Hello Brave Adventurers!
So a week later than planned (life is a little cray-cray right now), but here we are, an interview with one of our players! I love this woman to pieces – we’re even planning to run off together in Iceland! But enough of my ramblings, let’s get on with it!
Volonda: Hello Kessi! Welcome to this strange journey that is being interviewed by The Reckless Play Guild. For those who don’t know you, let’s start off with who are you, what do you do and who do you play in Dark Dice?
Kessi: Hello, I am Kessi Riliniki, Artist and Voiceactor. You might know me from Audiodrama Podcasts, such as The White Vault as Karina, and my upcoming own creation Counterbalance, where I will play Raka. But if you’re in only for Actual Play Podcasts, you might recognize me as the voice of Fylgia on Dark Dice and Lizbeth on The Lucky Die ?
Volonda: You were amazing as Lizbeth. I loved her so very much. So tell us about the Dark Dice experience for you. This was your first online game was it not?
Kessi: It was a first time for me in many regards. First time playing in 10 years, first time playing DnD (the only pen and paper systems I had played until then were The Dark Eye, which is much more common in germany, and Warhammer Classic/40K), the first time playing Pen and Paper Online, and the first time meeting all of you amazing folks almost in person.
I was really unprepared in many regards, not knowing the system very well. I thought I could wing it, like many things in life, but in retrospect I probably should’ve prepared more.
I had a blast regardless, even if I ended up being a rather passive player, but watching you, Eyþór and David get into character was mesmerizing.
Volonda: So how did the character of Flygia come about? The way you play her is just so… terrifying… What was the inspiration?
Kessi: Well, seeing how this was my first DnD game, I wanted to play a character I could sort of connect with. Not a mage, because I know nothing of how the magic works, and not a melee either because I’m not a fan… I usually play healer type characters, but the only alternative to that was Paladin, I believe, and I wouldn’t want to make a highly religious character if I knew nothing of the world, either. So I reverted back to what I did know and what is usually universal in most game mechanics: Nature. Hence was born the Druid Flygia.
I love the primal aspect of Nature, and wanted to incorporate that in Fylgia, living in the moment and behaving slightly erratic, but having mostly fun with what she does the moment she does it without me as player worrying too much about ruining the cannon. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to shift into animals and just tag along as those animals for a while. Living the moment, and not necessarily needing to reveal backstory… Which I felt was in tune with her character.
Inspiration for that in that moment was most probably me writing Malaki for Counterbalance, a character that’s caused me a lot of problems and writers blocks because of who he is, and at the time we played, I was stuck on a lot of points with him. I supposed I tried to get in tune with the character better, which in turn helped me flesh out the remaining part of the series in a breeze, so I have Dark Dice a lot to thank for.
Volonda: That’s rad! An interesting concept for those who write and are stuck – what a great idea!
You’ve mentioned that this was your first D&D game, but it’s not your first roleplaying experience. Everyone wants to know (mostly me, I’ll be honest), what was your first character, that first experience with roleplaying?
Kessi: I’ll be honest, I don’t quite remember what classes I played back in the day, but if I remember correctly it was something like a ranger. The Pen and Paper Group I was with usually cycled through a couple of games – Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye) and Warhammer Classic/40k, as well as an asian inspired one – the 5 Rings I think it was called? They mostly did that for the benefit of me and my then best friend, who wanted to get into playing. The DM was very firm on not wanting to deal with magic based characters at the time, so most of us had melee classes. I now own a book of the spells you could do in The Dark Eye and now I know why there was this aversion…. This spellbook is almost as thick as an Oxford dictionary.
At any rate. We usually played Campaigns that lasted no longer than 2-3 sessions before playing a different system. I think the most fun I had was in 40k, where my character collected a lot of crap which somehow another player and I managed to collaboratively McGuyver into explosives.
For clarification, the last time we played was back in 2009 and I really don’t remember a lot of what happened back then.
Volonda: Those little random moments are my favourite I had to say. I love McGuyvering stuff and situations!
Do you feel like you’ve grown as a roleplayer since those early 40k, Dark Eye days? Would you even try that Dictionary of Spells if you picked up Das Schwarze Auge again?
Kessi: In all honesty, I actually feel like I reverted- I’m less improv savy now (i know the reasons, and I’m working on them), and I’m a terrible roleplayer because life has made me cynical of many situations – as reaction I usually try to find the joke in everything, even when the situation is a dire one for the characters. Which can be amusing, but the feedback I get is that it’s more distracting than anything, and I’m working on that, too. As result, I hold back a lot. It’s a bit of a therapy situation, I suppose.
