Podcast Sunday

Phew! Busy week, with the Patreon launch and a double session game for Grogmeet. Still, I managed to listen to some quality episodes:

Lore 165: On The Line

This episode of Lore covers the Channel Islands, and it feels a bit odd hearing this being narrated by an American accent but the content is really great, capturing the feel of island folk horror and making me think more about the relationship the islands have had with both the UK and France.

I love a good archipelago. I’ve taken Christopher Priest’s Dream Archipelago (also The Affirmation, The Adjacent, The Islanders) as my baseline for years for a modern-seeming setting on the edge of magic. Islands are plausible as their own micro-culture that exists within a broader culture across a whole archipelago, but cut off from the mainland. This means that individual islands make for one level of the sandbox and the wider island network as the extended boundary; but the mainland is still a world apart, for folk on both sides.

I thought up an archipelago bound game called Beyond the Waves based on Beyond the Wall (several posts on Departmentv.net, this is the last). One day I’ll finish the setting called Haunted Empire… anyway, top episode of Lore.

Listened whilst tidying the kitchen. Jolly good

Lore 165

Allusionist 131: Podlingual

This episode concerns two other multi-lingual podcasters:

In their podcasts Mija and Moonface, Lory Martinez and James Kim create autobiographical fiction in multiple languages.

Really loved the slice of life fiction in two languages for consumption by an English language listener, so your perspective on the conversation is entirely one-sided. Also non-English language media is (embarrassingly) something I think of even less than, say, racial and sexual diversity. I mean I know it’s out there, I’m a fan of French RPGs and graphic novels and I invited Tom to talk about Brazilian fantasy on the podcast but still, big blind spot for me. So hearing the sentence “podcasts are really big in Korea” should not be at all surprising but it’s just not something that I think about.

Listened to this one in the bath, really lovely.

Allusionist 131: Podlingual

301 Permanently Moved: The Kraken in the Social Seas

Great title that alludes to the pervasive and pernicious nature of social media and how it is always lurking, ready to drag you under. The author is using an app to block Twitter for their own good. Personally I’m deleting Facebook this week, and I’ve muted everyone on Twitter so I can be contacted but I’m not tempted to doom scroll (it’s not you, it’s me).

The Kraken in the Social Seas

Frankenstein’s RPG 4: Combat and Failing Forward

I’m ambivalent about RPG combat systems. I’m fine with abstractive hit points or real wounds or one roll representing a single sword swing or many, as long as the combat isn’t drawn out and painful to play. Which is why I feel that any Rolemaster derivative is welcome to feed itself ring-first into a threshing machine. Of the choices they came up with I think both D&D4e and in particular The One Ring are better games. I only played The One Ring once but I was really impressed about how the party chose different roles in the combat (front rank, rear rank IIRC). I liked this so much I’m sort of borrowing it for my own games.

(that said, there’s a cognitive overhead in all RPG systems and if a group has paid that cost in absorbing a game system like MERP and can make it flow, fair enough. But also, you’re wrong)

IMHO the more interesting part of the discussion is around failing forward; interesting because it really sounds like the group are not only coming from a different position than I would, I’m not even sure they were in agreement amongst themselves about what fail forward means. This isn’t a criticism of the points made — I agreed with pretty much everything everyone said. But the issue really illustrates one of the greatest barriers to game design, namely what the player think a term means vs. what the designer thinks it means.

This is my an alternative perspective:

“Failing forward” is a management term about learning from your current setback and ensuring that it doesn’t totally halt your progress. See the examples here and here. You can see there are various strategies for coping with failure, learning from it, and maintaining self-esteem. As one person said (Jim?) heroes fail on their journey when they need to learn something.

The problem with the premise of failing forward, as presented in the episode, is around excusing a failure, and transforming it into a success by an exchange for something else. The problem with excusing failure in this way is that suddenly the referee, and probably the rest of the group has to do some mental gymnastics to work out exactly how this failure is now not a failure. The comment about Scum and Villainy (and other BitD) was well made.

As I said on Twitter I think the problem comes from thinking that the “fail” and the “forward” happens in the same narrative beat and to the same PC, which is absurd. Failure is failure. What matters is that it doesn’t kill the game.

And here’s where you draw the true comparison with the leadership conversation: the referee can have any number of individual failures in the game, as long as it doesn’t completely exhaust options and demotivate the players. I’d go so far as to say the referee should actually coach the players, give them a nudge to try something else, make other opportunities visible. You can do that without just reversing a result or messing around with devils bargains, etc. You don’t need any game scaffolding to make this happen, you just need an open-minded referee.

Apocalypse World is the poster child for the indie movement in general and I guess where some of the concept of “failing forward” was born. But AW doesn’t excuse failures. Quite the reverse, “if you do it, you do it” and you own your failures, and the MC makes a hard move in return. But what happens is that there’s still an interesting outcome that drives the game on. Honestly I don’t think there’s anything special about this, it’s the way pretty much all groups I’ve played with approach this issue regardless of system.

