Hey gang!

We’re Aabria Iyengar (Game Master of Dimension 20: Burrow’s End, along with past series Misfits & Magic and A Court of Fey & Flowers) and Michael Schaubach (director of Dimension 20: Burrow’s End and…pretty much every Dimension 20 series). In case you didn’t know, Dimension 20 is an anthology TTRPG actualplay series show on Dropout.tv, and this is its 20th season! It’s a story that’s one part Watership Down, another part Annihilation, and a sprinkling of The Secret of NIMH (and a few other things that will become apparent later on). It’s also just a story about a family of stoats trying to make their way in an unforgiving world. In case you’re only lightly familiar with D&D shows, this one might be a bit more approachable - it’s only 10 episodes long, has a lot of visual flair, and is edited. You can find episode 1 for free on the Dimension 20 Youtube here, and the trailer for the season here.

We’ve both been with the show for a while now - Michael has been with the show since its very first episode, and Aabria came aboard as a player in 2020’s Pirates of Leviathan. Michael also has directed the upcoming actualplay series DesiQuest (from another Dimension 20 GM, Jasmine Bhullar), and Aabria is seen frequently on Critical Role and the audio storytelling podcast she hosts with Brennan Lee Mulligan, Erika Ishii, and Lou Wilson, Worlds Beyond Number.

We’re here to answer any and all of your questions - about Dimension 20, Burrow’s End, TTRPGs, D&D, stoats, and everything in-between!

Proof: https://twitter.com/dimension20show/status/1714431442061586728

Edit: we've gotta run! Thank you for ALL of your questions, your thoughtfulness, and the general good vibes going on in here. Don't forget to watch Burrow's End on Dropout, listen to Worlds Beyond Number on your podcast apps, and appreciate the nasty art team here at Dimension 20!

Comments: 259 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

imtellinggod59 karma

I've always been very very curious as to what the prep/a session zero looks like for dimension 20? This is honestly a question for the both of you, from your different perspectives. Thanks!

dimension20official93 karma

Aabria: For me (Aabria) S0’s are a time to dial in on stated character arcs and goals. It’s a lot of discussion (as a group but also sometimes 1-on-1) to affirm details and mechanical kits, since I took what we discussed at the character gen meeting and ran with it to lock in the season’s story! It’s also a chance to test run character voices and early table dynamics. That’s more often for the players, but if I can spot a pattern early, I’ll note it here so I can turn up the heat on it in-session!

Schaubach: Great question! Session zeroes are such a mystery for fans and I think it's because we will NEVER share with our fans a session zero no matter how much you ask to see it. Never ever. That's because it's a sacred ceremony performed under a full moon and only on Tuesdays. Very rare. In all seriousness session zero can be very stressful. This is normally the first time the cast sits down together in the same space. It's not only bonding time, it's time for each person to test run their characters and sometimes even decide on their names. It's critical that the cast feel completely comfortable and in order to feel that way they need to know that anything that happens there will never see the light of day. Trust is a huge part of this show and the players must feel completely safe to give their all. So for me, I'm watching all of the players, noting who I think is extra nervous (a little nervous is okay), who needs some extra care and I'm also deciding seating order. For seating order I like to see who will be talking to each other the most and have them sit across from each other so I can give the editors as many opportunities for shot/reverse shot in the edit. I'm also keeping an I on the DM during the session and sensing any worries they might have. Directing this show is like co-hosting a party with the DM so session zero is kind of like the pre-party.


Dear Aabria,

You rock. Thanks for getting me into actual play shows with Misfits and Magic. And thank you so much for giving us back a fun Magical School. Goat House! Also I don't even have words for how much I enjoy Worlds Beyond Number.

Whats you're favorite Breakfast?

dimension20official45 karma

Aabria: Eat Trash Beat Trash! Thank you so much, friend! 🐐

Favorite brekkie? Hmm…gotta be a super crispy Belgian waffle with a berry situation involved. And some bacon! And a truly unreasonable amount of coffee along with it. I’m going to need the caffeine to resist going immediately back to sleep to process that amount of carbs.

elitheradguy37 karma

Loooved the bear map from episode 2, that was so creative (and devastating for the bear tbh, #justiceforbear). What gave you that idea (and others like it that will no doubt show up later)? Looking forward to how horrific this season might get, its been fantastic so far

dimension20official49 karma

Aabria: The quick answer is that while I was thinking about the nature of the family’s home warren early in the writing process, I kept thinking about the WORST thing you could burrow in. And obviously that’s a living body. I think parasitism is one of the most disturbing parts of nature to me, so I wanted to inflict that on EVERYONE. Hence, the Ribbon Worm Chipmunks.

I’m just so happy that I got to lean into my most disturbing skill set (see my first appearance on Dirty Laundry) for the map! The emails Rick and I were trading working on that map have CERTAINLY put us on some lists.

THEJordonBrown30 karma

This is for Aabria: How dare you?

dimension20official55 karma

Aabria: What man dare? I DARE. Approach thou like the rugged be-chipmunked bear.

skylorddragon26 karma

I'm just curious: why stoats?

dimension20official61 karma

Aabria: They’re the perfect mix of INCREDIBLE CUTE NOODLE RATS and invasive, effective predators. They’re known for picking (and winning) fights with animals bigger than them. And they have cute widdle whiskers. <3

They’re also explicitly predators of rabbits & hares, which felt like a fun lil nod to Watership Down.

cg_cg_cg_20 karma

Aabria - you always do such an incredible job hitting the intended vibe with your character playlists and musical influences. what songs were on your burrow’s end gm playlist or if you didn’t make one, what songs would be on it?

dimension20official25 karma

Aabria: I can't believe I didn't make a playlist for this season!

