RWAV - Autumn 2000

Table of Contents

Editorial

I am writing this filk
For students and their ilk
I will tell you where you stand

You've been to Fresher's Fayre,
Joined societies there
And somebody there gave you this mag

Then you saw this song
It is not very long
I will tell you as much as I can.

Things like where do we go..
We go to the Barley Mow
And drink just as much as we can

At the
IFIS/Gamesoc Thursday meeting
You will find there's ample seating
See Gordan fighting Giles and Charlotte
With gummy weapons
In the car lot.
Wo oh ho, ho ho hoo-ooh ho
At the IFIS/Gamesoc Thursday pub meeting.

Gamesoc meets Monday nights
For your gaming delights
Near the place where the Founder's bell rings

That's in Lecture Block B
Look close, you will see
The happiness good role-playing brings.

Well, I edit the Rune
I stare at the moon
I invent words like kinkyrings

But when words arrive
On my computer's hard drive
I will give you the most wonderful thing

It's got
Science Fiction/Gamesoc Features
Stories concerning strange new creatures
Lots of useful information
I hope you're feeling antici......pation

Oh ho ho hoo ho ho hoooh

For the Gamesoc/IFIS featured Rune With A View
Written by you ooh ooh ooh

Its the Gamesoc/IFIS featured Rune With A View
Written for you ooh ooh ohh.

Its the Gamesoc/IFIS featured Rune With A View
You know what to do ooh ooh ooh

For the Gamesoc/IFIS featured Rune With A View

If you don't, it is very simple. Send in articles. Book reviews, stories, anything your warped little mind can think of..

You then need to send them to Clyth@ . The .uk is very important. Without it you're trying to send to the UN's food organisation. The front cover is an anonymous picture that was lying around on my hard drive. Anyway on with the Rune. First a word from our sponsors.

and that word is Kinkyrings

by Chris Lyth

IFIS Chairbeing's greetings

Boo! Welcome to another fun packed year of the madness that is IFIS, with society foolish sea-cucumber to weekly elections of society tit, I think we quite definitely qualify as random. This terms films include Sixth Sense, X-Men and Galaxy Quest, hopefully we'll see you all there! Don't forget the weekly pub trip(go easy on the land lord guys, his pub is not a brothel!)

The library will be open for business as usual from the beginning of term with loads of new books (By the way Wendy, thanks for the book on fisting, its really funny!) Anyway, see you all at the pub.

by Alex Whincup

Gamesoc Chairperson's greetings

Greetings mortals! Yet another shiny new term! Yes, it is the end of the long summer holidays (and another 7 or 8 months before we can go to live roleplaying events.....poo!). This is probably a good time to say boo (in other words hello, don't worry you will get used to me boo-ing everyone) to all the freshers and welcome back to our old pals! You might be wondering what you can expect from Gamesoc this year. Well, we are planning to do loads of cool stuff like Airsoft, paintballing, Laser Quest (does anyone recognise a gun-related theme so far?) and well as the usual roleplaying, both tabletop and LARP (Vampire and fantasy), board games, wargames and card games. Lots of games, but then we are Gamesoc after all! We meet in Lec A every Monday evening at 7, as well as at the Barley Mow pub with IFIS on Thursday evenings after their film, and also at any other time things are happening! So whether you are a budding member of a SWAT team, a knight in chainmail or high incantor of doom, we hope you will have lots of fun! Whatever you want to do, chances are someone's running it, and if they're not, grab some people and run it yourself! And don't forget we have a convention in March, which goes by the name of Killercon so if you want to be involved in that ask a committee member! We might be mad but none of us bite (unless playing a monster of course). Right that's my bit, phew, that's made me feel thirsty, it's off to the tavern...bye bye!!

by Charlotte Ruddick

Film review - Hollow Man

premieres 29 September 2000

This is a Paul Verhoeven film, as are "Starship Troopers", "Total Recall", and "Robocop", so we can expect action, special effects and violence. On these fronts, "Hollow Man" delivers.

The plot is standard hokum: mad scientist (Kevin Bacon) discovers formula to make himself invisible, then it goes wrong and he goes crazy. His team (Elizabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, "and many many more") try to stop him before it's too late. It's implausible, it's cliche, it's purple, it's comic-book. Deep it is not. But then the old Hammer Horrors weren't deep, either, and they were also entertaining.

Like the old Hammers, there's plenty of sexual tension too. But of course the '50s swooning heroines have been replaced with some really rather nasty sex stuff, to bring it fifty years up to date. I don't know what rating it'll get, but I imagine that if they don't cut it severely, it'll be an 18. It's supposed to shock, and to do that in 2000, you have to go pretty over the top. The people that made "Hollow Man" knew this. The result is a very manga sort of a feel, made no better by the Japanese subtitles on the illegal copy I saw.

