Abraham Lincoln

Episode 142: The Scots Cannibal Registry

May 29th, 2015 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we ask how much work game design should do to constrain problem players.

Be careful in the History Hut not to sit in the sledgehammerin’ seat as we tell the tale of the Bloody Benders.

In Ask Ken and Robin Ciaran Conliffe asks Ken and Robin to demonstrate how Esoterrorists might exploit Somerset Fairy Doors.

Next a certain someone clambers into Ken’s Time Machine to do something about Ngo Dình Diem other than installing him as president of South Vietnam and then assassinating him. The answer might surprise you!

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.



19 Responses to “Episode 142: The Scots Cannibal Registry”

  1. Andrew says:

    Vietnam is not and was not in the 1960s a majority Buddist country. Ken, there is a range of material available about the traditional religions practised in Vietnam.

    • Dave says:

      Andrew is completely wrong. There is no question that Buddhism was by far the majority religion in South Vietnam in the 60s. See and sources cited there. Relevant quote: “In South Vietnam, a country where the Buddhist majority was estimated to comprise between 70 and 90 percent of the population in 1963,[2][3][4][5][6] President Ngô Đình Diệm’s pro-Catholic policies antagonized many Buddhists.”

      • Andrew says:

        Completely wrong? And you can quote Wikipedia
        Lets start there then and with today

        So now we have at present a majority following Vietnamese folk religions or non religious.

        You may like to read Books like ‘The American War in Vietnam which is where I actually took the quote of a majority not being buddhist in the60s. Vietnamese Folk religion has always had more adherents than Buddhism.

        • hüth says:

          The overall problem is applying western concepts of “religion,” developed during the Protestant-Catholic conflicts in Europe, to cultures which did not undergo that conflict and had no reason to develop those very particular set of categorizations.

  2. Dave says:

    Andrew is completely wrong. There is no question that Buddhism was by far the majority religion in South Vietnam in the 60s. See and sources cited there. Relevant quote: “In South Vietnam, a country where the Buddhist majority was estimated to comprise between 70 and 90 percent of the population in 1963,[2][3][4][5][6] President Ngô Đình Diệm’s pro-Catholic policies antagonized many Buddhists.”

    • Andrew says:

      Dave, I appreciate the awesome amount of research that you have done with Google and Wikipedia. More disappointing is that you have suspended your critical thought there.

      How do we move from 90% to 12% today also from Wikipedia?

      It can’t be immigration. That’s minimal. Emigration doesn’t help much as an explanation either.

      The other religions of Vietnam seem to be at least as practised as before.

      Equally Buddhist countries nearby are still majority Buddhist including Laos and Cambodia (occupied by Vietnam in the 80s).

      Catholicism continues in Cuba and Eastern Europe.

      You offer no explanation for 90% becoming 12%. The initial figure being exaggerated is more likely than any other scenario.

      • Gerald Sears says:

        It may also depend on what you count as Buddhist. People can easily practice both a folk and a larger social religion. The difference might lie in the measures used.

  3. Jon Jones says:

    Friendly and Helpful Public Service Announcement for my fellow Americans:

    “Edinburgh” is pronounced “ED-in-bur-rah”.

  4. Bruce Baugh says:

    Ken, I have a feeling you underestimate how politicized the counter-culture would get over an invasion of Cuba and execution of Castro. Though it might have ended up with significantly different elements in the mix, including quite possibly a way more prominent Latino leftism.

    • KenH says:

      Since it wouldn’t have taken nine years or killed a million people, and would have been over before the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley even began, I think I’ll still trade it for the Sixties we got. (LBJ’s invasion of the Dominican Republic doesn’t seem to have made any very lasting waves in our history, for example.)

  5. Cambias says:

    The offhand reference to bringing Gregor Mendel over to do genetic testing on the Benders’ victims makes me think there’s a great “cozy historical CSI” series waiting to be written, all about jolly Brother Gregor solving crimes in a quaint Austrian village, all of which somehow wind up hinging on identifying a particular strain of garden plants. “It’s Cadfael meets CSI and Sound of Music!” is the pitch.

