Gamemaster Tips

How to make an RPG Podcast

How to start your own Actual Play RPG Podcast

How to make an RPG Podcast

So you want to start an RPG actual play podcast? 

Great idea!! Rpg podcasts are really hot right now.  just think of the story your party can tell about evil wizards and warrior maidens !!! Podcast and RPGs are a lot of fun to make!! So what are you waiting for? This article will point out some things you can expect from this process. At the bottom of this article, I have a list of tips on being an RPG Podcast producer

Have a great concept for your podcast

Just like running a game of Dungeons and Dragons, A podcast takes a little bit of prep. Some Gamemasters plan out every single detail. Some fly by the seat of their pants. Or if you are like me its a little of both. Podcasting is very similar. I know more than one podcast where every word is scripted like a play or a movie. Others will be recorded chaos. whatever you decide to do you are going to need a great concept.

You are going to hear me say this a few times "Content is King" The stronger your content the more listeners you will keep. (Getting the listeners in a different story) Make sure your idea stands out. having the DM Run another Dungeon Crawl from that module from the 80s will only go so far (That and there may be copyright issues) Have a Unique idea that is all yours.

By the way, the whole "Getting Drunk and playing D&D has been done a lot so if you are going to go that route bring something more to the show than vodka 

Hosting your RPG Actual Play Podcast 

There are all kinds of hosting companies. You could code your own RSS feed but I found that paying a hosting company who specialises in podcasts works best. I am a fan of Libsyn. They are easy to use hand do a lot with your RSS feed that would take me forever to code myself. Oh and their customer service Rocks (They do not pay me I am just a happy customer) 

It takes time to edit the show  

Some people think we just hit record then publish. There is a ton of editing to do. I figure that my podcast takes 5 hours production for every hour of published content.(You can reduce that ratio by practice or good planning ) I highly recommend that you set aside some time to work a little bit every week. Personally, I'm up at 5 AM every day before work, doing something for the show.

How long should an RPG Actual Play Podcast Be? 

it's easy to have a game session take four to six hours in one session. However, your listener is not going to stay listening to that long. I have already done the research for you. My listeners want between 30 Min to an hour per episode. This means that a single game night we an get anywhere from two to three episodes. (We remove a lot of content) 

But do not take my word for it .. .ask your listeners to do a poll on twitter. 

You don't need an expensive microphone or software.

I know I know, you need to kit out your game studio like a 7th Level Palidin on a shopping spree. But don't fall for that.
I have been podcasting for a very long time. I know more than one podcaster that is all about the whiz-bang microphone and top end studio software, And yet their show is not any fun. It is better to have great content and crappy equipment than to have spent all the money so your crappy show is a very good sounding pile of shit.

Say it with me "Content is King/Queen"

The first season of Star-Fall was recorded on my phone. Yah that is right my phone. The sound quality is not horrible and its portable. Get your show going then work on upgrading.

Here is some Free/Cheap software to help with the editing

Garageband (OSX comes on every mac)
Audacity (Free and Cross-platform)
Ardour (Cross-Platform Pay what you want)

Pro-tip : Youtube has video lessions on all the software above. 

Rpg Podcast is not an overnight success

Unless you have a HUGE budget to advertise before you even publish forget about the concept of being an overnight success. Podcasting is not a sprint. Or a Jog or even a hike. it's more of a long journey where you are not sure where the castle is located. It's about the random encounters along the way and having fun. It's far too common for a podcaster to start up something and notice they only have 10 downloads for their first episode and give up. It takes time. As long as your notice your downloads slowly growing you are doing fine.

Copyright is not your friend unless you are the creator

So by now, you should know that you should not be playing your favourite music in the background when recording a game. There are a few other IP issues you should be aware of before you hit record. Such as much as your rules lawyer player wants to read the spellcasting rules for Shadowrun 4th Edition out loud to prove a point. Unless you want to talk to real lawyers with a real lawsuit DONT!! Edit that out!! The text in the rules are copyrighted and you should avoid it like a first level cleric avoids a Black Dragon.

