Saturday 21 December 2013

Friday night firefight...

Now I've moved house (back to the Somerset village where I grew up) and have settled in, I've been hoping to get some RPG stuff up and running as quite a few of my old RPG gang are still in the area. As a sort of prelude to organising it all, I decided to try playing Car Wars (CW) with one of that gang, my cousin Marc. I say 'try' as neither of us has played CW since 1983 and were therefore a little rusty about how it worked...

Anyway, to start off with we made sure that we had everything we needed:

This obviously includes all of the important things - track, counters, dice, rulebooks, a turning key, and booze. We were using bits of the 1st and 2nd edition rules, but I'll get back to that point a little later on...

To start with we both chose the same vehicle, a Stinger sub-compact with default loadouts - small amounts of armour, two linked MGs up front, that's it. We laid out a strip of track and started at either end going 30 mph:

My car is the one closest to the camera
We soon close the gap without making any drastic manoeuvres, and as we both come into range the guns start blazing. We score hits on each other. Marc's first shot chews 9 points out of my Stinger's 10 points of frontal armour. Ouch. My MGs reply by gouging 6 points out of his nose.

Takka takka takka...!
As we draw even closer, we both start shooting again. This time Marc takes out my last point of front armour, wipes out both of my MGs and does 1 point of damage to my powerplant. Debris flies off my car. Oops. I try to keep in a straight line so that my nose isn't facing Marc's MGs. Marc does a hard turn...

 ...but then slightly misjudges the distance and ends up ramming me, doing 4 damage to my 8 point rear armour. Oh bugger. As I try to get away, Marc fires again, knocks out the remaining rear armour and my poor driver dies after being riddled with bullets.

So, after that little skirmish, we decide to start a new duel and pick some heftier vehicles. Marc chooses a 'Vlad The Impala' (2 linked autocannons in the front, recoiless rifle and flaming oil jet at the back) and I choose a Ventura pick-up (autocannon in the front, Vulcan MG in a top turret). Both vehicles have quite a lot of armour, so in theory this game should last longer:

It doesn't. Well, not by much. After closing again, Marc's first autocannon burst knocks large chunks out of my front armour. My autocannon doesn't do much in reply, but the Vulcan gets good hits. We then get in a pretty slow turning fight and both of us also end up having to stop and reverse to get our guns trained on each other. The damn track is too narrow! Luckily my Vulcan keeps up the pressure but Marc uses the flaming oil jet to narrow my manoeuvring options.

After lots more low-speed turning, I manage to get away from him but at the expense of losing all of the armour (30 points) on my left side. My Vulcan knocks chunks out of Marc's Impala but nothing that it can't handle. However, I misjudge a turn, end up stopping and my unprotected left side waves hello at Marc as he accelerates towards me:

I'm the guy in the green car...
My driver obviously doesn't survive the hail of autocannon rounds. Game over!

So, all in all it was good fun. But it did remind us why we didn't really get into Car Wars straight away. It also reminded me of the reason why my 14 year-old self decided to try designing a simpler car combat game back in '83 (as I've outlined in this previous blog post). Put simply, it's not really what I'd call a user-friendly game from the get-go. There was some headscratching about the rules in 1983, and the same was the case in 2013. I think this might be because the game doesn't give an example of play for different situations. Having to keep track of various different things at once can also be a bit fiddly until you get used to it.

However, it's still a great game. Maybe I'll get the most up to date version. Things seemed a little clearer in the 2nd edition rules than was the case for the first edition. I'm sure with more practice we'll (a) remember more and (b) get the hang of it...

Friday 13 December 2013

H.P. Lovecraft: Fear Of The Unknown

'H.P. Lovecraft: Fear Of The Unknown' is a documentary made in 2008. It traces the path of Lovecraft's life and work, about how each influenced the other, and the legacy that was created from that. It's also interesting because of the various people who add to this discussion - Ramsey Campbell, Neil Gaiman, and Guillermo del Toro, amongst others. Worth a look!

Monday 9 December 2013

Cthulhu is not an octopus... Part 2

Further to the post that I wrote yesterday, here's an updated scribble of Cthulhu:

This rectifies some of the details in my previous scribble, but I think it needs more work. For example, Cthulhu needs to be more rotund, his thighs need to be longer, and I think his biceps need to be flabbier...

Sunday 8 December 2013

Cthulhu is not an octopus...

Many if not all depictions of Cthulhu tend to show him as an octopus stuck on top of a man's body. Sometimes that body also seems a tad too muscly and superhero-ish, for reasons I can't quite fathom. I've never been all that sure that such depictions are Lovecraftian enough. By that I mean that they tend to be a tad too normal, for want of a better word. 

