Episode 30: The Conclusion

dcc_rpg_cover_smallThe Conclusion’ is the 30th episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at http://irontavern.com/podcast.

Session Synopsis

With a cursory attack on the Temple through the sewers the real assault begins to form from the ocean. The skies darken over the ocean as large thunderheads build, lightning arcing across the western sky as the rains begin to fall upon the Great City. An explosion rocks the Temple of the Moon, sending the companions to the fallen Cthulhu temple where they learn it has been rebuilding in the rift caused by Tsanth’s last visit. The waves in the seas grow taller as an avatar of Cthulhu steps forth from the sea wreaking havoc upon the city. Can the party stop the new threat and save the city?

Note: The end of this one seems a bit abrupt, there wasn’t a great spot to transition to the closing music, so it is a bit awkward. Questions about the actual play campaign? Post in the comments and I will work up a final closing post if there is interest.

Download Link: http://irontavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Episode-30.mp3


Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from http://music.mevio.com.

Roll20 Contest Winners

This afternoon I put all commenters on the original contest post in a list and rolled a d15 over at Invisible Castle! The winners of a PDF from Iron Tavern Press are:

  • Randall B
  • HoneyBadger
  • Stinky1EyedOgre

An email has been sent to the winners to collect their Iron Tavern Press PDF. If you were a winner and did not receive an email, please check your spam filter or contact me.

Thanks to everyone that participated. It was interesting to see how many hours folks have played on Roll20. There were definitely some really interesting numbers!

Episode 29: The Glass Darkly

dcc_rpg_cover_smallThe Glass Darkly’ is the 29th episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at http://irontavern.com/podcast.

Session Synopsis

With Leotah apparently vanquished the group investigates the throne room more closely. Clutched in the grasp of the mechanical surgical machine the party finds a blood red gem in the form of a human heart, is this the life force of Leotah? They rummage through another room before discovering the path to the Glass Darkly rumored to power the tower itself. The very elements of time are disturbed as the group attempts to destroy the magical artifact.

Download Link: http://irontavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Episode-29.mp3


Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from http://music.mevio.com.

Roll20 Stats Contest

For a little Thursday fun for people playing games online with Roll20, let’s hear what your Roll20 stats look like! Specifically, how many hours have you played using Roll20? I noticed this little piece of information a few weeks back when I was prepping my Shudder Mountain DCC campaign. I thought it would be interesting to see how much Roll20 time other people have logged.

Here is how to check your stats.

  • Login to Roll20.net
  • On the upper right portion of the screen, choose My Profile
  • Just below your name on your profile page, you will see a line that includes when your account was created and how many hours you have played.

Something like this:


Looks like I started using Roll20 back in June of 2012 and have logged 262 hours of play time since then! Just for those curious, the vast majority of those hours have been running Dungeon Crawl Classics games, but I’ve also logged some hours running Labyrinth Lord one-shots and playing in Dungeonslayers, Swords & Wizardry, and Labyrinth Lord games as well.


I haven’t run a contest at The Iron Tavern for well over a year, so let’s turn this into a bit of a contest. Post a comment here with the amount of time you have logged on Roll20. Only comments on this blog post will be considered for entry. Feel free to mention what you’ve been playing as well, I’m curious.

On Monday (2/16/2015) I will compile a list of comments and randomly select 3 winners who can choose to receive one PDF product selected from The Iron Tavern Press offerings at RPGNow.

Two of the three drawings will only include people who have logged hours on Roll20. Please be honest. But if you haven’t played on Roll20 yet and have no hours logged, post in the comments 0 hours and I will still include your name in the 3rd drawing.

Episode 28: Saving Abishag

dcc_rpg_cover_smallSaving Abishag’ is the 28th episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at http://irontavern.com/podcast.

Session Synopsis

The group once again finds themselves in a very familiar foyer. With attempts to leave via unconventional means foiled, the party has no choice but to move deeper into the tower along the path Leotah has set before them. Again on familiar territory the group must solve a riddle to make further progress beyond Leotah’s challenges and to have any chance of saving Dandelion’s child from her evil plans!

