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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People's Bad Dreams, Gamified 01 April 2021


This month, Roger and Mike celebrate episode 100.

We mentioned, Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, History Today, The Grognard Files, Dungeon World, Troika, Roger's WWII game, Achtung! Cthulhu, The Dracula Dossier, The New Avengers, The Dirty Grey Space Game, GURPS Illuminati, Dark Conspiracy, Ars Magica, Age of Aquarius, Leave Not a Rack Behind, Prince Albert Victor, Torg and GURPS Torg, Pendragon, Whartson Hall, Genesys, GUMSHOE, Timewatch, Modern AGE, Feng Shui. Blades in the Dark, FATE, Champions, Monster of the Week, Masks, and Reign.

We have a tip jar (please tell us how you'd like to be acknowledged on the show).

Please use the discussion forum at rather than commenting below.

Music by Kevin MacLeod at, except for the introduction (War Inside by dilo), fanfare by n2p5 and fireworks by dobroide.

Transcript (thanks to Shimmin Beg):

  • Michael Cule 00:21
    Hello, this is Improvised Radio Theatre with Dice with me, Michael Cule.

  • Roger BW 00:28
    And me, Roger Bell West.

  • Michael Cule 00:31
    And Roger at this moment, I think what we want is a little bit of triumphant music rumbling in the background. Can I say how much I appreciated your choice of music over the years? And then perhaps some fireworks going off about now. I'm sure the special effects budget will do better than boom, whoosh. It is Episode 100. We made it and we had such wonderful plans to do something special, but we haven't done almost any of them. But as April Fool's Day dawns and rises and two bleary-eyed, long-bearded, gray haired creatures emerge...

  • Roger BW 01:21
    Oh, is this where we tell them about how we're becoming an officially recognized podcast of Wizards of the Coast or whoever?

  • Michael Cule 01:29
    We haven't sold out yet. Roger.

  • Roger BW 01:31
    But you know, it's April.

  • Michael Cule 01:33
    Thank you, all right. I see. In the spirit –I don't like to lie to people. In the spirit – I'd a whole intro planned out in my head, and he's gone and done that to me. He does this to me. And he's been doing it to me for the past 100 months, and we felt we should celebrate the event with something special. But instead, we're just going to sit here, and we're going to reminisce and talk about things we've already done, and about the things we're going to do. And therefore onwards to the past!

  • Roger BW 02:05
    Just before we get there thank you to Glenn Lewis, who dropped some money in our tip jar. And we encourage other people to do the same thing.

  • Michael Cule 02:13
    OK, do that thing. Give them an address, where they could drop the thing into the

  • Roger BW 02:18 will reach us.

  • Michael Cule 02:20
    He does that terribly well, you know.

  • Roger BW 02:23

  • Michael Cule 02:47
    Yes, we have reached that landmark, that epic stage in our gestation into fully grown up gamesmasters and pundits. And it is issue 100. And and

  • Roger BW 03:02
    Right, right. Yes, of course. You still use base 10 Sorry, I forget these things.

  • Michael Cule 03:07
    Do not pull that time traveler shtick on me. Roger. I don't believe you're the future. It's hard to believe you're even from the past.

  • Roger BW 03:18
    I think we're very much from the past.

  • Michael Cule 03:20
    Well, alright. It's part of our shtick. Which has got us as far as we have got so far.

  • Roger BW 03:28
    But yeah, so we started this in 2013.

  • Michael Cule 03:30
    Yeah, you started this you came to me and you said let's do this thing. Why did you do that thing Roger?

  • Roger BW 03:40
    I think I had been listening largely to - I don't remember, they've had a variety of formats and a variety of chat podcasts as well as their actual play recordings. And I like the idea of that sort of informal chatty, here's the sort of thing we've been doing, maybe here's a bit of news, here's a particular topic, without being in a rigid format, but y'know, covering a wide range of things.

  • Michael Cule 04:10
    And why did you choose me precisely? You auditioned me, I have the feeling.

  • Roger BW 04:15
    It didn't feel that way.

  • Michael Cule 04:19
    I mean you came to a game I was running...

  • Roger BW 04:21
    I spoke to two or three people and you were the person who I felt who was most interested, particularly since at the time we were going to have to be recording in the same place. Yes, that was a consideration. We are close neighbors Living at that point about a mile and a half up the road, and you're now three miles up the road. So it's practical when viruses allow.

  • Michael Cule 04:45
    Well, let us hope the virus the great wave of viruses recedes soon, because I admit I'm missing Chris's company, if not necessarily yours. All right.

  • Roger BW 04:56
    Thank you. I appreciate it. Yeah, we made rapid fairly rapid progress on the tech front. Oh, we were using the laptop for the first year or so I think something like that. But I now have this nice little Tascam recorder.

  • Michael Cule 05:17
    I have, I have been using a variety of microphones and stuff. And at the moment I'm recording this on my iPad and laboriously converted everything into a sound format. Roger likes.

  • Roger BW 05:33
    One that isn't specific. One that doesn't include the video, mostly.

  • Michael Cule 05:38
    Well, yeah, I strip out that stripping out the video is easy converting it to Slack, which is what...

  • Roger BW 05:44
    if what you've got left is a sound only file just send me the sound only file- anyway, never mind.

  • Michael Cule 05:49
    Be this as it, be this as it may, in preparation for this bit of rampant and early nostalgia. I listened to extracts from earlier recordings, I was trying to go for about one or two a year. But I slowed down because I fell in love with the sound of my own voice all over again. And I my ego swelled to sizes which made leaving the room difficult. But so I got to about 60 to 62. Before time caught up with me. I note that one of our early straplines, I don't know if it's still on the iTunes, describes us as a combination of Ken and Robin with History Today, which I think is flattering.

  • Roger BW 06:40
    I have been listening to Ken and Robin that was probably another influence on the initial thing I ... dunno about History today, but-

  • Michael Cule 06:47
    ah, you are unaware of the pastiche of academic, you should imbibe the, mm, of it, just because it'll give me an excuse to do that, again. That the line about that strap line was from, care of Dirk the Dice of the Grognard Files, to who, who has been a friend of the podcast for a long while. And I was going to say one other description which came out of me was pulling up pulling profundity out of our arses style, which I think is what we've mostly spent our time doing. So doing a review, and looking back at things we have done, I'm reminded of a number of things we have done in the past. We attempted to do Time Incorporated on the cheap. I think that sort of fluffed after two or three attempts. We have, we haven't done interviews with other people for a while.

  • Roger BW 07:52
    Well, yeah, I suppose really, we ought to say it's more practical at the moment, because we can just say, hey, load up this web page. But yeah, yeah,

  • Michael Cule 08:01
    we really ought to get back on this. I noticed I noted that we mentioned some things that've become big along the way, including live player or online gaming, but I think it's fair to say - and actual play - I think it's fair to say we noticed them but mostly went um.

  • Roger BW 08:22
    Well, I know who did the first actual play recording because that was Yog-Sothoth, before they were Like they published recordings from the Bradford University Role-Playing Society. And they are definitely the first one. So I became aware of this.

