In this Dungeons and Dragons video series, a group of advisors to the Lord of Shadows must take charge after watching their Dark Lord die a sudden death. The Forces of Light are quickly advancing, and our vile villains learn to work together to coordinate their defence. The show features Brennan Lee Mulligan as the Game Master, and a cast of talented players who play the villains in this satirical tabletop spin on J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
While Escape from the Bloodkeep takes a little longer to truly grab your attention than, say, Fantasy High, when it does it is absolutely delightful. This series does a great job playing off of its inspiration, The Lord of the Rings, but it doesn’t require you to be familiar with the work of Tolkien to enjoy the show.
To be honest, I’m just obsessed with anything Brennan Lee Mulligan does. Brennan is an outstanding Dungeon Master, and the show features some phenomenal NPC’s. Standouts are John Feathers and Avenash, but perhaps my favourite NPC is Stalker/Percival, who is their version of Tolkien’s Striker/Aragorn. I swear to God I almost cried every time Brennan did his character voice – I WEPT. There’s not many videos that make me cry with laughter, but video’s that do tend to be clips of Brennan’s campaigns.
As it’s a D&D “livestream” (though not live, and it is edited quite a bit for ease of watching), every other episode features a battle. I’m personally not a huge fan of battles in D&D, but some funny stuff does happen in the battle scenes in Escape from the Bloodkeep. I would recommend having this show in the background while you’re doing another task, like cleaning or doing something creative. I myself watch these kinds of shows while drawing. My attention does sometimes drift, but whenever the cast laughs I just rewind whatever I’ve missed and I’m all good.
Now there are plenty of pieces of media that take inspiration from the works of Tolkien, so what makes this series so special? For me, it’s the way the setting is changed. The story is very clearly inspired by Tolkien, and some characters have basically been copied and pasted into the narrative, but Brennan’s campaigns often include very “normal” elements that are very funny and out of place in a fantasy setting. Additionally, the show doesn’t need the references to be funny. Each moment that is funny “because of a reference to Tolkien”, is actually already funny on its own. The references are just a fun extra.
I would absolutely recommend Escape from the Bloodkeep to anyone who loves the works of Tolkien and tabletop RPG’s. It’s a great take on the villains being the main characters in a story, and while I don’t usually enjoy those types of stories, it really works well in this campaign. As with any Dimension 20 show, it’s very funny so I definitely recommend that you give this a watch!