Sunday, 27 December 2009

Yuletide Greetings

Ah, Christmas... I've been celebrating with my family, and have enjoyed myself immensely. However, all things must come to an end. I'm preparing to return to the Rainy City, and eventually to work. I have a few posts in the pipeline, and hopefully I'll get them up before I run out of year.

In the meantime, and since it's still Christmas, I'll give you some light entertainment.

God jul alle sammen!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Word: Cabal

This time I've got two origins, one unarguably true, the other more circumstantial.

Origin 1: The true origin is, of course, the Hebrew word kabbalah, litterally meaning 'receiving'. It is a dicipline and a school of thought concerned with mystic Judaism. Cabal reffers to a group of people, bound together by a common cause, often involving secrecy.

Origin 2: Another origin, while probably not etymologically accurate, is the five members of the Privy Council of Charles II of England, Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley-Cooper, and Lauderdale. These men held power from 1668 to approximately 1674.

Origin 1 is the true one -- the second, while it did put the word into the English vocabulary, would not have had the impact, or meaning, it did without the former.

Source 1:

Source 2:
Denis MacShane, Globalising Hatred, the new antisemitism, Phoenix, 2009

Thursday, 10 December 2009

On Argonauts

Storyteller's note: This article can be read in The Tradesmaster's Dispatch, a Wezellian newsletter. This particular edition can be found in the van Zaar residence in Zaarbrügge.

The Tradesmaster's Dispatch
Räderhafen - 11 / MXXI

The Attack on Free Thought
as illustrated by the persecution of the Argonauts.

The Royal Guild of Argonauts was founded by Lord Solar Macharius, King of Pendrell and Corillia in YE 89. The guild was tasked with preserving the secrets of navigation and astronomy, and for centuries it was the backbone of the Pendrellian navy; only on few occasions did any one not a member of the guild rise to admiralcy.

The guild served the Royal House of Pendrell with honour, adhering to the mandate laid down by Macharius. We ourselves owe them some gratitude for the prosperity brought by the trade routes opened by the Argonauts before the Wezellian Renaissance. Let us not forget that early in this age, our kingdom stood without the wealth of enlightenment other realms inherited from the Scythian Empire.

The Argonauts have lost a great deal of influence, prestige, and resources over the last generation. There have been a few scandals involving prominent Navigators, but the greatest blow is a most recent one: the Tribunals of Pure Thought. These tribunals, as the astute reader will know, have been founded in order to weed out freethinkers and heretics, and are strictly counter-Enlightenment. They follow the doctrines laid down by the Presbyterium, and operate outside the Habeas Corpus. To date, at least twenty-three gentlemen of standing have been sent to the pyre by these tribunals, several more have been imprisoned or exiled. It should also be noted that the property of the convicted does not befall the Crown, as is customary, but the Parliament.

That such an ancient order as the Argonauts are being eradicated should be cause for concern for all enlightened gentlemen, for if the secrets of navigation are to be suppressed, the very foundation of reason and commerce is threatened.

The Tradesmaster is informed that over the last year, the Board of Onkels have granted asylum to several prominent scholars, thinkers, peers and gentlemen of good standing, all of whom have had to flee from unjust persecution and slander. It is the conviction of the Tradesmaster that the outcome of these horrendous actions can only lead to a dilution of the very essence of Erian civilisation -- that of pursuit of wonder tempered by rational thinking and enhanced by scientific achievements and philosophical advancements. Was it not these very qualities that enabled Man to emerge victorious from the Second World War? Should we then abandon our best hope in the face of what may well be the greatest peril Man has ever faced?

We, as a culture, nay, as a race, are now besieged by great and terrible forces -- forces of darkness, corruption and ignorance. The Syndikaat has committed itself to this conflict, this war, this, the Third World War.

The Tradesmaster can do nothing but condemn those that seek to shackle and make mute those gifted individuals who are our best hope for salvation. If war is the only way to survive, we must all answer the call to arms. The Third Age is ending, and the Fourth Age must be born in blood. We must strike down those who wish to poison and destroy our brothers with furious anger, whatever they be, where ever the are. Let us not fear this struggle!

The fate of the Navigators is but one example of the tyranny of evil men. What sets it apart from the Temple's rampant persecutions of free thought and enlightened vision is that it happens with the blessing of the Cabal of Pure Thought. If the thought is no longer pure, let us then, for the sake of our sons and daughters, abandon it and embrace the truth. The seeing must lead the blind, lest we all perish.

The last two chapters

Storyteller's note: Due to time, computer-SNAFU, and the actions of the last two chapters, I will combine these. Most of the last these were spent in in-character discussions, something that, while it is most interesting when it happens, doesn't necessarily make for a great narrative.

Lying off the coast of Corillia, the Company was faced with a difficult decision, that of where to go, and what to do. After some consideration, three alternatives had been defined, Wezell, Waymar, and Kithay. The pros and cons of each were thoroughly examined, and in the end, Wezell was chosen.

The main problem here was that they would have to sail through waters heavily patrolled by the Pendrellian navy, but here Galan had a solution. He created a magical displacement of the Pius' visual presence, in effect making the ship invisible, while simultaneously creating a red herring any would-be pursuers could follow.

Thus it was that the good ship Pius and her crew arrived in Zaarbrügge, van Zaar's hometown. To expand on the subterfuge the name of the ship was painted over, and the Saviour anchored in port. Further, new names were invented for both Galan and Banzel. Van Zaar, being an old spy, drew upon one of his old aliases, while Aegir limited his cover to a hooded cloak.

They were received with open arms by Jolander's mother, and her brother, Jaap, the head of the house, and one of the Onkels, was summoned. The following days were used to refit the ship, relax, and do various preparations for future adventures. Jolander spent most of his time at home with his mother, drinking fortified wine and telling her all about his life and the state of the world as he sees it. She listened attentively, though most of it was lost on her, while sewing, until her son fell asleep. Then she'd see him carried to bed by two of the servants.

When Onkel Jaap van Zaar arrived three days after the Company came to Wezell; they had a proper sit-down. The fate of Argos, and that of Man, was what was discussed. Jolander believed that in a matter of weeks, the Old One, the giant sea-monster that almost sank the Pius, would attack Eria. This would, he insisted, cause panic, disaster, and the destruction of the Worlds of Man.

The Host of Man was another item of concern. The Elendrine Prophecies say that, "[Caracalla] will defeat the Host." Jaap here raised the question of how to avoid this, and this on turn lead to the Company volunteering to kill him.

Several other issues were also discussed, but as the hour had grown late, the men agreed to continue the talks at the next day's breaking of the fast.

Storyteller's note: Here the chapter ends, and another begins. Jolander's player was not present.

