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Editorial: Don't sleep on the Campbellverse

When it comes to streaming RPG shows, we all have our favorite game masters. Matt Mercer usually comes to mind first, followed by Chris Perkins, Jeremy Crawford, and maybe even Jerry Holkins or Satine Phoenix. Each of them has their own place in the DM pantheon of D&D, but there is one game master outside the world’s greatest role-playing game that deserves an immense amount of credit and should have an equal number of eyes on his games as the others. That man is Eric Campbell.

Eric Campbell first came to my attention when he worked at Geek & Sundry on their creative team. There, he started his epic rise to game master with Eric’s TBD RPG, a show where Campbell was supposed to showcase other RPG games by having short campaigns for each product. They began with the Doctor Who RPG that starred Internet Sensation Amy Dallen as The Doctor.

From left: Duncan Barclay, Jody Houser, Sam de Leve, Darin de Paul, Eric Campbell, Gina DeVivo, Amy Dallen

The Doctor Who campaign was impressive. The cast of characters were deep, emotional, and driven (Finn and Roko for life!). Dallen was amazing as The Doctor, but it was Eric’s weaving of the very timey-wimey tale that stuck with me. His ability to stay true to the franchise by using the style of storytelling that made the show as popular as it ever was during an RPG showed off Eric’s knowledge and love for Doctor Who. He truly poured himself into it.

I was reduced to tears when the show ended. However, we were treated to another dose of Campbell when TBD RPG turned into Shield of Tomorrow, a Star Trek RPG showcasing the Modiphius Star Trek Adventures game. This is the game where Eric pulled out all the stops. His encyclopedic knowledge of the Star Trek universe came in handy as he wove a tale about a science vessel, the U.S.S. Sally Ride, as it explored the Shackleton Expanse during the beginning stages of the Dominion War.

Front Row: Aliza Pearl, Hector Navarro, Sam de Leve. Middle Row: Gina DeVivo, Amy Dallen, Bonnie Gordon. Back Row: Eric Campbell.

Eric brought back several Doctor Who castmates, including Dallen, Gina DeVivo and Sam de Leve, and gave us a proper Star Trek story. Political intrigue, space danger, impending doom of the Federation, lots of humor and devastating emotional scenes made SoT one of my favorite non-D&D campaigns to date. I’m a casual fan of Star Trek, but after this show, I was hooked.

Eric’s final project with Geek & Sundry was one he cooked up with his Number 1, Sam de Leve. Entitled Callisto 6, it told the story of L.A. 100 years in the future where corporations pretty much run the world. The SoT cast returned to play a group of young people who are bestowed superpowers and save the city from the corrupt corporations. While I wasn’t as invested in this campaign as the others, heart-pounding action, daring emotional tension and the now infamous Campbell Cliffhanger were in full effect.

Front Row: Hector Navarro, Sam de Leve, Gina DeVivo. Back Row: Bonnie Gordon, Eric Campbell, Amy Dallen, Aliza Pearl.

Eric’s body of work is impressive, but his character is even more so. He, along with his players, are tenacious in their LGBTQ+ inclusion in every campaign. His generous heart comes out in his NPCs, which one can easily fall in love with in and of themselves. He is a benevolent GM, giving his players plenty of space to role-play while keeping them on track narratively. He can paint a picture with his words with the best of them. His ability to bring a scene’s tension to a peak and leave us and his players wanting, nay needing, more, has become his signature, the Campbell Cliffhanger.

Now, with a new home on the QueueTimes Twitch channel and complete independent creative freedom as an RPG crew, Eric has dived back into Star Trek with a new campaign entitled Clear Skies. Taking place six years after Shield of Tomorrow, Eric and a cast of fresh faces and old friends are the crew of the U.S.S Ross, named after Mary G. Ross, the first Native American woman to earn a degree in astronomy. The show is a few episodes in already and I highly suggest catching up via the VODs.

I know that if Eric were to read this, he would blush and be embarrassed, as he is uncomfortable with praise and compliments. I can certainly relate. However, the truth is the truth. Eric Campbell is one of the best GMs in the business. Take the time to at least sample his work. He, along with his incredibly talented casts, will draw you into the world they are playing in and keep you there until you’re devoid of tears and full of joy. You will want the episodes to be eight hours long because you just want that little bit more of the story.

Thank you Eric, for all you do and everything you will do in the future. You have a lifelong fan in me.

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