Saturday, July 31, 2010

Audio Noise: Giant Machines With Really Random Processors...That Breath Fire Even!

Hello everyone and welcome to a red hot and rebooted installment of Dispatch!

Of the podcasts that I've looked at so far in Audio Noise, almost all of them have been pretty straight forward as they tend to focus more or less on one aspect of the hobby. Then there are these guys and let me tell you they were a little harder to pin down. Kind of odd since they are the...

Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Focus: Anything "geek-related" that they decide to cover, from games to comics and more.
Audio Quality: four out of five giant robots
Content Quality: three and a half giant robots out of five
Average Length: Roughly 45 minutes
Language: Varies depending on the co-hosts but it definitely falls into the explicit category.

So just what is it about this podcast that makes them different from the others? There are two things that really stick out in my mind. First is their content. As you can see in the Focus above, the different episodes of Giant Fire Breathing Robot (or GFRB for short) cover a lot of ground. One show they are reviewing Warhammer Invasion, the next they are talking to Wendy Pini of Elfquest fame, with collectible toys the next. There is nothing wrong with this kind of variety but I think it's safe to say that depending on the listener's interests some shows will be hits while others will be misses.

The second is slightly more subtle but as you listen to their library of shows, it really starts to stick out more and more. They have rotated through several different co-hosts and this gives some of the episodes a very different feel. On one end you have Joel selling blow jobs on eBay and the other you have Rob and Andrew discussing the deeper psychological aspects of Cylons (yeah, these are extreme examples but I think you get the idea). Andrew is the constant in the show but as you slot in the various co-hosts, even his style seems to change to mesh with the different people. As with the wide range of topics, this kind of variety is not necessarily a bad thing but at times it almost seems like you are listening to different podcasts so I think it's good to be aware of before you jump in.

So the question is just how does the Giant Fire Breathing Robot stack up? Personally I think as long as you keep the somewhat eclectic nature of the 'cast in mind it's worth giving them a listen since there's a good chance that you're going to find something in there that you'll like. In addition, they also have a very extensive blog that covers even more of all things geek so if you have a minute, you should definitely check that out as well.

The Parting Shot

As always, thanks for stopping by and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. As for what's in store, the hobby updates will be returning! Not sure exactly when right now but the next Audio Noise will be going up in a week. Until then, remember don't walk when you can run... just put down the scissors first.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Audio Noise: Pennys and Dragons and Players, Oh My!

Hey everyone and welcome to a red penny box edition of the Dispatch!

For this installment of Audio Noise, we are going to look at several parts of another podcast but not really the whole thing. Confused yet? Don't worry, it will make more sense as we delve into...

The Dungeons and Dragons Podcast

As I mentioned, for this one we are not looking at the whole podcast but just certain parts, specifically the Penny Arcade actual play sessions.

Focus: 4e actual play sessions.
Audio Quality: four out of five shiny copper dragons
Content Quality: four out of five shiny copper dragons
Average Length: Roughly 40 minutes
Language: Enough for color without going over the top.

So why only part of the podcast? Well, there's nothing wrong with the rest of the 'cast but if you aren't playing 4e there isn't really much point. The main focus of the podcast is to tell you about new 4e products that are coming out, answer commonly asked questions, things such as that. Then there are the actual play sessions.

The first three have the guys from Penny Arcade and PvP sit down with some of the staff Dungeon Masters from Wizards to play through a short campaign (sure the guys from Wizards have some other job in the company, but the idea of them having some DMs on staff just to run games amuses me). These sessions follow the exploits of Acquisitions Incorporated as they begin their adventuring career. As an added plus, the first few episodes give you a good idea how the basic mechanics of 4e work so they can serve as a great little primer. Beyond that, they are just fun to listen to. The DMs in all three sessions do a great job and all the players have really good chemistry which is definitely a huge plus for an actual play.

There is also a fourth actual play with guys that is run by one of their own. This series departs from the ongoing story line as they move into the world of Dark Sun. By this point, the guys know the mechanics of the game but this setting is completely new to most of them so it's a nice introduction to this "new" campaign setting.

All four of these series are a lot of fun to listen to and I definitely recommend them to anyone interested in actual plays. The rest of the podcast is done fairly well and you can give it a try, but if you aren't playing 4e it might not be up your alley.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This Space Intentionally Left Blank

Some of you might notice that the last Audio Noise segment has mysteriously disappeared. Was it magic? Did goblins spirit it away? Has the internet devoured it whole in some ominous sign that the electronic revolution is about to begin?!? No worries folks, I just decided to take it down.

Since it posted, I happened to listen to the next episode of Giant Fire Breathing Robot on a fluke and they talked about my review. Even though in hindsight I think that I was too hard on them, the host took it all as constructive criticism instead of just igniting a flame war. We have even exchanged a few emails about my comments and I've decided that I really didn't give them a fair shake with that first review so I'm going to take another look at it.

