Saturday, July 27, 2013

As this is posting, I'm getting married

A couple months ago, I proposed to my girlfriend, and she accepted.  A few days later, we found out that her parents were leaving for South Africa to do humanitarian work for 18-24 months for their church, and that they were leaving at the beginning of August.  This put us in a little of a time crunch.

We thought we'd have a bit longer to plan and put things together, but..... well....  life didn't work out that way, and we've kinda rushed things for the wedding.

So, as this is being posted, we're getting married.  My sister is serving as my best man, and my step-mom is taking photos.

The Conductor

Thursday, July 25, 2013


On a personal note, in 1999, I had the good fortune to spend the year in South East Europe - 6 months in Croatia, 3 months in Kosovo, and 3 months in Hungary.  I absolutely fell in love with that corner of the world.  Sadly, I haven't been able to return yet.  The architecture is so classical, the cultures warm and beautiful, and the women.... pardon me while I swoon.

At the time, I managed to learn enough Slavic, and Hungarian to 'get along', and I was always surprised by how much English the locals spoke.  I'd be lying if I said communication was 'easy', but we usually managed.  I made it a practice (on the suggestion of some other gentlemen I was acquainted with who had been there a little longer) not to discuss politics or religion.  The events of the previous few years made me think discussing that wouldn't be such a great idea.

I'm pretty sure I've stood where this photo was taken.  Or very much near by.

I'm half-tempted to change part of the campaign, so that the players don't enter "Dream Zagreb", and instead write/modify the scenario so that they're in real-world Zagreb.  Its one of the things I'm undecided about - but I'll probably hold off on deciding until I read the new edition of Horror on the Orient Express.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Brigue, Switzerland

Brig/Brigue was the only place where the Simplon Orient Express traversed German-speaking territory. The small Alpine town became an international railway hub because of the Simplon line.

Monday, July 22, 2013

An English Train Station

A few photos from an English train station.  To kinda give Keepers and Players a sense of whats going on inside the train station.

 The Golden Arrow was a luxury boat train of the Southern Railway and later British Railways. It linked London with Dover, where passengers took the ferry to Calais to join the Flèche d’Or of the Chemin de Fer du Nord and later SNCF which took them on to Paris.

The Flèche d’Or was introduced in 1926 as an all-first-class Pullman service between Paris and Calais. On 15 May 1929, the Southern Railway introduced the equivalent between London and Dover. The train usually consisted of 10 British Pullman cars, hauled by one of the Southern Railway’s Lord Nelson class locomotives, and took 98 minutes to travel between London and Dover. Because of the impact of air travel and 'market forces' on the underlying economy, ordinary first- and third-class carriages were added in 1931. Similarly the first-class-only ferry, Canterbury, was modified to allow other classes of passenger.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A painting that I really like

All apologies for being late posting today.  I thought I had a couple photo sets queued up, but.... I didn't.  And I was out late last night, so I didn't double check until I had to run out this morning.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


A street in Paris.  take note of the lovely Peugeot car up front

A couple Flapper Girls at a Cafe in Paris

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Piazza del Duomo Milano

Piazza del Duomo ("Cathedral Square") is the main piazza (city square) of Milan, Italy. It is named after, and dominated by, the Milan Cathedral (the Duomo). The piazza marks the center of the city, both in a geographic sense and because of its importance from an artistic, cultural, and social point of view. Rectangular in shape, with an overall area of 17,000 square meters (about 183,000 sq ft), the piazza includes some of the most important buildings of Milan, as well some of the most prestigious commercial activities, and it is by far the foremost tourist attraction of the city.

And a photo of another street in Milan

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Theres something beautiful about Trains

Im planning to use this photo early in the campaign, when the players are going to investigate the toy train that Mehmet Makryat sold, and they head out of London.

A British Railways Standard '4MT' ten-wheeler, number 75078, visiting from the nearby Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, and a ten-coach train cross the Brooksbottom Viaduct of this preserved railway operation, closed by BR in 1972 and reopened between Bury and Rawtenstall by 1991.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lausanne & Lausanne CFF Train Station

Lausanne railway station (French: Gare de Lausanne) is the main intercity and regional railway station for the city of Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland. It is often known as Lausanne CFF to distinguish it from others in the town, and has been operating since 6 May 1856.

