Friday, May 31, 2013

Video of London, 1927

I'd like to invite everyone to watch This Video.  Its a colour view of London in 1927.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Trieste Cathedral

Over at The Orient Express Writers Blog, they pointed out that
"Once aboard the Horror on the Orient Express the intrepid investigators should seize the chance to explore the many  famous cathedrals en route.  Not only do these cathedrals husband thousands of years of history, but in several cities they hold valuable clues to the mystery at hand."

Lets take a look at the Trieste Cathedral:  Cattedrale di San Giusto

The Trieste Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Justus, is the cathedral and main church of Trieste, and is the seat of the Bishop of Trieste.

The first known (this is Call of Cthulhu, and who knows what kind of deviant pre-human beings cavorted and writhed in worship of their strange gods prior to the rise of humanity.....) religious edifice on the site was built in the 6th century on some Roman propylaea, using part of the existing structure.  Perhaps the entrance to a monument, this was commonly known as the Capitoline Temple, as a pyramidal altar with the symbols of the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva) had been found inside it.

Of the hall there remains part of the mosaic floor, integrated into the present-day floor, which contains markings of the outer walls of the early Christian building. Soon after it was opened for worship, the church was destroyed in the Lombard invasion.

Between the 9th and 11th centuries, two basilicas were erected on the ruins of the old church, the first dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption and the second, the cathedral, to Saint Justus (San Giusto). The original design of the latter building was subsequently lengthened. In the 14th century the two basilicas were joined by means of the demolition of one nave of either basilica and the construction of a simple asymmetrical façade, dominated by a delicately worked Gothic rose window, as ornate as the new bell tower, using the Romanesque debris stones found on the site and friezes of arms.

And just in case the players are wondering who is Bishop of Trieste, Angelo Bartolomasi served from 15 Dec 1919 - 11 Dec 1922, and was succeeded by Luigi Fogar on 9 Jul 1923 - 30 Oct 1936.

Bishiop Bartolomasi was an interesting guy.  On 24 November 1910 he became auxiliary bishop of Turin and Titular Bishop of Derbe He was ordained bishop on 15 January 1911. On 23 April 1919 he was promoted to bishop of Trieste and Koper.

In this position defended the rights of the minority Slavic population, and became an irritation for the fascist Italian government, who supported oppressing the Slavic population.  Due to increasing political pressure, on 11 December 1922 he resigned and was succeeded by Biship Luigi Fogar.

S. Hermagoras is said to have planted a church here about 50 A.D., by means of missionaries sent from Aquileia. S. Giusto, one of the patron saints of the city, probably died about 303. The other two are S. Sergio, a soldier, whose halberd still appears in the arms of the town, and S. Servolo, a pious youth who lived at one time in a grotto not far from this place, where they both were martyred. There is said to have been a bishop in the fourth century, but the list of authentic bishops begins with Frugiferus in the sixth. When Christianity triumphed, a church was built on the Capitol on the ruins of the ancient temple of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption. This was the part to the north of the present church (see plan), now the nave of the Holy Sacrament, "del Santissimo," in the apse of which are the mosaics of the twelve Apostles, probably earlier than the sixth century; while those in the vault, together with the border, are later. Till some twenty years ago[Pg 61] a difference in the level of the floor between the three columns farthest east on each side (where the pulpit stands) marked the place of the original choir. The walled-up clerestory windows of the right side are ancient. The fourteen columns have been plastered over to make them uniform, but are evidently of different thicknesses, suggesting the use of older material. The caps are for the most part rough imitations of Corinthian, and the bases are stilted Attic in type. Of the baptistery nothing remains but the hexagonal font of marble in the chapel of S. John the Baptist, where there is also an ancient well and the apparatus for baptism by ablution, not now used. In the time of Justinian, the second, smaller, church (probably dedicated to SS. Giusto and Servolo) was erected at the south side by Bishop Frugiferus, about 550, as the monogram at the left of the apse shows. The mosaics in the apse are late Byzantine. Four great columns support a cupola in front of the presbytery, by means of four round arches, pendentives, and a drum, round which is an arcade of sixteen stilted round arches with foliated caps and prominently projecting abaci, which it is thought may belong to the original building, though the cupola itself is later. The small apse of the south aisle, with vaulted roof, also belonged to the first building. In front of the apses is a solea with a wagon vault, except in front of the small aisle apse, where it is quadripartite. The aisle is raised a step above the nave. The arcades are uniformly round-arched and stilted, and the caps generally have super-abaci. The north aisle has pointed arches at intervals and a flat roof; the nave of the Santissimo also has a flat roof with beams and brackets. There is a triumphal arch and one blocked window in the apse, with mosaic on the splay of the jamb.
The Shores of The Adriatic, By F. Hamilton Jackson 