That night, after Jolander had been tucked in, Galan sat in the library, studying, when a servant announced a visitor for him. This proved to be a certain Commander Sir Jasper Colomb, of His Majesty's Royal Guild of Argonauts.

He was at first interested in Galan's role in the Scutino Incident and in the recent murder of captain Ardyke. Galan swore that neither himself, nor any of his companions, had anything to do with the former (being an Adeptus of Mind, he has reorganised his memories of the incident somewhat). By now, Tradesmaster Drake and Prince Aegir had joined the two, while Banzel monitored the exchange from the roof where he'd been watching the stars.

On the matter of the killing of Ardyke, Galan claimed that he had given strict orders not to harm him, and that none of his companions had been involved. In fact, he went as far as to give his word on it.

The visitor then went in to tell of an imminent war between Wezell and Pendrell. This would probably start in Corllia, he said. He then claimed that the Pendrellian king had been isolated and that all power in Pendrell now lay with the Parliament and the Ministerium. The true nature of his visit, he said, was to enlist the help of the Company. The nature of the help was somewhat delicate, and the status of the gentlemen was ideally suited; he asked that they kill a certain Dr Ebeneezer Murdoch.

Dr Murdoch was to be found in a Corillian city right across the border, no more than a dozen miles from their current location. Sir Jasper provided maps of the city, Grasse, and the Palace of Reason, a fortress on a small island in the harbour, where Dr Murdoch resided. The doctor was the most prominent member of the Ministerium in Corillia, and he was the head of the duchy's Tribunal of Pure Thought. Gryff Galan accepted.

Once the Argonaut had left, and armed with the maps, Galan started scrying the location, something that proved to be somewhat difficult. There was a certain resonance about the location that directly opposed the magic. Nevertheless, the good captain managed not only to penetrate the fortress, but also the private quarters of Dr Murdoch. Having made it thus far, Galan was contemplating teleporting into the chambers and killing the sleeping man. As it happened, h contemplated long enough to allow his mark to wake up. Sitting up, he cried, "Witchcraft!" and Galan, sitting bent over the maps, was thrown backwards by a white blast, ending up sprawling on the floor. The map was destroyed, something Banzel (having entered somewhat ungraciously through the closed window a little earlier) fixed through magic.

After the failed assassination, the Company decided to call it a day, and to resume after breakfast.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Why We're Here

I found this one just recently, and since I've already opened for comics here, I'll give you Why We're Here, a short introduction to the horrible world of Cthulhu by Steve Ellis and Fred Van Lente.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Lost Treasure

Storyteller's note: This pamphlet is brought before Gryff Galan by Mr Hawkins. He has confiscated it from one of the captured marines, and as he says, "I thought you might be interested, Sir." The six page print is on coarse paper, and according to the date, is no more than a week old. The name of the printer is not given, but it comes from Crondor.

The Unfinished Tale of Captain Tomas Parlay, Esq. as delivered to myself, his printer. Gentlemen, I fear that this time the daring adventurer has got himself into a pickle of which kind no one can survive. I fear, esteemed readers, that this is the last we will ever hear from the good Captain. 

Now, without further ado, I have the honour to present to you~

The Hunt for the Lost Treasure of the Elven Prince
by Captain Tomas Parlay, Esq.

As the astute reader may remember from my Adventure of the Phønix Feather(1), I found a map in the study of the deranged Dr. Mörbius. Again, fortune favoured me, for it was this that eventually saved me from a less than desirable fate.

My last adventure, the Curse of the Black Dancer(2), had me marooned in a shadowy realm. To be precise, the Black Dancer herself left me, all but decently attired, I am ashamed to say, adrift on a far-away river. A lesser man may have lost hope, but yours truly have been pickled more spicy than this before.

I will not bore you, gentle reader, with all the specifics surrounding the start of this adventure. Suffice it to say that when a ship emerged from the mists, I quickly put my wits and charms to good use. The ship's captain, a fine and dashing rogue, and his compannions, a party of a no less roguish disposition than their leader, agreed not only to save me from my predicament, but also to fund my next venture.

Thus it was that I found myself in command of a group, composed of as shady looking characters as you could imagine, in a small vessel heading for a deserted strip of land in northern Pendrell. Of my compannions I will say but a little at this time; one will be hard pressed to produce a more peculiar party. Believe me when I say that I found myself in the company of as well a wizard, a witch, two giants and a fallen paladin.

Under my expert leadership, our expedition came to a good start, as we landed on a moonlit, rocky beach, some miles south of Everkirk. Well heeled with gold from my past exploits, I set out shortly to procure steeds for the journey, bidding my fellows to wait lest they attract unwanted attention.

Coming up on Everkirk as the brazen sun of Pendrell in Novium rose majestically from its nocturnal slumber, I quickly spotted the fellow I sought, the portly postkeeper, enjoying his tea on a bench. With my razor-sharp wit, I rapidly dazzled him with compliments and anecdotes from a world this sedade individual hardly knew existed.

He became so impressed with my persona that he invited me in for a drink while we conducted our business. This was were I first saw the postkeeper's daughter. She was as angelic as you could imagine, my dear reader, with auburn hair flowing around her alabaster face. Her shapes, fully blossomed, could have led a presbyter into sinful thought, and she carried herself with a grace a queen would have envied her. Naturally, she could not take her eyes off me while she served her father and his guest.

The postkeeper, in the manner of all rotund merchants, drove a hard bargain for the horses, but for one who has haggled with a Hannuman sultan(3), this rural coin-clinker had to draw the shortest straw. And so it was that I returned to my party with horses, most of my currency, and a kiss from the postkeeper's daughter.

Even with the steeds, the journey inland was slow, for we had to follow the smaller paths, and avoid people as much as possible. Why? you may ask. Even one as silver-tongued as myself would find it difficult to explain the two giants who effortlessly loped beside our mounts. When we there was no choice but to ride through a hamlet or cross a bridge, the two looming, granite-muscled warriors of myth trekked around, meeting up with us on the other side.

Now I feel I owe you, my reader, some detail of the quest we were on. The map I had brought was not a map per see. Rather, it was description of the place where the Elven Prince Gilvandar had hidden the greatest treasure of his house before the last battle for Pendrell. The place was between two trees, under two stars, below the vaxing moon of Emmeroch.

The wizard, a mad Aragonian, had been wracking his head over this description repeatedly since we set out on this adventure, and had grown sullen with his lack of progress. It was only when I remembered my encounter with the talking staff(4) that I was able to solve the puzzle.

Relying on my uncanny memory of maps, I guided my compannions further north, over moors and through valleys, past the vast ruins of the Blackwall, and into the empty lands across the border.

