Category Archives: Campaign/Campaign Development

Political and Organizational History of the Cavaliers, Paladins, Rangers, and the Dragoons

Continuing with a post and description of my own gaming milieu and world, that of Iÿarlðma, or The Other World.

 

Political and Organizational History of the Cavaliers, Paladins, Rangers, and the Dragoons

Being a brief and basic political and organizational history of the Cavaliers, Paladins, Rangers. and Dragoons and a basic Organizational description of Dragoon Commands, Motivations, and Goals.

General Information/Basic History: The Cavaliers, Originally the Cohort of Holy Cavaliers was formed as a special guard for Pope Boniface I, the Pontiff of Rome in the year 419 AD. The Cavaliers served faithfully and were recruited from famous horsemen and officers drawn from the various provinces of the Roman Empire.

The Cavaliers were allowed to secretly exist by the emperors, who on occasion also employed them as personal guards or as special agents for various military, political, diplomatic and espionage missions. In time they came to be seen as a very powerful organization and elite military force in their own right. Many began to fear them, especially in the halls of civil government where the Imperial Guards considered the Cavaliers as a threat and a dangerous competition.

Eventually in the year 498 AD the Emperor Anastasius turned a blind eye to events in Rome as the Imperial Guards, some seditious prelates and the governor of Rome set up their own anti-Pope, Laurentius. This new pope threatened the existing pope Saint Symmachus, whose successor upon Symmachus’ death was forced to flee first to Sicily and then eventually into Gaul. Some of the most loyal Cavaliers then at Rome also fled with the newly elected but unordained pope Palladius (after whom the Paladins are named) as he left the city. Many others were arrested in secret by the Imperial Guards at night and executed. Some of the leaders of the Grand Cohort, as the Cavaliers were popularly known escaped initial arrest when the Italian Garrison refused to detain them, and fled the city accompanied by the remains of the Theban Legion (Thundering Legion) who had survived the pagan revival massacre and had continued to exist as an underground organization in service to the pope. Those who fled took ship and made their way first to North Africa and eventually east coming to Alexandria and then to the eastern Capital at Constantinople. Those Cavaliers serving along the frontiers, after hearing of the dissolution of their order and of the fate of their comrades deserted their ranks and melded into the local population or joined mercenary patrols under false names and backgrounds. The anti-Pope then formed his own personal guard of hand-selected Imperial soldiers as well as deserters and traitors from the ranks of the Cavaliers who were eventually to become known as the Dragoons. These Dragoons acted as a virtual Praetorian guard for the anti-Pope Laurentius and for several anti-popes to follow.

Goals & Ideals of the Dragoons: The annihilation of the Cavaliers and the destruction of any organization which might be considered a splinter group of the Cavaliers, such as the Paladins of the West, the Palademes of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Rangers of the West and the Vigilantes of the Eastern Empire. They also intend to depose the current Pope and install their own Anti-Pope. The basic history of the group is as detailed above, and their origin as a result of the Cavalier Purge is well known in educated political, military and church officiate circles, and among some few in the higher social classes. The more secretive history, as detailed in the Inner Workings section below is far less well known and is a closely guarded secret known by few. The Dragoons of all ranks and commands are a very secretive group, go to great lengths to hide their activities and have also gone to great lengths to make it appear as if their group has disbanded or simply faded out of existence in the past 100 years or so. Many of the Paladins and Rangers they hunt to death are not even aware of their existence until they are ambushed, poisoned, captured, tortured, or murdered. The Dragoons are less active in the East, being more numerous and driven in the West but do also occasionally send hunting parties into the Eastern Empire and even as far East as the Middle East and Persia. No matter where they operate their goals are the same.

The Dragoons have also spawned much smaller tactical operation teams and parties such as the Consociatio and often work in partnership with barbarian kings and even with organized crime syndicates such as the Keishon (the Black Hand) and with pirates and brigands. They tend to support their activities secretly with an underground financial organization of minor nobles, corrupt military and civil officials, and by engaging in various criminal activities, such as arms smuggling, tax interception and theft, and kidnapping/ransom/extortion operations.

Despite the vicious reputation of the order and despite the fact that by most every objective standard the group is indeed inclined towards evil and self-promotion the members of the Dragoons consider themselves completely justified in their actions and actually think of themselves as working for the good. They consider their Anti-Pope to be an ideal leader and they consider the eradication of the Paladins and Rangers to be a Holy Objective and Divine Purpose.

Leadership: The top ranks of the leadership of the Dragoons remains a secret and is unknown to any except the leaders themselves. Every rank has a leader as does every overall Command. These leaders also operate in secret with assignments and missions being passed down from higher level operatives and leaders through a secretive transmission and code/messenger system. On the local level the Dragoons are divided into small tactical commands which undertake missions, hunt Cavaliers and their descendants, steal tax monies, engage in criminal activities, smuggle weapons, corrupt and bribe officials and surveil any target of interest. The name of the current Antipope is unknown, as his identity is an enigma, however it is believed by some he may be a high church official stationed either at Rome or in Ravenna.

The names of the leaders of certain splinter groups, such as the Consociatio are known (his name is Leticus Cambrius) and such people and groups are even famous and well respected, however nothing is known about the shadowy and covert activities of these groups and men. The Consociatio is publicly known but is not known to have any ties to the Dragoons and the Dragoons intend that all such aligned groups are fronts for other activities and that their true intentions remain secretive and hidden.

Inner Workings: The antipope and the Imperator (Supreme General) of the Imperial Praetorian Guards for the Western emperors were unsatisfied with the initial purge of the ranks of the Cavaliers. Fearing that the survivors who had escorted the pope into exile and that those who had escaped to Africa would rise again to power and take revenge decided upon a hunting pogrom to fully eradicate any surviving Cavaliers and their families and associates. They also intended to capture and imprison the deposed pope. Those Imperial Guards who had best known the habits, training, and numbers of the Cavaliers, along with Cavaliers who had been tortured and disaffected from the pope’s service were formed into a new unit, officially known as the Cavaleem, whose public duty was to apprehend and arrest the outlawed Cavaliers. However their real duties were to hunt down and kill the remaining Cavaliers, as well as kill their families and seize any possessions they might have as tribute, and to capture and imprison the pope in exile.

The most powerful arm of the Cavaleem were organized at a secret training base in Hispania where they divided themselves into special units devoted to particular kinds of work and assignments. These Cavaleem, who called themselves the Dragoons were to become the most famous of all Cavaleem and eventually, would give their name to all Cavaleem, as the popular name for the Cavaleem soon became the Dragoons.

The Dragoons divided themselves into four Commands; 1) the Emeralds, who served as political police for the emperors and various other high officials in the civil government, and as Special Bodyguards for the antipope, 2) the Crimson which served as city detachments of political and civil police, both at Rome and in frontier cities, 3) the Argent who were a unit assigned to the regular legions as officers and informers to keep the civil authorities and the emperors informed of possible intrigue or insurrection, and 4) the Ebone, who served as special forces agents, usually operating alone or in small detachments. The Ebone Command were the most well trained unit of soldiers in the secret Cavaleem force, being experts at weapons, horsemanship, tracking and hunting, and unarmed combat. Often they were also trained as assassins proficient at killing men in secret, and in the uses of poison. The Ebone unit was the detachment assigned with the hunting down of and the eradication of the escaped or exiled Cavaliers. Because of their dedication in fulfilling this assignment the Ebone were also called the Cavacaedere, the Cavalier Killers, but they earned their most famous nickname later because of the enmity that developed between themselves and the Paladins. They became most popularly known as the AntiPaladins. After the official line of popes were restored some AntiPaladins, especially the Ebone agents, began to sell their services to others who wished to seize the papal seat and become new antipopes, or to those who wished to seize Imperial crowns or foment rebellions among the barbarians. Some even went to hire for the Arabs, Muslims, Persians, and others in the Orient where their reputations for ruthlessness and for espionage and insurrection were unmatched. A secret core of Dragoons remained in the Western Empire however, operating from Sicily, Hispania, North Africa, and Ravenna, determined to forever eradicate any remains of the Cavaliers and their descendants and to reestablishing an antipope favorable to themselves so that they might rise again to power in the West.

Those Cavaliers who escaped into exile with the pope would eventually form the basis of the Paladins of the Holy Roman Empire of Charles Martel (The Hammer) and eventually of Charlemagne in the West. Those Cavaliers who escaped to Africa and eventually to the east became the champions of the Eastern Church, the Palademes and War Monks of the Orient. Those frontiers Cavaliers who had deserted their post or who had become mercenaries also became very famous, especially in the Eastern Empire, as the legendary Rangers. The Rangers were often employed by the Eastern Empire and by the emperor as frontiers’ sheriffs, spies, infiltrators, bounty hunters, anti-insurgent operatives, and anti-raiding outpost defenders. Whereas the Paladins gained great public prestige and eventual political power as the servants of the church and the defenders of the civil order, the Rangers, because of their background, preferred to operate alone or in small groups and often in secret and/or in disguise. The Paladins became the new public face of the Cavaliers and were considered the champions of public law and the authorities and of urban life, while the Rangers became the heroes of the poor and the oppressed along the frontiers, the defenders of the land, and the champions of private justice. Eventually the Rangers in the East would take on a new title, the Vigilantes, and would keep law where no official law existed and the hand of no army could reach.

