Sometimes the easiest way to learn is by listening or watching. In the last few years an explosion of quality actual play podcasts and streams have taken the tabletop RPG world by storm. Not only do they reveal the basics of roleplaying games, they also show how the setup and outcome of each game session is driven by the gamester and players.
Additionally, several high-quality podcasts and streams focus on providing reviews and tips. Here are a few of each to get you started:
- Critical Role – A cast of D&D-playing voice actors, led by Dungeon Master extraordinaire Matthew Mercer, have become a twitch.tv phenomenon as they take on evil and bring their characters to life in words and deeds.
- D&D on Twitch.tv – Here you’ll find dozens of livestream channels devoted to D&D and other tabletop RPGs.
- Encounter Roleplay – This twitch channel covers a lot of ground, from Call of Cthulhu to Star Trek.
- Friends at the Table – Austin Walker and friends have played through multiple campaigns using several different systems, from Dungeon World to Stars Without Number.
- Happy Jacks – The Happy Jacks team has been at it since 2009, and they provide actual play podcasts for several games, from D&D to Savage Worlds .
- Rag-NERD-Rok – D&D, Call of Cthulhu, Fiasco, Monster of the Week, Pathfinder, the list goes on. This crew has produced dozens of actual plays for these and many other games.
- Red Moon Roleplaying – This actual pay podcast covers dark and grim games such as Vampire: The Masquerade and Kult: Divinity Lost.
- Role Playing Public Radio – RPPR covers a lot of ground with their actual play podcasts, from D&D to Call of Cthulhu, Fate to Night’s Black Agents.
- Tabletop Squadron – A Star Wars actual-play podcast using the Edge of the Empire system.
- TitansGrave: The Ashes of Valkana – Actor and author Wil Wheaton created the fantasy world of Valkana, which comes to life in this actual play video series, which uses the Dragon Age game system.
Discussion, Reviews, Tips
- Dicegeeks.com Tabletop RPG Show – No actual plays here. Interviews with writers, podcasters, streamers, game designers, and more are a hallmark of this podcast, which takes a broad view of the tabletop roleplaying hobby and encourages gamers to incorporate the lessons of storytelling from a variety of sources.
- Effekt Podcast – If you’re into Year Zero Engine games (Coriolis, Tales from the Loop, et. al.), this podcast is a must-listen.
- Ken & Robin Talk About Stuff – Hosted by legendary writer-game designers Kenneth Hite and Robin Laws, there are no actual plays, but plenty of wide-ranging discussion with a slant toward alternate history, occult/horror gaming, and campaign-building in this perennially award-winning podcast.
- Mud & Blood – With a focus on dark, gritty games like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Symbaroum, Degenesis, and the like, this podcast incorporates reviews, interviews, and actual plays.
- Saving Throw – The crew at Saving Throw have produced a slew of videos, including their extremely popular How to Play Pathfinder series.
- What Would the Smart Party Do? – This British podcast delivers interviews, analysis, tips, and more.