Behind the scenes – The actual RPG session
I am an incredibly nosy person! I know that people say that I am curious to my face, but I know that they really mean nosy. Also, often lacking social nuances, I frequently blurt out comments which really I should have kept to myself. They are not personal or nasty comments – I would never do that – they are more those questions or comments that everyone else is thinking but no-one ever asks. Brain in gear before mouth in motion, is a saying which I often say to myself before talking. Anyway, back to being nosy – one thing which I am always interested in is ‘setups’. When watching an RPG game on Twitch, we always see the professional output scene but what is actually happening behind the scenes? Well in order to share my own set up with you I thought I would make the first in this series of ‘Behind the scenes’ waffles, what I have running on my screens when I am GMing.
It would be great to hear about your set ups as well so I can learn and improve, so please do share in the comments below.
To start of with, I just wanted to make it clear that I am not going to be talking about cameras, processors or anything else which involves technology. I might write this down in another waffle, but in this one I wanted to focus on what is actually happening on my screens. It would be great to hear about your set ups so I can learn and improve, so please do share in the comments below. First a bit of technical information. Whenever I am GMing I work from my PC with my iMac and sometimes my MacBook Pro somewhere close – the latter I use less. With my PC I stream with two screens – desperate for a third or even a fourth! Sometimes my green screen is balanced behind me or, if you are just seeing the poster background, then there is no need for the string and peg! So what do I have on my screens and what am I using? Well here is the nitty gritty!
Zoom – On screen one, at the back, out of sight, is Zoom. Initially we used to stream using the actual Roll20 cameras and sound but I got so frustrated with it cutting off and out that I actually invested in Zoom. I know that Skype is also used a lot, but I am not really a user of Skype and liked the idea of having a program which I just used for gaming. I did have visions of running a game on Skype and suddenly receiving an incoming call from my mum! The cameras are actually at the back of everything on the first monitor so I can’t actually see them at all. Some people find that unusual because they say they always wanted to see the player’s faces and reactions. I understand this completely, but without an additional monitor I can’t have everything. Also, it does give the players the opportunity to do something else or even wonder off without me knowing! 🙂
Roll20 – I am a Roll20 pro user (paying for this as well!) and generally use this for my maps, atmosphere, tokens and combat. I have recently looked at Fantasy Grounds, but decided that although this does even more than Roll20 it doesn’t actually support my minor league games. It’s been a steep learning curve to use Roll20 effectively and I still have some issues with importing appropriate maps and tokens, but I am getting used to completing character sheets and macros. This is essentially what I am looking at for the majority of the gaming session, although I must admit I do look at the webcam a lot.
Broadcasting Programs – Initially this monitor has all my broadcasting software windows open and working. This includes OBS, Chatty and Stream Elements Ground Control. These are all running in the background but I can bring them to the front using the usual ALT-TAB function. But let’s keep focused on the actually gaming stuff.
Rules and Regs – Luckily I have PDF versions of all rules for the games I play and so I always have these open on the second monitor. This allows me to quickly complete a search if I am not completely sure what the rules say although I do encourage players to become the expert in their chosen area rather than me. So really, Gully is the expert on sorcery from the Mythras game and, in a similar way, Studley is the expert with the magic in Shadowrun. If I can’t find the rules then I do the classic, make it up and check later. I also have some charts and tables on Google Drive which is open on this monitor as well so I can quickly call these up. They are actually hyper-linked throughout the document via bookmarks and I have a table on the first page so I literally just click a word and there is my table. Google Drive has served me well over the past year, but I am actually currently transferring information into a new program which I am using and this also is open on the second monitor.
Realm Works – This is a new program which I have been experimenting with and one which I am loving more and more. It actually allows me to link everything within my campaigns as well as putting in tables and frequently needed rules. I’ll write a full waffle dedicated to this piece of software at a later date, but essentially it has my adventure on and allows me to click through and make notes as I go.
There are only a couple more items which actually complete my set up. My iMac has the Dashboard from Twitch on it, which allows me to monitor the stream – If you ever see me looking over to the side of me, that’s what I am looking at. Next to the keyboard to my left I have my RPG writing pad and pen. This is where I do my jottings to remind me about things in the game, for example how many hits the player got on their stealth roll or the locations which are currently be protected by the their shield via the ward location action. I also make a note here about rules which I need to check up on and even sometime pretend to write something just to add tension! My MacBook Pro I use to log onto Zoom if we are player down and finally – and maybe the most important final element of my set up, a coaster with a cup of coffee on it!
I would love to hear all about your setup for RPGing so please do add them in the comments below and share them with the rest of the community.
So, until next time, remember to be who you are and say what you feel because the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind. Have fun and I’ll catch you all later and, until then, consider yourself waffled!