Okay, only one song on it then, and it's Teddy Bear’s Picnic, but a remix with creepy strings like "I’ve Got 5 on It" in the movie U

cg_cg_cg_7 karma

Shaubach - having been with D20 from the beginning, what’s been the most exciting change or improvement to the show for you over the years?

dimension20official28 karma

Schaubach: We try to do something innovative every season. Everyone that works on the show are such over-achievers, if we aren't innovating then our souls die. I'll call out a few moments that stand out to me as huge leaps forward in innovation. Aabria Iyengar said, "I want Tad to walk around the set in silhouette and then I want deer horns to appear over my head." I mean, of course you have to say yes to that. So we took the backing off the walls and put special lights in to make this happen. This then spawned having projections, which has elevated the story-telling a thousand percent. Aabria is the reason we have projections. Aabria you rock! Secondly, we've upped our game with the minis shoots. Kevin Stiller or incredible DP spent time between seasons to essentially invent a camera rig that would allow for us to get any kind of shot we want and have it look GOOD. We can get smooth cinematic moves now in a miniature scale which is extremely hard. Finally, we have a permanent home. Dropout built us a permanent set and it's just AWESOME! Now when we start up a new season we save so much time because the walks are bolted to the ground. We can use all that extra time to put into the season and really think of something special/unique to do.

DragonbornDM16 karma

Is it possible to get an official Aabria flow chart?

dimension20official39 karma

You know what? Since it's a little spatial, what if I promise to send an example or a template to Bridgman to put in a newsletter / social for everyone?

Imaginary_Success_3516 karma

also, who do you pitch the seasons ideas to?

dimension20official76 karma

Aabria: I just yell "Stoats" in the parking lot until someone brings me inside to hush me. Then I sprint for the Dome and wait.

Available_Prior_880916 karma

Aabria - how did you get into TTRPGS/D&D? Has it been a conscious effort to introduce new systems into the dome or just a happy accident?

dimension20official25 karma

Aabria: Short answer to the first bit (since I think I told a longer version in my first Adventuring Academy): I was introduced to DnD by my now-husband and his board game friends wanting to give it a try back in 2015!

As for the 2nd question: I'm fairly certain I've played just as much non-DnD as DnD in the intervening years, so anytime I form a pitch or a story in my head, there's no default system affixed to it! So to answer, it's conscious effort. But not just for its own sake! Mechanics matter!

tardisgirl_gabs16 karma

Hello :3
For Aabria, I really appreciate you. I am currently learning how to DM and seeing another Black women doing it, gives me courage! I am planning a one-shot for my friends right now but I am used to watch full campaigns. In a one-shot, do you find the story to be more important, or the battle and mechanics. I hope my questions is clear enough lol

For Michael, it's awesome how you've been with Dimension20 since the beginning. What are somethings that have changed the most since you first started there?

dimension20official28 karma

Aabria: Hey! You've got this! And when I run a one-shot (or even a few-shot) I try to boil down the story to One Big Idea + A Vibe. There's usually not a lot of time for story, and I always want to make space to prioritize the PCs, so usually having a "HERE'S THE THING YOU'RE DOING" up top so everyone is clear on the trajectory for the next few hours and allowing everything else to serve the vibe of the setting is my go-to.

And yeah, having a strong encounter is always a part of a good one-shot, and I always like to think of a few lateral solutions to the encounter if the party wants to do something other that whittle down a cool sack of hit points (heck, that's how the Bear fight ended! Shout out to using Lay on Hands to cure a disease!)

Schaubach: Somethings that have changed since I first started at CollegeHumor is that Murph is no longer working the front desk. Something that has changed since the first season of Dimension 20 is that we just have a bunch more people to help out. We started with such a small crew and now we have all this amazing support staff. It's really helpful and makes the show so much better.

dimension20official16 karma

This is Schaubach. I wanted to give a big shout out to Andrew Bridgeman who was helping Aabria and I with getting us the questions and posting the answers! Thank you Andrew! I'm going to continue to answer more as time permits. If you showed up late, but have a question, leave it here and we may have time to answer it! Cheers!

Ceruleanlunacy15 karma

Q for Shaubach: Did you know you have beautiful eyes?

dimension20official27 karma

Schaubach: Bluuuuuushhhhh

somesortofpunny12 karma

When selecting a cast, how does that work? Are production dates set prior and then when player is approached they have those dates or is it a range of dates and availability is checked with all players from there?

dimension20official39 karma

Schaubach: Availability definitely plays a role, but chemistry is most important. Representation is one of our main goals as well. When you watch our show we strive to have someone on screen that you can say, "Hey! That's me!" When I brag about this show, which is like ALL THE TIME, I say, "We have the best improvisors in the world!" It's true. Being that on and that funny and that good for two and a half hours an episode takes a very special/talented performer.

Pc-loser4212 karma

Absolutely loving the energy on this season of d20! Thank you for all that you do! This season is super stocked with such great players, what has been your favorite moment seeing everyone interact with each other?

dimension20official35 karma

Aabria: Honestly, I’m so thrilled about how everyone’s pairing went off when we first met them in episode 1! Jaysohn and Lila are the absolute CUTEST, and seeing Thorn and Viola leading the Lukura give the perfect context to their place walking between both groups. And Mammalian Grooming Time? Truly who out there is doing it like Erika and Brennan? THEY EDITED OUT SO MUCH OF MY LAUGHTER, Y’ALL.

dimension20official27 karma

Schaubach: This season we had two newbies at the table, Rashawn and Jasper. It is so cool seeing new people in the dome and watching the veterans embrace them and bring them into the D20 family.