Two days into the wilderness, late in the evening, we were attacked. We had set up camp and eaten a brace of rabbits I had shot. One of the giants was on watch when I heard the telltale sound of a rock being pushed from its place by a careless foot. I quickly glanced at my fellows, and seeing that most of them were fast asleep I drew my sword.

Not a moment too soon, for just as my Corobani blade cleared its scabbard they attacked. I called out to my friends, who stirred rapidly from their slumber, and I attacked (for is not a good offense the best defense?). The bandits were a dirty and dishelved lot, their breath reeked of rotting teeth and sour wine, and their beards were knotted and greasy; one had the skull of a small animal fastened to his.

Again my study under the blind swordsmaster(5) served me well, for while my companions struggled to get their bearings I was locked in mortal combat with three of the ugly brutes. Their technique was no less shabby than their demeanor, and I proved to be more than what they bargained for. Still, they had numbers on us. Luckily I had heard heard the brigands before they could spring their trap, and I was able to hold the line while my allies mustered.

The battle soon turned when the giants got their bearings, and when the blackguards found us a harder nut to crack than they had bargained for, they fled. Five of their number lay dead on the ground, and none of us had been hurt. My fellow adventurers were all shaken by the untimely attack, and few of them got much sleep that night. They all thanked me profusely, but I would hear nought of it - is not the cameraderie shared by heroes on a quest reward enough?

The next two days took us West into the foothills of the Stormcrow Mountains. The gentle slopes were covered in the multi-coloured sheddings of the old decidous forest, for here Autumn reigned. The jagged peaks of the primordial range were covered in eternal snow, and more than one river had to be crossed; running wild with icy water from the ancient fields of snow and ice that lay in the bossom of the mountains.

At last we arrived at the Fir'an Dael Plateu. According to the book I took from Dr Mörbius, the plateu was the last camp of the elves before they rode to their final battle. Here the last elves of their House had gathered under the two stars, below the vaxing moon of Emmeroch, to sing their own end. Here Prince Gilvandar burried the greatest treasure of his House between the two trees so that the humans would not get it. Here the elves had feasted and danced through the autumn night. Then they had ridden into legend. I would be lying if I said that we weren't touched by the history of the place.

While we pitched camp, the Aragonian wizard consulted the stars and found that Emmeroch would be upon us in two days. The site was ideal, with a good view of the surrounding area, plenty of game, and the freshest, sweatest water in a stream cutting accross the plateu.

We were bothered by neither man, monster, nor beast, and we spent the two days scouting and hunting. In the evenings, one of the giants sang enchanting ballads of forgotten days, and we were very content.

On the second evening, returning from a hunt with two fat fetterhens, I found the trees; two ancient, great weirwoods, old already when Macharius crossed the Inner Sea. Directly above them, the two bright stars that form the eyes of the Sentinel gazed down upon us. There was a resonance about the place that reminded me of the entrance to the Cavern of the Three (6). I returned to the camp, and the following day we prepared for the climax of our adventure. Several of my compannions were, understandably, a little nervous, but I managed to calm their nerves with soothing words and encouraging comments.

Here we have no further information about the Captain or his companions. Our thoughts are with them, and may it give them strength.


Other Adventures by Captain Parlay, Esq.:

(1) The Adventure of the Phønix Feather
(2) The Curse of the Black Dancer
(3) The Sands of Destiny
(4) The Maid and the Talking Staff
(5) The Master of the Sword
(6) The Cavern of the Three

The last chapter

Startig with the Pius returning to the surface, the Blockade in its wake.

The Company decided on their course -- that of the Plague Ship. They also knew how to proceed -- the Captain would transport them there. Then they would take up possition outside the Erian Gap, thus making them able to intercept the Naglfār before it could enter the Inner Ocean. Then they determined on the matter of how to take the Plague Ship out -- they would call upon the dragon.

Storyteller's note: Seriously, I can't remember the last time any group of players had a plan this good, this early in the session. Neat thing here of course was that while their plan covered everything they had set out to do, it didn't take anything else into account.

Bear with me while I lay out a few factors that will come to affect the Erian adventures of the Pius Cabal. The Erian Gap, the narrow straits that separates the Inner Ocean from the Outer Sea, is very heavily trafficed by ships of all Erian kingdoms. Not the least of these being Pendrell. Now, remembering an earlier chapter, the Pendrellian Parliament wants to see the gentlemen of the Company tried for the Scutino Incident, and they want their ship back (this session was the last before I started posting them here). And then there's M'narcel/Drake's Black Mark to worry about.

Well pleased with themselves, the magicians set about their business. Banzel had decided that he would make the Pius fly again, and so he turned to his plans and experiments. Van Zaar and Drake resolved to study the Saragossa Manuscript, in hope that they would learn how to destroy a Black Ship. Galan set out to device magical procedure grand enough to transport the ship and its crew several thousands of miles.

Long story quite short; the following sunrise saw the Pius in Erian waters. At this point van Zaar reasoned that since everything was proceeding smoothely they might afford to change the plan somewhat. He proposed to seek another way of destroying the Naglfār besides the dragon, thus keeping the proverbial cat well inside the bag for now.

Just as the debate over how to slay their prey started to become interesting, a midshipman reported that a Pendrellian corvette was coming up on them.

The corvette, the Suprise, signalled the Pius to stand down and be boarded. Despite some objections from the Company, captain Galan decided to follow the command. So it was that when the boarding skiff approached the side of the Pius, the Suprise lay in command of the wind, broadside threatening the stern of the ship of our heroes.

The spiffy young leutennant who commanded the boarding party, introducing himself as Thorne, presented Galan with his orders. Gryff Galan was, with imediate effect, stripped of rank and removed from command, and arrested. Further, Jolander van Zaar, the Wezellian spy, as well as Mandan Banzel, was to be arrested. Finally, Pius was to be surrendered into the command of Mr Thorne and returned to a Pendrellian port.

Drake was not mentioned.

Mr Thorne was pleasant enough to give the Company half an hour to get their affairs in order. It should be noted that according to Galan's memory, the lieutennant's father is Ebenezer Thorne, an influential Presbyterian member of Parliament.

The magicians did not agree on much in the events that were to follow. In fact, they did disagree on more issues than not. Drake, being quite pleased by not being mentioned in the order, had no wish to surrender himself to captivity. Van Zaar on the other hand, felt warmly about everybody going. Banzel wanted to blow up the Suprize and get on with the task at hand. Galan was too shocked and apalled by the entire debacle to get a proper grip on it. So, when Mr Thorne came to take the arrestees into custody the Company was still arguing. Drake stayed behind when the three prisoners were rowed over to the Suprize.

