As a gamer, I find inspiration for adventures and settings everywhere I look. Movies, T.V. shows, books, Pintrest, even hikes in Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. I hear other gamers mention a similar penchant to find inspiration in just about anything.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought a fairly cheesy movie was pretty good, not because it was good acting or engrossing plot, but rather because I could see running it as an adventure.
One thing I’ve been heavily into for the past decade now is the Audio Drama. Various audio productions that harken back to the day of old time radio. This is a resource I’m not sure a lot of gamers have tapped into.
Well, this is a huge resource with literally years worth of listening already published and out on the internet for free download. Yes, I said for free! I’ll go through my extensive list of favorite works and will include a slew of links for them. But keep in mind, while I have listened to a lot, and I do mean a LOT of audio drama, I feel like I’ve still only scratched the surface of this awesome avenue of entertainment and inspiration.
Many gamers, especially ones who’ve been playing since the OD&D and AD&D 1E days are very familiar with Mind’s Eye Theater style of role playing. No miniatures, no maps, just the GM’s descriptions and your own imagination to fill the gaps. That’s precisely what audio drama is. A good audio drama can make you forget you aren’t watching something. Full cast audio drama with sound effects and music are fantastic ways to listen to stories and gain new inspiration to boot.
So, how does one get into this thing called audio drama? The first place I would recommend is the Audio Drama Directory. It lists hundreds of one shots and series.
Be forewarned, audio dramas are works of love and are non-profit. As a result, there are many out there that have incomplete stories. Ones I list below are either great places for one shots or are series that have completed.
You want zombies? How about a four season long full cast audio drama with top notch sound effects and original music? We’re Alive is a professionally done audio drama that can be downloaded for free, or you can buy each season as an audiobook on audible. The difference is how they are put together. The free download has each chapter broken into 3 – 4 parts with commercials in them. The audiobook has each chapter as a single file and the post production was cleaned up a bit for season 1.
Like unusual sci-fi mystery? Give Edict Zero FIS a try! This is a very unusual futuristic mystery show that draws you in quick! It is heavily layered with multiple sound effects and musical tracks to create a very engrossing experience.
Want your Sci-fi more humorous? Our Fair City is a fantastic comedy/drama/mystery about life after world war three in the Hart Life Tower. It is very quirky, makes lots of obscure references most gamers would get and actually makes for a potentially awesome setting!
Want a more gothic horror mystery? The Witch Hunter Chronicles has a great soundtrack and good sound effects. The story would make a great adventure or mini campaign. The link above jumps you right to the remastered episodes, where they cleaned up the audio and layered the soundscape a lot more cleanly.
Another supernatural mystery series that makes for great inspiration for a setting is the Byron Chronicles. This is a show that has been in the making for nearly ten years. It wrapped the main storyline about a year ago and they are now working on an epilogue series of sorts. This is a very well done mystery.
Want a Deadlands Noir, zombie film noir kind of listen? Try out F.E.T.I.D.U.S. it is closer to an audiobook than an audio drama. But there are a couple of voice actors and music. If you give this a try, don’t give up right away. The narrator speaks with an over-the-top kind of style that comes across super cheesy in the beginning. This mellows out as the book goes on and the story is very interesting!
If you want a smorgasbord of unique and quirky audio drama, give 19 Nocturne Boulevard a try. From the Deadeye Kid (very Deadlands like), to the H.P. Lovecraft inspired work and the B&B investigations (humorous take on werewolves and fae) and many more one shots and anthology series, this site has well over a hundred hours of listening goodness!
One last site, and one of my favorites is Decoder Ring Theatre. They have two long running series, The Red Panda Adventures and Black Jack Justice. Both are done in the fashion of radio programs of the 1930’s and 40’s. Red Panda is a street level superhero with a long line of unique, recurring villains. Black Jack is a noir detective series with a unique His Girl Friday partner. Both are episodic serializations. That is to say, most episodes are stand alone but there is a slowly advancing plot. Red Panda is more serialized and interwoven than Black Jack is.
Don’t mind paying for some interesting audio books? Give Graphic Audio a listen. They have a ton (and I do mean a ton) of series and one off books. They take traditional audiobooks and add in a full voice cast, sound effects and music. They turn audiobooks into full blown audio dramas! I was lucky to know a few people who collected their stuff and was loaned the CDs to many of their books. And a few of them I was able to get when they are on sale in mp3 format. These are good listens and good inspirations for gaming!
Well, there you go, some places to start your journey into audio drama. This is a far from complete list. These are just a few of my favorites. You can also just Google “audio drama” and start skimming through the results.
What other audio dramas are out there? Let me know so I can check them out!