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A Fantasy Geek’s Guide to YouTube: RPG Reviews

YouTube (logo)YouTube is an app, a website and a cultural phenomenon. It’s also a vast and only partially explored wilderness full of content that ranges from dynamic to dire. Whatever your interests are, there’s probably at least one channel out there for you. But managing to dig out the channels that cater to your own SFF needs can be a bit like panning for gold in the sea. (If the sea was full of flying fish that kept on jumping in your face with unskippable adverts painted on their scaly bodies and passing sailors trying to give you beauty tips.) So let me help you out by drawing your attention to some of the best channels and YouTubers I’ve discovered over the years.

Disclaimer: This article isn’t sponsored by YouTube, Google or any of the featured channels in any way. YouTube is not a perfect platform, as many YouTubers will tell you. Other platforms such as Twitch or iTunes are available; I just don’t know them as well as I do YouTube. Other channels are available as well, these are just the ones I like enough to geek out over in a blog article.

This month’s topic is RPG reviews, the perfect topic for the role-player on the go who doesn’t have time to trawl through the internet reading pages of reviews in order to find their next RPG addiction. Or for anyone who’s heard about this tabletop role-playing thingy and wants to learn a bit more about it. I’ll be talking about some of the big players in this field but also some of the tiny ‘hidden gem’ channels that deserve more attention. There are a lot of RPG channels on YouTube and they’re not all easy to find so there are going to be plenty of channels that don’t get mentioned. Sorry about that guys, I’ve got to stop somewhere because I have a monthly deadline for FF and a novel to write! (I’ll be doing a separate article about channels that feature RPG streams and Let’s Play sessions.)

A few quick notes on role-playing games terminology for the uninitiated. If you’re already a role-player then you can skip to the first channel description.

What is an RPG?

Role-playing games (RPGs) are sort of a cross between board games or war games and acting or improv sessions. Some RPGs focus more on rules and even have miniatures or tokens for you to move around a board or map, others focus more on the acting side of things. RPGs traditionally happen around a table and rely on writing things down, rolling dice and acting out scenes. These games allow you and your fellow players to take on the role of characters in pretty much any world or setting you can imagine. Most RPGs have rules for completing any number of tasks or challenges, taking damage and increasing your character’s power or skills over time. There’s a whole related genre of computer RPGs like Final Fantasy, but we’re going to be talking exclusively about tabletop or pen and paper RPGs in this article. Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is the most famous example of a tabletop RPG.

dice in hand by Alex Chambers

A player is the actual human person playing the game. They control the player characters (PCs) in the game. Each player usually controls one PC at a time, though this is not always the case.

A GM is a Game Master; a sort of referee and storyteller who creates and describes the world that the PCs inhabit. The GM is in charge of making the game fun and also of keeping the players on track (though these two things are sometimes mutually exclusive).

An adventure is a single story that the players play through. It could be a one-shot, which means that the group won’t return to those characters or that setting again. Or it could form part of a larger campaign: a series of interconnected adventures with the same PCs. Many RPG creators publish adventures (in the form of short books or pdfs) for GMs to run using their games.

A system is a set of rules for an RPG. Some systems are used for just one game with just one setting, others like GURPS, Fate, Apocalypse Engine, Hero, or Savage Worlds (sometimes called Universal Role-Playing Systems), are designed to be adapted for use in many different RPGs.

A class is a particular type of character (e.g. a wizard or a thief) that has a proscribed set of abilities which they either start with and/or earn through the course of play.

Right then, let’s be off.

Game Geeks RPG

Game GeeksSo, I’m no YouTube historian and I’m probably wrong about this, but when it comes to RPG reviewers it seems to me that Game Geeks is the daddy of them all. These guys have been doing video reviews of RPGs for over ten years. They have a production team. With credits! (Some RPG reviewers seem to get by with just a camera, a mic and a can-do attitude.) At the time of writing they’re within a hairsbreadth of hitting 300 reviews. If you’ve not tried this sort of channel before then Game Geeks will keep you busy for the foreseeable future.

