Making the most of your One Shot

A conversation about community, creation, and activism with the new host of the One Shot podcast, Dillin Apelyan

Making the most of your One Shot
Credit: One Shot Network

In early February, it was announced that Dillin Apelyan  (aka SuperDillin across social media platforms) took on the mantle as the new host of One Shot. The acclaimed actual play anthology, originally hosted by James D’Amato, is known for playing an array of games with notable figures from throughout the TTRPG space. As an indie creator and outspoken activist, Apelyan brings a new perspective to this era of the show—one that focuses on creating community and advocating for voices that have previously gone unheard.

Starting their career as a content creator, the craft and themes of Apelyan’s work have evolved with the rapidly shifting TTRPG industry, both as a designer of games like the Neverland sourcebook and Metalepsis (formerly known as How Does That Work, You’re A Bicycle) and as an actual play performer on shows like The Atomless and Unprepared Casters. I sat down with Apelyan to discuss what he’s hoping to do in this new era of One Shot, imagining new ways of collective ownership over a shared creation, and how their work as an activist informs how they navigate the waters of this industry.

This interview has been edited for length, clarity, and flow.

On the future of One Shot

Zeoli: With One Shot being an anthology, you have the freedom to explore systems and themes that you don't necessarily get to explore with a consistent show and an ongoing arc. What are you hoping to do with your tenure at One Shot?

Apelyan: Oh, I'm so excited. I mean, the reason I went out for One Shot is because there isn't enough time in life for me to play all the games I want to play, with all the people that I want to play them with. One Shot has done such a great job already highlighting different RPGs by indie designers, but I think something I want to try to do is build a lot of relationships with other actual plays that are built off of one system. If they're playing D&D all the time or Pathfinder or Starfinder or whatever I want to bring them on and try something that's thematically similar, but a little bit different and stretch that with them and give them a little bit of an extra moment to shine in that area. And then also in the process, highlighting both the game and these other actual plays. 

We're such a niche hobby and a niche industry anyway, being in each other's web is always going to be really great and I can't see any downsides to it, you know? I really just want to put a lot of intention behind why I'm picking this cast and why I'm making them play this game.

Zeoli: Are there any themes that you're really trying to tackle with your shows?

Apelyan: I mean, I feel like it's such a cop out answer to tackle themes of anti-capitalism and pushing back against oppression and things like that, which obviously I want to continue doing. But I also want to explore identity and community. Trying to highlight and tell stories about community building goes hand in hand with the fact that I also want to use my platform to build community, itself. Those are really broad topics that I can really zoom in on, too. 

There's such a myriad of different games that have been made with the intention of telling stories like that. Instead of just trying to shoehorn anti-capitalism into Dungeons & Dragons, I really want to explore all the wealth of art people have made with the intention of exploring that. 

Zeoli: Are there any games that you're really, really excited to play?