Abraham Lincoln

Episode 181: Taking Latitudes with Longitude

March 11th, 2016 | Robin

In this special theme episode, we start in the uncharted waters of the Cartography Hut, to look at the struggle to accurately measure longitude at sea, and its underdog hero, clockmaker John Harrison.

We shift to the Gaming Hut to ask ourselves how to introduce navigational uncertainty into magic-rich F20 worlds.

Then the Consulting Occultist tours us through the colorful career of privateer, courtier, cookbook author and magic powder maker Kenelm Digby. The connection? The rejected magical dog injury method of longitude measurement.

When the astronomer Giovanni Cassini wanted to establish a reference point for longitude he went to the ruins of Uraniborg, the observatory erected by Tycho Brahe. Can Ken’s Time Machine prevent it from being destroyed in the first place?

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.

8 Responses to “Episode 181: Taking Latitudes with Longitude”

  1. GB Steve says:

    Sir ClowDisLee of the Skilly Isles might be related to Sir CloudsLee of the Silly Isles.

  2. GB Steve says:

    And several of the details of his death may well be fanciful but it’s not for nothing that Ken has a time machine.

  3. Tulse says:

    I loved the themed episode.

    In keeping with the Powder of Sympathy, I hope that at some point you might cover Jacques Benoit and his “snail telegraph”, the wonderfully-named Pasilalinic-Sympathetic Compass.

  4. Note that when a European says “elk”, he means Alces alces, which a North American would call a “moose”.

    This does not make the story less entertaining.


  5. Brett Evill says:

    Regarding Tycho Brahe’s telescopes at Uraniborg and Stjerneborg, I think you’ll find that the observatory was destroyed in 1601, and that the telescope was not invented until 1608 nor used for astronomy until 1609. Perhaps Ken left one behind when visiting in his time machine.

    If telescopes had existed in 1576–97 then perhaps one of the lucrative industries by which Hven supported Uraniborg might have been manufacturing telescopes for sale to seafarers.

  6. Ben Walker says:

    Another interesting Kenelm Digby story I was sorry to see did not get a mention is that of his famous street duel in Madrid in 1623 against 15 opponents. Digby’s own account is given here:

    RPG rulesets that allow a high-level fighter to deal with hordes of lower level enemies never seemed very realistic to me, but stories like this make me wonder if there might be something to it after all.

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