Tabletop Role-Playing Games (TTRPGs) have experienced a remarkable surge in popularity in recent years, captivating the hearts and minds of players worldwide. These immersive games allow participants to step into the shoes of characters in fantastical worlds, embarking on epic adventures guided by their imaginations and the rules of the game. While playing TTRPGs around a table with friends has its own charm, there is another way to indulge in the thrill of these games – through TTRPG podcasts.
TTRPG podcasts have become a beloved form of entertainment for both die-hard fans and newcomers to the genre. These audio adventures offer the unique opportunity to experience the excitement, drama, and humor of TTRPGs without the need for a physical gathering. With captivating storytelling, compelling characters, and skilled Game Masters, TTRPG podcasts transport listeners to imaginative realms where anything is possible.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of TTRPG podcasts, exploring the best shows available across various genres and game systems. Whether you’re a fan of classic Dungeons & Dragons, the dark mysteries of Call of Cthulhu, or the futuristic cyberpunk setting of Shadowrun, there is a TTRPG podcast out there that will cater to your tastes.
We will also discuss the essential criteria for evaluating TTRPG podcasts, helping you understand what sets the best shows apart from the rest. From audio quality and production value to engaging Game Masters and immersive storytelling, we’ll explore the elements that make a podcast truly exceptional.
But how do you choose the perfect TTRPG podcast for your preferences? We will provide you with the factors to consider, such as episode length, accessibility for beginners, podcast format, and more. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to find a podcast that aligns with your interests and keeps you eagerly awaiting each new episode.
Additionally, we will share additional resources for TTRPG fans, including podcast networks and aggregators, TTRPG actual play YouTube channels, podcast communities, and forums. These resources will ensure that you can dive deeper into the world of TTRPG podcasts and connect with like-minded enthusiasts.
So, whether you’re a seasoned TTRPG player looking for inspiration, a newcomer wanting to explore this captivating hobby, or simply someone seeking exciting and immersive storytelling, join us on this journey as we uncover the best TTRPG podcasts available today. Get ready to embark on epic quests, unravel mysterious plots, and experience the magic of TTRPGs through the power of audio storytelling. Let’s dive in!
Section 0: Understanding Tabletop Role-Playing Games (TTRPGs)
Tabletop Role-Playing Games (TTRPGs) are a unique form of interactive storytelling that has captivated players for decades. Unlike traditional board games or video games, TTRPGs rely heavily on imagination, creativity, and collaboration between players and a Game Master (GM) to create a shared narrative experience. In a TTRPG, players assume the roles of characters within a fictional world, making decisions and taking actions based on their character’s abilities and the outcomes determined by dice rolls and the rules of the game.
At the core of every TTRPG is a rule system that provides structure and guidance for gameplay. The most well-known and widely played TTRPG system is Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in the 1970s. D&D introduced the concept of using polyhedral dice to determine the success or failure of actions and established a fantasy world filled with monsters, magic, and adventure.
Since the creation of D&D, numerous other TTRPG systems have emerged, each offering unique settings, mechanics, and themes. Some popular systems include Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, and Vampire: The Masquerade. Each system provides a different gameplay experience, catering to various preferences and allowing players to immerse themselves in diverse genres such as high fantasy, cosmic horror, cyberpunk, and more.
TTRPGs are not limited to a specific format or medium. While playing around a physical table with friends is the traditional approach, the rise of technology has opened up new avenues for experiencing TTRPGs. One of these avenues is through TTRPG podcasts, where players and GMs record their gameplay sessions, transforming them into audio adventures for listeners to enjoy.
TTRPG podcasts offer a unique way to engage with the TTRPG experience. Listeners can follow the story, get to know the characters, and witness the twists and turns of the narrative without needing to participate directly. It’s like having a front-row seat to a gripping, improvised performance, where the outcome is uncertain and the possibilities are endless.
These podcasts are not just limited to showcasing gameplay; they often include additional content such as discussions about the game mechanics, character development, and behind-the-scenes insights. This supplementary material enhances the listener’s understanding of the game and provides a deeper appreciation for the storytelling craft.
In the next sections, we will explore the key criteria for evaluating TTRPG podcasts, delve into the best shows across various genres and game systems, discuss factors to consider when choosing the right podcast for you, and provide additional resources for TTRPG enthusiasts. So, let’s embark on this journey and discover the best TTRPG podcasts available today!
