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.

New Year 2015

The New Year is upon us! Time for a brief look at 2014 and a look at what is ahead for 2015 on several fronts (all gaming related in some fashion). There will be lots of similar posts from people on the Internet today via blogs, social media posts, etc. So I will try to be brief in this reflection post!

Iron Tavern

The Iron Tavern itself has continued to be a fun platform to post random thoughts from me. Some are reviews of product, opinion pieces, or a vehicle to promote Iron Tavern Press products or the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Actual Play Podcast. Posting got a little slow towards the end of the year, I have recently learned a 3 or 4 day break from work will do wonders for recharging the creative batteries that power my hobby interests.

The most popular post from 2014 was D&D 5e and PDFs. I suspect a lot of those hits are just people looking for PDFs to download, but even today that post tends to rank a spot in most visited posts of the day.

Since that post we’ve seen Dungeonscape crash and burn (surprise, surprise) and we still don’t have PDFs from Wizards. This is still one of my major complaints about 5e. While I own all the physical core books, I would readily pay for PDFs of the product. It just helps my preparation to have them available digitally. Not having PDFs is a handicap to my preparation of sessions.

The recent break from work has helped recharge my batteries. Blog posts will continue and I will still use the Iron Tavern blog as my platform for reviews, commentary, and promotion of some of my RPG related products. While not the most famous RPG blog on the Internet I get enough traffic to keep Iron Tavern useful to me, and seemingly its loyal readers!

DCC RPG Podcast

This question was answered yesterday! I finished editing all of the queued up live play audio and have the remaining sessions of the Sunken City Campaign scheduled for posting. Starting on Monday, January 5th, one episode will be released per week for folks to hear the completion of the podcast.

The big question is do we post actual play sessions of the next DCC campaign I am starting in January. The group is already gathering up and we should be kicking off next week or the week after. It takes a fair amount of time to prep the episodes, so there is some question as to whether I will continue the AP or not. The current one seemed pretty popular as far as an AP podcast goes, so there seems to be some interest. Just not sure how much.

Do you want to see an AP released for the next campaign? Post in the comments and let me know.

Iron Tavern Press

2014 saw the launch of Iron Tavern Press. This is my effort at self-publishing and has focused on Pocket-Sized Encounters, short scenarios designed to be dropped into a person’s campaign on a short notice with minimal prep. The line has been well received, but is still in its early stages. These things take time and I am learning a bit as we go.

Iron Tavern Press suffered a bit from my business towards the end of last year. But I have a good amount of product already written and in my queue to be published. These include some more Pocket-Sized Encounters and a Dungeon Crawl Classics module. Things are already underway to get the next PSE release out there. I expect we will see it released by the end of January, perhaps a little sooner.

So far all of Iron Tavern Press releases have been in PDF form. When catering to an old-school audience this is necessarily optimal. The customers want physical products – often buying both physical and digital form. This year I hope to work the kinks out of creating a physical product and release in print on demand form as well. I still have some learning curve to get through on this front.


And lets not forget what this whole blog is centered around – gaming! 2014 saw me in an online game and a face-to-face game. A good mix of gaming. I plan on continuing in and with both of those games.

My biggest shift here (and this is the closest thing to a New Year’s Resolution I am making), is I want to focus on gaming with my kids more often. The oldest is definitely of the right age and my youngest has interest and would happily play. So if a blog post has to slip, an AP release a little late, or an ITP product slide a touch because it allows me to play a game with my kids then so be it!

Now resolutions require some plan of action. I think we have the makings of a kid’s game with some of my son’s peers. I am making plans to get that coordinated to start in January will take the form of a Friday night 5e game. This might even involve some mini painting (I have a boatload of Reaper minis with more on the way!!!) and maybe even finishing off my Dwarven Forge pieces!

And that’s it! A look back and a look ahead to 2015! Thanks for all your support and interest!

Episode 22: Plotting and Planning

dcc_rpg_cover_smallPlotting and Planning’ is the 22nd episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at

Session Synopsis

With supplies in-hand the party waits as Meffridus completes the complex ritual to bring Emirikol’s spirit back to physical form. The disgruntled wizard submits to lengthy interrogation, reluctant to assist the group with their plan. Learning what they can, the party sends a messenger to the Tower to possibly work out a deal. With unsatisfactory terms, the group changes tactics and seeks to make a deal with the Thieve’s Guild for a secret entrance into the Overlord’s stronghold. Successful, the group prepares for an assault on the Overlord’s Stronghold.

Download Link:


Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from

Episode 21: Getting the Gang Back Together

dcc_rpg_cover_smallGetting the Gang Back Together’ is the 21st episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at

Session Synopsis

The seasoned adventurers return to the Great City from their respective journeys. Meeting at the Temple of the Moon the group makes plans for their next steps. The group seeks to make deals with the Thieve’s Guild and meet up with an old friend as they do so. With an arrangement in place, the crew seeks to gather the final component to bring Emirikol back from the dead.

