Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pursuit as a plot or plotting pursuits

I have been giving a lot of thought over to plots lately. As I am developing my sword and sorcery game it has quickly dawned upon me that the overriding plot of 'the game' is not going to suffice. Traditionally and for the most part, the game has quest plots and exciting adventure type plots. These are geared toward the acquisition of wealth, magic items and such even though the overriding goal may be to slay an enemy or some such. The gearing is for gold and loot. That is the grease for the engine. Those two elements keep the game running. That and the acquisition of experience.


Well, for my SS game, there is no leveling and no experience per se. The need for gold is minimized or muted and the neccessity for magic items is non-existant. Magic, gold and slaying are the material of the adventure, backdrop, afterthoughts.


Action is the key.Well, it seems to me then that a more varied pot of plots are going to be necessary to run the game I want. Action and brevity.


So I was thinking about plots. The pursuit plot is a fairly well tread plot. From movies to novels, one need only to randomly pick something up and there is a pursuit plot.So in pursuit of the pursuit, i started to put together a short list of ideas. I then decided I might expand for the next troll's tusk.


It is important to note, that in the pursuit plot, the characters can be the pursued or the pursuer and that one or the other is actually trying to actively avoid the other. Now, for the purposes of SS it should almost always be that the characters are the one's pursuing something or someone. The something or someone must also be aware of the pursuit and trying to avoid the characters.


This is my short list fodder base.

The active agent






escaped from jail, zoo, menagerie etc.


on a mission for someone

wanted as in an outlaw

person such as a thief hiding in X area


So that would be the idea, then I need a bridging incident to involve the characters. something in addition to, "you are being paid to catch xxx"Davis


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Insightful view of LARPing - on dopomine

So another meander about the web world and I stumbled across this article in the Austin 360. It is about LARPing. I'll admit that many long years ago I thought LARPing was a bit over the top. But then I realized about a nano-second later I played D&D. LARPing is not for me, I don't have enough thespian in me to manage it. I never even pulled off the 'fake sick' routine as a kid. Also, most LARPing themes do not appeal to me. I will admit that I would like to join a ren fair as a dwarf or court jester, or even a stack of hay though.


Truth be told, I would like a sort steam punk, techno, doc savage, Indiana Jones styled and themed LARP.

But I still couldn't act or would feel frightfully foolish around other LARPers.

Which brings me to this comment from the author,

I suggest that LARPing is purer — the pretense that the event is being staged for an audience's (rather than the performers') enjoyment is stripped away, leaving only the sincere pleasure of the activity for its own sake.

I believe this to be a fair assessment and kind description of LARPing. I likes it.

Then again, this makes me wonder


Monday, February 27, 2012

The Bone Church

Here is and interesting place. Its in the Czech Republic. If you are ever there, give this one a gander. I have not been to this church though I have spent some time in the Czech Republic. Itsssss a vaaary nize. Do go.


In that very nick of time came up Thorarin and his folk, and Nail was the foremost; but when he saw them threaten with their weapons, he blenched and ran forth and up into the fell, and there became one witless with fear. (3) But Thorarin rushed at Thorbiorn and smote his sword into his head, and clave it down to the jaw-teeth. Then Thorir Ernson with two others set on Thorarin, and Hallstein and another on Alfgeir. Odd Katlason with another man gat on to a fellow of Alfgeir's, and three of Thorbiorn's fellows on two of Thorarin's folk; and the fight was joined both fierce and fell. But so their dealings ended, that Thorarin cut the leg from Thorir at the thickest of the calf, and slew both his fellows. Hallstein fell before Alfgeir wounded to death; but when Thorarin was free, Odd Katlason fled with two men; he was not wounded, because no weapon might bite on his kirtle; all their other fellows lay on the field; and there too were slain two housecarles of Thorarin.



