Thursday, October 31, 2019

Knights of the d50 Table

I am Sir Launcelot du Lake, King Ban's son of Benwick, N. C. Wyeth, 1922

Arms and Amores! The two hearts of Chivalry, the code of the chevalier. The knight with a right hand raised to do good, a soul bemoaning the wounds of Christ and delighting in the joys of Mary! Passionate for the pontiff, loyal at the side of his liege, conquering while on campaign, most faithful to his fair maiden! But no body can fit two hearts. Lust overflows the limits of Christianity. The bloodrush of violence makes courtliness shrink in fear. To kiss and to kill. To be like an animal on the hunt and a saint in a fine lady's chamber. The knight contorts in the confusion, being pulled in each direction, only held together by the knot of the virtue that binds him.

Don't pity the horseman. His literature paints him too well. He's a marauder, a politician, a lord of land. He brings entrails to his mouth with his left hand. Just the word of him, the lais and prose, is a poison that felled Paolo and Francesca. A high-class thug half-saved by a faith half-sincere.

And a word for the faris, a southern equal to the northerly knight. He knows no French so his code is adab, the courtly refinement of a foreign land. His way is older but just bold as the upstart virtue of the Christian kind. Like cavalier he kills, like courtier he spies, engages in intrigue, and lies. No less an angel, no less a foe, he and the knight go toe to toe.

Galahad Discovers the Grail, Edwin Austin Abbey, 1895

50 Chevaliers
Call a known rider from the list below, or bring a composite knight into existence.

1. Sir Gawain: A brilliant shield, Pentangle emblazoned. Armor as shiny as virtue.
Seeks: The Green Chapel, where he is to be decapitated, but he seems lost…
Wields: A green girdle that prevents dismemberment.
2. Sir Patrick Spens: Dripping wet, drowned. Admirably dressed as admiralty.
 Seeks: Revenge on the king who ordered him out to sea in the season of storms.
Wields: Ghost sailor boy, climbs high in the sky to survey the land, sees bad weather and omens.
3. The Bacheler: Despondent, desperate, disheveled. He’s out of his depth.
 Seeks: The answer to a question: What do women most desire?
Wields: A letter of high authority ordering execution, no victim’s name yet written.
4. The Knight with the Rowan Shield: Deeply wounded, rides with hawk and hound at heel.
Seeks: The lake of the witch who can clean and heal his wound.
Wields: A golden rod. When immersed in a river or lake, it summons the water spirits.
5. Herr Olof: Courtly garments, a beautiful saddle. Dripping and drowned from the mermaid’s lair. Seeks: His wedding. He got lost on the way there. Has it really been so long?
Wields: A fine goblet, a gift from a maiden. Drinking from it makes you forget yourself.
6. Herr Holger: Wealthy, thin, ghoulish in aspect. His head has been stitched back on.
 Seeks: To warn mortals of the torments of hell, to make thieves and tax collectors repent.
Wields: A sack of gold coins from hell’s coffers. Each can pay a devil to do an evil deed.
7. Sir Tamlin: Misty in figure, too human to be fairy. Yearns to return to our world.
Seeks: To keep trespassers from the fey places, to punish them if they do pass.
Wields: A pure rose, eating it will purge the body of all curses, illness, pregnancies.
 8. Redcrosse Knight: Heavily armed, the crimson cross on his breast. A dragon killer.
Seeks: The castle of Arthur, where his wedding will be held.
Wields: His wife-to-be, the maiden matchless in virtue, Una.
9. Sir Bedivere: Beyond distraught, weeping as he rides. He is lost without his liege. One handed. Seeks: The lake where he might let go the royal blade and fulfil his king’s last wish
Wields: Excalibur, the mighty brand of Arthur.
10. The Green Knight: Entirely Emerald Green from forehead to foot. Carries a heavy axe.
Seeks: To challenge the virtue of proud nobility by beating them in a beheading contest.
Wields: His own head. If deprived of it, he’d do a lot to get it back.
11. Sir Guiomar: Prefers talking to fighting, struggles with his lust.
Seeks: To protect a newborn child delivered to his care. It may have a great destiny.
Wields: A token of love from a fairy most high.
12. Sir Britomart: A lady-knight of perfect chastity. Fair and courteous and a lover of jousts.
Seeks: Her destiny, a man worthy of her hand in marriage.
Wields: An enchanted promise ring. The wearer must keep the bond their swear on it.
13. Sir Bors the Younger: A scar on his forehead marks him. Takes his chastity most seriously.
Seeks: The way home. He has fulfilled his quest and lived.
Wields: A communion wafer, consecrated at the mass of the holy Grail.
14. Sir Brunor: An upstart, his coat covered in ghastly gore. Very used to being laughed at.
Seeks: Revenge for his father’s death.
Wields: A heart shaped stone. Beats violently when a murderer is near.
15. Sir Satyrane: Strangely chivalrous for a hairy, lusty satyr. Prone to wildness.
Seeks: An instructor, preferably a fair maiden, to teach him better chivalry
Wields: The girdle of a notable lady, how did he get that?
16. Sir Marinell: A watery, slippery, amphibian fellow. Fears women because one is fated to kill him.
Seeks: He’s trying to drown himself, a wizard has convinced him to, but it doesn’t work.
Wields: A string of sea-pearls. Each can be turned into a large, rubbery, floating bubble.
17. Sir Artegall: A sore loser, a great champion. Dressed in the armor Achilles wore, how old school. Seeks: To resolve conflicts between arguing parties fairly and justly.
Wields: A blade that can cut through any material.
18. Sir Pelleas: A stammering, pathetic young knight. Gentle and undeceiving.
Seeks: Solace from his grief, his one true love has slept with another knight.
Wields: A beautiful gold arm ring. It is worth a lot. How hard would it be to take?
19. Sir Sagramore: Hot tempered and good. Prone to fits.
Seeks: To find a quest worthy of his knighthood, to prove himself.
Wields: A deed to land in a faraway kingdom.
20. Sir Galehaut: Gigantic heritage. Appears fierce at first but hides a most honorable soul.
Seeks: To rescue his dearest friend, captured nearby.
Wields: A turbid, passionate letter of love to an unnamed beloved.
 21. Sir Dinadan: An extrovert of cynical humor. He smiles, he cajoles, he coaxes.
Seeks: A bard who is willing to play an insulting ballad in the king’s court.
Wields: A most slanderous tract, a fantastic insult written on parchment.
22. Sir Perceval: Ignorant of the world, he wants to fit in, he wants to do his best.
Seeks: The unicorn. He doesn’t know if he should kill it.
Wields: A witch’s token of affection. If people turn jealous of the wielder, they become frogs.
23. Sir Kay: A mocking, opportunistic, mean knight. He doesn’t realize the harm he does.
Seeks: A tournament worthy of his knightly prowess.
Wields: A sharp squire, the best one could hope for. Loyal and clever and perfect in measure.
 24. Sir Lionel: A vengeful character, eager to resent. He’s constantly preening his mustache.
 Seeks: A huge wild boar which killed the family of a noble lady.
 Wields: A fine hunting hound, with a top-notch sense of smell and greater speed.
25. Sir Turquine: Obviously villainous, roughish, uncourtly and cruel.
Seeks: To delight his appetite for torture, to cause pain in others and pleasure in himself.
Wields: A whip of brairs. Does little damage but strings like no tomorrow.

