Stygian galleon on the Dead Seas

I’ve always wanted to play Wraith; it is the White Wolf game that still calls to me – part ghost story, part dark baroque fantasy world and with a dark shadow made up of your character’s distilled evil bits lurking on your shoulder, played by someone else at the table.


I wanted to do a game where everyone’s character was killed in a plane wreck or mass car crash and their wraiths find themselves in the Deadlands as the crew of a Stygian galleon on the Dead Seas made up of bits of their cars, luggage or whatever.

Plane wreck, car pile-up or is it too cliche?


I’ve got the Wraith: the Oblivion hard-cover on my shelf. Some day…



Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “The despair of Amyas.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Music Division, The New York Public Library. “The wreck of the Titanic : piano solo” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1912.


The Goldwine Wall, a digital craft project

I made a map of the Goldwine Wall, the name of a series of castles and fortifications along the river of the same name in the Burning Wheel game I’m playing with my buddy, Aaron.

I made it from a manuscript by Gregorio Dati (1362-1436) found in NYPL’s Digital Collection.


The Goldwine River for Fenwatch final

Blank spaces have been left for campaign notes.

Most of the names are from this online Old English Dictionary.


This map was begun in Microsoft Paint and finished with the bulk of the work done with Pixlr.

This post was not made as a representative of the New York Public Library.

Daydreaming about Swordlords, Sorcerers and Sword-Saints

We haven’t played our Swordlords campaign all together in a little over a month and we ended on a nasty cliff-hanger. The players are heading into diplomatic negotiations with Swordlord Grahl, who held his army back when Swordlord Zora was facing a horde of trolls and orc.

Then Zora’s mom dropped a bomb on her brother, who is going to talk to Grahl: “We have to consider the very real possibility that Swordlord Grahl doesn’t need us to save his wife’s soul because he’s already done it. We have to consider that he saved his wife by leaving Zora for dead in the battle with the orc. The Sword Saints have to be very scared of the idea that Zora could take up the dragon faith. It could be they wanted her dead and demanded that Grahl see it done by simply not showing up to the battle at the Little Sellen River.

“I can’t tell Ivo nor Zora about this theory because I am not sure what they would do with it. I am not sure how angry they might be and what their anger might bring about.

“Ivo has never cared for the Sword Saints and losing Spearpointe had a strong effect on your sister. I am sorry to burden you with this but I could not send you south without considering this. I am glad you are going; there is no one else I would rather be going to Spearpointe to talk to Grahl.”

I can’t wait.

medieval book border


Cyril’s Beliefs
B1: They all think clever words can fix this, as if lords and gods settle for anything less than flesh and dreadful promises. But I will not pay that price again. I will convince Swordlord Grahl to make the sacrifice.

B2: My reputation proceeds me and it always ties me back to Brevoy. I will earn a better Reputation that stands alone.

B3. I want to believe that we have a future greater than surviving and dispensing violence. I want to bring new life to our families. I want to have more children and Magnus needs an heir. I will find him a surrogate.

I1. Never sleep alone.
I2. Always soothe the tension.
I3. Never let them see your distress.

Homesick, Worldly, Mark of Privilege, Darling of the Court, Numb

Ivo, astride his borrowed horse, aimed at Grahl
B1: I confess; in my heart I wish the traitor Swordlord crisped from my flames. But my Swordlord has placed her faith in Cyril, and I will support him. It is his skill, not mine, that will see this resolved with the greatest good garnered.

B2: I will discern Grahl’s intentions and motivations. If, however, Grahl plays the games that brought Rostland to ruin, I will remove him from our Riverlands before these games ruin all we have built.

B3: The well being of the Rostlander refugees supersedes all other concerns. For the future of all, I will do what must be done to save their lives and livelihoods — Including surrender, if I must.

I1: Never overstep my place: Zora Kucera’s rule must be obeyed.
I2: If attacked, burn them with Sorcerous Fire.
I3: Things may not be what they seem – I always look for clues and signs

Character Traits
Pragmatic outlook, Shrewd

Die Traits
Mark of Privilege, Bastard, Gifted, Thick skinned, State-maker

I’m reading beliefs and day-dreaming until the game begins.

Burning Wheel, Bloody Clashes

Witt and I are tinkering with a battle system based on Burning Wheel Gold’s Bloody Versus.

Aaron and I are getting together online to play a game to test it out. He’s playing a mercenary captain. The setting is largely inspired by the flowery in-character writing from the Burning Wheel Codex kickstarter updates (all comments about how much you hated that writing will be deleted).

UPDATED: Link to AP thread


The E-mail Blurb

King Artoos Heofonfyre from the city of Fyrstead (everyone calls it The Hub), the 5th of his dynastic line has died and left no heir.

Up and down the Goldwine, the river dukes are beginning to occupy their ruined castles, which are largely unmapped, having been destroyed when the Heofonfyre army threw down the River King.

The 4 great and holy wheels are needed to consecrate any king and the dukes are scheming and getting their armies together. Wherever there is a castle or a fortress, there is a duke.

Yes, the Heofonfyre dynasty was trying to turn the island into a 5-spoked wheel, just like their Wheel of Fire, the Burning Wheel, that adorns their banners. The last road that would have led to Elf Bay is still under construction. The elves have gone west and their citadel is an abandoned ruin overlooking Elf Bay, said to be guarded by their ghosts.

The island isn’t that big. You could get from Olde Shida to Brenan in a few weeks by horse and even less time if you took boats.

Maybe you start in Hub City as the dukes start to mobilize. It is the night the king is announced dead and dukes are beginning to move for the crown.

Questions? Thoughts?

Too much?

The Map

BW with Aaron map

Names on the map pillaged from this site.


