Wednesday, November 30, 2011

[Resources] Black Aggie

Not Black Aggie, but another statue called Clotho in Druid Ridge Cemetery
Black Aggie was a statue that was established at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Baltimore, MD from 1926 to 1967. I first heard about this statue reading the Dresden Files RPG (Chapter 16: Neverwhere Baltimore setting - available as a free download from DriveThruRPG).

The statue has quite the history (1) before it was removed by the owners. The graves around it had been vandalized and the urban legends around it were pretty weird, so they donated it to the Smithsonian. Now it is in Washington, D.C.,where it was placed in a minor courtyard off of Lafayette Square. Next time I go visit my sister in D.C., I'll be sure to stop by and pay my respects.

Statues with a secret history is a great way to add mystery and suspense to a game. File the serial numbers off of Black Aggie and put it in your game.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

[Resources] HMS Thunder Child

The Martian War Machine becomes HMS Thunder Child's bitch
The HMS Thunder Child was a fictional torpedo ram in the novel The War of the Worlds (1898) by H. G. Wells. When the masses of Engishmen and women fled London following the Martian Invasion, many attempted to escape by boat. Three Martian war machines threatened their flight and the HMS Thunder Child fought them.

Charging one of the machines without firing shot, the Royal Navy ship took it out, then turned on the other two. Despite taking direct hits from the heat ray, it managed to ram the second, destroying them both.

The HMS Thunder Child's story is useful in an alien invasion game, as a backdrop to a scene that shows the aliens are less powerful and more vulnerable than they appear.

Monday, November 28, 2011

[Resources] Quenya

Quenya is an elvish language invented by J. R. R. Tolkien. Begun in 1910, he worked on it for the rest of his life. There are several online resources for this language (1, 2, to name a few).

The usefulness of the language for special place-names, character names (good guys and bad guys) or even evil magic items (a cool Elvish name is awesome but make sure it doesn't rhyme with a feminine hygiene product).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

[Resources] HM Armed Schooner Diana

Long before Princess Diana, another fine lady named Diana served the British Empire. In 1775, HM Armed Schooner Diana was under the command of Lieutenant Thomas Graves. Built in Massachusetts in 1774 and beginning life as a fishing boat, she was purchased for £750 by Vice-Admiral Samuel Graves (Lieutenant Thomas Graves was his nephew), refitted and loaded with twelve swivel guns and four 6-pounders. The Vice-Admiral used her to enforce the Boston Port Act.

During the Battle of Chelsea Creek, she ran aground on May 27th under heavy fire by American forces commanded by John Stark. Attempts to tow her failed as the American kept shooting the rowers. Reinforcements arrived but not for the British - and they brought two cannon!

Refusing to surrender, the sailors continued the fight, firing their own ordinance even as the schooner shifted in the low tide. Finally abandoning the ship in the early hours of May 28th, the sailors escaped to the sloop Britannia (commanded by Thomas's brother John). The Britannia was the tender of HMS Somerset.

The American boarded the Diana, stripped her of her weapons and equipment, then fired the ship. Many people have searched for her remains in the creek but no one has found them yet, despite state sponsored efforts.

I had plans to use the wreck of the Diana in my Savage Colonial Gothic campaign but never reached that part in the sessions.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

[Resources] The Yarn of the Nancy Bell

The Yarn of the Nancy Bell was published in 1866 by W. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) for the Bab Ballads.

If this isn't a call to adventure, I don't know what is.


