Abraham Lincoln

Episode 138: All the Characterization You’re Gonna Require

May 1st, 2015 | Robin

Make sure you have your magic translation earbuds on as we enter the Gaming Hut to talk about secret and magical languages.

In Ask Ken and Robin, Ruth Tillman John Burgess asks us to reveal our research secrets. Sorry for the misidentification in the episode audio, John.

Having previously run down the classic Hong Kong movies you need to see to feel the Feng Shui 2  vibe, Robin reopens the Cinema Hut for a rundown of titles from the last few years.

And at the behest of Phil Masters, Ken clambers into Ken’s Time Machine to preserve Andalucian civilization.

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.



This episode also brought to you by Double Exposure’s Envoy program, which is all about the bringing. Specifically, bringing together games, runners of games, and players of games. Become a herald today, or jump aboard their team for Origins and/or Gen Con.

12 Responses to “Episode 138: All the Characterization You’re Gonna Require”

  1. Michael Daumen says:

    The Almohads were puritanical, but they evidently had gentle heads and butts – as their name is the base for the word “pillow” in Spanish.

  2. Gerald Sears says:


    I got my backer PDF of Feng Shui 2 and am busy working up a game idea for my group. The first idea I has is for the group to gather at some docks/abandoned industrial site where the Thousand Terrors gang was having an initiation (or so the PCs thought). The gang was actually opening a portal to another juncture and moving stolen goods through it using the juncture (I orginally thought it would be fun to do it as a Viking juncture). The PCs where to disrupt the ceremony and get sucked through. With the next session having the PCs have to flee and then team up with Vikings to attack the gang’s base on in that juncture.

    Well reading in more detail it appears that A) All portals go to the Netherworld. B) Portals are always open and don’t ever require magic rituals that could go awry and cause loose objects, crates and heroes to be sucked through. C) There is no Viking juncture-I intended to put is as just a portal that popped up on the Ancient juncture just in Norway.

    Is there a way to salvage my idea?

    PS. The gang’s leaders distribute bamboo slats from a bamboo book written by an ancient Chinese mystic. Each slat has a poem and traps a demon, and thus the book is called the Book of a Thousand Demons. Holding or touching the slat gives some of the demon’s powers. Breaking the slat frees the demon.

  3. Isaac Priestley says:


    In the first few FS2 games I played last year, I didn’t quite understand the nature of the Netherworld so I featured portals going straight from a modern restaurant into an ancient temple and that kind of thing.

    It worked great and everybody involved had a fun time. I’d say just go with your ideas and don’t worry too much about how it matches exactly to the FS2 ‘canon’.

    In a crazy action-movie world with magic, it’s as plausible as anything else to have portals that open up and suck people into another time period! And you can make up any kind of pop-up juncture you want.

    Those are my two cents, at least!

  4. Isaac Priestley says:

    I have a question to Ask Ken And Robin:

    In many, many action movies there are sequences where martial artists are fighting and someone grabs a gun, leading to a desperate fight to disarm the opponent or grab the gun before they can use it. Any advice on how to incorporate this kind of scene into a FS2 game?

    My thoughts now are that just just kinda relies on the roleplaying of the characters, because of course in the mechanics of the game, a martial artist isn’t at a huge disadvantage facing somebody with a pistol.

    Do you feel it’s even worthwhile to try to have these kinds of sequences in a FS2 game?

  5. Gerald Sears says:

    Thanks. Isaac.

    I think I’ve come up with a good way to reasonably square things. Most portals work as described in the FS rules but there are also ‘keyed’ portals. Keyed portalS are not always open but require a key of some type to work. They always existed but were unknown before because they were harder to find. J-meters can detect keyed portals. The key can be anything from an everyday object to humming. A tune to a complex ritual. J-meters can help figure out the key as the reading will be stronger if the key is near and strongest when the portal is open. The meter will also tell if a keyed portal will only last for a limited time once the portal is open. Keyed portals may also link two different junctions rather than junction to netherworld.

  6. For the consulting occultist hut, may I ask for a Jewish History week? I would very much like to hear Ken’s treatment for figures Sabbatai Zevi, Jakob Frank and Moses Dobrushka (the mini-biography of Dobrushka by Gershom Scholem can serve as a Dracula Unredacted campaign base by itself)

  7. Robin says:

    Film titles from the HK movies segment:

    Firestorm 2013, Alan Yuen
    The four trilogy 2012-14, Gordon Chan & Janet Chung
    The White Storm, 2013, Benny Chan (Lau Ching Wan, Louis Koo, Nick Cheung)
    Rigor Mortis 2013, Juno Mak
    That Demon Within, 2014 Dante Lam (Daniel Wu, Nick Cheung)
    The Pirates (Korean ringer) 2014, Seok-hoon Lee

  8. Matt Jett says:

    Ask Ken and Robin (mostly Ken):

    What’s up with the Masonic Fraternal Police Department and exactly how deeply have they infiltrated the government of California?

  9. Adam Ness says:

    Damn, Matt beat me to the punch by an hour. I can’t wait to hear Ken’s take on these folks.

  10. “That’s probably a sign that something bad is happening.”

    In a CoC game, what, pray tell, is a sign that nothing bad is happening. 😎

    I’ll suggest another solution to the Andalucian question: During the period under consideration, the other center of cosmopolitan civilization in the Mediterranean was Norman Sicily. Under Roger I (and for a time thereafter), the Moors of Sicily were treated as a resource rather than an enemy to be extirpated.

    If a time traveler were to find a likely Norman* and convince him that southern Spain was a more congenial place to live than either England or northern France (again, not exactly a stretch), it seems possible that Norman Andalucia should be obtainable. Which then raises the possibility of an age of exploration dominated by Portuguese, Spanish, and Normans (especially given the seafaring heritage of the ancestors of the Normans). Which could result in a very different world indeed.

    * With William the Conqueror, Roger I de Hauteville, and sundry other more or less competent nobles about, how difficult could this be? This trivial detail is left as an exercise for the agent.

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