  • Michael Cule 08:39
    We are adjacent to greatness

  • Roger BW 08:40
    some years after he'd started doing it. But yeah, it's become a huge thing, particularly with video.

  • Michael Cule 08:48
    Where we noticed some trends, I think mostly because we're noticing Ken and Robin, you noticed we, we noticed single player games as a thing we did try it once and we meant to try it again.

  • Roger BW 09:06
    I think that is the thing that would work better in person than over this link.

  • Michael Cule 09:10
    I must concur. That is, as Robin keeps saying when he mentioned to us an intensity about one to one. We've reviewed an awfully large number of games, far too many of which I have perhaps used once and then put back on the shelf thinking "Yes, that was rather good".

  • Roger BW 09:33
    Well, yeah, when we started this, my standard response to a new system was "Yeah, but why wouldn't I run this in GURPS?" and it still is. So

  • Michael Cule 09:41
    this is true. I know why I run it in GURPS, but I do like being able to try out other things just as I regard the thing we're going to talk about next, as a good indicator of future trends I like to have a try of future trends. One of the things I regret is that I've not gone back to is Dawn of Magic, because I got one session of that in at StabCon, it's gonna have to wait until I can gather some people around the table again, because I'm - preferably ones that I can meet more than once every six months, something - that is definitely a game that doesn't work. I think no, no, what I was thinking was the Fall of Magic. Dawn of Magic is something else that I would like to go back to, which was a big GURPS game I ran. Oh, we came up with lots of rather neat ideas which flared in our brains. And then mostly due to my overwhelming laziness, we didn't do anything. Neither of us did anything about.

  • Roger BW 10:50
    But do bear in mind, as any author, including us, will tell you, ideas are the easy part.

  • Michael Cule 10:56
    And sitting down and actually doing the hard work is what's always discouraged me, in so much of life, as well as just this thing. It's slightly depressing we're still talking about things that we were talking about way back in the 50s. We're still learning things about those. We talked about military rank, in show 50. Gaming, where with gaming in a hierarchy, and it's still coming up in the Firefly game, mostly due to the fact that my crew pay no attention to me as captain; it's pretty much their, their defining thing. We were early in on the political trends in gaming and the idea of, of cultural appropriation. I know that I keep saying "We're drifting off the point - I think we're drifting off the point!" a lot all the way through.

  • Roger BW 11:51
    But I'll never digress.

  • Michael Cule 11:53
    We seldom digress.

  • Roger BW 11:55
    Hardly ever.

  • Michael Cule 11:56
    And that is I tell you one thing that’s still going on, which is recently depressing me and that's the old school revival. Why the fuck, why?

  • Roger BW 12:10
    I'm confused by this. I'm absolutely in favor of people who say, "this, this is what I played back in the day. I want to play it again." They've got that. I mean, they've got original D&D for that for not much money, or they've got a clone of it. Why? Why are there 17 new systems?

  • Michael Cule 12:30
    And why did I not I've taken a brief look at some of them. And I've not been desperately impressed by the, by the adaptation to particular needs.

  • Roger BW 12:42
    I've heard it suggested, and I cannot really say one or the other because it's sufficiently outside my experience, that at least a significant chunk of the OSR players are not people who are playing what they played back in the day, but people who have read about what was played back in the day, and are like, hey, that sounds fun. I want to do that too.

  • Michael Cule 13:05
    I think another bit may be people who are using the old school revival to, to push a system that isn't that old school revivalist. For some values, Dungeon World is, is a very old school revival flavored game. But it's the but it's definitely of the "Powered by the Apocalypse" generation and definitely takes advantage of all the things that a "Powered by the Apocalypse" game can do.

  • Roger BW 13:40
    On the flip side, something like Troika, which is basically the fighting fantasy system at its core. But goes way beyond in subject matter.

  • Michael Cule 13:49
    Yeah. Way beyond my experience, and what have they been smoking recently, I think was my run. Excuse me, I have dreams like that anyway, just from being isolated. I really don't want to intensify them. Thank you. I have dreams about where I'm trying to crawl, get up to the floor where the part the facts - that's what the first scenario of the system is you're trying to get up to a party on the top floor of a block of flats, and you have to negotiate either the stairs or the lifts and both of them are insanely dangerous. I have dreams like that. I honestly do. I don't need a game that's focused that way. In fact, that may be what that game is really about - people's bad dreams, gamified, which is a better idea than it sounds very probably. I've got a list of things I've done and we'd like to do again, but I've also got a list of things I mentioned first in the podcast and then went and did not all of it which was terribly successful. I think I've wittered on enough. And I should let Roger witter instead.

  • Roger BW 15:03
    Well, let me tell you about my campaign. I've got one game in, I tend, I suspect to run shorter campaigns than you. But I've got one that was running when we started this and is still running, which is the weird war two game. I got that, that started in 2007. So yeah, it's been a while as a fairly conventional weird war game. But I've got two players who are experts on the subject, far more than I am, though, I've become something of one just by osmosis. And who love doing research for me. And it's developed a lore of its own - the write up is in the 200,000, word plus range now, I haven't counted recently. And that's not even, you know, narrative, particularly, it's x does this, y does that. Yeah. Tell me, do you ever feel that you have to use the research they've done for you? Now that these people have said, look at this cool thing? Can you use it? Sometimes it doesn't fit. Fair enough. Yeah. Often something could be done. I mean, I, I looked at the Battle of the Beams the various radar and navigation aid stuff. Yeah. and built a magical counterpart to it, because our heroes are essentially magical troubleshooters.

  • Michael Cule 16:36
    So, they're not magical R&D so much, I think.

  • Roger BW 16:41
    they've poked into that a bit. But they've got Niels Bohr. And

  • Michael Cule 16:46
    who could ask for anything more than Niels Bohr,

  • Roger BW 16:49
    who didn't have the oxygen deprivation in the bomb bay of the Mosquito. So that I have a variety of real world people, some of whom are portrayed accurately, some of whom definitely are not. It's been hugely fun. I've I was thinking some years ago that this is probably the best campaign I will ever run it. I continue to think this, but that doesn't stop me running others. I would love. I can't work out how one would write it up for somebody else to run or to somebody else to use the setting. I mean, yeah, there is Achtung Cthulhu, for example. Yeah. Which is about to get a republication. And that is essentially Call of Cthulhu in World War Two, you know, you've got the Nazi occultists doing dubious things with things they were not meant to mess with. And, I mean, I could write up who the enemy organizations are and things like that. But so much of it has developed in response to what the PCs wanted to do what the players were interested in exploring. Yeah, that it would be very difficult. I can't tell somebody else how to build a campaign that's responsive like this, all I can do is write up this is what happened for us.

  • Michael Cule 18:00
    I think, if you wanted to make use of it, I think what you would want to produce is a kit of things from the second world war that can be made use of you can do. I mean, what Ken Hite would do with does is say here's a setting. Here's half a dozen things you could do with it. And you've got well, more well more than that. Yeah. Your selection of personalities of historical personalities you perverted to your own ends.