As for the book of magic, if I were to play a long running game again where I’d need to work on putting some real thoughts into what spells I wanted my character to learn and what would be beneficial on the long run, I might, but for short campaigns or situation where I know I won’t come back as this character for a while I probably wouldn’t.
Volonda: Is there a favourite ‘Oh DM, you clever/evil bastard’ moments for you so far in Dark Dice, or has there been a moment when you’ve got to sit back and watch your fellow players, that has made you go ‘damn they’re good’?
(I’m combining these questions cause, well, Dark Dice has only a couple of episodes out so far :D)
Kessi: For the first part, none yet in the episodes that are out, but there certainly were some later down the road, which I can’t/won’t go into because spoilers.
For the second part – basically anything that happened between Rowena and Sindri, but also Iaus and… well basically anyone that wasn’t me was doing a hellovajob.
Volonda: You dd an amazing job Kessi! I loved the little wolfie interaction between Flygia and Rowena, cause Flygia is adorable as a wolf. And also the synergy between the efforts of Iaus and Flygia. Although, your laugh…. Oh boy!
Alright, I think that’s all the Actual Play stuff.
So, onto the other cool things you do you little minx! So you’re an artist, not only on the side, but actually as your job?! What does that involve?
Kessi: I’m a mediadesigner by trade, per job description I make layouts and graphics for all sort of printing products – brochures, businesscards, flyers and such. In reality, the office I work at mostly does Instruction Manuals for stuff that needs a visual instruction on how to assemble it- though I’m the only one there that does those, and I do enjoy doing it. We also do 3D Product-Renderings on the side, which I’m still learning to do. It’s fun, but not very creative work, which I’m absolutely fine with – I don’t want to waste my creativity on my job when I have personal projects at home waiting for me. I do the creative outlets in private (when no one’s looking, har har) in forms of painting and photo-manipulation. It was more an accident that I made a name for myself as an Artist for Audiodrama, but hey, now I’m here to stay
Volonda: You’re so very good at it! If you want to check out Kessi’s art there are so many podcasts with her art as the logo (including Vast Horizon, A Scottish Podcast and the Kino campaign of The Lucky Die!).
And if the rest of us want some Kessi art, are your commissions open, do you have a link to your portfolio – sell you baby!
Kessi: I am open for commissions! You can find some of my work on https://kessir.deviantart.com, but it is a little… dated. My Portfolio will be available on http://kessir.trilunis.com soon (hopefully in the next week or so) but if you want more details on rates, at the moment its probably easier to get in contact with me directly, via Facebook, twitter or instagram via @trilunis.
Volonda: On top of being a fantastic artist, but you’re also a steller voice actress! How on earth did you get into that? Any project’s you’re particularly proud of?
Kessi: I didn’t originally plan on being a voice actress, to be honest.
I knew when I was writing Counterbalance that I would be voicing one of the main characters, but mainly because it was born out of the want to do something with voices with my Sis. But Counterbalance hadn’t been out by the time Travis put out a casting call for a german female VA for the White Vault.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and licked blood and wanted to do more, so I started doing more random voices and started really listening to the way other people perform and try to get a takeaway from the way they did it. Also, in part, I wanted to practice my spoken English, which is still suck, as I notice whenever I’m actually talking it.
Volonda: You speak English wonderfully Kessi. Your English is far superior to my broken German! A second language is never an easy thing to learn, and massive hats off to you.
Ich liebe dich Kessi, wir lieben dich.
Ok, I’e been leaving this to the end of my questions, because holy-mother-of-bunnies, Counterbalance! Having read the various scripts I have access to, holy hannah.
Please, tell everyone, everything, all the things about Counterbalance! What inspired it? How long as it taken you to write? Who are your main characters? How does it feel to have it all coming together? What made you decide to write THE WHOLE THING before even touching production?
All the things. (If anyone has noticed, I’m super stoked for this to come out!)
Kessi: Haha, I love you too ?
So as mentioned above, Counterbalance was originally born because I wanted to do something with voices with my Sis. Ever since joining the Audiodrama community in 2014, I had never quite settled on what Project I wanted to work on. I had several stories in the back burner that I wanted to create, but none of them felt “right”, and I kept putting it off due to excuses – “This one doesn’t work so well in audio”, “This one is too sound design heavy, I will never be able to create this”, “This one has too many characters and how will I ever find all the voice actors” and also, “who’s gonna write it because I suck?”. It was not the shortage for stories to tell that kept me back, but my own self-doubts. But eventually, something happened that boosted my confidence.
