Now Playing: The growling and yapping of my dogs...
Some time after I outted them, Rob needled me on the Fear The Boot forums. He asked something along the lines of: "When are you going to review BEAR SWARM, our RPG podcast? From time to time we step away from the table and talk about other topics but since we're all brought together by gaming its what we always fall back on."
I told Rob that I wanted to wait until they had some more episodes under their belts, which he thought was fair. At the time, they had only a handful out. Well... now the summer's almost over and Bear Swarm dropped their nineteenth episode this week. I guess it's safe to say they've found their groove.
The show very much follows in the trail blazed by Fear The Boot. There is a lot of FtB mentioned on the show and homage paid. In fact, the two shows guest hosted each other recently. Like FtB, the show follows the pattern of opening up with banter before plowing into the show's formal topic.
The 'Swarm kicks the show off with some kind of opening gag, some of which are darned funny. They've tickled me a couple of times. In fact, I find myself wanting to write bits for them. After the initial comedy, they roll into their intro music (also very enjoyable) and proceed with the banter. Whereas FtB's banter generally revolves around what current movie is out or a trip to "BJ's Liquo Store," Bear Swam starts the show with a round table update of what everyone's up to.
I hate this part of the show. I hate it because episode after episode you'll hear them say "I've not been up to much" or "God, I'm tired of editing the podcast" or "I'm watching Supernatural/Battlestar Galactica/Burn Notice" or even "I was too tired to work out this week."
None of this is stuff I want to hear.
Don't get me wrong. Some of the banter is interesting, even amusing. But the other stuff such as cited above - and there's a lot of it - is awfully hard on the ears. I understand that the intent is to draw you into the conversation and the relationship these fellows share. I just wish they'd edit the crap that doesn't progress the conversation forward.
Key difference between FtB and Bear Swarm is that Bear Swarm proudly displays its explicit rating. Lots of swearing on the show. FtB sometimes swims that edge of family friendliness while Bear Swarm is neck deep into the adult swim. Since I don't have kids, and listen to podcasts on headphones or in my car anyway, this is no big deal for me. Make no mistake, the 'Swarm is not safe for work.
Bear Swarm is that podcast rarity, a podcast with a real live sponsor, Meta Games Unlimited of Springfield, Mo. What surprises me about this is that the sponsor credit is usually delivered in throw-a-way fashion. I'm sure the folks at Meta Games must find this amusing. Otherwise, why would they continue their sponsorship? Still, I wonder at this.
Up to now, you might be thinking - wow, he doesn't like Bear Swarm. And if so, you'd be wrong.
I like the show rather a lot. I have a VERY low crap tolerance. Podcasts have a very short window of time to win my attention. I was captivated by the 'Swarm right off the bat. So yeah, I like the show. Enough to listen to all 19 episodes (to date) and to eagerly download episodes when they drop each week. The guys, each of them, have a unique perspective. They have provided some great insight. This week's episode actually did me a terrific service.
You can't listen to RPG podcasts these days without the hosts talking about Savage Worlds, Spirit of the Century, and/or Dogs in the Vineyard. I have some experience with both SOTC and Savage Worlds, but none at all with Dogs. I've been curious for a long time, but don't know anyone who's played it to ask questions. In episode 19, the Bear Boys provide a wonderful summary of what the game is all about and why it is unique. They sold me. I will be picking that thing up adding it to the ever growing heap of games I have yet to run.Bear Swarm is as regular as me on two table spoons of BeneFiber (or at Fear The Con with Tony's Fear The Froot - damn!). The 'Swarm drops an episode (suddenly I am aware of some unintentional imagery) every week. You gotta love that.
Bear Swarm is ranked in my top three RPG podcasts. The other two I will discuss later this week.