(Sure, there are channels on this list that have uploaded a lot more videos than Game Geeks has, but many of those videos aren’t actually reviews. They’re lore videos, idea videos and even, horror of horrors, videos that aren’t about tabletop RPGs at all!)

The show is hosted by Kurt Wiegel, a scientist and a grandmaster of gaming. Kurt’s philosophy is that he wants to promote RPGs as a hobby, so he almost exclusively reviews products that he likes or that he thinks are worthwhile. He still critiques games carefully and points out their flaws as well as their strengths, he just won’t waste your time with an RPG product that he doesn’t think is good for something.

His lone truly negative review is an infamous video about his many problems with the much-maligned D&D 4th Edition, which begins with a sonic-screwdriver attack, because reasons.

But, as I said, that still leaves a ton of games and gaming supplements to explore. Kurt admits to having a taste for the Fate system as well as the Savage Worlds system and his video-list certainly reflects that. There’s plenty of different games and settings available for both systems though, from steampunk superheroes and mystic hobos to airship crews battling to survive in a world that has exploded into a scattering of floating islands.

Call of Cthulhu Keep Rulebook (cover)Call of Cthulhu also gets plenty of love on this channel, with tons of adventure reviews. CoC is a popular and venerable RPG of cosmic horror and inevitable insanity based on the writings of H. P. Lovecraft.

D&D and Pathfinder (which is just another kind of D&D really) are also well served.

If you’re interested in the New World of Darkness (not so new anymore and now called Chronicles of Darkness) Kurt’s still got you covered. Chronicles of Darkness is a vast collection of inter-connected horror games where you get to play vampires, werewolves and other, much weirder, things.

Kurt has kids and GMs for them so any other role-players who’ve successfully reproduced and want to pass their habit onto their offspring will be able to find a couple of child-friendly RPGs amongst the Game Geeks back-catalogue.

And then there are the obscure, the random, the one-of-a-kind games that you might not even have suspected of existing. Kurt has reviewed, amongst others, a soap opera RPG, the Firefly RPG, something called Steampunk Musha, and Dread, a horror RPG that uses Jenga blocks instead of dice.

One of Kurt’s quirks as a GM is that he rarely uses a setting or game quite as the author intended. Expect to hear about how certain unrelated RPGs could be used to run a game set in, for example, the Farscape universe or the world of The Dresden Files. And it’s worth listening to these ideas. I was inspired by one of Kurt’s reviews to try out the steampunk superheroes game, The Kerberos Club; first adapting its setting to my own preferences and then converting it wholesale into a modern urban fantasy game which I’ve had a ton of fun GMing over the last year or so.

My only gripe with Game Geeks is that in recent times their release of videos has slowed to a crawl, we’re lucky to get a review a month from them. But with such a huge back-catalogue that really isn’t a problem for a new viewer. So get watching!

The Gentleman Gamer

A popular (by RPG reviewer standards) YouTuber who, like Kurt, prefers to focus on the positive aspects of the hobby. Which is why he gave himself the title of Gentleman.

The Gentleman Gamer (banner)

This is your guy for World of Darkness (both the original version and the newer Chronicles of Darkness), though he seems to have taken a step back from reviewing World of Darkness products at the moment. Perhaps because he now actually writes and works for Onyx Path, a company which creates books for White Wolf Publishing (who own the rights to Classic World of Darkness and Chronicles of Darkness). Which just goes to show how drenched he is in the wicked and bloody lore of those settings.

