This week, I had the distinct privilege of interviewing Gen Con owner Peter Adkison about his upcoming web series Chaldea. Mr Adkison, for those unfamiliar, co-founded Wizards of the Coast in 1993 and helped encourage gamer culture for decades before purchasing Gen Con in 2002. Chaldea, set in a fictional world created by Adkison in the early 80’s for a D&D campaign, follows the court intrigue surrounding the assassination of a Demigod of Set. The event impacts all of the realms of Chaldea, forcing together several adventurers, and throwing the kingdoms into turmoil
The land of Chaldea started as a campaign location in early D&D campaigns, but Adkison admits using the setting for most of his gaming – including games like Fiasco. Several cities with real world counterparts like Rome, Babylon, and Alexandria serve as the backdrop for legionnaires, elves, giants, orcs and dwarves. The concept and directional art on display in the exhibit hall at Gen Con portrayed a world with broad scope and exciting locales. Most of these locations will be portrayed through graphic novel style video productions, expertly spliced with live action performances for indoor scenes.
Production started over three years ago in a Seattle studio created by Adkison and his crew specifically for the project. Adkison recently went back to school for filmmaking, but also shares the writing and art direction with Steve Conard, his long time writing partner. With the help of several talented actors and designers, they’ve undertaken production of an estimated five years of web-based video episodes. The videos also include a graphic novel component, akin to the guided view system used in several comic book reader apps. Illustrated frames with a limited amount of text accompany a voiceover track, which allows for locations and fantastic elements without expensive CGI or practical effects. These exposition clips intercalate with live action footage of professional actors to tell the whole story in a cohesive manner.
Though the cast includes a diverse group of men and women, one character in Chaldea may seem quite familiar to many gamers. Legendary model maker and miniatures sculptor Duke Seifried plays a character based on his own real-world persona. As a toymaker in the kingdom of Hesse, Duke creates miniature soldiers for the son of the Legatus of the 10th Regiment of Legionnaires. These miniatures become pivotal in the planning and simulated war games carried out as the series begins. Duke attended Gen Con this year, and I had the amazing opportunity to chat with him at the Chaldea booth. Not only did he share several anecdotes about his time in the show, we also spoke in depth about his personal history and the many jobs and callings he has pursued throughout his 80 years.
At 1201 on Sunday, August 2, Peter and his team debuted Chaldea:War Room for more than 100 lucky con attendees, including yours truly. This first episode of the series ran approximately 25 minutes and showed off the mixed media composition quite well. Overall, the blend of graphic novel and live-action melded in a compelling prologue that sets the tone for the court politics and large scale battles to come. I really look forward to seeing the rest of the series as it’s released. You can actually read the script for the first episode on the official website here [Warning: Spoilers!]