Monthly Archives: January 2015

GOT TRAILER? NO? THEN SEE SEASON FIVE

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MILITARY ANTIQUITIES

William Roy’s ‘Military Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain’ (1793) Online

Jan 30, 2015

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William Roy’s ‘Military Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain’ (1793) is a classic work on the military conquest of Scotland by the Romans.

Plan shewing the course of the Roman wall called Grime's Dyke? - from NLS website

One of the earliest detailed descriptions of Roman antiquities in Scotland, with 51 map plates and 174 pages of supporting text.

This website is a complete electronic facsimile of the original. Many newly-discovered Roman remains were recorded in the volume for the first time. As a record of early archaeology in Scotland and of related topographical information regarding Roman sites, it can never be entirely superseded.

Its author, William Roy, is better known for his work on the Military Survey of Scotland (1747-1755), and in founding what became the Ordnance Survey, but he was also a keen antiquarian and man of science, and this splendid volume is also a lasting monument to these interests.

http://maps.nls.uk/roy/antiquities/index.html

The Multiverse and You

#Gyorfipedia

Multiversity-map_1400x1074

With the greater prevalence of the multiverse playing in mainstream comics thanks to big concept writers like Grant Morrison and Jonathan Hickman working on the grander universe (or multiverse) shaping titles. Multiversity and Convergence being the big multiverse spanning event/titles for DC Comics. While over at Marvel they are putting out Secret Wars. All of these titles are coming from some sort of necessity, whether it is blocking time while moving coasts, cleaning house to create a more streamlined continuity, or exploring the aspects reality, time, and the idea of the story telling medium itself. Each one fills one of these roles respectively.

Convergence-Promo-full

Starting with the focus on Convergence, in which we see the DC Universe of old being brought back for one last go around. This is basically our last hurrah for the DC Universe of old with Pre-52,Flashpoint, Kingdom Come, Red Son, Earth-2, Earth-3, as…

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Jason Momoa Talks Aquaman & How Its Cool To Represent Hawaiians

More Than Pointy Ears

Well observed – about the not bothering to be Elvish.

Auston Habershaw

I’ve been playing and reading a lot of Dungeons and Dragons related stuff recently. It’s been years since I swore off D&D (the mid 90s, I believe) and I am becoming reacquainted with the things I like and the things I do not like. This post is about one of the things that I don’t like: D&D Elves.

I always had a problem with Elves back in the old days. I remember thinking they were seriously lame and that geeks’ obsessions with them were weird and annoying. As the years passed, this feeling dimmed, and I became a fan of elves as I encountered them in the Warhammer universe, in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, and other places as well. I eventually came to think that my dislike of elves was simply adolescent rebellion (of a strange sort) against what was “cool” (and yes, I’m painfully aware how ridiculous it…

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I almost killed someone with a greased up wolf.

shoutybeardything

That’s not as strange as it sounds. Actually, in the world of Dungeons and Dragons it’s positively normal. But it’s still not something I say every day.

How did this happen? It’s simple: take one angry Bugbear and his pet wolf, add a well-placed Grease spell and an open flame and it’s finger licking good time. Mind you, one of the PC’s attempts to murder the wolf got them almost killed, and I would have come close with another had I not rolled snake eyes on the Bugbears damage roll. 2D8 + 2 damage and I roll double 1’s… (Those who’ve gamed with me before know that sort of thing is standard for my dice rolling, as one of my players commented gleefully “It’s great that Gav’s our DM, cause he sucks at dice rolling!” Said player is my wife.)

How did that happen? Well, it’s mostly the fault of…

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The Adult Wargamer: Gaming Boards

The Lost Lighthouse

element-banner-urlGary tries to be an adult while playing with toy soldiers.
Sponsored by Element Games.

In my early teens I’d love to spend summers working on projects like building terrain and gaming boards. But with great age comes great responsibility, or something like that. What also comes with age is a little bit of disposable income. Not a lot mind, but a bit. In this, hopefully, regular article I’ll be looking into where you can pick up some great gaming accessories if you’re looking to purchase or how to make some if you’ve got the time to do so.

