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Episode 26: Passing the Legislation To See What’s In It

February 15th, 2013 | Robin

In an unprecedented merger of the Gaming Hut with the Politics Hut, we look to political scientist Steven Teles’ theory of government as kludgeocracy to demonstrate why government should hire game designers like Ken and Robin to playtest their legislation for them.

Then we take latitudes with the longitudes of the Cartography Hut to examine the history and fantasy of Stonehenge.

The map above is from Profantasy Software’s  Source Maps: Temples, Tombs and Catacombs, which you can grab at a mere $10, a quarter of the usual price, until Feb 22nd, by following this special link to the Profantasy store. This informative pack of historical maps stands alone, with a built in viewer and tons of images and background. But if you have Profantasy Software’s flagship mapping package, Campaign Cartographer 3, you can edit the maps and use symbols from them.

In Ask Ken and Robin, we entertain Lisa Padol’s question about the edition wars inspired by the differences between old and new World of Darkness.

Finally, Ken’s Time Machine averts the sacking of China’s Old Summer Palace—or, at least, the most notorious of its several sackings.

17 Responses to “Episode 26: Passing the Legislation To See What’s In It”

  1. It’s generally pronounced “kloodge” :) . I’m in software, where the term originated, and where it is basically the only thing anyone ever does.

  2. GB Steve says:

    Robin, is Danger your middle name?

  3. Jason Pitre says:

    Support for Robin’s pronunciation from another Canuck. Ottawa has “Elgin” street after the aforementioned lord, and we pronounce it in his fashion.

  4. Michael Cule says:

    The rule about MPs not being able to resign other than by ‘taking an office of profit or honour under the Crown’ (which nowadays means applying for the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds or another post I can’t recall the name of) actually dates back to 1701 though you’re right that the idea that an MP couldn’t resign dates back to the pre-Civil War period.

    In 1701 they wanted to put the quaint idea of the separation of powers into the British Constitution and forbade MPs from taking an office of profit under the Crown. This rapidly became more honoured in the breach than the observance and nowadays the executive (the Ministers and other government officers) are drawn mostly from the House of Commons with the occasional Lord thrown in. But this quaint custom still applies to getting an MP out of the House. Less advanced nations still stick to the antiquated theory that you can’t mingle the legislature and the executive functions, I believe.

    And though I wasn’t a fan-boy of the oWOD I can’t find the Atlantean rewrite of the one WW game I liked, MAGE, to have any charm or appeal. The metaphysics of old MAGE was as juvenile as Ken makes it sound but it did allow for a wild and wooly and above all optimistic feel in the heyday of the old line. White Wolf of course decided this was not a good thing and injected more angst into it. And I gave up on them at that point.

    • Lisa Padol says:

      My problem with new Mage was that I couldn’t read it. I’m not talking about writing quality here — the combination of the text and background hurt my eyes and gave me headaches.

  5. Whether you think of it well or ill, much of the legislative paralysis of the US Senate comes from rules that worked reasonably well when the members of its gaming community thought of them as a shared agreement in which to move play forward, but have proven to be almost completely unworkable in the hands of power-gamers. (Although even as I write that, the idea that Mitch McConnell is more of a “power-gamer” Majority Leader than LBJ was strikes me as risable. But I think even LBJ would have blanched at some of the pure obstructionism that the current Senate is experiencing.)

    Actually, what a lot of rules–both gaming and political–remind me of a sketch from an early episode of MadTV: It starts as a parody of gritty prison films with the Struther Martin-ish warden carefully explaining that there’s no way out. Then he points to the wide-open, unguarded gate off the main exercise yard. “We’re going to say that gate is ‘off limits’,” he says, with big air quotes for emphasis.

  6. have an Ask-Ken-and-Robin unrelated to any of the topics of this week’s episode:

    What RPG would you recommend for a group of players almost, but not completely, unfamiliar with RPGs? 15 years ago, I said that the answer was the first edition Star Wars game–simple mechanics, familiar setting, and lots of advice for new gamemasters. But I’m sure something else has come along that would be better.

    (Yes, I am actually capable of talking about games, not just carping about politics!)

    • Brian says:

      Some of us actually use topics like this in our games. After all the show is about stuff, not necessarily just RPG stuff.

  7. Lisa’s last name is pronounced pretty similiarly to “paddle”, not the more Polish (and probably etymologically more accurate) one used on the show.

    Kevin: I’d vary my choice of system significantly with the focus of the group (and, of course, a lot depends on the organizer and whether they’re also largely unfamiliar; your mention of advice in Star Wars implies a novice GM as well). I’d probably shortlist Fiasco, though — no GM (although someone can certainly facilitate), strictly demarked play time, very clear mode of play (frame or resolve).

    • Joshua, I did in fact intend the question to include a novice GM. My Usenet post from 1996 in which I first expressed my realization about the suitability of STAR WARS First Edition mentioned that a lot of the (then-new) wave of narrative-driven games put a lot of the weight of play on the GM. This is fine if the GM is experienced and leading a group with several neophyte players, but more likely to crash and burn if the GM is also a complete newbie.

    • Lisa Padol says:

      The usual mispronunciation is actually “pah-DOHL”, rather than “PAY-dol”, but yes. We’re not sure whether there was or was not a -sky attached to “Padol” originally. This is one of the Deep Family Secrets lost to the mists of time.

      Thanks for the analysis! I was indeed entertained.

  8. Johnstone says:

    I was wondering if Ken might be able to talk about Ioan P. Culianu for a consulting occultist segment? What with the university connection and everything. Either way, great show and keep up the good work!

  9. Terry says:

    What’s Ken’s take on the eliptonic “Beyonce Illuminatus” meme? http://www.buzzfeed.com/perpetua/did-beyonce-flash-an-illuminati-message-at-the-sup

  10. Jeb Boyt says:

    I’m amused. Why is it that you think lobbying isn’t playtesting?

    • Michael Cule says:

      Nah. Lobbying is the ‘prospectus’ stage. Actually, it’s not even that: it’s when the players come to their GM and say: “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if next we could play a game where we’re all vampires/rabbits with super-powers/the same guy’s different personalities!”

      And the GM says “Well, I dunno. What sort of rules would we need?” And one of the players says: “Here’s some I found on the net! They seem just right!”

      And the Civil Service is the nerdy guy in the corner who says: “Actually, I read a post on the forums about that. It didn’t work out as well as you might think…”

      And then the lobbyist says: “Ah, he always says that! Pay no attention to him!”

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