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Episode 190: Boy Meets Manifestation

May 13th, 2016 | Robin

Patreon backer Graham Wills starts us off in the Gaming Hut by asking how to balance conspiratorial genres, like the spy thriller, with group trust.

Among My Many Hats finds Ken laying down some wisdom—some Starry Wisdom, that is.

In the Horror Hut, Patreon supporter Cardboard Sandwich asks us how to adapt the ghostly works of M. R. James to the roleplaying form.

Finally we slink into the Eliptony Hut to satisfy backer Ross Ireland’s desire for non-standard UFO conspiracies.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


From the magical land of sponsors comes Atlas Games, who with a twinkle of fairy dust revive their 2nd Edition Once Upon a Time clearance sale. 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.

Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook.

8 Responses to “Episode 190: Boy Meets Manifestation”

  1. Lee Williams says:

    BBC documentary about M.R. James can be seen here on the Tubes: https://youtu.be/JOGZ4WQT2vg

  2. Michael Cule says:

    The BBC adaptations of the sixties and seventies (I’m especially fond of OH, WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU, MY LAD starring Michael Horden) give you the feel of James and the settings that were so important to the stories. You can see some of them in the documentary above.

    Robin is right that the protagonists are usually solitary. There is at best one man with a canny associate who saves him (As in OH, WHISTLE and PASSING THE RUNES). The nearest you get to an ‘adventuring party’ is the group of academics who gather to puzzle out the terrible changing images in THE MEZZO TINT.

    The one time I ran a Jamesean game I went for feel, landscape and the sensation of being trapped. WARDEN FLAXMAN’S LEGACY was set over the New Year in a Cambridge college in the 1920s. The whole country had been paralysed by snowfall and the College (in accordance with tradition) had been sealed against the outside world in order to allow the College Council to elect a new Head of House.

    I used DREAD and (as I rather anticipated) one of the players chose to sacrifice themselves rather than allow the recurring doom to fall upon the College. But I do agree that GUMSHOE SOLO sounds like an ideal system for Jamesean tales.

    I should also point you to A PODCAST TO THE CURIOUS which is all about M R James:

    http://www.mrjamespodcast.com/

  3. Cambias says:

    I was surprised Ken didn’t mention the collaborative fiction The Starry Wisdom Library, edited by Nate Pederson. It’s the (fictional, naturally) catalog of an auction of books from the Starry Wisdom church library, in the same vein as the “Thackeray Lambshead Guide to Obscure Diseases” books, where each entry is by a different author.

    • Eugene Doherty says:

      It is in his KWAS book itself though. Well he has to keep something back from the podcast to get you to buy it!

  4. Pôl Jackson says:

    Here’s a lightning round question for you: Who is Peter Frampton, and what does “Frampton Comes Alive!” have to do with gaming? I clearly missed something in my formative gaming years…

    • Phil Masters says:

      Peter Frampton.

      Despite being of the correct vintage, I for one was never really engaged by him – but he clearly had the big-stadium-rock schtick down in the mid-’70s, ahead of most, which means that for people of the right age and aesthetic tastes, he’s kind of seminal. Historically interesting because his breakthrough record was a live album, which is kind of weird if you think about it. I tend to see him as a bit of a one-hit wonder, though.

    • Sheila says:

      “”Frampton Comes Alive”? Everybody in the world has Frampton Comes Alive. If you lived in the suburbs you were issued it. It came in the mail with samples of “Tide”.” — Wayne, “Wayne’s World 2.”

  5. nickpheas says:

    While the company selling M.R. James PDFs may be very nice, it’s worth noting that the works are out of copyright pretty much everywhere (he died in 1936 for countries working of Death+70 or less, and most of the important works were published well before the US’s weird 1923 cut off).
    Project Gutenberhg has them:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/search/?query=M.R.+James&go=Go
    They’re generally available as free downloads through Amazon, Kobo or other book sites of your choice.

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