8 Stages of the Chansom de Roland, Simon Marmion, 15th century

26. Sir Daniel: Determined beyond sense, unable to surrender.
Seeks: An enemy king, with an inventible army of giants and mechanical horrors, to slay.
Wields: An enchanted net that can be thrown far, a magic sword, a camel.
27. Sir Moriaen: A dark skinned knight in Moorish attire. Dispossessed, needing allies.
Seeks: To be reunited with his father and reclaim his mother’s lands.
Wields: A round shield, perfectly black. It absorbs light like nothing else.
28. Sir Palamedes: Not a knight but a faris, converted and comedic.
Seeks: A way to his homeland, to visit his family.
Wields: A finest raiment of foreign fashion, a trained singing bird that can talk like a child.
29. Sir Tor: Born as shepherd, revealed to have courtly blood. No manners but a good heart.
Seeks: A strange dog, a hound mysteriously, purely white.
Wields: A fine shepherd’s crook, it won’t let go what it latches.
 30. Sir Calogrenant: Eloquent beyond measure, courtly as ever.
Seeks: To escape a rogue knight, who is chasing him down.
Wields: A bladder of water from an enchanted spring, pouring it out will summon a rainstorm.
31. Sir Roland: A haughty paladin. His head is very clearly exploded. Yet he continues on.
Seeks: The gate of heaven, which he so rightly deserves to enter.
Wields: A frightfully loud war horn. Its sound resounds across plains and valleys.
32. Sir Oliver: A calculating, wise paladin. How surprising.
Seeks: A true emperor who can unite the world.
Wields: A holy of holies, a relic most dear. Should he keep it for himself or return it?
33. Sir Fierabras: A gigantic faris. He seems imposing but weak willed, easily convinced.
Seeks: Temples to wreck, clergy to kill, reliquaries to pillage.
Wields: A huge riding horse. It could carry 4 riders in heavy arms, tons of baggage.
34. The Fause Knight: Armor forehead to foot, the Devil riding is dis-guise.
Seeks: To web fools in words. Turn your back and you’re done for. Stand and answer to survive. Wields: A satanic fiddle. Its sound drive mortals to mad dancing.
35. Sir Hoel: Virtuous and far seeing, a saint in the making.
Seeks: A cure to the poison coursing through his veins, a bane to his bane.
Wields: A bottle of fine wine that never empties.
36. Sir Launfal: A generous, jolly knight. He loves to host and adores a good boast.
Seeks: A new court to call home. He’s lost favor, been ejected, from his old castle.
Wields: An invisible butler. It serves its master perfectly but cannot commit violence.
37. Sir Astolfo: An experienced knight wielding sorcerous powers. A bit wooden due to a curse. Seeks: A chariot that can carry him to the moon, where the wits of his comrade are hidden
Wields: A magic lance which throws opponents with the slightest touch.
38. Sir Ruggiero: A conflicted soul, torn between two faiths, between two bloods in his veins.
Seeks: An oracle who will tell him his destiny. Surely he will find two conflicting fates.
Wields: A mighty hippogriff from far off lands.
39. Sir Lancelot: Handsome, high status, high stature, a heroic kind. A love like no other lurks inside. Seeks: A shoulder to cry on, he was tricked into sleeping with a maid who is not his true love. Wields: A stone from a holy grave, it repels the undead and devils from the holder.
40. Sir Ganelon: His pride leads easily to treachery, his worst crimes are committed already.
Seeks: To find a place to hide, to lay low for a time or forever, whichever comes first.
Wields: Thirty pieces of silver, which the devil can smell, track perfectly.
41. Sir Renaud: Haphazard and foolish. Beloved by his brothers, unfortunately separated.
Seeks: To avoid punishment for a murder he accidentally committed.
Wields: The last dregs of a love potion soaked into his kerchief, dripping til tis drunk.
42. Sir Galahad: Most perfect, most pure, as if a halo surrounds him. He fights, he wins, he spares. Seeks: The Holy Grail.
Wields: Nothing but what chivalry demands.
43. Sir Dagonet: A hilarious jester but an unrepentant coward. He’s a buffoon but he’s kept around. Seeks: To convince someone that he’s prevailed in a fight, he’s even battered his own shield.
Wields: A magic sword. It’s not actually magic, someone was just humoring this knight.
44. Sir Pellinore: An aged old man who rambles easily. Strokes his beard and gazes off into space. Seeks: The Questing Beast, which he is destined to chase but never catch.
Wields: A sword that will break any blade it crosses it with.
45. Sir Erec: He’s getting older, the hair turning grey. Yearns for domestic life, the little things.
Seeks: To court the maid he has fallen for, however he is neglecting an important quest.
Wields: A sack of infinite silver coins. If he tells of the sack’s magic, it will cease to work.
46. Herr Karl: A clever young man, he yearns badly to get his way.
Seeks: To free his true love from a covenant, he plans to fake his own death.
Wields: A most elegant burial shroud, a tray of fine funeral meats.
47. Sir Aldingar: A cagey character, histories of mistakes trial behind.
 Seeks: A cure for the leprosy which has afflicted him as punishment for his sins.
Wields: A curative ointment, it eases pain incredibly but does nothing more.
48. Sir Cawline: Proud but he can back it up, boasts but he can prove it.
Seeks: To slay the Elven King, a deed to win his lady’s love.
Wields: A giant’s thigh bone, an unbreakable beater, a bludgeon bar-none.
49. Herr Peder: An expert evader, honest to none. He looks disheveled, unraveled.
Seeks: A soul to confess his sins to. He has done disgusting things, but can he admit it?
Wields: A charter from the highest authority, to force any captain to make any journey.
50. Sir Gornemant: He’s seen many a squire grow to a good knight, hopeful at heart.
Seeks: A squire with potential to tutor in proper chivalry.
Wields: Almace, a time-honored blade. Totally mundane, but its name is feared.

