Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In Harm's Way: Pigboats Progress Report

IHW: Pigboats is making fast progress. I've already got chargen done, and several other, more minor chapters. I've started work on the other core chapter, the Submarine Combat section, which is called Hunter-Killer. Sub combat is very different from dogfighting or surface combat. It's all about stealth and position. Detecting the enemy without the enemy detecting you, then getting in position for a surprise ambush.

Sub combat is divided into 4 phases - Detection, Positioning, Attack, and Escape. Each of these phases are taut and dangerous. You may go right from Positioning into Escape if an enemy escort sees you. You may go from Escape into Attack - shooting an escort "down the throat" as it tries to ram your sub, for example. The classic progress through the phases is Detection, Positioning, Attack, and Escape, though. I also have to cover night surface attack, and gun attacks. Both of those are part of the submarine attack profile.

I also have to cover all the various types of mission a sub might be sent out to do - from dropping off spies to carrying cargo to shelling a position to lifeguard duty in air raids to special Ultra attacks on specific convoys or even ships. I'm really looking forward to this! :D


Friday, August 26, 2011

Using Outremer NPC Generation to Generate Situations

Let's design a Situation for Outremer, and do it by generating an NPC - an important one the PCs will be dealing with. Let's make him the Lord of Sidon, the southernmost port city of the County of Tripoli. His name will be - roll on Frankish Names table - Renier de Sidon. As we are not fleshing out a character met on the spur of the moment by the PCs, but planning him ab initio, we will not be following the order of building in the NPC section, though we will be using some of those tables.

As Lord of Sidon, Renier has to be at least Rich, so we just choose Very Rich from the Lifestyles table. For his mission, we roll an 11 - Theft or Criminal Activity. Aha! Interesting already! Renier is no sweetheart! Now for the Object of the Mission, we roll a 4 - A Particular Relic or Religious Artifact. Okay... We'll have to figure that out! Let's look at his personality and see if that'll help us. We roll a 14 - Angry. So Renier is Angry about this. Now his nation's Cultural Traits are Flexible 2, Sly 2, Cheerful 2, Creative 1, and the Political Traits are Popular 2, Secretive 2, Corrupt 2, Efficient. Tripoli's Edges are Double-dealing and Intrigue, and her enemies are Antioch and Acre. All grist for the mill!

Let's see if we can tie this all together! Anger is motivating him here, concerning a religions relic of artifact. Ah -perhaps he is angered by the treatment of this relic by his enemies! Two reasons here to choose Acre - Sidon is close to the border with Acre, and Acre is infested by Protestant heretics. Excellent! Let's work with this!

So, Acre, or someone in Acre, has incurred his wrath by mistreating a relic. What is he going to do about it? Something Sly, I'm sure. He is Flexible about such things, and the government is Secretive and Efficient, and he has an Edge when he's Double-Dealing and/or involved with intrigue. I'd say he could be dispatching an assassin, or better yet a group of assassins. Another possiblility is he's dispatching a group of con-artists to sucker his target into doing something stupid and/or immoral and/or illegal, then leave him twisting in the wind. That sounds like a much more fitting end! If Lord Renier does this last thing right, he can watch his target's own society tear him down like a pack of wolves.

Now we could take this situation several ways. One way is for Renier to hire the PCs to do this, if they are the sort who could and would do so. Another way is for the PCs to find out about the plot and try to stop it, if that seems more their style. Yet another way is to involve the PCs in the chaos following the successful plot, perhaps meeting up with the perpetrators. Of course the last bit can be stretched a bit further, making the PCs themselves be hurt as a side effect of this - perhaps they were under the patronage of Lord Renier's target, or related to him. Fitting the Situation to the PCs is the last step. A Situation is not a Situation unless the PCs have to make fundamental decisions in responding to it. Just how they respond is up to the Party.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In Harm's Way: Pigboats

As hinted yesterday, I've begun work on my next project, In Harm's Way: Pigboats. I had previously begun working on In The Beginning, but that project never really inspired me, so I have shelved it for the time being. Pigboats is a WWII game set on submarines. The players will play various members of a submarine crew, from one of several nations - I am thinking US, UK, Germany, and Japan; with possibly the Netherlands and Italy. All six of these nations had strong submarine fleets, but the first four had the ones that made a difference.

