Welcome to a brand-new Dungeons & Dragons 5e actual-play podcast—debuting now on The Fantasy Network’s growing Audio Channel. Tune in and follow the story of the Bearfolk Rogue Gideon Sweets, the Piney Cleric Xisk of the Pinyon, the Dhampir Warlock Maeve Maldorava, and the Alseid Ranger Ilexyldean (players Diego Stredel, Emma Brager, Madeline Hunter Smith and Griffin Cork) as they are led through the post-apocalyptic Wasted West, found in Midgard from Kobold Press. Featuring missing parents, kissing wizards, hissing vampires and more — the cast of characters dive into DM Kevin Cork’s twisted mind as he tries to pretend like one of the player characters isn’t his son.
Fans of shows like The Adventure Zone and The Gamers will enjoy what the crew of The Die as Cast bring to the gaming table. Player, actor, and creator Griffin Cork shared some of his insights into the show, as well as what it’s like to work with his dad on the podcast.
TFN NEWS: What can listeners expect when they tune in to The Die as Cast?
We want the show to have the higher standards of a polished performance, but we still want it to feel like the listener is sitting in on a weekly D&D game with the perfect snacks and beverages. The five of us have been playing TTRPGs together for a long time, so as a team we feel comfortable enough to both goof around endlessly and then immediately share a heart-wrenching, vulnerable scene with one another. It would feel dishonest for me to promise exactly what you’re going to take away from the show, but I can confidently say that it’s a blast.
The Die As Cast has been compared to The Adventure Zone. Was that podcast an inspiration for you?
Oh gosh. I mean, I would be lying if said shows like The Adventure Zone and Not Another D&D Podcast didn’t have a huge influence on how I create TTRPG media. Those heavy-hitters of the landscape we’re in (as well as Critical Role, obviously) shaped the audiences for this kind of work. One of my favorite things about TAZ’s first season is the way they started in the Mines of Phandelver setting, following the book pretty closely. But as the show grew, Griffin (their DM, and my namesake hero) took the story in a different direction and made it his own.
And that’s one of the things that (our DM) Kevin is doing brilliantly in The Die As Cast. He’s taking the fantastic Midgard setting from Kobold Press, and he’s putting his own spin on some of the events, places, and people. Which means that Kobold Press fans will catch a lot of their favorite creatures and cities in the show, but they’ll still be surprised by the how story plays out, no matter how familiar they are with the books. Likewise, newer players still get to listen to the five of us create a story together, while getting some KP-inspired ideas for some awesome battles or enticing plot hooks.
What inspired you to begin making a TTRPG podcast with your dad (Kevin)?
The funny thing is that we didn’t even know we were both into TTRPG games until like a year or two into me playing them. Diego Stredel (who plays Xisk on the show) introduced me to D&D 5E and ran my first ever game when we went to university together. I was telling my Dad about it, and I watched his eyes light up as he went, “Hold on..” and went downstairs. He brought up boxes and boxes full of notebooks from his time playing 2nd Edition D&D in school, and I think some of those ideas he’s even snuck into The Die As Cast.
We had always chatted about creating something together, and we were very much interested in all of the different types of TTRPG media out there, so the podcast kind of just evolved from that.
In addition to your dad, how did you gather your TTRPG crew?
Well, I wouldn’t be in the TTRPG world at all if it weren’t Diego Stredel. He gave me my first D20, created my first character sheet with me, and brutally described how I killed my first ever creature. He’s a spectacular performer and one of my best friends, so that was a no-brainer.
I met Madeline Hunter Smith in post-secondary, but we didn’t really get to know each other until we got paired together to audition for a production up here in Canada. We realized then that our performance styles really complemented each other, and if I might add, she’s a brilliant improvisor. I would say 65% of the thoughts/events that move the story along in The Die as Cast come from Madi’s brain.
As for Emma Brager, Kevin and I had performed in some D&D shows with her before and we had a fantastic time. Dad asker her to guest, and it was clear that she just needed to be a permanent member of the show. Emma is an absolute weapon when it comes to TTRPGs – she’s witty with her comebacks and remarkably clever with the numbers and mechanics of 5th Edition.
What makes it fun, intriguing, and challenging to create a live-play gaming podcast?
One of the coolest things about making an actual-play podcast is that the tactics we use to heighten imagery for the audience also heighten the experience for us as players. In your classic home game, I find folks don’t describe what they are seeing or doing in such immense detail as they do when performing in a show.
I also think that the characters are WAY more willing to take risks in a performance setting. Don’t get me wrong, we certainly talk things out on The Die as Cast, but the likelihood of one of us just diving in head first is much higher.
In your view, what makes a successful podcast?
I wouldn’t consider myself a podcast expert or anything like that, but the most success I have had in the past few years comes from consistency and trusting your material. When a lot of podcasters start out, they aren’t happy with the numbers they are getting right off the bat—so they start to bend over backwards to change their format before people have even had the chance to find what they were doing before. I needed to learn a LOT of patience for my audience to find me when creating these shows, and when they did find me, my show needed to be there when I said it would be!
I certainly recommend setting a realistic schedule for yourself that you can follow, so your listeners know when the new stuff is coming and can anticipate it. Mistakes will happen always, but then just make sure you have some way to communicate with them that an episode will be late. (The classic social media platforms are great for that.)
What advice would you give to creators interested in making their own podcast?
This is a cliché piece of advice, but you should just start doing it. Even if you think you don’t know enough about the software, even if you think you don’t have the right equipment, even if you think you can only do one episode a month—just start. You will learn so much about your capacity for creating this kind of work, and there is no way you can build a following if you don’t have a couple episodes out there already. Everything I learned about podcasting, I learned by doing—and heck, I still use Audacity for editing. It rules!
If you listen to some of your favorite shows that have like 500-600 episodes now, I can promise you that their Episode #1 didn’t sound as good as Episode #550. People learn, improve, and grow, and your audience will be excited to learn, improve, and grow with you. Just start the darn podcast!
What excites you about being part of The Fantasy Network?
The Fantasy Network is very near and dear to my heart. It’s a testament to the idea that if enough creators band together around ideas and content that they love, they can make something powerful and beautiful.
TFN has one of the most dedicated fanbases I have seen in over a decade of working in the entertainment industry.
It’s frankly incredible the work that your team does. The most exciting part about being on The Fantasy Network is how well the TFN team maintains a personal connection with each and every creator on their platform. I have never once felt like just another number in a spreadsheet, and that’s something really hard to do in this business.
How can listeners stay connected with you and your team?
Anything else that we haven’t yet asked, but you’d like to share?
You give a great interview! Thanks for all of your stellar questions, and I’m so excited to hear what your readers have to say about The Die As Cast!