88: the OA

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88: the OA
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The OA: crossing dimensions and living alternate versions of your life, Investigation vs. Mystery, exotic matter and general relativity via intepretive dance

Timestamps

Intro 00:07 // Synopsis 02:15 // Themes 10:52 // mystery vs investigation, Ron Edwards’ Sorcerer, alternate timelines, pressure of dimensional travel, small changes in the remixed world, how to cross dimensions through interpretive dance with robots, Einstein-Rosen Bridges and exotic matter // Media 27:48 // Flatliners, Dark, Odyssey 5, Zenith, The Everness Series, The Longest Journey, The Nomad Soul

Music credits

Music is by Chris Zabriskie: chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Samples: “Is that you or are you you?” from Reappear // “Take off and shoot a zero” from Stunt Island // “But enough about me, Bill Paxton” and “I don’t see the branches, I see the leaves” from Direct to Video // “Another version of you” from Thoughtless

Art credit

Featured image is fan art created by user @dowdpro (instagram)

This Damned Nation

a play idea for Apocalypse World: Burned Over inspired by Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley, Roadmarks, and the Amber series.

By Ralph Lovegrove

The Mission and the Convoy

The play group is the Convoy of vehicles.

PCs have been seconded by the Nation of California to take the serum to Boston, which is in dire need combatting the Plague. The PCs are all miscreants with past lives that are at odds with civilised society. They all have reasons they are prepared to take the deal offered by the Constable of California, a pardon in exchange for escorting the serum to the East Coast.

At character generation, each character will have a past that forms part of their reason for being on the mission. Answer some of these questions:

  • what did you do that means you can’t be part of society any more?
  • what do you miss about being part of society?
  • what will you do with your freedom?

The Road

The Road is a straight line between the Nation of California and Boston. This forms the basis for the journey. West is the Past, East is the Future, North and South are two alternate timelines. Branches from the Road move to other timelines in which characters may exist for a time and then rejoin the Road.

Branches

Branches off the Road, sometimes called Off-Ramps or Junctions, lead to other timelines. There are two competing realities: North and South.

North and South are the Hard Zones in this setting. They are static and eternal. They exist in many different times. The group (or MC) need to decide how the portals between the Road and the Hard Zones appear.

If you like, have individual characters or even the whole party deviate off the Road via a Branch and then rejoin later. This can be a mechanism for managing player absence.

Wells

Wells along the Road are the places that the Convoy needs to stop to replenish resources. They are the potential for the characters to meet settlements along the way, with associated Threats. Wells are (must be) resources that the Convoy needs.

A Well may have

  • a resource that the Convoy needs to acquire
  • a crisis/conflict that needs to be resolved in order to get that resource
  • opportunities for interaction with locals
  • a Landscape Threat

Terrain

The Terrain (including weather) is a significant Threat, and a legacy from the Event. Threaten the party with the Terrain at least once per session.

The Nation

The Nation matters. Even though boundaries have been erased by the disaster, there are people who are still old enough to have lived through the event, or direct descendants whose family have clung to the old divisions and borders.

Everyone has a relationship with the Nation, from zero (the former nation means nothing) to some positive value (geography, geopolitics, pre-Event history are significant).

The Nation has a language. The ancient cipher can be used to unlock deep held sentiments, forgotten truths, and painful truths depending on who you talk to.

In play the Nation is a Threat (Institution).

All characters start with Hx for The Nation, used in the moves Charm Someone, Read Someone, Read a Situation, Augury. This works if you can work in some element of the Nation into the conversation or the situation. In this case, replace the current stat with Hx.

At the MC’s option, use negative Hx in these situations to represent a person’s bias.

Some MC moves

Threaten with weather
Expose resentment
Spoil resources
Create off-ramp
Poison a Well

The End

Up to the play group when things end. It may end after a few sessions with a defined arc. Or the game may end before ever reaching the destination, even after season after season. As MC you may choose to cancel the campaign before anything is really resolved, after many sessions of endless roads, diversions into other dimensions, returning PCs who may be imposters, clones, or alternate timeline versions of themselves. Prepare for backlash.

75: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

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75: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
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Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Show Notes

Intro 00:07 (anniversaries of sorts) // Synopsis 05:06 // Themes 19:02 // Motives // Tools 24:14 (language, media, propaganda, surveillance, revisionism, war) // Other Reading 38:52 // George Floyd // Dystopia as aesthetic // confusing Dystopia and Post-Apocalypse // Dystopocalypse

Other book references:

The Citadel of the Autarch by Gene Wolfe
The Watchtowers from The Voices of Time by J G Ballard
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Children of Morrow by H M Hoover
Silo Trilogy by Hugh Howey

Music Credits

Music is by Chris Zabriskie: chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Samples: “Is that you or are you you?” from Reappear // “Cylinder Three” and “Cylinder Nine” from Cylinders // “Take Off and Shoot a Zero” from Stunt Island // “Another version of you” from Thoughtless

Episode 60: The King in Yellow with Scott Dorward

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Episode 60: The King in Yellow with Scott Dorward
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The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

With Scott Dorward from the Good Friends of Jackson Elias! Visit their site for their ongoing series on the King in Yellow.

