Monday, April 30, 2012

Fake Dublin Castle

Although the photo that has circulated around the Internet has been shown to be a fake, this very cool castle location can still be quite inspiration as a tabletop roleplaying setting location.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dinosaur Killers from Space

(Hmm.  I'm almost wishing I could write a game with that title!)

Anyway, has a recent article that re-examines the theories behind dinosaur extinction-by-asteroid.  Just something to consider for adding prehistorical flavor to your own tabletop roleplaying game setting.  Read more here!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Coat of Arms Design Studio from Ink Well Ideas

There's a very cool program worth checking out called the Coat of Arms Design Studio on that could help someone flesh out some symbology in their tabletop game setting.  Read more here!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fort Tryon Park

I haven't personally been to Fort Tryon Park in Manhattan but I imagine it could be a place of great inspiration to tabletop gaming enthusiasts.  If you haven't been there either, check it out when you can, perhaps before and after the upcoming restoration, and take a lot of pictures, please, to share online.  Read more about the project here and be sure to check out the slideshow of photos here!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ye Olde Spelling Explained

There's a lot of odd spelling methods used to convey certain setting traditions, perhaps the most common being the use of "Ye Olde" in front of something to give it the right feel.  Here's a video from the minutephysics YouTube channel explaining the origins of that old(e) trope.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

St Cuthbert's Gospel

The British Library has recently bought the oldest suriving European book known, St Cuthbert's copy of Saint John's Gospel.  This old tome and its story can be quite inspirational in how you perceive books in your tabletop roleplaying setting.  Nearly a millenium and a half old, it has been hidden, moved, stashed again, and cherished by many over the years and now it will find a home in a library.  Quite fitting and it brought quite a high price.  Read more here!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lake Lightning

There's a very cool photo on Facebook showing lightning on Lake Michigan off the Chicago coast that is sure to inspire some weather in your tabletop roleplaying game setting.  Check it out!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Overtoun Bridge

The Overtoun Bridge in Scotland has one of the strangest histories of any location I have read.  Apparently, it is the site of about one dog suicide every month that might be linked to a scent.  Read more here!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two-Headed Snake

The National Geographic YouTube channel has a cool video showing a snake that manages to fool it's prey and those who would make it prey.  There are some lessons to be learned by those who like to make creatures for their tabletop roleplaying settings.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Barreleye Fish with Transparent Head

Over on National Geographic's YouTube channel, there's some very cool footage of a barreleye fish with a transparent head.  Scientist have been aware of its existence for nearly three quarters of a century but have only in recent years caught a glimpse of a live specimen and, remarkably, have caught it on film.  This creature conjures up some great ideas for others like it to terrorize player characters in an undersea tabletop roleplaying campaign setting.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Female Gladiator Statue Discovered

There's been a cool archaeological discovery made of a "Rare Ancient Statue" that "Depicts" a "Topless Female Gladiator" that is seemingly only the second ever uncovered.  If you've got women playing in your tabletop roleplaying games, it's always a subject worth thinking about.  Read more here!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939) The Song of Wandering Aengus

There's a W.B. Yeats (1865–1939) poem called The Song of Wandering Aengus that you might find inspirational to creating a scenario for you tabletop roleplaying game.  Check it out -

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lists, Lists, Lists

Setting creators can never get enough lists.  They spark ideas and help fill in the details of a setting.  Over on the, you'll find many cool lists to help in setting creation so have a look here!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sir Francis Drake's Circumnavigation Medal

Do adventurers get in-game medals for their exploits?  Check out this article on Sir Francis Drake's Circumnavigation Medal and see if something like this wouldn't go a long way with your players.  Read more here!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Animal Armor

Over on the Pitbull Armory, you can have a look at some armor made for a dog, a horse, and even a squirrel.  Enjoy it more closely here!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Apocalyptic Scenarios

There's a cool article from on "5 Horrifying Apocalyptic Scenarios (That Have Already Happened)" that is a good primer for coming up with gaming idea for real world end-of-the-world situations.  Read more here!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rome's Ancient Aqueducts

Over on you'll find a great article and plenty of pictures of Rome's Ancient Aqueducts which can be handily utilized for a tabletop roleplaying setting.  Read more here!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Unusual Dwellings

There's a very cool set of images of unusual dwellings in an album on the Facebook page of "Recycled, UpCycled, Freecycled garden project" that you just need to see to believe.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Fire in the Sky

Over on, an interesting article called "Rare, Unexplained Daytime Fireball Scorches Texas Sky" got me thinking a bit about the seasonal nature of such phenomenon and how I might make some adjustments to events like this in my tabletop roleplaying campaigns and settings.  You might find it useful information as well.  Read more here!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wolf Hunt 1910

Here's some restored footage from a wolf hunt in 1910.  Lots of inspiration for tabletop gaming scenarios.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fallout Shelter Discovered

If you have a post-apoc tabletop campaign setting, you'll love having a look at thie 50 year old fallout shelter and the condition it is in.  Read more here!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Purple Duck Games Cal for Writers

One of the many aspects of settings is the pantheon of deities who watch over them.  Currently, Purple Duck Games is looking for some writers to come up with Open Content to serve just this purpose.  Read more here!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"World's Biggest Feathered Beast" has a recent article on the discovery of the "World's Biggest Feathered Beast," up to thirty feet long an weighing in at a ton and a half.  Read more here!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

25 "Artistic Views of Ancient Beasts" on

Check out the 25 "Artistic Views of Ancient Beasts" on right here and graft some of them onto your own setting.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ukrainian Salt Mine - Underground Setting Inspiration

