It's compare and contrast time again! Two more titans of the DnD liveplay scene, it's time to take a look at Dimension 20, run by Brennan Lee Mulligan, and Not Another D&D Podcast run most frequently by Brian Murphy. Lots to talk about, so let's get into it.
These two shows make for an interesting look because they are so heavily tied to one another through their casts. Brian Murphy and Emily Axford are both mainstays on the cast of both shows, and NADDPOD also features Zac Oyama in its third season, who is again another cast member of Dimension 20. Both shows feature some of the cast being experienced DnD players while introducing others to the game, and both shows lack nothing in the way of love for the game. However, that's where the similarities end.
Nope, False Alarm
Despite the College Humor crew having two separate DnD shows, the two never seem to step on each other's toes. The first and most obvious difference is that NADDPOD is a podcast which is only presented in the audio format, while Dimension 20 is a show presented on YouTube and College Humor's service Dropout TV. Second, Dimensions 20 has a consistently bigger cast, often playing with 6 or 8 players whereas NADDPOD usually only has three adventurers. These are the obvious and front of mind differences, but the party size is the more important of the two, and leads to a discussion of the real differences between Dimension 20 and NADDPOD.
Tone, style, themes and execution stand out in liveplay DnD shows beyond anything else. No two campaigns will ever play out the same way because players and DMs are different, everyone involved makes different decisions. For these two shows, the first decision is always about style and themes. Where Dimension 20 offers a wide variety of themes, from a campaign set in a world of candy to a high school for adventurers, NADDPOD plays off the idea of a group experiencing a world after a party of adventurers has supposedly saved it. It is here that these two excellent shows stand apart from one another. Where Dimension 20's carefully crafted themes and style means that players and viewers alike can make predictions and find patterns within Brennan Lee Mulligan's brilliant, deliberate storytelling, NADDPOD offers a big question mark that allows the listener to feel as though they are discovering and learning at the same rate as the players.
Production and Format
It's also worth noting that the formats of the two shows differ drastically, and one might work better for you than the other. In Dimension 20, the show tends to follow a rigorous schedule of roleplay for one episode and combat for the next. The cast still roleplays throughout combat, but there's generally fighting going on all the while. NADDPOD takes a different approach to fights, generally setting up enemies that the players can happen across, but rarely locking them in to fights that go as long or as formally structured as Dimension 20. The Dimension 20 formula allows Brennan Lee Mulligan to deliver items of interest and plot points exactly at the times when he needs to, but the freeform of NADDPOD often means the players get to stumble upon plot points and items in a more exploratory way.
To sum up, NADDPOD is a whimsical, fun show that leans into comedy, roleplay and the crazy decisions of a small group of adventurers. Dimension 20 is a large, impressive show with a well structured episode by episode format that executes brilliant stories and character arcs without losing touch with the roleplay and mechanics of the game. NADDPOD is a chaotic, personal show that highlights the wonderful adaptability of DnD, and how important character and curiosity are. Both are hilarious and heartwarming, accepting, and above all else a damn good time.