The great thing about the various creatures created and described by Lovecraft is that they are never run of the mill. Put simply, they're odd. They're a weird amalgam of things, none of which seem particularly human-like (aside perhaps from Deep Ones, but they're cross-breeds). Certain themes tend to flow through Lovecraft's monsters, some of which tend to revolve around an apparent unease with anything fish-related. Other than that, there are tentacles or odd appendages, and hints of mollusc and wings - and that's when Lovecraft isn't completely going off on his own tangent. There isn't anything overtly described as being exactly like any of these things, however. There's just hints and scrabbling by the narrator in order to make some sense of what they're seeing.

Cthulhu is not some sort of buff guy with an octopus for a head. If anything, that tends to sell the description short. One also has to bear in mind that there are drawings of Cthulhu made by Lovecraft himself, such as this one:

Derived from the Wikipedia entry on Cthulhu

The above tends to tally more closely, of course, with Lovecraft's written description. But it also adds more flesh to the idea - in more ways than one. Rather than being a muscled super guy, the surprising thing to me is that Cthulhu is a fat blob of a thing. He has multiple eyes, of a somewhat fishy nature. The legs are almost chicken-like. There are suggestions of things that one can vaguely recognise, but as a whole it's an ugly mass that reminds the viewer of certain shapes but then goes off at a typically Lovecraftian angle. He's only octopid in a very, very vague way and he certainly doesn't have the physique of a Greek god. Okay, you might say that Lovecraft wasn't a great draftsman. I'd say that works in favour of his drawing. He's boiled things down to basic shapes and the basic gist of his mental image seems to be there.

So, taking that as my cue, I decided to rustle up a quick scribble of how this all blends together in my mind:

If anything, with more refinements and redraws I think I can make it all look much more odd in a sense that lines up more with Lovecraft's sketch. My version probably needs to be fatter and more bloated, and the mass of tentacles needs to be longer. But either way it seems that by trying to match that drawing, Cthulhu ends up looking distinctly weird.

He's odd, but he's not an octopus...

Click here for Part Two

Monday 14 October 2013

Bestiary artwork

Over the summer I created 40 spot illustrations for the Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary, a Kickstarter project for BRW Games. This has recently become available (via RPGNow), way ahead of schedule and looking very nice indeed!

The brief for the artwork was that it had to follow an old-school D&D line art vibe, and that the images couldn't be larger than 3.5 x 2.25 inches. This in itself was an interesting challenge, as I had to keep things relatively concise and uncrowded visually. The use of greyscale wash wasn't strictly allowed, so I had to make sure that my line work was steered in certain directions. 

Creating 40 illustrations wasn't planned from the outset. BRW's Joe Bloch would send five descriptions to me and the other artists, and we would get a new batch when those were done and signed off by him. I ended up creating 40 simply because I was inspired by the subject matter. I found that some images were much easier to create than others, as I had an idea and then had that flow from pencil to pen to paper. Others took two or more attempts to get right before I was happy to send them along to Joe.

I guess I could have made my life a little easier if I'd not tried to draw each one within the prescribed dimensions, as I could later scale them down digitally. However, that would have made for a variation in line width from image to image and skinny lines in such small illustrations could end up being somewhat illegible. I wanted to try and have the line scale stay consistent. I also tried to work with a few different drawing styles within my own general one, and then tailored that to suit the old-school vibe. Skimming between the Monster Manual and Field Folio (especially Russ Nicholson's work in the case of the latter) helped me to sqaure everything in my head as I was working.

Here are some sample thumbnails:

Clockwise: Blindheim, Titanic Spider, Shambling Mound, and Cave Fisher

Clockwise: Deadly Slime, Flumpf, Jinx Midge, and Mimic

In some images, I tried to tell a bit of a story. In others, I wanted to keep things simple and just show the creature itself. All in all, it was a very interesting project to work on!

Saturday 5 October 2013

Trawling for treasure on Ebay

I'm currently in the process of moving out of London (I've been here for 20 years and I think that's enough), hence the lack of blog activity. Anyway, despite the stresses and strains that moving house involves, I've recently been able to track down and acquire various RPG-related goodies on Ebay. This is something I do every once in a while when the idea pops into my head, as there's various things I used to own and would like to own again, or couldn't find at some earlier point in time.

So, here's the result of the latest trawl:

A few of these things were new to me, such as the Tunnels & Trolls books. These are UK reprints published by Corgi in 1986, one of which is a rulebook for the game itself and the other is Fighting Fantasy/Choose Your Own Adventure-type book. It was only recently that I found out that there was a range of miniatures for Star Frontiers, and it was great to actually find one of the box sets. Here are a few pics of what's inside:

The level of detail on these is rather good, and it's particularly nice to see a Sathar miniature. Of note is a detail on the back of the box:

For some reason, the Yazirian figures have been labelled as 'Yazarian' (along with a TM) which seems an odd little mistake and one wonders why TSR trademarked this typo.

