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Episode 192: Emulating a Genre That Doesn’t Exist

May 27th, 2016 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we ponder a meta-terminology games designers might use to describe the purpose and function of the various sub-systems they build into roleplaying rules sets.

Now that Donald Trump has sewn up the Republican nomination, we head into  the Politics Hut to ask Ken what happened to his party, and whether he thinks he’ll get it back after the election.

Installment Two of Tell Me More highlights three Ken and Robin Consume Media items our Patreon backers wanted to hear more about: Batman v. Superman, Ambrose Bierce, and The Burglar’s Guide to the City.

Finally the Consulting Occultist satisfies Patreon backer Allen Wilkins’ desire to hear about writer Alan Moore’s occult thought.

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It’s yo ho ho and a pocketful of doubloons as Atlas Games surveys the seven seas from the crow’s nest that is our coveted anchor sponsor slot. Parrot on its shoulder, it orders up another special deal for Ken and Robin listeners, this time in the form of their innovative game of piratical nautical warfare, Pieces of Eight.

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.

10 Responses to “Episode 192: Emulating a Genre That Doesn’t Exist”

  1. Robert Brodeur says:

    Great episode, as always.

    Just as an FYI I listen to a lot of talk radio and I would say, contrary to Robin’s assertion, talk radio is at least divided on Trump. And by divided I mean many big name national hosts are out spoken haters of Trump. The king of all talk radio is officially neutral on Trump but is often accused of being subtly anti-Trump.

    As for Fox News – Trumpers I know HATE Fox News and seem to hold the whole network to account for Megyn Kelly.

    As I alluded, Trump/Trumpers and talk radio have an open conflict that may reshape punditry as much as it may reshape the Rep party.

    • Robin says:

      My argument is that Trump’s political style comes from and pushes the same buttons as talk radio, just as Rob Ford’s did before him. That doesn’t mean that all talk radio hosts support him, or are happy to see him Trump their style.

  2. Chris Shorb says:

    Apropos of nothing really…
    Last night I dreamed I was shopping with my cousin in a market in Japan (she’s Japanese).
    We found a used book stall, and she picked up a book decorated with flowers and beautiful brush scripted kanji.
    When I asked her to translate, she said the name of the book was “Hill Folk”, and the interior seemed like rules…
    So – in my dreams your rules sets are ancient tomes of knowledge in all languages. Or cheap asian knock-offs – your choice I guess.

    Which leads me to a question – how can you use dreams in your RPGs to help create interesting games for your players?

  3. RogerBW says:

    I think that a featured rule is also one that hasn’t been widely imitated, which means that you don’t necessarily know whether something is a featured rule until many years after original publication. If every other horror game had copied CoC’s sanity, or every other fantasy game had copied AD&D’s armour class that makes you harder to hit or Pendragon’s passions, we wouldn’t now be calling them rules that are featured by, or distinctive to, those games. Hit points (that leave you unimpaired until you fall over) are nearly as odd an abstraction as armour class, but hit points aren’t a featured rule of D&D because many other games also use them.

    To me the canonical special-case rule is grappling: it’s often about as fiddly as hitting people in general, but it doesn’t get used as often so it seems intimidatingly complicated. See Darths and Droids #233.

    I think a special case of side-quest or special guest rules is the mini-game, which may not even feature as part of face-to-face gameplay: I don’t know any groups where people would design vehicles, or planetary systems, at the table, but it’s quite a usual thing to do between sessions.

    • Phil Masters says:

      On which basis especially, I’d tend to think of the level system as a featured rule of the D&D family. Other games do imitate it, but invariably seem to tweak it to make it less obtrusive and more “realistic”; the idea that your current precisely certified degree of badassery is a key defining feature of your character somehow seems very D&D.

      (Likewise, other games have sanity-related systems of one sort or another, but either make them less central and pressing – like GURPS fright checks – or consciously set out to revise the CoC paradigm, as wit hUnknown Armies.)

      Character class could be considered part of the same deal wit hlevel, but seems more prone to show up in other games in fairly pure form. It helps preserve niche protection, which many game designers seem to value; hence, you get something akin to classes in such un-D&D-like games as Feng Shui.

  4. mrm1138 says:

    Interesting perspective on Neonomicon, but in a way, I feel like that turns it more into an exercise than a story. (Another example would be something like Funny Games where Michael Haneke made a movie to push the horror/suspense genre’s ugly violence into the faces of the audience without any sort of cathartic release valve.) I’m not entirely sure what Moore was trying to say by having his protagonist be a sex addict whose reaction to her repeated rapes by both humans and a deep one leave her with the attitude of, “Meh. No biggie, but this monster baby in me is kinda cool, I guess.” (Is her acceptance supposed to be a representation of her traumatized mental state?)

    I also thought that Moore shrugged off Lovecraft’s racism a bit too easily with the “He mellowed out as he got older,” explanation. Once again, though, I’m uncertain that it was something we were supposed to accept at face value, or if I was SUPPOSED to think, “Wait a minute, that’s bullsh!t!”

    At the end of the day, though, it was super unpleasant, and I don’t usually look for unpleasantness in my entertainment. I much preferred The Courtyard.

  5. Greg Sanders says:

    Small note on Sanders discussion, namely that while he did note his opposition to open borders in a Vox interview earlier in the campaign that’s different than calling for clamping down on the current level of immigration.

    See for example a discussion of his campaigning in California and outreach to Latino voters:

  6. Simon Watkins says:

    thought you would like this short radio piece bye Alan Moore Normally thought for the day is a piece by a vicar or a rabbi or some other priestly type. but on this occasion they chose an occultist.

  7. Johann Tor says:

    I’ ve been listening to these with a six month delay, and boy does the political stuff grate! Excellent podcast all around!

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