As you can probably tell from the links on the right side of the page: I listen to quite a bit of podcasts and read quite a few blogs. This, after all, is where we originally got the idea to do our own website and podcast. Not because we said, "Well fuck, if these douche-bags can do it, then so can we" but rather my thought was I really hope that eventually we can reach the level of awesome game-play, excitement, and collaboration that most of these guys have. You see this in a lot of web comic artists as well as in the podcast community - they have a small club where all of them chat on twitter or trade remarks on their own podcasts, or even have each other as guests on their shows and make guest posts on their sites. It's these ranks that we hope to eventually join, though we realize that it will be a long and arduous journey.
However, this is where I pay credit where credit is due.
The first actual play podcast that I ever listened to was Nerdbound. These guys sounded like us, sitting around and table and just letting the tape roll as they screwed around and joked with each other, while still dedicating themselves to the story of the campaign and hunkering down when they really needed to. With their New Worlds campaign, Neil and the crew really let me know that a game can be completely outside of a box and have more of a free-form game style: Running shops, owning buildings, causing trouble within the environment. And it was also one of the first times I heard a DM say "what do you want to do now?" and I knew that it wasn't just some leading question to trigger the next stage of his story.
My discovery of the next podcast was actually a nearly complete mistake. I'd originally started listening to a slew of comic book podcasts (including Around Comics) and they had mentioned this one other show called Major Spoilers. So I started listening to them, and a few episodes in they started mentioning this other podcast called Critical Hit. Stephen and Rodrigo had put together a very professional sounding, focused podcast that executed their game and sessions very smoothly. While not as free-form as the Nerdbound podcast, they managed to tell a very specific story and develop their characters into iconic heroes. You could tell that they really put time into making sure that they stuck to the game and tried to not deviate from their characters (which included allowing the hilarious Tork just one pop-culture reference per episode), though their precision and dedication has thus far paid off in spades.
Thanks to Twitter and RPG Podcasts (where you can take the Listener Survey and vote for your favorite podcasts), I have been able to find a slew of blogs and podcasts that have helped me with my GM abilities and increase the experience for both my players and myself. The Happy Jacks podcast is what our group has always wanted to do: Sit around a table and bitch about what is on our minds. Stork and Tappy provide the base for a hilarious podcast that manages to slip in some actual content from time to time, and every idea that comes out of their filthy mouths is a jewel. Similar to the Nerdbound/Critical Hit analogy, Nearly Enough Dice provides the direct message and stream-lined production that perfectly balances out my playlist. Their news and Group Topics are great for in-depth discussions, and their listener inclusion from week to week really adds to the experience.
And sitting in the middle of the topical podcasts is the Gamer Stable...Gamers Table....fuck, Gamerstable podcast. If you listen to any RPG podcasts, then you probably listen to these guys. Eric, Mike, Shawn and the rest of the crew put together a great show that seems like contained chaos. Similar to Happy Jacks, it's what we would always want to do, but it's also what we would aspire to become over time. They seem to have found the balance between substance, tangent, and fun that provides (literally) hours of fun.
If you want to give your ears a rest and feel like reading for a while, then you should definitely check out Critical Hits. Sly Flourish manages to cram several tons of content into each post, and can break down the nitty gritty of the game while still making it readable, entertaining, and easily understandable for the laymen gamer. His ideas have inspired me beyond belief in being able to give substance to the creative thoughts that have been floating in my brain-sauce, but haven't been able to pull out of the broth by myself. His constant postings have provided me with several intuitive and impressive articles to steal... I mean, pull ideas from to make myself a better GM for my players.
And if you want to know what your players are thinking while staring at you blankly, then head on over to The Id DM. An actual psychologist (see, not just teenagers sitting in their mom's basement wearing wizards cloaks play D&D) who has often times delved into the thought process behind players and GMs, and how their relationship affects the game process. I originally came across Id in probably a similar way to most - through his in-depth analysis of the Penny Arcade D&D game. From that point on, I was hooked. In a very short amount of time, he has created a prolific and well-rounded blog that runs the gamut of topics - Orignally talking about various genres of RPG as well as being a DM, he then began to branch into board games, custom creatures and encounters, and even scoring interviews with other bloggers; all while still keeping track of what started his fame in the first place. He's quickly become a huge player in the RPG blog circles, and rightfully so.
All-in-all, these are the people who have given me the ideas and inspirations to run my games and make myself a better person at the table. They are the reason why I (again) enjoy being a Game Master, and why The Dragon Fisters blog and podcast exist in the first place. I know that we have a long way to go before we even come close to the level of execution and fame that the previously mentioned stars have reached (and truth be told, we probably never will). However, just to know that there are groups and people out there who enjoy the same things that we do is a welcomed experience. So thank you, all of you that I have mentioned and haven't, for doing what you do and making sure that we all still have games to play each week.