’s is rising — and EP1 is really about introducing all of that. In EP2, the Americans continue to struggle to find their footing in the new team dynamic. The British team are revealed in Episode 2 as well, and we see them as they change their training strategy to contend with the new American team.
Tubefilter: How do you think Gold will be different from The Guild?
DN: I love The Guild. When it was first starting to gain traction last year I deliberately avoided watching it — I was in the middle of writing Gold and I didn’t wanna be too influenced by it. But I wasn’t able to resist for long. I think the series is fantastic, and I’m really happy they’ve gotten so much attention (not to mention additional work — Dr. Horrible, anyone?). It’s good for gamers, good for gaming, and good for web series in general. It’s easy to underestimate how much work this all is, and these guys have done an incredible — it’s just a damn fun series to watch.
While I love The Guild, the tone of Gold is very different. Because our game is tabletop and not MMO, we don’t have the narrative device of talking straight into the camera. And our episodes are generally longer —a short Gold episode is about the same size as the longest Guild episodes. And, again because of the tabletop gaming theme, direct human interaction is key to our game; the difficulty of physical human connection was a source of a lot of the plot and comedy for The Guild, but it’s not a major theme in Gold. Gold is more like a soft satire of sports movies and shows. Sort of a very geeky version of Friday Night Lights. We use a lot of sports movie themes and conventions in the series, and a lot of the humor is derived from the juxtaposition of the heightened importance our society places on certain games (football, baseball, etc.) with a game which most of our society sees as ridiculous: tabletop RPGs.
Tubefilter: So are we going to be laughing at the characters or with them?
DN: Though it is a comedy, this series is pretty sincere. We’ve taken a lot of care not to make fun of gaming or gamers — no one is calling these characters “nerds,” or making fun of them for gaming. In fact, the gaming part of the series is sort of taken for granted — it’s just part of the fabric of the world. No one in the series finds it odd that a bunch of adults are professional RPGers. We find our humor elsewhere. The situations portrayed may seem ridiculous, but for the characters themselves they’re deeply, deeply important. In fact, many of the characters have a pretty rough time of it over the course of the series. But it’s the characters’ deep, dramatic sincerity in the face of these ridiculous situations that makes it funny. At least, we hope so. In the end, the funny is not really ours to decide, right?