All posts by Mark

Rothgogen’s Tower – Blanca Rothgogen and Franke Kauffman

This post adds some more background depth to my post about the NPC Victor von Ferlangen, and his interest in Rothgogen’s Tower.

Blanca Rothgogen

Blanca Rothgogen is a demonologist and previous owner of the tower. Rothgogen’s Tower.  

Blanca was born over a hundred years ago. She was a wealthy heiress who murdered all of the suitors her father selected for, and eventually killed him, so inheriting a fortune. As she kept trying to run away from her family, she was imprisoned in a tower on a remote family estate. Suitors visited her there. But none ever returned. The father lost contact with the estate – no one came back so visited himself. Blanca had discovered a small warpstone jewel and the tower’s library contained tomes on how to use it. The servants and guards had been mutated by her and turned to her will. Her father was appalled, but did not have time to do anything about it. 

A few weeks later, Blanca made her last trip down from the Howling Hills, visiting Delberz to claim her father’s fortune. With his wealth safely secured, she and her strange adherents retreated to the Tower.  

Rothgogen is a merchant family with the main house in Delberz. It was sold by Blanca as were all of the family’s assets.  

The story got around to avoid the Tower and Blanca Rothgogen in general. Suitors lost interest, but it is said that some bounty hunters and witch hunters ventured into the hills to investigate. None ever returned.  

Blanca continued her studies uninterrupted. She had her freedom at last, but did not know what to do with it. She was perhaps insane—abuse from her father and the proximity to Warpstone had driven her to seek revenge over mankind—men in particular being anathema to her. One of her first acts was to kill all the male servants. She made it seem like an accident—a Beastman and Mutant Gang were invited by her to the estate and did the deed, sparing the women. She recruited them to be her new guards secretly. They and their descendants prowl the hills nearby and intercept any who come near the Tower. Blanca promised the women who remained a sanctuary from men, and when required sent trusted agents to recruit new servants from villages and towns – tempting away women who were downtrodden and abused by their menfolk. In return her favoured agents became initiated into her chaos cults. Those who followed her, treated her almost like a demi-god. All her servants were treated fairly under her rule, and were free from the abuses of men. Those who missed male company were allowed to take men prisoner for a short term to satisfy their lusts in Slaanesh-inspired orgies, or to take pleasure from each other. Blanca had no such yearnings herself, but tolerated those who did.  

But things could not last. Blanca was getting older, and even her pacts with demons could not sustain her. In her dying wish she passed rulership of the Tower and her secrets to a young apprentice, Franke Kauffman. Franke had arrived ten years ago, fleeing an unhappy marriage to a noble from Ostland (Victor von Ferlangen).  Franke knew what she wanted to do—she didn’t want to wait around in the Tower for ever. She had business to attend to in the outside world—a score to settle with her husband.  

Franke fell in love with the handsome Victor when she first met him, but his pleasant and dashing personality was all an illusion to win a pretty bride, and her fat dowry from her merchant father. Through further tricks, Victor conned her family out of all their wealth in order to sustain his own extravagant and curiously expensive lifestyle. This drove Franke’s father to drink and early grave. When she took issue with Victor, he verbally abused her and told her to be quiet. Eventually she had enough and fled. Her only regret being that she could not take her sons with her.  

Franke knew that Victor dabbled in magic and decided to use that as a way of tempting him to the Tower. He didn’t care anymore about getting her back, but when he received her letter he was interested. However, Franke did not reckon with her husband’s powers. He came and soon defeated her in a magical duel, leaving her suspended between death and life (her body is sustained only by a powerful warpstone force—Victor thinks she is dead). Victor left the area when he realised a chaos creature was in the tower –doubting even his own powers, which had been sapped by the duel. Instead, he decided to send a company of mercenaries back to the Tower to salvage what they could—hopefully avoiding the creature. However, if they can defeat it that would be even better as it means he could take ownership of the place.

Victor von Ferlangen – a Wizardly NPC for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

I have been working on an NPC for a homebrew WFRP adventure. He is a major patron for a party – especially if that party has a wizard’s apprentice or scholar in need of a tutor. I will provide some more details about the adventure on this site soon!

Background

Victor von Ferlangen originates from Ostland, a scion of a baronial family with holdings near the town of Ferlangen in Ostland. 

Victor is young for a Wizard. He learnt quickly from a powerful master when only a young teenager. He had an uncle, Berat von Ferlangen, who was an Illusionist of great power. This uncle took him under his wing after seeing Victor’s natural aptitude. Victor is grateful for what his uncle did for him and feels the same desire to take on his own pupils. 

Yet, his uncle also tried to teach him to use his gifts wisely and to hide his powers – that’s why his uncle chose to be an illusionist.  Victor resented this restriction as a boy – why should he not use his powers? To become rich for example? His family is poor by noble standards – their estate being inadequate to support them. 

He argued with his uncle and went his own way. His uncle retired – some think he is dead – but he’d had enough of his precocious student. He’s hidden away in the Middle Mountains. His older sister, Magritta, inherited the family’s holdings, but control of it went to her husband, Hermann von Blödhofen—an arrogant knight. Victor hated him and used magical powers to do away with him—his sister has never spoken of it but she knows that he did it for her. As a widow she runs the estate and looks after Victor’s sons. 

Victor’s wife, Franke Kauffmann—a fellow student (and Noble) he met in Altdorf—died of a chaos plague – her death lead Victor to have an interest in the forces of chaos and how they might be harnessed. He wishes he could have saved her–perhaps he can bring her back even? Does she still live in some afterlife? These mysteries interest him and he’s obsessed with finding out the workings of magic and the gods. So much so, that he’s willing to use any means to get to that knowledge and holds others’ lives in low regard. After all chaos will take us all eventually, so what does it matter? But some people (his close family for instance) are more important than that—they can transcend the forces of chaos. He knows that magic is a powerful thing and believes that the chosen can resist chaos—maybe even bend it to their will. 

But to do this he needs to get out of the mainstream of Empire life – somewhere like Rothgogen’s Tower could be an ideal place. He knows that it holds a repository of books and also, he hopes, magical items. It might be just a tad dangerous though, so if someone else can clear it out and do the dirty work, that would be ideal. If there are any scholars amongst the PCs he encounters, then he would consider taking them as pupils, if they seem pliable enough, and talented enough. His hunger for knowledge is so insatiable, he will take whatever scraps he can, however small.  

Personality 

Young and handsome, and appearing like a rich Imperial noble, at first glance Victor might appear to be a spoilt, vain young man. But there is a deeply serious side to him. He cultivates a flippant personality on purpose so that he’s not taken too seriously or perceived as a danger—his sister’s husband just thought he was a vain idiot, and look what happened to him!  

In reality he is very sharp-witted and focused on what he wants, and it excites him to come up with intricate plots to lure others in and to get his way.   

For WFRP 1st edition, Victor is a Level 3 Wizard and Level 4 Illusionist. I will add stats and spells at a later date – probably as a download, and also work out his stats for 4th edition as well!

What I’m Writing at the Moment – December 2018

For those of you who follow my writing and publishing, here’s what I am working on at the moment:

Just finished editing a short story called Helix Intercalculator. This short story is set on the planet Ladmas. It has a fantasy style setting, but in the strictest sense this is a science fiction story – the world was created by scientists as an experiment. I am currently sending this story out to magazines in the hope of it getting it published. If none of them take it up I will self-publish it. I wrote about fixing his story in a previous blog post. 

Also I am editing another short story – Broken Lance, which like The Dragon of Borvoli, is set in a Dark Ages setting. This one is inspired by Arthurian literature. Once finished, I will be sending this one out as well.

After that I will focus on finishing the editing of the fourth volume of Stonehearted. Would like to complete that before the end of the year, and publish it early 2019.

Not One but Two New Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) adventures!

And even better they are both free!!

The wonderful bods at Cubicle 7 have released two free adventures for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th edition – an effort to keep the baying masses at bay! Cubicle 7 have produced a wonderful new edition of the WFRP rules, which fans seem to like. The only problem is that we can’t get enough of it, and things have been a little slow getting the Starter Set out. The Starter Set we now hear has as many as 11 new adventures – that’s what the ad for it says in the back of “If Looks Could Kill”. The Starer Set starts PCs off in the city of Ubersreik, and its interesting to see that Cubicle 7 are branding their adventures with different settings – so for instance If Looks Could Kill is an Ubersreik Adventure, while Night of Blood (a classic from White Dwarf that I actually recently for WFRP 1e), is branded as an Old World Adventure. I assume that the forthcoming Rough Days from Graeme Davis will be branded the same as its a remix of old material? It looks like Cubicle 7 are pleasing us old grognards with updates of old material for WFRP 4e, but also producing new material. A great approach in my opinion.

Both of these are available for free via DriveThruRPG. Here’s more info about each one and links etc!

Night of Blood is one of the most played WFRP scenarios of all time. It was originally written over thirty years ago by Jim Bambra for WFRP 1stedition, and was published in White Dwarf 87 in March 1987. Later, it was republished in the WFRP 1st edition supplement, The Restless Dead, and has been a firm fan favourite ever since.

It’s a dark, stormy night, and the forest creaks as foul creatures howl through the undergrowth. As freezing rain slices from the roiling sky and attack threatens from all sides, the desperate adventurers stumble upon the warm glow of a fortified inn. But everything isn’t as it seems, and soon the unwitting heroes face deceit, betrayal, and horror as they strive to survive a terrifying Night of Blood.

 

 

Legends claim the Beast of Ortschlamm stalked the marshes near Ubersreik for centuries. But few believe it…

When the adventurers agree to help Rutger Reuter, a charismatic, young merchant from Ubersreik, little do they realise what’s in store. What starts as a simple job guarding building supplies, soon turns to tragedy, horror, and murder. The Characters will not only need their wits about them to negotiate the double-dealing camp of Reuter and his business partners, but also the Beast they have unwittingly stirred…

Ubersreik Adventures: If Looks Could Kill is an adventure for Warhamer Fantasy Roleplay Fourth Edition, written by WFRP veteran Dave Allen. It is designed with beginner Characters in mind, and concludes in the fortress-town Ubersreik, where the Characters’ adventures can continue with the WFRP Starter Set.

How to Paint Miniatures: Storing Miniatures During Painting

This post is part of a series of tips and tricks that I use when painting miniature figures. I don’t profess to be an expert, but I always find it useful to find out how other people do things, so I thought I would share what works for me as well.

What is this post about?

I’m not writing here about how to store your miniatures once you have painted them – that’s a whole different thing, but rather the best way to keep your miniatures dust free and safe between painting sessions. I usually paint a miniature over a period of several days – one day I will prime, the next basecoat, the next shade, then do layers or drybrushing and finally basing, which can take a few days in itself.

I don’t have a dedicated place where I can leave my miniatures and painting equipment in between sessions. And even if I did I don’t think I’d want to leave partly finished figures open to the elements – dust for instance, and even worse the ravages of small children and pets!

How I protect my miniatures in between sessions

After just leaving miniatures on a bookshelf, I soon decided I needed a better solution to storage between painting sessions. First off I put an upturned water pot over the figure I was painting. This was Ok but not great when painting more than one figure. The next solution I tried was very small cardboard boxes – some had previously held watches, iPhones, jewelry and other unimportant items. None of these really did the job – especially with regards to height when miniatures were mounted on wine bottle tops for painting (more of that another time!)

I released that I would a proper solution, and I came across the amazing Really Useful Storage Box company and their great range. They do secure and sturdy see-through plastic boxes in pretty much any size you want. They are also sold in several outlets now in the UK, such as WH Smiths, Rymans and others, so quite easy to get hold of.

I chose the 0.7 litre box for what I needed, but if you were painting smaller or bigger miniatures then you could probably find something suitable. So far it’s worked pretty well. The main issue I have though is stopping the miniatures bouncing around. At the moment I am using blocks of Lego to brace the figures in place. If you have other solutions then let me know!

By the Sword’s Edge (Stonehearted 1) Free eBook

As the Stonehearted series nears completion I have decided to make the first book in the series free to download as an eBook.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can now get this in Kindle or ePub format from most of the normal eBook retailers. More details below.

Other books in the series will now by 99c or 99p or equivalent in other currencies, so if you like the first book in the series it will be really easy and affordable to read the others.

By The Sword's Edge CoverBy The Sword’s Edge, Volume 1 of Stonehearted

Words: c. 17,000
Pages: 74 (print)

Get a free eBook at: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

And other Amazon stores!

Get a free eBook at: Google PlaySmashwords | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

By The Sword’s Edge is the first volume of Stonehearted, a serialized novel.

When the cut from the blade runs deep – You need a heart of Stone

In 1370 two families are thrust together by the harsh realities of war. Lady d’Aubray holds Sarbrook castle, but has sold nearly everything to pay the ransom of her husband, who was captured in France over a decade ago. Eolande d’Aubray, the missing lord’s daughter, is desperate for her father to return. She remembers little of him, but she does know that he is the only man who can rescue her from an unwanted marriage.

