Audio Dungeon Interview
Published on June 30, 2020
About Audio Dungeon
Audio Dungeon, helmed by 7 crew members, is a Dungeons & Dragons, gaming, and comedy podcast. The show features an ongoing campaign set in the fantasy world of Andaria. Audio Dungeon’s weekly quest follows six everyday citizens trying to stop the coming of a second celestial war.
The crew also has segments where they play unique and fun improv D&D minigames such as Escape the Dungeon, where one member of the crew will try their hand at escaping a difficult D&D style scenario. They are armed with one mundane item and a bag of holding, in which the other members of the cast place both good and bad items the player can gamble (with a roll) to obtain. The other minigame is Riddles in the Dark, where the crew tries to solve a puzzling D&D style riddle offered by the Riddle Master. The catch? They can only ask yes or no questions while trying to find the solution.
We had the chance to sit down with The Audio Dungeon’s founder and DM, Tony Hansen. Read more below for tips on running a long term D&D podcast, building homebrew worlds, and creating awesome ambiance and set pieces for your own D&D table!
Tell us about Audio Dungeon. How did it start?
Audio Dungeon started in May 2018. We finished building our studio room in December of the same year and started filming immediately!
The group came together with the idea of creating a large Dungeons & Dragons production filmed out of my business Fenix Studios to utilize technology in conjunction with the classic paper and pen play.
Everything we incorporated into our studio room was based around, “wouldn’t it be cool if….?”. We are so passionate about what we do and really wanted to see how far we could take it.
Finding a D&D party is hard, but finding a D&D party with 6 enthusiastic players is even harder! How did you all meet?
Both Rob and I have been friends since grade school. Rob was one of the first people that actually started playing my campaign 30 years ago and has a 75th level Cleric in the campaign still!
I had met Vinny through a mutual friend in high school at a Magic the Gathering tournament. Brooke had gone to high school with Vinny and married one of our closest friends.
Tom and Dan I had met in college also through some mutual friends AND FINALLY Scro I met while teaching music at a local music school in college!
There are even more of us who play and have been friends for a very long time. I’m sure you’ll see them pop in whenever they can!
The Celestial War has been the setting for the campaign for 3 seasons of your campaign now. What advice would you have for new DMs who are looking to create their own homebrew world?
Everyone needs to start somewhere. Don’t be afraid to borrow ideas from books or shows.
When I started this campaign 30 years ago it was originally based around the D&D setting Dragonlance. After a time when I had more confidence, I moved into my own world, eventually creating what would become Audio Dungeon.
Over the years I’ve created new races, new cities, even new timelines (the Wish spell can be really evil). Be creative, let your imagination take control, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. DMing is certainly a wonderful storytelling art form and you won’t get better without just diving in.
Were there any times you were stumped by your players? How did you react?
All the time! That’s one of the things I love the most about D&D, just about anything can happen at any given point. I’ve actually grown to count on it and consider it the last leg of the story writing.
What’s a story without a surprise twist!
Audio Dungeon has to have one of the best D&D setups out there. Has it been hard to keep the energy flowing when moving from a top-class in-person setup to online?
Well, when the pandemic hit it was rough initially.
We weren’t sure if we would continue through the crisis or go on hiatus until it was safe to return to the studio. We have always strived to bring the best quality possible to our stream and were worried that filming from home would turn off the fans.
We initially decided we would try it for a week or two to see if it would still work and, to our surprise, the fans wanted more. I will say this though; there definitely is a huge difference when interacting in-person versus online.
While doing research, I stumbled across a post I had upvoted on Reddit 6 months ago showcasing your new table. Can you tell us about this project that is the envy of over 15,000 Redditors?
Man, that table took us almost 6 months to build. We went through about 5 different iterations of it before we settled on what we have today.
One of the first builds we designed was going to be all woodworking. We even went to timber yards and tried to center cuts milled to our specifications for it! We ended up thinking that it needed to be more “Dungeon-esque” so we went with stonework.
We are really proud of how it came out!
Do you allow Homebrew classes or subclasses in your campaigns? If so, do you have any favorites?
The entire crew is playing homebrew characters. Right from the start, we decided we wanted to use a modified version of 5e.
We wanted something that didn’t bog down the roleplaying action when we were streaming. Once we were up and running, we slowly started moving over to our own ruleset which we are currently using.
I created a new version of a Bard in our homebrew which I’m so happy with. It relies on the Bard learning songs and becoming more of a learning mimic and savant. The class allows for tremendous adaptability, which is perhaps what a Bard is at its very core.
In 5e, there are a couple different stages that campaigns follow based on the PC’s level. Do you prefer to DM early game (level 1 – 7), mid-game (level 8 – 15), or late game (level 16 – 20)?
I used to have a problem when I first started with higher-level campaigns and then I adjusted.
I think everyone gets used to lower campaigns quickly as they become more common, but if you think about it there are still plenty of ways to keep challenges up for crazy high epic level characters. You don’t always have to threaten them directly to keep it exciting.
Audio Dungeon has been rocking for over a year now, what does the next year have in store?
We have a lot in store for the next year of Audio Dungeon.
Currently, we are installing new immersive tech at the studio which will allow us to bring some of our NPCs to life on screen as we play so the fans can get the real feel for some of these characters. Also, we are busy upgrading and integrating our Twitch and Discord Channels with a custom made bot so that our fans have another layer of participation in our story and are even more capable of affecting the outcomes of events across Andaria!!!
Getting into DMing can be tough. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to try DMing for the first time?
Don’t be close-minded, DMing is a privilege and a trust given to you by those around you.
It’s okay if the story changes from what you first intended. Being a good DM is about taking your story, reading the moment, reading your players, and creating real characters and situations.
Most importantly, in the end, you can lead them just about any place with any obstacle you want, but the #1 thing to remember is, as long as your players are having fun you’re doing it right!
Thanks again to Tony for some behind the scenes information about the exciting things going on over at Audio Dungeon.
We hope you liked this interview! You can catch Audio Dungeon live on Wednesdays at 8:30 pm EST over at their Facebook Page and on twitch.tv/audiodungeon! You can also support them over at their Patreon and join their Discord channel.
If you have any questions or would like to see more interviews or news about upcoming products in the world of D&D, please post a comment below. If you like our content, subscribe to Arcane Eye!