Ben Franklin’s Almanac Prank

In 1730, future American founding father Ben Franklin published his first almanac. While Poor Richard’s Almanack is famous today, Franklin had to do something to stand out in a crowded market. So he used a gimmick: he predicted the death of the author of a rival almanac, then kept the gag going for years, absolutely […]

Empire City Thieves’ Tools

Thieves’ tools are an iconic piece of kit in RPGs. Their nature is often handwaved as “y’know, lockpicks and stuff”. When it doesn’t matter, that’s totally the right call. But specificity can prompt adventure! A specific tool, given as treasure to the PCs, can open new avenues for them. A novel tool hitting the streets […]

Families Turned Detective in Edo Japan

Societies have handled the enforcement of laws a lot of different ways in different places and times; the ubiquity of police in the 21st century can make it hard to imagine what other systems might even look like. The way the authorities tracked down suspects in Edo-era Japan (1603-1867) is particularly interesting. The system was […]

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 Scandalous Memoirs of Regency England

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