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Episode 140: More Like Winter Derleth

May 15th, 2015 | Robin

Crack open your Chaotic Neutral dictionary as Ken and Robin venture into the Gaming Hut to spitball a fantasy world extrapolated from the existence of alignment languages.

In Ken and/or Robin Talk to Somebody Else, both Ken and Robin speak with Leeman Kessler, the actor and auteur behind the Ask Lovecraft web series.

And since we were both recently near a Powell’s—the one in Portland to be precise, the time has come to take another epic gander at the recent inflow toward Ken’s Bookshelf.

(Ken’s audio is a little dodgy this week but we hope to have him rescued from the mi-go and his brain at least partially out of that jar in time for next week’s show.)


Attention, class! Anchor sponsor Atlas Games wants to enroll you in Mad Scientist University, the card game of evil genius, insane assignments, and unstable elements. Act now, Ken and Robin listeners, and they’ll throw in the Spring Break expansion set for free. Shipping within the US is also free.

20 Responses to “Episode 140: More Like Winter Derleth”

  1. I would think that in a f20 world where alignment is actually reified to the point of language, there would have to be extensive language-based magic–Speak/Understand/Disguise Alignment Language spells at an absolute minimum. This really seems more suited for a William S Burroughs f20 supplement.

    The author of A Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia is Stephen Bertman—it sounded like you said “Bessman” in the segment—and it is part of a fairly extensive series by Facts on File, Incorporated.

  2. Zeb says:

    Wait, what’s the tenth alignment?

  3. darren t. says:

    Depending on the system, like Rifts, it could go crazy on the number of alignments. Fun topic & I always thought that any kind of alignment language was more metaphor & slang used so it’s not a language but more of a subtle code. The one I prefer is the Goodman Games treatment of alignment in the mad random rpg Dungeon Crawl Classics, you’re stuck with the random level 0 starting peasant characters with picking lawful, neutral or chaotic & it’s fixed (then it’s just how lawful or chaotic you are & the good/neutral/evil part is up to situation/gm/players).

    Also yes!!!! on more Day after Ragnarok stuff. Great pulp adventure setting & I’d pay (retail cost) to see more products for it as well as putting translations out for that setting out for BRP/Gumshoe/etc..

    Great episode, filling my books to look for with more books (curse you Ken…may your cat(s) lull you to sleep mid-movie to cause you to see it again all the way through or just make up the better ending instead :P) & range of topics as always, keep up the great work!

    Obscure wars are the best wars, in regards of research. Also rang lowball glass with the personal journals part of the what might perk Ken’s interest in a book.

    ps-compared to the last few normal K&R episodes, Ken for this one sounds like he’s talking through a bit of a tunnel or maybe after some time travel & drinking with friends, some time distortion on his voice.

  4. Chris Tavares says:

    So jumping to the grognardiest, alignment languages did not originate in AD&D. They were in the first original AD&D – the section on languages in Book 1 – Men & Magic, says ” Law, Chaos, and Neutrality also have common languages spoken by each respectively.”

    • Chris Tavares says:

      Arg, not “first original AD&D”, I meant original D&D – the brown/white box. Damn you typos!

    • Derek Upham says:

      I have read (but cannot cite a source) that OD&D got the Law/Neutral/Chaos language idea from Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions, where it was used as a convenient way to let all of the good guys talk to each other, and to let all of the bad guys talk to each other.

      • Pearce says:

        Yeah, it’s likely from Poul Anderson.

        If you look at OD&D and Chainmail’s fantasy supplement, it’s pretty clear that Law/Chaos/Neutral have more to do with who fights with who in fantasy battles than it does with specific world building or morality. Gygax, fairly recently said that a Paladin executing a chaotic evil prisoner is certainly acting within the remit of his alignment, which, again, reinforces for me that alignment is much less about what we might consider morality and much more about a code of conduct to which sides of some spiritual conflict have dedicated themselves. Which, again, makes common language make a bit more sense. By choosing an alignment, you’re joining a pseudo-secret society of like-minded (culture) warriors.

  5. hüth says:

    The Letter, the Witch and the Ring was actually illustrated by Richard Egielski. The other books in the series have Gorey interiors, but I don’t think they originally had Gorey covers. I think he started doing the covers for Bellair’s books with The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn.

  6. LJS says:

    For your Gaming Hut:

    Bringing an adventure to a satisfying end. I’ve been having a running problem with anticlimax, particularly with iconic characters who are not seriously in danger in an action ending. The players can be pretty sure that they’re not going to fail utterly when the stakes are global — do I throttle back so they can lose? Do I try a different challenge — choices of what is the cost of winning?

  7. Are there some show notes that I am missing somewhere on this website that have these books listed?

    If not, here is a partial list I made. I skipped some of the earlier Osprey books, but here are titles and authors, which should be enough information to get you to your preferred book seller:

    Atlas of Ancient World, John Heywood, John Heywood
    A Handbook of Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, Stephen Bertman
    Moscow 1937, Karl Schlögel
    Little-Known Wars of Great and Lasting Impact: The Turning Points in Our History We Should Know More About, Alan Axelrod
    Lawrence of Arabia: Selected Letters, Malcolm Brown
    Jungleland: A Mysterious Lost City, a WWII Spy, and a True Story of Deadly Adventure, Christopher S. Stewart
    The Trial of Jack the Ripper: The Case of William Bury (1859-89), E. Macpherson
    Atlantis and the Cycles of Time: Prophecies, Traditions, and Occult Revelations, Joscelyn Godwin
    Myths, Legends, and Folktales of America: An Anthology, David Leeming and Jake Page
    Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing, Neal Stephenson
    Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, Stephen Bertman
    Borsch, Vodka and Tears: Food to Drink With, Benny Roff
    The Letter, the Witch and the Ring, John Bellairs
    The House with a Clock in Its Wall, John Bellairs
    Our Man in Camelot, Anthony Price

  8. Gerald Sears says:

    I’ve recently rewatched Snatch and was pondering how it could be done in rpgs. The mix of characters and circumstances would seem hard to juggle but seem a lot like the antics PCs would get up to. I was wondering if you had any wisdom on this type of low level action comedy and getting the Britt humor feel in there?

  9. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that you mentioned Jungleland! (I read something Ken picked up!) My wife bought it for me a few years ago, it is fun! There was recently a follow up article on it where some archaeologists confirmed two cities in the Honduran jungle: Archaeologists find two lost cities deep in Honduras jungle. A quick google search gave me several other references, as well.

  10. […] Links: Tavern Con (no official link yet) The Macguffin Factory Episode 25 with Jack Berkenstock Electric City Comic Con Episode 140 of KARTAS […]

  11. Tim Emrick says:

    In some editions of D&D, changing alignment imposes an XP penalty upon the character for a period of time (usually until they reach their next level). Your idea of mental dissonance for straying from one’s “pure” alignment seems to provide an excellent in-game explanation for that rule.

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