Onyx Pathcast (logo)The Gent in Question, as he also refers to himself, actually retired from YouTube at one point to focus on other aspects of his life. But he now seems to have unretired himself and currently posts videos about general RPG topics. Moving beyond YouTube, he’s just teamed up with two other Onyx Path line-developers to launch a podcast called Onyx Pathcast. As I’ve said before, the world of podcasts is almost entirely unexplored territory for me, so I have no idea how this podcast measures up to other RPG themed podcasts out there (I’m sure such things exist). But, I’ve listened to the first episode and enjoyed it. The conversation flows well and the three hosts are all personable. So, check it out if you have any interest in White Wolf or Onyx Path products, particularly Pugmire, Monarchies of Mau (a post-apocalyptic RPGs focusing on sentient dogs and sentient cats respectively), and the various World of Darkness lines. Also check it out if you’d like to get an insight into how the RPG industry works and how you might possibly start a career in it.

Even before his temporary retirement, The Gent in Question did more than just review products. He got inside the characters’ heads, often starting out reviews with a piece of narrated short-fiction that demonstrated some of the core themes of the product he was reviewing. He’s also done a ton of videos describing the various Vampire Clans and Bloodlines from both classic (some would say proper) World of Darkness and Chronicles of Darkness, and tends to talk in an in-universe style which is quite compelling, even eerie, at times.

Vampire The Requiem (cover)He actually went a step further and invented his own Clans (based in East Asia) and made videos about them. These include the Jiang-Shi with their spider-like patience, rictus grins and bursts of vicious speed; the spiritual Gaki who claim to have mastered the Beast within; the lordly Guo-Long, or Dragon-Kings, that were once thought lost, but rose again in the blink of an eye when the Nagaraja usurped their name; and others even stranger and more disturbing. These Clan videos were so interesting and original that quite a few viewers *looks at the floor* thought they were real White Wolf creations and were quite disappointed to discover that there weren’t any official rule books or supplements for them. *cries quietly in a corner* Coincidentally, I have sworn a terrible blood-oath to never run a classic World of Darkness game without adding these Clans in somehow.

There is more to the Gentleman Gamer than vampires however. He’s also done videos on Werewolf: The Apocalypse!

But seriously, the Gent in Question has reviewed a number of RPGs including the more obscure World of Darkness supplements and a wide variety of games that have nothing to do with White Wolf at all such as Anima, (anime/manga style fantasy), Carnage Among the Stars, Forsooth! (a Shakespearean game), All For One: Regime Diabolique (Musketeers), and more. He’s also done an interesting series of videos about how the original Bioshock computer game could be made into a tabletop RPG.

Planescape Map by zen79Like most role-players the Gent in Question has done his time with D&D and he has a soft spot for the old Planescape setting. Much like his Clan videos, he has a playlist dedicated to the many weird and wonderful Factions of Planescape.

This channel will appear again when I get round to finishing my massive roundup of tabletop RPG Let’s Plays.

Overall, I would say that the Gent in Question is a great entertainer and well worth checking out, particularly if you fancy a deep dive into the lore of the World/s of Darkness. Even if you’re not planning to play or run any of the games he discusses you’ll probably still enjoy hearing about them from this most genteel of YouTubers.

tetsubo57

Tetsubo57tetsubo doesn’t actually do a ton of RPG reviews. But he does do plenty of videos where he muses on particular ideas which are of interest to role-players and really any fan of SFF content. For example, he’s talked about a fantasy setting where every race descends from a common ancestor, imagined post-apocalyptic pixies, deconstructed the D&D assassin class, and shared thoughts on a setting with a massive trans-continental subterranean railway system. Plenty of food for thought if you have the time. He will also call out games that he thinks are bad from time to time (if you were ever hurt by D&D 4th Edition then know that tetsubo shares your pain).

tetsubo’s channel occupies an interesting space on YouTube because he bridges the gap between the RPG YouTubers and the YouTubers who focus on weapons and warfare (yes, those guys will be the subject of a future article). He’s friends with Skallagrim and is on at least conversational terms with The Gentleman Gamer.