  • Roger BW 18:41
    Well, Maxwell Knight, obviously has to be in Yeah.

  • Michael Cule 18:43
    And Niels Bohr and all the rest and, and it would work like something like the personalities in the Dracula Dossier. Here's here, here's a person, here's where he might encounter him. Here are three ways he could turn out to be featured in your campaign. Now the Dracula Dossier has the scheme of innocent ally of Edom or pawn of Dracula. And that works for that particular dedicated campaign but for a general purpose "construct your own world war two" kit. You probably want different categories than that. Yeah,

  • Roger BW 19:30
    you've got there, there are certainly contentious figures. I don't want to go into specific historical details, but you've got people who were cleared at the trials, something like Werner von Braun. People have quite distinct opinions about even now. Just how much influence did he have over the slave labor making the V2s?, and how much did he try to have influence over it? and that sort of thing.

  • Michael Cule 20:00
    and how much did Operation Paperclip saying we need him make a difference?

  • Roger BW 20:07
    so that could certainly be portrayed as, you know, here is the evil mastermind version; here is the relative innocent version and so on

  • Michael Cule 20:17
    didn't the Avengers, didn't Captain America do this oh well the well it was Shield having turning out to have it having a large canker or maybe worm in the shape of Hydra burrowing in from its heart right from the start. It is something you could discover at almost any point between the end of the war and the landing on the moon I would have thought.

  • Roger BW 20:53
    Well, remnant Nazis were a great staple of popular fiction certainly as late as the 60s

  • Michael Cule 20:58
    yes true. The last occurrence I seem to remember was at the pilot episode of the new Avengers but with Hitler frozen and all the Nazis hiding as monks on a Scottish island my word, my brain is full of junk. Are there things you tried and it didn't work because there were for me.

  • Roger BW 21:31
    yeah some more some less so that there was well there was one campaign that I set up the basics for and my original thought was it's been a while since we all played Cyberpunk and we enjoyed it, so why don't I build a cyberpunk setting that is going forward from the modern day rather than forward from the 1980s?

  • Michael Cule 21:56
    okay did you end up in any place other than the futuristic 1930s

  • Roger BW 22:02
    Well I was deliberately putting a strong noir element into it because I feel like it's a big part of what cyberpunk is about.

  • Michael Cule 22:08
    it is true yeah

  • Roger BW 22:10
    however the players and I think you were among them I don't remember your specific opinion generally felt this is far too depressing I don't want to play it.

  • Michael Cule 22:20
    I can remember at least one of your games that took me there, but I think that was the mercenaries in space one, where we made unfortunate discovery about the space craft

  • Roger BW 22:36
    that was the previous game, that was the dirty gray space game

  • Michael Cule 22:40

  • Roger BW 22:42
    this was going

  • Michael Cule 22:43
    I had my first burst of moral qualms now in one of your games in that one

  • Roger BW 22:48
    this was going to be the not the follow up to that, but to the continuation of games with that group but they just all felt no no this is not sufficiently fun I, don't want to play in it. And it now of course as I always say looks depressingly optimistic compared with the real world so there you go.

  • Michael Cule 23:10
    yeah we still have sort of tiptoed around the horribleness of the past five years in particular but since the turn of the millennium I have not been having a super good time except for brief moments with good friends and lovers and things, so it's been - I think we have maintained a decent silence mostly around politics

  • Roger BW 23:55
    Well on the one hand one can just say no politics, but that is in itself a political statement. On the other hand I don't think for the most part politics are particularly relevant to what we're talking about so I don't feel the need to drag them in either.

  • Michael Cule 24:09
    I think that I found quite early references to me talking about my Marxist Catholic tutor and his influence for good kneel on my life quite early on in our range. I think I take politics seriously, but I try to take it seriously in the long run, but it's very hard to do especially when your run is getting shorter and shorter ahead of you. I think that you can see things that we touched on and that gaming touched on emerging in politics. I have said before that I feel slightly guilty about all the conspiracy games and all the games of memetic nonsense.

  • Roger BW 25:06

  • Michael Cule 25:06
    that we've made the main - I feel that making those ideas popular and accessible was not the best use of anybody's time

  • Roger BW 25:15
    well it's not some of those specific ideas as the conspiracy mindset in general. I mean GURPS Illuminati came out in the 90s, and in the 90s one was aware that they were people who genuinely believe these things, but they were rare and they were isolated and they would generally shut up about it except in their local newsletter or whatever. And now that they can all find each other and talk about the thing that obsesses them all the time, I find it distinctly less... I don't think I would, I mean I have run conspiracy since then, but I don't think I would particularly want to start a conspiracy game now. But the basic premise there is that the old style supermarket tabloids are true

  • Michael Cule 25:58

  • Roger BW 25:59
    there really are aliens among us, all that stuff.

  • Michael Cule 26:03
    I mentioned on my blog that I passed somebody in the street handing out old-fashioned – I think they were duplicator-driven leaflets – about the bankers and the masons and the vast conspiracy to do everybody decent down, and I thought, "did I do that"?

  • Roger BW 26:23
    The other thing that GURPS Illuminati doesn't mention but becomes increasingly obvious when you start studying conspiracy theories is how quickly it always comes down to the Jews.

  • Michael Cule 26:33
    yeah the reduction of - it is the primal example of "here's somebody we can blame let's throw things at them"

  • Roger BW 26:44
    "they're different"

  • Michael Cule 26:47

  • Roger BW 26:49
    they’re a group we can easily identify and therefore we can point the finger and say "them"!

  • Michael Cule 26:56
    yeah, I can't remember where I read it, but it was said by somebody cleverer than me that the racist blames the black person for the sin of looking different from him and he then goes and blames the Jew for the sin of looking much the same. And I think that just about covers it and you can never tell who is one of "them" whoever, however your then is defined - whether genetically or ideologically - because "they" get everywhere. And this, I really like to be able to say that we can you can game utopias, but as I said at the conclusion of my Dawn of Magic game which collapsed and was one of the things that we talked about it extensively, I find it hard to believe in a utopia at the moment. sometimes I'm find it hard to believe in a good improved society. In Alistair Gray's motto, which he stole off a Canadian poet which whose name I can't remember "work as if you were living in the early days of a better nation", that is hard enough just at the moment, but I do commend it to you dear listeners. But I do feel having done this review, the Dawn of Magic is one of the things I'm thinking let's go back and try something like this but approaching it from a different direction.

  • Roger BW 28:32
    this is the "magic comes into the world via the actions of Newton" isn't it

  • Michael Cule 28:36
    yeah and what it turned out to be about was about the founding of an international order of the magically capable. I think I made that first generation of magically capable people blessed by the ritual that Newton used - I think I made that too numerous, there were 36 of them and 12 is a nice number I can see why [???] Rein Hagen chose it for the Order of Hermes 12 different splat types. But the splat types were their end result, and what I wanted was the founding fathers who gave flavor, didn't necessarily found any line of magicians, but

  • Roger BW 29:33
    and White Wolf games always have the miscellaneous outsiders anyway.