Viking Fights were ugly

From this site (arma)


In that very nick of time came up Thorarin and his folk, and Nail was the foremost; but when he saw them threaten with their weapons, he blenched and ran forth and up into the fell, and there became one witless with fear. (3) But Thorarin rushed at Thorbiorn and smote his sword into his head, and clave it down to the jaw-teeth. Then Thorir Ernson with two others set on Thorarin, and Hallstein and another on Alfgeir. Odd Katlason with another man gat on to a fellow of Alfgeir's, and three of Thorbiorn's fellows on two of Thorarin's folk; and the fight was joined both fierce and fell. But so their dealings ended, that Thorarin cut the leg from Thorir at the thickest of the calf, and slew both his fellows. Hallstein fell before Alfgeir wounded to death; but when Thorarin was free, Odd Katlason fled with two men; he was not wounded, because no weapon might bite on his kirtle; all their other fellows lay on the field; and there too were slain two housecarles of Thorarin.



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Water World is for Reals

Scientists have discovered or determined that (insert Aliens voiceover from debriefing room) 'planet GJ 1214b is not a rock, not a rock at all.'

A new class of planet has emerged from the buzzing masses of celestial spinners, a type unlike the rocky, gassy and icy worlds shuffling around the solar system.

The poster-planet for this new order is GJ 1214b, first discovered in 2009 and now shown to be a steamy, water-rich sphere. But it’s not a water-world in the sense of splashing oceans and Kevin Costner: Scientists suspect that the planet’s interior is filled with some exotic, high-pressure form of solid H2O unlike anything seen on Earth.

The planet is just 6.5 times more massive than Earth and about 2.7 times bigger in diameter. It circles a small star about 42 light-years away.

I wonder when they will discover that Weird World is for Reals.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

World's Oldest Map - you map fans you

The world's oldest map has been discovered by an archaeologist. Probably a paleoanthropologist/paleoarchaeologist. Or maybe just some tourist. I don't know. But there it is, in all its splendor.



Personally, it looks like doddles.





Friday, February 24, 2012

The Valkeries

Here is the first black and white sketch of a four panel piece that Peter Bradley is working on for the Aihrde Screens for Castles and Crusades. The screens will have the Battle of Olensk portrayed.

Salamanders, Lava, Blood and Marco Polo and asbestos

So drinking around the Internet this morning and poking about in a new photo album my niece set up for me, I came across this pic...


I can not remember where its from. I'll find out I suppose. So anyway, that got me thinking about fire and lava and the mythology of that stuff. I'll get back to some of that in some other post. So, I look up salamander as its the only "fire" monster I can think of.

So as it turns out Pliny and Aristotle both ascribed fire extinguishing characteristics to the salamander. I don't know why.

But it seems to universal. Bathing in the blood of a salamander gives one protection from fire, wearing their skin does as well. And it goes on and one can find similar attributes as far away as china.

Where Marco polo once travelled.

He and others relate that one could by robes and such said to have been made of salamander skin and offered fire protection.

Apparently some robes were made from asbestos and were actually fire retardant. the Greeks buried kings in asbestos robes prior to burning them in order to keep the ashes together. Romans used asbestos napkins and cleaned them by throwing them into the fire.





Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sentient Cannibel Fruits

"Fruit seeds stored away by squirrels more than 30,000 years ago and found in Siberian permafrost have been regenerated into full flowering plants by scientists in Russia, a new study has revealed."

This could easily be the end of the world as we know it. Maybe those squirrels ferreted away those seeds so that they would not germinate their evil!

Check it out!

Odin Returns!

Okay, so The Mail posted some really areal pictures of Iceland, last home of the Vikings. These pictures show some really startlingly beautiful images. But I think they might be a foretaste of things to come. In one of the images the tree of life, Yggdrasil is plain to see! Always envisioned as a tree rooted to the ground, we were wrong. Here is the tree revealed, it lacks only Odin to yield his eye and gather its wisdom!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sweet Sweet goodness my d20

I know none of you should care, might care, would care, but I found my first d20. I thought it lost for a long long time. But there it was on my workbench, in a little bottle of odd and end bits.
I cried lava, then went out and turned a turtle over on its shell and rolled my d20 across its soft underbelly. not really, it just struck me as funny thought.

 This isn't actually it of course. This belonged to Quintus Tiberious Grachus back in the day.

