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Captain's Log: The Book Dragon Adventures

by Jeffrey A. Rothermel

June 22, 2024

The Captain's Log


(Part Four of the Dungeon Cooking Chronicles)

Finding time to assemble an adventuring party

of Dungeons and Dragons players

during the resurgent summer of rock 'n roll

is difficult when the dwarf is in a rock band.

Additionally, the bookseller

was in Europe for three weeks.

We gathered on multiple continents on the 27th of April to play a round of Dungeons and Dragons. This edition discusses the wonders of cyber video communications. It also discloses some secret truths about the mythical Book Dragon.

Book Dragons are Real?

Before we discuss the Captain's current cyber treasure adventures, it is best to go back to the middle of the story for a quick refresher of the plot.

Background. The Dungeon Cooking Chronicles highlights the Captain's bookstore adventures. The client that bought Chris-Rachael Oseland's book AN UNEXPECTED COOKBOOK, The Unofficial Cookbook of Hobbit Cookery at the Captain's Book Shoppe presented me with a challenge. If I would gather a party of worthy role-playing adventurers, he would "dungeon master" a campaign.

Author's note: This is a somewhat fictionalized account of a real Dungeons and Dragons Campaign. The campaign events are basically real, but aspects have been fictionalized to protect client privacy. The campaign started with a visit to Captain's Book Shoppe. Multiple customers from all walks of life were recruited by Centuri-the-bookseller in January 2024. Eight players along with a Dungeon Master remain in the campaign as of June 2024.

A recurring theme of bookshop life is understanding reality while appreciating the benefits of fiction. The pitfall of fantasy is when time is no longer manageable. The latest dance with scheduling started with my book hunting trip to Europe this past April and May of 2024. Was the trip the pebble that disrupted the tranquil waters of time?

Interestingly, one patron has a few unique pieces of art for sale thru the Captain. One piece appears to capture the ooze of time being disrupted.

Coincidence or a commercial? Perhaps you will be able to piece together the clues through your browsing and sleuthing to solve the riddles at Captain's Book Shoppe.

Stop by the store to investigate for yourself:

What Action

Triggers the Ripple that Ripped Apart Time?

Artwork: "Traffic Stop" used by permission of artist: Daedalus Vaughner. Prints are available for purchase at Captain's Book Shoppe LLC for $30.

Various options were reviewed this past winter for the upcoming trip to Europe. It was decided the most cost-effective thing to do was to temporarily shutter the store and suspend online sales for a little over three weeks while traveling. Online booksellers call removing their books from the active cyber-marketplace as: "going on vacation."

How hard can planning a trip be?

One factor I failed to plan for, was the care and feeding of the bookshop plants while the store was dark for three weeks. Failing to plan for this contingency was most distressing. Thankfully, my experience of working in environments where reality did not synchronize with the plan, bookstores, prepared me for thinking on my feet. One never knows what the next adventure will be when inside a bookstore. The plants were whisked away and dispersed to various temporary locations, and all was well. The plants have all returned to the store in healthy condition, ready for more book shoppe adventures.

Photo of Ms. Ivy the Captain's Book Shoppe plant upon returning from the European trip on May 25, 2024. She is alive and thriving.

Logging into the regularly scheduled game from Europe had its challenges.

Adjusting the audio to match the crystal-clear video was also a challenge. Once the video was clear, the sound became traumatizing. Each distant roll of dice in America thundered with a painful vibration. Adjusting volume meant the conversation around the table could not be heard. Continued adjustment found the conversation sounding like Charle Brown's teacher (a garbled, unintelligible mumbling).

Adjustments to the "smart phone" in America were made.

You guessed it. The smart phone was turned off and then re-started.

