Alrighty team. Game of Thrones’ most recent season is finally in the books so I figured I’m gonna switch gears for a while and hit some different *albeit equally nerdy* topics. So as the title of the blog may indicate I’m an enormous nerd, and I won’t be straying too far from my nerdy roots here. But anyway, today I wanted to try to direct some eyes toward one of my favorite Web series of all time (which recently came back from a 3 year hiatus no less): Doraleous and Associates.
Its made by the guys over at Hank and Jed Movie Pictures, and they used to produce material for The Escapist, but I believe they’ve broken with them and now just do freelance stuff funded by Kickstarter or Youtube or whatever. BUT ANYWAY!!! D&A is awesome and you should definitely check it out if you’re into the same kind of fantasy nerd shit as me (and also happen to enjoy laughter as well as all things smile related).
D&A hits all the staples of fantasy nerd lore to a T. Whether its Arthurian Legend (where the archetypes for a majority of their panopoly of characters comes from [Merdon:Merlin and Doraleous:Arthur etc etc] or even the quests the Associates participate in (searching for a magical sword in a lake? Anyone? Bueller?) you can see Arthurian Lore sprinkled throughout the serious which is only fitting considering thats where the High Fantasy genre’s roots lie.
Moving beyond these early beginnings, however, you can tell that the world of Doraleus is definitely a High Fantasy Realm, rather than an Arthurian construct as you can see countless references to Tolkien’s preeminent, genre-defining works. Tolkien’s tales of Middle Earth truly codified “High Fantasy” into a coordinated, defined genre, and anyone writing high fantasy is, in a basic sense, working with the tools he crafted. D&A is no different, and they tip their hat to the great author on numerous occasions, while also taking some of the bite and melodrama out of his genre, making it a little less about the end of the world and a little more about having fun.
It doesn’t stop there though. Tolkien’s fans loved his world so much that some of them even took inspiration from his stories to craft the King of all Nerd Games: Dungeons and Dragons. Fans wanted to experience the world of High Fantasy first hand, and DnD gave them that opportunity. It also had an enormous impact on the genre of High Fantasy as races and classes developed distinct characteristics either drawn from High Fantasy’s past or created anew by the game in order to impact its future.
Doraleous nods to this as well with the various Associates representing varoius classes which could be ascribed to DnD. You have Drak the Dwarf Barbarian. Merdon the Human Wizard. Neebs the Elvish Archer/Ranger. Sir Walken the Human Warrior and Broof the Human Fighter. Nearly all of the major DnD races and classes make an appearance with the team. Moreover, the characters themselves often mock the archetypes they’ve been forced into, which are usually strictly enforced by DnD rules, but which the characters themselves try to break from, again making light of the dour, bleak, rules sodden world of High Fantasy, and instead asking it to take itself less seriously.
Tabletop RPGs (role playing games) like DnD were ultimately supplemented with video games such as World of Warcraft and the Elder Scrolls series as fans wanted to see the worlds they loved rather than just imagining them and looking at artwork in a book. However, these games have their own patterns which deserve mocking at the hands of the Associates as the tedium of fetch quests and the curious missions ‘highly trained warriors’ in these games are often forced to undergo.
In reality then I think this is the reason I like D&A so much. Its like a walk through the history of fantasy nerddom, and it hits all the major turning points in the development of the genre. Even as Game of Thrones has become bigger and has taken its seat as the reigning head of the current fantasy nerd metagame / zeitgeist you can watch the guys at Hank and Jed evolve their show to fit the new stereotypes. Doraleous’s world provides a farcical look at a genre which can often take itself too seriously (I mean… we ARE talking about like … elves and dwarves and stuff here… ). You can take a trip from Arthurian Legend to Tolkien’s Middle Earth, through the fan takeover of the genre during the heyday of Dungeons and Dragons and even into the modern video game (Warcraft / Elder Scrolls etc) and HBO (Game of Thrones) fueled interpretation of the genre. Much the same way Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail treated Arthurian Lore specifically, D&A satirizes the entire High Fantasy genre, and its really cathartic to laugh at yourself once in a while when things become too serious.
And on top of all that… even if you’re not a major fantasy nerd… its just funny. And as much fun as it is for me, as a fantasy nerd, to laugh at myself and the things I love once in a while, I can only imagine it would be just as fun for you non fans to have a good laugh as well. So if you’re suffering from some Game of Thrones withdrawel, maybe you can take a look and hopefully find a little more love for the fantasy genre in general or at the very least adopt a new show you love.