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Episode 392: Existence Does Exist

April 24th, 2020 | Robin

Remote play is all the rage and we’ve convened in the Gaming Hut, physically distanced as always, to provide our tips to smooth your sudden conversion to the format.

In the Archaeology Hut, beloved Patreon backer Mikko Airaksinen wants us to get to the bottom of museums locking away their 3D artifact scans.

In the Cinema Hut we look at war movies you can nerdtrope into weird war scenarios, for example in the Wars sequence of The Yellow King Roleplaying Game.

Objects hovering over the Eliptony Hut may be closer than they appear as esteemed Patreon backer Andrew Miller asks for an update on the recent flurry of USAF activity on the UFO front.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


The place you only think you remember explodes with weird danger in Welcome to the Island, the first adventure anthology for Over the Edge from Atlas Games. Launch brand new stories, add intriguing complications to your existing arcs, or create exciting one-shots that bring the weird to your gaming table.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing’s Shane Ivey brings you Swords and Sorceries, fifth edition adventure in a sea-swept world inspired by ancient myth. Seek your fortunes, or find gruesome death in the tombs of forgotten gods and evils best left buried. Seize all three adventures, Sea Demon’s Gold, Song of the Sun Queens, and Tomb of Fire, today!

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Gallic Noir and Two Films Named Johnny

April 21st, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

Quai des Orfèvres (Film, France, Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1947) Jealous husband of stumbles onto the freshly-murdered body of a lecherous producer who had designs on his wife, an ambitious music hall singer. Noir elements give way to the distinctly Gallic rhythms of the policier, with rich evocations of the life of the vaudeville house and the interrogation room.—RDL

Good

Echo in the Canyon (Film, Andrew Slater, 2018) Jakob Dylan assembles a team of current musicians for a tribute album and concert paying homage to the mid-sixties L.A. music explosion, interviewing key figures of the Laurel Canyon scene including Michelle Phillips, Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Brian Wilson.—RDL

Johnny O’Clock (Film, US, Robert Rossen, 1947) Targeted as a suspect in a crooked cop’s disappearance, a hardboiled casino manager (Dick Powell) falls for the sister of a secondary victim (Evelyn Keyes.) I wouldn’t call this noirish crime drama memorable, except maybe for its winning frenemy relationship between Powell and Lee J. Cobb as a dogged police inspector.—RDL

Okay

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (Film, UK, Mat Whitecross, 2010) Dogged by his childhood treatment as an institutionalized polio survivor, chaos-making rocker Ian Dury (Andy Serkis) rises to unlikely pop punk stardom. If I might be permitted a Thing I Always Say, this biopic wraps a strong performance in an unfocused script, because real lives don’t have throughlines.—RDL

Not Recommended

Blind Alley (Film, US, Charles Vidor, 1939) When an escaped gangster (Chester Morris) kills a guest during a hostage-taking in his country home, a stentorian professor (Ralph Bellamy) decides to break him with the power of psychoanalysis. No better case study exists of Hollywood’s flirtation with extremely literal Freudianism.—RDL

Johnny Eager (Film, US, Mervyn LeRoy, 1941) Racketeer with a flair for elaborate ruses (Robert Taylor) leverages a young student (Lana Turner) who loves him against her district attorney father (Edward Arnold.) Overwritten crime drama wants the audience to wait for a charming but remorseless heel—or as we would say today, a psychopath—to be redeemed by love. Which is not how any of that works.—RDL

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Episode 391: Vigorous Deaccessioning Policy

April 17th, 2020 | Robin

You are getting sleepy very sleepy in the Gaming Hut as we look at ways to make being mind-controlled fun for players.

The Yellow King Roleplaying Game profiles move back to the Culture Hut for a look at Ken’s favorite Belle Epoque figure, photographer, cartoonist, spy and balloonist Nadar.

In Ask Ken and Robin we satiate beloved Patreon backer Lt Col Andrew Bates’ desire to know what occult mysteries Bruce Lee and Jimi Hendrix fought together in Seattle in the early 60s.

Finally esteemed Patreon backer Kevin Nault enlists Ken’s Time Machine to save the Rotodyne.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


The place you only think you remember explodes with weird danger in Welcome to the Island, the first adventure anthology for Over the Edge from Atlas Games. Launch brand new stories, add intriguing complications to your existing arcs, or create exciting one-shots that bring the weird to your gaming table.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing’s Shane Ivey brings you Swords and Sorceries, fifth edition adventure in a sea-swept world inspired by ancient myth. Seek your fortunes, or find gruesome death in the tombs of forgotten gods and evils best left buried. Seize all three adventures, Sea Demon’s Gold, Song of the Sun Queens, and Tomb of Fire, today!

