Back when I started playing Dungeons and Dragons the first Penny Arcade podcast episodes made to promote fourth edition had just come out. There was still a flurry of activity and excitement surrounding the new edition and what it meant for the game or even if it was really considered still the same game.
This was in 2008 or so.
The Penny Arcade games were what I cut my teeth on both in podcasts and in learning exactly what kind of fun D&D could be. Looking back on them they aren’t the best produced, but they’re special for me for those reasons.
Fast forward to now. I listen to about seven or eight different podcasts on the regular, though I am starting to drop some due to issues with interest. Where I once loved Read It And Weep, I’ve begun to feel as if the show has disappeared up its own ass. It seems far too proud of itself and I can hardly pay attention to what I’m hearing. Other shows I love like The Flop House and How Did This Get Made have been coming out so sporadically that it’s been hard to fill the time in between them.
I picked up The Adventure Zone because of a friend’s recommendation and I’ve been floored; it reignited my love of listening to others play the game and just have fun with while at the same time it’s given me something to look forward to every other week. The only problem is that it might be the best Dungeons and Dragons podcast out there and everything else is far, far behind.
Which brings me to the subject of my current post: Dice Funk is a relatively new podcast (in that it just started in the last several months). It doesn’t seem to have the following of a lot of the other things out there either and it is produced under the Channel Awesome banner.
Now, I’ve never been a fan of Channel Awesome or That Guy With Glasses–while some of the people I like to see content from online came from the site, it always felt that the site tried to project this kind of image of itself out there. The creators also didn’t seem to be able to stand on their own enough and that bothers me the same way networks crossing over unpopular shows with popular ones in shoehorned ways bothers me.
I won’t say the site isn’t popular, but it’s not my cup of tea. Dice Funk, despite this, caught my attention and there are some cool things about it. To date it’s been the only other D&D podcast I’ve been able to take more than three episodes of. That being said, it’s got a lot of issues. No one seems to know the rules of the game and they don’t seem to be learning them or what they can actually do. The comedy is less organic and is pushed to absurdity. It’s the kind of thing where someone playing a character in a movie is written to do something very strange and out there because “I’m in a movie, look how wild I am”. We’re not behaving the way that people would actually be in these situations.
It’s fantasy and make-believe, I get that, but my issue with it all is that if you’re going to cock things up and act like a jackass, there should be some actual humor in it. Not just “these guys are gay–how funny” or “watch me act against the party because my character has an intelligence stat so low she should literally be too dumb to make the moral choices necessary to be considered evil”.
The sad thing is I’m going to continue listening because the story is very well thought out and different. It’s not the typically fantasy thing and that’s one of the things that draws me into something like this. I don’t particularly like much about the guy running the whole thing, but his story writing abilities seem to be admirable.
If someone’s recommended this to you as a way to get into the game or just something you can put on for an hour while you ride home and laugh, just go listen to The Adventure Zone. Or maybe listen after–that will make this a lot easier to get through.