As for the rest of the above haul, TMNT and CyberSpace were always fun games to referee, although I don't think that I got as much mileage out of them as RPGs as I wanted to. As for the Palladium Book of Contemporary Weapons, this seemed to be a little rare back in the late '80s when we played TMNT. Maybe that was just because of a lack of stockists at the time, but it was nice to finally acquire a copy. It's an interesting book as far as being a system for the Palladium RPGs (as it bases potential damage of any given weapon on the calibre and type of bullet fired) and I'd like to see how this would work in-game.

One very recent acquisition was this '80s-era Citadel Miniatures Dwarf fighter:

When I was first introduced to D&D (as detailed in an earlier blog post) I was slightly obsessed with acquiring miniatures, despite the fact that I lacked the necessary cash to fund that obsession. Nevertheless, the various dwarves made by Citadel stood out for me, and so the above example was the first one I bought. I then decided to create my first D&D character based on his gear, and thus was born Mystichi Argonshire. Seeing the miniature again was a real Proustian moment - it immediately transported me back to my 13-year old self, which was a rather strange but enjoyable experience.

Friday 6 September 2013

Medieval & Renaissance Cartographic Sea Monsters

The always wonderful BiblioOdyssey site has an interesting review of Chet Van Duzer's book 'Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps'. Those of you who have cartographical leanings in your RPGs may find this a source of inspiration.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Artwork for Gygax Magazine #2

A month or so ago, a chance note on the Old School Gamers Facebook group put me in touch with Jayson Elliot, editor-in-chief for Gygax Magazine. After a very interesting 90-minute chat with him on Skype, I volunteered to create a full-page illustration for an adventure that appears in issue #2. This is for The One Ring RPG, entitled 'The Hare and the Hill Giant', and is written by Shane Ivey

The plot for this interested me and a couple of ideas for a composition immediately sprang to my mind, primarily because trolls feature strongly in the plot. Here's a scribble of an initial idea:

However, I was cutting things a little fine. I had around 3 days to create the image and get it signed off, as the deadline was fast approaching. That's a rather quick turnaround time. Not only that, but the weather here in London decided to take a turn for the worse - at least, as far as creating artwork is concerned. Temperatures were around the 33 degrees C mark (that's just over 90 degrees F), which isn't at all good if you're working with gouache and ink in a room that has no air conditioning. I wanted to get back into working with pen and wash, although the conditions weren't ideal, but your brave author indomitably slaved away regardless...

Anyway, once I'd had a few tries at the overall composition, things started to fall into place. I'd also managed to work up two other sketches more fully with the goache/ink treatment. So here is the final full-page piece:

And here are the two spot illustrations:

Everything came out okay in the end, I'm happy to say. It was an interesting challenge, to say the least. I wanted to keep the main image fairly neutral. Rather than depict a combat scene - as it's not a given in the adventure - I chose instead to have a troll surveying his new-found residence as dusk closes in. I had a variety of options for my depictions of the creatures, and this came out in the smaller drawings.

Hopefully the weather will be better when I work on my next piece! Oh, and for the record, everything was done on Bristol Board using Pilot DR and Unipin pens, Windsor & Newton inks and gouache, and a Faber Castell water-soluable pencil.

Friday 19 July 2013

Even more Fortean stuff...

Further to my own dabblings in Forteana (via my timelines here and here), here are a few more places of interest online:

Passing Strangeness

Strange Company

Beachcombing's Bizzare History Blog 

Atlas Obscura

All contain a wealth of interesting articles on a variety of subjects with a Fortean angle: archaeology, the paranormal, history, science, folkore, etc and are very much worth a look!

Friday 28 June 2013

Nice dice...

3D printing is rather cool, and seems to be improving all of the time. Some interesting dice designs can be seen here at Shapeways. Okay, some can be a bit pricey but there are a variety of cheaper options which are just as pleasing to the eye. Worth a look!

Thursday 20 June 2013

Sheep-eating plants and Medieval comic strips...

'It's coming straight for us...!'
According to this BBC report, a sort-of carnivorous plant called Puya chilensis is about to bloom. This is a rare thing for UK-based examples. The above image doesn't really do the plant justice - there's a better photo here. The idea of carnivorous plants has always been of interest to me, especially how they'd factor into a D&D setting. The way that Puya chilensis gets a meal could possibly work in D&D, although perhaps with some more active way attacking. Or maybe it's just very good at snaring the beards of passing dwarfs who've had a few too many drinks...

Meanwhile, over at the Medieval News blog there's an interesting 12th century 'comic' on show. By having a larger figure overlaid onto the text and smaller images, the page above looks almost modern in it's design.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

How to make armour...