Let’s say that at an average castle, the duke can muster 25 to 50 knights, 50 to 100 foot-soldiers and 100 to 300 peasant levvy, also on foot. Knights are on horse and usually have a small retinue with them.

At a fortress or a city, it is up anywhere from 75 to 100 knights, 150 to 300 foot and 500 to 1000 peasants.



Possible Belief structure if you need it:
  • Write a belief about leading the Fenwatch community in war and peace.
  • Write a belief about your standards for who you allow to hire the Fenwatch Company.
  • Write a belief about how your treat your enemies on and off the battlefield.

Gauntlet Inspired: Gaming and Tolkien

The Gauntlet podcast is one of my regular listens during my commute to work and in a recent episode they were talking about gaming, Lord of the Rings and gaming in a canonical setting.

Inspired by this I put together a links to old blog posts all musing about gaming and Tolkien.

The New Shadow

Descendants of Agaron and Arwen, struggling to live up to their ancestors’ legends, punk noble kids in Gondor who have taken their grand-parents’ artifacts from Mordor, dusted it off and made Sauron as suddenly hip.  Yeah, cool kids taking out their eyes, replacing it with dwarf-wrought clockwork glass so their parents do not know that they are worshiping the long dead Lord of the Rings, putting on tusked masks and going out orcing during moonless nights.

Ring Dreams

The first thing we get is the Hobbit RPG. It is an adorable boxed set. You can’t help but pick it up and want to take it home and open it.

When you open it, a Dwarf knocks on your door and another and another until finally there are a passle of dwarves and Gandalf, russling you out the door into a grand adventure.

Ring Worlds

It is fun to think about the various characters who cam into contact with the ring and what a Middle-earth would look like with the One Ring in their clutches:

  • Bilbo
  • Gandalf
  • Elrond
  • The Beast Outside Moriah
  • Bill the Pony
  • The Balrog
  • Galadriel
  • Boromir
  • Faramir
  • Shelob

What wonderful villains each of them could be (all except Bill the Pony; we know that Bill is above the Ring’s lure).

Based on the conversation on G+ I’m adding a few more posts about gaming in Westeros:

How we got to Westeros via Burning Wheel

I was pretty sure it was going to be a good night when I explained the situation over dinner and my dad turned to Charles and said, “Brother, I need some dragons; go get me some dragons.”

“I can’t get you dragons…”

“I’m your liege lord and if I say get me dragons, get some some damned dragons.”

And they started bickering over dinner.

“Save it for the game, guys. This is good stuff.”

Our Dances with Dragons

In which the Warden of the North quickly musters banner-men who can answer quickly and sets up camp in Moat Callin. He didn’t have the numbers he could have had but he had speed, aggression and a little bit of surprise at this point.

Visiting Westeros with my Dad

My dad was the Warden of the North, The Lord of Winterfell. His buddy was his bastard brother, the one who was willing to do the bloody deeds his Lord wasn’t willing to do.

I have so many favorite moments that I don’t know where to begin.

Elsa and Dark Phoenix

elsa gif

A friend posted an adorable video of his daughter singing Let it Go and it reminded me that I wanted to write this since I saw Frozen. When I saw the iconic scene it immediately reminded me of the Dark Phoenix Saga.

dark phoenix

Elsa subverts a common trope in super-powered young ladies: young girl gets power, can’t handle it and you know where this is going:

dark willow

Hell, Zander even refers to the Dark Phoenix Saga during the Dark Willow Season 6 arc in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Elsa is an antidote to Dark Phoenix. She let’s teaches little girls that power is dangerous but dammit, with sisterly love and support, they can marshal their ice powers, Cosmic Phoenix Force entity and/or witchcraft and control it. Elsa’s narrative allows her to be a powerful young lady.

Situation Mining: House Mormont

Lady Mormont Inspired by Lyanna Mormont on the later episodes of Season 6, Game of Thrones, I thought I’d do a quick and easy Situation Mining post. Naturally, you don’t have to make this set in Westeros if that squicks you out. It is easy enough to file off the serial numbers.

I like the idea of a young, 2 lifepath character, learning how to lead and getting counsel from a few 4 and 5 LP characters.

Lady Mormont (Lady Mormont Character Sheet)

Write a belief about what kind of great Lady you’d like to grow up to become.

Write a belief about something you’d like to learn.

Write a belief about something childish, something you keep even though you must lead House Mormont.

Notes: You have so much to learn and will do so quickly. Read over the rules on learning new skills and improving stats and skills on pages 40 to 52 in the BWG.

Man-at-arms (Manatarms Character Sheet)

Write a belief about changing yourself from a soldier to a leader of Mormont’s armed forces.

Write a belief about teaching Lady Mormont about war, battle or combat.

Write a belief about getting something you need to conduct war (warhorse or maybe better armor).

Notes: You are a decent warrior but not a good leader and you know it. House Mormont has lost so much following the King in the North and you are all that’s left to lead the Bear Guard. Learn the Command Skill, improve your Strategy and Tactics. Offer to help others in war when you can. Become the general House Mormont needs.

Maester (Maester Character Sheet)

Write a belief about teaching Lady Mormont a skill.

Write a belief about what kind of great leader you’d like to see Lady Mormont become.

Write a belief about creating a treaty or a betrothal to a great northern house to ensure House Mormont’s security.

Notes: Offering helping dice, use your reputations and affiliations to make amazing circles rolls. Send out ravens and teach Lady Mormont. Read over the Instruction rules on pages 50 and 51 of the BWG. Keep track of how much time goes by and make those Instruction tests.

You are the power-house of this group and if House Mormont is to survive, they need you. You don’t have a weapon, nor a weapon skill. Be careful out there. The night is dark and full of terrors…and winter is coming and so on…

bear map