As with many things that were once seen as underground and “uncool” for anyone not in the nerd culture, Dungeons & Dragons has seemingly come out of nowhere to be a mainstream thing all of the sudden. I recall an episode of Community that heavily featured the game, as well as a recent episode of iZombie that lovingly poked fun at the venerable past-time. And let’s not forget Stranger Things, and its group of D&D heroes fighting a real-life monster. Gone are the days of the inane “Satanic Panic” outrage over the game and questionable films like Mazes and Monsters helping to stir the pot. Even Vin Deiesel had a movie made that was entirely based on his own personal D&D character – it’s weird time indeed. This was the perfect climate for something amazing to pop up on the internet.
For a lot of my friends, especially those into stand-up comedy, there was a different entry-point into the game – a podcast, formerly on Earwolf and now on Patreon, Called Nerd Poker. Starring stand-up comedian Brian Posehn, Nerd Poker was a great look at what many D&D games turn into – a DM frantically trying cling to order while a bunch of silly people make dumb characters and waste time instead of doing what was planned-out. What ensued was pure comedy gold most of the time, and it wasn’t a forced product like it could have been.
At the height of the show’s popularity, I even went as far as to donate some cash to Gerry Duggan at a local comic convention as well as a condolences card for his most notorious character, Sir Richard, who had died in a blaze of glory recently. We talked for well over a half hour about gaming, and was able to get a Nerd Poker related autograph in the binding of my Deadpool book.
Hearing my name in the following episode was amazing and really helped me feel like a part of a small community of fans that had sprung up. I started playing the game again with some buddies, and eventually bought a bunch of 5th edition books. While talking to Gerry Duggan I asked if they realized how important their show was to gaming as a whole, and he seemed surprised. I’m still not certain why the company that owns D&D never sponsored the show or anything, because Brain and Co. basically advertised their product better than they did themselves for years.
For the first 75 or so episodes – Nerd poker was one of my favorite things to help me pass time at my boring office job. Their DM, an internet personality named Sark, wove a tale of a rag-tag group of heroes battling an evil organization referred to as The Collectors that seemed to be “collecting” people from other worlds for some dire purpose. Sadly we never really got closure for this story, as a number of the cast members including Sark had to bail on the show at one point. Blaine Capatch took over as the DM and the show basically meandered for another 75 or so episodes until it’s untimely death about a year ago. Nobody’s really sure what went down, but it seems like Earwolf, the podcast network the show was on, screwed them over regarding a cancer benefit for one of the players. Everyone assumed the show was gone and buried until just a few months ago – Nerd Poker is BACK!
Now DM’d by Dan Telfer, most of the cast has returned for a creator-run version of the show with Patreon subscribers providing the funding. In return for donations, Brian and Co. have been releasing special episodes with guest stars and other fun bits. Now existing as a fan run product, there is a whole new charm to the show as things that would normally be insanely annoying such as Ken Daly accidentally eating pizza directly into his microphone somehow come off as hilarious. And when Vin Diesel ignored their not-so-serious requests to be in the show, they did one better by creating a version of him as a character in the game. It seems like the old magic is back, and part of my work routine that sadly was taken away has returned!
If you’re a lapsed fan, head on over to Patreon and throw some cash over there – if you’re like me, you want the show to last for a LOOOOONG time.
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This sounds like a cool project. I might have to check it out sometime. Has the fan-funding element changed the feel of the community at all, in your opinion?
My apologies for missing this comment somehow! Not at all actually, in fact the show has had it’s ups and downs that lead to its cancellation on Earwolf, and this is a true return to form, as its for the fans and not for a corporation.
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