New Dungeons & Dragons Show Presents a Unique and Deadly Approach to Game

Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! sees Matthew Lillard face insurmountable Dungeons & Dragons odds.

Get ready to watch Matthew Lillard die on screen....a lot. The premise of Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill!, the upcoming show on the D&D Adventures FAST Channel that is set to debut later this year, is that Lillard and a rotating cast of players control 1st level characters who fight iconic and grossly overpowered D&D monsters, and ultimately die in the process. "The original way we pitched the show is Dungeons & Dragons meets Whose Line Is It Anyways?" Lillard said during an in-person interview at Gen Con. "It's a one-hour show with four first level adventures go off into the world to be the heroes they've always dreamed of with hopes and dreams and aspirations. And they come face to face with a legendary monster from Dungeons & Dragons. Each episode ends in a total party kill."  

Despite the rather brutal nature of the show, Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! isn't supposed to be about killing characters, it simply provides an end point for the characters' stories. "We're not trying to create a show about killing characters," said executive producer and host Bill Rehor. "We're trying to create a show about a meaningful journey that happens to end in a player's demise. So we give them a real quest with real goals, and they are really trying their best to accomplish this feat that's been put in front of them. And unfortunately, it's an impossible feat. The players are asked to play their characters as people who really believe they can succeed, and they do a wonderful job of that. And through that journey of trying to climb this impossible hill, you find a lot of comedy and a lot of meaning and just a lot of fun for everybody." 

The pair explained to that the unusual format of the show came from trying to find a way to create a "meaningful" Dungeons & Dragons experience that ends after an hour. Rehor and Lillard didn't want to compete with Critical Role and other established juggernauts in the space, which led to them creating a kind of game that has a quick end...because everyone dies. 

Lillard and Rehor noted that all of the cast members understood the premise of the show before going into the session. "We're not punking them," Rehor promised. However, the creators of the show ultimately decided that every party must die in Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill!, because it actually would be more crushing if players sometimes survived. "Early on, there was a lot of discussion about, 'Well, should we let them win sometimes?'" Rehor said. "Should there be some kind of hope that they're going to get away with it and escape or run away or whatever? And what we finally decided is that if people even sometimes can survive, then it becomes a crushing disappointment when they don't." 

The pre-ordained finality that comes with Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! provides a different perspective for the audience going in, as they ultimately understand the framework of the show. "When the audience knows that this is what's going to happen, that they have an inevitable demise in front of them, then the joy of the show comes in seeing the kind of courage that they can muster to face something that is unwinnable," Rehor said. "And the players do a wonderful job of stepping up and bringing that real human courage to these moments and just doing their best in impossible odds. Each story is complete and each episode has a different cast because we're starting a new story, but each one finds its own feet and finds its own meaning."

While the players know they're outmatched, Lillard notes that the players still try to find ways to beat the odds. "They are playing to defeat the bad guy, and there's a freedom within that, because they're committed to the task," Lillard said. "They're using their brains, they're coming to escape their demise, but eventually it comes for all of them." 

Still, Lillard still goes into every episode thinking the players are going to win, He noted that in one episode, he DMed the session and leveled up the characters to try to help them. "It did not help," he said in a deadpan voice.  

Even though the characters in Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! die in every episode, the characters still win small victories or even complete their quests before meeting their demise. "There are a lot of times that these little pieces of hope that are born out of these failures," Lillard said. "There is something really rewarding about finding that piece of hope in this otherwise bleak demise." 

As the host of the show, one of Rehor's responsibilities is to provide an epitaph or concluding beat for the characters to provide closure for the audience and to help show that the character deaths had meaning to them. "I think that's something that all of us as human beings are looking for and hoping for, that when we face our own inevitable demise, that there will be some little sliver of meaning to what we did here," Rehor said. "And so I think it's rewarding, and it helps you find closure with this process that you've gone through over the course of the episode."

When asked whether they anticipate the "TPK format" of the show to be replicated by home games, the pair hoped that viewers draw inspiration from it. "One of the great things about the show is that Dungeons & Dragons can be played in any way," Lillard said. "We have 20 episodes, we have multiple DMs, we have different cast in every episode and every single time, the game is represented in a different way, each game has a different tone, a different tempo, a different set of relationships. And the story plays out different every time." 

 Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! will launch on the Dungeons & Dragons Adventures FAST Channel that will debut later this year.