Abraham Lincoln

Episode 44: The Marshy Aunt

June 21st, 2013 | Robin

Meet us in the Gaming Hut for techniques to make your characters’ backstories shine during RPG play.

In Ask Ken and Robin we (meaning mostly Ken) address a question from friend of the site Jeromy French: “are there merits to reading August Derleth’s Lovecraftian fiction and why?”

Then we fire up the grills of the Food Hut to look at prepared condiments and sauces one might use without shame as part of one’s fresh cooking.

Finally, part two of our epic Consulting Occultist series on the Nazi occult sets the stage with Volkisch movements, Guido von List, and the cast of variously psychopathic characters who bring occult thought with them into Hitler’s high command.

16 Responses to “Episode 44: The Marshy Aunt”

  1. Michael Cule says:

    One thing I’d like to hear the Consulting Occultist talk about is the Voynich Manuscript (though think Ken may have talked about it already somewhere) and any other unaccountable for documents.

  2. Steve Dempsey says:

    Patak have a cherised place in our fridge too. We even found that one of our local restaurants uses them. We no longer eat there.

  3. LJS says:

    I was hoping for some mention of FATE where, at least in SotC and Dresden, the characters build some of their backstory together, and those portions of the backstory generally result in Aspects, which reflect how that part of the backstory affects the character(s). [Got interrupted listening, so apologies if I missed it.]

  4. LJS says:

    Apropos of the new biography of Ray A Palmer, any chance Ken would address the Shaver Mystery?

  5. Franklin Looney says:

    I’ve read maybe a dozen August Derleth stories, and the only one that was worth a damn (“The Lonesome Place”) was the one with no connection whatsoever to Lovecraft (or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for that matter). So my main impression of August Derleth is that he was OK as long as he wasn’t playing in other people’s sandboxes — the problem being that he practically lived in other people’s sandboxes.

    His “collaborations” with HPL are well-nigh unreadable. What I’ve read of his own contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos is readable, but not particularly worth it. His biggest problem, as I see it, is his constant name-dropping and forced connections to Lovecraft. He’ll start out crafting a fairly decent weird monster story, but then he always has to ruin it by shoving in a few paragraphs (or pages) bringing readers up to speed on what the Cthulhu Mythos is and making sure we know that’s what we’re reading.

    “Oh no, it’s a monster! Why, this is just like the strange stories of the Providence writer H.P. Lovecraft, who surely knew more than he let on about the horrors that lurk in the dark places of the world! Horrors like Cthulhu, the water elemental who is imprisoned in the sea! And Yog-Sothoth! And Hastur! And Nyarlathotep! And the Deep Ones, those fish-frog monstrosities that took over the sea port of Innsmouth! Anyway, this is just like that!”

    And then the monster turns out to be an incarnation of Nyarlathotep, because why not. Except it’s an elemental version of Nyarlathotep, and then five or six Lovecraftian “elementals” show up and do battle like so many Pokémon. Blegh.

    Props to him for preserving Lovecraft, though.

  6. Cambias says:

    You don’t need to be in a big city any more. The influx of Central American and Asian immigrants to small towns means a lot of towns have an “international market” or the equivalent. Patak’s is on the shelves at the mainstream supermarkets, even in farm towns in western Massachusetts.

    I only ever found one bottled salad dressing to be of any use: Silver Palate brand sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. It was abominable as a salad dressing but made a kick-ass marinade for pork ribs.

  7. charles says:

    Love the podcast.

    But do all the gaming hut examples need to be taken from some imagined 80s D&D campaign? Write about what you know – I much prefer to hear examples taken from systems you’re running or have played in recently. Not sure if everything needs to be translated into universal D&D terminology for it to have impact.

  8. Tim Daly says:

    For Ask Ken and Robin: What are the challenges/differences when designing a game for existing game systems vs. rolling your own system to fit the game world?

  9. Simon Rogers says:

    Truffle oil, nam pla, Worcestershire Sauce, brown sauce, and the oil from sun dried tomatoes have their place.

  10. Brimstone says:

    I’m surprised that the Gaming Hut didn’t mention FATE, which has collaborative character creation built in. So does Apocalypse World.

  11. Tom Clare says:


    are there merits to reading Brad Strickland’s Bellairsian fiction and why?

    (Seriously, I know you are a Bellairs reader, and I wonder what your take on Strickland’s collaborations/original novels is?)

    Also, did you ever come across Marcus Rowland’s William Hope Hodgeson game ( As a Carnacki fan I always wanted to try it, but never had the right group of players.


  12. Satrap of Saturn says:

    I loved Ken’s quip about Derleth’s authority as a transmitter of Hadith (which is pronounced haDEETH, not HODith!).

  13. Jeromy French says:

    1) Thank you for the Shout-Out by the way. Made my week.

    2) Thanks for answering my question. I always knew that August Derleth kept Lovecraft’s literature alive and in people’s mind, which was a very good thing, but had been wary of reading anything Cthulhu related material that wasn’t done by Lovecraft himself. I will check out some of the stories that Ken recommends.

    Now here’s the bibliography:

    Ramsey Cambell – Goatswood Mythos (ex. The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants)
    August Derleth – The Cthulhu Mythos (Barnes and Noble collection)
    August Derleth – Ithaqua
    August Derleth – The Lurker at the Threshold
    August Derleth – The Sac Prairie Saga
    August Derleth – Something in Wood
    August Derleth – The Thing That Walked on the Wind
    August Derleth – The Trail of Cthulhu
    August Derleth and Michael Schorer – Lair of the Star-Spawn
    William Faulkner – Southern Gothic motives (ex. The Hamlet, The Sound and the Fury, & As I Lay Dying)
    Kenneth Hite – The Nazi Occult
    M.R. James – The Collected Ghost Stories of M.R. James
    Robin D. Laws – Hamlet’s Hit Points
    Guido von List – Carnuntum
    Guido von List – The Secret of the Roses
    Sax Rohmer – The Fu Manchu series
    William Butler Yeats – Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, Irish Faerie Tales, and poems involving fairies.

    Author’s Mentioned:
    Clark Ashton Smith
    Fritz Leiber
    David Drake
    William Hope Hodgson

  14. Ralf Wagner says:

    Two hints concerning the pronunciation of “Volk” and “völkisch”:
    In German, “V” is usually pronounced as “f” like in “fish” or “folk” (which it is related to).
    The German “ö” is not just a longer “o”, but a separate sound as in the French word “feu”.

  15. […] Ted Kosmatka. Also mentioned: Andrea Letamendi’s superhero analysis site Under the Mask and Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Episode 44, in which the legacy of August Derleth is […]

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