Sunday, January 12, 2020

Bittersweet Haul

I was contacted by a friend of mine this weekend, she asked if I wanted to come over and look through and take anything from her late husband's collection.  Here's what I came away with.


Dungeons and Dragons

Deities and Demigods - first printing, with Lovecraftian and Melnibonean deities.

DMG - this one is going to my eldest, the squid, for his collection.

Dungeon Geomorphs - Set I-III,  intact, but unwrapped.









Adventures 

Temple of Elemental Evil

G Series

Queen of the Demonweb Pits

Also photo copies of the last two and a photo copy of the Slave Lords.  I know he had an original of those, but it wasn't there.









Judges Guild

Sea-Steeds and Wave Riders - includes deck plans!

















D20 Adventures

Bastion of Broken Souls

The Standing Stone

The Forge of Fury

The Crucible of Freya (Sword and Sorcery)

Miscellaneous Maps

Dark Furies - Masterwork Maps Inns and Taverns

Skeleton Key Paper Taverns





The Dark Eye

Cucch got these when Atari was working on digital version of the German RPG.

Basic Rules

Quick Start

World of Aventuria (Setting)

Adventure: The Secret of the Blue Tower and Witching Hours






Morrow Project

I remember playing Morrow Project once, back in '80 or '81.  Cucch wasn't the Director though, it was one of the occasional members of our group.  Don't think we got much further than character generation and waking up.


TM 1-1 Basic Rules

Project File 001 - Liberation of Riverton

Project File 002 - Damocles

Project File 003 - Operation Lucifer

Project File 004 - The Ruins of Chicago

Project File 005 - The Starman Incident

Project File 006 - Operation Lonestar

Project File 007 - Desert Search

Project File R008 - Prime Base

Project File 009 - Bullets and Bluegrass

Project File 10 - The Final Watch

Directors Screen

Morrow Project Identity Packet

GA- 1 Game Master's Shield and Reference Tables

GA-2 The New Personal and Vehicle Basic Loads and Hand-to-Hand Combat System

GA-4 Vehicular Blueprints

To absent friends - he's rolling with Gary & Dave now, having the time of his afterlife!

T

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Bireme & Galley

     I picked up what I believe is the penultimate piece in my first edition Chivalry & Sorcery collection (the Arden campaign setting is the only book I don't have now), Bireme & Galley Naval Warfare, Egypt to Lepanto.
    The first 34 pages are descriptions of Mediterranean and Atlantic vessels from Egyptian Punts used in the East Africa trade to the early modern Caravel type sailing vessels.  They are copiously accompanied by line drawings by Edward Simbalist, done very much in the style of one R.N. Jones late of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, Navy Department of the United States who is credited with the ship drawings in the source material this work draws upon - Admiral Rodgers seminal Greek and Roman Naval Warfare and Naval Warfare Under Oars.  These volumes have graced my own shelves for a number of decades, legacy of my previous professional life in the USN.

     The next sixteen pages are data tables for each of the ships, giving physical characteristics such as beam, length, number of oars; the complement of sailors and marines manning them and derived characteristics, such as expected speeds.  All very handy for wargaming, whether with naval battles or working out how long a voyage will take and what kind of ship they need to haul the paladin's warhorse for roleplaying games.

     After this, alas!, I find what wasn't included in the used copy I purchased.  The plastic turn radius overlay, deck plans and ship counters.  I could probably work out the first, although it's been years since I did any Advance and Transfer calculations.  The second I covet, after Colin Spears on MeWe said he uses the from adventures. I will have to check with my sources who own B&G to see if I can get a copy, as the authors granted permission to xerox for personal use.  Although, again, they give the dimensions and good descriptions, so I could draw my own if I had the time or need.

     After the list list of (not) included bits, we get a dozen pages of reasonably good rules for simulating being at sea.  Only reasonably good in my opinion - having spent a number of years professionally messing about in ships on the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
     While they give charts for determining the  weather, they suffer from almost all random weather systems - they are stateless.  That is tomorrow's weather doesn't take into account what it was today, so you can jump randomly back and forth from Gale to Becalmed to Gale.  Also, the weather charts don't take into account latitude in the Atlantic, the storms of the North Atlantic are quite impressive and can be deadly even today.  And hurricanes should have a chance to appear in the mid-Atlantic as well as doldrums and trade winds.   In the Mediterranean, it is more reasonable to treat the area homogeneously, but again extreme weather is missing - I have seen waterspouts dancing across the Alboran Sea, east of Gibraltar.

    Wave Action is called out in terms of the danger of the ship taking on water, but they don't discuss the effect on the speed over ground, or the ability to make the desired course.  Indeed, they ignore the issue of sailing ships needing to tack into the wind which effective slows the voyage.

