Turncloaks is a D&D real play podcast from the United Kingdom. It is set in a homebrew game world that is low fantasy and also has a darkness to it. The show features high production value with excellent audio recording, extensive use of incidental music, and lots of sound effects added for atmosphere and ambiance, such as crackling campfires, the sound of rainfall, and the chirping of crickets. The tone is more quiet and more serious than most of the other podcasts, especially during the introductory episodes, where the DM provides a solo vignette session for each of the players to introduce their character through a short adventure.
Turncloaks began in summer of 2017 with two “Session 0” episodes where the DM and a single player introduced the characters one by one in little vignettes from their lives before the events of the adventure. In these episodes a little world building takes place where specific locations and events in the history of the game world are explored.
Turncloaks is set in a homebrew world called Punumbra, which is a dark, low-fantasy world that is similar to medieval Europe. The various races of D&D are represented, but the main kingdom where the start of the adventure is set is predominantly human, and those with real magical power are very rare and subject to being shunned and misunderstood by the general populace. In fact, in Session 0 there is the introduction of something called The Blood Plague, which is something like a cross between Bubonic Plague and Ebola that devastates many of the towns and villages across the land.
Turncloaks is a production of the Encounter Roleplay network.
I have long been a fan of low fantasy settings in D&D and dark fantasy where the world is grim and people act with the same motivations of greed, fear, envy, and ambition as they do in the world we inhabit every day. I think such worlds give storytellers a canvass in which to comment on the follies and failings of our own age without coming across as too preachy or too didactic.
Turncloaks also adds high production value and thoughtful role playing to their show. The added music, effects, and space for character development and world building provides an immersive universe that is rich with detail. The pace is a little slower than some, and it can be a bit of a quieter and less boisterous show than some of the other podcasts I have reviewed, so in that sense it also offers a nice change of pace.
The podcast does not have much foul language, but the dark themes and more somber nature of the podcast mean that parents may want to screen episodes for children or more sensitive listeners.