Podcasts to Inspire

Friends, do you ever spend time doing mundane tasks like going to work, making dinner, or talking to loved ones and get frustrated about wasting that time on things other than RPGs? Well, I have a solution for you. There are podcasts out there that can fill every waking moment with RPG inspiration!

I want it on record that I’m only half-joking with this tone. Of course there is room for other things and you don’t want to be obsessive but there are also plenty of times when you are doing something bland and could use an interesting diversion. For instance, I have a long commute (40 minutes each way) every weekday and I’m driving the whole time. I can’t really write or sketch and I’m alone in the car so while I’d like to use that time as a creative recovery before and after work I would normally just stare at the cars ahead of me.

My favorite remedy for all of this is podcasts. These self-produced programs are fun and even the most basic ones can be exciting and interesting. They’re free programs (although plenty have Patreon accounts) and many have very niche subjects. If you’re into that subject, they can be an amazing resource. There are many actual play podcasts including Roleplaying Public Radio, the One-Shot Network, Rag-NERD-rok, The Film Reroll, and other shows and those are both fun and helpful to GMs. Listening to other GMs is a great way to up your game and I encourage you to check those out. I’m going to focus on other shows, though.

Below are a few of my favorites that I’d recommend to anyone else with a long commute or a workday when you can listen to podcasts.

  • History of Rome: The grandfather of all history podcasts goes through the history of the Roman Republic from its founding, then the transition to Empire, and then the collapse in the face of outside forces. Whether running a game set in ancient Rome (like Cthulhu: Invictus, currently being updated) or looking for inspiration for your homebrewed empire, you should definitely check this out.
  • History of WWII: There are so many great RPGs set in World War II, from Godlike to Achtung! Cthulhu to Dust and a solid grounding in the events of the war can make your game leagues better. This podcast walks through the conflict month by month (sometimes week by week) and does more than set the stage for your campaign. It literally can provide you with a campaign, describing particular battles in detail to turn into your own version with mythos creatures or Übermenschen.
  • Welcome to Nightvale: This cult favorite has… well it has cults, but so much more. It’s acted out in the style of a public radio broadcast but in a town where there are secret government programs, mysterious creatures and weather, and a Dog Park that Should Not Be Looked At and Does Not Exist. If you want material for a strange, Twin Peaks-esque game then look no further. Plus, there’s fun music.
  • Moth Radio Hour: Alright, it’s not great to treat other people’s stories as property you can just steal but these stories are excellent and using them for inspiration can be an homage rather than theft. Other NPR shows include This American Life and RadioLab, both of which have great stories that can really get your mind working. Serial is a deep-dive style show but definitely also has useful material. Just remember these are real stories that they’ve chosen to share with you so be polite about it.
  • The Thrilling Adventure Hour: A storytelling podcast in the style of a 1920s-30s radio drama. Perfect for that pulpy game that you want to up the ante on. You can combine it with the World War II podcast for even more 1930s drama or even with Night Vale for some spooky, War of the Worlds stuff.

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