History Resources for your Game

28 August, 2015

A variety of interesting articles and sites about history I have found recently and wish to share:

An amazing site that is a collection of thousand of aerial photographs of England taken between 1919 and 1953, Britain from Above.

A good article about the new display, Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, at will be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center.  The Victorian attitude toward death was so very different from ours.

While this bends into a political discussion, it still has interesting information on the history and development of dyes.

Ten apartment building floor plans from early 20th Century NYC (you can find the source for such and more at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery).

From Historic England,  an Introduction to Medieval Settlements, technical but short and packed with information.

One of the ways news was spread of judicial punishment in early modern Europe was through murder ballads, recount the crimes and (more importantly) punishment of those executed.  Your campaign needs these.

Any new of a historical nature catch your eye lately?


Tuesday Magic Item – Gaslighting Box

25 August, 2015

Plainer than this evenVoddick closed the door and then opened it again, it was a spartan, cell like room on the other side with narrow windows.  “That was a broom closet the last time I looked inside,” he said mostly to himself.

Gollaon peered over his shoulder and looked at the door frame.  “Close it again.”

Voddick did so and his friend traced a sigil on the door.  “Try now.”

Carefully, Voddick did so revealing . . . a broom closet with a plain gray box on the floor.

“Someone is playing nasty games,” said Gollaon, “and we need to find out who.”

Gaslighting Box

These odd items appear as nothing more than a plain metal box, careful examination will reveal that its lid is false and that it is in fact a sealed cube.  Polishing the box with oil will reveal the concealed symbols that must be traced to activate its magic.

The box can be used once a day, placed in the center of a room with only one door and the sigil traced, it opens a sub-dimensional space that in linked to the door, anyone passing through the door enters the room created by the box for the next ten hours (or until the sigil is traced on the closed door).   The room created is a twelve by twelve foot (3.75 by 3.75 metre) stone room with three narrow windows.  The room is furnished with a cot, a bucket, a pitcher of clean water and a cup.  The door linked to the box can be arcane locked at will by the person who activated it.

The room is lit by ambient light, just enough to read by and it does not change.  The windows are deep and only two inches (five centimetres) wide and it is always lightly raining outside them but nothing more than indistinct shapes can be seen.  The room resets ever time it is recreated, appearing exactly the same when it is reentered again.

When the room is dispelled, anything living in it ends up in the same space but all nonliving material vanishes with the room.

Aura moderate transmutation; CL 7th
Slot – ; Price 10,000; Weight 2 lbs
Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, arcane lock, dimension door, shadow conjuration, rope trick; Cost 5,000

Notes: If you do not know what gaslighting is, read about it here.  This is designed to disorient and confuse the person who is forced into the room, though creative uses for it are possible as well.  Tell me what you come up with.

Photo by Angel Arcones and used used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.


Dark Future Ahead 12 – News from the ‘Net of a Cyberpunk bent

20 August, 2015

There has to be an adventure in disrupting (or supporting) an internet troll factory, a place than manufactures opinion for a government, or megacorporation, by spamming social media with posts in support of this or against that.  Fascinating.

Listed to to soothing sounds of the BotNets,  MicroSoft is listening to the web, literally, to locate and analyze botnets.  Quite intriguing.

What will the skyscraper of the future look like?  Architect Ole Scheeren has some interesting ideas.

Transparent aluminum!  We can make transparent aluminum, a staple of early SF becomes reality.

Talor Swift’s video Bad Blood has the right sort of vibe for entertainment within the cyberpunk future.  I see it as a future video game trailer with each of the named characters available as playable options.

Make your own opiates from sugar with the right yeast.  More use for those biochemistry degrees.

And how about 3D-printed pills to go with your yeast grown opiates?

What signs of the coming dark future have you seen recently?


Tuesday Magic Item – Festival Bracelet

18 August, 2015

Sort of like this“Why are all those people flashing those bracelets?” asked Voddick.  “Is it a cult?  Because I do not need any more cults in my life.  It cannot be fashion as they are too . . . tacky.”

Gollaon laughed.  “If you find them so, it must be true.”

Voddick was about to defend his sartorial choices when a group of half-naked young folk, all wearing bracelets, chased each other around and through the pair.  “Wait . . . what?” said a dazed Voddick as they ran off laughing.

“They are to worn during such celebrations to prevent unwanted . . . complications arising from carnal pleasures,” explained Gollaon.  “When two or more of them are touched together they glow to prove they are still working.  That is important, as their magic usually does not last any longer than the festivals they are worn for.”

Voddick just shook his head.  “I find I am disturbed by the level of hedonism such magic implies.”

Festival Bracelet

These colorful bracelets are woven from brightly, but cheaply, dyed cloth or fibers, usefully in color associated with the festival being celebrated or the organization providing the bracelets or both.  Their magic is triggered by tying them around ones wrist or ankle with a special knot (that cannot be undone, only cut) and the bracelet glows for a few seconds when it is activated.

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GenCon 2015, My Experience

15 August, 2015

AEG booth in progressAs is usual, AEG contacted me about working their demo team for GenCon and equally as usual, I accepted.  So my friend H, who also works GenCon for AEG, and I headed up when the time was right.  So, as we were required to help with setup starting on Tuesday, we left Monday, and drove to Cave City, spent the night and then into Indianapolis on Tuesday morning, arriving safely at the Crowne Plaza (conveniently located almost directly across from the dealers hall).  Dropped our stuff off in the room and then met up with the rest of the team and the mad setup began!  It was kind of fun but tiring, assembling displays, tables and shifting boxes and products for about seven hours.  Fun Fact, the convention center does not turn the air conditioning on in the dealers hall until Thursday.  Then, dinner at the Ram where they had War Machine-themed menus, cider on tap and delightful fish and chips.  I have tired to eat at the Ram for the last two years and I will make it back some time as I really enjoyed the experience. Read the rest of this entry »


Rokugan SRIU Episode 5 “Promises Made” (L5R Campaign Report)

11 August, 2015

The characters have triumphantly return from their visit to Paper Street where upon they are dispatched North on an inspection tour through Lion and Phoenix lands, sans Otaku.  With very little time to prepare, but the Bayushi finds a package from Kiau Taura in her room, containing a new frog mask of steel to replace the heavy iron one she had been wearing.  Things are uneventful on the Lion side, though Akina does receive a letter . . . instructing her to assist Ikoma Masaji should she encounter him.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Testing Wand

11 August, 2015

Something like thisVoddick frowned as the wooded top at the end of the wand fell off when he picked it up.  “Did I break it?”

Gollaon caught the top before it hit the ground.  “Not at all.  The magic that holds the two together as worn off.”

“But I just saw the scullery maid playing with it and it was working.”

“Indeed?  She may have a bright future ahead then.”

Testing Wand

These mass-produced items are not uncommon in places where magic schools or guilds operate, they are simply enchanted wooden wands with an attuned toy (usually a ball or top) that the wand can make spin or roll.

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