Dimension 20 is known for pushing the boundaries of what a TTRPG can do. Having just finished the 'Inside Out meets Dick Tracey' series Mentopolis their new D&D 5e game Burrow's End has just released its second episode.
Burrow's End follows a family of Stouts living in the Red Warren as they're forced out of house and home and need to find a new place to survive. Think Dungeons & Dragons meets Watership Down. This week we had a chance to talk to four members of the cast; Rashawn Scott and Jasper Cartwright, as well as Siobhan Thompson and Erika ishii (Interview to come soon)
We learned about the creation of their Stoat family and features, how relationships were formed, and what was going through the cast's minds during pivotal moments during the first and second episodes of Burrow's End.
There will be spoilers for Episode 1 and Episode 2 of Burrow's End throughout the course of this interview
Who are the stoats of Burrow's End?
Character creation is such an important part of starting a TTRPG. Players pick what makes them unique not only in mechanics but also by their looks, but how do you do that when every character is a Stoat?
"Aabria made it very plain and clear at our character creation that these were not anthropomorphic creatures," Scott began "that we were living in the wild and we were not meant to have clothes at all. The way I skirted around that is how I've skirted around every DM request I've ever had is 'maybe if I did it a little different'"
Rashawn explained that in creating Viola, wife of a cult leader, took inspiration from larger-than-life characters like Lady Macbeth. In order to set herself apart she wanted to have Viola get "dirtied up" in things that are beautiful like flowers and pollen sprinkles.
Jasper's approach was that he was trying to find a way to "physically key into the character," a method that he prefers to use when acting. "I had decided early on that Thorn was going to have a lanky, more awkward gate and be slightly more elongated."
Thorn and Viola, Burrow's End's Happy Couple
After talking about his backstory, being a nomad who has found a place of status, the various scars from previous "shit" that he has seen began to make sense. "It helped me paint the picture of Thorn; Slightly scrappy, wirey, a little bit on edge, slightly anxious because there's something around every corner" kind of Stout.
Cartwright jokes that he felt that Viola's calming effect was just about having an effect on Thorn just for "Aabria to kick him in the chin halfway through episode 1 and put him right back on his anxiety."
Asking Cartwright more about Thorn's rise to "reluctant cult leader" Jasper said he didn't want to give away too much but that "the shit in his past has led him to realize he has gifts and an ability to hear and listen to the forest." While he might not be seeking out the power, this power draws others to him.
Viola stands by Jasper often taking charge in situations where he might be too reluctant. Scott explained that she's a character pulled between two places, "who is she in her family? And from the other side seeing there's so much more out there being with someone like Thorn she can be so much bigger."
Hearing Scott's thoughts on her character's place next to Thorn Cartwright interjected quickly to talk about how Scott wasn't just a comforting character for Thron, but also for him as they both stepped into the Dimension 20 dome together.
"The strength and energy that Rashawn came to the table with made me feel so much more confident," he explained "I genuinely felt supported like a little husband both above table and below table"
"Oh yeah, we were wrapped around each other's pinky and we were just like 'it's super cool that we're here and let's not scream joy every little time, but lets be cool about it'" Scott commented while acting out confidence
New Players Joining the Dimension 20 Dome For Burrow's End
Something I always like hearing about with these productions, as I heard from Anjali Bihmani for The Ravening War, is how one get's the call for a new season.
Scott explained that while working at Dropout recently, on shows like Make Some Noise, she had always been trying to get the info to Brennan Lee Mulligan, Creator of Dimension 20, that she played D&D.
Scott said at first she was afraid it was an elaborate prank before confirming it all.
Then Aabria, having seen her on Make Some Noise, reached out. "I saw you doing your thing on Dropout and I wanted you. I didn't know if you knew how to play D&D and I was willing to teach you and then you showed up and put your foot into it."
For Cartwright, his adventure began last year at Big Badcon where he ran a Wakandale (Wakanda meets Riverdale) one-shot where he was able to crash on Aabria's couch after his original arrangements fell through.
After playing that one shot Aabria told Cartwright "I loved playing this, I'm going to get you in something this year." Cartwright played it off to not get his hopes off, but then was contacted by Dimension 20 to "hop on a quick zoom".
When Brennan told him that they wanted him on the next season of Dimension 20 Cartwright was "so proud of [himself], the best acting I've ever done was not having a complete panic attack on the Zoom with Brennan right there and then."
A really important fact that both Scott and Cartwright also brought up was how incredible it was "to be brought on by Aabria who has been a bastion for any POC in the space. Arabia is the gold standard dropping that ladder back down helping everyone out"
"She's so tall she could pick us all up" Scott added
"It feels extra special having been brought on by Aabria and to be sat at a Black table that is majority POC is huge! It was overwhelming!" finished Cartwright
Cartwright explained how many times he's cried thinking about this game and experience (at least 47.) I did have to ask him to clarify if he was referring to positive crying as related to the experience, or the cries of horror after what Aabria had put them through.