This table would not have been possible without the code written by Betty of Paper Elemental

The Arming and Departure of the Knights, Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, and John Henry Dearle,  19th cent

Further Reading
Though all the figures on this list are drawn from real traditions of poetry, prose, and balladry I have not been completely faithful to my sources. This is some of the fun of the chivalric romance. All the authors writing in the genre love to tweak it and remold it. Familiar characters emerge, evolve, and merge. These are my knights, but consider reading the works below to learn what deviations I've made.

The works of Thomas Malory
Gawain and the Green Knight (this is the best chivalric poem, read it.)
Orlando Innamorato by Matteo Maria Boiardo
Orlando Furioso
The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spencer
The works of Chrétien de Troyes
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Chanson de Roland
Don Quixote by Cervantes
The Child Ballads (particularly 3, 39, 58, and 61)
Swedish Ballads (particularly Herr Holger, Herr Olof, Herr Karl, and Herr Peder)

This post is dedicated to the Pearl Poet

Monday, October 7, 2019

Adulterated Lineages of the Primordial Flesh

Breeding Pit, Anson Maddocks, 1994

The moon shone that night, its disk complete, like polished horn or dulled ivory. There Marwan stood. He was one of the pale people, tall and gaunt, and so the fullmoon rays shone through him, revealing the contours of his bones, the colour of his liver and kidneys. But more was unveiled. The new lobes bulged, beating as hearts in the old flesh of Marwan. From them flowed ichors, hormones, and types of cells found in no being born from a womb. These too were made brilliant in the silver light. The bodies shuddered, they convulsed. They squirmed with their strength and lent it to their host.

Marwan leaped from roof to roof like a cat. His pursuers tried to follow suit, making fools of themselves in the process. He turned to laugh at his enemies fumbling over themselves. Seeing Marwan pause, Yasmin raised her arms to cast a harmless light charm. Marwan felt a sudden tightening of all the muscles in his body. His implanted organs failed for a second. He lost his balance. His feet slipped from the lip of a roof. His skull cracked open when he struck the earth.

The Anatomy of the eye according to Hunayn Ibn Ishaq, from 13th century manuscript

A History
From the Primordial Flesh, from some unknown source in antiquity, came Exquisite Organs and surgeons who know how to bind them in new flesh. They kept the old flesh too, they preserved it, they cherished it. But the mind is eager to tinker, even with perfection. The flesh was mingled with geomancy and devilry and alchemy and necromancy and the blood of rulers. 

Make Me One With Unclean Meat
The new lineages are much blunter, cleverer tools. The organs are distinctive, active. They will slip into any gaping wound and integrate themselves, no surgeon required. They are eccentric, each lineage blessed and cursed with a particular side effect. How they reproduce is largely mysterious but they can be found in just about the same situations as normal Exquisite Organs. 

Organ Spells:  Found in dubious medical treatises and scrolls of made of skin

Birth Organ, R: 15ft  T: A Living Body D: Permanent 
You cause an organ of a random adulterated lineage to be born in a body. The target may attempt a Con save to stop the birth. Normally, the organs produced by this spell provide no stat bonuses but if you expend 500GP in alchemical regeants and sacrifice an animal while casting the spell, the organ provides +1d6 to a random ability score. 

Emergency Transplant, R: Touch T: 2 Organs in Bodies D: Permanent 
You touch 2 bodies and select 2 organs within them. The organs flow through you, swapping hosts. Each target body may make a Con save to resist this effect. 

20 Corrupt Lineages
All organs give a permanent bonus to a stat, usually +2 or greater

1. Strength - Increased Muscle Mass, Tertiary Lung, Increased Adrenaline
2. Dexterity - Improved Neural Sheathing, Faster Metabolism, Improved Fine Motor Skills
3. Constitution - Secondary Liver, Secondary Heart, Increased Bone Mass
4. Intelligence - Secondary Hippocampus, Increased Neural Density (not always in the brain)
5. Wisdom - Improved Vision, Increased Neural Plasticity
6. Charisma - Pheromone Glands, Improved Social Awareness

1. Lineage of the Esoteric Tongue
Organs of this lineage are incredibly light, almost weightless, and a light blue or turquoise color.
Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, you develop an allergy to magic. You get an itch when in the presence of magical places or beings. Whenever a spell is cast within 60ft of you, you undergo a spasm and drop what you're holding. You cannot wield or wear magical equipment, you burst out in hives if you try.

2.  Linage of the Midnight Lodge
Organs of this lineage are dark in color, produce a pitch black oily substance, and are prone to failure. If you roll a 1 on a check or save associated with the organ, it fails completely, you lose the stat bonus the organs provides and you will go into septic shock and die in 1d10 days if the organ is not removed. The defective organ can be made into a potent poison by a chemist.

3. Lineage of the Blood of the Warping Wood
Organs of this lineage look a fetus gestated in a tree stump, they have sightless eyes wound with thin roots, little arms with woody talons. Once implanted with an organ of this linage, you develop a terrible bloodlust. When you see and smell fresh blood, you are driven into a frenzy like a barbarian's rage. The rage can only be ended if you ingest a pound of blood and flesh.

4. Lineage of the Chthonic Star
Organs of this lineage are bulbous and rubbery, like big water balloons full of slushy ice, and highly bioluminescent. When you are in darkness, the organ glows a pale red in your body. Without taking major measures to hide your luminescence, you cannot hide in darkness.

6. Lineage of the Archon's Sons
Organs of this lineage are a dull yellow color and produce fluids that look like mercury but are sour to the tongue. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage you lose the ability to lie, directly and indirectly. You cannot lie by omission or even refuse to answers questions directed at you.

