Resources for Historical Campaigns

Arcane_Avatar

Legendary Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2018
Messages
253
Reaction score
544
At the moment I'm running Mythic Constantinople using the vampire plotline sort of and also Mythic Babylon so two pseudo historical games and have just acquired the two Codex Medieval Baltic books in pdf with an eye to running something in medieval Eastern Europe. So Loz's announcement of Mythic Venice got me all hot under the collar this week.
 

Doctor Wombat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2019
Messages
44
Reaction score
135
I'm re-skinning a game to be set following the 5th Dragoon Guards in the Iberian Peninsula. Basically, "On the Road to Salamanca." My focus is to have players get into the trials & tribulations of the soldiers between the battle phases of the game. Based loosely on the Richard Sharpe series, but with the British Cavalry.

Allan Mallinson has written a Sharpe-like series of historical novels following the career of British cavalry officer Matthew Hervey of the (fictional) 6th Light Dragoons. Most of them are set later than the period you're interested in, but the sixth and seventh books (Rumours of War and An Act of Courage) contain a lot of flashbacks to Hervey's time as a young cornet during the Peninsular War.

If I recall correctly, the sixth book's flashbacks take place during the retreat to Corunna in 1809, while the seventh covers the Battle of Talavera in 1809 and the Siege of Badajoz in 1812.
 

Picaroon Jack

And the Brothers Slack
Joined
Jul 6, 2018
Messages
3,244
Reaction score
9,624
Allan Mallinson has written a Sharpe-like series of historical novels following the career of British cavalry officer Matthew Hervey of the (fictional) 6th Light Dragoons. Most of them are set later than the period you're interested in, but the sixth and seventh books (Rumours of War and An Act of Courage) contain a lot of flashbacks to Hervey's time as a young cornet during the Peninsular War.

If I recall correctly, the sixth book's flashbacks take place during the retreat to Corunna in 1809, while the seventh covers the Battle of Talavera in 1809 and the Siege of Badajoz in 1812.
Thanks, I'll take a look. Salamanca is about as far I plan on going with this project, but reading about a light dragoon would help.
 

Lofgeornost

Vulpine once more.
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
5,047
Well then, glad to have been an inspiration!

One thing I could definitely use for that campaign, and I suspect might be useful to Klibbix! Klibbix! , would be maps. I can sort of get by on maps with rough political borders and google maps, but it's difficult to know how accurate the road network is to old roads (in Italy sometimes remarkably close) as well as to remember to eyeball in the extent of say the Pontine marshes, now drained. Plus the cities were smaller and some settlements didn't even exist back then. Does anyone know of any good resources, either online or in books, with good, gamable maps of renaissance/early modern Italy?

Most of the resources I know are for city plans. One place to start would be the Map History/History of Cartography website, section 12a: Images of early maps on the web 12a. Continental Europe. This lists a number of websites for Italy, though clicking on some of them led me to some broken links or statements that the page had been retired.

According to Leonardo Rombai, "Cartography in the Central Italian States from 1480 to 1680," in the online History of Cartography published by the University of Chicago (volume 3, part 1, Cartography in the European Renaissance, link here), one place to start would be the printed map Il paese di Roma (1547) by Eufrosino della Volpaia. According to Rombai:
It was intended for use not by the central political power of the state but by the landed nobility and bourgeois who liked to hunt in the coastal areas of Lazio. The map appears to have been the result of detailed on-site inspections and partial measurements, which allowed Volpaia to give a detailed picture of the landscape and man-made features of the territory. It pays particular attention to towers, inns, farmhouses and other rural buildings, ancient ruins, springs, roads, and wild woodland areas, which are clearly distinguished from cultivated land. It covers an area that runs from Arrone and Ariccia to well past Rome and is further enhanced by bucolic scenes of rural life involving hunters, fishermen, peasants, shepherds, and travelers. For a long time this was the unchallenged model for the image of the region.

The map was republished, with a lengthy introduction by Thomas Ashby (unfortunately in Italian), in 1914. The University of Heidelberg has digitized the book and you can view it or download it; the link for the first page is https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/piante_roma_app2/0001/image . The actual maps appear in the appendix at the end of the book. This is what part of the map looks like, though I've shrunk the image a good deal--it was 3.1 MB in the original:

piante_roma_app2_0137-small.jpg
 

Klibbix!

Depraved Necromancer
Joined
Dec 18, 2020
Messages
597
Reaction score
1,384
Osprey has a Man-at-Arms title, The Venetian Empire, 1200-1670, written by David Nicolle with plates by Christopher Rothero, if you're interested.
It does seem up my alley, I’ll have a look at it!
 

raniE

Big Bearded Guy
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
1,227
Reaction score
2,219
Most of the resources I know are for city plans. One place to start would be the Map History/History of Cartography website, section 12a: Images of early maps on the web 12a. Continental Europe. This lists a number of websites for Italy, though clicking on some of them led me to some broken links or statements that the page had been retired.

According to Leonardo Rombai, "Cartography in the Central Italian States from 1480 to 1680," in the online History of Cartography published by the University of Chicago (volume 3, part 1, Cartography in the European Renaissance, link here), one place to start would be the printed map Il paese di Roma (1547) by Eufrosino della Volpaia. According to Rombai:


The map was republished, with a lengthy introduction by Thomas Ashby (unfortunately in Italian), in 1914. The University of Heidelberg has digitized the book and you can view it or download it; the link for the first page is https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/piante_roma_app2/0001/image . The actual maps appear in the appendix at the end of the book. This is what part of the map looks like, though I've shrunk the image a good deal--it was 3.1 MB in the original:

View attachment 33714
I found this overview map (can't link to the site I got it from, it's suddenly giving me a trojan warning) of Italy in the 16th-18th century, which shows political divisions post Italian wars but with the bigger cities marked, as well as rivers. Unfortunately, no roads, marshes or mountains. Not great quality, but there is a pdf that is much more zoomable.

