What we’re listening to in May 2018

Plot Points 98: 5 Generations of D&D Design

Plot Points 98 wasn’t as interesting as I hoped it would be but there’s some interesting stuff there, for example the way that Basic D&D is a great teaching resource and a crappy reference book, whilst the opposite is true of AD&D.

Myoclonic Jerk 11: The Long View

Daniel Kaufman’s series Myoclonic Jerk is supposedly 20 episodes long, although to date we’re up to episode 11 which is all about our broader view of the universe. The show notes are comprehensive and the guests are great.

One cool fictional idea: after the death of suns which collapse into neutron stars and black holes, stellar civilisations harness the energies of the singularities to continue their existence.

System Mastery 87: Nephilim

On my trip to NYC I managed to get a copy of Serpent Moon from The Compleat Strategist, thus completing my collection of Nephilim books so the spines sort of line up like this:

Rock and roll. Anyway, System Mastery episode 87 is spot on about Nephilim being a game all about character generation and not much else, and how the eponymous nephilim are monstrous and evil.

Grognard Files 20 part 2 (Golden Heroes)

Thanos is Nigel Farage

The second part of the Golden Heroes episode with more comments from Simon Burley including an interesting perspective on the Comics Code.

Pounded in the butt by my own podcast

Finally, I’ve been enjoying the Night Vale produced podcast where guests read Chuck Tingle’s fiction and try to keep a straight face. I particularly liked I’m Gay For My Living Billionaire Jet Plane.

4.03: The Last Policeman, Hard Sun, The Three Body Problem

Ralph briefly discusses three pre-apocalyptic novels, with the conclusion that all that matters is how much time you’ve got left.

Show Notes

Links

  1. This episode is partially inspired by the thread Nihilism: Gaming in a Hard Sun world on the UKRoleplayers forum.
  2. Here’s a fun stackexchange thread) on Hard Sun’s possible extinction event.

Music Credits

“Cylinder Nine” from Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 4.02: Excession by Iain M. Banks

Rhi and Paul join Ralph to talk about Iain M. Banks’ Excession and The Culture. Post-scarcity, intelligent starships, body modification and first contact.

Show Notes

Excession (and other Culture novels) by Iain M. Banks

Rhiannon Lassiter, Paul Mitchener and Ralph Lovegrove

  • Overview of The Culture 00:50
  • Synopsis of Excession 05:40
  • Themes 12:05
    • Diverging human cultures
    • What do utopians do with their free time?
    • Benevolent interference in other civilisations
    • The edge of ascension
    • Contact and Special Circumstances
    • Sex positive
    • Transhumanism before it was famous
    • Death
  • Aside:The Player of Games 32:50
  • RPGs 38:30
    • Mindjammer by Sarah Newton
    • Flotsam (Josh Fox, based on Dream Askew by Avery Alder)
    • Microscope and Kingdom by Ben Robbins
    • Dramasystem by Robin D. Laws
  • First Contact scenarios 48:05
    • Event Horizon
    • Unto Leviathan by Richard Paul Russo
    • Eon by Greg Bear
    • 2001 and 2010
    • The Fifth Element

Music Credits

“Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear by Chris Zabriskie

“But Enough About Me, Bill Paxton” from Direct To Video by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 4.01: what we’re reading, new year 2018

Rhi, Josh and Ralph talk about books they’re reading, and other things.

(I know, it’s not January, it’s May)

Show Notes

Rhi has been reading What Makes This Book So Great? by Jo Walton and Heriot by Margaret Mahy, and has just started Imaginary Cities by Darran Anderson. She’s looking forward to reading The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente.

Josh has been reading Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, and The Tale Of The Axe by David Miles. He’s currently running Blades In The Dark.

Ralph has been reading Gun With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem, and the anthology Ubiquicity collected by Todd Foley. He’s still writing Stormhack.

Music Credits

“Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear by Chris Zabriskie

“But Enough About Me, Bill Paxton” from Direct To Video by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

What we’re listening to, April 2018

I listen to a fair number of podcasts on my commute. Here’s a run down of what I’ve been listening to this month.

What Would The Smart Party Do?

episode 68: Roleplaying games of the 90s

What Witchcraft did was it tried to fulfil the need that the World of Darkness players had to do crossovers

Great year by year list of 90s games including Over the Edge, Nephilim, Castle Falkenstein, Amber (but not Everway — come on, chaps).