WenzelOfMidgard10 karma

Hi Aabria, huge fan of all your work.

What would you say was the biggest inspiration for your work on Burrow's End? The vibe is, as always, meticulous.
Also, more misfits and magic when? We, the people, beg you for more.

dimension20official29 karma

Aabria: The biggest inspiration isn’t a specific book, but that time in a young reader’s life when you go from reading just-for-fun kid lit (usually fantasy heavy, and often animal xenofiction) to being assigned Important Books about history and politics. It’s still a little hard to be more specific this early in the season, but that straddling of fiction-for-entertainment and fiction-with-purpose runs through the background of a story that is most of all about a family!


niconicole12310 karma

What was it like to create minis that aren’t humanoid? Was it more or less difficult then normal?

dimension20official28 karma

This is a question for the wonderful Rick Perry, Raven Bartlett, KC McGeorge, Kelsey Hunter, Shane Brockway, Jesse Harron, Rachael Ferris, Sadie Nash, Greg Pinsoneault, Amber Padgett, and Ash Schimkus! Whether it was more difficult than normal, it seems like they are ALWAYS upping their game and challenging themselves to outdo themselves (cannot wait to see how they get nastier than that bear in a future season, but I believe in them). For the full list of folks who worked on this season, check out the Burrow's End FAQ!

Thisisnowmyname9 karma

For Aabria: if you had to sub in for an intrepid heroes season, what kind of game would you run for them?

For Schaubach: Dimension 20 has seen improvement after improvement on a technical level, but is there a pipe dream of what you would like to one day include?

dimension20official33 karma

Schaubach: I want to reshoot major moments with cast in full cosplay and sets. It's been my dream from the beginning. It costs a lot of money, but one day. ONE DAY! (looks out to the distant horizon) Maybe I'll be able to live it.

dimension20official26 karma

Aabria: Oooh! What a fun question! Maybe a tween superheroes season using Masks? Like, they're all too young to fight supervillians, but they're terrifyingly good at it. (EVERYONE IS LILA AND JAYSOHN FIGHTING THE CHIPMUNKS NOW)

drjarphd9 karma

For Aabria: What qualities do you think are especially important for black creators of TTRPG content to possess? (Super Secret Second Question: How much of your energy is for the camera and how much do you just naturally possess??)

For Michael: Working on D20, what would you say is the biggest difference between doing these type of things as a hobby versus doing these things professionally?

dimension20official9 karma

SCHAUBACH: Stakes are way higher when you're being paid to do something. The pressure is really on and time becomes a key factor. Delivering a great product, on time and within the budget are the three key goals. I find it inspiring to be under that kind of pressure. If you're interested in doing this professionally, really consider the pressure. Does it make you thrive, if yes, then seek it out.

somesortofpunny8 karma

How many (roughly) hours of prep between GM/director and all other departments go into a mini season vs full season. Does the GM participate in all production meetings or just a few?

dimension20official15 karma

Schaubach: We focus on being as precious as we can with the GMs time. They have to like, think of the whole story and make the show like good and stuff, so myself along with my producer pick very specific times to bring the GM into meetings that require their input. There are less important, nitty gritty, meetings that they don't need to worry themselves with. So, I will say it depends on the season, but I try to bother the GM only as much as is needed and not a minute more. Of course I have an open line at all times and am avail 24/7 up to and during the shoot to talk through anything and everything.

Aabria: Oh, this is fun because I only know what I've experienced, so I'm looking forward to this answer too!

There are a couple meetings a week that I'm in during pre-production to align art and projections with all the bits and bobs I'm writing. It's honestly a really fun peek into what everyone's doing during a time in the process where I typically feel the most locked into my own head.

NothingGoodLasts8 karma

What's been the most fun / interesting / challenging aspect of putting together Burrow's End?

dimension20official21 karma

Aabria: Honestly? It's 100% leaning into a season that doesn't have a comedic premise at its core! We've played very coy with the labeling of Burrow's End, and I love that. It is cozy stoats? A little! Horror? OH BOY HOWDY. A secret third thing? Who knows!

I'll always be awed and grateful for the trust and collaboration at D20. And Michael is truly one of my favorite people in the world. Every part of this process that he touches is the most fun part!

Schaubach: Most fun for me is helping to tell a story unlike anything we've done in the dome so far. The trailer is a great indication as to how this season stands out from the rest. It's dramatic, it's haunting, (episode 2 spoiler) it's got a battle inside of a bear. It's really an honor working with Aabria and to help her tell such a unique story.

spiderlover20068 karma

I have three questions, you can answer all or none of them:

  1. What possessed you to do an eldritch Watership Down campaign? Why must you hurt me in this way?
  2. What rules are you using to handle the whole being a stoat thing? I've noticed that you're using the Harengon race, and I've noticed that you're using unarmed strikes with a spell (I don't remember the name, had to do with thorns), is there anything else?
  3. Why do Tula and Viola (mostly Tula) have such unoptimized stats? Shouldn't they be higher in Charisma? Are you allowing them to use their second highest ability instead, or was that just a choice by the players?

dimension20official24 karma

1. Hurt people hurt people. I was traumatized by the Watership Down movie as a child, and I wanted to pay it forward.
2. Harengon + Primal Savagery cantrip for tooth and claw attacking (because I wanted to remind them of how powerful they are just as normal predators moving through the world.) There are rules about their leveling that will become a little clearer with time!
3. Player choice, baby! We rolled for stats (COME ON, PROVOLONE!) and they chose where to place the numbers! I don’t think optimization is required for enjoyment of the system and story, so I didn’t bring it up!

fluidstatick6 karma

Michael, what's been your favorite moment of D20 where everyone on the crew side had to adjust on the fly? ex., deciding to make a mini for Cat Tree mid episode, changing a set piece at the last minute, or otherwise making quick tweaks with little advance warning?

