How We Role

See what I did there with the title? I am clearly a funny man.

So this post is a brief summary of our current set up. It’s far from perfect but it works for now and only required a relatively small investment of effort.

Ben, Fiona and Stephen meet up face to face (at Fe and Steve’s house). We move the dining table into the middle of the room and set up around it (with myself GMing at the head of the table, Steve somewhere in the middle and Fe sprawling across the sofa at the foot of the table) with a TV (for Matt and Roll20) on the wall.

A Roll20 RPG Style Map of our RPG Podcast Set Up
A Roll20 RPG Style Map of our RPG Podcast Set Up

All of the technology that we use conveniently fits in my backpack.

A laptop (running Linux but it would work the same with Windows or Mac) with a HDMI cable hooking it up to the TV as a second monitor. I use my laptop screen for running a GM instance of Roll20 and referencing either the Dungeon World Gazetteer or my PDF copy of the rule book; a player instance of Roll20 and a Google Hangouts window go up on the main TV screen.

With the use of a USB extension and copious amounts of blu-tack we attach a webcam to the top of the TV. I also invested in a cheap fisheye lens (the type you would normally use with a mobile phone) which gives Matt a wide angle view of our wonderful faces.

As for a microphone, we use a Blue Snowball, there are better options but it was simple and has an omni-directional mode which works well (apart from one session when we forgot to switch omnidirectional mode on, I’m dreading editing that one). We originally got the microphone when we first started playing with Matt remotely but before we had considered podcasting; in a perfect world we’d do something convoluted with a mixer and individual microphones but that’s just not practical as it stands.

There’s also a physical copy of Dungeon World (which was incredibly hard to get hold of around £100 on Amazon, luckily my FLGS Rules of Play came through and ordered in copies) sat on the table for Steve and Fe to reference if they need to but mainly they just ask questions.

On Matt’s side of the equation he uses his laptop for running Roll20 and his iPad for running Google Hangouts. This does mean he currently relies on the built in microphone, it’s not exactly studio quality but it works surprisingly well for our purposes.

The editing itself is done using Audacity; I’ve used Reaper and Audition a little as well but Audacity has the advantages of being a freely available piece of open source software and running natively on Linux.

The upside to the set up is that it’s actually not dissimilar to how we used to game, just that Matt is now a giant head on a TV screen (rather than a giant head in person). The downside is that the environment isn’t really conducive to recording a podcast, most stuff I’ve been able to take out in editing but since the kitchen is connected there are times you can here plates, cutlery or the kettle in the background – we have become more aware of this and are now actually taking a pause from roleplaying when we make cups of tea so they’re much easier to cut out of the audio (we have no such control over the cats).