Comic encounter: Everyday routine

stupid traps
The picture is taken from the story “The Iron Stove” in Andrew Lang’s The Yellow Fairy Book from 1894.  The image was drawn by Henry Justice Ford (1860–1941) and is free to use but please give me some credit if you use it, especially if you use my caption.

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Comic encounter: Mother knows best

The picture is taken from the story “Apotheose de docteur Puff” in J.J. Grandville’s Un Autre Monde from 1844. The image is free to use but please give me some credit if you use it, especially if you use my caption.

All pictures from Un Autre Monde.
(Thank you to Carl Guderian for uploading them.)

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Comic encounter: The problem with trusting rumour

sea snake
Rumour is a double edged sword. The illustration is made by J. B. Clark for a publication of the story of Sinbad the Sailor in 1896 and is, as far as I know, free to use. Please credit me if you use it. Especially if you use my caption.

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Literary encounters: Putting your adventure into writing


Drowning slaver sentries might be fun but don’t run into action before seriously considering the ramifications of your enterprise.

Before going on an adventure it is always, in order to avoid confusion and disrupting conflicts, a good idea to make the responsibilities and the general relations between participants and sponsors very clear. A professional adventurer like the impoverished english gentleman Leonard Outram (from “The People of the Mist” by H. Rider Haggard) might even put the agreement onto paper. Many TPK-incidents could be avoided if only people where more open and clear regarding their relations to each-other, in advance. But it should be noted that even the most meticulously made agreement might result in unintended consequences, like the appearance of a love interest.




Agreement between Leonard Outram and Soa, the native woman.

“I. The said Leonard Outram agrees to use his best efforts to rescue Juanna, the daughter of Mr. Rodd, now reduced to a state of slavery and believed to be in the power of one Pereira, a slave-dealer.

“II. In consideration of the services of the said Leonard Outram, the said Soa delivers to him a certain stone believed to be a ruby, of which the said Leonard Outram hereby acknowledges the receipt.

“III. Should the rescue be effected, the said Soa hereby agrees, on behalf of herself and the said Juanna Rodd, to conduct the said Leonard Outram to a certain spot in central South Eastern Africa, inhabited by a tribe known as the People of the Mist, there to reveal to him and to help him to gain possession of the store of rubies used in the religious ceremonies of the said tribe. Further, the said Soa agrees, on behalf of the said Juanna Rodd, that she, the said Juanna, will accompany her upon the journey, and will play among the said People of the Mist any part that may be required of her as necessary to the success of this undertaking.

“IV. It is mutually agreed that these enterprises be prosecuted until the said Leonard Outram is satisfied that they are fruitless.

“Signed in the Manica Mountains, Eastern Africa, on the ninth day of May 18—.”

The People of the Mist by H Rider Haggard


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A few ships and some other stuff

And now it’s time for some more nice old illustrations. All pictures below are taken from the swedish magazine “Allers familj-journal” from around 1930. Most of them are made by an artist that signs his stuff “Harry.N” or just “N”. I have tried to find out who he was without any success. Anyway it seems like the magazine probably bought the illustrations so their copyright should have expired in most countries.

attacked_lenderfleetalchemist    ancient_babylon ancient_egypt ravensword_and_shieldship2ship3  letter_with_seals viking_ship    fleetsiegeiron_cowviking_lion_statue    cyclop  war_elephantpig_mencity_arrival cave_man

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An ancient greek d20


About a week ago I visited the Mediterranean Museum in Stockholm. Unlike most of Stockholms museums it is situated in the city center, just north of the parliament. It is well worth a visit, especially when the new egyptian exhibition is finished in the spring. Aside from the exhibitions there is also a very nice restaurant and a well stocked museum shop. All blended nicely into a beautiful building, an old bank-palace.

As I browsed through the greek shelves I found this large die. I don’t remember the exact age but it is at least 2000 years old. It’s sides are marked with letters and according to the sign it was used for games of for divination. I wonder if they used a Ionian or Dorian armor class system?

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Literary encounters: Trapped in a treasure chamber


Adventurers in general are not that good at planing ahead. In their treasure hunting they might draw some designs regarding how to get there but they all to often forget to ponder how to get back again. Getting to the treasure is fine, but rather pointless if you can’t get it and yourself back home again.

All to many adventurers have realized that you can’t eat diamonds and that there are walls that even a an ass laden with gold can’t cross. Often they realize this all to late.Not letting your players get away with bad planing and pointing out that treasures can’t be eaten and generally don’t fly home by themselves is a good way to present your campaign world as a living breathing place. A place where  adventurers, confident in their victory, can be trapped forever with the treasures the have found.

To illustrate my point I have chosen an excerpt from near the end of H. Rider Haggards classic adventure story King Solomon’s Mines. Here be spoilers.