TL;DR “failing forward” is a management and leadership problem, not a rules problem.

Frankenstein’s RPG episode 4

Podcast Sunday 11 April

Just a few episodes this week as it’s been birthday week with volcano cakes, Lego and a Super Colossal Indominous Rex.

Roleplay Rescue episode 815: Return to Mystamyr

This show came on my radar for the episode on The Elusive Shift, and here the author is talking about going back to their personal game world via Mythras Classic Fantasy which I didn’t even know existed (to be fair I’ve mostly not payed attention post RQ6, with the exception of Lyonesse). One thing they talk about is the need to fully understand the system and setting before play, which I partially agree with. But here are some counterpoints:

  1. For game system, good players will always back up the GM with rules clarifications and accept that everyone’s human, rather than look down on them (though I sympathise with the GM’s anxiety)
  2. For game setting this is a little trickier. If you’ve committed to running in an established world here’s how you might manage it:
    • intentionally limit the scope of the sandbox. Things happening in other continents, other countries, even other cities are irrelevant.
    • this is your vision, not theirs. Other people, no matter how vast their encyclopaedic knowledge, can be wrong. Fresh eyes on a franchise is why we have multiple Batman movies worth watching.

On that second point, I had a player ask if it was still OK to play Stormhack! if their Moorcock reading was thin. I said no problem, as long as they came in the spirit of playing a sword and sorcery game. Of course if the opposite is true and they’re a Moorcock fan then their enthusiasm is very welcome — but it’s secondary to the players getting stuck in and enjoying the scenario. Also I have no experience of Legend outside of Tim’s games (using GURPS — it works well for low powered, low fantasy IMHO) and it’s not been much of a barrier, it’s much more important that the players are on the same page re: tone.

But other people’s settings are a bit of a chore, and I very much favour emergent setting like the approach taken in Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures (and the supplement Further Afield) which means you’re not only limiting the amount of information to absorb, you’re also exploring the world together.

Anyway, interesting episode if not quite in my preference re: system. And the comment about mailing dog poo took me right back to my French Exchange

Ep 815

Revolution comes to the Podcast ep 1

So obviously I’m now Tom McGrenery’s biggest fan given my enthusiasm for Mean by Scene as well as Fear of a Black Dragon and his guest appearances on Fictoplasm so there’s maybe a little bias on my part here. This podcast is about the literary influences on Revolution Comes To The Kingdom (which was featured on the last FoaBD) and features two pieces of fiction that influenced Tom, neither of which I’d heard of before. It’s fairly low-key stuff with Tom just talking (unscripted?) about the fiction. I think it would be good to hear more of this kind of thing from more people, where the monologue is about specific and personal influences without hype or being reductive about the plots, just covering the subjective impressions about the fiction that go on to inspire creators.

RCttP ep 1

Good Friends of Jackson Elias: Cadaver

The Good Friends look at the 2020 Norwegian film Kadaver which sounds absolutely shite — but to be fair I think my tastes and therefore biases are much more towards Scott’s end of the spectrum. Good that Delicatessen gets a mention (also The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover). The Road would also have been a good reference point.

A few remarks. First, one of the things that makes this episode good is the way the hosts disagree and debate with each other. This would not be as good a listen without the difference of opinion and criticism. Second, no matter your subjective enjoyment of this as passive entertainment, this kind of sloppy plotting and nonsense premise probably wouldn’t fly with players at the table.

And last I’ve been wondering how you could play this. It sounds like Matias is Apocalypse World’s Hardholder or Maestro d’ and would make a credible player character in an indie game where all players are in on the plot from the outset, even though some PCs aren’t.

Episode 204: Cadaver

Daydreaming about Dragons 57: When not to game

First time listening to this podcast, and I happened to dive into the 1st July 2020 episode when BLM protests were kicking off. Judd Karlman is the author of The Dictionary of Mu, whose name I forgot during the Breakfast In The Ruins episode. Here he talks about two things, the first being when not to game, and instead do real life things. This is something that sometimes happens in our extended game group, and it’s good to be open about the times when we’re just not feeling it for this session and we need to do something else. It’s also good generally to connect socially with people we share a hobby with, outside the hobby itself. I’m looking forward to going to the pub with the fencers one day…

And the other part of this episode is about creating your own covers for whatever game projects you’re doing, exploring graphic design as part of the creative process, gets a strong nod from me. Obligatory mention of the League of Moveable Type and their Blackout typeface.