But if that doesn't bother you, and you prefer special effects and action to plausible plot and complex acting, you will probably enjoy "Hollow Man". After all, the special effects are superb. If you want eye-candy, go and see this. But see it with your tongue in your cheek!

by Simon Richardson

Ambercon

(The following article was sent to me sometime in August. I cannot however remember the precise date.
So sue me
It concerns a role play event which took place evening of Friday 14th to the Afternoon of Sunday 16th of July 2000.
It takes place around the same time each year - the editor)

This last weekend was AmberCon UK 2000, held in Reading. Since they hold it every year, I thought GameSoc members might like to know what it was like, so they can consider attending next year....

It was great fun.

Amber, for those who don't know, is a diceless RPG based on some books by Roger Zelany. IFIS has most, if not all of them, and they should be read.

(See http://www.ifis.org.uk/ for more details if you like.)

AmberCon UK takes place in a nice hotel in Reading town centre, easy walking distance from the railway station, and a bed in a twin room, plus convention fees cost £100 this year. You get four games for that, one on Friday night, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday. You also get breakfast, and use of the swimming pool/jacuzzi etc. if you wish. Non-resident places are available, for about £35, but some games can finish very late at night, and it's good to be able to walk down to the bar, or back up to your bed whenever you like.

This year it was attended by about 75 people, which is a bit down on last year, probably because the game isn't really getting any publicity these days. A few years ago it regularly drew 100 resident attendees.

The quality of GMs and players is generally very good. Some of them are very experienced indeed. Two of the adventures I played in were written by a professional RPG writer specifically for convention play, and with his permission by people who had played in the games he ran. They were both very good. Many players try and dress up a little, some subtly, others less so. It's easy to spot the AmberCon folk amongst the ordinary people staying in the hotel.

Friday evening took the characters from the books and placed them in a Dark Ages setting. As a knight of the order Hospitaller, I was honourable and true. My fellow players were backstabbing, thieving bastards at best, or murderous satan-worshippers at worst. All the women immediately took control of the armies of the region, while the men dealt in shadowy death, poisonings, and forgery. The goal (being crowned king) was eventually won by a satanist, assisted by a crooked cardinal and a fraudulent nun, who staged a fake miracle and rode home on a wave of publicity. It was great fun.

Saturday's daytime game was based in the Wild West, with the family of mine-owners faced with an evil railroad coming to town. Bad american accents, and shootouts on the dusty streets were practically mandatory. I was shot repeatedly in the chest (and the back) by bounty hunters hunting down my dastardly brother. The mine contained a hidden evil, and bad guys went after the mine deeds in my office safe with dynamite. Again, great fun.

Saturday night was light relief. A party of superhuman demi-gods having fun as a rock band, and aghast at the decision by their lead singer to marry one of the groupies. Panicked that it would cause break-up of the band, they immediately set out to get the brides father so pissed as to embarrass himself in front of the groom's father (the king). They had to seek out the truth behind the seemingly innocent groupie, and still somehow stage a concert in a bar famous for violent and constant sudden deaths. Where did we find the backing band? Where did we find the pink rat costume? Just who did stick those fly-posters in the middle of that venerable magical artefact? There was a plot, but most of the characters (and players) were far too pissed to either notice, or care. Highlight of the evening was watching foam spurt out of the GM's nose as he tried to contain the mix-up of orange Baccardi breezer and southern comfort exploding inside his mouth. Excellent.

Sunday was also light relief, mainly to accommodate the hangovers most of the players had (mine wasn't the only game involving alcohol). What if Pokemon cards really did summon monsters to beat each other up? What if cards of real people started turning up? Who was behind it? Why? How could we abuse the situation for our own personal gain? How could we save the kingdom from the attack of the giant MegaFrogs? Blind Ninja Hedgehog to the rescue...

(I will point out that my choice of games was slightly out-of-genre, other options being more standard save-the-universe plots, fight-to-be-crowned-king plots, or stop-the-royal-family-turning-into-undead-fiends plots.)

If any of this sounds like fun, the first thing to do is to find someone with an Amber Diceless Role Playing rulebook and a set of Zelazny's books. I'm happy to act as a clearing house for GMs and/or players who are interested, but I don't have time to run a campaign myself.

Some people travel from other continents just to attend this event that's practically on your doorstep. It's almost criminal for you to miss it. Keep an eye open for anouncements late winter/early spring next year for AmberCon UK 2001.

by Dominic Thomas

Remaking Doctor Who for a Y2K Audience

Before we start I'd like you all to know that this article grew out of an email thread on IFIS chat early in may this year. Check out the IFIS chat archives (for may) and search for Doctor Who. I'll explain why you need to know this later.