What I posted yesterday was a VCS - Vehicle Control Sheet in StarCluster lingo - for submarines. The different aspects on the VCS are - from top to bottom, left to right:

Attitude Marker. Place a marker to show what the current attitude - pitch forward or back - of the sub is.

Days On Patrol. Check off a blank box for each day the sub is on patrol.

Compressed Air. Check off a blank box each time you use compressed air, for whatever reason. This can be replenished on the surface in a short time.

Depth Marker. Place a marker to show the sub's current depth.

Torpedoes. Check off a blank box each time you reload a torpedo.

Ready Torpedoes. Check off a blank box every time you fire a torpedo. Note that I have added a third Ready Torpedoes box amidship after I uploaded this pic, as I forgot that some British subs used mid-ships tubes.

Battery Charge. Check off the appropriate number of boxes as batteries are used. The speed you move underwater will radically influence the rate your battery is depleted.

Target Bearing. The angle the target is relative to the sub.

Identification. Nation, Class, and Name of the sub.

Dings. A counter to show the accumulation of grazes and near misses on the sub. Any direct hit will essentially sink her except under very rare conditions. This will be related to a chart of the actual harm done, which gives specific effects.

Speed In Knots. Slide a marker to show the current speed of the submarine.

The idea of a VCS is that you will be able to control the vehicle with the VCS as an interface, showing you the vehicle's status up to the minute. I have used them in StarCluster 3 and IHW: StarCluster, as well as the IHW flying games to very good effect.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Outremer Ships and Boats

Types of ships were used in Outremer that were typically used:

Ocean Going Dhows

These are large, deep-drafted vessels of 250-500 tons or so. They are large enough and seaworthy enough to cross any ocean, especially the Indian Ocean, to get to India, Ceylon, and the Spice Islands. They carry a crew of 30-50, and usually some small cannon for defense. These dhows have a very sharp bow, two to three lateen masts, and a built up stern. The great ports of Acre, Tyre, Jaffa, Alexandrette, Laodicea, Rhodes, Tripoli, Sidon, Limasol, Famagusta, al Maqnah, Aqaba, and Caesarea are where these dhows trade.

Coastal Dhows

These are smaller vessels, designed for the coasting trade and fishing in the Mediterranean and Red Seas. They are shallow-drafted, for use of smaller ports. They range from 50-150 tons, and carry one or two lateen masts and 6-20 crew. Their hulls are often sewn together in the traditional manner. They are seldom armed.


Smaller and lighter than dhows are the felluccas. These can go anywhere, and are used for fishing and river travel in great numbers. They carry a single mast, and mostly in the 10-20 ton range, with a crew of two to five.


These are fast, small vessels from Portugal and Spain, 50-150 tons, and with two lateen masts. They are lighter built than dhows, with a less sharp bow, and carry a crew of 5-20. Some carried light cannon for defense.


Big vessels of heavy, towering construction. They were used as main warships and as trading vessels with some of the guns removed. They were of 500-2000 tons, and multi-decked, carrying all manner of cannon. As warships, their crews would vary between 100-500 men, and as trading vessels between 50-100. Galleons came from the western Mediterranean and from England.

Race Built Galleons

A very new English design, the race (from razee - shaved down) built galleons were much lower than their towering cousins, but just as long. This made them more weatherly - making less leeway in a wind - and more maneuverable. These are the ships that later sliced up the Armada. They were about two-thirds the tonnage and man of the standard galleon, and would only show up in Acre at first.


A compromise between a galley and a sailing vessel, galleasses could sail well, and also carried 20-30 oars to move with no wind. They were not as good as either a galley under oars or as a sailing vessel under sail. Exclusively a naval vessel, and equiped with a single bank of cannon above the oars, they were prized by Venice, England, Genoa, Ascalon, and Cyprus. Size and crew were much like the race built galleon.


