Fans of tabletop roleplaying games live in an exciting time. The TTRPG world is blossoming, and the popularity of shows like Critical Role and The Adventure Zone (TAZ) are encouraging a boom in tabletop media outside of traditional Twitch streams and podcasts. TAZ has already been adapted into a series of graphic novels drawn by the wonderful Carey Pietsch, and is now getting an animated series! At Sidequest, we’ve not been shy about our love for TTRPG podcasts, but the growing number of adaptations made us wonder how we’d like to see our favorites adapted.
Welcome to a new series: Greenlight This, You Cowards! In each article, we’ll discuss a TTRPG podcast that we love, and then tell you how we want it adapted into a new medium. I am super excited to kick this new series off by gushing all about my favorite D&D podcast: Dames and Dragons!
Dames and Dragons is a 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons actual-play podcast, and a member of the Don’t Split the Podcast Network. It’s set in a homebrew world created by genius Dungeon Master Kat, a totally normal person who definitely doesn’t have a thousand secrets up her sleeve that could completely wreck her players. In Kat’s world, Estra, a floating island, is the last bastion of humanity (and humanoid… ity?) First, there were The Forces, omnipotent entities who created the world and the gods. The gods burned the world down—but, at the last moment, granted a human girl divinity. That girl-turned-goddess lifted an island into the sky, creating Estra, and has been reincarnated over and over to keep the island and the last living creatures of the world safe.
That’s what Fran, Laika, and Corbin believed, anyway—but it turns out that the world is much larger than they realized, and the gods are still up to some dangerous shenanigans. Fran, a water genasi wizard, Laika, a tiefling paladin, and Corbin, a human—er, crow—druid, were raised by three clans dedicated to protecting Estra’s goddess: respectively, the deer, wolf, and crow clans. After they pass the final trials allowing them to officially become the goddess’s guardians, they discover that Estra is full of secrets leading back to the gods, the gods’ machinations, and the fate of Estra’s own goddess, who the crew eventually names Maeri.
Dames and Dragons is a great podcast for anyone who loves high fantasy settings and detailed world-building. I can’t even begin to imagine how much lore and history Kat created before the players first sat down to their mics; with each arc, listeners learn more about various human and humanoid societies that are utterly fascinating and completely different from each other. The fourth arc, “Court of Spears,” really showcases Kat’s talents when she throws the players into the high society of the city of Madrea. There, the awkward teens must learn about the latest fashions, the intricacies of court etiquette, and the loyalties and conspicuous intentions of the nobility, all while trying to root out the spy who launched a pirate attack against the city. It’s a super fun arc filled with really cute, tall ladies, fancy clothes, and SECRETS—all intensely plotted out by Kat, who never seems to miss a step! The construction of the story is mind-blowing and utterly engaging.
One of the best aspects of the podcast is that the player characters are teens—specifically, chaotic, queer hot messes who are making questionable decisions and rolling to fall in love constantly. Eventually, Laika accepts that her mission diverges from that of her friends. Fran and Corbin continue on as Maeri’s protectors, and they quickly meet and begin to travel with Slake, a half-orc fighter who was called by the goddess Vioni to fulfill their heroic destiny and take their place alongside the others. Slake is a sweet, pure-hearted cinnamon roll who is being slowly corrupted by their new impulsive friends, but that corruptive process just further highlights the wild hilarity of the story these players have set out to make. Except for perhaps Maeri, Slake is the most levelheaded of the group, but they’re learning to wield unpredictability as a weapon, just as the others do.
The buck wild, chaotic entertainment that the teens provide is what would make Dames and Dragons a PERFECT dating sim. Emotions are at the forefront of a dating sim—how you connect to people and build relationships determines your path and success. Dames and Dragons puts a great deal of stock in relationships—not just because it’s fun to roll and see if you fall in love, but also because building relationships and finding allies is the only way for the teens to save Maeri, and the rest of the world. Imagine:
You are Fran. You’ve been pursuing this really cute young god, Falen, who started out as your enemy, but could maybe become your ally, your friend… or something more. However, he’s got a nigh unbreakable, magical connection to his super toxic dad. Do you:
- Interrogate him and act like his friend solely to glean information
- Send your friend Corbin to his wreck his rooms, break his shit, try on all his clothes and maybe glean information
- Make a dangerous deal with a dangerous god to try and do him a favor
It would be SO FUN, like playing Hatoful Boyfriend except instead of being a girl at a school for birds, you’re a magic-user in a world of queer, genderfluid cuties with competing motivations, and the stakes are really, REALLY high.
Speaking of those stakes—in a dating sim, the lore Kat has created would serve as a beautiful backdrop to the ridiculous decisions the players make. The podcasts includes many moments in which Kat, through a special narrative or an NPC, reveals beautiful, entrancing, and often upsetting background about the gods, Estra, and the larger world. These moments would make stunning cut scenes that could drive a Dames-sona closer to various characters.
One possible structure could be a game like Rose of Winter, released by Pillow Fight in 2016. In Rose of Winter, when you choose which knight to escort and protect, you’re also choosing which kingdom’s politics and struggles you’ll explore. A Dames dating sim could allow a player to choose which god’s perspective they follow. Rolling a nat 20 on Falen might mean learning more about the god Torva’s horrible accomplishments, whereas rolling high on Dashing Dawson might mean, instead of hating him as the Dames crew does, you’re so entranced with that handsome donkey of his that you dig into his screwed-up trickster back story much sooner.
In our article “Thirsty for DnD Podcasts,” Kate Lyons and I briefly discussed how Dames and Dragons excels at queer rep, and lets nonbinary players control the way they are represented. Dames is a show that bakes queerness into the bones of its story. The players have rolled to fall in love with so many NPCs of different genders that I’ve come to make zero assumptions about who they might find attractive, which creates a perfect framework for an intensely queer dating sim.
Just imagine the kinds of relationships you could pursue! As Laika, maybe you fall in love with the goddess—or build connections and family among the other Estrans struggling to survive in an unfamiliar world. As Fran, you could pursue Falen, or that lady pirate, or that dreamy halfling performer with the emo hair. As Corbin, you could also pursue that halfing, or the cute but antagonistic boar boy who maybe hates you, maybe loves you! As Slake, you could build a beautiful, quiet, trust-filled friendship with Maeri, or with that also-trans queen who you kinda bonded with that one time. The relationship-related goals of the characters aren’t necessarily romantic, and there are so many options for successful endings—or unsuccessful ones, especially if you’re not strong enough to face the gods.
Of course, it’s just one idea. We have a lot of ideas about what these podcasts could become, and we can’t wait to tell you all about them. Stay tuned for the next installment of this series, and while you wait, listen to Dames and Dragons! When you meet a new character, don’t forget to roll to fall in love.
Alenka Figa is a queer librarian obsessed with D&D podcasts that have solid queer rep. They frequently tweet about them @alenkafiga. Catch their reviews of zines and indie comics over at Women Write About Comics.