Old Time Radio and Audio-only Play

So I’m an Old Time Radio (henceforth OTR) enthusiast, and I’m thinking about the potential of a game that emulates the conventions of OTR programs of various genres and also the possibilities of audio-only online play. I think there’s a lot of potential, and I’m working on ways to possibly integrate foley or sound cues mechanically. Thoughts? Interest? Reactions?

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Awesome! You should probably check out the Rpg On the Air too! https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/238519/On-the-Air-rulebook?filters=0_2140_400_0_0

I think it’d work for a segment of a full-length game, but there’s already enough social disconnect with just video that I’d not want to play in a game that was exclusively audio except maybe as a one-shot with very clearly defined protocols for who talked when. The ability to provide feedback when you’ve got no F2F communication is pretty important to my online gaming experience.

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I’ve done a lot of audio-only RP, although it was always with very small groups. One of my friends can’t practically video-conference, so he does a lot of 1-on-1 sessions over the phone, and it works pretty well, probably because of the conversational nature. I also did a World of Darkness campaign with three players, and while it was a little disorienting at times, it worked out.

I also love OTR and have often thought about ways to incorporate the strengths of audio drama into roleplaying, primarily how powerful the theater of the mind becomes with extremely focused input channels. For a while I was on an improv team whose specialty was The Bat, which is a Harold in total darkness. That worked great and I’m not sure why it hasn’t translated well to tabletop. I wrote a tabletop game called Ghosts that is designed to be played in the dark, with conflict resolution through discrete touch as well but it isn’t really that good.

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We should definitely talk

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Incidentally, I have a discussion/review podcast about NBC’s OTR science fiction anthology series X Minus One. It’s on iTunes and Google Play. It’s called A Thousand Maybe Worlds. It’s been inactive lately, but more are forthcoming.

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I would love to hear more about this. Ideas that I’ve personally played with that you may want to explore:

  • There’s a ham-radio kind of community that plays like slice-of-life stories for truckers or other over-the-road style living
  • Players are spies from various sides (or playing both) working to find truth from each other while simultaneously hiding their own identities, there’s a give and take there of allowing a piece of yourself to be known in exchange for your own personal goals
  • Paranoid bunker-dwellers are trying to figure out when it’s safe to leave their dwellings for an apocalypse that may not have happened

Audio-only is so much fun and presents so many cool opportunities for storytelling.

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You might want to take a look at SSZ. It approaches the same idea, but from a different design tradition.

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