The Ethereal

The All Father tore from his breast a rib and upon it hung long stands of his tissue. Those shreds hung from the long rib-like a curtain of light and he made it to pass through the void. This was the first of the Twin Sisters, Ea-Raena, the Maiden of Night. In time she bound herself into form and cast off the remaining shreds of the All Father’s tissue. And those shreds settled upon the Firmament and unbeknownst to her they wove together into a great net. So the Ethereal Plane was made, the Net of Ea-Raena. A plane of wild abandon, only the most hardy can live here for there is no air or light, only the unbridled language of creation. It continues to grow, being of the living substance of the All Father, but only the most learned have begun to unravel the mysteries of its origins or why it continues to spread across existence.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Frozen in Time

Now its not every day that you find a forest frozen in time. Apparently some massive eruption about 300 million years ago covered this forest in ash and froze it in time, not unlike Pompeii. This ancient swampy forest sported trees up to 80 feet tall, some of which are perfectly preserved...well minus the life and all that. Read more about it.

One of my All Time Favorite Vids


Neanderthals are portrayed as these large, brutish, cave dwelling men who were unable to crawl up the evolutionary ladder as fast as homo sapiens. I'm not sure that's the case. I am pretty sure that our early ancestors snow balled those happy, cave dwelling folks with a lot of paper work in order to confuse and mislead them!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Finally a REAL poltical issue

From Yahoo News....

"The American Mustache Institute (AMI) is planning a "Million Mustache March" on the nation's capital, part of an ongoing campaign to convince lawmakers to create government incentives to grow facial hair. Rally organizers plan to mobilize their mustache-wearing compatriots on April 1 at the White House and march to Capitol Hill."

It gets even better .  .  .  .

"The subsidy, according to a 2010 proposal , would cover all products required for any proper mustache-wearing patriot, including:
  • Mustache and beard trimming instruments
  • Weightless conditioning agents and wax
  • Facial hair coloring products (for men and women over 43 years of age)
  • Bacon
  • Mustache combs and mirrors
  • Burt Reynolds wallet-sized photos"


Icelandic Saga

In reading the Laxdaela, an Icelandic Saga, I have come to the realization that the Vikings were just humans who like to eat and have farms like everyone else. My understanding is that there is a great romancit love triangle in this saga, but the first chunk of it is a people settling in Iceland. Its cool, but not quite Beowulf and Grendel!

This scene from the 2007 feature film Beowulf!

Davis Explained

I keep stumbling around the giant information/time sump that is the internet and finding different readings on these genome sequences, but here's one I think I actually buy...our early ancestors, probably those dudes living in that hut in Jordon, absorbed the Neanderthals into the overall population. Read more here: Discovery News

Why does this dude have a bandana on? Early dead head?

That's an Old Hut

It would seem that archeologists have discovered a series of structures in the Jordanian desert that may date from as far back as 19000 years. That's a pretty old hut. The area has many signs of human occupation, from "clumps of red ochre pigment to pierced shells." All pretty cool and makes me think of this little bitty:

Friday, February 17, 2012

GI Joe Retaliation looking good

As an added bonus (or two) it has the Rock and Bruce Willis in it.

The Last Viking

Harald Hardradi cut his teeth at 15 at the battle of Stiklarstadir where his brother, the dethroned King Olaf attempted to seize his Kingdom of Norway back from the Danes. The battle lost, his brother slain, Harald left the frozen northland and wandered to his kinfolk's Kingdom on the Dniepr. He stayed in Kiev for awhile waging Viking where he could. At last he wandered south to the court of the Emperor of Byzantium, where he took up service with the Varangian guards. He fought in campaigns in Sicily and Bulgaria and some few in Anatolia earning such credit that the Emperor refused to allow him leave.

He shirked that refusal and taking his 500 men decided to return to his inheritance in Norway. In a long campaign he stole back half of Norway and eventually the whole of it. Lording over the northlands, sporting a great beard and wielding his axe he was called by all King Harald Land Waster for his long and brutal war with the Danes and the Upplanders.

After years of war with the Danes Harald turned his eyes on England where the King had died and another Viking King Harald had taken the throne. Through his father's kin Land Waster had a claim to that throne too and he marshaled and army to take his chances. Crossing the North Sea he ravaged the coasts of Northumbria and plunged his army into the heart of the northern counties.

But here fate met the old Viking at last. His army met Harald Godwin's at Stamford Bridge and caught off guard (for none expected Godwin to move so fast) Harald Hardradi met the Viking in a brutal battle. Hardradi dies with an arrow in his throat, fighting to the last no doubt.

