Episode 105: Except For The Actual Dying Bit

This month, Mike and Roger consider adventures written by other people, and do RPG-a-Day faster than ever before.

We mentioned:

Metamorphosis Alpha (at the Bundle of Holding until 6 September), Proxima Centauri, Universe/Orphans of the Sky, Non-Stop, Captive Universe and The Starlost; Delta Green and Delta Green Operations (at the Bundle of Holding until 12 September), and Shadowrun 6 Stories (at the Bundle of Holding until 13 September); Runequest Glorantha, 76 Patrons, Reign of Steel, The Two-Headed Serpent, pdfimages for extracting raw image data from PDF pages, Masks of Nyarlathotep, The Dracula Dossier, The Armitage Files, The Zalozhniy Quartet. Empire of the Petal Throne, Torg, Ludonarrative Dissidents, Modern AGE, Pathfinder; RPG-a-Day 2021, Campaign Cartographer, The Last Hero, The Deplorable Word, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, The Land of Mist, the X-Card, The Great Outdoors Challenge, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, GURPS Banestorm, Foundation, The Elusive Shift, TV series bible discussion posts, Blades in the Dark, Polaris, Thousand Year Old Vampire, Cthulhu Confidential, Risus, QuestWorlds (formerly HeroQuest), the GoFundMe for Luise Perrin, and Alarums and Excursions.

Here’s our tip jar. (Please email or leave a comment as well; they don’t always tell me when money’s gone in.)

Please use the new discussion forum at discussion.tekeli.li rather than commenting below.

Music by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com and other royalty-free sources.


“Scenario” is ultimately from the Greek σκηνή, which means “tent”. It is a doublet of “scenery”.

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The Land of Mist… Goodness me, what a steaming pile of fertiliser that is. Let’s completely reverse Challenger’s character and beliefs! If there actually turns out to be life after death I shall be seeking out Sir Arthur and subjecting him to a thorough and vociferous rant.

Is there a term for the genre of literature described by “I’ve got this really amazing idea about how life, society, theology, etc., should work and I must share it with all of you”?

I’m not sure that Speakers’ Corner counts as a genre of literature exactly.


Regarding Language, I’ve usually ignored it, but in my campaign last year and the one this year, it is a feature. Every fantasy race has it’s own language (itself an over-simplification) but there are many races in The City of 1000 Names. Though everyone knows a few languages, miscommunication does occur. So while all the PCs speak dwarf and can communicate with each other, only one of the PCs speaks goblin. So, when interacting with goblins, that PC may be forced to be the speaker for party rather than the more charismatic PC who doesn’t speak goblin. As with any spice, I try to add language as a flavoring, sometimes subtle, sometimes strong, but not all the time and never to the point of becoming overpowering.

I pat myself on the back my making notes for each race about how their language has influenced the culture. For example:

  • Elves: Elvish words can be found in the songs and poetry of other races well. Many musical theatrical works are performed entirely in elvish.
  • Goblins: Not much of the goblin tongue has made its way into the vernacular except for a few choice curse words and bawdy idioms. The so-called “thieves’ cant” is actually a pidgin of goblin and the old human tongue.
  • Orcs: Orcish words have found their way into the language of fighting and military jargon.
  • Kobolds: The calls, whistles, and hand signals employed by kobold scouts and sentries have been employed by other races for clandestine communications.
  • Humans: Humans were so ubiquitous in The City that much of their language simply became the default vocabulary used for doing business and was the most common second language taken up by city residents. Many traditional church services are still performed in the human tongue even if fewer and fewer of the faithful understand the words. (Note: Humans effectively died out over 100 years ago.)

Regarding RPG-a-Day, “Fraction” immediately brought to mind Champions/Hero with its glorious method of using fractions for factoring in advantages and limitations when calculating power cost.

Real Cost = Base Cost × (1 + Advantages ) / (1 + Limitations )
Advantages and limitations ranged from +/- 1/4, 1/2, 1, etc.

I mastered Reverse Polish Notation on my HP calculator making Champions II characters.


GURPS 4th ends up doing a similar thing, in effect Base × (1 + Enhancements - Limitations) with a minimum E-L of -80%.

And I’ve just installed Free42 on my phone for the rare occasions when I want a calculator…

The GURPS calculation is more natural and straight-forward by using percentages: sum them up, add 1, then apply. So if you had a +50% and a -25%, you’d multiply the base cost by 1.25. Transparent.

In Hero, if you had a +1/2 advantage and a -1/4 limitation, you’d multiply the base cost by 1.2 (1.5/1.25). This is not at all obvious. A rookie mistake would be to take (1 +1/2 - 1/4) = 1.25. Furthermore, the Active Cost (which mattered for things like power limits) was just the numerator part.

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Utopian writing.

See also dystopian writing