Back in 2016, my sis was going through a major change in her life. A break up. Her then husband told her many things he thought she was (not so nice things) and she started having a major identity issue because of it. She desperately wanted to find herself and was doing many personality tests, the normal ones that were basically “What Character from X are you?” and such, not very helpful ones for this particular problem. Just shortly before that, I had learned of the MBTI (Meyers-Briggs Personality Indicator) and I decided to show it to her, in hopes it might help her.
She wasn’t the only one who figured out a lot about herself and why she behaves the way she does thanks to the MBTi – I did too. And we learned that our Types are actually natural opposites – we literally Counterbalance each other, which is why we got along so well despite being completely different.
This realization helped me deeper understand the power of characterization and character development – until then I never looked at Character development and Character interaction that way before, but having finally realized what it could do for a story, I wanted to start a new project from scratch – tabula rasa. I still stuck to my Conworld I had been working on for 15 years at the time, though – no need to scrap a perfectly good conworld!
This initially lead to my next big problem. I had ideas, but no way to write them. I had written scripts before, but they all sucked. And I didnt feel confident enough to approach a writer to help me do something set entirely in a world I’ve created for such a long time. Eventually, I started writing anyway, because this story wasn’t going to write itself- and that’s when i realized that the scripts… didn’t suck as much as I thought they would. Obviously the early scripts still have their flaws, and now 46 episodes later, I think they could be better, but I decided not to go down the rewriting route and instead own my flaws.
Which also leads to the answer to another of your questions – why write the whole thing beforehand? Because I have written a (bad) script for a webcomic I released between 2009-2011 before, but I only wrote the first 3 chapters of it and started drawing the pages. Until the comic eventually caught up with the script, and instead of writing the next chapters, I spiraled down the partially redrawing/rewriting hole. I didn’t want a repetition of that, so this time I decided to write EVERYTHING before I start production. Because I don’t trust myself to cycle through writing, producing, writing, producing. That, and I’ve seen a couple of audio dramas go to shit when their creators wrote the episodes the week before the episodes were released. I’m learning from their mistakes.
I started writing Ep 1 in November 2016, and wrote Episode 46 in – I think September 2018? Mid 2018 at any rate, so it took me a good 2 years of writing all of it. And I’m very happy I did, because now I could go back and look at specific moments to enhance certain character traits or arks a little and make them stronger.
As for who the characters are, as mentioned, my sis and I will play two of the three main characters, Lyn and Raka respectively. The third main role, the previously mentioned Malaki, will be played by Eyþór, who you might know as Jónas from the White Vault, or Squash from The Lucky Die.
Raka, Lyn and Malaki, despite having nothing in common, will have to stick it up together to fix a hole in the weave that creates Magic to prevent more spirits from leaking out and devouring everything essential for Mortal life to exist.
I also heard that there’s a certain Travis Vengroff and Hem Cleveland on the support cast in recurring roles across the entire series
It feels amazing to have it all come together – I struggled with a lot of keypoints throughout the pre-production of this thing, such as finding the right voice actor for Malaki, a certain recurring sound for a thing called the Windshell, and of course, a Sound designer to bring it all together. But somehow 2018 fixed a lot of those problems – I found the perfect fit for each of those problems, and I feel massively relieved for it. It was a huge weight on my consciousness, not knowing how to fix those problems. Turns out a possible approach is to… actually go out and ask other people for help ? Who’d have thought?
I even made a few friends in the process, as I got to know my now go-to Sound designing Sensei Sarah Buchynski and my extremely talented musician Fuimadane better. The later even wrote a piece inspired by Counterbalance for his first Album after reading the script – in turn it is now the official theme music for Counterbalance (“Sá Svar” by Fuimadane, on the Album Vegleitir”.
Volonda: Wowzers, just wowzers. That’s a real freaking journey you’ve been on there!
I’m glad you found the grit to get on with writing your scripts, even though you were worried about how good they were – because damn they’re worth it!
So, onto MY last question, before we unleash the hordes of The Reckless Play Guild upon you:
What’s on your podcast / Netflex (or equivalent) recommended list? What’s in your ears Kessi?
Kessi: Uhh, that’s oddly specific, but let’s recommend some things that have not been mentioned yet or Reckless Play Guild consumers are not yet likely to have heard. Some audio fiction gem’s I’ve that have left an impression on me are:
– Our Fair City
– dwm’s “Unwritten”
– The Call of the Flame (Check this out, high fantasy fan’s the production value of this is off the charts!)
– The Orphans (particularly “Facility”
– Station Blue
– Edict Zero FIS
– 20 Sided Stories (particularly the Victoria 1890 Season, which is now only available for Patreons, unfortunately, but I’m sure some of you will get a kick out of the Pokemon season as well!).
Volonda: Some solid recommendations right there!