On the Suprize, things went from bad to worse. Captain Ardyke, an old seadog, expressed his regrets about chain of events. Regardless, despite loud objections from both van Zaar and Galan, the heroes were stripped of their personal belongings and shackled, before they were taken to the brig.

The Company still kept contact with eachother through the hive-mind established by Galan, and with three of them imprissoned and a price-crew abuot to set off with the Pius, an argument broke out between Galan and Drake. This ended with Drake severing the connection, thus cutting off any contact between the two parties.

Drake set about to retake the Pius, and so he summoned a nightmare spirit to put the marines from the Suprize to sleep.

On the Suprize, Banzel, never passing up on an opportunity for magic, decided to break the shackles, instead he managed to set of a Paradox effect that transmuted his boots to iron. Still bickering, the prisoners fumbled on for a bit until Banzel broke van Zaar's chains. Of course, the two guards outside their cell summoned a sergeant.

When the door to the brig was opened, van Zaar, manipulating time itself, attacked the guards and managed to severly wound the sargeant and injure one of the guards. The last one fought fought desperately while the alarm was sounded on the ship.

On the Pius, the enemy marines was now tipping over as the nightmare, a tall cloaked figure with smoke coming from within its cape, collected their dreams. Mr Thorne tried to sound the alarm when his men fell to witchcraft, but he was quickly and effectively dispatched by the Prince. To avoid being fired upon by the watchfull gunners of the Suprize, Drake asked the nightmare to skinride the body of the dead lieutennant.

Back on the Suprize the prisoners were still fighting the guard when Galan opened a portal back to his quarters.

Now escaped, the matter of surviving took precedence. Banzel magically hardened the hull of the Pius, while Galan wove a cunning spell to protect the masts. These measures proved sufficient to see them through the Suprize's broadside, and the light load of the Pius allowed them to leave the enemy in their wake.

It is at this point Banzel, van Zaar and the Prince get into a bet of sorts. Banzel wants to shoot one of the men on the Suprize, and van Zaar mentions the marksmanship of the Enæìd. Captain Ardyke is not to be harmed, someone says, before the Prince's man let's his arrow fly. It strikes the man next to the captain, and he falls over. Then Banzel shoots captain Ardyke in the heart.

The Suprize breaks off.

That evening, Galan believes his scrying has revealed their target, and the course is set.

That night van Zaar and Drake sit down again to finish their study of the Saragossa Manuscript. To make sure they have enough time, van Zaar again manipulates the flow of time.

In the morning they come upon their enemy, and the Saragossa Manuscripts proved to contain a spell that could banish Naglfār. The drawbacks was that it was beyond the capacity of any of the magicians, and that while the spell could be read directly from the manuscript, this would result in it being lost permanently.

Opting to preserve the dragon, the Pius Cabal took up possition on deck while Drake read out the Abyssian words of the spell. As the ancient magic formed, the words that summoned it decayed from the cracked vellum. The mist that hid the target dissipated, and then sounds of cracking timber came from the enemy. Reality seemed to become even more solid, and then the plague ship Naglfār collapsed in on itself, leaving nothing.

End of chapter.

Storyteller's note: Even if I received a lot of objections this night, I was quite amused. Mostly by the bickering and chaos that evolved as it became apparent that the Suprize did in fact mean to arrest and detain the Pius and her crew.

The affairs of the Erian kingdoms are complex, and quite important in the big picture, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the heroes decide to do next.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Historical References: Plague

In this edition of the Historical References I will shed some light on something that is a distinct possibility in the near future of Argos.

Plague n. A widespread affliction or calamity, especially one seen as divine retribution, or a highly infectious, usually fatal, epidemic disease; a pestilence.

Mor, der kommer en kjerring
T. Kittelsen
Picture hosted by: Nasjonalmuseet

The Norwegian legend portrays the Black Death as an old crone, walking from house to house. She carried a broom and a rake. If she used the broom, everybody died; the rake left some alive. Some houses she passed all together.

Typically, plague refers to the bubonic plague, but any rampant epidemic (if it meets the out of control body-count requirements) may be called a plague. Other diseases that have carried the plague-label include smallpox, typhus and cholera. 

Poor sanitary conditions, limited medical knowledge and dense population made Medieval and Renaissance cities ideal stomping grounds for all sorts of infectious diseases. The plagues were not alone.

Doctor Schnabel von Rom
A 17th-century plague physician in protective clothing.
Etching by Paulus Furst of Nuremberg, Germany, 1656.

Picture hosted by: Boston College Magazine

London, as well as most major cities, was hit by plague repeatedly, and the following quote is from the Wiki about the Great Plague of 1665-1666 that reportedly cost the lives of about 100.000 people. Note that at this time the population of London was about half a million. 

Plague doctors would traverse the streets, diagnosing victims, although many of them were unqualified physicians. Several public health efforts were attempted. Physicians were hired by city officials, and burial details were carefully organized. But panic spread through the city, and in the fear of contagion, people were hastily buried in overcrowded pits. The City Corporation ordered a cull of dogs and cats - a poor decision, since those animals kept the population of rats (the real culprits) in check. Authorities ordered fires to be kept burning night and day, in hopes that the air would be cleansed. Substances giving off strong odours, such as pepper, hops or frankincense, were also burned, in an attempt to ward off the infection. London residents were strongly urged to smoke tobacco.

The treatment of the patients were unfortunately both primitive (seen from our perspective) and largely inefficient. Apart from burning of fragrant herbs and smoking tobacco, other established remedies ranged from carrying lucky charms (rather harmless), to coating the victim in mercury and placing them in the oven (more often than not fatal in itself). Modern medicine holds that 50% to 90% of patients afflicted with bubonic plague will die unless treated, its cousin, the pneumonic plague, boasts a death rate of almost 100%.

 Victims of the plague during the 1574 Siege of Leiden.
Original source unknown.

Plague was not only a disease, it was a great and constant fear of our ancestors. Yet another of those hard facts of life. If the Plague came to a house near you, the odds were good you'd die. But it was also an early weapon in biological warfare. Hittite texts tell of victims of plague being driven into enemy lands as early as 1500-1200 BC.

The Lost Regiment,

and the Third Great War of Argos.

Storyteller's note: The following article was published in the Committee of Correspondence's printsheet 'The Correspondent', in Octavum YE 1021.


I have studied one of the greatest mysteries of our time, that of the Lost Regiment. Following, I will display the facts as I see them.

During the Corillian War, the Parlamental Army of Pendrell destroyed the Narbonnian supported Macharite uprising. The Pendrellians also crossed the border into Narbonne and conquered a number of contested provinces. Though pourly equipped and incompetently led by their king, Mad Phillyp, Narbonne managed to drag out the war for almost two years of fighting -- mostly by draining the coffers by employing a large numbers of mercenaries.

