Friday, June 15, 2018

Tales from the Norman Countryside

Historical fiction.

Jean-Rémin, offered to the congregants a little prayer: 

“Dear Jesus, please provide us with the wisdom and the judgement to respond in kindly and in merciful to those who hurt us, as You respond to me when I have trespassed ‘gainst my Earthly kin. Amen.”

The brothers did accord. Then sang they up another hymn and then retired briefly to the kitchen some, to bring the Feast into the common room.

Each fruit and flower was then doubly-blessed, by each the Benedictine brothers, Guytonnet and Jean-Rémin. Neither was ordained, but in these dire times, a layman priest was well preferred to having none at all! And well perhaps our Lord would mark His due, for two lay priests, they vicars proper, may be measured up to one in cloth received? 

Even in the countryside, the merchants did report that some remotest villages did them employ a woman as a priest. They said so with their full veracity. Never had the brothers heard, however, ever there’s a child priest, nor one of four-leg’d animals, nor fishes in the sea. For every season or a couple, stories did come through that someone near or far away had witnessed talking animals. Why not? God did shew us miracles of common sorts near every day. Think fondly of our Biche-Tachetée, the spotted hare, and all her kits! Something that should seem unusual, withas this lady priest, would come unusual to filling up their ears, and not on every day, from every place. This why it be strange of course, the very essence of this strangeness: not for someone other than a priest, a nun or brother be in love with God, but rather for it come from elsewhere, and infrequently.

Also had the brothers heard of other monks in other lands who were then be able ask of God to grant them power over weather. These some other monks would pray together early in the morning, to drive way the rains or bring a pleasant breeze. Their abbot though did scold them and admonish them for folly, for only God should tell the Four Winds where to blow and howl. Men ought not, even in their power, wright these things and make them writ upon the Earth without dear reason from ecclesiastical perspective. Never ere would miracles be done for sport or personal advance, but only for our Lord God and His plans upon the Firmament.

In Exodus, we learn that God did bring upon the Pharaoh plagues of vermin, and in one case, frogs. In doing so, the Lord did arm the Children with least of His Creation, to show the least of it could best the powers of the mighty Pharaoh. But well recall! The magi of the Pharaoh also wrought a plague of frogs to Egypt. Even in their majesty, these magi in their scintillating garments, they did harm their king. No one needs two plagues of frogs or several other things! So God did win the day and did that Pharaoh well embarrass. Keep thee this at hand.

True Story.

Here in Normandy, they tell a storm in nine hundred eighty-three that was so fierce that it did also bring a plague of frogs unto a village. The village inn was full when several pilgrims did attempt to stop and rest. There was no room. Just then, the frogs did fall as rain, and then the ones who lived did hop away again. Also did the villagers discover that the frogs, when roasted, had a pleasant flavor on the palate. Although the elders of the village did suspect some pilgrim wives of witchcraft, it was clear to the young priest that it was God reminding men of His great power over nature. Scolded all the Witan of the village, did the priest, their sin inhospitality, as was it evidenced by intervening God. They were well admonished and never have the plague of frogs again revisited fair Normandy, nor do bumpkins of the countryside turn pilgrims there away.

Be this here a prolix way to say that there are some un-uniform proceedings under Heaven here on Earth, whereas in Heaven things are perfect, and forever and forever.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Aethelward the Rat-Catcher Boy

The boy he kept nearby was Æthelward, a couching dreamer up with head up in the rafters. Charles, of the boy could dress him up, but never get the boy to look just right. Always was his tunic pull-dog, pull-devil, or he had split his hose. His ears curled forward and his front teeth abended out. He was the very etching of buffoonery to look upon him.  However may that be, the boy, this Æthelward, was useful, and he never malapert, for he did take to catching rats, and rats did take to Æethelward.

