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 Feel Myself Fading Away And/Or Turning Into a Lizard 01 June 2015


This month, Roger (with reduced nasal resonance) and Mike look at time travel and ponder the simplest and most complex possible role-playing games.

We mentioned Timeship), Timemaster, Poul Anderson's Time Patrol stories, Doctor Who, Timelords), GURPS Time Travel and Time Travel Adventures, Continuum), Feng Shui, The Man Who Folded Himself, 1632) and Island in the Sea of Time, Time Riders (the Iron Crown supplement Roger couldn't remember), Time Changer, HeroQuest, Paranoia), FATE), WaRP and Roger's adventure for it, the Arkham Horror and Firefly boardgames, Burning Wheel, Dangerous Journeys, Hillfolk/Dramasystem, Rolemaster, Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century, and the Amber RPG.

Music by Kevin MacLeod at

  1. Posted by Phil at 10:49am on 04 June 2015

    First edition Champions didn't have a single unified resolution mechanism, I'm afraid, though it was far less messy than some games of the time. Determining whether attacks hit was handled a little differently from non-combat skills, there were two different damage mechanisms in play - "killing" and "normal" damage - and a lot of non-damaging effects, including Presence Attacks (impressing people into compliance, pausing, or fleeing) were handled by a general class of mechanic somewhat resembling normal damage.

    Runequest/BRP probably had as unified a system as any back then - most things resolved with percentile dice, plus a fairly simple damage mechanic.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 10:52am on 04 June 2015

    Fair point; some special cases, mostly dealing with magic, but most things in RQII were covered by either a skill roll or a resistance roll.

  3. Posted by Chris at 10:32am on 24 June 2015

    There is also Time and Time Again by Timeline where the PCs are there to protect the time travellers. They also published the Morrow Project.

    In terms of simplest/most complicated games I believe it comes down to each person's preference for play style. As rpgs grew out of Wargames they followed the simulationist approach of wanting to model everything in the world. That framework makes sense to people and so we see the success of GURPS, BRP, etc.

    It took many years to develop Narrative gaming which has been taken up by many people. They prefer that style over simulation.

    I play Serenity (Cortex Classic) and the GM considered moving over to Cortex+ which is narrative. He came to the conclusion that it was too complicated. It was too much for him to mentally parse.

    Having just taken delivery of Heroquest Glorantha this morning, it looks lovely but I'm not sure I will play it. It's style of social/historical roleplaying requires insight into adventure design and narrative structure that often seems beyond me but joy for the English graduates and writer/actors.

    This leaves us with two groups of gamers who point at each others favourite games and say that seems too complicated.

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 12:37pm on 24 June 2015

    Yeah, it makes sense that there's a subjective consideration of cognitive burden. The sort of game that relies on every player being inventive all the time seems to me like a gaming pathology, because I've known or been the gamer who's not quite as quick off the mark as the others, but in a group of spontaneous improvisers (all of whom are on form) I could see it working very well.

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