It’s no fluke that an enormous and continually-growing slate of streaming game play has emerged alongside 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons. When Greg Tito joined Wizards of the Coast’s marketing team a couple of years ago as communication manager, adding more streaming programming to their schedule was one of his goals to expand the audience for D&D.
Since then, Tito set out to meet as many awesome D&D storytellers sharing their games in front of a camera as he could. Inspired by the amazing video streams D&D fans produce and their WotC’s own lineup of programming, the quest to expand D&D’s horizons has coalesced into the Stream of Annihilation – two full days of streaming hosted by WotC from Seattle, Washington June 2-3 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on D&D’s Twitch channel.
“In addition to announcing the new story for D&D coming out this fall, Stream of Annihilation really kicks off a full programming schedule on [Twitch],” Tito said via email. “You’ll be able to head there every day of the week to see quality D&D livestreams from these groups and more.”
The streamers and luminaries Tito referred to include folks like Misscliks, Maze Arcana, Critical Role and Dice, Camera, Action with Chris Perkins. International gaming groups will also be part of the event, such as Yogscast’s HighRollers from the U.K. and Dragon Friends from Australia.
Anna Prosser Robinson and Kelly Link will host the Stream of Annihilation. Robinson and Link will introduce and talk with WotC’s D&D team, who will introduce the next storyline set for September release. Streamer groups will play live or share details about what fans will see in the upcoming summer campaigns and get a preview of the new story.
“I’m excited to see what people are doing in the world of streaming D&D,” Robinson said via email. “Playing for the entertainment of others fascinates me, and I’m always excited to be inspired around that kind of production!”
Along with her co-host duties, Robinson will be playing with her Dice, Camera, Action crew, as well as helping to produce the first special episode of Misscliks D&D: Risen, where the party will investigate rumors.
Recent Nerdarchy live chat guests Ruty Rutenberg and Satine Phoenix from Maze Arcana are also part of the Stream of Annihilation. A new program called Fury’s Reach is part of the new programming coming up as well. Fury’s Reach will broadcast on Tuesdays and Wednesday, where two different groups of players will adventure in the same campaign world simultaneously. The actions of each group will affect not only the game world but the other group as well. Phoenix will DM for the Tuesday group, while Rutenberg guides the Wednesday group’s adventures.
“We and a handsome group of streamers from across the globe have been brought in to create content for D&D’s Twitch stream for their summer programming,” Phoenix said in an email. “The details (of the Stream of Annihilation) are a mystery so you should tune in to find out. What we can say is that there will be lots of live play, interviews, product unveils…in fact Ruty and I will be running games and giving a sneak peak into Fury’s Reach.”
Live games, interviews, new product unveils and most importantly fun will broadcast live each of the two days. The High Rollers crew will explore the unknown with DM Mark Hulmes, while a new group of LA actors called Girls Guts Glory will embark on their own fantastic quest.
Stream of Annihilation has been in the works for about eight months, according to Tito, who said it’s been fun to organize but a lot to manage all at once.
“Early on in my career, I was a professional theater stage manager and amateur producer of live shows and films, and thankfully a lot of those skills have transferred to putting together live events the Stream of Annihilation,” he said. “It’s hard work dealing with so many moving parts like Hollywood talent managers, the production design, and even what the crew will eat and drink during the stream – but honestly I kind of love the hustle of it all.”
For those interested in the expanded Twitch programming, details will be given throughout the event along with announcements for new accessories that fans have been clamoring for including a new board game and other products from WotC’s partners like WizKids, Gale Force 9, Fantasy Grounds and Roll20. Plans for the D&D MMO Neverwinter will be unveiled and D&D Beyond news will come from Curse Media.
“Plus, like any Dungeon Master worth their salt, we have a few exciting surprises to pull from our bags of holding!” WotC said in a press release.
For co-host Robinson, the most exciting part of Stream of Annihilation is simply being there in person to see all her D&D buddies.
“We play online so I almost never get to see them in the flesh,” she said. “We always laugh a lot together.”
Phoenix echoed Robinson’s sentiments about the opportunity to get together with so many D&D enthusiasts.
“We are excited to meet the other streamers!” said Phoenix. “D&D is bringing everyone together, which is Ruty and my’s MO: community. Mostly we want more people to play games with, so this weekend is going to be amazing for that!”
For Phoenix and Rutenberg, both longtime advocates for D&D, being part of the Stream of Annihilation is another step forward for them personally and the hobby as a whole.
“If you would have told 90’s Satine that she would be traveling to and creating content for D&D, she would absolutely think you were crazy,” said Phoenix. “My favorite hobby in the world has welcomed by best friend, our friends and I into their playground. This is the coolest!”
“I never imagined I’d be working on any official Dungeons & Dragons content or writing, playing or Dungeon Mastering on a professional level,” said Rutenberg in an email. “I’m a writer without words to express my gratitude to Wizards of the Coast, the professional TRPG community and most importantly to our friend-fans. They are the best, and why we do what we do, week in and week out.”
For a look at some of the other projects Rutenberg has in the pipeline, fans can check out June’s Dragon+, an Adventurers League table at Gen Con 50 or the Dungeon Master’s Guild for more. Both he and Phoenix are writing official modules for the upcoming fall storyline, too.
But what about those who haven’t caught the D&D bug yet? Fans and regular gamers are a built-in audience for the event, but according to Tito, reaching out and raising awareness among outside channels is the heart of why Stream of Annihilation was created.
“Showcasing an event like this with so many entertainers from so many different backgrounds is exactly why we thought the Stream of Annihilation would be a good idea,” he said. “We recognize streaming of D&D on Twitch has contributed to attracting a new audience for the tabletop gaming and getting all these groups together to play D&D, laugh with their friends, and rub elbows with each other on a live stream like this will keep that momentum going. We’re also bringing actors like Matthew Lillard (Scream, Hackers), Dylan Sprouse (Big Daddy, Suite Life with Zack & Cody), and Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Batman) to play on the Stream of Annihilation, who we think will draw more mainstream attention.”
For a full schedule, bios of special guests and celebrities set to attend and more information about Stream of Annihilation, visit DungeonsandDragons.com, follow the official D&D Twitter @Wizards_DnD, catch the official D&D podcast Dragon Talk and be sure to check out the new official D&D Twitch channel.
There may also be ways for viewers to interact with Stream of Annihilation while it’s taking place live, which Tito said is still being planned. (I must have failed my Charisma (Persuasion) check to get more info out of him.)
“There are a bunch of really cool ideas bubbling – such as a way to have cosplayers of some iconic D&D monsters spoil the action during a game,” he said. “More information on that will be announced leading up to June 2, or, hey, it will be a surprise during the Stream of Annihilation itself. You’ll have to watch twitch.tv/dnd to find out!”