Fear of a Black Dragon

Operation Unfathomable

This is my favourite show among the Gauntlet’s broad offering of quality podcasts. Their main podcast and +1 Forward are good listens but FotBD raises the bar with its structure, focus on utility and insightful comments. The Operation Unfathomable episode is typical of this high standard. Also Tom uses my favourite word (liminal).

The Grognard Files

Paranoia (episode 19) and Golden Heroes pt. 1 (episode 20)

More gaming nostalgia! The Grognard Files goes from strength to strength. Golden Heroes is the most recent episode but I wanted to mention Paranoia too, for the comment about how that game never really settled on one coherent theme or presentation — I would have loved to run it as a grim Brazil-esque satire, but our games always devolved into backstabbing and grassing each other’s clones to the computer within minutes. Actually I always thought the 1st edition system had some genuine innovations like the damage columns and skill trees, it’s just these were totally out of place when the PCs were so ephemeral.

Also check out the Golden Heroes unboxing:

Welcome to Night Vale

A door ajar pt 3 (episode 126)

Twin Peaks, Pontypool, Al Amarja, Royston Vasey, Night Vale.

Come on down to the pancake house, check if any of your loved ones have been affected by this horrible disaster, and enjoy free hot cakes. One hot cake per missing loved one.

The Good Friends of Jackson Elias

Episode 128: Cats

And finally the perennial favourite returns with a discussion of cats. Which reminds me, I must re-read The Cats Of Seroster.

Episode 4.00 Annihilation Redux

Ralph talks about running Cthulhu Dark: Annihilation at Concrete Cow, the differences between Jeff Vandermeer’s book and Alex Garland’s film, and managing player expectations in one-shots and beyond.

Show Notes

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer // Annihilation by Alex Garland

Planning Cthulhu Dark: Annihilation

Annihilation the movie 00:45 // Differences between novel and film 03:15 // What you might change going from book to RPG 07:10 // Available technology, communicating with the outside, appeals to authority 11:20 // Party cohesion 13:25 // Cthulhu Dark: Annihilation at Concrete Cow 15:30 // The Cthulhu Dark formula (and the Colour out of Space) 18:15 // Over prepping 21:15 // Setting expectations for con games 24:40

Music Credits

“Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear by Chris Zabriskie

“But Enough About Me, Bill Paxton” from Direct To Video by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 310: The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

For our second seasonal episode Ralph and Liz discuss Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising as part of the worldwide #thedarkisreading hashtag.

Show Notes

The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

Elizabeth Lovegrove and Ralph Lovegrove

  • Synopsis 00:35
  • Themes 10:50
    • Comparisons with The Box Of Delights
    • Winter and isolation
    • Myth and prophecy
    • Time travel
    • Transformed landscape
  • RPG bit 22:55
    • Ralph’s idea: The Dark Is Rising meets The Hunger Games meets Power Rangers/Chronicle
    • Liz’s idea: The Dark Is Rising without the supernatural
    • Dialect
    • Alas Vegas and Yet Already
  • Last words 34:30

Music Credits

“Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear by Chris Zabriskie

“But Enough About Me, Bill Paxton” from Direct To Video by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 309: The Box of Delights by John Masefield

Just in time for Christmas, Ralph and Liz discuss the book and TV series of the children’s fantasy The Box of Delights by John Masefield.

Show Notes

The Box of Delights by John Masefield

Adapted for the BBC by Alan Seymour

  • Synopsis 01:05
  • Themes 10:15
    • Pagan myth vs. warring magicians
    • Sapphire and Steel vs. Dr Who
  • The RPG bit 25:05
    • Night Witches, Malandros, Tales from the Loop
    • A Taste for Murder
    • Monsterhearts
    • The Just City by Jo Walton
  • Coming soon: The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

Music Credits

“Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear by Chris Zabriskie

“But Enough About Me, Bill Paxton” from Direct To Video by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 308: return to the Southern Reach

Ralph briefly returns to Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy.

Show Notes

The Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance) by Jeff Vandermeer.

  • Annihilation episode recap 01:05
  • Authority 04:35
  • Acceptance 08:40
  • RPG bit (Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Dark and Lovecraftesque) 11:45

Music credits

“Cylinder Three“ from Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 307: Fictoplasm at Dragonmeet

Liz, Becky, Paul and Josh discuss turning your favourite fiction into RPGs at the Dragonmeet panel on December 2nd 2017

Show notes

“Turning your favourite fiction into roleplaying games”
Dragonmeet, London, Saturday 2nd December 2017

Elizabeth Lovegrove, Paul Mitchener, Josh Fox, Becky Annison (chair)

Music credits

“Another version of you” from Thoughtless by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive