Archive for March, 2018

18th century map of China

March 22, 2018 Leave a comment

I should really keep my secrets to myself but this is too good not to share: an 18th century map of China, which I’m currently ripping off shamelessly to stand in as a map of somewhere else at a totally different scale for Counter-colonial Heistrcrawl.

…I will draw a proper campaign map for my game eventually. But for a little while my players will have to make do…

the early P&O shipping company, its strange characters

March 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Reading a paper about the early history of the P&O shipping company. It is full of amazing characters:
the Assistant Secretary to the Treasury, Charles Trevelyan… famous in his earlier career for his intelligence, diligence, high principles, inflexible conscience, ferocity as a pig-sticker and drive to “do violence to all that was idle, wasteful and ungodly”

Then there’s the superbly named Thomas Waghorn, a man with grandiose ideas but little sense of his own ignorance or shortcomings. Relying upon his skill as a publicist, he put it about that he was “the pioneer” and “originator” of the overland route [but] …he had “never set his foot on board a steamer on the waters of the Red Sea” …and had “no shadow of a claim” to be the pioneer or the originator. Other contemporaries tended to mistake Waghorn’s restlessness and huge reservoir of energy (some of it quickly turning into uncontrollable violence) for new and useful projects.

remember when Javanese women stopped the Mongols?

March 19, 2018 Leave a comment

In response to Jeff Rients’s post about trying to reconstruct why he ordered a book from interlibrary loan, I have both this and the reverse problem. That is, sometimes I run across a note telling me to go check out a book and I can’t think what mere professional distraction could’ve kept me from doing so weeks ago…

Whoever designed Europe well understood the value of a choke point

March 19, 2018 Leave a comment

Have you ever considered the peculiar tactical opportunities offered by a map of the world? The ithsmuses of Suez, Panama, Kra? The choke points and straits – that perfect little murder hole in the Sea of Marmara, between the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles? The fact that, to get to the Sea of Azov from the ocean, you have to pass 4 straits narrow enough to fire cannons across? That if you start in the Gulf of Finland you can make yourself master of the northeast Baltic but you’d still have to fight past three defensible straits and a host of estuaries superbly adapted to piracy or smuggling to reach the Atlantic? To say nothing of the riches of Italy and India being tucked behind mountain ranges big enough to conceal mercenary kingdoms? The entire coast of Africa and its placement, perfectly athwart the path between Europe and the spices it thought could ward off the plague?*

I put it to you that if there is a god, he’s very probably a wargamer.

One for Humza K: the Sindbad Coast

March 16, 2018 Leave a comment

One for Humza K, as I hunt for Chinese maps of Java:

…the picture comes from an architecture school symposium poster so of course there’s no credit, but I thought it was interesting for:
1. the enormously greater attention paid to the mainland coast than to some crappy little islands the shape of which doesn’t matter
2. the 2 different styles of ship (junk and ??? like they look European but could just as easily be Mappilas or Arabs)
3. the worms on a plank feel of the ships’ orientation.
4. whatever that blue hairy thing is in the bottom left.

In response to Patrick Stuart’s Processions post

March 15, 2018 Leave a comment

Somehow I can’t comment properly on Patrick Stuart’s Processions post, so I’m going to try putting what I wrote into a post of my own. This is totally not a cheap hijacking of his work, no matter what it may look like.

Some supplementary visuals:
Emperor Maximilian I’s Monumental Triumphal Procession only ever existed in print. In best DnD style it’s a collection that’s been cut up and bits of it have been lost and a controversial few of the plates are by Albrecht Durer. Really I don’t know why there isn’t a WFRP supplement about it already:

Carnival in Brazil isn’t just a giant party. It also features a heavily symbolic procession competition.
– there’s a special building in Rio made for viewing the biggest of these, which also confirms Rio as the kind of spiritual heart of the country:
Armies of people work full time on the costumes, choreography, recruiting the “king and queen” of their bloco, developing themes that produce (in Marxian lingo) the identity of their polity and tell stories in dance about their concerns. Districts, cities, martial arts schools, religious sects and workers’ associations all put out blocos to represent them. For instance, the “sons of Gandhi” are a loose elective affinity of working people based around the stevedores and prostitutes of Salvador da Bahia:
The character and comportment of the carnival bloco, like that of the football team, communicates the self-image of the polity. The Filhos de Gandhy are extremely dignified, sober and serious.

The 17 Contrade of the tiny (now pseudo-)Renaissance town of Siena turn out a dozen times a year to promote their little districts against all the others for the annual horse race around the central square. Horses are blessed in distruct churches, riders selected, sometimes they parade at odd times just to annoy the residents of other districts. Notable partly for the elaborateness and colour of their costumes and standards, partly for the real dangers to horses, riders and spectators, and partly for the extreme wackiness of their heraldry:

Just when I think I have a handle on things, it turns out that Daoists and Calvinists have something in common after all:

March 14, 2018 Leave a comment

Just when I think I have a handle on things, it turns out that Daoists and Calvinists have something in common after all:
The Shangqing revelations …spoke of the Shangqing heaven, which stood above what had been previously considered the highest heaven by Celestial Master Taoists. [The] revelations consisted of visitations from the residents of this heaven (the “Zhenren”) many of whom were ancestors of a circle of aristocrats from southern China. These Zhenren spoke of an apocalypse which was to arrive in 384, and claimed that only certain people from this aristocratic circle had been chosen to be saved.
(for Zach Marx Weber, Kyrinn S. Eis, Maxime Golubchik)