Fans of post-apocalyptic or modern horror settings will likely enjoy tetsubo’s crafting videos, including such highlights as a Fallout 4 chained bat, a hand-weight warhammer, a stop sign buckler, and a skate-blade axe. (He’s made a cat-door as well.) He also reviews an eclectic collection of books.

Alongside his more entertainment-oriented videos tetsubo often does short videos where he talks with great passion about current social and political issues or events affecting his homeland of the USA. I would describe his views as liberal, left-wing and progressive, which is great in my book; your mileage may vary.

Also, he has at least one cat, which proves that he’s good people. So, give his channel a try!

Questing Beast

Questing Beast (logo)Questing Beast is a mighty champion of so-called Old-School Renaissance (OSR) games. He’s even made his own: Maze Rats. Of all the reviewers I’ve encountered I’d say that he’s the best at coherently explaining what the OSR is all about and why particular OSR products are worth trying out.

But let me have a go on his behalf.

When role-players talk about old school games they tend to mean RPGs that are similar to the earliest editions of Dungeons and Dragons, as well as its peers like Tunnels and Trolls. You could argue for other venerable systems like RuneQuest, Advanced Fighting Fantasy and early versions of the Warhammer Fantasy RPG too, but early D&D is the big one. The defining traits of old school RPGs are that they are very lethal (to characters, not players) and have relatively simple rules. They also tend to be quite gonzo and random and have weird quirks, such as giving starting level magic-users just one spell, which they can cast once per adventure, or making dwarves a class instead of a race. So, you could play a human wizard or a human thief but if you want to play a dwarf then that’s all you are: a dwarf. They tend to focus on dungeon-crawling (a.k.a. fighting your way through an unfeasibly large and curiously well populated underground complex in search of riches, glory and power while simultaneously avoiding an implausible array of vicious traps). Adventures don’t actually have to be set in dungeons but they do have to be very dangerous to the unwary or unprepared. It’s actually quite common for player characters in these games to employ a couple of minions each (usually known as hirelings) just to soak up damage, spot traps by falling into them and wear the monsters down with sheer weight of numbers.

Dungeons and Dragons Red BoxRPGs have come a long way since the early versions of D&D, but not everyone likes the various directions they’ve taken. OSR games are modern RPGs that try to mimic (or downright copy) old school games. The appeal is, to be honest, a bit lost on me. I like my characters to be special snowflakes, not disposable dungeon-fodder. And having to work out puzzles or avoid traps during my leisure time makes my poor little artistic brain hurt.

Furthermore, one of the most successful OSR games at the moment (though by no means the only one) is a system called Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which places a strong emphasis on horror and has something of a reputation for pushing the boundaries of good taste. Lots of people love LotFP so you should really decide for yourself whether its reputation is deserved or not. My mind is already made up. There was some artwork in the main rule book showing naked human women giving birth to full-size dragons which, frankly, put me off the game, permanently.

However.

Something about the spirit of the OSR seems to inspire RPG creators to come up with incredibly weird and wonderful concepts for adventures and settings. And Questing Beast has a talent for finding some of the most interesting adventures and games in this category. Let me fire out three examples for you.

Broodmother Sky-Fortress, which is about a wandering sky-castle populated by man-shark-giants.

A Red and Pleasant Land, which describes a gothic Alice in Wonderland style world populated by card themed vampires.

Fire on the Velvet Horizon (cover)And last but not least – Fire on the Velvet Horizon, which I’m just going to let you look up for yourself, because every fan of fantasy or RPGs deserves to learn about that rare treasure of a book first-hand.

Questing Beast is also a big proponent of simple and elegant rule-sets, which could be helpful to anyone trying to get started in the hobby without having to memorise an encyclopedia’s worth of rules.

Questing Beast is enthusiastic and persuasive, to the point that I’ve considered buying some of the products he’s reviewed even though I will never (never, never, never) run any OSR games. Actually, I did buy Fire on the Velvet Horizon, but since that’s a system-less book it doesn’t really need to be classified as OSR, which means that morally I still win.

