Abraham Lincoln

Episode 89: The Elvis of the European Occult Underground

May 16th, 2014 | Robin

The Gaming Hut reverberates with spectral dread as we find ways to make ghosts and hauntings scary in roleplaying.

Fun with Science looks for story and gaming grist in the increasingly respected, and increasingly mind-blowing, multiverse theory of cosmological physics.

In That Thing I Always Say Robin goes on about the lasting influence a game’s first adventure has on the way it is played thereafter.

The Consulting Occultist finishes his major figures of the French enlightenment trilogy with the immortal Comte de Saint Germain.

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.



This week’s show is also brought to you in part by the World of Aetaltis. The Temple of Modren, the first sourcebook introducing this exciting new Pathfinder Compatible world, is now Kickstarting.

15 Responses to “Episode 89: The Elvis of the European Occult Underground”

  1. Rob Dean says:

    No nod to Fringe in the parallel universes discussion?

  2. GB Steve says:

    Does that the more you eat and gain mass, the more likely you are to be psychic? That does explain why so many Americans see UFOs?

  3. GB Steve says:

    We had a St Germain in our Trail game of 30s British occultist too.

  4. RogerBW says:

    The comment in “Ghosts” about bad films being easier to analyse is something I’ve also thought for a while; I think that, apart from the immersion argument, it’s also valid because a badly-made film is less well able to integrate the ideas it steals from disparate sources, so it’s easier to see where the edges are and tear them out for one’s own games.

    What is the significance of parallel worlds being in the same 3-dimensional space as us, just very far away? An FTL drive is essentially a plot device just the same as a cross-world drive. But if you need to go nearly-infinite distances to reach parallel worlds, anyone who does so probably has the tech to go anywhere in their local universe-ette. Chances are they don’t think of resources as things one can be short of.

    A thing the adventure in the book can do is kick off not only the setting (who we are and what we do) but the campaign (we’re getting into trouble with these specific NPCs). Torg put part one of a trilogy into the box with the core books (“to find out what happens next, buy…”).

  5. Terry says:

    Ken often talks about Tibetan thought-forms. Is he a shill for Big Phurba?

  6. Bret Kramer says:

    An interesting episode, as ever. I was a little disappointed when, in talking about St. Germain, you didn’t say anything specific about the Church Universal and Triumphant. A cult of personality that thinks Saint Germain was an enlightened master that builds doomsday bunkers and broadcasts lunatic chanting television show from their compound in the wilds of Montana is pretty much pure RPG fodder –

  7. […] and Robin talked about stuff including using ghosts in horror roleplaying and the Comte Saint […]

  8. […] Thing Robin Law’s Always Says is that the first adventure published for a new roleplaying game can have a lasting effect on the […]

  9. Judd M. Goswick says:

    I am maybe a bit screwy in that I always skip the introduction adventure in RPG books. Since I prefer to run my own creations, I avoid published adventures.

    I think that the first adventure might be stymied by the fact that most games do not get a really good, solid running style until the public has had a chance to play it for a few months at least and finds the things it does well/poorly.

    Modern gaming design now tried to start from the play experience and build the game to foster that, so maybe this is changing as I watch…

  10. Hmm, a couple of comments about ghost stories.

    Without emotional affect, a ghost is just a really lame mouse. Your comments mostly focused on how to imbue the ghost with that emotional affect, which were all good.

    One angle you missed is that a story world where survival beyond the grave is taken for granted will have very different emotional tones. A lot of modern ghost stories spent a great deal of time dwelling on the “ghosts are proof of something beyond the realm of SCIENCE!!!!”, while in a Renaissance ghost play, it’s all “Huh, a ghost, wonder what he wants?” So if you put a ghost into a contemporary spy adventure, for instance, or Ashen Stars, it will play out very differently from an F20 campaign.

    And I’m surprised neither of you mentioned possession as a possible ghostly effect. But possession, dopplegangers, mind control, and other “force a change of player motivation/agency” effects strike me as broad enough to require an entire Gaming Hut segment, so I can understand not going there. (You did use possession as a plot device in the Crate Man scenario in the following episode, though.)

  11. Jeromy French says:

    Gothic Hut!!! is a must!!!!

  12. Jeromy French says:


    Borges, Jorge Luis (1941) – The Library of Babel
    Eco, Umberto (1988) – Foucault’s Pendulum
    Everett, Hugh (1957) – The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics – Ph.D Dissertation.
    Kurtz, Katherine (1996) – Two Crowns for America
    Walpole, Horace (1764) – The Castle of Otranto
    Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn (1978) – Hôtel Transylvania
    Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn (1982) – Tempting Fate
    Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn (1983) – The Saint-Germain Chronicles

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