Old Essex County Jail

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 Justin Moor. Thanks for helping keep […]

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 […]

Pangani: A Pile of Conflicts Exploding in Revolt

In 1888, the Swahili coast of what is today Tanzania rose up in revolt against the Sultanate of Zanzibar, triggered by the arrogance of the sultan’s new German ‘friends’. The revolt was particularly memorable at the trading town of Pangani. But while German shortsightedness may have provided the instigating incident, Pangani had been moving towards […]

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 of 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Murder Castle

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 […]