Gaming boards

Let’s start with the basics. You’re going to need an area to play on. Some people are happy to just play on a kitchen table, but rarely does the kitchen table meet the required sizes. If you’ve got a 6×4 kitchen table, you must have a huge family!

One…

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The Perils of Designing Map Campaigns

Last Thursday of the Month multi-play blood-bath!

Brings back some excellent winter wargaming memories.

despertaferres

Wacht am RhineWacht am Rhine, Ardennes, 19th December 1944.

Situation

After doubling back from Stavelot, Kampfgruppe Peiper was becoming increasingly frustrated by their inability to cross the River Ambleve. Peiper needs to get through the town of Stoumont if the offensive to the Meuse is to stand any chance at all. Elements of the American 30th Infantry have been rushed to the area to stop the desperate thrust towards the West.

Terrain

image

All forests are inaccessible to wheeled vehicles. The River Ambleve can only be crossed by infantry and amphibious vehicles. The Eastern entrance to Cheneux is blocked by a knocked out Panther. The railway bridge is not passable by tanks or any other vehicles. Light snow has fallen but the early morning mist limits visibility to sixteen inches for the first turn.

image

Forces

Pete, Chris and Ground-penguin are the attacking Germans. 1200 points taken from either Bulge supplement. No air…

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Remnants of the Past – a collection of mediterranean terrain pieces for 15mm and 28mm

Very nice.

Dagger and Brush, Daggerandbrush, dagger brush

Some years ago I made my first steps into miniature terrain building. Alongside my ever-growing Carthaginian army I also wanted to have some nice terrain pieces for Field of Glory. A system that requires players to have a good selection of terrain that goes well with a specific army. I did not want to go the felt pieces route, so I decided to make a variety of mediterranean pieces: A lake, a group of mediterranean pine trees, an olive grove, several fields, a swamp and a number of hills.

I will present some of my early works and provide some brief notes on how I created the pieces. As I am working on improved versions of these I will, as of now, not provide detailed step-by-step instructions. Some of the photos are of an older make, so please excuse the sometimes less than stellar quality. The pieces will also go…

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Buried in the heart of the city – tombs, benefactors and heroes in Roman Greece

Monuments of Roman Greece

One of the most impressive Roman period monuments still to be seen in modern day Athens is the so-called Philopappos monument. This two-storey structure of Pentelic marble – the same local stone that was used to build the Parthenon – was constructed in the early 2nd century AD as a tomb for an eastern prince who had made his home in the city. Gaius Julius Antiochos Epiphanes Philopappos, to give him his full name, is the last known descendent of a dynasty that had ruled the small Hellenistic kingdom of Commagene in what is now southeast Turkey, before it was absorbed into the Roman Empire in the early 1st century AD.

Philoppappos was a member of the upper strata of the Empire’s elite – he rubbed shoulders with the emperors Trajan and Hadrian and even served as consul at Rome. After he settled in Athens he occupied important…

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Why even basic accessories can make virtual reality seem real

Gigaom

There is an alien in the space station. The motion tracker scans my surroundings, but nothing moves. I creep into the next room and duck behind a stack of cargo. The rumble of the spacecraft creeps up my spine as I stare at the tracker. Suddenly, there is a blip. The alien’s steps grow louder. Rumble, rumble, rumble.

I have played Alien: Isolation in virtual reality before, but this time there is a small difference: I’m sitting in a chair made by a startup called BRAINFIZZVR that vibrates. It’s subtle, but it’s enough to convince my body to join my mind in the virtual space station.

Everyone who tries Oculus Rift feels its pull. Your brain wants to believe what it is seeing is real, and it’s willing to play along until something trips you up. For me, that moment always comes when there’s no haptic feedback. I want to feel the lightsaber…

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What’s Truly Unique about This Stormtrooper

By the time Luke is young and his friends are talking of going to the Academy the clone troops had obviously already been phased out or were being phased out.

I guess these kids are too young to remember that from the first movies but go back and watch the first Star Wars and read the first Star Wars book.

The clones were merely a contingency and a ploy to gain control over a easily manipulated military force by the Emperor.

It’s not rocket science.

