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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Christoph Boeckle on April 15, 2006, 03:49:47 PM

Title: 30 minutes live on radio with audience input!
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on April 15, 2006, 03:49:47 PM
For those who understand french, you can listen to the 2h show here ( (Real Audio streaming).

Basically what happened was this: as one of the organizers of Orc'Idée (, a Swiss convention, I was invited, along with three others from the board and a bartender who organizes RPG-nights at his bar, by one of the national radio stations to talk about RPGs and our convention.

The first hour we talked about RPGs, especially of how it is perceived from the outside. We were put in a somewhat defensive role ("are players geeks?", "what about the violence?", "do players ever go out and do something else?", etc.), so we didn't get to talk too much about RPGs themselves.
Nevertheless, we were to play a live game, with the input of the listeners, with which I was intending to tell quite a few things about RPGs.

So that's what we did. We had three times ten minutes to play the game. In between there where pauses for songs.

Listeners could send in ideas about characters and situations during the show. As the GM, I compiled the stuff and then presented it to the the players.
Characters were defined by four keywords (a personality-trait, a relationship, a personal "drive" and a talent). A player would win a conflict by narrating in one of those keywords and then rolling 3+ on a d6.

I had to complete some of the keywords, as a lot of the material concerned talents, personality-traits and amusing history, but most of the stuff was brought in from listeners.
I had plenty of information to create places and problematic situations, so that was just fine.
I did give the party an overall goal, so as to give the game some momentum.
They were sent by a baron to deliver a treaty of alliance to a duke so that he could sign it.

I lost the character sheets, but basically we had a big stupid troll who would just hit on things, but with a relationship to a bishop in the duke's lands, a woman who could heal and see into the future, but who might be taken for a witch, we had a squire with a very rural background who was in love with the baron's daughter and finally we had the scheming type who wanted to become baron in place of the baron.

We didn't get to play out personal goals, but each character colored the game in a unique way.

Play was pretty classical, a journey with two encounters (an angry Abbott in a forest monastery and a rioting crowd in a village) before the audience with the duke, except that some of the bangs were dropped in on us by the show's moderator. For instance we had a scene at one point were the PCs had to talk with a crowd in a village that was protesting against the duke's treatment of the people and suddenly a house caught on fire (that was the moderator cutting in, based on some input that had just arrived by mail). The protesting died away as the people hurried to put out the lights. Was it a criminal crime, if yes, by whom and what for? Alas we didn't get to play that out, but the players negotiated with the duke in the last scene so that he would do something to help the villagers. They convinced him by a clever use of their talents, of what they had learned during their journey and bringing in that bishop who was related to the troll.

The players where all more experienced than I, but had never played with such a system (at one point while preparing for the show, I was going all Pool-like and they had me go back to a more classical GM role where I would narrate consequences). Furthermore, we had only played together once before, and I had never played with any of the others before that.
The keywords used where essentially the talents and the personality traits, the other two types where hardly used (then again we had at most a dozen rolls during the whole game). The conflict resolution didn't seem to be a problem at all, but then again, I was the one who decided what happened after each roll.
One player said he'd like to use the system some more (!)

Were I to do the same thing again, I would try to tie the situations closer to the characters, but I still have to figure out how. In some cases, it was just not possible since we had ideas flowing in well after the characters were done.

Feedback from the radio personnel was quite positive and from a lot of roleplayers I talked to on forums as well (although some had things to say about my oral expression and the pacing of the game).
Our convention was held the saturday and sunday after the show, and two guys in their thirties showed up just because they had enjoyed listening, so I was obliged to play the Pool with them...
Oh, and my mother wants to try it out with a friend of her... she was never interested in it before and I had never thought of introducing her to it (but then again, I've been playing the kind of games she would enjoy for only a relatively short while).
I thought that was quite ironic.

So, while roleplaying hasn't become the Swiss national sport yet, I think it that was a nice and effective experience. I recommend it if anybody has the chance to do that!

Title: Re: 30 minutes live on radio with audience input!
Post by: John Harper on April 21, 2006, 10:20:58 AM
I can't believe no one has responded to this yet!

