This week I read:
A Short History of Byzantium by John Julius Norwich
I picked this up inspired by Arden Vul, which bases its Archontean Empire on the Byzantines. I’m not so sure it’ll be useful for the game, but it was certainly entertaining. The Byzantine Empire was nuts. So much murder and intrigue. People rioting in the streets about the divinity of Christ. Successive generations of emperors thinking “I’ll just make this powerful political rival a co-emperor, give him a little power and hope that’s enough” and then being surprised when the new co-emperor backstabs them…
I especially liked how, as the book gets towards the fall of Byzantium, every chapter began to end in one of two ways: “So-and-so was a good emperor, if he had lived longer / not had this bind spot / not been preoccupied by this threat he could have reversed the decline and changed the history of Eastern Christianity.” or “So-and-so actively made everything worse and it’s a miracle the empire didn’t collapse during his reign.”
The Alexandrian has released his new book So You Want to Be a Game Master!
The Halls of Arden Vul
I decided to bite the bullet and openly advertise for new players. I largely followed this guide I found a while back and submitted a post to /r/lfg (which I crossposted to /r/lfgmisc and the weekly /r/osr LFG thread).
I got 8 applications: three seemed kind of generic, as if they just wanted to play in any game; one didn’t really fit (they said they enjoyed character builds, which OSE is not good for at all); one said they’d have to leave early every week (which I’m not a fan of); but the other three were pretty promising.
Unfortunately, of the promising ones, two said they’d looked into Arden Vul before. My current players have been having a lot of fun trying to figure things out for themselves, so I didn’t want to risk inviting someone who might unintentionally spoil some of the lore. So I invited the one promising application who didn’t say that they already knew things about Arden Vul.
They played their first session today, and it went pretty well. They fit in with the group and we all had a good time, hopefully it will continue.
In this week’s session, the players managed to find one of the important locations of Arden Vul: the Oracle of Thoth, along with the 250-year-old Anaximander trapped inside it by his hubris. They retrieved Anaximander and managed to get out of him that he was on the failed expedition to reconquer Arden Vul some 200 years ago, and then started to make their way out of the dungeon. Realising they wouldn’t get back to safety before dark, they decided to stop over with crazy old Lankios, who is friendly but who never remembers them. When they greeted Lankios, to their surprise, Anaximander croaked out “Lankios? Lankios the polemarch? You too have been preserved?”
I called an early end to the session there, and next time will begin with an exposition dump as the PCs manage to get some information out of Anaximander about Lankios, his love Guivrel, the mysterious betrayer “K”, and Adriennic’s ill-fated expedition.