Join the Party is one of my favourite actual play podcasts and from the very beginning invites listeners to join in not just on their adventure, but to try playing at all. Join the Party is probably one of the best examples of how to invite folks unfamiliar with the actual mechanics of Dungeons and Dragons into the community. The first two episodes of the first arc beautifully has two versions: one for experienced players, and one for folks new to the game. It’s worth listening to both versions! Join the Party does an excellent job in their “Beginners Start Here” episodes of pausing to give explanations while still keeping the story moving while keeping the listener immersed in the world.
Join the Party is one of the best fully scored and soundscaped actual play podcasts I’ve ever heard. The quality of the foley artistry in this show pulls you into this world in the best posible way.
The stories told are exactly what I’m looking for in an actual play: a superb combination of queer, pop-culture inspired, and comedic story-telling with a good dose of drama piled on top. This team doesn’t pull any punches; once you’re sucked in you’re in for the long run, and it is a GOOD run.
The players (Amanda, Brandon, and Michael) play together seamlessly and genuinely, and their camaraderie is clear of a deep level of friendship both in and out of character. I joke that they are the best disaster children: intent on good story telling, comedy, and a healthy combination of love and teasing. The relationships they foster between both their characters and the NPCs of the world feels genuine and natural.
The DM, Eric, weaves a perfectly balanced story of fun, nonsense, and drama. Play and combat don’t drag, the story moves at an excellent pace, and he gives the players room to breathe and grow their characters the way they want to. He launches himself full-force into all of the NPCs that feel so fully developed with backstories that the listeners and players get hints at, and he keeps them all so delightfully unique and separate, both in story and in the change of vocal inflections to give them life.
Ultimately, Join the Party invites you to try playing yourself, or to interact with the creators and fans of the show in the most endearing ways. They want you to ask questions and get involved, and they actually follow through with listener involvement: they create brilliant “After Party” episodes for each story episode where they break down the game, the events of the story, and answer questions from their fan-base.
By telling stories about characters that have elements you can relate to while keeping it upbeat and fun, Join the Party is a splendid break for your ears, heart, and soul from real-world disappointments, frustrations, and injustices. They’ve built a world that aims to be better than we are, and gives me hope for the future.
I adore this show, and I hope you do too.