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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Worst Owl Ever 01 May 2016


This month, Mike and Roger talk with John Dallman and Doctor Bob, and look at the new transhumanist games Mindjammer and Nova Praxis.

We mentioned the Bundle of Holding's Mongoose Traveller, Torg 1 and Torg 2 offers, Gamma World, Traveller 2300, Aftermath, Mindjammer, Nova Praxis, Eclipse Phase, and The Culture.

Music by dilo (introduction) and 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 Phil Masters at 07:26pm on 03 May 2016

    If the Mindjammer novel and Dominion are anything to go by, the default campaign assumption for the game might be "Special Circumstances, but without the budget". Though the former is a bit of a loose sprawl, to be honest, and the latter is one of those "Why are the PCs (a) working together and (b) the ones dealing with this problem?" scenarios. Putting together any campaign in the setting would clearly demand a lot of work to make sure that my suspension of disbelief could take the strain.

    I also have a slight problem with the story-driven rules, as applied to a very-high-tech setting, in that very-high-tech guns ought surely to be able to vaporise anyone who they hit, and to hit very reliably. One can get around this in SF games by adding in very-high-tech defences as well, but that's not what Mindjammer does; so far as I can see from what I've read so far, it just has ultratech firefights with unprotected participants be very little more lethal than barroom brawls using fists. Because story.

    (Note that it's perfectly possible for FATE to represent very powerful weapons and defences, in broad strokes at least; it's just that Mindjammer doesn't. As a result, I have a nasty feeling that it's possible for a normal human being to punch out a starship.)

    I guess that this represents ground combat in something like Star Trek quite well, but I don't regard that as a recommendation. I want to like Mindjammer because it's the first RPG I personally have seen that was clearly written by someone who knew and loved Cordwainer Smith's stories, in which personal combat tends to be short and brutal, and can leave the losers vaporised.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 01:24pm on 04 May 2016

    It does sometimes seem more intent on telling conventional fiction with weird trappings than on telling the sort of story that emerges from weirdness (something at which I think Transhuman Space is particularly good). But I suspect that grafting a less narrativist ruleset onto it would deal with much of that problem, possibly at the cost of breaking the setting, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the Traveller conversion comes out.

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