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Actual-Play series, which often take the form of podcasts or webseries, are recorded Tabletop RPG campaigns. An actual play series may focus on a long campaign or consist of a series of oneshots. Many long-running shows have completed multiple campaigns, sometimes branching out into different systems.

Impact on Tabletop Gaming

Actual play series saw a large increase in popularity in the mid to late 2010s and introduced many fans to tabletop gaming. Many RPG fans consider the phenomena to be responsible for the increased mainstream interest in what was once considered a niche hobby.[1] Much of this interest is focused around the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons, which is played on some of the most popular series.

While actual-play has introduced new fans to the hobby, some long time RPG fans worry it may give them unrealistic expectations for what a typical game is like. This often comes up in relation to Critical Role, a series with high production values played by professional voice actors. Some GMs have received criticism from new players for their game not being like the show, resulting in the creation of the term, "The Matthew Mercer Effect," after the DM of the series.[2]



  1. ^ Actual play RPG experiences like Critical Role, Adventure Zone are having a moment, by Charlie Hall on Polygon, Jul 9, 2018.
  2. ^ How do I beat the Matt Mercer effect?, by u/mister-builder on Reddit.