His son, Olaf, quit the field and promised peace and returned to rule in Norway for 30 years. The Viking Age had ended.

post script: Harold Godwin fell some weeks later at the hands of William the Bastard.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Insurance Fraud

Year ago, when the Romans were fighting in Spain they had trouble feeding their legions. The Senate contracted civilian merchants to transport the grain. The trip proved hazardous, many pirates, storms etc so that the Senate set up an insurance program for the merchants whereby if they lost ships the Senate would compensate their losses.

The Spainish War was a long one and after awhile the cost of the insurance compensation became tremendous due to so many lost ships. Upon investigation the Senate learned that the merchants were sending empty ships out to sea and sinking them, keeping the grain but collecting the money.

There truly is nothing new under the sun.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mammoth bone house

I really like these structures. More and about here and here,

There is more just google it if interested.

Rock to mud - industrial application

So you have a slew of high level wizards and druids (9+ levels). They are tired of adventuring and go into the fortification or architectural business. With the use of rock to mud and mud to rock, the wzards can build a lot of interesting things. Imagine if you will....

Build a framework of wood and fill it full of mud. Cast mud to rock and you have a rock structure. Solid rock.The spell effects two 20 foot cubes worth of stone/mud. (The spell description needs some work I think). That 8000 cubic feet. So one 9th druid could create a solid block of stone 10 feet wide x10 feet deep and 80 feet long - a day. Hire some workers, build a frame, fill it with mud and thence again the next day. One could build a square stone fort with 80 foot walls to a side, 10 feet wide and 20 feet tall in 8 days.


Three a month

36 a year

360 in ten years.

Imagine what ten could do.

Want to move a mountain - go right ahead.

Also, the mud transforms to rock in whatever shape the mud is in. The frame become important. Imagine what one can build with a wood frame. The possibilities are limitless.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How would a siren's song work - for reals

this is how

GJ 667Cc or better known as


Its only a hop skip and a warp jump away at 22 light years of traveling pleasure. Its also 4.5 earth masses but 10 times the fun!!!!

Join the next expedition to Super Earth in

you dreams


looks sorta barren

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Castles and Crusades campaign setting

is now under production for a rewrite and re-release. I have been pestering Steve about it for a couple of years and he has finally worked it into his schedule. As we are looking to wrap up the A series this year, the intention is to get the ball rolling on the setting.

Anyway, Steve made a video

Piping Some Great Music

Buried in Time

An interesting find in Carspach France was revealed in The Mail. A network of trenches, very well preserved, from World War I have been excavated and the intact bodies of 18 German soldiers found beneath the earth. Apparently a blast buried their trench network and entombed the young men. Several were sitting up on benches, one stretched out in his bunk. It was a hard war and these men had a hard end of it, or so it seems.

Read more.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Stonehenge Decoded

I had the opportunity to watch a little bit of a National Geographic show, Stonehenge Decoded, narrated by good old Donald Sutherland. The show relates the theory of the archeologist Mike Parker Pearson that Stonehenge was in fact a place of the dead. Upon discovering large post holes on the edge of fields around Stonehenge and the cremated remains of several scores of people he theorized that Stonehenge was sacred ground reserved for the dead.

Its an interesting theory, but much like the theory that some Phoenicians came to Briton to show them how to build the thing it seems to be a whole lot of theory without too much evidence. We don't know why those bodies were burned and buried and probably never will.

As for Stonehenge, we continue to marvel at the abilities of our ancestors for reasons that escape me. We are the same animal as they, same brain size, same cognitive abilities, they just didn't have the benefit of 3 million years of tool building behind them. They built stone henge wit stone and wooden tools, sweat and a lot of back breaking hard work. They learned from experience, building smaller stone circles and over time perfected their craft until some designer figured out how to do it with really big stones.

No aliens. No Magic. It was the power found in the human back.

How do I know this. I've watched games of Minecraft and I've seen it done! ;)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The TLG Breakfast Menu

Scott Johnson served up a badd ass Troll Lord Breakfast menu this morning after I tweeted something about the dens being in need of one.

Check this guy out oat Scott's Studio!


