Improvised Radio Theatre - With Dice

Improvised Radio Theatre - With Dice! is a podcast by Roger Bell_West and Michael Cule, in which we pontificate on role-playing games.

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I Would Want to Hunt Out a Virgin 01 July 2014

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This month, Mike and Roger hurl some games aside with great force, consider their local area as a role-playing setting, try to be consistent, and discuss a possible new way of introducing people to gaming.

We mentioned Tales From the Floating Vagabond (where Jim Holloway did the interior colour art, but not the black and white illustrations), Paranoia), Toon), The Price of Freedom, Red Dawn, Nuclear Winter: The Realistic After-the-Holocaust game, Invasion novels, V), Doctor Who), Alarums and Excursions, The Laundry Files RPG, The Hellfire Club, Cyberpunk 2020, Dark Conspiracy, Roger's WWII game, Evernote, Ken and Robin talking about an introduction to role-playing, GURPS Lite, Tabletop's upcoming RPG series (search for "brand new show", and note that it's all one game, not several different ones as Roger suggested).

Apparently the proper term for the document holder that Roger showed to Michael is a "conference folder".

Music by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com; except for Soviet National Anthem as broadcast on state television in the 1980s, not an object of copyright according to Russian Civil Code 230-FZ Part IV Article 1259; this performance by the choir and orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre.


  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 07:52pm on 03 July 2014

    I once played in an Aftermath campaign where we all played ourselves. The setup was we volunteered for a sleep experiment at Cambridge University (we were all undergraduates) and when we woke up the room was different, we had no clothes, technology had clearly advanced etc. The GM tried very hard to stop us finding out the date. Apparently integrated circuits no longer had manufacturing week and year printed on them, and computers no longer had an easily accesible clock on the desktop. Nor did PCBs or anything else have a printed copyright year on them. What do you expect from a History student as GM running a high tech future campaign. Eventually we guessed somone's password and logged into the email system, and sent an email to ourselves. With clear reluctance the GM had to admit this email would have a date on it, and the year was 2086 (the nuclear war had been in 2050 from reading saved emails).

    I was already a bit fed up with this campaign's realism, but it got worse. Apparently undergraduate 1980s Physics and a bit of DIY experience is enough to let me refuel a Nuclear Fusion reactor. You see, the computers had woken us from cryosleep due to impending power failure which would have killed us.

    It all went downhill from there, especially when one of the players decided this future would make him go insane and the obvious thing to do because of that was spike the water supply for the entire base (which was huge) with LSD. Why there was enough LSD around to even do that I never found out. Eventually the mutant vampires killed us all. Did I not mention them earlier? How remiss of me.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 07:56pm on 03 July 2014

    The same problem with learning the date happened in The Morrow Project, at least the version I played, because the GM looked through the (very extensive) list of everything that got buried in the bunker with the PCs, and discovered... no clocks.

    Still, at least we had a can opener.

  3. Posted by Patrick Riley at 04:02am on 06 July 2014

    Villains and Vigilantes was the avatar superhero game you were thinking of, though I don't know how popular that mode of character creation was.

    Back in college around 1990, we played in a D&D game in which we started as ourselves visiting a museum. We then went through a portal and became D&D characters based on the objects we grabbed on the way though. Yes, the idea was entirely stolen from the D&D cartoon.

    Anyway, I ended up playing a Thief, because that's what you called the class back then. Unfortunately, my friends and house mates began assuming that I'd be off stealing stuff and made a point to keep an eye on me, despite my protests to the contrary ("It's just me!" fell on deaf ears).

    A few years ago, someone in our group proposed playing ourselves who then either woke in a post-apocalyptic world or were sent to a fantasy world (I don't remember which). I said it probably wasn't a good idea unless you /wanted/ to see me roleplay a nervous breakdown and missing my wife.

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 10:17am on 07 July 2014

    It does seem to have been an idea that's been reinvented several times, but I can't see that it's ever caught on in a big way. These examples certainly suggest that there are some intrinsic problems which haven't really been solved yet. One thing we can usefully get from The Price of Freedom is the idea that your avatar isn't "you when the Commies invade" as much as "you, scaled to a standard level of competence, when the Commies invade": so nobody has to say "I'm smarter than Bob", just "I'm smarter than I am strong".

    And like what Michael reported from one of his players, I can be me the 164 hours a week when I'm not playing RPGs.

  5. Posted by Phil Masters at 09:29am on 11 July 2014

    Well, anything can be done badly. The question of whether playing-yourself games can ever be done well may be different.

    I've never been keen on the idea myself, but I did feel that Villains & Vigilantes (which I never played) had half a plausible excuse; there's a subset of classical superhero comics which start with the premise "Ordinary person somehow acquires superpowers, and naturally decides that the appropriate thing to do is to put on a weird costume and fight crime", with an implied undertone of "and it's someone like you!" personal power fantasy. So letting the players be the baseline ordinary people had a certain logic.

    How this was supposed to work when your players were all based in Podunk, Ohio, or a small commuter-belt town in Hertfordshire, (both pop. 15,000), rather than a big city with a decent amount of crime to stomp on, I don't know. But presumably they could all leave home and go get jobs as reporters in Metropolis. Anyway, various comics and TV series have deconstructed that power fantasy to death these last thirty years, so I doubt that the idea would seem so obvious now.

    The story I liked about playing-yourself games involved a GM (presumably well-trusted by his group) who said "You're going to play yourselves; stat yourselves up in GURPS and bring the character sheets in to the first session". Most of the group were honest, and turned up with sheets showing themselves as 25-50 point characters; one player was, well, the sort of person who'd insist that he was a 297 point character in GURPS. Then the GM said "Fine, this is a supers campaign, you've all had the same radiation accident with random powers resulting; here's enough powers to turn each of you into a 300-point character"...

  6. Posted by Michael Cule at 09:45pm on 12 July 2014

    That's nice Phil, but tough on those of us who really are that cool...

    The GURPS4e character sheet I did for myself was 114 points, though arguably some of the quirks should have been full blown (if minor) disads.

  7. Posted by RogerBW at 07:01am on 13 July 2014

    I'm increasingly convinced that that's the hidden gem in the heap of, um, straw that's The Price of Freedom: you can claim anything you like, but you have to scale yourself to a starting PC level of overall ability.

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