Monday, August 14, 2017

Writing History - Wilhelm Albrecht Oeltzen - The Lost Astronomer

Wilhelm Albrecht Oeltzen was German astronomer and author of several books. He is known for the processing of a part of Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander's Zones from 1849-1852 in Bonn Germany. Often these are labeled "A. Oe." or "AOe" in catalogs. This was a two step process, I am uncertain if the abbreviations differentiate the two projects. In 1875, he disappeared. I have been unable to find any reference to what he was doing at that time.

Since the 1870s are an interesting time period, it would be no surprise that the man simply passed away of natural causes, far from home.

Notes compiled:

  • Born on Oct 2nd, 1824.
  • Studied at University of Göttingen in 1846.
  • First Assistant at Vienna Observatory 1849-1859, before moving to The Paris Observatory.
  • The Oeltzen's catalogue of Argelander's Southern Zones. 1857-58.
  • The Oeltzen's catalogue of Argelander's Northern Zones. 1851-52.
  • Schwerd's Beobachtungen von Circumpolarsternen in mittleren Positionen published in 1856, with Friedrich Magnus Schwerd.
  • Disappeared in 1875.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Temple of Light - Maps

This temple complex is the work of an ancient people. The first map is of a traditional family abode. In the past, the tribe dug horizontal homes, as a means of collecting flint. 


As the people transitioned to a bronze age culture, they began construction of the Temple of Light. The structure is a gleaming white, the effect was achieved with a decorative coating quartz and flint. 


The Temple was a beacon of solidarity for the people, but it also proved to be a beacon for raiders. The pirates devastated the village proper, taking valuables and prisoners. The raiders returned seasonally to plunder the people. For a time, the villagers disbursed to escape the onslaught.
One day, several young children entered the Temple and discovered a pair of holes in the central hall leading to a deep natural cavern. When the chief was informed, he ordered a return to the old ways of digging pit homes under the Temple.


In a few months, the tribe had relocated under the Temple. By concealing the upper openings with floor tiles, the villagers were able to extract revenge when they breached the Temple. The surviving pirates completed the turnabout with tales of a diamond encrusted temple protected by spirits of the earth.

Epilogue:

The children discovered the leader of instability in the rock. Future generations will tell the story of a fortress of diamond beneath the crystal blue waters of a cenote. The stone age villagers speak in hushed tones about the mighty Sea Mage sunk the fortress in anger for the king's refusal tribute payments. Adventurers may find tablets of stone that tell of the powerful shaman who levitated the entirety of the Temple to allow her people time to escape the collapse into the waters below.

This series of maps are based on a mix of real world places and cultures, Grime's Graves, Ancestral Puebloans and people of Teotihuacan in particular.

5 Minute Map - Southern Temple

This is a rough map of a temple dedicated to a creature of the deep. 


5 Minute Maps - Keep of Glass

This is a quick, 5 minute map of a strange series of buildings collectively known as The Keep of Glass. The buildings are made of white marble and glass. The interiors are completely bare. Bring an artifact known as the Black Arrow, allows the characters to teleport without error to a distant location.








Saturday, July 29, 2017

3.5 House Rules - Arrows

I don't like tracking arrows. Treasure Hunters HQ has posted on this very issue. Treasure Hunters HQ has a whole collection of posts to make your game more interesting and flow better than ever before. Everything from shields to magical unguents. Go ahead and follow them, the HQ is full of good ideas.

Ah... back to the point. Arrows. Tracking arrows on character sheets simply burns holes in the sheet. It is annoying and subject to abuse. Many years ago, I realized that player's will cheat on ammo more than any other thing. Why? Because, it is annoying. To avoid it, I tended to have the players encounter lots of arrows, either because the enemy had them, they were working from a fortification, or they had a natural pause to collect up their used arrows. Some players will want to roll a number to see if the arrow broke, but that is as exciting as my other pet peeve, save vs. drowning.

After a while, I decided to impose a rule that if a player rolled a 1 with ranged weapons, they fumbled the quiver and dropped all of their arrows on the ground. Picking one up, pulling one from a target or returning an arrow shot at the player takes time, a single action. If the character doesn't take any other action, they can refill a quiver in a single round. It seemed reasonable, since the standard has been changed from a quantity to have something or don't have something.

My primary issue with running out of arrows as a DM is, the rules don't take "out of ammo" into account. It is assumed the characters have a functional method of attack, and a certain quality of weapons. But if the requisite ammo is missing, they have neither. Suddenly striping the characters of missile weapons isn't really accounted for in the rules. While a good DM will give players and characters time to reprovision, the DM really can't account for 4 character's missile counts on the fly.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Minor Fix in GSIV

I have had this glaesine orb for years. For the longest time, it didn't work.

LOOK:
The orb is shaped of pure midnight blue glaes, crafted into a perfect orb.  It hangs from a delicate silver chain affixed with a tiny moon-shaped mithril pin.

Tiny shimmering crystals hover inside the orb, pulsating slightly with the light of the stars.  Currently they form the shape of the
constellation of The Unicorn.

Barely visible on the glaesine surface of the orb, some words have been etched in minute script around its circumference.

405:
You gesture at a shimmering glaesine orb.

The orb vibrates gently.  A brief vision of a glittering implosion in a darkened void fills your mind.  Brightly glowing spheres are flung outward from the center of the implosion, hurtling through the
darkness as they yet bring illumination to the void.

READ:
Minute but elegant script is barely visible as it encircles your glaesine orb...

"Frae Naira vers Deiam, Jae esais bevre Tua ae te Draekeche."
"From Dusk til Dawn, I stand between thee and the darkness."
                                      - from the journals of
                                        Linsandrych Illistim
                                        circa -49,080
EXHALE:
A faint foggy mist forms over the surface of the orb then slowly fades away.

TILT:
You tilt your glaesine orb side to side, making the light play off it.

PET: 
You thumb the glaesine orb in your hand.