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D&D Beyond, How To Choose The Right System, and What Is A Session 0 - Been A Busy Couple of Weeks!

Wow is all I can say about this weeks feedback. If you regularly read my blog though you will know that I failed to post last week. Once again I am working on improving every week and I think I am delivering on that note. Many have told me how much better the quality of my videos has gotten. The amount of opportunities that have lined up thanks to this series has been amazing! I will admit I haven't grown as quickly as I thought I would but I am having far more fun this last month doing YouTube videos and managing my social media than I have ever had fun doing this. If you have known me you know this is my 2nd Tabletop RPG channel and my first one goes all the way back to 2012.

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Tools of the YouTube RPG Gamer

What's Needed To Participate In The Tabletop RPG One Shot Group?

This question has come up a few times. I have answered it countless times. That is ok though I understand there is a lot of information out there to sift through so this is going to be my guide to what is necessary, recommended, and preferred.

Most people run games over Google + Hangouts. So you will need a G+ account. A YouTube, Roll20, and many others are recommended though. If you have a YouTube account you can broadcast your games. If you have Roll20 you can use grids and many other tools. There are many other resources out there but those are the most common.

Now it is mandatory you have some sort of microphone so the other players can hear you. I personally use a cheap Logitech Stereo Headset H110 (microphone headphones combo) that sells for about $10. Many people use Blue Snowball (do not get the ICE CONDENSOR SNOWBALL), and Blue Yeti (most recommended) because the sound quality is a lot better than built in microphones on laptops and the cheaper microphones out there. Headphones are important because without them you will pick up sound from your speakers and make the experience tough on the other people in the game. This is one of the more annoying things when playing a game. I have used my iPhone ear buds before and it does the trick just fine.

Next up is a camera and there are people out there who won't allow a player in their game without one. I am not one of them but I know of a few who require it. A built in laptop camera should be sufficient enough but if you really want to there are some quality webcams you can pick up. I recommend the Logitech HD Pro C920 because it offers up to 1080p but works just fine at 720. Anything above this I feel is certainly overkill for live plays.

So if I was just getting into everything I would focus on the microphone above all else. When playing in an online game that is the most important aspect. The Blue Yeti is going to give you the best sound quality but may not be necessary if you are just playing in a couple games a month though.

Tabletop RPG Tip For Players And DMs (Taking My Own Advice)

I have been into RPGs since 1997. When I first found my love for RPGs I didn't game very often and struggled for years to find a steady group. I tried play by post, play by chat, voice chat and webcam on Yahoo Messenger, and even in store games like D&D Encounters and Pathfinder Society. It was an endless struggle and one that made me appreciate what I have now. When I look back at the struggle it makes it even harder to say no to games today. Due to me having a hard time telling people no to games I think I get burnt out often.

Much like anything in life if you do something too much and stretch yourself too thin you can get burned out of it. It is important to take a break and recharge your batteries every now and then. This is something I am learning at this time in my life because I have never found it as easy to find a game as I do today. A year ago I was struggling to find people to game with even.

The debut of the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group led to a lot of online games happening. I've played in tons and tons of games. I believe as of January of this year I had played in about 30 online games in just a few months. The Provokers Campaign has led to a lot of people asking me to play in their games too. It is a lot to keep up with and I don't even play in a lot of online games compared to some of my friends.

In person I run two home campaigns (as I have said before), and I run D&D Encounters at GrandLan Gaming Center here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On any given night I have something going on that is gaming related or work related and it can be taxing. I have friends like Matt Click and others who have said they take breaks from gaming altogether for a couple weeks every now and then. I never thought I would want to but lately it seems like I should.

I took some time off from Encounters for Christmas but not from my home games or online games. I took time off from my home games, and Encounters when my son was born in March but not from online games. So I haven't really taken a break from gaming as a whole for any period of time since August of 2014. Gaming is a true passion of mine and I want to continue doing it for a long time but I have found myself at times just going through the motions in some games and that isn't fair to other people.

What are you saying Juce? I'm say that if I have one tip for anyone out there it is to take a break from gaming every once in awhile to give you that spark of energy and enthusiasm again. I am still excited about running and playing games but I want to give it the proper attention it deserves when I sit down to play or run a game. Plus taking time off from your hobbies is a great chance for you to focus on your family or career too.

Do you find yourself needing to take a break from RPGs every once in awhile? Maybe it is some other hobby that you need to take a break from? I would love to hear about it below. Leave a comment and if you like what you read today please share this blog post.

Also check out that sweet Skeleton Dragon Tankard! That would be awesome to have at the gaming table.

One On One, Solo, and Duet RPG Adventures and Campaigns

For many people it is very difficult to find a group that some would deem a full party of adventurers to play Tabletop RPGs. When I got into gaming this was the case for me. I struggled to find people to play Heroes Unlimited which for me this was the game that I loved when I was 12 and loved up until recently. My first RPG group was 2 players and a GM. When the GM moved it made it near impossible to game because we had it in our mind you needed multiple players to play the game properly. If we only knew about the possibility of playing with 1 player and a GM our RPG experience would have been drastically different.