Criteria for Evaluating TTRPG Podcasts
When it comes to evaluating TTRPG podcasts, there are several key criteria to consider. These factors will help you determine which podcasts offer the best quality, immersive storytelling, and engaging gameplay experiences. Let’s explore each of these criteria in detail:
Audio Quality and Production Value
One of the most critical aspects of a TTRPG podcast is its audio quality. Clear and crisp audio ensures that listeners can fully immerse themselves in the story without distractions or interruptions. The production value of a podcast also plays a significant role in creating an enjoyable listening experience. Factors such as sound effects, music, and editing techniques can enhance the overall atmosphere and bring the story to life. A well-produced podcast will make you feel like you’re right there at the table, witnessing the adventures unfold.
Engaging and Skilled Game Masters
The Game Master, often referred to as the GM or Dungeon Master (DM), is the storyteller and guide of the TTRPG adventure. A skilled GM can make or break a podcast by creating a captivating narrative, setting the tone, and managing the flow of the game. Look for podcasts with GMs who are not only knowledgeable about the game system they are playing but also possess strong improvisational skills to handle unexpected player actions and keep the story engaging. A GM who can craft compelling narratives and bring out the best in their players will make the podcast truly stand out.
Diverse and Memorable Characters
The characters in a TTRPG podcast are the heart and soul of the story. Engaging and well-developed characters can create deep emotional connections with the listeners, making them invested in their journeys and personal growth. Look for podcasts that feature a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique personalities, motivations, and flaws. Memorable characters bring depth, humor, and drama to the story, making the podcast a joy to listen to.
Immersive Storytelling and Worldbuilding
The ability to create an immersive and compelling story is what sets the best TTRPG podcasts apart. Strong worldbuilding, where the fictional setting is richly detailed and evocative, adds depth and believability to the narrative. Look for podcasts that take the time to establish a vivid world with its own lore, history, and cultures. Additionally, podcasts that incorporate engaging story arcs, intriguing plot twists, and well-paced narratives will keep you on the edge of your seat, eagerly awaiting each new episode.
Consistency and Reliability of Episodes
Consistency and reliability are crucial factors to consider when evaluating TTRPG podcasts. A podcast that releases episodes on a regular schedule demonstrates commitment and dedication to their audience. It ensures that you won’t be left waiting for extended periods between episodes, keeping you engaged in the ongoing story. Additionally, consistency in episode length allows for better planning and ensures that the podcast fits into your listening routine. Look for podcasts that maintain a reliable release schedule and provide episodes of consistent duration.
Community Engagement and Listener Interaction
Finally, community engagement and listener interaction can enhance the overall experience of a TTRPG podcast. Podcasts that actively engage with their audience through social media, forums, or live events create a sense of community and make listeners feel involved and connected. Additionally, podcasts that incorporate listener feedback, questions, or even fan creations can foster a deeper level of engagement and make you feel like you’re part of the adventure.
By assessing TTRPG podcasts based on these criteria, you can find shows that offer exceptional audio quality, immersive storytelling, and engaging gameplay. The next section will highlight some of the top TTRPG podcasts across various genres and game systems, ensuring that you have a diverse range of options to explore.
Top TTRPG Podcasts for Various Genres and Game Systems
TTRPG podcasts cover a wide range of genres and game systems, offering something for every taste and preference. Whether you’re a fan of classic fantasy adventures, Lovecraftian horror, or futuristic cyberpunk settings, there are exceptional podcasts available to cater to your interests. Let’s explore some of the top TTRPG podcasts across different genres and game systems:
Dungeons & Dragons Podcasts
Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is the most well-known TTRPG system, and it has spawned a multitude of podcasts that showcase the magic of this beloved game. Here are some of the top D&D podcasts that have gained immense popularity:
Critical Role: Critical Role is arguably one of the most famous and influential TTRPG podcasts. Led by veteran voice actor Matthew Mercer as the Dungeon Master, this podcast features a group of talented voice actors playing through epic campaigns filled with laughter, tears, and unforgettable moments. The storytelling and character development in Critical Role are truly exceptional, making it a must-listen for any TTRPG enthusiast.
The Adventure Zone: The Adventure Zone, hosted by the McElroy family, is a podcast that combines comedy, storytelling, and heartfelt moments in their D&D adventures. The McElroys’ unique brand of humor, combined with their knack for improvisation and engaging narratives, creates an entertaining and addictive listening experience.