Galleys were the primary warships in the Mediterranean. All the major powers had fleets of galleys, ranging from 200-800 tons, with very large crews. Most carried two large lateen sails, and one to three heavy cannon in the forecastle.


A small, open (undecked) vessel with one lateen mast. it is much like a felucca, but of different hull design, being more solidly built of clinker construction.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Houses in Outremer

Houses in Outremer were very different from houses in Europe. In Outremer, houses had to deal with greater heat, dust, and lack of water. To do this, they turned inward. Most houses in Outremer were built around a courtyard, open to the sky. In places where water was plentiful, fountains danced and sparkled in the centers, cooling and moistening the air. The ground was flagged in stone or tiled. There were shrubs, flowers, and greenery.

In desert areas, the courtyards and roofs drained into huge cisterns beneath the courtyard when it rained, where the water stayed clean and cold until the long dry summers. In the cities, where there was no room for such courtyards, the roofs were gardens, and the people lived mostly on their roofs, especially in the cool evenings.

The exteriors were plain and unornamented, windowless on the ground floor, and usually so on the next as well, though sometimes there were slit windows for catching breezes. the walls were thick and featureless, keeping the air inside cool, and whitewashed rather than painted. Showing wealth where the tax collectors could see it was never a smart thing to do.

Around the perimeters of these square or rectangular courtyards were arcades, usually of two or more stories. These were breezeways, constructed to funnel and channel cooling breezes. The working rooms - the kitchen, pantries, stable, and such - were found off the ground floor. The family lived in the next floor up. Roofs were sloping and tiled where there was significant rain, and flat where it was dry.

In some places, the houses were built below ground, with long, slanting ramps leading down into the earth. The courtyards were still open to the sky, but the roofs were at or below ground level. Rooms were carved out of the rock on all sides, and many such houses had underground passages leading to neighboring houses, which were often owned by relatives.

In limestone areas, natural caves were sometimes used as houses, with connecting corridors enlarged and smoothed for casual passage. In these areas, sometimes even livestock was kept in caves.In any case, villages were almost always built on hills, rock or tels - the mounded rubble of ancient cities - leaving the arable land open and available for farming. Building on farmable land, even terraced hillsides, was a criminal waste.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Assassins in Outremer

Officially, the Mongols destroyed the Assassins in Outremer in 1260, in both our timeline and in that of outremer, yet in our timeline, Assassins were employed by the Egyptians for some time after 1260. In the section on Homs, it is brought up that the inhabitants of Homs consider the Assassins not gone, but "occulted", hidden but still active.

You may wish to work with this suggestion as fact - either the Assassins did survive the Mongols, or someone has reconstructed them in imitation. Either would be effectively the same - and by the time of the game. 200 years after the Mongols crushed them, these Assassins may truly believe that they are the survivors of the Mongol attacks, whether or not this is a fact.

Unlike the old Order of Assassins, who carved a demesne out of first Antioch and then Homs, these new Assassins would be quieter, keeping to the shadows, and hidden. I suggest hiding them in plain sight. Good places to hide would be as a feudal lord and entourage, as religious types, or even as a company much like that of the player characters'.

Contact with the Assassins would then have to be either initiated by the Assassins themselves or through a double blind contact through word of mouth. I think initiation by the Assassins would be more characteristic of them. The Assassins did not just work for hire. They worked toward their own ends while allowing others to finance the means to those ends.

One thing the historical Assassins did was always play one side against another, never letting one side get too strong. In this sense they could be working for the good of all, despite their unsavory means. Is it a good thing to kill one person to stop a war? They may think so. Alternatively, They may be doing this to keep everyone else down until they can take over everything themselves, in an entirely selfish power grab. Either viewpoint works.