DaD 57

Right, that’s all folks, we have a (socially distanced, COVID bubble) birthday party to go to. TTFN

Podcast Sunday 28-Mar

My weekly podcast listening! All worth your attention:

It’s good except it sucks: MCU Phase 1

I chained through these as we’re re-watching the MCU right now (just coming to the end with Avengers Assemble). Can’t really imagine listening if we weren’t also doing a re-watch but I’m finding it really enhances the second watch. Good call on the Hulk’s dialogue in Avengers Assemble.

(tangent: some remarkable things about Avengers Assemble include the initial distrust of SHIELD which is what really underscores the Avengers as a PC party)

It’s Good Except It Sucks

The Loremen ep 58: Black Annis

This is a recording of a live show at the Leicester Comedy Festival, and hilarious as always. I have a special fondness for Black Annis as I used her as a villain in an old Vampire 1e game.

Ep 58: Black Annis

Fear of a Black Dragon: Revolution Comes to the Kingdom

Tom mentioned his game Revolution Comes to the Kingdom at the end of the most recent Fictoplasm episode. This is a really interesting project — an OSR-ish (it sounds like Fighting Fantasy ajacent) game set in a fictional country (a Ruritania) in the 1950s-60s with magical realism elements.

Fear of a Black Dragon: Revolution Comes to the Kingdom

Breakfast in the Ruins: Moorcock in RPGs part 2

This is a cheat because I’m in it, but we still get to talk about a wide variety of Moorcock related stuff including the fiction, RPGs, Appendix N, and my own game StormHack!

Breakfast in the Ruins: StormHack!

Podcast Sunday

I’ve resolved to update the blog weekly with new listens, rather than the ad-hoc “when I get to five”. Here’s this week’s worthy listening.

Stop, Hack and Roll: Advancing Playbooks

PbtA discussion and design. This episode discussed a kind of piecemeal assembly process to not only characters but the whole game (settings, situations) using playbooks that focus on a given trope or genre rather than representing a character. I think they ask the question “why just characters? Why not locations or scenarios as playbooks?” to which I draw your attention to Beyond the Wall. OSR not PbtA, and perhaps a different idea of “playbook” but still a self-contained genre delivery system for players and GM.

Anyway, one other bit of discussion was around what it means if your game has no move for the situation. Does it mean you default to a generic or “backstop” move (Defy Danger/Act Under Fire), or does it mean you automatically succeed or fail? Not an obvious answer. I’ve had exactly this kind of discussion with other people, and I fell down on the “you just don’t do that because it’s not relevant to the game” side (which isn’t exactly the argument here, but relatable). Anyway both hosts make a compelling case for their side. Good stuff.

Advancing Playbooks

Frankenstein’s RPG ep 1

This is the first episode in a new podcast about mashing together bits of system that do the best job for chosen duties, and in this episode they tackle character generation and social interaction, and by sheer coincidence I listened to this one after I wrote the copy for the Stop Hack Roll episode above and I was delighted to hear Beyond the Wall getting some love since I’m a long time fan (interview with John Cocking and Peter Williams; also StormHack! was influenced by BtW’s playbooks, and I’ve got some fan stuff around here somewhere for a BtW game set in Garth Nix’s Sabriel setting).

Anyway, this is a great high concept and the host and guests have a nice rapport, and it touches on a really useful bit of game design namely learning from past examples, rather than abstract musing. Good guests too, with familiar names coming up in subsequent episodes.

Frankenstein’s RPG ep 1

Mega City Book Club ep 139: The Invisibles

One of my all time favourite comic book series this episode really nails it with the commentary: on how King Mob is a fiction suit for Morrison, on how this is kind of transitional for Morrison but similar to his more introspective stuff like the later The Filth, and how Dead Man Fall is possibly the greatest episode in the series and perhaps of anything Morrison has written, ever. Plus there’s the comments on how The Matrix ripped off The Invisibles, remarks on the artists for the first and second arcs and how the second arc was particularly brave/challenging for the audience (which subsequently declined). I too love Steve Yeowell’s art in the first arc and I can’t imagine what it would have looked like if it had been illustrated by Jill Thompson. Other interesting remarks are about how in the 90s there was no internet and therefore no readily available info on conspiracy theories, meaning such fringe knowledge gained a kind of currency; and how this is to Morrison what the Sandman is to Gaiman. I’m really looking forward to the podcast revisiting the subsequent series.

Ep 139: The Invisibles

Orlanth Rex’s Gaming Vexes ep 12: Complexity

Some familiar voices (in common with the Frankenstein’s RPG episodes) discuss Complexity in games, what it means for system and setting, and how this affects play and decision making. Really worthwhile (and well moderated) discussion.

Ep 12: Complexity

The Loremen S3ep59: Edinburgh Castle

What’s a reliquary?

It’s a bit of a saint… they’re usually elaborate in the shape of the part that’s inside… the resting place of… Christ’s foreskin or whatever it is. There’s about nine of those

What? Was he a cat?