It might be worth your time to read a bit about the Trieste Cathedral, and the surrounding areas in "The Shores of the Adriatic, by F Hamilton Jackson", available for free from The Gutenberg Project.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Loch Lomond Old Scotch Whisky

I'm a huge fan of The Adventures of Tintin, by Hergé.  One of my favourite characters is Captain Haddock.  He is a brash, cynical, alcoholic tramp freighter captain with a heart of gold, who has a command of the art of cursing that is simply astounding.  He doesn't bother with mere four-letter words, instead he's known to belt out colourful repertoire to include "bashi-bazouk", "visigoths", "sea gherkin", "steam rollers", "vegetarians", "carpet seller", "pickled herring; "freshwater swabs", "miserable molecule of mildew", and a host of other insults, but again, nothing actually considered a swear word.

Another thing Captain Haddock is known for, is drinking Loch Lomond Scotch Whisky the way other people drink water (in one issue, "Tintin and the Shooting Star", the Captain gets sick when he drinks water, and is restored to health by a glass of whisky.  Later when they return from being the first explorers on the moon, and is suffering from hypoxia, a little whisky restores him again).

The text reads “Are you depressed? Does the day seem long? We have the answer. Loch Lomand”. 
A typically Herge ironic attack on advertising and alcohol.

The immensely talented Kevin DG from the Replica Prop Forum has generously allowed me to share his marvelous Loch Lomond Whisky label.   Click here to Download.

Clean the original label off of a bottle of your favourite Scotch, then print out the new label on a nice matte paper, cut the label out, and spread rubber cement on the back of the label.  Then paste it onto the bottle.  You'll probably want to use a few rubber bands to secure placement on the bottle until the rubber cement sets up.

Now, if one of your players is a scotch drinker, or if one of the NPC's on the train is a British military veteran or retired sea captain, you can have a bottle of scotch thats labeled in a much more interesting fashion.  And give a nod to one of the classic pulp-action comic heroes, and one of the best pulp-action comic series.

Please drink responsibly.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


If you've seen the new Leonardo DiCaprio movie, "The Great Gatsby", you might have noticed that DiCaprio's Gatsby loves Moët & Chandon champagne.

Fitzgerald’s novel does not specify the brand Gatsby’s revelers consumed copious amounts of, but the producer and director of DiCaprios film, with very good reasons, assumed it was Moët & Chandon. The company was an early pioneer in the export of champagne to lucrative overseas markets including the US and UK back when it was still largely a local secret; a French wine for domestic consumption. In doing this, the company was at the forefront of the now global reputation champagne has for excellence, one that allows it to enjoy an uncontested premium in price, perception and prestige over every other sparkling wine region on earth.

Its likely that the Orient Express, with its penchant for no-expense-spared quality would opt for champagne from Moët & Chandon.

Now, you can take the above image and size it however you want, or
Print this PDF, whatever works for you.  Its best if you print it on matte paper.
Cut the label out, and using rubber cement, glue it onto your bottle.

I've found that its usually easiest to use water to soften the paper on the bottle and peel it off, then using steel wool or something similar, scrub any things left over off the bottle.  Dry it well, then, put rubber cement on the new label, and place it on the bottle.  use a few rubber bands to hold it in place until the rubber cement sets up.

Now, I hope that Moët & Chandon won't mind that I copied a label of theirs that I found on a google image search, and pasted it into a .pdf document so that I can print it out, and relabel a couple bottles of Martenellis sparkling cider as champagne, for effect.

Moet's Web Page

Monday, May 27, 2013

The well dressed man

Whats a well dressed man wearing in the 1920s?

I'm a huge fan of The Adventures of Tintin, by Herge, so I tend to think that the well dressed may wears knickers.  Also, this is a fun photo, and might help you flesh out random NPC's to make them into more than just cookie cutter people

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

And now for a moment

I've copied and pasted todays article directly from "Until the Next Encounter The Dungeon Master Experience".  I think its a great article with good advice (although, I'm fully planning to violate number 6, by providing a meal to my players, that is themed to the country that the players are visiting.  No pepsi and doritos here).

began writing this column two years ago, at the urging of friends and colleagues who felt I had a lot to say about DMing. Turns out they were right. The trick was to find things to say that (a) haven't already been said ad nauseum in books, blogs, and other works, and (b) foster intelligent discourse on the art of Dungeon Mastering. By pulling examples from my home campaign, I've tried to share the lessons I've learned from my own successes and failures. Having now written over one hundred articles on the subject, I feel the time is right to highlight several key bits of advice — things I consider important above all others — for readers who don't have the wherewithal to read every installment of The Dungeon Master Experience that has come before.
Without further adieu . . .