As for means, the historical Assassins worked by suborning trusted people in the inner circles of whoever they were targeting - and not by money! They created fanatics out of what would appear on the surface to be solid, respectable citizens. How did they do this? No one knows. The story that they were given hashish and "taken to paradise" appears to be a fabrication, perhaps even one planted by the Assassins themselves. Perhaps it was magic, or the promise of power, or even a return for a great service performed by the Assassins. All of these are possible, and maybe all of them are used. Certainly, the Assassins would never give out their secret.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Focused and Non-Focused Games

There is a certain meme going around in the internet RPG circles, in which one asks "But what do the PCs do in this game?", then deriding any attempt to answer with "Well, what do you want to do?". I think it's pernicious, because only a focused game has a narrow enough sphere of play to answer anything else. I have no problem with focused games! Some of my games are very focused - if someone asks "What to the PCs do in In Harm's Way: Aces And Angels?" I can answer "They play WWII fighter pilots." Totally cool. But when someone asks "What do the PCs do in StarCluster 3?" I can't bang out a simple answer.

In focused games, the designer intentionally limits the scope of the game to a small area. Why? Because of the magnification principle - Given the same quantity of data, field of view is inversely proportional to visible detail. In order to achieve a highly detailed view, one must limit the field of that view. In order to see a larger scope, detail must be lost. Thus focused games are those where the designer is interested in detail rather than scope. Non-focused games are those where the designer was more interested in scope than in detail.

There are two ways to get more detail in a non-focused game - increase the data/bandwidth or delegate sub-creation. If you make the game bigger, you can get in more detail. The larger the quantity of available data, the more detail can be fit into a given field of view. By delegating sub-creation. the designer encourages the Group to provide it's own focus. This allows the group to provide its own detail by arbitrarily focusing on some aspect of the game which the group chooses to explore in more depth.

This also brings in the two somewhat contradictory definitions of a game - Game As Written, the book or pdf the designer supplies, and Game As Played, what actually happens in your group. In a game of extremely wide scope and delegated sub-creation, the Game As Written can be essentially unplayable - and this can be a good thing! The group must transform the Game As Written into the Game as Played by sub-creation. If the framework of the game is solid and the process explained well, and especially if tools are provided to help the process, then one should end up with a custom game, produced especially for your group, taking into mind what the group is interested in doing.

So Games As Played are all essentially focused - the only difference is who is doing the focusing.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Outremer - Frankish Justice

When the Franks came to Outremer, they inherited a subject population which was mostly Christian - though not at all Catholic - with a huge minority of Muslims, along with many Jews, druze, and others. They took the existing governance system of the Muslims and overlaid it with their own feudal concepts. The result was a strange brew indeed!

Non-Christians were subject to their own laws when dealing with each other, and their own leaders dealt with them - rabbinical tribunals for Jews, and qadi for Muslims. They had to pay a tax - this was inherited from the previous Muslim government, and called the jiziya - dress in ways differentiated from Christians, and could not witness in cases involving Christians except for testifying as to a Frank's age and descent, or to testify involving boundaries. On the other hand, they were free to practice their religions.

Non-Catholic Christians were equal, but not as equal as Catholics. They had their own religiously based courts, and their word in testimony was not equal to that of a Catholic. This varied from place to place, and changed over time. By the time Outremer is set, this distinction had mostly eroded, along with the ability of non-Christians to testify, in most Frankish nations.

Orthodox Syrian Christians had their own courts, called the Cours des Syriens, in which they were judged according to their own customs. These courts ruled on minor to moderate matters, and handed up to the higher courts more difficult matters. There were also market courts, called Cours de la Fondes, which had jurisdiction over commercial matters involving multiple ethicities. Cases "of Blood" - that is murder, treason, and theft - were heard by the higher courts. Minor cases involving Christians were heard in the Cours de la Fondes, or outside the cities, in the court of the local feudal lord. The Fonde administered the markets and souks, including taxes, weights, and measures.

The first higher court was the Cour Des Bourgeois, which dealt with most cases in cities - the Bourgeois were citizens of a city, and not covered by feudal law. These courts covered all people of the cities, no matter their religion or ethnicity. Each city had its own laws, the Assises des Bourgeois, which could differ markedly from city to city. The highest court was the Cour de Haut, the High Court, the court of the ruler. In Antioch and Edessa, this was the Prince, in Tripoli, the Count, and in Acre, the Duke. This court tried all cases handed up from the lower courts, the Cours des Bourgeoise and the feudal courts.


