Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Enjoy the New Year!

[D20cember] UK2 The Sentinel and UK3 The Gauntlet

Published in 1983 and 1984, UK2 The Sentinel and UK3 The Gauntlet (also known as The Alderweg Series) were a product of the UK branch of TSR. And they were different but excellent modules. Both dealt with the continuing animosity between two magical gloves, one sided with good (The Sentinel) and the other with evil (The Gauntlet).

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a review of either of these modules on, so I was reduced to the multiple reviews on Amazon (1, 2)

Friday, December 30, 2011

[D20cember] EX1 Dungeonland and EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror

EX1 Dungeonland and EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror were a series of modules that mixed Alice in Wonderland with D&D. Written by Gygax and published by TSR in 1983, they were definitely a different experience. I remember being run through this series and having a great time.

While has no reviews, Grognardia has a retrospective (1) on Dungeonland.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

[Atomic Thursday] Battletruck

Battletruck! A science fiction adventure of the near future!

With a hero named Hunter, how could you go wrong?

Oh, and the guy with his hands on his head, next to the mook Straker kills, looks a lot like Snape!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

[D20cember] B4 The Lost City

B4 The Lost City was a Basic D&D module published by TSR in 1982. It starts with the PCs lost in the desert and finding the entrance to a mysterious lost city, filled with weird peoples and horrible creatures. For some reason, this module is really cool to me but I don't remember ever playing it. has one review (1) and Grognardia has a retrospective (2).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

[D20cember] T1 The Village of Hommlet

T1 The Village of Hommlet was written by Gary Gygax and published by TSR in 1979. And it's considered to be one of the finest modules ever produced (at least by me) and a marked contrast to module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. The detail of T1 compared to B2, including named NPCs, is the least of it. Whereas B2's main focus was on the Caves of Chaos, T1 focused equally on the town and the dungeon. has two reviews on this fine module (1, 2).

Monday, December 26, 2011

[D20cember] B1 In Search of the Unknown

I got this module with the "Blue Box" for Christmas in 1979. And we played it all to hell. In fact, we wrote all over it in pencil, then erased that, then carefully cut paper and taped it in for use all over again, removed the old paper and did it all again. I think I still have it but have retired it - I picked up another "use" copy a few years ago. has one review (1). Grognardia has a retrospective (2), another post on the characters from the module (3), and lost Trampier artwork (4) that apply to the module.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

[D20cember] Blue Box D&D

Christmas 1979: my brother and I received the Holmes' Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set (aka the "Blue Box" edition) and the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual. I even have pictures of my brother and I looking through it that morning.

We'd been playing D&D since 1978 but never owned any of the books or even any dice, until that Christmas.

The box set came with actual dice and B1 In Search of the Unknown (so it must have been the 4th printing) and it was frigging beautiful to my 11 year old self. Now 32 years and countless RPGs later, it's one of my favorite holiday gifts.

Happy Holidays, folks. Keep safe and make some game memories!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

[D20cember] OD&D Supplements

I only have the first two of the OD&D Supplements - Greyhawk and Blackmoor. I plan on picking up the other three: Eldritch Wizardry; Gods, Demigods & Heroes; and Swords & Spells, but I'm in no rush. The prices are too high for me yet. has one review each on the first three supplements (1, 2, 3).

Friday, December 23, 2011

[D20cember] Imagine Magazine (UK)

Imagine Magazine was the UK TSR house magazine from April of 1983 to October of 1985. Thirty issues (and one special) were published and I had never heard of it until I found five or so issues in a junk game store in Portland, Oregon in the early 90s.

It was different, definitely different. Plus it had a new campaign world called Pelinore, based around a city called the City League (the city stretched a league in every direction).

Of course I picked it up. And I have many more of them, including the special issue, but not a complete set. Not yet.

Unfortunately, has no reviews on this fine magazine but the Acaeum has a short blurb on it (as well as pics of the issues).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Festivus!

Happy Festivus!

Enjoy the day! The Airing of the Grievances! The Feats of Strength!

[PB&J] Peanut Butter Burger

Opening the ancient grimoire again, I found one spell specially prepared by a mighty wizard now passed on. This wizard, one Elvis of Graceland, supposedly created this recipe after a revel.

The peanut butter burger.

One burger
One hamburger bun

Prepare burger as usual (I recommend toasting the bun for a nice touch). Spread peanut butter on one bun and ketchup and relish on the other. Add the burger and enjoy.

[Atomic Thursday] Dune Warriors

Dune Warriors, with David Carradine. He's a mysterious stranger with a sword, amidst the ruins of the world, fighting other guys with swords and cars!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

[D20cember] Caverns of Thracia

The Caverns of Thracia was a Judges Guild module published in 1979. This module was one of my first forays into gaming at a game store - my brother and I had just gotten Blue Book Basic D&D and the AD&D Monster Manual for Christmas 1979 and my mother took us to a game shop (and paid $5 each) for us to play the game. The GM ran Caverns.

Even though my brother and I had started playing in 1978 in a home-brewed dungeon (I was a Halfling and he was a Magic-User), so D&D wasn't new, I still have a soft spot for Caverns.

The revamped Judges Guild published an updated module through the Sword & Sorcery (Necromancer Games) imprint in 2004.

There are few reviews for this module. Grognardia has a retrospective. The Alexandrian has an actual play using OD&D rules. And Retro Roleplay has the cover blurb.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

[D20cember] The Lair of Medusa

Lair of Medusa is a 16 page generic D&D adventure module written in 1982. Published in Canada (Burnaby, B.C. in fact), it was the first produce from DELF (and if I recall correctly, the last). The art inside included pieces by Eric Hotz! If you don't recognize the name, try looking at Harn products from the 80s.

What's it about? Well, evil medusa takes over a king's castle/cave complex. Enter the PCs years later to slay the beast and free the kingdom.

I am not surprised that there are few reviews on this one.

Monday, December 19, 2011

[D20cember] Dragon Magazine Archive

Much to my enjoyment, I picked up the Dragon Magazine Archive (1999) new and haven't regretted it at all. Containing the first 250 issues of Dragon Magazine as well as the complete Strategic Review issues, all in PDF format, it's a wonderful collection that allows for good reading and info diving. has two reviews (1, 2) and is reportedly a rare find.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

[D20cember] White Box OD&D

A pic of my actual copy!
The one that started it all. Yes, I have a copy and it's in pretty good shape. I think it's the 6th edition (1977-1979) because of the starburst on the box cover.

How did I get it, you might ask. Well, one day, I helped a friend clean out his storage locker. A bunch of game books were there that he wasn't interested in, so I got the lot, including this gem. has three reviews (1, 2, 3)! Yay!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

[D20cember] Dungeon Magazine

I've been a collector of Dungeon Magazine since about issue 30. I have most of the issues, except for some of the first few (I have No. 1 on PDF from one of the Dragon magazine promos) and am missing a bunch from the end of the print run (it went to issue 150 in 2007 before WOTC turned it into an online product). Acaeum has a small blurb on it and a partial issue listing.

Starting in 1986, the magazine was mostly black and white and contained adventures from such greats as Willie Walsh, Grant and David Boucher, John Nephew and Ted James Thomas Zuvich.

After Paizo Publishing started publishing in 2002, they went full color (I don't remember which issue), which, while nice, made copying the maps problematic and had more "Rock Star" authors. has one review on the Savage Tide adventure series (1) from issues 139 to 150. And if you are interested, there's an index of all the adventures available here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

[D20cember] Beyond Countless Doorways

Beyond Countless Doorways is a D20 supplement published by Monte Cook's Malhavoc Press in 2004. Believed by many to be the 3.x D&D book for Planescape-like games, after all, Monte Cook gathered Planescape alums Wolfgang Baur, Colin McComb and Ray Vallese together to write it.

There's one review on (1).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

[Atomic Thursday] Steel Dawn

In 1987, Patrick Swayze and Anthony Zerbe starred in Steel Dawn! Another Mad Max lookalike movie, it also had Arnold Vosloo (aka The Mummy!).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

[D20cember] Creature Crucible

The Creature Crucibles were four supplements(PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk, PC2 Top Ballista, PC3 Sea People and PC4 Night Howlers) published by TSR between 1989 and 1992 that added PC races, magic items and spells, and situations to Mystara.

I have not been able to find any reviews on these books but Wayne's Books has a more complete description for them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

[D20cember] Return to Keep on the Borderlands

I picked up a copy of Return to Keep on the Borderlands (1999) at Half Price Books and found it a fitting tribute to the original. The Keep and Caves of Chaos environs are more detailed and NPCs are named. Plus there's a whole new bunch of monsters and alliances.

Two reviews of this fine module are on (1, 2).

Monday, December 12, 2011

[D20cember] TSR Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition

Sometimes connections are everything. A very good friend who was working at WOTC at the time provided me with a copy of the TSR Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition (1999), as well as a copy of the Last Unicorn Games Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium (2000), but I'll talk about that later.

The Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition contains a veritable cornucopia of early TSR games and modules: the J. Eric Holmes "Blue Book" D&D Basic Rulebook and modules which include B2; the Giant Series G1, G2, G3; I6 Ravenloft; and S1; plus a never-before-published bonus module L3 Deep Dwarven Delve.

Each of these reprints comes exactly as the original, with the exception of a Silver Anniversary logo on the cover. This is by far one of my favorite D20 products.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

[D20cember] B2: The Keep on the Borderland

Yes, I have a copy of this module. In fact, I have several different editions (check out Acaeum on the differences), including the one that came in the Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition (1999).

Amazingly, for such an old module, there are three reviews (1, 2, 3). And, I'm not too proud to say, I wrote a bit about using this module in alternate setting in Issue No. 3 of my old 'zine One Thousand and One Nights and One Night Campaign Design 'zine.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

[D20cember] Tegel Manor

Tegel Manor is a module published by Judges Guild in 1977. Several revisions were published in 1980 and 1989. I managed to pick up a copy of the 1977 edition in the late 90s for rather cheap, but, unfortunately, it was extensively marked with pencil. Despite erasing all the pencil, the indentations remain. However, even with the damage, it is still a valued part of my collection.

Grognardia has a retrospective on the module, but, alas, has no review.

Friday, December 9, 2011

[D20cember] Planescape Campaign Setting

One of my favorite D20 games is the Planescape Campaign Setting. The box set was published by TSR in 1994 with exclusive art by Tony DiTerlizzi. The setting dealt with planeswalkers, focusing on the city of Sigil, the city of doors.

With this game came a new view of the Planes in D&D and a fun vocabulary. There are 4 reviews on (1, 2, 3, 4) as well as one supplement (5).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

[Atomic Thursday] 20 Years After

This movie from 2008 is on my queue to see. If you've seen it, what was it like (Rotten Tomatoes has nothing on it)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

[D20cember] The Years Best D20

Malhavoc Press published the Years Best D20 in 2004. I found a copy in a used bookstore in Victoria, B.C. a few years ago. I used the Nightmare Collector monster in a Savage Worlds game a few years ago to great effect. The PCs managed to defeat it, with some serious damage to their psyches. has one review (1).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

[D20cember] Mutants & Masterminds

As an unabashed fan of Green Ronin products, I picked up Mutants and Masterminds at the advent of 2nd edition (2005). I found a cheap copy of the 1st edition (2002) book first then got the 2nd. In the years since, I've collected many of the supplements for it as well but haven't gotten the 3rd edition (2010). has a bunch of reviews (1, 2, 3, 4), including a paired review with Silver Age Sentinels (5) and the 2nd edition (6).

Monday, December 5, 2011

[D20cember] Iron Heroes

I recently picked up Iron Heroes, a supplement to D&D 3.x, written by Mike Mearls and published by Malhavoc Press in 2005. As an alternative to standard D&D, it presents a game focused more on action than gaining magic items. Interesting, no? has several reviews (1, 2) plus Mastering Iron Heroes (3).

Malhavoc no longer produces it and supposedly it's now at Fiery Dragon Productions but there doesn't seem to be much going on. There is a faq for the game, however.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

[D20cember] The Masque of the Red Death

The Masque of the Red Death was a Ravenloft supplement box set published by TSR in 1994 and based on the 1842 short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Set in the 1890s on this Earth, the setting was gothic in nature and had an evil force known as the Red Death. A decade later, a 3.5 edition D20 supplement was published by White Wolf.

I have the box set and a few of the TSR supplements for it but not the 2004 White Wolf book. I have found several reviews (1, 2) plus another on the 2004 book (3).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

[D20cember] Jeremiah the Role Playing Game

Back in 2005, Mongoose published Jeremiah the Role Playing Game, based on the TV show. The system is D20 based, with specific character classes based on archetypes that appear in the show. A single supplement called Thunder Mountain was published the same year (and seems, by forum posts, to be a good supplement).

As a fan of post-apocalyptic games, I picked it up a few years ago - but for cheap. I had watched a few of the first season episodes and read the comic it was based on (still have a few around somewhere). It's on my Netflix queue but I haven't gotten the time to watch it yet (that and Jericho).

I searched around for reviews but only found forum posts on it (1, 2, 3, 4).

[1938] Horses

Many tacticians believed that the horse's role as a military vehicle was done by the end of World War I. At the start of the conflict in 1936, mounted cavalry was quickly re-implemented by all sides because, despite wanting armor and trucks, the horse was actually more readily available in parts of Britain.

While the Household Cavalry, consisting of the Blues and Royals and the Life Guards, already have horses, and excellent horseflesh at that, many of the other units range from old plugs to the cream of upper-class stables, with the majority being draft horses or country-bred nags.
Horse thievery, as expected, is now an acceptable (and common) method of warfare.

Friday, December 2, 2011

[D20cember] My Collection

I'm going to dedicate D20cember 2011 to the various D20 games in my collection. There are a lot of game books in that category that are on my shelves.

I'll try to find reviews on the games, as usual, or at the very least, some information.

[Quotes] Sophocles

"I am the child of Fortune, the giver of good, and I shall not be shamed. She is my mother; my sisters are the Seasons; my rising and my falling match with theirs. Born thus, I ask to be no other man than that I am." -- Sophocles

Thursday, December 1, 2011

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

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

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.

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.