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: An Iconic Illustrator and Ontario Bike Gang History

April 14th, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

Drew: the Man Behind the Poster (Film, Erik Sharkey, 2013) Documentary profile of Drew Struzan, the illustrator whose fusion of glam and caricature defined blockbuster movie posters of the 80s. Covering both the creative and rough business side of freelance illustration, this is essential viewing for artists, art directors, and fans of Star Wars and Indiana Jones.—RDL

Hard Road: Bernie Guindon and the Reign of the Satan’s Choice Motorcycle Club (Nonfiction, Peter Edwards, 2017) True crime bio, written with its subject’s cooperation, portrays the charismatic, reflexively violent, teetotalling founder and longtime president of Ontario’s most feared bike club, ascendant from the late 60s until its absorption by the Hells Angels in 2000. Readers may be surprised at a org chart that functions more as a Rotary club for criminals than the feudal Mafia structure where every earner kicks a cut upward to the top dogs.—RDL

They Came Together (Film, US, David Wain, 2014) Sweet shop owner (Amy Poehler) and her former corporate nemesis (Paul Rudd) recall their courtship as a series of romantic comedy cliches. Big absurd jokes and a parade of cameos subject tired romcom tropes to the Wet Hot American Summer treatment.—RDL

Okay

Down to Earth (Film, US, Alexander Hall, 1947) In this oddball musical sequel to Here Comes Mr. Jordan, an offended goddess Terpischore (Rita Hayworth) journeys to Earth to claim a starring role in a brassy Broadway show that takes liberties with her mythology. Though every single song lands with a thud, I can’t think of a better time to soak in a dated piece of fluff featuring the star at her glammiest, Edward Everett Horton, copious gay subtext, a musical ode to polyamory, and a color palette of screaming pastels—the latter of which you might not think possible until you expose your eyeballs to it.—RDL

Duel at Diablo (Film, US, Ralph Nelson, 1966) Former cavalry scout (Jame Garner) seeking revenge for the murder of his Comanche wife falls in with his former unit as they hunt insurgent Apaches. Notable mostly for Sidney Poitier getting to play a cool but non-saintly secondary hero, and for portraying the Apaches as justified without letting them break out of their structurally assigned role as antagonists to the heroes.—RDL

Not Recommended

The Assassination Bureau (Film, US, Basil Dearden, 1969) Suffragette journalist (Diana Rigg) hires the dashing head of an international assassination cartel (Oliver Reed) to put out a contract on himself, exposing his confederates’ scheme to get WWI off to an early start. Though one might be tempted to take frame grabs of its gob-smacking art nouveau production design as resources for YKRPG: Paris or steampunk adventure, this stumbles on the decision to play it as broad comedy without writing any jokes for the actors to play. Based on an unfinished novel by Jack London, who bought the premise from Sinclair Lewis and then realized it didn’t come with an ending.—RDL

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Episode 390: Open a Can Hut

April 10th, 2020 | Robin

The aroma of a damn fine cup of coffee wafts through the Gaming Hut as beloved Patreon backer Drew Eicholz asks us to pitch a non-frustrating version of Lynchian roleplaying.

In Fun With Science we look at Marie Curie as a figure in The Yellow King Roleplaying Game.

Home cooking with leftovers is on our mind for some reason as the Food Hut looks at stews, and by extension cooking with ingredients you happen to have on hand.

Finally esteemed Patreon backer Peter Williamson visits the Consulting Occultist to learn about economist, mystic, poet and painter George Russell.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


The place you only think you remember explodes with weird danger in Welcome to the Island, the first adventure anthology for Over the Edge from Atlas Games. Launch brand new stories, add intriguing complications to your existing arcs, or create exciting one-shots that bring the weird to your gaming table.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing’s Shane Ivey brings you Swords and Sorceries, fifth edition adventure in a sea-swept world inspired by ancient myth. Seek your fortunes, or find gruesome death in the tombs of forgotten gods and evils best left buried. Seize all three adventures, Sea Demon’s Gold, Song of the Sun Queens, and Tomb of Fire, today!

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Ask Ken and Robin Virtual Panel

April 9th, 2020 | Robin

To help keep gaming alive in the Lockdown Times, Pelgrane Press has ramped up the content over on its YouTube channel. With no conventions for the foreseeable future, Ken and Robin jumped onto Zoom to do their version of Ken and Robin Live for 60 or so virtual attendees. Now you too can watch as we nerdtrope the 100 Years War, share online RPG play tips, blackguard Joseph Campbell, praise Charles Portis, contemplate socially distant game snacks, and more.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Tiger King and Vengeful Ghosts

April 7th, 2020 | Robin

Recommended

The Doorway to Hell (Film, US, Archie Mayo, 1930) Sharp-minded bootlegger (Lewis Ayres), abetted by less competent right-hand man (James Cagney), organizes the Chicago rackets, then announces plans to get out of the business while he’s ahead. Rarely mentioned early entry in the Warners gangster cycle is less mythic and more grounded than its successors.—RDL