Further to my most recent post about Medieval armour, there's an interesting blog called How To Make Armour. This provides some insights into how various types of objects from the period can be made, which could come in quite handy when trying to draw such things. I've always found that it's much easier to draw something if you know how it's constructed - that includes the human body, armour, cars, etc.

Similar information can also be found at Age of Armour, which also includes a some great photos of compeleted commissions. may also slake your thirst for further knowledge about the Medieval world.

Saturday 1 June 2013

Helmets from the Age of Armoured Combat

There are some great photos of weird and wonderful armoured helms to be found at this page over at io9. Some are of the rather showy ornamental type, but all could provide inspiration for anyone who wants their plate armour to stand out in a crowded dungeon...

Wednesday 29 May 2013

'Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary' Kickstarter

This Kickstarter has just passed the mark for including illustrations for 300 monsters. There are only a few days to go before funding ends - more cash means more illustrations!

More info can be found here...

Monday 20 May 2013

Kickstarter for the 'Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary'

This project will be 'A book of more than 900 monsters for the Adventures Dark and Deep game, but usable with many Old School RPG systems'. The Kickstarter has 12 days to go - the more funds it raises, the more artwork will be created for it. You can also sponsor one or more pieces of artwork.

I'll be one of the artists who will be illustrating the book. Should be fun!

More info can be found here...

Sunday 19 May 2013

Green Grabber rework...

Here are another couple of quick scribbles of a Green Grabber. I thought I'd redo the overall shape so that it's more like a bladderwort:

 I've also had a go at depicting the 'Sleepflower' stage of the plant:

I'm not sure that both designs still sit 100% right in my mind - the Sleepflower may be a tad too 'Little Shop of Horrors', perhaps. Anyway, it's always fun drawing Stirges!

Saturday 18 May 2013

Green Grabber

Inspired by the description of a Holmesian D&D monster over at the always interesting Zenopus Archives, I decided to do a quick scribble of how it might look...

Maybe mine looks a tad overactive in the tentacle department and perhaps needs to look less solidly anchored, but hopefully you get the general idea.

As you might have gathered from my previous posts about redesigning the Otyugh (i.e. here and here), odd-looking dungeon-dwelling beasties are something I enjoy scribbling. The Green Grabber reminds me of a (as yet unamed) creature I need to draw. This also spends it's time waiting for unwary victims to wander into it's clutches, but is an insect rather than plant-like thing...

Friday 17 May 2013

Planet of the Tapes...

Ever found yourself twiddling your thumbs idly and asking yourself 'I wonder what it'd be like to be a fly on the wall during a 1980s RPG play session?'. Following on from that, perhaps you'd ask 'I wonder what it'd be like to hear such a thing done badly by a bunch of 14 to 17 year old geeks...?' Well, question yourself no longer.

One of my first posts in the blogsphere described the people I played RPGs with when first introduced to it all back in the early '80s. Various gaming sessions were going on involving me or these guys, and every once in a while we'd tape the whole mess as it unfolded. Much of the time, our playing style and the banter that ensued left much to be desired. The sessions where we actually got something done and were less frivolous in our approach never seemed to end up on tape.

Awhile back I put some snippets on-line so that these guys (all now sort of grown up) could hear them. They're extracts from around 7 hours' worth of taped sessions featuring RPGs such as AD&D, Star Frontiers, Living Steel and Tales of the Floating Vagabond. Vagabond was always run as a drinking game - not that you can really tell, because we don't sound any more incoherent than usual.

Anyway, the clips can be heard on Soundcloud. Award yourself some brownie points for (a) not being offended by the expletives/stupid comments/offences against the art of role-playing, and (b) being able to understand anything we're saying due to our Somerset accents. Here's a brief outline of what each one features:

The Village of... er... - in which our heroes try to gain access to a village (which may or may not have a name/walls/ramparts/etc), quibble over descriptive details, and probably talk too much about half-orcs...

Cheese - in which our heroes completely fail to engage with the plot due to the distractions of food and an inebriated elf...

Rob Dies - in which our heroes dare to question the authority of the referee (yours truly) after Rob's character is killed. Mind you, Rob tended to lose a character during every session. And, of course, I'm right and they're wrong...

The Cantina Song - in which a classic Star Wars tune is ruined by people pretending to be characters from the film, and from Scooby Doo...

The Big Gun - in which our heroes really are probably past the point of being able to operate heavy machinery...

The sound quality is a bit patchy - but then again, so is our role-playing. 

Friday 10 May 2013

Women in armour (and some in uniforms)...

There's a rather good Tumblr feed called In Male Dress. It features many photos from a wide variety of re-enactment and other sources. Some of these feature women wearing different styles of armour.

