Saturday, July 28, 2018

Some Thoughts By My Son

My son is thinking about running a pirates campaign using our Mythical Journeys system.

R. Matey

THIS IS SO COOL because he's never wanted to run a game before! He ran one session years ago and didn't like it.

But Mythical Journeys is so laid back that it almost insists upon people wanting to pick it up and play.

Here are some ideas he's brainstormed:

Magic guns with ammunition with poison, or ice, or fire or whatever

Pirate class kind of like the 3.5e Ranger, where you can choose whether to be really good at shooting sidearms, or really good at using swords (or be a generalist and be adequate with both).

Necromancer pirates and Necromantic magic items.

Armor classes based on something other than platemail, for instance, because it's too heavy to wear at sea.

Monsters including the British Navy and monsters inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the Assassin's Creed pirate game.

Exploration of islands at sea.

Before my last big hard drive crash, I had a ton of great resources for generating instant island inhabitants, but I don't have that any more. Maybe Chris Tamm has some? Or maybe in Mazes & Minotaurs. It seems like there might be something in M&M.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Lions Red and Gold Sample Chapter

I was asked to provide a sample chapter and rather than run it out on that platform, I'm running it out here. Some folks have had a chance to read it, but others have not. Here is the first chapter of my novel.

Lions Red and Gold

William the Conqueror and his Norman crest. The lions signify the territories of Upper and Lower Normandy, which he united through diplomacy and force during his youth. When he conquered England, he added a third lion.

It's really begging for someone to put a word balloon coming from his mouth containing something cheeky, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

I’m in Love with a Terrible Sport

That famous etching

Nobody plays baseball because they like playing baseball. They play because they are contractually obligated to play. It’s a kind of punishment. That’s why they have to put a wall around the field - to keep the players from running away.

It's also why they have to pay such exorbitant salaries: to attract people who would put themselves through the wringer like this. It's no wonder that major league baseball and various vitamin supplements have gone hand in hand since the olden days.

These poor sods get dressed in an underground dungeon dug out of the ground. They don’t even get to see the sun unless they’re on the field! They get driven around on a special bus, like prisoners.

It is a boring, horrible life.

But there are some perks to being a baseball player that bear mentioning.

You get to

  • spit on the floor, 
  • scratch yourself in front of thousands of people, 
  • smack butts,
  • generally act like a chimpanzee right out in front of lots of people - sometimes as many of 5500 or 6000 people will show up to a game (more in Boston and New York), 
  • and eat snacks all the way through the game!

Someone does your laundry for you and you get to dress up in a lot of different accessories. Gloves, mainly. Fielding, batting, base-stealing... all kinds of gloves. You get to wear makeup under your eyes. You get flip-up sunglasses. You get to wear a hard hat and a soft hat (sometimes both at once.) You play in a nice button-down shirt tucked into your pants (with a belt), socks and stirrups (what other activity requires two pair of socks?) and polished shoes. 

Polished. Shoes. 

Just like most activities, this act of collective self-flagellation gets better as you get drunker, so they sell lots of beer. But only for 7/9ths of the game for some reason. How children put up with this, I’ll never know. Cough syrup maybe. 

As you can clearly see. she drinks the beer while the filthy baseball is still inside it. That beer cost her like $13, and she can't have another one until they finally let her back out into polite society. She's not even playing and she's turned into a freaking savage!

It is a sport that is literally better to read about in the newspaper than it is to watch.

And yet...

And yet...

Monday, July 16, 2018

Harald and Elisiv


Harald grew like Yggdrasil in these good seasons there at court and then away at war. And took he interest in strengthening the bonds between his homeland and this land of Yaroslav’s. Yaroslav’s young daughter, Elisiv, was but a darling bud of nine upon the year of ‘34, and nary fit for marriage would she be. However, Harald courted her as courtiers would do, to woo the princess for her pretty blossom-time, when seasons come for kneeling fools, and rings, and babes in Spring. They cloistered up in courtyard, walked they by the compass, hand in hand through curtilage of castle court. Counseled up his cortege to them dote upon her like her ladies waiting, but for him report. Homage did he pay, and fair he gifted her to sway. He always did her keep him company when he at court, and wrote her little pretties and sent gifts back to her while he were abroad. Bench and bar did she attend and think upon him, and ere they heady were her thoughts of him, as she approachethed turning ten. So finally, whenceupon her birthday anniverse, he knelt and begged her hand, and did she well agree! So trothed were Harald Sigurdsson Hardrade, and Elisiv, she of Kiev!

