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Episode 51: A Tank Wearing a Truck Hat

August 9th, 2013 | Robin

In Ask Ken and Robin, Jacob Ansari asks about playing Night’s Black Agents in previous time periods.

The Tradecraft Hut hosts a look at Jasper Maskelyne, the so-called War Magician.

In The Business of Gaming we examine the unfortunate implosion of the Kickstarter-funded boardgame The Doom that Came to Atlantic City. This episode was recorded a day before Cryptozoic Entertainment announced plans to publish the game and fulfill orders to Kickstarter backers gratis, giving a happy ending quality to our link to designer Keith Baker’s site.

Finally we open the Eliptony Hut to the truth and legend of Nikolai Tesla, as we wonder what might be found under the grounds of his last laboratory, now slated as a museum in his honor.

Want those ad guidelines we mentioned in the show? Download our rate sheet, in handy PDF format.

17 Responses to “Episode 51: A Tank Wearing a Truck Hat”

  1. Enjoying your podcast, as always. Listening to the preamble hut of episode 51, I thought of some old files I’ve got on an encrypted drive somewhere with notes and sketches of ufo engineering purportedly from Nazi Germany. They aren’t detailed enough to answer my question, which is this. Is there any truth to the notion that the source of propulsion for at least some of their saucer craft was a super-charged build of something making use of the Biefeld-Brown effect? The effect, when done as a home hobby, would fall far short of lifting sufficient mass for a saucer craft. However, if combined with a source of massive power in the core of the craft (a la nuclear), it may, one could imagine, be possible to generate the needed voltage disparity between the leading edge and trailing edge (or other surface area) of the craft to lift and propel the saucer. Hey! It could happen. 😉 Any writings on this theory you know of?

    As a quick thank you, I’d like to let you know that, as a fiction writer, I find your podcast a tremendous resource and inspiration. A tip of the hat to you both.

    Thanks in advance for your time considering the above.

  2. Andrew TBP says:

    Elizabethan GUMSHOE made me think of Blackadder as a pitch, but it probably suits Skulduggery more.

  3. Cambias says:

    I tried running an “Elizabethan X-files” game similar in spirit to NBA, and one of the biggest problems I encountered is that people — even moderately well-educated people — don’t really know much about that time period. The result is that there isn’t a good “default adventure.” The historical default adventures were mostly social climbing, religious violence, and looting, but it’s hard for moderns to really get into those.

  4. Adam says:

    I can think of two good swasbuckling action movies, both French: Vidoq, and Brotherhood of the Wolf. The first is much more a spy/whodunnit, but they’re both a lot of fun with great action sequences.

  5. Vonjunzt says:

    Suggested topic: Call of Cthulhu 7E QuickStart from two game designers’ perspectives

  6. Chris McDermott says:

    The ad rates look very reasonable. One thing you may want to keep an eye on is Subbable, a sort of quasi-Kickstarter for the viewers of online media to subscribe to online content. It is being created by John and Hank Green of the vlogbrothers and crash course. Still in beta, but something to watch perhaps to help keep the podcast funded in the future.

    https://subbable.com/

  7. Mailanka says:

    I’ve got a question for Ken and Robin: Where would I look for interesting information/inspiration on djinn, other than a Thousand and One Arabian Nights?

  8. RogerBW says:

    I think that a good example of Tesla’s strengths and weaknesses can be found in his “death ray” or “peace ray”. That’s what the press called it; to him it was a teleforce weapon. In modern parlance, it’s something like a charged particle beam, using either tungsten or mercuty ions. It was an open-ended vacuum tube with a “gas jet seal” (never described in any great detail), that would project ions at great speed (atmospheric resistance would be overcome by a means only hinted at) to destroy any target above the horizon (aiming was left as an exercise for the engineer). So as with many of his concepts, revolutionary and valid ideas, but a woeful underestimation of the amount of engineering work that would have to go in to making them useful.

  9. John F Rauchert says:

    If Tesla is Nyarlathotep and the World has become dependent on the AC Power Grid have the Outer Gods already won?

    Should I abhor my iPad, don a Tin Hat and move to some place that knows not of these things?

    What Electrical Incantation is Nyarlathotep attempting to power and what happens when the Stars are Right?

    Was Thomas Edison a hero of the people, valiantly defending us from horrors beyond our ken?

  10. Tom Vallejos says:

    Has Ken or Robbin heard of the legend that Tesla’s energy experiments accidentally caused the Tunguska Blast?

  11. I meant to post this last week and plum forgot.

    Ken compared people losing faith in Kickstarter after the Doom to
    people stopping trading stock in the wake of the MF Global meltdown, as if it were absurd. In fact, stock volumes have dropped significantly over the last several years, with the effect accelerating in the last 2, even though stock prices have been soaring as if the certificates were printed on upsidaisium.

    MF Global, the Facebook IPO debacle, high-frequency predator trading*, multiple flash crashes, and various other factors have lead to a widespread perception that stocks are much less reliable than other investments. And volumes are down correspondingly.

    *I make that characterizations as someone who spent most of the last 9 years working on algorithmic stock trading systems.

    Now, most stock trades are done by fund managers of one sort or another; it is possible that the small investors–the type of people who have a few tens of thousands of dollars in an E*Trade account–are still trading at the same levels. But then, the types of things that are driving big investors away don’t harm small investors proportionately as much. Most of the $billion that MF Global fraudulently gave to JPM was from big funds; I don’t think *any* of it was individual investor money, and high-frequency trading’s effect on stock prices generally is swamped by commissions on individual trades. But Kickstarter is, right now, ALL “individual” investors, the people among whom the Doom meltdown is most likely to reverberate.

    Not that I think it will. I think it would take a pattern of (apparently) bad-faith KSs before people are really shaken.

  12. Stacy Forsythe says:

    I’m listening to this episode remarkably late, so I don’t know if anyone’s still paying attention to new comments, but I have a question about the mention of Lou Zocchi and World War II.

    After hearing Robin’s comment about Zocchi as a magician who helped win the war, I did a little bit of research to find out what Zocchi actually did back then (I’ve met him a few times at cons and listened to his tales of gaming history, so I was intrigued by the idea of another aspect to his life). Lou’s Wikipedia entry is sparse on personal detail — it doesn’t give an age, and lists him as a retired USAF sergeant but provides no timeframe — but I turned up a few things at “background check” sites (without going so far as to pay them forty bucks to satisfy my curiosity about a gaming celebrity).

    From what I found, there was a Louis E. Zocchi of Massachusetts in World War II. He was born around 1915. “Our” Lou is getting up in years, but I don’t think he’s nearly a hundred years old.

    A more plausible entry listed a Louis J. Zocchi with a connection to both Massachusetts (perhaps the son of Louis E.?) and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He’s 78, which sounds closer to the gaming Zocchi but is far too young to have been at Normandy or indeed in the war at all. (He’d have been alive during the war as a school-aged kid, but I suspect even the kids who lied about their age to fight overseas were older than ten.)

    On the other hand, I found an essay on Avalanche Press’s site; it was mostly about the ethics of using Nazi symbology in wargames, but had a throwaway mention of Lou Zocchi as “the grand old man of the industry and a decorated World War II fighter pilot.” So it seems to be either common knowledge or a running gag among his colleagues that Lou really is that old.

    Does anyone have more facts about the Zocchi/WWII connection that they would be willing to share? I am intrigued and still don’t know whether this is a real thing (making the “grand old man” nearly a centenarian) or a cute conceit within the industry.

  13. pantry says:

    I love my PC measuring spoons plus cheese grater. I keep hearing ideal details about the chopper so I could need to add it to my list!

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