Friendly Neighborhood Filmmaking

This week JJ Abrams released the teaser trailer for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens and just like every other fanboy I watched the video over and over, often pausing to pick out even the most minute details. My dissection of the trailer was handled with the same level of precision as a group of Spaceballs with an giant fine-tooth comb. I mean this is JJ Abrams we’re talking about here. The guy who made Lost. Do you know how many Easter Eggs he snuck into that series?

Of course I wasn’t the only person with their eye on the trailer and it didn’t take long before people shared their discoveries and doubts to social media. It took no less than ten frames before some members of the Star Wars fan base had a collective head burst. The scene I’m talking about is the one that opens the trailer…

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The Unbearable Solitude of Being an African Fan Girl

omenana

By Chinelo Onwualu

Being an African fan girl is a strange, liminal thing. You’re never quite sure that you exist, you see. A part of you is rooted in your culture and its expectations for how a woman ought to behave – church, family, school – but another is flying off into the stars carrying a samurai sword and a machete. Not one thing or another, you’re both at the same time.

It doesn’t help that you’re invisible. In all the representations of geek culture, in all the arguments for inclusion, it doesn’t seem like your voice can be heard. After all, shows like The Big Bang Theory which are supposed to be modern representations of geeks and their culture seem entirely populated by white people with plenty of free time and disposable income. If you don’t look like that, don’t have that kind of money or time, are you…

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LAMAS AND MEDITATING MUMMIES

Centuries-old mummified monk found meditating in Mongolia: report

The ash-colored man was reportedly discovered sitting in a lotus position with no visible decay. The haunting figure is suggested to be a teacher of the Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, whose own body was found preserved after his death in 1927.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 8:07 PM
The body of Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, a Buryat Buddhist lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, was found perfectly preserved after his own death in 1927. Wikimedia Commons The body of Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, a Buryat Buddhist lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, was found perfectly preserved after his own death in 1927.

How’s this for dedication?

The mummified remains of a meditating Buddhist monk have reportedly been discovered in Mongolia with early estimates suggesting it being at least 200 years old.

Tuesday’s stunning find reported by the country’s Morning News revealed an ash-colored man sitting in a pensive lotus position, with no visible decay.

It was discovered inside of the Songinokhairkhan province, but exactly where and how was not released.

He was additionally described as found covered with some kind of cattle skin.

The human remains were taken to Ulaanbataar National Centre of Forensic Expertise for further study, according to the report.

It’s been suggested that the man was a teacher of the famous Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov whose body was found eerily preserved — also seated in the lotus position — after his own death in 1927.

In 2002 Itigilov’s body was exhumed from his grave to dozens of witnesses, including two forensic experts and a photographer before tucked away in a monastery, the New York Times reported.

Sokushinbutsu, the Buddhist practice of self-preservation, was performed between the 11th and 19th centuries in mainly northern Japan, according to various reports.

It was considered to be the ultimate act of religious discipline and dedication more so than suicide.

ngolgowski@nydailynews.com

INCOMPLETE

 

For the rest of this week I will not be posting any original content to this blog or any of my blogs. Recently, due to my work schedule and other obligations, I have had very little time to work on the overall construction and the technical aspects of my blog(s). I had planned to complete those aspects of my blogs long ago but other things kept interfering.

So this week I have decided to spend the entire week finishing my originally conceived construction-plans of my blogs to make it easier for agents, fellow game designers, publishers, writers, and others to find me and to communicate and work with me.

To that end I will spend the rest of the week finishing my original plans and retooling this site.

As I said, as it stands now I plan to add no more original content this week so as to finally finish my original designs without interruption or any more delays.

However you can still find a great deal of useful content in the various Categories already present on this blog, and on the Categories of all of my other blogs. Just pick the categories that interest you and browse at will. Uncategorized will allow you to find everything.

I will also be sharing useful articles, content, and posts I find on other sites as I run across them and time allows. But most of my time this week will be spent on blog development.

Thank you for being a Reader and Follower of my blogs, I appreciate your patronage and hope you find my blogs enjoyable, entertaining, and most especially, useful.