The 1 player and 1 GM format I have seen called different things. I have seen it called 1 on 1, solo, and duet campaigns. What the actual correct terminology is I am not quite sure. What I do know is that this is a great way to run and play games for those of us who may struggle to find groups to play with. Some people use these types of games to help players catch up after mission a session. Some people use these types of games to teach a new player how the game is played. Either way it is a great way to game and can provide a vastly different experience than you may be used to.

A few years ago I attempted to run a Heroes Unlimited game like this for my wife. Our first session was a lot of fun. She played a Mega Hero that we rolled a lot of the stuff randomly. That character ended up being very similar to Thor which was pretty interesting. The idea of those first few sessions was that she had no idea how things worked on Earth. She broke an elevator door and beat 2 guys into a coma when they tried to kidnap her. Unfortunately the campaign didn't last very long because we ended up moving.

We tried again to do another duet campaign using Pathfinder when I was really getting into that system. The idea was that my wife would make and control a few characters. Her party was an Aasimar Sorcerer and an Oread Barbarian. We played a couple games and this was fun but we wanted enough players for a full party. This game died off but only because once again real life stepped in and we moved again.

Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons)
$36.03
By Wizards RPG Team

There are many ways to play a game with one player. Maybe that player controls only a single character or they control a whole party of characters similar to how they would play a video game like Baldur's Gate. Maybe they handle all of the groups social interactions with NPCs or maybe they only control their single characters social interactions while the DM controls all of the other members of the group in social environments similar to Dragon Age for example. In the latter example the players choices could lead to some members of the party leaving the group. No matter how you choose to play this can be an extremely fun way to game.

This style of play is one I wish I was able to try sometime. I would love to play both as just a single character without a party and also a campaign where I play as a single character but in combat I can control a whole party. If I had a DM who was good at improvising I think this could be one of the most enjoyable ways for me to play a game.

On YouTube there are at least 2 channels that cover this style of game. Matt Click's afistfulofdice on YouTube and has recently started running games on his channel for his fiance. He is also my DM for the Provokers campaign and is a very good DM. Andrew Armstrong known as DawnforgedCast has a couple games in this style on his channel. One is with his wife, and the other is with one of his viewers. To see how these games can be played go and check those channels out. If you are interested in running or playing a game in this style feel free to join the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group and seek it out.


Approaching 1,000 Subscribers on YouTube!

With this blog post I am going to reflect on different things with my YouTube Channel. I will reflect on the very beginning, the point where I felt like things really started to take off, and where it feels like it is right now. I will also share videos from these different points with my YouTube Channel so you can see the difference. Hopefully some can learn from some of the things I have done. If not maybe you will just find it interesting to hear how things have gone for me.

When I began my YouTube channel I never had any lofty expectations. I just thought it would be fun to interact with people and share ideas. One of the big things I was looking to get from things was inspiration from others expanding on my own ideas for campaigns, world building, and other RPG related things. It was also assumed early on that this channel would be a mix of things from Pro Wrestling, Sports, Tabletop RPGs, and Video Games. Look at my original video on my channel to see how different I was then. It is funny to me watching this back because I think I have come a long way since then. What do you think of the way the channel was back then?

About a year into my channel I had felt like my channel had become pretty stagnant around 130-140 subscribers. I was not even a year into being a content creator on YouTube. I probably felt like at this time I needed to use video editing software to grow but I was wrong. The channel still wasn't as focused as it is these days. It was about too many topics even though I should have realized it was an RPG Channel then. I was still trying to talk about Sports, Pro Wrestling, and Movies at this point. When a channel isn't more focused you lose the viewers you get on the topics less discussed. Again this was a learning curve though. About a month and a half later I did a year in review video which you can see to the right side of this paragraph. When I set my goal for 500 subscribers in this video I never thought I would crush that goal like I did. While I was still looking for my voice in the community at this time I think it wasn't long after this that things began to click for me.

Around GenCon 2014 is when the start of the Juce Live Chats began! These Live Chats are what led to the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group and other great things. Friendships were born and since then so many games have been played. I've grown as a GM/DM/Player of games. Met some fantastic people and my life is richer because of these great people. I believe this is when my channel really took off. This is the type of community interaction I enjoy. The video responses so many of us have done don't seem to help me with a sense of community where as these live chats have served as great ways to learn about other players and games. I still try to do Live Chats on my channel every once in awhile. Did one last night even.

So now that the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group is approaching 1,500 members and I am almost to 1,000 subscribers I think the sky is the limit. Not sure I ever truly thought I would reach the point I am at now. It feels like quite an accomplishment to be where I am at today but now that I am here I want to reach higher. Its awesome hearing feedback from others about how you have helped them with their games or that you have enriched their lives with things like the One Shot Group. So many great people make the One Shot Group go though. I don't deserve all of the credit at all. I am just happy people are having fun and enjoying themselves.

In closing I want to thank you all for your support not only for my YouTube Channel, this Blog/Website, the Podcast, and of course the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group. You are the reason I do what I do. It has been a fun ride so far and I have no plans to get off of it anytime soon.