   And speaking of slowing, what caught my attention immediately was the speed conversion tables from knots to feet to inches at scale.  They go down to 0.1 knot - it's very rare that a ship can go this slow even today.  The authors are apparently unaware of the concept of "steerage way"; the minimum speed at which a vessel can maintain the desired course.  It can vary of course, but as a rule of the thumb, any time the vessel slows below about a half a knot the effects of wind and current will overcome the propulsion and the vessel will begin to drift with the current if there is one, otherwise down wind.

   Once we move to the last section of the book involving Naval Tactics and Campaigns, the work is excellent.  They understand that you don't ram bow to bow unless you are suicidal, as both ships will be severely damaged.   And they describe the deikplous tactic of sheering oars with more clarity than I remember the source material doing so.
   They include information for building historical fleets throughout the time periods of the book, as well as rules for Greek Fire and C&S Magick on sea battles.
    They end fleet composition for a number of ancient battles, from Corinth vs Athens at Petras to Rome vs Carthage at Mylae.

    Overall, glad I picked it up at a very reasonable price for C&S first edition material, as it's missing the deckplans and turning overlay.  But think I'll put it back in the plastic as I don't see much of a reason to refer to it in gaming.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Languages in Chivalry & Sorcery 1e [Updated]


   As I discussed previously, languages in Chivalry & Sorcery need a little additional definition.   (OK, a LOT more detail.)

    Chivalry & Sorcery 1e falls in the middle of the first generation as far as rules concerning languages. Dungeons & Dragons posited a Common tongue, very influenced by the concept of the Westron tongue of Lord of the Rings, along with a number of racial languages as well as the Alignment languages that never seemed to be useful. On the other end of the scale, Runequest provided a number of human and racial languages with rules for learning, and Empire of the Petal Throne provided not only the names of the languages, but included syllabaries and multiple alphabets for Tekumel.

     By contrast C&S only provides rules and hints for languages. In the basic rules, you get the character’s ability to learn languages, expressed as the total number of languages in a lifetime or language points per level based solely on the character’s Intelligence. Under the Power Word magician we learn that there are 21 modern languages and 7 Ancient or Magick languages. Modern languages cost 1 language point to speak and 2 to read; Ancient languages cost 3 to learn to read.
The Swords and Sorcery expansion covers Nordics, Mongols and Celts - but provides no information on languages. It’s only the Saurian expansion that includes an excerpt from the Complete Roleplayer’s Guide expanding on languages. Saurians does leave the number of languages (other than Elvish and Dwarvish) up to the Game Master.

     Languages are broken down into Human, Elven, Dwarf, Goblin (includes Kobolds, Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins and Trolls [who may speak ‘Nordic’ instead]), Animal languages for Felines, Canine, Hooven, Rodent, Avian and Saurians (normally only available to Foresters, Shamen and Enchanters), Intelligent Saurian (Hss’Taathi and Dragonish [nice shout out to Runequest by referring to the latter as “or Auld Wormish”]) and Ancient languages.

    The cost of learning the languages now changes based on how well you can speak them - Minimal, Fluent or LIke a Native. The costs vary by language and Saurians have different costs than humanoids. Reading costs 3 points on top of the cost of knowing a language at a Fluent level. The time to learn to Speak a language is a function of Intelligence and Bardic Voice, while learning to Read is a function of Intelligence and Wisdom.  Magick Users now earn experience for learning languages.

     This still doesn’t give much information on the identities of the 21 modern and 7 ancient languages, for that we have one more clue and then a whole bunch of guessing. The clue is a note under Barons in the section on Designing the Feudal Nation, where the authors reveal that their campaign was set in France.

     I’ll start with the languages listed in Saurians. The animal languages are immediately eliminated as they are conveyed through behavior and body language more than words and lack a written form. Similarly, the goblin tongues are eliminated, while they have strong oral traditions; the goblin races are creatures outside of polite society. Ignored, defended against and victims of pogroms depending on the needs of the local regime. The Hss’taathi, intelligent saurians, if they were present in the campaign at all, were relative interlopers into human society, brought forward in time. And finally, I will eliminate Dwarvish (Khuzdul), as it is “virtually never taught to non Dwarves; Dwarves normally speak in Nordic languages….”

     That leaves me with three canonical languages: Elvish, Dragonish and Nordic. Three down, twenty five real world languages to go - and there are a lot more than twenty five languages available to choose from in medieval Europe.

Guesswork Follows

Rather than jumping straight into languages, let’s look at the language families in and around Europe in the Middle Ages. Romance, Germanic, Celtic, Slavic, Semetic, Turkic and Greek.

Romance - languages descended from Latin
Langue d’oil - predecessor of modern French, this term includes Norman and Picard as well as the dialect of Paris.
Langue d’oc - the languages of Gascony, the Pyrenees and the south of France
Galacian - a predecessor of Portuguese, spoken in the western Iberian peninsula
Catalan - the main predecessor of modern Spanish
Tuscan - an Italian dialect
Sicilian - an Italian dialect
Romanian - language of the old province of Dacia north of the Danube to the Black Sea coast.

