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Episode 166: No Ice Cream Trucks Anywhere

November 13th, 2015 | Robin

We predicted that Ask Ken and Robin would feature a Manfred Gabriel question about incorporating prophecy into roleplaying sessions, and we were right!

Dracula tried to thwart him, but Ken still managed to check out some titles at this year’s Chicago International Film Festival, and joins us in the Cinema Hut to talk about the highlights.

The Tradecraft Hut looks at the career of Czarist master spy Pyotr Rachkovsky. Was he to spying what Henry Ford was to automated production?

Finally Robin takes Ken up on a previous challenge and runs him through the opening scenes of an existential mystery in a Gaming Hut that features actual gaming. Meet Brian Harker and his co-worker Eric, who is a lava lamp.


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 can now sink their fangs into the general release of 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 our friends at Arc Dream Publishing. The Kickstarter for Delta Green: the Roleplaying Game has come to an end, but don’t let that stop you from indulging your fever for this classic game, or that pinnacle of the Cthulhu game zine world, The Unspeakable Oath.

13 Responses to “Episode 166: No Ice Cream Trucks Anywhere”

  1. Terry O'Carroll says:

    I didn’t find the existential segment of the podcast very interesting.

    On another note: Who burned down the factory producing Fisk airtight coffins, killing the inventor, and why? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisk_metallic_burial_case

  2. KenR says:

    They’re always strong but this was an all-star podcast for me. I was not familiar with the William Blake tarot and would love to use it for historical games before the Rider-Waite was released.

    It might be a lightning round question, but (as someone who hasn’t seen any) what is the curse of Belgian film that Ken mentions?

    Since you’ve mentioned the constructed nature of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, it was fascinating to see Pyotr Rachkovsky’s hand in it, along with so many of the other manipulative aspects of modern intelligence.

    I loved the existential mystery and its strangeness. It does seem best suited to one (or few) players but I would very much like to see future segments of it.

  3. Michael P says:

    I found the existential mystery very interesting. I don’t normally like “actual play” but this was structured enough that I found the story and inactivity very compelling. I wouldn’t mind seeing this as a couple page mystery premise for people to use in some style of home game.

    I look forward to more on the story of Brian and Eric.

  4. Michael Cule says:

    When I get dragged off to do a job for a faceless bureaucracy in an unspecified location I always ask if lunch is available on site or if I should bring sandwiches. First thing I thought of when I heard the set up.

  5. GB Steve says:

    I too enjoyed the existential set up. What might be the mechanics behind it that encourage this kind of play?

  6. For the History Hut:

    Frederick Augustus I of Saxony/Augustus II the Strong of Poland-Lithuania is a rich source of story ideas. Anyone whose history prominently includes alchemy, porcelain, fox tossing, 300+ illegitimate children (including Maurice de Saxe), and bribing his way to the throne of Poland can’t help but be a useful resource for a game master. It’s time to reveal the fascinating tale of the (metaphorical) architect of “The Florence of the North”.

  7. Phil Masters says:

    Regarding prophecies; I recall playing in Roger Bell_West’s Classical Atlantis campaign. There were no explicit prophecies that I recall, but of course we all knew what the final act of the campaign would involve. That wasn’t a problem; sometimes a sufficiently grand predestined fact defines the scenery, rather than being a character-level problem.

    Then there was my own Elizabethan M:tSC campaign, in which one of the characters in play at one stage had the knowledge and skill to cast quite reliable horoscopes. I mostly said that these would be too vague and broad to be much use – they’d detect grand Destinies and such, but not tell you the winner of tomorrow’s horse race – and the players got the hint and didn’t mess about with them. However, when the party happened to be present when Sir Francis Bacon achieved Awakening, the PC cast his on general principles, mostly I think to confirm their general impression about the guy, and got a good roll. So I said that the last line of the resulting text read “Beware of frozen chickens.” They even told Sir Francis, but did he listen?

  8. Rob Abrazado says:

    With regard to merch preferences, I’m a guy who always likes a t-shirt!

  9. Jim Ryan says:

    I really liked the existential mystery bit at the end. Of course, at the time I was listening to it, I was just waking up this morning (having listened to the first part of the podcast the day before), and was using the audio to drag my way fully to consciousness, as is my wont. So I was lying there in the dark, half asleep, and nearly jumped out of my skin when Robin began speaking as the lamp. Let’s just say my goal of waking myself up was achieved – rather more rapidly than usual. Well done. 😉 Looking forward to the next part of the mystery!

  10. The Dad says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the show, as usual, but felt moved to comment that I liked the existential mystery segment and am hooked. I hope it continues. I will even challenge Ken and Robin to devote an entire episode to it where they spend each segment also putting into practice other bits they have discussed (just as the whole thing is an example of how to do an existential mystery). Railroading vs sandbox? How to handle prophecy? Problem players? (“As soon as the boss leaves, I get out my iPhone and look at facebook until 5. If the lamp keeps talking, I just put my earbuds in.”) The best place to buy a replacement vintage lava lamp in a Kansas-like area?

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