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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dungeons & Dragons Podcast Reviews 11/9/2016

I sampled some more podcasts out there. I think all of these were suggested by readers of the last podcast review I did. Thank you!

Total Party Thrill 64: Narrative Control & the Master Illusionist

You can listen to this here.

This show is run by two guys named I-Hsien and Shane. They seem to play a lot of games and from what I can tell they live very close to me. I'm about 45 minutes away from New York City. I wonder if they are caught up in the Trump stuff going on over there.

They both have good radio voices and are quite likeable.

They talk a bit about getting ready for their new Dark Sun campaign, which they are pumped up for. Right now they are playing in a campaign called "Mourning Glory," which is set in Eberron.

Then we get into the main topic of the show - narrative control.

New DM Mistakes: They make an interesting comment about a mistake new DMs make. New DMs often follow every rule every time, to the detriment of the game.

That's an interesting comment, as I think there are a lot of players who would not consider that a mistake. I personally toss rules all the time, but I guess the important thing here is to remember what the goal of the session is, which varies depending on the preferences of each group.

Players Gain Control
: Then we go into a topic that I fin unnerving: Giving narrative control to players. They bring up the Critical Role "how do you kill it" thing, where the DM lets the player describe how they kill the monster.

My beef with this is that in my opinion, the DM must always have veto power. 95% of the time it's fine, but sometimes players will start trying to use it in a way that is inappropriate or start traveling down a path that will cause tension. I think that if a player gets used to telling you what the outcome of their actions are, it leads to all sorts of entanglements.

Whenever I let a player do something like that, I try to have it where they give input but don't have final say. Most of the time what they say is great, but I always want to have one hand on the wheel, so to speak.

Retcon: They talk about a pretty nutty idea where the DM gives his players a chip that they can cash in to retcon something. For example, say the player decides to jump over a river of lava, fails their dex save and dies. They can cash in the chip to say that never happened.

That also hives me the heebie jeebies. To me, the entire game hinges on actions and consequences. When there are no consequences, the game loses all of its impact.

That said, maybe it would be a fun experiment to try one session just to see what happens. Who knows, maybe it will lead to hilarity of some sort.

Cheating: They talk about letting players cheat. In 2e, there were a suspiciously large amount of characters with an 18/00 strength. In 2e, if you have an 18 strength, you then roll a percentile die to see exactly how muscly you are. 18/20 is Vin diesel, 18/00 is that bodybuilder guy with the veins exploding out of his neck.

They talk about letting players hide their death saves, essentially allowing a player to decide if he or she dies or not. You're essentially taking consequences completely out of the game. Although then again, you don't really have a campaign if the heroes die all the time. Death in RPGs is quite tricky and I really am not sure the best way to approach it.

This was a very good show. It is definitely worth checking out.

Adventure Zone Episode 51: The Suffering Game

You can listen to this right here.

This is an ongoing campaign. The heroes are:
  • Merle
  • Taako
  • Magnus
I'm not sure what the races and classes are.

We start off with music, sound effects and voices. The intro music is very 70's-weird and I like it.

The Hook: The group has been training and now they are ready to go on their next mission. They have a boss known as The Director and they're not sure if she's trustworthy.

Apparently they are collecting relics. Their next relic in a place called "Wonderland," a place where your wishes come true. Apparently, other adventurers are there.

Side Quest: One player takes the DM by surprise. He wants to break into a prison to ask an NPC about these red-robed wizards. The character runs into 2 guards and the DM doesn't want to roll out the battle, he wants to do an opposed strength check. Yikes. One roll. I get that he wants to keep thing moving but a fight with one PC vs 2 NPCs won't take long, and the outcome is important. The character makes his roll. He stuffs the guards in some kind of bag of holding.

He doesn't really get any info from the imprisoned NPC. The DM was really not ready for that, poor guy.

There's a commercial break halfway through. This show is quite professional, I must say.

Cannonball to the Realms: Apparently the adventurers travel in a giant cannonball/sphere. They soar over the realm which is.. the Forgotten Realms. Cool, I like it when people use official stuff.
They land and are attacked by a chimera.

They pummel the chimera and get some aid by... the ruler of Neverwinter. That's where we stop!

This was pretty good. That player who went solo seems like he might get annoying after a while.

The Id DM

You can listen to this here.

The Id DM is apparently a psychologist in real life. I absolutely love the idea of him doing pseudo-D&D therapy sessions in podcast form.

On this episode, he basically winds Mike up and lets him go, which I think is a good way to do an interview. He gives Mike the spotlight and lets him go wild. Mike seems like a guy who could talk for 4 hours straight on D&D with no problem.

Truth: Mike mentions a hard-learned fact of DM Life: The players will not read your flash fiction or summaries.

Then he goes into a thing where he points out that talking about D&D with your friend is playing D&D.

Mike has some great advice on running villains. Think about the villain's mindset and what their plans are based on what they know.

DMs Are Online: They talk a bit about how there are a lot of blogs about DMing and not a lot about player-focused advice blogs. They agree that DMs are more hardcore, so they'll go online and read. Many players just show up and play and that's it.

Mike talks about creating and selling D&D material and how there are gatekeepers trying to keep certain products being made? I don't really understand what he is referring to. He says that there are people who want to write adventures, but they feel like they need to please someone else.

Really good show! Top notch. It's kind of scary that this is episode 1.

Sneak Attack Episode 73

You can listen to this here.

This is another actual play show. The DM is a guy named Reed. Here's the group:
  • McCannell
  • Brenna
  • Sherwood (he is a horse right now, I think)
  • Grayek
I am a little hesitant to listen to podcasts of games because it's a big investment, especially if the shows are 5 hours long. This one is only an hour long, so what the hell.

Chortling: The group is very fun and they have a really amusing dynamic. It's like when you know your friends are about to say something funny.. it's like that the whole way through.

The Hot Orc: We learn that previously, a character had been tricked out of two suits of plate mail. It isn't long before they belly crawl towards a statue in a clearing. They get in a battle with an 8 foot tall "hot orc who is ripped." He's got gold armor on his arms and thighs.

This fight took quite a while. It was cool, I just think that for a one hour show they shouldn't let one battle eat up the clock too much.

Brenna decides to dole out a roundhouse kick to the orc. DM gives her disadvantage on that. I wish he wouldn't have done that. Maybe it makes sense, but I would never want to discourage a player from handing out a roundhouse kick.

Portal: Once the orc is dealt with, they enter into the area inside the statue. They find a magic gem with a portal in it.. this is the portal home. I guess they've been looking for a long time.

Fun show! Very quick and easy to listen to. Everyone has a good voice and a distinct character.

Thanks to everyone who suggested these shows. Please feel free to suggest more shows for me to check out in the comment section below.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FYI, The Adventure Zone is part of the very, very large family of McElroy family shows (20 or so weekly or semi-weekly podcasts plus a TV show starting in January), all made by the three McElroy brothers or their immediate family. TAZ is the three brothers and their dad (the two older brothers play Taako and Magnus and their dad plays Merle, with the youngest brother as the DM). The show started as a reworked version of Lost Mines. In the episode before they had said this arc was the last with these characters and the story was coming to a head, so they did not have the time to follow a side quest as normal.