Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Thoughts on that D&D Syndicated Radio Show pilot

If you check out my blog roll, or follow the same blogs I do, you certainly didn't miss this:

The D&D Syndicated Radio Show Pilot

I gave the linked video a listen.

The start of it is pretty lame, with that "wizard" chattering away in a kid's show narrator voice. You know, the kind of voice you found annoying even when you were the right age for that kind of kid's show. It's almost lame enough to make me feel like the people who bullied us gamers back in the early 80s had the moral high ground.

The "play" part is pretty interesting. The players stay in character, mostly, but do engage in the kind of table chatter you'd encounter in a game.

I say "play" because it's scripted, not a recording of actual play.

The GM sure leads the players along - "You can do x, or y." It would have been a better example if it was more like, "What do you do?" than "Do you go out in the rain now, or wait until morning?" RPGs are all about player-driven choices. This is kind of railroady when it doesn't need to be. The PCs already have a lure of adventure, an in-game need to deal with it, and hell, it's scripted. Like my favorite Ashanti proverb says, "When a man is coming toward you, you need not say: 'Come here.'" The GM does a lot of saying, "Come here" after setting the stage to draw the players towards him, to put it in terms of the proverb.

Especially if you want to show it's player-driven not GM-led, this was not a good choice. So much better, in my opinion, to script it so the players jump on the offer, on the comments, etc. and move things along.

In a way, I'm glad this wasn't around. We played a very different game than this and yet had a lot of fun. I'd have missed it anyway - when was I tuning into to the radio on a weekly basis as a kid? But even so, it's nothing something I felt the lack of. It's interesting, but feels flawed, and I'm not shocked people didn't jump on this thing.


  1. This dove-tails with something Charles Akins posted yesterday about Mike Mearls' commenting on a Live Play held in a packed 2,000 seat auditorium at GenCon this year:


    That radio show didn't age well; the voice acting is definitely a product of the 1970s/1980s style. It's clear that the script is taken from an actual play session (only a player could think of trying to tame a stirge) and I attributed some of the more railroady parts as 'fixed in post'. The 40 minutes of script probably needed four hours of table time to produce. After all, it wouldn't be a game session without a ten minute diversion into the Iranian Hostage Crisis, a twenty minute strategy discussion about whether to kill that last stirge or keep it as a pet, and a five minute time out to grab all the papers, minis, and map sheet and a rag to deal with Kevin spilling his soda. Again.

    You can't stick that in a radio show, even though that would be a far more realistic portrayal of my average D&D session.

    1. I'd be surprised if it's actually from a real game. It sounds like a script to me. And like a book or a movie or a play, they don't need to be reduced down from a larger acted-out reality. It just sounds like a script written by someone knowledgeable about how the game actually plays.

    2. Reminds me of Titansgrave, in fact - heavily scripted and edited (details not available), but made to look like actual play. Unedited actual play is definitely an acquired taste, and probably not a great introduction to RPGs.

  2. I couldn't even get all the way through that tape. The constant commenting was driving me nuts.

    1. It's worth getting to the Jon Peterson comments near the end. Skip ahead.

      The actual radio show, well, I'm not shocked no one wanted to broadcast it.


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