RPGBOT.News December 9th, 2021 – Griffin and Gargoyle

Show Notes

In this episode of the RPGBOT.News, we welcome Daniel Colwell and Michael Paylor, co-founders of Griffin and Gargoyle, an immersive dining and entertainment experience for fans of Dungeons and Dragons and similar works of fantasy, opening in March of 2024. We get some insider information about the project and learn what guests can expect to experience, including some details not revealed on the website.

Materials Referenced in this Episode

Transcript

Randall 

Welcome to the RPGBOT.News. I’m Randall James, your non-descript NPC and with me is Tyler Kramstra.

Tyler 

Hi everybody. Did… do you want to try that one again?

Randall 

No, I meant what I said, and I said what I meant.

Random 

And also faithful, so there we go. I’m Random Powell. Good evening.

Randall 

We have special guests with us here tonight from Griffin and Gargoyle. Daniel Colwell.

Daniel Colwell 

Hi, I’m Daniel Colwell and CEO and one of the founding partners of the Griffin and Gargoyle experience, opening in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in March 2024.

Randall 

Awesome, and we also have Michael Paylor.

Michael Paylor 

Hi there. I’m Michael Paylor. I’m the Creative Director for Griffin gargoyle and the other half of the founding partners for this project. Thanks for having us on.

Randall 

Absolutely. It’s great to have you. So Tyler, what are we doing tonight?

Tyler 

Well, we’re going to talk about the Griffin and Gargoyle. We have the founders here to tell us all about the cool project. And if you haven’t checked out the website, you really should because they’ve got some very, very pretty mock-ups of what this thing’s going to look like. And I’m honestly just excited to hear more details.

Randall 

The Griffin and Gargoyle. This project. What is it all about?

Daniel Colwell 

The Griffin and Gargoyle is going to be an immersive restaurant experience celebrating the genre of fantasy in the birthplace of the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game. We are looking to channel some of the best things about tabletop roleplaying and incorporate them all into a physical space that will take you through an experience of cultural tourism as you step into our living fantasy world.

Randall 

Yeah, that sounds amazing. What is the vision? What will the experience be like?

Michael Paylor 

That’s a pretty broad set of answers. The ultimate vision is is community. It’s bringing together a broad swath of people who have various interests in the tabletop creation, storytelling genre, getting them all in one place and letting them not just experience but also participate. We want them to be able to sit down no matter what their level of interest or expertise and be able to actually engage with the living world that we’re creating and not just feel like they’re a part of the story, but actually know that they’re having an impact on the the collective story that we’re all telling.

Random 

I want to step in here because I am often the voice of collective storytelling in this podcast. And I want to say what exactly does that mean to you? And when you say that they’re participating I, I have been to SCA events, I have been to a another restaurant actually that claims to be doing sort of the same thing that you’re doing, although less of a focus on the tabletop fantasy, and the tabletop game more just generic fantasy. So when you say that there is storytelling going on, what does customer engagement look like for that?

Daniel Colwell 

Sure. Well, let me start with sharing a little bit. One of the areas that we really drew inspiration from were immersive experiences like Star Wars Galaxies Edge and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But we think that they’re doing something wrong. When you go to one of those places. You know what you’re going to get, you have canon material that these people have worked from, you’re going to meet the characters that you knew from the book, you can dress up like you’re from the world, but you’re never really going to be able to step into that world and feel like you have your own physical presence. So what we’re taking is that the best parts of D&D where you’re sitting around a table, you’re collaborating to tell a story. And we’re finding mechanisms for the customer to develop their own fantasy character and invest themselves in the world that we’re creating through storylines that happen, A over the course of the evening, but B seasonally as we continue to tell our story from event to event, and from season to season, as time goes on. But Michael, as creative director, I’m sure you have a few things that you can share as well.

Michael Paylor 

Absolutely. Yeah, we have a wonderful set of creatives, storytellers, authors, a whole bunch of artists from a whole bunch of disciplines all working together to help us flesh out quite a lot of lore, which I’m very excited about it. I love the world building element myself, and being able to really detail out the lore and construction of this world is huge. But the other thing they’re helping us do is plot out, as Dan said, seasonal events that track through years of real-time storytelling customers, as they come in, are going to be able to actually participate in those events at levels that make them comfortable. You bring grandma and she doesn’t necessarily want to commit to really participating with the actors. She doesn’t have to at all. But people who have been gaming for their entire lives will be able to actually dig into the events and the stories that that we’re presenting through our actors.