At some point or another I'll get around to doing a sequel to my earlier post bemoaning the silliness that is the so-called 'breastplate' one sees far too often in RPG artwork. In the meantime, a glance over the images from this Tumblr feed should hopefully show that such things aren't required. If anything, photos from reality are way cooler...

Friday 26 April 2013

More Fortean stuff...

As a follow-on to my previous Fortean timelines (here and here), I thought I'd list my sources and provide some links to other useful Fortean bits and bobs that can be found on-line. I'll also include some more eccentric stuff.


The Fortean timeline in Players Handbook for the Call of Cthulhu RPG was the main inspiration for the creation of my timelines. I have a fair few books that cover various aspects of the Forteana from different angles, but those listed below fed directly into my research:

'Modern Mysteries of the World' by Janet & Colin Bord - this gives  a good overview of various subjects (UFOs, sea monsters, Bigfoot, etc). The most useful thing about it is the 'Gazeteer of Strange Events' that sits at the back of the book. Countries are listed alphabetically and then a variety of events are listed and given an outline description on a place-by-place basis. Some countries (i.e. the US) are divided up into states and the events listed within that structure. This results in an interesting chunk of Forteana. Here's an example, picked at random:

Venezuela - near Chico - Four small hair-covered entities from landed UFO attacked two young men in a kidnap attempt; they were very strong and broke a rifle; 10 December 1954.

'A Geo-Bibliography of Anomalies - Primary access to observations of UFOs, ghosts and other mysterious phenomena' by George M. Eberhart - this 1114-page book is probably only for completist Fortean nerds like myself. It's also pretty rare, and therefore expensive (my copy set me back 80 bucks). The aim of the book is to provide a reference source for Forteana based within the North American continent between 1880 and 1980, and so it doesn't read like a standard book. Instead, it can be used to find information for a specific location and then give details about where the report was originally published. This means that overall details are scanty - for more information you'd then have to then find the original source material. Eberhart uses a wide variety of sources, and the amount of work involved with this is staggering. Here's a few examples picked at random:

Kentucky - Louisville - flying humanoid. 1880, July 28/C.A. Youngman. Louisville Courier-Journal, 29 July 1880

Manitoba - Winnipeg - fall of metallic object. 1947, April 24. 'At the same time' Doubt, no. 19 (1947): 290, 291

'Science Frontiers - some anomalies and curiosities of Nature' and 'Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena', both by William R. Corliss. Corliss died a few years ago and was a modern-day Fort. Like Eberhart, he engaged in a wide and far-ranging trawl through various sources in order to find and catalogue various Fortean events. Like Fort, he found the majority of such reports within scientific journals. This tends to refute the idea (from certain wings of Forteana) that the scientific community either ignores or suppresses data that could be anomalous as far as our current understanding of things is concerned. 'Science Frontiers' is part of the 'Sourcebook Project', a huge catalogue of various anomalies that has been created and published over many years. These two books by Corliss read more like conventional pieces, especially the Handbook. Science Frontiers contains a variety of short excerpts from various sources, which gives more information than the Bord's Gazeteer and Eberhart's Geo-bibliography.

'Weird America' by Jim Mallon. Another rare book (mine was a second-hand find and is very dog-eared), this is a travel guide for anyone wishing to visit places of Fortean interest within the US. As with the other books described above, it deals with these on a state-by-state, place-by-place basis and has small description of the events that took place, along with Mallon's take on it. It also contains some interesting black and white photos.

You should be able, if interested, to track down copies of the above via places such as Amazon, Bibliofind, etc.

On-line sources

Fortean Times - the magazine has been around since the 70s but blossomed from the early 1990s. The website itself contains a variety of interesting articles, and it's forums include discussion of a wide variety of subject areas (yours truly has been involved in lots of interesting 'debates' there over the years).

The Anomalist - this is your one-stop shop for various other on-line bits and bobs about Forteana. Different reports, discussions and articles appear on-line all of the time, and the Anomalist is a good place to get an overview of things.

Magonia - Magonia has been around even longer than Fortean Times, and it's on-line presence is a source of some great articles. It takes a healthy sceptical psychological approach to the subject.

The Sourcebook Project - you can access a great deal of Corliss' work here, and buy any of his books that are still in print. The 'Science Frontiers On-line' section is particularly interesting.

Bad Archaeology - it's not hard to guess what this is about. Archaeology - or what some try to pass off as such - is used by various wings of book and web-based Forteana to shore up their arguments. This site tries to address and dissect some of them. That said, such arguments could serve as plot seeds for scenarios.

Humanoid Sighting Reports - this is a huge database of reports dealing mostly with UFO-related entities.

