Welcome to the Podcast Playlist, where I rundown the podcasts I’ve been listening to recently. I typically listen to game-related podcasts — particularly role-playing game shows — but I occasionally add a few non-geeky podcasts to the mix. I’m always open to trying new shows, but I’ve found the ones that I like the best are under and hour, with 15-20 minutes being the sweet spot (a sweet spot that is rarely found by RPG podcasts; as a hobby we really like to talk). My intention is to publish new columns every month or so summarizing what’s currently in my playlist.
The Tome Show
I’ve been listening to The Tome Show on and off for years (and even appeared on a few episodes way back in the day). It’s a Dungeons & Dragons-centric podcast that occasionally delves into more generic topics. I drifted away from the show during the D&D 4th Edition years, particularly once my group stopped playing D&D and started playing Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, and Star Wars: Saga Edition. Now that we’ve returned to the fold with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, the podcast has become relevant to my gaming life once more.
The Tome Show 276: Sandboxes is a round table discussion of the art of running a sandbox role-playing campaign. Sandbox campaigns are open world, exploration-based campaigns that give players the freedom (or the illusion there of) to explore their surroundings. There may be a larger story lurking somewhere out there, but the players are free to ignore it. This stands in opposition an adventure path-style game, which may offer some sandbox opportunities, but is usually focused on an overarching story. The show features hosts Jeff Greiner and Tracy Hurley talking with Wolfgang Baur, Amanda Hamon Kunz, and Steve Winter of Kobold Press to discuss the the nature of sandbox games as well as best practices for running one.
Misdirected Mark has become one of my go-to podcasts. They offer a steady stream of good RPG topics that aren’t bound up in a particular game. Their willingness to play different kinds of role-playing games — Dungeon World is frequently mentioned — makes me want to go back to Origins or GenCon and play all the small press RPGs.
Misdirected Mark: MMP#241 – Arc of the Misdirected delves into the topic of story arcs, including character arcs, episode arcs, and campaign arcs. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about over the last few months as I’m predisposed to running campaign arcs, but a lot of my arcs tend to be organic in nature, rising naturally as the story progresses. Coming up with some more structure for the arcs, and purposefully constructing character arcs (something that I’ve done more haphazardly in the past and largely based on player interest) is something I’d like to do more of.
Dungeon Master’s Block
The Dungeon Master Show was one of my favorite podcasts back in the early days of podcasting because it was focused entirely on the art of game mastering. The Dungeon Master’s Block fills that same niche with regular episodes focusing on becoming a better dungeon master.
Cato Daily Podcast
Last’s year’s presidential race was the most acrimonious I can remember, and post-election world of Trump isn’t any better. Vast tracts of Facebook and Twitter are simply unapproachable at this point, and I’ve had to mute friends on both the left and the right because of endless political rantings. Me? As a socially liberal, fiscally conservative libertarian (small “L”) I tend to fall in between the two extremes, which either means I can find common ground with almost everyone … or them off. As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve gotten better at doing the former.
The Cato Daily Podcast, by the Cato Institute, is a libertarian-minded political podcast. If you’re looking for a skeptical voice discussing the left and the right, this is the show for you. I’d like to find the equivalently reasonable (at least, what I think is reasonable) podcasts on the left and the right. You know, the kind that balance philosophy with reality, and don’t instantly demonize whomever they are talking about. This isn’t to say that the Cato podcast doesn’t offer strong opinions — it does — but I’ve found them far less bombastic than what typically shows up in my social media feeds. Typical running time is about 5-10 minutes, so I use this show to break up my playlist.