Episode 73: Merely an Engsvanyáli Garderobe


This month, Mike and Roger search for secret doors, are intimidated by some but not all “large” campaign settings, and consider how to do cultural appropriation with respect.

We mentioned:

Warhammer FRP at the Bundle of Holding (alas, it doesn’t include the Sorcery book, but all of The Enemy Within is there), Doctor Who at the Bundle of Holding, The Queer Feet, Glorantha, Tékumel, Malaclypse the Younger, King of Dragon Pass, Uresia: Grave of Heaven, Harnmaster, Traveller, the Esoteric Order of Roleplayers and two separate runs of Bluebeard’s Bride, the X-Card, the Elven Politics thread and the discussion of Vampire society.

Here’s our tip jar.

Music by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com.

Confecting fantasy and SF cultures

Regarding concealed doors and problems to be solved by the player rather than the character, one of my Tunnels & Trolls games involved handing the players one of those little sliding tile puzzles, onto which I had stuck a drawing of the door. The scrambled image was exactly what their characters could see on the wall and the door could only be opened when the puzzle was solved.

Since I detest dealing with puzzle rooms myself I tend not to pull this sort of stunt these days.


Concerning language and introducing it to players, I rather like the method Professor Barker used, especially in his novels, of combining a Tsolyáni word with an English one to provide immediate context and familiarity. Thus we have references to Dná-flour, Dná-grain beer, tiny Drí-ants, a Hmélu-calf and so on. You may not be able to identify Dná-grain and know how it differs from another type, but as a player you instantly grasp roughly what is being discussed. It lets you pepper the conversation (or spice it up with hot Hlíng-seed, if you prefer) without everyone struggling to remember what the words mean.


One of the minor revelations on my path away from dungeon-bashing was that telling the players to solve a puzzle may be fine as a game, but it’s not at all a simulation: we may be able to determine how good each character is at the 15-puzzle, but we can’t tune our own abilities to match.