In the first year of the war, in the Enlightened Scythian Empire, in the Dutchy of Manbach, the first son of baron von Roeder, Friedric, sets out to assemble a regiment of rifled firelocks and take to war. War is considered a step in an Alamanian gentlemans education, and since this was a quiet year in the Empire, the regiment was rented to the Narbonnian Crown.

When the rifles marched out of Roederburg late that year, Oberst Friedric von Roeder was 21 years of age, had a sub-magisterium from the University of Marburg in statesmanship, and had served two years in the Emperor's Dragoons. He had also read the finest tacticians, classical and modern. His second was Otto von Swartmark, the oldest son of the first of the baron's bannermen. The two men had been inseparable since they were boys.

The Regiment, though unblooded, was a fine formation; armed with rifles forged by-, and a gun battery crewed by, the prestigious Masonic Guild of Marburg. The men, 1/3 recruits, 1/3 veterans, and 1/3 convicts had been drilling since late summer.

The mercenaries reached the Narbonnian city of Lielle a week before Nightfall and reported to the Duke of Crèvesse, commander of the army being assembled there for a spring campaign.

When Lord Samuel led ten Parliamental Regiments accross the River Erenbaé two days before Nightfall, Crèvesse's forces were caught in a disarray. Only von Roeder's Regiment managed to slow the Pendrellians down. Marching as soon as the reports came in, and going through the night, the regiment took up possition early the following morning astride the only usable road, two leagues North-West of Lielle. The whole day the Alamanian riflemen held back an enemy that only grew stronger by the hour, until they withdrew from the battlefield in honour under cover of darkness on the eve of Nightfall.

The Regiment was never seen again.

That summer, two gentlemen claiming to be Friedric von Roeder and Otto von Swarmark, purchased passage on a Waymar-trader returning from Freeport to Ipwyth. From there they travelled overland to Crondor where they contacted the Imperial Ambassador to Pendrell. Here they both forswore their blood and birth, shamed by the loss of their entire command.

Not three years later, the Royal Houses of Eria answer a summon by Friedric Roeder to the Altar of the Covenant on Corregidor in the Waymar Archipelago. He had the backing of the Seven Onkels of Wezell, as well as that of the Draccian Wolf Lords. The former in the shape of coins and ships, the latter with a pledge of knights and infantry. Here he was named Marshal of the Assembled Host of Man, and today the Reconquest of the Colonies is close upon us.

This is as far as facts will take us, fellow correspondents. From here we must rely on myth and rumor.

I have heard from one who have spoken with Swartmark. He told of the Lost Regiment passing an old mill after having withdrawn. Here the Oberst and himself met a tall and gaunt gentleman and refused his offer. After they left the mill, the entire column got lost in the darkness and a heavy fog.

When light broke the following day, the regiment found itself in a strange land where Death was revered as a god [Stygia]. Again the tall and gaunt gntleman approached the Oberst and his second. Again he was rejected. That night he came again, and he was turned down.

When the sun rose the following morning, only von Roeder and von Swartmark were left in their camp. Every single one of the soldiers had disappeared.

Swartmark then told of encountering a vast army of Black Bloods when the pair attempted to cross the Dark Continent on foot. He also spoke briefly about men with machines advising the Orc. According again to my report of Swartmark's words, the two gentlemen negotiated a passage with these men, from the deep of the Dark Continent to Freeport, in a flying ship. From this point we again have facts.

The elements of the Legend of the Lost Regiment are hard to believe, example: the transportation of a thousand men from Narbonne to Stygia without any trace. Yet the facts we know support the unbelievable, example: Friedric Roeder has been named Marshal by the Erian kings.

We share the time we have been given with great powers and legacies of ages past; I have presented you with the facts as I see them. The facts say that the Third Age is ending, and that the Great War is soon upon us.

Yours in honesty,

Correspondent CIV

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The last chapter

Blockade Running/Ambush!

The last chapter ended with the Company waking up after the long nightmare in the middle of the day. This chapter started with them trying to figure out why they were sick. Besides, Banzel was in no shape to travel.

M'narcel, besides being the only one besides the Prince who wasn't afflicted, was also the only one with any medical insight (both arcane and academic). Also, he used to study the gentle art of poisoning before he was called to adventure. And so, after his preliminary examinations, he could reveal that poisoning was indeed the cause of the ailment.

Now, determining the poison after the fact is a most difficult task. So the good medicus went outside to summon a spirit, as is his way these days. After a couple if hours sitting in the sun he returned; a snake had told him, "poison from stolen stinger." A most straight forward answer, coming from a spirit.

The next step was fast, and it was determined that it was the ammunition Banzel had taken off the Hellghast that was causing it all. The radiation was causing their bodies to break down. The 21 brass-cased shells are now stored in a lead chest. The rest of the day was used to sit back and enjoy the shade -- the Pius Cabal decided to rest.

Before going to bed, Banzel, the one hardest afflicted, quaffed a waterskin of the Vìs he brought from the encounter with Blackstaff. On waking up the next morning, the heroes found that anything organic in a three yard radius around Banzel, clothes, blankets, boots, tent, grass, had decomposed. Banzel had discovered a cure for his desease, while simultaneously proving that gorging oneself on Mana can cause unexpected effects. Fit as a fiddle, Banzel started up the Automotor, and thus the Company started on the way home.

There had been some debate about what to do with the men left in the halfway fort. Van Zaar would rather he didn't have to see any of them until they were back on Pius, and suggested that they be given their marching orders through arcane means. Someone here made it a heated discussion when it was suggested that van Zaar's true motivation was his dislike for Lt. Lance. On the captain's orders, they followed the roads along the river. Through the liberated Muhwal, Free City of Man (full of the Host's followers and former slaves) to Fort Pius (so named by the Glencaellyn Rifles). Here the Prince did some packing, and with the Automotor loaded close to submission with the entire marine command, and the Pius Cabal rode off the theatre, flanked by the running Enæìd.

[Storyteller's note:
It amuses me no end that sometimes the worst thing you can do to your players is to be nice.]

They find the stretch of coast where they hid the Pius, and within the hour M'narcel found the Shaderealm where they had anchored. They come in to the shallow river valley through the vegetation beneath the ruined aqueduct. They are hailed by the picket, and let through to the idyllic scene; the ship anchored in clear water, green trees, sailors working on the ship, carrying baskets aboard, or lounging in their free-watch.