Whereas the AntiPaladins became almost fanatical in their hatred of and hunting of the Paladins, because they greatly feared the rising political and civil power of the Paladins, the Rangers never forgot the original purge of the Cavaliers and held a fierce and secret hatred for the Dragoons, of all commands, but especially against the Ebone Dragoons. So while the AntiPaladins covertly hunted the Cavalier survivors and the Paladins, the Rangers and Vigilantes, with their own secret plans, hunted the AntiPaladins.

TEKUMEL II

Today I’m going to make another post on Tekumel and the Empire of the Petal Throne RPG setting and fantasy world. This one will give you the basic Wikipedia background.

 

TEKUMEL

Tékumel is a fantasy world created by M. A. R. Barker over the course of several decades from around 1940.[1] With time, Barker also created the role-playing game Empire of the Petal Throne, set in the Tékumel fictional universe, and first published in 1975 by TSR, Inc. In this imaginary world, huge, tradition-bound empires with medieval levels of technology vie for control using magic, large standing armies, and ancient technological devices.

Contents

Sources

Barker’s legendarium, like that of the better-known J. R. R. Tolkien, considered not just the creation of a fantasy world but also an in-depth development of the societies and languages of the world. In other words, the setting also provided a context for Barker’s constructed languages which were developed in parallel from the mid-to-late 1940s, long before the mass-market publication of his works in roleplaying game and book form.[1][2][3]

The most significant language created by Barker for his setting is Tsolyáni, which resembles Urdu, Pushtu and Mayan. Tsolyáni has had grammatical guides, dictionaries, pronunciation recordings, and even a complete language course developed for it. In order for his imaginary languages to have this type of depth, Barker developed entire cultures, histories, dress fashions, architectural styles, weapons, armor, tactical styles, legal codes, demographics and more, inspired by Indian, Middle Eastern, Egyptian and Meso-American mythology in contrast to the majority of such fantasy settings, which draw primarily on European mythologies.

Setting

The world of Tékumel, Nu Ophiuchi d (a.k.a. Sinistra d), was first settled by humans exploring the galaxy about 60,000 years in the future, along with several other alien species. Their extensive terraforming of the inhospitable environment, including changing the planet’s orbit and rotation rate to create a 365.25-day year, disrupted local ecologies and banished most of the local flora and fauna (including some intelligent species) to small reservations in the corners of their own world, resulting in a golden age of technology and prosperity for humankind and its allies. Tékumel became a resort world, where the wealthy from a thousand other stars could while away their time next to its warm seas.

Suddenly,[4] and for reasons unknown, Tékumel and its star system (Tékumel’s two moons, Gayél and Káshi, its sun, Tuléng, and four other planets, Ülétl, Riruchél, Shíchel, and Zirúna) were cast out of our reality into a “pocket dimension” (known as a béthorm in Tsolyáni), in which there were no other star systems. One hypothesis is that this isolation happened through hostile action on the part of an unknown party or group. Another is that the cosmic cataclysm was due to over-use of a faster than light drive which warped the fabric of space. No one knows, but the inhabitants of Tékumel, both human, native, and representatives of the other starfaring races, were now isolated and alone.

Severed from vital interplanetary trade routes (Tékumel is a world very poor in heavy metals) and in the midst of a massive gravitic upheaval due to the lines of gravitational force between the stars being suddenly cut, civilization was thrown into chaos. The intelligent native species, the Hlüss and the Ssú, broke free from their reservations and wars as destructive as the massive geographic changes ravaged the planet. Several other significant changes took place due to the crisis: mankind discovered it could now tap into ultraplanar energies that were seen as magical forces, the stars were gone from the sky, dimensional nexi were uncovered and pacts with “demons” (inhabitants of dimensions near in n-dimensional space to Tékumel’s pocket dimension) were made and a complex pantheon of “Gods” (powerful extra-dimensional or multi-dimensional alien beings) discovered. Science began to stagnate until ultimately knowledge became grounded in traditions handed down from generations long ago, the belief that the universe was ultimately understandable slowly faded, and a Time of Darkness descended over the planet.

Much of Barker’s writing concerns a time approximately 50,000 years after Tékumel has entered its pocket dimension.[5] Five vast tradition-oriented civilizations occupy a large portion of the northern continent. These five human empires, along with various non-human allies who are descended from other star faring races, vie to control resources, including other planar “magical powers” and ancient technology, as they vie for survival and supremacy among themselves as well as hostile and other non-human races.

Much of the gaming materials and other writings focus particularly on these Five Empires which control much of the world’s northern continent (only about an eighth of the planet’s surface has published maps).

Languages

Tsolyáni is one of several languages spoken on the world of Tékumel, and was the first conlang published as part of a role-playing game. It is inspired by Urdu, Pushtu and Mayan, the latter influence can be seen in the inclusion of the sounds hl /ɬ/ and tl //.[dubious ]

As could be expected, Barker put great effort into the languages of Tékumel. Although Tsolyáni is the only Tekumeláni language that has had a full grammar book, dictionary, pronunciation tapes (on CD) and a primer, publicly released, it is not the only language for this world that Barker developed.

Also available are grammar guides for the Yán Koryáni and Livyáni languages which are spoken in two other of the “Five Empires” of the known parts of Tékumel, as well as grammar books for Engsvanyáli and Sunúz. These two languages are now extinct, dead languages. Engsvanyáli is of use as it is the root language for Tsolyáni and many of the other currently spoken languages of the known parts of Tékumel. Sunúz is of interest because, although it is obscure, it is quite useful for sorcerous purposes. For instance, Sunúz contains terms to describe movement in a six dimensional multi-planar space, something of use to beings who visit the other planar realms where “demons” live.

Barker also published extensively on scripts for other languages of Tékumel.

 

GONE A’VIKING

I’m not going to Ireland to do this, but you gotta admit, it looks like a fun gig.

Looking for some extra work? ‘Vikings’ need 8,000 extras for filming in Ireland

Ever fancied joining a viking army? Now you can. Here’s how to apply…

Vikings, the hugely successful History Channel production that is filmed in Ireland, has announced a casting call to find a minimum of 8,000 extras to work on its forthcoming season, which will be filmed here.

The Canadian/Irish production recently began its third season and will begin filming the fourth in Ireland in April. The producers have today announced they are looking for extras to take part, and the selection process will be held in Dublin, at the Film Base in Temple Bar, and at the Grand Hotel, Abbey St, in Wicklow.

We covered the application process last year, and you can learn a bit more about what life as an extra on Vikings is like HERE

The work is casual and temporary, but with 8,000 spots to fill it would appear you’ll have a good chance of getting the call sometime between April and December, when filming wraps up.

Those interested can attend the open casting days, with the events page on the Vikings Extras Facebook page offering the following advice to applicants turning up to stake a claim.

They are mainly looking for adults aged 16+
People from all ethnic backgrounds are required
You do not need an appointment
You only need attend one day of auditions
Each person who attends will fill out an application and have a photo taken
The process will take roughly 20 minutes
When you head along, have your measurements to hand. E.g. Height, chest, dress, shoe size etc. (You’ll need them for the application form)
No need to bring a CV or headshots, but the team will accept them if you do have them with you
There’s a long list of specific skills and appearances they’re looking for, including: Fishermen, carpenters, skilled swords people, bowmen and women, ship hands, Latin speakers, tree surgeons, and males with long hair and beards (you can find a full list of these – and there are plenty more – on the Vikings Extras Facebook page).

Full listing

There will be 3 x Extras Open Casting days in 2015 – 2 days will be held in Dublin and 1 day will be held in Wicklow. Details are below

Dublin

FILMBASE, Curved St, Temple Bar, D2

Tuesday 31st March 2015 between 9.30am -4.30pm

Wednesday 1st April 2015 between 9.30am – 5pm

Wicklow

The Grand Hotel, Abbey St, Wicklow Town

Wednesday 7th April between 10am – 6pm

Check out the Vikings Extras Facebook page for more information

And if you haven’t seen Vikings, here’s a taster

THE LOST WORLD

I don’t know how many of you RPG players who frequent my blog are old enough to remember the Empire of the Petal Throne (in Tekumel).

I’m old enough to remember both it and the original Blackmoor, and I bought and played both, though some short time after their original releases.

In any case I always thought Empire of the Petal Throne, not just the D&D setting, but the entire milieu (fictional and gaming) was one of the very most interesting fantasy mileus/worlds ever invented.

So in honor of this I will be making some posts, today and in the near future, on this brilliant and fascinating fantasy setting, and world.

