Podcast Spotlight: Too Cool for TabletopTags:
February 6, 2016 by Travis Anderson
Nearly a decade has passed since I started listening to one of my favourite directors and nerd-ambassadors talk about everything from nazis and sharks to what Susan might really get up to in Narnia. Now everyone has a podcast where they talk about science, comedy, movies, do improv skits, sexuality, mental illness, and a plethora of other categories that boggle the mind. Everyone has something to say and, apparently, we all want to hear what that’s something is.
My favourite type of internet radio, however, should surprise none of you: Actual Play. This is where a group of nerds like you or I sit down and record themselves playing Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Dungeon World, or one of the multitudes of tabletop roleplaying games out on the market today.
I wanted this so bad when I was a teenager, you guys. How badly? I used my crappy little mp3 player when I was about sixteen to record, in ten to twenty minute increments, an entire four hour plus play session. It was awesome! Now? Everywhere I turn there’s a bunch of people recording their roleplaying sessions and it’s as wonderfully dorky as I could have imagined. The future is here and it sounds like rolling dice and curse words.
The one I want to talk to you about right now is a newer podcast that started up in August of 2015 called Too Cool For Tabletop. I’ll let host, Jason Ashley, explain the premise of the show to you himself:
“A podcast where I force disinterested friends and family to play tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons in order to prove that no one is, in fact, too cool for tabletop.” – taken from toocoolfortabletop.com/about
With co-host James Seelig, Jason runs James – a tabletop veteran – and two complete newbies through a few sessions of different rpg systems, mainly Dungeon World thus far. As of this writing there are fifteen episodes out that you can get caught up on over at their site or on iTunes, SoundCloud, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you couldn’t tell, he’d really like you to give his show a listen.
I can’t remember how I found out about TCFT, but I’m glad I did. Jason is a great, laid-back GM who has no problem letting his players have fun and mess around. Hell, episodes three and four see the group playing popstar divas. I’ll let my players do a lot of stuff, but even I would have pulled my hair out at that one. Jason, on the other hand, rolls with it completely which makes for a fun, silly, and incredibly engaging pair of episodes. As always, Taylor Swift makes everything better.
James is a great lynchpin to have, both for the audience and Jason himself. It’s hard enough to run games for all new players without recording it and putting up on the internet for the world to listen to. By having such a relaxed, carefree, and funny podcasting partner, whose rolled his fair share of dice in the past, it allows us seasoned in the art of playing pretend to enjoy the show that much more, knowing that if anyone is, in fact, too cool for tabletop, we’ve got Seelig in our corner. Plus, he helps steer the roleplaying and the narrative if the newbies need a little bit of help (which they usually do).
Depending on who you are, TCFT’s greatest strength may be its greatness weakness. The difficult part about playing tabletop games with new people is simply that: they’re new. They don’t really understand the rules, they’re not as comfortable roleplaying, they may be stuck in board or video game mode where they can do certain things but not others while, at the table, almost anything goes. For me, the best part about Too Cool For Tabletop is hearing people get excited about playing the thing I love. That’s why the premise is so brilliant; no matter how many crits you’ve rolled or goblins you’ve slain, listening to others discover the joy for themselves never gets old.