Today’s guest article comes from Keith Garrett, an avid Gnome Stew reader, oft times guest article contributor, and he has now outed himself as a podcast listener. If you like podcasts, check out the Gnome Adjacent podcasts – Misdirected Mark (Chris, Phil, Bob) , She’s a Super Geek (Senda), and Talking Games (Send and Phil). And now, on with the show… review and descriptions by Keith. – John “I’ve got a voice for print” Arcadian
There are many, many podcasts dedicated to roleplaying games (and other games, for that matter). There’s probably at least one for your favorite game. In case you’re new to podcasts, here’s the gist: a podcast is a regularly-recorded show (usually audio only) that you can have sent via Internet to your smartphone or music player automatically. (You can also listen to them online using a web browser.) Amateur and professional podcasters (and plenty in between) produce a variety of show types targeted to gamers: some focus on a single game, others cover gaming in general regardless of system; some talk about gaming in a scholarly way, while others present recordings of actual play sessions.
I only started listening to RPG-related podcasts about a year ago, so I am by no means an expert resource. But since going podcast crazy on my drive home from Gen Con 2015, I’ve listened to many hours of RPG shows every week. (I even listened to some of the podcasts listed below for the entire distance of the marathon I ran last year!) So I wanted to list some of my favorites here to help even more people find them. I’m also looking for more to listen to, so please suggest your favorites in the comments.
If you’ve heard of any of the podcasts on this list, it’s likely you’ve heard of the multiple ENnie-award-winning “Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff.” Game industry luminaries Ken Hite and Robin Laws discuss gaming, game design, writing, occultism, history, cooking, and other nerd-related topics. They’re great at deep-diving into GM and game design advice, such as how to use RPGs to teach history, or different ways of handling stealth in a game. Each episode consists of four topics, clocking in at slightly more than an hour.
Purely devoted to the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, Spellburn is a model of how a podcast can make sweet audio love to its subject matter. The charming hosts (Judges Jim, Jobe, Jeffrey, and Jen) thoroughly explore game rules, interview DCC designers, review products, recap convention appearances, and discuss all matters related to the mythical Appendix N
(Gary Gygax’s list of inspirational reading from the 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide). I just finished listening to the entire Spellburn backlog, and I’m about to start through my second round of every episode.
Lex Starwalker’s tribute to Monte Cook’s Cypher System games has been officially retired in favor of the next entry on this list, but it’s still worth listening to all 78 episodes if you’re a fan of Numenera or The Strange. The podcast’s content includes interviews (of both designers and fans), reviews, creature overviews, in-depth rule explorations, and lots of what the title promises: GM intrusions (a Cypher System game mechanic). Lex is a humble and insightful host, and provides great ideas and thought-provoking discussions.
During his long run hosting GM Intrusions, Lex Starwalker realized that a lot of the topics he discussed would apply to other games. So he started Game Master’s Journey, my other favorite podcast of his. (Lex has produced several–he’s kind of a human podcasting machine.) As I write this, his most recent episodes have focused on D&D, but he’s also discussed Edge of the Empire, 13th Age, and other games. Beyond game-specific topics, he also talks about general issues like how to be a good player, how to improvise, and how to run an adventure for new players. One of Lex’s popular topics is worldbuilding, and he’s devoted a healthy number of episodes to demonstrating how he’s creating his D&D campaign setting, Primorida.
Wizards of the Coast recently split their previous podcast into two different ones: Dragon Talk, focusing on interviews, and Dungeon Delve, specializing in live play sessions. Â I haven’t listened to the latter, but I often like the interviews on Dragon Talk, like a recent one with Mike Selinker about the upcoming Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk expansion
. Of course, the subject matter is usually related to games by Wizards, but that works for me when I want to learn about, say, the new Curse of Strahd book.
The Signal is distinctive for being both the shortest podcast on this listÂ as well as the only one that is presented “in-universe”–the idea is that the episodes are messages transmitted from an inhabitant of Numenera’s Ninth World. Each transmission talks about something weird going on in a different part of the world, providing adventure hooks that are dripping with Ninth World atmosphere. It’s a really fun format and great for sparking adventure ideas for a Numenera game, or a different game if it’s sufficiently weird.
This one is a good source for information and inspiration related to Lovecraftian gaming. In addition to covering Call of Cthulhu, MU discusses Mythos-related art, fiction, Kickstarter projects, and other board and card games (like Cthulhu Wars). The two things I like best about this podcast are its timely supply of Mythos news and its thorough discussions of Lovecraftian RPG topics, such as how to use (and abuse) the players’ NPC contacts. You’ll find some nice, evil ideas here.Â Go Pods!
This podcast is basically a book club focusing on the works that defined fantasy roleplaying (the Appendix N mentioned previously). The hosts start off by discussing an inspirational work of literature, then follow up by giving ideas for how this piece of fiction can inspire (or has inspired) an RPG adventure. Sanctum Secorum is strongly focused on the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG (indeed, co-host Jen Brinkman is also one of the Spellburn crew), but there’s plenty of good stuff here even if you don’t play DCC.
That’s it for my list. What about you? What’s your favorite gaming podcast, and where do you listen to it?
Keith Garrett is a freelance writer from Memphis. He’s been a roleplayer for 30 years, and firmly believes you can never have too many dice. He writes more things like this at adventuresofkeithgarrett.com, and on Twitter he’s @keithagarrett.