The passenger they had asked to keep an eye on the ship had left a letter when he left five days ago, and all was in order. The crew seemed happy. And this freaked the captain out. There was some general paranoia at first, not at all helped by enthusiastic sailors or the fact that the captain couldn't see their thoughts. The majority settled when M'narcel declared that he could sense the ship's Awakened spirit.

Since they have to wait for the tide, they couldn't sail in almost twelve hours. Banzel got right to work with his new Project, building an airship. He recruited the ship's carpenters and sailmakers as well, and utterly dominated the ships attention. The captain was in a foul mood, and decided he hadn't talked to Octavian in a while. Sadly this didn't work, as the captain's Arts do not cover the Sphere of Spirit, and since they're anchored up in a spirit realm he can't reach out.

As the night fell, it became obvious that Banzel needed more time. M'narcel had also gotten involved at this point. His previous experiments with wind spirits made him attempt to bind one to the airship. He climbed up to the crowsnest and launched a kite into the winds. It took a while before something took the lure. For two hours he battled with the windling before it got away, the kite falling broken to the deck.

The captain was somewhat put out by the situation. It got even worse when he found that he could not commune with anyone outside the shaderealm. When the weighing of the anchor was postponed to allow Banzel time to finish, Galan withdrew to brood in his quarters. Van Zaar kept walking around all night, slipping in and out of subjective time.

Come the day after, the Pius weighed anchor and left the shaderealm. Banzel still had some work to do on his great project and was still at it in his workshop.

On entering the graphite-grey waters of the Bay of Oden the crew could see the heavy, dark stormfront of the blockade.

A few hours after the ship entered the bad weather the aft lookout called sails. Captain Galan quickly ascertained that it was a Black Ship, one they hadn't encountered before, and that it was coming up fast on an intercept course. Not long after the first contact another ship was called, this time ahead. This was the Sepulchre. They had sailed into an ambush. The two Black Ships planned to catch the Pius between their broadsides and send her into the deep.

Thanks to the captain's hard sailing they managed to outsail the ship behind them, but the Sepulchre lying ahead was drawing relentlessly closer. On the decks of the enemy ships the men on the Pius could witness a horrible ritual taking place. Twelve young girls were brought up, then thrown overboard as the crews chanted, "Bait! Bait! Bait!" The Pius was also coming into range of the Sepulchre's guns by now.

Galan had taken the Hermetic pistol (taken off a defeated Proxima on the first voyage of the Pius) to the bow, and as he fired at the Sepulchre's captain, the rest of the Cabal sprung to action. From the captain's cabin Galan opened a portal to the aft castle of the Black Ship. Aegir and M'narcel charged through, and the Enæìd attacked the Sepulchre's captain, Radoslav. M'narcel's plan was to command the drowned men and take control of the Black Ship -- this didn't work as planned. The Prince and the dark mariner fought in a flurry of blows while the forlorn crew pushed the worlock towards the railing. Severly wounded, Aegir felled his foe, only to see the massive bow of the Sepulchre push through the waves. The Black Ship was diving. Galan back on the Pius felt his spell being severed, but managed to keep the portal open long enough for the Prince to drag M'narcel through.

On deck, Banzel became aware of something large moving in the dark water. Something had answered the summoning. The ship following them, now close enough that M'narcel could feel its name, Despair, was coming up on range, and around them great tentacles were flailing as the enormous seamonster maneuvered to attack. It was obvious to the heroes that hard sailing alone would not be enough to escape, so they turned to magic.

Using everything they knew, the magicians of the Pius Cabal managed to get some distance on both the monster and the Despair, but it would not be enough. And so, when the Sepulchre rose to the surface again, within range, things looked bleak.

They decided that the only way out of the trap was to make the Pius fly. The airship's balloon was rigged to lift the ship, everything, cannons, food, goods, even the Automotor, was thrown overboard. Great spells were cast, all the Mana the Cabal possessed were used to fuel the magic, prayers were uttered, and at last, with cannonballs zooming towards her, Pius took flight.

The chapter ended with the Pius sailing above the dark clouds of the blockade.

Storyteller's note: This was an interesting session. The lads are now starting to fully realize two things. First, that they are now right powerful magicians, second, that their enemies have noticed them.

They now have less than four days to locate and stop the plague ship Naglfār, their ship is unarmed, and they have provisions for one week on half rations.

The good men of the Pius Cabal are truly living in interesting times.

Oh, and make sure you click on the octopus-pic to get the full experience.

Sunday, 15 November 2009


Anette is late. Far too late. It is getting dark, and she is still not out of the forest. She has been visiting her aunt, and one of her cows had a hard labour. And now she is late.

She has been dreaming about this for two weeks now. And now she is trapped in the nightmare again, only awake this time. The forest has gone quiet. It's like all the colour has drained out of the world. And she knows that the beast is here. She has dreamt this.

In the dark woods something moves. A great black shape, glistening in blood and broken steel. It moves heavily, like a very large predator. It takes deep breaths, smelling the chill night air. Steam rises from the great, dark shape. Anette knows it has caught her scent. She starts running, as she knew she would.

Behind her the beast moves. It will catch up with her, and she can't stop running. She almost loses her footing crossing a small bridge, but manages to keep running. The beast is gaining. She can hear it now, the sound of its feet hitting the ground, its breath.

She comes to the small stream where she knows she will stumble. It will overtake her, and then she will wake up. Only this is not a dream. She stumbles. She almost manages to get up, but then one of her bare feet hit a sharp rock. The pain pierces through her, and she screams.

The beast is here now. She rolls over on her back, scurrying backwards in the cold water. From her foot a red mist spread outward from the wound. The beast is savouring the moment. It looms over her. It is so large it blots out the sky. Saliva is dripping from a mouth full of sharp yellow teeth. This is where she woke up when she was dreaming. She can't wake up from this.

The man comes from nowhere. He leaps into the creek, placing himself between her and the beast. He has a solid walking stick, and he holds it like a club. In his other hand he is holding a book. He holds the book infront of him like a shield. "I carry the Letter!" he shouts, then, "Get back, demon, she is not for you!" The beast roars. It's so loud it shakes the leaves on the trees like a wind. The man doesn't move. "I carry the Letter!" His voice is firm, and the beast roars again in frustration.

It tries to get around him, but he won't let it. "She is not for you, demon!" The beast roars again, frustrated, angry, impotent. "I call you by your True Name, N'Gartl. Be gone!"

The beast growls menacingly while it retreats into the forest, it's eyes never leaving the man.

He turns to Anette and kneels. "Wake up now," he says gently, and something stirs in the edge of her awareness. Her foot hurts, and she blinks away some tears. When she open her eyes again she is alone. No man, and no beast. It feels like she's just awoken from a terrible nightmare, and while the fear still lingers she can feel it diminishing by every breath.