Remaking old programs is once again in vogue again. The Professionals has been remade - with limited success, Paramount are planning yet another Star Trek series - Enterprise and Vic & Bob have had a successful run with Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) So what if Doctor who were to be remade ? And what can we learn from the above about how to do it right ?

Doctor Who has had a previous remake - in 1996 the US TV Movie starring Paul McGann. This succeeded on some levels and failed horribly on others - it got very bogged down in attempts to incorporate a lot of the past series mythology (a recent range of audio stories on CD featuring the DW cast is receiving good reviews though). The recent Reeves and Mortimer revival of R&H(D) worked because it was a straight remake - completely different characters not holding onto the things of long past. DW is a far bigger entity than R&H(D) - 27 years of on screen mythology and continuity, plus numerous books, CDs, radio etc. How do you reduce this into some simple concepts that Joe Public can cope with but at the same time hold onto the dedicated fans who'd throw a large wobbler if we started again from scratch ? Incredibly we can do this with DW .... But more later.

First we need to know who is our Doctor.... Out come the usual names again on parade..... Going back to a great of the past would be a mistake - however much we fancy a Tom Baker revival. Picking an unknown would be a big risk - maybe the New Professionals failed due to the unknown stars ? So a name. Someone with personality. Someone maybe slightly off the considered norm. When asked the question "Who would you have playing the Doctor ?" I've given the same name for some while: Ian Richardson. Famed for his performance as Francis Urquart in House of Cards etc and appearing in genre stories like the Magician's House and Gormangast I think he'd be a great choice. His passing resemblance to William Hartnell was highlighted to me by the Magician's House and got me thinking that perhaps a return to an older Doctor might be good *

On a similar note the idea occurred that perhaps we need to start at the same place as we did originally - on Earth in the present day. So we have our initial setting. I've always thought that the Doctor is essentially a Londoner at heart - he's visited London more than any other location on Earth. Bringing him back here - though maybe not tying him to the location in the same way the Pertwee era did would be a good idea. Certainly the use of London Locations as a back drop would help to place the series firmly on Earth - I'd use it as a central setting for the series, perhaps allowing the Doctor to travel a little later on. Other elements that are readily identifiable with Doctor Who are the Tardis - so that's in, the concept of regeneration, companions and monsters - especially Daleks which are considered something special. So we want to incorporate these in....

Drama these days is usually - as per R&H - broadcast in hour long chunks. The half hour format no longer exists for television drama. Neither does the extended season of stories familiar to fans in the past - although 22 episode seasons are still common in the USA British TV tends towards 4-6 episodes for anything other than a soap opera. So an hour it is, and 6 episodes to play with and develop themes over towards a climax, something special. So for my purposes we're looking at having the Daleks show up in episode 6 - in fact to arrive on Earth at the end of episode 5 - a good cliff-hanger leading into the final episode. There's also an element of tradition involved here - Daleks usually show up at the end of an episode as a big surprise. We'll hint at the Daleks throughout the season though - an impending threat to Earth and the Doctor - show them coming from the end of the first episode.

Episode 1 needs to introduce our Doctor and establish a little about him. We need to make clear this is THE Doctor. We need to make it clear that all the old stuff is gone. So we're going to destroy the universe - that'll get rid of everything just nicely :-) But we're going to destroy the universe in a manner that will result in the Universe still existing. Effectively we want to just wipe everything to do with Doctor Who away leaving just the Doctor, the Tardis and a load of unknown out there and a blank piece of paper to start writing on. We don't want to get hung up on it - it's happened and that's it....

So we have a blank screen
A low rumbling, thunder. A bright light growing from a point
Voice One: "The Destruction begins."
Voice Two: "We can but hope that the Doctor will survive......"
A blinding flash......

And then we have one of those pieces of inspiration that you get from just walking around. I noticed that the panelling on the Jubilee Line extension was similar to that of the Tardis.

Screen fades up to reveal the Doctor walking through this tunnel. Viewer thinks it's the Tardis but it's not. Doctor emerges onto the concourse of the station, shot pulls back to show him from overhead. You know that the Doctor is on Earth, in London

Title Sequence.

And we're off.... So What's the back story to this idea - how's the Doctor got here ?

There's been a war on Gallifrey - a significant number of Time Lords have rebelled and used their powers for evil: Not a completely outlandish concept: The Master, The Rani, The Monk, Borusa. Damage has been done to the Timeline. The Doctor returns to Gallifrey in an attempt to confront the renegades and restore the timeline. The renegades have unleashed the power of Gallifrey which is going to destroy everything. The Doctor has attempted to reverse the effects but the destruction of his home planet, it's people and it's technology are inevitable. Their very presence on the time stream - and much else besides that they have had contact with will be gone. The Doctor has been mortally injured in the attempt - but has absorbed energies that will renew his regerative abilities. In a desperate attempt to protect what is to come the Doctor is dispatched in his Tardis in the hope it will survive the destruction. The Tardis has carried the regenerating Doctor through the maelstrom and has brought him to the other place he calls home - Earth. He has arrived at the point where certain beings are becoming interested in it.....

