Magic Folk is a character and story-driven actual play podcast set in a homebrew world, created by Corrine Beck, Becca Bowen, Kyle Breunning, and Victoria Watkins, and it’s everything I want from an AP.
The cast has great chemistry, in and out of character. They crack each other up and make each other cry and it’s VERY GOOD
The story is a high-stakes adventure, but they take time to show you the characters’ regular lives and families
The worst D&D tropes have been spiked into a dumpster, and a lot of what it’s been replaced with is delightfully odd
They take representation of marginalized identities very seriously
For the past five months (yes, I’m very slow), I have been doing a Grand Magic Folk Catch-Up, and now that I’m at the end, there is more to say than could possibly fit in a review. So, imagine that I’m talking about all of the stuff on that list in great detail, about how calmly Corrine wrangles the chaos of the Rowdy Party, about Bernan’s relationship with his family, about “take a brick, leave a brick” and bird pudding, and about the inclusive cast of characters that they have built over the past two years.
But since I have to focus here, I want to talk about one specific plotline that was extremely important to me. It covers an adventure in Quekkia, Kiss the Barbarian’s homeland. Kiss was probably my favorite character on the whole show even before this story, and even moreso now. He is an aarakocra, a man of action, and a total sweetheart who loves his friends and named all four of his javelins. It doesn’t hurt that Kyle’s bombastic character voice for him always makes me smile.
Quekkia is a small settlement, and it is really ingrained in their culture that your purpose is to gather shiny things so you can come home, settle down, and raise a family to ensure the future of Quekkia. And by this point in the series, it’s clear that Kiss doesn’t really want to do that, and that it’s starting to weigh on him. In episode 39, Sindre finally asks him why. That’s when we learn that it’s because Kiss is asexual. It’s probably the most accurate, careful, well-handled discussion of asexuality I’ve ever heard in a piece of fiction. (Listen here: Magic Folk Episode 39: Brothers, about 44:15 to 51:20).
The key to the scene working for me, is that Kiss has never even HEARD of asexuality. At the end of a battle that didn’t go great, everyone is feeling down, and Kiss really opens up about his feelings. He repeatedly says that he feels broken, and wrong, and like a failure, that he’s letting everyone down. Against the odds, Sindre knows exactly what’s going on. He talks about how sometimes, people just aren’t attracted to anyone, “and that’s okay.” Kiss says, “It is?!” with such hope in his voice, I think my heart grew three sizes that day. Through the rest of the scene, you can feel the weight of feeling broken starting to lift off of Kiss’ shoulders.
This scene is really familiar to me! I am ace, and I was in Kiss’s position once, and have been in Sindre’s many times since then. Asexuality is unusual, and hard to pin down, and often ace people don’t understand why sex and relationships have been weird for them until well into their adulthood, during a conversation like this one. It’s beautifully done.
And, while I chose this topic because you couldn’t pay me enough to stop screaming about asexuality, (really, even if you paid off all my debts. There’s no fucking way) I also think it’s an excellent example of what makes Magic Folk so good. They make a lot of lowbrow jokes, and Bernan vomits every three episodes, and it’s a very silly good time. But they still take the time to make their characters real, and to say something really important with them, and create representation where there was nothing. It’s a good show, and you should listen to it!