Across the years on this blog, I’ve mostly stuck to products and services when it came down to reviews here. Over the past year, I’ve started to branch out further into more creators this year, but never a source of entertainment. Well, I finally broke that milestone. We’ll be covering and reviewing an audio-drama Dungeons & Dragons podcast helmed some hilariously wonderful people, some of whom you may even know of or heard of across the D&D community. As our first podcast review, I will cover aspects regarding storytelling, inter-character relationships, unique features about the podcasts, and some of my favorite moments.
Disclaimer: At the time of writing this article, I have finished Episode 15 of the podcast. All references will be kept spoiler-free, and opinions will be defined up to this point within the narrative.
Without further adieu, let’s meet the Dungeon Rats!
Synopsis: The Dungeon Rats are a gang of adventurers who murdered the royal family of Naporia and were sentenced by the Court of Crowns to be imprisoned with the Endless Dungeon. It’s up to YOU, the listeners to aid the Court of Crowns in keeping these foul criminals trapped within the dungeon.
How it works: There is something unique about this D&D podcast that isn’t seen too often, which is hailed from their early streams on Twitch. The encounters, monsters, magic items, puzzles, and even NPCs that the Dungeon Rats encounter in the Endless Dungeon are actual submissions from the audience. Dastardly and nefarious ideas crafted from the vilest and insane members of the Court of Crowns (A.K.A. you the audience). You can find the live-stream video that started the podcast here.
Meet the Dungeon Rats!
The cast of Dungeon Rats has great chemistry and add their voice talents bring their characters to life on the podcast. Their mix of comedy and character-centric banter really brings about the oddity of a rag-tag group of condemned prisoners trying to find a way out of the Endless Dungeon. Each character has a backstory before the mission that ultimately slew the royal family of Naporia, they touch on it in parts throughout the podcast and will mostly come into play more as time progresses. I have to say, I enjoy the intro at the start of every episode, it feels like a mix between the reality show Road Rules but set in a dungeon with perils and hilarious contributions from the audience. What I also really love is the cast pages found on the Dungeon Rats’ website, easily accessible and provides a great open dialogue between the listeners and the cast, at least I think so.
Rhoda the Ruthless is played by Justine Krueger, a member of the Poem Highlander improv ensemble based in Chicago (you can read her bio page here).
Bugfly the Bewitched is played by Surena Marie, a member of the Matt Damon Improv group & the Dundee: a Hip-Hopera (you can read her bio page here).
Dare-Ill the Demonic is played by Alex Collyard, a podcaster & comedian from the Cold Read podcast (you can read his bio page here).
Gilf the Godless is played by Carlos Luna, he is part of the SKULL MOUNTAIN improv group & the talent behind the musical arrangements you’ll hear on the episodes (you can read his bio here).
Belagard the Beheader is played by Aram Vartian, Dungeon Master & creator of the Godsfall podcast (you can read his bio here).
The Dungeon Master is Patrick O’Rourke, the founder & executive producer of the One-Shot Podcast (you can read his bio here).
The cast has a strong improv and podcast background, especially with the Godsfall & One-Shot Podcast being leading names within the D&D community. Aram has been featured on Wizards of the Coast’s own Dragon Talk podcast & live Twitch stream a couple of times by now. The One-Shot Podcast brings new and fresh narratives that warrant a listen as well. While I have not personally listened to Alex’s Cold Read podcast, I will definitely start after I’m done catching up on the Dungeon Rats.
Now with the introductions out the way, let’s get cracking on the review.
Story Dynamics, Characters, and the Metagame!
There is definitely some background for the Dungeon Rats that aren’t covered in the podcast and can found in their Livestream video (click here). It’s definitely worth a view, though it’s not necessary for the enjoyment of the podcast. The podcast jumps right into the story, I had more fun listening to characters and their interactions with each in my first episode of listening to the podcast. The characters definitely fit the term of “rag-tag,” but there’s enough shared history with the characters that you don’t feel lost. In fact, it’s sort of reminded me of Gilligan’s Island but not involving a three-hour tour & not stranded on a tropical island. If by three-hour tour & tropical island you mean the murder of the royal family of Naporia and being imprisoned in the Endless Dungeon, then yes. The only difference is that instead of being stranded on a single portion of a tropical island, the Dungeon Rats are trapped in an endless dark dungeon that you later find out to be the final resting place for a powerful demon queen from Naporia’s past.
The majority of the 15 episodes I listened consisted of a great storyline submitted by a listener, with more that continued to expand as I continued to listen in every day for an hour or two. The characters and the players have great chemistry, lots of banter and great one-liners. When they brought in Trune of the West as a guest character played by Austin Campion from Episode 5, the party’s reaction to the character was brilliant. Like being, star struck but funnier. As the narrative continued, the audience will be granted a large chunk of backstory for Belagard and his origins. Around Episode 9: the Forgotten Prisoner, I had never laughed so much throughout an entire episode. We are introduced to an NPC named Cannos, the voice that Patrick uses is just so creepy but in a good way.
Also, there is the character named Rot, who’s just a hand. There’s a backstory for that, which you can catch on the livestream. But it’s a talking hand, that’s the “Master of the Metagame!” I love the voice Patrick uses for Rot, and it’s just enjoyable to hear the character come up every few sessions. Ideally, Rot serves as the informant of the world and the dungeon for the party, providing assistance in lore and situational awareness. I also enjoy the segments between episodes that focus on the Court of Crowns and its Overseer, it’s sort like those bad interviews you can only imagine for a dungeon monster job. They’re great and provide some fun relief.
I also personally enjoy a lot of the personal musical touches provided by Carlos Luna, it really brings up the quality of the entertainment it provides. Some podcasts have started following suit in this trend, but I do personally enjoy the personalized theme song for this podcast. I mean, who doesn’t want their own theme song?
You should definitely listen to this podcast if you like…
- Good improvised comedy
- Crazy, kooky, and zany encounters & puzzles
- Dungeons & Dragons (insert nasally voiced nerd)
- Animated magical talking hands
- Liches (spoilers)
- Tragic backstories
I listened to well over 15+ hours of content, I’m hooked and cannot wait for more. I encourage you to send them your ideas for the dungeon, make the Endless Dungeon Great Again! Definitely, give them a shot, you’ll be at least smiling or chuckling for sure on the first episode. If you’re already a fan of Godsfall and/or the One-Shot Podcast, you should definitely take a listen. There are a plethora of talented people lending their years of creativity and professionalism to this show, there is nothing amateur about it. There are over 20 episodes right now available to listen at the time of writing this review, but you’ll be able to get through them relatively quickly within a few weeks.
Finally, if you want to submit your ideas for the Endless Dungeon, click here.
I want to thank the Dungeon Rats for letting me have this opportunity to review their podcast, I had actually subscribed and listened to maybe two episodes before I started this review. I’m glad I took the time to listen to as many episodes as I could within my timeframe. Keep up the great work!
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