It might be hard to say this without sounding like a total knob but more than any one person, I would love to see more experienced players!
For starters, I think you guys have done an excellent job so far of building the Rollplay brand with the casting that you've done. Your players are funny, charismatic, familiar with speaking in front of large audiences, run in the same circles and best of all, have chemistry! This has all helped cement a strong identity for Rollplay as an entertaining, personality-driven show with a solid community. However, I think there's a number of ways in which you guys could benefit from casting some folks with more experience and practice telling stories using role-playing games as a medium (aka rpg nerds).
I think there's a lot of reasons why people watch RPG shows. For me, it's just the most intriguing and compelling form of storytelling. The way that narration and mechanics intersect - when you take an idea, jam it into this great apparatus of mitigated randomizers and voila, it spits out a refined version of that idea, or a young fictional seedling waiting to be cultivated and grown into a whole new idea... is the coolest shit ever! But it's not easy. In fact, role-playing games are a form of creative expression that can take a lifetime to master, akin to visual art, literature and film. Sounds a bit pretentious yeah, but I really think the potential is there for RPG shows to become a deep yet accessible and entertaining art medium.
They aren't perfect, but the two examples I would point to are Roll20 Presents: Apocalypse World and The Bloodletters. Adam, Andrew, Austin, John, Sean and Stras are masterful, thematically-conscious storytellers who are intimately familiar with the cadence of roleplaying conversation and are able to create multifaceted characters that are compelling right from the beginning of the series. What's more is they're all incredibly talented at playing a supporting role to the other characters as well as to the narrative itself. I would say that both of these shows still have some issues with pacing but hey, no one's perfect (except you Canter Haig )
If I'm being honest, when I'm trying to get a friend, gamer or otherwise, interested in roleplaying shows purely as entertainment, Rollplay is not where I send them first. It's not because the shows aren't entertaining (they are), it's because it feels like the formula isn't optimized for accessibility. The #1 complaint I get from new viewers is that the format is "too slow". Episodes are four hours long and it can often take many episodes before the PCs really hit their stride, and many (many, many) more than that before they actually learn the rules. That can be anywhere from around 16 to 32 hours (!) of invested time before the content gets really good. It's like sitting through two mediocre seasons of a TV show hoping that the third pays off. For me, it does! But most people can't stay interested long enough to get invested in the world and the characters, which (just like a TV series) is how you really get people hooked. Here's a few ways I think that casting more experienced players could give Rollplay a boost in accessibility and content quality.
Experienced players are better able to engage with the mechanisms in ways that move the narrative forward and create interesting situations in the game. The rules of the game are the tools we have been given by the creator to help us tell more interesting stories and without them, RPGs are basically just kinda shitty improv theater. The quicker the players on a show are able to become fluent in the language of that particular game, the more fluid and dynamic the episodes will become. And having even a couple players with system knowledge that can lead by example will drastically reduce the amount of time wasted with rules clarification and poorly understood mechanisms.
Veteran story gamers have an arsenal of storytelling devices and techniques that allow them to hit their stride much earlier in a series. They can quickly recognize themes and motifs and create thematically potent characters with clearly defined character arcs that emerge during play. They've had the "Play Unsafe" mantras thoroughly drilled into their brains and when presented with a choice, they will always choose or create the most interesting option possible, often sacrificing character success for player and audience entertainment.
Not only that, but they're able to apply these techniques to the other characters too! Sharing the spotlight, establishing relationships, playing the foil or mirror and setting the other characters up for success are just some of the things I see experienced players doing constantly, and on a deeper level than most games I've watched or played in.
Experienced players have a higher coolness density. Basically, they say more cool shit on average than a less-experienced player. Part of the reason watching RPGs is so entertaining is that the players and the audience share in the same fictive space that grows and develops over the course of the show. Naturally, the best kind of person to play a creative role in this environment is one who is quick to populate this space with interesting, novel and exciting ideas and one who treats others' contributions with the same level of enthusiasm as they do their own. Of course these qualities aren't unique to experienced gamers, but they are definitely part of the skill set.
This comes largely from having experience as a player, a GM and often a designer. A history of running (and especially designing) role-playing games gives you a deep, fundamental understanding of the GM-player authority structure and how much authorship each player can comfortably have in a healthy group environment. This is part of what makes the Bloodletters so incredible to watch (beware: geek out ahead), it feels like watching a full group of co-GMs. They trust each other to frame scenes and support each other's ideas and subplots. They inject colorful details and vivid imagery into every scene and every action they take, sometimes narrating their own vignettes just to fictionally justify an advance! There's no hand-holding, no stonewalling, and no flat suggestions, just a constant back-and-forth exchange of ideas that gives birth to this incredible positive feedback loop of badassery and exciting shit that never fails to create incredible, captivating moments, every single episode. THAT is what makes role-playing games amazing to watch and THAT is why these folks are masters of their craft.
There's a few things I should clarify, one being that I realize that not everyone enjoys watching role-playing games the same way I do. Some folks just tune in for the jokes, the crits and the chemistry between the amazing people they've gotten to know over the last few months or years, and that's rad. But those people are the junkies, and if you want to get the skeptics hooked on your product, you've got to peddle to the masses. Even if that's not the end goal, I still think that Rollplay would find success in diversifying their content a little and covering the full tonal spectrum, from popcorn entertainment (Nebula Jazz is PRIMO for this) to the high-investment, dramatic stuff.
Secondly, I want to make it clear that I'm not trying to down on any of the current cast or say that they're not capable of doing this stuff, I've enjoyed a lot of Rollplay content. I just really believe that your shows could reach their fullest potential with the addition of a few more people who have invested many hours into mastering what can only be described as an artform.
I think the best way I can put it is that it feels like you're producing an improv show with a good format, great production value and an accomplished, experienced host - but the whole cast is made up of celebrity guests. Talented celebrity guests, yes, with many of the skills required to succeed in this unfamiliar medium. But supported by even one or two veteran improvisers with years of experience and techniques to draw from, the guests could truly flourish and the entire show would be more polished, cohesive and entertaining for everyone involved.
and... that's it! Apologies for the lack of brevity, and for the exaggeration and hyperbole for the sake of making my point. If anyone gets through this fucking essay please HMU with your thoughts, insights or cutting remarks, I'm easy! pce OUT
P.S. If I have to pick a name... SCION OF WEIRD SHIT & PC ABUSE INCARNATE, ANDREW MOTHAFUCKIN GILLIS BIIIITCH, aight im out