Saturday, January 25, 2020

Fear of a Black Dragon

Sometime during the phase in which my mother really started to decline as she neared the end of her life, I started binging all the RPG podcasts I could find. I spent a lot of time at her apartment sitting with her and later cleaning it out and much of that time I had podcasts in my ear.

It's not that I'm new to RPG podcasts. No... in fact it was Save or Die and Spellburn that brought me into the OSR RPG scene to begin with. I would never have dropped $50 on DCC RPG if not for Spellburn. It's just that lately I've been listening to a lot of podcasts.

Fear of a Black Dragon is one that I binged from episode 1 through current over the course of a month or two. It seems redundant to say I liked the show since I did in fact listen to the entire catalog. I would have bailed if it sucked.

The show is ostensibly "OSR" in the sense that the hosts wanted to do a show about old school gaming. But these guys are coming from the story games spheres, not OSR. They play a lot of Dungeon World, World of Dungeons, and Blades in the Dark. Their focus in this podcast is 99% on scenarios with very little talk of game mechanics. Each episode is a review/exploration of an adventure module of some kind. It might be an old D&D module such as Against the Cult of the Reptile God or something more modern such as Dead Planet. The hosts give you a detailed synopsis of the adventure and then dive deeply into it, asking questions and pointing out their favorite bits. They are not afraid to be critical and they try to always run or play the adventure before covering it. Episodes usually wrap up with a list of inspiring resources such as movies, other games, books, etc.

One thing that's interesting is how the hosts don't really adhere to the game systems that the adventures are written for. Even if the scenario is written for Call of Cthulhu the hosts might have ran or played it using World of Dungeons. As I said, these guys are deeply into story games and they make no secret of their bias toward drama and story, mechanics be damned. So if you want crunchy details about how modules interact with specific game mechanics you'll be disappointed. This is a show about adventure, tension, drama, and no shortage of horror. And it's really damn good.

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