Download Link: http://irontavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Episode-28.mp3


Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from http://music.mevio.com.

Hellspike Now Available

Hellspike from Iron Tavern Press is now available! Written by Tim Callahan and key art pieces and cartography by Frank Turfler. This and others released in the Pocket-Sized Encounters line are available at RPGNow.

Hellspike Cover

Daymar Sanctus, a scholarly wizard, began construction of his “Suspended Abode of Wondrous Enchantment” over two decades ago. Using knowledge gathered over the years he sought to build the most unique wizard’s tower yet seen. Initial construction began with traditional laborers and craftsmen, but as time went on his laborers grew more and more exotic. Eventually even these laborers proved insufficient for the construction task at hand. Frustrated, Daymar began calling his project Hellspike in an attempt to frame his ongoing nightmare in a humorous light. With his own sanity of mind fading, Daymar bound a minor demon to help him finish the construction of the tower with his own magic. Recently a magical mishap changed the situation, and the tower’s enchantments begin to falter.

A Pocket-Sized Encounter compatible with the Swords & Wizardry rules system for 3rd to 5th level characters.

Pocket-Sized Encounters from Iron Tavern Press are shorter scenarios designed to be dropped into an existing campaign with minimal preparation. Use them for shorter sessions, provide your players with choices that won’t derail your campaign or even as a launching point for a new campaign path.

Included in this product are:

  • Multiple adventure hooks
  • Location based encounter area map
  • Seeds for expanding the adventure
  • Wizard Beads (minor magic item)

Episode 27: Return to the Tower

dcc_rpg_cover_smallReturn to the Tower’ is the 27th episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at http://irontavern.com/podcast.

Session Synopsis

A scuffle with Emirikol in the Temple of the Moon leads to an interesting outcome as Meffridus uses trinkets of days past. The planning then goes into motion on launching another assault on Leotah’s tower in efforts to save Dandelion’s baby from unknown dangers. Setting their plan into motion the adventuring party finds themselves back in a very familiar place…

Download Link: http://irontavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Episode-27.mp3


Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from http://music.mevio.com.

Recording an Actual Play

headphones-keyboardThis is a little look behind the scenes of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Actual Play podcast here at The Iron Tavern. Specifically a look at how we record the sessions you have been listening too and some experimentation along the way.

The Original Method

The games are played over Roll20 integrated with a G+ Hangout. Most of us play with headsets, but not all of us. We record in what I suspect many would call an unorthodox way. One of our players who does not use a headset and just an external mic records the whole session from an Apple iTouch using the voice recorder. The iTouch picks up his voice because he is right there in the room and it gets ours from the external speakers.

Once a session is complete, he shares the file with me and I do some rough editing via Audacity. Once the rough edits are done I run it through a leveling tool to help keep the sound of each voice at an equal level. All in all, I think the AP podcast comes out sounding pretty decent.

All of the podcasts in the Sunken City campaign were recorded and edited with this method.

The Experiments

There was interest in coming up with a new recording method. Most of this was there was always the chance the player that recorded couldn’t make a session, which would have left us scurrying for a recording option. Since the game only runs if I am there, it made sense to move the recording method to something I could run.

Take 1

I run on a Mac (I run the sessions from a Mac Mini). A little bit of research on how to record a Google+ Hangout turned up this link:


This takes a few tools freely available and gives one a method to record. I whipped up a cheat sheet in Evernote after some testing that ended up like this:

Recording requires three tools:

  • Soundflower
  • LadioCast
  • Audacity
  1. Launch Soundflowerbed from Applications
    1. Make sure Headset is checked for Soundflower (2ch)
    2. Soundflower (64ch) should be set to None.
  2. Launch LadioCast from the dock
    1. Set Input 1 to Soundflower (2ch)
    2. Set Input 2 to Headset (move dB slider to the middle line from the left)
    3. Set Main Output to Soundflower (64ch)
  3. Check System Sound Settings (Alt+click on speaker, choose preferences)
    1. Output should be set to Soundflower (2ch)
  4. Launch Audacity from the dock
    1. Confirm to the right of the Mic icon shows Soundflower (64ch)
  5. Launch the Google Hangout.
    1. Confirm Audio settings have:
      1. Input set to Headset
      2. Output set to Soundflower (2ch)

This was all prepped for the new campaign start, though we had a backup recording running too.

