Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Werewolves

March 31, 2015 Leave a comment

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My Osprey book Werewolves: A Hunter’s Guide was released last week. To celebrate, I’ll be posting and tweeting a fact a day for ten days: just a few of the things I discovered while researching and writing it. I’ll also be updating this post each day with a new fact. You’ll find more information in the book itself, and you may never look at this stock horror monster in quite the same way once you’ve read it. I know I don’t.

Like its companion volumes on Zombies and Vampires, Werewolves: A Hunter’s Guide collects a lot of deeply-researched information about lycanthropes from all times and places and presents it in an accessible and well-organized form for gamers and general readers alike.

For more on this book:
The first review (scroll down to the Comments section for more links as I find them).
A post about Werewolves and my most recent Osprey Myths and Legends book, Theseus and the Minotaur.

1. There are five distinct types of Werewolf
As I read various ancient myths and medieval trial reports, I discovered something completely unexpected: not all werewolves are the same. I finally counted five distinct types, all of which I’ve covered in detail with histories, detailed descriptions, and case studies.
The five types are:
1. Viral Werewolves;
2. Cursed Werewolves;
3. Shamanic Werewolves;
4. Sorcerous Werewolves;
5. Obsessive Werewolves.

2. The Roman Empire helped spread lycanthropy across Europe
Until the first century, viral lycanthropy was confined to a small area of eastern Europe which became the Roman provinces of Moesia and Dacia. As Roman officials, merchants, and tax gatherers opened up the region, some of them contracted the virus and spread it throughout the Roman world.

3. St. Patrick may have rid Ireland of snakes, but he created the first documented Irish werewolves
The snakes of Patrick’s legend are a metaphor for Druidism, according to some writers. Another legend tells of certain pagans who drowned out his preaching by howling like wolves – whereupon he cursed them in the name of God, and they became the first recorded Werewolves in Ireland.

4. Suleiman the Magnificent purged Constantinople of werewolves in 1542
The city was so overrun with werewolves that the Ottoman Emperor called out his Janissaries to deal with the situation. Over 150 werewolves were killed in one hunt alone.

5. Come back tomorrow!

Thor Hits U.S. Libraries and Schools

March 20, 2015 Leave a comment

Rosen Thor Cover

I’ve just received a hardback edition of my Osprey Myths and Legends book Thor: Viking God of Thunder, published by Rosen Publishing in New York for the American schools and libraries market. It is available by itself or as part of the Heroes and Legends set, which also includes the Osprey volumes Dragonslayers, Hercules, Jason and the Argonauts, King Arthur, and Robin Hood.

The inside of the book is the same as the Osprey edition, but Rosen’s solid hardback binding makes it more durable, and it lies flat without breaking the binding and scattering pages everywhere. And Rosen’s cover design is great. It keeps Miguel Coimbra’s fantastic art of Thor battling the frost giants, but turns the god’s name into a stony logo wreathed in lightning. I’m very, very pleased with it, and it’s strangely appropriate that my comp copy should arrive on the International Day of Happiness – another thing I knew nothing about until this morning!

I enjoyed working on this book immensely, and I’ve posted about it before. Here are some links for anyone who is interested:
Rosen Publishing (Thor)
Rosen Publishing (Heroes and Legends series)
Osprey Publishing (Thor)
Early reviews (scroll down to comments for more)
A more recent review

Nintendo and Smart Devices

March 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Image borrowed from the Italian news site VG24/7.

Image borrowed from the Italian news site VG24/7.

Four years after CEO Satoru Iwata urged develpers to ignore smartphones, Nicholas Lovell’s blog on Gamasutra covers Nintendo’s change of attitude toward smart devices and explores some of the challenges they will face. The article is a good read, and although it’s not possible yet to determine exactly how Nintendo will affect the app market over the next few years, it’s certain that their effect will be significant.

I’m especially gratified to see this move taking place, since I raised the possibility myself four years ago in one of this blog’s first posts. I wonder if Iwata-san read it? I know, it’s far more likely that he studied the developing app market and tracked the increasing pressure it’s been placing on the market for dedicated gaming devices, and came to the same conclusion that I did. But still: Iwata-san, if you’re reading this, thanks for all the games, and good luck!

Phil Gallagher: The Rest of the Enemy Within Campaign

February 28, 2015 1 comment

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People ask me about the Enemy Within Campaign a lot, and I can’t always answer their questions. Sometimes I used to know but the answer is lost in the mists of time, but more often I never really knew to begin with. Jim and Phil did most of the planning for TEW, and I wasn’t always privy to the longer-range plan. I’ve already blogged about what I do know/remember, but last October I met up with Phil for the first time in over 20 years at the Oldhammer 2014 event in Maryland. I asked him to help me fill in a few details (fill/Phil! Ha, ha! What – nothing? Please yourselves…) and he was kind enough to agree.

Phil and me (at left) at Oldhammer 2014.

Phil and me (at left) at Oldhammer 2014.

So here we go:

What was the original plan for the Enemy Within Campaign after Power Behind the Throne?

The original plan? We had a plan? I think the “plan” was to keep creating linked, campaign-style rpg adventures with some great role-playing scenes, and plenty of action…

Did you and Jim get as far as a plot for The Horned Rat? If so, what was it? How far did it get? Anything else you can tell us about it?

The Horned Rat idea was all mine. Mine, I tell you. Who knows how it might have panned out, but I had this idea that a bunch of Skaven were developing a means of bringing Morrslieb down to earth… and/or they had created a portal to enable them to teleport to the surface to mine it… Chaos-mutations a-plenty!

In particular, what was the plan for the Purple Hand? They kind of vanish after the events in Middenheim, but it seems to be implied that they have active cells elsewhere.

The Purple Hand were supposed to be just one of a number of underground cults all working to related but slightly different ends – a sort of SPECTRE for the Warhammer world; probably never the focus of a scenario, but always there in the background to complicate life for the PCs.

How close was Carl Sargent’s published Empire in Flames to the original intention? Did you have much input into the brief Carl worked from?

Jeez… Empire in Flames… I’ve no idea… that was you and Mike, Graeme – all you and Mike! ;) I think it was probably the usual convoluted Carl Sargent adventure, that you and/or Mike undertook to shoe-horn… er… adapt to fit into the existing campaign.

Hmm… I don’t think it was me, so it must have been Mike. I must remember to ask him one day.

Apart from The Horned Rat and Empire in Flames, were there any other Enemy Within adventures planned that never came to fruition?

Any other ideas? I’m sure there were – but it’s all so long ago, now… it was all probably going to come to a head with a major chaos incursion and a WFRP-meets-WFB big climactic battle…

And I’m sure that any digressions and random memories you feel like throwing in would be more than welcome, too.

Random memories: it was Hal that gave the Drakwald forest its name. He was taking the piss for the way we came up with names for places in the Empire. He suggested that all we were doing was taking English words, changing them a bit, and then adding “-heim” to make town names, and “-wald” to name forests, “So, the Dark Forest, could be Drakwald?” he joked. And so it did.

Many thanks to Phil for taking the time to reply. If you want to read more of his WFRP memories, check out the interview he did for the excellent Realm of Chaos 80s blog.

A New Review of “Thor: Viking God of Thunder”

February 26, 2015 1 comment

Thor

Patrick Mahon over at SF Crow’s Nest in the UK just posted a very nice review of my Osprey Myths and Legends book Thor: Viking God of Thunder. Here’s a link.

I’m very happy with the reception received by both this book and its companion volume on Theseus and the Minotaur, and I hope to have the opportunity to write more books on myth and folklore in the future. They’ve been passions of mine since I was a boy.

Here’s a link to some more reviews of Thor. Every time I see a new review, I add a link to the comments. If you’ve seen any reviews that aren’t linked there, please let me know – I’d like to make this collection as complete as possible.

The Hillfolk Bundle of Holding

February 25, 2015 Leave a comment

A couple of years ago, tabletop gaming luminary Robin D. Laws ran a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign for his DramaSystem game, and I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute a stretch goal reward. My “Series Pitch” (DramaSystem lingo for “campaign setting”) was called Pyrates (the “y” spelling makes it 20% more piratical), and I pitched it to Robin as “Firefly of the Caribbean.” Here’s a link to the blog post I wrote at the time.

Hillfolk_books_mockup

Now, thanks to the Hillfolk Bundle of Holding, you can sample Hillfolk, Pyrates, and many more settings – and explore the innovative and inspiring design of DramaSystem – for a bargain price. Check out all the goodies here.

For my money, Robin is one of the very best designers working in tabletop RPGTs today. His ideas are always fresh and thought-provoking, and make for great games as well as pushing the art and craft of game design beyond the normal envelope. You won’t be disappointed.

A New Review of “Theseus and the Minotaur”

February 20, 2015 Leave a comment

My Osprey Adventures book Theseus and the Minotaur is getting some attention.

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Here’s a link to a new review on Random House’s suvudu.com site: http://bit.ly/1w58WYr

And here’s a link to an interview about Theseus, Thor, Warhammer, and other matters, also on suvudu: http://bit.ly/1Jw8AQ8

See also http://bit.ly/1CTRe9B for my earlier post on both this book and the Werewolves book.

And here’s a link to some new Theseus options for Andrea Sfiligoi’s excellent mythological miniatures game, Of Gods and Mortals: http://bit.ly/1ASBtlO

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