Transcript: Interference Episode 3

Brief silence, shuffling papers and typing/clicking. This is Jacq’s uncut recording for her podcast.

JACQ

(Casually) Hey, don’t forget to put the theme music here, dumbass.

(Brief pause. She clears her throat)

(normal tone) Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of The Practical Game Master. My name is Jacq, and I am here to dispel the idea that genius is a prerequisite for building and running a game world. We can’t all be Matt Mercer, because that would be weird.

Today is going to be a little different from usual, so if this is the first time you listen, you should just go ahead and pick something from the archive.

Uh, if you think that I’m talking a little strangely, or stumbling… forgive me, it’s because I’m listening to the playback of my own voice as I record. Hopefully my mic doesn’t pick up the echo, that would be... even worse podcasting than we’re used to.

Um, alright, so, (pause) the reason I’m doing this is because during LAST week’s episode, I got all this strange interference while I was recording. I got the impression that the voice was... I got the impression the voice I was hearing could also hear me, and was trying to interact. With any luck, if it happens again, I’ll be able to do the same.

If this was a radio show, this would be, you know, not that weird? But I’m just recording to my computer, I don’t even use a fancy program. Hell, I don’t even have a Mac, not that it would make a difference in terms of interference it’s just something that audio and design people usually have and I don’t, and...

(Casual tone) Cut that last rambly sentence.

(Pause)

Okay, I don’t know why, but I thought we’d be hearing something by now. It could've been a one-off occurrence, I guess. I’ll just get on with our regularly scheduled podcasting. Today I wanna start with a gamemaster ramble, because something happened in one of my games that really struck me as being the True Nature Of Running A Game.

I’m running this dungeon, and I needed someplace safe for the party to (pause, reset) I’m running a dungeon, and I needed a safe place for the party to camp, and resupply, and they’re days into a dungeon that is weeks from the nearest city. Enter - the Mushroom Kingdom.

Weirdly, before he even knew we would be encountering an entire fungus city, one of my players said he was on the quest to find the golden truffle. Amazing. I pondered over this quest for a long time, because I knew it would be one of the first things they would do. How to make it interesting? Do they have to ingratiate themselves with the Mushroom King? Is there a truffle hunting animal involved? Originally, I wanted it to be a diplomatic, friend-making mission, but that was actually holding me back.

I decided the better idea was a big, angry boar that lives in the Mushroom Kingdom and guards the area where these truffles grow (clears throat away from mic). The mushroom folk go on stealth missions to get truffles, and if the party wants one, that’s what they’ll have to do as well. They’re a low level, and the boar has the stats of a mammoth, so he's unbeatable. It would have to be a stealth mission.

But here’s the thing about… (interference SFX) ...uh. Here’s the thing about improvising. Through… miscommunication? Or inference? I may have accidentally turned the boar into a minor god within the Mushroom Kingdom. The players got the impression that the mushroom folk don’t want--

GENEVA

Observation log, 23rd Snowmarch 763 Adan

This is Geneva reporting for The South Coast Archaeological and Preservation Society. Reporting from the recently uncovered ruins of the Temple of Asden, in the deserts of Tilan.

My equipment has been adjusted in an effort to better communicate with--

JACQ

Hello??

GENEVA

Yes, Hello? You are the person from beyond the portal yes? Can you give me your name and organization?

JACQ

Beyond the what? I’m Jacq, who are you? Why is this happening?

GENEVA

Beyond the portal, you know, the portal that links worlds. I believe yours is a place called Aerth? What organization are you a part of?

JACQ

I’m… not? What do you mean, Aerth? Are you-- saying you’re… not on Earth? Where are you if not broadcasting from this fucking planet?

GENEVA

I am on the planet Chel. So you’re an independent researcher then? I must say that your research notes make very little sense to me.

JACQ

(longish pause) Uh… no. Nonono, I’m not a scientist. I am making a podcast…?

GENEVA

I’m not familiar with that term. What is a podcast? What does it have to do with the portal?

JACQ

I don’t know anything about a portal… I might be able to explain, um. So… (pause)  currently, I'm sitting in my closet, because I turned it into a recording studio. I’m recording an episode of a… show? That I do? It’s like an advice show, I guess. People ask me questions and I answer them. I’m no one important, though, just some lady.

GENEVA

So, you have nothing to do with the portal. Then how are you projecting your... show, through the veil to my world? You have been making recording my research notes quite difficult.

JACQ

I have no idea what’s going on--how do you record your notes? Because I’m literally hearing your voice as if it’s coming from my computer.

GENEVA

We have a special device that was invented by one of our own wizards that allows even a low level caster to record a lengthy message and relay it to one or more locations of her choosing. Is your computer a similar device?

JACQ

...caster? Like, SPELL caster?

GENEVA

Yes, I was of course referring to a mage, specifically. Someone proficient in the arcane arts.

JACQ

(long pause)

GENEVA

Are you still there? I’m still not sure what a computer is, or how you are sending messages through the veil.

JACQ

What is this? Are you one of my listeners? Dan, maybe? Like, great prank, dude - I believed you for a WHILE. God damn it, I was so excited.

GENEVA

What, no why would… Okay, listen can’t you just put a trace on your computer thing--(Jacq cuts her off)

JACQ

Come on, the jig is up, here. (mockingly) “Oooh, I’m broadcasting from another dimension! Magic portal! Bloo blah blee bloo!”

GENEVA

Okay, can you maybe put me in contact with someone in authority?

JACQ

(Laughs)

GENEVA

(cutting into the end of the laughter) I really feel like we could learn a lot from your world now that we have a line of communication, couldn’t you just patch me through to someone else?

No offense, but you don’t seem well informed on these matters. (Jacq huffs in disbelief.) Perhaps if you could put us through to whoever studies the portals on your end.

JACQ

Seriously, who is this?

GENEVA

(Sighs) My name is Geneva, and I am a member of the South Coast Preservation and Archaeological Society. I am on the planet Chel which long ago was connected to your Aerth by portals.

We recently uncovered a new one, and your podcast has been interrupting my field recordings.

If you don’t believe me could you just connect me to a similar society on your world, or put a trace on your computer so that you can see that my signal is coming from outside your world?

JACQ

Uhh! Sure, one second.
(mouse clicks, typing noises… double click sound, and "Biopsja Duszy" by Metalmorphosis starts playing)

GENEVA

This is very loud. Musicians? Some kind of bardic society? Hello? Can anyone hear me? Are you the ones who watch over the portals? Some lady forwarded me here. I’m sorry to interrupt your strange music. Hello? Do you speak Common?

(Jacq cuts the music)

GENEVA

Oh yes! Hello! Are you studying the portals? My name is Geneva from the South Coast Preservation and Archaeological society.

A lady named Jacq forwarded me to you, saying you might be able to help. It seems like some form of communication has been established between our worlds, and I think you’ll agree this is a great opportunity to learn from each other.

JACQ

Um, no, it’s still just me.

GENEVA

What? You made me sit waiting through that racket? Do you have a whole band with you? (Jacq snorts with laughter) You couldn’t have been playing all those instruments at once.

JACQ

I... (after a moment) Geneva, I’m still pretty sure you’re playing a prank on me, but... I’m just gonna play along for now.

So. A computer is a device people in my world use for… well, a lot of stuff. We store information, and communicate, and use them to do research… they’re complex machines designed to help calculate and analyze things, but we’ve mostly started using them for entertainment at this point. Um.

We don’t have any groups that study portals, as far as I know (chuckles) - portals, as I’m imagining them, and any kind of magic, those don’t exist here. We do have stories about magic, but there is no such thing as a spell caster.

I don’t... I don't know why my recording is interfering with yours, because that’s not how computers work, but based on your description, I think that the problem has got to be on your side. Is this technology you’re using experimental?

GENEVA

If you have no spell casters then how do your computers work. They sound like they must have several complex enchantments on them.

JACQ

(chuckles) As far as my understanding goes, computers might as well be magic… like you said about your device, they’ve been engineered so that anyone can use one. But they are not arcane in nature, just very complicated machines. A computer scientist could explain it to you… maybe. (more chuckling in disbelief)

GENEVA

There were some fragments of history that indicated that your people had very low levels of magic in your world, but an outright lack of it just isn’t feasible.

Your engineering skills seemed to be on a par with ours, as far as I understand, and we don’t have anything like what you speak of. Perhaps you are just unaware of the magic?

JACQ

Uhh...

GENEVA

I believe some societies separate their magical people from the nonmagical ones and the magical people are treated like gods. Do you have something like that now perhaps. Perhaps your gods make these computers and tell you they are mah-chines.

JACQ

Haha - mah-chines? No. Well, maybe? Do rich people count? That’s a joke.

Our gods are… distant. Most people I know don’t believe in any sort of god, or at least don’t believe they have any influence on our world. We’re not out there worshiping people with extra abilities. In the distant past, maybe. There are suggestions of that in mythology.

GENEVA

So you do have knowledge of magic being a part of your past, but don’t have any indication of it existing at present?

JACQ

KIND OF, not really. Okay, so... What is your world like? Do you have, like... super amazing records of events that happened thousands of years ago?

GENEVA

It depends on the topic, and the culture, and the location the records were stored. Some cultures have accurate records dating back thousands of years.

Records regarding interaction via these portals are much more scarce, though, a few records remain. That is the reason our society was founded.

JACQ

Okay, so, imagine everything you knew about your world’s past, before about… eh, a thousand years ago? Was just as spotty as the information you have about the portals. We have… fragments, and lots of stories, but it’s often impossible to tell if it's fantasy or, you know, politically motivated material from whatever really happened.

GENEVA

I can imagine that well enough, those things certainly happen here as well, but everything? Even the elves and dwarves do not have long lasting records on your world?

JACQ

(excitedly) ELVES AND DWARVES?!

GENEVA

Yes, records indicated that a few were left in your world when the portals closed.

JACQ

...no. I mean, well. I don’t think... (stumbling), uh, let me keep it simple. We only have humans?

GENEVA

...Just, humans. So you’re a human? All your leaders are humans? All the other races that crossed over during the last portal opening have died out. It’s just… humans?

JACQ

(uncomfortably) ...yeah. Just humans. 

GENEVA

...That must be awful.

JACQ

It’s… pretty bad. I mean, wait, should I be insulted?

GENEVA

Sorry, I didn’t, you know, mean to insult you. Some humans are alright. I mean, so I’ve heard.

JACQ

No, I mean, that’s pretty racist? But humans can be shitheads. It’s cool.

GENEVA

Yeah, okay, no I mean... I get it, it’s pretty awful to think that way. I try to be pretty accepting generally, sorry. Anyway this is getting awkward and I’ve got to talk about this conversation with my associates, so I’m going to go now. I’ll talk to you later.

JACQ

...how will we know when? This setup I’m using is insane, I can’t leave it like this. How much time passed since the last time you heard me? It’s been a couple weeks, here. I have no idea if that even means anything to you.

...Hello?

...Geneva?

Theme Music Plays

Thank you for listening to Interference. For more information, or to get in touch, head to orczone.com. All of the information that you'll need is there. Huge thanks to Jahzzar for the use of their song “Please Listen Carefully,” available at betterwithmusic.com.