Aethelward, Lord High Rat Catcher

A professional Rat-Catcher is essential to yon every castle, city, town, and village, or wherever there are people. These crafty Men, they couch and rampant for the foul rats, must frequently they work the abject under-places where these vermin fester, inclewd the sewers, basements derelict, and catacombs dug underward the Earth. They risk their health and safety, as men surely do in every age, in mean proximity diseased and rabid screaming scoundrels of the underfeet.

Rats and mice and insects of the Plagues, and other vermin, are ubiquitous throughout the realm. Even here in fair-kept Normandy, did God place down upon the Earth so many kinds of vermin, erst Men never knew their worth. These sharpened knaves of matted blood and fur, of yellow incisitory insult, les animaux nuisibles servile avec des dents de verre empoisonné, an ever-present harbinger of pestilence and famine and disease and epidemics. Keeping down the population of the bristly deluge of death’s knell, this putrid business, crucial be the work to keep our realm enpeopled with good health, and guard con damage to our bread and grains, and goodly beer and wines. Thus, that tinkerer, he called the Rat-Catcher, be always in demand. Despite his grim and dirty work, has he but earned the tip and untip of the knight and lowly man alike. They are welcome in all corners of our Normandy and other realms.

So then when Charles and Robert both did come to Maine to rule, Charles brought along his Æthelward to keep the house of God more Godly in the face of pestilence. He did pay to Æthelward one livre carolingienne per week, plus room and one meal per diem, a lordly sum for such a lowly sod. Also did he grant the boy the title of Lord High Rat Catcher and made him as a Gentleman so he outranked the butler (ere except when they were in the proper house.) Whether Olive cared he overmuch or no, he kept it to himself.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Odo Enters Nesta's Bedchamber.

Even now, Midsummer’s highest sun, it past the sunset when the feast arrived in flaggèd Nod. A woman led dame Nesta to her quarters for the time. It was a room within, and overlooked it to a little atrium it seemed to her. Difficult to tell it, for Selene was almost new. Two girls attended to her with some of nightclothes, and they helped her wash within a basin that they brouwt. The chamberpot was emptied. Then the girls abade her for the night and shut the wooden door with iron wrought in black. She kept a candle lighted, and pulled up her covers round her neck; the mantle of the swan. She fingered through the vulgate on the table, poured herself a glass of wine, and thought she fondly of her brother and her pa, some nearly forty leagues away in sweet Le Mans.

Were it not too long before the door came open. There t'were Bishop Odo of Bayoux. The hour--!

“Know ye, girl, the lineage of Christ?”

“My lord, that is a queer way to begin your conversation. For every girl in Christendom knows well that Christ from Mary, she a virgin, be.”

“In Matthew, Chapter one, the truth revealed that all the generations down from Abraham to David, they are fourteen generations; and David then bequeathèd down to Bablyon were likewise fourteen generations; and Babylon to Christ was born were also fourteen generations.”

“Neatly does Our Lord do work upon this mortal soil.”

“Neatly does He work his wonders,” Bishop Odo did assent.

“But fourteen, fourteen, fourteen, and then fourteen more make up the year 1066, my jeune corbeau, and have we now the fourth in these, the August chapters of our Lord.

Nesta counted off in contemplation and came up with many more than four fourteens of generations ere between the birth of Christ and this,1066. 

She smirked a little, but she kept her trump well-hid, for now. His wee fowl game can barely count, she thought.

Odo found the thread she spindled out. “Of course, in ancient days, the generations stretched out longer than they do today. Today, a life is measured ten and score of three; but eld Methuselah were-”

“-Nine hundreds, three score and another nine,” the dam recat. He smiled and he nodded his approval of her catechism whacht.

Odo then approached the fodder’s blèached foot, the flaxen silage covered up by flaxen linen broidered up and light. He stepped forth like a Tom, at turns he supplicating and enticing, sorceling his little prey. A little upturned-corner on his lips here in the candle-light; and narrower then were his eyes, which never strayed from herupon.

“I’ve had a dream, not unlike the dream was giv’d to ere our Joseph, and our Virgin, in those days, a thousand years ago.” 

