Podcasting Notes: Hero Points

Category: Hero Points Podcast
Last article published: June 23 2020
This is the 13th post under this label
Show: DC RPG - The Hero Points Podcast
Premise: A podcast dedicated to the various DC Comics role-playing games.
Available: Fire and Water Network, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher
Number of episodes to date: 12
The first was about... The original edition of the game, released on September 9th, 2013.

How it all began
More than the Fire and Water Podcast, the Who's Who Podcast is really the seed from which the Network was grown. It's around that show that a real community of listeners gathered, many of which started their own podcasts, myself included. But my first podcast wasn't my idea. Some time in 2013, The Irredeemable Shagg contacted me as a fellow DC Heroes RPG aficionado to do a show - not an episode, a SHOW - about that role-playing game. We'd collaborated on DCH-related stuff under the header "Mayfairstivus" once or twice on our respective blogs, but more importantly, he always planned to have his Who's Who Podcast cover the loose-leaf stat pages Mayfair Games put out as a (never-completed) companion to the loose-leaf Who's Who. That was years down the road, but he knew his co-host Rob Kelly didn't have a role-playing background, so he wanted to insure he had a guest for what will likely still be in 2021 or 22 at this rate.

There wasn't a Network then, and were we to start this show NOW, we would definitely put the shows on the FW Presents feed. Even back then, it was never something we could commit to on a regular enough basis to have its own dedicated feed with shows that were weekly or monthly. In fact, since we've since become Network partners, there would have been no reason for a show meant to keep me close so I'd be available to talk about the DCH Who's Who at all. But we were kids then, and knew nothing. The show, as designed, would look at DC Heroes principally, but could also cover other DC Comics-inspired role-playing games. Still, we imagined it as a product-of-the-[time period], looking at rule sets, sourcebooks and adventure modules, time permitting.

The Process
It started off pretty well. After we covered the 1st edition rules and gave the show its kick-off, we followed up with our favorite sourcebook The Atlas of the DC Universe, with a special interview with its writer, comics pro Paul Kupperberg. But then it took a year and a half before we could get together to do another episode. Oops! We sort of made it an annual event even as our other podcasting projects took off and became our priorities. In 2017, we teamed up with our good friends Dr. G and David Gallaher to debate the merits of the DCH system versus that of their favorite game, Marvel Super-Heroes, and that generated a lot of interest so I became adamant that we produce more episodes a year (three seemed reasonable). But here's the thing. Reading a whole sourcebook takes a lot of time, time we didn't necessarily have, but that Shagg certainly DID NOT have given his work and family schedule. So I started doing little side shows alone or with other people, and concentrated on shorter works (modules) with Shagg. The next year, I was starting to think in terms of formats other than review shows, like GMing advice, comparisons between comic book characters and their game stats with experts on those characters, and real play experiences.


As soon as the first episode came out, we started promoting on role-playing sites, DC Heroes Facebook and Writeups.org (a long-running DCH mailing list) and got some interest there, though really not as much as I would have hoped. If the new audience there listened, they weren't really the type to leave comments, and I've always felt like the audience for Hero Points was practically the same as for the other shows - the best compliment from that quarter being that even if they didn't know anything about RPGs, it was still a fun listen. That was certainly the idea when we decided early on not to get mired in game mechanics, but look at them more from a reading and 40,000-foot level gaming point of view. When it became clear we wouldn't be doing many of these, complaints turned to jokes about "delays", until eventually Shagg started referring to its as "my" show not "our" show - maybe he wished he'd never started it, I don't know, or maybe it's just an honest reaction to my taking over the producership (the point at which I started to do the editing and pushing HP out on Tuesdays).

Recently, we did get back together for a live role-playing game session, something we've had in mind since almost the beginning and probably the most requested episode of ANY of my shows over the past 7 years. Reception was enthusiastic and now all people can think to ask about is when we'll do another. And can they be on it? Calm down, grasshoppers. It's a lot of work.

The Future

Despite promises to myself, only one episode came out in 2020 and looking at my fall schedule, I don't know where I can squeeze another (much less two). There are things in the planning stages. A couple of Character Profiles have been discussed, one of which might be part of the Sunday Fire and Water show (so this is likely), and the success of the live RPG session has me thinking of doing one of the solo adventures as a podcast. Crazy thing is, the DCH Who's Who episode will likely be a Who's Who episode, not a Hero Points, so looking further ahead, I can't even promise that for HP.

I do often have a hunkering to talk about role-playing games. I have a role-playing game podcast, but its scope is limited. I've played a lot of DCH (and some DC Adventures), and I like the game a lot, but I'm not currently playing it, nor do I have any real wish to. I'm burnt out on superhero RPGs. I once suggested the idea that we diversify the show so we can talk about other games, maybe as long as they have a "Hero Point" mechanic (and many do, whether they are called Cinematic Points, Bennies, Brownie Points, or what have you), but Shagg wouldn't go for it. Maybe he's right that the people subscribing to the world's most irregular show are DCH heads and it would be jarring to change tack midstream. And I can't exactly promise opening Hero Points up like that would energize me into making more. I'm already doing as many shows as I can physically upload.

Will we finally let it podfade, I wonder...?


The Irredeemable Shag said...

A real walk down memory lane!! You could also mention the show’s original plan was to cover all DC related RPGs, but eventually shrank to mostly Mayfair’s system due to that systems popularity and the infrequency of episodes.

I really had such lofty ambitions for this show. It’s truly the advance prep work that is the challenge for me. Digesting a 100+ page sourcebook so we can talk about the minutia doesn’t leave much time for other podcast preps. And that fact makes me sad since I love this show and concept.

I adore what you did with the Character Profile shows!! And started calling it your show as a sign of respect, since you had become the torchbearer.

Perhaps we release The Who’s Who Mayfair show on both feeds (Who’s Who and Hero Points). I considered that for our Justice League International sourcebook episode.

Personally I’d like to keep Hero Points alive with more features like the Character Profiles, and maybe even dip into West End Games (the JSA Sourcebook is amazing) and Green Ronin.

And for other RPG adventures, perhaps a branded RPG show on FWPresents would fill that need, and alleviate the burden of feeding a separate show feed.

Thanks again for the happy walk down memory lane!! Let’s Roll!!

The Irredeemable Shag said...

Oh yeah, don’t forget this podcast inspired the DC ALL STAR GAMES show in DC Universe!! Making it rain!!

Siskoid said...

We can release something on two feeds? (I guess it would show up twice on the FW page.)

I did the Green Ronin show, so ball's in your court with the WEG system. I never played it but would love to hear about it.

As for other RPG shows, I know all the loopholes. I did an RPG-centric Find Your Joy and there's a Gimme That Star Trek about the Trek RPGs. At the time, I was just trying to ensure content for HP.

To those who have written me since this morning, I want to say that there's more coming despite the sad face question at the end.

Pointless Ephemera said...

The show inspired me to get a copy of DC Heroes and (after several years’ procrastinating) run a campaign, which our group has just finished. We all really enjoyed it, so, at the very least, the podcast has been beneficial for me and my friends.

Siskoid said...

That's amazing!


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