Looking for the start of online TTRPGs in Aotearoa New Zealand, and checking out a few of the longest running shows.
Some time in 2019 I decided to finally check out my friend’s Dungeons & Dragons podcast (I may have been looking for more after seeing Diceratops live at Bats Theatre in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington). It turned out that podcast was The Fate of Isen. Its crew of kiwi comedians had already been making actual play D&D for more than a year and were into the third chapter of their story. I was quickly hooked.
Fate of Isen continues as a powerhouse, its sixth chapter surging into the world-shattering conclusion the story has been building to for almost four years. I now have podcast subscriptions (and YouTube and Twitch feeds) full of more kiwi RPG content than I can reasonably keep up with.
2019 was a good time to join in, but it turns out kiwis have been making TTRPG shows online since ages ago.
AJ Pickett’s YouTube channel is a a vast repository of mostly-D&D lore advice and gameplay. And it goes back all the way to 2013, kicking into gear with a 2014 live stream of a Heroes Unlimited game set in the universe of TV show The Tick.
In 2015, For Crits and Giggles was born, as DM Keiran Bennett convinced his friends their new campaign was going to be a podcast. It’s probably Aoteroa’s first actual play pod, and it’s a good start, with dry banter mixing in and out of a setting with a real sense of magic. “It’s not frequent, but it is long running,” Bennett told Diceratops’ Morgan Davie (in this conversation mostly about Bennett’s more recent efforts to get politicians together to play D&D on TV).
By 2017 more shows were appearing, again looking further than Dungeons & Dragons. Casual RP has mixed D&D campaigns with interludes in different systems and a Vampire: The Masquerade chronicle; Rycon Roleplays began with a playthrough of their own zombie survival game Z-Land; and Big Red Couch has been pulling ideas out of a hat and trying to turn them into runnable TTRPGs this whole time. Meanwhile, the first live show of what would become Dungeons & Comedians played to a sold-out theatre in Ōtautahi Christchurch.
Since then, there have been heaps of new kiwi RPG shows: podcast, videos, streaming, and on stage; actual play, advice, and interviews; full-bore entertainment product, earnest gameplay, or a peek at a bunch of mates around a table – and while the D&D revival has truly hit, there’s still plenty of interest in other systems.
By 2020 it got so even the people from the TV had to pay attention, with reality show Survive the 80s (video may be geoblocked) playing Dungeons & Dragons (for more on this, see this Diceratops episode with DM Dallas Barnett). Then, in 2021, there was recognition (also noted in the paper) of four different stage shows based on D&D in Wellington’s Fringe Festival alone:
We’ll be back with some samplers of #kiwiRPG shows during the week. For now, go check out the sweet as selection on our shows page!
Lyndon and the #KiwiRPG crew