Deep in the agricultural heart of Abbotsford lives Wilmer Ademith Miandis the Third.
He’s a socially awkward prince who’s always trying to prove himself and escape the shadow of his much more successful younger sister.
Welcome to the world of Tabletop Tiddies, a weekly tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) actual-play podcast that’s run entirely by people of marginalized genders.
Abbotsford resident Sara Mayfield, who portrays Wilmer, and a group of friends with whom she attended Capilano University’s musical theatre program created the idea for a unique podcast experience when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year. With many of them either out of work or underemployed and with more free time, they decided to delve into the TTRPG universe.
“One of the girls had, like a lot of us have had, very anti-climatic TTRPG experiences in the past,” Mayfield said, laughing. “So we reached out to each other about playing Dungeons and Dragons together and how it’ll all be marginalized genders so it’ll be a super-open and even table and she countered back and said, ‘What if we did a podcast?’ ”
The first episodes dropped in October and the group’s following quickly grew. The format is similar to those who are familiar with D&D, but there are more intricate stories, improv performances and unique production elements. These types of podcasts have grown in popularity in recent years, with many enjoying the collaborative storytelling experience and getting connected to the characters both on and off the screen.
“I like to describe what we do as almost like an audio book but you never know what’s going to happen,” Mayfield said. “So we’re telling a story but everything is decided by the chaos of rolling dice. Depending on what you roll, you will have a different type of problem or situation your character has to face and we have to explain it all in character on the spot. It’s all theatre of the mind.”
The show’s talent consists of Mayfield (who records the show in a small room on her family farm in Abbotsford), Salmon Arm’s Charlene Bayer and Kelly Wright, Surrey’s Rachel Theilade, and Port Coquitlam’s Emily Matchette. Podcasts are filmed on Zoom and then shared on a number of different social media platforms, including anywhere audio podcasts are available, such as YouTube and Twitch.
Mayfield said one of the main reasons why she thinks the podcast has thrived is that they are different voices playing a game that so many people enjoy doing.
“There can be a lot of nerdy gatekeeping in the TTRPG world,” she said. “I know when I first started there was a lot of guys saying, ‘Oh, you won’t understand’ or ‘Let me do this for you.’ That doesn’t help a player in the long run and can turn people off from the game. Since we started doing the podcast, a lot of people have told us they’ve had similar experiences.”
She said the vast majority of players and those involved in the podcast/online world of TTRPG are straight men, and Tabletop Tiddies aims to provide something for those outside that bubble.
“There is definitely a gap in this space for people who aren’t men,” she said. “We’ve seen through our reviews that a lot of marginalized genders and queer folk are gravitating towards our podcast because they see it as a safe space for them to learn and enjoy this world.”
The brand has developed a strong social media following in a short time, with over 1,100 followers on Twitter, nearly 500 followers on Instagram, close to 400 followers on Facebook and more than 300 on Twitch. They also have both a Patreon and an IndieGoGo campaign for followers to support and have the chance to interact even more. Visit tabletoptiddies.com for more information on how to follow the brand.
Mayfield said Tabletop Tiddies will continue after the pandemic is over, but they are considering hosting live podcasts in a bar setting and are also exploring opportunities to perform at comic conventions or similar gatherings.
Season one of the D&D podcast recently wrapped up, with season two starting soon. They have also announced a new show titled Tiddies By Night, which uses the Vampire the Masquerade system and is set in Victorian London and follows the adventures of a team of vampires investigating the supernatural. That show debuted earlier this month. For more details on both shows, visit tabletoptiddies.com/shows.