Map of Italy 2.jpg
 

Arcane_Avatar

Legendary Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2018
Messages
253
Reaction score
544
Klibbix! Klibbix! When researching for my Mythic Constantinople games I lapped up almost everything Osprey published on Byzantium and some of the stuff about the relevant Italian city states (Genoa, Venice and some of the more general books covering the peninsula) just in case my players headed west. However they picked up n the vampire threat and show no signs of leaving the city. However I can recommend the Osprey stuff as providing enough background in a general way to cover most of what a player might be interested in and which would give sufficient background to provide a sense of being there.
 

Lofgeornost

Vulpine once more.
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
5,047
I found this overview map (can't link to the site I got it from, it's suddenly giving me a trojan warning) of Italy in the 16th-18th century, which shows political divisions post Italian wars but with the bigger cities marked, as well as rivers. Unfortunately, no roads, marshes or mountains. Not great quality, but there is a pdf that is much more zoomable.

Another good place to look for online maps is the edmaps.com site. Their page Historical Maps of Italy gives a lot of links to other sites and just to maps. For the region around Rome, they provide a link to the very neat Cartographia storica di Roma e provincia page, which includes reproductions of a lot of old maps of the region. You might be interested in Forlani (1563), Mercator (1589), Widman (1666), or some of the others. It might be possible to find higher-resolution images of these maps elsewhere, too.

For all of Italy, some good links seem to be:
 

Klibbix!

Depraved Necromancer
Joined
Dec 18, 2020
Messages
597
Reaction score
1,384
I found this overview map (can't link to the site I got it from, it's suddenly giving me a trojan warning) of Italy in the 16th-18th century, which shows political divisions post Italian wars but with the bigger cities marked, as well as rivers. Unfortunately, no roads, marshes or mountains. Not great quality, but there is a pdf that is much more zoomable.

View attachment 33745

That map is great! thank you for posting it. I ultimately want to do a hex map of 1500's Not-Italy, so this is very useful to trace.

Klibbix! Klibbix! When researching for my Mythic Constantinople games I lapped up almost everything Osprey published on Byzantium and some of the stuff about the relevant Italian city states (Genoa, Venice and some of the more general books covering the peninsula) just in case my players headed west. However they picked up n the vampire threat and show no signs of leaving the city. However I can recommend the Osprey stuff as providing enough background in a general way to cover most of what a player might be interested in and which would give sufficient background to provide a sense of being there.

As I mentioned before, Osprey is really coming up on my radar! I am currently browsing their catalogue and bemoaning the state of my wallet.
 

SJB

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2021
Messages
171
Reaction score
376
I can recommend this Medieval Baltic book, although I haven't used it for a game.

And I see there is now a second volume.

If anyone knows of a good book about hanseatic cities, especially with a focus on daily life I'd love to know.

Migrating Words, Migrating Merchants, Migrating Law: Trading Routes and the Development of Commercial Law
, Brill (2020)

OPEN ACCESS


Institutions of Hanseatic Trade: Studies on the Political Economy of a Medieval Network Organisation, Peter Lang AG (2016)

OPEN ACCESS
 

Arcane_Avatar

Legendary Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2018
Messages
253
Reaction score
544
There's an Osprey covering Armies of the Hanseatic Cties that's worth unt if all you need is a reasonable overview/potted history.
 

Atelerix

Legendary Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
459
Reaction score
1,037
The Great Game and the Back of Beyond - Central Asia and Western China in the 19th and 20th centuries. Basically, anything written by the journalist Peter Hopkirk is an amazing introduction to the place and period. Rudyard Kipling writes a lot about the Great Game

At the start of the period, Central Asia is a string of independent cities, khanates and kingdoms along the ancient Silk Road. They have all grown insular and distrustful of the European nations, and are more likely to execute travellers and envoys than entertain them.

The Russians slowly expand east through the century, taking city by city as they search for a route to invade India. The British respond by sending men to explore the region and to make contact with and map the various cities. One chap, Frederick Burnaby, makes one of his journeys by balloon.This also leads to several British expeditions to try and control Afghanistan (not happy stories) and later to police the fierce tribes on the Northwest Frontier between Afghanistan and modern Pakistan.

Burnaby in particular is an extraordinary and flamboyant character - the kind of Mary Sue a GM wouldn't allow. Fluent in 6 languages, strong enough to carry a donkey, and a man who repeatedly ignores his superiors and gets away with it by delivering on his promises. He's mentioned in Space 1889, but if anything his real-life exploits are even more remarkable.

And the fierceness of the tribes has to be read about to be believed. The British Army honed soldiers to hit targets out to 1000 yards to match the Pashtun, who regarded war as a sport. There are reports that tribesmen turned up at British Army barracks in India to claim campaign medals - for campaigns where they had fought against the British!

Later you have the Russian Civil War, the period of Chinese Warlords and, not least, a series of astonishing archaeological expeditions from the 1900s to the 1920s. Taking advantage of the chaos, they crossed from India via the Karakorum Pass to Kashgar and then dropped to the Takla Makan desert in search of the lost cities of the Silk Road. And they found them!

The expeditions braved the High Himalayas, bandits, rivers of mud, freezing nights, sandstorms and the highest sand dunes in the world. The brought back - looted - ancient treasures in abundance.

The British Library has an online collection of photos and records from the expeditions of one explorer, Marc Aurel-Stein, and displayed some for a while.

