Divine Intervention and the 885 Siege of Paris

Through much of 885 and 886 A.D., a large force of raiders from Scandinavia besieged Paris. An eyewitness account of the Viking siege has survived: the Bella Parisiacae Urbis (Battle of the City of Paris) by Abbo, a monk of the abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Brother Abbo did not seek to produce a literal and accurate […]

Six Political Power Players from the Pangani Revolt

Last week we looked at a really complicated (and interesting!) revolt against the Zanzibar Sultanate in 1888 Pangani, Tanzania. The revolt featured three different factions: the independents, who wanted total separation from the Sultanate; the autonomy faction, which wanted to reduce Zanzibari authority over Pangani and restore the privileges of the local elites; and the […]

Moving Lost Packages with the 6888th Postal Directory

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion (its soldiers just called it the ‘six-triple-eight’) was a groundbreaking U.S. Army unit in WWII: the first unit of black, female soldiers America ever sent overseas. The 6888th was deployed to Birmingham, England, sorting mail bound for U.S. troops on the front lines in Europe. The unit’s commanding officer, […]

The Abandoned God of Wat Kon Laeng & 13th Age Review

Sukhothai, in what is today central Thailand, was the capital a Medieval Thai kingdom in the 1200s and 1300s. The city was later abandoned, and by the mid-20th century, the ruins were totally overgrown by jungle. When archaeologists began to study the site, they were initially perplexed by an odd pyramid south of the city. […]


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 Colin Wixted. Thanks for helping keep […]

The Chinese Legation to the Paris Commune

In 1870, the government of China had to send an emergency legation to Paris in response to an incident in a Chinese port. It was an unusual circumstance; this was only the third formal diplomatic mission sent by the Qing dynasty to the Western world. A translator with the 1870 mission, Zhang Deyi, had served […]

Andrew Battel: Pirate, Convict, Merchant, and Mercenary

Andrew Battel was a failed English pirate. Captured by his intended victims, he was forced into convict labor by Portuguese colonial officials in Angola, Africa. He then went on to a varied career as a Portuguese soldier, a weird sort of half-merchant-half-mercenary dude, a minor warchief, a soldier again, and finally a deserter. His and […]

The Villainous Sorcerer-King Against Imperial Mali

Last week, we dug into the West African griot-song The Epic of Sundiata, about the eponymous founder of the Mali Empire who lived circa 1217-1255. Sundiata’s mother dominates the first half of the epic, and she makes a fabulous NPC! This week we’re going to look at the second half of the epic through a […]

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, […]


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 […]