Aabria, what's the most dramatic curveball a player has thrown you as a DM running a game? You always seem to know where you're going next, what's the most stumped you've ever been?

dimension20official13 karma

Aabria: Fun question! Hmmm, a big one for me was Evan Kelmp's commitment to having his magic removed in Misfits & Magic!

I wonder if my response now would mirror myself back then! I don't know! It still stumps me! What a fun choice - Brennan is phenomenal!

dimension20official12 karma

Schaubach: Buddy Bear was a really special moment. Thanks for calling that out. It's really Jujubee's story to tell, so I will leave it at that, but yes that was very special and all the applause goes to Rick and team for making that happen in such short notice. When we were doing Starstruck I was able to work with the Talespire team to make those wanted screens on the TVs during the Rec 97 battle. I created those wanted graphics and then the Talespire crew worked through the night to give me the capabilities to change the graphics on the TVs. That was super cool. Ultimately, the entire creative team is tremendously reactive. We're always looking for ways to incorporate new things as they pop up. It's a special team of people that say YES to a challenge and are always finding ways to make the show better.

Dylnuge6 karma

Thank you Aabria and Michael for doing this! Burrow's End has been such an incredible season so far, and I can't wait to see more!

This question is mostly for Aabria but I'd love to hear Michael's thoughts as well! What does it look like to translate a campaign from initial planning stages into a well-polished season that fits into a production schedule? I'm curious if there's any ideas that you wanted to include in this season but wound up not being able to because of time and budget constraints.

dimension20official22 karma

Aabria: Oh, I definitely struggle with staring down the Pile of Things I Want to Engage With in the planning doc. The process definitely narrows itself down to the essentials after character gen! It goes from "The Pile" to "A Story" once I have an idea of what the table wants to engage with as they build their PCs and form connections to each other and the broad strokes of the world!

Things get cut (or more often, not much spotlight because of the party's priorities) ALL THE TIME, and that's okay! It's improv, baby.As for budget constraints, MICHAEL PLEASE CAN I HAVE THAT COOL STAGECRAFT TECH FOR THE DOME NEXT SEASON?

Schaubach: I always say bring more than less. If we can't get to an idea then we can save that for a future season. Since it's mostly improv it's best to not get too attached to anything. Making this show is really about being reactive. Ready to respond to a good idea and make it look like we meant to do that all along.

Sometimes it's helpful to have things that you really really really really really desire and then force those things upon the cast. For example Aabria's number one rule for this season was that STOATS DON'T WEAR HATS! THEY'RE STOATS! THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT HATS ARE!! NO HATS!!! And I think that worked out really well. I think that worked perfectly without any issues whatsoever.

MrPileDriver136 karma

Hey Aabria 2 questions if that's okay!

How early on did you know you wanted to rip our hearts out and stomp on them with burrows end?


I love seeing you on Pixel Circus! Is there any possiblity we could see more Pixel Circus peeps on Dimension 20?

You are the best Aabria, you provide us with incredible moments no matter what you do! Sending you love!

You too Schaubach! You are incredible and my life would be way less awesome without you.

dimension20official11 karma


Top of every season doc:

  1. Themes:
  2. Comps:
  3. New and Interesting Way to Hurt 'Em:

And I'll stay quiet on the second part, because you just never know! I love my PC fam! 💖

Foxesandravens_pip4 karma

Do you guys play little mini sessions as a kind of session zero? Especially if you have guests who have never been on Dimension 20, it seems like sometimes the players have already had a bit of time as their character, or it seems as if there are references to things that have happened off-screen.

So essentially: What kind of prep do you usually do before starting a show?

I'm also curious about how much of the music/artwork and other production design is added later, and how much is made beforehand. I suppose the Dome effects have to be done before, but is there any music or sound effects that the PCs hear while playing?

dimension20official24 karma

Aabria: We talked a little bit about session zeroes in another question, but as for music/art/production design...We don't have music in the Dome during gameplay, but there are effects like the crankie bedtime story in episode 1 that the players see and hear live at the table.

dimension20official14 karma

Schaubach: Yes, we sometimes play a minis session at session zero. Brennan brings a tackle box full of minis from his magical D&D childhood and players get a chance to play. Sometimes, we're testing out new rules or gameplay and it's helpful test that out as well. Sometimes we do the test with cast and sometimes we bring in people to play test for us. Depends on the season.

Projections are decided beforehand. Music and artwork are done after the show has wrapped. This gives us the most freedom in the edit. We had thunder for Neverafter, that was fun. That has been really the only sound that we've played in the dome.... so far........ (raised eyebrows).

Affectionate-Tie-5464 karma

3 Questions for Michael:

How were seats at the table assigned for Burrows End? (Though it looks like you already answered this in other comments :-) )

What is the biggest difference in directing an actual play show vs other media (theater, movies, TV shows)

Any tips for aspiring directors who want to work on actual plays?

dimension20official19 karma

Schaubach: 3 answers for Affectionate-Tie-546!

  1. When I think about seat assignment I think about who will be talking to each other the most. Where will their be comedic moments and where will there be dramatic moments. Having brother and sister across from each other was a no-brainer. Of course they'll be conspiring and having scenes together. This allows the editors to have a shot reverse shot to cut to. When you have a mom and two sisters it's a bit more complex. I anticipated that, just like in real life, the sisters may align and have conflict with their mother. So, I put the sisters on the same side but separated them so the editors get a little distance to work with. Then of course the husband and wife across and adjacent felt the most appropriate. They can feel close in proximity and I can still get my shot/reverse shot.

