Abraham Lincoln

Episode 80: Vulnerable to Attack By Panzer Leaders

March 14th, 2014 | Robin

Gaming Hut starts on a somber note as we remember the roleplaying innovations of Aaron Allston (1960-2014.) We go on to discuss one of the key themes of his work, genre emulation at the tabletop.

The Eliptony Hut takes on a distinctly octagonal shape as we look at the eight-sided architectural influence of phrenologist and social reformer Orson Squire Fowler.

In the Business of Gaming, we share social media tips and tricks.

Finally, Eoin Keith Boyle makes a St. Patrick’s Day request: can Ken’s Time Machine be put to use preventing the English conquest of Ireland?

Once again Fenix Magazine occupies the coveted anchor sponsor slot. After ten years delighting the Swedish gaming scene, they’re now bringing the Best of Fenix to English-language GMs and players with their now-active Indiegogo campaign.


Don your chivalric armor to also thank sponsor Atlas Games, now unveiling Knightly Tales, the exciting new expansion for their classic Once Upon a Time card game.

That rumble in your molars heralds the thundering approach of the Open Metalcast Podcast, joining us as sponsor in a crescendo of aural extremity!


26 Responses to “Episode 80: Vulnerable to Attack By Panzer Leaders”

  1. (BTW: The track playing behind the Open Metalcast bit is Cloudkicker: “Here, wait a minute! Damn it!” off the album Beacons (CC-BY))

  2. A more Formal(ish) request for the Ken’s Time Machine – Ken, would you be so kind to travel to the Romantic Gang of Byron, Shelly et cetera at some dark and stormy night, and surprise them by running a Trail of Cthulhu session to them. (Or Fear Itself, if you are feeling more conservative). Then Flash-Forward back to the present and report results.

    Sincerely Curious.

  3. Mailanka says:

    “Sumerian conspiracy that’s changing the languages of the world.” Oh man, GURPS: The Madness Dossier can’t get here fast enough!

  4. Michael Cule says:

    “The squirrels in your head?”

    I’m not sure the scenario to give the Irish longer to get their act together is going to work. Firstly, I’m not sure any amount of alerting Hardrada is going to stop the two Harolds coming to blows even if you do get a message to Godwinson at a critical moment telling him that he’s got a posse of Normans to dispose of too. “What leave that bloody Viking to stab me in the back when I’ve finished killing off William? No bloody fear!”

    Secondly, even if that did work there’s no way that either of the two Harolds is going to be content with half a kingdom. There’s no obvious geographical feature to form a boundary that will keep the two halves separate and sooner rather than later they are going to have it out.

    And thirdly, it doesn’t really matter who is in control of a united England there’s still a lot of temptation involved in a neighbouring island that is technologically inferior and politically disunited. It’s one of the problems of an aristocratic culture: you’ve got to have somewhere to send the younger sons off to make a name for themselves. Which is why Henry II wanted it for his younger son John of course.

    Hey, maybe if you killed off the English Pope before he could give the papal OK to the enterprise it might make a difference! Or what are the chances you could get an Irishman into the triple tiara at that critical date?

    (And I’ll second the ‘hurry up please’ on THE MADNESS DOSSIER!)

    • nickpheas says:

      The other thing that struck me about your proposal Ken is that while it may prevent, or at least delay, an English dominated Ireland, doesn’t it just prolong the Viking involvement? The Anglo Norman invasion of 1171 seems to be what finally broke Norse power in Dublin, and with Northern England as a secure base that would only strengthen them.
      Sure, an Ireland where everyone speaks Norwegian and there’s a great book, the Hound Edda, first written down around 1250 is interesting, but probably not what the original poster was looking for.

      • Phil Masters says:

        That too. All else aside, if you park an essentially Viking power on the English side of the Irish Sea, you’re putting an irresistible temptation their way. One short sea voyage to Irish gold and slaves? Yummy yummy. You’re not doing a favour to Ireland there, one feels.

    • Phil Masters says:

      Completely agreed with Mike here. The Saxons had just spent a few centuries kicking the Norsemen out of the north; the idea of Harold Godwinson backing down from a fight and letting them back in is seriously not credible to me.

      It would also have threatened his credibility with his own nobles – and my impression is that the Saxon monarchy was democratic enough that this wouldn’t have been politically acceptable. Lose half his courtiers’ lands for them? Not an option, one feels.

  5. […] Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, which is a hell of a way to be introduced to this podcast, I know.  Trust me, I […]

  6. Rob Abrazado says:

    The Open Metalcast spot was possibly the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. It made my entire day.