  6. Phil Masters says:

    It’s perfectly true that you can’t make rules totally foolproof, but I think that one should also make it very clear to new and potential game writers that this shouldn’t stop them making best reasonable efforts.

    Rules (and setting material) should be clearly written, because of course this makes them more pleasant and straightforward to use, but also because this makes them less prone to weird or abusive misinterpretation, and makes it plainer what the “spirit of the game” actually is to people who aren’t actually setting out to distort the game, and hence easier for them to restrain anyone who is.

    Likewise, it really helps to have someone mildly maths-obsessive tear the system down and check the parts before publication, if the original author isn’t up to the job (or anyway, because double-checking rarely hurts). Abusive players can do far less damage if the system doesn’t allow the probabilities in ways unrelated to the narrative being constructed.

    I don’t ned to tell present company any of this, of course, but I think it needs to be made clear to newcomers to the field, just in case.

    • While there’s a strong intuitive logic to that (and it’s something I’ve tried to do prophylactically in my own game designs), I’m not sure it’s the best choice.

      Take as a counterexample the Hero System. I’m certain that, given 5 minutes, I could demonstrate a dozen ways to break a game while following the rules scrupulously and without using any stop-sign powers. The same is true of nearly anyone competent with a tactical or optimizer bent.

      IME, people who want to exploit the cracks in a system do so mostly because of the challenge or because they’re griefers. If there’s no challenge, there’s no incentive for the group driven by that, which leaves the griefers. I find them easier to quickly identify and less emotionally difficult to eject from my game.

      Further, if there are ample obvious exploits, most people still interested in exploioting won’t really try all that hard to find subtle exploits that don’t manifest until correcting the problem is much harder.

      And finally, when the GM knows that the risk that something game-breaking could arise nearly anywhere in the system, he’s likely to pay rather closer attention and exercise his veto when he sees a problem rather than trusting to the competence of the rules designer (who couldn’t possibly have anticipated every possible problem). I’m rather fond of, “Nice trick. No. It wouldn’t make the game better.” And that’s an attitude that’s emotionally harder for me in a game where there was a reasonable effort at game balance (e.g., Pathfinder).

  7. Gerald Sears says:

    What is the true reason that French officials are removing the love locks from the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris?

    Is this an action by the Ordo Veritas? Why are they leaving those 700,000 keys in the river then? And what of the locks appearing on other bridges and landmarks throughout Paris and spreading to other cities such as London and New York?
    The NYTimes article on it:

  8. Gerald Sears says:

    On Feng Shui:

    My plan is that the PCs have come through a portal to the ancient junction in Scandinavia. They see some Norse being attacked and discover that the bad guys are building an ICBM. Note none of my players are yet familiar with the chi war so they don’t know this is a strike at the Yellow Empress.

    Well it boils down to if I should have a nuke or conventional warhead?

    And might I be escalating too quickly going from the intro episode to them having to rally proto Vikings with machine guns(stolen from the future invaders)?

    • Gerald Sears says:

      OK my other big problem is I’m not sure which way my players will go. Will they insist on stopping the missile then and there or will they help the proto-vikings free their people and thralls that the Thousand Terrors were using as slave labor? I think the former but am not certain.

  9. Aaron says:

    Great image on actual use vs design:

  10. WWL says:

    Regarding Ken’s comment that “problem players” are exclusively or pre-dominantly male, I have a couple of experiences with problem female players.

    In one case, two female players (who were friends) tended to interrupt both the GM and other players and constantly resisted attempts to give other players the spotlight.

    In the other case, the female player in question was simply not quite attuned to the tone of the game.

    Positive gender stereotyping is still gender stereotyping. In fact, presuming that only male players can be problem players may be doing female players a disservice. Sometimes the problem is caused through no ill intention on the part of the player, and a little self-awareness can often cure the issue.

    By addressing potential problems and solutions with the presumption that the problem player will be male, you may miss the opportunity to encourage female “problem players” to self-critique and self-correct .

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