Artwork.

As an artist, I get Real angry if someone uses my artwork without a pre-arranged contract or permission. This is not better to ask for forgiveness scenario. If you need artwork for your game look up public domain images and try your hand at photoshop or contact an artist to do it for you (Hint Hint)

Trademark.

Putting the famous logo of your favourite game on your website has some serious potential for lawsuits. It implies they are endorsing you when they are not. A company MUST defend their trademark like a dragon guards a hoard. They have no choice but to contact their lawyers to deliver the legal smackdown on you. They are not being evil its just the rules 

Useful Links 

Public Domain music

RPG Clip Art 

Hire an artist 

 

how to make money with a podcast

How to get paid for your RPG podcast

How do you like the idea of being paid to be a gamemaster? Being a gamemaster or running a podcast is hard work. Why should we not get paid? There are a few ways to get paid my Favorite is Patreon. This service allows your listeners to subscribe to your show. This has been very good for us as it keeps our show up and running, At the time of writing this we make double what it costs to make the show. The rest go for Pizza and beer for the cast (And computer upgrades) 

downloads wordmark white on coral 

RPG Podcasting Tips you are not going to find in any book.

have a backup recorder. RPGs are very impromptu if your mic dies for some reason you are never going to be able to have that moment again. Use your phone recorder as a backup recording device.

Get involved with the RPG podcasting community. Other podcasts are NOT your competition they are your allies. A show that does the same kind of show as you have listeners that would love your show. Reach out say Hi.. most are willing to help. That said ... help other podcasters!

Contribute don't Distribute.
If you are on twitter do more than post links to your show .. talk about RPGs as a whole. Get into conversations with other podcasters and RPG lovers about their games. if you must have a formula for this a good ratio is 10 RPG tweets for every one link to your show.

Record 5-10 Episodes before publishing
It's really hard to keep up with the publishing schedule. If you get behind you are going to lose listeners. We did not do this and I'm busting my ass even with an assistant editor (Who ROCKS BY THE WAY )to not fall behind. It's not uncommon to have an entire season ready to go before publishing.

You may have quiet fans
Just the other day I was thinking that nobody cared about my show when someone random at work told me they loved the show. So fans may not reach out to you.

Figure out if you are going to be Clean or Explicit and stick with it. Explicit has a limited range vs Clean. But clean is more work because you have to edit out the cursing or get everyone really good at not cursing in the first place.

The GM should not be the one controlling the recording equipment. This took me a while to get. WOW does it make a big difference to the game as a whole to let someone else control the microphone
. Now I can focus on being a good gamemaster and not a sound tech.

Fun anymore Rule If you re making no money whatsoever. but you are having fun!!! Then keep going. The moment this becomes a job stop. Your listeners can tell.  

Sex and consent at the RPG Table

I was sitting pacing back in forth like I do when I gamemaster. The new player stated he wanted his character class to be a space consort. A quick scan of the table told me this was a good idea. This was the moment I knew there was going to be an explicit tag on our show.

So let's start off with some background. Nobody at the game table is in any shape or form a prude. I myself have worked as a body painter in two different countries with clients involving strip clubs and Ummm err private parties. That said I’m very clear there are a time and place for sex and nudity. I am the first to say the Game Table most of the time is not the place.

I have been gamemastering for over 30 years. I can count the number of times where a sex scene was appropriate on one hand. I also have to say that not every one of those times went as smoothly as the one in the last episode of Star-Fall.

What could go wrong? It's just an RPG Game, right? 

These days there is a lot of debate about safe spaces and the game table. Some feel this is a place where the only rules should be in the book and you can say anything you want. A growing number of people (I am one of them) feel that the game table needs to be an inclusive and diverse place where everyone feels safe to be who they are. ( So long as it does not make another feel overtly uncomfortable….don’t be a sexist ass at the table please )

Sex is one of those topics that can go bad very quickly. It's not safe to assume that everyone at the table has the same tolerance for the topic of sex at the table. Myself it's contextual. 10 years ago when my daughter was young. Bringing up the topic of sex, rape or incest at the table even as dark humor was enough to call my wrath (assuming my wife did not slice you to pieces first). The point is that you need to be careful. Every joke is a possible social mistake that cannot be undone.