Anyway, to you younger players, or to you older players who still remember this world and this setting, you should find this interesting.

Enjoy.

 

The World of Tékumel

At what point does a world become real? You can detail the languages, cultures, personalities, political systems, histories … but beyond all this is something more that can bring a world alive in the imagination … and make it almost exist.

click to enlargeThe Thoroughly Useful Eye

[click to enlarge]

The world of Tékumel is complex—steeped in history, hoary tradition, a complex clan and social system, myriad flora and fauna. There is a proverb for every time and place, several complete languages and their beautiful scripts, and thirty-four forms of the personal pronoun ‘you’ in Tsolyáni.

This section holds canonical information (recognised by Professor Barker as ‘official’ or ‘real’ Tékumel) about the world of Tékumel that has been previously published in various game systems, sourcebooks and novels. Over time The Eye of Illuminating Glory section will become a comprehensive overview of all aspects of the world of Tékumel: history, races, maps, cultures, language, militaria, arcana and more.

[Return to Top]

You are about to enter the world of Tékumel, the incredible work of imagination by Professor M.A.R. Barker.

If you’ve never encountered Tékumel before, you’ve stumbled upon an entire world the equal of Tolkien’s Middle-earth in detail and wonder: thousands of years of history, entire languages, rich cultures, unique creatures, bloody conflicts and fascinating mysteries.

Whether a new visitor or an old fan, there’s a world to explore here at the official home of M.A.R. Barker’s Tékumel:

About the Site

The Eye of Incomparable Understanding

About the Site

If you’re new to Tékumel, start by reading this section: a brief welcome, a guide for new visitors, a history of changes to the site, and a comprehensive site map. Here also can be found the Tékumel FAQ and the Tékumel Product List, plus the site’s ever-useful search function.

World of Tékumel

The Eye of
Illuminating
Glory

World of Tékumel

Lots of fascinating information to immerse you in the rich science-fantasy world of Tékumel. We’ll explore the world’s history, the most common gods worshipped, some of the strange beings that share the planet with mankind, and a comprehensive collection of maps of the northern continent.

Tékumel Gaming

The Eye of
Opening
the Way

Tékumel Gaming

Role-playing, boardgaming and miniatures gaming, for those who wish to adventure among Tékumel’s inhabitants. Here you’ll find a wealth of roleplaying systems, adventure materials, game system tools and playing aids, plus a look at miniatures created for Tékumel.

Tékumel Archive

The Eye of
Retaining All
Things

Tékumel Archive

Hard-to-find information from now-defunct fanzines and online mailing lists, including the Eye of All-Seeing Wonder and Visitations of Glory. Visit Tékumel Tales for fiction set on Tékumel. You’ll find useful links to other sites and discussions, plus The Blue Room, a vast repository of information.

Want to talk with other explorers of Tékumel? The Forums.

Hunting for that rare Tékumel item? Tita’s House of Games.

Writing new Tékumel material? The Tékumel Foundation.

ROLE PLAY TO THE RESCUE

Yeah, no duff

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

 

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

When you hear about role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, you probably picture a dimly-lit basement filled with people in silly robes rolling dice, but there’s much more to it than that. Not only are role-playing games incredibly fun, but they can actually teach you skills you’ll use in the real world.

When I first heard about role-playing games, I immediately thought it was something that was just for the nerdiest of nerds out there. I could only imagine how ridiculous it would feel to sit around a table with other people and act like someone—or something—else, pretending to fight goblins and dragons. The entire premise just sounded way “too geeky” for me—even as someone who was way into video games and other “nerdy” things.

Fast forward a couple years, and I found that I was completely wrong. As soon as I took a moment to strip away the facade of monsters and swords, role-playing games revealed themselves to be something far more interesting than other traditional games. Behind the fantasy adventures was a fun social gathering that required you to think on your toes, solve problems, be creative, and ultimately learn how to become a team player. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s because it’s like every job out there. It turned out that it really wasn’t about the dungeons or the dragons at all—it’s about thinking critically and working like a team.

Now I indulge in role-playing games as often as I can. It’s nice to have an escape from the toils and troubles of the real world, but with every game session I play, I find that I actually learn something as well. Maybe it’s about myself and the way I think, maybe it’s something about one of my friends that brings us closer together, or maybe I just find a new way to look at something that I hadn’t thought of. I’ve learned that role-playing games are about more than playing a game, and more importantly, that they are for everybody.

The Benefits

Playing Cultivates Creativity

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

Creativity is the bread and butter of role-playing games. They have a certain quality that allows you to transcend typical game interactions. You have real freedom and the ability to move the story forward how you see fit. There are rules for each game, but they are merely the skeleton to whatever story you and your team want to create.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to activate our brains, and role-playing games do this incredibly well. When we tell stories—or experience them—our brains have to process language, the cause and effect of events, and also relate it to our own pre-existing experiences. While you’re playing a role-playing game, your brain is firing on all cylinders.

It’s good for you, the same way socializing or reading a book is good for you. In fact, as Jon Michaud of The New Yorker explains, reading comes with the territory:

…D. & D. is a textual, storytelling, world-creating experience, a great apprenticeship for a budding author. But, more fundamentally, you cannot play D. & D. without reading—a lot. Ed Park, in an essay on D. & D. (included in the anthology “Bound to Last”), celebrates the magnificent vocabulary of the game… Combined, the player’s manual, the Dungeon Master’s guide, and the monster manual (the core books of advanced D. & D.) add up to four hundred and sixty-eight pages of small-print, double-column text. I read them with studious devotion and headlong glee. Almost immediately, television all but disappeared from my life.

Before Michaud started playing, he spent his days watching TV while his grades were plummeting. As soon as the fantasy of D&D came into his life, however, that all changed. Michaud even goes so far as to say that Dungeons & Dragons “saved his life” because it got him on a better life track after reading more and finding something that excited him. Perhaps it won’t save your life, but it can still enhance it. As you play, you’ll develop creativity in a way you might not have experienced before. Whether you’re running the game as the “Dungeon Master”—controlling what happens to the players—or simply playing as one of the characters, your storytelling ability will increase.

Dungeon Masters—also called Game Masters in some games—must be particularly good storytellers. Even if you’re using a pre-made adventure with most of the work already done, you still have to be ready to come up with dialogue and personalities for the non-player characters, and be able to vividly describe the world your players explore. As a player, you have to find ways to make your character more interesting by creating personality quirks or a rich backstory.

Role-playing games force you to draw from what you know and create something that you and others can enjoy. A lot of famous creators have been influenced by Dungeons & Dragons as well. Comedian Stephen Colbert, writer George R. R. Martin, comedian Robin Williams, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, and Community creator Dan Harmon all played at one time or another. Storytelling is the one of the most basic creative skills that you can draw on for so many other skills, and being a good storyteller can even make you a more charismatic person. Dive in to another world and see what kind of cool stuff you can come up. You might surprise yourself with what you come up with.

Playing Levels Up Your Social Skills1

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

When you think Dungeons & Dragons, you probably don’t think social skills—but once again, that’s a stereotype that doesn’t necessarily hold true. Role-playing games are 100% social. You need to be able to talk to other people, express how you feel about certain situations, all in a group of people. Role-playing games come with a social network built directly into them.

Sure, to an extent, video games do the same thing—but it isn’t quite the same. Role-playing games bring the interaction right to your face, no screens between you. Plus, you get to hang out with your friends. Before and after a play session, you can catch up with what they’ve been up to and share what’s going on in your life. Once you know the rules for a particular game, you can easily make new friends too. You can hop into other game groups and make new friends; the process being easier because a giant plot of common ground is right out in the open. Making friends when you move can be really tough, but you can hit up a local game and hobby shop to see if there are any groups looking for more players.

This engrained social network can be particularly helpful for kids too. Making new friends can be more difficult for some people, and the forced social interaction of role-playing games can help them find people that share their interests. Additionally, kids and adults alike can use role-playing games to combat shyness. Players are given a mask in the form of their character that allows them to feel less vulnerable. Using my characters as a vehicle helped me feel more comfortable talking to others. Over time I got over shyness and felt comfortable cracking jokes and starting conversations on my own. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with being shy, but for those that do want to get out of their comfort zone a bit, role-playing games can offer some help.

Playing Encourages Teamwork and Cooperation

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

Most role playing games don’t end in a “win” or a “loss”, but they still require teamwork. The events depend on players’ actions, just like any other game, and failure to work with other players will guarantee a not-so-fun time. Role-playing games are designed from the ground up to be cooperative and it can be a lot of fun to play a game where there are no winners and losers.

