Nerd Fort Number One, Episode 2

This is the second episode, still in the first session. Nothing else really to say about it.

As for ‘housekeeping’ stuff, I have started to edit the second session. It was much shorter, but I am also making the episodes significantly shorter, so both sessions are going to take 4 episodes to complete. I think I will start doing a “gametale” near the end starting in session 3.

Thanks for listening! Tell your friends!

Nerd Fort Number One, Episode 1

So, My most recent previous post was almost six months ago.

I still want to follow up on that whole Podcaster’s Apprentice thing, but I’ve been working on something else since then. Specifically, a blanket fort (The end result of this blanket fort is in the player at the start of this post – like, it’s literally less than an inch above this text).

I built a wooden frame in my basement, covered it with blankets, and installed in it everything I need to record a podcast with other people. It has a computer, microphones, baffles (in the form of the blankets), a large coffee table, a few weird books, and a bunch of weird dice. I’ve been calling it “Nerd Fort #1,” both in anticipation of Nerd Forts to come, and in appreciation of it’s preliminary place in a great dynasty of forts.

So far, I’ve been recording myself and 3 others play 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. These D&D sessions last for about 4-5 hours, and a few of us have never played this edition of D&D. I thought that might be helpful for people who either haven’t played this version and want to know more, or haven’t played D&D at all, and want to know more. My wife (who has been listening to me edit audio) has told me that she really enjoys listening to everything, despite not ever having a ton of interest in the game.

I have cut up our first session in to chunks about 45 minutes to an hour, and put some intros and ending credits to them, and I’m going to be releasing them here. I have 4 episodes ready to go, and I think that will give me enough time to stay ahead of schedule to regularly release them. I’m planning on cutting the time down so that I can release more at a time, as well as include other things that I think people would like.

I also have a few hours of board games being recorded with many other friends (including the ever-esteemed Andy “noobtheloser” Stuart, First of his Name, Writer of Gif-Stories, Occasional Visitor to Columbus Ohio, and sworn to that I plan on turning in to bonus Nerd Fort #1 content.

So, yeah. I hope you listen to it. I also hope that, after listening to it, you like it. If you do, please get a friend to listen as well. I’m not going to be advertising this very much until I get it up on iTunes (I think it needs 7 episodes? Not sure). But my friends will know, and my friends all know some pretty cool people who listen to good things, so I hope that a lot of people can find my weird little web page and podcast.


Podcaster’s Apprentice, post #1

So, I have started 4 podcasts at this point.

Wait. 5? I suppose it depends on how you count them.

A lot of them. That’s all that matters. I have gone through the initial phase of setting everything up/writing out scripts/even recording many episodes for a handful of podcasts.

In several cases I had started right before I learned that I’m going to be a Dad. In at least one case I realized that it was a stupid idea (especially since I couldn’t get permission from the music creators I needed). In exactly one case, I am about to record – this weekend!

One way or the other, consider this post the inaugural post for a blog series that I am calling the Podcaster’s Apprentice.

Topics will include:

  • What is the bare minimum for me to start?
  • What should I talk about?
  • Do I really have to spend money?
  • What is the suggested minimum for me to start?
  • I have more money – what else should I buy?
  • How do I get listeners?
  • Why don’t I just make Youtube videos? Or a blog? Or just post on a forum? Why would anyone listen to me?
  • How much time should I spend on this podcast?
  • When will I know when it is ready to publish?

And maybe some other topics.

A Brief Review, An Audacious Review, and an Update

Next in my series of podcasts is one that I no longer listen to, one that helped me get where I am, and of course, the update on the as-yet-unnamed D&D 5e podcast.

A Brief Review

I started listening to Private Sanctuary when I thought that I needed more nerdiness in my life and I was working at a job that required minimal communication with real live humans. I am reviewing this one only briefly because I am no longer listening to it – but that doesn’t mean it’s bad now. It’s just not what I’m looking for.

Ryan Costello, Jr. Started the 3.5 Private Sanctuary as a place where D&D 3.5 can continue living, despite the fact that Wizards of the Coast was dropping support for the game. In the first few dozen episodes, Ryan also watched as Paizo began to start Pathfinder, commenting on it’s development. Eventually they lost the “3.5”, because they were really just talking about Pathfinder. Eventually, Ryan (and crew) made multiple spin-off podcasts, all organized in to a podcast network.

The beginning of the Private sanctuary was something that helped me keep my sanity while going over multiple bumps and hurdles in my life. But when they split off in to the network, it was no longer what I was looking for. Mostly, it was the change in hosts – Ryan was about to have a baby and decided to sit out for a little while (this is all based on memory – sorry if I’ve got it wrong). The style change was a little jarring and I looked for other podcasts to keep my ears busy at work.

I am glad to see that Ryan and Co. are doing well and still releasing fresh content. If you are looking for general Pathfinder community news, check out their flagship podcast Know Direction (which focuses on industry events, products, and people), Private Sanctuary (which focuses on rules and game issues), or Geek Together (which is an intermittent podcast about a variety of narrow nerdy topics – but different each episode).

I’m going to leave it there for the Know Direction Network – I don’t listen to them anymore and therefore I feel like it would be disingenuous to have anything more in-depth. BUT, I will say that this podcast was what helped me to start my own podcast, which is discussed more in the next section.

Ryan, if you are reading this: let me know any time you find yourself in central Ohio. I’d like to give you a “thank-you” meal.

An Audacious Review

So, after I had listened to some 30 or so episodes of the 3.5 Private sanctuary, I noticed that I kept having opinions and I kept wanting to tell them to Ryan and his cohorts. Unfortunately, the episodes were about a year old at that point and I doubt that the hosts even remembered the points they were making. Nevertheless I still found myself trying to figure out how to talk to these guys, to offer a counterpoint, and to engage them on different issues.

And then I realized – what I actually wanted was to start my own podcast, so as to have conversations with people that I shared a nerdy space with.

So, how does someone start a podcast? Well, I googled “how to start a podcast.” I realize now that this is similar to the guys from Office Space looking up “money laundering” in the dictionary.

A few things popped up. I don’t know how far down the list it was, but the thing that really got my attention was The Audacity to Podcast. Which happened to be a podcast. All about podcasting. I was absolutely tickled about the recursion involved in the fact that this show existed at all. Through this podcast I learned that there are quite a few podcasts about podcasting, but this one was the one that I kept listening to. It is often evergreen content (seriously, even episodes 1-15 usually apply today), it is very well produced, and Daniel J. Lewis is very good at doing what he does.

Just like the previous two that I have reviewed, I started at the beginning. I downloaded every episode he has and started listening to them all. This gave me a good perspective on quite a few things, and helped me to develop the ideas that I had for a podcast. Some of the most important things that I learned I shall repeat here because I desperately want your awesome content to be preserved (really – I want you to make a podcast out of that awesome idea you have): 1. You must control your own feed, 2. You must have some kind of landing page that is easy to get to, and 3. Be passionate, be consistent, be considerate. Roughly June of 2014 I had managed to listen to enough episodes that I was finally comfortable starting a website (that you are reading right now).

Then, less than a month later, Amanda and I learned that we were pregnant. Well…okay. Suddenly the time and money that I’ve sunk in to this project has become a ‘back-burner’ project. But I also get a baby!

Like I said before, The Audacity to Podcast is a very well-produced show, and Daniel J. Lewis is good at what he does. He is humble, knowledgeable, and skilled. He tells you about different aspects of podcasting (and other online productions) with no hesitation, and often from his own experience.

Apparently, Daniel funds his life with his podcast network, largely through a few online businesses (consulting for podcasts and related work) affiliate marketing on Amazon and through various companies that offer products that he uses. He usually mentions something or other within the podcast episode, and experienced listeners hear it coming a mile away – but we still listen! which says something about his style.

An Update

So, in my previous post, I talked about the people in this new podcast that I am working on, and the space we will be in. The supplies for the space have been purchased and my wife told me that I am only allowed to have it be 9 feet by 10 feet, but that shouldn’t change it too much. I’ve been cutting wood and doing bad math in my head and coming up with ad hoc ways of supporting the whole thing and it looks like it will really be a space to game in really well. I don’t have pictures yet because I haven’t taken any, but I promise that I will.

