Dimension 20: The Ravening War is just days away from releasing on Dropout. The latest season of Dimension 20 sees a number of exciting elements arriving in the dome; Matthew Mercer will be the DM of a Dimension 20 series, the series will be a prequel to the "Game of Thrones meets Candyland" series A Crown of Candy, and Anjali Bhimani will be making her Dimension 20 debut. We were lucky to sit down with Bhimani to talk about her character Lady Amangeaux Epicée du Peche.
A Crown of Candy was originally designed in the mind of Dimension 20's in-house DM Brennan Lee Mulligan as a mix of Candyland and Game of Thrones. Where the six different kingdoms of Calorum are all based on different food groups and House Rocks, the ruling family of Candia, was the central focus.
Matthew Mercer, DM of Critical Role, leads The Ravening War with players Aabria Iyengar, Brennan Lee Mullan, Lou Wilson, Zac Oyama, and Anjali Bhimani. As the new player in The Dome, I had to ask Bhimani how it was that she became a part of this project. She explained that it was Mercer texting her one night saying "Hey, I'm doing this thing and, no pressure, here's the date but I need to know tonight." Bhimani laughed as she explained that calling it "this thing" was exactly how he described it to her so she didn't even know what she'd be agreeing to "but it's Matt so I was like 'Yeah, of course!' then when I found out what it was I was so happy I was beside myself because I wanted to do something with Dimension 20."
Of her costars, Bhimani reminisced about working with Mercer as a fellow player and Iyengar as DM of Exandria Unlimited (EXU) and how she had watched Brennan Lee Mulligan and Lou Wilson on EXU: Calamity, a prequel series that Mulligan ran in Mercer's world of Exandria. The saddest part about The Ravening War for Bhimani was after only six episodes "it ended too soon, it's a short time to fall in love with a group of characters."
Bhimani describes her character, Lady Amangeaux Epicée du Peche, as a combination of Jessica Rabbit and Spicy Dried Mango. Talking through the name "Epicée means spiced, du Peche means of the Peach, and Lady Amangeaux is a made up name for a mango trying to sound French."
Bhimani explained her love of spicy dried mango and how the complexity of flavors compliments Lady Amangeaux's personality. "I love the fact that if you take a Mango that is super sweet and delicious and perfect and you dry it out a little bit and add some spice it is a whole different level of delicious and I love that, and I love that complexity that can exist in the same form. [Lady Amangeaux] is very poised, she's very elegant, as for the food that she is, she's sweet but very spicy, that combination is what makes her very cool. She will absolutely speak her mind, she will absolutely fight for herself, and she may get herself into trouble doing that, that's entirely possible."
In the world of The Ravening War, we pick up on Lady Amangeaux's life shortly after the death of her husband, the former king of Vegetania. This leaves Amangeaux not just in a place of limbo with her status in the country, but also in a place of grief. "That sense of unease and uncertainty is a big part of where Lady Amangeaux starts the game. That being said, her facade of capability is still strong, she's trying very hard to make it seem like she knows what she's doing but it becomes very evident very fast that she's a fish out of water." While Bhimani wasn't able to tell me what her character's race, class, or level an interesting element of Amangeaux's story is that she has spent had her whole life in the court refining skills that are useful, and now will be thrown into an entirely unknown world. Lady Amangeaux has to find out "what do you do when your skills don't mean anything?"
Lady Amangeaux has a friend in the court in the presence of Bishop Raphaniel Charlock, played by Mulligan. When creating her Character, Bhimani worked with Mercer to figure out how her character fits into the world, but her time working with Brennan wasn't as the 'lore keeper' of Calorum and A Crown of Candy but was as his and her characters knew each other so well. There was one other pre-existing relationship that Lady Amangeaux has but Bhimani explained it was a spoiler in her own mind so she wants to make sure viewers have the right place to meet them.
"Much like with what Matt did with Aabria with EXU or Brennan and Calamity they fill each other in, but the DM has the reign to do what they need to do. All of them respect each other so much and it's so clear that they are like 'This is your world now, and go!'"
Knowing the high level of roleplay that series like Dimension 20 and Critical Role show off, ensuring that thousands of viewers would not only enjoy the game of Dungeons & Dragons but the overarching story that is presented I had to also ask what approach is taken to creating a character and giving a performance to assist with the viewer buy-in. Bhimani explained that when she creates a character she thinks about how that character is viewed from multiple lenses.
"I think every character has to have one deep obstacle within themselves that they don't even realize is an obstacle within themselves. I think we as human beings, there's the you that you know, the you that you say that you are, the you that people say you are, and the you that nobody really knows including yourself," Bhimani explained "Trying to figure out who that person is when there's so much you don't see about yourself until it comes and is brought forth from circumstances, normally relationships, I think that is a very important place to start with. What is your character's greatest challenge whether they know it or not?"
She counts herself lucky as an actor to be well equipt to consider those views and has a number of tools at her disposal to give these characters a performance that isn't just interesting, but also genuine. When asked if there were many of those large confrontations with an unknown obstacle Bhimani immediately confirmed stating "Absolutely, there are so many. I gotta tell you they took ME off guard, not just her. There are moments in this show where things came out of my mouth that surprised me. I didn't realize that was the direction it was going to go but because the story was going that way it only made sense. There are a lot of surprises in this, for everyone, everyone has a few left turns which is appropriate for A Crown of Candy because boy was that a ride."
Dimension 20: The Ravening War starts Wednesday, May 10th at 7 pm ET on Dropout. There will be 6 episodes in total each going up the subsequent Wednesday. The first episode will also be released for free via the Dropout YouTube channel on May 17th
TechRaptor would like to thank Anjali Bhimani for taking the time to talk with us about The Ravening War, the creation of Lady Amangeaux Epicée du Peche, and her approach to acting in an Actual Play.