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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Politically Subversive Occultism Disguised as Pornography 01 May 2015


This month, Mike and Roger look at Savage Worlds, the Amazing Engine, and GM-player miscommunications.

We mentioned Savage Worlds, Necessary Evil, Weird War II, Amazing Engine, Dream Park, Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering, David "Zeb" Cook), Dark Conspiracy, En Garde!, GURPS Banestorm, and GURPS Horror.

Since we recorded the Savage Worlds segment, we've learned that there is to be a Savage Worlds conversion of RIFTS.

The book that Michael mentioned in the third segment is The Elfish Gene by Mark Barrowcliffe.

Music by Kevin MacLeod at

  1. Posted by Lee Williams at 06:39pm on 02 May 2015

    Very much enjoyed the Amazing Engine retrospective and of course Roger pointed out the connection between TABLOID! and Dark Conspiracy. As always, I await your next edition with interest.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 09:49am on 04 May 2015

    It's a weird combination of before its time (the proto-magicpunk), of its time (single unified mechanic for everything was big in the early 1990s, but it often came with a single unified resolution table too and that's not needed here), and bizarre (the whole character core and character generation process). I like weird things.

  3. Posted by Owen Smith at 09:01pm on 10 May 2015

    As one of Roger's players I should point out I'm more prone to getting the wrong end of the stick than the rest of the group. I can be certain of what was said, and find that no-one else got the same impression at all. On the other hand in a recent session I played in all 5 of the players had the same impression of what the GM said, it was only the GM that thought he'd said something different. These things happen, the trick is not to get upset about it.

    I'm currently playing in a bait and switch game (not with Roger). The GM asked for WWII flying characters, so we got pilots, navigators, engineer etc. What the GM actually wanted was a covert operations team that could fly themselves there and back, but he's ended up with a team where only one character has any Stealth skill, another PC is the only one that can shoot straight (and still isn't great at it), only two of them can climb etc. The GM admits this is leading to difficulties for him designing adventures. This is made worse by the home brew game system in use where the only way to gain skills is the accumulation of time, and it takes a couple of years for skills to improve noticeably. So we can't even fix the characters now that play has started.

  4. Posted by Owen Smith at 09:07pm on 10 May 2015

    My biggest misunderstanding of recent years was in Roger's Reign Of Steel campaign. We were SAS from Zone London and had crossed the Atlantic, discovering a supposed human run Zone Washington. So two of us went under cover and got jobs etc. posing as escapees from Zone London. I was expecting a period of intrigue, with us trying to find stuff out while pretending to work inside the system. But no, the robots and their goons kicked the door down the very first night and took the two of us prisoner. This did lead to a rather excellent rescue mission by the other PCs. But that's not the point, the issue here is there was a complete mismatch between my expectations of what that scenario was about (and apparently the other players or we wouldn't have taken that approach) and what Roger as GM had in mind. It could very easily have ended the campaign, which would have been a shame since the rest of it was great fun.

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 09:47pm on 10 May 2015

    Owen: the odd thing about that Reign of Steel incident is that I had no particular plans for how things would go. As I saw the Protectorate, they'd encourage newcomers in a friendly way, but watch you carefully. Maybe they came over as too friendly and insufficiently creepy? I can't now remember what it was, but there was something one of those two PCs did which caused them to decide you were dangerous hostiles after all.

  6. Posted by Owen Smith at 12:00am on 14 May 2015

    It is about 5 years since the last update to my Reign of Steel character, and the incident in question is about a year before that. I cannot remember large chunks of what happened, never mind whatever small thing one of us did that tipped them off. But it certainly didn't feel like it could have gone any other way to me at the time, I felt rather steam rollered. Perhaps another PC did something that tipped the authorities off and I never found out about it?

  7. Posted by Dr Bob at 04:02pm on 23 May 2015

    On mis-communication... We had a saying at Bristol Uni Gamesoc back in the 90s:

    In a game with 5 players and 1 GM, there will be at least 6 different versions of the Cunning Plan.

    Amendment 1: If Phil The Amazing Self Destructing Man is one of your players, then add 1 to that number (he'll get killed and have to run an NPC for a bit).

    Amendment 2: If Simon the Sad is one of your players, then double that number. (He'll go off plan and create plan B, then realise that he's gone off plan and devise a plan C to get back on track. That'll make things worse, so he'll come up with a plan D. Then his dice will conspire against him...)

  8. Posted by RogerBW at 06:12pm on 23 May 2015

    At least as many plans as players, yes, and sometimes players out-clever themselves and don't realise they have two contradictory versions of the plan on the go at the same time.

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