Lausanne CFF is a through station, which sits at the junction of the Simplon, Olten–Lausanne and Lausanne–Geneva railway lines. Due to this, express passenger trains are available to a wide variety of destinations.


Somewhere in Lausanne, early 1900s, no clue what the arrows pointing to
The Kursaal Theatre in Lausanne

Monday, July 15, 2013

“A street in Constantinople is a picture which one ought to see once....” - Mark Twain

So, I might have shortened Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain's quote a tiny bit....

British Soldiers searching Turks after Riots

Galata Steps: Galata stands on the foundations of the earliest settlements that became Constantinople. 

The Ottoman Archaeology Museum

Pera (Istiklal) and Sahne Streets Intersection, François Vallauri's cafe was on the (left) corner

Students and Teachers from the Ottoman School of Fine Arts

A view of Galata from The Golden Horn - The Ottoman Imperial Bank looms above

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Makryats Curio Shop Sales Record

I've been looking for more props to make, and I'm a huge believer in letting players find clues, rather than just rolling the dice to let them see things.

Well, I didn't want to make a complete sales record and inventory book for Makryats curio shop in London (I dont see a need to make a whole book, even though that might thrill a forensic accountant), but I figured that I'd have my players toss some dice to search Makryats shop for clues, and when they find something, let them have the following document.

Makyrats Curio Shop Sales Record

I'd rather let them look at the sales record, and hope that they notice that the Toy Train doesn't exactly fit with the rest of the Curios and Relics, than just point it out to them.  If I have to have them roll dice to see the clue.... well..... then so be it (but if someone notices.... I just might reward them with a percentage point or two in a skill like accounting or something)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Snowbound Train

One of my favourite scenes in "Murder on the Orient Express" is the train plowing through the snow and getting stopped.  This isn't the Orient Express, its a German train.  But its a beautiful picture.  And I don't think my players (or yours) will mind so much.  Particularly if you plan to have the train stopped by the weather at some point.

Also, where I'm at has been experiencing high temperatures as I post this, 
so looking at the snow... cooling

Friday, July 12, 2013

My Campaign

We're pretty much finished with Character Generation for my group.  At the last minute we had two people drop out (one for work related reasons, the other for personal life related reasons).

To bring the players and characters together, im planning on running a home-brewed adventure that will give them a hint at the hidden 'Mythos' world, while giving the new players a little feeling for the system.  This will also give me a little bit of a buffer before Chaosium releases the campaign set (so I don't have to use my original release stuff and then adjust for changes later)

As it is, the group consists of the following:
  • A British WWI Veteran.  He was a combat engineer during the war, and afterwards, he's been working as an engineer.  He's not particularly wealthy, and is seeking a stable situation.
  • The son of a British gentleman farmer.  His father became wealthy supplying the Army with food during the war.  Things have slowed down some, and he's seeking his own fortune and future, but still has some money.
  • An American Dilettante.  The daughter of a Kentucky horse racer (and whiskey bootlegger), shes kinda a party girl who studied french art in college and is now embarking on an European tour starting in Britain.
  • A Locksmith (who moonlights as a Jewel Thief) who is trying to hide from a recent crime.
  • A Gypsy midget actress/entertainer 
  • An American Mob Enforcer who is trying to get out of the game, trying to start a new life in Jolly Ol' England.  He's used to talking with his fists, and isn't above jamming a switchblade between someones ribs.
  • A Turkish WWI Veteran who came to Britain to work at a gym teaching boxing/martial arts, but cultural differences have left him desiring to return to Turkey.  Kind of a Janissary concept.  Very superstitious/religious.
One of the things I really like is that pretty much everybody in the group is a "regular person".  Nobody is overly-specialized or overly powerful.  Even the "combat characters" (The two veterans and the mob enforcer) aren't particularly combat powerful.  They have a good array of skills: I think the highest skill is the Farmers son, with 70% in First Aid.

For a physical prop inventory (physical 3-dimensional props/game aids) I have the following:
  1. Orient Express lamp set from ebay
  2. A small double-sided train station style clock thats free-standing
  3. A small steamer trunk (about 24"x10"x10")
  4. A leather-bound journal for the players to keep a quest-journal
  5. A typewriter
  6. An assortment of hats
  7. A couple prop guns
And I'd really like to have the following
  1. I'm still seeking a way to make acid-etched plates and cups so I can serve themed meals at every game session
  2. A couple more prop guns
  3. An Ithaqua Medallion 

I still need to pick up or set up the following for administrative supplies
  1. a 3x5 card file box so i can keep notes on NPC's
  2. a 3x5 or similar card file box to organize photographs
  3. a note book with laminated maps
  4. assorted paper props
  5. passports for everyone

And now I return you to your regularly scheduled programming....