Lessons Learned

Here's my Top 10 list of DM tips in no particular order.
1. Honor the social contract. If your players are behind you and behind the game, do them the service of running the campaign fair and square.
2. Forget what the rules say about building encounters. A rollercoaster needs peaks and valleys to be fun. Design encounters that you think your players will enjoy. Easy encounters can be just as fun and memorable as hard ones, and a TPK doesn't have to spell the end of the campaign.
3. Look to storytelling giants for inspiration. I'm not talking about other DMs, but rather actors, writers, and directors with a gift for storytelling. In previous articles, I've shared several of my great inspirations. What are yours?
4. Think of three big stories. Make them the pillars of your campaign. Let the PCs' actions and decisions determine which of these stories becomes important, but keep the other stories moving forward to make your world feel alive.
5. Record everything that happens. If a player says something clever, write it down. If you name a tavern or NPC on the fly, write it down. If the session ends with one character lying face down in a pool of blood with two failed death saves, write that down, too. Don't trust your memory; it will betray you.
6. Let the players bring the food. You have plenty of other things to worry about.
7. Do what you must to keep the campaign alive. Sometimes that means swapping out players from time to time. Surround yourself with supportive players, and they'll keep the campaign alive for you. Other times that means ditching storylines that aren't going anywhere and taking the plot in a new direction.
8. Lighten up. It's a game. If you and your players aren't having fun, you're doing something wrong. Don't let the campaign get too dark. D&D offers a welcome reprieve from the doldrums of the real world — or at least it should.
9. Don't forget to roleplay. It's a roleplaying game. Get into character. Practice your funny voices. Usually I urge people to be themselves behind the screen, but don't pass up a chance to be someone else for five minutes.
10. Don't be afraid. Tell your story, let the players tell their stories, and make the most of it. Pull out the big guns, aim high, and don't let up. Not everything will be perfect, but every game session is a new chance to get it right. The only thing you have to fear is running out of ideas, and that will never happen.
There you have it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

All the News thats fit to print in the Newspaper

Todays post is a little out of the normal scope of this blog, but.... I think you'll forgive me.  "DCE" from The Yog-Sothoth Forum has come up with a simply AMAZING tool and resource that I'm super excited about.

As he wrote on his blog
So … what’s a prop-maker to do when searching for newspapers from a specific region to serve as “representative examples” for a design?
Well … one solution is just to use guesswork … but a better method is to produce a geographical index of your own. Over the past week or so, this is exactly what I’ve created for all newspapers in the Google News Archive which contain at least one issue printed in the 1920s. Now, scanning by hand through 2000+ newspapers sounds like a lot of work … but some clever filtering cut the size of the problem down to something more tractable. In the end it really only took a few days to visually inspect a page from every newspaper likely to have a 1920s issue …
In the end, my trawl over the (current) Google News Archive found 319 newspapers which were included with at least one 1920s issue; these were printed in 193 different cities/towns. Most newspapers came from the US or Canada, but there were a handful of titles from Australia (Sydney and Melbourne) and the UK (London and Glasgow). Plotting out these newspapers on a custom Google Map produces a nice geographic index of places for which scanned twenties newspapers are available — the pic below gives a static shot of part of the map; click that image to go to the shared map.

Now, while for the most part, this is somewhat outside of the scope of the Orient Express, perhaps a player whos character is from New York wants to keep up on New York News, and papers from New York would be available on the Orient Express (even if they were a week or so out of date).  Or The Globe from London.  I'm sure a creative Keeper can make good use of this amazing resource.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Traversing the English Countryside

Just a view of a train traversing the English Countryside, going from London to Dover

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Trains, Dinner, Mysteries and other shenanigans

Heres a picture of a painting of a train going from Calais to Paris.
This could be a handy "postcard", with a clue written on the back.  Or a fake-clue to throw the players off the main quest.  I just like how it looks.

As a side note, I've scheduled this post to appear at just about the time that I'm proposing to my girlfriend on a train.  We're on a Dinner Mystery Theatre train (Mt Hood Dinner Mystery Train), enjoying a silly goofy mystery, while having dinner with my sister and step-mother.  Wish me luck, eh!


