I go from reviewing an online show centered on online gaming to an online show centered on LARPing. One Hit Die is Canada’s answer to the Guild. There are a few similarities. First, they both center on a timid woman who becomes an unlikely leader of a group of oddballs. It centers on a form of gaming. While the gaming of the Guild takes place on a computer screen, One Hit Die takes place in fields. Episodes for both are under ten minutes. The creators and stars will be appearing in the show. Fortunately, they are both witty send ups of the Fantasy genre while paying a loving tribute to the games.
The show begins like any other fantasy. In the Seven Realms, the people live under the tyranny of a sorcerer. But a prophecy tells of a warrior who will find the orb of Mendes and bring peace into the world. Gwendolyn (Larissa Thompson) believes she is destined to find that orb. Joined by Sasha the fighter (Julie Orton), Torvold the rogue (Andrew Long) and Azurus the wizard (Phil Burke), Gwendolyn the healer begins her quest to find the orb. The first scenes seems like a scene from Lord of the Rings with an aerial shot of the fellowship walking across a field. All of a sudden, Sasha takes an axe to the cameraman.
At this point, the show takes a sharp turn from Middle Earth to Modern Family, complete with reality show-esque interviews. In the first episode, the fellowship has a lot of choice words for each other. Gwendolyn tries to convince the stab happy Sasha to try negotiation instead of killing every creature that comes their way. Torvold is frustrated with the “hungry, hungry hippogriff” Sasha taking all of the experience points. “Sasha tries to gut [a fish] and skin it herself” Torvold complains “You don’t get experience points from a fish.” Meanwhile, Azurus is too busy “regenerating” aka sleeping. Then there’s the question of whether the hole on the dead creature is a mouth or a gash from Sasha’s axe.
The interesting difference between One Hit Die and The Guild is perspective. The Guild is written from an outsider’s point of view who sees the character’s personal lives and the role pc games play in their lives. In fact, we never actually see the games. It is only at the end of season 4 where the game world is finally seen. In contrast, creator Spencer Estabrooks shoots the show from an insider’s perspective. Though the characters talk in modern dialogue and reference “experience points”, the whole show is shot as if it were a fantasy. We never see their personal lives outside the game. It’s never even brought up. As far as they care, this is their world. We see this journey as they imagine it. In its own charming way, it shows the outsider the reasons people enjoy LARPing.
The characters also help with the charm. Each character contrasts and plays off the others very well. Plus, they are very entertaining characters. Thompson’s performance is so sweet and warm she charms the audience into rooting for Gwen despite being a little out of her league. Orton is delightfully brash as Sasha. Burke brings all the elements you can’t help but enjoy in a stoner/slacker. It’s Long who steals the show. He brings an interesting twist to the Rogue character. He has the classic trait of greed but he is frustrated that Sasha keeps getting all his experience point. At one point, he gets so desperate he bludgeons a troll Sasha had just stabbed to steal experience points. At the same time, he feels a need for others for him to share his greediness with, even if it is the ghost of the troll he killed.
So far, the show consists of 4 episodes and two Christmas specials. The show keeps the characters on a humorous journey, finding their destiny constantly undermined by botched magic, deadly creatures and each other. It would still be fun to see them go through their journey to fulfill said prophecy.