Not Another D&D Podcast: Not Another D&D Podcast (NADDPOD) brings a comedic twist to the world of D&D. Featuring a hilarious cast of characters and a compelling story, this podcast offers a perfect blend of humor and adventure. NADDPOD is known for its witty banter, memorable characters, and unexpected plot twists that will keep you eagerly anticipating each new episode.
Dragon Friends: Dragon Friends is an Australian comedic D&D podcast that combines live performances with improvisational storytelling. With a focus on comedy and a talented cast of comedians, this podcast offers a unique and entertaining take on the world of D&D. Prepare for laughter, chaos, and unexpected surprises in each episode.
High Rollers: Aerois: High Rollers: Aerois is a D&D podcast set in a homebrew world of high-flying adventures. With a rich and immersive world, compelling characters, and an engaging story, this podcast takes listeners on a thrilling journey through the skies. The High Rollers crew’s chemistry and dedication to storytelling make Aerois a fantastic choice for fans of epic fantasy adventures.
These D&D podcasts represent just a fraction of the incredible content available within the genre. Each podcast brings its own style, unique storytelling, and memorable characters to the table. Whether you’re a seasoned D&D player or new to the game, these podcasts will transport you to fantastical realms where heroes are forged and legends are born.
Call of Cthulhu Podcasts
If you’re a fan of cosmic horror and Lovecraftian mysteries, Call of Cthulhu podcasts will be right up your alley. These podcasts delve into the dark and eerie world of H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos, where ancient gods and unspeakable horrors lurk in the shadows. Here are some exceptional Call of Cthulhu podcasts to give you a taste of the eldritch:
The Lovecraft Tapes: The Lovecraft Tapes is a blend of tabletop role-playing and audio drama, immersing listeners in a chilling and suspenseful narrative. With a focus on investigation and storytelling, this podcast follows a group of investigators as they uncover the secrets of Lovecraftian horrors. The Lovecraft Tapes offers a unique blend of atmospheric sound design, compelling characters, and spine-tingling storytelling.
How We Roll Podcast: How We Roll Podcast is known for its high-quality production value and immersive gameplay. With a library of Call of Cthulhu scenarios, this podcast takes listeners on thrilling and terrifying adventures. The combination of skilled players, expertly crafted narratives, and atmospheric sound effects will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout each episode.
The Roleplaying Exchange: The Roleplaying Exchange is a podcast that not only explores Call of Cthulhu scenarios but also delves into other TTRPG systems. Their Call of Cthulhu episodes are known for their attention to detail, atmospheric tone, and engaging storytelling. The Roleplaying Exchange offers a mix of horror, mystery, and suspense that will appeal to fans of Lovecraftian lore.
The Miskatonic University Podcast: The Miskatonic University Podcast is a show dedicated to Call of Cthulhu and Lovecraftian gaming in general. While not a traditional playthrough podcast, it offers invaluable insights, tips, and discussions about the game system, scenarios, and Lovecraftian themes. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of Call of Cthulhu or gain inspiration for your own games, The Miskatonic University Podcast is an excellent resource.
The Good Friends of Jackson Elias: The Good Friends of Jackson Elias is a podcast that explores Lovecraftian horror and related topics. While not solely focused on Call of Cthulhu gameplay, they often discuss the game system, provide scenario reviews, and offer advice for both players and Keepers (GMs). The Good Friends of Jackson Elias offers a wealth of knowledge for anyone interested in Lovecraftian gaming.
These Call of Cthulhu podcasts capture the dark and atmospheric essence of Lovecraftian horror. Whether you crave spine-chilling investigations, sanity-bending encounters, or a deeper understanding of the mythos, these podcasts will transport you to a world where ancient terrors await.
Other TTRPG Podcasts
While Dungeons & Dragons and Call of Cthulhu are popular choices for TTRPG podcasts, there are numerous other game systems and genres that offer captivating audio adventures. Here are some exceptional podcasts that explore different TTRPGs:
Shadowrun: Corporate SINs: Shadowrun: Corporate SINs is a podcast that brings the futuristic cyberpunk world of Shadowrun to life. Set in a dystopian future where mega-corporations rule the world, this podcast follows a group of shadowrunners as they navigate the dangerous world of corporate espionage, cybernetic enhancements, and high-tech heists. The combination of immersive storytelling and a unique cyberpunk setting makes this podcast a must-listen for fans of the genre.