The Paranormal Database - should you ever wish to set an adventure in the UK, this would be a great place to start. It's helped me to add more colour to my Call of the Cthulhu adventures and created adventure seeds for some future projects. It covers various areas, such as ghosts, folklore, UFOs, etc.

A Blast From the Past - although not so much about Forteana in a direct sense, this site has many interesting articles on a variety of odd or though-provoking events, people and places.

The Fringe

It could be said that Forteana is a fringe subject. If so, that fringe has it's own fringe. Forteana has permeated the internet in various different ways. Before the internet came along or became widespread there were always a certain amount of books being published from a variety of fringe areas of the subject, but the internet has amplified this to the nth degree. In short, this means that all sorts of ideas can be found out there and as a whole the subject has been absorbed, adapted and bastardised by various different parties and interests. What also tends to happen is that one site copies another site in terms of the information it uses, so things can get samey. This is actually less useful to someone digging into any areas of Forteana as very few websites state their sources. Because various odd or incorrect assumptions have percolated from various books into on-line sources, there are many people out there that hold such assumptions to be truths - or worse still, absolute truths.

Not that this is entirely the fault of the web - for example, the 'ancient astronaut' theories that have been around for decades are guilty of the same lack of care and attention to detail. Various authors simply copy other authors from book to book - the same thing now happens on-line. Errors reported in books have simply been copied wholesale onto the web.  In the 1960s and '70s, those writing about such subjects tended to have a rather dodgy view of ancient cultures - along the lines of 'They were primitive, so therefore couldn't have built X' and then jump to the idea that 'Aliens from outer space did it'. As with conpiracy theories, these sorts of views tend to work along somewhat misanthropic lines - the general view being that people are stupid. In this case, they were even more stupid in the past. Similarly, they make various errors because they make very large assumptions from the perspective of thinking that 'if something looks a bit like X from the modern world, then it must be X but made in the ancient world'. This is why some people still believe that the Nazca lines are runways for ancient spaceships. Another problem is that those positing certain assumptions aren't usually qualified in the subject they're objecting to, which tends to fuzz the issue. Objections to their line of reasoning and offered proofs has been around for quite some time - take, for example, this programme from 1977. This has not stopped such ideas in their tracks, despite the authors being caught for being somewhat 'flexible' with the truth. Daniken and others are still making a living out of such stuff, and are amply supported by various websites.

Anyway, here's a taster...

Ancient American - I have various books which chase this theme, but the debate over such things is still on-going- at least, in some quarters. The date for when humans first came to the Americas has been pushed back in recent times, but others think that more modern humans came from China, Rome, Phoenicia and other places. This is, of course, not the standard model of American history.

There Were Giants In Those Days and Forbidden Archaeology - one wing of alternative archaeology takes it cues from the religious outlook of various proponents. Some are Christians, others have other beliefs. This means that some think that modern humans have only been around for thousands of years (without any ancient ancestor species), whilst others think that modern humans have been around for millions of years.

The Montauk Project - some offshoots of the UFO phenomenon have created their own offshoots, and this is a good example.

Don't get me wrong. I love the idea of ETs visiting Earth in the distant past. After all, the Cthulhu Mythos rests on this premise. I love the idea of armoured giants or ancient cultures living in the US well before Columbus arrived. Nazi time machines and Nazi UFOs are wacky and interesting at the same time. It's just that the reasoning of the various proponents of such ideas strike me as being particularly iffy. If anomalies are thrown up by scientific literature, then to my mind that's more convincing than one that simply crops up in the mind of someone who may not actually understand what they're looking at or reading about. At the end of the day, the reason I enjoy reading about such things (despite not being a true believer) is the because of the imagery they conjure up. They're a great source of ideas for RPG stuff, if nothing else.

Friday 12 April 2013

Friday 5 April 2013

A Timeline of Forteana - Part Two

Further to my previous edition of the timeline (1900-1925), here's 1926 to 1950:

1926 – child sees ‘upside-down saucer’ with lights off the north coast (Cornwall, UK).

1927 – boys saw disc-shaped domed object fly along valley and land nearby. Circle of scorched grass found at site the next day (nr. Fernvale, New South Wales, Australia); ‘round globules of fire’ seen at night during gale (Upstreet, Kent, UK).

1928 – trapper abducted by ‘Sasquatch’ (Conuma River, British Columbia, Canada); toad found entombed in rock (Eastland,Texas, USA).

1929 – haunting at Borley Rectory first reaches public notice via newspaper reports and investigation by Harry Price (Borley, Essex, UK); pillar found in limstone rock (Menominie, Wisconsin, USA).