So how do you navigate this difficult topic without being labeled “That creepy guy”. Here are a few tips. (at the end I will tell you how that worked out in “Star-Fall” )

Get consent first!

You will be amazed at what you can get away with if you ask permission first. I know there are a few of you that are thinking “I don’t need to have consent do that … its silly” put down your AR-15 and listen. Its a simple thing by asking if its ok if “This next scene has sexual content … is everyone ok with that?” if nothing else you will gain the respect of everyone at the table for asking. If one person says no ... then NO ... this is not a vote. You push forward because one person said no and not only will you make that one person uncomfortable to the point that you could lose them as a player but anyone who sympathizes with them. I have seen games die because of this. So do the right thing and get consent. 

Is the Sex Scene really needed?

If you want to have the badge creepy guy of the year throw in something sexual in the middle of a dungeon crawl for no reason whatsoever. There needs to be context. In the last episode of Star-Fall, it was Eight episodes before the space prostitute actually had sex with someone. Why because it was not appropriate. Think do I really need to have a nude guard here? What value does it add to the story?

No value = No scene

 

Fade to black

We do not need to know the details. Keep the intense details for the writing of erotic fiction. Even James bond films fade to black. Going into details of a sex scene during a game is creepy. (We are assuming that this was not a game of Dungeons and Bondage). If you have consent from all the players before the game even starts (it's too late otherwise) avoid going into details at all cost. 

I have encountered games where two players were started to flirt with their characters as avatars. (That is fine) however, we wished they took their dice and got a room because nobody else wanted to hear about it. At the time we were too polite to mention it. Buy years later we are still teasing them about it. DO BE THEM! 

Triggers? Do the right thing and avoid these traps 

There are some topics that should be avoided. I happen to know that more than one of my players were sexually assaulted at a younger age. Rape & Molestation are off the table for any reason. To bring up those topics during the game is an instant reason to stop the game and maybe even kick a player out. So we avoid the topic altogether. Once again this is supposed to be a place where everyone is having fun. Opening up old wounds at the table is just a bad idea. Be a good human being and find out what triggers there might be.

Have fun ...as long as everyone is having fun

You should always be scanning the table to make sure that the joke about the hooker with four tits was not done to death. Just because something is funny now does not mean it's going to stay that way in ten minutes. I’m not saying don’t have fun but don’t be telling adult jokes at a daycare center.

The GM should never ask for a roll

First, it’s just bad gamemastering. It's Shoe stinging the players. (The act of requiring a roll for every simple thing like tying your shoes) . If you are going to have a sex in one of your games the players should ALWAYS Be in control of their character. Even if there is a reason why they should not. (Ask the player in advance if needed … such as spells or mind control drugs… Hey there is a scene where your character might be under the influence of ____ and it will have your character do sexual things … is that ok? ) The moment a player feels like they cannot control their own character even with the most innocent of things you may lose them as a player. Don’t even think of trying this with sexual content.

Check-in and Say something 

Even if you are not the GM. Don't assume that the GM has everything under control. Take a look at the other players and make sure they are having fun. Just because someone is quiet does not mean they are having fun. Be the champion and check in when nobody is looking. "Hey, that last scene seemed to bother you are you ok ?" Then say something about it!! Stop the game if need be. 

It's also ok for you to Say it's not ok for you! You do not need to tough out anything that is not comfortable. 

 

Example Time

Star-Fall

Terry is a space male escort who is going through some personal growth as his home planet was just invaded by an oppressive religion. This does bring up some a lot of judgment calls.