Friends at the Table: Friends at the Table is a podcast that showcases a variety of TTRPG systems, including Blades in the Dark, Dungeon World, and more. With a focus on collaborative storytelling and exploring social and political themes, this podcast offers an engaging and thought-provoking experience. Friends at the Table is known for its diverse cast of players and its commitment to inclusivity, making it a standout choice for those seeking inclusive and progressive narratives.
Campaign: Skyjacks: Campaign: Skyjacks is a podcast that combines TTRPG gameplay with a unique blend of fantasy and steampunk aesthetics. Set in the world of Sphere, where floating skyships sail through the clouds, this podcast follows a crew of sky pirates on their daring adventures. With a lighthearted tone, memorable characters, and exciting action, Campaign: Skyjacks offers a fresh take on the fantasy genre.
The Unexplored Places: The Unexplored Places is a podcast that explores the horror and mystery of the Delta Green system. Set in the same universe as Call of Cthulhu, Delta Green focuses on modern-day conspiracy and supernatural investigations. The Unexplored Places takes listeners on thrilling and suspenseful missions as a group of agents uncovers the truth behind supernatural threats. If you’re a fan of modern-day horror and conspiracies, this podcast is sure to capture your attention.
One Shot Podcast: One Shot Podcast is a show that features a variety of TTRPG systems and genres. Each episode is a standalone adventure, showcasing different game systems and providing a diverse range of storytelling experiences. From fantasy quests to sci-fi adventures, the One Shot Podcast offers a taste of various TTRPGs and introduces listeners to new and exciting game systems.
These podcasts demonstrate the incredible diversity and creativity within the TTRPG podcasting community. Whether you’re interested in cyberpunk heists, exploring social and political themes, or embarking on thrilling adventures in unique game systems, these podcasts will introduce you to new worlds and exciting gameplay experiences.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best TTRPG Podcasts
With the vast array of TTRPG podcasts available, choosing the best ones for your preferences can be a daunting task. To help you in your search, here are some factors to consider when evaluating and selecting TTRPG podcasts:
Personal Preferences and Interests
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a TTRPG podcast is your personal preferences and interests. Do you prefer high fantasy settings like Dungeons & Dragons, or are you more drawn to the dark and mysterious world of Call of Cthulhu? Are you interested in specific themes or genres, such as cyberpunk, steampunk, or post-apocalyptic settings? Understanding your preferences will help you narrow down your choices and find podcasts that align with your interests.
Episode Length and Release Frequency
Consider your own schedule and listening habits when evaluating TTRPG podcasts. Some podcasts release shorter episodes, while others have longer, more immersive sessions. Think about how much time you can dedicate to listening and whether you prefer shorter, bite-sized episodes or longer, more in-depth sessions. Additionally, consider the release frequency of the podcast. Do you prefer podcasts that release episodes weekly, biweekly, or on a different schedule? Finding a podcast that aligns with your listening preferences will ensure a consistent and enjoyable experience.
Accessibility and Beginner-Friendly Content
If you’re new to TTRPGs or a particular game system, it’s essential to find podcasts that are accessible and beginner-friendly. Look for podcasts that provide explanations of game mechanics, character introductions, and helpful context for listeners who may not be familiar with the rules. Beginner-friendly podcasts can serve as an excellent introduction to TTRPGs, helping you understand the basics and inspiring you to delve deeper into the world of tabletop gaming.
Podcast Format and Presentation Style
Consider the format and presentation style that appeals to you the most. Some podcasts focus on raw, unedited recordings of gameplay sessions, providing an authentic and immersive experience. Others incorporate additional production elements, such as sound effects, music, or voice acting, to enhance the storytelling. Think about whether you prefer a more casual and unfiltered approach or a highly produced and polished presentation. The format and presentation style can greatly impact your enjoyment and engagement with the podcast.
Guest Appearances and Collaborations
Some TTRPG podcasts feature guest appearances from notable personalities within the gaming community. These guest appearances can bring fresh perspectives, unique character dynamics, and exciting gameplay moments to the podcast. If you enjoy seeing familiar faces or enjoy the chemistry that comes from collaborations, consider podcasts that feature guest players or special episodes with notable guests.
Awards and Recognition
Consider the recognition and awards that a podcast has received. Awards such as the ENnie Awards or the Podcast Awards can provide an indication of the podcast’s quality and popularity within the TTRPG community. While awards shouldn’t be the sole determining factor, they can serve as a helpful guide when evaluating the podcasts you’re considering.
By considering these factors, you can narrow down your choices and find the TTRPG podcasts that best align with your preferences and provide an enjoyable and immersive listening experience.