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Episode 178: Whoops! Democracy!

February 19th, 2016 | Robin

There’s a rat looking at us and a hawk flying overhead as Ask Ken and Robin fields a Michael Shreeves question on making familiars narratively satisfying.

Our lead time prevents the Politics Hut from engaging in prognostication, so instead we step back to look at ways of understanding this most chaotic and suspenseful of US primary seasons.

Among My Many Hats goes for the gold as Ken tells us about his treatment of alchemy in the latest Ken Writes About Stuff.

Then we discover the role Ken’s Time Machine played in keeping the United States as a two-party country, by request of Adam Waxman.


Ken and Robin have oft been accused of being cards. Well, we can deny it no longer. We have become super-limited promo cards for Murder of Crows, Atlas Games’ fast-paced card game of murder and the macabre, for two to five players in the mood for something a little morbid. It’s Edward Gorey meets Caligari, by way of Edgar Allan Poe. Wait a minute, what does that graphic say? I’m not so sure about this… Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter can now sink their fangs into the general release of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted. You say that’s still not enough Ken for you? Very well, my friend. His brilliant pieces on parasitic gaming, alternate Newtons, Dacian werewolves and more now lurk among the sparkling bounty of The Best of FENIX Volumes 1-3, from returning sponsors Askfageln. Yes, it’s Sweden’s favorite RPG magazine, now beautifully collected. Warning: not in Swedish. In a move that surely violates someone’s security clearance, this episode is also brought to you by our friends at Arc Dream Publishing. The Kickstarter for Delta Green: the Roleplaying Game has come to an end, but don’t let that stop you from indulging your fever for this classic game, or that pinnacle of the Cthulhu game zine world, The Unspeakable Oath.

8 Responses to “Episode 178: Whoops! Democracy!”

  1. committed hero says:

    It’s no coincidence that 99% of electoral votes are assigned winner-take-all by state, and that there are two main parties. If Republicans thought proportional representation would hurt the president, more red states than Nebraska would be doing it.

  2. Jeff R. says:

    I think that the real was to get a multi-party US going is to create a persistent regional party, and, taking the Canadian example, the best way to do that is to give the country a handful of states with a different dominant language than English. Arrange for Cuba to get annexed, it and Puerto Rico to get statehood, and maybe extend manifest destiny through the whole Caribbean in the late 19th/early 20th century and you’ve probably got clear sailing to a three-party, elections routinely settled in the House pseudoparlimentary US, although why one would want such a thing remains unclear.

  3. Grawflemaul says:

    I almost kinda want a running commentary on the primaries, even just a five minute comment on what’s happened that week every week. But that might be a bit silly.

    On a more serious note, an Ask Ken and Robin. I’m running a somewhat sandboxy game at the moment, and am confronted with something of a problem. I’ve got two players playing, for want of a better term, Science Heroes. One is focussed more on tinkering round the edges and producing a veritable cornucopia of customised arms, armour and gadgets. The other is a little less so, but she’s more focussed on Big Science, as in advancing technology and science in ways that would fundamentally change the nature of the setting.

    I’m perfectly okay with the nature of the setting changing (if context is needed, it’s Warhammer 40k and her current project is some form of FTL travel that doesn’t involve the Warp), as the game is far from “canon” as it is, but my problem is how to make such a long-term project interesting. The tinkering science hero is easy enough to run, a few rolls are made, maybe a quick scene if it’s needed, but on the whole, it’s background stuff. But when you’re dealing with some long-term scientific project, how do you keep it going without it just being a never-ending litany of fetch-quests and failures?

    To put it quickly: how do I go about making a long-term scienific endeavour an interesting subplot without just turning it into a series of rolls?

    Also hurry up with the patreon. I want to throw money at you.

    • Algernon84 says:

      Well, if you’re playing in the 40K verse, tinkering with “Big Science” is a surefire way to bring down the wrath of the Adeptus Mechanicus on you for blaspheming against the Machine God.

      So you already have a pretty powerful and relentless antagonist that your heroes must always stay one step ahead of.

      • Grawflemaul says:

        That’s definitely one angle I should push some more. They’re currently operating under the noses of the AdMech, but that will change when they screw up.

        I’m more thinking if there’s some way of making the process itself interesting. That’s where I’m getting stuck.

  4. Derek Upham says:

    Add to your backlog: The Consulting Occultist needs to stop by the Food Hut for a segment on Ralstonism.

  5. Carrie says:

    The next time the Time Machine needs a destination, what about the following Churchill quote:

    “Hindenburg was faithful to the exiled Emperor, and favoured a restoration of the Imperial monarchy ‘on the English model’. This, of course, was the most sensible though least fashionable thing to do.” The idea, as I understand it, was to pick one of the Kaiser’s young grandsons to take the throne.

    Is it most sensible? Is it feasible? Would it have actually helped?

  6. You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation but I to find this topic to be actually one thing that
    I feel I’d by no means understand. It seems too complex and extremely wide for me.
    I am taking a look forward to your subsequent submit, I’ll attempt to get the hang of it!

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