So, if you think your bank account can take it then check this guy out.

He does map drawing as well, which is nice.

Seth Skorkowsky

Seth SkorkowskyYou want to GM Call of Cthulhu? Or Pulp Cthulhu? (CoC’s more action-oriented cousin.) Or Delta Green? (A game with a modern day Lovecraftian setting where you play government agents.) This is the channel you need.

Seth has reviewed a few different games, gaming products and old D&D modules. But his speciality is examining adventures published for Call of Cthulhu and its relatives. Most reviewers are wary of spoilers and prefer not to go into too much detail about the plot of the adventures they’re reviewing. Seth has no such qualms. Near the beginning of his adventure reviews he’ll suggest that any players viewing the video close it down and direct their GMs toward the review instead. After that the gloves are off and the dirt gets dished. Seth lays out the whole story for you and will often relate his experiences of running the adventure.

He even has a gimmick: a non-player character (NPC) called Jack, who looks distinctly like Seth wearing a hat and shot in black and white, and offers a player’s perspective on the adventure, in between Seth’s segments.

Pulp Cthulhu (cover)Seth talks about and critiques every aspect of an adventure, from the quality of the artwork, to the fairness (or lack thereof) of monster encounters, how easy it was to run and how much interest the plot generated in his players. He also goes a step further and offers practical advice on everything from creating awesome player handouts and fixing combat encounters, to increasing tension and filling in plot-holes.

And if you’re wondering why you should listen to this guy who talks on YouTube about how to run an adventure over the original creator of the adventure itself? Well, Seth himself is a published SFF author with several novels and a mountain of short-stories to his name. So, you can bet that he’s picked up a thing or two about plot and pacing by this point.

In addition to all the adventure reviews/advice sessions, Seth is currently doing a series of videos about the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game in general. He calls it a review/overview. If you’re new to running Cthulhu Mythos games, you need to watch this channel.

If you’re an experienced Cthulhu GM and just want some new ideas, you need to watch this channel.

If you’ve ever run a published adventure for Call of Cthulhu and been annoyed by its flaws, you need to watch this channel.

If you’re thinking of writing cosmic horror or pulp SFF then you could do worse than to watch a few of Seth’s videos as well.

Bud’s RPG Review

Bud's RPG ReviewThis is a relatively new channel with a bit of a gimmick in the presentation. Instead of talking face-on to the camera, Bud focuses the camera on the book he’s reviewing and all we see of him are his hands.

And that’s fine. Because, and there’s really no other way to say this: Bud has one of the most comforting voices I’ve ever heard. Listening to him is like curling up on the sofa under your favourite blanket and drinking a hot-toddy. Seriously, next time I get sick I’m going to make my nearest and dearest play this channel to me on repeat in between helpings of chicken soup.

But anyway, RPGs!

If RuneQuest is your jam then Bud is your man. RuneQuest is an old RPG with extensive rules and a pretty unique setting. He’s done quite a few Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green reviews and a handful of Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing reviews too. Dungeons and Dragons also features here and there, including a review of the Dark Sun setting (a pulpy, post-apocalyptic, grimdark fantasy setting). Finally, a couple of indie games have had the Bud treatment, the most interesting of which is The Midderlands: an RPG set in a small but very strange version of the English Midlands. Think rural England if it had had a dose of the Winds of Chaos.

Bud's RPG Review - The Midderlands (cover)Despite his gentle tones Bud has high standards for RPG products and it takes something very professional and well put together to receive a high score from him. Even adventures that he seems to have enjoyed quite a bit might only score a 6 or a 7 out of 10. He only reviews printed books so he will talk about the quality, layout and price of the book itself, in addition to the contents.

This is currently a relatively small and undiscovered channel so I’d really like to encourage people to go and subscribe to it and share Bud’s videos. Maybe even consider subscribing to his Patreon. (Though, of course, I’d encourage you to watch, like and subscribe to all of these channels if you have the time.)

