Thursday, 9 November 2017

Constitutio Criminalis Carolina

The following will prove interesting and useful for anyone running games in a modern European setting, e.g., the one tentatively being built via this blog, or the underlying canonical setting of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, etc.

In 1530, the German estates assembled at at the Diet of Augsburg under Holy Roman Emperor Charles V agreed upon a body of criminal law known as the Constitutio Criminalis Carolina. This body of law was ratified in 1532 at the Diet in Regensburg to be used as the common civil and criminal law throughout the Holy Roman Empire — whose laws were a haphazardly mix of local and customary laws depending on the local jurisdiction a person was to be tried in.

Under the terms of the Constitutio Criminalis Carolina, actions such as murder, manslaughter, robbery, arson, forgery, homosexual relations and witchcraft were henceforth defined as severe crimes. In particular, the Carolina specified that those found guilty of causing harm through witchcraft should be executed with fire, laying the foundation for the mass witch trials between 1580 and 1680. It was also the basis for the use of obtaining confessions by torture.

So what can the player characters expect if they are arrested in post-1532 Central Europe?

First of all, torture! Torture to obtain more proof is only allowed if there is at least a “half-proof” against the defendant to start with, like for instance two eyewitnesses, or one eyewitness and a partial confession.

The kind of questions the interrogators may ask is also restricted by the Carolina. Basically, no leading questions are allowed. For instance, the interrogator may ask what weapon has been used in a case of murder, but not if it was a knife.

Even the confession has to be corroborated. So if you have confessed under torture that you hid the stolen money in place X, the investigators have to recover the money from place X, or else the confession is not valid.

Also the proceedings have now to be public (contrary to earlier law), and innocent victims of justice can sue the officials.

Some excerpts of the Carolina are available in English here.

this blog entry compiled from the wikipedia and this web-site

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Tale of Tales

Giambattista Basile (1566-1632) was an Italian writer. He is particularly remembered for his collection of Neapolitan-language fairy tales titled the Tale of Tales. In 2015, the Italian director  Matteo Garrone made an English-language film, titled Tale of Tales, loosely adapted from three of the tales: The Enchanted Doe, The Flea, and The Flayed Old Lady.

The film is quite LotFP-ey, especially the most grotesque scenes, and in particular the whole part with the giant flea, the betrothal of Violet to the ogre, and the ensuing mayhem. I heartily recommend it.

Anyway, I started scouring the internet for information about the Tale of Tales, and I stumbled upon a collection of illustrations by the decadent Austrian artist Franz von Bayros (1866-1924). They are quite LotFP-ey too :-)

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Renaissance Magic

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) was a Romance nobleman and philosopher who studied the various occult traditions from around the Mediterranean, both within and without the True Faith, and who ordered and classified them as an organised philosophical art.

Pico della Mirandola divided Magic into two different forms: Natural Magic, and Demonic Magic.

Natural Magic is based upon the study of the forces of nature, the four elements, esotericism, etc., and is deemed compatible with the True Faith. Demonic Magic is based upon the invocation of occult forces and is not to be dabbled in.

Pico's ideas have given birth to Renaissance Magic, and to the practice for powerful noblemen to keep court magicians. Many of these court magicians write magical grimoires; the most famous one is Giambattista della Porta (1535–1615) with his book Magia Naturalis (1558).
In Northern Europe, Pico's system has been made popular by the Almain polymath Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486–1535). Obviously, in a age of crazed witch hunts, the line between Natural and Demonic Magic is not clear-cut but often dictated by religious interests, and so the profession of magician is a most dangerous one...

NB— This post has been inspired by this article.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Better Than Any Man Prequel

I am going to run a kind of alternative prequel to Better Than Any Man, set before the death of Gabriele Bauer. The latter entrusts the player characters (all of them are female teenagers) with travelling to the War Room in Cachtice, in Voivodja, in order to figure out the exact position of Gustavus Adolphus' army [I know this is not what is written in the description of the war room, but I'm modifying that— in my version of Voivodja, the war room shows the movements of all armies in all known worlds]. Gabriele Bauer intends to use the information to organise the safe escape of Karlstadt's population before the Swedes are upon the hapless town.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Map of Europe at the Time of the Blood Countess

This is a map of Europe at the Time of the Blood Countess. It is based on the real Europe at the turn of the 17th century, with some simplifications.

Minor States
1: Most Serene Republic of Venedig
2: Patrimony of Saint Peter
3: Principality of Schwarzenberg
4: Sultanate of Maghribia

The Fair Kingdom
A: part of the Fair Kingdom under the suzerainty of the Empire of the One Faith
B: part of the Fair Kingdom occupied by the Empire of the Crescent Moon
C: Principality of Transylvania, semi-independent vassal of the Empire of the Crescent Moon

Other vassals of the Empire of the Crescent Moon
D: Bogdania
E: Herdsland

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Mr Selden's Map of China

Being obsessed with the history of East Asia, and in particular with the history of China and her neighbours during the early modern times, I have bought and read Mr Selden’s Map of China: The Spice Trade, a Lost Chart and the South China Sea by renowned Sinologist Timothy Brook (Profile Books).

The book is an account of how a detailed map of the East and South China Seas came into the possession of the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, accompanied by many considerations about sea voyages in the 17th century, mapmaking in the East v mapmaking in the West, and social mobility in early modern England. In the end, I was slightly disappointed by the fact that the main focus of the book was not 17th century China, but 17th century England. The so-called Selden Map of China, which gives its title to the book, was made by a Chinese mapmaker in the East Indies (certainly not in China, where it was forbidden to give maps of the country to foreigners — under pain of death) for a factor of the British East India Company. It was later bequeathed to the English scholar John Selden, who willed it to the Bodleian Library.

As I've mentioned above, on top of dealing with maritime travel and trade in East Asia at the beginning of the 17th century, the book also provides intensive insight into English society in the early modern period, with a particular focus on the rapid social advancement of people like Samuel Purchas, John Saris, or John Selden; people born at the lower end of the social ladder but who managed to climb close to its top thanks to the patronage of various powerful people: bishops, members of Parliament, wealthy traders...

I think the book can give great input for two different but highly important aspects of a 17th century Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign game:

1) How to introduce player characters to wealthy patrons. This can provide a (somewhat railroad-y) spark for many scenarios: “OK I buy you equipment but you go and pilfer <insert MacGuffin> from this rival of mine.” or: “Can you please escort me to this old abandoned mansion I have inherited from a childless uncle?”
It can also explain how some lowly ruffians (the player characters) can get information about important facts in the realm.

2) It gives detailed information about the inner workings of the British East India Company, which can be very useful should the referee want to set up a maritime campaign.