Check out today's specials over in the Dens!

We have some classic Castles & Crusades adventures on sale over at the Troll Dens. Check it out in our new store! And stock up on character reference sheets while you can!

Sometimes its not in the Cards

When Svien Forkbeard took the throne of Denmark he had in mind a greater kingdom and set his eyes on his western neighbors in England. Our information on Svein's motives is patchy, as all Viking information is, as the Vikings were too busy burning Europe down to write about it. Some of the saga's place his motivations at the feet of his murdered sister, who may have fallen in a general masacre of the Danes in England by the English King, Ethelred called the Redeless.

But whatever the case Svein spent two decades destroying the English crown, fighting long, grueling campaigns complete with great valor, dark treachery, wondrous conquests and men fighting against all odds. At last in 1013 the English collapsed and London Town surrendered. Svein took control of all England. The barons swore an oath to him and he was crowned King, expanding his monarchy to encompass all the wealth of England.

Five weeks later, he died.

Reaper Miniature Above!!

Rebirth - short sci-fi film

Ok, the film is somewhat yadda yadda. What's funny is the post world conflict scenes at the beginning are found in modern day england.

What's up with that?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Continual Flame - Industrial application

How many clerics and wizards and illusionists you got in your world.

One 3rd level wizard can produce one continual flame a day. Thats 365 in a year, in ten years thats 3650.

Ten of them could create 36500 in ten years. Throw in some levels, some clerics and some illusionist and you could create millions of continual flames in no time at all.


Light bulbs.

But better than light bulbs as they require no electricity (wiring), no oxygen (useful underwater) and it produces no heat (potential fire damage).

Light for all the world. Everywhere! Street lights, dungeon lights, house lights, library lights, head lamps, flashlights, shield lights, sword lights, etc.

Since it can be cast anywhere.... hand, brow ridge, quill, page of a book, end of a stick, in bowl etc.

The potential uses of this are unreal.

One might even be able to light up north korea

Hell on Earth - the Siberian Traps

The Siberian Traps refer to a volcanic event which occurred some 250 million years. Essentially, all of Siberia erupted. Over a period of thousands of years, Maybe tens of thousands and maybe even hundreds of thousands of years. Anyway, this event exists at the permian triassic boundary and is likely a leading cause of the mass die offs which occurred at this time (again, over hundreds of thousands of years).

There are also the Deccan traps (India) and Emeishan traps (china).

This would be a cool setting idea.

Sorta of a Doom set in the Middle Ages

The Viking death Prayer - 13th Warrior - Again

This is one of my favorite scenes from the 13th Warrior. I know we have posted it before, but it needs repeating. Steve's recent obsession (well not very recent) keeps me coming back to this culture. There is a lot to be admired here and a lot to emulate.

ahh if only I had a big sword, a writ too loot and plunder and some monasteries....

Ok are there really that many movies out there

that make me go, ehhh?

So, I get a little bored and wander over to the google entertainment center and type in a random word. Can't remember the word. Within a few pages I end up at a beheading, thence to a medieval beheading, thence to jomvikings, thence to romania, thence to some re-enactment society, thence to a movie set, thence to a movie, thence to another and

here. This crazy movie movie looks crazy crazy. Also, it makes me think there are a lot of 'fantasy' movies out there I have not seen (and likely do not care to see).

Monday, February 06, 2012

Dark side of the moon - revealed

Nasa has released the first snippet of a video of the dark side of the moon

link here.

Einstein's Desk

On the day he died. These are pretty cool photographs from the Einstein's funeral. Note the desk and office in the first two stills. There photos were taken by Ralph Morris. Slideshow at Life!

Good Luck in the Afterlife Viking Dude

Many viking graves contain stones shaped like Thor's Hammer. These were often placed there as good luck talismans, or at least that is what scholars surmise.

National Geographic Rocks it again! (no pun intended!)

Viking Clerics

Apparently there was no Viking Priesthood, only Chieftains who served as religious authorities; but even that is a misnomer as people paid homage to the gods that served them best. Thor, interestingly enough, was the common mans god in most regions, he was the most human. Freyja was fairly commonly worshiped as well, but Odin hardly at all.