This method was not without hiccups. First, my sound from the Hangout would drop out sometimes requiring me to go into the Hangout settings and play the test sound, which fixed it. That happened 3 times in a 2 hour session.

Another issue was getting the right input level for my mic. Set too high and it was picking up all sorts of background noise and ended up leaving a weird echo in the recording. Set too low and I wasn’t sure Levelator would be able to fix it.

Turns out in actual use this method wasn’t so great. Back to the drawing board.

Take 2

So I poked around a bit and finally settled on trying the obvious. A Google+ Hangout on Air. After a little reading I learned how to do a Hangout on Air without making it public. Not that difficult.

By using this method I could run the game as a Hangout on Air which will auto-upload the video to my YouTube channel. The permissions were such that the video was not public, but I could access it. In YouTube I have the option to download the file as an mp4 file. Download the file, open it in QuickTime and export the audio only. The end result was a pretty decent quality audio file of our game. Way less tweaking than the option above and helped get the recording role to me, since I have to be there for the game to happen.

We gave it a whirl for the game this week and it seems to have worked great! The video was uploaded to YouTube with no issues. I was able to download the file to my laptop (around 1GB for the session) and then open it in QuickTime. It was easy to export only the audio and I was able to open it in Audacity with no trouble. This is looking like the new way for us to record sessions.

That’s a Wrap

That is the way we recording season 1 of the podcast, the Sunken City campaign. Perhaps my experiments for recording season 2 will help other folks considering recording their games on G+ – either for their own collection or a podcast of their own.

D&D 5e Kids Campaign

DND_5e_LogoLast week saw the start of the D&D 5e Kids Campaign I had mentioned in a couple of different places. While I have run for my own kids many, many times – I have never run for kids I am not related to! But my son has reached the age where he has like minded friends in school and the time seemed right. Over the holiday break we scheduled the first game for a Friday night.

The Setup

We had 6 kids total playing, ranging from 2nd grade (my daughter) up through 6th grade. My kids and two others had been exposed to RPGs before. The other two had played the Dungeon board game. So we had a good sized group to get started with.

The parents hung out for the game. One plays with her kids, and though offered a chance to roll up a character decided to just assist with the character generation and such. One father had played in the past and chose the same, offer assistance during character generation and during the game.

I must say the help received was a tremendous benefit – especially during character generation. It was hard for me to help everyone with character generation. And even though not all had played 5e, just being able to listen to directions and help guide their kid through the process was extremely useful. They both helped a bit during play too, which was useful if I was in conversation with one part of the table regarding their actions.

Character Generation

This was my first time running 5e, which did hamper character creation just a bit. While if we had been playing D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Labyrinth Lord, etc I could have been much quicker and confident with some of my character generation answers. As was I did need to look several things up during character generation. It wasn’t bad, but it did slow things down just a bit.

I did have character creation cheat sheets printed prior to the game, so they could be used by players to help walk through character creation and guide the process. I also had tons of extra dice (with enough to give way to the kids so they had their own set – only two kids didn’t already have dice though).

All in all it took about 2 hours to get characters generated by the time I had helped each kid with their character. The 5e character gen process is pretty solid, it was just a matter of helping so many people at once and needing to do a fair number of rule lookups to answer their questions. In hindsight I should have rolled up more of my own characters just for practice!

By the end we had the following characters in the party:

  • Elven Rogue
  • Elven Ranger
  • Human Sorcerer
  • Half-Orc Paladin
  • Elven Sorcerer
  • Gnome Wizard

A bit of a magic heavy party, but really with the cantrips 5e has, that was not too concerning. Plus the short rest mechanics contribute to making things acceptable even without a cleric.