Let’s start off the audience participation with a common friend of ours:
Sarah Golding: How are you so awesome? And what do you think writers of audio drama need to do betterer? AND. You’re amazingggg x
Kessi: I’m only so awesome because of people like you, Sarah, that make podcasts like “How to be awesome”. Oh wait, I think you named it MADIVA? Close enough!
Volonda: (If you’re an aspiring voice artist, go listen to MADIVA, it’s freaking awesome).
Kessi: This might be a bit nitpicky, but what I as voice actor with a designing background, and probably (undiagnosed) dyslexia, find writers need to do better is formating their scripts in ways that are actually readable. But that’s another topic by itself, and probably not the answer you are looking for.
What I found recently that writers need to do better, is being more inclusive – and that goes both ways. There’s a lot of folks that just aren’t inclusive because they’re not consciously thinking about it, and then there’s a lot of people that preach inclusivity but consciously exclude people because they usually belong to the first category. I think there’s a lot middle ground that’s lacking.
Also, stop writing all roles for german females as secretaries during WW2 area and then ask me to voice them! 😉
Russ More: What’s the most rewarding part of playing TTRPG’s for you?
Kessi: That would probably be brainstorming how to get through certain situations our characters are in with other people. I love trying to creatively solve situations for stories with other people if there’s no “real” harm in them (for our characters, there might be a lot of harm in it, but (shrugs).
Russ More: Where do you draw inspiration for your artwork? Are there any other artists that you look to stylistically or otherwise?
Kessi: There used to be a lot of them. Anything Studio Ghibli for example, or the older artworks of Shilin. I don’t know what happened along the way, if that is a me-problem or a general internet problem, but there isn’t as much visual art anymore that I instantly appreciate. Perhaps it is oversaturation or permanent exposure, or the shift from organized Gallery-based websites like DeviantArt to unorganized hellholes like Tumblr, instagram or Pinterest, but I find it hard to find a certain artist I truly love that inspired me so much that I want to create things like them. It might also just be that a lot of the styles I consciously consume nowadays has come to look rather uniform in the past few years – with anime in particular I have not found a style I truly adore in years…
But to finish this answer off on a more positive note, what I have found help me draw inspiration from a lot in the past few years is Nature Photography or something as simple as a Color palette, or Colors smeared on a canvas like a Rohrschachtest. What usually always inspires me is “seeing shapes” in them, the way you’d try to find shapes in clouds. Except, I have the possibility to work on those shapes on a canvas and bring them out so others can see them.
Volonda: And finally, I left this question out of my questions because I saw Amy had asked it, and I wanted to save it till last!
Amy More: I need to know more about these bunnies. And if they are real live pet bunnies, how would you convince someone who lives with you that getting a couple bunnies is a good idea?
Kessi: Yes, these bunnies are all live bunnies – a total of 6 live in my garden with me. I already had bunnies before moving together with my now Ex, but when we moved in together I said “Sorry, but you can only have me with bunnies.” He never gave them much thought, and never considered them to have their own little personalities, which is something I have heard a lot. Most people just know bunnies as caged animals – a leftover practice from times when rabbits were kept as livestock. Of course, no one stuck in a cage will ever unfold their true personality potential. If you spend a couple days/weeks with bunnies, you will soon learn that they can be as great a pets as cats or dogs, with different needs, of course. In the US, emotional support bunnies are on the rise, as I’ve heard, which tells you just how much bunnies can do for your psyche.
My ex eventually warmed up to them and even kept bringing me home new ones, which is how I went from 3 to 18 at one point, now gladly slimmed down to 6.
Volonda: Holy hannah that’s a lot of bunnies!
Kessi: 14 of that were babiiieees.
That’s when I learned that it’s true that rabbits can become pregnant while being pregnant…. or rather, become pregnant within a few mins of giving birth!
Volonda: As a side note, Holly Billingshurst & Travis Vengroff, I think your Counterbalance questions have probably been answered. That was an epic wall of text, and I hope my spamming of questions managed to answer yours too!
Congratulations Kessi, we got through this in one piece! Very interesting conversation.
Kessi: Thanks so much for having me
Volonda: Also, me and Kessi had SO MANY hearts and heart eyes and kisses during this conversation.
If you want to find more out about Kessi, check out her Twitter (https://twitter.com/TriLunis) or the upcoming Counterbalance podcast (https://trilunis.com/)
If you’re ready to start your adventurers with the creepy tale of “Dark Dice” featuring Kessi’s Flygia , then check out (https://darkdice.libsyn.com/)
And if you wanna get involved with the Reckless Play Guild and ask questions of the next interviewee, then, follow this link to the Facebook group!