Abraham Lincoln

Ep 40: Forces of the Tomkitten

May 24th, 2013 | Robin

Ken and Robin enter the Gaming Hut to catch you up on what they’re playing right now, from xenoarcheaological exploration to carnies caught between the devil and alien invaders.

In Ask Ken and Robin, Terry O’Connell asks, “What’s your take on the Beyonce as Illuminati meme?”

How to Write Good leads us into a general consideration of the mash-up age, before we provide advice on how to pastiche the prose styles of previous eras.

Finally we rev up Ken’s Time Machine to prevent Cannibalism at the Jamestown colony.

23 Responses to “Ep 40: Forces of the Tomkitten”

  1. John Stewart says:

    I’m wondering if Robin could follow up his discussion of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, given his recent alleged crack cocaine use. The first discussion of this character was highly amusing to me.

  2. Cambias says:

    The Jamestown colony’s actual historical record smacks heavily of time-travelling intervention already. Ken may find Captain Smith unimpressed by his Zippo lighters and smallpox vaccines.

  3. Adam Gauntlett says:

    While I hesitate to quibble with an experienced Time Incorporated operative, there’s one consequence to Ken’s suggested fix that he may have overlooked. If the Sea Venture doesn’t get wrecked, Bermuda doesn’t get colonized; at least, not by the English. The only reason the English took it over was because Sir George Somers, captain of the Sea Venture, fell in love with the place and evangelized it to all his English friends. It helped that, about the same time, an ambergris deposit was discovered, prompting investors to think a potential vomit bonanza was in the offing.

    That may have a knock-on for the following events: the American Revolution, the Civil War, Prohibition, World War Two (codebreaking, also Churchill’s meetings with Roosevelt), and the Space Race, with possible other Cold War complications.

    Given Bermuda’s location, it’s bound to get peopled by someone at some point, but if it’s the French or Spanish – the two most likely contenders – then you run the risk of significant variance. You could end up – for example – with a Nazi U-Boat base unpleasantly close to the East Coast of the United States, assuming Vichy France or Franco’s Spain falls in with Hitler’s desires. Of course, if Spain had it, then perhaps America could grab it during the Spanish-American War, but France would be a more problematic owner.

    Sure that’s the way you want to go? 😉

    Great fun, this podcast!

  4. Jason Breti says:

    Question for future show:
    When released, most new RPGs claim that they are doing something innovative but are often vague on the details. What techniques can I use to evaluate an unfamiliar RPG to identify key mechanics to see if the game would be good for my group?

  5. Scott Schmitt says:

    Hi Guys,

    I’m really enjoying the podcast but I have a request. You discuss a lot of people and things that I’m frequently interested in checking out. If you could list more of them in the descriptions it would be a nice assist to your loyal listeners! Links would be great of course, but I’d be happy with search terms. CODA System, Decipher Stark Trek, and Microscope all come to mind as examples from the first part of the game hut in this episode.


    • Robin says:

      Neither of us has the additional time for detailed show notes, I’m afraid.

      Longtime listener Jeromy French is methodically working his way through past episodes to add mentioned book titles.

      • Jeromy French says:

        Slowly, but will have a couple of more Episodes documented tonight and tomorrow. Assuming I can find all my pieces of paper with my notes on them.

  6. RogerBW says:

    I think that one can usefully regard steampunk as primarily a genre fandom – one starts off as a fan of steampunkiness in general, and later may specialise in particular works, rather than (as in F/SF) a fan of Heinlein or Tolkien and later getting enthused by the genre. This makes it vastly easier to get started, since there are no canon books or films that must have been read/watched. I think that this is a consequence of Steampunk fandom’s having developed in a connected world: right from the beginning, the fan’s exposure to any given subgroup of media is equalled or exceeded by exposure to the community. In traditional SF fandom, the usual model was for people to develop reading tastes on their own and only later to meet other fans, by which time they had already formed strong and divergent opinions about how one should engage with the concepts. I rather suspect that SF fandom will go in the same direction when the inherited influence of the early fans fades.

    Scott, Microscope can be had here. The RPG database has gone dark; does anyone know if the data were stored anywhere? There’s a list of the various Star Trek RPGs here; Ken worked on the Last Unicorn Games and Decipher versions.

  7. John Corey says:

    I was intrigued by your description of Microscope. My question is: have you played other dice-less games? And if so what, as game designers, do you think of them?

  8. I have a question for Ken & Robin. Most of your gaming hut discussions focus around the beginning of games, do you have any thoughts on how to sustain a long-term game of, say, hundreds of sessions rather than a handful of short seasons?

  9. John Willson says:

    Ken and Robin,

    A fascinating, informative and entertaining podcast, as always. It makes me wonder how much you each charge hosts to show up at their dinner parties.


    Thanks, keep up the great work,

  10. nolandda says:

    Dan Noland would like to ask Ken & Robin:

    With the recent passing of Jack Vance I have begun to feel guilty about not having read his work earlier even though the two of you have mentioned him repeatedly and Gygax recommends him in Appendix N.

    What one or two works of his would you each recommend I start with so as to make me push back all others in my reading queue to read the complete oeuvre of Vance?

    And for those looking to experience a Vancian game: Since Robin has worked on Dying Earth and Ken has written LotFP material what makes a good Vancian game and how do those games succeed/fail at emulating the genre?

  11. Andrew Riggs says:

    Hey Ken this probably the best pace for this but I didn’t know where else to post it. Your Hounds of Tindalos pdf over on RPGdrivethru like most of their pdfs has a watermarked full sized preview. Problem is the “preview” is the first seven pages of your ten page article. Just wanted to let you know.

  12. Tom says:

    Having read Right Where You Are Sitting Now at an impressionable age, I was pleased to hear Robert Anton Wilson getting a mention or two. A possible subject for the Consulting Occultist, perhaps. Although since he wasn’t an occultist, perhaps the Elliptony Hut.

  13. So is the Brangelina child going to be the firstborn or the twins? Do twins have great occult significance?


  14. Charles says:

    Ken: the Coda campaign sounded intriguing.
    Hope you’ll take some time off you’re NBA and ToC work to write-up some Sci-Fi material.

  15. Jeromy French says:


    I generally won’t document gaming books, but this episode had one I think is worth mentioning.

    Microscope RPG by Lame Mage Productions

    • John Corey says:

      Thank you for compiling show notes. That is a big undertaking and I appreciate it. Also, microscope is great. I played it after Ken mentioned it and it was one of my favorite gaming nights in a long time

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