  • Michael Cule 29:38
    True I can't but in Mage they tend to be the enemy you or at least the ally you're not allowed to tell anybody about, which is silly

  • Roger BW 29:52
    I’ve done two games with a similar sort of premise. Age of Aquarius which was the 1960s psionics campaign. Yeah, this was the one that an early scene has the characters waking up in a body bag. Last thing they remember is really, really strange visions while they were doing a drug trial. And that I think was, interestingly, harder to do research on than the World War Two game because there's so much been written about World War Two.

  • Michael Cule 30:27
    That's fair bit written about the 1960s.

  • Roger BW 30:30
    Yeah, but most of that - there's so much written about World War Two that a lot of it isn't sufficiently guarded by copyright. There are lots of photographs, for example, that were just released under "anybody can use this". Yeah, most of the stuff from the 60s is still copyrighted. And if like me, you're a cheapskate and don't want to go buying lots of expensive books about it, it's hard to get information off free resources.

  • Michael Cule 30:56
    Yeah, or risk lawsuits if you are so unwise to put it on the internet.

  • Roger BW 31:04
    So that was surprisingly hard work to get the research about, though, I think it did work out reasonably well. There are definitely some good moments in that idea. That'd be too much work to sustain because of the level of research.

  • Michael Cule 31:19
    The other one was the World War Two,

  • Roger BW 31:22
    no no, that's a different one. The third one then, if you like, was Leave Not a Wrack Behind, which is an early 1930s. Yeah. And there has been magic in the past, but it's kind of faded. And all of a sudden, a bunch of women seem to be getting magical powers.

  • Michael Cule 31:45
    Well, I think the difference between that, and your other two examples, and my one example, is that I think it stays wainscotted, doesn't it? The third example because they're women, for one.

  • Roger BW 31:57
    Well, it did to the point that we played it; I'm not saying I think it would have necessarily in the long term, but certainly, they were making friends with a moderately credulous policeman.

  • Michael Cule 32:11
    Okay, who so they were starting off

  • Roger BW 32:14
    my original vision for it was definitely "you can't really go to the authorities because they won't take you seriously". But the players didn't want to sustain that. And y'know, every campaign is a combination of my vision and what the players want.

  • Michael Cule 32:31
    Well, quite, but with the other examples, they all have the authorities getting involved early, and being important in the story.

  • Roger BW 32:42
    Yeah, Age of Aquarius I had seen as an outsider's campaign, but when MI5 made a threatening offer to them,

  • Michael Cule 32:51
    they said yeah,

  • Roger BW 32:52
    yeah, alright.

  • Michael Cule 32:53
    Yes, yes. Do we get a pension? I mentioned this because having gone back, having listened to the episodes I got to listen to, I went back to the players in the Dawn of Magic game and started saying, look, is there something else we could have done here? Would there have been anything that would improve it and one of the things they said - the one who's written to me most extensively - said was cut down the number of people we have to interact with, and delay the arrival of the kings until later. Don't get royalty involved in our affairs. He felt it was an oppression, I think that they had to take into consideration what the powers would be thought right from the start. And I felt that was one of the more interesting things but maybe I'm wrong. One of the reasons I started doing that was because of my reaction to what I see as the idiocy of the setup in Ars Magica, which renders - which doesn't allow for an active place in the world for the Order of Hermes. But I think it may come down to the fact that the designers were American and saw the local government or rather the government of each tribunal, as being primal and not the overall government of the order of all the magical world. And I think that's probably, it may be a difference of opinion. In my opinion, their opinion is short-sighted, but

  • Roger BW 34:56
    I haven't

  • Michael Cule 34:57
    I wanted to which is why I got the authorities and how they were going to react - because they were going to react sometime - in short time. I'm not going to play this again with the same players, so I think I may try this try and keeping the power more tightly constrained if I do it again and keep government arm's length. But I also think Nell Gwyn's going to be - you didn't hear this here, everybody who overhears - I also think Nell Gwyn's going to be in there as one of the blessed ones even if she's wearing a mask for some considerable time

  • Roger BW 35:39
    You say that two of those games have involved collaboration with the authorities, and they have, but it's been semi-covert authorities. I mean in both cases in fact it's been MI5. So I mean yes, they can say to the local police collaborate with these guys, but they're not - it's not, you know, big public political... In the World War Two game it has, because - I may have mentioned, there was a German occult experiment which went a bit not quite as planned. I mean, the people doing it had planned to stay alive. The practical result of which was there was a new princess, a youngest sister of the king, and the party went and investigated it...

  • Michael Cule 36:31
    The king of England. The king of England

  • Roger BW 36:33
    Yes. And the handsome charismatic fighter pilot saw her, and decided to be appealing, and she rolled a natural 18 on her reaction and he rolled a natural three on his sex appeal, and things are - the rest is that. And he's now looking like being the king's brother in law - when the war is over, you know. But this does mean that in the most recent session the king called him in for a private consultation, and said some moderately scary things to him. You know, this chap who seems to be in charge of Russia is our second cousin if all of this is true, and naturally we would wish to help our second cousin... but the family tree has sometimes needed to be pruned. With a meaningful look towards a picture of himself, his wife and Albert Victor who sadly died of flu

  • Michael Cule 37:30
    hang on hang on I’m

  • Roger BW 37:32
    sorry his mother. His uncle Albert Victor.

  • Michael Cule 37:37
    And his uncle Albert Victor. Yeah, we're gonna have to put that in the footnotes for ignorant of history listeners

  • Roger BW 37:46
    all right it's not actually plausible he was Jack the Ripper, but it's the thing people like to think.

  • Michael Cule 37:52
    You had to go there, didn't you? Right, fine. Yeah, it has to be recognized that royalty is a - in whatever age, even the currently fairly defanged version, royalty is a complication and my players didn't want that. On the other hand I couldn't, for the way I was setting it up, ignore the fact that the wizards don't get to go off into their own wizarding world. I think that's really really dumb, and if it had happened you would not have the same dispensation that JK Rowling has for the days of William and Mary to the present. There would have been reforms, there would have been changes - but I don't think JK was interested in other things in the setting, and she did a fine job of looking at those other things

  • Roger BW 38:55
    I never really got on with those books but that's not really relevant I suppose. I think it's a question of interaction with public authorities. presumably the idea of the Ars Magica thing is if wizards got involved in politics then people would be asking them to get involved in wars and that would make for very nasty wars.

  • Michael Cule 39:20
    Yes that's certainly one of the considerations and it's one that I had the Oath of the Magi from my Dawn of Magic game face, and actually decide upon the issue of the limits of what wizards could do for their rulers. Counsel and healing and non-magical support and non-military support is fine, but except if the council shall declare an interdict on a country. And

  • Roger BW 39:59
    so yeah but

  • Michael Cule 40:00
    but you needed specific permission, the council had to pass a resolution saying "yes it's all right to help the Swiss against everybody who's invading them."

  • Roger BW 40:08
    I could see this working something like the pacifism of the Society of Friends who would be quite happily driving ambulances on the battlefield.