A lot of games strive to be competitive, but life can be competitive enough, and role-playing games provide a refreshing change of pace. Additionally, learning to be a team player is highly important in the professional world. You take on a role at work and do the things that you’ve trained to do, and it works the same way in a role-playing game. Your character normally has a particular skillset, and that fills a role on a diverse team. Just like at work, if you don’t do your job, the whole team can suffer for it.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that role-playing games are as serious as work. They can just help you learn the basics of working with others. You get a feel for how you handle interactions in stressful settings. Maybe you’ll find that you’re a good leader, choreographing a perfect battle where nobody gets too hurt. Or maybe you’ll find that you’re more of a support-type, ready to jump to someone’s aid when they need it. Perhaps you can just think outside the box better than your peers, and figure your way out of complex situations. There are no good or bad roles, just the roles you can fill. By learning to play with a team, you can learn how to work with one.

Playing Teaches Problem Solving Skills2

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

Problem solving is what makes the world go ’round and role-playing games are filled to the brim with it. Layers upon layers of problems stand in front of you and your fellow party members. You could be trying to solve a riddle, while navigating a labyrinth, while deciding the best way to take out a band of goblins, while trying to solve a murder mystery, all while preventing a dark lord from taking over the kingdom. Talk about problems.

Role-playing games and their campaigns are problem after problem, all just barely solvable. As each event of your game unfolds, you’re forced to think on your feet and react. You develop some improvisation skill and feel a rush whenever your group finds a clever way to tackle a tough problem. In fact, some of your most memorable moments will likely end up being times that you felt like your back was against the wall, but you managed to pull through using your wit.

Learning how to solve problems develops your critical thinking and can help you approach problems in the future with the right mindset. In role-playing games you’re simultaneously the chess player and the chess piece. You learn to see problems from multiple perspectives and realize that there’s always a light at the end of the dark, goblin-filled cave.

Playing Is Fun

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

Seriously, playing role-playing games is an absolute blast. Try this: Imagine a time in your past that you did something that felt a little silly. Maybe you were at a party, or maybe you had a couple drinks and hit the dance floor at a wedding. Something you were worried about being embarrassed about it at first, but as soon as you gave in, it was some of the most fun you’ve ever had. That’s what role-playing games are like.

Half the fun is letting go of the heavy world around you and playing like you’re a kid again. You sit down at that table and suddenly you’re running around the playground, having adventures and saving the world. Can you honestly say that fun like that isn’t for everybody?

How to Get Started

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

Getting started can be the toughest part, but there are some things you can do to make it a lot easier. Unfortunately, there’s no way I could even come close to explaining how to play all of the role-playing games out there, but I can point you in the right direction.

First, you want to find a game that would interest you. The world of role-playing games can be very overwhelming, but it also means that there is literally something for everyone. If you like sci-fi, there’s plenty of that. If you like fantasy, there’s plenty of that too. Vampires? Check. Werewolves? Check. Super heroes, Lovecraft, zombies, aliens, Star Wars, wrestling… You name it, there’s probably a role-playing game for it. Heck, I’ve even played a role-playing game based around the movie Mean Girls (and it was, like, so fetch). So don’t worry if Dungeons & Dragons doesn’t sound like your cup of tea.

Do some research and see what you can dig up. Google “[thing you like] role-playing game” and you might be surprised at what you find. Certain games are going to be more popular, however—which means it might be easier to join or start one of those game types—but see what you can find that excites you. If you’re not into the world the game is portraying, you’re probably not going to enjoy yourself. As far as recommendations go, check out Fate, Pathfinder, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Call of Cthulhu, and (of course) Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition. You can even get a large taste of what D&D is like without paying a cent. If you’re still lost, hit up a game and hobby store and ask around. You’re sure to get more recommendations than you’ll what to do with.

When you find something that interests you, see what materials you need. Most role-playing games require that you at least own a copy of its player’s manual. Some games may require additional books as well, so make sure you’re getting what you need. These books can be very expensive—usually $40 and up—and the go-to, Amazon, won’t necessarily hook you up. Shop around online and check local game and hobby stores to find the best deals. You can also find digital versions of almost every current game and those can be significantly cheaper. There are a few other things you’ll need to play as well:

  • DM or GM guide: The Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) usually can benefit from having this additional book.

Dice: You’ll usually need more than the standard six-sided (d6) dice. Some games require sets of their own special dice. Always check to see what you need.Character Sheets: You can normally find these in the back of the player’s manuals, but you can also find them on each game’s web site for free.Pencils: Not pens—especially if you’re just starting out.A table: The more space you have for books and character sheets the better. Some people like to use grid mats and figurines, but they aren’t completely necessary.People: Alas, you cannot play these games alone. Trust me, I’ve tried. It’s not nearly as fun. Two people will work in a pinch, but a group of four or five tends to be way more fun.

Once you have all of those things, you need to read. A lot. Role-playing games require some investment. The rules for each game can be complicated, and even though you shouldn’t let rules be the focus of your game sessions, you should get a basic idea of how they work. If you know someone that knows how to play, ask them to teach you! They’ll likely be glad to show you the ropes. They may even have their own group and invite you to join, even if it’s just for a few sessions so you can learn.

In the same vein, it doesn’t hurt to ask around if you’re looking for a group to play with. If none of your current friends play, ask around your local gaming stores. A lot of stores have regularly scheduled sessions in-store, and it’s a great way to learn to play without having to buy a rulebook or convince your current friends to come play with you. At the very least, someone might be able to point you in the right direction. You can also find playgroups online. Web sites like Meetup.com can help you find other people in your area that are interested in playing the games you want to play. It never hurts to check out the forums of big role-playing game publisher web sites—like Wizards of the Coast or Fantasy Flight Games—in search of players, either.

Lastly, if you’re having trouble understanding how things work, YouTube is your friend. You can find countless videos of real gameplay and rules explanation for whatever game you’re interested in. Watch a few games and you’ll start to see how the flow of a game should feel. This can be especially helpful if you want to run the game too.


Role-playing games are fun, exciting, and can actually help you learn a thing or two. So get out there, find a group, and don’t let the concept overwhelm you. Ease into the games and you may even make some new friends along the way. Role-playing games really are for everyone, especially you.

Photos by PublicDomainPictures, OpenClips, Dan Catchpole, Michael Harrison, Benny Mazur, potential past, Benny Mazur, Sean Ellis.

 

THE PROJECTED GAME

Actually I’m working on an invention that would replace this altogether for all kinds of tabletop games, not just Role Play but Wargaming, Board Games, etc. Anything imaginable played on a tabletop.

But I still like the general set-up described/displayed here.

DnD_DigitalMap.jpg (1300×975)

Dungeons and Dragons comes to life on digital maps

A projector combined with a Web-based tabletop role playing game tool make for a new and really cool way to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Reddit user Silverlight is a developer for Roll20, an online tool for virtual tabletop role playing game sessions, so he knows a thing or two about blending technology into traditional RPG play. By pairing Roll20 with a projector mounted on the ceiling, Silverlight is able to display digital maps on the tabletop for a home session of D&D.

And the coolest thing about these digital maps is the ability to show characters’ actual line of sight as they explore. Discussing the setup on Reddit, Silverlight says that this functionality is built into Roll20, and he made the cones of vision possible by manually revealing portions of the map to the players.

This isn’t really a practical setup to replicate. Silverlight used an Epson brand projector to make the digital maps, and a cheap Epson projector should run you about $300 on Amazon. Still, it demonstrates new possibilities for playing tabletop role playing games. Roll20 runs in a Web browser. Maybe someone can figure out how to make this setup work using a much more affordable smartphone projector.

Photo via Silverlight/imgur

SOME OF THE BEST

36 of the Best Roleplaying Games

“I love video games, but you can’t beat the magic in the personal interaction around a table.” — Filamena Young


Just as there really is no such thing as a best book or movie, there is no best roleplaying game, or even best in a particular category. But if you’re looking for something new to try, this selection of games will help. The games were selected to cover a wide spectrum of game mechanics, settings, and play styles. Some are well known, others relatively obscure. Some are licensed from video games, movies, TV shows, or books. Some are free for download, and several provide free quickstart PDFs.

Select an image to read a full page writeup about that game, including overview information, three of the things that make the game stand out out, purchasing information, and links to reviews and community sites.


13th Age
All Flesh Must Be Eaten
Apocalypse World
Atlantis: The Second Age

Basic Roleplaying
Burning Wheel
Doctor Who
Dragon Age

Dread
Dungeon Crawl Classics
Dungeon World
Dungeons and Dragons

Eclipse Phase
Fate Core
Fiasco
Firefly

Godlike
GURPS
Lady Blackbird
Microscope

Mindjammer
Mini Six
Misspent Youth
Mutants and Masterminds

Night's Black Agents
Numenera
Pathfinder
Pendragon

RuneQuest
Savage Worlds
Shadowrun
A Song of Ice and Fire

Star Wars
Swords & Wizardry
Traveller
Valiant Universe

COMPACT OF THE BASILEGATE

This is the compact or agreement which is signed by every character who wishes to serve in the Basilegate. Of course the requirements to be chosen are rigorous (they were looser in the beginning but became more standardized and more selective over time) and one cannot just join, one must be both sponsored and invited since the very existence of the group is unknown to most people, including most high representatives of the government, military, and church. No one, even the Team Members themselves are absolutely certain who knows of their existence and who does not, and whereas many people know of the group’s existence as a Diplomatic Team, this is merely a cover for their far more secretive and covert activities.