The Yarn of the Nancy Bell

'Twas on the shores that round our coast
From Deal to Ramsgate span,
That I found alone on a piece of stone
An elderly naval man.
His hair was weedy, his beard was long,
And weedy and long was he,
And I heard this wight on the shore recite,
In a singular minor key:
"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite, 
And the crew of the captain's gig."
And he shook his fists and he tore his hair,
Till I really felt afraid,
For I couldn't help thinking the man had been drinking,
And so I simply said:
"Oh, elderly man, it's little I know
Of the duties of men of the sea,
And I'll eat my hand if I understand
However you can be
'At once a cook, and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig.'"
Then he gave a hitch to his trousers, which
Is a trick all seamen larn,
And having got rid of a thumping quid,
He spun this painful yarn:
"'Twas in the good ship Nancy Bell
That we sailed to the Indian Sea,
And there on a reef we come to grief,
Which has often occurred to me.
'And pretty nigh all the crew was drowned
(There was seventy-seven o' soul),
And only ten of the Nancy's men
Said 'Here!' to the muster-roll.
'There was me and the cook and the captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And the bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig.
'For a month we'd neither wittles nor drink,
Till a-hungry we did feel,
So we drawed a lot, and, accordin' shot
The captain for our meal.
'The next lot fell to the Nancy's mate,
And a delicate dish he made;
Then our appetite with the midshipmite
We seven survivors stayed.
'And then we murdered the bo'sun tight,
And he much resembled pig;
Then we wittled free, did the cook and me,
On the crew of the captain's gig.
'Then only the cook and me was left,
And the delicate question,"Which
Of us two goes to the kettle" arose,
And we argued it out as sich.
'For I loved that cook as a brother, I did,
And the cook he worshipped me;
But we'd both be blowed if we'd either be stowed
In the other chap's hold, you see.
"I'll be eat if you dines off me,"says TOM;
'Yes, that,' says I, 'you'll be, '
'I'm boiled if I die, my friend, ' quoth I;
And "Exactly so," quoth he.
'Says he,"Dear JAMES, to murder me
Were a foolish thing to do,
For don't you see that you can't cook me,
While I can and will cook you!"
'So he boils the water, and takes the salt
And the pepper in portions true
(Which he never forgot), and some chopped shalot.
And some sage and parsley too.
"Come here,"says he, with a proper pride,
Which his smiling features tell,
"'T will soothing be if I let you see
How extremely nice you'll smell."
'And he stirred it round and round and round,
And he sniffed at the foaming froth;
When I ups with his heels, and smothers his squeals
In the scum of the boiling broth.
'And I eat that cook in a week or less,
And as I eating be
The last of his chops, why, I almost drops,
For a wessel in sight I see!

"And I never larf, and I never smile,
And I never lark nor play,
But I sit and croak, and a single joke
I have--which is to say:
"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig!"

Friday, November 25, 2011

[Resources] Nikolai Yazhov, Now You See Him, Now You Don't

Now you see him
Nikolai Yazhov (1895-1940) was a Soviet politican and former head of  the NKVD. He was a factory worker, in the Tsar's army (1915-1917). He became a Bolshevik in 1917 and fought for the Red Army in the Russian Civil War (1919–1921). He worked his way up the Communist Party, making head of the NKVD in 1936.

Yazhov ordered many executions during the Great Purge. At it's height, over 600,000 were shot as enemies of the state and the same amount were exiled to gulags.  Stalin, suspicious of anyone and everyone, eventually pulled back his support for him and by 1939 he had lost his power in the NKVD.

Denounced and arrested on April 10th, he was tortured and confessed to espionage, embezzlement and the usual "state crimes." His trial in February 1940 ended with him vowing to "die with Stalin's name on his lips." Two days later, he was ordered beaten by his NKVD successor (much like he ordered his predecessor humiliated) and then executed, but, in the interests of secrecy, not in the basement of the Lubyanka (which was the main NKVD execution chamber).

But his story doesn't end with his death. In fact, he was declared damnatio memoriae by Stalin and all traces of him were removed from books and photos.
Now you don't
Disappeared and removed from all knowledge. That looks like a situation the PCs would investigate, whatever the genre.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

[Resources] The Name of the Rose

The Name of the Rose, written by Umberto Eco, was first published in Italian in 1980 and translated to English three years later. A film was made in 1986 starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater.

I've only seen the film but I plan on reading the book, after I finish all the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters (another monk-solving-mysteries series). The monastic view of the world that is presented in these sorts of books will be an interesting dimension that can be added to any game.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

[Resources] Incitatus

Incitatus ("at full gallup") was Emperor Caligula's favorite horse. He lived in a marble stable with rich, purple blankets and jeweled collars. Caligula appointed the horse as a consul, and some historians think that the horse was used as a prank and insult against the Senate, as Incitatus would invite important people to "dine" with him.

More on Incitatus can be found in the Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius.

What would the PCs do if invited to dine with the King's favorite horse? The looks on the players' faces would be priceless!

Monday, November 21, 2011

[Resources] Escapology

Escapology is the skill of slipping bonds, springing handcuffs, and breaking free of straightjackets in front of an audience.

Famous escapologists included Harry Houdini, Major Zamora, and Alan Alan.

In most games, it's normal for PCs to escape prison cells, handcuffs and death traps. Few opportunities arise for the PCs to escape in full view of an audience except when they're in an arena and that's all good fun. Instead of just fighting the arena beasts, throw in a locked cage, a straightjacket or a pair of handcuffs, as the beast attacks!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

[Resources] Broadswords

The basket-hilted military sword, also known as the broadsword, was different from the rapiers of the time due to it's wider blade.

The earliest recovered sword of this style was found on the Mary Rose, which sank in 1545. Varieties of the sword were developed over the years, including the Scottish Claymore, the Italian Schiavona, and the English Mortuary sword.

The cavalry saber from the 18th century up to WWI is the descendent of this style of blade.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

[Resources] Scrooge McDuck

Scrooge McDuck is Donald Duck's rich and eccentric uncle on his mother's side. Created by Carl Barks in 1947 and based on (and with the same miserly qualities as) Ebenezer Scrooge, Scrooge McDuck gained his own comic book six years later and has been going strong ever since.

From 1987 to 1990, he starred in the animated series DuckTales with his great-nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, where he globe-trotted on treasure hunting expeditions. His wealth was the subject of Forbes Fictional 15, appearing in all of them from 2002 to 2011.

Need a wealthy NPC? Look no further than Scrooge McDuck.

Friday, November 18, 2011

[Resources] Hemming's Cartulary

Another document from the Middle Ages, Hemming's Cartulary is a Norman Conquest-era collection of legal records, including land records, lawsuits and charters that were organized by geographical location.

The text is nearly 200 pages long and divided into two parts. The first part is called the Book of Worcester and the second part was written by a monk named Hemming.

The contents of the manuscript is listed in the wikipedia article and you should look through it. It contains some unusual things besides the legal records, including lists of the kings of Mercia, jurors, and royal gifts.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

[Atomic Thursday] Raiders of the Sun

"In the tradition of Mad Max ...." Really nice black uniforms!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

[Resources] Witold Pilecki

Witold Pilecki (1901-1948) was a Polish soldier and resistant fighter. He fought in WWI in a Polish self-defence unit until the unit was destroyed by the Russians. For a time, the survivors acted as partisans. He joined the Polish Army and fought in the Polish-Soviet War (1919–1920).

Before the outbreak of WWII, he rejoined the Polish military and after the fall of Poland to the Nazis and the Soviets, he was one of the founding members of the Secret Polish Army.

In 1940, he came up with a daring plan to be captured and sent to Auschwitz to gain vital intelligence. While in Auschwitz, he formed a united resistance movement to provide the underground with information about the camp. He escaped the camp with German documents in 1943 after overpowering a guard.

In 1944, he participated in the Warsaw Uprising. He was captured and spent the rest of the war in a German prison camp.

Liberated in 1945, he worked with the Polish government in exile against the Soviets. Captured in 1947, he underwent torture and was tried in a mock trial in 1948. Sentenced to death, he was executed in May and buried (presumably) in an unmarked grave.

Posthumously honored with the Order of Polonia Restituta (1995) and Order of the White Eagle (2006), he is considered a hero of Poland.

Since he was active from 1918 to 1947, he'd make an excellent contact in any WWI or WWII Eastern Front game, or in the interwar period.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

[Resources] The New Carissa

File:NewCarissaMap.gif
The M/V New Carissa ran aground in February, 1999, in Coos Bay, Oregon, blown onto the beach by a storm.

The ship, empty at the time, still had fuel onboard, which the authorities tried to burn out. The stresses on the structure caused the ship to break apart a week later and the bow section was later sunk by two US Navy vessels.

The stern remained on the beach until 2008, when it was dismantled. The oil spilled in the breakup led to an environmental catastrophe in Oregon, one of the worst in the history of the state.

The wreck of the New Carissa is a neat bit of action in a modern game. Perhaps there was a reason that the stern section was allowed to remain on the beach for nearly a decade.

Monday, November 14, 2011

[Resources] Questing Beast

The Arthurian legend of the Questing Beast was sought by various Knights of the Round Table, like King Pellinore.

The Questing Beast was a mix of serpent, leopard, lion and deer. The call of the beast is the sound of "thirty couple hounds questing."

The beast in the legend is a symbol of the violence that spells the doom of Camelot.

This wild-looking beast is an optional creature for a regular dragon or monster. It's abilities and strengths, in addition to it's weaknesses, are totally up to the GM.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

[Resources] Shark Attack!

Sharks are dangerous creatures. And the majority of fatal attacks are done by great white sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks, and oceanic whitetip sharks.

Wikipedia has a list of fatal, unprovoked shark attacks in the US. The list is divided by decade, extending back to 1642.

Water is dangerous and sharks make that so. If you're running a game set in and around US waters, between the 17th century and the present, check out the list. It may give you some ideas.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

[Resources] The Voynich Manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript is a 240 page 15th century manuscript filled with illustrations and written in an unknown script and an equally unknown language. Believed to be a cypher-script, the book is "the world's most mysterious manuscript."
Since it's discovery in 1912, it has successfully resisted all attempts to translate. Cryptographers from both world wars and beyond have all failed to learn it's secrets. The text has nearly 200,000 distinct glyphs and illustrations that cover everything from herbs and botany to cartography and astronomy.

What secrets does this book have? And what language was it written in? The secret history possibilities alone are extensive.

Friday, November 11, 2011

[PB&J] Peanut Butter and Tomato Sandwich

A fourth alchemical sandwich from my ancient grimoire produced an interesting concoction. As an open-faced sandwich, it was quite good.


Ingredients:
2 slices of bread
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2-4 tomato slices
4 strips of bacon
1 teaspoon brown sugar
dash paprika

Prepare bacon (I used microwave bacon) as usual. Toast bread and spread peanut butter on both slices. Layer bacon and sliced tomato (I used sliced grape tomatoes) on bread. Sprinkle each slice with brown sugar and a dash of paprika. Broil and serve open-faced.

[Resources] The Lambton Worm

The Lambton Worm ravaged on the local villages around County Durham, Northeast England, during the time of the Crusades. John Lambton, a scion of the Lambton Estate, skips church one morning to go fishing. An old man warns predicts dire warnings to him.

John catches an eel, either 3 feet or 3 inches long (stories vary), and tosses it down a well. The old man predicts even more dire warnings to him. So John heads off to the Crusades. He's gone for seven years and in the meantime, the worm grows and the well gets poisoned. When he returns, his estate is ravaged by the depredations of the worm.

John visits a local witch, who tells him that he's responsible for the worm. She also says that to defeat the worm, he's got to cover his armor with spikes and fight it in the middle of the River Wear. If John succeeds in killing the worm, he and nine generations of his line will be cursed unless he kills the first thing he spots after the battle.

So John arms up, tells his father that he's going to fight the worm and that he'll blow his horn three time if he wins and that his father needs to release his hound so that John can kill it to avert the curse. The battle at the river is fierce, as the worm encircles John and is cut by the spikes on his armor. John slays the beast and sounds his horn but his father, in excitement, forgets the curse and runs to his son.

Unable to slay his father, he and nine generations fall to the curse: never to die peacefully in bed.

The story was incorporated in the 1988 movie The Lair of the White Worm, starring Hugh Grant.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

[Atomic Thursday] The Aftermath

"Roving bands of cannibal mutants select and murder innocent victims of the deadly holocaust."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

[Resources] Pontius Pilate Bowie

In Martin Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ (1988), David Bowie plays Pontius Pilate.

Watch how he argues so eloquently.

"Say something. You had better say something." 

"It doesn't matter how you change things, we don't want them changed." 

"We have a space for you up on Golgotha. Three thousand skulls there by now, probably more. I do wish you people would go out and count them sometime. Maybe you'd learn a lesson. Oh, well. Probably not."

That is an awesome portrayal of a First Citizen of Rome. The gestures, the attitude. Use that for a game that has an empire on the decline, seeking to maintain the status quo.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

[Resources] The Ormulum

Þiss boc iss nemmnedd Orrmulum
forrþi þatt Orrm itt wrohhte
 
This book is named Ormulum
because Orm created it

The Ormulum is a twelfth-century Middle English manuscript known as an exegesis, an interpretation of the bible. The manuscript contains nearly 20,000 lines of script, which, in addition to the historical homilies, provides a pronounciation guide to Middle English. The only copy that exists is at the Bodleian Library but it is incomplete, missing 210 homilies out of 242. Some of the losses are more recent - a seventeenth-century owner copied parts that no longer exist in the Bodleian manuscript.

The author, Orm, was an Augustinian monk who identified and named the manuscript after himself and is supposed to have started the text in 1150. The name Orm is Old Norse for dragon or worm and he signs the text as both Orm and Ormin (dragon-man).

Every game needs a mysterious, partially complete book and the Ormulum fits that to a "T." Where are the missing parts? What secrets do they hold? And what connection, if any, does Orm have with dragons (like, perhaps, the Lambton Worm or the Dragon of Mordiford)?

Monday, November 7, 2011

[Resources] Diet of Worms

The Imperial Diet of Worms of 1521 was an assembly called by Emperor Charles V for Martin Luther to defend the 95 theses he wrote in 1517 that lead to the Protestant Reformation.

Luther appeared at the diet in April. He was confronted with his writings and asked if he "stood by their contents." He answered that content question with:

"Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen."

He also is known to have said "Here I stand. I can do no other."
 
Five days of private meetings led to release of the Edict of Worms in May, which sealed Luther's position. It stated:

"For this reason we forbid anyone from this time forward to dare, either by words or by deeds, to receive, defend, sustain, or favor the said Martin Luther. On the contrary, we want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic, as he deserves, to be brought personally before us, or to be securely guarded until those who have captured him inform us, where upon we will order the appropriate manner of proceeding against the said Luther. Those who will help in his capture will be rewarded generously for their good work."

This was the Catholic Church's way to put the screws on Luther and maintain their dominance over the religious life of the Holy Roman Empire and Charles was the hammer for the church.

How can this be used in a game? Well, what happened in those private meetings? What deals were made and what occult knowledges were passed? The basic history allows the GM to run with it, mixing in conspiracies and secret histories, in any campaign for settings between the Renaissance to the modern era.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

[Resources] Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951) was a world famous philosopher who inspired two philosophical movements, wrote a children's dictionary, a 75 page text on philosophy and another book published posthumously.

Born of a wealthy Austrian family, he went to grade school with Adolf Hitler (they were born a week apart), fought in WWI, studied at Cambridge, was in Ireland during the Anschluss, and held a chair of philosophy at Cambridge.

His Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, published in 1921, sought to "identify the relationship between language and reality and to define the limits of science" as a result of his experiences in WWI. Over 75 pages, he presents 7 propositions, which range from "The world is everything that is the case." to "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

Two years after his death, his second book, Philosophical Investigations was published, considered by many an important philosophical work. It includes the beetle-in-a-box thought experiment: each person has something they call a "beetle" in a box and no one can look in anyone else's box. Without a common point of reference, it's impossible to talk about what a "beetle" is, but with one, it's possible to discuss.

How can Ludwig be used in a game? Just a few to consider: Perhaps as the author of a hidden mystery book (after all, there was roughly 30 years between his philosophical works) in a modern Cthulhu-esque game, or a contact in a WWII Cambridge espionage campaign.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

[Resources] Majlis al Jinn

Majlis al Jinn, the meeting place of Jinns, is a large cave complex in Oman. Known locally as Khoshilat Maqandeli, the refuge of goats, this cave was explored, photographed and mapped between 1983 and 1985 by married American couple W. Don Davison, Jr. and Cheryl S. Jones.

Davison, known as D2,  and Cheryl discovered it and mapped it as part of Oman's Public Authority for Water Resources Karst Research Program.