THE UNNOTICED MAJESTY

In his book, Gothic Wonder, Professor Paul Binski explores a period in which English art and architecture pushed the boundaries to produce some of Europe’s most spectacular buildings and illuminated manuscripts. Binski’s research sets into context the whole gamut of human endeavour: from awesome cathedrals to playfully irreverent grotesques.

The British are modest about their achievements in art. My aim is to show to readers here and abroad just how inventive and versatile our arts really were at this time.

Paul Binski

“I greatly disdain piddling little buildings (plerumque indignor pusillis edificiis),” wrote a forthright Flemish monk called Goscelin of Saint-Bertin in a book dated around 1080. He went on to declare that: “I would not allow any buildings, however much they were valued, to stand unless they were, in my view, glorious, magnificent, tall, vast, filled with light and thoroughly beautiful.”

Goscelin, who dedicated his life to documenting the lives of saints, could have been describing the great Gothic cathedrals built to proclaim Christianity in the 12th and 13th centuries, when they played a pivotal role in medieval life.  These masterpieces of structure and style remain extraordinary examples of human ingenuity in moulding materials into places that still inspire awe and wonder.

Piddling is not a word you would choose to describe the cathedrals of Ely, Norwich or Canterbury. These magnificent stone buildings dwarf the ancient streets that cluster around them and even today dominate the skyline. Size (magnitude in Latin) mattered to the architects, builders and patrons of these Gothic masterpieces: the bigger and taller the building, the greater its political and spiritual punch.

A league table of lengths of European cathedrals appears in the first few pages of Gothic Wonder: Art, Artifice and the Decorated Style 1290-1350, a book by Paul Binski, Professor of Medieval Art at Cambridge University, that looks afresh at a remarkable flowering of English creativity.

Top of the list in the size stakes is Cluny Abbey in Burgundy, begun in 1088, at approximately 172 metres, setting a standard that challenged the English to think big and bold. Winchester Cathedral ranks second, measuring 157 metres from its great west door to its east end, with London’s St Paul’s Cathedral (155 metres) close behind.

In early medieval England, most people lived in dwellings constructed from local materials. Amid the humdrum and struggle of daily existence, something extraordinary happened: teams of workers overseen by highly skilled craftspeople challenged ideas of what could be accomplished in art and architecture and told compelling stories about all manner of earthly and heavenly matters.

Size is just one measure of the majesty of a building. Another measure, equally important to the makers of Gothic buildings in the race for maximum visual and sensual impact, was variety (varietas). The interiors of Salisbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey gleam and dazzle with semi-translucent alabaster obtained from Nottingham, white marble quarried in Purbeck (Dorset) and richly-veined marble imported from southern Europe.

Marble was the ‘must-have’ material of the world of Gothic architecture. The word itself comes from the Greek marmairo, to shine. In a world where natural light was augmented only by candles, the sparkle and gleam of marble, and its similarity to skin tones, appealed to the senses. The allure of this exotic material contributed to what Binski calls the ‘soft’ power of the building, its subtlety, whereas sheer scale is a form of ‘hard’ power.

The transportation of stone across land and sea was costly, dangerous and difficult. The efforts of man pitted against nature, and emerging as winner, were heroic in the same way as literary epics which spoke of the human capacity to conquer difficulties in war or peace.  Similarly, craftsmanship sought to create objects of supreme beauty, imitating and surpassing the complexity found in the natural world.

While Norman and Romanesque buildings were ponderous with their rounded arches, relatively small windows and wooden roofs, the architects of Gothic buildings sought to create what Binski calls a “wondrous heightening” in their playful treatment of light and shade and exploitation of the plasticity of materials to create decorative effects, such as wall arcading, that enriched the interiors of these buildings.

In many instances, Gothic was a process of ‘improvement’ that saw earlier buildings dismantled, adapted and enlarged to make room for expanding pilgrimage and religious activities. In the 14th century old buildings underwent makeovers which gave architects in the Gothic style an opportunity to study and emulate the achievements of their forebears.

To non-specialists, ‘Gothic’ is shorthand for pointed arches, elaborate window tracery and daringly vaulted roofs – though, curiously, the word itself emerged during the Renaissance as a term of abuse for northern European art.  But Binski’s latest book is much more than a generously illustrated exploration of style. In his introduction, he explains that his emphasis is on human agency – why we do things and how we do them – expressed in all manner of arts and crafts.

