ACTUAL PLAY RPG PODCASTS I HAVE KNOWN AND LOVED
RPGs are role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. "Actual play" or "real play" podcasts are a gaming podcast sub genre where a gaming group records their real playing sessions instead of doing interviews or news or commentary. They are remarkably engaging.
- •HarmontownI saw this live at XOXO last year and fell in love with the genre. Dan Harmon is the creator of Community and the last half of this rambling podcast is real-play adventuring. The game master, Spencer Crittendon, is amazing. Core characters are played by audience members, staff, and guests each week. No dice are thrown, but great role playing. They switched from D&D to Shadowrun a few months ago, and it's actually turned into an even better show.
- •Critical HitThis is the grand dame of D&D real play podcasts. They've been playing for like 6-7 years; mostly one big timeline, but sometimes they play mini games in other milieux. Currently they're playing a super hero game using the FATE gaming system, which is really enjoyable. GM Rodrigo creates intricate and compelling stories and settings which really keep this show going. LOTS of dice and hit points and rules lawyering. Two of the players are dunces and two are quant strategists. Great play.
- •Falling StarA Star Wars real-play podcast using the much-missed D6 system. Great story set between Attack and New Hope; really paints a great picture of a galaxy under uncontested Empire rule. Players are creative but frustratingly conservative; GM likes his own expository writing a lot and doesn't incent players to activity. Good listen but drags at times.
- •Total Party KillA D&D campaign set in the Dark Sun setting. It's a fascinating world but the group spends more of their time wisecracking than role playing. Feels like they're doing it out of obligation. The DM Scott is OK, but doesn't keep the story moving very well. This is a last-resort listen for me.
- •Gaming GruntsThese folks are the shit. First, they play hardcore games like Call of Cthulhu and Deadlands Reloaded. Second, they are total gaming pros - they get their work done, they do their role playing, and then they STFU and let someone else be awesome for a little while. Lots of mini games, including one playing RISUS, one of my favourite game systems. Rotating DMs, all of whom do yeoman's work. Only downside? Audio is kind of bad. A good listen.
- •Dresden Files: City by the RiverA good podcast using the Dresden Files FATE system. The first couple of episodes is awesome because they walk through the entire world-building process (a ritual peculiar to FATE which is amazingly fun) and you really see the setting and characters emerge. Too many players, though, so either everyone is talking over each other or everyone is sitting back trying not to do that. Ok listen for the first few eps but I lost the thread and didn't go back.
- •BE GamingA bunch of mini-campaigns, all using the FATE system. The most recent two campaigns were a noir murder mystery and a series of Star Trek adventures. Good group of players, and solid world-building by the (rotating) DMs. Some slow parts, but in general solid and a good listen.
- •The Adventure ZoneProbably my favourite real play podcast. It's produced by the three McElroy brothers from My Brother My Brother and Me, but includes also their radio-professional father, who adds a solid dose of dad humour. The group is just the right size, intimate, and (usually) hits the right balance of role playing and wise cracking that makes for a great listen. Early episodes are right out of a prebuilt campaign (so they're kind of boring) but GM Griffin takes off and creates a really interesting world.