Chronicles of the Grey Wolves is more than just a podcast. It’s a look inside of Midnight Kingdoms. A setting that has been in development for over 20 years. It has taken on a variety of iterations and evolved significantly since its original inception. As I worked on the world – its history, races, lands, etc. – I was continuously looking for a gaming mechanics system to work within. When I discovered a system that caught my eye I would try to adjust the creation and growing ideas to work within the confines of that system. A few years ago, I realized that process was backwards. As I moved forward I decided to focus purely on the content. Yet, questions of what system I would design it to work with were always in the back of my mind.
Over the years I talked with friends about this creative endeavor with varying degrees of interest and passion on my part. I had many late-night conversations with a close friend and current player (Randy who plays Ulfar) who would get me all jazzed up and I’d work on the setting in near manic obsession for several days. But I always burned out from the abrupt and exhaustive pace. Between the distractions and stressors of life and my personal health, forward momentum was always sporadic and fleeting.
Then, four years ago I began to talk with Jason (who plays Ærch) about the project and the multitude of ideas I had yet to get on paper. It was this casual conversation that things suddenly evolved more in several months than it had in all the years prior. It was an explosion of creativity. What I began to call a “brain explosion”. I had explosion after explosion over several months when finally, we decided that we needed to really work on this together. His passion and excitement were equal to mine. We worked in tandem and continue to do so. Our ideas feeding off one another with great energy and momentum. We worked on it little by little. Never as fast or as in depth as we would have liked. Once again, life and health would get in the way.
In January of 2019, Randy told me that he really wanted to play D&D. I hadn’t run a game of D&D in many years much less a full campaign. I’ve spent the vast majority of my gaming life playing and running games in the various editions and settings of White Wolf’s World of Darkness. Randy was actually a player in a Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary campaign I had been running for years and he was really champing at the bit to play some D&D instead. And then –
BOOM! BRAIN EXPLOSION!
I had yet to play 5th edition. I knew little to nothing about it. But it was then that the Universe aligned, and everything came together. I would run a D&D 5th edition campaign in the Midnight Kingdoms setting. It didn’t matter how well I knew the system. I’m a damn good GM. I can make it work as we figure out the mechanics together. Midnight Kingdoms would finally come to life.
It was at this time that I discovered Tails From the Dark Dragons Inn and DnD RAW. They inspired and helped with the idea that I wanted to make a podcast out of this thing. Jason was on-board with the idea and we went to work getting a good chunk of the essentials together. Again, more work in a few months than the majority of years preceding it.
So, here we are. Nine months later and about to release this podcast thing to the public. The world of Midnight Kingdoms isn’t as complete as we had hoped and the 5th edition mechanic adjustments and add-ons aren’t where we want them to be but it’s a huge step for us. We hope to see this be our launching pad to continue to develop this world and hopefully one day see a campaign guide come to print and begin to work on other projects that have been brewing in the back of our heads.
Thank you for stopping in and we hope you’ll stay on this journey with us.
Jeremy D. Kleinhans
When I first met Jeremy, I think it was 2010, or thereabouts. It doesn’t feel like it. We talked about it not too long ago; that time has flown by (in a good way). But anyway, as soon as we met we had an instant connection. Not sure exactly what drew us to each other but I’m glad it did. We started by having great conversations about anything and everything in the geek realm; comics, video games, music, movies, board games, you name it we talked about it. It didn’t take long before our conversations started to include table top role playing games. I’ve never played before but being an avid gamer I was immediately interested in learning more.
We initially discussed getting me in a session he was running to see what it was all about and if I’d be interesting in playing. I’m not sure how well I contained my excitement but I was already interested. I came to the next session, created a character, an Orc if I remember correctly, and the rest is history.
Many of the conversations we had about movies and games were along the lines of, “Wouldn’t it have been way better if this happened instead?!” This of course lends itself nicely to the world of tabletop role-playing games where anything and everything can happen. I don’t want to brag, but I feel I was a natural almost from the get go. I like to keep Jeremy on his toes, creatively. What better way than this?
Before too long Jeremy came to me with a project he was working on and asked if I would help him with it. It was (and still is) his baby. It was an honor to be asked and a privilege to create for a project he is so passionate about. It has taken many forms since I hopped on board but nothing really seemed right. We were creating without a goal, putting together a lot of good ideas that may or may not have made sense together. Until about a year ago, that is.
Jeremy suggested that we turn Midnight Kingdoms into an actual play podcast. That was it. That was the idea and the goal to work towards. So, we got to work. I think we ended up shelving most of the ideas that came before to really focus on what MK should and could become. We took one simple idea and ran with it. One simple idea that lead to so many brain explosions.
It truly became a passion project for the both of us. We would talk as much as we could and constantly bounce ideas off of one another. It was thrilling. Brain explosion is the most accurate term for our conversations. Erratic, but focused. The cycle of brain explosions and note taking takes us to where we are today.
We’ve released several episodes of the podcast, which has been such an exciting journey. There have been so many talented people that have helped us and participated in the podcast that I can’t even begin to thank them all, just know that I love you. Also to my fellow Grey Wolves, it wouldn’t be the same without you. Never, ever change.
We would like to thank those who have helped in countless ways and continue to do so. First, those who have helped create and bring life to this world – Randy, Rachel, Matt, Jared, Kyle, and Amy. You are all amazing. We love you.
And our friends, the fellow gamers, and the players who make heroic efforts to be together at the table every month.
To everyone in the gaming community. Especially those we’ve met in the Twittersphere. You inspire us. You’ve helped us in countless ways. You’ve welcomed us. You’ve been nothing but warm and kind.
Especially those that we’re able to call friends. Ray from Tails From the Dark Dragons Inn – a “long form, serialized, high-fantasy, improv fiction, audio drama style podcast, driven by tabletop roleplay.” Thank you for inspiring us, helping make this podcast a reality, and for introducing us to the fine folks over at DnD RAW. A group of amazing people that have also made this vision come to fruition with their unconditional support and encouragement.
Over this past year we’ve become part of an incredible community formed by Lucas from Ballad of the Seven Dice. From there we met Dave from the Four Orbs podcast who, along with Lucas, have been a huge help in continuing to improve the quality of our episodes. They’ve become a significant part of what we do and who we consider good friends. Check out the hilarious one-shot we did at GenCon 2019 and the Ballad of the Seven Dice’s Christmas 2019 Special – TI Save Christmas.
Matt from Metaphorical Walrus Productions has been a supporter from day one and keeps us motivated knowing that we have fans out there like him. Again, someone we’ve come to call a friend. Along with Cassie from The Lovelycraftians (an amazing all female podcast!), and two fresh faces – Diana from Multiclass Theater and Mark from Dungeon Digressions (fellow Wisconsinites!). Your genuine kindness and passion has been invigorating.
Thank you all. We hope you enjoy the journey we have in store for you.
Jeremy D. Kleinhans