I am seriously not wanting to sound at all smug here, but I am going to reply, somewhat immodestly, “by doing what I have been doing this last five years.” Primarily by hosting a podcast about RPGs, secondly by recording (some, not all) our games and sharing them on another podcast feed. And more recently by streaming some of them, live on YouTube (and Twitch, but I don’t really care about Twitch).
Now I am not going to argue that any of these are any good. (Well, I am quite proud of podcast.) In fact my point about the actual plays, both podcast and on YouTube, are not great. They are not entertainment. Some people are entertained by them, I hope, but we don’t try to make them entertaining for the audience. We simply share the things that entertain us as we play.
We have two principles, to play (to the best of our ability) the Rules as Written, and to edit only lightly, so we don’t chop out much of the side banter, and we never re-record anything. We want the experience of the audience to be as close to sitting at the table as we can make it.
One reason for this is, we are lazy. But the other is slightly more principled. I worry that great shows like Critical Role are too good. I want to show that anybody can play games, you don’t have to be Hollywood voiceover artists, supported by prop makers, sound engineers and costumiers. I want to show you can sit at the table, with the rule book at your side and with your friends, you can make an adventure together.
I was struggling to think of what to post today, until I realised that the 8th of every month is (on Twitter at least) #PodRevDay when listeners are encouraged to leave reviews of podcasts. “Aha!” I thought “The perfect opportunity to let our listeners throw SHADE at us.”
So, while we set out to use this year’s RPGaDay to showcase our best episodes, today I thought I could cast a curator’s eye over our worst episodes. Now, of course a proper curator does not make value judgements. But though I am (something like) a proper curator in my professional life, I will pick what I consider to be our worst episode, and link to it, not from our website but from Podchaser, the cross platform Podcast Review site.
The content isn’t dreadful for this episode, it was our first Actual Play, and we used a Blue Snowball on Omni to record it. But we learned a lesson about our usual habits of eating during play, and especially a lesson about Pringles.
I will only consider this exercise a success if we get five reviews for this episode. They don’t need to be GOOD reviews though. So get reviewing!
I am cheating with this one but with good reason. Day seven’s topic is couple, and I have been playing with a couple of brothers pretty much since I first touched a polyhedral. Actually Tony is the one I really like. In the year above me at school he was part of crowd that welcomed young un’s like me into the “War-games” club, which at that time was exclusively playing AD&D and Traveller.
Dave was the annoying little brother that turned up a few years later, when the club met at my house every Saturday. I didn’t like him then and I don’t now, but he is my co-host, so don’t tell him. 🙂
Anyhow, Tony and Dave are one half of the “home group” I now play semi-regularly with even though Andy and I, the other half, live a few hours drive diametrically opposite each other with Dave and Tony in between. Long story short, COVID has disrupted our face to face group and Andy does not play online. So I said we should start playing the Coriolis campaign with Tony and Dave playing a couple of noirish detectives. It’s gone really well. I was finishing editing todays episode, Quassar, earlier this morning, and I thought it would be a perfect episode to show the two of them working together.
One of the most fun things we did as part of the Podcast was in 2018 at Dragonmeet. The first printing of Forbidden Lands had just come out to Kickstarter backers, and a few copies were going on sale at Dragonmeet itself. Nils and Mattias JH were there, working the Modiphius stand.
Dave and I had fallen in love with the Legends and Adventurers character creation method, a simple randomised life path style of character creation. As part of the PodcastZone, we invited people to come and make a character with us in the morning, then fight to the death in the Grindbone Challenge, a bit like Tributes in the Hunger Games (see what I did there? 🙂).
The recording was done by a fellow podcast, and somehow, somthing had gone wrong, meaning everyone was recorded only though that laptop’s own mic (which I don’t blame them for. It’s easy to do, we lost an episode of our Coriolis actual play that way). Anyhow, we salvaged enough of the audio to make a very entertaining, match of the day style report of the session:
Let’s finish this post by paying tribute to the great players who joined us, especially those that lasted just one action, the winner, and Nils and Mattias, who joined us for a round and contributed prizes.
Yesterday, I mentioned how the support of our Patrons had enabled us to launch a second stream, just for Actual Play episodes. Before then we used to intersperse our magazine shows with weekly episodes of the games that our home group ran. The thread of each story interwoven with our chat shows.