Right now, I'm in the process of listening to more of their episodes so that I can get a better perspective on the whole thing. As for the new review, it should be hitting the blog on the 31st but if that changes, I'll be sure to let you know.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Audio Noise: Definitely Not Your Parents Public Radio

Hey everyone and welcome to a $%&$*@ explicit edition of of the Dispatch!

Last week I talked about a very narrative 4e actual play but this week we are looking at something a little... different. So without further ado, let's crank up the radio and listen to some...

Role Playing Public Radio Actual Play

Focus: Actual play sessions of Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Call of C'thulhu, Monsters and Other Childish Things, and any thing else that they feel like doing.
Audio Quality: four out of five announcers
Content Quality: four out of five announcers
Average Length: About three and a half to four hours
Language: If you don't like foul language, don't even start listening to this one. Seriously.

The Role Playing Public Radio Actual Play site is actually a spin off from the original Role Playing Public Radio podcast (henceforth known as RPPR because it's too long to keep typing!) After recording a number of actual plays and just posting them on their feed, Ross and Tom over at RPPR decided to split their actual plays to a separate feed to make it easier for people to download. But enough about RPPR! Right now let's just look at the Actual Play side of things.

As I mentioned before, these guys cover a wide range of systems but their longest running one is a 4e campaign of epic proportions, so epic in fact that they have created their own campaign books that are available online. These are not your usual fan created word documents either. Both are illustrated PDFs with a background on the setting, adventure seeds, new monsters, a new player race... all in all, a whole lot of 4e goodness that is free for download that lets the listeners dive into the New World campaign setting themselves if they want to.

But you're probably wondering about the podcast itself. The DM of this game is aiming for a grand game with political intrigue and sweeping character development as the players explore the New World, helping the first colony to survive and flourish, and he does a pretty good job with it as well. There are lots of little twists and turns that the players are involved in, most of which would set the characters at each others throats if they found out about them. The guys do a very good job with the role playing and though they do joke around a lot, they are able to bring it back around and get back on track... at least until the combat sessions. These tend lots of die rolling with random jokes and tangents thrown in. This breaks up the actual play experience but can be really entertaining as well... as long as you're not easily offended.

As for the other games, they are definintely an interesting listen and lets you experience some games that are off the main stream. The only downside can be Ross (he runs most of the games) really likes the C'thulhu mythos. This can make things a little predictable at times but for the most part they're still a lot of fun to listen to.

Overall, if you are looking for some new and different actual plays to listen to, give RPPR Actual Play a try... but consider yourself warned; these guys earn their explicit tag within the first five minutes of every 'cast.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th


The independence of this nation was won by people who rose up against those who would oppress them. It was on their blood and sweat that this country was founded. Let us all take a moment this day to give silent thanks to those people and the sacrifices they made for a better future for their families and those who continue to make those sacrifices today. Remember that this great country was not founded on complacency and acceptance but by those willing to stand up and fight for what they believe in. May we all have a happy and safe Independence Day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Audio Noise: The Knights At Night

Hey everyone and welcome to a knightly edition of the Dispatch!

It's time for more Audio Noise as we look at another podcast that I recently found that puts an interesting spin on all things 4e. People complain that 4e Dungeons and Dragons is just glorified tactical combat simulator but things are a little different on...

Thursday Knights

Focus: Actual play sessions of Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition with a heavy story element.
Audio Quality: four out of five knights
Content Quality: three and a half out of five knights
Average Length: About three and a half to four hours
Language: Occasional slips but usually pretty clean... at least until the computer crashes...

One of the common complaints that I have heard about 4e is that it is more of a tactical game then an RPG. Based on most of what I've seen and heard for 4e, I admit that I can understand that complaint but Thursday Knights has managed to make the system work in a fairly innovative way. Rather then just rolling the dice and waiting for the DM to tell them if they've hit, this group brings a lot of story telling into the game. For example, when they are in a combat they describe how their character is attacking and damaging their opponents. It might seem like a small thing but it makes the whole thing much more interesting to listen to as it becomes less a bunch of die rolling and much more of a story. This isn't to say that there aren't parts that bog down (usually during the really long combats) but for the most part the sessions seem to flow quite smoothly.

Another thing of note is the characters are all paragon tier so don't expect to see them facing off against goblins and kobolds. In fact, their first episode recounts their epic battle at the Temple of Elemental Evil as they lead an army against the Temple. That is another thing of note, the recording starts at the end of an earlier campaign. Their current campaign actually starts in episode four and continues through the latest release. I only listened to part of the first episode, then decided to jump to the fourth so that I could focus on the current story.

Other then the occasional computer problem they have had, the only thing that I have not enjoyed about the podcast has been the attitude of one of the players. Of the group, she seems to be the least familiar with the rules and has complained several times about the other players and the DM telling her she can't do certain things. This doesn't happen all the time but it has happened enough that I think it counts against them in the content category. Even with this complaint, I definitely have enjoyed listening to this podcast and look forward to hearing more as their story unfolds. So if you like actual plays and want to hear an interesting spin on 4e, I definitely recommend checking out Thursday Knights.