His motivation, he says, stems from the question of “why aesthetic decisions were made in the light of beliefs about how and to what ends art creates experience”. In other words, Binski is interested in the power of things to manipulate thoughts and feelings – “art as the rational education of desire” is how he puts it – and how Gothic works of art were wrought through supreme human effort in order to convey unshakable statements about belief, control and sovereignty with God, the Church, royalty and man enmeshed in an entire social and artistic network.

In tackling these fundamental and often trickily complex themes, Binski explores not just architecture but also the decorative arts and especially manuscript illumination and painting, in the great age of ‘marginalia’ when English devices amused those who encountered them all over Europe. Among the weirdest are the grotesques found in the famous Luttrell Psalter of around 1340. Human and animal body parts are mixed in bizarre combinations: a human head pops out of a pair of goatish legs; an archer has a horse’s body and long swishing tail; a man is swallowed by a fish that has sprouted legs.

These hybrids and monsters, with their saucy sense of humour, fed into the literature of the time, providing a rich fodder of witty and disturbing imagery. The writer Geoffrey Chaucer called them ‘japes’. “Amusement was part of the point,” says Binski. “The tendency to see ‘marginal’ art as always subversive or political has obscured the pleasures that marginal art, often apolitical and nonsensical, created for viewers.” 

The impact of Gothic buildings, whether in their scale or the intricate detail of their decoration, cannot be overemphasised. Impressive to us today, 650 years ago they were powerful embodiments of the greatness of their patrons – whether bishops, abbots or kings – with greatness being a virtue measured in terms of magnificent conduct and charitable largesse.  And English Gothic architecture surpassed European in the sophistication and complexity of its designs for window tracery and the patterning of stone vaults.

The silhouette of Ely Cathedral broods over miles of Cambridgeshire fenland. One of the most striking of the 300-plus plates in Gothic Wonder is a photograph taken from the cathedral’s nave crossing looking up into the Octagon tower that was built after the collapse of the earlier campanile tower which came crashing down one February night in 1322, just after the singing of Matins.

Ely was a desolate place, surrounded much of the year by water, but the crafting of its cathedral’s Octagon Tower and Lady Chapel suggest that this tiny city was locked into a network of trading and cultural connections that extended far and wide – right to southern France. The inside height of the Octagon Tower is 43 metres, making it almost the same height as the Pantheon in Rome, and its lantern-shaped top directs beams of light in much the same way as the circular opening in the Pantheon’s vast dome.

Whether religious or secular in purpose, buildings are about the assertion of political power. In the wake of the Norman Conquest, tensions ran high between the incoming Normans and the subjugated English. In 1097-1099 William Rufus (son of William 1) ordered the construction of the palace hall at Westminster. By far the largest hall in England, measuring 73 metres by 21 metres, it was designed for events such as banquets, court meetings and other displays of consumption and control.

Reactions to the lavish scale and splendour of the hall were divided. In his Historia anglorum, Henry of Huntington described that, on entering the hall, some people said “that it was a good size and others that it was too large. The king said it was only half large enough. This saying was that of a great king, but it was little to his credit”.William of Malmesbury, on the other hand, regarded the new hall as an example of William Rufus’s liberality rather than his pride. The king, Malmesbury wrote “provided some examples of real greatness (magnanimitas)”.

The Gothic buildings that rose above the English landscape are the outcome of a flow of cultural traffic not just from Christian Europe but also from the Islamic world where similar values about magnanimity held sway. It was a cultural flow that went both ways. Artists identified as English or working in the English style can be traced to Trondheim in Norway, to  Santes Creus in Catalonia, where the architect of a cloister is described as an ‘English mason’, to Papal Avignon, and even as far away as Cyprus.

“I think that to understand the true achievement of English Gothic art, we need to travel far afield, as far as Scandinavia and the Mediterranean, to follow the activities of English architects and artists and their ideas. Even Popes took an interest, whether in English carving or embroidery,” says Binski.

Binski’s particular focus is the half century from 1300 to 1348, the date that marked the onset of the Black Death (bubonic plague) in England. This period saw the first flowering of Gothic art and architecture, sowing the seeds of a style that has endured for centuries. Many of England’s most splendid and most visited buildings incorporate in their fabric and spirit strong elements of Gothic style.

“Gothic as a style has proved the most successful of all ways of building since classical times, shaping our cities and our ideas of what impressive public buildings should look like,” says Binski. “The much-admired Gothic Revival architecture of St Pancras station and the Midland Grand Hotel is just one of many examples.”

Great buildings are a result of the work of great people. Among them is Alan of Walsingham, who became sacrist (church official) of Ely in 1321, just months before the cathedral’s original tower collapsed into a pitiful pile of rubble. A passage in the Ely chronicon (chronicle) describes how, immediately after the disaster, Alan set about the task of removing the debris and, “with architectural art”, made meticulous plans for a replacement tower even more splendid than the one that had fallen.

“And at once in that year, the most artful wooden structure of the new campanile, conceived with the highest and most wonderful ingenuity of mind … was started, and with great and burdensome outlay especially for the huge timbers needed for assembling the said structure, sought far and wide and at length found with great difficulty and purchased at great cost, carried by land and by sea to Ely, and then carved, wrought and assembled for that work by cunning workmen; with God’s help it was brought to an honourable and long-wished-for conclusion.”

“The British are modest about their achievements in art,” says Binski. “My aim is to show to readers here and abroad just how inventive and versatile our arts really were at this time.”

Gothic Wonder: Art, Artifice and the Decorated Style is published by Yale University Press. Paul Binski will talk about the book at the 2015 Heffers Lecture at Heffers Bookshop, 20 Trinity Street, Cambridge CB2  1TY, on Thursday, 29 January, 6.15pm. For details contact Francé Davies fc295@cam.ac.uk

Inset images (all cropped): Lady Chapel wall arcade, Ely cathedral, begun 1321; Ely Octagon, designed 1320s; Pantheon, interior, Rome; Westminster Hall, late 14th century; boss depicting a woman fending off a laundry thief, Norwich Cathedral cloister, east walk (all taken from Gothic Wonder).


– See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/heavenly-matters-earthly-delights#sthash.gJcnrCgF.dpuf

GUARDIAN OF THE JONES

I can actually see him doing a good job. How the film might be, I have no idea. But as for him, I think he’d do good work.

Disney Eyeing Chris Pratt For Indiana Jones Revival

<> on July 29, 2014 in New York City.

EXCLUSIVE: Here’s one from the helluva good idea department. Marvel offerings are soaring, and Star Wars  is being reinvigorated by director JJ Abrams. Now, Disney has just started to turn its attention to reviving the Indiana Indiana Jones bullwhipJones franchise after buying the rights from Paramount in 2013. I’m cautioned that while things are very early, I hear the studio has set its sights on Chris Pratt as the swashbuckling archaeologist they hope to build the new franchise around, the role made famous by Harrison Ford in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Pratt jumped to leading-man movie status with his performance in last year’s blockbuster Guardians Of The Galaxy for Marvel and Disney. He starts The Magnificent Seven with Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua in April for MGM and Sony, and there’s the inevitable Guardians Of The Galaxy sequel. Disney won’t comment and all this is admittedly early, so let’s chalk it up as a dishy informed rumor for now and keep an eye on it.

CHANGE I CAN ACTUALLY LIVE WITH? I HOPE SO

Is change coming? The Fantastic Four is by far the suckiest film franchise Marvel has.

This however might change that. If so, I’d be glad.

GOT 20?

Is this the oldest d20 on Earth?

57,985

Is this the oldest d20 on Earth?

Romans may have used 20-Sided die almost two millennia before D&D, but people in ancient Egypt were casting icosahedra even earlier. Pictured above is a twenty-faced die dating from somewhere between 304 and 30 B.C., a timespan also known as Egypt’s Ptolemaic Period.

According to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the gamepiece is held, the die was once held in the collection of one Reverend Chauncey Murch, who acquired it between 1883 and 1906 while conducting missionary work in Egypt.

Got a 20-sided die that predates the Ptolemaic Period? Post about it in the comments.

[The Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Hat tip to Polter Dog!
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