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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Unmutated, More or Less 01 August 2015

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This month, Roger and Mike discuss the Powered by the Apocalypse game, GMPCs, and real-world weirdness.

We mentioned Powered by the Apocalypse, Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, Monsterhearts, Legacy: Life among the Ruins (the one we couldn't remember), Reign, Cold City (the one we thought might have been "Cold War"), Hillfolk/Dramasystem, container ships off Singapore, F. W. Murnau's head, The Esoterrorists, Dark Conspiracy, Saddam Hussen's Blood Quran (actually someone has claimed to have been involved in making it), Twelfth Night ("If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction."), Lake Karachay, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, GURPS WWII: Weird War II, the Real-Life Weirdness thread on the SJGames forums, and John Dallman's quote:

"A lot of our SAN loss is pre-paid these days. We have, after all, got used to space travel, chaos theory, nuclear weapons, genetic engineering and the Holocaust."

Music by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com.


  1. Posted by Andy Leighton at 04:19pm on 03 August 2015

    On skulls being purloined.

    When I was 15 the skull of a 9th century abbot (and one of the local saints) was stolen from the local church. It was returned anonymously 17 years later with a note 'As a callow youth, I stole the skull and as a responsible adult, I return it!'.

    On Powered By The Apocalypse - I have quite a few of the games mentioned. I have also backed The Sprawl and Urban Shadows and Uncharted Worlds. The first is a cyberpunk/shadowrun style thing, the second is an urban fantasy roleplaying game with lots of politics, the last is space opera. Some other recent ones which are still up for backing on KS are Legend of the Elements (supernatural martial arts action) and The Warren (Watership Down with the numbers filed off). Another one I have heard of but not seen is Spirit of '77 which offers 'two-fisted action in a fantastically turbo-charged dream of 1970s funkiness'.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 04:22pm on 03 August 2015

    Welcome, Andy!

    Interesting to see PbtA spreading. Would you say those other games, which I haven't seen, are major changes from the baseline game (the way Dungeon World and Monsterhearts are, not afraid to alter rules as needed), or is it getting closer to being a generic system with per-world tweaks?

  3. Posted by Andy Leighton at 09:32am on 04 August 2015

    Hi Roger,

    Certainly it looks like The Warren is going to be change the rules the most. One of its aims was generational play (rabbits don't live very long) and it has a pool of shared moves which apparently helps in that area.

    Chargen in Uncharted Worlds is interesting as it doesn't use the usual playbook approach - you choose an origin and 2 career paths - which gives a list of skills to choose from. Five from each career path - and you choose three from the ten. Then choose one out of the four origin skills. The career paths are something like Military or Surveillance - and by mixing those two you can come up with a Marshal or a Sniper and so on depending on what skills you take. You still roll based on stats however. Some skills modify the benefits of the roll, some are purely narrative advantages, whilst others give you gear or other advantages.

    In Urban Shadows there is a debt mechanism which looks to be in keeping with the theme but I haven't really read it yet.

    The Sprawl has two types of currency +intel and +gear you accumulate and then spend (in certain moves) to achieve the mission. And it uses a countdown clock for the mission.

    But I only have these on PDFs and I greatly prefer paper. So have only briefly looked at these games, and all but Urban Shadows aren't in finished form yet anyway.

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 10:33am on 04 August 2015

    Thanks for your comments. I think it's interesting to see a game that's trying hard not to be a "universal system" but to maintain specific flavour for the genres/settings it's applied to.

  5. Posted by Dr Bob at 06:50pm on 05 August 2015

    Useful discussion on Powered By The Apocalypse, nicely timed for just as I began reading my copy of Monster of the Week.

    I too have noticed that the 'commander' slot is the last one to get signed up for on my con game sign-up sheets. It seems to be peculiar to cons, as there is no problem when I do games with a rank structure at home. Even when what I'm doing is trying out what I'll run at a con!

    Are the pros and cons of running a military game worth a podcast in their own right?

  6. Posted by RogerBW at 11:14pm on 05 August 2015

    Hmm. We touched on that a bit in the WWII episode (http://tekeli.li/podcast/archive/2014/02/) but we may have more to say. I'll give it some thought.

  7. Posted by John Dallman at 06:14pm on 03 October 2015

    On modern reactions to Lovecraft, Dork Tower sums it up:

    http://www.dorktower.com/2011/07/26/dork-tower-tuesday-july-26-2011/

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