  2. Directing an actual play is playing party host. I need to create the best, most fun, most inviting, most safe environment. That's not just for the cast, that's for the entire set. Everything is connected on our set. The cast isn't cordoned away from ccrew, we all mingle. If the entire party doesn't feel fun and safe, that's going to bleed into the vibe of the cast, which ultimately will affect the show. If the cast feels hostility or urgency anywhere it will show on screen. Of course with scripted I carry over the same expectations of a good vibe on set. Safety is key no matter what. For unscripted it's definitely watching your kids at the playground verses teaching in a classroom. When you're watching your kids on the playground you stand to the side and observe, allowing for play to occur spontaneously, while at the same time looking for danger (I'm a parent, so I'm just going with this analogy). For scripted I'm more the teacher in the classroom deciding the order things getting done and moving the day along at my pace. Everybody's eyes are on me for sure. With unscripted, everybody's eyes are on the cast.

  3. Directing actual plays is about having a core team of organizers working along with you. I have amazing producers that work with me to handle the actual physical logistics of producing a show. While I handle the vibe and care of the cast, producers make sure everyone gets paid and that we finish on time, that we have personnel support in the right places. SUPER IMPORTANT STUFF. Build a team around you that can take care of the nitty gritty so that you, as a director, can take care of the intangibles. You need to be an advocate for the DM and help ensure the story makes sense, the cast is vibing, the show is good. Find the support that will allow you to focus on what you need to focus on. Additionally, as a director you need to leave anything personal at home. In order to be an open vessel for others you need to not bring anything negative to set. This doesn't mean be emotionless, it just means there really is no space for your troubles. Everybody on set is looking to you to set the tone. If you walk on set with a bad attitude then that's going to change the entire culture. The Kids in the Hall made a great film called "Brain Candy". At the beginning of the movie the CEO for the drug company is arriving to work. It's one persons job to find out what color socks the CEO is wearing so they can change the entire decore to the color of socks they are wearing. It's either a Red Socks or a Blue Socks day. It's very funny in the movie, but in real life having a "Red socks/Blue Socks" boss is extremely stressful. So when I advise people on leadership I always say, "Don't be a Red Socks/Blue Socks boss." Be the same person everyday so your cast and crew can focus on their jobs and not on your demeanor.

KratoosBelic4 karma

Q for Shaubauch: Is it true you bathe with a lemon each morning?

dimension20official7 karma

Schaubach: Who told you???

Pale-Hyena-91654 karma

How do you approach talkback portions with D20 and WBN in particular?

The filmed/recorded/aired content is obviously fun and gets a little wild and wonky, but is that also a time when you talk about stuff from in-game that might have made ppl uncomfortable or breakdown any heavy stuff from a DM's pov? or do you usually give more time between gameplay and discussion in those moments? If the first, does the (presumably) more lighthearted atmosphere help to lessen some of the weight that can come with that?

dimension20official9 karma

Schaubach: AP is meant for pure fun and goofery. All the serious stuff gets discussed off camera so everyone can speak their mind and feel safe. It's important in TTRPG when literally everything is recorded for such a long period of time to create safe havens for the cast where they are not being watched or recorded.

bamabee134 karma

How do the use of projections/effects in the dome work between the the GM and the crew? Are they all preloaded to be used at the GM's will? Or does the crew take a cue? Or is it a collaboration of both?

Love y'all and love Dimension 20!!

dimension20official7 karma

Yes, the looks are all pre-loaded and the DM has a streamdeck behind the screen. Our amazing DP makes little icons that are easy for the DM to recognize but just vague enough that if a player peeks behind the screen they won't be able to gather too much information. We will sometimes cue a look if I sense the DM is busy with the story and simply forgot. That rarely happens, but we are always ready to jump in and help.

Turbulent_Day73383 karma

For either of you really, what’s the coolest improv or last-minute decision you’ve made? As a player/GM, or regarding the set/props/shooting

dimension20official3 karma

Any of the big important stuff is planned out in advance so we can make it great. Buddy Bear the tree cat is the most recent/impressive last minute make I've seen lately. Cheers to Rick and team for being so responsive to everything and having the ability to make great things on short notice.

Mr_Mimiseku3 karma

I haven't started Burrow's end yet, but saw some clips online. The set design is just phenomenal as always, but the attention to detail with the bear is incredible.

How much time goes into making these sets and props? Not to mention the time to come up with the story and concepts.

Keep up the amazing work! Still the best $5 I spend each month. Lol.

dimension20official2 karma

Great question for Rick Perry, who if we are lucky, might be nice enough to answer if he is lurking.

roll4flannel3 karma

How has doing more with the physical aspects of the dome (projections, incredible maxis, etc) affected how you run/shoot the game? What's the evolution D20 has had you're most proud or fond of?

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SCHAUBACH: Great question! The more complexity we add, the more personnel. We have a standing rule at Dimension 20 and that is we only do what we can do excellently. We never want to reach too far. When we want to go beyond our current limitations we find professionals to help in the endeavor. These things also take more prep time, so there is more to do before we shoot the show.

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Also, if you had the chance to create a stoat for the story, what would it have looked like and what abilities would you have given it? Maybe your character wouldn't have been a stoat? What wildlife character would you have liked to play or customize?

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Schaubach: My Stoat would look like any standard stoat and would definitely not wear a hat. To make up for his extremely normal appearance and lack of hat, his name would be Mordicai the Mystical he can fly and breathe fire. At any point in time he can shapeshift into anything and he can read everybody's mind even the GM's so nothing is a secret and he knows everything. He's level 20 at birth and rolls only weighted D20's. He'd of course give up all of these abilities if he could just wear a hat.

