Friday, January 28, 2022

Five Point Friday - January 28th, 2022

Today's Five Point Friday is history-themed. 

Point 1: I picked up copy of Necrotic Gnome's Old School Essentials. I love this version of B/X. It was offered as a Kickstarter a long time a go. I happily picked up a copy at a local store, but really want the whole set. 

Well, now it will be available via Kickstarter near the end of Feburary. I can't wait to get my hands on the whole deal. I had thought it would happen some day in 2019 or 2020. 2021 was too challenging to me. But now in 2022, I will get my hard copy.  

Point 2: OSE features dozens of charcter classes including gnomes, elves, duergar, and svirfnevlin. 

Did you know that in Iceland, these types of creatures are called the Huldufolk, the hidden people? Nearly 50% of the population currently believe that the Huldufolk might exist. 

It isn't just a hokey belief, they actually redirected road construction to avoid a Huldufolk settlement. There is something dangerous about the Huldufolk. That danger apparently doubles when you introduce machinery into the mix. Dynomite is apparently right out. 

Here is an interesting article from the BBC on the Huldufolk. If you want something more polished, check out the Lore podcast episode 5, "Under Construction." Researched, written, and produced by Aaron Mahnke, it details the same events of the BBC article.

A imagined likeness of Lars
Posena from 1500 AD
Point 3: Lars Porsena, King of Clusium. As an Etruscan king, most of Lars Porsena's history comes to us via the Romans. We know that King Porsena lived in what would become the modern city of Chiusi, he minted coins with his likeness and we might know where his tomb is. So, he was a real person. 

But the Romans played him out like an evil villain most of the time. 

The Roman were excellent narrators of history, however they are not without their flaws. Rome was sacked by the Gauls on July 18th, 390 BC. It was a Thursday. This sacking destroyed the historial records of the Romans and allowed future historians to rewrite their own history as they saw fit. They modified their humble beginings to mirror the Greeks and not surprisingly, these "historical" stories make the Romans the first of all people to do anything of note. 

Since Lars Porsena was around about 200 years before the first sack of Rome, he has become "unhitched" in time. We don't know when Porsena really ruled, but the Romans tell us it about 508 BC. Maybe on a Friday. But probably not. 

This is an Ertuscia coin. Note the Janus like head.
It's called a dupondius and the Romans used it, too. 

One of the funny things about history and Lars Porsena is how little people change over time. Lars appears on Rome's doorstep in support of the deposed Roman king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. The Romans had shifted to a republic due to the Tarquinian king's poor conduct. The Romans seriously hated all kings after him, King Lars Porsena included. 

There is the epic story of Gaius Mucius Scaevola, a Roman citizen hell bent on breaking Lars Porsena's seige of Rome. Gaius was an assassin, a would be King-Slayer. 

Here is where it gets funny. Gaius arrived in the seige camp ready for murder. However, being about 500 BC, he didn't have a picture of the king. He had no idea who he was after. Since this was payday, King Lars dispatched his paymaster to distribute cash and prizes. And as per normal, this paymaster was dressed as King Lars. 

Wait? What? 

The King forced a follower to dress like him and watched that person distribute paychecks, to make sure that his minions were suitably appreacative of the pay they had worked so hard to earn. Only to be rewarded with the scene of his imposter-king paymaster getting knifed to death by someone in the crowd. 

Has anyone seen The Office? This is exactly something Michael would do. My PCs would totally do this. D&D, Star Frontiers, doesn't matter. My players would wack the wrong guy for fun. 

This is why I love history so much. The story is supposed to be about the evil of kings, the heroism and determination of the Romans, the love of the Eternal City, yada-yada-yada. 

Instead, if you turn the story a tiny bit, you get comedy and humor. Which was probably not lost on the Romans themselves. 

Point 4: I resevered Point 4 for Sci-fi. So, I would be remiss if I didn't mention episode 5 of the Book of Boba Fett. This is hands down the best episode of the series. Because it is missing all of the main characters. I couldn't like it more for that. You can skip every episode up to the Fifth Episode and be fine with it. 

Point 5: Something about nothing at all... hmm. I've rambled enough I think. At some point, you just need to end a good yarn. 


  1. Great post! I hope to get a hard copy of OSE at some point. Almost picked it up a few weeks back but something else shiny caught my eye.

    Poor Gaius Mucius. Such effort to miss in the end. Your office reference cracked me up.

    1. Circling back to Gaius, he scared the hell out of Lars. Lars asked him why Gaius was there and Gaius rammed his right hand into a fire while explaining that he was the first of many assassins who cared more for Rome than their own bodies. Gaius was crippled for life, gaining the cognomen "Scaevola" or "Lefty" by the Romans. Poor Lars was also scarred as he bought the story. He withdrew his army.

      Gaius was rewarded for his bravery and cunning with a tract of land on the other side of the Tiber called Mucia Prata or the Mucian Meadows. The exact location was lost to time, it's last mention was occasioned by a visit by The Augustus, about 400 or so years later.