Kill, Baby, Kill (Film, Italy, Mario Bava, 1966) Coroner assigned to conduct an autopsy in a remote village finds its hostile inhabitants terrorized by a child’s ghost bearing a deadly curse. Hammer-influenced gothic with touches of surreal reality horror stands among Bava’s most consistently realized films.—RDL

Nobody Lives Forever (Film, US, Jean Negulesco, 1946) Con artist back from WWII (John Garfield) reluctantly fronts a plan to fleece a sheltered widow (Geraldine Fitzgerald), arousing the ire of his sleazier confederates when he catches feelings for her. W. R. Burnett’s script shows the insight into underworld characters that also drives his better-known The Asphalt Jungle. Walter Brennan appreciators will enjoy his poignant turn as a rueful grifter on the downslope.—RDL

A Place of One’s Own (Film, UK, Bernard Knowles, 1945) Retired Leeds haberdasher’s (James Mason) purchase of an abandoned manor seems like less of a bargain when his wife’s charming new hired companion (Margaret Lockwood) succumbs to ghost possession. The suspense of this cozy Edwardian gothic slowly builds in the background as Mason hams up his old man role.—RDL

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness (Television, Netflix, Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, 2020) Exuberant private zoo owner Joe Exotic’s indictment for the attempted murder-for-hire of animal rights activist (and private big-cat refuge owner) Carole Baskin anchors a dive into the extremely weird subculture of big cat trafficking, resulting in the most Unknown Armies thing you are likely to see on Netflix. As with any documentary, ritual, or roller-coaster, it exists to manipulate you, and it is all of those things. –KH

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Season 1 (Television, US, Prime, Carlton Cuse & Graham Roland, 2019) Earnest CIA analyst (John Krasinski) tracks an ambitious Lebanese terrorist (Ali Suliman) and struggles to right his relationship with a skeptical new boss (Wendell Pierce.) Focus on character moments anchors this update of the character, and the technothriller genre, to the latter-day war on terror era.—RDL

Under an English Heaven: The Remarkable True Story of the 1969 British Invasion of Anguilla (Nonfiction, Donald E. Westlake, 1972) In 1967 the Caribbean island of Anguilla, fed up with its partner islands St. Kitts and Nevis, declared its independence … in order to convince Britain to take Anguilla back over as a colony. So the British invaded to put down the rebellion. Of course. There’s a lot more to the story, and born storyteller (if not born historian) Westlake tells it with the perfect spice rub of irony and honesty. –KH

Good

All the Colors of Giallo (Film, US, Federico Caddeo, 2019) Some talking head interviews are more informative than others in this modestly produced but thorough survey of the Italian mystery-horror cycle.—RDL

And So To Murder (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1940) After her bodice-ripper becomes a best-seller, Monica Staunton gets hired as a screenwriter for Pineham Studios — and gets targeted for murder. A tight mystery novel wrapped in a satire of film work, with a somewhat restrained Sir Henry Merrivale to sort it all out. There’s a switchback that doesn’t play entirely fair, but the end result is entirely satisfactory (if not brilliant) Carr. –KH

Okay

As Above So Below (Film, US, John Erick Dowdle, 2014) Relic hunter Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) enters the Paris catacombs — and the gates of a low-budget Hell — in search of Nicholas Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone. This really keen idea turns out to not be enough to hang a whole film on, and also to have a risibly weak ending. A found-footage cheapie that could have worked if the characters weren’t just pawns shoved down a literal hole in the ground. –KH

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Episode 389: The Owl Costume Never Pulled

April 3rd, 2020 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we spitball ideas for GUMSHOE One-2-One scenarios enterprising listeners might turn into self-published PDF products under the auspices of its Creative Commons license.

We enter the History Hut to find rocker Frank Black prompting beloved Patreon backer to ask us about the Llano del Rio commune of the 1910s.

The Cinema Hut gathers up its leopard and evening attire for a screwball comedy 101 segment.

Then esteemed Patreon backer Shinanoki summons us to the Eliptony Hut to delve into the esoteric mysteries of the Takenouchi Documents.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


The place you only think you remember explodes with weird danger in Welcome to the Island, the first adventure anthology for Over the Edge from Atlas Games. Launch brand new stories, add intriguing complications to your existing arcs, or create exciting one-shots that bring the weird to your gaming table.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing’s Shane Ivey brings you Swords and Sorceries, fifth edition adventure in a sea-swept world inspired by ancient myth. Seek your fortunes, or find gruesome death in the tombs of forgotten gods and evils best left buried. Seize all three adventures, Sea Demon’s Gold, Song of the Sun Queens, and Tomb of Fire, today!