For our purposes the Doctor knows little of this - his memory has been affected by both the injuries, the regeneration and the timestorm. He knows of the Tardis and it's operation, he know he has a special role. And deep down he knows that evil is coming.... So after the titles I'd cut to the Doctor standing on a London Bridge - possibly Westminster - using a device to monitor something. He's looking for the threat he knows is coming - but instead detects something else which he investigates .... Possibly this could be a queue to introduce the Doctor to a companion - someone who meets him on the bridge. Possibly an excuse to get the attention of the authorities - after all he can't defeat an entire Dalek army by himself .... Yes possibly a policeman asking him what he's doing would be a good idea... I'm toying with the idea of even having him arrested ! - a suspicious man waving sophisticated electronic devices about in front of the houses of Parliament would provoke the attention of a constable on the beat - being interviewed by an officer would provide some form of plot exposition - they wouldn't believe him but would keep an eye on him witnessing his defeat of the first threat - which would in turn lead to the link between the Doctor and the authorities that he could call on later on....

Beyond the idea of a tie to someone in the police/security services I've not really had any idea for a companion. There needs to be one of course, someone for the Doctor to rescue and explain things to. Traditionally most companions are Female - so a younger woman perhaps - a girl searching for what killed her boyfriend and runs into the Doctor, mistaking him for the very threat she's pursuing. So a young woman - late teens / early 20s - and a policeman - late 20s / early 30s.

The threats ? There must be 6 of them - one for each episode. The final one will be the Daleks - more of them again in a brief second. One will - for the sake of tradition and use of a good setting - be hiding in the sewers or the London Underground - both traditional hiding places for Doctor Who monsters. I'd be very tempted to go for this first. Some sort of alien presence / protoplasmic that's confined below ground, but is killing those that have chanced upon/come near it's layer. In the course of defeating it it lets off a huge energy pulse which is detected by the Daleks some distance away. This - together with evidence of alien technology and a chronal disturbance - the arrival of the Doctor's Tardis - convinces them to make an expedition to Earth. So we have them detecting in episode 1, a council scene of Daleks deciding to go in 2, a reminder scene of them travelling in 3 and 4, and them arriving at the end of 5. Episode 5 would be building up to this pt - a calm before the storm but with an air of impending doom and the impending evil. As for the remaining 3 episodes - well there's a host of ideas and concepts to choose from: Dig something up, have it fall from the sky, alien duplicates, something in the sea, technology gone crazy, mad men.... all the traditional Doctor Who concepts will work equally as well now as they've ever done.

So there you have it...... DW done now according to Philip. If it ever comes back though I do rather suspect the BBC would make it somewhat different to the way I see things though !

Since this article was started on 11th May 2000 Doctor Who magazine announced the results of it's yearly pole including the questions "Who should be the next Doctor on TV and film ?" Paul McGann won both categories, but Ian Richardson was only narrowly beaten into 2nd place in the TV category. The corresponding film entry was Hugh Grant .....

The late great Malcolm Hulke once said "All you need to work in Television is an original idea. It doesn't necessarily have to be your original idea" If I could arrive at what I did above well someone else could. And one of those people was Justin Richard who works for BBC Books on the Doctor Who line plotting the overall direction of the range. The July issue contained an interview with him concerning his novel The Burning and it's imeadiate predecessor Ancestor Cell. I'd read neither while writing this article and have only started them after I'd finished so they've not had any influence at all on what I wrote. However I've found that they both explore similar themes and have a similar soloution to what I came up with. If you're interested in DW and don't buy the books - generally I don't either - do try to pick these two up.

by Philip Ayres

In Search of Lost Time

Long ago, when people travelled across space and time in police boxes because they hadn't invented WAP mobiles, when the nearest thing to surfing the web was getting into the Multi-User Dungeon at Exeter Uni. by hacking across JANET from the VAX, and the cutting edge of new technology was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, the Institute for Impure Science was young. It was all D&D and no DVDs, so we read books. By Douglas Adams mainly. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as radio show, television show and LP (an early analogue audio storage device) had been and gone, but the novelisations were still coming out 1. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish was published and we all went to Forbidden Planet to get our copies signed by the humanoid himself. This explains a lot.

