Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 8:16 AM
The tavern is one of the great staples of fantasy gaming. It’s where the characters meet. Where they speak to that mysterious stranger. Where they cut purses and goose wenches. The tavern is the medieval equivalent to the modern bar or roadhouse.
Or is it? Americans don’t really have a good context for understanding the English pub—and, hence, the medieval tavern. (Here in the States, even those bars that style themselves on pubs really aren’t, because the pub simply fills a different social role in the UK.) So we tend to cast our fantasy inns and taverns on the models we have at hand: bars, restaurants, roadhouses, and roadside motels. But spending a little time in an actual English pub (or three) can give you a different perspective.
Over on the Fascinating World I talk this week a bit about real English pubs--what they're like, how they're different than most gamers think, and what this means for the fantasy tavern.
Drop on by and let me know what you think!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 6:16 PM
Well, of course you do. You're a gamer, right? Well, today at the Fascinating World I write about my experience with castles during my time in the UK, analyzing a few of them in detail with an eye to what the gamer can learn from them. Check it out: www.charlesmryan.com.
Monday, March 14, 2011, 12:17 PM
“Maitre Martin!” he said. “I was just thinking of you.” I started to my feet, but he waved me down. He knelt beside me. The kid had a bundle in his arms.
“Thinking of me?”
“Yes, you. You have been quite the talk today.” He took a couple bandages from the kid and laid them on his knees, then started pushing up my sleeve.
I glanced at Gigot. “Really?” I said slowly. “Who has been talking about me?”
Chretien ignored me. “I’ve been asking myself: What sort of man arrives in town with a ten-year-old draft and a strange accent.” He took an earthenware jar from the kid and pried off the lid, dabbing a rag in the contents. “Buys himself expensive clothes. Then gives ostentatiously to the poor. One answer presents itself: A man suddenly into a large sum of money, but with a weight on his conscience. A thief or brigand.”
I glanced again at Gigot. He had taken a quiet half-step back, and his hand had moved to the haft of the axe.
It's been a while since I posted anything about my novel, but here you go! Chapter 11 (along with the previous 10 chapters) have now been posted at www.charlesmryan.com. Enjoy, and shoot me a comment or two--I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Monday, January 31, 2011, 2:10 PM
It was still night. Still dark outside. Still cold—colder, it seemed, than when we went in, though maybe that was just in contrast to the heat down below. At least the rain seemed to have finally stopped.
I tripped and stumbled, half sliding, down through the brush and weeds for thirty or forty feet until I found a relatively clear spot. Somehow I kept my feet under me and managed not to drop Celestine. I crouched and, as carefully as I could, lowered her to the ground. In the deep blackness of this night, her body seemed almost to glow. She looked like a ghost.
A ghost who must be freezing. I quickly reached for the clasp of my cloak, but it took my shaking hands a minute to work it. Laying the cloak down on the wet grass, I rolled her onto it, then wrapped the edges around her.
Then I took a break to throw up.
Nothing came, but I must have spent two or three minutes on my knees, immobilized by the violent churn of my stomach. I heard the crack and rustle of someone else making their way down the slope, and some part of my mind acknowledged it was Michel, but had it been a bad guy there was nothing I could have done.
The churn and the tunnel vision started to slacken, and I willed myself to straighten as Michel crouched down beside us. He had Stephan’s shield, and now I could hear the latter pushing through the bracken above.
Michel pushed the cloak back a bit to look at Celestine’s face. “She is alive?”
Chapter 9 of The Mason of New Orleans is now posted at www.charlesmryan.com. (Haven't been reading it? The other 8 chapters are also there! Comments are overwhelmingly positive, so give it a look--you might like it too!)
Wednesday, December 29, 2010, 9:36 AM
Are your poor players' eyes glazing over? Their foreheads hitting the table? Rid yourself of that boring exposition, and have fun doing it! www.charlesmryan.com
Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 7:59 PM
How do you get that terrific campaign, with all its events, places, NPCs, factions, history, and societies, out of your head and into your players'--without writing a 100-page manifesto that they won't read anyway? I got your back: www.charlesmryan.com
Friday, December 10, 2010, 8:19 AM
Your back's against the wall. The dragon's pushing the party toward a TPK. You're up next in initiative: What are you going to do to save your bacon? You start shuffling through those power cards, looking for just the right option--but your at-wills aren't going to cut it and you've already burned your daily. If only there was something else you could do!
Of course, there are infinite options, but it's the tendency of all of us to forget that as we sort through our catalog of powers. Our power cards represent the starting point of our character's options, not the ending point. So how do we get past that and remind ourselves to think outside that box? I've posted the answer, along with an all-new power card useable by every character, on my web site (www.charlesmryan.com).
What do you think?
Tuesday, November 23, 2010, 11:45 AM
Madeleine shook her head. “No. I was born in Antioch; I had lived in the Lavant all my life—until I married.”
“Then you came here?”
“Not right away. Juste—my husband—came east in the Third Crusade, and ended up serving Frederick. Barbarossa had already settled the matter in Brabant, but he had only a steward on Bois de Haillot, not a lord. He gave the manor to Juste. This was all before I had even met Juste—Barbarossa never made it to Antioch; he died in Turkey.”
She paused. The look in her eye was not exactly wistful, but she was clearly thinking about more than she was saying.
“Ma Dame married my lord De La Croix,” Stephan cut in, keeping the narrative going, “and he sent her back to his new manor.”
“He had no interest in being here,” Madeliene confirmed. “And why would he? One manor on the farthest fringe of the Empire, when there was a fortune and name to be made in the Holy Land?”
Um. Well maybe because he wanted to be with his wife? But I wasn’t quite going to go there at this point.
“I was seventeen years old. I had never been out of Antioch.”
Madeleine paused, as if that told the whole story. Which, I guess, it more or less did. In some ways, her experience wasn’t all that different than mine.
New COMPLETE Chapter 5 of Martin's tale is now up at www.charlesmryan.com--I look forward to your comments!
Monday, November 15, 2010, 2:49 PM
In the corner, behind the two guys who still held their swords, I caught a glint of metal as a brown shape went into motion.
“Maddy!” I yelled out.
As if in slo-mo, Madeleine turned toward me, her eyes wide in indignation. But Stephan had caught the line of my gaze and lunged forward. His shoulder caught Madeleine just beneath hers, throwing her into the greasy straw and spilled gravy. The monk’s off-arm had been reaching for Madeleine, but Stephan caught it with his left hand and, in one fluid motion, swung his sword arm around, connecting its pommel with the monk’s head. The impact made a cracking noise; the knife went whirling through the air as the monk crumpled.
In honor of a successful (so far) NaNoWriMo, for the rest of November I’m going to post COMPLETE CHAPTERS every Monday. Starting today. So enjoy your COMPLETE chapter 4 now! Did I mention it’s COMPLETE?
Chapter 4 now up at www.charlesmryan.com!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 11:59 AM
The knight errant, the veteran Templar, the Norman lord, and sometimes even the mercenary band captain—all are chevaliers. The icon of medieval warfare, the mounted knight is the central element of sweeping battles, fierce jousts, and even tales of courtly love. Chevaliers can be idealistic crusaders or petty tyrants, protectors of the weak or cruel marauders who use their power and strength to take what they want when they want it.
I've posted a new 3.5-compatible character class to www.charlesmryan.com. Based on the historical mounted knight of the 12th and 13th centuries, it's a key class in my Magica campaign and that of the character who inspired Stephan in Martin's story.
Let me know what you think!