S3EP59 Edinburgh Castle

Fear of a Black Dragon: Death Ziggurat

Always good value, Tom and Jason dissect The Death Ziggurat for Mork Borg. This episode shines for the discussion on life in a cold climate, how people speak, dress, move, help one another, get resources, and cross frozen rivers.

Death Ziggurat

What Would The Smart Party Do? 90s Magazines

The Smart Party’s latest episode has been rightly praised by UK gamers of a certain age. This episode features Gaz, Baz and Dirk the Dice from the Grognard Files talking about the 90s PageMaker aesthetic for DTP, hand-drawn adverts with fax numbers on them and other oddities about transient roleplaying print media.

This episode is a thematic pairing with The Invisibles episode (see above) in that it talks about a very different, pre-internet era of games and communication between gamers. In the 90s I ran The Invisibles as both a Mage campaign and then as Department V which ripped off Grant Morrison’s Division X from issue 25 (which ripped off Department S and The Sweeny). As the chaps aluded to, so many games went “a bit David Lynch” in the 90s with Vampire and clones, Kult, The Whispering Vault, even AD&D with Dark Sun (which I always wanted to play), and past me is certainly guilty as charged.

Strong nod to the notion that if you want to play a WW game, you get the core book, end of. VtM 1e forever. Although I kind of take issue with the remarks about Vampire LARP. I didn’t like it for the way that the game became all about a club of fanged supers rather than Near Dark style outsiders (which is why the first edition is superior to the second) but as for the social awkwardness if anything it did the opposite, it was our goth club where we could connect with likeminded people and swap eyeliner and issues of Sandman. Functionally we’d already been doing this kind of game for a few years though (a sort of cross between a weekly in-room LARP and PBM turnsheeted game) so it felt natural.

While I was listening I was having my first COVID 19 jab. Thanks to the age-based tranches and local demographic I was treated to Soundgarden and Dead Can Dance T-shirts and a burgundy velvet jacket. At least I knew I was in the right place.

90s Magazines

Podcast listening March 16

I guess I should turn this into a weekly thing with a more defined release cycle. Anyway, here are 5 podcasts I consumed and enjoyed in recent days:

Plundergrounds 163 and 164

This is Ray Otus’ podcast. I like the schtick of taking listener questions and then randomly addressing them with a d20 roll. Both interesting as off-the-cuff takes on the various questions. I liked the concept of looking at fantasy logic. Hope the series continues.

Plundergrounds

It’s Good Except It Sucks ep 1: Iron Man

I really like Tim Worthington’s Looks Unfamiliar. This is apparently based on his live tweets of watching the MCU back to back, something which we’ve also started doing. I’ll be listening to these in sequence as we watch. Lots of references to Iron Man comic plotlines as well.

Ep 1: Iron Man

301 Permanently Moved eps 2107-2109

The weekly “personal podcast” of the The Jaymo. I listened to 3 episodes back to back and I really liked the Solarpunk, Stacktivism and Cold Texas episode 2107. The follow up 2108 was also relevant to recent listening however, comparing the amount of time it takes to consume the whole MCU suite of films vs. how much time is spent playing Call of Duty by consumers.

Solarpunk, Stacktivism and Cold Texas

+1 FWD: Wolfspell

Very nice to listen to another podcast mentioning Wolfspell. TBH I’m completely out of the loop with indie releases and I hadn’t even thought of this game since I heard about it in another podcast (may have been Another Question) interviewing Vincent Baker.

Wolfspell on +1FWD

Design Doc: Everything Old is New Again

I admit to only half listening to this podcast as I was frantically tidying the living room at the time in anticipation of two rampaging 4 year olds. But the bits I took away included how the authors are revisiting their original game and how new games sometime overshadow past achievements and how to celebrate and keep the momentum and interest in your previously published games.

Everything Old is New Again

Podcast Listening: March 10th 2021

Thanks to a marathon desoldering session I’ve churned through another five really good podcast episodes.

The Midnight Library: S3 e8 “Very Superstitious”

Subtitled “factual tales from a fictional location” this is my first listen to this podcast but I really enjoyed the episode which was about luck and superstition, anecdotes narrated by Miranda Merrick, the show’s Literary Oracle. Top stuff.

Very Superstitious

The Thocc: Episode 10 with NathanAlphaMan

After the Xmas episode I listened to the following episode featuring NathanAlphaMan. This features a discussion that will be familiar to the RPG crowd, namely what is a designer? That discussion includes nuance around the community, how creatives see themselves, and the actual language. Something new I learned is that other languages have a lot more variety in the different terms for what we would call a “designer” in English.

Episode 10: NathanAlphaMan

Roleplay Rescue: The Elusive Shift

Part of the new wave of podcasts I’m seeing on Anchor which encourage and incorporate audio feedback from listeners, which is a great new thing. This one covers Jon Peterson’s The Elusive Shift and nicely distils down some key lessons, in particular the fact that RPG theory from the 90s is predated by Alarums and Excursions zine content from the 80s.