Outremer - Water in the Desert

Since most of Outremer is semi arid if not arid, water is the prime necessity. Rainfall in Outremer fals mainly in the winter. In some of the higher elevations - Moab and eastern Aqaba, and the mountainous areas of Homs, Tripoli, Antioch, and Armenia - much of the precipitation comes in the form of heavy snowfalls. Then, for six to nine months of the year, it seldom rains. Streams are often intermittent at best, and in the deserts the are often totally dry - except when it rains. Without vegetation, there is nothing to hold back the water, which accumulates into dry rivers called "wadis" in tremendous flash floods. This then spews out into lower flat areas where is soon evaporates. The trick in these areas is to manage the water, so that it is available even in times when the skies are clear for months on end.

Even in the less dry areas, the semi-arid and comparitively lush places like the Judean hills, or the hills of Moab, people use the most elementary water storace device, the bottle cistern. This is a vertical hole carved into the rock, with water channels draining to it. The cistern has a narrow "bottleneck" opening, and is lined inside with plaster. Other cisterns are shaped like boxes, rectangular, with a narrow top to help prevent evaporation. These can be huge or small, or anything in between.

Dams across wadis can do one of two things - divert floods into rock-cut cisterns, or retain water in the valley. The first is more common, and less difficult to build, but both types are known from ancient times. The Nabateans used wadi dams to supply much of Petra's water a thousand years before the Crusaders came.

Seeps and springs were also used - both come from an aquiferous layer underground. In seeps, water continually beads up and trickles down an exposed rock face. In springs, the water gushes naturally from the ground. Rock-cut channels were used to collect the water from seeps and divert it into collecting tanks. Springs had walls built around them to form collecting pools. Both served to settle the dirt out of the water, and had at least one, and possibly more, exits into channels.

Two types of channels were used besides cutting troughs into the bedrock. Surface aqueducts were constructed of U-shaped segments of stone or clay, mortared together into channels. Care had to be taken with the slope, so that the water ran down them at a natural pace. Qanats were a series of vertical shafts connected by gently sloping underground tunnels, which lead from an underground aquifer far into the desert. The water in the tunnels can be accessed at any of the shafts, and the underground construction minimizes evaporation.

With judicious use of the water collected, irrigation made the deserts bloom. The Nabateans, for example, grew grapes and olives in the Negev and the Arabah with directed irrigation from cisterns and dams. The Franks re-discovered this technology in Petra, where they built a castle in our timeline, and which they resettled in the Outremer timeline. In return, irrigation enabled better water retention through vegetation, which enabled more vegetation, which increased water availability. Water enables life, and life creates water.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Caravansaraies II

Now let's move on to who is there at the caravansarai!

Roll 1d20, modified by the location, as before:

  • +0 if between cities but on a tertiary road.

  • +2 if between cities but on a secondary road

  • +4 if between cities but on a primary highway, or in a town.

  • +6 if in a small city.

  • +8 if in a large city.
1-2 A small scarred, rough looking group, not merchants, probably mercenaries or bandits
3-4 A small group of secretive merchants, possibly smugglers
5-6 A small group of scarred, rough fellows, outfitted for digging. Possibly treasure hunters
7-8 A wealthy person and small retinue of guards and servants
9 A small group, too silent and too wealthy for this caravansarai
10 A single woman in a burqa, accompanied by a heavily tattooed black eunuch with a sword
11 A group of five order knights in full regalia, each with a sergeant, accompanying a hooded prisoner
12 Half a dozen blue veiled Tuareg, riding beautiful matched black Barb horses
13 Six belly dancers, accompanied by guard eunuchs
14 A small caravan of pilgrims
15 A masked and cloaked courier, carrying only a set of saddlebags
16-17 A group of 20 musicians
18-19 A large merchant caravan carrying frankincense and myrrh
20-26 A huge merchant caravan, carrying silks and/or spices
27-28 A rich Lord and his large retinue - wives, servants, knights, and grooms


A Bit of Conversation

This is actual play, straightforward no-rolls roleplaying, from my ongoing In Harm's Way: Napoleonic Naval IRC game. There has been a dinner on board the HMS Avalon, in the harbor at Fort de France, Martinique, in the year of our Lord 1800. Edward Jones, Captain of Marines, has just left the others and gone on deck in a passion. Miss Virginia Fortis, daughter of the Governor of Martinique, comes on deck, seeking him.