Talking About Games

The Ghastly Affair

I’d have to say that Talking About Games is my go-to RPG channel at the moment. Because he uploads fairly frequently and he reviews a huge variety of games; some of the things he’s managed to track down are truly obscure and intriguing. If, like me, you’re always looking for a new setting or game ideas then this channel, alongside Game Geeks, is absolutely essential viewing.

There are games reviewed on this channel that no one else on this entire list seems to have even heard of. I’m not going to list every awesome game that this channel has reviewed but I am going to talk about a few just to give you an idea.

The Ghastly Affair
A free (in PDF anyway) RPG based on classic gothic horror novels. Featuring classes like grave robber, libertine and true innocent (a class that has to roll to avoid fainting whenever something horrible happens, which is a great laugh to play). GA lets you dice with Death, dance with the Devil, solve murder-mysteries in crumbling castles or flee your brooding lover across the moors.

Oubliette (cover)Oubliette
A very original, vast and immensely mysterious fantasy setting in which the souls of the dead from countless worlds and times awaken in immortal (i.e. eternally resurrecting) bodies and must search for meaning in an alien land. Don’t worry, your character may not be able to die but they can go permanently and monstrously insane! And there are tons of original monsters and factions to contend with. Think Dark Souls meets Planescape at a party being thrown by Strahd from Castle Ravenloft.

Vexille
A fantasy RPG with 40 different playable races, including the Ettin – a two-headed giant that is controlled by two players, one playing each head. Enough said really.

While he’s not exclusively into those kinds of RPGs, the host of this channel is definitely a fan of Old-School Renaissance games (though not, perhaps, to the extent that Questing Beast is). To me, the highlight of this channel’s OSR reviews is the trio of adventure settings which began with Fever Dreaming Marlinko, a setting that can best be described as Slavic acid-punk fantasy. This is a world of robo-dwarves, were-sharks, religious ghouls, evil science fantasy elves and sentient bears with an addiction to pole-arms. Questing Beast reviewed them too so it might be worth checking out both sets of reviews, just to get a better idea of how crazy this world is.

Fever Dreaming Marlinko (cover)The host usually reviews PDFs and always makes practical points about the quality and layout of the products he reviews (e.g. whether they have hyperlinks or a useful contents page).

My one criticism of this reviewer is that he sometimes speaks a bit quietly, but this isn’t anything that a good sound-system or headphones can’t solve

As well as reviews the host has done a few other RPG videos such as an exploration of real world myths that could be translated into interesting monsters for an RPG session. Another video explores the character of Conan the Barbarian (with, perhaps, a more forgiving attitude to the problematic elements of the character than I would have brought to such a discussion). Wargaming occasionally crops up on this channel too.

In summary, not enough people have heard of this awesome channel so please give it some love.

Red Dice Diaries

Red Dice DiariesI’ve got to say that, of all the channels on this list, this one has the best name. Hats off to the host for that one. And well done to him for his format, which is well structured and often involves him going through an RPG book chapter by chapter.

The host, who comes across as quite serious and thoughtful, makes no secret of the fact that Fate (specifically Fate Accelerated and Fate Core) is his favourite RPG system. He’s done a number of videos about that system and recently has even borrowed its scoring system to use as a method of rating the RPG products he reviews. He’s found some very cool and original Fate games to review, including but not limited to JadePunk and Leaves of Chiaroscuro. Fate is a great system but it can take a while to get your head around it so I’d recommend the Red Dice Diaries just on the strength of his How to Fate videos.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess (cover)But Fate is far from the only string to his bow. He’s a fan of Dungeon World (a narrative/rules-light game which sort of simulates the experience of D&D). He’s far more forgiving of Lamentations of the Flame Princess than I am (if my comments on the game put you off then check out his review of it, he might change your mind). And he’s reviewed a number of other interesting games such as Tremulus, Mummy: The Curse and Shattered Moon. Again, there are reviews on this channel which I’ve not found anywhere else, which in my eyes is enough to make it worth subscribing to. The host is very self-aware and will often make it clear when one of his criticisms is down to personal preference rather than poor design or writing on the creator’s part. He also critiques the layout, writing quality and general usefulness of the products he reviews.

