I don’t know if you guys have noticed this audio artifact, which is deeply weird, but almost so deeply weird that it kind of necessarily has to exist. In an effort to promote the forthcoming 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons (when did D&D stop being Advanced? Don’t answer that), Wizards of the Coast got the two dudes from Penny Arcade and the one dude from PvP together and ran them through a one-day adventure. They recorded the proceedings and then chopped the recording up into episodes. They called the episodes “podcasts.” Don’t be fooled. They’re just a bunch of MP3s.
It’s pretty amusing. You wouldn’t sit there and just listen to it by itself, but it serves pretty well as an accompaniment to doing something else. It’s a deep cool draught of nerdiness. The three players have wildly different levels of experience (Gabe = none, Tycho = lots, Scott Kurtz (the PvP guy) = some), so there’s a fair amount of explaining going on. The DM is a Wizards guy, and totally serious and earnest, and the others are just trying to crack each other up. So there’s some dramatic tension there too.
They haven’t gotten very far yet — they’re set up with characters, and they manage to meet a bunch of giant rats, but that’s it. But it’s nice to see that those guys are funny in person as well as in comic strip form. And I guess I learned some things about 4th Edition, though since I pretty much totally ignored Editions 2 and 3, I’m not so clear on what’s new and what isn’t. (Back in the day we didn’t need “healing surges.”) Tycho is clearer on this stuff — his take is here.
Incidentally both strips, PvP and Penny Arcade, are in top form right now. PvP seems to be going through a partial reboot of its continuity — Brent and Jade got married, Skull went back to wherever he came from, and Marcy and Francis just had sex. Penny Arcade is just basically still being funny.