Language Windows Into the Vagrant Underworld

Since I was first exposed to D&D, I’ve thought it was neat that one of the languages you could be proficient in was “thieves’ cant,” a language for rogues. Real life and real languages are more complicated, but secret languages do exist, and they have been used in criminal activity. One such is Rotwelsch, a […]

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 […]

The Battlemap Entrance of Maiden Castle

The east entrance to the Iron Age hillfort at Maiden Castle, Dorset, England, makes a really great battlemap for RPG combats. Lucky for us, it also has some really interesting history and archaeology behind it! As a battlemap, it’s got strongpoints a single PC can hold, branching paths, and restrictions on movement that are interesting […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

Sappho

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 […]

I’ll Sell You Sicily, but You’ll Still Have to Conquer It (Part 2: The Conquest)

From 1250 to 1266, four successive popes worked to sell the Kingdom of Sicily to any capable European warrior-aristocrat who could afford their steep asking price. The trouble was, the papacy didn’t own Sicily. The kingdom already had a king. Anyone who bought what the popes were selling would still have to conquer Sicily themselves. […]

I’ll Sell You Sicily, but You’ll Still Have to Conquer It (Part 1: The Hook)

From 1250 to 1266, four successive popes worked to sell the Kingdom of Sicily to any capable European warrior-aristocrat who could afford the steep asking price. The trouble was, the papacy didn’t own Sicily. In fact, Sicily already had a king who was none too pleased with the whole affair. These popes weren’t selling control […]

The Trial of the Six Generals

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 […]

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 […]

The Marriage Politics of Blanche of Castille

Blanche of Castille was Queen of France from 1223 to 1252. She was a juggernaut – one of the most powerful people on the continent. She led spy rings, commanded armies, and helped turn France into the pre-eminent power in Europe. The story of how she negotiated a marriage for her son, King Louis IX (the […]

Lucilla

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 […]

By Order of General Ludd and His Luddites

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 […]