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Author Topic: A different kind of review: Actual Play Pdocasts  (Read 332 times)


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A different kind of review: Actual Play Pdocasts
« on: March 25, 2020, 01:54:49 pm »
It's not a secret that TTRPG's, specifically D&D, have taken off in recent years. This might be to the chagrin of some of the older guard in the community, myself included, but much of this new found popularity can be attributed to shows such as Critical Role. This has led to an entire new genre of internet stream/podcast: The Actual Play. It seems that lately, every Dick, Jane, and Tom thinks they can record their session, post it to the net, and have a podcast. With that being said, I am a podcast junkie and listen to about 10 hours worth of podcasts a week at least, its more like 10-20. Being that I've loved the hobby since I was a teen, you would think that this would be a perfect fit for me. But, perhaps unexpectedly, the sudden boom in the popularity of these shows has also led to many people jumping in with a critical lack of radio, editing, and showmanship skills trying to make a quick buck. Because of this naivete, if you search Actual Play, you will find many shows that are just out and out shit for lack of a better word.

With all of that being said, I've spent some of my podcast time of the past few months trying out new shows. I've listened to some abysmal shows, but I have found some gems. Mostly, I was interested in hearing how other people play. We all know that there is no one such approach the game, so hearing how people handle rulings or their style of role-playing is something I was looking for to help strengthen my own DMing and role playing skills. So, here is a review of sorts. With that being said, I do have some criteria, and I can afford to be picky since there are so many of these shows. Here are some personal rules for the Actual Play Podcasts that I keep around in my feed as well as how I review them:
  • I listen to at least two episodes of a show before giving up on it.
  • MUST have decent audio quality. Just recording your Discord chat is a huge strike against you.
  • Should have at least some level of showmanship and engagement. Listening to monotone people at a table isn't engaging.
  • Need to start at the beginning, or in some cases the most recent arc. This gets complicated, because some shows start out really, really rough at the beginning, but continue the same plot throughout. Still, if the audio is murder on the ears, there's plenty of other shows.
  • Should have some self respect to avoid politics. I don't care where you lean, but you should have enough respect to not bring up politics in a show that doesn't have anything to do with real world politics. Political jokes are fine with me.

With that being said, lets get into the shows I recommend, with their description, pros, and cons.

D&D is for Nerds
This is probably my favorite show, and perhaps my most recommended show. This is a group of aussies, that get together and play a mix of homebrew and WotC's campaign books. Overall, they have fun at the table, you can tell they are having fun at the table.
  • The players get very involved in the game, they have their backstories and characters, they like playing with each other, its overall engaging. It's a table I would want to be at.
  • The game play moves forward at a brisk pace.
  • The DM, Adam Canervale, does a good job of handling combat for a radio show.
  • There is typically a story to follow, there isn't just murder hoboing.
  • The show does many arcs, each arc has about 10-25 episodes, so its easy to jump into.
  • The DM isn't as descriptive as others. He makes up for it with the game he runs, but his voice doesn't have a narrative flair so to speak. This is nitpicky, but can be a turn off.
  • Some arcs are better than others.
  • Early episodes are much rougher than later episodes, don't flow as well so to speak.
  • The cast avoids politics in the shows themselves, but are very involved in gender/identity politics in social media. Take that as you will, they're welcome to their opinion.
Recommended Episodes/Arcs
Zombie Plagued Cult (their Tomb of Annihilation game), Into the Jungle Island of Dendar.

Dungeon Run
Of all the shows, this is probably the most "Critical Roley" type show here. Still, its good and has good production values.
  • Amazing DMing, very good descriptions.
  • Ambience is good, great set piece music.
  • Roleplaying is good, it feels like a radio play sometimes its that good.
  • The episodes are really long. And could use some editing. This is a streaming show online, with video, so there is a large itnermission in the middle that is rather pointless if you're listening to the podcast audio version.
  • There is one character that, at least at first, tends to hug the spot light. Love-able oaf barbarian half-orc trope named Uggo. Can be a bit of a turn off.
  • Might take itself too seriously/is a little try hard to be like Critical Role.
Recommended Episodes/Arcs
Just start at the beginning.

The Glass Cannon
This show is solid and consistent throughout. Its a bunch of college friends, now in their 30s and 40s, getting together and playing a game.
  • Huge backlog of episodes that are well produced.
  • Cast is fun together.
  • Solid gameplay, just fun to listen to and the game is well handled.
  • Huge backlog of episodes.
  • Can be a bit jokey at times, might be a turn off for some
Recommended Episodes
Just start at the beginning.

Advanced Sagebrush and Shootouts
The only show here so far that is non-fantasy. They have many arcs, set in modern day, usually intrigue based stuff.
  • Fun, good cast.
  • Something other than fantasy.
  • Arcs are short, makes it easy to get into.
  • Again, can be a bit jokey.
  • Audio Quality can be hit or miss sometimes, especially early on.
Recommended Episodes
Latest Arc, The Task Force.

With these reviews there are some shows that I don't recommend, and why:
  • Beholder Her: A feminist D&D podcast. Enough Said. I gave it a shot.
  • Adventure Zone: These guys just annoyed me with how they enjected a lot of virtue signalling at the beginning of their latest arc. I might go back.
  • The Redacted Files: I had high hopes. Its hit and miss, more miss. Bad DMing, and bad audio quality.
  • Dice, Camera, Action: It might pick up, but the first few episodes audio quality is just shit.
  • Friends at the Table: I listened to the first arc. Shit editing, bad sound quality, bad pacing, and cast are rabid with their identity politics and pronoun checking from the looks of it.

And a few that you might check out, but I haven gotten deep enough to review yet.
  • Ghostbuster Resurrection. Seems promising. Uses the old West End system.
  • How We Roll: Few episodes I've listened to have been great. They alternate between CoC and D&D.
  • One Shot: Only listened to one epsidoe, but it was good. Seems to have short, one shot arcs of various systems.
  • Spout Lore: Dungeon World game, seems interesting despite my feelings for Dungeon World and its creator.

So, take this as you will. Feel free to recommend a show too. Hopefully this helps you find something new and interesting to check out.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2020, 01:57:13 pm by ZetaRidley »


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A different kind of review: Actual Play Pdocasts
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2020, 05:13:16 pm »
Are we going to restrict this to just actual play content? I've been going through Puffin Forest's videos lately.
Animated and amusingly narrated stories about his gaming sessions.
The notion of an exclusionary and hostile RPG community is a fever dream of zealots who view all social dynamics through a narrow keyhole of structural oppression.


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A different kind of review: Actual Play Pdocasts
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2020, 11:08:11 pm »
Doesn't have to be. Puffin's forest is great.