Germanic
Nordic (Canonical) - the language of Denmark, Norway and Sweden
High German - dialects found south of the North German Plain
Low German - dialects of the North German Plain, east of the Rhine and east into Prussia
Old Dutch - dialects of the Rhine delta
Old English - Anglo-Saxon heavily modified by the imports from Norman French

Celtic
Brythonic - the western insular celtic languages of Wales, Cornwall, Cumbria and Brittany
Goidelic - the Gaelic languages of Scotland and Ireland

Slavic
Keivan Rus - eastern Slavic dialects dominating the river systems between the Baltic and Black Seas
Polish - western Slavic dialects of the Bug and Vistula basins and the south Baltic Coast.
South Slavic - Bulgarian, Serbian etc, languages of earlier migrants now isolated from the East and West Slavic root stock by Romainian and Germanic language users.

Semetic
Hebrew - language of the Jews. Considered a Magick language by this time, as local Jewish creole languages, such as Yiddish are already springing up across Europe.
Arabic - the language of the Islamic conquest. Still present in Andalusia and parts of Sicily as well as the North African coast and Levant.

Turkic
Common Turkic - covers a number of dialects spreading from Anatolia through the Central Asian steppes. I’m also lumping the unrelated Mongolian language here, as it adopted the Turkic script and I’m almost out of modern language slots.

Greek
Byzantine Greek - the language of the Eastern Empire, tottering though it may be.




Language
Alphabet
Cost of
Minimal
Fluency
Cost of
Fluency
Cost of
Native
Speaking
Cost to
Read
Langue d’oil
Latin
1
3
5
3
Langue d’oc
Latin
1
3
5
3
Galacian
Latin
1
3
5
3
Catalan
Latin
1
3
5
3
Tuscan
Latin
1
3
5
3
Sicilian
Latin
1
3
5
3
Romanian
Cyrillic
1
3
5
5
Nordic
Futhark Runes
1
3
5
5
High German
Latin
1
3
5
3
Low German
Latin
1
3
5
3
Old Dutch
Latin
1
3
5
3
Old English
Latin
1
3
5
3
Brythonic
Latin
1
3
5
3
Goidelic
Latin
1
3
5
3
Keivan Rus
Cyrillic
1
3
5
5
Polish
Latin
1
3
5
3
South Slavic
Cyrillic
1
3
5
5
Arabic
Arabic
3
5
8
5
Turkic
Uyghur
3
5
8
5
Mongolian
Uyghur
3
5
8
5
Byzantine Greek
Greek
1
3
5
5
Elvish (Sindaran)
Caeras Dareon
3
5
8
5

     For the most part I have followed the point guidelines from Saurians, where I have differed is primarily in the Cost to Learn to Read, when the language doesn’t use the Latin alphabet. In those cases, I have increased the cost to Read from 3 to 5 language points. I’ve also used the canonical cost of learning Elvish for the non Indo-European languages as well. This all assumes that the character is from a country with a Romance, Germanic or Celtic language that uses the Latin alphabet, in a campaign centered in Poland, for example, the cost of learning to read languages would be swapped between languages using Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.

Magick Languages

Good news, we only need seven and we already have two identified. Dragonish and Hebrew. Others quickly come to mind - Latin, the language of the dead empire and Ionic or Attic Greek, the language of Athens at its glory. Old Persian harks back to the Magi and Demotic Egyptian, post-hieroglyphics but containing the knowledge of that most ancient land. And finally, given that all Elves are Primitive Talent magicians, and the extensive influence of Tolkien’s work on Chivalry & Sorcery, it seems fitting that we reuse Tolkien’s languages here too.





Language
Alphabet
Cost of  
Minimal
Fluency
Cost of 
Fluency
Cost of 
Native 
Speaking
Cost 
to 
Read
Dragonish or Auld Wormish
Draconic
15
25
3/6/12
Hebrew
Hebrew
3
5
8
3/6/12
Latin
Latin
1
3
5
3/6/12
Ionic/Attic Greek
Greek
1
3
5
3/6/12
Elvish (Quenya)
Tengwar
3
5
8
3/6/12
Old Persian
Pahlavi Scripts
3
5
8
3/6/12
Demotic Egyptian
Demotic Script
3
5
8
3/6/12
On a final note, Saurians lists three costs to read Ancient or Magick languages, corresponding to the spoken fluency levels. At the first level of reading 2d20% is subtracted from the character’s chance to read; at the second level 1d20% is subtracted. The costs are sufficiently steep that I left them as is..

What did I leave out - vast numbers of languages and dialects, such as Basque, Frisian, Finnish and Hungarian. Trying to work out a plausible set for their original campaign - or any medieval European campaign means that choices have to be made.

What did I get wrong, besides lumping Mongolian in with Common Turkic and leaving out all the Indian, Chinese and African languages? Take your pick, let me know, write your own.

{Update]  It came to me as I woke up this morning, that Polish is written in the Latin alphabet rather than Cyrillic. A quick search also determined that Romanian was written in Cyrillic rather than Latin up until the 1800's.  These have been changed and reading costs updated.