There are also many wild characters like the Bloody Russian Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg.

You want spies, explorers, diplomats? You want war against the Pashtun and orher tribes, and doomed missions among the Afghans? You want looting the riches of the past? You got them! And that's before you chuck in horror or fantasy elements.

An incredible period and place to explore.
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
Hi, I am a historical researcher out of the HEMA community, I've written two books on the Medieval Baltic and done lectures and academic articles on the subject of the context of historical fencing manuals and warfare in 15th -16th Century Europe. I have access to a lot of resources, including primary sources and secondary academic literature, on late medieval Central and Northern Europe. I have some good resources on a few other time / place settings as well. I'll be glad to answer any questions people have and provide links and so on.
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
As far as resources on Renaissance Venice go, it occurs to me that I'm not sure what period precisely Klibbix! Klibbix! is interested in. It used to be common in English-language writing on Renaissance Italy to see the French invasion of 1494 as marking the end of the era, with maybe a generation or so after that included, but lately more books on the Italian Renaissance extend the label until 1559, or even 1599. So I'll assume anything from the later 1300s through the 1500s is fair game.

There is a huge volume of stuff written about the occult in this period, though not as much as one might expect specifically about Italy and in English. Here are a few titles that occur to me:
  • Wayne Schumaker, The Occult Sciences in the Renaissance (University of California Press, 1972). This is an older book, and in some ways quite dated. Schumaker felt that he had to provide arguments against at least some of the ideas or practices he described, like astrology, and the chapter on witchcraft is far behind current scholarship. But the provides a decent introduction to basic elements of astrology, alchemy, and Hermeticism. The chapter on 'White Magic' is basically a summary of the texts of Giambattista Della Porta on natural Magic, Marsilio Ficino on astral magic, and Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa on ceremonial magic. These are less valuable now than they were back in the 1970s, because translations of those works are easily available in English, but I remember leaning pretty heavily on Schumaker when I first ran a game based in the Renaissance.
  • Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2008). Most of Clarke's scholarship dealt with 19th and 20th-century occulta, but this is a nice overview of the whole field with chapters on "Italian Renaissance Magic and Cabala," and "Planetary and Angel Magic in the Renaissance." It also provides an introduction to Paracelsus, if you want to include his ideas, and to Rosicrucianism. The latter is a 17th-century development, of course, but if the Rosicrucian origin myth were true, the group would have existed in the 1400s and 1500s as well.
  • D. P. Walker, Spiritual and Demonic Magic from Ficino to Campanella (Warburg Institute, 1958). Quite old, but one of the classics for 'high' magic in the Renaissance and much of it focuses on Italian thinkers. It's fairly tough reading, IIRC. Frances A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (University of Chicago Press, 1964) is another classic, though Yates' overall thesis on the relationship between Hermeticism and the scientific revolution hasn't held up that well. Ingrid Rowland published a very readable biography, Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic (University of Chicago Press, 2008), though it doesn't spend all that much time on his ideas about magic. A recent book that deals with Ficino and Hermeticism at length is Brian Copenhaver, Magic in Western Culture: From Antiquity to Enlightenment (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Despite its sweeping title, most of the book is dedicated to Ficino's magical ideas, their sources, and their reception. Copenhaver is one of the top scholars of this material, and of Renaissance philosophy in general, and the book assumes you know a good deal; it's also quite discursive.
  • For astrology in this society, there is Eugenio Garin, Astrology in the Renaissance: The Zodiac of Life (Routledge, 1983), though I think (particularly for gaming purposes) you'd be better served by Anthony Grafton, Cardano's Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer (Harvard University Press, 1999). Grafton gives a fair introduction to the underlying ideas behind astrology, but also depicts the various things a practicing astrologer might do.
  • Witchcraft has an enormous, and constantly growing, bibliography, but there is less than one might think about witchcraft in Italy written in English, maybe because witch-trials were actually fairly rare in the peninsula. One reasonable place to start might be Rainer Decker, Witchcraft and the Papacy (University of Virginia Press, 2008). Not all of this deals with Italy, to be sure, but a fair number of the chapters do, including one on "The Struggle of the Inquisition with Venice" that might be particularly helpful. Matteo Duni, Under the Devil's Spell: Witches, Sorcerers, and the Inquisition in Renaissance Italy (Syracuse University at Florence, 2007) deals with popular magical traditions as well as witchcraft, and concludes with some primary sources. Another source which is well worth a read is Carlo Ginzburg, The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the 16th and 17th Centuries (Penguin, 1983), which deals with the odd type of popular magician known as the benandanti. In practical terms, they were magical healers, but they had an elaborate myth to justify their powers, which involved them going in spirit form four times yearly to fight battles against witches; if the benandanti won, then good weather and fertility were ensured for that quarter of the year. They were found in the Udine, not far from Venice, and so might be good fodder for your game. Ginzburg likened them to shamans found elsewhere and argued that they were a survival of ancient fertility cults, but I don't think his argument has won over that many people. Guy Gavriel Kay used the benandanti in Tigana, with the serial numbers filed off, of course.

This is a good list. To this, I would note that there have been some fairly recent translations of earlier, late medieval (as opposed to Early Modern) grimoires including some that are overtly transgressive. One good example is the CLM 849 or Munich manuscript of Demonic Magic. These earlier grimoires have a different tone than the 17th Century ones people are more familiar with, and are actually a bit more 'RPG like' in terms of some of their 'experimenta' which are not just descriptions of the characteristics of various goetic spirits, but actual recipes to accomplish specific goals, such as to turn invisible or summon a phantom horse to take you to Persia (just don't fall into a state of Sin when you get there).


A guy name Richard Kieckhefer has published an overview and partial translation of this book in English, it has also been transcribed into modern German published in a couple of other languages. You can get Kickhefer's book as part of a series called "Magic in History" on Amazon, which has several other useful titles.

Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy is available in pretty readable translation, and IMO is a very good overview for magic in that period as he covers a little bit of everything. You don't need a PhD in medieval theology to read it either, as even though he was a 16th Century 'wizard' (among many other talents) his voice is fairly modern in tone and his language isn't too strange. I find it's always instructive to read these people in their own voices. It can be a great resource for providing tidbits to your gamers as well (same is defintiely true of the more transgressive CLM 849 and similar MSS as they sometimes have a very creepy 'voice'.)

Francis Yates has several interesting books on mnemonics and it's esoteric aspects which I think is very helpful in understanding the esoteric tradition in late medieval and early modern Europe, and the more literate strata of society in general. It will help you understand the work of figures like Raymond Lull and Giordano Bruno much better. And the use of the memory palace / Ars Memoria has become a modern sport.

Finally, generally speaking I recommend learning as much as you can about the Classical traditions, especially neo-platonism, to understand those individuals like Ficino or Agrippa who were leaders in the revival of interest in the esoteric arts in the Renaissance. You probably gain more ground in making sense of it all by reading a little bit of Plotonius than most modern assessments.
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
As another resource, I found that these 'fandom' pages on the various Djinn are quite evocative and have a lot of interesting details, as well as some images (mostly from the 14th C Kitāb al-Bulhān aka 'book of Wonders') and other useful things like their seals and incantations to summon them (which I definitely wouldn't say out loud lol)

Medieval scholars were heavily influenced by Arab and Persian sources, who they relied on for 'glosses' on the Classical auctores like Aristotle, Plato et al.

As an example, here is the page for the mighty and terrible "al Barqan", the Black King who worships "the Fire, not the Omnipotent Sire."

https://jinn.fandom.com/wiki/Barqan

The Kitāb al-Bulhān is also a great source for imagery, there are a lot of creepy depictions of evil spirits

 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
Another good place to look for online maps is the edmaps.com site. Their page Historical Maps of Italy gives a lot of links to other sites and just to maps. For the region around Rome, they provide a link to the very neat Cartographia storica di Roma e provincia page, which includes reproductions of a lot of old maps of the region. You might be interested in Forlani (1563), Mercator (1589), Widman (1666), or some of the others. It might be possible to find higher-resolution images of these maps elsewhere, too.

For all of Italy, some good links seem to be:
One really good resource for maps of early modern Europe in general are the atlas published by Braun and Hogenberg ('civitates orbis terrarum'). You can buy a facsimile pretty cheap - it's small so the images are not big but it's really cool. In particular they provide maps of hundreds of cities. Many of these are also online, for example, this is their map of Rome:

braun-roma1.jpg


... and there is a very high-res scan of it on Wikimedia Commons here

This is their map of Venice

Venice%2C_by_Bolognino_Zaltieri%2C_1565.jpg


Some of their 'maps' (like many in this era) are more of a side view like this map of Trier. But these can be quite evocative for gaming IMO.

1024px-Braun%26Hogenberg_Trier_1572.jpg
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
10,818
Reaction score
12,137
Welcome to the Pub, Peter Von Danzig Peter Von Danzig ...as a (somewhat lapsed) HEMAist as well, I thought your screen name sounded familiar:thumbsup:!

Hi, I am a historical researcher out of the HEMA community, I've written two books on the Medieval Baltic
Just to clarify, are those scholarly works, or RPG-related ones? I recently purchased two RPG books on the Medieval Baltic:grin:!
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
Welcome to the Pub, Peter Von Danzig Peter Von Danzig ...as a (somewhat lapsed) HEMAist as well, I thought your screen name sounded familiar:thumbsup:!


Just to clarify, are those scholarly works, or RPG-related ones? I recently purchased two RPG books on the Medieval Baltic:grin:!

They are history books for HEMA practitioners, They are not academic books, though they could be. I'd just have to add about 50 more pages of citations. But RPG gamers and other people use them as well, so we may be speaking of the same books. I sell them through historical fencing distributors, and also via DriveThruRpg. But there are no game rules or anything like that in these books, just history, a lot of primary sources. Basically a two volume encyclopedia of Central -Northern Europe . So hopefully if you did buy them, you won't be disappointed by that, we tried to make it clear!

I also publish historical TTRPG books, (also on DriveThru) but that is a separate thing.
 

TJS

Legendary Member
Joined
May 5, 2018
Messages
2,263
Reaction score
4,692
They are history books for HEMA practitioners, They are not academic books, though they could be. I'd just have to add about 50 more pages of citations. But RPG gamers and other people use them as well, so we may be speaking of the same books. I sell them through historical fencing distributors, and also via DriveThruRpg. But there are no game rules or anything like that in these books, just history, a lot of primary sources. Basically a two volume encyclopedia of Central -Northern Europe . So hopefully if you did buy them, you won't be disappointed by that, we tried to make it clear!

I also publish historical TTRPG books, (also on DriveThru) but that is a separate thing.
I have those two books. Very cool! Definitely plenty there to set up a rpg campaign.
 

Klibbix!

Depraved Necromancer
Joined
Dec 18, 2020
Messages
597
Reaction score
1,384
One really good resource for maps of early modern Europe in general are the atlas published by Braun and Hogenberg ('civitates orbis terrarum'). You can buy a facsimile pretty cheap - it's small so the images are not big but it's really cool. In particular they provide maps of hundreds of cities. Many of these are also online, for example, this is their map of Rome:

braun-roma1.jpg


... and there is a very high-res scan of it on Wikimedia Commons here

This is their map of Venice

Venice%2C_by_Bolognino_Zaltieri%2C_1565.jpg


Some of their 'maps' (like many in this era) are more of a side view like this map of Trier. But these can be quite evocative for gaming IMO.

1024px-Braun%26Hogenberg_Trier_1572.jpg

Thank you so much for all you’ve posted in this thread! I’ve got some reading to do…
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
Thank you so much for all you’ve posted in this thread! I’ve got some reading to do…

Sure thing. I'm a gamer too (at least in theory) so being right here at the nexus of gaming and history is a 'sweet spot' for me. Somebody told me about another similar thread on here so I came for a look, and I'm glad i did. Looks like there are several well informed people posting in this thread.
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
10,818
Reaction score
12,137
They are history books for HEMA practitioners, They are not academic books, though they could be. I'd just have to add about 50 more pages of citations. But RPG gamers and other people use them as well, so we may be speaking of the same books. I sell them through historical fencing distributors, and also via DriveThruRpg. But there are no game rules or anything like that in these books, just history, a lot of primary sources. Basically a two volume encyclopedia of Central -Northern Europe . So hopefully if you did buy them, you won't be disappointed by that, we tried to make it clear!

I also publish historical TTRPG books, (also on DriveThru) but that is a separate thing.
Well, these are the two I've got. And I haven't found any others on this topic on Drivethru, so I guess it's them that you mean...:thumbsup:



For the record, I'm not disappointed in them regardless of whether they're the ones you wrote:shade:.
 

arjunstc

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2020
Messages
380
Reaction score
945
One really good resource for maps of early modern Europe in general are the atlas published by Braun and Hogenberg ('civitates orbis terrarum'). You can buy a facsimile pretty cheap - it's small so the images are not big but it's really cool. In particular they provide maps of hundreds of cities.
Welcome.

I've used a few of these maps for my campaign set in Terrinoth in lieu of "proper" maps to give my players a sense of the layout of the cities their characters visit. I would just say that the part with the buildings with the pointy roofs are where the wizards live, the fort in the background is where the city's guards are headquartered, and the shorter buildings on this side of the river are where the poorer people lived, while that district with the wide plazas is the merchant district, etc.
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
Well, these are the two I've got. And I haven't found any others on this topic on Drivethru, so I guess it's them that you mean...:thumbsup:



For the record, I'm not disappointed in them regardless of whether they're the ones you wrote:shade:.

yes those are the ones. Also available through our website and (printed copies) via Purpleheart armory. They will be POD on DriveThru in a few weeks.
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
Welcome.

I've used a few of these maps for my campaign set in Terrinoth in lieu of "proper" maps to give my players a sense of the layout of the cities their characters visit. I would just say that the part with the buildings with the pointy roofs are where the wizards live, the fort in the background is where the city's guards are headquartered, and the shorter buildings on this side of the river are where the poorer people lived, while that district with the wide plazas is the merchant district, etc.

yes they are quite good for atmosphere, they make for lovely fairy tale or fantasy settings. And you aren't too far off the mark with how you broke down who lives where in terms of the historical towns.

Aside from Braun and Hogenberg, who have ~ 200 maps (in two different editions of their Atlas, so sometimes there are two or more images of each town) there are several other good period maps and portraits of towns and castles. Some are very similar to B & H, for example this lovely map of Amsterdam by Cornelis Anthonisz from 1538 (note how similar to the map of Venice above with the canals)

640px-View_of_Amsterdam.JPG


Another earlier (15th Century) source with a ton of maps, albeit more crudely drawn as they are woodcuts used in an early printed book, is the Nuremberg Chronicle. They also give you kind of a side view.

Here is their depiction of Venice

1024px-Nuremberg_chronicles_f_043v44r.png


This is their depiction of Nuremberg itself

640px-Nuremberg_chronicles_-_Nuremberga.png


Also the entire Nuremberg Chronicle itself is available in English translation in a searchable format, incredibly. Most of the writing is in a very contemporary voice, so to speak, and sometimes quite amusing, with a slight note of sarcasm. Very useful resource for Late Medieval Europe. and another that you can mine almost endlessly for fantasy content with a little blurring around the edges.

 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
10,818
Reaction score
12,137
yes those are the ones. Also available through our website and (printed copies) via Purpleheart armory. They will be POD on DriveThru in a few weeks.
Then allow me to compliment you on the quality of your work. Though the 50 pages of sources might have been useful, too:thumbsup:!

yes they are quite good for atmosphere, they make for lovely fairy tale or fantasy settings. And you aren't too far off the mark with how you broke down who lives where in terms of the historical towns.

Aside from Braun and Hogenberg, who have ~ 200 maps (in two different editions of their Atlas, so sometimes there are two or more images of each town) there are several other good period maps and portraits of towns and castles. Some are very similar to B & H, for example this lovely map of Amsterdam by Cornelis Anthonisz from 1538 (note how similar to the map of Venice above with the canals)

640px-View_of_Amsterdam.JPG


Another earlier (15th Century) source with a ton of maps, albeit more crudely drawn as they are woodcuts used in an early printed book, is the Nuremberg Chronicle. They also give you kind of a side view.

Here is their depiction of Venice

1024px-Nuremberg_chronicles_f_043v44r.png


This is their depiction of Nuremberg itself

640px-Nuremberg_chronicles_-_Nuremberga.png


Also the entire Nuremberg Chronicle itself is available in English translation in a searchable format, incredibly. Most of the writing is in a very contemporary voice, so to speak, and sometimes quite amusing, with a slight note of sarcasm. Very useful resource for Late Medieval Europe. and another that you can mine almost endlessly for fantasy content with a little blurring around the edges.

Browsing through the Nuremberg Chronicla now, but the first thing I noted was the title of the last chapter...which is going to make some people I know laugh and cry:angel:!
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
Then allow me to compliment you on the quality of your work. Though the 50 pages of sources might have been useful, too:thumbsup:!

There is a quite extensive bibliography in there, especially for primary sources. We actually had about 10 more pages of footnotes that we lost due a computer crash and subsequent document recovery. Sad story....
Browsing through the Nuremberg Chronicla now, but the first thing I noted was the title of the last chapter...which is going to make some people I know laugh and cry:angel:!

You mean the chapter on Poland?
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
10,818
Reaction score
12,137
There is a quite extensive bibliography in there, especially for primary sources. We actually had about 10 more pages of footnotes that we lost due a computer crash and subsequent document recovery. Sad story....
I was referring to your statement from before: "They are not academic books, though they could be. I'd just have to add about 50 more pages of citations."
And my first thought was that it a) would make them quotable in other works and b) that it would be very fun to run a game and tell people that your setting book is an "academic work":tongue:.

You mean the chapter on Poland?
Yes, and especially the fact that it's called "Sarmatian lands":grin:.
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
I was referring to your statement from before: "They are not academic books, though they could be. I'd just have to add about 50 more pages of citations."
And my first thought was that it a) would make them quotable in other works and b) that it would be very fun to run a game and tell people that your setting book is an "academic work":tongue:.
yes, I agree, and well, it basically is. Certainly it's been the basis of four peer reviewed academic articles and about 15 academic lectures at various universities and museums.

As I mentioned, we had a lot more citations, and lost almost ten pages of them, I've started to put them back in but it's a tedious and time consuming process. If we had all 50 pages of those it would also add about 25% to the printing cost and make the already fairly large and heavy printed version a bit too thick, we might have to reconfigure it into three volumes instead of two.

But the distinction I was making is, the bibliography is still in there, and the book itself quotes extensively from the sources in direct translations, it's just we only have a bout 10% of the citations we'd need to call it an academic work. So in this sense it's a bit like an encyclopedia sized Osprey book.


Yes, and especially the fact that it's called "Sarmatian lands":grin:.

This is the Germans kind of mis-understanding the Poles own nascent mythology / creation myth, which had significant political angles, which they called "Sarmatism". I think the idea of Sarmatism was to create a foundation myth for Poland which made them clearly distinct from both German / French Latin Europe and Russian / Ruthenian origins.


Sarmatism had it's own fashion and slang and everything. I also defined the unique nature of the (proportionally very large) lower nobility in Poland, the szlachta. In Poland and parts of Lithuania the (technical) nobility were as much as 1/5 of the population. Compared to most other parts of Europe where it was more like 1% or say, in France, 0.01%

 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
10,818
Reaction score
12,137
yes, I agree, and well, it basically is. Certainly it's been the basis of four peer reviewed academic articles and about 15 academic lectures at various universities and museums.

As I mentioned, we had a lot more citations, and lost almost ten pages of them, I've started to put them back in but it's a tedious and time consuming process. If we had all 50 pages of those it would also add about 25% to the printing cost and make the already fairly large and heavy printed version a bit too thick, we might have to reconfigure it into three volumes instead of two.
Well...I use PDFs, the additional weight wouldn't even register:grin:!

But the distinction I was making is, the bibliography is still in there, and the book itself quotes extensively from the sources in direct translations, it's just we only have a bout 10% of the citations we'd need to call it an academic work. So in this sense it's a bit like an encyclopedia sized Osprey book.
Amusingly, I thought about Osprey, but decided not to mention it, since your book actually seems aimed at a different market. But then Osprey are publishing RPGs these days...:thumbsup:.

This is the Germans kind of mis-understanding the Poles own nascent mythology / creation myth, which had significant political angles, which they called "Sarmatism". I think the idea of Sarmatism was to create a foundation myth for Poland which made them clearly distinct from both German / French Latin Europe and Russian / Ruthenian origins.

Yes, but I just sent it to a Polish friend and suggested he should use it to make a fantasy setting with proto-Sarmatian outriders and proto-German knights...

Sarmatism had it's own fashion and slang and everything. I also defined the unique nature of the (proportionally very large) lower nobility in Poland, the szlachta. In Poland and parts of Lithuania the (technical) nobility were as much as 1/5 of the population. Compared to most other parts of Europe where it was more like 1% or say, in France, 0.01%

Well, in Spain of the same period the hidalgos, which were the kinda-analogue of the szlachtichi (technically noble, but lower nobility) were also very numerous. I seem to remember about 10%?
Either way, I like this kind of settings. A member of the lower nobility, without a taler in his pocket for a second day in a row, but walking proudly, insisting on his honour being preserved, and not showing the pangs of hunger, is a real figure I like.
Maybe I'm just weird that way, but whatever. This is the right side for us weirdos:angel:!
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
Well...I use PDFs, the additional weight wouldn't even register:grin:!
yes, it's not something you'd need to worry about, I shouldn't gripe about such things in public, but it's tricky to maintain separate versions of the same book.
Amusingly, I thought about Osprey, but decided not to mention it, since your book actually seems aimed at a different market. But then Osprey are publishing RPGs these days...:thumbsup:.
Originally, an Osprey type book was kind of what I was going for. And initially (before I published) it was a small pamphlet sized book like one of theirs. As the book grew however and we got hold of some nice primary sources (like an English translation of the annales of Jan Długosz) a professor friend convinced me to start putting in heavy layers of citations. Then we had the computer mishap and now I'm back to taking books down off the shelf and looking up page numbers putting a few more in every so often.

