Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Save or Die! is Dead

DM Mike, DM Liz and DM Jim

Save or Die!, the pre-eminent OD&D and OSR podcast is dead.

A few days ago on Facebook, Dragonsfoot and the OD&D Discussion Proboards, the three current members of the podcast, Mike and Elizabeth Stewart and latter addition Jim Wampler, announced that they were "moving on." 

Shortly after, it was announced that the show would continue with a new cast, including for the moment, Vince Florio (an original member and long-time producer of the show), Glenn Hallstrom (another former member), James Spahn and Erik Tenkar.

With respect to Vince (who was largely responsible for the success of the show, both on-air and behind the scenes), Glenn (who nicely rounded out the other members for a few years) and well-known OSR industry people James and Erik, the show just won't be the same.

Founding members Mike and Liz were in my view the heart of the show, and the fact that the Save or Die! cast seemed like "family" to many listeners was partly because Mike and Liz were actual family - a married couple. But I think the show gelled even more when Jim joined the cast a few years ago.

I confess to being initially dismayed at how the thing seemed to go down. There was no mention of it on what would turn out to be the last episode of the old cast - #130 - and indeed, as on most episodes there was talk about various OSR things the "SODcasters" would cover in the future. The quick non-explanation and "thanks" at the beginning of episode #131 (with the new cast) almost sounded like the corporate speak of the new boss after the popular old boss was suddenly replaced.

But Mike, Liz and Jim have been very classy in their farewells. If there's any deep secret here, everyone seems comfortable not talking about it.

More likely, I assume it was a combination of "life-moves-on" things: Mike is a history professor as well as a free-lance games designer, Jim is now one of the primary figures at Goodman games and Liz is completing her studies in graphics design. She'll probably be making more money than any of them soon.

And of course, we must be careful as "fans" not to get into the position of feeling like one's podcast heroes owe us anything - like doing the same podcast for the rest of their lives. Obviously they don't.

It's time to let them set up their baronies.

So instead of any further gnashing, I want to just say thanks. The 130 episodes (plus a few mini-ones) were the gold-standard in gaming podcasts. They succeeded first and foremost because of the personalities of the members. There was a huge amount of good-will and "chemistry" between them, especially with the final cast. I know that sounds soppy, but there it is.

There was also a great amount of knowledgable commentary, reviews and interviews - both with original TSR people and new OSR authors. I won't recommend any episodes because I would have to list half of them.

If you're unfamiliar with the  show, flip through and find a topic or interview that grabs you. Or better, just start with #1.

Indeed, the six years of the show almost serve as a kind of audio-library for the history and analysis of OD&D (D&D using the original booklets and supplements) along with a chronicle of some of the most important personalities and happenings in the new OSR.

In the interests of full disclosure, the crew gave a nice review to my own game a few years ago. I admit that that review just about made my year. I wasn't expecting it. But I admit that if it had been a bad review, I might have been devastated.

Save or Die started just as I came back into the hobby, and I learned more from it than any written source. It was also inspiring. Listening to an intelligent conversation about the history or craft of game design from such diverse minds as, say, Tim Kask, Jennell Jaquays, Zak S or Jon Peterson helped to motivate me.

I should also mention here that Vince had one of the last (the last?) interviews with Jean Wells before her passing.

The show was also just flat-out hugely enjoyable and entertaining to listen to.

DM Mike, DM Liz and DM Jim will be missed. But I'm sure they will be successful in their future endeavors.

Save or Die! is dead. Long live Save or Die!

Thanks, again.  


  1. Oh my, I am going to really miss this old crew. I can't believe they've been at it for as long as they have. It was a great chemistry and I really respect all the wonderful work they have done over the years. Not just entertaining, but informative as all get out!

    That new cast though... actually some good folks on there.

  2. Yes, I tried the...relaunch?...episode this weekend, and it is not the same. That vital spark is dead.

    1. Well, comparing 130 to 131 is a bit unfair as you're comparing a team with several seasons winning championships with a newly assembled group.

  3. I knew they exist for many years, but just started a couple of months ago. What a blast! Than, i discovered that they were gone, and that was very sad. I started Save for Half, and have finished almost all of them, but i still wished for more "D&D" stuff

  4. I totally forgot 130 was there last. So I booted up my android phone and when what the? I really miss them doing a podcast together, the stories from Jim, the couple dynamic, and a womens perspective was really enjoyable. I haven't listened to anything tabletop RPG since they split and have tried. Even tried a few MTG ones and they dont sound or feel genuine as this trio. I listen tho to some fun shows like wrestling soup, the retro league, tht podcast, the laid back feeling of these is what I like. Good luck to the three of em, maybe a reunion show soon we can hope.