Aabria: You know what? I'll allow all of Mordicai's stuff EXCEPT FOR THE HAT. NO CLOTHES!
And funnily enough, I almost always put "the PC I would play if I was on the other side of the table" into a season! Can't wait for y'all to meet [redacted]!

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For Aabria: what are the joys and challenges of edited shows (like D20) vs. live streams/unedited projects?

For Schaubach: how do you plan/storyboard for the combat sequences and mini shots? Do you plan while they're saying it live, or go back and build it after the fact?

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Aabria: It's such a comfort knowing you can pause and take something again if a phrase is flubbed or a moment is missed! I think the challenge lies mostly in keeping the pacing tight as we play!

Schaubach: During the battle I do a live shot list. I record every moment that feels significant. This can be anywhere from 90-130 shots. In an average minis shoot day we can get about 60 great shots. So I spend the time between production wrap and the minis shoot culling the list down to about 80 shots. Then I show the art team and my DP and they stare at me with angry eyes and then I say, "Don't worry, I will kill some darlings here." And then their eyes get less angry. During the minis shoot I then live select from that list of 80 the 60 that eventually get made. The art team helps with this as well, because during the prep time they have been making spells and weapons that I called out in my original shot list. So before I kill a shot for time I always call out to art and say, "I'm going to kill this shot unles you've already made something for it." If they say nothing then I know I can kill it to make room for a bigger shot/something more interesting, if they have made something then we 100 percent shoot it. The key to any shot list for any project is to always have more than you can do. Be reactive and ready to cut shots, but never give up on your hopes and dreams until your producer is standing in front of you and saying, "EVERYONE HAS TO GO HOME NOW!"

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For either or both of you!

I absolutely adore the Dimension 20 animated shorts. Are there any scenes that you are dying to see animated?

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Aabria: Avanash from EftBK! The Green Hunter from ACoFaF except Jeremy Renner is live-action the whole time like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?! Raphaniel and Colin's tent time in Ravening War!

And from this season: yes, but you haven't seen them yet!

Schaubach: All of the scenes. I want an entire animated show made for every season. I'm told this costs money. I unfortunately do not know how money works, so I will just keep asking until I get my way or die of extreme old age.

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For Michael, what has it been like directing an actualplay show, especially for 20 individual seasons? I'll admit I'm not very familiar with directing in relation to improv, but I'm intrigued.

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SCHAUBACH: (Answer from a similar question) Directing an actual play is playing party host. I need to create the best, most fun, most inviting, most safe environment. That's not just for the cast, that's for the entire set. Everything is connected on our set. The cast isn't cordoned away from ccrew, we all mingle. If the entire party doesn't feel fun and safe, that's going to bleed into the vibe of the cast, which ultimately will affect the show. If the cast feels hostility or urgency anywhere it will show on screen. Of course with scripted I carry over the same expectations of a good vibe on set. Safety is key no matter what. For unscripted it's definitely watching your kids at the playground verses teaching in a classroom. When you're watching your kids on the playground you stand to the side and observe, allowing for play to occur spontaneously, while at the same time looking for danger (I'm a parent, so I'm just going with this analogy). For scripted I'm more the teacher in the classroom deciding the order things getting done and moving the day along at my pace. Everybody's eyes are on me for sure. With unscripted, everybody's eyes are on the cast.

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For Michael Shaubach, what goes in to directing an improvised show like Dimension 20 and is there anything in particular you enjoy with it in comparison to traditional TV shows where it's all scripted?

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SCHAUBACH: (Answer from a similar question (I added more to it for your question at the bottom) Directing an actual play is playing party host. I need to create the best, most fun, most inviting, most safe environment. That's not just for the cast, that's for the entire set. Everything is connected on our set. The cast isn't cordoned away from ccrew, we all mingle. If the entire party doesn't feel fun and safe, that's going to bleed into the vibe of the cast, which ultimately will affect the show. If the cast feels hostility or urgency anywhere it will show on screen. Of course with scripted I carry over the same expectations of a good vibe on set. Safety is key no matter what. For unscripted it's definitely watching your kids at the playground verses teaching in a classroom. When you're watching your kids on the playground you stand to the side and observe, allowing for play to occur spontaneously, while at the same time looking for danger (I'm a parent, so I'm just going with this analogy). For scripted I'm more the teacher in the classroom deciding the order things getting done and moving the day along at my pace. Everybody's eyes are on me for sure. With unscripted, everybody's eyes are on the cast.

What I love about directing Dimension 20 is the spontaneity of the game play. No other project makes me laugh as hard as I laugh when I'm directing Dimension 20. Sometimes my stomach and face hurt after a shoot day because I was laughing so much. I really do love watching the best improvisors in the world doing what they do best. I love a good surprise and Dimension 20 is chalk full of surprises.

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How long do each of the sets take to make? Love this season so much so far, excited to see more of the stoats (and the awesome sets)

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SCHAUBACH: That is a question for Rick Perry. Perhaps we're lucky enough to have a Rick Perry lurking. If so, he may answer. My answer is I don't know how Rick and his team accomplishes what they do so well in the time they have. I look at some of these sets and I'm like HOW DID THIS NOT TAKE THREE YEARS TO MAKE?!? DO YOU HAVE THE CAPABILITIES TO STOP TIME RICK PERRRY?!? IF SO, PLEASE SHARE YOUR POWER WITH ME, I WANT MORE SLEEP!!

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Aabria- You've mentioned more than a few times that you are more comfortable handling battles with theater of the mind. Can you speak to your experience with this season in that area- lessons learned, challenges faced, etc?

