Podcast host, Twitch streamer, and Dungeon Master for hire, Shaun Sunday is taking his art and gameplay to the next level – all while creating an inclusive and safe space for all to enjoy. Shaun stays busy thanks to his podcast ‘No Capes!’ and his Twitch stream where he writes and illustrates comics live. Shaun is also an avid Dungeon Master, previously working on the D’n’D game show ‘The Shifting Spire’ and the adventure ‘The Hunger of Firspeak’.
To get us started, can you tell us about how you started streaming and why you decided to start broadcasting both your Dungeon and Dragons games as well as your live art?
I started with the art as I really enjoy my work, and I enjoyed watching other artists and gamer friends of stream. It was a really nice way to relax and I thought why not? I wanted to create a little corner of the internet where I can put out some chill vibes and make content for folks that love to see the behind the scenes process that goes into making comics and gaming illustrations - plus it gave me a dedicated time slot to make sure I got to work on my projects!
Soon after that, I got more and more into the TTRPG (table top role playing game) scene, and at the end of my first crowdfunding campaign for my TTRPG work, I decided to give Actual Play streaming a go with the adventure that we included in the crowdfunder rewards! Despite initial tech issues, it was just so much damn fun, and that was that! I started running oneshot streams as much as I could manage, guesting on other people’s shows when I could, and eventually ran my 3-episode gameshow, ‘The Shifting Spire’.
Your content is deeply entrenched in the fantasy genre. How would you describe the appeal to someone who is unfamiliar with it?
My TTRPG content most definitely is, I *love* engaging in those fantasy worlds. There’s so much to enjoy about it, fantasy campaigns can ‘be so flexible and span across a lot of subgenres - I’ve played a Half-Orc homage to The Dread Pirate Roberts on a friends show, engaging in silliness and ship to ship combat. I’ve also written thriller-comedy in my one-shot adventure ‘The Hunger of Firspeak’, and there’s abject supernatural horror in adventures like ‘The Curse of Strahd’ - a campaign set in an otherworldly realm lorded over by Strahd Von Zarovitch.
It’s the ability to explore characters and other worldly settings, while also retaining some aspects of familiarity that makes me love it. Some of my absolute favourite fantasy stories combine elements of medieval fantasy AND modern day, like comics such as ‘SideQuest’ by Grant Stoye, Toben and Alaire Racicot, Martina Bonanni, Stephanie Cooke and brenda Snell and ‘End After End’ by David DB Andry and Tim Daniel, Kurt Michael Russell, Adrian F. Wassel, Illustrated by Sunando C - both rich and exciting stories that delve with everyday people being thrust into fantastical other realms.
My comics work however tends to delve more into modern horror/comedy and near-future science fiction, which gives me the ability to tell stories set in our world, but “What If?” - it’s our world, but monsters exist, like in my short with Adam Markiewicz ‘The Hight Cost of Living’ which is about toxic masculinity with a touch of climate change concern; delivered in the form of a Creature Feature!
I've got a sci-fi spy story called ‘The N.E.T.W.O.R.K. Man’ in the works set in Sydney too, and a science-fantasy series called ‘Snuffles the Indomitable!’.
Inclusivity carries a lot of importance for the gaming community. You have been making Dungeons and Dragons more accessible to everyone. Tell us why this has been such a big focus of yours?
As a Neurodivergent player and DM - learning the game was hard for me and my group who were also ND. I looked around for tools to make the game easier in the way that specifically made sense for our needs and I really couldn’t find enough - the same with Actual Play content too, and playing at tables with other folks I didn’t know very well.
So I set about to create what I needed, and learn about ways to make my table more accessible to my existing players, and folks that I might play with on stream. When I was done, I decided to release them as something that other folks could use and make the game easier for more people like me! Anything that can make gaming more accessible is a wonderful thing, and if I needed it, other people probably do too!
From your acting chops, to designing maps and all the tools an adventurer would need – you take on a lot of responsibility and have a knack for creating an incredibly immersive experience when you’re the Dungeon Master. What top tips would you give to beginning and emerging dungeon masters and broader games masters?
The biggest piece of advice is - don’t overthink it. That’s easier said than done, but if you make sure that you and your players are all on the same page beforehand by using Safety Tools such as the TTRPG Consent Checklist, X-Cards etc - then you can all trust each other, and they won’t mind if you stumble a little along the way with your pacing and remembering the rules.
You just gotta try to remember to have fun. I try to make sure I make notes about key story beats before the session so I don’t have to flip through a book too much, and I write out the HP and amount of enemies for combat encounters before hand - I also recommend getting yourself some Monster Cards and Spell cards, and making sure you have the cards for all the creatures and your players spells handy, so you can always refer to those quickly on the go!
But I can’t emphasise it enough - just have fun! Don’t stress about following the rules EXACTLY - I like to follow “The Spirit of the Rules” and if you’re having fun and not stressing, your players are probably going to do the same.
Your streams are a combination of excellent overlays and great sound which now feature some Audio-Technica equipment. Can you tell us how the use over overlays creates a more engaging experience with your audience as well as what hardware you’re using to capture your audio?
For me as an ADHD creator, I try to design my streams with fellow Neurodivergent folks in mind - big bold captions in a nice speech bubble that matches my comic book creator style, fun channel point redeems (though I really need to add some more of those) and Pretzel stream music player to keep the energy up.
If the overlay is fun for me to look at in OBS while I’m reading the chat, then it’s probably fun for chat to look at too! These days I’m starting to add in more interactive follow alerts and chat redeems too - it gives a bit more energy and fun to the stream without increasing my on-stream workload. I highly recommend Streamelement and Touchportal for this!
Hardware wise? I have my trusty Audio-Technica 2040 microphone which has levelled up my streaming and podcast quality exponentially (stay tuned for Season 4 of No Capes! - the first season with the new microphone VERY SOON) and run that through a Focusrite Scarlett interface!
I also use the M40X headphones for editing No Capes, they’re fantastic and help me hear whats going on so much better. (Watch this space in the near future too for the addition of more offscreen gags and commentary from my partner Robin, once I get my hands on a second 2040 and the next size up Scarlett!)
“No Capes”, your comic book creator podcast, has successfully dissected the storytelling of your guests. How do you structure your episodes, and how do you keep your audience engaged?
This is by far the media project I'm most passionate about, and the very reason I upgraded to Audio-Technica equipment!
I think of ‘No Capes’ more like a really rad book club - I invite on a guest who I know personally or whose work I really admire (Like Darick Robertson in season 1, Frankee White in season 2, Liana Kangas and Rye Hickman in S3 or Heather Antos and Devin Arscott in the upcoming season 4!) and we sit down to discuss a book we’ve both read and love, and break down what we think makes it good.
I have a very loose structure for the episodes and that's basically to make sure that every aspect of the book and the team gets attention - from writing and illustration to colour, lettering and the overall book design!
I think what makes it initially engaging is the "peek behind the curtain" aspect of breaking down how a book is made and what goes into crafting the story, and the raw energy of a creator when they get to indulge in the love of comics, which is why we all do it after all!
That energy is infectious, it’s definitely what KEEPS the audience engaged with the book and the conversation, and is my absolute favourite thing about making the show.
In your bi-weekly stream, you create art in front of your audience. How does the dynamic between your viewers and you impact your art?
It’s genuinely really fun - sometimes I’ll just keep chipping away at my project and chat will ask questions about it, and I get to indulge a little bit in the excitement about the piece, and whatever comic story or gaming project it’s for, which creates a really fun energy for the stream. Other days it gets a little rowdier when folks start redeeming fanart sketches which has been really beneficial to my practice for getting faster and not worrying about being “perfect”. Some days I request sticker/shirt design prompts from the audience which has resulted in really fun things like my Sharknado stickers or a Punk Mermaid, so it’s always a fun idea to do sticker art streams when chat gets busy, even if that’s not the original focus of the stream - I try to allow space to be flexible and work with my viewers so we can all have the best time!
What’s next for Shaun Sunday and where and when can people see what you’re up to?
Well right now I’m working on a 10-Page Horror-Comedy set in Brisbane called ‘Below the Waist’, as well as a couple of pitches for comic anthologies and maps for a D&D adventure I’m hoping to release at the end of the year! So folks that want to come along and hang out in the chat will be able to enjoy those projects, some fun music and chill vibes!
I stream every Thursday night at 8PM AEST, and an extra optional day on either Saturday or Sunday mornings! (Best to check socials/discord for announcement about those days.)
Folks can find my comics on GlobalComix, No Capes! on Youtube and all good Podcast Places thanks to my new network Age Of Radio/Geek Collective and follow me under Brainbeast Studios on social media!
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