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Picard, Hobbs & Shaw, and Korean Political Thrills

March 31st, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (Film, US, David Leitch) Federal agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and freelance spy Shaw (Jason Statham) swallow their mutual loathing to save the latter’s equally capable sister (Vanessa Kirby), and the world, from fanatical cyborg Brixton Lorr (Idris Elba.) Dials down the sentimentality, and dials up the sass, of the franchise it’s spinning off from, to less absurd but rousing results. Likely the last mainstream entertainment in a good while that will use an apocalyptic virus as its McGuffin.—RDL

The Hellbenders (Film, Italy, Sergio Corbucci, 1967) Having massacred the army guard for a money shipment, a family of Confederate revanchists led by a fanatical patriarch (Joseph Cotten) trick a gambler (Norma Bengell) into aiding their imposture as they return home with a coffin full of loot. Caustic fable of doom from the other auteur of the spaghetti western cycle. Also known as The Cruel Ones, with music by Leo Nichols, and by “Leo Nichols” I mean Ennio Morricone.—RDL

I Married a Witch (Film, US, Rene Clair, 1942) Revived after centuries of magical imprisonment, a witch (Veronica Lake) pursues vengeance on a gubernatorial candidate (Fredric March) descended from her witchfinder, only to quaff the love potion intended for him. Breezy supernatural romantic comedy gives Lake, now better remembered for femme fatale roles, room to break out the charm.—RDL.

Picard Season 1 (Television, US, CBS, Alex Kurtzman & Michael Chabon, 2020) A Romulan conspiracy that kills one possible heir to the late Data and endangers another draws a disaffected Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) from his vineyard and back to danger in space. Gripping, sometimes unnecessarily harsh, serial narrative paradoxically shows deep-dive love for Trek continuity while jettisoning everything about the Roddenberry ethos that makes it hard to write for.—RDL

Steel Rain (Film, South Korea, Woo-seok Yang, 2017) After a coup-turned-massacre, an intense North Korean agent (Woo-sung Jung) flees to the south with a wounded Number One Leader, teaming up with a mordant South Korean presidential security advisor (Do-won Kwak) to avert catastrophic war. Briskly executed thriller fills its hand with geopolitics, action, and buddy dynamics.—RDL

Good

Lawyer Man (Film, US, William Dieterle, 1932) Shabby but honest downtown attorney (William Powell) tests his moral compass by heading uptown and brushing up against machine politics, to the concern of his wiser, loyal secretary (Joan Blondell.) Light-hearted melodrama exemplifies the scrappy underdog social awareness of 30s Warners Brothers.—RDL

My Generation (Film, UK, David Batty, 2018) Documentary examines the Swingin’ Sixties youth culture explosion in England as a rising of the working class. Treatment of an oft-covered subject finds a surprisingly emotional pang in its contrast between youth and remembrance, by having Michael Caine deliver much of his narration as on-camera monologue, which he acts the subtle hell out of.  Too bad it devolves into a trite video montage during the obligatory “and then it all went bung” third act—in part because the disciplined, drug-declining Caine took a pass on the spiral-out phase.—RDL

Not Recommended

Madness (Film, Italy, Fernando Di Leo, 1980) Escaped killer (Joe Dallesandro) seeks loot buried inside a hunting cabin occupied by a macho lunkhead, his dutiful wife, and the calculating sister-in-law he’s having an affair with. Blends Di Leo’s hardboiled crime sensibility with psychosexual social critique typical of Wertmuller or Cavani, to dubious results.—RDL

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Episode 388: The Toppling is the Point

March 27th, 2020 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we ask when a historical event the players can research might also be a spoiler.

Ripped From the Headlines allows beloved Patreon backer Chris Lydon to discover the hidden significance of Las Vegas’ political hat wearing pigeons.

Our round of Yellow King Roleplaying Game Belle Epoque biographies shifts to the Culture Hut as we look at a potential patron for your occult investigators, the most famous actor in the world, Sarah Bernhardt.

Then the Eliptony Hut ventures to California’s Santa Lucia mountains, where esteemed Patreon backer David Shaw submits us to the gaze of the Dark Watchers.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


The place you only think you remember explodes with weird danger in Welcome to the Island, the first adventure anthology for Over the Edge from Atlas Games. Launch brand new stories, add intriguing complications to your existing arcs, or create exciting one-shots that bring the weird to your gaming table.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing’s Shane Ivey brings you Swords and Sorceries, fifth edition adventure in a sea-swept world inspired by ancient myth. Seek your fortunes, or find gruesome death in the tombs of forgotten gods and evils best left buried. Seize all three adventures, Sea Demon’s Gold, Song of the Sun Queens, and Tomb of Fire, today!

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Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister