Monday, March 31, 2008

a double dose of medieval awesome

So I just finished reading Margaret Wade Labarge's A Baronial Household of the Thirteenth Century and I gotta share two bits from it or else I'll explode. First up, we have a throwaway mention of something that would make a cool-as-hell artifact for a modern weirdness campaign:
No English [chess] set was quite as rare as the one sent to St. Louis at Acre by the Old Man of the Mountain, chief of the Assassins of Syria; it was of crystal and amber with filigree of gold.
A chess set presented by the Grandfather of Assassins as a gift to a Saint-King. How can you not love that?

The other passage that I'm in love with describes a fad that developed among wealthy clerics of keeping pet monkeys and apes.
One of the northern chronicles, alluding to a bishop of Durhan's practice of keeping monkeys, described it as being "the custom of modern prelates for occasionally dispelling their anxieties."
Much of the time I can take or leave the cleric class, but I'd love a chance to play a clerical ape-keeper!