There is no such Compact or agreement undertaken by members of other teams though the Hoshi has an oral agreement, the Oro does as well, and the Caerkara has a legal agreement but nothing really similar to the Compact, which details duties, careers, obligations, rewards, and future potential advancements.

 

Compact Of The Basilegate

By authority of the Emperor Nikephorus, Basileus of New Rome and the Roman Empire, it has been ordered that the Strategion, War Academy of Constantinople, create an official legation known as the Basilegate, the Imperial Legate, to be constituted in the year 805 Anno Domini.

This legation shall be charged with those official duties expressly demanded by Emperor Nicephorus and his representatives. These duties shall include, but are not limited to the following services; Work against the enemies of the empire, internal and external, the suppression of enemy raids and pirating activities, land and seas, the securing of lawless areas and the capture or elimination of criminals, action as official enquirers, action as emissaries and diplomats and as representatives of the Empire and King, and to render whatever other services are deemed fit and necessary by the Empire. That this legation shall swear allegiance to the Emperor and his servants and representatives and shall swear allegiance to the Church in order to serve the Empire as needed.

This legation shall by law and structure be attached to the Strategion and shall receive their orders from the War Academy and from those representatives of the Emperor placed in command of the legation.

The legation shall be initially equipped at Imperial expense, which shall provide arms and armor, and tack, tackle, and gear for their provision. All additional gear and equipment will be provided from War Franchise at reduced cost, as well as reduced cost for training and what additional supplies are as required for the execution of official duties. In addition such travel expenses as are accrued, either by land or by sea shall be compensated as long as those expenses are acquired by conduct of official assignment. Furthermore all additional expenses shall likewise be compensated, whether of travel or of board or equipment or supplies or of food and the legation shall be housed at imperial expense whenever they are stationed in Constantinople.

Whatever additional rewards accrue to the legation shall be theirs to keep and dispense with as they see fit, but the legation shall not be empowered to collect fees or levy taxes in the name of Empire, Emperor or Church. They shall not levy taxes or fees of any kind while executing official duties but may keep rewards and payments they receive for additional services in the name of the empire as long as such additional services do not detract from or conflict with their primary duties and services.

This legation shall travel and execute their duties with the full approval and official support of Empire and Church, but shall remain a secret legation, unknown to the general populace and civil and military authorities, with the exception of those individuals and authorities who need to be aware of the nature of the legation. The legation will travel as needed in disguise. The legation shall be free to act as necessary to execute their duties and are fully empowered to take whatever actions necessary to execute their duties as long as such actions do not imperil the sacred honor of Emperor, Empire or Christian sanctity.

In reward of six years of honorable service this legation and all of the individuals of this legation shall receive in compensation; farm lands of their own in Anatolia, severance pay upon termination, and their farm lands shall be free from annual land taxes, in perpetua. In addition if the members of this legation shall further continue their service beyond the term of their six years either as a renewed legate, or in order to train their successors, or to teach at War Academy or University then they shall also receive; a small estate built upon their granted farm lands, shall be empowered to levy taxes for the Imperial Theme which they inhabit, and shall be granted a seat with the Emperor in Constantinople during Communions performed on High Holy Days. The enumerations of this contract shall constitute the entirety of the duties and compensations respected by all members of this legation and their superiors and their Emperor.

End of Compact

ORICHALCUM? – THE RICHES YET DISCOVERED

This opens up a whole new and fascinating venue of ancient, historical, fictional, and even gaming metallurgy. And shipwreck, ruins, mining, production, and smithing sites that would produce such alloys and materials.

Divers Retrieve ‘Atlantis’ Metal Orichalcum from Ancient Shipwreck

By Rhodi Lee, Tech Times | January 10, 2:01 AM

Atlantis Map
Divers exploring an ancient shipwreck discovered 39 ingots believed to be made of the legendary metal orichalcum that Plato said was forged and used in the city of Atlantis.
(Photo : Athanasius Kircher)

atlantis-map

A group of divers who were exploring a 2,600 year-old shipwreck off the coast of Sicily discovered ingots believed to be made of orichalcum, a metal that the ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote to have been forged in the legendary city of Atlantis.

The orichalcum, whose composition and origin remain widely debated, is said to have been invented by a mythological Greek-Phoenician alchemist named Cadmus and was considered very valuable in the ancient times it ranked next to gold.

In the fourth century B.C., Plato, one of the greatest geniuses of all time, mentioned the orichalcum in the Critias dialogue with his description of Atlantis being a realm that flashes with the red light of the mysterious metal.
He said that the orichalcum was mined there and that was used to cover the floors and structures of floors of Poseidon’s temple. Many experts today believe that the metal is a brass-like alloy produced in the ancient times using a process known as cementation.

Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily’s superintendent of the Sea Office, said that 39 ingots had been found by a team of divers who were exploring a shipwreck that dates back to the first half of the sixth century.

The sunken ship, which was found about 1,000 feet from the coast and at a depth of 10 feet, is believed to have likely been transporting cargo from either Greece or Asia Minor when it sank on its way to the port city of Gela in southern Sicily, probably during a storm.

Tusa hailed the finding as a unique discovery given that no similar object has yet been discovered before.

“Nothing similar has ever been found,” Tusa said. “We knew orichalcum from ancient texts and a few ornamental objects.”

An expert who conducted an analysis of the 39 ingots using X-ray fluorescence found that these were an alloy with up to 80 percent copper, up to 20 percent zinc and a small percentage of lead, iron and nickel.

Some experts however said that the newly found artifacts were not made from the orichalcum. Enrico Mattievich, who used to teach at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), is one of the scholars who do not think the metal has a brass-like nature.

Contrary to views of other experts, Mattievich claims that a metallic alloy characterized by fire-like reflections similar to the Plato’s description was found in metallic jaguars associated with the Chavín civilization that thrived in the Peruvian Andes from 1200 B.C. to 200 B.C and these were made of 9 percent copper, 15 percent silver and 76 percent gold.

 

A FEW THINGS I HAVE LEARNED OVER THE YEARS PLAYING STAR FLEET BATTLES/STAR FLEET COMMAND

A few principles I have learned in playing SFBs, but many are also widely applicable to both numerous other wargames and to Real Life.

Missiles are always the most effective weapons. They track, they force the enemy to consume resources on defensive countermeasures, their range is the effective greatest of any weapon, they consume little power to prepare, and they do not degrade over distance as far as their destructive power. Their only real limitations are speed of movement (in some cases) and interceptability – otherwise they are a near ideal weapon system

Obtain and use the fastest and most powerful missiles even if they cost you far more – they are worth the expense

Save your attacks against enemy tractor beam defenses until after they are damaged – that is to say punch through enemy shields first and let them intercept your missiles then close in and cripple their tractor beams defenses only after they are in missile holding mode

Always use probes to gather better Intel on operating capabilities/conditions and damage to enemy ships

Carefully time your boarding actions but use them freely

Do not deploy your fighters either defensively or offensively until you have sufficiently damaged or crippled the enemy – your fighters are too easy to kill and are wasted in the initial stages of an engagement, but if the enemy is crippled they are truly lethal

Use missiles as a stand-off weapon against multiple enemy ships so they cannot close and flank you all at once

Prepare all counter-measures (such as wild-weasels) at the beginning of an engagement, a counter-measure is useless if it is unprepared

The Gorns are paper tigers, so are the Romulans if you simply stay out of range and time your defenses properly

The Klingons mean business and fight like hell – short of enemies like the Vagr they are your most dangerous opponents

Hydran fighters are extremely dangerous in squadrons, but Hydran weapons are hit and miss at best – Hydran ships can’t take a punch

The Lyrans are knife-fighters, avoid close contact, if you have to get close then kill immediately

You don’t like the Kzin/Kzinti – liquidate on contact with extreme prejudice

Throw combinations, and often

The optimum range for almost all weapons is point-blank – however that’s probably not the optimum range in which to operate

Constantly rotate your shields and your firing arcs – become excellent at coordinating defensive and offensive actions simultaneously

Maneuver is your friend, but you have to earn his friendship

Your ship will be destroyed if you get too close to the enemy as he dies – let the enemy die at a distance

If you can capture an enemy ship then do so, if you have to destroy him then do so, but never let him escape

The unknown works in both directions

Assume every alien/unknown entity is a potential hostile, but do not force them to be such

Unless your ship is specifically designed for stealth operations then Electronic Counter-Measures are far better employed in a defensive fashion

Place transporter bombs where they will do the most damage – place them strategically, because sometimes that’s the whole battle right there

Once your enemy is afire then press your attack

It is better to cripple or destroy enemy systems than to attack hull or kill crew

Do not give the enemy an opportunity to undertake useful damage control efforts

Never hesitate at your own repairs – employ damage control and repairs efforts as needed and immediately

Withdraw whenever necessary

Steal enemy repair goods with your transporters and use them for your own or simply deprive the enemy of necessary resources – he can’t repair what he doesn’t have

Good Intel and proper sensing is a Weapon – short of main weaponry your most effective one

Sensing passively and running silently does not disclose your location – so get good at it

Scan at all times unless there is a very good reason not to

Limit your enemy’s ability to maneuver

Do not Cross Your T’s, rather dog-leg your firing arcs

Become superb at precise targeting

Fire first if you must, and if you must, fire often and with sure aim

Screw the Prime Directivelet the lawyers sweat over that crap

Yellow or Secondary Alert is the most useless nonsense ever invented, don’t ever bother with it, you’re either on real alert or you’re not, so, always be on real alert

Use the environment (planets, asteroids, gravitational fluctuations, nebulae, etc.) to your advantage

Time is part of your environment – at all times use time to your advantage

Never assume an ally will make a smart tactical decisionalways assume your ally will screw up and be prepared accordingly

Develop new technologies constantly

Study enemy capabilities constantly

Always be open to superior ship designs and refits

Speed is better than power, power is better than toughness, especially when you’re talking high-energy weaponry

Don’t be there when the weapon strikes –avoid rather than absorb

Always be ready to take advantage

Have a battle plan prior to engagement

Be fluid and flexible, but mostly be much faster than the other guy

Make all of your decisions before you have to

Imagine you’re going to be crippled and nearly killed – now you’re that much better prepared for it

Each enemy is different, with different capabilities and liabilities, know your enemy

Out-thinking your opponent is the best way to prove your superiority

He who can recover and re-attack fastest will probably win

There is no virtue and no advantage in absorbing attacks

Wait until the proper moment then cut loose with all hell – do not hold back in combat

The enemy has weaknesses – observe and exploit them

An unstable or untrustworthy alliance is a point of leverage

You can beat multiple opponents at once, but you must be prepared with a plan of action and combat

There is no shame in escape, but there is destruction in defeat

Be prepared for the Trap

Be proficient at Setting the Trap

Anticipate, and avoid

Whether your win or lose and whether your crew lives or dies depends entirely upon you

Communications are vital – unless you have a death wish, and in that case do whatever the hell you want, because you’re an idiot anyhow

Sneaky works – be very, very sneaky

Victory is far better than heroics

The fast kill is the best and saves the most lives – by far

Be unpredictable

There are far more ways to kill the ship chasing you than the one approaching you

Always destroy approaching probes and hamper enemy efforts at gaining information on your ship and capabilities

Disinformation and misinformation – disinformation and misinformation – disinformation and misinformation – don’t make me repeat it again

The Federation has, by far, the most well-rounded and multi-capable ships – that gives you a huge overall set of advantages – use them

In-game targeting systems for photon torpedoes suck, what in the hell is the point of having great ordinance you cannot reliably deliver to the target? Think about it

Smarten all of your weapons, and then make them so efficient in operation that even a dumb-ass could use them effectively

Invention is the Mother of (Power) Projection

Constantly train your crew

Constantly train yourself

The last battle is the one you lose, the next battle is the one after you win

TIME, AND CIRCUMSTANCE

Once again, not only are Real World events like this filled with superb history for fictional material and stories, but they are filled with excellent ideas for gaming adventures, scenarios, and/or campaigns.

For instance suppose a character or party stumbles upon an ancient “time capsule” (either after a nearly fruitless search or entirely by accident) only to discover something totally unexpected? Like a long-forgotten relic.

Also, suppose it is sealed in some unknown or unusual fashion? That could be a side or sub-adventure all on it’s own.

An excellent hook.

 

1795 Time Capsule Buried By Sam Adams, Paul Revere To Be Opened

The 1795 time capsule (Photo credit: Museum of Fine Arts)

The 1795 time capsule (Photo credit: Museum of Fine Arts)

BOSTON (AP) — The public is getting its first glimpse inside a time capsule dating to 1795 and believed placed by Samuel Adams and other Revolutionary War figures.

Officials already have a good idea of the contents, which will be displayed Tuesday evening at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The original capsule was made of cowhide and believed to have been embedded in a cornerstone when construction on the state Capitol building began in 1795. Adams was governor at the time.

The 1795 time capsule removed from the State House in Dec. 2014. (WBZ-TV)

The contents were shifted to a copper box in 1855 which was unearthed last month at the Statehouse. Officials say old records and X-rays taken in December after the box was located and removed indicate it contains old coins, documents, newspapers and a metal plate owned by Paul Revere.

The main mystery has been the condition of the items, which experts believe partially deteriorated over time.

An X-ray of the 1795 time capsule (Photo credit: Museum of Fine Arts)

Pamela Hatchfield, a conservator at the museum, said the capsule initially was unearthed accidentally in 1855 when some modifications were made to the building.

Officials acknowledge the items might not be in great shape.

Secretary of State William Galvin said notes from that era indicated that officials washed some of the contents with acid before putting them in the new copper box. He also said records show it was a humid day when the items were restored and the corner of the Statehouse where the capsule was reinstalled has had a water leakage problem for decades.

It’s the second time capsule to resurface in Boston in recent months.

In October, a capsule dating to 1901 was uncovered in a lion statue adorning the Old State House. That contained newspaper clippings, letters and a book on foreign policy.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON

ADVENTURER’S HANDBOOK

Covers Preview for Elemental Evil Adventurer’s Handbook and Princes of the Apocalypse!

With the New Year, we finally get a glimpse at the covers of the upcoming Elemental Evil storyline for D&D 5E – Princes of the Apocalypse and the accompanying player sourcebook, Adventurer’s Handbook.

For more D&D 5E schedule information, click here.

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Not hi res at all, but it’s something!

THE MAIN PARTIES

IV. The Main Parties: (Player and NPC Groups)

Being a brief description of the various parties that adventure in the setting of my world

The Basilegate Legate of the Emperor: Imperial and Orthodox Special Legate Team of the Eastern Roman Empire.

The Caerkara The Expeditionary Force: An Expeditionary Team of mainly Eldeven peoples sent to Terra to study humans and human religion.

HoshiThe Footbridge: A group of Orientals formed by a Shugenja Monk and sent into the West along the Silk Road to discover why the Korreupt have invaded the world.

The OroMoonshadow: A group of former African Sharpers who have formed a team to go into the Byzantine Empire, Europe and Asia Minor to explore and investigate

ConsociatioThe Society: An association of Dragoons and their allies who seek the return of their Antipope to the Papal Chair/NPC

The KorreuptThe Twisted, The Terrible: Those Caleedam (monsters) who have escaped Ghanae and made their way into our world/NPC

KhomainahasThe Serpent‘s Teeth: An international syndicate of arms and contraband smugglers, slave and human traffickers, and individual criminals/NPC. Operating primarily in Southern Eastern Europe and Asia Minor.

Heires Glyphers: A secretive organization of individuals whose purpose is unknown but who use a strange hieroglyphic language with unknown properties/NPC

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE – AŒSEI-SÎDELHI FĖLIJ

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE
THE LAY OF THE ELDEVEN

AŒSEI-SÎDELHI FĖLIJ

The Tareåsarmãrl of the Felidic Sîdh

Being the Great Tale of the Fate of the Sidelhi, First of the Eldevens

Then did the Sidelh appear, the first of the Eldeven folk, and none knew from where, or how they arose. And their appearance was as a shock, and a surprise to the Nephýařla, and to the H’alel, for the Sidh had been foreseen by neither, and neither knew from where they came. And the Sidelh themselves could not explain their lives, for they were living souls, and wise, but knew not how they came to be, or from where, or why.

For a while did the Nephýařla watch the Sidelhi from afar, as they approached the lands in which dwelt the H’alel, and the Nephili. And the Nephýařla sent secret emissaries to the Sidelh and they did converse and parley one with another, each seeking to learn what they could of the other. For the Nephýařla did not know if the Sidelhi came as enemies, or unknown strangers, and the Sidh knew nothing of the Neph, or of any of the peoples of the world. So much in word and deed did pass between them, and yet much went unsaid and unlearned, for the Sidelhi did not know from whence they arose, or how, and the Nephýařla would not say from whence they also arose, nor why. But finally, being satisfied in themselves with the nature and intent of the Sidelhi the Nephýařla returned to their own places and left the Sidh to approach that part of the world then inhabited by the H’alel, and their mates, and their children the Tardeeks.

And when the Sidh did arrive then the young Tardeeks saw the females of the Sidh and that they were very fair and pleasing to look upon. So because of the beauty of the females of the Sidelhi the Tardeeks took many of them as wives, and with some consent did the Sidh in those days betroth the Nephili (for in those days they were not foemen, but new companions one to another), and by some clever means known only to the Sidh did their women-folk bear the giants off-spring. And the offspring of the Sidelhi became the Tardeem, the Adharma. And the Adharma were, and yet still are, the half-giants, larger than the Sidh but smaller in statue and strength than their fathers, the ancient giants. And the Sidh also bore unto the Tardeeks the Gabar, the Deirae, the Great and Renown Ones, terrible in war, firm and fixed in form, and as shrewd and strong as any beast of the field. Yet the Gabar were smaller than their brethren, the Adharma Tardeem, being the same in stance and statue as their parents, the Sidelhi. But both races were also sure and powerful, like their forebears, and neither did fear any that lived. Even their own sires.

Then did the H’alel look with envy upon the Tardeem and the Gabar, for they too wished to possess the females of the Sidh for themselves, as their children did. For they reckoned the Sidelhi to be a people filled with lore and wisdom, and beauty, subtle, like themselves, and in this they did not err. And they thought well that the Sidh would make of them the companions of which they wished, and that the Sidh folk would be naturally inclined with favor towards themselves. Yet in this they were much mistaken. For the H’alel were very different from the Sidh, and although both folk were filled with cunning and craft of their own, they were alien and estranged one to another. And the female Sidh did not desire to be wives to the H’alel, and they could not produce offspring between the two. So some of the H’alel did abduct and steal away some of the Sidelhi and they did many unnatural and dark things to those Sidh they held captive, and to themselves as well in order to make them true for each other. But these things all failed and gravely frustrated the H’alel, and in their foiled lust and desire they took to rape and rapine against the Sidh. And in their anger and jealousy the H’alel forbade the Tardeeks and the Tardeem and the Gabar from taking anymore wives of the Sidh.

In those days the H’alel had grown great, waxing to the full measure of their craft and their power, and they had taught many arts and skills to their children the Tardeeks, and the Tardeeks in their turn had taught these things to their own children and grandchildren. And the Tardeeks as well had taught their arts to the Sidelhi, and the Sidh learned much that was noble and high, but the Sidh also had secret and unknown arts of their own, and they held these arts unused and unseen. For they had envisioned from afar what was to pass, and they held their craft in cunning abeyance for the day in which their foreknowledge would bloom in blood. As it was foreseen and spoken as a watchword among them;

Asö læbethl karavądyarcølmed urýl Sîdelhi-ryt gařthe boľgaed, Saêđr jya gűayaţr…

Which is to say, “The secret arts of the Sidelhi are to be held against that day when the spear of naked war is broken by craft, and by guile…”

IT CAME! IT CAME!

Christmas came early! It came!

I walked outside just now to take my dog for a hike in the woods and what did I find?

My new Dungeon Master’s Guide!!!

Just one day after release from Amazon!

I have a lot to do today and so won’t be able to study it until tonight, but just from a quick perusal it looks like a true jewel of a DMG and it certainly has the best artwork of any Dungeons and Dragons book I’ve veer seen published.

It looks like a very solid and useful book. I can’t wait until tonight to examine it in detail.

HERE IT COMES!

Mike announces the conclusion to Legends & Lore — and the new columns starting up in 2015!

It’s hard to believe that, as I write this, it has been nearly three years since we first announced the development of the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons to the world. It’s been a long road.

Trying to write a tiny article to wrap up a process that took over 1,000 days strikes me as futile. You were playing the playtest packets, and now you’re playing the game. The three core rulebooks are an awesome representation of what we accomplished. Your fifth edition campaign is the best expression of it I can imagine. Fifth edition is the culmination of many months of reflecting on game design, previewing content, and sharing updates through this column.  But the process is complete, and for the time being, this will be the last installment of Legends & Lore.

With the release of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, the process of launching fifth edition is over. Now comes the hard part. We have the task of keeping the game as energetic, interesting, and lively for the rest of its life as it has been for its gestation period, so to speak.

D&D is a living thing. It lives and breathes as long as you play the game, create campaigns and characters, and talk about it. Its health can be measured by the lives it has touched and the creativity it has fostered. As members of the D&D team charged with tending to the game, our job is to make sure it remains vibrant and healthy. In many ways, the work we just completed was the easy part. We’ve created D&D editions in the past, but we’ve never tried to manage them in the way we intended to.

Next year, we’ll also have surveys to get a sense of where the game has settled and what might need our scrutiny. Part of that desire is making sure that we understand how the game is serving your needs and what character options and rules variants we can introduce to make your life easier.

On top of that, we have a full slate of new articles coming up in 2015. We’re starting a series called Unearthed Arcana, a monthly look at the art of tabletop RPG game design featuring insights into our philosophy, and examples of new and variant material to use at your table.

We’ll also be publishing a regular series of “campaign notebooks.” These articles will provide insights into D&D and tips for your games taken directly from the campaigns of Dungeon Masters here at Wizards. Expect to see a steady dose of Chris Perkins there, once his campaign gets off the ground.

For rules questions, Jeremy Crawford will take up the hallowed mantle of the Sage as we launch Sage Advice. Expect a variety of rulings from on high, advice on how to cut the Gordian Knots your players manage to tie, and insight into how and why the rules work the way they do.

Finally, our popular series of livestreamed games will continue in 2015. We’ll play D&D and show off our latest storylines, ideas, and to help illustrate the ins and outs of running and playing the game. We’re also expanding our coverage to include D&D games beyond the tabletop roleplaying game.

The launch of fifth edition has exceeded our wildest hopes. Thank you so much for helping make the game a runaway success. Here’s to an even more exciting 2015.

SAMARKAND: THE CITY OF SAMARL

Continuing on with the myth of Terra-Ghanae (or Earth-Iÿarlðma).

Below is described the Capital (political, military, and spiritual) City of the Realm of Kitharia, and one of the main cities of the Sidh. In addition it is the home of the Samarls, the de-facto rulers of the Sidh and a major influence upon the other Eldeven races.

Samarkand (The City of Samarl): The city of Samarkand sits in exactly the same geographic point as the city of Samarkand on our world, but resides in Ghanae (properly called Iÿarlðma by the Eldevens). Both cities also share the same name. However all similarities end there. Samarkand was designed by the Sidelh but was built by the Adharma. Both races share a similar view of architecture in that they encapsulate information in material objects. Books or written materials are rare among the Sidelh and completely absent among the Adharma. The giants instead are excellent masters of mnemonics, and therefore pass history thousands of years old down orally with very little variation or embellishment between transmissions. They also weave information into every building, statue, column, piece of furniture and art, and physical device they create. The entire city then is one huge library of historical, arcane, and mythological information if one knows how to read the text.

Samarkand is the capital city of Kitharia, the most populous and powerful nation known among the Eldeven peoples. Since the Sidelh are slow to reproduce they have invited many other races of Eldevens to dwell in their city and the Sidelh are actually often outnumbered by the non-Sidelh living there. Nevertheless the non-Sidelh are often granted citizenship after a time, as are their families, and so often easily integrate into Kitharian society, to become stout defenders and loyal citizens of their adopted homeland.

The ruler of the Samarkand, and by extension Kitharia, is the individual known as the Samareül. He is elected by a secret group of individuals and once elected he takes no public name other than his title of Samareül, which means Priest-King. The Samareül is elected for life, and is rarely deposed. The Samareül is the supreme judge, most influential political leader and chief priest of Kitharia, being considered the living representative of Samarl, or God. Strangely enough however the Kitharians and most Eldevens for that matter have no formal religion or religious beliefs, and most seek no relationship with God at all. Instead the relationship between Samarl and the Eldevens is considered the de-facto representative relationship and chief obligation of the Samareül.

(The current Samareül is looking to change this state of affairs wishing to make a religious and spiritual relationship among the Kitharians and eventually all Eldevens to be a matter of personal relation between the individual and Samarl. This has led to strained cultural, societal, political, and in some cases racial [such as between the Sidelh and the Lorahn] relationships among some parties, and to the establishment of a strange interlinked alliance between the courts of Samarkand and Constantinople on religious and spiritual matters. I’ll discuss this in more detail in a later posting.)

The city is dominated by an acropolis into which is carved (in the fashion of the Adharma who carve their homes into mountainsides) the Palace and administrative houses of the Samareül. The acropolis is also said to contain numerous secret passages into which the Samareül and his officials keep stored many ancient and secret artifacts and devices, including weird machines which are said to be able to peer into other worlds and through time. This acropolis is called the Jlæthÿlîrel. There is also a rumor that the passages themselves have created a sort of scrying channel and that the channels may be decorated with glyphs of unknown design. This acropolis is sometimes called the onŵl-Samarkando, or, Helm of Samarkand.

The city also has numerous districts in which various Eldeven races mix rather freely, but it also has segregated districts. These are most evident between the Sidelh, and the small enclave of Adharma (who rarely take citizenship) who prefer to live there for periods of time as trusted resident aliens. Politically the situation is stable at most times, except during periods of war. There is a large public gathering area called the Msýthariørl where public elections, entertainments, athletic events, public rites, demonstrations of arcane force and skill, and debated counsels are held. It can hold nearly one-half of the entire population of the city at any given time.