Over on, a recent article about a Ukrainian salt mine should make for some excellent underground setting inspiration.  Read more here!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

National Geographic Video on Camo Fish

There's a cool video on National Geographic's YouTube channel showing some camoflaging techniques of fish called "Camo Fish in Action" that you can use to inspire some fauna in your own setting.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Campaign Setting's Influence on the Industry

Peter Adkison recently explained the naming of Wizards of the Coast and how that name came from a tabletop campaign setting from his youth.  He wrote-
Here's the story of how Wizards of the Coast got it's name, which of course is intertwined with the story of the inception of the company itself.
My early days of D&D were in the late 70's and early 80's in Walla Walla, Washington. One of the legendary campaigns of the region was a world called Taragarden GM'ed by a guy named Butch Van Dyke. I played in this game from time to time along with a number of friends but the ones who pertain to this story were Terry Campbell, Darrell Judd, and Ken McGlothlen.
One day we were at Darrell's apartment and Terry had just purchased a Judges Guild boxed set called the City State of the Invincible Overlord (or something like that) and we were oo-ing and ah-ing over it when Terry planted the seed of starting a game company someday when he said, "We could start a game company and publish something like this!" And almost immediately Darrell suggested we name the company "Wizards of the Coast" after a mage guild in Butch's campaign that we all thought was really cool. I don't really know why, the name just had a certain panache, partly I'm sure because of how Butch played the guild as quite exclusive, powerful, and sophisticated.
In the space of about 10 minutes we all agreed that it was a great idea to start a game company and call it Wizards of the Coast but that we should probably wait until we finished school. My best guess is that this conversation took place around 1980.
Neither Darrell or Terry took the notion too seriously, but Ken and I did. From time to time we would create something random and put "Wizards of the Coast" on it. I self-published a mass combat system for D&D called "Castles and Conquest" in the early 80's, and Ken put the name on a graphic design he did for a wedding invitation. For the next decade we used the name as if it meant something, and it did to us of course. 
In 1990 I was sitting in my cubicle at Boeing typing with Ken on telnet when I typed, "We should start Wizards of the Coast for real." There was a long silence, to which he replied, "You're serious, aren't you?"

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monster Making Old School Style

In a recent thread over on the Facebook Old School Gamers forum, the venerable Jim Beach asked legendary game designer Tim Kask to elaborate on the origins of some iconic D&D creatures from the first AD&D Monster Manual, "I've always been fond of the bulette, rust monster and owlbear. I had the little plastic toys before I found D&D - and I still have them. Tim Kask: Can you verify? I've always kind of assumed they were used as improvisational miniatures, then statted out."

Tim replied, "Absolutely correct. We would look at them and write up whatever came to mind. Gary had done most of the bag, and the "best one" left un-statted was the one they called "the bullet". I needed a monster for the first Creature Feature in Dragon #1,(it had been slated to start in #2 but an ad did not get in on time) and it was born on a Saturday night watching a candygram skit on SNL. Gary and I were annoyed by the proliferation of hobbit PC's, so I addressed that and my love of outdoor monsters at the same time."

He continued, "So, to answer something stated earlier up this thread, we sometimes created monsters to provide play balance. Look at it as an ecosystem; when a species get's out of hand, balance requires a predator. As any good aquarist knows, the best tanks require the right balance."

Tim Kask's latest work, as part of Eldritch Enterprises alongside other designers like Jim Ward, Chris Clark, and Frank Mentzer, have just been made available on

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weaving Random Happenings into a Gaming Session

With the release of 30 Things Can Happen!, my own tribute both to the 30-sided die and to random events in Medieval Fantasy tabletop roleplaying games, I wanted to write a bit about why to introduce such elements into games.  Two troubles that even the best run campaigns can encounter include players putting on blinders and players becoming too comfortable.

In the former case, getting used to going from one prepped situation to the next can eventually lead to players making assumptions.  They can wind up thinking that a GM will only ever throw important information their way.  Or worse, they follow that logic to a further conclusion that anything that doesn't fit the usual mold is obviously the holy grail they seek.  There are no red herrings in such a campaign.  There are no surprises.  This is because there haven't been any small surprises along the way toward what the GM would like to prep as a big surprise.  There are no tidbits of mild interest just for the sake of keeping players on their toes and there can be no little detail that later becomes important because if a detail was shown early on it was immediately seen as important.  There needs to be a lot more input than can be easily followed if surprises are eventually to work.  The players need to be made to look around themselves in the game world.

In the latter of the above cases, players can become complacent.  The GM finds his group has difficulty in self-motivating because they know if they wait around long enough the GM will throw situations their way and those situations will always be the thing to do.  In such cases, a GM can nevers throws curveballs or misleading clues.  Nothing can be quickly explored and discarded because everything is part of the single line of encounters.  Making the world richer excites players' imaginations and avoids them believing that their decisions are not meaningful.  It breathes life into the world around the players and shows by example that breathing life into the world through their own characters has value as well.

Lists of random events and findings have a way of enlivening and deeping the playing experience.  This added depth creates opportunities for the unexpected to happen, and not just by chance but also by design without the GM tipping his hand.  The bonus for the GM is that once the players have reinvested in a campaign, the GM also becomes reinvigorated and these two energies feed one another exponentially.  So, take a look at 30 Things Can Happen!  It's a very useful tool any GM will find helpful to their gaming experience.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Finally, Our Own Landscape Sightseen

It would appear that we not only can go into space but soon deep into our own planet thanks to Sir Richard Branson.  There's some great setting material here for modern-genre tabletop roleplaying game settings as well.  Read more here!