The romance of archeology: extract – V

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter Eight: Archaeology in British Isles, p 173-174

The stone huts cleared of sand are large, with ceilings as high as ten feet, but the doors are low, so that even a short man must stoop to enter. Inside a typical house were found stone tables, stone cupboard shelves, a fireplace, and scattered household articles of a seaside home of the Stone Age — bone laddles, drinking cups of whalebone, simple earthenware dishes, and polished stone axe-heads. in addition there were beads and amulets of walrus ivory, which the fishermen and their dark-haired wives wore to set off their costumes of animal skins or to ward off evil. An unexpected discovery was that huts were connected by a network of indoor streets made of roofed-over stone passages. The untidy villagers cast kitchen refuse on the roofs of these indoor streets, and at times even built campfire there and cooked their meals.

In the corner of one cottage the archaeologists discovered a mysterious grave containing two skeletons. These appear to be not the remains of inhabitants of the stone house but victims entombed by some gruesome rite when the house was built. Barbarians elsewhere have been known to sacrifice a victim at the foundation of a new building in order to confer a magic stability upon its walls. The meaning of the burials is carved in plain view on a slab in front of the grave; but the marks have defied modern scholarship. They are like, and yet unlike, runic letters.

The romance of archeology: extract – IV

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter 5: The Glorious Past of Hellas, p107-108

In the argolid, on a mountain spur 912 feet high, Schliemann in 1876 first found a double ring (87 feet in diameter) of stone slabs. Twenty-three feet below the surface he came upon the first of five graves. In it and the others (a sixth grave was discovered later) were found face masks of solid gold, bracelets, rings, daggers (sixty swords and daggers in one tomb), ivory, amber, silver, bronze, alabaster, diadems, pendants, grasshopers of gold with chains of gold wherewith the royal ladies attached them as ornaments on their dresses or in their hair; more than seven hundred ornaments in all. Nothing to equal this had ever been found before. Small wonder, it is not, that the world got into training for an archeological race?

The romance of archeology: extract – III

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter 3: Glamor of the Gift of the Nile, p67

Reisner believed  from the first that he had discovered, not a burial, but a reburial. Pharaoh Sneferu had made a tomb for his queen Hetepheres near his own pyramid at Dahshur. Sneferu died and was entombed. When Hetepheres died, her son Cheops placed her mummy in the prepared tomb, as is proved by inscriptions. Thieves broke into Queen Hetepheres’ tomb, but were discovered, and of course killed, before much treasure, if any, had been carried away. Cheops, seemingly, was having a secret tomb prepared near his own pyramid, but did not wait for its completion, but removed his mother to it at once.

Inside the tomb chamber was a marble sarcophagus, over which lay a number of faïence-inlaid sheets of gold. On the floor were several chairs overlaid with gold, and a set of eight marvelous toilet jars of alabaster. on what was left of a palanquin and bed were four identical inscriptions which, when translated, say: “the mother of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Follower of Horus, the guide of the ruler, the favorite one whose every word is done for her, the daughter of the god of his body, Hetepheres. ” Inside a gold-encased box […] containing deben rings, ” were found two sets of ten anklets. These rings for the legs are inlaid with dragon flies of malachite, lapis lazuli, and red carnelian. They are of different diameters, graduated in size to fit the leg. On the floor also were discovered three cups of gold, two gold and five copper razors, three gold and four copper knives, as well as several flint knives and many pieces of pottery and alabaster. To the dismay of the excavators, when the lid of the sarcophagus was raised, no mummy was inside. It must have been hidden somewhere else.

The romance of archeology: extract – II

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter 3: The Glamor of the Gift of the Nile, p 58

Queen Hatshepsut’s temple architect, Senmut, seems to have been this Egyptian Elizabeth’s Essex. In building the temple for his queen, he introduced his own portrait behind various doors in it. In the season 1927-1928, the Metropolitan Museum’s Egyptian Expedition found he had also dared to start a tomb for himself deep down and directly beneath her temple. Only one room of his tomb had been decorated before his downfall. Its ceiling represents a chart of the heavens, the best, and one of the earliest astronomical charts thus far found. Senmut also brought down from Assuan to Karnak two granites obelisks 97 1/2 feet high for the Queen’s jubilee. They were the tallest obelisks ever made with the one exception of that erected at Heliopolis by her enemy (and also her half-brother and nephew), Thothmes III […]

The romance of archeology: extract

 

I’m gonna put a bunch of these extracts on my blog. I fucking love this book. The writing… the entertainment value is incredible!

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C., The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

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Chapter One: The spade is mightier than the pen, p10

The recall of the veterans to arms was sponsored by Alcibiades, handsome, aristocratic, very rich, and very clever, and quite the most gifted in effrontery of any Athenian of that time; and in the sequel he proved to be the most debonair of all the plausible rascals of history. The soldiers, and boys under military age, and the discharged veterans all leaped to the call of opportunity. Our veteran in Euboea got together what little he needed, and then, before he left his new little house, he buried in a terra-cotta pot under his floor the balance of his money, among the pieces being a number of the new coins that had been minted that very year and paid to him when he was discharged. He hurried to Athens, was enrolled, and sent on board the fleet which was so eager to go that the ships raced one another down the Saronic gulf, as all the women of Attica on top of the houses at Piraeus waved them bon voyage. The expedition was the greatest debâcle of history. The entire force was killed or captured. The pot of coins, after 2,333 years, turned up accidentally by a spade in 1921, is one of the thousands of pitiful mortalities of that ill-starred expedition now archeologically authenticated.

Elderlings are Dragonborns well done

I recently read the amazing Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb and one thing that leapt to my mind is how much more interesting the Elderlings are compared to D&D Dragonborns.

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In my actual (Chult) campaign, to contrast with my human-only previous one, I’ve let the players choose any race, “even the dumb ones” I said. I was kind of relieved when none of them chose to play a Dragonborn as, for me, this race is certainly one of the dumbest fantasy race out there.

 Shaped by draconic gods or the dragons themselves, dragonborn originally hatched from dragon eggs as a unique race, combining the best attributes of dragons and humanoids.

A cop-out if there ever was. At least there’s no sexually deviant dragons copulating with puny humanoids, oh wait, that’s where Half-dragons come from! Sigh…

Dragonlance’s  Draconians were not much better (I mean, how much stolen dragon eggs you need to make whole armies?!) but at least they replaced the overly used orcs.

Now, what about Hobb’s Elderlings?

They were ancient Humans that pretty much lived side by side in a symbiotic society with dragons. Because of their proximity with these powerful beings’ essence and the occasional use of special rituals, they have acquired variable degrees of draconic traits: scaling, greater height, bright eyes, longevity and so forth. The culture of the Elderlings, what few glimpses we have of it, is also quite intriguing.

 

 

Tomb of annihilation: not a review

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I’ll soon DM this adventure module and as such, would like to comment on a few issues prior to actual play.

One hex a day

The PCs’ party will move one hex in jungle/swamp/ any difficult terrains and two hexes on rivers and coasts. Easy. I like this. The map of Chult is freakin’ huge and there’s a lot of options on how to explore and quite a few surprises (for a crafty DM) to spiced up things along the way. It’s my first hexcrawl ever and I’m quite excited to try this formula.

“Death Curse” Hook

The first time I read the story overview from the ToA I was intrigued. A death curse that prevents the raise from death spell AND slowly kills all these powerful dudes and dudettes that ever used that death-cheat? I mean, this should have profound & far-reaching repercussions isn’t that right?

Well, it doesn’t.

A dudette archmage scrambles to send adventurers, to solve this world-shattering matter. What she finds, it seems, is lvl 1 No0bs. She then proceeds to teleport (!) them at the adventure’s homebase in Chult.

CONVENIENT?

AND FUCKING LAME.

After that she sits on her death-cursed ass and patiently waits for the aforementioned noobs to save her…

Meanwhile, the evil Red Wizards of Thay, those evil meddlers, sends an evil team to retrieve the evil artifact, for their own evil ends. They’re led by an elf-lich, far too powerful a threat for the PCs at any moment of the adventure but that’s okay, she also prefers to sit on her (bony) ass, and I dunno, be part of the decor? Also: waste of a cool location (the levitating earth-mote).

There’s no other hints that indicate that what’s happening IS A BIG DEAL.

Whatever. I’m gonna flush the main plot down the drain.

An Alternative, Quite Intricate (Not) Plot Hook

Okay, here’s what I offer:

Hmmm. What about treasure? You like treasure? Well, I mean, there’s a jungle full of ruins… Go do your thing, you know, murder people/things and get rich? Yeah, of course you like it.

No seriously, I will put some fluff over it, but that’s all we really need.

Port Nyanzaru: Home Base

The map of the City is very nice. It will make a cool home base. The one thing it sorely misses is: inhabitants. NPCs. WHERE. ARE. THEY. Well, there’s seven merchant princes that barely have more personality than potted plants. And as rulers, they don’t make any sense at all. There’s also a high priest that can offer a lame-ass divination. Okay… The guides characters. The guides’s backtsory isn’t bad. But the guides are useless. The PCs will get lost as easily with or without them.

Am I being difficult? I need more.

Factions

The Forgotten Realms being such a fucking mess of a setting, I think the D&D designers didn’t have much choice to limit the number of esoteric factions found in the adventures. Did they have to put the same stupid, boring factions in each adventures though? Zhents, Harpers, Emerald Enclave, Order of the Gauntlets, Lords’ alliance… Isn’t the land of Chult exotic or far enough?

Oh they got one new faction: the Ytepka Society, here’s what we can read about them:

In many respects, the society’s goals are similar to those of the Harpers.

A local clone. That’s just great… How about inventing something new, huh?

The next sentence offers a lot more:

The Ytepka Society was instrumental in liberating Port Nyanzaru from foreign powers and facilitating the rise of the seven merchant princes.

That’S better. Wish there was more. There’s still a few invaders, hmm? I’ll take it from here. Even if it was YOUR FUCKING JOB WotC.

What’s missing the most?

  • Rivals! Surely there is other murderhobos around?
  • Side Quests that actually matters
  • NPCs
  • Motivations/Goals for NPCs
  • Weirdness
  • A few other locations, so that exploring don’t become a chore