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The Sound of One Die Rolling: Guide to Roleplaying Podcasts

Written by Nicholas - Published on November 29, 2008

Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.

How many of you wear glasses? Do you remember when you got your first pair? My first was six years ago and I still clearly remember the moment. I put on the glasses for the first time and suddenly realized how everyone else was seeing the world. So many things in the world are so internal that you never get more than one perspective, it’s hard to know what other people see, think and feel. The same thing applies to gaming groups (yes, that story did eventually have a point).

Even if you have played in many gaming groups each one is influenced by your presence. So how to do you gain an independent perspective of how other groups are gaming? Well, you could find out when people game in your local area and peer in their windows but there is a more legal and slightly less creepy answer. There are groups out there who record the audio of their sessions and put it online for the whole world to see, or at least hear.

D&D Gaming Session Podcasts

Shortly before the release of Fourth Edition, Wizards released a series of podcasts as a promotional tool. The eight podcasts are a single lengthy session of heavily modified Keep on the Shadowfell and star the creators of the Penny Arcade and PvP webcomics. The podcasts are very professionally done and at 30-45 minutes they are relatively short for roleplaying podcasts. They serve as useful introduction to gaming podcasts and can be found here.

If you find you developed a taste for the podcasts I highly recommend RPG MP3 for filling that need. There’s hundreds of hours of playtime there, mostly run by one very talented GM. Each podcast is a complete session and runs about 3-4 to hours but rarely drags. In their Rolemaster series they spent nearly two full sessions shopping but thanks to the players’ antics, the exotic items and the GM’s talent for NPCs and voices I sat enthralled the entire time. Their website is rather confusing at first but go to the forums and you’ll find everything you need, I can’t stress enough that the content is worth it. I’ve been listening for months and feel like I have barely scratched the surface.

So now I’ve told you where to find roleplaying podcasts but haven’t really told you why, so here goes:

GM tricks: It’s fun to read newsletters full of tips for a running a game but it can be even more exciting to witness a good GM practicing what he preaches. It takes a confident GM to expect to entertain an internet audience for hours without the aid of visual stimulus. A confident GM is usually a good GM and someone who can teach valuable skills by example.

Learn the rules: I’m an auditory learner, the things I hear are retained much better than what I read. Listening to other people play is a valuable way to learn the commonly occurring rules. You just have to be careful that the group you are listening to is doing it right.

Discover new systems: Before listening to RPG MP3 playing there is no chance I would ever have played Rolemaster. Besides the fact that I had never heard of it, it breaks all sorts of rules I have in game systems. For instance, I hate any system that has randomly generates elements in character creation. However, listening to that group playing through it I realize it doesn’t matter to them in the least if parts of their character were determined by a roll, they are having a ton of fun.

Entertainment: Nothing complicated about it, it’s just plain fun to listen to. If in your own games you enjoy watching the story crafted by the GM or the unexpected reactions of your fellow players, you will enjoy gaming podcasts. The podcasts are also a very convenient form of entertainment, if you are driving a long commute, working a boring desk job, on an exercise bike or cleaning up after Expy you can still listen.

I hope you find as much joy in roleplaying podcasts as I have and as always I want to hear about it. Do you have any podcasts you listen to regularly? Know any good sites? Have you ever recorded your own group?

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Written by Nicholas

Nick DiPetrillo is the original author behind the games Arete and Zombie Murder Mystery available at http://games.dungeonmastering.com

Nick is no longer active with DungeonMastering.com, however he is an accomplished writer and published his first game in 2009.

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Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.



10 Responses to “The Sound of One Die Rolling: Guide to Roleplaying Podcasts”
  1. I never even knew stuff like this existed. I’m very interested to check it out this weekend. I’m interested on seeing how other groups interact. I couldn’t imagine ever trying to podcast one of our group’s sessions… I don’t think I would want an audio record of that!

  2. Jeff Greiner says:

    I can also recommend:

    Gamers Haven (CanadianCrusaders.com) for both a podcast which contains advice, interviews, and chatter, as well as a section that’s all Actual Play (AP), as us podcasters like to call that sort of show. They range from D&D 3.5, 4e, Feng Shui, and Mutants and Masterminds.

    And in the interest of being open and honest, they have also joined my show in a network (VorpalNetwork.com) where we plan to do some more Actual Play things in the future.

    Also, Icosohedraphelia (d20.heardworld.com) is a show that is one 4e campaign, broken up into 1 hour chunks with an intro for each show as well as a segment at the end explaining which props and tricks they used at the table.

  3. Nicholas says:

    @Jeff Greiner: Thanks for the help with the lingo I was really struggling a bit with what to call it to distinguish it from podcasts just about gaming. I’m going to check out those link, really interested to hear a group do Mutants and Masterminds. It’s such an open ended system I’m never sure if my group is doing how we should.

  4. Hal says:

    Hey there,

    Thanks for the kind words and the article – it is hugely appreciated. You should have dropped me an email and I could have filled you in on anything you needed :) We have been recording Actual Play (I really don’t like that term) over on RPGMP3 for about 7 years or so now. The biggest break for us was playing through AEG’s World’s Largest Dungeon in DnD 3.5. It really built a following for the site.

    Now with 4e and Rolemaster and the new stuff coming from the other groups that contribute adding to the Community podcast we are getting quite a lot of stuff released every week.

    And if you promise not to say anything (shhh… fingers on lips) we are also looking at a redesign of the site to make it much more easy to use and that should be underway pretty shortly. You know how it is when a site grows a little faster than you can keep up – things get bolted on here and there for patch things up and eventually you just need to invest some time and clean house :P So watch this space – well, not this space, that space over at RPGMP3 :D

    Thanks again for the great article – much obliged!


    RPGMP3 – Dungeon ON!

  5. Ieqo says:

    I always enjoy an oppurtunity to say something good about my friends over there at RPGMP3. Not only are all the players and GMs quite talented and entertaining, but they can definately not be accused of pandering; if some mechanic is clunky, they’ll say so. If some story element doesn’t work, or if a product is poorly-edited, it will be so noted. Likewise if something is great.

    AP podcasts can also be found at yog-sothoth.com (this one features a couple voices that might be familiar to rpgmp3 listeners) for Cthulhu fans, and the above-mentioned Game Masters play sessions are always entertaining. In case it matters to anyone, of the recordings I mention, only the yog-sothoth sessions even approach a “family” rating; everyone else talks like gamers tend to talk. Thou hast been admonished.

    All of these sites also have fora where one can find discussions of the recordings and the usual things you’d expect to find on a rpg forum, plus the hosts are willing to talk about the technical end of the recordings as well. So if anyone might be considering giving this thing a go (I’ve yet to talk my players into allowing a recording of our sessions), they’re great places to stop by and pick the brains of folks who have already made the noob mistakes.

  6. Ieqo says:

    Forgot to mention the Gamers Haven ‘casts. They’re in the process of releasing their “Christmas Special” right now and it is a hoot and a half (but again, not for the kiddies). A quick perusal of rpgpodcasts.com should enable one to find all of these and several more that I haven’t had the time in the day to check out.

  7. newbiedm says:

    I downloaded and listened to the KOTS podcasts you guys did…
    Love your rendition of splug, he was a filthy mouthed little bugger….
    I played him more smart alecky brooklyn-ite….

    I am looking for some examples of skill challenges on mp3…
    I need to hear how other DM’s run these things….
    Any help out there?????

  8. Ieqo, thanks for the kind words about olde Yoggies podcasts!

    We should also have a DVD out soon too.

  9. Hooper says:

    For a funny collection of gaming video podcasts, check out http://www.youtube.com/quiltcityogres


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