Recently I started listening to a new actual play podcast called Champions of the Earth.
I’ve tried several actual play podcasts that aren’t Critical Role or The Adventure Zone and had a lot of trouble getting into them. Many of them explain too much or take themselves way too seriously or just have too much bro-ness about them that make them uninteresting or just boring. Champions of the Earth was a recommendation through twitter because one of the members is Gina DeVivo, who’s on a few different Geek & Sundry / ProjectAlpha shows… not all of which I watch. That’s a long way of say that she was my way into this podcast.
The GM for Champions of the Earth, Collin Kelly, is a big fan of The Adventure Zone and I think that shows strongly in the way he tells the story. But in just a few episodes I’ve found that I really enjoy how he backs out of the story when the characters are having moments among themselves. He lets them direct some of the action, let’s them have character moments that aren’t necessarily plot related by have an impact on how the characters will interact when the plot resurfaces. It’s a good mix of storytelling and actual play. They use a modified version of D&D rules to play which makes the game play familiar enough for people that know 5th ed. rules and they explain character changes and rule updates quickly as they come into play, but don’t belabor the rules too much.
What’s different about Champions of the Earth is that it’s not a medieval-esque fantasy world though. It’s a modern day story of high school students thrust into a world of zombies, aliens and giant mecha knights. It’s a little Power Rangers and a little Twilight. It’s great.
It’s also really great that the episodes are about an hour like The Adventure Zone instead of 3-4 like Critical Role. If you start now, you’ll catch up to today’s episode 8 in no time. I think episode 8 also has my favorite moment of the show so far — a scene in which one of the characters is about to get into a fight with a creature, but pauses zen-like to take a sip of Fresca before it happens. It’s perfect.