  • Michael Cule 40:17

  • Roger BW 40:18
    But not actually picking up - obviously that potentially frees somebody else to be a soldier, but not actually picking up a gun

  • Michael Cule 40:26
    conscientious objectors worked in the bomb disposal for the royal engineers

  • Roger BW 40:30
    yeah basically saying we are quite happy to help our country and to help defend our country we just don't want to kill people

  • Michael Cule 40:37
    yeah and I think the magi would go a long way beyond just disposing of bombs, because they probably build bridges and

  • Roger BW 40:49
    make sure there's a good harvest

  • Michael Cule 40:51
    make sure there's a good harvest, dig out valuable minerals and gold. Actually one of the things that was going to

  • Roger BW 41:00
    oh boy, you can collapse the economy something chronic!

  • Michael Cule 41:02
    yes, I was going to say that - we've said this before - I was gonna say that the things that were at - towards the end of the game we were, they had resolved to stay secret and in the Microscope that we did after to take the timeline forward, they decided to stay secret, but that didn't last and up that lasted up until the unfortunate events that triggered the first magical war and the first council of the 36 fell apart. But even if they'd kept it close to their chests, the economic effects of them dragging up all those treasure galleons were going to be felt sooner rather than later. Yeah so, the tax people want to know where you've got suddenly got all this money from. They're odd that way. And they probably torture you back in the 17th century the

  • Roger BW 42:07
    presumably what you want to do at this point is to say to the king "here is a large chunk of gold, I'm going to be the baron of this bit of country over here. How do you feel about that?"

  • Michael Cule 42:17
    I’d say "Where did you get the money from and can I have more of it?" that's, yeah we don't - "if you've been going around robbing our neighbors, well, we charge more tax on that." I was gonna say the issue that there's going to face me going forward if I do do this again is if I have five or six players what and they are amongst the first generation of those who have been given magic, what's the maximum convenient size of the council of magicians? 12 has been suggested to me but I think that's slightly too little. 36 on the other hand was entirely too much.

  • Roger BW 43:03
    Well, 12 means the players may outnumber them.

  • Michael Cule 43:08
    Yeah, they can form a working majority if they feel like being unanimous - something I’ll try to take care to ensure doesn't happen.

  • Roger BW 43:14
    the thing that does occur to me and I - speaking as a player who likes to have unanimity or at least accord within the group, how about they are all the ancillaries and hangers on and so on to one of the barely-human-any-more first mages?

  • Michael Cule 43:33
    it's doable it steps but - it's steps the power of power - that's actually a good point to - I think that steps the power down

  • Roger BW 43:46
    yeah but you can step up the NPCs because they're NPCs and you can restrict how they do it.

  • Michael Cule 43:52
    yes, and I have to - I can do more handwavium on the actual background machinations. Your boss says "I want you to do this" and you go and do it. And your boss may be one of the 36

  • Roger BW 44:13
    or one of the 12

  • Michael Cule 44:17
    or one of the 12 actually the problem with the high council is that it just gives the other - it just outnumbers any player character members. In fact if they actually - actually there's an idea. If they are all high level high-level gifted people who suddenly discovered that they're wizards and they can do this stuff, but don't have the power of a word, and they become the personal agents of word-holders, and the players get to choose which word has approached them but they don't know the identity of the person doing it... ooh that's nice. When found, make note of.

  • Roger BW 45:22
    Keeping the council small gives you the advantage that you can have the scenario of "We've got a crucial vote coming up; find out how everybody else is going to vote, and see who's most readily influenced onto my side, then go and do it".

  • Michael Cule 45:36
    "Go and steal guns, steal the information, go and establish the blackmail; go and give them what they want, and they'll vote for me". Yes, that's that I think works and I could even promote them temporarily to playing members of the council - playing their own patrons - in a more free-form Primetime Adventures style.

  • Roger BW 46:06
    now here's a game that I had hoped for, and to be fair, the players were enjoying it; it's just I wasn't. And that was GURPS TORG.

  • Michael Cule 46:15
    Yeah, that was a heavy feature in the early days of the podcast. I think I know what went wrong, but you tell me.

  • Roger BW 46:24
    Well, one of the things that went wrong was I was running the pre-written adventures.

  • Michael Cule 46:30
    Yeah that's, yeah all right, and can I just-

  • Roger BW 46:33
    There was one in particular which hacked me off so much, because - I don't mean even particularly the bad research on the real world, because that's fair enough, but stuff happening that simply should not be possible within the rules of the weirdness that this game has established.

  • Michael Cule 46:50
    Yeah, that happens a lot with early releases.

  • Roger BW 46:53
    You've got these expanding [????] with the low-tech continuum firing high-tech weapons which should be completely impossible for them

  • Michael Cule 47:00
    Well, for one thing I never thought that rule made any damn sense.

  • Roger BW 47:04
    Yeah, but it's the key flavor of the setting.

  • Michael Cule 47:07
    Yeah, but well, but I think - I'm gonna say and say again that you when you take something old like that, you don't want to do it by the old system, you want a reimagining. You want "this is the same themes reimagined in the 21st century". I think that it's not the next generation that - I’ve done a few next generation games and my current game is the next generation of things I was doing back at the turn of the century - one of my current things is - but I think you want to say "right, what was good here, what was stupid? Let's cut down on the stupid and increase the good". I think that should be doable, but it requires more work before the first session it has to be said, and-

  • Roger BW 48:07
    Well, one of the reasons I did this was because there was a large stock of adventures for it, and I didn't want to have the heavy prep that I’d been having for Age of Aquarius. And converting a TORG adventure to my GURPS TORG mishmash is very easy and very quick.

  • Michael Cule 48:29
    I think that we should talk about the temptations of pre-generated adventures sometime.

  • Roger BW 48:39
    It's certainly something I’ve been doing a bit more.

  • Michael Cule 48:41
    I've gone for the same thing, I've said "well I’ve got a lot of stuff for this". It happened with Pendragon and that didn't end altogether too well, because Pendragon is driven by Greg's personal style - god bless him and the many spirits receive him - and his personal obsessions about the setting; and I didn't find it working as well as it could have done with my players. The Great Pendragon Campaign is a very - despite the fact that it sprawls all over the place - is a very constricting set up, and I kept wanting to jump ahead faster than my strict instructions were.

  • Roger BW 49:28
    yeah, we got

  • Michael Cule 49:29
    I don't know if that was the problem, but it was certainly something I couldn't handle in it

  • Roger BW 49:34
    in the iteration I ran with Wartson Hall we did get to the end of the Uther era, but the way it came out we had lost one of the players for unrelated reasons so we were down to three active knights and then one of them and only one of them died of essentially being too good. The poisoning at the feast.

  • Michael Cule 49:57
    Yeah, some of my - what I think what stopped me with my first attempt was the fact that we got into a very - one player got into a very, a loop of very bad luck with winter phase decisions about how his crops were doing and how his affairs were prospering. Those are surprisingly vital things for a game that is mostly about going out into the dark forest and fighting and being virtuous against the evil thing.

