I think I’ve just given up on listening to roleplaying podcasts, at least the “let’s play” variety. I finally realized that one of the major podcasts I listen to, and have listened to for a very long time, just doesn’t do anything for me anymore. Here’s what I think they’re doing wrong.
Honestly, most of them don’t feel like people playing a game, but people sitting around a table telling a story and that’s not what I want. The one that made me give up has essentially stopped with any of the RPG trappings, you never hear them roll a die, you never hear them address a rule, they’re just in it to tell a story while vaguely being within an RPG setting.
I have no interest in that.
Granted, this is the same podcast that I complained about a while back for doing too many narrative-driven games, but even when they’re playing D&D, it doesn’t feel like an actual game, it feels like story-time for grown ups. I don’t want people to tell me a story, I hate audio books for the same reason, I want people to play a game that has more at stake than bragging rights.
That’s really what I want to get out of a gaming podcast. It’s one thing if you’re going to talk about gaming, and I enjoy that, but if you’re going to be playing a game, play the game, don’t go through the motions and read me what is little more than an audio book. I want to hear those dice roll. I want them to stop from time to time to look up a rule. And I actually want them to follow the rules, even if it gets in the way of the narrative. Because that’s what differentiates between telling a story and playing a game and I want to play a game, not listen to a story.
Even one of the podcasts that I’ve listened to since it began, Adventure Zone, has stopped being entertaining. Perhaps it’s because of its longevity, but I think that what started as a funny game has now turned into a tedious slog. Luckily, they say they’re going to retire the current characters and start an entirely different game and that might reinvigorate things, but right now, it’s a chore to get through. I very well might drop it until things change.
I want these podcasts to be fun, but I also want them to do what they say they’re doing and that’s playing a game. It would be like watching people play a board game, but never rolling dice and just moving to squares because it seems like a good idea at the time. That’s really not what I’m listening for. There has to be some vicarious nature to the podcast where the listener can feel like they’re sitting around the table playing along with the cast. I don’t want to hear what’s going on, I want to feel it. I want to experience the horrors of the bad rolls and the victory of the good ones. I want to know that luck has a part in the game. And I don’t want to be bored, which is something that Adventure Zone has really started to do consistently. I know it’s hard to be amazing every episode, but bored is something that no one ever wants to be. Maybe I can find other podcasts that are doing it well. I really need to look.