The Elusive Shift

Not Alone: the Windigo

Haven’t listened to this podcast for ages. There’s a long preamble where the hosts talk about life stuff but then it gets to the legends about the Windigo and the evidence from historical records. What makes it especially good is the scientific and critical thinking, the framing of legends in cultural context, and the research and citations. Warning: it’s a long podcast and the content includes cannibalism, which may upset some people. If that bothers you I recommend some of the other episodes including the Toynbee Tiles (which I pointed to in this earlier post).

“Think about bringing people to your dinner table, not on your dinner table.”

Not Alone: Windigo

Nocturne: Welcome to the Night

I found this last podcast browsing at random so I listened to the introductory episode (from 2014). From first listen it seems to be about people’s relationships with the night. The background soundscape is brilliant, and I’ll definitely be listening more. The introduction is only 15 mins long and worth a listen. Also the accompanying art is gorgeous (see the site here).

Welcome to the Night

Podcast listening March 6th 2021

Here’s what I’ve been listening to recently. Warning, contains some politics.

The Giant Brain episode 65: Stormy Weather

This podcast is slanted towards boardgames but it has a RPG corner as well. The episode is notable for tackling recent controversies in the boardgame space with racist, COVID skeptic and otherwise tone-deaf nonsense. Two remarks about how cancel culture is a confection of the right, and how if a company drops you because you’re toxic to their brand is exactly how free market economics should work, are spot on. I’m saying this really as a warning though because not everyone likes politics with their RPGs. But the GB has a lot to recommend it, really nicely produced and a great chemistry between presenters.

Giant Brain ep 65

Monster Man special: Dinosaurs

I’ve not listened to Monster Man for ages. This special backer-inspired episode starts a bit stream-of-consciousness a bit like Paul Merton on Just a Minute but it’s full of brilliant commentary about our relationship to dinosaurs, how dinosaurs are a “modern monster” because they’ve only been (relatively) recently revealed to popular culture. Some great comments on how dinosaurs could mesh with a medieval society (both for the dangerous predators outside the community, and for the feudal notions of hunting on estates etc.).

TL;DR it’s a great listen for a parent of a dinosaur-aware 4 year old who is now working therapods into a sword-and-planet game.

Monster Man Special: Dinosaurs

James O’Brien: Rachel Clarke (Dr. Oxford)

Powerful interview from the POV of a UK NHS professional which talks about the reality not only about the NHS but the propaganda from the RW media around the pandemic which is directed at the NHS staff, especially those who dare to speak out:

You have… first hand experience of how awful this pandemic is… [and] they’ll do everything in their power to shut you down

This is difficult listening and not your usual RPG content. UK politics, calling out gaslighting, testimonials about hospice care.

Full Disclosure: Rachel Clarke

GMS 171: Zinequest

This episode started with the most recent Zinequest and then progressed into KS as a platform, the way it’s being used today vs. the original intentions, whether or not you should crowdsource if you don’t need to, limiting risk for new publishers etc. Great listen

GMS 171

The Thocc: Xmas special

This is a mechanical keyboard podcast which I heard about via the Theramin Goat blog (I assume the author is one of the presenters?). They’ve only done a few episodes so far but this one features youtuber Chyrosran22, a Dutch keyboard collector with a fantastic voice and range of swear words to describe any inferior keyboards deserving of his ire.

(this is probably at the very far end of the interest spectrum for most readers here but I’ve recently dipped both feet into the hobby with my first custom project and it ticks the same boxes for me as other geek obsessions like fixed-gear bikes and fountain pens and RPG systems)

The Thocc ep. 9

Podcast listening Sat 13th Feb 2021

Wow, I am burning through episodes — at this rate this is going to be a weekly post:

Mean by Scene ep 11 “In the Projection Room”

Sharanya and Tom discuss and break down Mean Girls, scene by scene. So fetch.

(but I have to say, Tom, how can you mention Parallel Lines and forget Heart of Glass?)

Episode 11

Anchor.fm

Orlanth Rex’s Gaming Vexes ep 11: interview with Paul Mitchener

I liked Paul’s interview (and he sounds much better than in the episodes we recorded together) and also I don’t much care for actual play but the editing of this episode to focus on the hilights really works.

Episode 11

Anchor.fm

Weekly Typographic 48

Inevitably I’ll go back to some favourite shows. This one from the League of Moveable Type is great both for uniwidth fonts, and for the legibility vs. readibility discussion.

Episode 48

Weekly Typographic

Welcome to Night Vale 181: C****s

Love Night Vale. This episode has a fantastic world’s first audio crossword.

