The Weeping Cedars "Prequel"

June 19, 2023

Back in 2018, three young thirty-something-year old bearded men had a fascinating new idea. They’d do a podcast. No…they’d do like…four? Five podcasts? The number wasn’t entirely clear, but it was certain that they would not be satisfied with a single, podcasting endeavor. And so, two of them revived an old video game podcast, one decided to do a romance-game podcast with his partner, and all three teamed up to do a tabletop gaming podcast.

The fourth one, though…that would be something both entirely the same as a podcast that had come before it, and, at the same time, just a little different.

This show was Refugees of Esmerelda, created by Blaine Martin of You are Not Alone podcast fame. Blaine’s idea was to create a world from worldbuilding games, and then play within that world with traditional RPGs. He started, as many podcasts have now, with The Quiet Year, and moved on from there. I know…I was there too, contributing my bits and bobs, playing characters, building worlds, the Sauron to Blaine’s Morgoth.

Nope, that’s probably not what I meant. But I typed it and now it’s there forever.

But, as these things go, when a podcast starts in March, you grow weary by about September, and as I remember it, the show was going to be slowing down a bit from its breakneck pace of kind-of-weekly. But before that, Blaine had a doozy of an adventure for our friend Delany and me. He gave us a classic dark fairy tale featuring our characters Emil and Harold, in which we investigated a dark river, ebon forest, and an old bone mill. It was creepy and it was great. It was also the origin of one of the phrases we still use ‘round these parts, “Quick Feet.”

When that adventure was coming to its end, I asked Blaine if I could run an adventure. I wanted to run something that I hadn’t seen or experienced in a tabletop game before (not that anyone hadn’t done it before, I’m sure they had). I wanted to evoke the general feeling and experience I had had playing Silent Hill 2 in a tabletop game. Blaine granted me the ability to do something different in the world, and I was off and running.

The six-episode series that starts with “Welcome to Weeping Cedars” is the only part of Refugees of Esmerelda that is strictly canon. Yes, there’s a bit of overlap with Dis, and his temple. But, well, Dis is a common name for old and terrible gods, so, such things are perfectly amicably separated out into their own realities. The Dis of Refugees proper never had a little tyke named Daseth, and the Dis who sired Daseth never was discovered by refugees from Esmerelda. A neat and clean operation to keep all the copyright lawyers happy.

Refugees is Blaine’s baby, and it was, for as long as it lasted, a success. It was, and remains, a good idea. He’s allowed me to keep hosting it since those last six episodes are technically WC episodes now, and I didn’t want them to just show up out of nowhere. They have context. I didn’t think that actual-play podcast up, Blaine did. And there are callbacks, like the mills, and a dark river, and a bit of ebon wood in the glass cases at one of the Mills. And, of course, Blaine and Delany, who were, in some ways, the primary audience for those call backs.

There was, of course, one new voice on that show, a gift that keeps giving. I believe that Chris Szumski joined us for the first time on a mic for Weeping Cedars, and he has stayed with it, playing Nate again in season 3 of WC. And, as of the time of this writing, he’ll be returning next year for Lightning Falls.

So, if you’re in the mood to just get as much Weeping Cedars as you can, then go listen to the last six episodes of Refugees. They are the canon episodes. But do yourself a favor and listen to them all, and then go fine Blaine’s other podcasts. You can find him here.

All right, time to make quick feet and get back to writing.