Alan Quatermain, great white hunter extraordinaire, and his two british employers Sir Henry and Good, has at last reached the fabled mines of king Solomon and it’s treasure chamber. They are accompanied by two native women. The ancient evil crone Gagool, who they have pressured into guiding them into the mines,  and Foulata, who is in love with Good. The women are both killed as Gagool successfully traps the white men in the treasure chamber.  Gagool is crushed by the huge stone door and Foulata dies of a stab wound received by Gagool. Thus the gentlemen are left alone, without having to ponder the straining possibility of an interracial romance…

“I mean that you will soon be in a position to join her. Man, don’t you see that we are buried alive?”

Until Sir Henry uttered these words I do not think that the full horror of what had happened had come home to us, preoccupied as we were with the sight of poor Foulata’s end. But now we understood. The ponderous mass of rock had closed, probably for ever, for the only brain which knew its secret was crushed to powder beneath its weight. This was a door that none could hope to force with anything short of dynamite in large quantities. And we were on the wrong side!

For a few minutes we stood horrified, there over the corpse of Foulata. All the manhood seemed to have gone out of us. The first shock of this idea of the slow and miserable end that awaited us was overpowering. We saw it all now; that fiend Gagool had planned this snare for us from the first.

It would have been just the jest that her evil mind would have rejoiced in, the idea of the three white men, whom, for some reason of her own, she had always hated, slowly perishing of thirst and hunger in the company of the treasure they had coveted. Now I saw the point of that sneer of hers about eating and drinking the diamonds. Probably somebody had tried to serve the poor old Dom in the same way, when he abandoned the skin full of jewels.

“This will never do,” said Sir Henry hoarsely; “the lamp will soon go out. Let us see if we can’t find the spring that works the rock.”

We sprang forward with desperate energy, and, standing in a bloody ooze, began to feel up and down the door and the sides of the passage. But no knob or spring could we discover.

“Depend on it,” I said, “it does not work from the inside; if it did Gagool would not have risked trying to crawl underneath the stone. It was the knowledge of this that made her try to escape at all hazards, curse her.”

“At all events,” said Sir Henry, with a hard little laugh, “retribution was swift; hers was almost as awful an end as ours is likely to be. We can do nothing with the door; let us go back to the treasure room.”

We turned and went, and as we passed it I perceived by the unfinished wall across the passage the basket of food which poor Foulata had carried. I took it up, and brought it with me to the accursed treasure chamber that was to be our grave. Then we returned and reverently bore in Foulata’s corpse, laying it on the floor by the boxes of coin.

Next we seated ourselves, leaning our backs against the three stone chests which contained the priceless treasure.

“Let us divide the food,” said Sir Henry, “so as to make it last as long as possible.” Accordingly we did so. It would, we reckoned, make four infinitesimally small meals for each of us, enough, say, to support life for a couple of days. Besides the “biltong,” or dried game-flesh, there were two gourds of water, each of which held not more than a quart.

“Now,” said Sir Henry grimly, “let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.”

We each ate a small portion of the “biltong,” and drank a sip of water. Needless to say, we had but little appetite, though we were sadly in need of food, and felt better after swallowing it. Then we got up and made a systematic examination of the walls of our prison-house, in the faint hope of finding some means of exit, sounding them and the floor carefully.

There was none. It was not probable that there would be any to a treasure chamber.

The lamp began to burn dim. The fat was nearly exhausted.

“Quatermain,” said Sir Henry, “what is the time—your watch goes?”

I drew it out, and looked at it. It was six o’clock; we had entered the cave at eleven.

“Infadoos will miss us,” I suggested. “If we do not return tonight he will search for us in the morning, Curtis.”

“He may search in vain. He does not know the secret of the door, nor even where it is. No living person knew it yesterday, except Gagool. Today no one knows it. Even if he found the door he could not break it down. All the Kukuana army could not break through five feet of living rock. My friends, I see nothing for it but to bow ourselves to the will of the Almighty. The search for treasure has brought many to a bad end; we shall go to swell their number.”

The lamp grew dimmer yet.

Presently it flared up and showed the whole scene in strong relief, the great mass of white tusks, the boxes of gold, the corpse of the poor Foulata stretched before them, the goat-skin full of treasure, the dim glimmer of the diamonds, and the wild, wan faces of us three white men seated there awaiting death by starvation.

Then the flame sank and expired.


This episode learns us that forcing an old spiteful witch to guide you in a dungeon that she knows very well should be avoided. Especially if you have fought on the other side in a civil war that deposed her as the power behind the throne. And if you can’t be successful without her guidance you should never ever let her out of your sight, and it is a very bad idea to step into places where she doesn’t enter first.

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