Ep 181 (and uncommon for a podcast, a transcript)

+1 FWD: Moonpunk

+1 FWD the PbtA Podcast discusses Moonpunk with its creators Wannabe Games. The game is apparently inspired by Robert A Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

BUT the most interesting part is the discusson on the use of PbtA in the classroom, including moves and playbooks.

Moonpunk on +1 FWD

Podcast Listening Mon 8th February 2021

It’s early Feb 2021, here are some podcast episodes I’ve enjoyed recently.

The Gauntlet Podcast Production

Great technical episode on how to manage podcast recordings including the environment, double-ended recordings, managing the mic, baffles, multiple takes, and Audacity tricks for noise reduction, compression, etc.

The Gauntlet Podcast Production Process

The Loremen: Hang me low, the Mary Blandy story

A podcast about “local legends and obscure curiosities from days of yore” where the hosts and guests interrogate local British ghost myths and other legends. Really nice style and good subject matter plus legitimate complaints about Christopher Nolan. Found by chance after seeing tweets and following Alasdair Beckett-King (now following James Shakeshaft as well).

S3 Ep 56: the Mary Blandy story

Breakfast in the Ruins: Moorcockian Music

My love for Moorcock is intrinsically linked to the associated music of the time including Hawkwind, New World’s Fair, etc. Great listen for modern Moorcock-inspired artists.

BitR Moorcockian Music (plus see the first and second addenda)

Fear of a Black Dragon: The Bruja, the Beast and the Barrow

Long time fan of FoaBD, this just happens to be the latest. Always liked the pace and format of this show, including the chain lightning round, companion adventures, etc. Very interested in this particular scenario as well, although they didn’t link it in the show notes, so I will here.

Podcast episode link

The Allusionist: Sorry

Brilliant podcast about language. This latest episode is all about apologies: the four things that make an apology and apology, fauxpologies, the difference between interpersonal and corporate apology, etc.

Sorry

Podcast Listening: Jan 12th 2021

New Year’s resolution: to actually talk about other people’s podcasts again. After I accumulate five episodes of stuff I liked, I’ll post them here in irregular digests.

Today’s delights:

Looks Unfamiliar Extra: The Box of Delights

Fantastic analysis of the BBC serial The Box of Delights, including mentions of the soundtrack, the habits for the BBC to do a fantasy serials in the run up to Christmas and how these skirted the edges of fiction for children.

Looks Unfamiliar Extra: The Box of Delights

Good Friends of Jackson Elias: Top 3 Mythos Media

For their 199th episode the Good Friends (+ Mike Mason) look into their favourite Lovecraftian (or Lovecraft-adjacent) media with some familiar choices and some new ones.

Good Friends of Jackson Elias: Top 3 Mythos Media

301 Permanently Moved: In the Archipelago (S04E01)

A new podcast for me, episodes are 301 seconds long and this one looks forward by looking back at some earlier words of wisdom. From the author of thejaymo.net and solarpunks.net.

301 Permanently Moved: In the Archipelago

System Mastery: Itras By

Big fan of System Mastery but this one in particular was great, giving Itras By some deserved praise, generally lots of affection.

System Mastery: Itras By

League of Moveable Type: Favourite Share-Worthy Reads

Last item is the League of Moveable Type’s podcast. In Ep 45 they talk about font design links of interest including the very cool NaN Glyph Filters.

League of Moveable Type: Favourite Share-Worthy Reads (via their Weekly Typographic).

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.

Xmas Episode 02: Our Picks

fictoplasm
Xmas Episode 02: Our Picks
/

We pitch 7 books for future consideration.

Show Notes

Mo Holkar, Josh Fox, Elizabeth Lovegrove, Ralph Lovegrove

The books:

  • Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
  • No Good Men Among The Living by Anand Gopal
  • Factoring Humanity by Robert Sawyer
  • The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon
  • The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker

Mo’s bit (Vonnegut) 00:40 // Josh’s bit (Gopal, Sawyer) 08:10 // Liz’ bit (Chambers, Austen) 17:50 // Ralph’s bit (Stapledon, Barker) 25:30

Other Stuff

The Chaucer Twitter Feed

M. John Harrison’s essay on the Great Clomping Foot of Nerdism from Warren Ellis’ blog (original can be found via Wayback Machine)

Music credits

“I can’t imagine where I’d be without it” and “Another version of you” both from Thoughtless by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Xmas Episode 01: Lyonesse by Jack Vance

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Xmas Episode 01: Lyonesse by Jack Vance
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In this special holiday episode Dave, Tim and Ralph talk about Jack Vance’s exceptional fantasy trilogy Lyonesse.

Show Notes

The Lyonesse Trilogy by Jack Vance

Ralph Lovegrove with special guests Dave Morris and Tim Harford

Synopsis 00:45 // The RPG Bit 28:33 // Skulduggery and The Dying Earth 29:12 // Dragon Warriors 34:56 // Pendragon 56:53 // Whitehack 69:41

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 13pt2: The Prisoner of Zenda

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Episode 13pt2: The Prisoner of Zenda
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The second part of our season finale looks at the fictional Ruritania of Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda, the Ruritanian Romance, and fictional or liminal countries such as Interzone and Annexia in Cronenburg’s The Naked Lunch and the Upside Down of Stranger Things.