  • Roger BW 50:33
    Well, I think this is an example. Great, Greg was brilliant as a setting designer, and not particularly great as a game designer - a mechanics designer. Because what he wants you to have is, some knights are poor, and some knights are rich.

  • Michael Cule 50:48

  • Roger BW 50:49
    But this is largely unrelated to how you play unless you managed to get a wife who's very good at household management, which obviously is one of everybody's goals. But it just doesn't... every person I've talked with who's played Pendragon, I tell the joke about "and this is the place on the state we call Dead Horse Mire; we'll put our stables there". And everybody gets it.

  • Michael Cule 51:18
    Yes. There's a lot to admire in Pendragon. I think. All right, it may be a curate's egg as far as games go, but I'm not implying there that the excellent bits aren't excellent.

  • Roger BW 51:36
    So it's not actually a curate's egg at all.

  • Michael Cule 51:39
    No it's not. that was a lazy.... it's a mixed bunch.

  • Roger BW 51:43
    I think if I would if I were to start again, I would absolutely strip off all the "Book of" stuff. Keep a nice simple winter phase, nice, simple estates.

  • Michael Cule 51:55
    Even with a simple winter phase, you can get into that death spiral.

  • Roger BW 51:58
    And much less punishing, yeah, because being punished for "you didn't get lucky with your wooing this year" isn't fun.

  • Michael Cule 52:08
    Sure. It gets laughs around the table if you have a sufficiently laughy group who are willing to bemoan their own fate, and bitch about other people in a gentle fashion. But yeah, it goes off the rails. And there are wonderful things in the Great Pendragon Campaign. I think the whole grail quest sort of works.

  • Roger BW 52:34
    Yeah, I would love - the other thing I would probably do is start with either the Boy King or Arthur Comes to Manhood, rather than Uther. And I gather there's even a pre-Uther phase now in the latest edition.

  • Michael Cule 52:48
    I haven't looked at, what's it called, Paladin, which is,

  • Roger BW 52:51
    Well, that's a separate thing.

  • Michael Cule 52:52
    It's a separate thing, but with much the same system. But yeah. We both tried, we tried hard enough, I think to say that this doesn't fit our style, or our players' styles.

  • Roger BW 53:10
    Not saying I might not try it again someday. But

  • Michael Cule 53:13
    Well you have more of your life left, probably, Roger, than I do, and probably more optimism as well.

  • Roger BW 53:22
    But what I was gonna say is I would do a lot more game-mechanical work on it, and it would look a lot less like the actual original Pendragon system. I mean, I love Passions and Traits, they are the key reason - they are the answer to the question of "why wouldn't you just run this under GURPS"?

  • Michael Cule 53:37

  • Roger BW 53:38
    Because they make things happen like the things that happened in the Morte.

  • Michael Cule 53:44

  • Roger BW 53:44
    And that is the purpose of these mechanics. But not everything contributes that way and not everything is necessarily worth keeping.

  • Michael Cule 53:53
    That's true.

  • Roger BW 53:55
    One of the things that's happened to me of course, is I've started playing with Wartson Hall who are a very different style of group from the Cambridge group that's been my main group for some years. And this happens in several ways. We've played quite often one adventure of something and then given it a restaurant and then come back to it later. Rather than ploughing on through a campaign. And this actually suits me quite well. I think I tend to run shorter campaigns for many people.

  • Michael Cule 54:27
    I think it's a good thing if you can do it. I have fallen into the trap of being the GM with occasional relief from other people.

  • Roger BW 54:39
    I, that's the other great thing about Wartson Hall, we are all GM sometimes. Some of us more than others, you know, but we all do it. We all understand how it feels.

  • Michael Cule 54:48
    Yeah, I have. I've been being lazy recently, and I'm now back being GM twice a week, which is - I hope it's not going to strain me as much. Because I'm desperate. I'm at home a lot of - all the damn time really just at the moment. And I am desperate for contact and affirmation of my wonderfulness. But I was - thank you for the third strand of my gaming apart from my Monday night and Wednesday night groups who are carrying on as they have throughout the run of this podcast. And that is the various weekend games involving a friend of yours and people like Wartson Hall and giving me a chance to be a player more. And that is a great relief to my strain. I could feel myself thinking "Yes. I wonder if I could do something after Dr. Bob." I tried to suppress this, but it may bubble to the surface.

  • Roger BW 55:57
    I have ideas for new things to run as well. So we'll see how that goes. But

  • Michael Cule 56:01
    Good. The it's been slightly more experimental, I think, than my normal run of things where we've done things like White Wolf games, and Genesys, which I'm still not convinced by, Roger!

  • Roger BW 56:17
    I'm sorry,

  • Michael Cule 56:17
    I think

  • Roger BW 56:20
    it suits me.

  • Michael Cule 56:22
    I said to you, and but I find myself in the position of being the person who doesn't quite get this. And always ask, what do I roll now? What do I roll now? I mean, I have a player who has to be reminded at the start of each campaign, which sort of dice she's supposed to be rolling, since it's mostly either BRP or GURPS, then she's only got two to choose from, but she can't, she can't manage it. And in those cases, me and her husband are the ones who say "What you need to look at on your character sheet is...", but she does wonderful role playing in parts that are good for her. And she gets deeply into the spirit of the game. And if I'm there to worry about mechanics, you know, I'm not sure I've got into the spirit of the Firefly game, because I'm constantly battling against the fact that we're criminals now dammit.

  • Roger BW 57:20

  • Michael Cule 57:20
    Though I think that was written into the character.

  • Roger BW 57:22
    I think we can have a post mortem on that because what I'm very much hoping will - unless things go strange; things always go strange - but the plan is the final session will be this weekend after we record, and we'll see how that goes. And that I think a certain amount of post-morteming, which may or may not be actually worth recording and putting out

  • Michael Cule 57:46
    yeah, well let's see. See what how we feel after triumph or disaster. Let us try and treat them both the same. Grand plans for the future, apart from rerunning things we've done in the past?

  • Roger BW 58:04
    I have all sorts of strange and impractical ideas. I wonder,

  • Michael Cule 58:07
    Ohoh, that could be the subtitle, another subtitle or strapline, for this podcast? Strange and Impractical Ideas R Us.

  • Roger BW 58:17
    Since we started this - I can't remember when Gumshoe first came out, I think it existed when we started.

  • Michael Cule 58:23
    Yeah, I think just about. I think the Esoterrorists was certainly out.

  • Roger BW 58:27
    And I have got increasingly irked with the system as I have played more of it some of this playtesting for a project that I think has been announced or Will be out vaguely soonish. But the I just don't like the idea that you know, character A is a great martial artist. And character B has never lifted a fist in their lives. But character A has been in a fight today, so now there is nothing to distinguish them when they get into another fight.

  • Michael Cule 58:58

  • Roger BW 59:00
    I just don't like that.

