Abraham Lincoln

Episode 66: The Random Piggly-Wiggly Table

November 22nd, 2013 | Robin

We place a horseshoe over the mantle of the Gaming Hut to consider luck’s role as a branch point in roleplaying.

Then, at the behest of lead sponsor Stephen Jankiewicz, we enter the cobwebbed confines of the Horror Hut to ask if terror and sense of wonder can coexist.

In Ask Ken and Robin, Leo Pall Hrafnsson inquires: “How do you run a game that feels like Heat or Catch Me If You Can, where the PCs directly oppose one another?”

Finally, a grumbling time traveler revs up Ken’s Time Machine to intervene in the invention of Thanksgiving to build a more sensible, dare we say Canadian, separation between it and Christmas.

Serving as anchor sponsor this week is author Stephen Jankiewicz. Among his many works, KARTAS listeners may be most drawn to his weird tales in the Lovecraft tradition, as found in his collections Medusa, the Drowned and Other Tales and The Muse of the Monstrous. Check out his stuff on Amazon.


Slabtown Games joins us to tout Storyscape, a tablet-based tabletop roleplaying game Robin is currently designing for them.



Kotadama Heavy Industries invites you to explore Ryuutama: The Natural Fantasy RPG, translated by Matt Sanchez & Andy Kitkowski. Satisfy your yearning for travel and exploration by jumping aboard their successful Kickstarter campaign.


12 Responses to “Episode 66: The Random Piggly-Wiggly Table”

  1. Carrie says:

    I have a question for Ken’s Time Machine. You’ve established that stopping the Great War would be prohibitively difficult, but is there a good way to mitigate it?

  2. Leó Páll Hrafnsson says:

    Robin can you please tell the “Next Fight!!!” story i heard you tell in one of your panels. every time i have a difficult time with players i remember that story and am thankful its not that bad.

  3. In regards random events, it seems that random outcomes are only meaningful for events that occur repeatedly, which is a point I don’t think you quite landed on. A “random grocery store” table makes perfect sense for a game in which the players are visiting a lot of grocery stores, and “the butler will answer the door 80% of the time” makes sense if the players are going to to come to that door (or a door just like it) many times over the course of play. They might also make sense if you’re going to run the same scenario over and over and want variety or unpredictability between runs.

    In re: horror and awe, great discussion, but I am amazed that you never mentioned Frankenstein, in which Burkean sublimity is effectively an additional character stalking the pages. The Alps and the frozen wastes of the Arctic are mute pointers toward the greatness of Victor’s actions and the wretchedness of his moral failure.

    I find that one of Lovecraft’s most noteworthy artistic failures in “The Whisperer in Darkness”, where we readers are apparently expected to recoil in cosmic terror from the idea of having our brains put in copper jars and carried away, but almost any science fiction reader responds with a pure jolt of senseawunda–“Travel among the stars and never grow old? Sign me up!”

  4. James says:

    Recent playtesting data from the U.S. Senate suggests they’ve found a few rough edges in the rule system. Is this just a situation that calls for better GMing? Or is there an actual flaw in the filibuster mini-game? Either way, how would you pitch for the consulting contract to put things right?

  5. gloomhound says:

    I have couple of things that I would like to ask “Ken and Robbin.”

    Firstly I would like to hear your thoughts on hacking Gumshoe in order to remove and or replace it’s pool resource mechanics in order to placate rebellious gaming group.

    I would also like to get Ken’s take on Cicada 3301.


    • Robin says:

      What reason does your group give for their pool point rebellion?

      • gloomhound says:

        When I asked them the consensuses was that they just did not care for dice pool games. I found this odd in that we started as a Trail of Cthulhu playtest group and are currently playing Fear Itself.

        I suspect that it’s really a combination of two things. First a dislike of the D6 as the resolving die. I’ve received complaints from time to time about it’s lack of granularity. Secondly I don’t think they care much for the management intrinsic in pool systems.

        They have never articulated any complaints about this but I’ve noticed that for some reason it seems to pull some of my players “out of the game.” I have ran horror/mystery games for them using a number of different systems CoC, nWoD(mortals only), Savage Worlds and they like Gumshoe the best.

        I have been told that they like the maturity of the Gumshoe games and I suspect (because they would not admit it) the narrative nature of it.

        I’ve offered to switch to a different system but they could not think of any they would rather play.

  6. Anders Gabrielsson says:

    I very much enjoyed your discussion about PvP in roleplaying and the points you made were solid, particularly the one about player buy-in. However, I feel it was a bit of an omission not to mention the possibility of using a system designed to facilitate this type of play, like Dogs in the Vineyard or Smallville.

    Other than that, the only thing I was missing was another update on Rob Ford (or, as he’s now apparently known, “the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto) but I guess the Daily Show has covered that quite well.

  7. Simon Rogers says:

    Piggly-Wiggly is the new Duty.

  8. Ed says:

    How much would I have to donate to have a segment where Ken defends his indefensible position that Deadwood is a bad series?

  9. Cowboy Wally says:

    Robin made some strong points about Canadian Thanksgiving. These were, in my opinion, not as strong as the points made by Ken regarding President’s Lincoln and Washington so I remain committed to Thanksgiving in late November. The bacon debate will rage so long as we are blessed to have pigs in our lives. All bacon, whether back or belly, has a home in my house.

    Finally, I am perfectly happy to accept “sensible” as a description for all things Canadian, and the vast majority of Canadians. Our neighbors to the North have been stalwart friends and allies for over a century, and we are lucky to have them.

    I would offer, however, that if we accept and use “sensible” as a description for Canadians, that we also accept and use “Ba*ls Out” as a description for the United States of America and the vast majority of Americans.

    There is much to recommend and be proud of in being sensible.

    Ditto for being Ba*ls Out.

    A final note to Ed re: Deadwood – I also would be interested in hearing Ken’s completely accurate description of Deadwood as a bad series, specifically in whether or not his position is that the ending of the series is what made Deadwood a bad series.

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