This channel also features some general rambles about particular RPG topics and a series of videos called RPG Bugbears, in which the host talks about some of the aspects of the hobby that annoy him.

This is another channel which will feature heavily when I talk about RPG Let’s Plays. For now, it’s definitely worth a look for the reviews and RPG musings alone.

woodwwad

woodwwadHosted by the self-styled “Your Main Man Ander Wood”, this channel is a mix of Let’s Plays, RPG musings and the occasional review.

By his own lights, Ander’s channel is about White Wolf, D&D, Pathfinder, Vampire: The Masquerade, Mage: The Ascension, AD&D, and Within the Ring of Fire.

Ander is actually the creator of Within the Ring of Fire (not to be confused with The Burning Wheel, a totally separate game), which is described as an, “immersive dark fantasy” that allows players to explore “passions and politics”. So, if you like the game or want to know more about it then go have a look at this channel.

But there are plenty of ideas and thoughts on other RPGs to pick through here. Like The Gentleman Gamer, Ander has talked a lot about specific clans and factions in Vampire: The Masquerade. He has quite a different take on the game so fans will want to check his videos out too.

Vampire The Masquerade (cover)

While the Gent in Question tries to pick out reasons to play each of the thirteen major clans in Masquerade, Ander ranks them from one to thirteen, and the Clan which he ranks thirteen gets absolutely trashed in his review. Other highlights of his channel include an explanation of why you shouldn’t call your elf character Moonbow, a video about putting the myth back into your monsters and a video about how to deal with evil player characters in RPGs.

I will note that Ander has a rather unique style as a YouTuber. He speaks in a very dramatic fashion, somewhat reminiscent of an old-timey US preacher bringing you the good word, or a wrestling commentator hyping up a crowd. Often, he waxes poetical, sometimes he rages. Shy, retiring, English types such as myself can find this style a little hard to cope with at times. But there’s plenty to interest you here if you’re a fan of RPGs, horror or fantasy.

While Ander hasn’t posted any videos about retiring from YouTube; his channel has been quiet for about six months at the time of writing, hopefully everything is going well with him and we’ll hear his wild voice again soon.

Nerdarchy

What’s this channel about?

D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D, D&D.

Also, Pathfinder.

Nerdarchy (banner)

Cards (or dice) on the table, Dungeons and Dragons isn’t my RPG of choice. But it remains extremely popular within the hobby and is often the first game that new players experience. So, if you want advice on playing, running, modifying or even writing D&D (and related games), then this channel is an excellent resource. There are multiple presenters and they turn out a couple of videos a week, way more than most of the solo artists on this list can manage. [Edit: I said they did a couple of videos a week. Actually, last I checked they did a couple of videos a DAY. Which, for an RPG channel, is just awesome.] Currently they’re at more than a thousand videos and counting.

Pathfinder Core Rulebook (cover)I don’t have space here to even pick out the highlights of this channel so I’ll talk in generalities. They give you advice on creating characters (PC and NPC). They dissect and discuss character classes, including ideas for particular character builds and examinations of newly released options such as new Pathfinder Archetypes. They talk about specific monsters, how to use them and what other monsters to pair them with. They give very detailed and specific advice on creating and running campaigns. They discuss themes, from airships to werefrogs. They make up their own races, classes and worlds.

(And, okay yes, they have been known to talk about games that don’t require the use of a twenty sided die.)

D&D enthusiasts or budding Dungeon Masters (DMs) (that’s the D&D term for Game Master, it doesn’t mean anything naughty) could find themselves losing a whole lot of time to this channel. You have been warned.