We cannot know all this for a certainty, as very little remains of this ancient religion, only what comes down to us in the Icelandic Sagas and those are often contradictory...reinforcing the idea of no organized priesthood or religion. But we have such things as place names...their disbursement and organization tell us which gods were worshiped where. We also surmise where they worshiped by the early Christian proscriptions of places to avoid.

All very interesting. Odin One Eye, too clever for common man. Thor, thunder god, the everyman's god. Freyja, a fertility god.

Friday, February 03, 2012

If you eat a troll????

So, if a characger eats a troll, lock, stock and toes, will the troll regenerate inside of him? If so, what happens to the character?

Can a cleric cast create food and water inside someone's belly?

Can a cleric cast cure light wounds on someone before removing the arrow and have the skin heal around the arrow? If so, can one make a living pin cushio? A better yet, a lving porcupine all bristling with arrowa.

Can a cleric cast time stop inside a timestop - forever?

I shall begin examing the application of spells and their industrial uses tonight. Imagine a world of indutrialized magic. It would probably look something like, well, like america.

Small Scale Warfare

Chief White Bull was a nephew to the better known Chief Sitting Bull of the Lakota People. Whereas Sitting Bull was a war lord and spiritual leader, White Bull was a warlord. He was war Chief with more battle honors then any member of his tribe, to include Crazy Horse (or so we understand, though our knowledge is spotty with Crazy Horse as he was killed so young).

But in reading White Bulls narrated autobiography he relates some amazing tales that are really interesting in the mundane reaction they had to war. The warriors would often sit around and on sudden, one, usually with battle honors, would announce he was going on a raid (to whatever neighboring tribes or settlements). Braves would join or not join as they chose and no one was slighted one way or the other. His raiding parties often consisted of only 4-8 warriors. Off they would go on adventure for glory and wealth.

This is very similar to the Vikings. Many of the viking raids were similar, very small, consisting of 30-40 men in a single long ship. Plying the waves of the North Sea seeking glory and wealth.

Making Drinking Noise

I love to drink Dr. Pepper out of a can, but beer I'm less concerned about where I drink it from. But THIS would just be awesome.

The Vikings, once again, do it right!!

Are healing potions addictive

You know what they say about too much of a good thing! Don't you? I don't. But in reading about the use of morphine during the civil war and the creation of 500,000 morphine addled drug addicts pandering from one end of America to the next.

So, the liberal use of the ever flowing , ocean plentiful, inexhaustable supply of cheap body fixing drugs found in The Game, might lead to a whole slew of addicts, craving their next fix.

But then, maybe a drug so powerful that it's ingestion immediately physically alters the body has no addictive qualities.


Thursday, February 02, 2012

They Painted the Town Red!

Those crazy Neanderthals were using red pigment as early as 250,000 years ago. Despite their giant features and ambling gait they liked to party like their tiny little homo sapiens cousins. Not really sure what they used the pigment for, but my guess it was for their miniatures for the dinosaur role playing games!

This is a shot from the movie Quest for and not Neanderthals at all.

New John Carter poster revealed

Pretty cool. I'm really looking forward to this one.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Icelandic Folk song

No idea what it means. anyone form Iceland?

Cool dragon slaying song, just for laughs

content warning on this one.



Off with their Heads

Sometimes the adventure did not end so well, as with these 50 odd vikings who were all decapitated by their Anglo Saxon neighbors...or so it is surmised. Many of these were younger men, in their early twenties. Some had decorations carved into their teeth.

How cool is that?

Big Water

Here is a Viking long ship called the Sea Stallion, hitting some big water. Skip about, but the overall sense of the journey in such a craft is there. These folks must have stayed wet all the time!

Viking Adventurers

Sometime in the distant pass a group of Vikings traveled south along the wilds of the Dnieper River in what is today the Ukraine. They came to the Black Sea for pillage or trade none can say. But here the goodly Grani took the time to carve a rune stone for his comrade, Karl, who died.

Found on the island of Berezanji in the Dnieper Estuary, it speaks of a time of high adventure!

A thousand years later, we remember Karl and Grani!

Memories from the Office of a Game Publisher – Office Space

Everywhere I look across social media I seem to be encountering two things. Economic news about the pending commercial real estate collapse,...