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Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama Role Playing Game
Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama Role Playing Game

Chapter 8 – Victory or death

The story so far (An ending)

Episode 6

Dr Herbivore strategically forces some of the stonework in the side of the well loose at a height just below that of the bottom of the cage.  The cage falls the last inch and rests on the bricks.  The cage sinks no further and the three of them are left standing knee deep in the briny darkness.  Slowly the chain slackens and sags above them. Malefice quickly conjures up some light and Jake looks at the rusted looking hatch above them along with the padlock that holds it in place.   It is a standard pin barrel tumbler lock and he is certain he can make short work of picking it.

“Boost me up” he asks Dr Herbivore.

Herbivore gave him a dirty look and boosts him up onto his shoulders.  “You could do to loose a little weight, you know?” he says.

“And you could do with being a bit taller”.

A few moments of creative cursing later and the lock is opened.  It takes short work to climb the chain onto the cage’s roof, but the climb up the chain to the surface looks long and tortuous.  Jake looks down at the others and offers to climb up and see if he can find some controls to bring the cage up.

The climb is just as arduous as it looks, but at the top the well opens into a darkened control room. It is short work to find the lever that bring the cage back to the surface.  The well itself is situated inside a large shed of some sort.  Malefice gasps in shock when they step outside.  They stand in the grounds of the Mayor’s residence.  The Necromancer is none-other than the mayor of the city.

Diverting just long enough to call the police, Nick, Dr Herbivore and Malefice charge into the Mayor’s private study.

Mayor Green, who is giving  instructions down the telephone line, looks up in shock.  Jake slugs him in the face with jarring force before he can speak, afraid he will attempt to use a spell on them.  Dr Herbivore immediately moves to inject the mayor with his own special magic retardant serum.

“That should hold him” he says smugly.

In the mayor’s desk, Malefice finds a list of warehouses around the city.  “I’ll bet these are where the barrels of Pathogen have been stored.”

“Good work team”, said Jake.  “I think we’ve just saved the city”.

Heroic Deaths

Roleplaying games, for all that you are participating in a form of cooperative story-telling, are still games.  As such your character can, and just may, die.

In good adventure stories and radio serials the death of a character is never trivial.  It is always a moment covered in glory; tragedy, true, but also glory.  As a result players who die may still perform one last free heroic action.  This action is one that they may put all their remaining hero points etc. into (converting them to damage) in order to shine one last time as they go down in history.


Malefice has received a mortal wound in the fight to prevent Count Otto Von Schaffendorf from escaping with the kidnapped Princess Olga.  The Helicopter is powering up and many henchmen lie between the heroes and their target.

Malefice thinks for a minute and elects to use her free final heroic action to throw her knife and try to jam the coupling on the helicopter’s rotars.    The throw is a success.

The GM solemnly intones “As the last of her life’s blood ebbs away, Malefice succeeds in disabling the helicopter and preventing Count Otto’s escape.”

Cheating the odds

Once per adventure a player may cheat the odds.  A player cheats the odds by redeeming an event where “all is lost” (one of the characters would normally be dead or something catastrophic would happen). This allows the character who falls off a cliff to catch a branch on the way down and survive, or having been thrown from a plane without a parachute land in a haystack, or have the metal cigarette holder in their pocket catch the fatal bullet or otherwise defeat the odds in a borderline miraculous or overly convenient manner typical of over-the-top heroics and daring-do.

This cannot be used to undo a major plot event.  It merely makes an event survivable that otherwise would not be.


The rope bridge beneath Dr Herbivore’s feet gives way and he plunges towards certain doom.  Rather than rolling a skill check to grasp the falling rope and swing to safety, he cashes in his opportunity to cheat the odds once in this adventure, and swings against the chasm wall.

Plot Devices

The Game master may trump a “Heroic Death Action” or trump an attempt to “Cheat the odds” with a “Plot Device” if the heroic moment would significantly derail the story.  A Plot Device is merely an event that the players would normally be able to prevent that the GM makes happen in order to forward the story or plot.  Some adventure tropes (such as being captured by the villain) are such a part of the radio-adventure experience that they ought to be allowed to play out for the story to remain appropriately adventurous.

When a “Plot Device” is enacted, however, all players gain an extra hero point as compensation (whether they currently have their maximum number of hero points or not).


Dr Frankenheimer’s mutation machine is mutating dozens of animals into monsters and throwing them at the heroes with no end in sight.  Jake has been mortally wounded and wishes to use his dying action to wreck the machine with a hand-grenade.  The GM is aware that if the machine is destroyed outright the heroes will lose their capacity to return the Princess Olga (trapped elsewhere in the castle in mutated form) to her original shape.  The GM might choose to let the consequences of this play out, but in this instance feels future plotlines depend on Olga’s rescue and applies a “plot device”  to modify Jake’s action so that rather than resulting in the total destruction of the machine, the grenade bounces to one side blasting through its power supply.  The machine has been prevented from operating further (Jake’s goal) but can be repaired later to heal Olga.

All players gain a free hero point as a result.

The rewards of play

Participating in a roleplaying game is enjoyable and rewarding in itself.  But there are rewards built into the game to allow your character to improve at things over time.  This growth in ability over time is measured in experience points.  Whenever you achieve a game related goal you earn experience.  For every 10 experience  points you earn, you gain  your own magazine cover-story in the journal of the League of Adventure Seekers.  You can then trade these covers in for new abilities or improvements in skills.

Experience is tallied by the GM and distributed at the end of each discrete adventure or episode.

At the end of each adventure the GM will also give away a bonus experience point for role-playing, and each player can award a single point to any other player at the table for any reason they choose (a cool action in game, excellent roleplaying, saving their life etc.).

A new skill costs two journal covers.

A one dot improvement in an existing skill requires you to spend covers equal to the current number of dots in the skill.

The maximum number of wounds you can take before being killed can also be improved by spending covers equal to the current number of wounds you can take.


Jake earned 23 experience points in his last adventure.  This means he is featured in two covers of the Journal of the League of Adventure Seekers.  Jake really wants to improve his Perception skill (currently 2 dots) and spends 2 covers to raise it by 1 dot to 3 dots in total.  The remaining 3 experience points are carried forward into the next adventure.

A Final Note

There you have it; all the rules necessary to participate as a character in a fun Radio style adventure.  If you wish to run games as a GM however, you will likely want to read the GM’s guide (containing tips on running your first game, adjudicating dice rolls, narrating action, pacing scenes, designing scenarios, making combat sizzle, building memorable NPCs, inventing challenging yet fair death traps and puzzles, and much more).  Enjoy!

That was the final chapter in our Players’ Guide Rulebook.  We hope you enjoyed it.

This chapter of the Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama RPG and all associated content (except where acknowledged) is © copyright and Philip Craig Robotham 1997 and may not be reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author.

HYOOTRD Roleplaying Game – Players’ Guide