Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Byzantine Empire Illustrations

A great deal of the Byzantine Empire of the mid-15th century lives on in the work of the French illustrator Antoine Helbert. You can see some of Helbert's work on his site, which is divided into two sections: one for scenes of Byzantium, and one for the architecture of Byzantium. The latter category, images from which you see here, includes such world-famous landmarks as Hagia Sophia, Boukoleon Palace, and the Great Palace of Constantinople — the city now known as Istanbul, Turkey.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Medieval Trade Routes

From Martin Jan Månsson, a graduate student in Spatial Planning at the Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden. Not studying cartography nor history, Månsson has produced this very detailed map of trading routes during the Middle Ages. (You can download the map in high resolution here.)

I can only assume that instead of working on his dissertation he found this to be much more fascinating. Can't really say I blame him.

“I think trade routes and topography explains world history in the most concise way,” Månsson explains in the very small print at the map’s lower right corner. “By simply studying the map, one can understand why some areas were especially important--and remained successful even up to modern times.”

The map covers some 200 years, spanning both 11th and 12th centuries, and “depicts the main trading arteries of the high Middle Ages, just after the decline of the Vikings and before the rise of the Mongols, the Hansa and well before the Portuguese rounded the Cape of Good Hope.”

It also shows the complex routes already available to Africa and Asia, and the areas where Muslim and Christian traders would meet. The open-to-trade Song Dynasty ruled China, and the competitive kingdoms in the Indonesia region provided both Muslims and Europeans with spice.

Looking like a railway map, Månsson’s work shows how interconnected we really were back in the Middle Ages, from Greenland in the west to Kikai and Kagoshima in the East, from Arkhangelsk in the frozen north to Sofala in modern-day Mozambique.

Månsson credits Wikipedia for a majority of the basic work, but also lists 20 other sources for this detailed work, including The Silk Road by Valerie Hanson, Across Africa and Arabia by Irene M. Franck and David M. Brownstone.

Harlan Ellison

Say what you will about the man, his stories were inspired/inspiring. Probably this intro by Asimov from Dangerous Visions best encapsulates some of the salient points about Ellison, besides its kinda funny.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Caverns of Thracia

Its seems like forever since the last post. Which is kinda true. Haven't had the inclination to post anything for a while now. The FtF game has switched over to Swords & Wizardry and we're currently going through B2 Keep on the Borderlands and have just started The Caverns of Thracia. The Keep has been covered previously in this blog, so we'll look at the Caverns of Thracia instead. Since the group is still in the midst of this adventure I won't post too much but thought to cover some of the basics.
The Caverns of Thracia is considered by many to be a classic old school adventure from none other than Paul/Jennell Jaquays. While this might be true the actual maps in the adventure are somewhat confusing. This has been documented in various places and is not something new that is being pointed out. A good clarification of some of the interconnections of the maps can be found here.

I have the original module from back in the days of the Compleat Strategist in Montclair. While going over the adventure in preparation of running this I found the need to revise/update the maps to have a better grasp of the various interconnected levels/rooms/passages. While I do this as a matter of routine when starting any new adventure this proved to be more than just my passing need to re-do the maps in old school blue in this case. You can see some of the areas explored thus far by the group on the map in blue.

Compare this to the original;

Not that radical of a difference but the DM version has some more detail/info than what's shown in the published version. At least the old/original that I have. From what I'm given to understand the maps have been re-done and are much clearer these days in the newer version for sale. The first level map has been posted in more than a few places, so I'm not really giving anything away here. 

A good level 1 treatment of the map/adventure can be found here if anyone's interested.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

National Parks in the Style of Tolkien's Middle Earth Maps

Two things that go great together, for me at least, are maps and Tolkien. That seems to be the case for Dan Bell, an English artist who maps his homeland's national parks in an artistic style similar to the one in which Tolkien rendered Middle-Earth.
 visit his site.
 visit his site.

He works from open source maps, adding in such additional details, not always found in most national parks, as forests, Hobbit holes, towers, and castles. He's adapted the national parks of the United Kingdom as well as places like Oxford, London, Yellowstone National Park, and George R.R. Martin’s Westeros.

Just a disclaimer since he sells these maps, I'm not associated with him in any way.