by Melinda Lewis
By the title, somebody might confuse Party of One, as one person’s hot takes on Scott Wolf. But instead, the listener would find themselves engrossed in an Actual Play podcast. Each episode, host Jeff Stormer, plays a role playing game with a guest. Together they build a story, some funny, others horrifying. Jeff compares what he does in the podcast to “improvising a radio drama,” a back to basics, Mercury Radio-like radio tour de force that would make Orson Welles proud.
Started by Jeff and partner, Jen Frank, Party of One indulges in all things we love about playing. The strategies we employ, the potential worlds we create, and the pleasure in either succeeding or being usurped. And it almost stopped before it began: “In early 2015, a friend approached us with plans to start a podcast network. That network never panned out, but Party Of One was one of the ideas we pitched. It was entirely Jen's idea; she knew I'd been listening to a lot of Actual Play podcasts, and knew I had a ton of games I wanted to play, and combined the concept into essentially "play a different game every week learning new skills, making new friends, and building worlds.
Even for those who aren’t into gaming, or at least don’t think they are, role playing as an anchor might seem a bit isolating. Jeff and Jen, however, don’t consider the podcast about games, but rather about the stories they’re able to tell. Jeff plays embodies the roles he plays, inviting us into the stories through his vocal intonations and narrative processing. “You don’t need to be into games to being the experiences we share on the podcast.”
When asked to compare their game to a classic board game, they responded, with Guess, Who? where players have to guess a character chosen by the other player. Depending on how creative you get, things can get intricate real fast (a friend of mine and I once played using questions like “Who would throw a fit at a PTA meeting?” and “Who brings Twinkies to share for the office?”). But as Jeff and Jen contend, both “can be simple and innocent and charming, or you can get into weird subgames like Speculative Guess Who and Get real dramatic with it.
Jeff and Jen will be bringing the drama to Tattooed Mom, Saturday July 20, at 5:30 pm. They plan a more interactive affair, with a bit of silliness and some of Tattooed Mom’s vegan treats.