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Episode 163: Building Things Out of Zebras

October 23rd, 2015 | Robin

Find the enigma within the enigma as the Gaming Hut hosts a look at existential mysteries.

In Ask Ken and Robin we find the key to a Gerald Sears question about Parisian official’s bid to remove the love locks from the Pont des Arts bridge.

How to Write Good serves up tips on character names.

Finally in the Eliptony Hut, we examine Ilya Ivanov’s attempt to hybridize humans and chimpanzees.


Ken and Robin have oft been accused of being cards. Well, we can deny it no longer. We have become super-limited promo cards for Murder of Crows, Atlas Games’ fast-paced card game of murder and the macabre, for two to five players in the mood for something a little morbid. It’s Edward Gorey meets Caligari, by way of Edgar Allan Poe. Wait a minute, what does that graphic say? I’m not so sure about this…

Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter will want to sink their fangs into the pre-order for the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted. You say that’s still not enough Ken for you? Very well, my friend. His brilliant pieces on parasitic gaming, alternate Newtons, Dacian werewolves and more now lurk among the sparkling bounty of The Best of FENIX Volumes 1-3, from returning sponsors Askfageln. Yes, it’s Sweden’s favorite RPG magazine, now beautifully collected. Warning: not in Swedish.

In a move that surely violates someone’s security clearance, this episode is also brought to you by the Kickstarter for Delta Green: the Roleplaying Game from our friends at Arc Dream Publishing. Add to the awesomeness of this classic setting of Mythos espionage, now its own standalone game.

11 Responses to “Episode 163: Building Things Out of Zebras”

  1. John F Rauchert says:

    N Seoul Tower, Seoul, South Korea has seven artificial “love trees” were put on the terraces of this tower in Seoul by the tower’s operators. The artificial trees are capable of holding great weight, especially designed with the padlocks weight on mind. The tower’s operators also provided a “key bin” for the keys.

    Recently, Vancouver announced a Love lock sculpture in Queen Elizabeth Park, so there are some progressive Love lock Mana harvesting initiatives on the way in other cities.

  2. On names:

    As a reader, I typically assume that letters in names will be pronounced in some sort of generic European transliteration (which is to say without the great vowel shift from English among other things). Additionally, if there are letter combinations typical of specific languages, for instance the “ij” from Dutch, the “ach” from German, or the “schch” from Russian, I’m going to assume that the writer intended something like the pronunciation from those languages. As a writer, it might make sense not to make that assumption, but rather to consider how a reader from Kansas City or Sydney might pronounce the word. To a speaker of a non-rhotic English dialect, “Eeyore” is an obvious version of the sound a donkey makes. Not so to a typical non-rhotic American.

    It might also be worthwhile to have someone else read aloud the names you have chosen. As an example, “Shu the Fat”, mentioned in this podcast*, comes across immediately as “chew the fat”, which probably wasn’t the intended result. 😎

    * I think that’s what Ken intended, anyway.

  3. Jon says:

    There’s an RPG called Cell Gamma in an indie RPG anthology that’s designed to be an existential mystery.

  4. Jon says:

    If all those locks fell in the river… man, that would be in-Seine!

  5. GB Steve says:

    I feel Chicago calling to me again. But we’ll always have Paris.

  6. GB Steve says:

    And of course, on the Right Bank, not far from the Pont des Arts is La Samaritaine, a department store now but named for a water pump bearing bas-reliefs of women. Not too far from Semiramis.

  7. S.L. Harris says:

    When I was living in Georgia, I met a man who worked briefly at the primatology lab in Soviet Abkhazia. He claimed that the director of that lab in the ’80s took a portion of the food shipments from Moscow intended for the apes/monkeys, opened a little roadside kiosk from which to sell said food, made a tidy profit, and turned half of his subjects loose to fend for themselves on an island near Sokhumi where they live to this day.

  8. Tom Vallejos says:

    On names:
    Back in 2009-10, I decided to name PCs in the GURPS prime directive game I was GMing after characters from John Ford movies. I did it because am a fan, and I wondered any of my players would recognize it. Eventually, one did.
    Another homage I did was to name a WWII PC Jack Church in honor of WWII commando, Jack Churchill.

  9. Galen says:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/26/exclusive-feds-investigate-hobby-lobby-boss-for-illicit-artifacts.html

    As a fan of this podcast, I’ve got to know what the Greens are really importing those artifacts for! Come on Ken, this was happening in your old stomping grounds! (Apologies for it being a DailyBeast link, too good to pass up.)

  10. Phil Masters says:

    I’d have appreciated a bit more on the original, Kaiserine-era hybridisation experiments – if only because (ken said) they took place on the Canary Islands.

    Those aren’t and weren’t German territory, so there must have been some esoteric reason for that. Either it was tied up to some dubious attempt to resurrect the local mummies, or (more likely) it was because the Canaries are, obviously, the last remnant of Atlantis. In period, we’re looking at the Theosophical idea of Root Races, notably including the Atlanteans. The maniacs were trying to resurrect one of the Root Races, thinking that they could control them!

    One must assume that some secret team of heroes, recruited by Madame Blavatsky, foiled this insane plot … or not … Said heroes would be fighting for the cause of scientific racism, after all.

  11. John Willson says:

    Ken and Robin’s improvised existential mystery: yes please!

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