Randall 

That really, actually, that sounds really exciting to me. Is is it possible tuition were like when I come in with my group, are we having an experience on our own? Or is everybody in the hall or everybody, like, in a larger room having the same experience simultaneously?

Michael Paylor 

Yeah, the short answer to that is “yes.” You will have the opportunity to kind of have your own bubble worth of adventuring party all to yourself. But there is a much larger storyline that’s going on inside the tavern and inside the the various event rooms that we have available within. You will also have the opportunity, as Dan said before, to create your own individualized character which can provide recognition within the tavern, which will let you not necessarily level up but certainly have your experiences tracked so that people will recognize you as as you continue through the storyline.

Daniel Colwell 

And just to expound on that a little bit, we will have live entertainment at the Griffin gargoyle as well, our plan is to have a house band that is playing fantasy music throughout the course of the evening. And there will be essentially an emcee role playing sort of the room and getting people drawing them into that participation element as well. But each table, you’ll be interacting with your servers and the bartenders walking by. And we are working with the Scenic Design Group to actually write some of the story into the architecture of the space. So we’re going to have a 30,000 square foot building with

Randall 

Wow.

Daniel Colwell 

lots of different areas there. And they’re going to be lots of avenues for you to explore. And there are clues and cues throughout the space that help you delve into the history of the Griffin and Gargoyle, why it’s there, who the adventurers were that founded the Griffin and Gargoyle, and why they chose this spot in particular.

Michael Paylor 

Ultimately, the story is going to be as deep as you want it to be.

Randall 

So I guess I have a question towards this. We talked a little bit like a restaurant a little bit like an experience closer to like kind of LARPing in a building? Will it be something where like, I booked and I say I’m gonna be there from three to seven? Is it something where I just as long as I have a table when I’m ordering food, I can continue to have the experience?

Daniel Colwell 

Our expectation is that there will be a period of time that people are at their table probably about two hours or so going through their meal interacting and enjoying that main space, then we expect that there are going to be a lot of opportunities for roaming the rest of the building as well. We’re going to have our curated curiosity space. That’s our wizards’ antiquities shop, which is going to have a variety of magical items for the adventure in need. We have the gnome alchemist, which is our steampunk themed molecular mixology bar. There are going to be some really cool desserts up there as well. And then in the lower level we have, of course, our 12 axe throwing lanes. So if you feel like booking some axe throwing before you have your meal, you can do that for an hour or you can do it after you’re nice and schknockered up from the gnome alchemist. And just be careful that you don’t challenge the Barbarian to to a competition because he doesn’t take it lightly.

Randall 

I’m already imagining, like, trying to book for a Solstice night, like, four years out and not being able to get in because this is going to be the place where everybody wants to be.

Michael Paylor 

Yeah, when you’re asking if people should book tables. That too is an easy answer of “yes.” I would imagine reservations are going to be tough to come by.

Randall 

Okay.

Tyler 

Let’s say I’m I’m in town for one night and may never get to come back to Lake Geneva. So I’m there for a convention like Garycon or something. And I’ve heard tons of wonderful things about Griffin and Gargoyle and I come in and I’m going to have the singular experience with the Griffin and Gargoyle I’m probably never going to come back. What will that experience be like for me?

Randall 

I’m gonna say you’re wrong already. You’re gonna come back to Garycon again and you’re gonna go back to the Griffin and Gargoyle.

Tyler 

I certainly hope so. But entertain hypothetical with me. So I come in, my character is Joe the potato farmer, and I want to experience this thing to the fullest.

Michael Paylor 

Our vision is that you will have had opportunities to interact with the Griffon and Gargoyle even before you come. Whether it is through opportunities on our Discord server, whether it’s through our social media or through unveiled elements of our website that are not currently there yet, we want you to have a connection to the ongoing story and to your own character prior to even coming in. So our vision is that as you Joe the potato farmer walk in, you can check in and we recognize you and you were announced as Joe the potato farmer slayer of the dragon of angnar back in his potato farm field. And welcome to the Griffin and Gargoyle and we’ll give you a round of applause and cheers you come in and welcome you into the experience. If you’re coming with friends, we’re going to have a few different things that you can do. A you can book a four course meal and a tabletop role playing experience. We’re going to have six private rooms on the second floor of the building outfitted with tabletop tables by Hammered Game Tables and Dan Fisher and outfitted with terrain by Stefan Pokorny of Dwarven Forge, and we’re going to have an experience that you guys can go from character creation through a whole adventure over the course of a four-course meal. So if you’re really looking to do something to commemorate that night, that’s the sort of thing you’re going to be looking to do.