One of the more emotionally involving stories was Song to the Siren, the first part of which we re-present here:
Last week Effekt published the last part of our Coriolis actual play, but given that it was recorded in two sessions a year apart and released in five episodes a year ago, and another four more recently, I though it might be worth posting links to all the episodes, on order, to help new listeners find them more easily.
In episode eight of Song to the Siren, our Coriolis actual play, Yaphet and Salah confronted Córdoba, the “cannibal king” of Salvagetown. To be honest, I don’t think we heard enough about him in the AP, so as I am writing the adventure in full for the forthcoming Free League Workshop, I thought I might share some of that write-up, here, so that anyone who is interested can see what how I had intended him to be played, even if my players “turned left” (with an excellent shiv in the eye way back in episode one).
The head man of the Salvagetown “community” is Córdoba. He is big. Indeed, he is the “biggest guy in the yard,” who some players may choose to fight in the hope of asserting their violent credentials among the other prisoners.
Córdoba is not just big, he is in shape, and his skin has the reddish tone of a humanite with the Hardened Epidermis Talent. His physical abilities give him a confidence which can seen in the slow, casual way in which he approaches everyone he talks to or prepares to fight. He prefers to fight unarmed, but does carry a meat clever which, if he is pressed he in not adverse to using it in combat.
His preferred use of the cleaver is what gives him his fearsome reputation. He eats people. He is an adherent of some remnant of the Nazareem’s Sacrifice, the long outlawed, and mostly eradicated worshipers of the Beast. In his warped morality, he sees nothing wrong in this harsh environment, in feeding not just himself, but his community too, on the flesh of the weak.
Salvagetown is situated on the edge of the desert dropzone known as Harvest for a reason. Córdoba and followers are always first to arrive when a new consignment of prisoners makes planetfall. The new arrivals are usually battered and dazed by their decent, and easy prey for the harvesters and their dury-rigged Stunsticks. Swiftly incapacitated and bound they are taken back to Salvagetown as chattels . Their ration bars and water are of course all confiscated, of course, to be added the the communal stock. Some arrivals see what’s happing and run away. Neither Córdoba, nor his Harvesters will chase them far. Some will die in the desert, others will come crawling back, and the few that make it to Club Topeka are of no concern. Indeed their they might make the produce that Córdoba occasionally trades for.
Those that put up a fight just might avoid the cleaver. Córdoba is impressed by strength. He will allow any arrival who fights one of the Harvesters to try and challenge himself too. And even if defeated, anyone who puts up a spirited fight is inducted as a Harvester.
Those who don’t make the grade, the chattels, are not slaughtered, but rather eaten piecemeal. Kept tied, Córdoba will remove an arm or leg first, cauterising the wounds against infection. If they seem submissive, they may be allowed some freedom, to move about Salvagetown, and through work, earn the right to eat. Córdoba is no fool though, and will chop more limbs off troublemakers, and finally cook their offal too. Eat the whole beast is his motto.
The motto applies in a way to everything that lands on Harvest. Once the prisoners themselves are rounded up, the Harvesters return to collect the landing pods themselves. Back in Salvagetown they, and some paraplegic chattels set to break them up for raw materials, trading parts, and making these equipment they need to sustain their way of life.
Córdoba’s motivations are simple: the survival of his community, and the display of strength. Submit to him and you will be looked after, either as a harvester or as a chattel/slave.
Skills: Melee combat 3; Dexterity 2; Survival 1
Improvised Stunstick (Bonus +1, Init 0; Damage 1, Crit: Stun; Range Close; stun , cel powered ; Tech 0.)
Harvesters are driven by loyalty to Córdoba and the desire not to be eaten
The Harvesters drive solar powered scratch built vehicles to go about their gruesome task in the scrubby desert of Harvest. Consisting of a small cab at the front and a platform at the back, partly shaded by the photoelectric panel that powers the motor. They have a battery of sorts but quickly run out of power after sundown, only viable modes of transport in daylight.
Bonus 0, HP 4, MR 11, Armor 0; Passengers 3 (plus whatever you can fit on the platform – maybe six hogtied prisoners?) Fuel solar; Tech P.
Skills: Survival 3; Technology 2; Manipulation 1
Chattels have little drive, a lot of apathy and are motivated by fear.