  7. Cambias says:

    My life is now complete.

    And to add to the appreciations of Aaron Allston: for Star Hero I used his Champions book as the model and touchstone. I don’t know of anyone with a better appreciation and understanding of genre tropes.

  8. Mike Nolan says:

    I think the easiest solution to preventing the English conquest of Ireland is not to hamstring England’s military might (and screw up the later timeline) but to just let the invasions take place and encourage assimilation of the Norman settlers into the native Irish.

    In late 14th C. about 2 centuries after the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, the Norman descendants were well on their way to assimilating into Gaelic Ireland – they had adopted Irish customs, dress & language. This spooked the English monarchy so they issued a set of laws known as the “Statutes of Kilkenny”. These laws forbade intermarrying with the native Irish, wearing Irish dress, etc.

    Prevent those laws and the Normans would eventually become completely subsumed into Irish culture. You’d have a couple of centuries for the island to develop its own identity separate to England without the historical rift that existed between Norman settlers and the native irish. The island would still need to make the break away from England at a later stage but it would be doing it as a unified whole rather than split between native & settler.

  9. Tim Daly says:

    Re: use of social media.

    I can tell you that when it comes to deciding where to throw my hard earned dollars at creators, someone who has interacted with me in social media certainly gets some consideration over someone who has not (everything else being equal.) Not sure how much time Robin and Ken spend responding to tweets, FB, etc. or how valuable they think that time is in generating sales, but I think it influences my purchases.

  10. RogerBW says:

    In the grand tradition of time travel stories, would Ken care to explore things might have gone differently had Christendom allowed Constantinople to fall to the Ottomans?

    Speaking as someone at whom nobody should market if they want large sales, the more time creators spend on proprietary social media sites that require me to sign up just to read their output the less interest I have in them.

    • Cambias says:

      Well, if Constantinople had fallen to the Ottomans, you’d have had a big Muslim Turkish empire right on the border of southeastern Europe. They could have sent armies as far as Vienna! I think we should all be glad the Venetians stepped in to save Byzantium (at their usual ruinous cost, of course). Would Transylvania have led Europe into the Scientific Revolution as quickly under Ottoman rule? Unlikely.

      On the other hand, a powerful Ottoman state would have been a great counterbalance to Safavid Persian ambitions, possibly keeping them out of Egypt and making the Venetian-Persian wars of the 1600s less of a direct echo of Herodotus (though of course he never mentioned steam-galleys and Galvanically-boosted soldiers).

      Still, I’d be interested in seeing what Ken could do with the idea.

  11. Frank says:

    Hey guys, on the subject of your audience, we are almost certainly quite a varied bunch. I’m not a gamer, but I absolutely love the materials and scenarios. I would give gaming a shot, but I live in a small town in Japan where the pool of likely players is nonexistent.

    I listen because your insights on game design and writing give me things to think about as a writer, and because your interests (history, trivia, technology, society, etc, etc) disconcertingly parallel my own . And I love to just listen to you guys chat. If you hit a subject I’m not so interested in, I fast-forward. I buy your work because I KNOW it’ll be great. No one listening to the ‘cast could think your writings are anything but carefully crafted.

    It’s also nice to hear that although you have different political views, you don’t let them get in the way of friendship…that’s getting to be a rare thing.

    Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  12. Robin Boswell says:

    I’ve listened to the section on octagonal architecture a couple of times, and I was intrigued by the reference to a book called (I think) “Sensations”, describing human history as a war between spiders and mosquitos. Have I understood you correctly, and if so, could you provide any more information about this book? I’ve had no luck searching on Amazon or Google.



  13. Charles Picard says:

    This is a particularly fine episode… every Hut wonderfully executed… and, as fate would have it, all very much to my taste.

  14. I consider Lands of Mystery, which was published in 1985, to be one of the best supplements ever published for any game. It’s advice on troupe style play, niche protection, and genre emulation is still brilliant and was absolutely groundbreaking when it was published.

    I was fortunate enough to mention that to Bruce Harlick over lunch at a GenCon in the late ’90s and his response was something like, “Aaron is over at our booth. Would you like to meet him?” Since this was roughly equivalent to asking a gun nut if would like to talk to John M. Browning, my response was immediate and enthusiastic.

    Unfortunately, I’m afraid I was something of an inarticulate fanboy, mostly just thanking him for his work, but I’m still happy that I got that opportunity.

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