Michael- Can you explain what is involved in directing an actual play? Given the improvised nature of it I'm sure there is a lot of unique challenges.

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SCHAUBACH: (Answer from a similar question) Directing an actual play is playing party host. I need to create the best, most fun, most inviting, most safe environment. That's not just for the cast, that's for the entire set. Everything is connected on our set. The cast isn't cordoned away from ccrew, we all mingle. If the entire party doesn't feel fun and safe, that's going to bleed into the vibe of the cast, which ultimately will affect the show. If the cast feels hostility or urgency anywhere it will show on screen. Of course with scripted I carry over the same expectations of a good vibe on set. Safety is key no matter what. For unscripted it's definitely watching your kids at the playground verses teaching in a classroom. When you're watching your kids on the playground you stand to the side and observe, allowing for play to occur spontaneously, while at the same time looking for danger (I'm a parent, so I'm just going with this analogy). For scripted I'm more the teacher in the classroom deciding the order things getting done and moving the day along at my pace. Everybody's eyes are on me for sure. With unscripted, everybody's eyes are on the cast.

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Mostly for Aabria (Sorry Michael)! How did you approach making such an interconnected party? How did all of these relationships bloom in character creation, and how did it change how you are planning the game?

An alternate question! What was it like playing such a darkly themed game with ExU Calamity? Was it any harder as a player processing all the goings on?

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Aabria: So! I wanted the party to feel like the polar opposite of ACoFaF, so there was a nudge up top in character gen to have them build characters that were deeply involved with one another's lives. I mentioned being family members, but that wasn't a requirement. Everything else came from just giving them time and space (and maybe a leading question or two) to discuss how they related to one another! And every now and then, I'd send a little email or text prodding for more info!

The tight-knit bond was the point of the season, so it didn't change too much about the planning. It was always about Us vs. Them, so the "Us" had to be strongest from minute 1, so I'd have something to test and tamper with!

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Questions for Schaubach (Sorry Aabria)! What's it been like watching D20 grow, and what has been some of your favourite stuff to come out of it? Be it bits, merch, moments, or otherwise.

Also! When are you going to show up as a player, hm? You've been watching from the side-lines too long....

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Schaubach: Can you tell I LOVE THE MERCH?!? Ultimately I love all of the stories that have been told around the table. The fanbase is amazing and larger than I ever thought our little show would get. It's been such a tremendous honor to make this show and bring joy to the world. All that being said, there is nothing, NOTHING THAT COMPARES, NOT MY WEDDING DAY, NOT THE BIRTH OF MY TWO SONS, NOTHING CAN COMPARE TO THE FEELING I HAD WHEN I GOT THAT LIL PEPPERMINT PIG IN THE MAIL. It was the greatest day of my life and nothing will ever come close.

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Hello! I'm very curious to ask what the planning process looks like for a season like this, like how do you organize your notes? What kind of research do you do, how much do you tell the players about what's going on before hand? Especially with battle ideas.

And when it comes to the direction of the season are there things that happen that we don't see? and how much does the rest of the creative team know about the plot besides battlemaps and such? how much is a complete surprise to everyone behind the camera?

Thank you so much!

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Schaubach: It's a full on TV show so there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Essentially it's everything you're not meant to see. One thing that you don't directly see, but I am incredibly proud of is our efficiency. Our producers in this case HALLIE MAYER, runs such a tight ship. It's really fun to watch and be a part of it. Thanks HALLIE! You rock!

So much is a surprise. Obviously with battlemaps the cast needs to get their, but it's up to them how they get there and up to them and the dice what happens when they do get there. That's what's magical about a TTRPG it's so much better and so much more fun when you give up control over the story. When it's a surprise for everyone, that's when it's really really good.

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Can I be your friend?

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what's it like to narratively work in these incredible battle sets? have there ever been any impressive sets that we haven't seen because they didn't end up being relevant to the story?

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Schaubach: Everything that gets made sees the light of day. Sometimes there are things that get made that the DM invents purpose for right before we shoot or even in the moment. That's one of the skills of a DM, make something up on the spot and it's so good it feels like its planned. Aabria is an absolute genius at doing that.

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Question more so for Aabria, but Michael as well if this is something that falls in your court at all when planning out seasons: When it comes to encounters, do you have suggestions for how to take in the chaos of players for balancing things? Adding more HP can drag encounters out and making bad guys glass canons can leave a PC a squished can of tomato paste.

I know there’s only so much prep you can do, but I always worry about things being too easy v. curb stomping my players, and when I think I’ve figured them out they pull a pack of cows (or velociraptor geese) out of their back pocket.

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Schaubach: Definitely more for Aabria, but having done this now for a while I will say it's most fun when the players get to absolutely dunk on the DM. Setting up big moments for them to win is not only great storytelling it's motivation for the players to come back. Fun over rules, fun over story, fun over everything else is just plain fun and fun is the most fun to make.

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Schaubach, what scenario did y'all plan for and couldn't use do you most wish made the show?

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Schaubach: I think we did everything Aabria asked for. For the minis shoot I always want to shoot more, but we are limited by time and budget so we get what we get and the team that works with me is AMAZING. K.C. McGeorge, Kevin Stiller, Raven Bartlett, I'm looking in your direction!

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For Michael, is there anything crazy you have built that just never got used because th PCs just didnt go there or interact with the right person?

For Aabria when building out a campaign do you go in with a few key things you want them to face or how does the structure balanced with things you have to improv work?

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Schaubach: We use everything that gets made for sure. Rick and his team pour their hearts and souls into the art, it's our duty to show it on camera.