* All the players know that he is playing a “Space consort*
*All the players are adults (Why this has to be said is sad)
*Gav the player never goes into detail about what he is doing. It’s always insinuated.
*Gav never attempts to have his character have sex with the other player characters (Note the scene with Lava … She was the aggressor)
* Even the part where the two players characters were “Rolling for skills” the details were left to the imagination.
* Gav character is more about his relationship with his father than his occupation. The occupation seems to be more of a vehicle where character growth can happen. So basically here is this character class that is all about sex and the player never talks about it other than his tagline “If you pay me”

 

Episode Eight "Get Skrupped!"

 

$1.00 each Deleted Scene Episode Eight Terry and Lava Zero G Sex

Terry and Lava have a scene together where negotiations for passage out of the system require Terry's special skills. 

This is a Sex Scene .. however not something that you would find overly sexual.. though its very funny! Listener discretion is advised  

All money received  from this go to upgrading our equipment 

 

We also have a deleted scene where the players had a lot of fun roleplaying in this scene. It's not very SEXY per say. but its a good example .. This scene is available to the Patreon backers for free. 

How things have gone wrong in the past.

Wrong word
So a long time ago I had a game group where one of the players was playing a tech. We got along just fine both inside and outside of the game. as the GM gave the player a new workshop. When the character walked into the workshop I had made the mistake of using the phrase. “This workshop is so awesome you almost had an orgasm looking at it”. I say this was a mistake because the players face changed from laughing to a forced smile. She never played again in my group.

Creepy Guy
So I was a player in a group. My Raccoon shaman (Shadowrun 3rd ed) was invited to go to this club. And things got creepy really quick. The GM without the consent of the table pointed out that at the club there was a room that we needed to walk through where people were having an orgy. He went into great detail with this and then attempted to get our characters to join even to the point of requiring Willpower rolls. I wish that was where the creepy part ended … let's just say even with making my rolls I never played with this guy again.

In closing 

There is nothing wrong with a sex scene at the table. Just be sure you are not going to make players or the GM uncomfortable while doing so. 

 

 

Does your Character Have a Job?

So I have not posted a Youtube video for some time mainly because I had a good friend of mine pass away. I was not able to get myself into the required headspace to record video. But now I am back. So Sorry for the short part in the front where I am telling you why I have been gone.

The rest of the video talks about character obligations. Be that work, family or friends. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG8SiRys8Io

 

How to use questions to invest your players

Something that I have found very effective when it comes to getting more player investment in my campaigns is to allow some creative control with some of the characters Items. One of the ways that I do this is by asking all sorts of questions about the items and weapons they are carrying. It does not change the stats of the weapon but will add value to the game as a whole. This video shows you how to do it. I have also created a free PDF that has a simple table you can use.  

I also read Viewer questions. 

 

Free Free PDF Gamemaster Tool Questions to ask players

A simple list of questions you can ask your players to get them to think more about their characters and to get them more invested in the campaign. 

 

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyU6_MQgk8I

Finding old Gamemaster Notes from 20 years ago

So we game masters are notorious for writing things down. Some of really go out of our way to write down every single plot idea. And then we forget about it. Personally, I have all kinds of folders and binders with characters that I will never use again but now and then I go hunting for something and stumble across some IDEA TREASURE. 

For those of you who have been watching my Youtube channel know that I have been running a game called "Starfall" for over 20 years. I keep moving this from the different systems D6, GURPS , Masterbook and now Cypher system. Most of these notes were hand written in sketch books or graph paper. Looking at most of the notes my spelling was so bad that you would think I was writing them in code so my players could not figure out the plot.  

So just the other day I was hunting for an image for a client on one of my back up drives. The Search came up with something that I had forgotten about. My campaign notes from the first time I ran Starfall!!!  I guess at some time in the last 10 years or so I had taken the time to scan all the notes into the computer then forgot about them (moving hemispheres will do that ) 

So now I am looking at these old sketches and some of the plots that I had written back then are starting to come back! My players are either going to love me or hate me. 

So my Question is "How do you keep your notes" & "Have you ever stumbled across some IDEA treasure?"

let me know This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

 

 

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