2014 Wraps Up and 2015 Begins!

2014 has been an amazing year. When this year began I never would have thought it would end the way it has. When the year started my family was in a transition phase. We had moved to the other side of the state and were staying in my wifes parents basement until we found our house. It took a little longer than expected but in the end we found a home and are very happy here.

When it comes to gaming much like the year before I made a game transition. At the start of 2014 I was getting into Pathfinder pretty heavily. Struggled for a long time to find a group to play Pathfinder but when I did the new D&D5e had come out. So I switched over to Fifth Edition and it was awesome! I couldn't be happier with where I stand on the games I enjoy. Don't think I will ever run Pathfinder again but may someday play it again. Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons is my favorite game right now and for the foreseeable future.

Currently I run two campaigns of D&D5e. I also run D&D Encounters at a local gaming store. This has given me a lot of experience in a very short time. One thing I have learned is the importance of campaign notes because trying to keep track of things happening across multiple games at the very same time is difficult. I had to drop out of a Savage Worlds Campaign due to how busy I am with work and not being able to plan far enough in advance for gaming sessions. It was unfortunate because they were awesome people. Maybe down the line I will get back to being able to play with them.

The YouTube channel had a little over 130 subscribers and I set the bar high I felt at 500 subscribers by the end of 2014. Little did I know that I would hit that goal in November and I'd hit about 750 subscribers. It is funny because it reminds me of a class I took this year where they ask you what your goals are but then make you cross it out and double it. So I would probably say my goal is 2,000 for 2015 but if I cross it out and double it you know what that makes it. No matter how many subscribers I get over there though I will always try to reply to as many comments as possible.

Content is still key with YouTube and there is a lot I want to do in 2015. Crafting is something I want to get back to. Haven't done any crafting in a few months now. It is something I enjoy doing and I think people like to watch it. I would say Flip Through Fridays but I don't buy enough books to keep up with that every week. My D&D Basics Series has been on hold for a few weeks but I plan on bringing that back until I finish it and move on to a more advanced D&D series. One of the things I enjoyed doing early on with my channel is discussing ideas for campaigns and stuff so I want to do that again. Also World Building and fleshing out my current world is on my list. The video ideas I have are many and looking forward to doing them.

When it comes to this website, blog, and podcast it is still new to me. The positive reaction it has received has been great. We have had some guest blog posts that people liked too. I want to bring you new posts at least every other day on average. I'd also like to get more downloads up on the website with monsters, characters to use, tables, and more. The podcast is going to be bi-weekly but every now and then it may be once a month. We don't have an actual release schedule for it. We are always interested in your questions, or show requests though.

The Tabletop RPG One Shot group on Facebook began around August and already has hit 750 members. That is amazing! Right now there are 17 games scheduled in the next two weeks to be played because of the group. Again that is fantastic! When we started the group I never expected this type of success with it. I still plan on running games for mainly new members when milestones are hit. For instance when we hit 1,000 members I will run another D&D5e game.

Some things I would really like to do in 2015 is get more people making videos, playing games, and interacting with others. The Live Chats I have hosted on G+ Hangouts have led to some great friendships and helped me learn a lot as well. If I make half as many friends as I did in 2014 it will be a good year. The friends I made this year are people that I think will be life long friends. There are so many awesome people out there and I want to say thank you to all of them for their support this whole time.

As you can see there is a lot of great things going on heading into 2015 and we here are  planning for a huge year. Growing the hobby is something I have always been passionate about and I feel like I made some progress towards that in 2014. 

Tips for Starting a YouTube Channel

Seems like I am asked pretty regularly how to start a YouTube Channel. I have been thinking about this recently and I wanted to give people some tips. If you have been on the fence about it hopefully this blog post will help you with getting started.

1. First you need to think about why you are starting a channel and what you hope to get out of it yourself. There are countless reasons for why you may want to do it.

2. Ask yourself what your channel will be about. Is it about your favorite hobby? Is it just about you and everything about you? Will it have a singular focus? Will it be very broad and cover a lot of things? All of this will matter in the long term.

3. Begin to think of a name and description of what your channel is about. Having a name related to what your channel is about will help bring people to your channel. You may just want to use your nickname and that is fine too.

4. How will you be recording your videos? Webcam, Video Camera, Phone, Picture Camera with Video functions, Tablet? You will see below a great video camera I highly recommend to get started. It is affordable and is better than the one I currently use. Plus it films in HD. If you can get good lighting this will be all you need for high quality production for your videos.

5. Will you edit your videos or just post them up online raw? There are many fantastic channels that just upload videos without editing. Production quality isn't important as long as your content is good. Content is key no matter what you are doing. If your production values are very important to you focus on your lighting first.

6. Then set up your YouTube account. Put a cover image, and avatar up for your channel.

7. Begin filming your videos and don't forget to type up a catchy title, description, and use up all of your keywords space.

Here is the Video Camera I mentioned above. It is much better than my current one. It films in HD and is very affordable. If you go and pick this up let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts on this camera.

Those are my simple tips for getting a channel going. You should be ready to get out there filming videos and posting them up on your very own YouTube channel. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.