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chaosium posted an important update

Well, theres been a little bit of an unfortunate update from Chaosium, but to me at least, its not entirely unexpected.

This really is a HUGE project, and its doubled in size.  While I'm somewhat disapointed that its being delayed.....  I'll survive.  And I'll keep posting printable props, articles, and photographs.  My campaign is starting in a couple weeks - going to have an adventure thats un-attached to the campaign to bring all the characters together, and give the players (particularly the inexperienced players) some familiarity with the game and how things work.

What Happens When 123,000 Words Becomes 345,000 Words?

Update #82 · Jul 10, 2013 · 27 comments
What Happens When 123,000 Words Becomes 345,000 Words?
The Horror on the Orient Express of 1991 was made up of four small scenario books, each taking the investigators further into the horrors that awaited them on the Orient Express route. The new edition will be comprised of four thick content-rich books that improve and expand on the classic campaign.
While everyone here at Chaosium is diligently working on Horror on the Orient Express, we feel it is time to inform you, our awesome backers, that we will unfortunately not be able to release Horror on the Orient Express by Gen Con. Much to our disappointment, the release will end up being a couple months late.
However, with this unfortunate news comes some grand news, as the books are looking better than ever. We have scores of amazing maps by Steff Worthington, exciting art by Stefano Marinetti, Caleb Cleveland, Alberto Bontempi, Michele Johnson, and Dean Engelhardt. In addition, we have, through Campaign Coins, created two amazing pieces: a the Croix D'Orient Express and the Medallion of Ithaqua. We are very pleased with the fine quality of our props, including the placemats, postcards, and postcards.
We have Andrew Leman on board working hard on creating astounding handouts.
This monumental process has surprised us not only with the sheer volume of work, but also with the excellent quality of the new text, artwork, and handouts.
While delays are not always easy to swallow, in the end we believe that creating a top-quality book (set of books!) is more important in the long run than the exact release date.
A note about Gen Con:
For our loyal backers that will be at Gen Con, we will have an Orient Express Museum set up at our booth, where you will be able to see some of our progress thus far. We will have a plethora of handouts and props for you to see, and a print on demand sample of one of the books for you to view at our booth.
Thank you for understanding,
The Chaosium Crew

From the editor:

The delay for the project is on my shoulders. Despite the authors making their deadlines, I have failed to make mine, and apologize to everyone.
The delay is due to me underestimating the task and spending too long in playtesting and pre-production. I started final editorial too late, and discovered there was a lot more to do on each scenario than I thought. The text is now fully edited and with Chaosium.
The 1991 book was 123,000 words, with 13 scenarios and background for the 1920s train. The 2013 manuscript is 345,000 words, with 19 scenarios and background for the 1920s, 1890s, modern and Dreamlands trains, as well as new 1920s articles and a standalone booklet for players only.
All of the existing scenarios have been expanded with new scenes, more player options, new information flow, new Keeper advice, expanded 1923 historical background and superb new city maps from Steff Worthington (in both player and Keeper versions). The brand-new scenarios enhance the campaign back story, necessitating further editorial. Partway through we confirmed that we would publish in 7th edition. I think is the right decision as it means the campaign need not be revised again in the future, but it took time to convert the existing material. I thank Phil Anderson, Paul Fricker, Geoff Gillan and Mike Mason for their assistance.
I am sorry that you will not have the book sooner, but I hope it will be worth the wait.
 - Mark

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Milan Train Station

The first Milano Centrale station opened in 1864 in the area now occupied by the Piazza della Repubblica.  It was designed by the French architect Louis-Jules Bouchot (1817–1907) and its architectural style was reminiscent of Parisian buildings of that period. The station was designed to replace Porta Tosa station (opened in 1846 as the terminus of the line to Treviglio and eventually Venice) and Porta Nuova station (opened in 1850 as the second terminus on the line to Monza, which was eventually extended to Chiasso) and was interconnected with all lines, either existing or under construction, surrounding Milan. It remained in operation until 30 June 1931, when the current station was opened.