She would not fit to marriage though, for still within her pretty dotage and her childhood would shew. Harald went he on campaign and well again took up his men, and this time went to Byzantine. And this were ’34.

For four years Harald learned the ways of Russian war. He was a goodly student. Also did he learn the Eastern forms of Christianity and knew then of their struggle ‘gainst the Turks. By anno domini 1034, Harald earned the rank of Captain, even though he had not learned the Slavic tongue. Communicated he unto his troops by whistle and by semaphore. This was the custom of the Russian southlands where a myriad of peoples were united for the purposes of war.


He and his close companions from the North decided then to travel east to Conastantinopolis. His skill in arms and horsemanship therein afforded him to rank of General of the new Vangarian Guardsmen, who were personal escorts to the Emperor himself. Harald kept within his heart his failing to protect his King, his dear half-brother, and did pledge to Jesus and the Emperor that he would die, and not sing that refrain.

Local Byzantine soldiers had no loyalty to King, nor God, but only to the coin. Therefore their treachery made them most worthless to the Norseman. Called he then to Viking brothers of the North, likewise in exile, to attend him there, within the Eastern Rome, for there was coin and glory to be had. He built Vangary to a fearsome fighting force and ever after would the fame of it be due to Viking warriors, the fiercest of the world.

From 1035 until 1042, Vangarians, numbered near six thousand, did engage around the Middle Sea, in Sicily, Bulgaria, and in the Holy Land. Harald met and slew a hundred different kinds of fighting men and caroused he with one hundred different women. He grew rich from plunder, and his men did love him so.

In ’39, sent he a caravan, chaperoned and bulwarked versus any highway robber, back to Yaroslav and Elisiv, to keep it safe from Eastern treachery. Wise Yaroslav did keep his treasure safe within the vault, for he foresaw that Harald would return, and with him great assemblages of knights. It was at this time Harald was first called by Hardrada, roughly said, which means “stern council of the realm.” For ere, he rode ahead of Emperors of Byzant-way, or after when the Emperor’s decrees were poorly-heeded. And his Vangar and his Turcopoles would see the message through, and all resistance was defeated.

While in Constantin, he did become involved in making Emperors. Among his people, Witan men (the wise) were always chosen to elect the tribal king. He saw no reason not to broach this custom with the locals. and his Vangarians would make his arguments hold true. So politics of this, the Byzant lands, did learn Hadrade from roughly ’39 to ’42. What he learned within those years is might and gold make difference up in dynasty succession, a lesson he took well to in the coming years: money and aggression.

Return to Kiev

And then until 1042, he served to make and break the Emperors of ere the Byzantines though his own sword and stately guile. Also did he ride upon the Inland Sea of Empire Old in good Antiquity. And amassed he up some great amount of treasure, he and of his men as well, and shipped it back to Yaroslav and Elisiv for their good keeping fast. Eight years did he and his good men they ride, and were the arm of Emperors of Constantine they be. Even did some men of his take up the Moorish faith, and bring their treasures and their wisdom back to Rus’s, when their return did made.

A Russian Dream by Aramisdream

The Winter of late ‘42 in stately old Kiev was one of wondrous good fortune and good promise for the people. Elisiv was given to Prince Harald Sigurdsson in Kiev’s own Great Cathedral. Yaroslav provided up a feast for every man and wife and child in the city and the countryside. A village up entire carved the craftsmen out of blocks of ice, including of a river running red with spiced wine and courtiers themselves as gondoliers! For three full days and nights did all Kiev and Novogrod and all the people in between, they celebrate the union of Norwegian sword and Kievan sheathe.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Riding with William

June 24, 1066

On Sunday, here high summer in fair Normandy, the cock would crow quite early on, for brave Apollo roused the world as early now as ever in the year. But even earlier than cocks and suns, the Duke would rise. He needn’t sleep as much by half as other men require. He roused some of his men with heavy footfalls through the barracks. When he stood above Dame Ness, he woke her with a little kick. A gentle little thing, but ere enough to rise her humors up. And up with them was she.

“Time to tack the horses.”

“It early…? Or it late…? Pa…?” She was insensate at this hour. “Oh! My lord! ‘Tis you!” She scrambled to her feet and then she bowed to him, as stepped upon the filthy floor. “My shoes!” She fell akimbo once again and donned her riding boots of high, hard leather made.

“Stables,” said Duke William, as he’d already made way back toward the steeds, their tack, and hay.

Dawn broke. William rode a palfrey of some sixteen hands; no larger mount had Nesta ever seen in all her thirteen years. It took a steady heel to keep her own mount up to his. Her own was thirteen hands; a full pied shorter at the withers, and the length made difference in the speed. But Nesta kicked and kept her horse, a brute himself, near side of his.

Horseback Stroll by Leonid Afremov

“I keep losing ships. The blinking ships are sinking. Sinking.”

“Sinking, Lord? Are we at war?”

"Harbor. In the harbor, shipwrecks. Worthless shipwrecks, and they cost some great amount of money! Whacht, well I could have the harbor littered with old rubbish ships, and that for nearly free.”

“Why sinking?”

“Ask the shipwrights why. They say the boats need seasoning a year. But we ain’t got a year. We ‘ad neh year in January. Now it’s June, and still we haven’t got a year. The one thing Cousin Odo in’t be buyin’ us is time.”

“Why a year, milord?” Nesta’s mount was laboring, even though they were less than a league outside of town.

“And with the ships, my men. We got men morely macilent a’mer[1] nigh every day. The good ones going down with all these blinking worthless ships. But it won’t matter. Nay. We have the papal banner now.”

“The men who do remain will be emboldened by God’s truly sanction, lord.”

He looked at her askance. “They told me you were clever. But I find you thick and simple. What’s this about God? I said the Papiality.”  

And with this, he took his horse down to a trot, and dreweth out the syllables in dour downadmonishment, “They will embolden for the resource what they take. Money. Aid from Rome in men and in materièl and money from it come. We’re not be gone to England for the gold and for the women. Not this time.

“Land, Ness. We’re going for the land. We’re going to stay.” He cast his eyes to Occident; toward the pretty bird, this Angle’s Land, set in the sea of sapphire up around it, and the little dam did after him.

“Land,” said Nesta.

He leaned in closer to her ear. “By the way, Harold seized Northumberland and gift it to his brother. Of land? You’re right out y’self.”

[1] Lost at sea

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Odo's Dinner Party

They were seated separately at dinner; Nesta at the foot with some the hangers-on and sundry; and Imogene at the Bayeux Bishop’s main gauche. All the men and ladies of the castles sat and servants wrought them bread with softened, salted butter and they ate it with their hands. Odo entered then, and all the conversation paused, and all stood up to welcome in the handsome host with sweet applause. (Although they had all seen him through the day, this was his custom: to be greeted by the company this way.)

“My dearly honored guests and all the rest of ye, may I present to you again our sister in the fight for Normandy and ere beyond this sainted land: Dame Imogene of dol-Combourg in Brittany; she is our honored guest for whom tonight we feast.” The ladies clucked to one another and the lords and knights smiled sweetly to the dam.

Odo’s blessing was perfunctory, and presently he disattached his collar and removed his scapular, revealing he an open linen shirt beneath, for on this eve, he hadn’t worn his habit; rather button-shirt and trousers, and some riding boots. He cut a silhouette!

The start of dinner was some pottage made of lentils, onions, garlic and of tongue. Followed that, the servants brought stuffed swan, with carrots in a garlic sauce as well. The main course was three boar, spit-roasted whole, and split among the men first, then the ladies afterward. Odo and his best man, Gabriel, ate of the brain and haunches of the best of three whole boars. But for those who didn’t fancy eating boar, the chef had also made up mutton haunch on cabbage cooked with mustard seed and weld. Fish were brought on Odwinsday and Freya’s, so there was none for the host.

As dessert, the men ate almonds. Nesta ate some, too, for she had dearly fancied some since they had reached the millhouse at Bec-Hellouin the other day. The ladies sipped on chilled fruit mash in wooden bowls. Within the mash were liquor, too.

All throughout the dinner, first one man and then another would they stand, and raise a toast to one saint or another, or a family they knew, or else the Summertime, or pass-times, or to one another. Nesta tried requesting ale, but this was not Le Mans: there was no ale or water to be drunk at one of Odo’s feasts; only peach-beer cider or red wine.

After dinner in the hall, some servants brought a grand container, some 4 pieds across and deep, upon a barrow made for such a task. All the waiting ladies and the ribald men let out a cheer and clapped.

Nesta knew not what the object were about!

A servant opened up the crate with great and fancy flourish, and came out were scores of goslings!  Some were mottled yellow; some were black and some were brown. Each wore downy mantle and they waddled out and squawk at goose and man alike. “Swee! Swee! Swee!” they gaily called, and fluttered they their stubby wings!

As they spread about throughout the hall, each lady and each man took up a piece of linen, given for this purpose, in his hands and captured one the goslings in this blanket, yea but with great care. Some were very drunk by now, and fell upon the floor or missed their mark quite comically. Nesta caught on quickly to the sport, and picked one up as well. Hers was adorned in silvry sable downing, and a little sleepy did it seem. It was quite happy just to look about and see what’s going on, and not its freedom break to mean. She found that it had, tied onto its hallux[1] with a ribbon, a wee tag of parchment with some writing put upon it in a woman’s hand.

The other guests were seated once again, and each held on a gosling, all around. Odo turned his gosling upside-down, and pulled the bit of parchment from the ribbon, and released the gosling down. It trumpeted in triumph, Swee! and strutted thence away. Odo read the note and smiled broadly, and then cast about the room. His eyes alit upon dear Imogene. He teased, “Shall I ask your squire there this question on my paper?” And fifty pairs of eyes turned ere to Nesta there. Fifty pair of eyes, sopped, and tokened up with two acclivities: the main part was there joy, but in the minor part, there was some vicious hunger, too. What could now these nobles mean to do?

Imogene saw Nesta was suspicious of the game. “Odo, shan’t we hold off with initiating her? She hasn’t got the notion of the game yet, has she now?”

“Very well,” he then acceded to her. “Very well, I’ll ask it of --” he looked about again and eyes alit upon a woman dressed in green, “-- Victorène, the Lady of Lion-sur-Mer!” Tense ghostfire filled the air betwixt the revelers, and some the women tittered at the choice. All eyes were on Victorène and off of Nesta now.

“Victorène,” Odo began, with shades of wolfishness at corners of his mouth, “tell us here: dans comment avez-vous été conçu? Dans quelle position? With that, the crowd erupted once again in peals of laughter and delight!  The woman turned a shade quite sympathetic to her dress. That is to say, ivy-colored dress she wore then complimented well her florid, blooded skein. She was quite red! And everyone hung closely on her answer to the test.

“M-missionary, M’seeur?” Gasps and laughter eminate.

“Dost thou ask or dost thou say it?” Odo pressed her then. Wild laughter then again!

But Victorène had naught to answer him, and threw her hands up into the air, surrendering herself to one the knights nearby! He picked her up and threw her up about his shoulder as the merry host began to sing and cheer them on. The knight continued on, and merrily he stepped away and took Victorène withacht, and exited the fray!

“I shall go next!” exclaimed a boy named Jean-Jaquinot, perhaps thirteen, and seated near to Nesta’s skein. Unraveled he his message hie and puzzled out the writing on the note with trouble tried. He smiled and he turned to Nesta, and she turned to him. He said, “It says for you to chuse a body part.”

“For what?” She asked. The throng all pressed to her, from every side, to choose a body part. Some named some of them, and Nesta lost the thread in pressing bald cacophony. She blurted out, “La joue! That is, joue faciale!” And laughter and applause sprung forth around the feasting hall.

Jean-Jaquinot reached for a bowl of heavy cream with honey, and he ran his finger round the rim and picked up quite a dollop. He stood, and spread the cream upon his cheek – la joue, and came quite close that Mortimer. Near her ear he whispered in the way that all could hear it: “Lick it.” And there, a heavy silence in the smoky air beheld.

She was sorely glad she’d said the cheek!

She made a proper show of it! And all the dams and men about gave homage to their little act! Nesta, was she well relieved! She’d passed their test, she did believe.

One by one, the parties took their turn to ask and answer bawdy queries of each other one. And off they trod then, two by two. And Nesta gathered some these sloppy noblemen would ere continue with frivolity perhaps they past the dawn. As for herself, she wished quite dearly to retire rather proximately, than anon. She found a girl to take her to her quarters and to Nod. And so she went, and so she did.

[1] The name of the lower extremity of a waterfowl.