Download Link:


Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from


DCC Actual Play Podcast Meta

DCC RPG Rulebook Cover w-HeadphonesAs I finish the final mixing of audio for Episode #21 of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Actual Play podcast I felt the need for a “meta” post. This covers some of the behind the scenes thoughts that happen in the campaign that don’t get recorded and get discussed in our community group.

Regular listeners know the group put their high level characters on a bit of a hiatus and picked up some lower level guys in the town of Cillimar. Some stayed in the town, others went back to the Great City and some went off into the mountains to seek keys to unlock great power.

The high level characters at the time had just come off a beating at the tower of Leotah. She had laid a gauntlet of sorts for them as a defensive measure. A measure that took its toll on the characters who ran it (Episode #15 if you are curious).

It was around this time they decided to get some downtime in Cillimar and take some new characters, lower level characters out for a spin. The next several podcast releases focused on those new lower level characters. A good time was had, but after awhile the players began to miss their higher level characters.

There was much discussion in our private community group and the decision was made to return to the high level characters. There were several plot hooks that were unanswered and as the time passed (real time) with the lower level group, the gang wanted to make a return to the Great City.

We’ve experimented a lot in this campaign with introducing new characters. I piloted a ‘cut-scene funnel’, i.e. running a funnel adventure with a whole new set of characters who could later join the main group as replacements. The trial in Cillimar was another such experiment.

With the decision made to go back to the main, high level characters I believe we have reached the closing phases of the campaign as a whole. There are several major plot elements to resolve, some of which continue to unfold in the as of yet released episodes.

In either case, the soon to be released Episode #21 marks the return to the characters affectionately known as Satan’s Glee Club.

Episode 20: Regrouping

dcc_rpg_cover_smallRegrouping’ is the twentieth episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at

Session Synopsis

With near devastating casualties on the last folks the party sent to Castle Whiterock it is time to recruit some new ones for another push into the castle. Regrouping in Cillamar the group sets out again to root the monks out of the ruins. A perilous climb up the tower high above the ruins grants the party egress into the castle via a different route. That path is not without hazard however…


Download Link:


Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from



Episode 19: Trouble in Castle Whiterock

dcc_rpg_cover_smallTrouble in Castle Whiterock’ is the nineteenth episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at

Session Synopsis

This week we check-in on Meffridus, Kpnooney Klaus, Tsanth and the others. From them we learn there has been a possible attack on the Temple of the Moon through the sewers. With precautions put in place we return to the exploration of Castle Whiterock.

With the monks having retreated further into a defensible portion of the ruins, the new crew works on ferreting them out. Their position turns out to be much more defensible than originally thought.

Meta Note: This episode includes a little bit of meta discussion at the end of the session. It frames some of the future direction and felt it should be included. Also – the end seems an abrupt cut-off due to me accidentally cutting the good-byes I normally leave in there.

Download Link:


Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from

Episode 18: The Replacements

dcc_rpg_cover_smallThe Replacements’ is the eighteenth episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at

Session Synopsis

The green group of adventurers begins their exploration of Castle Whiterock at the behest of the seasoned party. Talking their way in, they do their best to poke around the ruins of the castle while under the watchful eye of the order of monks. Put to work helping excavate ruins within the remains of the castle reveals things are not the way seem!

Meta Note: The players decided to use some lower level characters to explore Castle Whiterock under the direction of the higher level characters. 

Download Link:


Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from

Episode 17: Settling In

dcc_rpg_cover_smallSettling In’ is the seventeenth episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at

Session Synopsis

The adventurers awake in the town of Cillamar at the Inn of the Slumbering Drake. Baptist scours the town for a suitable location for a possible barber shop business, while Meffridus passes the challenge at the library and secures access to a private study.

The focus turns to Umberwood’s Coffins as they seek to learn about its possible involvement with Leotah or her agents. The group also learns of a monk order reestablishing themselves out at Castle Whiterock in an attempt to rediscover the Halls of Forgotten Lore. A second group of adventurers are utilized to check out the Castle.

Back in town the gang is up to their old tricks as they “talk” to an Umberwood Coffin’s employee at the local pub.

Meta Note: The players decided to use some lower level characters to explore Castle Whiterock under the direction of the higher level characters. 

Download Link:


Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from

Episode 16: The Streets of Cillamar

dcc_rpg_cover_smallThe Streets of Cillamar’ is the sixteenth episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at

Session Synopsis

Escaping the intricate tower defenses Leotah had set for the raiding adventurers, Meffridus planar stepped the party out of sorceress’ extradimensional playground. Choosing Cillamar as their destination the adventurers found themselves in front of the renowned Inn of the Slumbering Drake. Seeming an appropriate place for the weary adventurers to get a feel for the town. Inside the party enjoys food and drink under the soothing tones of Brianna the musically talented bard while enjoying a game or two of Dragon Darts.

Download Link:


Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from