Here’s a brief rundown of some podcasts I’ve been listening to during my commutes and during some the more routine tasks I do at home or work. Not all are swords and/or dorkery related.
Save or Die! : a podcast about OD&D and the various “Basic” sets and their clones. This one is worth listening to only when the guest is a good one (e.g. John Peterson) or they are covering an interesting old supplement. Most of the time, there is far too much chit-chat among the hosts. My issue with the hosts is that they are very prone to saying some opinion or ruling they prefer is the only one that “makes sense” without making much effort to understand alternatives. That just gets on my nerves. YMMV. B.
Nerd Poker : a podcast about Brian Posehn and some comedian friends of his playing D&D. This is definitely not for people who are hung up on rules, as they stumbled through 4th edition for something like 30 sessions before giving up and going back to 2nd edition, which they actually don’t seem to understand any better than 4th. But this the only “actual play” podcast I’ve liked, because the table talk is always pretty funny and the campaign settings have been imaginative, even though the actual play part is mostly horrifically slow combat. Table talk is probably 50% or more of the run time, meaning they rarely finish an encounter in one episode if it involves combat. A.
System Mastery : A podcast devoted to making fun of RPGs, I think. I’ve only actually listened to one episode (about the Galloway Fantasy Wargaming), and I probably picked a bad one to start with because I actually know a fair amount about this one and have a soft spot for it. In this case they went directly after the low hanging fruit (sexist comments in the literature review, stat mods for females) but they did give some begrudging kudos for the magic and religion ideas. Listening was a good reminder about how incredibly easy it is be snarky and hypercritical of something if you studiously ignore context and only half pay attention. (I don’t think the podcasters here would disagree, since they bragged about doing “no research” and made a lot of bizarre errors about history.) As a comedy podcast, it had its moments though, and I’ll check out a few more before firming up an opinion. C.
Heavy Metal Historian : I don’t know how I found this one, but it is not bad at all. Each episode looks at some part of the development of and influences on heavy metal or a subgenre within it. The narration is mixed with excerpts of music and from interviews or documentaries, and this is a big plus. I was kind of impressed with an early episode that illustrated the influence of classical music on Black Sabbath (cf. Holst’s “Mars, the bringer of war” juxtaposed with Black Sabbath’s eponymous song), and I really like being able to hear snatches of obscure bands that I’ve heard *of* but never heard. A.
Welcome to Nightvale : I know this one has been around a long time and has been praised to death elsewhere but so far I’m really enjoying this too. I can’t listen to it at work for fear of laughing out loud. If you haven’t heard of it, it is supposedly a broadcast from a small town in Arizona where rivalry with the neighboring town, eccentric locals, and cosmic horror are all facts of life. A+.
Stuff you should know / Stuff to blow your mind / Stuff they don’t want you to know: Howstuffworks.com has a whole portfolio of podcasts, blogs, and whatever the word is for video podcasts. So far I’ve really enjoyed a lot of them. In particular I’d recommend the ones on Vultures, Ergotism, spiders, and of course Dungeons & Dragons. A.
WTF with Marc Maron: This one is evidently really well-known too, I am late to the party, whatever. Comedian Marc Maron just has really in-depth conversations with people. The best on I’ve listened to so far is with Wyatt Cenac, a distant second is Jason Bateman. Bob Guccione Jr. was great too. Maron has a way of really probing his subjects and getting them to open up in a way you don’t often hear. A+