Hello, From The Magic Tavern (“HFTMT” or “the podcast” henceforth) is a weekly improvised comedy/rules-light fantasy roleplay podcast depending on how you look at it. Professionally produced and performed, it takes as its idea the notion that the lead presenter has fallen from Earth into a magical land (named Foon) where he sets up in the nearest tavern and conducts interviews with the world’s fantastical residents, assisted by his friends who are a talking badger and an especially ornately-named wizard.
From what I can tell guests are played by personal acquiantances, acting colleagues and fellow members of the Chicago Podcast Cooperative. Episodes are definitely enjoyable and comprehensible individually, with the premise glossed quickly at the start of every one, although beginning with Episode 1 is recommended by the podcasts’ site. That’s presumably because of the level of repetition which employs callbacks and running jokes that are funnier with proper context. A parallel mini-narrative does gradually develop in the intro/outros of each episode and adds to the enjoyment.
Styles of humour which you get from HFTMT and not so much in straighter roleplay/D&D playthrough podcasts are: occasional deliberate attempts to corpse or entangle each other; disingenuous naif-like references to pop culture which just happen to echo “Earth stuff”; enthusiastic butthole quantification.
Portal Fantasy has a terrible reputation, at least in its telvised/filmic forms where it used to be the standard way of forcing an artifical relatability onto a fantastical narrative, at the expense of a fully immersive secondary world (imagine for example if Luke Skywalker found Tatooine in the cupboard under the stairs). Here it’s a refreshing breath of air, further differentiating an improv-based podcast from the rules-conscious roleplay kind of which there are multitudes out there.
Whilst it’s the guests who differentiate the episodes by bringing something new to each one, they’re usually slightly crowded-out by/gracefully step aside for the benefit of the regulars. Unsurprisingly the best episodes are those where the guest seems to have acquired a familiarity with the show, clearly done some (but not too much) prep for their character and displays the chops to run with whatever the cast throw at/past them.
If you just want to dip your toe in then a non-exhaustive list of particularly good standalone episodes is:
- Ep.41 – Skeleton
- Ep.31 – Bridge Troll
- Ep.22 – Sarah
- Ep.14 – Music of Foon (the first appearance of musical duo Glenn Miller and Spants)
Other things worth knowing? Episodes are a bit longer than half an hour and the forays into easy vulgarity taper off after the first few episodes although the podcast remains firmly NSFW.
HFTMT is ongoing weekly at time of writing.