The Buffalo-Ghost Queen of Imperial Mali

Sundiata (circa 1217-1255), the founder of the Mali Empire, is famed in song and story in part because of his eponymous griot-song The Epic of Sundiata. And it’s deservedly famous – it’s a great story! But the coolest character in the epic isn’t Sundiata. It’s his mom, Sogolon Kondé. She’s a sorcerer with a buffalo ghost, […]

Lucilla

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 Arthur Brown. Thanks for helping keep […]

The NPC Guest List at Babur’s Last, Greatest Party

This week we return for our final intriguing moment in the autobiography of Babur (1483-1530), the founder of the Mughal Empire in India. In 1528 he threw an enormous party with an astonishing cast of characters. Having all these people – all with their own reasons to love and hate one another – in the same place […]

The Scandalous Memoirs of Regency England

For the upper classes, the early 1800s in Britain were an elegant and glamorous age. This is the time of Bridgerton, Emma, and Pride and Prejudice. In London high society, it was an era of lavish balls, fabulous outfits, and not thinking too much about the ongoing Napoleonic Wars or the growing poverty in the […]

The Secret Peasant Book Club

In the countryside near 1500s Venice, most people were illiterate – but not all. A small number of literate peasants swapped books amongst themselves. Some of the books were forbidden. One miller was hauled before the Inquisition, not for reading banned books, but for developing his own theology from them that existed outside the bounds of Christianity. […]

The Shaman/Detective Team-Up

Uluksuk Mayuk was an Inuinnait (Copper Inuit) shaman active in the early 1900s. In 1914, he heard about a double murder and went to investigate it. Two years later, a Canadian detective arrived unexpectedly from a world away. Uluksuk and the detective pooled their information and their resources, then Uluksuk led the detective to the […]

NPCs from Christine de Pizan’s City of Ladies

Christine de Pizan was a 15th-century French feminist author. Her work The Book of the City of Ladies (~1405) is a full-throated defense of the spiritual and moral worth of women in a society that viewed them as base, lustful, and inferior. The largest part of the City of Ladies is a collection of short […]

The Lavish High Society of 1888 Vienna

In 1888, the Austro-Hungarian empire was in its decadent final decades. In Vienna, the capital, baroque splendor was on full display. Yet while ‘baroque’ can mean glitzy and overwrought, it also refers to an artistic style then over a century out of date. And that’s late 1800s Vienna: a cultural Mecca that was also the […]

PCs on the Battlefield: Babur Waits in the Dark

This week we return to another intriguing moment in the life of Babur (1483-1530). He would go on to found the Mughal Empire in India, but at this point in his story he was in what’s today Uzbekistan. He was nineteen years old and a king without a country. He was about to get involved […]

Judah P. Benjamin

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 Joel Dalenberg. Thanks for helping keep […]

Five Old Ibibio Women

The homeland of the Ibibio people is the delta of the Niger River in southeast Nigeria. In the mid-1960s, anthropologist Iris Andreski visited Ibibio villages in the rainforest and swamps between Calabar and Port Harcourt to interview the oldest women she could find. Her book, Old Wives’ Tales, is a collection of biographies of these […]

Rudivoravan: Fallen Princess Turned Cold War Broadcaster

Mrs. Rudi Voravan of Washington, D.C. was originally Her Serene Majesty Princess Rudivoravan of Siam (later Thailand). She was the granddaughter of one of Thailand’s most famous kings, was courted by two others, and spent her first twenty-four years living in palaces. Yet she renounced her royal status to marry a commoner. During the Cold […]

A Wedding to Remember: Three Lais by Marie de France

This week we’re going to look at three lais: courtly Medieval short tales of love and adventure. Their author is a mysterious and engaging figure, and their contents are perfect for the gaming table: secret twins, secret parents, schemes, adultery, murder, and werewolves! This post is brought to you by beloved Patreon backer Robert Nichols. […]

The Pirate King of Iceland

In 1809, a British merchant ship carrying the former Danish pirate Jørgen Jørgensen arrived in Iceland, a Danish dependency. The pirate overthrew the Danish governor without bloodshed and proclaimed himself king of an independent Iceland. Two months later, a British warship arrived, arrested Jørgensen, and restored the Danish governor – even though Denmark and Britain […]

Professional NPCs from the Medieval Joke Book

Last month, we looked at some jokes from the earliest known printed joke book, the 15th-century Facetiae of Poggio Bracciolini. This month we return to the Facetiae for more late Medieval/early Renaissance Italian jokes, each of which has at its heart a character who makes a great professional or tradesman NPC. Some readers of last […]