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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

PCs on the Battlefield: the Siege of Cartagena

The 1741 siege of Cartagena, in what is today Colombia, featured a really interesting variation on the normal siege framework. The British attackers knew going into it that they would likely suffer a devastating outbreak of yellow fever, and that the Spanish defenders would likely be unaffected. Thus, they were racing the clock: they had […]

The Pirate Mutiny that Made the ‘Fancy’

In 1694, a mutiny occurred aboard a British ship moored in a Spanish harbor. A group of sailors, led by the first mate, overpowered the captain and those loyal to him. The mutineers set their enemies adrift and, with the rest of the crew apparently behind them, set off to become pirates! Their ship, rechristened […]

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 […]

Shanty Hunters: Ports

Shanty Hunters, my upcoming RPG about collecting magical sea shanties in 1880, goes live on Kickstarter on November 2nd. (So close!) This week on the blog, I’d like to offer a sneak peek: an excerpt about three ports in 1880 (the book has twenty) and another historical shanty from the shanty songbook. Last month, we […]

Duntulm Castle

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The Ruins of Ungwana

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Weird Japanese Monsters

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Zheng He’s Alien Invasion

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Three Unusual British Castles

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Liberating the Edward A. Horton and Blog News!

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The Wokou Raiders

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