Meanwhile, below decks, the American naval lieutenant Simon Laurence talks with Commander Arty Wainwright, captain of the Avalon, Lieutenant Richard York, commanding the Seraph, Arty's Egyptian wife Maraya, her companion Demiana, and M. Gallinuille, the Lieutenant Governor of Martinique.

Virginia goes up on deck, looking for Edward.
EdwardJones is standing on deck, as far forward as he can get.

Demiana: "So, Mr. Laurence? you tell us how you capture big French ship with six mans?"

Virginia starts to go to him, but stops and leaves.

Gallinuille: "Six men? Merde du diable! How is such a thing possible?"

EdwardJones sees her as she is preparing to be lowered into the boat, and hurries over. "Miss Fortis?"
"Yes, Mr. Jones?"

Laurence: "We had spotted what could have been an enemy ship deep in the fog, so my captain sent me and six men out to row closer, to determine if the ship was friend or foe. As we got closer, I could discern that it was a french ship, flying the plague flag."

EdwardJones: "Leaving so soon? I thought you were enjoying the dinner and the company within."
Virginia smiles up at Edward. "The company I was enjoying left rather abruptly."

Demiana: "Were you not most afraid?"
Laurence: "Then a thought occured, 'this is a nice ship, and surely all the men inside of her are sick, or weak. Those still healthy couldn't number more than 30.' And with such small numbers, what was there to be afraid of?"
Maraya: "I will shiver me in the fear."

EdwardJones looks down at his feet. "Miss Fortis. I realize that the law and custom in this island is according to the rule of those who have been set over us. My wishes were not consulted, nor is there any reason why they ought to have been. It would not be surprising for a lady such as yourself to speak as those of the islands do, but I cannot like it."
Virginia turns to the men handling the boat. "A moment please. I shall be back shortly."
EdwardJones: "Now, that was more in keeping with the lady with whom I am acquainted."

Laurence: "So my men and I, stripped ourselves of our boots, and snuck aboard like wraiths, slitting the throats of the few guards that were there."

She walks away from them and turns to Edward. "I said the words deliberately, hoping they would let you know the kind of man Gallinuille is. They were the words he used in informing me of the happy occasion of their purchase." (Referring to slaves)
EdwardJones: "I already know. He is unfit to be governor and unfit to kiss the toe of your muddiest boot. But he is in a position of power, and I am not."

Maraya and Demiana squeal in delight!
Arty: "I am glad we are on the same side currently, Mr. Laurence."
Laurence: "Then we snuck down into the depths of the ship, searching for the captain, who we found to be likely the sickest of them all, whom we convinced that we were but a part of an entire gang of Americans."
Arty: [This sort of thing would be impossible to believe if I hadn't read a bit of naval history.]

Virginia: "And thus we see talent and virtue wasted. I do not like Mr. Gallinuille despite his charm and easy manner."

Laurence: "I remember him asking me, 'Why would you take a plague ship? Surely you don't wish to catch the plague?' to which I replied, 'Won't me much of a plague ship with all the sick dead and thrown overboard, yes?'"
Arty frowns.
Maraya and Demiana are thoroughly delighted by Simon's bloody tale. They laugh and ask him all sorts of questions.
Laurence will answer them as best he can

EdwardJones: "Do you not? But he would make you a wealthy husband, and it appears that you are in need of such. Any man would be blessed were you to link your life with his, but it should be one who can give you the life you merit."
She stands there, staring at him. "You think so little of me?" She whirls and goes back to the boat.
EdwardJones: "Not at all, Miss Fortis. I think so well of you that I would clothe you in silks and sables, had I the means."
EdwardJones calls after her, "I would not have you make a choice that would demean you!"
She stops. "I am happy in the skin the Good Lord gave me, and need no silk nor sable. Good cotten and linen suit me well, sir."
EdwardJones follows her. "Your skin is finer than silk, and should be dressed accordingly."
Virginia: "And what choice would that be, Mr. Jones? You flatter me. I shall one day be old and leathery from the sun, and you would despise me."