For example, it explains why the committee, which seemed to grow each year to encompass all the Institute hardcore members, acquired a Circling Poet, in the talented shape of Zoology student Steve Kett. Unlike some members of the committee, he had clear roles and responsibilities: present a poem to each meeting of the Institute or else. The genes of his Golgafrinchan bardic ancestors were obviously dominant when this epic tale of derring-do - transcribed here from a crumbling A5 narrow feint parchment - thrust its head out the stomach of his creative subconscious:

Bold Sir Garth was on a quest
To kill a dragon he'd do his best.
His hauberk shone and his sword was keen,
And on many a battlefield he'd been.

He travelled far and travelled wide,
O'er hill and dale he did ride,
Till he with dirt and grime was dusted,
His sword-edge dulled and his armour rusted.

Weather was foul and days were short
When he finally found that which he sought,
A blasted heath, the lair of the killer,
And a beauteous maid, chained to a pillar.

Garth stood in his stirrups tall and proud,
And blew on his horn long and loud.
"Come forth," he cried to the dragon within,
"If thou art not craven, let battle begin!"

A roar shook the earth and the maiden screamed,
And the air from the cave fumed and steamed,
As forth came the dragon and out it sprang,
With flaming jaws and sword-sharp fang.

Garth wasn't affeared as the dragon leapt
Tho' the charger reared and the maiden wept,
Out swept his sword and up went his shield
As the dragon roared and his charger reeled.

Down fell Sir Garth, his sword behind,
By flame he was scorched and by smoke he was blind
Defiance he cried and blood-lust filled him,
But even as he rose the dragon killed him.

The maiden sobbed and screamed with fright.
"Shut up" cried the beast, "I've had a scarred, dazed knight."

Of course the life of an artist is never easy and sometimes even he wasn't able to deliver the goods:
I just want to say "No poem today" I just couldn't find the time.
I'm sorry I'm sure if I've ruffled your fur; I hope you'll not think it a crime.
You've got no idea the worry and fear that goes into writing an ode.
It's not all a ball, as a scrawl for you all, cos my brain's just begun to corrode.
Okay it's my fault, I'm a literary dolt, yet I put myself up for this post.
But I'm sure you'll agree, if this once I feel free to fall over and give up the ghost.
Perhaps next time I'll think up a rhyme to inspire you to stand up and cheer.
Until then I'm sure that you all would prefer to pretend that I'm not even here.
So I'll wander off and cider I'll quaff till pink elephants dance in my brain.
Thus until then farewell, all misery quell, by my absence the meeting's not marred.

Try hard and good luck and don't give a damn for your absent Institute Bard.

It may also explain why we planned to rewrite our constitution. Like every good SU society we had a constitution. It was succinct, it was formal, it was... well, you've seen the current one. Somehow it didn't reflect the spirit of the Institute. And spirits were clearly a vexed non-material matter, as is apparent from this item from Impure Scientist, an early society magazine which existed only as one copy of one issue (the Union got stroppy when we wanted to make lots of copies at no notice).

MEETING ETIQUETTE

New research into the true nature of the universe has revealed a need for various, hitherto lacking, rituals at meetings of the INSTITUTE FOR IMPURE SCIENCE. It has been suggested that these be embodied in the official constitution by the addition of two clauses as follows:

11 a) Whensoever three or more members of the Society, as defined under in Clause l2, Paragraph a), are gathered together, it shall be deemed to constitute an official meeting of the Society, unless one of the aforementioned members quotes Marvin the Paranoid Android, whereupon the meeting shall be considered thenceforth unofficial.

b) The declaration of an unofficial meeting as an official meeting of the Society requires the complaint by one of the members attendant at the aforementioned unofficial meeting "Oh no, not again:" and the immediate response "Splat:" by another of the aforementioned attendant members. . The execution of this procedure declares the meeting thenceforth an official meeting of the Society.

c) An official meeting of the Society is dissolved by all of the members of the aforementioned meeting proclaiming, "I never could get the hang of Thursdays." The abstention of no more than two

of the members attendant at the aforementioned official meeting is considered not to affect the dissolution of the meeting.

12 a) For the purposes of the proceedings of the Society and its meetings, official and unofficial, a member is defined as any person who has paid to the Society the fee for membership of the Society and is present in both corporeal and spiritual forms, these two forms existing at the same spatial and temporal location and being conjugated as undermentioned.

b) The spiritual form of a member of the Society relinquishes an official meeting of the Society, as designated in Clause 11 of the constitution of the Society, upon, and only upon, the utterance by the corporeal form, conjugated with the spiritual form, of the phrase "See you at Milliways." The non-utterance of this phrase upon the departure of the aforementioned corporeal form from the aforementioned official meeting of the Society, or the utterance of the phrase and the non-departure of the corporeal form immediately from the aforementioned official meeting of the society, shall result in the separation of the corporeal and spiritual forms of the member, who is thenceforth not a member under the definition in Paragraph a) of this clause.

c) The conjuration and reconjugation of the spiritual form to the corresponding corporeal form after they have become separated by either of the two occurrences detailed in Paragraph b) of this clause, is achieved by the announcement by the above mentioned corporeal form "I'm trying to remember what happens after having sex with a cat." and by no other means. This phrase must also be uttered by all members of the Society wishing to convene an official meeting of the Society or to join an official meeting of the Society already convened, in order to confirm that they are members under the conditions in Paragraph a) of this clause.

