The New Nerd Fort

Ok, I’ve got a new idea.

Since the horror of the bedbugs is over and my new house is actually being properly put together, I can think about how the Nerd Fort can be done in a better way than before. And I realized something that we are, in fact, missing.

The basic idea is that I am doing the podcast so that other people will be 1) entertained by it, and 2) learn something from it (also I want experience, and I want to play, etc, etc.).

The first point is a little bit automatic – if you’ve downloaded it, then you probably know what you’re getting in to and will probably enjoy it. The second point is what I’m focusing on here. I think that is the primary way that give something of value to my listeners.

The controlling idea behind my podcast is that if you listen to the Nerd Fort podcast, you will be able to learn something that will help enlighten your game, or at least give you a perspective on things that you didn’t have before.

To that end, I want to change how we do our episodes: I want each episode to be played at a new character level. i.e.: Episode 1 will be with fresh new characters, right out of the tavern. As the episode comes to an end, we have some sort of cliffhanger that sets up the next episode. At the beginning of the next episode, we are starting at level 2. This series is limited to 21-23 episodes  – one for each level, one to account for the ‘episode zero’ and maybe some epic play or other considerations.

This will make it very fast-paced – which tends to make for more exciting play. Both listeners and players will have a greater sense of accomplishment and ‘doing something’ very easily. We will be able to display how the game acts differently at different levels. There are more advantages that I am having trouble articulating.

It is possible that Sterbz will want to have a cohesive adventure for this, and possibly just make a bunch of random or interesting encounters that don’t actually fit together whatsoever. It’s really up to him. Much more work = much better storyline, but that is a lot of work for a campaign designed to only last about 5-6 months.

It may have some negative consequences.

  • Maybe the listeners enjoy having us taking 3-4 episodes to level up.
  • There is the adventure writing aspect that may be frustrating – it’s hard to plan for exactly when the characters will be in the right place for a level up.
  • We often play for about 4 hours at a time. After trimming down some of the boring non-gaming stuff, personal life, and other not-for-the-podcast stuff, I usually get about 2 or 3 episodes out of a single session, so we will have to have our characters leveled up and ready to go long before we even start recording – more load on the players and GM alike.
  • Most adventures expect you to take multiple sessions at around the same level throughout the entire module – this means that published adventures are going to need to have some heavy modification, and homebrew ones will be even harder to write than before.

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.

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.

Episode will be late.

The Episode of “==>” (pronounced “Equal Equal Greater Than”) that would normally go up Monday morning will be up later in the week.

I have the audio recorded but it needs editing, and this weekend was pretty busy.

I will probably have it finished by midnight Monday, but no promises – there is a reason I usually do this on the weekends.

In other news, I am going on vacation starting this coming Friday, and lasting for a week. I have no idea what this is going to do to my posting schedule, and it may even improve it as far as the blog posts go. But I am going to the same beach as a few hundred people that I have casual contact with….so writing and burying my face in a screen is probably not what I will want to do. I will probably be constantly showing off the newest addition to my family, swimming in the damn ocean and making a big goddamned sandcastle.

I’ve got a few posts just about ready in the “Lily Story” series, and a few ideas otherwise. Not sure how far that will get me. As always, let me know if you think of a great use for my website, a great idea for a post, or a great excuse to give me a million dollars.


But I am figuring it out.

But while I am figuring it out – please tell me what I am doing wrong. I don’t have a lot of self-awareness and I often don’t realize that people want me to do something. Telling me directly is the best way. Email me:

I really appreciate it and if you are in Ohio, it would be really easy for me to follow through on a promise to give you a cookie (or other little pastry of your choice).

This is the first ‘real’ post that I am putting on the website, and this is the first time that I have actually built a website (or…started building a website. most of my sub-pages say ‘under construction’ right at the moment). Currently I am using WordPress, with the free theme “ilisa” [update: parabola. it is amazing]. I don’t know whether or not I will be keeping this theme around, but I like the look of it when I have no images, like right now, but I’m not sure I am going to like it with images (putting a header in makes it overlap the title of the website – first real problem I found with it).

