The Nerdarchy live stream fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Spelljammer game Ingest Quest campaign wrapped up the other day. Episode 12 “Something New” came to a close and we bid bon voyage to the culinary explorers traveling the crystal sphereverse in search of the most exotic cuisine. The characters were weird and met equally unusual entities along the way. They fought some monsters, visited some other dimensions and consumed — and prepared — heaping helpings of extraordinary food. It was my first time running a live stream game. I had some observations and thought I’d share my top 5 reasons you should live stream your D&D game. If you’re on the fence or considering your own live stream RPG show, maybe it’ll convince you to give it a shot.
Why you should live stream your D&D game
Playing a tabletop RPG online in the first place, or taking a step further to live stream your game of D&D, is not a requirement by any means. But maybe you watched Critical Role or The C Team or Maze Arcana or one of Nerdarchy’s live stream D&D games and thought you’d like to try it. You should. It’s not as hard to do as you might think, you don’t need tons of expensive equipment and if you run into a snag there’s a world of awesome people in the D&D community who will help you out with tips, advice, guidance and encouragement. You don’t have to live stream your D&D game, but if you think it looks fun (it is) go for it. At the very least, it’s a fresh opportunity to play some D&D for a couple of hours.
Here’s five more reasons to live stream your D&D game:
Discover a new playstyle
Playing in a live stream RPG is all about the game, the whole time. You’ll be surprised how much ground gets covered in a 2-3 hour session. Particularly when all the players are remote, games tend to keep all the players engaged most of the time. Story and encounters progress at an accelerated rate, moving quickly between the highs and lows. A live stream RPG has a lot to do with pacing, and the fact is there’s an audience watching. If you’re worried about straying from authenticity in your own live stream game, consider your characters’ actions might be more genuine. You learn about your own character rapidly when your reactions to events in the game are called for more frequently and need quick decisions.
A live stream RPG gets into it as soon as you click that button and go live, and moves forward whether you want it to or not. Best to get swept up in the current like a twig in the arms of a might river. Go with it, keep the narrative going and end on a cliffhanger or otherwise dramatic moment.
Grow the hobby and help the community
Today’s RPG climate is overwhelmingly awesome. There are so many people playing D&D and other RPGs! Any time of day, anywhere in the world people are playing some D&D, or talking about it on Twitter, making videos about it, or writing about why you should live stream your D&D game. One of the biggest reasons for this boom is live streaming games. Tons of new players came to enjoy the hobby through entry points like Critical Role. There’s plenty of Critters who simply enjoy the show and have never played any RPGs, and that’s frankly wonderful. Much more than a few have started playing RPGs thanks to live stream shows, and being ambassadors for the joy we get from play to new players is an honored tradition.
You never know who your own game might resonate with. A comment on the finale of Ingest Quest said “this has been my favourite d&d stream ever!” Hyperbole, perhaps. But if the silly game I ran brought entertainment to one person out there beyond the group of us playing, that’s an endorsement to live stream your D&D game right there. We were all going to play anyway. As a bonus we made two hours of someone’s day a little better.
But you also help other players with your game too. You might give another Game Master an insight for their own adventure idea, or show you a different way to run a game you never considered before. Players can see others being goofy, melodramatic, awkward, and unsure and understand we’re all like that. I don’t know any Game Masters who don’t get at least a little anxious or nervous before a game.
When you live stream your D&D game, you get a chance to be the person who inspires someone else.
Connect with others
I knew I wanted to game with Megan R. Miller for sure, and reached out to Anthony Amato of Cardboard Fortress Games because he seemed like a cool dude I’d like to game with too. Nate the Nerdarch joined the party representin’ Nerdarchy and Kienata was a new friend who was down for some fantasy space adventures. Nerdarchist Dave suggested I ask Benjamin Scott, the creator of Puffin Forest. We played D&D Spelljammer for 24 hours split up into 12 weekly sessions.
Most of us hadn’t gamed together and only met each other for the first time to play Ingest Quest. Now we’re thinking about what game to try next, who wants to be GM, and who else we might invite to the table while some of us move forward to other things. (I’d like to revisit Inquest Quest at some point but I really would like to run Tales from the Loop too, and I’m up for playing a game run by Megan, Anthony or Kienata no doubt.)
You can find and connect with people through things like Nerdarchy the Discord and live chat segments, social media, forums, and friendly local game stores. Wear nerdy RPG novelty T-shirts and sooner or later someone will stop to acknowledge the bond you both share. It’s happened to me three times in the last two weeks. There’s no small amount of nerdy RPG novelty T-shirts hanging in my closet right now.