Tyler 

Okay, I’m sold.

Randall 

My wife likes tabletop gaming a little bit, but she likes a fine dining experience a lot. So I want to ask what’s, what’s the menu going to be like? What are we talking about?

Michael Paylor 

Our menu is going to be pretty expansive. We have a wonderful food and beverage director that we’re working with right now, Bill Soplanda, who is working with us to generate quite a large menu set all of course in world and all fitting in with the lore and the experience that we’re looking to provide, but also catering to a wide variety of tastes, interests, but also accessibility levels in terms of people’s diets and what they’re able to eat. There are going to be vegan/vegetarian options, gluten-free options. Basically, anyone in your adventuring party is welcome. We want everyone there. We want them all to have a fantastic time. Fine dining is definitely at the forefront of our mind as we’re planning experience.

Daniel Colwell 

Our guiding star for that is familiar things done in a fantastic way, or fantastically strange dishes that when you sit down and actually eat them are familiar and delicious to enjoy.

Michael Paylor 

Absolutely. And with the gnome Alchemist. Of course, if you’re looking for something a little bit more magical molecular gastronomy, if you haven’t had the opportunity to check it out, it is genuine magic with food. It’s going to be definitely for the the discerning customer, the discerning patron, it’s going to be quite an experience.

Randall 

Yeah, that sounds really exciting. I guess I want to ask the question, I’m hoping for our listeners, you could tell us a little bit. Can we have a preview of like, what kind of arc of story are we looking at?

Michael Paylor 

Yeah, absolutely. There’s not a lot that we can reveal at the moment, obviously, we don’t want to give away secrets.

Randall 

I had to try.

Michael Paylor 

Yeah, it’s always worth a shot. You’re absolutely welcome to come and delve into the lore and the storyline once we get opened. Explore every nook and cranny, find every secret door and entrance and hunt down all that information for yourself. What I can let you know, though, the

Tyler 

You just threw secret doors in there and you’re not going to explore that for us?

Michael Paylor 

Roll for investigation.

Tyler 

Yes!

Michael Paylor 

Yeah. What I can let you know, though, is that the Griffin and Gargoyle was started by a group of five adventurers. For reasons of their own they built on a site that was extremely important to them, for reasons that you may or may not uncover. And over the course of many years, they’ve developed a loyal following of patrons, adventurers who have all come to the Griffin gargoyle tavern, to seek out companionship, a base of operations, and the best food they can possibly find the world that we have built is entirely homebrew, custom and living and breathing. This is a story that that is going to blow you away. When you get to experience it.

Daniel Colwell 

I’m constantly amazed by the the group of creatives that we have helping on this project. Just to give you a just a touch of sense of the depth of this world, the universe reveals a crew that we’re creating has its own numbering and counting system, which goes all the way to timekeeping and it has its entire own language as well in written language for that as well. So all of that more details will be coming as time goes on.

Randall 

It sounds exciting. So you’ve talked about the creatives. And you’ve talked about the folks helping you develop your menu helping you develop your bar. Have you started to identify like the staff who are actually going to bring this experience to life?

Daniel Colwell 

We’re a little bit early for a lot of the day to day staff that are going to be helping with the project. We’re currently in the pre-construction phase, we’re working with our architecture firm Shai Pattery, who are responsible for the fantastic renderings that you’ve seen all over the internet. They have done a beautiful job and it’s actually amazing. So for Garycon next year, they’re going to come out. These renderings actually exist in a 3d environment. So what we’re going to do is set up a virtual reality headset and you can actually walk through the Griffin and Gargoyle before it’s even open. So we’re gonna we’re gonna set up a place at Garycon for that for next year. So if you make it out, we will we will be there.

Randall 

Yeah. And actually, I guess we beat around it. So when is the Griffin and Gargoyle going to open?

Daniel Colwell 

Sure. We are opening in March of 2024, in celebration and in concert with the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying in the town where it was born. So Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, is once again going to be the go-to location for geeks from around the country and the world.

Random 

You’ve referenced Dungeons and Dragons a few times. Are you going to be like trying to make this something officially licensed with Wizards of the Coast where you are using some of the the characters? I know that you said that everything was kind of custom so far, but some of the mechanics are things that are part of maybe just beyond the SRD that’s really available. So I’m curious about that.