The Church of Saint Mary the Gracious, Milan

Saddly, I don't know much about this particular church, other than its in Milan.  Use the photo as set dressing for architectural purposes, or maybe a priest here has a clue to help the players.  Maybe the priest is really a cultist that seeks to oppose the players by pretending to help but sending them on a wild goose chase.  The possibilities are really endless.

Friday, May 17, 2013


The Academy of Sciences, Belgrade

The Parliament under construction, Belgrade, Serbia

The state offices for the Major General and the Army and Navy Ministries, Belgrade

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Iselle di Trasquera railway station serves the village of Iselle and comune of Trasquera, in northwestern Italy. Opened in 1906, the station is at the southern portal of the Simplon tunnel, on the Brig–Domodossola railway, between Brig, Switzerland and Domodossola, Italy.

The station is situated at Via Stazione, immediately to the south of the southern portal of the Simplon Tunnel, which passes underneath the border between Switzerland and Italy. The village of Iselle, which gave its name to the station, is about 1 km (0.62 mi) upstream on the river Diveria, towards the Simplon Pass.

The station was opened on 1 June 1906, upon the inauguration of the Brig–Domodossola railway, including the Simplon tunnel.  Until 1929, this station was the point where locomotives were exchanged at the head of trains, because the Brig–Iselle section was operated by electric traction while trains on the Iselle–Domodossola section were powered by steam locomotives.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


 An electric train pulling the Orient Express out of the Domodossola side of the Simplon Tunnel
And the outside of the Domodossola train station in Italy

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Domodossola is situated at the confluence of the Bogna and Toce Rivers, at the foot of the Italian Alps, and acts as a passenger-rail hub. Its strategic location accommodates Swiss rail passengers, and Domodossola railway station acts as an international stopping-point between Milan and Brig (a Swiss city of German language) through the Simplon Pass

 A train at the Domodossola train station.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Simplon Tunnel Map

Heres a map of the Simplon Pass and Tunnel, from 1906.  Its a little dated, but.... I can't imagine that the course of the tunnel, or the placement of the mountains changed much between 1906 and the 1920s.... so... I'm going with it.

Come to think of it, I dont think the course of the tunnel, or the placement of the mountains has changed much from 1906 to 2013....  ;)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Simplon Tunnel

I thought I had enough articles queued up while I was out of town, but I was wrong.  *sigh*

Here you can see a SBB locomotive at the Simplon Pass, and in the background you can see the SBB electric engine which hauled the train through the Simplon tunnel, Iselle in 1906

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Medieval Venice

Medieval Venice

Keepers, particularly American Keepers (of which I am one), should keep in mind that European Cities have a long and fascinating history, and they can play this up in the course of playing through Horror on the Orient Express.

One of my favourite scenes in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the Library Scene.  It totally plays up the fact that Venice is an old city, and that things like churches are sometimes reused for other things, like the library.  Does X mark the spot?  Is there hidden knowledge in a crypt under the library?

What kind of other knowledge is hidden in out of the way places like that?  What kind of deviant cults that seek out the Simulacrum might exist in Venice?  Are there Deep Ones in the waters?

Dont forget that Italian count Boniface of Montferrat negotiated with Venice, to transport 33,500 crusaders.  This agreement required a full year of preparation on the part of the Venetians to build ships and train the sailors who would man them.  What came back on the ships afterwards?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Jungfrau Railway

This post stands a bit outside of the normal scope of this blog.  I was fascinated by it as I was reading up on Switzerland, and thought that creative keepers might be able to use it.  I'm considering implementing a little side-quest (maybe related the the Jigsaw Prince and the Scroll of the Head, or competing cultists) with a bit of a James Bond/Pulp Action flavour perhaps.  Or maybe its a 'Wild Goose Chase', and keeps them from their main goal for a little bit?  Just ideas.

Anyway, some information (shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia)

The Jungfrau Railway is an 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge rack railway which runs 9 kilometres from Kleine Scheidegg to the highest railway station in Europe at Jungfraujoch (3,454 m). The railway runs almost entirely within a tunnel built into the Eiger and Mönch mountains and contains two stations in the middle of the tunnel, where passengers can disembark to observe the neighbouring mountains through windows built into the mountainside. The open-air section culminates at Eigergletscher (2,320 m), which makes it the second highest open-air railway in Switzerland.

