Monday, 31 January 2011

Thulean Technology

"If you want to do evil, science provides the most powerful weapons."
~Richard Dawkins
Cthonic device being readied for detonation below ground

The Ordo Ultima Thule have achieved a remarkable level of technological development, and in many areas they are far beyond any other known human civilization. Most of their science is based on thaumatechnological principles, i.e. science married with thaumaturgy. Following, in order of association, are the different thaumatechnological disciplines.

Goethic science - The science of harnessing the power of Umbral entities. In essence the principle is to capture a spirit, bind it to a device, and use its power to fuel or enhance the object. The first goethic theories were formulated by the scholars of Varanger, the now dead homeworld of the Thulists, almost a millennium ago. Since then the OUT scientists have broken vast new grounds, and now all void-ships, as well as many installations and constructs, run on the power from goethic reactors.

  • Goethic medicine - A discipline all to it self, it has allowed the Order not only to survive for centuries in the Void, but also to develop their super-soldiers (e.g. Hellghasts and Cyclopes).

Caernkraft reactor

Dieselkraft - While the OUT relies on goethic power for most of their needs, the reactors are too cumbersome, not to mention that their construction is quite resource demanding, for smaller bases and vessels. In these cases, dieselkraft engines and generators are used to provide the necessary energy. These are explosion engines running on refined Exunge, a vile substance bored out of the deep layers of a world -- in more poetical terms, it can be described as the lifeblood of the Abyss.

Cthonian - As of yet, the Order has not been able to develop a stable cthonic reactor, but the military uses of this science has proven quite advantageable. The blast generated from a cthonic bomb will essentially tear asunder the Umbral fabric, bringing the Abyss very close to the Prime Material Plane. Such an area is called a blight, and few Umbral entities, not to mention enemy theurges, will dare enter, let alone survive here.

Caernkraft - The OUT has long been on the verge of a thaumatechnological breakthrough that would allow it to harness the very power of the Abyss. By creating a magnetic field between an active-shardakeem core and ruinian rotator-rings, vast amounts of energy can be drawn upon. In previous experiments, the radiation from these reactors have been found to have severe detrimental effects on unshielded personnel, but the benefits of a stable reactor are believed to by far outweigh such sentimental concerns.

See also:

[Picture sources unknown(#2 is from Event Horizon)]

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Two of the Heroes

Today I have gotten a couple of extraordinary emails. They were from two of my players, and both contained a picture of their characters. It would just not be right not to share these with you all. Therefore, without further ado, gentle readers, I present:

Yolander zan Zaar

Both pictures are based on period portraits, the first by El Greco, and the second by Frans Hals (original here). 

I can also reveal that some of the guys are working on hero-biographies. When these will be ready for the internets I cannot say, but I for one am waiting with bated breath.

[Picture source: 1 Torje; 2 Håvard]

The Redlands


The Redlands is the name people use when referring to the areas where the Red Death has taken hold. It covers all of the Duchy of Diemed in the Enlightened Skythian Empire, as well as some bordering fiefdoms. Many of the cities inside are burnt down, as the authorities have tried to contain or destroy the infected areas. Farms and villages lay empty, and only a few places can small enclaves of living be found. Packs of zombies roam the streets and countrysides, falling mercilessly upon any humans they find. Many believe that the plague was sent by the Old Gods to punish man for turning away from them.

The bridges across the rivers leading into the Redlands have been pulled down, and both the Enlightened Alliance and the Empire has troops watching roads and fords, killing anyone who tries to leave the quarantined area. Better to slay an innocent, than risk the whole of civilization -- perhaps the one thing the two warring factions agree on.

At the heart of the infected lands lie the city of Zalburg. Before the plague it was the seat of the Duke of Diemed, and its beer and steel fetched a high price all across the White Ocean. It had a recorded population of 27,000, housed 47 temples, and three monasteries. The Red Death came to the city on 1 Septium, YE 1022, and despite the efforts of duke and Temple, the epidemic soon got out of control. On 7 Septium, the city was declared lost by the emperor, and the following day its gates were bricked shut from the outside by Imperial troops. It was then fire-bombed, and a detachment of troops was set to make sure none could leave. Four days later, a dispatch from the commander of the force arrived at General Graf von Stahlbein's camp with a sombre message, "The city is lost, we are all lost, pray for our souls." Scouts were sent in, but they found no living, only packs of zombies.

Recent reports tell of zombies converging on Zalburg, but perhaps even more disturbing are the rumours circulating amongst the living. Several refugees encountered by scouts have said that they are heading to Sanctum, a location believed to be in this very city. This is supposed to be a safe haven, where one can be safe from the Red Death. Some of these people also mention a "Yellow King". Who or what this king is is so far unknown.

There are also several reports about Thulist activity in the Redlands. Several scouts and informants have seen sinister, outlandish flying vessels in the skies above the region.

Other rumours about Zalburg include:
There are doctors there.
The plague has no grip on the city.
One (or several) of the Old Gods are protecting the city.
There lives a great magician who keeps the zombies at bay.
The zombies are gathering to consume the city.
The city is ruled by a great zombie lord, and the zombies are coming to serve him.

See also Pax Corax
[Picture source: 1 unknown; 2 own]

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Ursula Le Guin

If you like fantasy, if you like Le Guin, or if you just like listening to smart people's thoughts, you should listen to BBC's The Interview featuring the grandmother of fantasy fiction. You can find it in the archives, dated 28 January 2011.


[Picture source: John Howe]

Gaming Retreat

The inhabitants of the sleepy village had no idea that great powers
would soon converge on their peaceful corner of the world.

Next weekend the BoW crew will leave civilization to spend a few days immersed in the events unfolding in the world of Argos. Since all hands will be present, and since we'll have at least two long sessions, I have a lot of homework to get done. Therefore I'm not posting much of substance these days, as much of the prep entails behind-the-scenes kind of stuff. We're talking stat-blocks, NPC-plans, map work, etc.

The lads have a few things planned for the weekend, and I'm expecting there'll be some changes made to the geopolitical map -- that is, unless we get a TPK ;)

The rest of you will have to wait, as I hope to get at least a portion of the material I'm cooking up out there. There should also be a rather lengthy chapter coming after next weekend, and there might even be some pictures for the other blog. We'll see. We do have one session before then though, so that should generate a few posts over the coming week.

For now, have a good weekend, and I hope you can get some good gaming done.

[Picture source: Miljølæ]

Friday, 28 January 2011

Chapter: Generations

Cast: Mandan Bansl, Gryff Galan, Velimir Tito, Yolander van Zaar, and Toadface. Also, as NPCs, in order of appearance: Mr.Godfree, Master Septimus Arachnidus, Queen Ylvana, and Mistress Severa.

The following takes place between 8 Novium and 23 Novium, YE 1022.

Following their pilgrimage to the Temple of the Sacrifice, the cabal runs into an old acquaintance, before paying a visit to their friend in the North, thereafter Galan follows his doctor's advice; the captain's child is born, and Velimir goes hunting -- all while van Zaar works hard to keep time flowing.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Nefarious Arts

"Through me you go into a city of weeping; through me you go into eternal pain; trough me you go amongst the lost people."
~Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

In this post I will lay down a few more pieces of that nefarious puzzle that is the dark arts of the Nefandi.

Nefandus (Latin) - 1. impious; 2. heinous, execrable, abominable

-->Edited again to clarify and remove contradictions & typos.

New Gift*:
Abyssal Glyphs
l - lllll
Prerequisite: Abyss 1

These fell glyphs are etched into the flesh of the bearer, using a special ink made of the ichor of an Abyssal entity made manifest. The Gift enables the mage to create these nefandic tattoos, and the maximum number of spells that can be carved into the flesh of a subject equals subject's Stamina. If the subject is Awakened, such spells does not count towards the maximum number of spells that can be maintained. If the subject is a sleeper, normal rules for disbelief apply.

Each carved spell causes on point of Lethal damage to the subject, and duration is determined as per spell description.

New Spell: 
Drown Location
Abyss lllll + Prime lllll + Spirit lllll + Space llll

The spell creates a temporary pocket realm, akin to a bubble, which is transported to the Abyss. The Gauntlet will be strengthened, and all connections to the Prime Material Plane will be severed. The area will be contained within this bubble as long as the magician maintains concentration.

Practice: Making
Action: Prolonged/contested
Duration: Concentration/special
Aspect: Vulgar
Cost: 3 Mana

Any beings within the spell's radius can escape from becoming trapped within the area of effect by rolling Composure + Gnosis against the caster; the target number is 10 successes -- once the caster reaches this number, those who have not are trapped within. Treat the area within as a Dead Zone (see M:tA p. 230), the Gauntlet as having Strength 5, and all magic cast inside take a penalty equal to the caster's dots in Abyss.

Should the Nefandi relinquish the spell while the bubble is still immersed, any beings within will be left in the Abyss. If they are incapable of navigating this dark and horrible realm, they may become forever lost. Rules for travelling in the Abyss apply.

Abyssal entities are drawn to the life and light of magicians and mortals, and will seek to consume anyone who enters their realm. The Nefandi may also summon such entities, either in advance, or after the spell has been relinquished.

Any material items left exposed to the Abyss will sustain 5 points of damage per round exposed.

Rote: Immerse the Fallen World
Dice Pool: Resolve + Occult + Abyss
The Painted Man is known to use this rote as a trap, thus making sure that if he is attacked, his enemies will stand face to face with the Eternal Darkness. This rote enables him to ensure that if his concentration is broken, he will have the means to escape without harm.

New Morality:
Whereas every human of the Book of Worlds -- be it Sleepers, Awakened, Garou, or of any other derivation, all cling to that which makes them human -- those who embrace the Exarchs have no choice but to abandon their humanity. Not to do so would cause their sanity to shatter, and they would become devoid of all sense and reason; in effect, their soul would become lost in the Void. Many are the madmen who's minds could not deal with the merciless truths of the Old Ones. Thus those who truly worship the Things That Must Not Be walk a different path than the rest of the living. Theirs is the path of Corruption.

As with Humanity, also Corruption has thresholds of insight and devotion, a ladder of sins if you will. To shed one's Humanity and give oneself over to the taint, the Humanity must first be reduced to 1. Thereafter the character must sacrifice one point of Willpower, and purchase the first dot of Corruption at a cost of (new dot x 3) XP. The rules for losing and increasing Humanity apply (WoD, p. 91).

10....Feeling remorse
9......Showing compassion
8......Missing a sacrificial rite
7......Following your own interests
6......Failing to corrupt or destroy another being
5......Failing to corrupt or destroy an Awakened
4......Passing up an opportunity to increase your power
3......Allowing another to work against the coming of the Exarchs
2......Not actively serving the will of the Exarchs
1......Attempting to hinder the Exarchs from coming into the world

[Picture source: Stephen Kasner]

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A Goddess from the Second Age

In the Second Age, the Erian Empire maintained a large pantheon of gods and goddesses, and Xuul was among the most powerful. She ruled over fertility and fate, and the cult of her followers grew to become extremely influential as the empire slid further into corruption and sectarianism. She was eventually slain by Ares Demagos, later St. Ares the Godslayer, in the Battle of God's Demise. The sword that delivered the killing blow was thereafter named Deicide.

More on the legend of Xuul:
Temple of Man Supreme
Empire of Man

[Picture source: Keith Thompson]

Monday, 24 January 2011

Chapter: Show Me Your Hand

Cast: Gryff Galan, Velimir Tito, Yolander van Zaar, and Toadface. Also, as NPCs: Master Severa Septimus of the Ordo Hermetica, Don Avanti of the Black Hand, Master Kazeem al-Askari of the Awakened Viziers.

The following takes place on 8 Novium, YE 1022.

Having left Cora before the siege was laid, the cabal spent some time discussing the state of affairs with their Hermetic allies, as well as amongst themselves; they followed van Zaar back in time in search for an Arcane Tool, before they prostrated themselves before the Light of Aziz.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

On the Painted Man

Abyssal glyph

In the last chapter (post not written at this point), the Pius Cabal visited Siltra, the City of the White Tower. The Tower is, according to legend, one of the seven Watchtowers of Argos. Here they were allowed entry to the library. Here is the essence of what was found about the Painted Man in the scrolls, tomes and tablets. Some of these points are hints, and more information can be found elsewhere on this blog.

  • He his a Nefandic archmage, and a Master of Ars Abyssal, the Forbidden Arcanum believed to grant the Willworker immunity to Paradox.
  • The tattooed body is but a vessel, and the soul is probably at least 1,500 years old.
  • He has had many incarnations.
  • He once wielded the sword Deicide.
  • The tattoos are actually Abyssal glyphs. These glyphs form powerful spells, among these one that keeps the corpus from being consumed by the corrupted soul. Others are powerful wards.
  • It is believed that he was once the Witch-king of Gerem Faït.

[Picture source: Peter V. brett - Creations]

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Zombie Awareness Practice

Breathe, focus your thoughts, and remain calm. Do not panic. The world will not yet end, and the people you know will not yet feast on your brain. Please take a few seconds to complete this exercise, then reflect on your result. Are you satisfied with the outcome? Do you need to make adjustments?

The following internet resources may help you increase your awareness and preparedness:

Be prepared, stay safe. 

Have a good day.

[Picture source: unknown]

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Review: Black Death

"Be on your guard. God has slipped over the horizon."

Cast: Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Clarice van Houten, as well as a boat-load of British actors.
Director: Christopher Smith
Genre: Historical horror adventure epic. . . more or less.

I've intentionally kept this review very short, so as to avoid any spoilers (also, I have a wicked early day tomorrow).

In the year of our Lord 1348, the Black Death is ravaging England. Bodies are piling up, no one is safe from the plague, and people turn to God for deliverance. Rumours are spreading about a village deep in the marshes where death has no grip on man. The bishop's emissary, Ulrich (Sean Bean), is sent to find the village and capture the necromancer who rules there. The novice monk Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) is recruited as a guide for Ulrich and his men. As they journey into the marshes, they get further away from the fragile civilization of the Christian world, and closer to that which keeps people alive in such apocalyptic times. Here, their faiths are tested.

This is a seriously dark and scary movie. And I do not use those adjectives in conjunction easily. It has one of the best fight-scenes I can remember seeing, although this is not a sword-and-horses kind of flick. Likewise, it has some heavy Heart of Darkness over -- or is that under-tones? -- without it delving too deeply into the psycho-drama of either the book or the movie-adaptation. I would dare to say that Black Death masterfully balances traits from many genres as well as several themes and elements. It also bears mentioning that the location scouting in this film is absolutely brilliant -- it is shot in its entirety in Germany.

This is one film I highly recommend, and, yes, there is inspiration to be had.


On a related note, you'd do worse than read this article on The Guardian about religious films.

[Picture source: The Guardian]

Monday, 17 January 2011

It Sure Looks Like Winter is Coming

It'll be a slow bloggig week, this. I'll have a few off-topics for you, and I may sqeeze in a few on-topics as well, but time will tell what and when. To start this week, here's the last AGoT teaser. On word, damn.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Siege of Cora

The following was read aloud in all temples, on all squares, and in all the fortresses of Cora; copies were also sent to all rulers in Eria as well as to the Hannuman Caliphate:

Defenders of Cora and the World of Man, on this, the 3rd day of the 9th month of this, the 1022nd Year of Enlightenment, the Black Storm has surrounded us. The blockade has begun, and the Enemy is sure to be upon us shortly.

We have all come here willingly, and we all know well what would follow should we fail. On us rests the weight of Destiny. With our blood we will buy the future of our world. The battle we will fight will be one all the world will sing of in years to come, and those who were not among our number will lament their fate. Here the Light of Creation stands against the Darkness. Here we shall guard that flame with sword, pike, and shot. Here are no civilians, here we are all warriors.

Brothers and sisters, I am truly blessed to be with you here, now -- for this is the fulcrum, the pivot-point. Let all the world know that Cora stands! Let them hear of our bravery, and let those who dared not join us weep in shame.

Defenders of Cora, this is our time. Let the Enemy come. Let them know that here nothing awaits them but fire and steel!

~Orthellion de Martellus, Grand Master of the Knights of St. Invictus

The defenders of Cora counts close to 35,000 warriors, made up of the following contingents:

The Knights of St. Invictus
1,396 Knights
4,586 Serjeants

The Wolf Lords of Draccia
276 Grey Knights
1,711 Knights of Draccia
14,900 Men-at-Arms

The Hannuman Caliphate
384 Ahl-i-Batin
2,100 Dervishes
1,590 Mujahedin
4,900 Harun al'Azizin

In addition to these forces are some 2,000 adventuring ladies and gentlemen, as well as close to 2,500 Coran militia. In the time since Martellus was appointed Grand Master, he has made sure every civilian left on the island knows their role in the coming siege.

All fortifications on the island has been strengthened, and all stores have been stocked to sustain a prolonged siege. It is said that the Grand Master has emptied the order's coffins completely in this process, and most of its treasures have been sold or traded to strengthen Cora's defenses. What has not been relinquished is the order's considerable collection of reliquaries, and numerous Saintly Avatars are summoned to guard the defenders.

Against these forces stands the full might of the Court of Stars. Among the enemy forces are the fearsome Black Ships, the Blood Legions, savage warriors from the Lost Tribes, orcs, and a host of foul demons and Abyssal entities, not least of which is the dreaded Kraken.

Storyteller's note: My chief source of inspiration for the Siege of Cora is the Great Siege of Malta of 1565 CE. This is, in my opinion, one of the most awe-inspiring events that has ever took place. Reading about it, I more than once had to put the books away and make a reality check. The men and women who took part of that fight were of a type I do not believe exists any more. 

It was a conflict of worlds, civilizations, great men, and religions. The bravery, determination, and atrocities exhibited on both sides are almost unfathomable in scope. The leading men, both among the Christians and the Muslims, would put most heroes and villains of fiction to shame. Grand Master de Valette of the Knights of St. John, to name an example, survived a year chained to the oar of an Ottoman galley. This is as inhumane an ordeal as any you could imagine. Nevertheless, he survived, grew stronger in both body and mind, and was later to lead his order to victory against overwhelming odds, at the outrageous age of seventy. It should be mentioned that the character-building experience of being a galley slave was one he shared with Turgut Reis, one of the Ottoman commanders of the siege.

If I could impress one thing upon you, dear reader, it is that you do some light research on the subject. At the very least, that you follow the three links above. And if I could make one further recommendation, it would be that you read The Religion, by Tim Willocks. It is by far my favourite work of historical fiction, and it also gives a fairly accurate account of the siege. I made an attempt at reviewing it here.

[Picture source: Carsten Holtman

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Chapter: Monkey-wrench!

The seventh chapter of The Black Spear

The following takes place on 7 Novium, YE 1022

Cast: Aegir of the Enidùn, Mandan Bansl, Gryff Galan, Velimir Tito, Yolander van Zaar, and Toadface. Also, as NPCs, in order of appearance: Theurge Galeantis of the Draccian army on Cora, Mahdi Abu Aden of the Enlightened Viziers, The Purple Robed Man, Master Octavian Arbalestus of Battlefleet Hermetica.

Having left King Radan the Great of Draccia, the heroes find their plans thwarted by the Court of Star's untimely attack on Cora, and the Pius Fleet escapes before the Kraken drags it into the Deep; a meeting turns sour, van Zaar seeks the wisdom of the Prophet -- and meets a man in a tower -- before they again turn to Octavian for his advice.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Creature: Wyvern

In the Mythic Age, bronze bulls, trolls and other fantastic creatures lived in the hills and forests of Argos. As that age came to an end, and the Hegemony of Man bound the world in chains of reason, these beings died out, or were driven to the far reaches of the world. The wyvern is one such creature.

While magic still shaped the lives of man and beast, the dragon-like wyverns were feared by peasants and herdsmen. Swooping out of the sky to snatch sheep, and sometimes lone wanderers, they were featured in legends and tales. Many are the stories of brave heroes seeking out the wyvern's lair to slay the beast, often in revenge or to free the area of the monster's fearsome shadow. The last recorded Erian wyvern was slain by St. Eremis in YE 277.

Two centuries ago, a cabal of Hermetic wizards under Master Voartrix Aretmedes bani Flambeu, journeyed into the Wild and returned to the Order State with a precious cargo. Deep in the savage lands of the North, they had come across a hunt of wyverns. After they had killed the adults, they managed to locate the nest-cavern, and retrieved a number of eggs. Upon coming home, Master Aretmedes was able to secure the Towers funding for a project intended to hatch and domesticate the fledglings. This was to be a smashing success, and today the Ordo has a healthy stock of these flying creatures.

Large, ferocious and surprisingly loyal to its rider, the domesticated wyverns proved to be well suited as steeds, and there are currently several cabals of wyvern-riders in the service of the Ordo Hermetica. One of these, the Draconis Azuris, or Blue Dragons, operate from the fortress-ship Katedral, the flagship of Battlefleet Hermetica.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Villains: The Court of Stars

Watchtower on the Broken Coast

In this post I will sum up what is known about the other major faction of evil in the world of Argos. As with the previous Villains-post, no new information will be presented, but I will try to put things in context.

The concept behind the Court of Stars is Dark Empire/Ancient Evil, and as such, its ranks will include a wide range of villainous archetypes and characters, ranging from (to quote G. Galan's player) the Queen of Shit herself, down to the rank-and-file of its legions of terror.

The Court of Stars has roots back to the very early days of the Book of Worlds.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Fragments of Truth and Fiction I

"In dark chambers beneath the streets they meet every night. During the days they walk among the populace, masking their marks of devotion. They know the truths the others strive hard to ignore, they are the harbingers of the final awakening. Theirs are the secrets of the Drowned Man."

"None are as feared on the battlefields of the Enlightenment War as the Livonian cuirassiers; their very appearance on the field can be enough to break the will of the mislead and the corrupted. They are truly invincible, for in their hearts burns the True Light of Creation!"

"Deep in the bogs he found what he had sought for so long, but in finding it, he also sealed his fate. The price demanded was such as would damn the one who paid to torment and despair, and the treacherous path he was on led only further into the mire."

"I have been walking for so long. That is my destiny. To walk forever. There are so many things to witness, so many roads to walk. Staff in hand, I press on on paths both deep and aloft. Ever since that fateful day when the seal was broken, ever since that fateful day I have been walking. My only hope is that I wont be too late."

Friday, 7 January 2011

Houserule: Player Awarded XP

A while ago I read a post on one of the many brilliant blogs I follow, sorry I can't remember the one, about different ways to appreciate good roleplaying. Then a couple of sessions ago I decided to try this out in game. The way we now roll is as follows:

Each session each player may award one other player one - 1 - experience point. This has to be done before the Learning Curve, in effect, it has to be done in play.

This has worked very well so far, and the precedence thus far is that the XP is awarded for spontaneous, in-character comments, usually displaying insight or connection to the setting. Particularly clever one-liners have also been awarded.

If you, dear reader, is unaware of the system we use, it is nWoD. I am pretty liberal with the XPs, usually awarding between 7 and 10 each time. In a level-based system (I'm working on a d20 model here) I'd say each such award would be of level x 100. Enough to make a difference, but not enough to shift the balance.

Any thoughts?

[Picture source: Tower of Zenopus]

Chapter: Anchorhead

The sixth chapter of The Black Spear

Cast: Aegir of the Enæidùn, Mandan Bansl, Gryff Galan, Velimir Tito, and Yolander van Zaar. Also, as NPCs: His Majesty, King Radan of Draccia, Lord Ares, Huntsmaster to the King, Princess Sara, sister to the King, and Grand Master Martellus of the Knights of St. Invictus. Also, on board the Pius, Adeptus Ludenius and Commander Spearhawk.

The following takes place between 1 and 7 Novium, YE 1022.