But the bibliography is there, and the text is full of direct quotes and imagery of the actual "thing" under discussion, or period artwork. I like to let the sources speak for themselves as much as possible.

Yes, but I just sent it to a Polish friend and suggested he should use it to make a fantasy setting with proto-Sarmatian outriders and proto-German knights...
Some Poles I know still believe in Sarmatism!

Well, in Spain of the same period the hidalgos, which were the kinda-analogue of the szlachtichi (technically noble, but lower nobility) were also very numerous. I seem to remember about 10%?
That's a good point about Spain. They are an interesting case in that for example they never really created a burgher estate like they did in Central Europe, but rather made prominent town citizens into a special kind of petty nobility. France did the same thing but much later (reign of Louis XIV). This is one reason why 'bourgeois' has a kind of snooty connotation while 'bürger' has sort of a stodgy connotation.

In Poland, as I guess you know, what happened was they converted to Christianity fairly late (9th C) and were right away involved in fighting on the frontier with pagans, steppe nomads and others. So the feudalization process was never completed, and rather than being disarmed (as so many were in say, France) many of the old tribal clans had to be recruited directly into the fighting, and were thus able to bargain for rights. hence the Szlachta.

But as you note in Spain, and I think Portugal, and in fact in many other smaller regions around Europe, there were many exceptions to the ideal of the feudal world set forth in the French notion of the three estates. In Central Europe and Italy you had the burghers. In Scandinavia and Switzerland, parts of Germany and Lithuania and so on, in addition to burghers, the bauern or peasants retained so many rights that the wealthier ones were effectively gentry. Even in England you had the yeoman farmers who were the backbone of their longbow archers, and a 'gentleman' mercantile class in the towns.

Either way, I like this kind of settings. A member of the lower nobility, without a taler in his pocket for a second day in a row, but walking proudly, insisting on his honour being preserved, and not showing the pangs of hunger, is a real figure I like.
Maybe I'm just weird that way, but whatever. This is the right side for us weirdos:angel:!

Yeah, it is more fun for me too. I think most people really prefer the "zero to hero" and "fantasy superhero" type genres. But for me, I like the world of the only slightly better than the ordinary folks. People who still do have to worry about where they are going to eat tomorrow and where they will find shelter to lay their weary head at night... and who can't be certain they can kill any robber who accosts them on the road.

This is the basis for the great "low fantasy" fiction which was also important in the genres which influenced RPGs: Jack Vance, the original Robert E Howard Conan novels, Fritz Leiber and so on. These are the kinds of stories I personally find most fun. And these are the kinds which you can really sink your teeth into in an historical setting. We also assume a little big of magic and mystery in our 'historical' setting, but based essentially on what the people of the period believed was true and real: Mysterious angels and celestial spirits, trolls in the forest, necromancy of scholars, the cantrips of hedge witches and cunning folk, the fey, the powers of saintly relics and shrines, and of course, demons and devils, rather than modern high fantasy tropes.

You can of course set up a game among princes and royal palaces, but there are a few more constraints you have to deal with in that kind of setting. The Hidalgo without a thaler in his pocket has many worries, but he can pretty much go in any direction he wants!
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
10,818
Reaction score
12,137
yes, it's not something you'd need to worry about, I shouldn't gripe about such things in public, but it's tricky to maintain separate versions of the same book.
No, I appreciated the explanation. I was just saying why it never occurred to me!

Originally, an Osprey type book was kind of what I was going for. And initially (before I published) it was a small pamphlet sized book like one of theirs. As the book grew however and we got hold of some nice primary sources (like an English translation of the annales of Jan Długosz) a professor friend convinced me to start putting in heavy layers of citations. Then we had the computer mishap and now I'm back to taking books down off the shelf and looking up page numbers putting a few more in every so often.
...remembering how writing the bibliography for my Master's degree's work was the hardest part of writing the whole thing, I can only empathize!

But the bibliography is there, and the text is full of direct quotes and imagery of the actual "thing" under discussion, or period artwork. I like to let the sources speak for themselves as much as possible.
Yes, it's an approach I appreciate. I admit I haven't followed the bibliography yet (nor finished reading it, for that matter, for various reasons...), but remember, we were discussing your statement. OK, at this point I'm repeating my previous post, so I'm just going to cut this topic short:shade:.

Some Poles I know still believe in Sarmatism!
I know, but he ain't one of them. It's a joke that makes sense in context and for the audience it was intended for...so, like many other jokes, I guess (including some Shakespearean ones).
That's a good point about Spain. They are an interesting case in that for example they never really created a burgher estate like they did in Central Europe, but rather made prominent town citizens into a special kind of petty nobility. France did the same thing but much later (reign of Louis XIV). This is one reason why 'bourgeois' has a kind of snooty connotation while 'bürger' has sort of a stodgy connotation.

In Poland, as I guess you know, what happened was they converted to Christianity fairly late (9th C) and were right away involved in fighting on the frontier with pagans, steppe nomads and others. So the feudalization process was never completed, and rather than being disarmed (as so many were in say, France) many of the old tribal clans had to be recruited directly into the fighting, and were thus able to bargain for rights. hence the Szlachta.
Yup, it's even the X century, 966. Though I'd note that the "fairly late" part still made me chuckle... that's only a century after my own people (864 AD) and in the same century as some of the earliest attempts to Christianize Scandinavia. 10th century was the time of King Haakon the Good, and he didn't exactly win popularity contests with those attempts...:angel:

But as you note in Spain, and I think Portugal, and in fact in many other smaller regions around Europe, there were many exceptions to the ideal of the feudal world set forth in the French notion of the three estates.
Well, I think it's for much the same reasons as in Poland - and it lead to the other similarity, I'd argue. I mean, the Reconquista was kinda similar to the "fighting with pagans, steppe nomads and others" and probably created a similar dynamic. Too, it was probably better not to tell returning veterans from the Reconquista that they should disarm and stop wearing swords...purely my speculation, of course!

In Central Europe and Italy you had the burghers. In Scandinavia and Switzerland, parts of Germany and Lithuania and so on, in addition to burghers, the bauern or peasants retained so many rights that the wealthier ones were effectively gentry. Even in England you had the yeoman farmers who were the backbone of their longbow archers, and a 'gentleman' mercantile class in the towns.
Yes. Feodalism is the system of exceptions, wasn't it?
Yeah, it is more fun for me too. I think most people really prefer the "zero to hero" and "fantasy superhero" type genres.
Well...I have almost no use for "zero to hero" and I have other systems and settings for "fantasy superhero", when I want to play it. But the majority of my characters have been firmly in the "real people" camp - even those that were fantasy to begin with.
Of course, when I say "real people"...Salvatore Fabris, Von Auerswald and Fiore dei Liberi were real people, too. Same goes for Carranza, Thybault and Musashi.
But for me, I like the world of the only slightly better than the ordinary folks. People who still do have to worry about where they are going to eat tomorrow and where they will find shelter to lay their weary head at night... and who can't be certain they can kill any robber who accosts them on the road.
Yeah, that's me as well. See my examples, above...I prefer those kind of characters.
Many people try to emulate swaschbuckling litterature - forgetting altogether that it was written on the basis of the memoires of D'Artagnan...and me, I ask "why emulate derivatives":tongue:!

This is the basis for the great "low fantasy" fiction which was also important in the genres which influenced RPGs: Jack Vance, the original Robert E Howard Conan novels, Fritz Leiber and so on. These are the kinds of stories I personally find most fun. And these are the kinds which you can really sink your teeth into in an historical setting. We also assume a little big of magic and mystery in our 'historical' setting, but based essentially on what the people of the period believed was true and real: Mysterious angels and celestial spirits, trolls in the forest, necromancy of scholars, the cantrips of hedge witches and cunning folk, the fey, the powers of saintly relics and shrines, and of course, demons and devils, rather than modern high fantasy tropes.
Yup, kinda like Aquelarre - another game I want to run some day (because I know the odds that someone is going to run it for me and I don't like them).

But I'm contempleting to some day tell my players "no wizards in chargen, but magic exists in the setting, except I'm not telling you how it works", and then make them believe that there is magic...when in fact we're going to just be playing normal people. Hey, it worked for medieval charlatans...:grin:

You can of course set up a game among princes and royal palaces, but there are a few more constraints you have to deal with in that kind of setting. The Hidalgo without a thaler in his pocket has many worries, but he can pretty much go in any direction he wants!
Indeed. Though I don't mind princesses and palaces, my players often prefer having that freedom.
And the hidalgo, if a true hidalgo, only has one worry - that his honour be conserved!
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
Thank you for the kind words sir.

I see you know your fencing masters!

When i say converted 'fairly late' I mean relative to those places which were firmly part of the Roman Empire. It's perhaps more of an issue in the Anglophone world. The British tend to assume that everyone was a Christian - except the Vikings - as soon as they were, which was comparatively early. American perception of history is inherited from the British, for better and worse.

Never played it yet, but I love Aquelarre, they made an English translation of it, which I bought in PDF, though I haven't read it yet (500+ pages!)

I wish I had the budget to hire their artists(s) to do some art for me. They do incredible, magnificent images.

I also think that high medieval or even Carolingian period are equally interesting times to the late medieval; the advantage of the latter though is that there is an immense quantity of records and written resources... and art.. which really helps flesh it out. As long as you stay away from Scotland! :tongue:
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
10,818
Reaction score
12,137
Thank you for the kind words sir.

I see you know your fencing masters!
You're welcome.
And yes, I'm a (somewhat lapsed, but looking to return) HEMAist, so I should know them...:grin:

When i say converted 'fairly late' I mean relative to those places which were firmly part of the Roman Empire. It's perhaps more of an issue in the Anglophone world. The British tend to assume that everyone was a Christian - except the Vikings - as soon as they were, which was comparatively early. American perception of history is inherited from the British, for better and worse.
Sure, but I'm Bulgarian. And for our part of the world, 9th century was actually pretty early...though we got translations to Bulgarian within the same century, long before most places that were "firmly part of the Roman empire":angel:.

Different perceptions are different, no surprise there.

Never played it yet, but I love Aquelarre, they made an English translation of it, which I bought in PDF, though I haven't read it yet (500+ pages!)

I joined the KS, much to nobody's surprise. I need to re-read it, though...and as you noted, it's not an easy task.
And I'm firmly with you on their artists.

I also think that high medieval or even Carolingian period are equally interesting times to the late medieval; the advantage of the latter though is that there is an immense quantity of records and written resources... and art.. which really helps flesh it out. As long as you stay away from Scotland! :tongue:
Well yes, my interests aren't actually towards the late medieval period - I much prefer 12-13th century and before. But I entertain diversions in later eras as well...much like the way I also play and run games in Ancient China.

I want to frame these and put them on my wall

AQ1.jpg


AQ2.jpg
People might misunderstand you, though...:thumbsup:
 

Peter Von Danzig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Messages
65
Reaction score
131
Where I live Voodoo is considered fairly mundane, so I doubt people would judge me much... ;)
 
Last edited:
Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Top