Don descended nearly 400 feet (120 meters) into the cave at First Drop in June of 1983. A second entrance, called Cheryl's Drop, was nearly 520 feet (158 meters) and first traversed by Cheryl in March of 1984. Cheryl's Drop is the "deepest free rappel into a cave known in Oman and the Arabian peninsula." Another opening, the Asterisk, was explored in April of 1985.

Oman has a website dedicated to Majlis al Jinn and there are many pictures of the caves available online. Here is one for example.

Sadly, Don disappeared in 1995 climbing Volcan Llullaillaco. This volcano, the second highest in the world, is located in the mountains between Chile and Argentina. Three searches found no sign of Don except evidence that he had made it to the top, as his signature in the summit log book attests.

I find it suspicious that he was climbing a volcano, since the Qur'an 15:27 says that Allah made Jinns "aforetime of essential fire." Which some have described as "smokeless flame or scorching fire." Where better for them to live, but a volcano? Perhaps they took him away.

Friday, November 4, 2011

[PB&J] Peanut Butter, Cream Cheese and Relish Sandwich

A third foray into the ancient grimoire brought this culinary delight. The nuttiness of the peanut butter with the sour of the dill relish and the creaminess of the cream cheese was quite refreshing.


Ingredients:
2 slices of bread
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons softened cream cheese
1 leaf of lettuce
2 teaspoons dill relish

Toast bread. Spread peanut butter on one slice and cream cheese on the other. Spread dill relish on cream cheese and top with lettuce. Bring sandwich together and serve.

[Resources] O Fish, are you constant to the old covenant?

Maljis al Jinn "Meeting Place of the Jinn"
I'm a big fan of Tim Powers, ever since I read The Anubis Gates in the early 80s.In his supernatural spy thriller novel Declare (2000), he introduces a code-phrase that is recognizable by one side of the conflict.

"O Fish, are you constant to the old covenant?"

The proper response is:

"Return, and we return. Keep faith, and so shall we."

It's from the One Thousand and One Nights, specifically the story of the Fisherman and the Genie.

And it's got the feel of an old and ancient ritual in the call and answer.

In The Mummy Returns (2001), a conversation between Medjai Ardeth Bay and Rick O'Connell have a similar call and answer:

Ardeth says:

If I were to say to you that, "I am a stranger traveling from the East, seeking that which is lost"

And Rick responds:

Then I would reply that, "I am a stranger traveling from the West, it is I whom you seek."

This ritualized call-and-answer is common in many religious and secret society ceremonies. We're all familiar with it.

And putting something like that in a game adds a neat bit for the players, especially if the code phrase is integral to the adventure.

Looking for your own code phrase? Make up your own or you can't get any better than one from The Mysteries of Free Masonry by William Morgan. You can go here for the full, online text. Read it through and find a bit of the ritual that works for you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

[Resources] Ben Gascoigne, Astronomer!

That telescope is bad-ass!
Need an astronomer for your WWII to modern-day game? Look no farther than Ben Gascoigne.

An Australian, Ben was born in 1915, attended Auckland University College and the University of Bristol, worked on military optics during WWII and overhauled the observatory at Mount Stromlo. His work in astronomy and the design of optics grew from there. Read the wiki article for his amazing story. Sadly, Ben passed away in 2010, at the ripe age of 94!

Nazi spies attempt to steal Ben's designs for an anti-aircraft sight? PCs to the rescue! Aliens invading Australia in 1952? Ben spots them and calls the PCs! Communists attempt to signal Martians in 1967 using the 90 inch Siding Spring telescope? Only PCs can help Ben! Supervillain Firestorm attacks Mount Stromlo in 2003 to destroy the observatory? What band of super heroes does Ben call?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

[Resources] International Brotherhood of Magicians

The International Brotherhood of Magicians was formed in 1922 and currently has over 15,000 members in 300 clubs, called Rings, around the world.

Members must be 18, either an amateur or professional magician or a magic collector, and have had at least two years of interest in magic plus sponsorship of two active members. There is a youth branch of the brotherhood also.

A Ring makes a great reason for PCs to know each other and an excellent cover for a modern fantasy or supernatural game.