An interview with Vancouver-based company, Dungeons and Do-Gooders, founder Craig Chapman. He talks about D&D as a business and building the brand new fantasy world: Altoras.
The business of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) has exploded, with major series, like Critical Role, becoming part of pop culture. With the hobby-game industry growing over 30% during the pandemic, pay-to-play games have become far more commonplace. The founder of Dungeons and Do-Gooders (D&DG), Craig Chapman has grown his Vancouver-based company from a small Facebook group to a business, including 10 Dungeon Masters, two live Twitch shows, and is launching a new D&D fantasy world, Altoras on March 14.
I first met Craig over a year ago, when I joined the cast as a player in their first Twitch campaign, Skybreak. He was the Dungeon Master (DM), a kind of host that runs the game, and shapes the story around the player’s choices. Early one Vancouver morning, before he’d even had his coffee, we sat down over a Discord call to talk about the next steps for D&DG.
Q: How did you come to Dungeons and Dragons?
A- Definitely my dad. I grew up with my dad introducing me to a lower-stakes version of DND of his own invention. That has always been a very large part of my life. Being able to do it for a living is just a dream.
Q- Dungeons and Do-Gooders started out as a Facebook group. How did you make that leap from a Facebook group to a business?
A- I started Dungeons and Do-Gooders as just a small little Facebook community with some friends, [but] more than I could feasibly DM for. Their response was “So charge us money”. It felt a little bit awkward at first, but pretty quickly I was charging them to play in games. I got my first opportunity to DM for a corporate group– I started with Hootsuite. That first business contract was the first break that let me turn my tiny little D&D company into a proper business. Now we’re sitting at about 10 DMs.
Q-So, being an entrepreneur was not a goal for you?
A- Oh, no, I would’ve never, ever described myself as an entrepreneur before starting D&DG— but now I can see why people who go down that career path have such a very hard time going back. Once you’ve done that you’re like “What do you mean? I can just invent anything and make money off of doing it?” I do have less time than I would like to listen to podcasts and audiobooks compared to working for somebody else. People will always say, “Hey, have you seen this latest D&D podcast?” I’m like, “No, I’m too busy running D&D”.
Q-How did the Sundered Lands become the world of D&DG?
A- I never intended it to become the massive, large-scale world that it did become. The players really love it, the community has really fallen with it in a way that I never expected, but it is not our best work. As much as we love it, we are ready to say goodbye to it and move on to something new and exciting.
Q- What made that decision to change to a new world?
A- The story of the Sundered Lands was simply drawing to a close. This world doesn’t need more, bigger threats. If it had them, why weren’t they there in the first place? Let’s draw this story to a close and let’s wipe everything that’s happened and take all the lessons that we’ve learned through five and a half years and create another opportunity to bring more fans and more community members, and more potential players, into the hobby in a world that’s inviting, and exciting, and fresh.
Q- How was it building this world as a group?
A- It’s tough. Everybody’s got their own opinions… and collaborative world-building is a sticky process. It’s not easy or clean or tidy. It was tough, but it was always fun. Now it’s just awesome. It’s just so exciting to watch this world coming to life.
Q- Why are you most excited about Altoras?
A- I think the best creative works are a mirror of our stories in the real world and provide us a unique lens through which to see struggles and conflicts. One of the chief struggles that we wanted to explore was the idea of progress versus environmentalism. Progress has done a lot for humanity. It’s made a lot of people’s lives better, but it’s also demolished a lot of the world that we live in. That is a very complicated question and conflict to unpack, right? Civilization versus the wild. Do we, maybe in the midst of all of this, find a way to live a little bit more harmoniously without destroying everything for the sake of a dollar?
This interview has been edited for both length and clarity.