Abraham Lincoln

Episode 112: Someone Will Break Out Into Recipes

October 24th, 2014 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we look at ways to add nuance to your setting’s faiths by considering the split between official and popular religion.

Ken spills blood-red beans on the coming Dracula Dossier Kickstarter in Among My Many Hats.

The Food Hut takes on a bookish sheen as we recommend our favorite food writing.

Finally, the Consulting Occultist looks at the witch-related thoughts of once-influential scholar Margaret Murray.

Attention, class! Anchor sponsor Atlas Games wants to enroll you in Mad Scientist University, the card game of evil genius, insane assignments, and unstable elements. Act now, Ken and Robin listeners, and they’ll throw in the Spring Break expansion set for free. Shipping within the US is also free.



Grab your battlemat and head on over to the Kickstarter for ArcKnight’s Flat Plastic Miniatures. Their new transparency format combines snazzy looks with a great bargain, giving you more figures than competing styles.


9 Responses to “Episode 112: Someone Will Break Out Into Recipes”

  1. Matt Holt says:

    I wish to Ask Ken and Robin a question. How would you add supernatural horror elements to a post-apocalyptic setting without it seeming “forced,” or “crammed in?”

  2. You came close to, but did not actually mention unless I missed it, one of the mechanisms by which the Official Religion would suppress Popular Religion even in a world where different forms of the “same” god could produce testable results: witchhunting and accusations of black magic.

    Pretty much every magical structure has some sense of black magic, even if it doesn’t have an actual “devil”–an awareness that there is magic that hurts the village, the city, the nation, the world, and that some magic with a good face is actually dark. If a priest of Urak-of-the-Big-Trident* and a priestess of Urak-the-Many-Breasted had a magic-off, and the latter won, then the official church would certainly attempt to “prove” that the Many-Breasted priestess was actually in league with Zzzor of the Pit and should be tortured until she repents.

    *If you know what I mean and I’m sure you do.

    Great segment, great episode. Thanks as always.

  3. Jonas Beardsley says:

    I have a question which is inspired by the article here:

    the thrust of which is that the visual effects for the black hole in the upcoming movie Interstellar will be so good that they redefined the way physicists think that black holes appear. Hollywood threw so much computing power at the problem, that they accidentally advanced science to the tune of a couple of astophysics papers.

    Can you think of a way that putting an effect in a movie which is accurate (perhaps too accurate) could go horribly wrong in way that makes for interesting gaming?

  4. Collin T says:

    I’d like to ask Ken and Robin – How do you best introduce a setting or new game to a group of varying background players without giving them a novel for homework or a series of lectures, while still being able to have meaningful, established world situations?

  5. Chris Lehrich says:

    Probably the most common way of dealing with non-standard local cults is to ignore them. Throughout the ancient Mediterranean world, people would say, gee, that’s funny, over there they worship Diana a lot, but they call her Isis and she looks weird. Funny old world — but, a useful travel tip: if you’re in Egypt, Diana doesn’t look like she does at home.

    This process or habit also led, in part, to the British invention known as Hinduism: the British decided that the Hindu-speakers who do all these very different religion-y things must have one underlying religion, because white people have that so it must be normal. And the generally powerful and highly-educated Brahmins were happy to reference the Vedas and Upanishads to “prove” that they were the over priests of everyone, and that therefore their metaphysics was the real metaphysics underlying all this local weirdness. Thus local cults who practice lots of different rituals (which don’t matter, because as good Protestants we know that ritual is BS anyway), and then a high priesthood with this learned theology stuff. Sounds like “a religion” to me — let’s call it Hinduism!

    Don’t assume that late medieval and early modern European history is a good “normal” model, especially when it comes to their most distinctive invention, the putative human universal “religion.”

    • Craig Neumeier says:

      Chris is, of course, correct — well the pedant in me raises an eyebrow at that adverb in “most distinctive invention,” but apart from that.

      I knew a Chinese historian who, after team-teaching a class with a German historian, commented that the absence of a Church in China kept showing up as a huge source of differences from the highest reaches of culture and politics down to the details of everyday life. (In your typical German medieval village, the whole community gets together once a week for church services. Nothing like that in China.)

      I would also comment that Our Lady of Guadalupe is just about unique in real-world religious history: it’s most definitely not a standard tactic that missionaries use. In a fantasy world, though, the pattern might well be a good bit more common.

  6. […] and Robin continue to talk about stuff of all kinds: Episode 112 – The Dracula Dossier, writing on food, Dr. Margaret Murray, etc. & Episode 113 – […]

  7. Nathan says:

    The food writing books recommended:

    Corked: A Memoir by Kathryn Borel
    The Tummy Trilogy by Calvin Trillin
    (American Fried; Alice, Let’s Eat; and Third Helpings)
    The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City by David Lebovitz
    The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher
    Map of Another Town by M.F.K. Fisher
    The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner by Jay Rayner
    The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten
    The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession by Adam Leith Gollner

  8. In a world of testable gods, it seems to me that true polytheism would be the obvious response. Historically that has meant asking good gods for boons and paying protection to the bad gods. It would be quite reasonable to have a society where characters had patron gods, but the argument between clerics would not revolve around, “I’m right and you’re wrong”, but “My god is more powerful/more appropriate/not trying to deceive you.”

    Along with this is that in most polytheistic societies there was no claim that any god had the omnis (omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, omnicompetence) or infallibility. A god could be really powerful and benevolent and still be wrong. Or petty, for that matter.

    The dynamic in most fantasy games is one that is heavily affected by Christian doctrines that do not exist comfortably with any other religion. If all of these different gods are provably* real, that dynamic doesn’t work very well with people’s psychology.

    For that matter, there might be some story possibilities in a universe where gods conduct mergers and acquisitions (including hostile takeovers) of other gods’ religions. And there is no inherent requirement that they discuss this with any of the worshipers involved. “Geoffrey, didn’t your healing spell used to emit a clean blue light when you cast it? Why does it have streaks of pulsing purple now?” “Well, I went up a level….” “Maybe that’s it.”

    * For some value of proof that might include gods or religions flying false flags.

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