Demiana: "You scare the frogs to make them obey? How?"

EdwardJones chokes, but manages to get it out, "Choosing a rough-handed man of the sea, who is better fitted to do your bidding than to touch your glove. I have nothing other than myself. You are exquisitely beautiful, and exceedingly capable besides. Such a woman one meets only rarely in this life. Any man would want you beside him, but you should have one who can give you much. I have only hard work to offer."

Laurence: "By being everywhere at all hours. Always watching. And, once, one of them tried something, to which I replied with a bullet to his forehead."

Virginia says softly "I have no need of a servant, Edward, but a helpmeet would suit me well. As for work, I have never minded it. It is a thing to do and good for one."
EdwardJones: "It is true that beauty fades, yet one can delight in it for much time. Also, I have noticed that many ladies find it all the more important to barter their youth while it is freshest and will, if you forgive my phrasing it so, bring the best price. I would give all I have, save my honor, such as it is, but what I have is small compared to what such as the Governor, or another if you prefer, would offer."
EdwardJones dares to reach for her hand, and gently slips his finger under the wristband of her glove. "A helpmeet is what I have always wished for, but not dared to desire."
Virginia smiles. "It is my dream, Edward. And a dream I thought we shared."
EdwardJones slides the glove off, and strokes her palm with one finger.

The women think your description of haunting the Frogs at all hours is vastly entertaining.

EdwardJones: "You will not regret your lost diamonds and sables?"
Virginia: "I would regret nothing."
EdwardJones: "Your father is too ill for you to leave, or for me to ask his permission. To whom should I apply, then, for the right to care for both of you?"

Maraya: "you kill Frog Captain? With your Jambiya?"
Laurence: "No, he died pretty much the day after I took his surrender."

Virginia: "You may apply to me. I am of age."

Demiana: "Maraya would have killed him. She is bloodthirsty. She make good pirate."

EdwardJones laughs. "Well, then, will you share my fortune, such as it is? You know what I am; you see what I own. If it is enough, it is all yours."

Laurence: "He was essentially dead, why chance the rust on my blade?"

Virginia: "Most happily, dear silly man!" She smiles, and her hand covers Edward's.

Maraya: "Drama."
Arty: "Indeed. I expect the frogs will welcome their new home in our holds."
Gallinuille: "Capitaine? Why do you not leave them on the island? We have plenty of room."

EdwardJones lifts her hand to his face and kisses her fingers, then holds her palm against his cheek. "You know that I must sail with my Captain. Where would you prefer to live? And with an eye to the time when I need no longer sail, would you prefer a smallholding? Or should I plan to be a merchant?"

Laurence: "I didn't want to leave a gaggle of convalescent frogs in your broken jails, to spring up and take over your island now would I?"
Arty: "They need to be guarded in a place not already under difficulties. We don't want this island being under French control again."
Laurence: "Of course, if the Island did fall under french control, it would be a simple matter to make this island then an American one."
Laurence smiles
Richard: "Have you planned this for some time, Mr. Laurence?"
Arty: [And that is why Arty never invited the other American ship in.] "Which would be an act or war against Britain."
Laurence "No, it'll be a plan that waits until we are at war again, though I hope that doesn't happen."

Virginia: "I would prefer to live with you, wherever that may be - the islands, or England, or the plains of Tartary, and you will be amazingly successful at whatever you choose to do, and I will be amazingly happy, and we shall be so even when we are old and wrinkled as plums."

Arty: "I hope not as well, Mr. Laurence."

Edward kisses her hand again. "I trust all shall be as you say. I will do my best to make it so."

Richard: "You do sound as though you expect it again, sir."
Arty: [methinks the GM is setting us up for a future game in the War of 1812]
Laurence: "Hmmn, well, I believe the British aristocracy can't let their last loss stand for long, and many English still impress our sailors as if we were still a colony."