There are also a number of industrial and manufacturing districts to produce and market goods, the Eldarik Houses, the Armories and Internal Towers, the Plarshoel (or, Walking Houses – the giants built the city so that certain buildings can move around the city on tracks, allowing the city to be reconfigured for both ease of trade and transport, and for periods of war and self-defense – unknown to most the city walls can likewise move allowing them to be “interlocked” in various defensive configurations as needed), the sa-Elturaere (the Temple for the study and practice of Elturgy and Elturael – Arcane magic), various markets and domestic areas, the Jmyatŗ Skella (the Crafting District), the Tĕna (Quarters of the Peace Officers), the Nhil (the Warband Quarterings), and the newly created Praşklyřt (the Hall of Investigation – to study and counteract the creation of monsters, discussed later).

As mentioned above the entire city is also a sort of architectural library. However many believe that actual Elturgy was used by the Sidelh to recast the work of the giants so that a secret code now also lies hidden within the structure of the city foundations. To what purpose no-one is really sure.

The River Qira runs through the city (including partially underground) and the river Qala now runs completely around the city in a near perfect circular moat, and then runs away through artificial channels so that the river approaches the city from the East and leaves by routes facing due West, South, and North.

The city is composed of seven plateaus, or levels, the highest being the Jlæthÿlîrel, and the lowest section being an underground area of hot springs and baths called the Myņil.

 

DWINE

The man is a True Artist

Dwine – Broadseax

Dwine – intransigent verb \ˈdwīn\

: to waste or pine away: languish

– Merriam-Webster Dictionary

 

Between the words in old sagas, between the rhyme and meter, I sense a presence—the words not said, the gods not named. I imagine these characters, the unspoken ones. One of them is called Dwine. In the world of mythology there is balance, what is lost in one place is found somewhere else. As the warrior diminishes, something else grows. His name is like the sound of bare branches in the wind. The second half of life is his domain. The force and wrath and strength of the young, that drains away as time passes goes somewhere. It goes into Dwine.

Germanic peoples during the migration period carried elaborate swords with pattern welded blades and bright ornamented scabbards and hilts. They also carried big knives, which grew larger over the period. These were brutal unlovely things; the blades had a strange looking humped back with a straight edge. Archeologists call this family of knives seaxes, after the Germanic word for ‘knife’.

 

Swords embody a world of stories, of dragon slayers, leaders, and noblemen whose ancestors are gods and kings. The knife has a different story and like the gods I imagine, it is untold. It’s an implied story, unlovely as the blades themselves. The characters are common folk, not descended from kings, yet their story is older. The seax cut hearth wood and slave-taker, it protected crops not castle walls. The gnarled-handed people who held these knives called on names that weren’t recorded.

 

 

I forged the blade for this Seax as a demonstration at a smith’s moot called CanIron VIII with help striking from my friend and fellow swordsmith Jeff Helmes.

The blade is constructed from five strands, the four spine strands are nine twisted layers each and the edge bar is 700 layers of folded steel.

 

I’ve been exploring seax hilts on paper for years. It’s a challenging form to design with few examples of intact hilts. Petr Floriánek has been doing allot of work in exploring ancient Germanic aesthetics, especially as it relates to the seax. His work has inspired me to look deeper into this form.

I decided to follow my sense of the grimness of these blades. I chose oak for the grip and leather for the sheath. Oak has commonness; it’s the wood of the spade handle, the door lintel. It’s a peasant wood with roots in the oldest myths. It’s the wood of Thor and Taranus and Zeus— lightning gods and unpredictable protectors.

 

Blank faces look out from the ferules, turning away from the centerline of the knife to be clothed in expression along the edge and spine, where the blade speaks its knife language.

The sheath is woven with dream creatures, neither man nor beast, twisting in and out of sense.

 

 

The grip is carved from oak with skeletal beaked serpents.

 

 

I carve the fittings from wax and cast them into bronze.

 

 

Finally I assemble the parts, capture the light they reflected yesterday and collect words together, try to describe what I was doing, what the grim faces mean, but this story is not told in words.

blade – 32 cm / 12 3/4″

hilt – 24.2 cm / 9 3/8″

blade width – 4.5 cm / 1 3/4″

overall length – 56.2 cm / 22 1/8″

 

“One look in his eye

everyone denies

ever having met him.”

-Tom Waits

THE SWORD-SEED

The Gate of Apsu

A dagger is like a distillation of a sword, a sword-seed, and therefore perfect for a wizard.

finn10

Perhaps the world is not as it seems. The forces that hold things together may be uncertain, not as we imagine them. The fourth dimension, ancient time, might be filled with secrets— secrets from long before humans scuttled and promulgated across the land. The light of dead stars watches down across the eons, and only the crystal sharp mind of the wizard, opened to portals of time and multiverse, can begin to fathom its meaning.

finn9

This dagger is the second piece in a slowly unfolding project called “The Archeology of Dreams — The Unspoken Ones”. The first was the Seax “Dwine”.

Constructed from Hynninen wootz steel, horn, wood, leather, fur, bronze and silver, this dagger implies its wielder, the wizened searcher for arcane truth.

Length – 43.4cm/17 1/8″

Width – 5.6cm/2 1/4″

gateofapsu4web

To follow the process of making this dagger, have a look here —

Forging the Blade

Making the Scabbard

Carving the Hilt

and here is a blog post about carving the wizard’s staff that accompanies the dagger in some of the photos —

A Gramary of Art

gateofapsu3web

 

OLD SARUM

Old Sarum survey reveals new information about medieval city layout

Aerial view of Old Sarum. Image: English Heritage

Aerial view of Old Sarum. Image: English Heritage

Archaeologists from the University of Southampton have revealed for the first time the plan of a network of buildings in a once thriving medieval city at the historic site of Old Sarum, near Salisbury (south England).

A research team of students and academics carried out a geophysical survey of the ancient monument, scanning ground at the site with state-of-the-art equipment to map the remains of buried structures. They concentrated their survey around the inner and outer baileys of what was once a fortification, with its origins in the Iron Age and the Roman conquest.

Students surveying Old Sarum. University of Southampton

Features

Their investigations reveal the layout of a settlement including structures from the late 11th century, contemporary with the construction of a cathedral and castle. The city was inhabited for over 300 years, but declined in the 13th century with the rise of New Sarum (Salisbury).

The project findings mainly concentrate on the medieval period and highlight:

* A series of massive structures along the southern edge of the outer bailey defensive wall, perhaps suggesting large buildings of a defensive nature.

* An open area of ground behind these large structures, perhaps for mustering resources or people, or as part of a circular route through the city.

* Residential areas in the south east and south west quadrants of the outer bailey alongside the inner bailey ditch.

* Evidence of deposits indicating industrial features, such as kilns or furnaces.

* Features suggesting quarrying at the site after the 1300s and following the city’s decline – indicating a later period of habitation at the site.

Archaeologist Kristian Strutt, Experimental Officer and Director of Archaeological Prospection Services at the University of Southampton, says: “Archaeologists and historians have known for centuries that there was a medieval city at Old Sarum, but until now there has been no proper plan of the site.

Our survey shows where individual buildings are located and from this we can piece together a detailed picture of the urban plan within the city walls.”

sarum2

A new layer to the story

The research was conducted as part of the Old Sarum and Stratford-Sub-Castle Archaeological Survey Project, directed by Kristian Strutt and fellow Southampton archaeologists Timothy Sly and Dominic Barker. Old Sarum is under the custodianship of English Heritage, who kindly granted permission for the investigation to take place.

Heather Sebire, Property Curator at English Heritage, comments: “Having the team of archaeologists on site over the summer gave our visitors a chance to find out more about how important historic landscapes are surveyed. The use of modern, non-invasive surveying is a great start to further research at Old Sarum.

From this work we can surmise much about the site’s past and, whilst we can’t conclusively date the findings, it adds a new layer to Old Sarum’s story. We welcome the chance to find out more about our sites, and look forward to exploring ideas for further research in the future.”

The team used a variety of techniques to examine the outer and inner bailey of the site. These included the use of topographic survey methods and geophysical survey techniques – comprising of magnetometry, earth resistance, ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electric resistivity tomography (ERT) survey.

Kristian Strutt concludes: “Our research so far has shown how the entire outer bailey of the monument was heavily built up in the Middle Ages, representing a substantial urban centre. Results have given us compelling evidence as to the nature of some of the structures. It is clear, however, that there is more non-intrusive work that could be carried out to further expand our understanding of the site.”

A training exercise

The team hopes to return to complete the survey of the inner and outer baileys and survey the Romano-British settlement to the south of Old Sarum in Easter 2015. The project fieldwork in 2014 was used as a training season for undergraduate and postgraduate archaeology students at the University, continuing a long tradition of research-led teaching at some of the most impressive archaeological sites in the south of England. Previous fieldwork has been conducted by students at Portchester Castle, Netley Abbey and Bishop’s Waltham Palace in Hampshire, and at Bodiam Castle in East Sussex.


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