Even if you aren’t a gamer, you’re undoubtedly aware of Dungeons & Dragons, the fantasy tabletop role-playing game that popularized the genre (at least among a certain subset of geeks) way back in the early 1970s.
Spurred by any number of things—traditionally “nerdy” culture going mainstream and the throwback popularity of Stranger Things among them—D&D is more popular than ever. Naturally, as more and more people flocked to creating podcasts, a ton of D&D-centric podcasts also cropped up; it turns out audio is a perfect medium to host a collaborative fantasy adventure.
In 2022, there are so many examples out there—some of them directly based on D&D, others existing in the tabletop gaming space—that finding that fits your personal play style can be daunting. Finding the right dungeon master and crew for you will always be a personal journey, but we’re here to get you started. Whether you want to test the waters with something super popular (Critical Role) or are looking for something that puts a twist on the format (SitcomD&D) there is treasure waiting for you within.
We can’t not start here, with the podcast that started as a YouTube show hosted by a cast of experienced voice actors that wound up spawning graphic novels, a Kickstarter-funded animated series, and, yes, a podcast. Critical Role campaigns are the perfect mix of gaming mechanics, comedy, pathos, and production values. Campaigns run for dozens of episodes, and episodes can run several hours or more, so you can immerse yourself in the narrative and not come up for air until you want to. Go ahead and start with the first campaign, Vox Machina. The podcast version has been trimmed and polished a bit, and you’ll be able to jump right in to the animated series on Prime Video afterward.
Dumb Dumbs & Dragons
New to Dungeons & Dragons? No worries! Some of the players on Dumb Dumbs & Dragons are newbies, too. On this show, professional improvisers and comedians who’ve never role played before take a crack at the game to battle monsters, start unions, and adopt wolves… all while on a quest to save the world. It leans less on rigorous play mechanics and more on comedy, fun, a long-running fart joke, and a lot of heart. In the show’s first season, the Dumb-Dumbs explore the mines of Phandelver; starting in Season Two, they embark on a full-length campaign that’s lasted 5 seasons and is still going strong.
The Adventure Zone
We love the McElroy brothers—the hosts of My Brother, My Brother and Me and a slew of other Maximum Fun projects—because these funny, lovable dudes make you want to be part of their family. Their Dungeons & Dragons/gaming podcast The Adventure Zone is even more of a family affair: Justin, Travis, and Griffin have recruited their dad Clint for a playful, fast and loose D&D adventure. Expect silliness, inside family jokes and plenty of interruptions that will make you laugh out loud, and, sometimes, storylines that will give you chills. This is a show that favors story over game mechanics, so it’s perfect for the people who want to test the D&D waters with a lot of humor, and it’s a great gateway into Dungeons & Dragons if you’re a fan of My Brother, My Brother and Me, Sawbones, or Shmanners. They just started a new arc, Steeple Chase, but you’ll probably want to start with the Balance campaign, which is so beloved it has spawned four New York Times bestselling graphic novels to date.
Not Another D&D Podcast
Comedy and fantasy role-playing collide on Not Another D&D Podcast as “three unlikely adventurers attempt to right the wrongs caused by a party of legendary heroes who screwed up the world while trying to save it.” Murph is the dungeon master guiding the charismatic group through hilarious stories that come together in surprising ways. Jake joined the crew new to Dungeons & Dragons, so you can kind of learn along with him, and through the life of the show, he’s picked up the skills that put him on equal footing with the rest of the team. Not Another D&D Podcast is rambunctious, with an unbreakable flow that feels effortless and allows players to show off their skills in delivering a perfectly paced story punctuated with oddball jokes.
D&D Is For Nerds
Australia’s favorite Dungeons & Dragons podcast is D&D Is For Nerds. Set in the world of Ogg Nott, the narrative is led by dungeon master Adam Carnevale, who is spinning an engaging world on his fingertips like a basketball, bringing together an elaborate narrative and unforgettable characters created by a talented cast of madcap storytellers. The show takes the role playing seriously, but the players never forget to punch it up with wild antics, ironic humor, and unexpected choices that will keep you laughing and guessing how the story will unfold. Friendly to those new to D&D, but a favorite for people who are seasoned and picky.
Gimme Da Loot
On Gimme Da Loot, five flawed and random characters meet up at a fantasy truck stop and end up uniting to try to save some lumberjacks and overcome the God of Lawyers.The cast is diverse, including both newbies to veterans. The show is irreverent and satirical, and packed with tons of easter eggs and pop-culture references that makes loyal listening a rewarding experience.
Of Mice and Men and Monsters
Hosted by a high school English teacher, Of Mice and Men and Monsters is a Dungeons & Dragons podcast centered on the books you were supposed to read in school, like Macbeth and Oliver Twist. Whether you loved them or hated them or skipped them all together, you’ll get a kick out of experiencing these improvised versions, which are always funnier and much weirder. Perfect for TTRPG diehards or lit nerds (with or without RPG experience) who will appreciate a twist on the classics.
SitcomD&D is different from most Dungeons & Dragons podcasts in that each episode is self-contained, so you can drop in any time you want. It always centers around a bar owner at the drinking hole Bottom’s Up, where a bard, a half-orc warrior, and an elven princess meet to mix D&D and sitcom tropes (think TGIF staples like Step by Step and Family Matters, or classier shows like Cheers). It’s not as packed with dice rolls as other D&D shows, but the storylines are truly creative, and the cast is stocked with talented Chicago improvisers who clearly have been friends for awhile, which means it’s perfect for improv fans looking for something totally different. (Another great show along these lines: The D&D-adjacent Hello From the Magic Tavern.)
Dungeons & Daddies
Season one of Dungeons & Daddies starts out with four suburban dads flung into a world of fantasy and magic in a quest to rescue their lost sons, then progresses to a new season about their grandkids, who are left to mop up the mess their granddaddies made in season one. You’ll be laughing hard enough to chisel your dad bod gut into a six pack, but the storytelling is also deceptively clever. It’s absolutely perfect for people who feel intimidated by shows targeted at more experienced players, like Critical Role, who just want to learn the ropes. If you don’t already love dad jokes, you’ll love them now.
Are you a lore nerd? Do you pore over your campaign books and creature manuals like you are studying actual history and science? The Dungeoncast is the show for you. It’s a deep dive into the mechanics and myth-making of D&D. Looking for an exploration of the full backstory of the lich known as Vecna? You’ll find it here. A class-by-class analysis of the different characters you can play as? That too. D&D is a game that tends to invade your every waking thought—and if that sounds like you, The Dungeoncast is your new favorite podcast.
If you want to dive a little deeper into Dungeons & Dragons proper, don’t miss Dragon Talk, the official Dungeons & Dragons podcast. The Dragon Talk team brings together a diverse array of experts in gaming and pop culture, from Jamie Umanzor, the DEI for Howard Brown Health; to Kelly “Socks” Galten, the Runemaker at Goblin Bros. to talk Dungeons & Dragons, tabletop roleplaying games in general, as well as video games, comics, novels, movies and TV set in the D&D world. It’s a D&D nerd-fest out that will help you up your game, deepen your appreciation for it, and underscore just how wide-ranging the fandom is.
More from Lifehacker