Dimension 20: Live in London – Time Quangle Review

24 April 2024
Dropout’s hit show Dimension 20 came to the UK to several sell out dates across the country. With Brennan Lee Mulligan as the ever popular game master, and the team of intrepid heroes, the London event was a standout for fans of the franchise. 

Let’s be honest, it was Critical Role that made playing D&D on camera an experience that would impact the landscape of nerdy entertainment forever. Instead of hoarding our experiences at home, suddenly we’re all tuning into a high production value creation every week to find out what’s happening to the characters we’ve fallen in love with. Dimension 20 is one such beneficiary to this excitement (and we are of it), a series of actual plays often led by Brennan Lee Mulligan, with its core team being a group of Intrepid Heroes. It was this team who headed to London, selling out two nights at the Eventim Apollo (and other venues across the UK), with Dimension 20: The Time Quangle Live

Please note, spoilers for the event lie ahead, and the show will later be available to watch on Dropout. We’ll try to limit too much detail!

The outside of the Eventim Apollo, with Dimension 20 in red as the headline act, and sold out written in black next to it.

What is Dimension 20?

If you remember a sketch comedy channel on YouTube called CollegeHumour, you’ll be in the right place. When CollegeHumour was shut down, Sam Reich turned it into Dropout, a paid streaming platform for comedy and nerdy programs. Several of its creations – Game Changer, a show where the game changes each time, Um, Actually, a game of correcting incorrect statements, and Breaking News, a game of reading the autocue without laughing – have received acclaim, with whispers of Emmy nominations on the horizon for Game Changer. 

One of the most popular series on the platform is Dimension 20, an actual play series of varying themes and characters created by Brennan Lee Mulligan, who regularly DMs. It began with Fantasy High, a group of high school attending adventurers, with improv and writing comedians Emily Axford, Brian Murphy, Siobhan Thompson, Ally Beardsley, Lou Wilson, and Zac Oyama. With the greeting “Say Hi Intrepid Heroes!” and the return “Hi Intrepid Heroes!” this initial group became known as the Intrepid Heroes, and have partaken in a number of series, from Unsleeping City, a New York magical realism, Neil Gaimen-esque setting, to the Neverafter, a twisted horror fairy tale, and many beyond. 

The Dimension 20 Live Show took place across the UK, with two sold out shows being hosted at the Eventim Apollo, where I attended the second night. For this event, I bought a VIP ticket which cost around £140, which offered a seat in the stalls, a commemorative lanyard, and access to a Q&A post-event. Regular seats were available from around £30 depending on your seat. 

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Dimension 20: Time Quangle

The biggest question on the lead up to the event was how it would run. On Dropout currently are new weekly episodes of Fantasy High, revisiting their original series for the second time, and so it seemed unlikely the event would look to continue an existing series when so few people would be present. Whilst a statement from Dropout (regarding Ticketmaster surge pricing for Madison Square Gardens) said all live performances will be available on Dropout at a later date, it’s not clear how long before they will be. Equally, familiarity with characters is a big draw.

The event ran with the Time Quangle instead. 

The Time Quangle meant that each of the Intrepid Heroes rolled from a bingo cage on their desk to draw a single one of their characters from a previous series, with a final roll for the setting completed by GM Brennan Lee Mulligan. Subsequently, Lee Mulligan ran a one shot as a moment in time where these characters were plucked from their own setting and placed into a new adventure for that evening – allowing for a totally unique experience at each event, without impacting any of the existing canon. 

A theatre full, the picture is of the stage which has a panel of seats with blue neon triangles, and a whirling vortex of blue projected behind it.

Characters Drawn

With each character drawn, their character art and the music from the season would appear on screen, to huge excitement from the crowd. However, with the nature of the Time Quangle, we also saw additional characters – Ally Beardsley played three of their characters, including one, a previously unseen character from the A Crown of Candy series (Game of Thrones inspired). It’s worth noting that Lou Wilson was able to attend only the London shows. 

Brian Murphy

The first to draw was Brian, who drew Cody Walsh from Unsleeping City Season 2. Cody is a former hot-topic manager who eventually wields the Thirsting Blade Dark Excalibur Mega Genesis Sword, though in his series is unable to successfully use it. Contextually, it offers -2 to damage and attack roles, +30 to damage roles, but to use the attack you must succeed on a DC15 atheletics check each round. Each attack is rolled with disadvantage, and it imposes disadvantage on dexterity based checks and saving throws. However, on a nat 20, it deals 20D10 necrotic damage and restores that many hit points – and so attempts to use it successfully continue!

Emily Axford

Emily drew Figueroth “Fig” Faeth, a teifling from Fantasy High, lead bassist for the successful band Fig and the Cig Figs, known for chaotic decisions and energy. The character is the daughter of demon Gortholax the Insatiable but grew up without knowing her ancestry, causing her to rebel when her horns came through. 

