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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Because the Bookshop Owner is an Idiot 01 November 2016


This month, Mike and Roger outline a new magic system, consider Trail of Cthulhu as it's on sale at the Bundle of Holding this month, and contemplate the practical application of Microscope.

We mentioned

Rory's Story Cubes, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Reign, The Trail of Cthulhu Bundle +2 and original Trail of Cthulhu Bundle at Bundle of Holding, Trail of Cthulhu in general, Eternal Lies at, The Dracula Dossier, :Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering, Microscope, Tardigrades, and the way the the Antichrist is described repeatedly as "not unlike a young Robert Redford" in the Left Behind books,

Music by Kevin MacLeod at

(We do get free access to the Bundle of Holding contents, but this happens whether or not we plug them.)

  1. Posted by Dr Bob at 08:19pm on 02 November 2016

    I too am having problems running Night's Black Agents, but it is less due to the system. Though I do have the same issue as Mike about the bad guys being taken down too easily.

    But my main problem is that my players are incredibly risk averse. After 5 sessions the characters STILL don't know that vampires exist, because they won't bloody go close enough to any of the bad guys to see weird supernatural stuff happening. They'll hack their bank accounts or view them through sniper scopes, but they won't actually TALK to them! :-)

  2. Posted by Michael Cule at 11:11pm on 02 November 2016

    Well, Dr Bob that's... an achievement by your players.

    Did you start with (S)Entries? I don't know how you run that without working out that something odd is going on... They didn't even go into the (LOCATION REDACTED) so that the (NATURE OF ENTITY REDACTED) could say "Look into my (BODY PART REDACTED)"?

    Next time one of them is at a social event (and you should have someone who does person to person HumInt) let them notice that the person they are talking to is not reflecting in the mirror behind the bar...

    Mine have fought (NAME OF THING REDACTED) and even killed a few. They have targeted by the Big Bad as well as the Slightly Smaller Bad and the Morally Ambiguous Organisation.

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 09:10am on 03 November 2016

    Sorry, I'm now picturing black vans with "Morally Ambiguous Organisation" stencilled on the side in charcoal grey.

    Risk aversion is a sign of not getting into the genre, I think: in your modern action films, heroes do excessively risky things all the time, and it works because they're heroes. But I've found that, especially with groups that have played a lot of dungeon bashes in a fairly adversarial mode ("you forgot to say you were checking for traps, you're dead") some players will default to the three-hour planning session and an attempt to minimise danger by trying to account for every possibility.

  4. Posted by Dr Bob at 05:21pm on 03 November 2016

    No I didn't start with (S)Entries, I started with the mini scenario with the Russian arms dealer and the stolen suitcase nuke. So they've seen a couple of Renfields who took a few bullets more than normal to take down. They are just studiously avoiding going anywhere where the Slightly Smaller Bad and Big Bads might hang out. Or only go there when they know the Bads are out.

    I've invented my own vampires, so they show up in mirrors just fine. The players have figured out that some NPCs have 'far too cold for normal' heat signatures (ghouls and dhamphirs) but have never been close enough to see sharp pointy teeth, feel supernatural cold, get mesmerised, witness a vamp snacking on someone in a dark alleyway... or anything else which would let the penny drop.

    On the Morally Ambiguous Organisation vans... my brother once had trucks with a stencilled three letter acronym constantly appearing in his game. Several sessions in, the players realise those letters are in the cyrillic alphabet and the bad guys have been in plain sight all the time...

  5. Posted by Owen Smith at 01:38am on 10 November 2016

    This is unrelated to this month's podcast, but is possibly an issue you could give some discussion. I'm currently going through my worst period as a player in problems with gaming sessions for many years, possibly ever (with the exception of campaigns I left). I'm in two groups. Both have another player (a different one in each group) who consistently shouts at me, or tells me to shut up, belittles my input, and generally makes the session anything from just not fun to downright miserable for me. Attempts to deal with this by talking to the relevant GMs have produced little improvement (you are not one of the GMs Roger). These are people that I have role played with for decades. We've not had this problem before. I'm at my wits end and I frequently go home from sessions wondering why I bothered to turn up.

    The strange thing is it can't be just the players, because this happens in only one of the two campaigns each group runs. So there must be some influence caused by either the characters or the campaigns.

    In one case (which Roger doesn't take part in) the other player's character is nominally an officer in charge in a WWII campaign. But he abuses this to dictate everything we do whenever it suits him, or so it feels. No-one else gets a say if he's made his mind up on a subject, which might be realistic militarily but is no fun to play (and my character is a civilian anyway). Roger is familiar with the other situation in Infinite Cabal.

    The specific aspects of this probably aren't suitable podcast material but the more general issue possibly is.

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