Get to know new people and even cooler, game with new people. You can find a game or people to start one with any time of day or night. Celebrate a new gaming buddy and stream your game. The people who show up in your live chat offer even more chances to connect, sharing their time with you to find out what happens next right alongside the folks playing.
Grow as a player and Game Master
More than anything else, when you live stream your D&D game you learn to improvise — quickly.
You know how you can speculate on a million things players might do and how you’ll react, and then the very first thing that happens in game throws you for a loop? Get used to that. You’ll be making all the sorts of decisions you would in a traditional in-person offline game, except without taking breaks or long pauses to figure something out. “Yes, and” and “no, but” become often used tools while you and the players guide the narrative forward.
For players, live stream games put you in a situation to explore your roleplaying chops. Streamers often refer to games as shows, episodes, seasons and so on for a good reason. Live stream games are performances on top of being a game. It’s a chance to cut loose and walk a mile in your character’s shoes. A savvy live stream player or GM will be fun to game with in any scenario
It’s noteworthy to mention too how live streaming D&D is widely accepting and positive towards new folks in the hobby. I’ve seen people who never played an RPG at all run a game live online for their first gaming experience. Over at Web DM, Communications Director Emma Lambert is running her first live stream D&D game as the Dungeon Master for Escape from Flavortown on June 24 on their Twitch channel. On a recent Nerdarchy live chat Emma explained she’s been a player for many years, and run a handful of games, but this will be her first live stream game as DM. The game is raising money for the Girls Empowerment Network and features players Satine Phoenix, Lysa Chen, Syd Shields and Emma’s longtime friend Autumn.
Express your creativity
Sit down with friends and some funny-shaped dice and tell a story together. Present players with unusual problems and engage with your GM’s world and solve those problems in unique ways. Create character art, maps, and handouts. Draw a dungeon, develop NPCs, make a town, a kingdom or an entire universe and other dimensions.
Explore what it means to be human, or elf, or robot, or live in a subterranean world. Tell a story together, and create memories that last a lifetime.
There’s a great article on The Verge about the rise of D&D liveplay. Several well-known personalities in the RPG space are cited but this quote from Matt Mercer does a terrific job summing up the appeal:
“There aren’t a lot of entertainment-based mediums, the visual or recorded mediums, that empower the audience to go off the next day and create it themselves,” Mercer says. “You can’t watch a movie or a show and the next day say, ‘I want to make that.’ You have to go to school.” By comparison, there’s a certain punk-rock accessibility to liveplay. It’s like that old apocryphal story that everyone who bought the first Velvet Underground album started a band of their own; people watch these shows and think, “I could do that.” – Matt Mercer, from The Verge article The rise of D&D liveplay is changing how fans approach roleplaying
If you’re rolling dice, why not roll the camera and share it?
It was truncated but I did manage to get in parts of an adventure I’ve wanted to run since I first saw the video for Beck’s “Up All Night” song from the album Colors. (Click image for video)
Why live stream D&D Spelljammer?
I want to take a moment to give thanks and shoutouts to a few people. First up, thanks to Nerdarchy for letting me run a game on the Nerdarchy YouTube channel. I had no plan or preparation and none of them had seen me run a game or anything prior to saying yes.
Thanks also to the players. Ben, Megan, Nate, Anthony and Kienata shaped our game from the get-go with a real preoccupation wondering what people eat in D&D Spelljammer fantasy space. If it wasn’t for that discussion I was going to run a campaign based on Under The Dark Fist.
Huge thanks to the people who showed up each week to watch us play live! I’m so grateful people stopped to watch or listen and had a good time. Same to all those who watched the VOD afterwards.
D&D Spelljammer is shorthand for throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the mix for a campaign. It’s magic boats flying through multicolored gas trillions of miles per hour between solar systems encased in crystal spheres. So right off the bat, it’s anything goes. On Ingest Quest they traveled to a plane of sugar, made catoblepas cheese, and fought against the scourge that is white chocolate.
I got to use tons of cool monsters like bulettes, galeb duhr, umber hulks and the awesome star spawn in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes plus original creations like dense slime, marshmallow golems and a golden couatl. And I managed to slip in an adventure inspired by the video for Beck’s “Up All Night” track from the album Colors.
Keep an eye out here on the website and on social media for announcements on the next game we’ll run, and in the meantime go live stream your D&D game!
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Nerditor-in-Chief Doug Vehovec is a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio, with D&D in his blood since the early 80s. Fast forward to today and he’s still rolling those polyhedral dice. When he’s not DMing, worldbuilding, or working on endeavors for Nerdarchy, he enjoys cryptozoology trips and eating awesome food.