Now that Critical Role’s second full length story arc has come to a close, you may not know what to fill the Actual-Play shaped hole in your life. We can help.
Playing D&D yourself is fun, but there’s something comforting about listening to other people’s friends lay out a high-quality story for us to listen to while we work or during our commute or chores. Actual Play Podcasts (and streams) are a very laid back and fun way to enjoy tabletop RPGs without any of the pesky roleplaying, dice rolling, or hard decision making, and while there are roughly a million out there, these five are very good places to start while you’re waiting for more Critical Role.
With more than five years of backlog, Friends At The Table is a show you can find yourself binging through for a while to come. Their focus on critical worldbuilding and smart characterization makes for an engaging game, while the friendship between the players makes for a fun podcast to listen to with players who are obviously also having enjoying themselves. At this point there are seven seasons, so jump into one of them, you’ll have a good time.
Formerly a Star Wars game and now centered around an entirely original world of sky pirates, Campaign uses the Fantasy Flight Star Wars and then Genesys systems to tell character driven stories that are just as poignant as they are hilarious. And they are almost-hurt-myself-at-the-gym-laughing kind of hilarious. If you’re apprehensive about Actual Plays that aren’t D&D, this one is a great place to start, and if you enjoy experiencing a lot of different games in podcast form, host James D’Amato also has One Shot where new players play a new game every one to five episodes or so and teach you about RPGs you didn’t even know existed.
Another not-D&D game, Neoscum follows a band of Shadowrunners though a not-so-far future adventure that will give you a long string of goofy jokes, make you cry real quick over a fictional character, and go back to raunchy jokes. Shadowrun is one of those daunting tabletop RPGs, but the crew makes it sound effortless and makes the terrible cyberpunk dystopian future sound almost fun. Plus, after some very early growing paints, Neoscum grows into the gold standard for AP podcast editing.
Three Black Halflings
A little ongoing campaign, a little one-shots, and a little chat show with honest and smart conversation about diversity in gaming, Three Black Halflings is an addition to the Headgum Podcast Network that is well worth diving into. The game setting is inspired by African Mythology but with a distinct D&D flavor of fantasy, making for a world that you probably haven’t experienced anything similar to. If you’re looking for something as unique and interesting as it is fun, this is an Actual Play you must check out.
Based around the concept that four normal suburban dad stereotypes from our world have been flung into the magical world of the Forgotten Realms to save their sons, Dungeons and Daddies is hilarious and then sad and then hilarious again. Full of ridiculous characters – NPC and player – and very fun worldbuilding, this is one of those shows that will do just about anything to make the funniest, most enjoyable show at the end of the day. Also, there’s a horror Halloween special in the Call of Cthulhu system called “Mountains of Dadness,” which is a great pun and a great mini-game to listen to.
What’s our favorite Actual Play Podcast? Are you binge listening to anything right now? What show would you recommend to someone to introduce them to your favorite system? Let us know in the comments!