Friday, January 21, 2011

Historical City Maps

About a year ago, I found this site, and spent hours pouring over the gorgeous illustrations. At the time, I was interested in adapting the Solomon Kane RPG to a real-world campaign I was calling "Swords Against Satan." These maps would have been perfect for that. I saw today another RPG blog that referenced this site as a great resource, and I completely agree.

Lately, I've been pondering "Warhammer Historical Roleplay." Since the original Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 were tabletop miniature games that were adapted as full roleplaying games, and Warhammer Historical is a tabletop miniatures game, why not adapt that as well? All you would really have to do is remove the magic rules and adapt some careers (of course, I'm using WFRP 2nd Edition as my basis here; I haven't seen 3rd Edition).

Europe in the 15th -17th centuries would obviously be the best base for this, and that's just the period covered by these gorgeous maps.

I may never get around to that little project, but if I do, I will certainly not have to spend any time making maps of cities, and will have some lovely player handouts.

One interesting tidbit: last night I was reading the second volume of the Baroque Cycle, which opens with a description of the city of Algiers (shown above). I was having trouble visualizing the way the breakwater led out to the fortress, so I checked this site. It definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the subsequent pages of adventure in Algiers.

And, since the site has high-res images of all the cities, suitable for printing, I am tempted to even frame a few of these. I hope you enjoy scrolling through these cool maps. I know I did.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

BAD GUYS Adventures

Two episodes ("Kansas City Here I Come" and "Against the Northsiders") of the three part "Bullets Over Cowtown" campaign for BAD GUYS are up on the game's page. The third episode, "Country Club Nightmare," was outlined but never completed, and involved the final confrontation between the heroes and Lazia, setting them up to take over town and go head-to-head with Lazia's former Chicago bosses.

While this campaign wasn't finished due to holiday schedules, it served its purpose as an introduction to the Fudge system for our group. We did some valuable playtesting, figured out what we like and don't, and what we want to do in the next Cape City game (which will "go Fudge").

Those who give a crap about that can read all about at the Star Chamber.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Europe: What a Great Story

...and no, I ain't talkin' about The Final Countdown.

Europe: A History, by Norman Davies, has consumed much of my reading time lately, despite stiff competition from Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, which I am reading for the second time.

Davies tackles a huge subject - a panoramic history of Europe from the last Ice Age to the Cold War, and, unlike most European histories that focus on the Big EFG (England/France/Germany), this one ranges all the way from the Urals to Gibraltar.

The neatest thing about this book is the way it's structured. The text is interspersed with bracketed information [LIKE THIS], and each bracket leads to a sidebar that is nearby. This reminds me of nothing so much as a standard hyperlinked web document. It makes for great bathroom reading, because you can read the sidebars (which Davies calls "capsules") by themselves as short articles. Or, you can stop and read them as you go or just ignore them all together because they don't interrupt the flow of the narrative.

I haven't read this whole book. It's like 10 billion pages long (it's the physically heaviest book I've ever read) and I've only just finished the section on Ancient Greece. But I know I'll finish it. Not only is Davies just a great writer stylistically, he's also a compassionate and objective historian.

Davies spends a lengthy introduction explaining how pretty much everyone else does history wrong, and he's made me a big believer in his ideas. He decries academic over-specialization, which he believes has looked so hard at the details that it's lost the big picture. He is also politely firm against revisionist historical theories such as Egyptian pharaohs, up to an including Cleopatra, as being black. He's obviously a sensitive man, based on things he's written about minority races and whatnot. But he's also not falling into the current fashion of academia, which is to allow modern politics to cloud the facts.

Above all, this book is for a me a treasure trove of ideas for stories, but it's also simply a great (if somewhat monumental) read. Not only that, but I'm pretty sure you could use it as a doorstop for a bank vault.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Savage Lord of the Rings

I've been painting miniatures from Games Workshop's Lord of the Rings tabletop battle game, but wanted to use Savage Worlds to play skirmishes. So, tweaking some pre-existing fan-made stuff, I've created some LOTR cards for SW rules. Check 'em out on the new Savage Stuff page.