Improvised Radio Theatre - With Dice

Revenge and a Pay Rise 01 February 2016

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This month, Roger and Mike get away from the table, to LARPs and gaming by videoconference, and consider some stories that are hard to adapt to RPGs.

We mentioned Labyrinthe, a latex chainsaw, and Conpulsion, as well as Continuum, Conception (you've just missed the 2016 event) and Consequences. Consequences has connections with the Peaky LARP-writing workshop which is spreading its tentacles towards the New World as well. See also UK Freeforms. We also talked about Mind's Eye Theatre, Megagames including Shut Up and Sit Down's play of one, appear.in, Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, ViewScream, session recordings on YouTube, the current state of Google Wave, Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Ladykillers, The Lavender Hill Mob, The Titfield Thunderbolt, the Jack Reacher series, The Grey, and The Martian.

Music by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com.


  1. Posted by Dirk The Dice at 09:51pm on 01 February 2016

    Another fine podcast gentlemen!

    Very interesting discussion about video conferencing and by some weird coincidence, I've just posted a piece on theGROGNARDfiles.com about our use of Roll20 to find stolen moments of play in the midst of the hustle and bustle of every day life.

    I have to say, I've never found using Roll20 quite the faff that you describe, in fact, I've found it reasonably user friendly to set up because it's largely based on 'drag and drop' principles. We never bother with the 'battle mat' and the miniatures - I think that's a laudable attempt to monetise something that works perfectly well as a 'free' application.

    It functions as a white board - you can scribble on the screen, with different colours indicating different players

    Visuals can be added very easily and there is a function that allows the GM to reveal fragments of the map/ visual in stages (a fog of war)

    and, probably best of all, it has animated dice which gives the authentic feel of playing around a table.

    It is also compatible with Google plus, so you can open it up within Google plus (if you have registered) and use all the functionality.

    It's definitely worth exploring more if it's been a while since you last looked at it. My difficulty has been around the interactive experience and how that affects the experience of playing. I've struggled to get the players engaging with each other to a satisfactory level. There's all the problems of over-talking and the intermittent glitches that you'd expect, but I also think that there are fewer visual signals for the GM to understand how the scenario is being received...

    There's no doubt that it is a great way to feed the habit in the context of a busy life, but at the moment it feels like puffing on a vapour-pipe rather than having a satisfying toke on a fag.

    Great episode again. Keep it up!

    Dirk

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 10:00pm on 01 February 2016

    Thanks Dirk! I may give it another try, but I find a lot of non-techie people these days simply don't want to install software at all – if it doesn't happen entirely within their browser, they aren't interested.

  3. Posted by Doug Sundseth at 03:45am on 04 February 2016

    LARPs: I played in a well-organized boffer LARP game (see http://www.ifgs.org/) for many years. There's an attraction to solving physical challenges physically (thwacking rather than being thwacked, solving physical "puzzles" for lockpicking, crossing actual rope bridges, sleeping under the stars, whatever). In the end, though, the effort/reward ratio became unfavorable for me. But the organization is still running games regularly and has many regular players.

    For VOIP games (using whatever service or protocol), we've found that having a separate WiFi camera pointed at the map (and other visual resources) at the GM's end is quite useful. This allows us to use the same vinyl play mat as we use for all local games. Further, a real conference microphone, not just the built-in mike in someone's laptop, is very useful for any place with more than one player.

    That said, in a mixed local and remote game, the experience of the remote players is noticeably inferior. It helps a great deal if there is somebody that will let the local players know that they need to be quiet to listen to the remote players regularly.

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 03:38pm on 04 February 2016

    Welcome, Doug!

    At least when I played at Labyrinthe, it was pure dungeon bash, with basically no plot beyond "get stuff, level up". It may have changed since.

    Appear.in doesn't appear to allow multiple connections from the same computer, though I may well try it with two separate computers and see how well that works.

    In the WWII game we usually have two remote players; we've had to learn some speech discipline in the face-to-face part of the group.

  5. Posted by Phil Masters at 04:09pm on 07 February 2016

    (1) The obvious counter-example to the contention that Call of Cthulhu isn't LARPable is presumably the existence of Cthulhu Live. I've never looked at it myself, but if I recall some comments on the first edition correctly, this was mildly notorious for including suggestions on how to build a life-size Cthulhu. Well, his head, anyway.

    (2) In my experience - which is many, many years out of date - megagames are direct developments of wargames, which leads to a wargames mindset. Nothing wrong with that, but don't expect much roleplaying. In fact, on one occasion, I attempted to roleplay the strong personal motivation that was clearly stated in my character notes, and an expression of panic crossed the ref's face before he pointed out that this would crash the game for myself and a bunch of other players.

    (3) The classic way to roleplay something like Kind Hearts and Coronets is to turn it inside out; the PCs become the team of Scotland Yard's finest who are told to determine why the members of this noble family seem to be dying with quite such distressing frequency. Given that the answer to this question is rather easy to guess, really, and in any case this should be a comedy game, the PCs would I think have to be a bunch of bumbling plods.

    In fact, this might end up drawing inspiration from Night's Black Agents in general and The Dracula Dossier in particular. Not that the killer should be a vampire (although that could be an entertaining way to amplify the geekiness of the game, for them as wants such amplification), but he can be terrifyingly competent, ruthless, amoral, and connected, leaving the low-budget plods trying desperately to find his weaknesses.

  6. Posted by Owen Smith at 07:56pm on 07 February 2016

    Not wanting to install software at all is entirely understandable, given how much software is malware infected or incompatible with your PC in some bizarre way. My dad is very hesitant to install anything, because I'm his only means of fixing his PC if it goes wrong and I'm a 2.5 hour drive away. Your average user has no clue how to fix things, and even if they have a backup is unsure if it will restore everything. Given the number of industry wide cockups, I'm not going to blame the average user from being cautious. Heck I'm cautious about what I install!

  7. Posted by Owen Smith at 10:39pm on 08 February 2016

    I've never been attracted to LARPs. The rubber sword version is entirely too athletic for my tastes, and the other version is all about politicing which I'm crap at. I like rolling dice because my character is better at Fast Talk than I'll ever be, and LARP doesn't appear to provide that.

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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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