Anette makes it home that night, and later, when she dreams, the beast does not return.

Storyteller's note: I got this idea after playing Sheperd last chapter. It started as Little Red Ridinghood, but it took a slightly different turn.

Friday, 13 November 2009


No one in the camp slept that night. No one could. The men huddled together around small dungfires, as if shielding the small flames. The sentries, alone in the pitch black night, knew that something horrible was out there.

"You know what we are, don't you? What we really are?" The Alamani sergeant pokes the embers of the fire slowly. No one seems to have an answer. He is one of the old guard. In a way, they are the backbone of the Host. He lets a fistful of dry, red earth run from his hand like sand in an hourglass.

The siege of Assari had looked to be a grim job. A nasty piece of soldiery. Those regiments picked to break those walls were the hardest men on this continent. Each man a professional soldier, with experience from several wars. Now old enemies share fire.

The rumor had it that the Pius Cabal would deliver the city by morning. Pickets had been drawn close, and there were no shelling. The screaming had started around midnight. Now it was like the screams of those within the walls were pouring into the night like flames rising from a great fire.

These men had realized that what they were part of was something that struck deep. There were plenty of religious types who preached about the Covenant. Many had started to think of themselves as part if an old plan.

Here they were, Macharites and Templars, mercenaries and drafted men. Some had come to Cora for gold, some because the alternative was to lose the only trade they knew. All because the Marshall invoked the Covenant before the kings in Freeport. In effect, they were here because no one could lose face.

As if by magic ships and guns had been made available. The Knights of Cora had made sure the entire mass of men, horses, baggage and followers, could assemble. The ships of the Wezellian guilds had brought them in by the thousands.

Then came the Wolf Lords. They had kept their own camp on Cora, but they had also kept the herd in line once the pressure rose. Their patrols after dark seemed to deter a lot of mischief. Of course, no one had trusted them back then. More than one had agreed that the only good wolf was a dead wolf. They sure wish there were more wolfs guarding them tonight.

Most here had actually never thought they'd even leave Cora. The Aragonians had gotten the keel of their navy broken by the Black Ships trying to reach the Dark Continent. Many men had died in vain. No one believed any other kingdom would risk its ships against such an enemy. An enemy no one lived to describe.

Then the Pius Cabal had appeared with a solution. An ancient artefact had been used to march the entire Host of Man, from the island of Cora, accross the Bay of Oden, and to the red soil of the Dark Continent.

"You know, one of the slaves told me the reason for why the earth is red here." The old guardsman brushes the rest of the dirt of his hand. He picks a pipe out of his hatband and lights it with the glowing tip of his stick. "He told me the earth is red because it has absorbed so much blood."

"But we," he says after a pause. "We are a weapon. An old weapon crafted long ago. Crafted so that it would be ready if it was needed."

"Only to bad the goatraping fucks they set to keep it, let it rust?" The man speaking isn't the type who speaks much. Now he's putting words on something many are feeling.

"They slept on guard, and now the spear is broken. Because the pigfucking kings slept on their posts!" He just sat there. No one seemed to have anything to say.

The city still screams.

"You're wrong, lad."

"It's like a great trap, set long ago, see. The goal isn't to kill the enemy with the trap. It is to make sure it's hurt before it's ready, isn't it? We are like the head of the spear, broken in the belly of the beast. Our job is to make sure it bleeds hard."

If you listen to the screams, you can hear that they almost drown deep growls, as if from great hounds.

The men sit quietly, shielding the flame.

"I was told something strange by a Green Dragoon today," says the sergeant.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The last chapter

Storyteller's note: The first and last act of the last chapter was told by me and the middle by a very good friend.

The way Argos works, the Dreaming is a distinct Realm, sovereign unto only itself; and the Dreaming is ruled by nightmares. Not long ago, the entire Realm was built by the first of the Younger Gods -- a god so powerful it became a trinity, Morfeus, Geminon and Shaitan. Morfeus is the Lord of Nightmares, the force that bound all of Nightmare together. Now the Prince of the Realm has gone missing, and things are stirring deep in sinister dreams.

Act 1

The morning after M'narcel walked into the city of Assari and unleashed the Nightmare Demon, no one in the camp of Man had slept. Galan, having kept rigorous control his mind for so long without sleep, decided to take his rest.

M'narcel felt an urge to revisit the city in daylight, to see that things were safe now, but this was mainly shouted down by the Company until someone mentioned loot. Shortly thereafter, Banzel drove the Automotor  towards the nearest gate with M'narcel and van Zaar aboard. By now, they had received a few frightened looks and warding mutters from the soldiers in the camp.

Once at the gates, the trio starts debating the degree of danger inside the city walls. eventually deciding that only one should enter - and the rest should wait outside until one knew what one was dealing with. The logical choice fell on the volunteer, M'narcel. By now, they had debated long enough for some five hundred Green Dragoons to arrive. They, being an elite Macharite regiment, and being brave lads and all, had been ordered to investigate the city before allowing anyone else inside. Of course they would not stop the fine Gentlemen Adventures from entering. Exactly what what followed is uncertain, but tempers flared, and the trio stood aside while the primitives blew the gate open.

First fifty dragoons ride in, and as they come out dispatches start riding. Van Zaar, offended and disgusted by the incompetence of the military regimen stalks off towards the camp. After having vented his frustration by making sure he was perceived as properly unpleasant (menacing stares and cold laughter) by passing troops, M'narcel decides that he is supposed to be inside the walls. So he walks through the gate.

Banzel, waiting in the Automotor in the fields get a distinct feeling that something is horribly wrong, and rush back to the camp. There, van Zaar, being a Dreamer, is able to identify what's happening: By letting N'Garthl loose in such a manner, a hole has been ripped in the tapestry. A Dream Sink has occurred -- an incredibly awesome phenomenon, a Force of Reality in itself. Good news, he can inform, it will end by itself, and soon. Bad news, M'narcel is inside, and getting out may not be possible.

In a concerted effort, the cabal reaches out to each other from one world to another, and thus, Galan, Banzel and van Zaar enter the Dreaming through astral imersion, their souls leaving their sleeping bodies, huddled together for strength, behind.

The Prince sit vigil over the dreamers.

Act 2

Storyteller's note: Here I am playing Sheperd, one of the First Letters of the Dream Caste. Very little is known about the Dream Caste by those who dream, and nothing by those who don't. Their founding event was the dreamcast Franko da Cola made before transcending to Prince of Nightmares. Fifty letters were sent to Dreamers who answered the call.

Sheperd is a man of great faith, who sees the need for great sacrifice. The reason for his presence here seems to be two-fold, but he appears to be someone who belongs in the Dreaming.