Friday, May 18, 2018

"You Married, Imogen?" OR "Romantic Love"

In which Imogen is caught flirting with Bishop Odo, and furthermore, her squire Nesta calls her out on it.

“You married, Imogen?”

“Aye. With a son by marriage take’d to me. This by the Duke, and by the Duke’s decree.”

“And naught but duty does this marriage bring, my Genny?”

“Naught, but loyalty confirmed. The Duke, when roosted so to play Alquerques prefers to know the pieces extant to him, and so where those pieces lay.”

“But dam, to lay with bridegroom misbegot; to play Alquerques in life for Will the Duke; to sacrifice your fruit of precious youth; what of the benefits to you to pay with all the Lord hast vested to your case- what gain, my dam, hast you to show, if may?”

Imogen was silent and showed sullenness abroad.

“And then, what’s now your tenders do alight upon Bayeux. This I saw, my dam! Your pretty cockles up and warmed, and with his nearly in within you-“


“-His hands within yours held, I mean to say, and pinkness wrought from humor-wonts he draw’d from you this pretty afternoon today. It puts the lie to bridegroom’s well in hand that you should lay!”

“Do you, Ness... do you fancy that some other’s eyes fell so upon our sweet conspiracy?” She cast about with furtive brow and glances then. 

“The men? Whacht sees a man? A thing. We are a thing! A scrummy[1] Breton egg we be to them up in their saddle riding, looting booty from the cities and the towns they overrun! Aye, mayhap they see it, Imogen. But put their feeble wit to contemplation of the thing? They no more wonder why the river stones prefer to smoothen up in time, as wonder they what’s in our brains. You taught me so y’self, my pretty dame.” 

Imogen relaxed, though naught has she known then she’d tightened up. “Aye, right. You’re right. You’re right."

“Why d’you let the Bishop in, my Gen? Why him, of all the men?

“Why not the Bishop, Nesta? Has he not fair tongue, and cheek, and wealth and comfort, and magnanimity?”

“Fair tongue? Mean tongue, methinks.”

“Bite yours! Speak not so brazenly about fair Odo in me presence, not again!” 

Nesta grinned. “You fancy him for truly, don’t you Genny-dam?”

She blushed. 

Nesta smiled to her own, and turned away her face from ere the dame. For her own part, dame Imogene felt sorely for to strike her squire all about the ear. But with her good civility displayed, she well refrained. 

“Imogen, why dost our truly heart make fool of brains and eyes?”

“God’s will, methinks,” said Imogen. “God willest us to make our fatal mark against our better natures when He paves the Heavens and the Earth for future men to tread.”

“This makes much sense as any other thing’s been writ about romantic love,” did Nesta then assent. She wondered how it felt to be so take’d by Cupid and his Seraphim. She knew it not, herself.

[1] Delicious morsel

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Mythical Journeys Adventure Game

+Shane Ward (his website) encouraged me to share my version of the D&D rules again here on the site. It's not for sale anywhere and it's not up on DriveThru or anything. But in case you want to know what we like to play at my house, here is my rule set. Over the past, oh, week, my spare time was consumed by another fantasy project, so I have been neglecting to oblige him.

There is only one book, which is the Player's Guide. About two years ago, I lost the original docs for my monsters and treasure book. My friend Jeff J., who is my editor and layout artist, sent me the PDFs but I never got back to that. And I have never gotten around to explaining how to make wilderness and dungeon adventures. Nothing sinister, just never did it. Anyway, you guys know what all that stuff is by now.

Finally, and this is important, here is the errata document. The main thing is that there is a bad misprint on Table 4, and this document has the real Table 4 in it.

I hope it has ideas you can use, and that it can spark your imagination when you make your own rules, too!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

DM Screen, Part III

I pulled the materials together this weekend to build the prototype for my screen. I had to learn a little about the materials and the tools since I haven't done arts and crafts in forever.

I used a school guillotine to cut a large posterboard into four panels of the correct size. It's a little rough to use when you're cutting things thicker than a couple of sheets of paper, so I would suggest keeping an X-Acto knife to clean up the edges. I don't have one, but I should have one, so I'll buy one before I do the real job.

I decided on unobtrusive white Duck tape to seal the edges. It worked well. I used scissors to cut the pieces to the right size.

Here's a practice board I taped to make sure the tape would work the way I wanted it to. It worked perfectly. 

Place the tape sticky-side up on the table, and carefully line up the board halfway up the width of the tape. Press down firmly. Then fold the tape over the top, rather than flipping the board. Then cut the excess folded-over tape off with scissors.

ALSO PICTURED: My assistant, Tinkabelle.

Here, you can see a board pressed on half the tape, prior to being folded over.

Linking the panels: 

Once your four boards are sealed along all four edges with tape, make sure the commercially-machined part of the four panels are all aligned on the bottom edge, closest to you. This will allow the screen to stand up without wobbling when it's done.

Lay down a piece of tape longer then the long edge of the boards. Press each one about 40% of the way in on it, leaving a gap of about 1/8 of an inch. Then fold the extra tape over the top and bottom. Repeat for the other side of the boards with another piece of tape.

By leaving the small gaps between boards, the hinges can open at various angles, including laying flat. 

The final product:

Here's the Ref's side. To the second panel, I'll paperclip the map. To the third, I will paperclip the map key. To the fourth, I'm not sure, but probably the specific wandering monster charts for the dungeon or world we intend to tackle in that session.

Here's the player side. Panels 1 and 4 are the same: they have the attack and save matrices for the classes, and then the procedures for Rounds, Turns and Days.

The middle two panels are info for purchasing and using weapons, armor, adventuring equipment, tack and harness, and vehicles.

I did it like this because the character sheets and gen rules I use are so simple, the main differentiation between two characters of the same class is the gear they carry. So gear is very important!

I wanted to find a place to add alchemical and special purchase items, but they wouldn't fit on these panels. And anyway, I think it would be cooler if I whip out special lists when the several players come upon stores with unusual merchandise.

I made these sheets at Staples because they can print on special really good paper, and the ink is even and clean. You can email them docs to print out for you and then pick them up. Very nice.

The screen folds up flat so you can jam it in your binder or whatever. I suggest putting clear contact paper over it once you're happy with the contents of your panels.

So this was a really big success, and the final product is going to please me quite well.

PROPS: The tape is awesome. It works perfectly. Just as I'd imagined - maybe better.

SLOPS: Make sure you know how to use a grade school guillotine's little ruler dealie before you start cutting stuff! My panels came out a good inch short on each side because I couldn't use the ruler properly. I will do it right when I made the final screen.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Digging Into the Monster Lists

This analysis refers to my own Monster table which I talk about in my previous post.

Here is a link to the Excel spreadsheet. It is definitely a work in progress, but most of the dungeon tables are done.

Does not appear on these random tables!

Mathematically, only about 3% of overland encounters will be with Men. This seems very low. So I think I will add in a preliminary roll for overland play: on 1d6, a result of 1 goes directly to the Men subtable (not to be confused with the Man-Type table which includes all the common Demi-men as well as some normal-type monsters.)

The Men subtable will have the several kinds of Men of course. That means 20% of overland encounters will be with bandits, brigands, dervishes, whatever.

This feels better to me. The world is strange but it should be a world of Men.


After hearing from some of the fellows in the several D&D-themed G+ groups, I think the proper number should be 1-3 on a d6, or just shy of 53% (plus the 3% from the proper monster tables.) Some fellows said higher and some lower, but they got me thinking about the right answer for me, and that's what I was hoping for. Thanks, guys!

That makes Men the creature of predominant number in the Realm and keeps things feeling a little more Medieval-fantasy and not weird fantasy. Nothing wrong with weird, but it's not what I'm going for.

Something else that just came to me is I want Cyclopes and Titans on my Giants subtable so I'm going to go do that too.