We are so close to the official kick-off of The Die Is Cast Gaming! The upcoming live-play TTRPG features the incredible talent of Jake Ynzunza as the Dungeon Master, guiding players Chad Michael Collins, Linsay Rousseau, Andi Norris and Milynn Moon on an epic adventure into the Border Kingdoms. We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Ynzunza, Collins and Rousseau about bringing the story to life, their plans for building The Die Is Cast Gaming brand and what’s happening behind the scenes.

The Die is Cast Gaming which drops on September 19, 2022. More information can be found on their socials (Twitch/Facebook/Twitter).

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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The Die Is Cast Gaming

The Die Is Cast Gaming

Julia Roth: Thank you so much for joining me! I’ve been waiting months for The Die Is Cast Gaming to finally kick off! So, how did this all start?

Jake Ynzunza: I ran into Chad at a friendly local game store for Todd Stashwick‘s Mystic Libations book release party. While we waited in line, we started talking about our own games and then got onto the topic of wanting to do something a bit more buttoned up. We both recognized that our home games had a nice level of polish to them and wanted to share that side of the hobby with the world. Plus, Chad’s Call of Duty fans have been asking him more and more questions about Dungeons and Dragons. Then after that, I ended up working with Linsay at LA Comic Con, and we hit it off. Slowly our game started to come together.

Chad Michael Collins: It really just started with a conversation, and I think that’s the best sort of happenstance. We talked for about a year over messenger, just setting it all up. I would love to play D&D and give people the experience to enjoy it alongside us. Our goal is to make it friendly enough for newcomers but also elevate the experience of people who are already enjoying other streams like Critical Role. We wanted to bring something unique but still keep that level of polish that we found in our home games.

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We have such a great collection of talented people who want to share their love of D&D with our viewers. And why the hell not? There are so many streams, but I know we can bring something unique and be on par with some of the high-level productions out there. And, of course, Jake agreed to DM this adventure and Linsay was on board to play alongside us. Jake also brought along Andi (Norris), and we invited Milynn Moon to join us. We’ve got a really great core to help us take on this massive endeavor alongside our technical director DC Lasair and executive producer Tas Al-Ghul.

JR: What elements do you feel are absolutely needed to have in your stream to set yourselves off from the other TTRPG shows?

Linsay Rousseau: Jake mentioned this earlier about being really buttoned up, and we are leaning into that. I have streamed in D&D shows for at least the last year or two, and most of them go on for four to five hours a night, and that isn’t something we can commit to. And since Chad’s fanbase will be our core base kicking off, we wanted to give them something to enjoy but not be overwhelmed with. We are really focusing on trying to tell a cohesive story tightly within two to three hours. We want to bring our fans along for the ride and make them feel like they are a part of the story.

By starting at level one, we are hoping to do some additional content as well and introduce these new players to D&D and that it isn’t hard to get into the hobby. All of us being in LA and having experience in entertainment helps us in the role-play aspect as well. We have a great group of performers who know how this medium works and tell a story together in a world that is familiar to players but remote enough that it allowed Jake to essentially build a brand new story. It will give all of us a chance to explore a whole new part of the world.

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JR: As someone on the east coast, thank you for the shorter stream. I am always playing catch-up when streams run until 2 or 3 in the morning. In previous interviews, Chad and Linsay have shared that the world is set within the Forgotten Realms, but it’s an area that hasn’t been explored much. Could you explain your choice to take the adventure there?

JY: I really loved the Border Kingdoms. And what I love about D&D, especially the Forgotten Realms, is how much content there is. I’m a lore nerd and have about 50 audiobooks I’ve gone through, and I still have twice as many to read and listen to. I also spend a lot of time on DMs Guild exploring different stories. And in all of the published content, Balder’s Gate, Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and Dungeon of the Mad Mage takes place in a little strip of Faerun. And I love those stories, but the road’s been traveled.

Artwork for Chad Michael Collins paladin in the upcoming The Die Is Cast Gaming show alongside a shirtless photo of himself holding a sword.

We see little of the Border Kingdoms. There is a convention called Gamehole Con where co-creators of the area, Ed Greenwood and Alex Kammer, run a game. They have modules, but people don’t know a lot about them. I love that some of the lore there is established, but there’s also a chance for us to be able to tell a story here that will introduce people to the area and help shape it further. I am a canonical sort of nerd, though, so I don’t want to mess with stuff too much. But, the Border Kingdoms allows us to tell our own story and almost allows it to be canonical.

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We also got the blessing from both Kammer and Greenwood to do this and play in the area. I’ve been sending maps back and forth with them and working with them on the lore to help give the area more depth. The Border Kingdoms are always in constant conflict, so it’s changing with kingdoms rising and falling, so whatever map you have is, most likely, inaccurate. It lends itself to being able to tell a story there that isn’t official but still sparks interest. It gives that home brew feel but still is set in a canon world.

JR: Will our adventurers be exploring outside of the Border Kingdoms?