This is so amazing, Cristoph. Can you tell me more about how this happened, exactly? Like, how did it go from "let's talk about RPGs on the radio" to "Let's play a game with audience participation"?

I'm very impressed that you had the nerve to do this, and that you pulled it off sucessfully. I wish I understood French so I could listen to it.

Title: Re: 30 minutes live on radio with audience input!
Post by: Callan S. on April 21, 2006, 11:00:17 AM
I wanted to post, but all I could think of was to say how gutsy it was to do it on the radio.  Christoph, is there any particular part of the account that you'd like some focus on?

Title: Re: 30 minutes live on radio with audience input!
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on April 24, 2006, 01:22:07 PM
(I want so want to edit my first post... for example: "criminal crime"!)

John and Callan, I'm glad you found this interesting! I guess that there have been few comments because, I didn't really present a point or question, except showing that it's possible to do such a thing and that others might benefit from my experience.

The show moderator contacted us. He animates a show four times a week about things social (teenager political activities, gay nights, strangers marrying to Swiss people, prison sex, etc.) There's always a bunch of people that are invited and the show is open to audience input.
He had played once or twice a long time ago, had heard of the convention and thought that it could be a cool thing to do. So he called us.
He suggested the 1 hour talk before the 30 minute game and absolutely wanted the audience input, right from the start.
I found the challenge really interesting, so I decided to give it a run!
I was extremely nervous though, as one can hear at least at the beginning of the show... the others were more confident and so did most of the talking during the first part (I had to compile the audience's data anyway).

Now that I've had time to think some more about it, I'd be interested in advice and examples of how one can play an RPG, without denaturing it, in order to "hook" an audience.
In this case it probably worked because they could participate in the content creation. People wanted to hear their contributions being used on the radio!
Also, it being short is probably crucial: if it goes on too long, the initial setup done by the audience gets less important as it is picked up and transformed by the players. Bangs could still be done by the audience (moderated by the GM).

Maybe I'd do this more like Vincent's AG&G (the random creation coming from the audience of course) if I had another chance, now that I've seen how neatly it works.
But still, the 3 x 10 minute play, the two big constraints (time and audience) tend to mangle anything too subtle (see the mechanics...), so I don't know how much I could use from AG&G as is.

There are probably some other techniques one could use, please chime in!

Title: Re: 30 minutes live on radio with audience input!
Post by: xenopulse on April 24, 2006, 02:31:56 PM
Just more questions:

Did you or the station get feedback from listeners after the show? If so, what was it?

Title: Re: 30 minutes live on radio with audience input!
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on April 25, 2006, 02:16:58 AM
Well, I know for sure that two guys (in their thirties) came to our convention thanks to the show (so I mastered the Pool on the fly for them and they really enjoyed it).

Otherwise, the people I've chatted with mostly agree that it was nice and effective (although I'll have to work on my oratory skills...)
Some thought our play was a bit disjointed, but other than that I don't know of any other feedback regarding the content.

I don't know yet if the station got any feedback.

Title: Re: 30 minutes live on radio with audience input!
Post by: Callan S. on April 25, 2006, 07:31:12 PM
How did it feel to game where it definately wasn't just about what the group thought of the game? Like, if your group all thought it was a good game, what does it feel like that those are not the only opinions that count on the matter?

Title: Re: 30 minutes live on radio with audience input!
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on April 27, 2006, 09:56:49 AM
Good question! Speaking for myself, I'd say that I took it as an interesting constraint.
After all, the house could burn down as much as it would, I could still choose how the NPC would react, and I believe the players could choose what to do as well.

As for their characters not being created by themselves, that wasn't too bad, because they had quite a few to choose from, and I would edit a bit here and there to make things "fit" together.

That and you know, playing for thirty minutes is damn short anyway.

I also believe that we played rather to give an example of what "story-oriented" RPGs can be than to really adress any CA (one could say that I pushed for something narrativistish, but we barely played a complete reward cycle (it could well have been a celebration of classical medfan as seen in RPGs)).

Maybe that's a thing to consider: I actually believe it to be more effective if the players are fully engaged in play themselves, rather than trying to show what they think they should. It's just a bit tricky if the audience gets to give their input.