March 15th, 2013 | Robin
In our latest venture into the Gaming Hut, we consider the classic sandbox versus railroad opposition. Useful dichotomy, or intellectual black hole that swallows all other argument?
From there we gain access to the Tradecraft Hut, to examine the wartime disinformation career of thriller novelist Dennis Wheatley.
In Ask Ken and Robin, Craig Maloney prompts us to mull the role of mini-games in roleplaying design.
And finally, with such matters back in the news, we tap the Consulting Occultist for a 101 class on lost continents, from Atlantis to Hyperborea and beyond.
March 8th, 2013 | Robin
We start by venturing into the Genre Hut to limn the fraught boundaries of the Fake Nerd crisis.
Our examination of the Chelyabinsk meteor takes us into the Eliptony Hut, where we trace its impact on, and incorporation into, a cluster of competing conspiracy theories.
In Ask Ken and Robin we tackle the role of laws and law-breaking in roleplaying games. Is it an American thing, or does it arise from an impulse that defies national boundaries?
Finally we rev up Ken’s Time Machine, where Ken reveals several four-color strategies for preventing the adoption of the Comics Code Authority.
March 1st, 2013 | Robin
That Vitamin D sheen you see on Ken’s glossy coat shows that he recently escaped Chicago’s frigid embrace for the sunshine of California’s Bay Area, necessitating another Travel Advisory as we review his trip to Dundracon.
An unusual clatter of gunfire punctuates activities at the Food Hut, as we parse press reports of connections between Europe’s horsemeat scandal and the shadow financial empire of Russia’s most notorious arms dealer.
Andrew Brehaut prompts this week’s Ask Ken and Robin with a question on structure in game and scenario design.
Then we flash back to San Francisco for an elegiac installment of Ken’s Bookshelf, in which our intrepid traveler hauls home the fruits of his last epic plundering of that legendary occult bookshop, which is soon to migrate to the etheric spheres in an online-only capacity. Follow along at home with his list of books mentioned.
February 22nd, 2013 | Robin
In Ask Ken and Robin, we field Conrad Kinch’s query about the politics of game design. Do a designer’s political beliefs show up in his work?
Then, as you knew we would, we engage in some History Bending in honor of Richard III’s recently-confirmed excavation from a Leicester car park.
Our new segment How To Write Good inaugurates with a barrage of style tips of both general and RPG-specific application.
Finally, in Consulting Occultist, we review the stream-crossing career of African-American magician, escape artist and hoodoo worker Black Herman.
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.
February 8th, 2013 | Robin
In the Gaming Hut, we mull the economics of game design. Will the Kickstarter wave usher in a new era of component-driven play?
Then it’s off to the History Hut for Ken’s long-anticipated final showdown with the historical legacy of Woodrow Wilson. Was he really America’s worst president?
In Ask Ken and Robin, we are asked the most basic question of our craft: why do people game?
Finally the Consulting Occultist considers the silver-shirted biography of American screenwriter, vision-haver and fascist William Dudley Pelley.
February 1st, 2013 | Robin
After two bits of preamble business, one elegiac and the other bathetic , we issue a Travel Advisory to wring vicarious enjoyment from Ken’s journey to WarpCon in Cork, Ireland.
We then step into the Cinema Hut to regale one and all with our top ten picks from the sterling movie year that was 2012.
In Ask Ken and Robin, Lowell Francis asks Ken to expand on a past comment contrasting his sense of fun placement to that of our esteemed pal Dennis Detwiller, leading us to a consideration of the grind, character fragility, and when to bring the power fantasy.
Finally, we once more brave the shadowy depths of the Conspiracy Corner to explore the patterns and motivations behind the recent wave of truther movements.
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.
January 18th, 2013 | Robin
In a special Cartography Hut / Ask Ken and Robin crossover, Troy Holoday invites us to contemplate the vanished D&D roles of mapper and caller.
On a serious note we go to the History Hut for a sense of perspective, if not solace, on America’s relationship with the gun.
In the Cinema Hut Robin finally uncorks his long-simmering rant on the fundamentally unBondian nature of Skyfall. Ken gamely and briefly attempts a role as devil’s advocate before reverting to true and inevitable doctrine.
We wrap with an ironic tale for the Consulting Occultist—the sad story of Margaret Fox, who accidentally founded 19th century spiritualism through a teenage prank.
January 11th, 2013 | Robin
Our first episode of the new year begins in the Gaming Hut, where we examine the difference between showing up to be entertained, and showing up to play.
Ask Ken and Robin fields Paul Weimer’s question about fudging die rolls—when, if ever, is it acceptable?
The Politics Hut takes on the classic modernist curvature of Toronto’s city hall as Robin recounts the saga that can only be called The Assassination of His Own Mayoralty by the Lunkhead Rob Ford. (Since we recorded, the libel suit against Ford Robin mentions was dismissed. But still, the point stands…)
And finally, in Ken’s Time Machine, our maverick chrono-detective chafes at the fussy over-caution of his superiors as they send him to 1888 to find out who Jack the Ripper was—without simply showing up at one of the murder scenes.