JK: Chad, Linsay, if you do that to me…

LR: Never! That was one of our conversations about the difference between home games and streaming. Home games can definitely go off the rails, which is tons of fun. But, we know how much world-building Jake has done with the Border Kingdoms and this adventure, and if he starts steering us down a specific path, we are going to follow it.

JK: There is still a lot to see within the Border Kingdoms if they watch a change of scenery. We will be visiting the Underdark, which is a huge component of the Border Kingdoms. And there will be callbacks to other areas and characters. They might even see a Red Wizard of Thay.

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CMC: Please, don’t. I don’t want to face off against one, especially at level one.

JR: But combat is the first thing everyone should learn! Speaking of learning, you guys have shared that you want The Die Is Cast Gaming to be an educational platform to help guide new players. Have you given any thought to how you will handle that? Will you have additional content, or will it be something that pops up during the game?

CMC: That is definitely something we have discussed. We have been spitballing ideas on how to provide the additional content and build out our brand. We have talked about doing mini streams where we build characters or what all the dice rolling is about. Our goal is to find a way to break it all down. I recently did a stream where I built a character and put them in a bit of one-on-one combat with a Goblin. It got an excellent response from my followers as I went through and explained all the bits of pieces that go into it. I kept seeing comments about people downloading D&D Beyond and trying to find other people to play with.

Linsay Rousseau posing with a sword and gun in front of character art for her tiefling Malley from The Die is Cast Gaming in the same pose.

We want to keep our sessions immersive and try not to break the fourth wall, but we have also talked about doing a Q&A at the end of each session for anyone who has questions about what happened, the mechanics or the rules. We would take about 20 to 30 minutes to wrap things up so that no one is left hanging. Plus. we could also use that time to connect with our viewers and gauge what they liked and thank them for hanging out.

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JR: I love the idea of an after-session wrap-up. It gives viewers a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at the decision-making as long as it doesn’t spoil anything in the future. Now, I’ve asked this before, but it’s been months, but are we going to be seeing any special guests?

CMC: We’ve certainly got a list of names and mutual friends we would love to see, but the tricky part is time. We are all actors and professionals with commitments that need to be taken into account. If a core player needs to miss a session, we can always see about bringing a guest player on, but we don’t have anything set in stone.

JR: You bring up a good point. By doing this live, you are running the risk of one of the core players having to step away or miss a session. Have you talked about what would happen?

JY: I think we have a general idea at the moment when someone is going to miss a session. And with the nature of the industry, we do get a bit of a heads up in case someone needs to step away for work. We have some things set up that will effectively open up a door that players can go back and forth through in case something happens.

JR: That is one of the struggles with choosing to make The Die Is Casting Gaming a live show. There are tons of things you will be contending with while streaming.

LR: This was why it was so important to us that Jake and none of the players were handling any of the tech. It took us time to find the right person, but DC Lasair is perfect and has tons of experience.

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CMC: This was a huge hurdle for us. When we realized we would need a technical director, we started chasing down referrals and checking availability to find who matched and meshed well with us. We wanted to create something unique and knew we needed someone who worked with our vision and could show off battle maps and the fantastic music Jake has lined up for us. It was a long road, but in the end, we found DC, and we couldn’t be happier.

Jake Ynzunza holding a mug that reads "Dungeon Master" while sitting at his desk.

JR: With everyone in their own homes during the stream, how will you handle maps and combat? Are you using an online source, or will Jake have maps and player tokens in front of him and move them himself?

JY: That actually sounds like an excellent idea. And I’ve thought about that, but that would be a lot of heavy lifting. We are going to be using Foundry Virtual Tabletop for combat and all of the maps. I love its open-source nature and all the cool theatrical ways I can present maps and artwork. We will be doing everything online for the foreseeable future, but it would be amazing to be able to show off builds in person. But, until then, the internet it is.

Foundry is an excellent source because we will be able to show the screens, and viewers will be able to follow the action right along with us. I also want to show off how easy it can be to set up a game for players joining D&D. Because the more players we have looking for adventure, the more DMs we are going to need. Showing off how easy it is to run a game and share resources to not only how to get started but where they can find resources to flesh out their games.

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JR: With how the TTRPG sphere has changed over the last few years, especially with COVID, it’s great to see games leaning into digital resources. I love watching games where everyone is at the same table, but the normal state of the game is changing. You guys are going to be showing the new players tuning in that they don’t need to be at the same table to enjoy the game.

CMC: I agree. I think that is what we are really looking forward to. We want to create a TTRPG community with The Die Is Cast Gaming that gets our fans to create their own games and find friends to adventure with. And then maybe some of our additional content could be bringing some of our supporters on for mini combat scenarios of a character creation session. The lucky subscriber would be drawn randomly, and we would spend time walking them and everyone else through it and working as a community.

JR: Are you guys excited to get everything kicked off?

LR: I think we are still in that moment where we can’t believe we are this close to launch. We have our session zero coming up, and I think after that, this will all feel real in our minds. But, we really can’t wait for everyone to see what we have been working towards.

JR: I wish you all the luck, and I can’t wait to tune in on Monday to check things out!

CMC, JY and LR: We can’t wait!

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