Returning from the moon, the heroes debate the ramifications of their discoveries, sails south towards friendly ports and old enemies; Theurge Tito is reminded of his loyalties, Aegir initiates a romance -- and is presented with an ultimatum -- Bansl reveals his latest masterpiece, and the cabal is given command of an army.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Historical Reference: Sports I

Those who know me know that I do not give a rodent's tail about sports in general. However, I recognise the fact that sports are a vital part of any culture. A made up culture should not be different, and therefore I have been giving this some thought. I could pinch Blood Bowl from Warhammer, or pyramid from BSG, but I'd rather not. There are countless other fictional sports out there as well, some more plausible than others.

Then it struck me. There has to be some real-world sports that would fit into the world of Argos. Some digging around the internets proved me right. I love it when that happens.

Calcio Storico is a Florentine sport from the late 16th century. The first rules were published in 1580 CE, and it is still played today. Each side has 27 players, you can use both hands and feet, and apart from kicking someone from behind, everything goes. The goal is to get a ball into a net on your opponent's side of the field, and a game lasts for 50 minutes, no breaks. That's more or less it. At least that's how I'm interpreting it.

The following links are to pages providing background and information on Calcio Storico:
Holiday Apartment Tuscany

Unfortunately, the English language YouTube video I found has embedding disabled, so you'll have to be satisfied with a good old [LINK]. Watch it. Seriously. If you are at all interested in the topic, it is well worth the five and a half minutes.

For the Wikipedia-entry on fictional sports, you can follow this link.

How does this fit into the world of Argos? 
The history of the Calcio goes back to the days of the Old Empire, and is still played in most Erian realms. At times it has been tried banned, but never successfully. Most cities and many towns have a league, with games played during the summer. Neighbouring cities also often meet for bi- or triannual matches. Regardless of whether it is a local or a neighbourly game, honour and glory will always be at stake.

[Picture source: 1; 2 Brainz; 3 The Telegraph]

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The Atapraxor Tablet

O you who shall be born, I beg:
take heed: When once more the
ancients comes upon us, all will
end; lands will drown and oceans
vanish, the sun itself will die. All
is lost but for one hope: The spear
once broken must be mended and
wielded once again. Hero, seek the
gate of heaven! Strike the shining
rider from his horse! This I beg of
you, O hero yet unborn.
Atapraxor dreamt this.

This clay tablet was made in the Early-Mythic Age and broken by its creator, and the smaller, lower fragment was hidden. The cuneiform script is in a long dead language, and can only be inerpreted through Arcane means. The larger, upper fragment was recovered by the Pius Cabal after the victorious assault on the OUT base on the Isle of Man. The second piece was raked out of a camp-fire on the moon. Pictures of the handouts can be found here (1st piece), and here (2nd piece).

[Picture source: Karen's Whimsy]

Monday, 3 January 2011

Chapter: Fourteen Ghosts

The fifth chapter of The Black Spear

Cast: Aegir of the Enæidùn, Gryff Galan, and Yolander van Zaar. Also, as NPCs, eleven Enæìds and fourteen ghosts.

The following takes place on 30 Octavum and Harbringer, YE 1022.

Following the events that took place after the Battle of the Tower of Man, Gryff Galan visits the graves of his ancestors; the cabal gains an audience and pays the ferryman, checks in on a friend in need, and pursues their enemies to the moon.

Into the Sewers of New York

"It must have been the third or fourth day -- time, at that point, had started to dissolve..."
-Alan Feuer

In December 2010, Norwegian explorer and publisher Erling Kagge, together with urban adventurer Steve Duncan, and The New York Times journalist Alan Feuer delved into the tunnels of New York's sewer system. Five days later they emerged.

It is not a long leap of imagination to add unnameable tentacled horrors, wererats, or perhaps a murderous cult of demon worshippers to the tale -- especially if you have the roleplayer's inherent ability to interpret everything as a potential scenario or plot-hook. Even if you were to disregard all those angles, Feuer's article (see below) offers an interesting view of one of the greatest cities in our world. There are, and will always be, a myriad of things we do not see because of our ingrained perspective on the world we inhabit.

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The article written by Alan Feuer, invited along as the expedition's chronicler, is well worth the read, and the pictures, by Steve Duncan, are a must. You should also visit Duncan's homepage, for images from this, and other urban expeditions. For Norwegian readers, this link will take you to NRK's article about the delve.

[Picture source: The New York Times]