First off, if you came here from a search engine, or a link on some sort of forum or social media…THANK YOU for visiting my website! I have no idea how much traffic to expect, or who to expect it from. If you are reading this post then either you are in the archives (thanks for looking through them!), or it has been less than a month since my website went up. Which means that you are special – my google analytics probably shows you, individually. You are that blip, and I will cherish that blip – you just coming here helps me to say “See! I am doing something that someone else thought it would be cool to look at!”, and seriously, I appreciate that – it is really easy to think that I am just screaming into the void here.

This image is mostly here as an experiment.

BUT If you are one of my friends that I have bugged and begged to come and check out my website/podcast/etc then THANK YOU for actually doing that. I really appreciate it, and I am going to make a cookie (or some other little pastry) just for you. I would love it if you would tell people about this website, or even better: if you would tell someone about one particular page on my website. If you send people to one of these particular pages, then they will probably stick around for a little bit longer, which helps me to show my awesome stuff to them. You could try sending them to my photo gallery, perhaps one of my ..three.. ..separate.. ..podcasts.., or even just the contact page, so that they can just tell me all the things that they would rather see me doing – I really am open to anything right now. So, the main point of this endeavor is to have a landing page for my podcasts, all three of which I will explain a little bit in a moment. The secondary function is to be able to publish stuff about some of the things that I like to do, like the aforementioned photography, internet stuff in general, social media stuff, and…I don’t know…talk about bonsai trees or something. I will probably complain eventually, as well.

So, the podcasts: The Nerd’s Apprentice: I think that the  Nerd World is a subculture within American and global society that is not very well understood by those outside of it. SO…I am starting the Nerd’s Apprentice as a way to try to help us nerds to be a little more self-aware, and to help those outside of the Nerd World to understand us a little bit more easily. The topics will be on all sorts of things, from tabletop roleplaying, to conventions, to why some nerds like the Sahara desert and some like New Zealand (it has to do with movies). The format will be a somewhat ‘normal’ format for nerdy podcasts I have listened to already – a couple guys sitting in front of the microphone, neither of which is 100% sure if what he is about to say will bring down the rage of the internet. I will be having a few regular co-hosts and hopefully a bunch of interviews. I am the nerd, and many of you are the nerd, but we are all the apprentice (especially those of us who are not nerds) – we all have something about the Nerd World that we don’t know. If you have an episode idea that you would like to hear me talk about, you should email me. The schedule will be once every 2 weeks on Monday morning, opposite the Apprentice Story Teller

The Apprentice Story Teller: I think that storytelling – both its art and its craft – is becoming passe` in my culture (I am American, specifically Midwestern Caucasian). I have a nephew that I know I will need to entertain at some point, and if he is anything like me or my brothers, he won’t just want to play with a football. I want to be able to keep his rapt attention with the things that I can tell him about, and inspire him to tell others a story of his own. The format will be mostly me telling you stories, but also exploring aspects of the Art of Storytelling in a discussion format with other people. I am the apprentice, and I want to record my learning process about this – and to give you the recording, so that you will be able to learn, as well. I am pretty sure that I will take submissions, and if you have an idea for a story that you want told, or if you have something that you would like to submit your own audio for it, I eagerly encourage you to email me about this. The schedule will be once every 2 weeks on Monday morning, opposite the Nerd’s Apprentice.

The Apprentice Game Master: at the time of writing, I have been out of Tabletop Roleplaying for about 2 years. I am getting back into it because of the faith that many of my friends have in my gaming abilities. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to help other people learn how to play the game, especially since I have one new player that will be playing with me. The format is quite specifically against the grain of the normal “actual gameplay” podcasts I have heard (to be fair, I have not heard very many). I am going to harshly edit out everything that doesn’t happen “in-game”, and then chop it up into 15(ish) minute segments. I will do my best to remove dice-rolls, page-turns, tangents about local restaurants, and ten-year-old inside jokes. I think that most of my listeners just don’t care about most of that, and the shorter segments will make it much easier to consume. We are both the apprentice, and I am re-learning how to GM – you could learn with me. The schedule will be 3 days weekly, probably Tues/Wed/Thurs, but I am not set on that. Thanks for reading this whole thing – walls of text are sort of my specialty. And seriously, I want to give you a cookie. You should come over.