Lou Wilson

Lou drew first an accidental setting ball, which Mulligan used to influence the setting itself, before drawing Pinocchio from Neverafter. Unlike the Pinocchio of fairy tales, the twisted element of the Neverafter mean he is a stringless marionette with a broken nose and a favouring of bubblegum and whisky (together, with the bubblegum first). Lou played Pinocchio with a high pitched voice that returned for the night. 

Zac Oyama

Zac drew Gorgug Thistlespring, another Fantasy High character and drummer in Fig and the Cig Figs. He’s a half orc barbarian raised by gnomes who spent much of the first season trying to find who his Dad was by asking anyone. 

Ally Beardsley

Ally drew Margaret Encino, a executive from Starstrukk, a contrast to Ally’s usual character style. Margaret is a focussed businesswoman with a portfolio of investments and successful money management that saw her becoming rich at a young age. Ally also went on to play Sir Amanda, an unused backup character made in the event of their character's death in Crown of Candy, who was a smores Paladin, and then Kristen Applebees from Fantasy High. 

Siobhan Thompson

Siobhan drew Adaine Abernant, another Fantasy High character who has become the Elven Oracle, with Boggy the Froggy, a perfectly spherical frog as her companion. She’s a wizard, whose spells regularly amend the rolls of foes and interrupt the plans of the game master. 


The Setting and Adventure

The physical setting was put as A Crown of Candy, the Game of Thrones-esque setting of brutality but with the sweetness of food based puns. We saw the return of Caramel-inda, Queen of Candia, an NPC as a result. 

As Lou had somehow rolled a setting ball in his bingo cage, the adventure surrounded how Pinocchio was making the setting in his likeness – the woodening. When the setting lacked a character from Crown of Candy, Ally was offered the option to Quangle into a character from the setting, which they took, to become Sir Amanda, a previously unknown character. Ally played Liam Wilhelmina of House Jawbreaker in the original series, a “seed guy” turned “war guy” after the demise of Peppermint Preston, their pig familiar. 

Brennan had made a comment to welcome everyone to the setting with “we are gathered here today”, and when Ally was trying to figure out their new, unplayed character sheet, they made the comment of having the right ability to be able to marry anyone. That then became that the world could only be saved as a result of a love match marriage. 

Though the game was wholly improvised, as always the best aspects were the interpersonal discussions between the characters. Pinocchio teaching Fig the best way to have Whisky and Bubblegum, Boggy the Froggy becoming a bat, NPC Caramelinda’s relationship with Sir Amanda, and especially the relationships between the cast and Cody, whom they immediately look up to, with Gorgug pledging to be a squire for him immediately, before the relationship later sours as Gorgug realises how uncool the character is. Cody is petulant at Gorgugs attempts to help him, and Gorgug’s sulky reaction was physical comedy at its finest. 

After a few attempts to find a perfect pair, the team settle on this worlds version of Peppermint Preston (previously a familiar of Ally’s character), though he is now merged with one of the pigs of Neverafter, and Baron from the Baronies (A terrifying nightmare entity) merged with a criminal from Starstrukk, however after Cody kills the former character with the first ever successful use of the sword, the team seek to gain permission from the Nightmare King (Quangled into the Hungry King) as Baron from the Baronies ‘father’, for Cody to marry them instead. With Fig’s disguise self, and a wealth of skulduggery, the setting is eventually saved. 

A picture of the stage, with the message "The Greatest magic of all is Chronomancy", next to the character art for Arthur Aguefort, a D20 NPC

The Dimension 20 Experience

The experience on the whole was absolutely electric. There’s something to be said for a group of fans of a franchise we don’t often get to share in wider experiences, collating in one space to be a part of the action we’re usually so distanced from. For that reason, each character was met with huge cheers, with the sports chant of the Owlbears “Hoot Growl!” echoing for any Fantasy High character or moment. Each Box of Doom roll (Brennan reserves these for pivotal moments) had palpable tension in the room, with cheers and groans in equal measure depending on the roll's success. It was the perfect manifestation of how we feel watching moments like this on television, but with the excitement of 3,500 other people, who are just as invested, watching alongside. 

It’s a clear reminder too that these are excellent improvised comedy actors, which means that the action never got too waylaid in rules, if at all. There were some moments where a lot was going on – an extraordinary round of counterspells was one such moment, where there were a lot of necessary rolls that could have slowed the action down, but never did. Murph choosing to be enraged about his moped being broken when he’d been enlarged for his own benefit caused Zac to mime the fixing of his moped through other serious moments, was just one of many brilliant choices to add additional relief. 

The experience was a masterclass in comedy and a masterpiece in performative D&D. It gave fans a huge opportunity to experience the action, being able to see their favourite characters in play in a unique way. The event was a roaring success. 


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