The End of Time and Other Bothers is a game-changer of an actual play podcast, set in the fantasy world of Alba Salix but with no need to listen to Alba Salix first. It’s so immersive and hilarious without relying on table talk to create connections and without gross or punching-down humor; I couldn’t help but stay attached to my headphones. Other Bothers is heavy on improvisation, rather than die-rolling, and magnificently soundscaped. It’s occasionally filled out with small, scripted scenes to move the viewer’s perspective to what’s happening in the rest of the world when necessary, and these bring home the fact that this game is more than just the players around the table; the universe is bigger than even they realize.
The players (Carter, Marisa, and Mike) are funny and genuine, invested in each other’s growth as players, but maybe most importantly: they are dedicated to their characters and to creating a good story. The characters are not an excuse to make jokes; the jokes are how we learn about the characters and that’s true both of the player characters and the NPCs. Their humor is underscored by Eli McIlveen’s ability to edit in the perfect sound effect at the right moment. Sean Howard is a DM I want for myself: clever and sharp, with a nose for the moment things need to change so that play doesn’t drag and the moment when listeners need to just hear the characters freeform interact with each other and the universe around them.
And they regularly let Carter loose on the improv, which has mixed results. We’ll go with mixed.