  • Michael Cule 59:02
    Well, the general... it's supposed to... what it's supposed to do, as you well know and as you've said before, is give the martial artist character enough time to be awesome, just the once per session. And they are supposed to time their moment of stepping forward, of stripping off the gloves and saying "let me deal with this" to when it looks dramatically important, and not go around beating up the minor thugs, because it's beneath them.

  • Roger BW 59:48
    I'm not saying that the system is entirely wrongheaded. I'm saying that I don't like the results it produces

  • Michael Cule 59:53
    True. But yeah, it may be searching for a group of players that are not ours, or a group of gyms that aren't us.

  • Roger BW 1:00:03
    Well, clearly there are many people who like it a lot. So you know, I will say the thing I say about anything I do that approximates a review, which is this is how I feel about it. And I've tried to explain why I feel this way about it. But that's not the way I necessarily think you should feel about it.

  • Michael Cule 1:00:18
    So hang on, make clear what your impractical idea was.

  • Roger BW 1:00:23
    I really like the Timewatch background.

  • Michael Cule 1:00:26
    Yes, yes, it's fun.

  • Roger BW 1:00:29
    But I don't want to run it under Gumshoe that. So what I can see well is welding that to a lightweight, action-y sort of system. And doing the minimum necessary to that to make it Timewatch compatible, because there are one or two special traits and things that PCs can have. And

  • Michael Cule 1:00:49
    The - go on

  • Roger BW 1:00:50
    I've been thinking about either Genesys because I like Genesys. Yeah, or Modern Age, which I've run one sample adventure for with Wartson Hall and they all quite enjoyed it. And so did I. So basically a, to be honest, a lot of systems could do this, what I'm asking of a system here is, you know, A is better at something than B, and that is reflected in what happens when they try it.

  • Michael Cule 1:01:19
    Yeah, I would mention Feng Shui, because - except that, again, it's consciously not a generalizable system. It provides you with templates for the sort of action and movies that you - that is intended to do. And though it came from a generic system, the generic system wasn't very good. And it is very much its own thing, but it's one of the things that already has time travel baked into it. And I think you can un-bake it.

  • Roger BW 1:01:57
    Action movie time travel. It doesn't, as far as I remember from - I haven't looked at it since we talked about it an early episode. But my understanding is that it doesn't really give you time paradoxes and stuff like that; you go from setting A to setting B and then back again.

  • Michael Cule 1:02:16
    Yeah, their time travel system is designed not to do paradoxes and you'd have to find a way to make it possible for... well, it's designed to kill paradoxes unless you do something in the meta game, like burned down a feng shui site.

  • Roger BW 1:02:34
    where Timewatch, as far as I've seen, is all about "we are constantly skating on the edge of paradox and trying to do something about it".

  • Michael Cule 1:02:43
    I what was that you said? You said Modern Age and, oh, Genesys. Genesys, though I don't quite get it, feels like more of the sort of thing that you want to do. But it doesn't... I think if you want people skating on the edge, there's nothing like a gauge which counts how much trouble they're in and how close they are skating. I don't think Genesys will do that for you. And it's what the - maybe you have another - there are counters in Genesys of hit points and fatigue and like that, and maybe you need a Genesys counter of chronal stability.

  • Roger BW 1:03:30
    Increasing numbers of black dice as you get more and more out of phase with reality for example.

  • Michael Cule 1:03:34
    Yeah. Something. Yeah, the reality comes to get you when you push your luck.

  • Roger BW 1:03:43
    I'm not suggesting

  • Michael Cule 1:03:45
    Well that's fairly usable.

  • Roger BW 1:03:48
    I do not mean they will automatically fit and I can just, y'know - there is filling in to be done, whatever the core, whatever the base system ends up being, like, this isn't just going to be "right generate your character now, now we're Time Travelers", but there is going to be new rules material here to bridge that gap.

  • Michael Cule 1:04:06
    Yeah, I think the treatments that I've seen of Genesys have been only the ones in the book, and they are very light with a TE.

  • Roger BW 1:04:18
    They're also not enough to run a game with.

  • Michael Cule 1:04:21
    Yes, and a proper treatment for this system would be a considerable bit longer. I think. I think what you need to take is, what you need to do is, write down what you think is cool and necessary in Timewatch - the organization, the basic form of paradox, the sort of people you fight against, and the primordial headquarters out of real time, which causes disaster at the start of real time. That

  • Roger BW 1:04:57
    And of course, GURPS is always an option. And let's face it, given that one of the, I believe as a standard character type, is the sapient dinosaur from an alternate timeline.

  • Michael Cule 1:05:10

  • Roger BW 1:05:10
    GURPS is going to do that better than anything else.

  • Michael Cule 1:05:13
    The sapient dinosaur as player character is there. And so is the sapient dinosaur as eternally vowed enemy and we shall destroy you - though not as much as the cockroaches are, to be perfectly frank. Hi, I'm not sure what plans I have for the future. I'd like to try doing a little more Unknown Armies, but that requires an enormous buy in by the players and to judge by what I've got on my desk at the moment, I want to give, I probably want to give Over the Edge, Second Edition, third edition, whichever, the new one, a try - though I'm far from convinced of that setting. And I would like to go back and do the Fall of Magic, which was the gorgeous thing with the silk screen printed roll as the central prop, and give that a second chance, but not until I can actually talk to people, have them in the room with me again.

  • Roger BW 1:06:20
    Yeah, I want to try Genesys with the Cambridge group at some point, but I want to do that when we can meet in person, because I have this big tin of dice which they can borrow.

  • Michael Cule 1:06:35
    There is an app you know, there's an app for that.

  • Roger BW 1:06:37
    Oh come on! Why do people want this? I hear people saying, you know, we play our game on a video conference system and we use Roll 20 just as a dice roller. Why not just roll the dice?

  • Michael Cule 1:06:52
    I think because it does promote rolling the dice in front of everybody. And with some of the trickier things - like we found it useful for Blades in the Dark because it takes you through the steps each time. It slows down play, but... and my players are finding the dice roller useful in Fate, which is the other thing I'm doing apart from the GURPS game.

  • Roger BW 1:07:22
    Ah, they don't have a big bag of Fudge dice already then.

  • Michael Cule 1:07:26
    I can't even find my bag of Fudge dice. I've been living in my own disorder for so long, I can't find anything in the flat. It's really quite - you would be appalled, Roger, even you would be appalled.

  • Roger BW 1:07:41
    Fair enough. I appreciate that even though it is taken in the spirit in which it was intended.

  • Michael Cule 1:07:48
    Actually, Roger is a much tidier and more organized person than I am.

  • Roger BW 1:07:51
    You haven't been in my machine room lately.

  • Michael Cule 1:07:53
    I've never been in your machine room and I don't need to go in your machine room. I've looked at your shelves full of books. I know you have your shelf full of games. I know you have to be more tidy than I am, because you've got so many of the buggers

  • Roger BW 1:08:08
    Now thinking about the complicated dice rolling, I'm gonna be playing Champions tonight. So...

  • Michael Cule 1:08:13
    that just requires a lot, doesn't it?