7. Lineage of the Limestone Shaws
Organs of this lineage are always warm and have cracks in them like a heated coal. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage your body temperature rises greatly as if you have a bad fever. If you overheat any further, perhaps because of being in a hot climate or wearing heavy clothing in sunny weather, you will fall unconscious from heat stroke.

8. Lineage of the Hive Lords
Organs of this lineage look like bits of white chewing gum, all chewed up and spat out. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, all your pores begin to produce a sticky mucus. It takes double the amount of time for you to remove equipped armor or drop held items.

9. Lineage of the Tide Walker
Organs of this lineage have a tough exterior that looks like mother of pearl. Interfacing tubes poke through cracks in the shell. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, you become slightly amphibian. If you don't keep your skin moist you begin to wither. You constitution score lowers by 1 for each day you go without moistening, you die when it reaches 0.

10. Lineage of the Grey-Bearded Emperors
Organs of this lineage are slightly hairy, sometimes fine as dander or bristly as a bear. Organs of this lineage have latent personalities trapped inside them, such as a (1. Bigoted Senator 2.  Blustering Sophist 3. Brilliant Sycophant 4. Beautiful Courtesan 5. Bold Tactician 6. Bespoken Politician 7. Bashful Priest 8. Beneficent Governor). The personality is confused, a pagan, and used to being extremely privileged. The personality has a 1 in 8 chance of asserting itself over yours when you wake from sleep or any other unconsciousness. Increase this chance to 6 in 8 if you are under the effect of mind altering drugs.

Organic Landscape 3, Igor Vitkovskiy, (Source)

11. Linage of the Eternal Academy of the Love of Understanding
Organs of this lineage are pocked like meteors and porous as a sponge. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, your body begins to slowly turn to marble. You will be completely immobilized in 2d6 months. You get +4 to your AC and you speed is divided in half when your are halfway to being fully frozen. Basilisk stomach acid is one of the compounds which can reverse this effect.

12. Lineage of the Divided King
Organs of this lineage are desiccated, deposits of salt and calcium cling to them. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, you begin to mummify. After 1d4 weeks you will be technically dead but cling to unholy life until you are destroyed or the organ is removed. In this state, you are vulnerable to water. For every round you are in contact with water, you take 1d8 damage.

13. Lineage of the Twisting Hermit
Organs of this lineage look like crushed beer cans but darker, more muscled. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, your limbs become incredibly easy to slice. Whenever you are hit by a slicing attack, there is a 1 in 8 chance that one of your limbs will be severed from your body.

14. Lineage of the Sun Horned Bull
Organs of this lineage are a rich orange, like a brilliant egg yolk, and almost perfectly, uncomfortably, round. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, you must wake and sleep with the sun. When the sun sets you fall to sleep and when it rises you awake.

15. Lineage of the Unfortunate Weaver
Organs of this lineage are dark purple, web-like threads hang from them. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, you become a locus for evil, as if tied to it by invisible threads. The Undead, devils, demons, and all other abominations and ne'er do wells can detect your presence up to 6 miles away. They will be drawn to you.

16. Lineage of the Angelic Viscera
Organs of this lineage sprout thorn-like spikes, make a dull moaning sound, and have a sense of moral duty. If an organ of this lineage is in the presence of a subject who acts more righteously than its current host, it will bust from the host's body and implant itself in the new subject.

17. Lineage of the Reborn Garden of Paradise
Organs of this lineage have a pair of small wings sprouting from them, always flashy with gorgeous feathers. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, your body begins to weight much less. Strong gusts of wind will lift you off your feet unless you are weighted down.

18. Lineage of the Triumphant Temple
Organs of this lineage are slightly architectural. Cartilage structures like roofs, columns. Arteries like elaborate doorways. They also smell like incense. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, you become the seed of a dungeon. Whenever you level up, you have a level in 20 chance of running off into the wilderness and assuming the fetal position. You sink into the earth, you expand, you deepen, monsters are drawn to you. Once the process is fully completed you are a dungeon with a number of floors equal to your level. The hazards and creatures have personalities similar to yours. Your own treasure and items and more can be retrieved from within.

19. Lineage of the Barren Legion
Organs of this lineage have a metallic smell. They are covered in lesions the shape of a shield boss.
Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, you cannot help but stand at attention when you hear trumpets, drums, or any other bombastic martial instruments being played.

20. Lineage of the Tyrant's Banquet
Organs of this lineage are covered with little lips, closed tight. From a few of them beaks poke out. Once implanted with an organ of this lineage, you develop strange cravings. Each week you crave (1. Fine Olive Oil 2. Caviar 3. Mollusks 4. Honey 5. Quail Eggs 6. Spiced Dates 7. Oranges 8. Sheep Eyes 9. Crow Guts 10. Octopus). If you cannot satisfy your craving within the week, the organ dies. You lose the stat bonus the organs provides and you will go into septic shock and die in 1d10 days if the organ is not removed.

This post is dedicated to Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, the falasuf and physician

Monday, September 30, 2019

12 Marvels of Science

Illustration from a transcript of Muhammed ibn Umail al-Tamimi's book Al-mâ' al-waraqî (The Silvery Water)

Count yourself lucky to live in this day and age. In antiquity there were many marvels, but much was  lost. There was great glory, but it faded and fell away. There was much knowledge, but it was mixed with falsehood. Today we have the Way. As we step from the past into the future, we search for what embers of the old are worth salvaging. 

In 690, following the civil war, ancient treatises on light and the shape of the world and the workings of the organs were brought to the court of the Successor. 719 saw the secret of glass working rediscovered, recovered from the Women who protected it. Now, the Pale Folk study their bodies under the light of the full moon. Blood vessels and nerve endings are mapped, like rivers in a foreign country. Every city has a new hospital and every governor is advised by astronomers and mathematicians, whose fields did not exist a few decades before. Engineers invent luxurious fountains and pump black oil from the earth. The chemists distill tinctures or serums and pass them to physicians for experimentation. Just last year, a cataract was plucked from an old woman's eye, as if by magic. Today I saw a man with an astrolabe, and he taught me to understand the sky. 

There is light and conversation and music in the Successor's house. In libraries and schools creed and sect mean nothing, as all are brought together in the pursuit of what is good and what is true. Barren hills become observations, opening the pages of the heavens. The scribes labor over books and copies of books. They translate from papyrus to paper, from the old languages to the tongue of today. But don't just take my word for it, take a closer look.