(this recording was recorded in three bits which is why the later section sounds a bit different. That tinkling noise you can hear towards the end is the sound of gin being sipped over ice)

Show Notes

The Prizoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope

Elizabeth and Ralph Lovegrove

Synopsis 00:22 // Gender Swapped Prisoner of Zenda 03:27 // The Evidence for Ruritania 04:10 // Ruritanian Romance 04:42 // Naked Lunch 05:52 // RPG Bit starts: uncertain customs 08:47 // Lace and Steel 13:37 // Stranger Things 15:27 // Course of the Heart 18:02 // Mage the Ascension 18:27 // Inferno 24:37

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 13pt1: The Course of the Heart by M. John Harrison

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Episode 13pt1: The Course of the Heart by M. John Harrison
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We’ve split our “season finale” into two separate episodes, the first of which is a bit of an experiment — it’s quite short and a solo recording which I did a while ago. But, it’s thematically linked to the next episode, which will follow shortly.

Ralph muses over the liminal fantasy genre and M. John Harrison’s The Course Of The Heart.

“Liminal Fantasy” 00:35 // Synopsis 00:45 // RPG bit 04:05 // Changelings 04:50 // Tarot Tales and The Horse Of Iron 07:55

Music credits

“Cylinder Four“ from Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 12: More Short Stories

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Episode 12: More Short Stories
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It’s National World Short Story Novel Mustache Reading Writing Knitting Month, so we’re doing more short stories — this time from Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury and Cory Doctorow. Also, Rod Steiger, Charlie Brooker and the Sandman!

Show Notes

The Evening, The Morning and The Night by Octavia Butler, curated in the Sisters of the Revolution anthology by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer

When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth by Cory Doctorow

Fever Dream (from The Day It Rained Forever) and The Veldt (from The Illustrated Man) by Ray Bradbury

Elizabeth and Ralph Lovegrove, with Rowan on percussion

Octavia Butler 00:40 // Cory Doctorow 06:33 // Ray Bradbury 09:22 // Themes 10:55 // Games 17:27 // Microbes, HP Blavatsky, Nazis 18:49 // Modified Werewolf Game 26:12 // The Veldt 27:22 // Rod Steiger 29:17 // Charlie Brooker 31:27 // Framing Devices 31:57 // World’s End 32:12

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 10: The Dream Archipelago by Christopher Priest

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Episode 10: The Dream Archipelago by Christopher Priest
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This episode Mo and Ralph drift around Christopher Priest’s Dream Archipelago.

Show Notes

The Affirmation, The Dream Archipelago, The Islanders and The Adjacent are novels and short stories by Christopher Priest

Speaking: Mo Holkar and Ralph Lovegrove

The Affirmation 01:00 // The Dream Archipelago 03:00 // The Equatorial Moment 05:05 // The Islanders 05:40 // The Adjacent 11:50 // Comments 13:25 // Mo’s Game 18:05 // Fugue and Alas Vegas 22:20 // Ralph’s Game 26:30

Ralph’s Beyond the Waves for Beyond the Wall is a work in progress. You can find the download here, where you’ll also find a guide to the bits missing from Fugue.

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 08: Women of the Otherworld by Kelly Armstrong

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Episode 08: Women of the Otherworld by Kelly Armstrong
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This episode Liz and Becky discuss Kelly Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld and talk about pack mentality

Show Notes

The Women of the Otherworld (series) by Kelly Armstrong

Elizabeth Lovegrove and Becky Annison with Ralph Lovegrove

Synopsis starts at 00:40, RPGs at 16:05

Games

Bite Me! by Becky Annison is a Powered by the Apocalypse Game debuting at the Revelation convention in Sheffield on 25th and 26th February 2017

Other games Ralph mentioned in a desperate attempt to be relevant to the conversation: Werewolf (White Wolf publishing) // Buffy and Angel (now OOP, Eden Studios) // Ghosts of Albion (Eden Studios)

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 06: Elric of Melnibone and The Eternal Champion by Michael Moorcock

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Episode 06: Elric of Melnibone and The Eternal Champion by Michael Moorcock
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This episode Josh and Ralph dip into Moorcock’s Multiverse!