  • Roger BW 1:08:15
    Yeah, but also you add up your pile of D6 and you add up all the ones and sixes

  • Michael Cule 1:08:22
    so arithmeticophobes should avoid Champions, and people who have a morbid fear of small cubes should also stay away. That must be some somewhere.

  • Roger BW 1:08:32
    And probably not listening to us talk about GURPS either.

  • Michael Cule 1:08:35
    That's true. The diceless role-playing podcast is over there!

  • Roger BW 1:08:41
    So what's your next grand campaign?

  • Michael Cule 1:08:45
    I don't know. I'm currently running what will be a medium-term campaign for me. It's called Lictors and it's about the attempts of the Emperor after the demon Emperor - spoilers, for those of you who haven't played...

  • Roger BW 1:09:05
    just don't say what world it's in and that'll be fine.

  • Michael Cule 1:09:08
    Okay, it's based off a place where I have gamed an awful lot and I've talked about it in the past. All right? The last set of big damn heroes they were playing, this group were playing, got too big for their boots, and they've moved - I've moved them off into the background. And they're currently playing 250 points, I think it is, GURPS characters, who are acting as the forward team and the investigators for one of the magistrates that the Emperor has appointed to go out and sort out the various legal messes. They go out, one of them is the magistrate's Marshal. I should never have allowed the lawyer to play a lawyer. Note to self. And one of the others is a street cop and the others are more undercover, and they go out, they sort out the magistrate's accommodations, and they do a bit of digging around the cases he is particularly worried about. I'm doing about one per city at the moment. And it's getting, it's going to last at least for the first circuit, and then it has a natural break point. And it's full of conspiracies and local nobles, trying to not have the law applied to them too much. And that they're going around

  • Roger BW 1:10:49
    Well, it is the etymology of privilege, after all.

  • Michael Cule 1:10:52
    Private law, private law my lord! And the fact that there are privileges written into the legal code, because let's face it, the Emperor won't get anybody paying to become a noble if they don't get something out of it. It's just that just the status isn't good enough for some people. I, basically, I think there's been maybe my psychological attempt to do working in the early days of a better nation. Hopefully, after the worst of the crazy years have passed. And there are enough conflicts going on, and things are changing, but things can change for the better. And there can be last minute emergencies and secrets to be found. And they're all already accumulating enemies in the background who can come back and strike at them at the last moment, or hang over until the next campaign if there is one. My other major effort is less long-term. It's the thing I've mentioned before about a city with 1000 interworld gates, actually 1028, interworld gates - or do I mean 24, I can never remember.

  • Roger BW 1:12:27
    Are you going for the power of two or not?

  • Michael Cule 1:12:29
    I'm going for the power of 2.

  • Roger BW 1:12:30

  • Michael Cule 1:12:32
    24, see? No memory. And the people involved are mostly refugees - there are a couple of natives - who are in a firm of fixers and consultants who are going around solving problems. And at the moment the shy young cleric who is trying to get away from his ghastly mother the senator is taking his cousin to the ball whilst there's a conspiracy going on in the background, kidnapping people off the streets and taking them away to some nefarious purpose, which the rest of them are following around. And I am, so far first episode only, I'm finding Fate fairly easy to use. We've had only one big fight and they creamed the things they found in the sewers, and I must give them better challenges next time.

  • Roger BW 1:13:32
    Yeah, I think my campaigns are generally fairly optimistic y'know. At the end of the campaign, probably the world will be a better place than it was at the beginning of it. Possibly a more dangerous place in some respects, but I like the idea that one can have that positive effect even if what one is doing is going down a hole in the ground and bashing things. Or the high tech equivalent.

  • Michael Cule 1:13:58
    Yeah, bashing - into the ground and bashing things. I had fun over the past year in lockdown with my niece and my nephew and their partners doing a couple of Powered by the Apocalypse games. Which were Monster of the Week, which was easier to run, but they were fighting against the assumptions of the genre a little. People tend to do that. And I think it takes a fairly sophisticated gamer - and they were fairly newbie - to know when you're reaching the limits of what the system can do and not push too far beyond it even if you really want to. And the other one was Masks, which we didn't complete. I would like to go back to Powered by the Apocalypse games again in the future. There are a couple, the post-apocalyptic ones with multi-generational stories are something I would like to try, because it does a two-level thing that Reign also does. One of these days, when the third edition is out, I really want to - I don't know why I'm delaying, because I've got the PDFs, and I can - I want to try running Reign again. And it's currently at the top of my list of things that I'm sure would do Tékumel really well for some value of really well. But again, my laziness is butting up against the magic system.

  • Roger BW 1:15:33

  • Michael Cule 1:15:36
    Well, something I said at the start of this run of programs - I think it applies even more now - is that I only have so many campaigns left in my life, I want them all to be brilliant. But I know not all of them will. But I want to start each one with a feeling "Yeah, I could do really do something with this - something interesting, something they will remember". And the alarming thing is that my players remember my campaigns better than I do.

  • Roger BW 1:16:10
    Bribe a player to be a scribe.

  • Michael Cule 1:16:12
    Yes, I would like at this moment in time to sing out - I won't attempt an aria - to Alan Gates in my Wednesday night group and Jenny Southern in my Monday night group, who helped me supplement my terrible memory and my unreliable recordings. And my tendency not to do the write ups of the recordings until aeons later. They have helped continuity no end. Of course, it doesn't help when Jenny says, "Well, what about when you said..." and she hasn't made a note and I can't remember. And Alan, Alan has - the reason he's doing it is, he has a memory that is even worse than mine. It doesn't stretch from the start of the session to the end, sometimes. But I thank them, and I bless them, for all the aid they've given me over the years and over the decades. And let's hope for a few more.

  • Roger BW 1:17:14
    I know one player whose memory puts up false things. "I'm sure we did this in the game" and he's not making it up. He is quite – he remembers that we did this in the game, but we didn't.

  • Michael Cule 1:17:27
    Well, going back through recordings has done that, has reminded me again, how unreliable my long-term memory is, and has reminded me of things that I said I did at the time, but I don't remember doing now. And of ideas that I may think I have dreamed up in the shower this morning, but I had back in the olden times, when people talk together my child. Yes, we did. Really face to face, within arm's reach a few times. Oh, I must go and lie down.

  • Roger BW 1:18:04
    It'll never catch on.

  • Michael Cule 1:18:23
    That has been Episode 100 - my godfathers! - of Improvised Radio Theatre with Dice with me, Michael Cule and him, Roger Bell West. And if you wish to reminisce about the things you remember, because your memories may well be better than ours about the things we've done and the things you'd like us to go back to, even...

  • Roger BW 1:18:47
    Roleplaying games are an engine for generating reminiscences. Discuss.

  • Michael Cule 1:18:53
    that, Roger, is a topic for the finals paper, and I only think we're up to first year exams. Now.

  • Roger BW 1:19:00
    In any case, leave a message on the website or email podcast[at]

  • Michael Cule 1:19:06
    And if we are spared and if the government hasn't exiled us all to the Isle of Man or something, we'll be seeing you again in a month.

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