So what does all that mean? An explanation for those of you unfamiliar with legalistic jargon. All members of the INSTITUTE FOR IMPURE SCIENCE possess a spiritual form - not to be confused with the soul - which does not willingly leave an official meeting of the society and can only be persuaded to leave by saying "See you at Milliways." Having thus been dispatched, it will leave WHETHER OR NOT YOUR BODY GOES TOO! If your body does not leave the meeting at once when this occurs you have lost your spiritual form, just as if your body leaves but your spirit remains behind. Saying "I'm trying to remember what happens after having sex with a cat" is the only way of getting it back again. Since it is quite easy to lose your spirit and you are not a full member of the society without it, the spirit must be called at the beginning of every meeting, just in case it is not already there. This avoids confusion as to whether a member is there or not and hence whether it is s actually a meeting at all. If three 'members' are present then it is automatically an official meeting but if one of them has lost his spirit the meeting does not exist and no one can be certain which case is applicable without this simple safeguard. Note that when a meeting is dissolved by the communal announcement "I never could get the hang of Thursdays", "See you at Milliways" is unnecessary since there is no meeting for the spirit to stay at. Under no circumstances can a spirit be joined with the wrong body. The rest of the constitutional additions seem fairly self-explanatory but if any queries arise please raise them at an official meeting or send them to IMPURE SCIENTIST at the Editorial Office (FE 235). Please write 'Spiritual Enlightenment' in the top right hand corner in the latter case.


The Adams fixation doesn't explain everything. It doesn't explain why we had a Fool on the committee, but when we went all the way to Longleat to see the Dr Who exhibition and it was shut, watching the Fool get lost in the maze helped no end. It doesn't explain why we had a Magus, let alone why we still have a Magus, indeed still have the Magus. It doesn't explain why our one-day convention in 1985 was uncharacteristically successful, despite the lack of copies of Impure Scientist, drawing people down from London and out of the Senior Common Room to role-play, watch videos, and buy second-hand books.

It may, however, explain why I'm back in touch with the Institute long after graduating and still have all this archive material. You might say it's because I'm a sad person who even now thinks digital watches are pretty neat (and if you mock, wait for 2020's verdict on current-generation WAP mobiles) and who never throws anything away either. I reckon it's because, even though our brains were too highly trained to think of having our meetings down the pub so we met in Athlone Common Room where the drinks machine spat out tomato soup that tasted of Persil, the answer to life the universe and everything always seemed that much nearer on a Thursday night than any other time of the week. Oh, and because I never throw anything away.

by unknown

10 ways to tell that your lecturer is an alien

  1. He eats in Boog. OK some students are forced to eat there for whatever reason but Lecturers wouldn't choose to go there by choice. A dead giveaway this one, and pts for me for getting the Boog joke in early.
  2. Each lecture begins with a reminder that "Resistance is Futile". Again another sign that perhaps not all is right with the world.
  3. The lecturer is surrounded by a dark foreboding presence when walking down the corridor. Actually this _isn't_ a sign his an alien, merely that his Shadow body guards are in attendance.
  4. The lecturer is seen in his office at very off hours of the day - or night - seemingly talking into thin air. A sign of communication with his masters off planet.
  5. The telephone in the lecturer's study fails to work. This is a hint that the room is in fact disguised as a time machine and that the interface between the outside world and the dimensionally transcendental world within is preventing BT from delivering their service.
  6. They drink in the Monkey's Forehead. Anyone who goes in their must be alien to like what they've done to our former home.
  7. They drive a bright yellow Fiat Cinquecento. Or indeed any colour of Fiat Cinquecento. Those are evil cars and surely must be involved in a plot for world domination somewhere along the line.
  8. There's a 2nd door out of the lecturer's study that no-one can remember seeing anyone but the lecturer use. Clearly the entrance to an underground bunker containing the traditional nuclear warhead/death ray/invasion fleet.
  9. The lecturer can be seen wandering the premises with a vacant look on his face mumbling to himself and acting strangely. Almost certainly the alien bonded to the human host form is having trouble controlling it and should be avoided at all costs. Either that or the lecturer is the head of Tescos and will very shortly be helping Surrey CID with their enquiries. You know that last line would work better if we were at Oxford - at least their police are on the TV a bit more often .....
  10. They work in the dept of Mathematics. I invite the reader to come up with an alternative explanation for several of the inhabitants there within! Comp Sci on the other hand are merely a bunch of power mad cyborgs and not aliens at all.....
by unknown

Chris Lyth's campaign

First a quick plug for my own campaign

It is an ADND campaign though the rules are only loosely adhered to. I am far more interested in characters and events than in spending hours rolling dice. There are occasional mosh fests, but brains and imagination are the prime requisites for success in my world. I have an opening for one or two players for my main campaign,

But more importantly I am planning a marathon session in which anyone who takes part will be given a dragon to play. This should be happening sometime in October or November. 6 people who are not in my regular campaign are needed. So if you want to be a death dealing nigh indestructible scaly leather thing for a weekend, contact me via email at clyth@

by unknown

Crescent Hawks

July 1996

UN Building, The Hague, Holland.

General Ansom takes the podium, and begins to address the representatives of most of the world's nations.

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for letting me speak to you today. With the problems of the world resting heavily upon your shoulders, I realise that listening to an old warhorse like me must be fairly low on your list of priorities. However, perhaps I can help. Many of the problems the world is facing today spring from that which the press has dubbed "international crime." Quite literally, this means crime that involves more than one country. Something planned in one country is carried out in another, and the perpetrators flee to a third. Investigations may involve yet more, until the detectives are bogged down in red tape and bureucracy. In this way, many large-scale crimes go unpunished. Underworld masterminds live like kings on their ill-gotten gains, taking refuge in countries with unstable political situations, often using vast funds to bribe government officials, or pay for them to be assassinated if they will not comply.

So, where does that leave us? As it stands now, we have no response to such organisation. How can we respond effectively to a threat that is based in another country. As much as we are all an international community, no country wants the agents of another running freely within it's borders. There is no truly international police force, no investigative agency free of these restraints. There have been many proposals of dealing with this, but none have been successful. Once again, I must put forward such a plan.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you would open the folders in front of you..."

An office in the UN building some time later.

A door opens and an aide walks in. He addresses General Ansom.

"General Ansom, the results of the voting have come in. I'm very much afraid to inform you that it has been decided not to put your plan into operation. By a sizeable margin, I might add. I'm sorry."

The aide waits for a response, and walks out when the General remains silent. A side door opens, and another soldier walks in. Dressed in an unrecognisable uniform, he speaks to the General as one soldier to another.

"Well, sir, what's the plan now?"

"Run the program."

"But sir..."

"Those bureucrats haven't stopped me yet. Once they see how effective we are, they'll have to change their minds. Run the program. Get the Crescent Hawks going."

"Err, yes sir!"

Crescent Hawks is a combat-orientated Lucky 13 one-off, which I may turn into a campaign, or series of marathons, depending on interest. If you ever wanted to be a git-hard SAS trooper, a sneaky Spetnaz assassin, or anything else, drop me a line and I'll see what I can arrange. I've got 6 pre-generated characters, if you can't think of anything else. If you want any further details (I can't tell you everything, of course, the mission is top secret!), speak to me either at a Gamesoc meeting, or write me an e-mail at RJWingrove@

by Ron Wingrove

The Runnymede Vampire LARP

There's no such thing as an average vampire.

The hideous Nosferatu, the vicious Lost Boy biker, the mesmerising and anachronistic Count - these are just a few examples of the many different flavours of the Vampire myth. Any and all of these exist, today, in this modern world, hiding, and scheming, feeding their immortal unlives with the blood of an unsuspecting humanity.

Rather a lot of them seem to live in Egham.

If the notion of vampires appeals to you, then you should talk to some of the perfectly nice and normal folk in the area who spend one evening each month dressing up (or down) as modern-day vampires in the domain of Runymede.

The Runymede Vampire LARP is a game (and only a game) where each player adopts the character of a vampire. If you've met the Vampire table-top Role-Playing-Game produced by White Wolf then you'll be familiar with the concept. So what about the LARP bit? Live-Action-Role-Playing (LRP or LARP) involves physically acting out the action taking place in the game.

Traditional LARP tends to be fantasy-based, and involves people getting hit with rubber swords. Whilst that can be great fun, it does tend to be rather one-dimensional, and doesn't leave much room for character development or esoteric plot-lines. The vampire genre on the other hand, is a bit more sophisticated, and this particular LARP is a non-contact game, which is trying to emphasise the social and political stuff over the screaming and throat-ripping stuff. (I said it's trying.)

If you know the White-Wolf "World of Darkness" setting, then fine. You'll know all about the vampire clans, the magical disciplines, the legends of antediluvian vampires plotting their victory in an all-out apocalyptic war, fuelled by the blood of their enemies. If you don't, that's fine too. Everything your character needs to know can be explained in a few brief rules of behaviour, and by pointing out the people with authority to have you killed. Everything else is part of the fun. It's actually better to enter a new game without knowledge, than to start off knowing everything to begin with. It gives you something to do.