 Linger after prayers, hear the dialogue among the congregants. They talk of infinity and space, eternal or finite. Buy sherbet and flavored ice in the market. It is sweet and cold and your tongue has never known its like. And look at these, 12 marvels of our modern knowledge, each an ingenious and extraordinary fruit, plucked from the orchard of the Way, growing in antique soil. 

Each would make a splendid gift, each would fetch a mighty price, each is unlikely to be found or even understood outside the Successor's domain. 

A illustration of al-Jazari's perpetual flute from his Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices

1. The Spy Glass: A brass tube with several lenses fitted inside. The tube is beautifully engraved with images of (1. Birds 2. Stars 3. Flowers 4. Horses). When held to the eye, the Spy Glass makes far away objects appear closer. The lenses can be removed and used as magnifying glasses.

2. The Water Clock: An unwieldy brass and lacquered wood box with the numbers 1-12 written on it and a small arm set into it. When water is poured into a spout in top of the clock, the arm moves across the face of the clock, from one numeral to the next in the course of an hour, resetting to 1 once reaching 12. The clock must be refilled and recalibrated once a month and can’t function in the cold.

3. The Hydraulic Servant: A small metal automaton dressed like a nomad from the north. It has a control panel on its back and is powered by water. The automaton can be programmed to do simple tasks, such as carrying things, opening doors, or grabbing things but it can only be programmed to do one task at a time. A liter of water is enough to power the automaton for a day, it cannot be operated in the cold. Secretly, the automaton has a little magic within, it cannot be detected as magical but will be effected by dispel magic, anti-magic zones, ect.

4. The Perpetual Flute: A contraption powered by water consisting of two flutes, two water reservoirs, and a tilting pipe into which water is poured. The flue can be programmed to play any tune or even make sounds like speech but quickly repeats itself. A liter of water is enough power the flute for a day, it cannot operate in the cold.

5. The King’s Water: An incredible acid which can dissolve anything but glass. A vial of the King’s Water can dissolve a 5x5ft cube of material over the course of 30 minutes.

6. The Hurricane Lantern: An oil burning lantern made of a wick held in a brass body protected by a glass dome. Its flame cannot be extinguished by winds and it trims its own wick via an ingenious mechanism.

7. The Nostril of Bahamut: A heavy weapon that uses a handpump and tube to cover enemies in sticky, burning oil. The Nostril’s maximum range is 20ft. The oil burns for 2d4 damage a round and cannot be extinguished by water. A burning target can smother the flames by taking a round to stop, drop, and roll. If the Nostril’s pilot wick is not ignited before being fired, it just covers targets in oil. Liquids other than oil can be propelled using the Nostril.

8. 1d6 Naptha Pots: Clay jars full of oil, sulphur, and nitrates plugged with a wick. Several seconds after ignition, the jars explode, dealing 2d8 damage to everything within 10ft of it.

9. The Compass: A magnetized piece of metal suspended in water and laid over the four cardinal directions. It always points north.

10. Physician’s Kit: A box the size of a suitcase containing the latest innovations in medicine. It is full of herbs to treat different ailments and infirmities, smelling salts, acid for cleaning wounds, and soap for cleanliness. A kit has 2d4 charges. Each charge can be used to restore 1 point to a damaged ability score, let a person reroll a save against disease, or restore a creature to consciousness. Additionally, the kit’s charges may have other uses. The herbs are good for cooking, for example.

11. 1d6 Lightning Bombs: Like a naptha pot but filled with pyrotechnic compounds. Explodes in a blinding flash which disorients sighted beings within 10ft of it.

12. The Hollow Needle: A metal tube with a plunger at the back and a sharp piecing tip. The needle creates suction. It can be used to carefully and precisely extract fluids or small objects, such as parasites or contaminants, from the body or just suck up liquid. The effects of potions administered via the needle last 2 rounds longer.

Further Reading: This post is inspired by the Golden Age of Science in the Islamic world, but the inventions on this list are not all accurate to the period. The telescope, for example, was invented in the 17th century in the Netherlands. If you'd like to know more about this period, I'd suggest watching Jim al Khalili's Science in a Golden Age series or just reading "List of inventions in the medieval Islamic world" on wikipedia as a start.

This post is dedicated to Kallinikos, the petroleum consultant 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Ibn Fadlan is Not an Adventurer: XP Rules for Travelers and Diplomats

The world according to Ibn Sahl al Balkhi, 9th century

So, I've been reading Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness again and thinking more about what an adventurer is exactly. Adventurers acquire things, that's how they level up in traditional D&D, but Ibn Fadlan starts with wealth and loses it. The basic pattern of the D&D adventuring life, starting with not much and working your way up, doesn't fit. Though Ibn Fadlan and Abu Hamid's accounts have been held up as great resources for RPGs, I haven't heard of any other attempts to make campaigns based on their journeys. This is probably because they just aren't adventurers. They are diplomats, travelers. They witness and negotiate and educate instead of taking, overcoming, and ruling.

I don't just want to run a game in a setting inspired by the sources in The Land of Darkness. I want players to act like Ibn Fadlan and Abu Hamid, to be driven to see things and meet people. To that end, I've written new xp rules for travelers instead of adventurers. The rules make a lot of assumptions about the party and their loyalties, but I think that goes hand in hand with the subject matter.

The Arrival of Ibn Fadlan in Bulgary, Urmanche Baky, 1973

To level up, the party must collect Marks equal to their current level + 1. When you level up, the party’s Marks are erased and you start again from zero.

You get Marks for 3 activities: finding wonders, uncovering information which is useful to the postal agency/intelligence service, and diplomacy.

Wonders: The world is full of wonders, aja’ib, mirabilia. Indeed, the stars themselves are wondrous, proof of the infinite variability and glory of the Lord’s creation. There is always a great thirst in court and in houses of learning to hear of new wonders from abroad. We live in age of reason, all wonders must be verified by proper methods. Each wonder found and verified is worth one Mark.

Places: Strange locations in the natural world or significant ruins left by antique civilizations. To verify your discovery, you must determine its exact position and relation to other landmarks using astronomical tools.

