Wherein I, To My Surprise, Recommend an Indie Streaming Service

When I had to radically lower my expenses recently, I terminated nearly all my streaming services. I kept one major one, but the other is smaller. It’s independent. And it’s been an absolute joy and relief for me during this recent period of turmoil and hardship.

And if you’d asked me a year ago if I’d be writing this, I’d have laughed at the idea.

The service is Dropout.tv – by the people who were CollegeHumor – and I’m going to tell you the two reasons why, and how you can watch some of what made me realize they are absolutely worth my money.

The first is Game Changer. It’s a light entertainment “game show” program – like Taskmaster, for example. Each episode the game is different and (usually) the contestants have no idea what they’re actually supposed to do. Sometimes that’s the fun bit, but because the contestants are comedians, once they figure out what’s going on, it can become transcendent.

When I happened across the “Sound Impression Challenge” on YouTube, I knew this was a show I was going to enjoy.

Game Changer is good – really good – but wasn’t quite enough for me to shell out money for a streaming service itself.

It was an actual play D&D show.

Which surprised the hell out of me.

I’ve tried watching a couple of actual play shows; the only one that came close to holding my interest was HarmonQuest, and those were short episodes, not two hour blocks of time.

But YouTube kept recommending the first episode of Dimension20’s Escape From the Bloodkeep, and I was aware that a lot of people spoke highly of Matt Mercer, so I gave it a shot.

I was hooked. The players – all of them – were amazing roleplayers, invested in these characters in a real way that made the story compelling. The battlefield sets were stunning. Even the combat – often the sloggiest part of D&D – moved quickly. The premise was interesting in its own right.

And to top it all off – there’s Brennan Lee Mulligan.

The video of him “Reciting the Declaration of Independence” on YouTube shows off both his craftmanship with word choice and pacing, and his amazing range of character and voice. Which is cool and funny and all that.

But this 90-second excerpt from an interview about D&D really just … nails it.

This.

This is why I play roleplaying games. The power of story. Brennan – and the other GMs from Dimension20 – all share this fundamental recognition of the power of communal storytelling.

And that is why I gladly gave them money, and why I’m introducing them to you today.

I’m still catching up on the back catalog, but I know there are new episodes coming out regularly, so I’m not going to run out any time soon.

Check out their videos on YouTube, and if you want more, head over to Dropout.tv. It’s only $5 a month, or $50 a year, and they often run discount codes.

Featured photo is part of the promotional materials for Escape From the Bloodkeep; obvs. used under fair use for review purposes.

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