Michael Paylor 

That’s an awesome question. This is an entirely homebrew world. This is an entirely individually experience. We are not tying ourselves to the Dungeons and Dragons canon in any way. And that’s that’s actually a conscious choice. We want the freedom to be able to develop in our own direction. We want to be able to tell our own story. This is something that we want to be able to share with the people who come out and visit to help us tell this story. And we want to feel as though everyone who walks through the door has has kind of a piece of that. And that’s not something we can do if we tie ourselves to somebody else.

Randall 

But it does feel like fantastic to be in Lake Geneva, like the kind of the home of the largest tabletop gaming world, or largest tabletop gaming game in the world. Maybe the universe, we don’t know yet. We’ll find out one day. And yeah, so to open this experience in Lake Geneva. Yeah, that absolutely sounds amazing.

Michael Paylor 

Yeah, absolutely. Dungeons and Dragons has opened the door to so many people to explore so many different things, the the ability to collaboratively tell stories, the ability to sit down with your friends, become someone else for a while, save the world, make a lot of mistakes, doom the world. I don’t know your party, and I’m certainly not going to judge. But the ability to to really sit there and build empathy with other people make those very real connections that goes so far beyond just one game. It goes to the very heart of the human experience. And that’s what we really want to tap into. That’s what we want to set free. And we’d love to do it in honor of this one thing that sets basically all of us free and set us on fire.

Randall 

No, that’s amazing. So I think the folks that are at home are sitting and listening to this. And I think they’re excited and they want to have this experience as soon as it’s available. What can folks do to support you today?

Daniel Colwell 

Well, to start getting involved with our social media, following us on facebook at facebook.com/GriffinandGargoyle. Joining us in our Discord server, we have a growing community there that we are going to be engaging with and bouncing ideas off and sharing snippets of the story as it’s able to be released. That’s going to be the ground zero for finding out information about the project as it continues to grow. Then as we hit next year, Garycon is going to be another sort of kickoff for our project. We’re looking at releasing our Kickstarter campaign at that time to have opportunities for the general public to participate in the growth of the project. So, a lot more information on that to come as we go.

Randall 

Okay, so a little bit of hard hitting journalism, can I get you to commit to coming back when the Kickstarter launches?

Daniel Colwell 

100%.

Randall 

So that we can talk about it? Well, that’d be fantastic. And just for folks at home, we will have links to the Discord server, to the website itself. To all the content that we’re talking about so far. We’ll have links in the show notes, you’ll be able to follow that from home.

Tyler 

Yeah, that’s exciting. Okay, so you said you’re in pre planning phases for building this thing. Do you have a location picked out? Like, How far along are we? What, what’s the next step like?

Daniel Colwell 

Sure.

Tyler 

Inside details. What are we doing?

Daniel Colwell 

Oh, yeah. So we are building on 26 acres of commercial property that has been donated to the project by Paul Glands, owner of Imagine Entertainment. From out by you in the Detroit area over there. I helped Imagine Entertainment take their building through a $5 million renovation. It’s a first run cinema there. And it came with 26 Extra acres of land. And initially they thought about selling it, but the only interested party was for a shooting range, and they’re like, Yeah, I don’t think that that’s what we want next to our movie theater. So in conversations with Paul and sharing a little bit with him about my vision for this project, he said, You know what, if you can get the capital to put the building on the land, I will donate that property to you. So that really jump started this project back in early 2020. Right before the pandemic all hit. And of course, the theater then went quiet for the summer. And I dedicated myself I said, You know what, Griffin gargoyle is my full time job for the time being. So I delved deeply into the business planning and building that revenue model for a successful business. We’ve been working with Greenwood state bank to finalize the $7 million construction loan that they’ll be providing. And then we’re supplementing that with another 4 to 6 million from subordinated investors as we go here. And then from the Kickstarter when we open next year. So our general contractors, Freedie and Associates are looking to begin the site work in spring of next year. And then it’s just gonna be rocking and rolling as we go toward 2024.

Tyler 

That’s awesome.

Randall 

Okay, so um, I just want to nerd out for a second. And I apologize, because this is probably a strange question. How do you find a general contractor? It’s like, what do we want to build? We want to build a magic castle for people to have adventures. Like, what was that like?

Daniel Colwell 

it started with me creating this document to send out to these general contractors saying, Hey, guys, this is what I’m looking to build! Just to see how many of them would be so scared that they wouldn’t even respond. But then I got this contact from Freedie and Associates and they’re like, You know what, we’ve done all the construction for the Kalahari resorts in Wisconsin Dells, and our company’s tagline is “we do weird well.” And in talking to Scott, the the head of that company, they I understand that the Disney angle and they understand the Dells angle. And it, were striking a really cool balance between doing that Disney element but saving the funds where we can so that instead of $100 million Disney project, we’re able to do all of this for between 11 and $13 million.