Examples: An island inhabited entirely by snakes, a huge dome of lead constructed by giants, an enchanted temple which no mortal can enter, a cave where ice turns to crystal, a sea of pure darkness

Creatures: Unusual or rare animals. To verify your find, you must be able to accurately measure the animal (preferably in cubits) and describe its features in detail from a living or dead specimen. Demons, the undead, and other abominations do not count as wonders. People are also not wonders.

Examples: Mundane animals of unusual size, a hypnotic lizard with crystal flesh, a furry rhino with a huge horn, chimeras of all sorts, huge oozes which blend into the water, ravens with iron talons

Phenomenon: Inexplicable and recurring events which dazzle the mind. To verify your discovery, you must witness the phenomenon thrice in full with your own eyes.

Examples: Armies of jinn who fight in the night sky, a river that turns bright blue when the moon is full, stone elephant tusks that grow in the earth, a huge fish that beaches itself to be eaten daily

Spying: These are uncertain times and eyes loyal to the court are always needed in places far from the Commander of the Faithful’s influence. You must gather information, on both the Successorate's subjects and potential allies.

Governors, Shaws, Amirs: Power must be delegated to keep the Successorate running, but those trusted with that power often have their own ends in mind.

The party will gain a Mark for discovering that:
  • A Governor, Shaw, or Amir practices a heretical religion 
  • A Governor, Shaw, or Amir has committed an act of treason or plans to (e.g. failing to recite the Successor’s name in communal prayers, failing to enforce the Successor’s edicts, or working with her enemies)
  • A group of rebels operates in the territory of a Governor, Shaw, or Amir

Major Factions: Not every tribe of idolaters is of interest to the Commander of the Faithful. Major factions control trade routes, cities, or have access to important trade goods. Be warned, khagans are not above misrepresenting their influence to win foreign favor.

The party will gain a Mark for discovering that:
  • A major faction is trading with a rival of the Successorate (Whose goods do they have?)
  • A major faction has adopted a religion which rivals the Besharan Way (Who advises them, where do they pray?)

Diplomacy: The party represents the Successorate, the Commander of the Faithful, and Besharan Way itself. Adopting the faith and forming an alliance with the Successorate are inextricably linked. Keep in mind that all reasoning creatures, not just people, can follow The Way and may be converted.

The party will receive a Mark for:
  • Opening formal diplomatic relations with a faction and inviting their conversion to the Besharan Way, they will expect gifts from Beshara
  • Correcting the practice of converts to the Besharan Way, converts often continue to practice idolatry
The party will receive two Marks for:
  • Converting a faction's leaders the Besharan Way, they will expect a large gift from the Successor himself, but a lesser religious figurehead can be petitioned to provide the gift

Mark Bounties: Certain objectives have Mark bounties assigned to them, which the party will be made aware of at the start of their journey. Here are some examples:
  • There is a reliable rumor that a Governor has secretly claimed the title of Successor, finding out who will be rewarded with 3 Marks
  • Finding the Iron Wall of The Two Horned Shaw is worth 4 Marks 

Relevant Setting Information

What is the Successorate and the Besharan Way?

The greatest state under heaven. Ruled by the Successor of the Prophetess' favorite assistant, Idris. Rashida adopted Idris into the Besharan people and named him the Commander of the Faithful before she ascended the sacred mountain. For three centuries Idris dwelt in occultation before reemerging to unite the followers of the Way and restore the faith to its roots, founding the tradition we know as the Besharan Way. All the Successor's have been descendants of Idris. The current dynasty are the Nourids, the family of Idris' middle daughter. 

Who opposes the Successorate? (the following list is not exhaustive)

The False Successorate: A rogue faction of Besharan nobility who lay claim to the titles of Idris. They control most of Tamania, but the true Successor maintains rule west of them.

The Way-Universal: A tradition of the Way founded by the Prophetess' favorite companion, Hallaj. There are many streams of the Hallajite tradition, but none is as powerful as the Way-Universal. It is probably headed by the Pontifex Maximus in the Eternal City, or perhaps by the Basilinna in the City of the Constant Emperors. Many kings and rulers follow the Way-Universal and oppose the Besharan Way. Many are interested in the Meager Country.

The Cult of Fire: A left over religion from antiquity. Their practice is not banned but it is heavily discouraged. Lingering loyalty to this old tradition sometimes grips of hearts of non-Besharan Shaws and Governors and its dying influence is still enough to spark troublesome rebellions.

This post is dedicated to Oghuz Khagan

Monday, August 19, 2019

Pipedream Review

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to review Pipedream, an investigative roleplaying game written by Kai Poh for the Dream Jam on The game is a hack of Cthulhu Dark and inspired by my own investigative ttrpg, Beyond the Fence, Below the Grave. Right now, Pipedream is still in beta but I find that's often the most helpful time to get critical feedback. Let's get into the reviewing.

Pipedream is about a party of Wisefellows, Halfling community problem solvers who smoke copious amounts of the mind altering Elder Weed. Sometimes the Wisefellows just get up to mischief and other times they actually have to stop dark forces from causing trouble or settle disputes within their community. No matter what, they always get high. The world the Wisefellows inhabit is a cross between Tolkien's Middle Earth and the ancient Near East. Irisfields, the setting's take on Hobbiton, is essentially the marshier parts of Mesopotamia. Half of Pipedream is rules for playing as the Wisefellows while the other half is setting information and other tools for generating mysteries to solve and challenges to face.

Mechanically, Pipedream is mostly Cthulhu Dark with extra systems, such as rules for magic, attached. Like in Cthulhu Dark, players try to accumulate advantages and risk their minds to add more d6s to their rolls. Dark's sanity stat is replaced by dream, a measure of how much a Wisefellow's mind has been expanded by their smoking and exposure to the wider world. Dream is cleverly woven nicely into the game's other systems. As your dream increases you get closer to losing your character but you gain benefits from the blend of Elder Weed you smoke and can scupper the investigation to try and reduce your dream as well.

The game is also adamant that Wisefellows cannot fight the larger people and creatures who they encounter without being killed. I think this is a fine choice that puts the emphasis of the game in the right place: on hiding, running, outsmarting. Still, I think this strong mechanical choice can be leveraged better. Knowing that the outcome of an action is death is a lot more powerful if you have a reason to do it anyway. I can imagine that if fighting, though deadly, could provide a brief distraction or something similar you could generate a lot of dramatic moments. Selfless sacrifices, in the vein of 'You shall not pass', do go together with Pipedream's Tolkienian inspiration.