Van Zaar is NPC'ed.


Once the cabal has entered the Dreaming, they come across a door in the empty dreams in the wake of the Dream Sink. Coming out of the door is a gentleman of indeterminable age, well dressed for walking. He introduces himself as Sheperd, and greets van Zaar by his given name, he then bids the cabal walk inside to the Corridor. From there he takes them to a peaceful location in a dream about reveal a nightmare.

Here Sheperd and M'narcel have a talk about the things M'narcel have done. The three summons of N'gartl is mentioned, especially the Scutino-incident. Sheperd argue the danger and irresponsibility of the acts, while M'narcel maintain that nothing he's done has been against the will of the Company. The two do not reach an agreement on the issue. Sheperd here passed on the warning of the Olympos to M'narcel.

Here the realities of being caught in the Dream Sink became clear. There was no way to get out, or so it would seem. Sheperd told the Company that he was going to the Castle of A Thousand Doors to find out what happened to Morfeus, and recruited the heroes in this endeavor. His path, he told them, was to locate the Castle, then enter through the Library. He also mentioned the possibility of finding a way out of the Dreaming from there.

And so they traveled through the nightmares, following one line of dreams after another, until they arrived at the shores of the Sea. The ancient nightmare of the unfathomable ocean proved to be difficult to cross without coming too close to the Deep -- these days you can get lost out there. M'narcel and Banzel had a brainstorming on the matter, and they came up with a plan for an airship to fly above the water. M'narcel then shaped the ship out of pure Spirit Essence.

Traveling in this manner, they found one of the Great Dreams, and through it they managed to get close to Grimfang Forest where they had to abandon the ship and continue on foot. At this point, Galan was starting to become worn down by the nightmare he had been trapped in. Apathy and a small seed of Desperation seemed to set in as he was dragged deeper and deeper. Inside the Primordial Forest, Banzel discovered a Ledetråd. A line, like a thread running through Creation, that could be followed.

The mysterious stranger, this dreamwalker, seemed content to let the heroes do most of the leg-work. While they traveled, he and M'narcel had a few conversations. The only way, Sheperd said, to get inside the castle itself is to enter when the doors between the Library and the Castle is opened to let the Nightmares flush the Library. Dangerous work, but he had to go there. The company could follow, or try to make their way out on their own.

Inside the Library, the company made sure to look for books of note. Only the Captain, knowing exactly which book he wanted, and knowing its name, managed to locate the Saragossa Manuscript. At this point, however, he was hard beset by Despair and wanting only to awake. He was convinced to go even deeper into the nightmare by van Zaar, and especially M'narcel. The latter now starting to glimpse the forces moving behind the scenes.

So, when night fell upon the Library and the doors were cast open, the Cabal walked with Sheperd through a maelstrom of raging claws and fangs and mouths, tearing, snapping and howling at them. Unscathed and inside, they come again to the Corridor. This time it takes them to the Throneroom. The very center of the Realm, now vast and empty, filled with nothing but sadness and silent echoes. Here, behind the Hybris, the throne of Morfeus, M'narcel sees a creature. Half featureless and half function, he is Möbel, the servant of Morfeus. His master is not in, he says.

Now Galan and Banzel make a feverish attempt to get out, but find themselves unable to leave this dream. M'narcel, however, speak of great things there, on top of one of the myriad of towers in the Castle.

Once he has spoken Möbel is again asked for the way out, and this time he answers truthfully. Sheperd bids the Company farewell, and reminds M'narcel that he is now part of the Chain, and that he now carries the Letter.

The heroes wake up.

Act 3 ~

Galan wake up and find himself spooned by Banzel and van Zaar. He feels terrible, and so does the rest. The three of them are obviously ill.

M'narcel at the same time, finds himself alone back in the city. Apart from a camp set up by some soldiers by one of the gates there is nothing inside the walls. Not even houses. He quickly appropriates a horse and rides hard up to the camp. Here he finds that a wide fence has been erected around their tent, and that solid-looking soldiers have been set to guard it, inside the fences. He is let through without any challenge.

The Cabal receives a letter from the Marshall stating that as they have been non-responsive for a while, he, the Marshall, have made sure they are as safe as possible. Now the heroes realize that three and a half days have passed since they entered the Dreaming.

They respond back, informing the Marshall that the Cabal will leave this theater. They plan to return to the Pius.

Hello Cthulhu

"I saw him on a sleepless night when I was walking desperately to save my soul and my vision."
~H.P. Lovecraft, "He"

Cthulhu has become a fixture in the Book of Worlds. Now, while the Misadventures of Hello Cthulhu has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Deep, the comic is still right entertaining (and presumably it incurs no permanent loss of sanity).

Historical References

One of the chief sources of inspiration in my storytelling is history -- our history (as in RL, doofus). Now, as it happens, I'm a history-buff, reading one book after another about ancient wars, collapsing empires, and the customs of people long dead. One of the drawbacks is that when I toss out a reference, say, "The man is dressed in a slightly old-fashioned manner; picture a late 16th Century Englishman," it may not necessarily be universally informative...

So, in the interest of public education, I have come up with a new column: Historical References. Here I'll scour the intertubes for pictures and articles of era-specific relevance.

So, without further ado...

Historical References I

Portrait of Abel Tasman, His Wife and Daughter
Attributed to Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp (1594–1651)
Picture hosted by: the National Library of Australia

The portrait is of a Dutch explorer, in fact the first European to find Tasmania and New Zealand. This is a nice example of the style of a Wezellian family.

Soldier of the Carignan-Salieres Regiment
Francis Back

This fellow represents a typical Erian infantryman. Uniforms are not widely used by armies, instead using colored cloth tied around an arm, a flower in the hat, or any number of similar improvised ways of signalling uniformity. Note that certain prestigious units, like royal guards, use uniforms. One important distinction is that the picture displays a matchlock musket. Most kingdoms now use flintlock muskets, or even the expensive flintlock rifles.

Picture by: Swords and Armor

Another trusty companion of all soldiers and adventurers is the sword. In the world of Argos, the swords in use are not typically the huge blades of Conan or Strider, but the slightly more sophisticated basket-hilted Renaissance blade. Of course, the true gentleman will arm himself with a musketeer-style blade akin to that on the above picture.

 The Peasant Meal
Le Nain Brothers
Picture hosted by: 

And this romantic scene offers a glimpse into the life of the average working stiff. Even in a roleplaying world, not everyone leads a life of daring adventures.

The awesome Wikipedia has a nice article on era-relevant fashion. This is a good general introduction to the mainstream fashion of Eria, and it also explains a few slightly foreign articles of clothing, like the doublet and other items not commonly found in most contemporary wardrobes.