William Stone has bought much of the d’Aubray estate having made a fortune as a cloth merchant, and is looking forward to seeing his two sons move up in the world. For his eldest, Richard, he hopes to make squire to Sir Robert Knolles, commander of the English army set to invade France this summer, as long as he can pay the consideration demanded by Knolles. But when Knolles and his ambitious captain, Minsterworth, visit the Stone’s to agree their terms, a tragic series of events destroys the Stone’s world forever.

For Richard Stone there is only one place to find peace.

In war.

For a Heart Made of Stone Cover Image Reveal

I am really looking forward to publishing the fourth and final volume of the Stonehearted series – always great to finish something off and will be nice to have a complete series of books to promote as well. For those of you who have been following the story, I hope that you like the ending.

I will be posting a few bits and pieces about volume 4, For a Heart Made of Stone, over the next few weeks. But for now here’s the cover image I am planning to use. A different character from the story this time – can you guess who it is?

Getting Details Right in Historical Fiction

Getting the details write right in historical fiction can be challenging for so many reasons. For a start we often don’t know what life was like exactly in the past – or the facts themselves are up for debate. For instance is it really the case that people in the middle ages had bad teeth? They didn’t have toothpaste, but neither did they have food with as much unrefined sugar as we have today – so maybe tooth decay wasn’t so much of a problem!

However, there are some basic facts which it should be able to fact check and get right. One of my bugbears in historical fiction is where things that couldn’t be present or said appear. For instance I read quite a good murder mystery set in the mid-14th century recently. There was lots of good stuff on social conditions, labour costs etc that made me feel that the author really had done their research and got into the details of the period.

But then the characters started drinking Maderia wine, and Brandy.

What!

When I read that I was puzzled. I didn’t know for sure that this was wrong, but certainly alarm bells were ringing. From my knowledge of the Middle Ages the main drinks would be beer for the lower classes, or day to day drink, and wine for the better off. Now the types of wine might vary, but pretty much characters in 14th century England would be drinking wine, and probably red wine. I’d never come across brandy or Madeira wine being drunk in a book about the Middle Ages, or a work written in the Middle Ages. And with good reason.

The Island of Madeira wasn’t even discovered until Portuguese explorers started sailing south towards Africa in the 15th century.

And brandy also wasn’t produced in large quantities until the late 15th century.

This might be nit-picking, but for me those two errors cast doubts on the rest of the story for me. I still enjoyed the book – the characters and plot were entertaining, but the historical foundations of it feel a bit flimsy and lacking in veracity. The mistakes trivialized the detail of research in the other areas of the story, which was a real shame.

What are your thoughts on getting details right in historical fiction. Does it make your skin crawl when you spot a glaring mistake?

Time’s Arrow – Now Published!

Sorry for the delay in getting this out – there was a bit of a delay with some of the distribution channels, but Time’s Arrow is now available as an eBook globally!

In the far future Time Travel is a reality. A researcher uses it to go back in time to the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. William Chan finds much that he would expect—English archers raining arrows on the heads of heavily armed French knights, mood and blood. But there is an unexpected turn of events that have far-reaching consequences.

Time’s Arrow is a time-travelling short story with a historical fantasy theme.

Available to Purchase at:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Other Amazon Stores
Smashwords | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Time’s Arrow – Free Excerpt

Following on from my posts about Time’s Arrow and the cover reveal, here’s a free excerpt from my new short story.

I hope you enjoy the read and if you do stay tuned for details about how you can buy a copy of the story.

Times’s Arrow by Mark Lord

William Chan punched the number 1415 into the time machine. And followed it with the month of October and the day was 25. St. Crispin’s Day, 1415. The Battle of Agincourt. He breathed deeply, feeling the blood pump through his veins. He looked down at what he wore. A leather jerkin with a white badge and a red cross sown above his heart, green legged-hose, leather boots, a buckler shield, arrows stuffed into his belt and held together by a piece of rope on his right hip and a sword in a scabbard on his left. He stepped forward onto the central plate in the chamber of the machine. He adjusted the helmet strap under his chin and pealed back the woolen sleeve covering his wrist. He kept his finger pressed on a small button on the small black device strapped there and waited until the L.E.D. showed the time he wanted. Nine o’clock. Just half an hour, he hoped, before the first French attack. That should give him enough time to get a good vantage of the battle from the cover of the woods.  

A green light flashed on the device, waiting for him. He pressed another button and held it down until the green light stopped flashing and was a solid green. 

# 

The G.P.S. should have placed him perfectly into the woods where he could watch undisturbed. But it didn’t. He was standing in a ploughed field behind a large mass of men. They were archers like him, like he was pretending to be. They were all facing away from him and most were busy with large stakes of wood, driving them with mallets or pushing them, getting their whole weight behind them so that they sank into the earth. They were building an impenetrable fence between themselves and the French mounted knights. A single line of stakes, William noted, not stakes in front of each man reaching in every ranks. That was one question answered. 

“Archer! Where’s your bow? Find it and get into the ranks.” 

William turned. Behind him was a grey-bearded man-at-arms riding a huge horse. He waved a rod at William and pointed towards the archers in front of them. 

“Deserters will be hung.” The man nudged the flanks of his horse with his plate armored heals and the beast moved threateningly towards William. Just then there was a blast of a trumpet and the man looked towards his right, towards the centre of the English army. 

William looked too. There he could see what he knew was a pitifully small number of dismounted men-at-arms. He couldn’t make them out properly across the flat field, but he knew that arrayed in the centre of the English army there would be three units, or battles, of men-at-arms; a mix of belted knights, squires and common soldiers, anyone with enough money to afford proper armor and the horses that were required. But the English men-at-arms hardly ever fought on horseback these days. Their usual strategy was to dismount and wait for their French enemies to attack. The English archers positioned on the flanks would pepper the approaching French hordes with arrows, breaking up their formations and then the English, hopefully fighting with the advantage of a hill or from behind some prepared defenses would break the enemy with their pole-axes, their cut-down lances and their swords. And here, near the small chateau of Agincourt, would occur the epitome of the English victory against the odds. Only a thousand English men-at-arms, with perhaps four thousand archers arrayed in support on the flanks, all hungry and tired from a desperate march across northern France and many suffering from the rigors of dysentery, their bowels opening without any self-control. This rag-tag of an army against the pride of French chivalry, over ten thousand men-at-arms on foot, drawn up in three great lines of attack with a thousand mounted men-at-arms on the flanks ready to disperse the English archers. But what should have been forlorn hope for the English was to be their greatest victory, with only 112 dead they would leave seven thousand French dead on the field and within five years Henry V, the English King, would have forced them into a peace that would hand him the crown of France upon the death of King Charles VI of France. 

William licked his lips. It was an amazing prospect, and no-one from the 22nd century had ever seen it before. 

The trumpet blared again and the man on horseback turned his horse to watch. William looked across at the banners. He could see one massive banner of cloth bearing Henry’s arms, the leopards of England quartered with the fleur-de-lis of France. He watched as the banner was raised up in the air and pointed forward. Battlefield signaling in action. Something else to add to his research paper. Another first for him. 

“For flip’s sake,” growled the horseman. “We’ve only just got the bloomin’ stakes in.” William’s universal translator earpiece not only parsed Middle English, Old French and Latin into modern English, but it also, annoyingly, took most of the fun out of the swearing. 

William was no longer important to the man on the horse. William watched him ride away, taking another mental note of the man’s arms that he could now more clearly on the back of his surcoat as he rode away from him towards the unit of archers. A green shield with a number of white blobs inside it –probably representing birds. Most likely, this was Sir Thomas Erpingham, charged with commanding both wings of archers. He would be a busy man that day. 

William had nearly been caught out. But now he could make his way towards the woods and a safe place to watch the action. It had never been his intention to stand with either of the armies (especially not the French)—much too dangerous! And besides, from in the middle of the melee, would he really see much of what was going on? But a soldier’s disguise would help him get near enough. Even if he was to pose as an archer in the ranks (perhaps the least dangerous role on the English side), he would soon be shown up—there were no yew trees left in the 22nd century and his upper body muscles were certainly not strong enough to use one of the great English war-bows. 

In front of him the archers were pulling their stakes out of the ground. They would march forward several hundred yards until they were in bow range of the French and plant their stakes again and then goad the French into attacking. And the rest would be history. William walked towards the woods on the western side of the field directly to the left of the formation of archers which faced the French army in the north. He didn’t run to get his position. There was too much to take in. It was not a simple task for the archers to pull-up the stakes they had just hammered into the ground and he noticed that many were giving up. He watched one man slip in the mud as the stake he was pulling came free. The archer landed on his backside. The men around him laughed and William couldn’t help but smile. 

But the man didn’t seem to notice his comrades laughing. As he regained his feet he was staring straight at William. 

“Oi! What are you looking at?” 

William looked away and started walking quickly towards the woods. 

“You, come here!” 

TO BE CONTINUED