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Episode 23: Within the Eliptonic Radius

January 25th, 2013 | Robin

Kicking off with another service-oriented segment of Ask Ken and Robin, we suggest ways to introduce a rich setting to players who are unfamiliar with it.

Then we inaugurate the Eliptony Hut, first by explaining what the heck eliptony is, then squeezing adventure and story ideas from the latest in white-hot weirdness, the Martian ground squirrel.

What one might call Among My Many Hats Classic Edition sends us back in time to chat about a joint project, the Shadows Over Filmland supplement for Trail of Cthulhu. Which, due to a wondrous and wholly inexplicable coincidence, happens to be on sale at the Pelgrane Press store until February 1st, 2013. [Shadows over Filmland is $10 off, not 10% off as it says in the podcast - that's more than 25%]

Finally we rev up Ken’s Time Machine, assigning our chrono-hopping Chicagoan to find the least-worst replacement for Joseph Stalin as leader of the Soviet Union.

8 Responses to “Episode 23: Within the Eliptonic Radius”

  1. I can’t get the store link to Shadows over Dreamland to work–it takes me to the top of the store but the item itself is nowhere to be found. I don’t think this is anything you’ve done wrong, however; I get the same result if I navigate to the Shadows page on the Pelgrane site and follow the “Buy” link.

  2. dvanzandt says:

    I have a problem with punks in movies. Ever since the early 80s, I would see punks portrayed in movies as mohawked, safety pin and pain-loving sociopaths that looked like Dee Snider from Twisted Sister. This was fine on-screen (or maybe I just got used to it), but it just didn’t resemble reality (or at least my reality, as a Southern Californian growing up in that culture in the 70’s-80’s). In the 90s, I had the same problem with hacker movies—what they were doing on-screen looked more like they were playing a flash game of boggle or hangman than anything related to hacking.

    The aesthetic problem is that the director makes decisions based on either inadequate knowledge of the subject matter (punks are scary and have mohawks and like to have sex in graveyards, hackers just drag colored boxes onto other colored boxes to get access to the NORAD mainframe, right?) or simply for excitement (that punk is wearing jeans and a germs t-shirt, that’s not very scary; telnet windows on a unix machine ARE BORING TO LOOK AT).

    Well, here’s my problem with running NBA, maybe my lack of smarts makes me unique in this situation, but I feel like I am woefully undereducated when it comes to running a Night’s Black Agents game. In a fantasy game, someone can say “WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR!!!!” in an interrogation, and with his dying breath can inculpate a million different people made up off the top of your head that you can fill in the blanks later with.

    But with NBA, I am messing with REALITY. If I say “I was at NORAD in Des Moines” and three at my table say “Uh, that’s in Colorado,” I just lost some serious Keeper cred. I want my creations and NPCs to have a sense of validity, not just seem like a crappy made-up B-movie punk or hacker. Because I am not Kenneth Hite, able to name fascist dictators assistants and their wives maiden names, or obscure terrorist fraction groups at the drop of a hat, I feel very intimidated by the world (conspyramid) creation in this game.

    Another problem is gear/weapons; you’d think that a Bourne-like badass would be well-aware of what kind of hi-tech gear is available to them, what’s a good way to create a relationship with the players in which they know they can go hunt for a laser listening device, ClueSpray, or shark repellant; without just handing them a ream of printed goods?

    So I guess my question is this—converse to the “introducing your group to a new setting” question from this week, do you have any advice on notekeeping or planning so you can run a compelling, exciting game that passes the “punks in movies” test? How much do you plan and how much do you just play by ear? Do you have any tips for keeping it believable when you “Start with Earth”?

    Thanks for any advice, and thank you for having the most interesting podcast around!

  3. Though I found the segment to be eminently enjoyable, it has to be some sort of crime against both Man and God that you chose “Eliptony Hut” over “Forte Fort.” A WASTED OPPORTUNITY THAT MAY NEVER COME AGAIN!!

  4. Jake says:

    Am I the only one who thinks the Martian Squirrel looks more like a House Hippo?

    http://youtu.be/NBfi8OEz0rA

    This only raises MORE questions!

  5. Jon says:

    I was very intrigued by the mention of Lexicon. It sounds like a brilliant way to start up a campaign!

    Is it still available somewhere?

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