A Stoat Family Tree
After hearing Scott's story about wanting to be on Dimension 20 I had to ask what it was like going from trying to get Brennan Lee Mulligan's attention, to having Mulligan playing her sister.
"At first I was really intimidated by it because so many talented people in the room [...] I had gotten a chance to improvise with Izzy and Brennan. I think the wackadoo energy that I love about improv, and that he and Izzy have burned into their blood, worked out so well. I could go very silly with this person but I also felt very comfortable that when we got to these emotional places I was going to be taken care of."
Scott has no siblings of her own, and neither does Mulligan so they approached Viola and Tula's relationship by "holding hands and jumping into the abyss together. Do we wanna fight, or not?"
"Brennan Lee Mulligan is the sister you never knew you needed" - Jasper Cartwright
Does Jasper Cartwright Believe in Dice superstition?
With a number of low rolls over the course of episode 1, and previous Dimension 20 players being vocal on the topic of Dice superstition I wanted to hear from Jasper whether he's the type of player to roll through the natural 1s or if he has his own remedy to keep his dice warded.
"I am in the camp of keep rolling through" Cartwright immediately stated "It's in the same camp as not believing in ghosts because if I let myself believe they're real they'll fundamentally change who I am as a person."
Cartwright continued "If I start to believe that if I moon these rocks and bathe them in saltwater it's just never going to stop. I'll be doing rituals in a week and I just can't do that."
Thinking back on those dice rolls from episode 1 and 2 Cartwright noted that it was the inconsequential rolls that were getting the high numbers. He commented that he was miserable at the time or felt that he was "messing up on D20."
His tone shifted as he explained that in hindsight the low rolls allowed him to lean into the genuine panic and worry that Thorn has "for his new family, for his friends." Coming in with natural 20s might have told the wrong narrative for Thron.
The Stoats Leaving Their Nest and a Bear Approaches
To couple with his low rolls Thorn also had to deal with the trauma of the rest of his cult and those that followed him perishing to the gas.
Recounting his mindspace during that time Cartwright believe "I was in the same space as the audience. I was having so much fun up to that point thinking 'we're such a silly little family, this is great' and I had forgotten who Aabria was."
"We can take this seriously now, Aabria is going to kill us all"
Once the smog rolled in he was awoken to the situation.
"The fear and the excitement of 'something is about to happen'" is one that Scott said she is constantly reliving thinking about it. So much of the adrenaline is returning to both Scott and Cartwright as they've been rewatching the show and talking about it.
Scott was quick to offer up that there were aspects of Episode 2's bear that she remembers vividly. After being told to leave the room they were informed they'd be recorded as they returned to the space. Erika Ishii rounded the corner and screamed.
Scott highlighted Rick Perry's amazing craftsmanship when it came to the bear and the transformation that took place in front of them all.
"She's polly pocketing this thing"
"She waits for one of us to go in" Cartwright stammered as Scott was quietly cursing Aabria in the background "and then was like *kwapap!* and I was like *dry wretch noises*."
Cartwright was excited to go into a Dimension 20 campaign where there would be combat and full battle maps. When he sat down he had to question "why can I see a slight seam around the skull of *hmmm* that skull comes off, THAT SKULL COMES OFF! I didn't say anything but I was sitting there watching."
Being shocked by the opened bear myself I was beside myself as Cartwright took a moment to slow the conversation down to assure me "Andrew, you haven't even seen the dopest stuff yet. There's more and trust me, if you think we've been places we're going to GO places."
What followed was a full minute of Scott and Cartwright talking in code between each other about how they're so excited for fans of Dimension 20 to see what's coming next, but that also that "they aren't ready."
TechRaptor would like to thank Rashawn Scott and Jasper Cartwright for taking the time to talk with us about their experiences on Burrow's End.
If you're interested in checking out more of Rashawn Scott you can find her on Twitter/instagram, has a short film called The Burden that is being submitted into festivals, a podcast called Mystery County Monsters Club, and you can check out SouthSide on HBO "It's canceled, but we could still use you watching it" she added.
Jasper Cartwright can be found on Twitter. He is also one-third of "Three Black Halflings" a podcast where they talk about diversity and inclusion within fantasy spaces, he's on a regular guest host on "Games and Feelings", and he's just teamed up with Zac Ouyama to bring back the Rotating Heroes Podcast which he will be DMing starting with Arc 8. Cartwright also teased that Scott, along with potential other members of Burrow's End will be joining him as a player.