Love the Adventure Zone mini-arcs? Here’s 20 more podcasts to listen to
If you’re at all into the world of fiction podcasts (and possibly even if you aren’t), you’ve probably heard of the Adventure Zone — the RPG podcast by modern podcasting luminaries the McElroy brothers (and their delightful dad).
The Adventure Zone (or TAZ, for short) has brought a lot of people to RPG podcasts and audio dramas in general. Right now, they’re doing a few mini-arcs while they figure out which system to play with after wrapping Balance, their three-year long campaign that they started with.
The mini-arcs have been great, but since they’re so short, it’s natural for them leave listeners wanting more of a very specific itch that can be hard to scratch. And that’s where this list comes in — five show suggestions for each of the mini-arcs, with a few bonus rounds for fun.
Since TAZ is an actual play, I’ve mostly focused on actual-play podcasts for this list, although there were some audio dramas that were too good of a fit not to include. Let’s start with Commitment, the earliest of the mini-arcs:
If you liked the superhero and conspiracy-themed shenanigans in Commitment, you should check out…
Champions of the Earth: A podcast following five teens brought together by mysterious circumstances & gifted powers to help them defend their town (and the world). It’s an actual-play with audio-drama-esque sound-design, beta testing a new RPG system, inspired by the delightfully campy shows of the 80s & 90s that featured teen heroes, huge monsters, giant robots, and plenty of high school angst.
Protean City: Instead of summarizing, I’ll just quote Jeff:
Victoriocity: An audio drama set in Even Greater London, 1887, following Inspector Archibald Fleet and journalist Clara Entwhistle as they investigate a murder, only to find themselves at the centre of a conspiracy of impossible proportions.
Sun City Duet: An actual-play podcast using a hack of Firebrand, following a cast of characters as they navigate their way through a planet-sized city in the midst of political turmoil.
Nerds on a Roll: Another Masks actual-play, following young superheroes as they struggle with horrible villains and the plight of being teenagers. As they put it, “Nothing says fun more than breaking curfew to beat on an anthropomorphic triceratops.”
Into cryptids, mysteries, and some slightly spoopy vibes? Give these a listen:
The Unexplored Places: An actual play podcast, currently playing Monster of the Week— the same system as Amnesty — and set in the sleepy college town of Deliverance, Ohio, where the residents are blissfully unaware of the supernatural presences that stalk their town at night and the local youth group provides a front for an ancient sect of monster hunters.
Swallows of the South: An actual play podcast featuring San Diego improvisors and performers, Swallows of the South has an off-season run of Monsterhearts that starts here and follows a group of high-schoolers as they struggle with their not-entirely-human sides. (The other arcs are good too!)
Alice Isn’t Dead: You’ve probably already heard of this if you listen to audio dramas, but if for some reason you haven’t, please listen now. Jasika Nikole is a haunting delight as the narrator, who’s driving across the country looking for her previously-assumed-dead wife and uncovering monstrous conspiracies along the way.
The Infinite Bad: A little more on the straight-up horror side of things, the Infinite Bad is an actual-play RPG podcast drawing from Lovecraftian horror, set in the aftermath of World War I.
Subject: Found: An anthology audio drama, each season of Subject: Found is dedicated to a new mystery (and its corresponding monster(s)). A good fiction pick for someone who’s into cryptozoology, legends, and murder mysteries.
In search of political intrigue and urban fantasy, with perhaps a dash of noir? Check these out:
The Magpies: A Blades in the Dark actual play podcast set in the haunted, industrial-fantasy city of Duskwall, following a crew of criminals as they lie, steal, and punch their way to the top of the city’s criminals and elite… or into an early grave. There aren’t many episodes yet, but the episodes up are fun, funny, & well worth a listen!
Serendipity City: I’m admittedly biased, as the GM, but if you like the retro urban fantasy of Dust, there’s a good chance you’ll like Serendipity City. It’s an alt-1920s actual play (using Urban Shadows, the same system as Dust), set in a sprawling metropolis with a fantastical underground, following a crew of mostly well-meaning criminals.
Blue Dawn: Blue Dawn is an ongoing sci-fi/fantasy actual play podcast, following a shitty elven teen, a jaded bard, a non-binary dwarven cyborg, and a wilderness dwelling trash-man as they build relationships and explore a world half-broken by a cataclysmic event.
The Eye: A noir urban fantasy, following a cyclops detective in alt-1930s-ish monster New York. It’s an audio drama with a diverse cast & crew, fusing supernatural fantasy with Asian mythology.
NeoScum: A Shadowrun actual-play podcast, run and played by Chicago improvisers, with a decidedly 80s cyberpunk vibe (complete with mullets). If you want some kitschy urban-fantasy-cyberpunk goodness, this is gonna be your jam.
Don’t wanna start a whole new podcast? Here’s some one-offs:
The actual-play podcast Party of One is an anthology podcast and has one-off episodes (or mini-arcs) that match up with every arc:
- Commitment: Episodes 76, 100, 116, and 112
- Amnesty: Episodes 61, 74, and 110
- Dust: Episodes 4, 58, and 82
- Balance: Episodes 20, 83, 105, and 109, along with 41 and 99
Bonus Round! Balance
If you find yourself relistening to Balance (the first full-length TAZ arc) over and over again, and want something else that matches the fantasy-fun-adventures-and-epic-quests vibes, check these out:
Join the Party: JTP follows a somewhat unlikely gang of comrades who start out as vaguely criminal and wind up becoming bodyguards for a somewhat incompetent prince. It’s a funny, quirky, very well-edited & produced D&D 5E podcast.
The Once and Future Nerd: TOAFN is an audio drama that somehow manages to be a loving send-up of all-too-familiar fantasy tropes while also telling an amazing story in the process. Think of it as Game of Thrones, but funnier and without so much gratuitous…everything.
Godsfall: Godsfall is a 5E D&D podcast, so a lot of it will be familiar to TAZ listeners, but it’s set in a completely custom world where magic (and gods incarnate) are appearing after being gone for many years. It’s a little more serious in tone than TAZ for the most part, but still has plenty of goofs, and great sound design/editing.
Friends at the Table: One of the best podcasts out there IMO (the only reason it’s listed last is because if you’re here, you’ve probably at least heard about it already). If you’re into Balance, I’d suggest starting with Marielda and then moving on to Winter in Hieron; you can start with the original Autumn in Hieron episodes if you want, but the audio quality is a little rough (it improves some around 5–6 episodes in). There’s a recap for all the autumn episodes in between Marielda and Winter, though!
Looking for more RPG podcasts?
If you’re looking for more good RPG podcasts to listen to (which, really, aren’t we all?!), make sure to check out RPGCasts. Tess has compiled the most thorough directory of RPG podcasts I’m aware of, and you can sort by system, genre, and representation that you’re looking for. It’s an amazing resource and the amount of time she’s spent on it is incredible.
h/t to Wil Williams & Elena Fernández-Collins for their input on several of these, since I was coming up short. If you want even more RPG podcast recs you can head to this Twitter thread, or head here for a lot of general podcast recs.