I like Pipedream's character creation too. Players choose character flaws, background information, items, and special abilities all at once. Building an inventory and a character are tied together, as personality details are as likely as equipment to be helpful in getting more dice for action rolls. It's an elegant little system that gives players a lot of freedom and room to express their characters.

My last note on the mechanics is that I find the rules for blending elder weed to be a little too fiddly for such a usually rules light game. I'd be inclined leave rulings about blending the weeds up to a referee instead of writing it into the game, though planting the idea that the weeds can be mixed in the players' heads is a good move.

Irisfields is fascinating in the ways it tries to emulate and undermine Tolkien's own secondary world. Irisfields is more morally gray, light and dark alignments are not guarantees of good or bad behavior. The community the small folk live in is far from an innocent and idyllic Hobbition. Instead, Irisfields is full of greedy landlords, untrustworthy sheriffs, and unreliable Wisefellows. All this, of course, makes the setting a much more interesting place to solve a mystery in. This social dysfunction is probably what is borrowed most from Beyond the Fence. Though both games feature communities beset by dangerous outside forces, those communities were already full of their own problems in the first place.

Though I like a lot of the referee facing tools, I feel like some things are missing. The bestiary is great, all the entries feel mundane and fantastic at once, like they're all part of an ecology but still tinged with magic. The adventure seeds for each region of Irisfields are simple and effective little mysteries or dilemmas, I'd just like to see more of them. There's lots of information on the kinds of big folk in the world but there's no suggestions for why any of them would be in Irisfields, beyond the few big folk mentioned in the adventure seeds.

 What seems to be really missing is a table to cover the non-investigative half of Pipedream: causing mischief. Here's a good suggestion from earlier in the document: "Let’s say you actually want to solve a case instead of, say, trying to squeeze as many goats as possible into the Mayor’s bedchambers before he awakens." I would love to see a table of similar gambits, pranks, wagers for Wisefellows to busy themselves with.

Lastly, my art gripe. The public domain art in Pipedream is nice but a lot of the images look like they're drawn on paper.

This lovely drawing of a pipe shows up several times in the document and it is always surrounded by this papery shadow which is just sightly different from the background. Here is a tutorial for fixing this issue using photoshop, and here's one for inkarnate.

Overall, Pipedream is a game with a simple, smart set of mechanics, great character creation, and a fascinating setting to explore. I'd say it's main strength is how the carefree whimsy of the Wisefellows and their adventurers can turn so quickly grim in the face of malevolent outsiders and internal conflict. The game is narrow in the sense that it is about a few very specific people in a very specific place, but the range of tones it wants to convey is excitingly broad. It could still use a bit more development, but I'm sure that development will come. You can buy Pipedream on

This post is dedicated to the Niflungs

Monday, August 12, 2019

Dreams and Fevers Turns One!

Piece of Cake by Joy Argento

Last year on August 12, I uploaded my first post to this blog. 'Hello All!'

The passing of the year has got me feeling reflective. I'd like to take some time to consider what I've been aiming to do with this blog. I'd also like to celebrate a little and express some gratitude because this is an anniversary, but it's a delicate balance to strike between thanks and false humility, careful pride and self congratulation. Let's see how I do.

"Blogs shouldn’t be conversations. They should be writing."

As G+ was going down, I shared this blog post by Chris Warley there. It's a post about the consequences of speed, how email and texting and twitter shape the kind of discourse which occur through them. It's about how complex topics demand that we slow down to understand them. It's about the value of reading, of paying attention, of taking one's time. It's about how going too quickly, having too much data to sort through, destroys our ability to understand what we're looking at. It's also about Italian food, but I digress.

I happen to agree with Chris, but he's an English professor. He's trying to understand Adorno and Donne. I'm trying to get prepped for my game this weekend. But I think often about Chris' post and about what I'm trying to do here. Though rpgs may be less complicated than literature and critical theory, that is not to say they are simple. Thinking about them, about system and aesthetics and rulings, in a way which is useful to playing the game also requires a speed which is not as slow as academia or as fast as an exchange over twitter.

Up to this day, I think Straits of Anián is the best D&D blog out there. It hasn't updated since 2014 but I keep coming back to it. Each post, especially We are Eaten Forever, feels complete, rich, and dense. It starts with one idea, devouring spirits, and expands to rules for soul loss, rules for possessions, a warrior society, a whole bestiary of cannibal monsters. I feel like Straits' posts are worth the close attention of reading and rereading, they are slow blog posts.

I probably won't ever run something pulled straight from Straits (except those possession rules, they're great), but I won't forget it either. I find that I don't read blogs to rip things directly from them into my games but to be constantly inspired by them. I probably won't have one of Zedeck Siew's Priests of Want at my table, but I want my Devouring Priests to capture the same sort of terror.

When I write here, on Dreams and Fevers, it is Chris' slow ethos that I follow and Straits' standard of richness that I try to achieve. I want to write things which are worth rereading as much as they are worth using at the table. When I place that dedication at the end of each post I want it to be well earned. I don't think I've always lived up to that standard. I've hit 'publish' on drafts that were a bit too rough, refused to cut for concision too often, but I've gotten better too.

 At the same time, I've been stretching myself into areas where the same standards aren't as applicable. I've written a review and a one page setting, essays and a manifesto. So Dreams and Fevers has changed a little, but I try to keep the same goals as mind even as what I write changes. Richness, completeness, rereadability, slowness. I doubt that these goals will always be fit to the task at hand, but having them close to heart has never hurt.

As I go forward, I want to write more dense, Straits-esque posts while still trying new things. Again, another tricky balance to strike. Maybe I'll try going a tad faster this year, maybe even slower, the future is never easy to describe. All I know is that I'm looking forward to what comes next, be it continuity or change or something else.

Hornsgaten by Night by Eugene Jansson

So that's it, that's me. A lot has changed this year. I'm happy to have made it this far. Thank you all for coming along with me. Special thanks to those of you who have never commented or made yourselves known but just read, I know you're around somewhere and I'm grateful for your silent attention. Thank you to everyone who has put me on their blog list or linked to one of my posts, I appreciate that vote of confidence.