Tanner Bivens

Crit or Miss (logo)Tanner Bivens presents a show called Crit or Miss, in which he reviews a number of different games, from the mainest of the mainstream to the most bizarrely unlikely games you never imagined existed. He does tend to err on the side of odd indie games though, which is why I like his stuff. Currently he hasn’t uploaded anywhere near as many reviews as channels like Talking About Games or Game Geeks, but he can give any YouTuber in the world a run for their money when it comes to digging up obscure RPGs.

He’s reviewed a weird comedy game called Kagegami High, which was designed to be a cross between Japanese school-girl slice-of-life anime and the oppressive weirdness of Welcome to Nightvale.

And Dogs in the Vineyard, which is about Mormon religious trouble-shooters in the rough and tumble USA of the 19th Century.

Also something called Santa is Dead, which, well, I’m just going to leave that title hanging.

Kagegami High (cover)Now, a lot of reviewers on this list like to stick to positive reviews, which is fine. But Tanner is committed to reviewing both games he loves and games he hates. If he thinks that a game is bad, he will tell you it’s bad and explain why, in detail. Which is not to say that he’s a troll or that he takes pleasure in verbally ripping apart other people’s creative works. I’ve seen him work hard to find good things to say about RPGs that clearly don’t appeal to him. So, if he does trash a game then he does it in a fairly reasoned and reasonable manner.

Ok, he does go on rants sometimes. He was absolutely savage about an RPG called Hot Chicks. But, honestly, in this day and age would you expect any reviewer to have anything good to say about an RPG called Hot Chicks?

Tanner also likes to throw in some simulated drama, such as pretending to have minor breakdowns while reviewing particularly troublesome RPGs and, in one case, having one of the people who help him make the videos ‘discover’ him – collapsed on the ground due to sheer boredom from having read an RPG with a very dull concept (to him anyway). He’s got an opening montage with attached theme-song too (RPG themed rap, no less).

Tanner is another YouTuber who devotes some time to subjects less important than RPGs or fantasy, in his case he reviews films with a friend.

This is another relatively undiscovered channel and it offers reviews of some equally undiscovered games, so why not give it a go?

RPG Brigade

RPG Brigade (logo)This is more of an honourable mention or a suggestion for further viewing because I don’t actually know a lot about this group. The RPG Brigade are YouTubers who work together to promote the hobby. They also do an online RPG Convention (formerly known as BrigadeCon, now called ConPlus), which raises money for charity. This year ConPlus is happening on the 3rd of November. The Gentleman Gamer is a member of the Brigade as is, I believe, Red Dice Diaries. I’m certain that there are other YouTubers listed in this article who belong to the Brigade or have interacted with them at some point.

After years of watching RPG reviews and Let’s Plays on YouTube I’ve heard about the RPG Brigade time and time again. So, although I’ve not watched anything from this channel, it seemed worth pointing out, if only so the determined RPG fan can have a look through the featured channels list (or the announcements on their Facebook page) and find even more RPG YouTubers than are listed in this article.

Did we miss your favorite YouTube RPG reviewer? Let us know in the comments!

Title image by Roo Bendlin.

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5 Comments

  1. Wow, thanks for the good vibes! Really glad you enjoy the channel.

  2. Elias says:

    Great call on Seth Skorkowsy, he’s a stand up guy, great to fans and even people who disagree with him; very professional.

    I strongly suggest you include Monarchs Factory! She is a great RPG video-maker, and she shares her design notes for running the game. I’m unsure if she’s done reviews per se yet, but I sincerely recommend keeping an eye on this up-and-coming Youtube RPG presence. Very entertaining discussions.

  3. Richard Marpole says:

    Slight correction on Nerdarchy. I said that they uploaded a couple of times a week. Actually, last time I checked they uploaded a couple of times a DAY. Which for an RPG channel is just awesome.

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