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Schaubach: Okay lovely folks! I have to call it. Sorry I couldn't get to everyone's questions, but I did my very best. Thank you all for watching the show! You all are the reason we get to keep making TV. That makes you an awesome human.

Aabria Iyengar congrats on an amazing season!! I cannot wait to work with you again!


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Hi Aabria! Are the Blue effects/flashes on the dome something you’re controlling the timing on or does a crew member have to listen for when to “press the button” so to speak?

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Schaubach: Aabria has the power!!!! So much power!!! All the power!!!

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For Aabria:

Was Burrow's End something you've had stewing for a while and wanted to do for Dimension 20? Or was it the product of brainstorming after you were asked to DM another season?

For Schaubach (is it weird that I call you by your last name? I'm just mirroring Brennan Lee Mulligan here): Were there any doubts you had before the first season of D20? Pitfalls you expected but were pleasantly surprised to see it wasn't as big a deal as you thought it would be? Or just in general anything surprising you discovered during this process.

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Schaubach: Too many Mikes (Trapp and I made a sketch about that) so going by my last name is perfectly fine. Also, my grandpa went by "Schaub" even his kids called him "Schaub" so when people call me Schaubach it reminds me of my grandpa and it's a nice feeling because I miss him dearly.

The great luxury we had making the first season of Dimension 20 is that we had nothing to live up too. We were inventing on the spot and figuring things out right then and there. It was so fun! It's always a little stressful making a TV show, but with Brennan at the helm of Fantasy High it was like "Oh, this is going to be good no matter what."

What was a surprise was the giant reception we got from fans. I thought we'd have to get a few seasons done before we found a really loyal audience. You all came right away, season 1 and I am so grateful for that. Thank you for watching our little show!

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Dear Michael, I have a question for you;

how has it been to grow with the ever-increasing production quality of your shows?

You're doing big projections, winching in spiders etc, big gags now.

Has the wrangling gotten easier over time, and what challenges does the increase in production bring with it?

thank you, been a dropout viewer for some years now, so much so that my daughter decided to get her own subscription, too.

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Dear Undermach,

It has been awesome to help make this show better and better every season! The crew that I work with is world-class and I am honored to share the show with them. So thankful that talented folks hop on for the big job of making this show and strive to make it better and better.

More stuff, more work for sure. It also means we get bring on more talented people to help out. I love all the fun stuff we're doing and continuing to think about even more fun stuff to do. More is more and we are always looking for more. More.

Thank you for watching! You're the reason I have a job and can feed my kids. Thank you thank you thank you!

Hi Undermach's daughter! Thanks for watching! You rock!

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For Michael: what's it like prepping for a series with Jasmine vs Brennan vs Aabria?

Aabria: What makes prepping for D20 different as opposed to critical role or any of the other actual plays you've run?

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Schaubach: Jasmine is a genius. Brennan is a genius. Aabria is a genius. So, prepping seasons with them is simply having the great pleasure of working with kind, creative, amazing, thoughtful geniuses. It's a true joy. Now the real question here is who is my favorite? I only have a least favorite and HE KNOWS WHO HE IS! You're on my list Mulligan! Watch yourself! Check yourself before you wreck yourself! Kidding of course I love everybody equally. Like my kids, they all bring something unique and special to the dome and it's a great pleasure to be in their presence.

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Question for Schaubach, have you considered doing a "Switch-A-Roo" season of D20? I'd love to see you DM a table full of behind the scenes players finally getting the spotlight. And the Intrepid Heroes in charge of set design/production? Pure chaos.

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Schaubach: I could never DM. I have no idea how they do what they do. All of my NPCs would be the same voice (a poor attempt at a British accent that Siobhan would politely ask me to STOP DOING) I'd forget the story thread and the show would just sort of meander to some kind of confusing ending, meanwhile along the way players will just get up and leave and never come back. The last ep would probably just be me apologizing to Sam for wasting his money. I do have a running joke that I like to do on the first shoot day of every season. I walk into the green room and address the cast and say, "I have some bad news." cue their worried faces and then I continue, "I've just learned that I am NOT a player in this season." And then they all laugh. Most of the time. Sometimes. Okay, it's more of a nervous titter.

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question for both legends:

theres someone on tumblr asking about acofaf s2 daily for more than a year now. is there a chance for a return to the bloom? or at least, the feywild? if so, will the dome flower arrangements finally be edible the second time around?

huge huge fan of everything you guys do in the dome!!

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Schaubach: Every day for a year? This technically isn't a Fight Club type scenario where you have to stand on the porch at attention until you're let in, but I do appreciate the commitment. That was such a fun season and an incredible cast. Aabria doing that thing again where she brings something brand new to the dome and crushes it. Um, without having any control over what gets made, I'll throw caution to the wind and say, "Um, okay, yeah! Let's do it! Woohoo! I have no power in this decision, yet here we are. Season 2! Let's go!!" Maybe? Yes! Definitely maybe yes!

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In honor of the 20th season of Dimension 20. What are your personal favorite past seasons of Dimension 20? Considering you both see everything that gets put into these shows from the very start of production till when it airs do you have a favorite moment or a moment where it hit that this show would work to what has become this huge flood of support and love for Dimension 20? Love this show so much can't wait for many more campaigns to come.

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Schaubach: Personal favorite past seasons. I love all the seasons I worked on they are all my babies. This season with Aabria definitely stands out for me. Aabria brought a new kind of story to the dome and she is just incredible. Starstruck was super neat to work on because it was bring Elaine Lee's world to life. It was incredible to be a part of that and also get to know Elaine Lee who is now my second mom. My main mom is super radical so having two radical moms is really special.