Finally, thank you to everyone who's been inspired by what I do here enough to start their own blog or undertake their own project. Thank you Kai Poh for writing Pipe Dream (which I'll get around to reviewing eventually). Thank you Gundobad for all the excellent posts about history and rpgs. Thank you Paperweight for Akavan. Thank you Lexi for starting A Blasted, Cratered Land, which constantly impresses me. And, finally, finally, thanks to Joe Fatula and Boris Stremlin, who have made a great impression on me.

This is a lot of thanks for just one year on just one small D&D blog, but this is how I feel. I look forward to the next year of Dreams and Fevers, I hope that you do too.

This post is dedicated to Thomas Ligotti

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Cowboys and Conquistadors: Looking for New Models of the Adventurer

Tlaxcalans and Spaniards enter Guadalajara, image from the Lienzo de Tlaxcala

Dungeons and Dragons is about adventurers. A D&D campaign consists of a string of adventures with downtime stretched between them. These ideas didn't come from nowhere. In his 3 part essay, The Sociology of the Murderhobo, Boris Stremlin explores the literary roots of the adventurer, as they are portrayed in D&D, and looks for a model of the adventurer not as a literary archetype but as "a social type" which emerges in early modern history.

In my opinion, Stremlin's essay series is one of the best fruits of the D&D blogosphere. It's articulate but not too inaccessible, well argued, and reveals both the interesting history of D&D and new ways of playing it. Though D&D owes much of its original conception to literature, Boris' analysis suggests that the fantasy of D&D is far from a-historical. The genres which inspired D&D (Weird Fiction, Sword and Sorcery, and Heroic Fantasy) all take influence from the historical and cultural context from which they emerge.

Boris finds that the literary forebears of D&D, in one shape or another, reflect the history of colonialism. The protagonists of Sword and Sorcery are strongly reminiscent of Cowboys from American Westerns. The protagonists of Weird Fiction confront "the immigrant, the politically mobilized but still undereducated industrial worker, the native" as often as they do the cosmic. Though Boris does not touch on the legacy of colonialism and race in Tolkien's epic fantasy, the connection is not difficult to make. (Sidebar: Though James' article explains the history of Tolkien's Orcs well, I feel that he draws too harsh a division between Europe and the steppe. There is a rich and complicated history of interaction between nomadic and sedentary peoples in Eastern Europe.)

All these genres also employ a distinction between a civilized zone, where protagonists hail from, and a frontier where the main narrative action takes place which makes a heavy impression on D&D. In Westerns and Sword and Sorcery this divide is most literal. In Weird Fiction these are frontiers of knowledge as much as physical spaces. The position of Rangers in Tolkien's books attest to a border existing between two civilizations if not between civilization and frontier.

4th edition's so called 'points of light' setting operates on the assumption that the world is composed mostly of "wild, uncontrolled regions" with city states between them. Similarly, in the very title of Gygax's Keep on the Borderlands the same dynamic is represented. There's a Keep, civilization, and the Borderlands, the frontier. Granted, not all D&D settings and adventures maintain a frontier vs civilization theme, but it's telling that this theme stretches from a core assumptions of a modern edition of the game right back to a module intended to introduce new players to it.

Though the legacy of colonialism is certainly sanitized in D&D, it is still present in the game's basic ideas. When we tell stories around the table of civilized heroes venturing beyond the borders to beat back the forces of chaos again and again we should take pause and consider what kind of narrative we are participating in. I'm certainly no less guilty of doing this than anyone else. Boris himself has pointed out how I project the frontier/civilization division onto my own Meager Country.

The connection between D&D and colonialism is also not new. I've begun with Boris' essay but others have reached similar conclusions by different means. But the question remains: in light of this, how should we change the way D&D is played?

 I think we need to base our campaigns off different types of adventurers who are not cowboys or conquistadors and we can find such figures in history. We need to look to the past for new stories, new protagonists, different relationships between 'civilization' and 'frontier.' This effort will not just remove a problematic element from the game but broaden the horizons of what can be represented at the table drastically.

4th Centruy Goth Warriors, Angus McBride

What is an adventurer? 

As Boris describes in the second part of his essay, the early modern adventurer is somebody who manages risk, be they a mercenary, merchant, or financier. The adventurer exists in a time of social change. Established hierarchies are starting to wobble. Great opportunities for disaster and success are emerging. The first adventurers were also the first colonizers. Hernán Cortés, Samuel de Champlain, and John Winthrop fit the word well. But Boris draws our attention to other kinds of adventurers through his discussion of the Ashkenazi Jewish diaspora. This group doesn't appear to be very adventuresome when stood beside the conquistador, but commonalities soon emerge. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of the 14th-16th centuries, still developing and capable of offering greater religious freedom, is certainly a kind of frontier. Managing a business and setting up a community far way from one's home certainly requires a skill in managing risk. So an adventurer is not necessarily a colonizer and a frontier is not necessarily a terra nullius. 

What we are looking for is this: other conditions under which the adventurer as social type can exist. We are looking for groups of people who choose or are put into situations which require the management of risk to protect their communities or to move up the social hierarchy. These adventurers will also exist in times of change, whose outcome may depend heavily on their choices, failures, and victories. The frontiers they venture to may be states in crisis, far off lands in need of expertise of all kinds, or regions where valuable resources can be obtained.

Here are a few examples of good models of the adventurer, most drawn from the excellent Gundobad Games blog.

The Sea People (and others) of the Late Bronze Age Collapse

The international order of the Late Bronze Age relied on trade and communication between rulers facilitated by mobile populations. Such populations had great power to support or subvert the social order and can be easily seen as adventurers.

The Visigoths of the Late Roman Empire

The Visigoth were one of many groups forced into Rome's borders by the advancing Huns. The Visigoths faced great challenges in the form of corrupt Roman officials and anti-barbarian politicians as they became more and more integrated into the empire. A campaign based on this period would see the player characters adventure to ensure the safety and continuity of their community in exile.

The Vikings of the Viking Age

The Vikings traded, raided, and explored all the way from the White sea to Constantinople and beyond. Driven to win social status back home, pursuing economic advancement, and stimulating change at home and abroad makes the Vikings fit the model of the adventurer almost perfectly.

These are just three examples but in them is an incredible diversity of campaign concepts. I feel like D&D could have been founded on any of them as easily as on fantasy literature. But more remains to be discovered, more models await discovery by game masters who can pay careful attention to history.

This post is dedicated to Marshall Hodgson