The RPG Academy is a site and network of podcasts that has an ambitious goal. Just like a college or university tries to offer a diverse suite of classes and majors, the RPG Academy aims to produce a diverse group of discussion and real-play podcasts. D&D is still the 800 pound gorilla of the RPG real-play podcast world, and a lot of the real play streams they offer are in that realm. They also offer some real-play shows and other discussions that touch on other RPG systems, some of which use the d20 ruleset and some which offer other sets of rules.
|The RPG Academy||Audio and Video||https://therpgacademy.com/||Various||PC-PG D L S|
The RPG Academy started releasing shows back in 2012, and from the beginning they had a mix of real play and rules/lore discussion podcasts. In the years since, they have released several campaign series, which are all searchable and well-organized on their web site. They have also branched out into other editions of D&D and other game systems, such as FATE, Star Wars, 13th Age, and Call of Cthulu.
Each of the campaigns appears to be set in a unique homebrew game world that the DM has created for that specific game. They also produce one-shot games in a series they call “The Trials” and “Field Trips” which are basically test drives of alternate game systems that they have not yet played.
The RPG Academy Network has attracted a number of affiliated podcasts, most of which play D&D 5e campaigns. Some of the associated podcasts play in other editions of D&D, Star Wars, and other games.
This show (more properly, this network of shows) has grown on me. I first found it long ago and quit listening (for reasons I will explain below) because I didn’t think it was my cup of tea. But recently I heard an episode that they did for the Dungeon Delve event for Podcast of Foes, and I found the tone and style to be much different, even with some of the same players. So I decided to give them another chance, and I’m glad I have done so.
What I have come to like about this show is the fact that they sample a lot of different game systems and have made an effort to make their shows more family friendly. In fact they are among the shows that now have gone out of their way to feature a more diverse group of gamers, especially in their one-shot games and in the affiliated shows of the RPG Academy Network. As someone who is a fan of women’s college and professional soccer when I am away from the gaming table, I appreciate the sensitivity to and inclusion of voices from a broader perspective, since most of my best friends for sports tailgating are either members of the LGBTQ community or are LGBTQ friendly like myself.
To be honest, I was not terribly impressed with my first listen of The RPG Academy. Their first campaign, Made Men, had an interesting story. The players, however, all had nerdy middle schoolboy obsessions with sex and drugs. Every character was either a junkie of some kind or was bedding pornstar-inspired fantasy babes every time they turned around.
That was pretty typical for the early games from The RPG Academy featuring the main cast and DM. In those days they cursed like sailors and featured quite a bit of gratuitous sex and other fantasy vice abuse in their descriptions (drugs, alcohol, etc.). For those of us of a certain age, in some ways it felt like what we would have heard if Bevis and Butthead had ever played a D&D campaign.
Normally, I am a fan of people sampling all eras of a podcast’s history. In the case of The RPG Academy, I think it really depends on a listener’s personal preference whether one will enjoy the early games, the more recent games, or both. Those early games are mainly the reasons I have to give this show the D L and S marks in my podcast content rating system. In more recent shows the DM and players make a stronger effort to limit the in-game profanity, and they liberally use the bleep button in their rules and lore discussion shows in an effort to make the games more accessible to a wider audience.