Abraham Lincoln

Episode 115: Anopheles Mosquito, Stagnant Pond

November 14th, 2014 | Robin

The hats in Among My Many Hats are bowlers, and green apples obscure our faces, because we’re talking about Dreamhounds of Paris, now available for preorder, and its companion volume, The Book of Ants.

In the Food Hut we answer a Ryan Macklin request to talk about herbs. Which delicious plant will we name as monarch over all the others?

We are pursued by a bear into the Gaming Hut for a discussion of Shakespearean gaming, as part of our nod to birthday celebrant Dina Katz.

Finally the Consulting Occultist makes an appearance in the Tradecraft Hut to discuss revelations that British psy-ops thought it would calm the Northern Irish conflict if they staged evidence of black masses.

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.



Show Ken you love him, and/or hate bloodsuckers, by kicking a few pounds in the direction of his Dracula Dossier Kickstarter. Learn what MI6 doesn’t want you to know about the king of the vampires.


Also sponsoring us this week is the Paranoia Kickstarter from Mongoose Publishing. Obey the Computer, citizen, and crowdfund a fast-playing new iteration of the classic RPG of a darkly humorous future.

14 Responses to “Episode 115: Anopheles Mosquito, Stagnant Pond”

  1. Michael Cule says:

    Oh ye little gods and fishes…

    You know, I used to say about the way that American media depicted British actions in the Troubles that I didn’t mind so much that they showed HMG as perfidious villains but objected that they depicted them as very stupid villains.

    And then something like this comes along…

    Don’t mind me: I’ll just go and whimper quietly over my remnants of national pride in this corner…

  2. Eoin Dornan says:

    Ken, you keep mentioning that a particular character in your Shakespearean campaign is a “manticore”. Is there a figurative meaning to this which escapes me?

  3. Brett Evill says:

    “Basil” means “king” in Greek, so perhaps it has been the king of herbs for a long time.

  4. Brett Evill says:

    I’m a bit perplexed that the idea of writing bios &c. in second person for pre-gen PCs strikes Ken as such a dramatic innovation. It seems to me like the obvious way to do it. I checked the rather incomplete archives of PCs I have designed for games at cons, and found that the oldest surviving ones, from 1998, are written in second person; it is my hazy recollection that this was not unusual at the time.

    Am I missing something? Is there something special other than the mere use of second person that impressed Ken about the character bios in “Dreamhounds of Paris”? Or are things just that different in the antipodes?

  5. LJS says:

    So who was the Soviet Hollow Earth believer that Ken mentioned?

  6. KenR says:

    I have a cold this week, temperatures are dropping in the midwest, and a lemon-chicken-dill soup is just the best. Thanks for mentioning that.

    Between that and the recipes from Ken’s blog, when are we going to see Ken and Robin Cook Some Stuff?

  7. Tom says:

    Éluard’s flight to South-East Asia reminds me of an interesting peripheral locus to the Dreamhounds set — Bali.

    Antonin Artaud was famously inspired to develop the Theatre of Cruelty after viewing a performance of Balinese dance in 1931.

    You know, this stuff:
    “In this theater all creation comes from the stage, finds its expression and its origins alike in a secret psychic impulse which is Speech before words. …
    [with] a director who has become a kind of manager of magic , a
    master of sacred ceremonies. And the material on which he works, the themes he brings to throbbing life are derived not from him but from the gods. They come, it seems, from elemental interconnections of Nature which a double Spirit has
    fostered. What he sets in motion is the MANIFESTED.”

    His descriptions of “Balinese theatre” elsewhere in his manifestos indicate that what he saw included a performance of the kecak – the famous ‘monkey dance’ perennially performed for tourists and presented in musicology classes as an example of hocketting.

    Kecak is interesting because it’s authentically inauthentic, in large part the creation of the German artist Walter Spies, who was an influential figure in the preservation and international growth of Balinese arts, and pretty much created the popular western image of Bali.

    Around 1930, Spies saw the sanghyang trance ritual and said to the locals “hey, you guys should package this up for the tourists – it’d be a real money-spinner”.
    To be fair, it is forbidden to perform the sanghyang as a piece for an audience rather than a religious ritual, so this was also a way of creating something that could be shared outside the Hindu devotional context.

    Anyway, Spies helped convert the performance into the dance-drama that Artaud saw – and would have been directly involved with that particular performance, too.

    Spies created a foundation to support Balinese artists, and his house in the mountains became a go-to place for all kinds of visitors to the island, including Charlie Chaplin, Noël Coward and Margaret Mead.

    For the all-important Night’s Black Agents connection, Spies was also friends with F.W. Murnau, who in 1930 travelled to Tahiti to shoot his last film Tapu, on board his yacht – called Bali

  8. Bret Kramer says:

    Any chance you might create my fever-dream project mashing up Feng-shui and the Dracula Dossier vis a vis the Dracula/Godfather/Emmanuelle/et all alliance vs. Bruce ‘Li’, Popeye, and Caine in the Underworld from the film The Dragon Lives again?
    Fingers crossed! 🙂

  9. Peter Westmer says:

    Any word on the Best of Fenix? They’ve been very quiet. Also a topic to add to the (very long) to-do list: Eliptonic Benjamin Franklin.

  10. Dylan Craig says:

    Ken and Robin,

    Have you done an episode yet on the difference between props and handouts in RPGs, and the perils and promise of these two things for the gamesmaster?

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