This week Dreamchipper the runners clean up their mess and move on to the next objective of the run.

We do have email contacts for you! Feel free to ping us at hatemail@hiddengrid.com and gm@hiddengrid.com. Want it read on the show? Let us know who it’s addressed to and if you’d like it broadcast in an episode. The players will be happy to comply.

 

Download Episode 019 – Dreamchipper – The Queen of Denile

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This week Dreamchipper continues with something vicious coming down the pipe.

We do have email contacts for you! Feel free to ping us at hatemail@hiddengrid.com and gm@hiddengrid.com. Want it read on the show? Let us know who it’s addressed to and if you’d like it broadcast in an episode. The players will be happy to comply.

 

Download Episode 018 – Dreamchipper – Served Hot

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This week Dreamchipper continues with a change in background noise. Apologies up front.

In the adventure, the players find their second major lead and a huge source of information (and maybe firepower) for their job. First though, let’s see how this hacking attempt goes.

 

Download Episode 017 – Dreamchipper – Con Report

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The players of the Sixth World Chronicles dot across North American ranging from Central Florida up the gulf to Mississippi and up the eastern coast to DC so getting together in meat space isn’t the easiest method for playing. Instead we opted for a virtual game and the issues that created. The setup for running a virtual role playing group comes through trial and error, willingness to accept limitations, and a drive to try and break what you can. Per the request of a number of you, I’ll get down to the nitty gritty of how we manage this feat, record it, and get it out there for your consumption.

Recording – Skype, Pamela, and settings

While I am a podcaster beyond the Hiddengrid, I’m not invested enough to purchase a mixer yet and run a dedicated recording machine. Instead I opt for running Skype and a recorder wrapper on top of it. I’m a major Skype advocate, and have been for years now. The ability to create a centralized chat room with recorded text conversations and voice communication is ideal for a virtual gaming session. My current call recorder wrapper is a software suite called Pamela Call Recorder. The system runs pretty smoothly with Pamela prompting to record once we get the call rolling and easy to close down once the game session is done.

I output Pamela (or any other recording suite) to stereo wav, catching my audio one channel and the rest of the group’s audio on another. While our sessions weigh in between three to four hours, I’ll split our recording into two sessions a night to ensure the file size doesn’t get too unwieldy and that should an error occur with the recording, only one track may be lost.

Editing – Audacity and Levelator

My first action with the recorded wav file is to convert it to two mono channels within the program Audacity, a free audio editing software tool for PC. Here I’ll listen to the episode, remove as much noise, coughing, and background guests as I can. I don’t intend to modify the recording to a full professional level recording due to the length and design of the project, but I do try to make sure the audio is easy to listen to. Once satisfied, I’ll export the track to another combined wav file and run it through a program called Levelator. This is another free audio tool used to bring the audio from different sources down to a similar range. For our group it’s especially important with the volume differences between players like Jess and Dan. The next step is to pull the updated wav into a template file I have setup for each adventure series and record and overlay an intro and outtro, and stinger if we have one. I would note that except for shorter adventure segments, we always cut each episode in half. It gives us coverage on the weeks we’re not gaming and helps spread out the fun of the game. It also decreases the amount of time I have to spend on each episode editing since I can essentially get by working out two episodes every other week.

Publishing – WordPress and iTunes

The final part of the process is exporting to an mp3 and adding our ID3 tags then uploading to the site. Prep the blog entry then post on the appropriate release day. ITunes runs off of the WordPress RSS feed on the Hiddengrid site, so I don’t need to manually mirror the entry to Apple’s directory. From there you either find the posts through direct RSS access or through a site that copies the depository of iTunes’s listed podcast feeds. I should note that these entries won’t show up there because iTunes only pulls posts with audio entries and the tag Podcast on it.

And that’s it from start to finish for each episode. The total processing time takes the length of the time we played (around 3-5 hours on average) plus an hour to edit, run Levelator and export to and from Audacity, and add the extra audio segments. The start of each adventure also includes about an hour to three hours researching music and finding the right sound for each segment.

Interested in having your group’s audio played on the Hiddengrid? We’re open to submissions provided you follow these rules:

  1. Audio should be clear. This is open to interpretation but if I feel I can’t make out the game over background noise or recorded volume and quality of players audio the game’s not going to make it to the feed.
  2. No Music unless licensed. We can only play music that has a clear license allowing usage with podcasting and broadcasting. Magnatune is a great example of these types of providers and we have a standing membership with them to play their music. If you’d like to suggest songs from that catalogue, feel free.
  3. Explicit is fine but don’t try to outdo Dan. Seriously, I hate having to edit Dan each week on the podcast so I’m not interested in doing it for the guest shows as well. Adult conversation and topics are fine, but directly trying to be offensive is a good way not to have your session show up on the feed.
  4. Understand the license. We’re released on a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike, Unported 3.0 License. Audio given to us should be provided under the same license, so I’ll this permission when you’re releasing the audio to me to use. Be sure to provide your name, and the names of all the people involved in the recording so I can provide attributes to you.

If you’ve got any questions about the podcast’s technical aspects and production, I’m always open to questions about the Hiddengrid.

Links to the tools:

Harlequin: Physical concludes with our ninth session. This session was three weeks after the last so it’s rough getting rolling. The gang has most of what they need for the run, now let’s see if they can get through it without a hitch. Take a listen and see what it takes to get past some magical beasties.

 

Download Episode 014 – Harlequin – Fields of Green

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Hey! Did you know last week’s episode put us over 24 hours of audio? If you’ve listened to all the episodes so far, you’ve used up a whole day of your life. I’m so proud of you.

We start up on of the great classic adventures this week, with the multi-campaign Harlequin. Harlequin is one of the legendary adventures built to really get players into Shadowrun. The adventure is designed to be played in a series of related adventures over the lifetime of a group’s runs. As the players take part in the adventure they gain clues of a larger meta-plot that’ll be resolved down the road.

I’d also like to welcome another new voice this adventure. Well, new in an old sense. Zendead rejoins Hiddengrid from the player side of the table, taking up the role of Shadowshot. Give him a hardy welcome.

Now, let’s go see what rabbit holes this adventure will make us jump down.

 

Download Episode 012 – Harlequin

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Running the shadows of the sixth world for the past twenty years I’ve experienced the 2050’s and their grungy unfiltered reality. I’ve gone the distance and saw the flip from Deck to Link, and the bright and oh so shiny 2070’s. When BQSCIW became BARSCILW. Taking the step back into the lands of first edition and rules, restrictions, and growth of the development cycle has been an awakening experience. My prep work for setting up Silver Angel has set much of the standard I’m going to follow in converting these adventures towards the 4th edition standard.

I’m going to start with a mini-review of the 2050’s guidebook. The fiction, descriptions, places, and character chatter in the book are great. It’s got a wonderful mix of new and old, and I’d recommend anyone to pick it up just to take a walk down memory lane. Then you hit the rules and outside of gear, things start lacking. The Matrix feels really stripped down compared to what we’re used to in 4th ed and a few tables and rules are just completely missing. While an errata exists for some of the missing program costs, these don’t feel completely in sync with the rest of the way Shadowrun handles Matrix purchases. I ended up having the group’s Decker use the program costs from the 20th Anniversary Core book and assigned common use and hacking program labels to the 2050 programs. Magic feels a little awkward explaining what a conjurer can and cannot do with spirits since Mages and Shamans are hard linked to bound or unbound spirits. Again, I’d recommend the book, but do so with caution and willingness to adapt the information between various books.

Silver Angel is a fairly straight forward module. At 32 pages, there isn’t much room for heavy betrayal, double crossing, and side plots. It’s a clean start for the players, serves as a good way to group up some new players, and provides them immediate access to a fixer. As the first Module I’m running, I have to say I’m rather happy with this setup and would recommend this for any starting game master.

Pre-game conversion required converting 19 NPC’s or NPC groups from 1st edition to 4th edition rules. I used the third to fourth edition conversion document Fanpro provided, but I found a lot of skills missing from these earlier characters. Physical/athletics skills are completely missing from these earlier characters, and skills introduced in 4th edition have to be added such as Perception and Dodge. There’s also the nature of the various pools that have to be converted or removed. The few casters were easily adjusted, but the deckers suffered a bit from the vast difference between the 4th ed 2050 rules and the 1st edition rules. A number of Target Numbers had to also be modified as older editions expect players to roll against a high target number, and not just earn a number of successes.

Adapting the game to the players was a fun task. Two of the players are new so they’re feeling out the world of Shadowrun. Even our experienced player isn’t totally in sync yet with some of the requirements of being a runner, so when this session of legwork before the major run started a little bit of GM prodding was required. Silver Angel helps cover this though, as the Johnson for this, Eve Donovan, wants everything to go smooth with this run and requires being a part of planning sessions. This gives me a hand directly in being able to point the players after the right tracks, leading towards the two major encounters of the first two episodes of Silver Angel.

The following paragraph contains spoilers for Silver Angel Episode 2, so skip it until you listen to that episode.

A Note on adapting encounters; Game designers and Game masters can only do so much, and players are great at screwing up events and encounters. Take the meeting with Whisper. The book suggests for players to meet Whisper at The Cutting Edge, but Mr. Grey and Mr. Black insisted on going to the bar in the AM. Their meeting with Winslow was far earlier than expected, so having them leave a message for Whisper was appropriate. The encounter with the grunts should have been at the club, but since they insisted I adjusted the situation to take place around Karen’s apartment. I kept a similar format with the three initial grunts being in the front of the house, and the more advanced cyber thug outback waiting for Karen to make her escape. As soon as car crashes, spells, and gunfire breaks out front, Karen bolts and Silverthorne attempts to take her down. Almost does too until Grey steps in. I wonder what’s going to happen since the players left all four grunts alive (although one barely).

The players still need to get into Caviler and steal Silver Angel from MCT. They’ve grabbed the right data they need to setup the run, now they just have to enact the plan and get out safe. They all have ¥40,000 burning in each of their pockets, and another ¥20,000 if they provide Silver Angel, and ¥17,000 more if they keep it quiet. I’m a little surprised none of them have used this money to see about getting new personal items prior to the run going down. Maybe they’ll spread a little of that around to get what they need to get into the center.

Overall the game has been a great success. I’m loving this module and reading through some of the other first edition works is drawing my attention. There’s a lot left just to fill 2050 and 2051, and I wish I had picked up these modules when I first started to game to help me learn faster how to run the world of Shadowrun.

Stay tuned to this Friday when Silver Angel Session 1 Part 2 drops.

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