1930 – 80-foot long sea monster with long neck seen (Scarborough, New South Wales, Australia); small, glistening, hairless, human-like creature entered house and terrified family (Madura, Western Australia); man saw and shot at ‘thick-set black figure’ which he thought was a ‘Mapinguary’ (Wild Man) (Urúbu River, Brazil); partly fused metal bar fell from sky during violent thunderstorm (Hunchstanton, Norfolk, UK); aerial object like a ‘massive sheet of shining metal’ seen. It was revolving and after 40 minutes it shot upward at speed (Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa); sighting of phantom elephant (Baraboo, Wisconsin, USA).

1931 – giant reptile seen by opal prospector (South Australia); large, low, slow-moving cloud emitted continuous rumbling sound, without lightning, rain, hail, etc. (Cache Lake, Ontario, Canada).

1932 – boy saw 12-inch disc object which hovered nearby and made humming noise, with white mist around it (nr. Nambour, Queensland, Australia); zoologist saw giant bat or pterodactyl-like creature (Assumbo Mountains, Cameroon).

1933 – ball lightning fell with purple streak and struck barn with loud noise and flash (Stouffville, Ontario, Canada); ball of fire seen bouncing along hedgetops at night (Vale, Guernsey, UK); body of Saint Catherine Labouré found undecayed, 56 years after her death (Paris, France); water monster seen in marshy area linked to sea (nr. Perugia, Italy); 11-foot reptile seen and killed, carcass later burnt (nr. Syracuse, Sicily); water monster seen at river mouth (River Ticino, Italy); 90-foot creature seen in water – later, a similar creature seen ashore (St. Lucia Lake, Natal, South Africa); man saw landed craft and opened door to see room full of instruments lit by violet light, but with no occupants (nr. Chrysville, Pennsylvania, USA).

1934 – sea monster with 3 humps covered with scales and barnacles seen by fishermen off of coast (Townsville, Queensland, Australia); long-necked creature with blue back and yellow stomach seen in water (River Doubs, Switzerland); shrieks, wails and other weird noises heard near small lake and wooded area. Sounds moved around whilst being investigated (Langhorne, Pennsylvania, USA); farmer saw dragon-like creature, tracks also found in mud (Campbell Lake, South Dakota, USA); huge sea creature with horse-like head seen in Black Sea by fishermen (Yevpatoria, Crimea); sea monster, 60-80 feet long with 6 humps seen by passengers on ocean liner (St.Thomas, Virgin Islands).

1935 – 8-foot long carcass of unidentified animal with horse-like head found (Boyd Town Beach, New South Wales, Australia); witness saw landed craft and small silver-suited entities. Square imprints and burnt area photographed on following day (Nipawin, Quebec, Canada); fishing boat crew saw ‘merman’-like creature, which had shiny eyes, broad smooth forehead, with dark hair on head and around chin (nr. Shasta, California, USA); 48-foot long sea monster shot and killed by lighthouse keeper (Mutton Island, County Galway, N. Ireland); 8-foot long green and yellow reptile seen (Monterose, Italy).

1936 – Bigfoot threw rocks at men travelling in canoe (Morris Creek, British Columbia, Canada); 200-foot sea monster with 60-foot long neck seen (Port-Au-Port, Newfoundland, Canada); showers of stones and unusual lights seen by prospector (Howells, Arizona, USA); woman saw flying man, clad in black, wearing helmet and ‘backpack’, accompanied by rumbling noise (Pavlodar Region, Kazakhstan).

1937 – reconnaissance unit shot dead 2 man-sized ape-like creatures that were covered with reddish hair (Mongolia/USSR border); mine workers saw lights underground and saw faceless ghost (Bankfield and Little Long Lac gold mines, Ontario, Canada).

1938 – ‘fireballs’ fell from overcast sky, killing one person and badly burning others, and some houses were destroyed or damaged (Parajaeva, Lappland, Sweden); 3 foot long greenish-grey object seen in sky and then suddenly vanished (Juminda, Estonia); huge black cloud caused daytime darkness lasting several hours, over a wide area (Gulf of Ob, Siberia).

1939 – sighting of giant lizard, several yards long (Ossum, France).

1940 – ‘fiery cartwheels’, accompanied by rumbling sound, seen rolling along hilltops (Bata, Hungary); lake monster seen, black with 4 short legs (Lackagh Lake, County Kerry, N. Ireland).

1941 – tall, hair-covered ‘wildman’ captured. It did not speak, eat or drink, and was later executed as a ‘spy’ by partisan firing squad (Caucasus Mountains).

1942 – ‘Phantom Barber’ removes hair from several female victims over the course of several nights (Pascagoula, Mississippi, USA).

1943 – domed object seen which flew 15 to 20 feet above ground and gave off bright white light (Qing Xian, Hubei Province, China); 6-foot long snake, yellow-brown in colour seen in water, and attacked witness (River Gudenaa, Jutland, Denmark).

