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Tomb raiders: Celebrity D&D players stream live game from Williamsburg

A show of force: Voice actor Matt Mercer, center, will lead the cast of “Force Grey” through a Dungeons & Dragons adventure on Nov. 18 in Williamsburg.
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This show is a critical hit!

A party of celebrity nerds will raid a dungeon, battle monsters, and trigger deadly traps live on stage this weekend in Williamsburg. “Force Grey: Survive the Tomb,” happening at Villain on Nov. 18, will feature five veteran performers playing Dungeons & Dragons in front of a live audience — and though the action is purely verbal, the entertaining cast, led by voice actor Matt Mercer, will have audience members on the edge of the seats, said the organizer of the event.

“I think the dynamic performances of the cast, and the vocal talents of Matt, will keep people entranced,” said Greg Tito, from Wizards of the Coast, the company that publishes Dungeons & Dragons.

In addition to Mercer, the group features “True Blood” actors Joe Manganiello and Deborah Ann Woll, child-actor-turned-Williamsburg-mead-brewer Dylan Sprouse, Utkarsh Ambudkar, from “The Mindy Project,” and voice actress Marisha Ray, portraying an elite group of adventurers creeping their way through a deadly, trap-filled tomb.

This weekend’s four-hour game, which will also be broadcast live, serves as a sort of season finale for the 18-part series “Force Grey: Lost City of Omu.” That adventure was recorded at two marathon game sessions in Los Angeles, said Tito, but the latest session moved to Brooklyn to accommodate the shooting schedule of the actors — and to take advantage of the neighborhood’s cachet, said the former Williamsburg resident.

“Brooklyn is a cool place in general,” said Tito.

The actors will play on a small stage, set up like a typical living room, with the audience on risers nearby. Video screens will capture details that might escape the audience, including dice rolls and an elaborate miniature dungeon created by Williamsburg model crafter Stefan Pokorny, who, said Tito “made it look as bad-ass as it can be.”

Before the dungeon-crawl starts at 3 pm, audience members can check out game products, gawk at an elaborate model of a ruined jungle city, and examine sculptures of fantastic creatures mounted on the wall like hunting trophies.

“It’ll be like walking into a D&D museum,” said Tito.

The audience for Dungeons & Dragons games was once limited to those who could fit around a basement gaming table, but a collection of “actual play” podcasts and videos over the last few years has opened up the game to a whole new crowd, said Tito.

“The fact that we can watch these expert performers for three to four hours, playing D&D, live and streamed to an audience of thousands — I’m still flabbergasted that we can do this,” he said.

“Force Grey” at Villain (307 Kent Ave. at S. Third Street in Williamsburg, www.wizards.com/dnd). Nov. 18 at 2 pm. $30–$37.50.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Updated 11:57 am, November 15, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Morris from Mill Basin says:
Awesome! I love it! HUGS AND KISSES from Morris from Mill Basin!
Nov. 15, 6:14 am

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