Virginia laughs, like a spring bubbling from the earth. "I will wait for your return, pacing to and fro on the waterfront. You had best return, or I shall have to go and find you."

Arty: "You've already tried two of these written 'Constitutions'. They don't work, you know."
Laurence shrugs "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
Richard: "Doubtless the young country will have to learn that for themselves, sir, like all younglings. In the meantime, I rejoice in the peace between our two nations."
Arty: "It's only a matter of time until you rejoin us. I mean, what language do you speak?"
Richard: "Depends on whom you ask, doesn't it, sir?"
Arty: "Well, I do not speak 'American'."

Virginia touches her fingers to her lips, then to Edward's.

Richard: "And many of them do not speak the King's English, sure enough."
Arty: "That I will grant."
Laurence: "Then I shall gladly wait for the day I can trounce you in the game of war."

EdwardJones kisses her fingers in return. "In truth, my dear, you tempt me almost beyond bearing. I must return you to shore before I forget you are a lady, and kiss you as I long to do."
Virginia: "Sometimes being a lady can be damnably tiresome." She sighs.

Arty: "I hope the day does not come when we cross blades; but if it does, you might just regret the fact, Mr. Laurence."

EdwardJones kisses her fingers again, fiercely, then helps her down into the boat.
EdwardJones: "I will visit as soon as I can. Do you require anything for the care of your father?"
Virginia shakes her head. "My father is doing as well as can be expected. Hurry back to me!"

I just love how this is all happening in parallel, and I love the language.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Caravansarais I

Caravansarais, or Khans as they are also called, were the hotels and motels of Renaissance Outremer, located about a days travel apart on the great highways, but spottier on secondary and tertiary roads. Caravansarais followed a basic floor plan, with many embellishments and variations. The bulding was square or rectangular, without windows to the outside. There was a large front gate, double wide, and large enough for a laden camel to come inside. Through the gates was a tunnel leading into a courtyard, with an office for the caretaker/manager inside. In the courtyard, there was almost always a pool, with or without a fountain, where the animals could drink. In the great cities of Outremer, some Caravansarais were domed, to shelter from the weather. A few were works of architectural genius.

Some caravansarais - the smaller kind - were one story, but most were two stories high. all around the interior perimeter of the courtyard was an arcade of arches, with a stall through each arch. In one story caravansarais, humans and animals slept in the stalls, but in those of two or more stories, people stayed in the rooms above the arches, though this was mostly for the merchants. The caravan guards and drovers generally stayed in the stalls with the beasts of burden, to protect and care for the animals. Some of the stalls were occupied with stores, with wares ranging from food and other neccessities to jewelry and silver work. Services ranged from fodder for beasts to baths and entertainment.

To find out what kind of caravanserai you come upon, roll a d20, modified as follows:

  • +0 if between cities but on a tertiary road.

  • +2 if between cities but on a secondary road

  • +4 if between cities but on a primary highway, or in a town.

  • +6 if in a small city.

  • +8 if in a large city.
1-2 No caravanserai, but a good sheltered campsite, with water - from cisterns in the desert.
3-4 A small, poor caravansarai, single storied, with poor shops and sevice, and overpriced.
5-6 A small, poor caravansarai, single storied, with decent shops and fairly priced, with decent services.
7-8 A small, comfortable caravansarai, single storied, with good shops and services.
9 A small, comfortable caravansarai, two storied, with good shops and services.
10 A sprawling caravansarai, single storied, with many decent shops, good services, and low prices.
11 A pretty but small caravansarai, two storied, with excellent shops and services.
12 A moderately large caravansarai, two storied, with excellent shops and poor services.
13 A moderately large caravansarai, two storied, with poor shops and excellent services.
14 A moderately large caravansarai, two storied, with good shops and good services.
15 A moderately large caravansarai, two storied, with excellent shops and good service.s
16-17 A moderately large caravansarai, two storied, with good shops and excellent services.
18-19 An enormous caravansarai, two storied, with excellent shops and services.
20-26 A huge beautiful caravansarai, two storied, with superb shops and services.
27-28 A huge gem of a caravansarai, three storied and domed, with superb shops and services.