The lights rise on the Dimension 20 set as we settle in for a new side campaign of the actual play Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) series from Dropout, but something is different this time. Something wild, even for the usually diverse, queer-affirming rotation of cast members that join dungeon master and creator Brennan Lee Mulligan (he/him) in the dome: drag queens! And not just any drag queens, but household names from the drag scene. Alums of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Monét X Change (he/him/she/her), Alaska Thunderfuck (she/her), Bob the Drag Queen (he/him/she/her), and Jujubee (she/her) have joined Mulligan to roll dice, cast spells, and venture into the underworld in Dungeons & Drag Queens.
While the idea of drag queens playing D&D is not new, nor original to the creatives at Dropout, Dimension 20 is the biggest actual play series to do it. At a time when state legislatures across the United States are trying to ban drag performances for challenging the gender binary (a social construct enforced by Eurocentric Christian ideology that is rejected by cultures around the world), it is incredible to see a diverse group of drag queens join this game. Drag culture and performance is an important art form, and it’s so cool to see how at-home it is in the context of actual play. Tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) can be a great setting to explore aspects of your own life through character creation and roleplaying, whether it’s your gender identity, sexual orientation, or other ways you are or want to live your life. To see these queens (in full drag) play this game that is so important to many, especially among the queer community, is a true gift.
This first episode of Dungeons & Drag Queens is unique among Dimension 20 seasons in that all of the players at the table are brand new to TTRPGs. While Dimension 20 has had first-time players before, this is the first season where the premise is that this is a table of new players. Mulligan, as the Dungeon Master, uses time on-air to explain the rules of D&D to these new players, going over parlance that experienced players take for granted. So not only has Mulligan created a fun season where we get to see some of our favorite queens play a game we love, but he has also created a resource for those of us who are constantly begging our non-dice-rolling friends to join us at our tables. Who among us hasn’t said “Go watch a season of Dimension 20” expecting it to teach our new players everything they need to know? But now we have the gift of one of the best Dungeon Masters in the world explaining the rules in a way that is accessible and a lot of fun.
For first-time players, Bob, Monét, Alaska, and Jujubee are naturals. Their honed wit and exquisite personalities fit so well into this fantasy space that it feels like they’ve been doing it forever. If it wasn’t for Mulligan explaining the rules of the game, you’d have no idea that these four have never played this game before. Their chemistry together as an adventuring group and their instincts in reacting to the scenes and situations around them are stellar. And the world that Mulligan creates is an impressive fusion of the traditional fantasy genre that he loves with queer culture-inspired characters and features. And any discussion of this season can’t overlook Mulligan finally putting some extra flair into his appearance (and uhh oh man what a look)!
Dungeons & Drag Queens promises a fun four-episode season of dice rolling and roleplaying with a great cast of drag queens. More importantly, this season of Dimension 20 will provide not only a great introduction to TTRPGs and Dungeons & Dragons, but an affirming season that is a beacon of hope in an increasingly dangerous world of resistance to the very art that provides a place for queer identity. I am thankful to Dropout and the team of Dimension 20 for their willingness to make this season.
The first episode of Dungeons & Drag Queens and the corresponding Adventuring Party, as well as all episodes of previous seasons of Dimension 20, are available on Dropout. Some seasons and select episodes are also available on YouTube. Materials for Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop roleplaying games can be found at your local independent bookstore, game store, and many comic book stores, as well as digitally from sites like D&D Beyond and Roll20.