If you’ve never played D&D or are looking to DM but aren’t sure how, you should probably listen to actual play podcasts to help you fine tune your skills. Actual play is just that, recordings of groups of people playing D&D. The Wizard’s website is currently hosting a series of actual play podcasts they did leading up to the release of PHB2, using those new classes. Their DM, Chris Perkins, one of the lead 4th Ed. guys is a very good DM to listen to and take tips from. He’s confident at the table, fair, and IMHO has a pretty cool voice to boot. The group at play is funny and entertaining. This past week my comute to work has been entertaining, listening to this series.
Another good site is rpgmp3.com. Hal, the DM, runs a group of guys who can jump from talking about taco stands to boobies with hardly a segue. They are a bunch of funny guys. Hal’s british accent adds a bit of flair to the game, he does voices (his Splug kicks ass), and his recordings are always fun. I listened to the entire series of “Keep on the Shadowfell” recordings on his site before I ran that module for my guys and it was a tremendous resource. Plus, they have a crapload of recordings there. You’ll find enough material there to last you a few months.
Over at RPGPodcasts,they have several 4th ed. recordings for you to sample as well. I’m not very familiar with this particular site, so I can’t recommend anyone’s podcast, but by looking around I’m sure you’ll find something you like.
Some people aren’t to interested in listening to other people play D&D. That’s fine, I find it a good resource to get tips on DM’ing and other ideas for my game. If you are starting out, or have never played D&D, I recommend it.
Please read the comments below, as several posters have chimed in with other actual play podcasts links… Thanks guys and keep the links coming!