This time, in addition to the physical structure, I will tell you about the structure of the podcast itself.

The basic plan is:

  • brief intro music (probably something from this hoopy frood) that lasts less than ten seconds before fading in to…
  • an intro talk where I talk about who we are and why we think you want us in your ears. This is probably recorded ahead of time and lasting less than 2 minutes, since you really want to hear…
  • THE CONTENT – i.e. the reason you people are letting me live in your head for a little while. Probably 30-35 minutes (well…probably an hour before I edit out cussing and boring stuff) of Pathfinder play. Eventually at an appropriate stopping point, we will get to…
  • Ending talk, which will be recorded by me, alone, and without the other players. Because I want this space to be for any announcements and we are recording 4-5 episodes worth of content in each session. I will provide a brief summary, probably a teaser about the next episode, and then I will talk about credits and the website. At the very end, I will include a D&D gametale, something that has actually happened to an actual player in an actual game – but also is very short.
  • Then, outro music.

Welcome To Night Vale Podcast Review (and update)

So, I am going to start a new series of blog posts, each one detailing a podcast that I am listening to. I am going to go in roughly chronological order based on when I started listening to it.

I am also going to include at the end a paragraph or two about the podcast that I am currently working on.

Podcast for You

To start things off, there’s the podcast that I started with: Welcome to Night Vale. I first heard about it from my friend from high school. Then I ignored it’s presence until I started watching the PBS Idea Channel. Then I remembered what my friend had said about it, and I started downloading like mad.

A charming little town in the American southwest desert (exactly where is never stated), Night Vale that has number of features that other charming little towns would do everything they can to keep secret for a decade and then turn in to a horror film after Stephen King gets a hold of it. Features like the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home, or Hiram McDaniels (who is a fugitive from the secret police, a candidate for mayor, and a literal 5-headed dragon all at once), or the house that shouldn’t exist (according to scientists), or reports of mountains being sighted out in the desert.

Narrated by the in-world public radio host, Cecil Baldwin, we get a glimpse in to the supernatural goings-on around town. He tells us about the news with an air of…just kind of… not shocked by stuff in town. Don’t get me wrong, he does a great job of relaying the news and community announcements, and even being excited by doing it – but considering it nothing out of the ordinary except maybe the occasional political upheaval – much like any small town. Only he reports on health issues like throat spiders. Or education issues like the literacy rate of tarantulas being almost as low as 25% (which is shockingly low).

Each episode usually starts with the creator (Joseph Fink) talking to us about news of the WtNV brand – products, live shows, “thank-yous”, and other stuff. Once we get to the real content, the format of the show follows that of a small-town community radio show (or, I think so – I’ve never listened to a real small town community radio channel). There are segments like the community calendar, community announcements, sponsors, local celebrities and business owners being interviewed or giving advice, and a few others, in addition to ‘the news’ which is a phenomenon almost everyone is familiar with. There is also “The Weather,” which instead of “we live in the desert, it’s going to be bright and hot,” it is always an interlude featuring some indie band’s undiscovered music. At the end of the episode, Cecil always signs off with “Goodnight, Night Vale. Goodnight.” After his sign off are credits and maybe another announcement or two by someone else that helps on the show, and then a ‘quote of the day,’ which are universally a little disturbing.

Disparition makes most of the music. I don’t know who Disparition is outside of WtNV, but I absolutely love the music here. Usually it’s just normal kinda-creepy background music, but sometimes it underscores what is going on in the episode so well that I doubt the episode would be worth a listen without it. In addition to all that, I also use a few of his songs (most notably the Ballad of Fiedler and Mundt) to put my daughter to sleep.

If you are new to WtNV, I would suggest that you listen to the first few episodes (here is episode 1), so that you can understand how new characters are introduced, and how different phenomena or discoveries about the town are approached. After that, I would suggest you listen to Episode 17 (Valentine) for a well done “what happens when Night Vale has a crisis”, which does seem to happen pretty often. Then I would suggest listening to episodes 19a and 19b (The Sandstorm), because they are well written and use a very old SF/fantasy trope well, while also further detailing the hatred of the sister city, Desert Bluffs. Finally, episode 13 (A Story About You) is just some of the best writing I have ever seen. I tend to like the early episodes more, because it was more about discovering the town instead of just watching the town do it’s thing. I personally didn’t like the episodes that are in the ‘middle,’ (by current reckoning) because they tended to be about the people in the town, rather than the town itself. The most recent episodes have been getting back to that feeling, but we’ll see where it goes in 2016.

So in general – you should go listen to it. I have been listening to it consistently since I started. Every two weeks, without fail. At it’s worst it is a little annoying but still clever and entertaining. At it’s best, it makes me sit back in my chair at work and have a think for a few minutes.

Podcast for Me

Today’s update about the podcast I am currently working on is that I had my initial (unpublished) meeting with the people I am going to be recording with. At a party in mid-November, Eric Sterbenz was trying to convince me to give 5th Edition D&D a try, while at the same time I was trying to convince him to do a podcast. SO, we decided that he would DM and teach me as I learn how to play it, and have a microphone around to tell all of you about it. Also with us are my brother, Gary Kleinpaste (whom I have gamed with quite a bit), and our fellow long-time-nerdy-friend, Jeff Jackson (who was also there for much of the time that Gary and I were gaming).

This meeting was to establish that we were a group and that while it is a D&D campaign, it was also a podcast, and so certain things might have to be changed about how we play.

I am building Nerd Fort #1 – a 10 x 10 x 7 wooden frame in my basement, upon which sound-dampening fabric (blankets not otherwise being used) will be hung – to give us a pretty decent (if only hacked-together from available parts) studio. In this studio there are more side-tables than I know what to do with, and a large coffee table. On the coffee table is a battlemat almost the same size as the table. I have two microphones, a Blue Snowball and an ATR-2100. I have a computer down there, and one of the next investments that I will make is a sound mixer and more microphones.

End result: everyone is on the same page and still wants to be a part.

Hey seriously. Who are you people?

Really now.

If you read this, I would really like to know. Like, actually prove it. I think that it would help to motivate me – knowing that there are people actually reading this stuff that I am writing. If you are reading this, then please submit at least a one-word comment, below. I have to verify it before it will actually show, and the program that I use for comments needs your email – But I would really like to know that you are out there.

If for some reason you don’t like posting things on the internet, then come tell me in person. Or send me a text message. Leave a cryptic note about beetles on my front door. Anything.

I am asking this because I just looked at my analytics and it shows that there were 53 unique IDs that looked at my website (this website. that you are reading. right now.), and hardly anyone mentions that they know it even exists.

So yeah. Prove that you are a people. Leave a comment, or throw pennies at me when I walk to my house from my car. Just let me know that more than just robots read my website.


Yeah. about my previous post. That didn’t work. At all. I hardly wrote anything. The post right before this is just dripping with bright-eyed optimism and a can-do attitude.

I really thought I was going to be able to do it all.

But I have a baby and she got knocked off of her sleeping schedule. It made me want to take 100% of the other time in my day and sleep. Or do something to relax. Anything. Even during my lunch hour while I munch my sandwiches I didn’t get much done except fill even further my huge file of “cool shit that I’m totally getting to when I get some time.” Yeah. That ‘file’ is a Gmail draft to myself that I started as an easy way to transfer non-work things from my free time at work (lunch, breaks, etc.) to home. Just for giggles I copied and pasted it in to a new word document. At the default font size (11?), it is 43 pages.

Forty Three pages. Holy crap. I didn’t think it was that big. Even allowing for the fact that even a single ‘funny image url’ can fill a single line, and the odd “large list of stupid shit from a forum” is mostly useless… I imagine I’ve still got at least 20 pages there. And I have a few other email drafts that are topic specific, like GMing tools, Podcasting resources, Finance articles (did you know that if you can save $25k/year for 7 years, you will be able to retire in a big way and only need a part-time job?), and other shit.

This post isn’t much except me proving to myself that my website still exists.

Uhhh…one update though – I’ve got a real podcast really getting set up with real people playing a real game. Gonna have a sit-down on the 20th and talk with these guys about exactly what it all means and how to not talk over each other while recording. I plan on recording that just to prove that my microphones work.