Choosing The Adventure

I wanted to hook the kids early, so I really wanted to get them into an adventure where they could accomplish something, knowing I wouldn’t have much time to run by the time character generation was done (I had guessed more like 75 to 90 minutes on character generation).

I didn’t have to look far for a solution for that, as this is the very problem the Pocket-Sized Encounters from Iron Tavern Press attempt to solve. Shorter sized adventures to drop in when time is short or when you need an option that doesn’t derail a campaign. For the need I had, I chose Kajak’s Kave.

Kajak’s Kave is a 4th-ish level adventure for Swords & Wizardy and Labyrinth Lord, so I needed to do some tweaks to get it appropriate power level for a group of 1st level 5e characters. The biggest change I did was to swap the final BBEG out with one of the more powerful gnolls from the 5e Monster Manual. The other creatures in Kajak’s Kave I just used the 5e stats from the Monster Manual for as well. This swap worked perfectly.

What Rating?

So going into the game I wasn’t sure at what rating to run the game (i.e. G, PG, PG-13, etc). I mean I knew not to go too extreme obviously, but what was going to be appropriate for this age group? Anyone that listens to the actual play know things get pretty crazy with that group. So what about the kids?

It didn’t take long to figure that out! I was no more than three sentences into setting the scene in Hommlet (yes, that Hommlet) before one of the kids loudly stated he was hanging out at the bar! As the game evolved the kids pretty much picked the rating for the game by skinning dead critters and in some cases taking their head.

The Adventure Unfolds

The characters were hired by a local townsperson to track down what had happened to Shaerie, a huntress who had not come back from her favorite hunting grounds. The kids immediately started bargaining payment! Negotiating what they felt was a good deal they headed out, making a stop at the local blacksmith to check out his wares. Then they were fully underway!

The ranger got to use some tracking and eventually they found the area they needed to. Kajak’s Kave is pretty short with only a couple of encounters in it. They cautiously explored the cave and successfully tracked down what they needed.

When the adventure ended the whole table was disappointed the adventure was already over! They wanted to go more, even though we went about 45 minutes past the time I had thought we would wrap up. It definitely seems like a good time was had by all!

What’s Next?

The next session has already been scheduled and the group is back in Hommlet. I already have a couple of hooks dropped for them, but they will have plenty of time to poke around town and possibly learn a few more before they determine which direction they will head next!

The session was very successful and I am looking forward to the next one!

Pathfinder Society Core Campaign

PFS_LogoIt has been awhile since I have made a Pathfinder post on this blog, but yesterday, the organized play coordinator, Mike Brock, announced the “Core Campaign” option on Paizo’s blog.

The Core Campaign option for Pathfinder Society Organized play is that only the Core Rulebook, character traits web enhancement, and Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play are allowable sources. This is a huge step to simplifying what has become a very complex game.

There are so many Pathfinder resources to draw from in a standard PFS game that it can be very overwhelming. To both new and old players alike. Sometimes having access to the full wealth of resources just creates a game that people don’t want to be involved in.

This step to allowing a Core Campaign should go far to resolve these issues and lower the bar to entry again for people new to Pathfinder Society Organized play. It makes the game easier to run and easier to play in many ways. So this is a window of opportunity for new Pathfinder GMs who don’t need to be intimidated by the amount of rules. And it can make things little less intimidating to new players.

In my home Pathfinder game I have done something very similar for my own character. I limit myself to just the Core Rulebook and the Advanced Players Guide when choosing options for the my character. This was not a GM imposed restriction, just one I put on myself to keep me from getting frustrated with what I feel is an overwhelming amount of options. It has worked very well in my home game.

In regards to this decision for organized play, it is good to see a strong, viable option for organized play return. When I attend a convention where I might not know a lot of people, but want to get into a game that I am pretty sure is going to run, I look to well run organized play games. Having the option of this core track makes the Pathfinder Society option much more attractive again.

It is welcoming to see Paizo listening to their fans by releasing this option without requiring a sacrifice to their fans that do prefer the full option route. Be sure to check out the Paizo blog post for all the details.