Review: Misfits and Magic

As the franchise that will not be named by the delusional TERF author further descends into a sad, dismal state, non-asshole nerds have been looking for a replacement magical school narrative and world to play in. Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few if you are willing to look and finally abandon the shitty, popular versions. One of the more entertaining and engaging ones can be found on DropoutTV in Dimension20’s Misfits and Magic TTRPG Actual Play campaign.

A small taste of what to expect on this campaign.

Now, I have sung the praises of Dimension20’s campaigns in the past and with good reason. Misfits and Magic is no different in terms of quality or entertainment. A non Intrepid Heroes campaign GMed by the incredible Aabria Iyengar, M&M is the ninth campaign from the small studio and utilizes the Kids on Broom system as a departure of the standard DnD 5E system most of the other campaigns have used. Of course, as always, there are still some homebrew mechanics and alterations to fully work within the narrative and framework the cast and crew have set up. Joining Aabria at the table are four players (instead of the standard six most campaigns have): Lou Wilson, playing Whitney Jammer, a sports enthusiast; Erika Iishi, playing Dream, a conflicted, dual personality emo princess; Danielle Radford, playing Sam Black, a social media savant and rising influencer; and finally Brennan Lee Mulligan, playing Evan Kelmp, an Adam Driver looking goof tortured (?) by a dark, malevolent presence. All four of the characters are part of the ‘Pilot Program’ an exchange program meant to bring and study four unique American students to see if magic can or should be dispersed to the masses instead of hoarded and used by a small, select, elite few.

The basic premise and story of M&M is not too different from the story of the TERF’s books; in fact, that is an ongoing in universe joke about how similar several of the elements of the magical world of are to the Harry Potter books. This is obviously intentional as it is also repeatedly used to call out how stupid and ridiculous many of the elements of that world really are. There are also several well earned callouts toward the author both in the campaign and in the after show episodes/discussions.

Honestly, one of the oddest and funniest crews to sit at the table.

The story starts with each major player character getting a letter about their acceptance to Gowpenny Academy of Arcane Arts (the Hogwarts of this universe) through a scene of an owl delivering them. Each scene is specific to the player character as it gives more detail and backstory to each PC’s attributes and archetypical role they will be inhabiting in this campaign. Jammer is the captain//jock of the group with his skillset being geared toward physical confrontations and tactician in battle scenarios. Dream is the emo/pixie princess with a dual personality mixed up of the macabre and exuberantly pink whose skillset revolves more around charming and talking her way through problems. Sam is the social media influencer who has major charisma and wisdom to use and dispense to gain upper hand in social situations. Evan is the emo dark lord with supercharged magic and a healthy constitution and perception for surviving whatever is thrown at him. Honestly, the bird scenes alone would make this campaign worth it as Aabria does not hold back in her storytelling. It gets kind of dark real quick.

From the introduction, the first episode continues the expected trajectory where the ‘Pilot Program’ are transported to Britain and then further moved into the secret underground society of wizards who operate in secret to the NMP (Non Magical Person) world. They are given a brief description and rundown of the school, the policies, the small town near the school, etc. As well, all four new students go around to purchase wands, brooms, familiars, and all the other basics they might need to perform their studies at Gowpenny. They also meet other students and future rivals while ambling around town on their shopping spree. By episode’s end, the four have been sorted (another funny jab at the source material with added social commentary), placed in classes, been informed of the single school sport/team, and officially moved in to the school. The remainder of the season (and only four episodes in total making it one of the shorter campaigns) revolves around discovering the central mystery of why the pilot program even exists in the first place, growing individually and as a group to overcome their initial insecurities and limitations, and becoming the heroes they always were all while attending classes and learning a few magical tricks along the way. And of course the campaign ends in a climactic Cup battle between various Houses and other schools.

And the player characters: archetypes with a bit more depth.

Unlike the source material, M&M actually incorporates social issues like equality, racism, injustice, corrupt systems, etc. into the very framework of its characters and story and not just as badly done secondary inclusion. And more significantly, the main characters actually implement helpful change for the betterment of society without destroying the culture and civilization they are trying to aid. It is a bit sad that an independent studio with a fraction of the budget even one of the HP films spent on catering managed to create a more engaging, inclusive, and thought out than the entirety of the actual Harry Potter universe. Unfortunate but not surprising.

So, if you are or were ever a fan of Harry Potter and the world it created, ditch the TERF and latch on to the universe of Magic and Misfits or really almost any other story of wizardry and magic. I guarantee there are so many better options to support.

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