Tyler 

Wow. So you mentioned Kickstarter is one of the sources of your funding. So I love a good Kickstarter. Have you thought about backer rewards at all yet?

Daniel Colwell 

Yes.

Tyler 

Yeah? Can you give us a hint?

Daniel Colwell 

Yeah, obviously, they’re gonna be, uh. Well, we don’t want to give a lot away. But there are there going to be multiple levels of potential patronage, obviously, with various opportunities. It’s going to be stuff that’s very familiar to you lots of opportunities to, to potentially have access to merchandise, lots of opportunities to possibly participate in various games or other creative storytelling offerings. At the moment we’re keeping details reasonably quiet, because we want it to be pretty explosive and really exciting when it launches. But there there’s going to be a lot on there that’s going to pique your interest. And one thing I can bring up in mention is on the property, you know, we have our 30,000 square foot building, but we’re also going to have an elven wedding outbuilding, and a 60 by 90 foot event field for people to host their their weddings and special events. As soon as the images went wide and online, we were getting messages and tons of messages about when can I book my wedding there? When can I book my wedding? So we’re looking at the potential for putting a couple of those slots into the Kickstarter as well, so that people can book those actual spots ahead of time.

Randall 

Okay, what I just heard you commit to is that some lucky Kickstarter out there who donates the right amount of money is going to be able to be the first wedding ever at the Griffin and Gargoyle. Is that what I heard?

Daniel Colwell 

Yhat is indeed what you heard.

Randall 

That sounds amazing.

Random 

And of course, on an elven timeline, so perfect. Three years, right? I just have to say I am very excited about the prospect of this sort of inclusive, like extremely encapsulated experience. I looked through the website, but I didn’t see… It seems like this is intended to be the restaurant the downstairs the exploration. Do you have any plans to try and also do lodging at any point as part of this experience? Or is that just too much of a logistical nightmare?

Daniel Colwell 

For the time being our plan is to execute on this restaurant and immersive experience center. Lake Geneva is known for having a number of luxury resorts and so we have a number of options for the the discerning customer to stay at. We are looking at… don’t don’t commit me on, so we may have a trolley that may be steampunk-themed that may go around to the area resorts to take people to and from the the Griffin and Gargoyle.

Tyler 

That is wonderful.

Randall 

If you could make that happen, that does sound like something that would be absolutely amazing.

Tyler 

So you mentioned the the 3d experience at Garycon next year. If I have a VR headset at home, will that be available to me if I for whatever reason can’t fly around the world reach Garycon?

Daniel Colwell 

I can’t speak to that yet. I may have more information on that in the future. But for the time being it’s just going to be at Garycon.

Tyler 

Okay.

Michael Paylor 

Get your tickets now.

Tyler 

Yeah.

Randall 

It sounds like it’s something that’s worth showing up to, huh? Alright. Well, thank you very much for joining us today. We really have appreciated it. I’m Randall James, you can find me at amateurjack.com and on Twitter and Instagram @JackAmateur.

Tyler 

I’m Tyler Kamstra. You’ll find me at RPGBOT.net. On Facebook and Twitter at RPGBOTDOTNET. patreon.com/rpgbot.

Random 

I’m Random Powell you will probably eventually find me at Garycon at this place. But in general, you’re really only going to find me on social media here at RPGBOT.net and perhaps where people play games as Hartlequin or Hartlequint.

Daniel Colwell 

I’m Daniel Colwell, CEO of Griffin and Gargoyle. You can find me online through our Discord or through facebook.com/GriffinAndGargoyle.

Michael Paylor 

And I’m Michael paler Creative Director for the Griffin and gargoyle project. You can find me in all of those same places. Please do hunt me down and ask me so many more questions on our Discord. I will answer some of them.

Randall 

Alright, thank you for joining us for the RPGBOT.News. Episode Six, the seventh episode, all of the links, the Discord links we talked about, the website, everything we’re gonna have linked into the show notes. So you’re gonna be able to find anything that you want to know that’s also publicly available about the Griffin and Gargoyle. Thanks a lot, folks.

Daniel Colwell 

Thanks so much for having us. Thank you.

Randall 

Absolutely. Yeah, there were there a couple other things like even I was a little hesistant to ask, it’s like… so are we allowed to get up from our table?

Michael Paylor 

NEIN. NEIN. SIT BACK DOWN.

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