Show Notes

Elric of Melnibone and The Eternal Champion by Michael Moorcock

Ralph Lovegrove and Josh Fox

Elric of Melnibone synopsis 00:50 // Eternal Champion synopsis 04:00 // Themes 10:10 // Stormbringer RPG and others 23:30 // Dungeon Crawl Classics 28:30 // Sorcerer 30:00 // Sorcerer and Sword 31:10 // Josh’s game 35:10 // Ralph’s game 41:30

Games

Stormbringer by Ken St Andre, Lynn Willis et al // Elric! by Lynn Willis, Richard Watts, Mark Morrison et al // Elric of Melnibone by Mongoose Publishing // Mournblade by Department des Sombres Projets // Dungeon Crawl Classics by Goodman Games // Sorcerer by Ron Edwards // Vast and Starlit by Epidiah Ravachol

Moves

When you sense social, political or metaphysical upheaval, roll +Ennui.

On a 10+, take +3 forward when confronting the change.

On a 7-9 take +1 forward but lose

  • An eye
  • A hand
  • Your childhood love
  • Your sanity

On a miss, lose two of the above

Other

You can read Ralph’s Mournblade review (with run down of other Moorcock RPGs) here

Also Ralph’s WIP on OSR demons: part one and part two

We mentioned Kill the Dead and Night’s Master by Tanith Lee

Music

“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 05: Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

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Episode 05: Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
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This episode Mo and Ralph leap into the very far future of Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun quartet.

Show Notes

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Mo Holkar and Ralph Lovegrove

Book starts at 01:20, games around 12:15

Games

GURPS New Sun by Michael Andre-Driussi (Steve Jackson Games) // Chronicles of Future Earth by Sarah Newton

Other

Lexicon Urthus by Michael Andre-Driussi

Music

“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 04: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

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Episode 04: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
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Zeitgeisty! The team read the 2016 Hugo-winning novella Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.

Show Notes

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
exerpt

Ralph Lovegrove with Elizabeth Lovegrove and Mo Holkar

00:26 Synopsis // 02:47 Comments // 10:10 Liz’s Game // 14:28 Mo’s Game // 19:31 Ralph’s Game

Games

Dog Eat Dog by Liam Liwanag Burke // De Profundis by Michal Oracz

Music

“Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear by Chris Zabriskie (chriszabriskie.com bandcamp free music archive)

“Gone” from Music for Podcasts 2 by Lee Rosevere (happy puppy records bandcamp free music archive)

Episode 03: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

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Episode 03: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
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This episode we abandon hopes of getting the DVD player working again and embrace the apocalypse with Emily St John’s Station Eleven

Show Notes

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Ralph Lovegrove and Elizabeth Lovegrove

00:20 Synopsis // 06:40 Dystopia // 09:40 The Knowledge // 12:25 The Games

Games

Apocalypse World by D. Vincent Baker & Meguey Baker // Summerland by Greg Saunders // Other Dust by Sine Nomine Games // Unknown Armies by Greg Stolze & John Tynes

Other Things

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson and the film adaptation

The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell

Music

“Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear by Chris Zabriskie “Cylinder 3” and “Cylinder 4” from Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie (chriszabriskie.com bandcamp free music archive)

“Gone” from Music for Podcasts 2 by Lee Rosevere (happy puppy records bandcamp free music archive)

Episode 02: Sabriel by Garth Nix

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Episode 02: Sabriel by Garth Nix
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In this episode we claw our way up through the precincts of Death to talk about Sabriel by Garth Nix.

Show Notes

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Ralph Lovegrove and Elizabeth Lovegrove

Games

Beyond the Wall by Flatland Games // Death Comes To Wyverley (Playset for Beyond the Wall) by Ralph Lovegrove // Monsterhearts by Avery McDaldno

Other

Rhiannon Lassiter’s website

Music

“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)

“Content” from Music For Podcasts by Lee Rosevere (happy puppy records bandcamp free music archive)

Episode 01: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

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Episode 01: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
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In our first episode we talk about the utopian post-scarcity, post-gender space opera of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice.

Show Notes

Fictoplasm episode 1: Ancilliary Justice by Ann Leckie, part of the Imperial Radch Trilogy

Ralph Lovegrove, Elizabeth Lovegrove, Becky Annison

01:00 Synopsis // 05:00 Comments // 12:20 Start of the RPG bit // 12:30 Liz’s game idea // 19:00 Becky’s game idea // 24:30 Ralph’s game idea

Games

Mellan Himmel och Hav (Between Heaven and Sea) by Eliot Wieslander and Katarina Björk // Livsgald by Simon Svensson, Kajsa Seinegaard, Carl Nordblom and Jennie Nyberg // Dream Askew by Avery McDaldno // Microscope by Ben Robbins // Archipelago by Matthijs Holter // Lovecraftesque by Becky Annison and Josh Fox // Rise and Fall by Elizabeth Lovegrove is part of the Seven Wonders anthology.

Music

“But Enough About Me, Bill Paxton” from Direct To Video by Chris Zabriskie (chriszabriskie.com bandcamp free music archive)

“Content” from Music For Podcasts by Lee Rosevere (happy puppy records bandcamp free music archive)