PCs on the Battlefield: the Rock Island Keelboats

In 1814, a band of the Sauk Indian nation led an attack on three U.S. Army keelboats on the Mississippi River. The resulting Battle of Rock Island Rapids is an excellent template for a combat encounter at your table. It’s got an interesting geopolitical context (the three-way tug-of-war between America, Britain, and the Sauk), interesting […]

Patrocles’ Caspian Exploration Fraud

The Hellenistic Greek geographer, government official, and military officer Patrocles conducted two voyages of exploration in the Caspian Sea. His account of what he saw had a major influence on European geographers into the Middle Ages. The only problem is that most of the important stuff he reported was flat-out wrong. How he got to […]

Lord Thomas of Marle, the Wickedest Man of His Generation

Thomas of Marle (1073-1130 A.D.), the Lord of Coucy, was a Medieval French nobleman so evil that the King of France, the Catholic Church, and his own father all tried to destroy him. The era’s chaotic politics gave Thomas the opportunity to rampage across the landscape – and sometimes threw him a lifeline when the consequences […]

Wild Adventures Mapping the Khorasan Border

An 1880s joint expedition to map the border between Russia and Iran provides an amazing template for a surveying adventure. “Surveying?” you say. “How dull!” But hear me out! This joint expedition is full of smuggling, religious confrontations, international incidents, small-scale domestic politics, pride, feuds, and maybe even a secret villain operating from the shadows. […]

Xuanzang and the Five Border Towers

In the chaotic years of the early 7th century, China’s new Tang dynasty closed the western border with Central Asia. But that didn’t deter Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk, from leaving China in search of knowledge and religious truth. In order to do that, though, he first had to sneak across the border. Xuanzang’s trek through […]

Hiroo Onoda

Once a month here on the Molten Sulfur Blog, I run content taken from our book Archive: Historical People, Places, and Events for RPGs. This post is one of eighty entries in Archive, each more gameable than the last! This post is brought to you by beloved Patreon backer Justin Moor. Thanks for helping keep […]

The Trans Conquistador, Lieutenant Erauso

This week we’re going to look at a series of bloody, hair-raising adventures from the autobiography of a 17th-century nun, conquistador, murderer, and transman. Lieutenant Erauso was a celebrity in his own day, and his tales of mischief and mayhem across South America make terrific templates for RPG adventures! I’ll talk more about identifying Erauso […]

The Great Whiskey Fire of 1875

Once a month here on the Molten Sulfur Blog, I run content taken from our book Archive: Historical People, Places, and Events for RPGs. This post is one of eighty entries in Archive, each more gameable than the last! This post is brought to you by beloved Patreon backer Justin Moor. Thanks for helping keep […]

The South Sea Scam Colony

From 1879 to 1881, a French nobleman found several hundred willing dupes, took their money, and packed them off to a nation he’d made up. Dazzled with promises of land and ease, these peasants found only pestilence and death beneath the hot Pacific sun. The audacity of the scam, the ambiguous motives of the scammer, […]

Emissary to the Mongols

The Catholic powers of Medieval Europe didn’t understand the sudden intrusion of the Mongol Empire into their sphere of influence. Nonetheless, nations must communicate with one another, even those they don’t understand. So it came to pass that in 1253 King Louis IX of France dispatched an envoy to the Mongol Empire. Ostensibly, this was […]

The Secret History of the Mountain Folk

Material more than one year old is available to Patreon backers at the DEEP TIME ($2/month) level and higher. If you’d like access to this piece and hundreds more like it, consider becoming a patron! I’ll even write you a handwritten thank-you card.To view this content, you must be a member of The Molten Sulfur […]

Zheng He’s Alien Invasion

Material more than one year old is available to Patreon backers at the DEEP TIME ($2/month) level and higher. If you’d like access to this piece and hundreds more like it, consider becoming a patron! I’ll even write you a handwritten thank-you card.To view this content, you must be a member of The Molten Sulfur […]

Taboos as Plot: Navajo Taboos

Material more than one year old is available to Patreon backers at the DEEP TIME ($2/month) level and higher. If you’d like access to this piece and hundreds more like it, consider becoming a patron! I’ll even write you a handwritten thank-you card.To view this content, you must be a member of The Molten Sulfur […]

The Wonders of Sir John Mandeville (Asia)

Material more than one year old is available to Patreon backers at the DEEP TIME ($2/month) level and higher. If you’d like access to this piece and hundreds more like it, consider becoming a patron! I’ll even write you a handwritten thank-you card.To view this content, you must be a member of The Molten Sulfur […]

The Wonders of Sir John Mandeville (the Mediterranean)

Material more than one year old is available to Patreon backers at the DEEP TIME ($2/month) level and higher. If you’d like access to this piece and hundreds more like it, consider becoming a patron! I’ll even write you a handwritten thank-you card.To view this content, you must be a member of The Molten Sulfur […]