Show Notes

defining cosmic horror 04:30 // gothic horror 07:50 // everything is delusion 09:50 // gothic motifs (question for Matt Sanderson) 13:20 // cosmic horror without Lovecraft 15:07 // house on the borderlands 16:54 // what would Sandy Petersen’s KiY look like? 21:05 // 1980s game design and Dallas 27:43 // Pelgrane’s Yellow King (Hillfolk vs Gumshoe) 34:55 // investigative horror 36:25 // consent 38:04 // Hellraiser comics and damned by crossword 39:11 // memes 50:58 // cosmology 53:44 // the stars are gods 55:37 // Shakespeare’s King in Yellow 58:20 // Clive Barker’s living city-gods 1:00:17 // uncaring vs. moralistic gods 1:02:10 // Scott’s dream team of fan writers (Karl Edward Wagner, Robert Aickman, Clive Barker, Brett Easton Ellis, Ramsay Campbell, Nathan Ballingrud) 1:03:44

Extra

The Brett Easton Ellis RPG character sheet

Music Credits

Music is by Chris Zabriskie: chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Samples: “Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear // “Another Version Of You” from Thoughtless

Episode 57: Imajica part 2

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Episode 57: Imajica part 2
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Imajica by Clive Barker

(chapters 18-42, approx 500 of 1100 pages)

Show Notes

Synopsis 00:35 // Themes 13:25 // What is Portal Fantasy? 13:52 // The sub-genre (self-contained, relative to our world, superstructures, identity, travellers, geography) 17:25// Dopplegangers 26:00 // Games (Portal Rats, Day Trippers, Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, Everway, Grand Tableau) 32:33

Links

Bibliography

Blog posts

Other Games

Music Credits

Music is by Chris Zabriskie: chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Samples: “Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear // “Another Version Of You” from Thoughtless

Episode 51: fiction within fiction, part 1 (The Magicians, When the Dark is Gone)

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Episode 51: fiction within fiction, part 1 (The Magicians, When the Dark is Gone)
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This is the first of a series looking at secondary worlds that exist as known fiction inside a primary, fictional world. In this episode Ralph tackles Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, and talks to Becky Annison about her game When the Dark is Gone.

Show Notes

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
When the Dark is Gone, a game by Becky Annison, part of the Seven Wonders anthology

Synopsis 00:56 // Themes and remarks 05:38 // When the Dark is Gone with Becky Annison 14:00 // end bit 44:05

Music Credits

All of the music in this podcast was composed and performed by Chris Zabriskie (chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive). This episode included Is That You Or Are You You? from Reappear, Cylinder Three, Cylinder Four and Cylinder Nine from Cylinders, and Another Version Of You from Thoughtless.

Episode 213: Kiteworld by Keith Roberts

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Episode 213: Kiteworld by Keith Roberts
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(see our previous episode)

Keith Roberts wrote nine groups of short stories, four of which are linked novellas. Kiteworld was published nearly 20 years after Pavane and bears more than a passing resemblance to the earlier collection, despite it’s post-apocalyptic setting.

Music credits

“Cylinder Four“ from Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 212: Pavane by Keith Roberts

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Episode 212: Pavane by Keith Roberts
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This episode is a collaboration between Fictoplasm and the Tabletop Roleplayer’s Book Club. Ralph discusses their April book choice, Keith Roberts’ alternate history Pavane with guests Ray Otus and Paul Mitchener.

Show Notes

Pavane by Keith Roberts

Paul Mitchener and Ray Otus with Ralph Lovegrove

Introducing the Tabletop Roleplayer’s Book Club 00:50 // Synopsis 02:00 // Comments 05:10 // Fairies 06:15 // Darkness and the economics of light 10:45 // Caught up in events 17:40 // Isolation 20:15 // Independence 29:00 // The RPG bit — Paul’s Game 35:20 // Ray’s ideas 36:20 // Callisto and De Profundis 36:45 // Itras By 38:40 // Apocryphal Chris’s idea 39:50 // Ralph’s Game 41:35 // Rise and Fall 41:50 // Microscope and Kingdom 42:05 // The Village 44:50 // Binary games 46:50 // Last words 49:00

Extra

See this infinityplus review and the comments on the Coda.

Tim Harford’s 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy includes this episode on The Lightbulb.

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