The "storyteller" (or referee, GM, whatever..) is Simon Richardson, and it's his responsibility to keep the overall game interesting. Because there are some 30-odd players he has a handful of assistants who each take a share of the workload, and help to keep things running smoothly. The game is using the latest edition of the Mind's Eye Theatre LARP rules, and is in the process of becoming affiliated with a national body of players called CamUK. This means that the events of Egham will influence, and be influenced by, local, and even national events.

The games take place once a month, in a venue capable of holding 30 odd people, who are encouraged to turn up in "costume". This costume can be anything from a torn T-shirt to a suit of mediaeval armour. It's whatever your character would wear to a social gathering of undead fiends.

The nature of the game means that for a lot of the time it's up to the players to generate their own plot and fun. There are bound to be scripted events that advance the grand arc of the major storyline, but a lot of it is character-driven. People wander around talking to each other, and occasionally the polite chit-chat turns into carping, gossiping, bitching, slandering, plotting, scheming, eavesdropping, hypnotising, summoning, incanting, and ultimately, the occasional bit of throat ripping.

You can't just sit still and wait for something fun to happen. The game relies on people going out there and making it themselves, because there simply isn't enough Storyteller-directed plot to go around. Unless you expect Simon to turn a hobby into a full-time job, that's always going to be the case.

The game comes with a Web site, which gives a brief overview and allows players to post anonymous rumours to the world. It's a clumsy simulation of a real-world society, where vampires of great age sit gossiping amongst themselves like old women, and word-on-the-street can soon turn into knife-in-the-back, but then it's rather difficult to simulate the social lives of a townful of vampires with nothing more than a Web site and a gathering en masse once per month.

The out-of-hours play is significant. The time elapsed for the characters in the game is identical to the time elapsed for the players. So you've got a month of frantic emails and plotting to prepare for each Live-Action game, and a player with endless time on their hands is likely to do better. Remember though, that the people running the game would like to have a life as well, and may not have time to answer all your questions as often as you'd like.

So does it work? I've told you what it is, but is it any good? Like most things in life, what you get out is in proportion to what you put in. Make more of an effort, and you'll have more fun. The people around you will have more fun, and then maybe they'll make more of an effort too.

It is still in its early stages. There have been just over half a dozen sessions, which is early days in anyone's universe. Simon started the plot with the near-total destruction of all the existing vampires in Runnymede, to make way for the players. All the new characters were pretty much equal in power and influence, so newcomers today won't actually be that far behind. There are some powerful non-player characters, but not many, and they actually lend a bit of stability to the game-world, and tend not to rock the boat on a day-to-day basis.

It does have dull moments - trying to organise a mass combat with a non-contact rules system can be rather slow, but ultimately it gets the job done, and its the price we pay for having supernatural creatures with different abilities interacting in the same space. There's not a lot that can be done about it.

It's an interesting experience. There's a wide mix of people, both students and locals, and occasionally visitors from other games in nearby counties. Everyone has their own ideas about what makes vampires tick, and they're all, in a fashion, correct. It's worth having a go, just to see, because it's probably not like anything you've tried before. My personal opinion is that it has potential, and I'm optimistic enough to put in a bit of time and effort trying to help make it something that entertains both me, and the people around me. It's a chance to act, without having to learn lines; it's a chance to pose, without being called a poseur; and it's a chance to scheme murderously, without being arrested. You don't get that every day.

If you wish to take part the person to contact is unsurprisingly Simon Richardson.

(web-editor's note - more information can be found on the website which should provide everything you need to know about how to get involved. Although the particular game mentioned has long since finished)

by unknown

Book reviews

The Well World series by Jack L Chalker.

There are some things you need to know about the universe. Most importantly it is a mathematical construct managed by a computer. If you know the right maths, you can change the basic equations and remake anything as you choose. And the greatest thing is, no-one will even know - unless you want them to.

No, this is not a Matrix clone. It was written many years previously.

Most of the action takes place on the testing ground for those races that were used to seed the universe - the Well World. 1560 races in hexagonal areas around the planet. Humanity incidentally is from Hex number 41. This set up allows for the main characters to change species several times a book. The aliens are very well thought out, each environment is thoroughly designed to make sense. The entire series makes sense as well in its own terms. Even when a weapon based on the reality changing machinery rips open an ever increasing gulf of nothingness in reality and the only way to save the universe is to reboot it

In one word - Kinkyrings.

by unknown
  1. The long-promised big-budget film, of course, we are still waiting for. Bear in mind that making the release date will only be possible if they retrospectively start filming a couple of years ago, so the other films that the cast have made when they will have been working on HHGG instead won't have appeared. Enjoy them while you can.