1944 – RAAF bomber crew flying at 4500 feet saw ‘dark shadow’ flying alongside, which had flames coming from one end. Plane’s radio and direction-finding equipment did not function until the object accelerated away (Bass Strait, Victoria, Australia); hair-covered humanoid shot and killed (Tashkurgan); sighting of giant bird (Possum Kingdom Dam, Texas, USA).

1945 – various white objects (clothes, walls) burst into flame, with 400 separate incidents (Almeria, Spain)

1946 – ‘Ghost rockets’ seen in sky on many occasions over Sweden, some seen crashing into lakes (i.e. Lake Kölmjarv); fall of lignite (Racine, Wisconsin, USA).

1947 – survey worker saw craft 150-foot wide, from which emerged several 7-foot tall entities. He hid after they tried to take him on board, and watched as they leapt about and threw large stones (Barú, Brazil); 5 ‘birds’ with leathery bodies seen (Manuos, Brazil); fossil hunter saw landed craft and 2 small entities with green skin, large round eyes and slit mouths. He shouted to them and was knocked to the ground by smoke that issued from the belt of one entity (nr. Villa Santena, Italy); ‘pygmy’ covered in reddish hair seen (Adiopodumé, Ivory Coast); passengers of ship ‘Llandovery Castle’ saw huge metallic cylinder, c.1000 feet long, hovering over sea, onto which it shone searchlight (Straits of Madagascar); sea monster seen on several occasions, which had ‘eyes like red searchlights’ and made loud braying noise (Tiger Rocks, Natal, South Africa); airline pilots saw aerial object like metallic cylinder with ‘cockpit’, ‘windows’ and exhaust, which carried out several controlled manoeuvres (Montgomery, Alabama, USA); sea monster seen ‘looping through the water’. Another sighting of this creature described it as having a cow-like head and a fin on its’ back (Security Lake, Alaska, USA); 2 Bigfoot-like creatures seen crossing road by couple in car, and one creature looked through car window (nr. Shasta, California, USA); 3 witnesses saw object like inverted pie plate, with flames issuing from it’s sides and making a swishing sound as it flew through canyon (Snake River Canyon, Idaho, USA); Captain Mantell killed after his F-51 fighter plane crashed following pursuit of silvery object at high altitude (Goodman Air Force Base, Kentucky, USA); small ‘flying wing’ shaped object seen in sky (nr. Cave Creek, Arizona, USA); object looking like shiny aircraft propeller, with 10-12 cups protruding beneath each blade, seen by two witnesses as it crossed road in front of their vehicle (Indianapolis, Indiana, USA); ship ‘Santa Clara’ collided with sea monster and water was stained with blood (nr. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA); pilot Kenneth Arnold saw group of shiny unidentified craft at some distance from his aircraft (Mount Ranier, Washington, USA); archaeological find - site dated to c.7000BCE (Plainview, Texas, USA).

1948 – fall of hundreds of fish, from cloudless sky (Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire, UK); 3 witnesses saw 40-foot long sea monster, with head and neck 8 feet above water. Body was greyish-green in colour, with pinkish neck, and green glassy spines on its’ back (Carmel River, California, USA); ghost of headless man seen at night near railway tracks (Maringouin, Louisiana, USA); flying man seen, who had long silvery wings fastened over his shoulders and controls on his chest. Sighting accompanied by sizzling or whistling noise (Chehalis, Washington, USA); 3 flying men seen, without wings but wearing helmets, accompanied by engine-like sound (Longview, Washington, USA); green fireballs seen in sky (Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA).

1949 – creature seen in water which had long shaggy ‘ears’, with which it propelled itself along (Laurisoir Reservoir, Keynton, Victoria, Australia); pilot saw 7 delta-shaped objects which flew in formation and made co-ordinated manoeuvres. The engine of his aircraft ran rough during sighting, and upon landing it was found that spark plugs had been burnt out (Mountain Home, Idaho, USA); object like silver dollar with fin seen by 5 witnesses (Rouge River, Oregon, USA).

1950 – man walking along coast saw oval object rise from sea and fly into the air (bt. San Sebastian and Rio Grande, Argentina); ‘ghost light’ seen in forest (nr. Woodbridge, Manitoba, Canada); two aerial objects seen to hit water and sink (Inchon, South Korea); object seen in air and on radar, travelling at 1800mph (Kodiak, Alabama, USA); 6 to 12 objects shaped like aircraft bombs seen in sky, making noise like wind blowing through trees (Marrowbore Lake, Tennessee, USA); DC-4 aircraft destroyed when flying on stormy night, preceded by sighting of ball of fire by witnesses on ground (Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA); policemen saw jelly-like mass fall from sky into field. It gave of purple glow and evaporated (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA).