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Bundle of Laundry

Some of you may be aware that there's a tabletop role-playing game set in the Laundry Files universe, sold by Cubicle 7 Games.

It's available on paper, and as PDF downloads via the usual folks (such as DriveThruRPG).

Anyway, there's a special promo for the next couple of weeks; Bundle of Holding, who do humble bundle style sales of RPG materials, are doing a special Bundle of Laundry offer. For $8.95 or more, you get the core rule book and the player's handbook as PDFs; if you pay more than their median price (currently $24.32) you get a whole bunch of extra supplements—basically the entire RPG for under $25 (or about £16.50 in real money). Oh, and this stuff? Is all DRM-free.

So if you've had a vague yen to dust off a tabletop RPG for an evening's fun with friends, why not see if you, too, can survive your training as a Laundry operative without losing your mind?



I think it's also a good rpg, having run some sessions of it. It captures the feel of a Laundry operative quite well in my opinion.

One of the problems with the game, for me, was how to give the feel of the Kafkaish fantasy bureaucracy of the Laundry to the players, who all worked in IT or were researchers. Almost everything I tried to make the characters' lives absurd in the Laundry was shrugged off by the players as something they had encountered in real life...


Mikko: they shrugged off a paperclip audit and mandatory sexual harassment training? They are, indeed, made of sterner stuff!

This is a pretty cool game, I think it definitely captures the feel for the Laundry 'Verse. The mechanics are based on classic Call of Cthulhu for those steeped in gaming history. I have to say that my very first experience playing it was ruined by a Very Well Known Big Name RPG Designer who treated it as a farce and couldn't or wouldn't take it at least a little bit seriously. He was a 'No agency would send us off on a training assignment like this!'

I don't know what he was looking for, but it clearly wasn't what my friend was running.


They are also a good read.

Or so I tell myself after buying the whole bundle knowing that unless I start kidnapping people or summoning things from the other side of the platonic realm, I'm not going to get to run it :/

But really, I think they nailed the Laundry tone, spirit, etc...


Already sprang for it. I plan on enjoying it immensely.


The RuneQuest system is a nice thing, too: I used some of the old RuneQuest stuff for this.


Mikko, they were probably telling the truth rather than trying to wind you up by acting blasé. One of the things I like most about the Laundry is just how true to life the management structure, internal politics etc are.


I have asked for some (disposable) biros, to be told that I could only have one, and should bring it back when empty to get the next one. Yes, that was someone promoted beyond his level of competence (to storeman with one assistant), but ....

I have also known a CEO of a 100-strong organisation to take 3 weeks holiday and to forbid ALL expenditure upon leaving. They ran out of several things like biros and paperclips, and then started to run out of bog roll ....

I have worked at a VERY large international company that demanded a form with managerial approval for all consumables (including biros and paperclips), because an audit said that 10% was being misappropriated. When I next did, a few years later, they had gone back to the old scheme because the new one was costing 20% in overheads!


Yes, I know they were serious, as I've seen the same things during my own career. I was an astronomer(-in-training) for four years and after that I've been a software developer and a IT security consultant.

I probably could have invented more fantastic things, but one of the things I like about the Laundry is that it's still somehow grounded to reality. Having the bureaucracy to be completely fantastic wouldn't be that fun, in my opinion.


The Laundry RPG is actually one of the better RPGs out on the market these days (Cubicle 7 has an unusual level of professionalism and production values for a RPG company, as most of them are kind of shoestring operations, WotC excluded). The mechanics are solid, the writing is brilliant, and the adventures are very well designed (a rarity in this day and age). I've run a couple.

...And yes, it is totally normal to buy gamebooks you never run just to read them. Or if it's weird then we can all be weird together.


(Cubicle 7 has an unusual level of professionalism and production values for a RPG company, as most of them are kind of shoestring operations, WotC excluded).

Well, yes and no. Cubicle 7 does brilliant work, yes, but others do roleplaying games on the same level, with probably less of a budget, and nobody has anymore big budgets, apparently. I've now bought my first D&D rules in 25 years, the D&D Fifth Edition by the mentioned Wizards of the Coast, and to me it seems that even their RPG department is working on a quite constrained budget, compared to the situation 10-15 years ago.

Yes, the books are good-looking, but there aren't that many products coming out and really the support is not as big as it used to be. Somebody at Hasbro has probably realized that traditional rpgs are not money-making machines (especially when WotC has also Magic...) and the money is in more in the brand.

I don't especially crave any more books for the D&D5E - I have more campaign ideas for that than I have time to play already.

The smaller companies are also doing both good rules and beautiful books. Nowadays book layout does not need that much money, and making good games has always been about skill, not money. Some examples I have on my shelves from the recent years are Eclipse Phase (beautiful books, rules so-so), Burning Wheel (both very well laid-out and good rules) and the new Glorantha stuff from Moon Design (also well done in both areas).

I think that even though the RPG business is not as big as it was 20-30 years ago, I see a lot more good roleplaying games and a lot more professionally done games than I have used to. Even if I wanted to play only "recent" games there're a lot of good games to choose from, and of course nothing is preventing me from dusting off the Mentzer D&D boxes and playing those. (Except it would be hard to get player for that. ;)


This is actually a golden era for small press or indie RPGs. There are a huge number of folks funding small run (2000 - 5000 copy), beautifully arranged, and brilliantly designed RPGs these days. Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been a huge boon in this direction, as has been Patreon in the last year. I see more games by incredible designers than I have time to play even if they are a culturally fringe phenomena overall.


The 1981-era rulesset makes me shudder with horror, but you can work past it. And there are some great adventures which are worthy of the source material and which produce that Lovecraftian creepy feeling when people realise what is going on.


Well, Laundry is a horror game, so the rule would be appropriate...

To be serious, I didn't find the rules to be a problem, really, but I usually run my games with a light-handed approach. Mostly I like the background information - rules are something you can change for what you like.


Another vote here for the IT people having experienced it. I was working in a place where I worked onsite and my company was charging my time out at 235 dollars an hour (of which I saw just over 10%...). I wanted a floppy (this was a while ago). I wasn't allowed to have a new one. I was given a small box of second hand ones and told to see if I could find one that worked. I realised later that this must have been the box where the normal employees put the floppies that didn't work as no-one was allowed to throw anything out. It took about an hour to get one to completely copy an OS onto it so I could get the server up enough to start to diagnose what was wrong with it. When I wanted to photocopy something I had to find the right person, get them to open the stationary cupboard and give me the number of sheets of paper that I needed, that I then had to sign for including the department code that was going to be charged for the photocopier. Again, the company was paying about 4 dollars a minute for my time while I signed for $0.01 dollars of paper.

The last place I worked at also had mandatory sexual harassment training for everyone, but the one that got my goat was the timesheet fraud training. They required staff to work for free. Most were required to start 20 minutes before they started being paid to be "ready to work" and required them to be taking customers right to the moment they stopped being paid. The average time with a customer was 330 seconds, but that means that most of the time was spent on much longer customers. Most people didn't get out until 15-20 minutes after they stopped being paid. So the company swiped about 3-4 hours from every worker every week. Then they had the hide to show us a film about someone working through their lunch and finishing a job quickly and putting down the time it normally takes, being caught, being ostracised by their fellows and then being sacked. It's called adding insult to injury.

Yeah, so the Laundry felt very familiar. I think that's what made it feel very real. The very real horror of office life with other horrors patched seamlessly through it.


That account goes nicely with my experience of being told by a manager that "it's good discipline to fill in your timesheet the day before it's due", despite my knowing accountants who consider doing that to be false accounting.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on March 13, 2015 10:00 AM.

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