Lop Nor, the Wandering Lake

Lop Nor was a salt lake in the Taklamakan Desert in remote western China. The lake no longer exists; damming the Tarim River to create an agricultural reservoir doomed it. But while Lop Nor existed, it was a terrible puzzle, because every time outsiders visited the lake it seemed to be in a different place. […]

Ben Franklin’s Almanac Prank

In 1730, future American founding father Ben Franklin published his first almanac. While Poor Richard’s Almanack is famous today, Franklin had to do something to stand out in a crowded market. So he used a gimmick: he predicted the death of the author of a rival almanac, then kept the gag going for years, absolutely […]

Herald-Inspectors

The role of the herald in Medieval western Europe was multifaceted: messenger, diplomat, announcer, and an expert in the system of personal and family insignia called “heraldry”. Starting in 1530 in England and Wales, royal heralds were sent out to verify that everyone using a coat of arms was approved to be doing so and […]

PCs on the (Failed Invasion) Battlefield and Coleridge’s Red Herring

In February of 1797, a small French military force landed in Wales. It was farce, easily rolled up by the British defenders. Participating in an invasion based on this one – either as an invader or a defender – is a surprisingly interesting RPG adventure hook! One of the weird events that followed the invasion also makes […]

Five Dead Bodies in an Old Chaco Farmstead

In or around 1030 AD, two women, three babies, and two dogs asphyxiated to death in a farmhouse in a thriving community at the bottom of a canyon in New Mexico. Was this event a tragic accident or was it murder? Modern archaeologists have investigated the site thoroughly and lean towards accident – but it’s still […]

An Investigative Dungeon Crawl in the Royal Art Mine

Herculaneum was a Roman town buried in 79 A.D. by the eruption of the volcano Mt. Vesuvius. These days, it’s a bit of an afterthought to the neighboring buried ruin of Pompeii. But from 1738 to 1748, before excavation began at Pompeii, the excavation at Herculaneum was the big exciting hotness of Europe. Except it […]

By Order of General Ludd and His Luddites

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The Shaman/Detective Team-Up

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“No, I’m the Real Martin Guerre!”

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A Wedding to Remember: Three Lais by Marie de France

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The Politics of the First Witches’ Sabbaths

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Limnic Eruption

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Apostolic Succession, Donatism, and the Hidden Pope

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Highgate Cemetery

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The Poltergeist of Furze House

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