The line is owned by the Jungfraubahn Holding AG, a holding company that also owns the Wengernalpbahn and Lauterbrunnen–Mürren mountain railway railways

1894 the industrialist Adolf Guyer-Zeller received a concession for a rack railway, which began from the Kleine Scheidegg railway station of the Wengernalpbahn, with a long tunnel through the Eiger and Mönch up to the summit of the Jungfrau.
1896 construction began. The construction work proceeded briskly.
1898 the Jungfraubahn opened as far as the Eigergletscher railway station, at the foot of the Eiger.
1899 Six workers are killed in an explosion. There is a four-month strike by workers. Adolf Guyer-Zeller dies in Zürich on 3 April. The section from Eigergletscher station to Rotstock station opens on 2 August
1903 The section from Rotstock station to Eigerwand station opens on 28 June.
1905 The section from Eigerwand station to Eismeer station opens on 25 July
1908 There is an explosion at Eigerwand station.
1912 21 February, sixteen years after work commenced, the tunneling crew finally breaks through the glacier in Jungfraujoch. Jungfraujoch station was inaugurated on 1 August.
1924 The "The house above the clouds" at Jungfraujoch is opened on 14 September.
1931 The research station at the Jungfraujoch is opened.
1937 The Sphinx Observatory is opened. A snowblower is purchased and this results in year-round operation

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Fountain of Sultan Selim

This ornate fountain was built in 1728 in front of the Imperial Gate of the Topkapi Palace in Constantinople.

Im just kinda presenting it as an example of the architecture in Constantinople.
And, a view of Constantinople from the air in 1920.  On the upper side, you can see the Allied Fleet.  Constantinople hosted a variety of occupying soldiers from the Allied side in the First World War for a few years.  It would also come to be home to many 'White Russians', who fled the Bolshivik Revolution, making Constantinople into a center of international intrigue through the 1920s.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Swiss Franks

While your players are in Switzerland, they'll need money.  Someone wants to sell them the Scroll of the Head, yes?  And they might want to tip someone for helping them keep an eye on something.  Or pay for meals.  Lets face it, you cant get along in the world without a little money, so here.... have a little money.

Now, you might want to resize these to avoid local counterfeiting laws.  Or print them on strange coloured paper.  These are intended for prop use only.

Prop Swiss Franks

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gitanes Cigarettes

few days ago, I posted a printable pack of Gauloise Cigarettes.  Meanwhile, I was thumbing through my dog-eared old copy of Horror on the Orient Express, and found that theres a NPC who chain smokes Gitanes; Edgar Wellington.

This prompted me to do my best to mock up a box of Gitanes.

Gitanes are a French cigarette brand, introducted to the world in 1910.  The packs sport the silhouette of a Spanish gypsy woman playing the tambourine.  Gitaines 'Mais' use corn-paper and have been available since 1918.  An integral filter wasnt introduced until 1956.

The .png file so you can adjust the size to fit your needs, or use the Printable PDF

Print it out, cut it out, and fold on the lines.  Glue the tabs to make it into a box-ish shape.  You might want to fill it with rolled paper tubes mocked up to look like cigarettes, or with cigarettes if you're into that sort of thing (if you chose to do this, its my understanding that filtered Gitaness didn't come out into the 1950s).

This can be used for the encounter with the Wellingtons, or at other times.  The possibilities are really endless.  Just dont get Cancer.  We know smoking causes cancer - however as Call of Cthulhu players, the question is..... Cancer or Insanity.....

Thursday, May 2, 2013


I mentioned yesterday that Adrianople sat on a disputed border (particularly disputed between Turkey and Greece).  For more information on the subject, keepers may want to read the Wikipedia entry on the Greco-Turkish War.

Turkish soldiers in Constantinople after the Greco-Turkish War.
This photo could just as easily be used to represent Turkish soldiers in Adrianople to keep the peace.

Again, slightly out of the scope of this blog, but.... heres a photo of Greek irregular volunteers on the frontier during the earlier 1897 Greco-Turkish War.  Their sons who fought in 1919-1922 looked very similar.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Adrianople is a city in the northwestern part of Turkey, close to the borders with Greece and Bulgaria.

It was briefly occupied by the Bulgarians in 1913, following the Battle of Odrin; and by the Greeks between the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920 and at the end of the Turkish War of Independence in 1922 when it was retaken by Turkey.  The Selimiye Mosque is visible from most anywhere in the city,

Needless to say, it has a heavy Greek and Bulgarian influence in its cultural heritage, and its likely that because of border difficulties, a large garrison of military and border police types are in the area.

Selimiye Mosque