Apostolic Succession, Donatism, and the Hidden Pope

We got a weird one this week, folks! This time, we’re going to look at the principle of apostolic succession in the Catholic Church, how it underpins the authority of the pope, how that triggered a revolt in the fourth century, how it impacted the Western Schism of 1378-1429 when there were three rival popes […]

Post-Pirate Politics in a Mughal Port

It was 1695 in Surat, a large seaport city in what is today northwest India and was at the time the Mughal Empire. Every year, ships from Surat sailed west across the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. They carried goods to trade in Yemen and Muslim pilgrims on the hajj: the pilgrimage to Mecca […]

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 […]

Bandits, Agricultural College, and the Century of Humiliation

In 1924, in Guangzhou, China, six bandits kidnapped thirty-six students and staff at an agricultural college. What might otherwise be a pretty simple story of retrieving some hostages gets incredibly muddy with just a little bit of context – and the whole thing makes a great RPG adventure! This post is brought to you by […]

High Society NPCs from Aubrey’s Lives

Last month we looked at eleven bizarre scholarly NPCs from 1600s Britain, taken from a wonderful historical source: Aubrey’s Brief Lives. This week we return to the Lives for fourteen high-society NPCs, and – as before – we’re less interested in the real biographies of these people than in the gossip Aubrey reports about them. One […]

Imhotep

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 Fall of Caliph Uthman

Uthman was the third caliph: the third religious and political successor to the Prophet Muhammad. Uthman’s rule was contentious, his downfall ugly. It’s a fascinating case study and a terrible tragedy. The last months of his reign saw at least three factions battling for control of his empire, but all the politics was done on […]

Scholarly NPCs from Aubrey’s Lives

Last month we looked at nine bizarre occult NPCs from 1600s Britain, taken from a wonderful historical source: Aubrey’s Brief Lives. This week we return to the Lives for eleven scholarly NPCs, and – as before – we’re less interested in the real biographies of these people than in the gossip Aubrey reports about them. One […]

The Olympic Spirits of Arbatel’s Grimoire

Arbatel de Magia Veterum (Arbatel: Of the Magic of the Ancients) is a 16th-century Swiss grimoire: a book of magic. It purports to be the revelations of an angel named Arbatel “concerning the greatest secrets which are lawful for man to know, and to use them without offense unto God”. It may contain the earliest […]

Ibn Battuta’s Maldivian Coup Plot

We’ve talked twice before about Ibn Battuta, the medieval Moroccan traveler. This time, we’re going to talk about his adventures in the Maldives, a paradisiacal tropical archipelago south of India. In the Maldives, Ibn Battuta got pressed into service as an Islamic judge, let his bad attitude get him into political trouble, and plotted a […]

Occult NPCs from Aubrey’s Lives

Back in November, we looked at a weird ghost story from an even weirder source: Aubrey’s Brief Lives. This week we return to the Lives to look at his biographies of nine bizarre occult NPCs from 1600s Britain. Some were (according to Aubrey anyway) literally haunted by the ghosts of their sins; others were outright […]

The Heretic Vendetta

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 […]

Hiroo Onoda

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 Trans Conquistador, Lieutenant Erauso

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 Glass Delusion

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 […]