Somehow the angle of the phone changed. One of the purposes of using "miniatures" is for everyone playing the game to have a common understanding of the spatial relationships of events in the game. If an elven archer is shooting an arrow at a target, does the archer have a line-of-sight shot? While the game may seem like "made up make-believe fantasy," there are standard, normally agreed upon rules of what can and cannot occur. Miniatures are an aide to keep the game play flowing, because everyone has a common frame of reference of where the fictional players are in the mythical world.

Playing without miniatures means game play becomes slower. Someone inevitably forgets the verbal storyline or didn't hear what the dwarf was doing due to the large crunch of Doritos. A five-minute discussion may develop about verbally describing where everybody is because there is inevitably one role-player that has an awesome spell they want to cast. It can get rather annoying when the game continually slows for the spellcaster to convince everyone to arrange themselves to a view of the mythical world "their way" so a spell can be cast. Miniatures are, in my opinion, the only way to play when new players are joining a group.

Unfortunately, when the video phone was readjusted, I could not clearly see the map on which the miniatures were standing. I wished I had a drone that I could fly over the map, versus being at the end of the football field. The distance made it, so I could not count the number of hexes in order to calculate my position in order to make ranged attacks.

Long distance video gaming has potential.

Observations and Recommendations:

Avoid placing the video camera with the microphone directly onto the gaming table. When the dice are rolled, the microphone at the bottom of the camera picks up that explosive noise. [Or roll dice somewhere other than on the gaming table.] Having a computerized, random number generator maybe a useful backup.

One never knows when the flow of the story will be disrupted by a dangerous dragon, such as right now.


There are rumors that a dragon has settled into this mythical world that we, gamers, are adventuring in. Dragons reportedly horde treasure. Back in the real world, I sell numerous books on the topic. Some reference materials are more valuable than others.

Book dragons acquire vast quantities of books. Rarely, will they ever part with their treasure.

It is the age-old question; how much is enough?

Wise book dragons enjoy flirting with the dangers of collecting but avoid being consumed by their treasures. True book dragons are the mightiest of book curators. They know what to read and keep, and what to discard. We, bookdealers, rarely divulge our secret dragon lairs of book treasures. Rumors are that I recently travelled to Europe to investigate the reports of dragon lairs. [Please refer to: Captain's Log: The Gutenberg Bible (Mainz, Germany) ]

There is a rush when one makes a book find. Book Dragons thrive on the rush of a find. Some believe dragons live for the fight of protecting their treasure.

Most of us muggles are blind to the magic of dragons. We bookdealers, rarely speak of it. We don't speak of the existence of intellectual dragons. They start out as bookworms. They read, read and read. Once read, does one need to keep the item?

Some items must be kept for future reference. The bookworm grows into a wise, incredibly knowledgeable dragon. Book dragons are the coolest beings on earth. Do you know a book dragon?

Has your book dragon visited the Captain's Book Shoppe?

The Dark Side


Book Dragons

Occasionally, a book dragon succumbs to the collecting madness. Intellectuals, buy, buy, buy and lose their house. The dragon relocates and then returns to the bookseller for more books. (We like to think of such stories as simply myths. Be forewarned. The adventure of collecting books is dangerous. ETHICAL BOOKSELLING WARNING COMPLETE.) Theoretically, book dragons read and keep only the valuable books. How does a book dragon know which books to keep and which ones to move along to the next book worm?

We will continue to explore these questions in future Captain's Logs, just as this adventuring party is being tempted to investigate the reports of a dragon.

Grumpy Dragons

Wise dragons are masters at identifying treasure. They know its value. Is it simply the information in the book that has value? What makes certain books valuable? Book Dragons are masters at answering such questions. That is why the best treasure is always found in a dragon's lair. Few ever survive attempting to steal treasure from the dragon, because dragons fiercely protect their treasures.

Dragons are occasionally lured to look at possible treasures. Often there are flaws, blemishes and defects to the treasure that make it less than cost effective to keep. The older the dragon, the more likely the dragon has earned a grumpy reputation for looking at and pointing out minor issues with a "treasure."

Pro tip number one: Never, ever go into a dragon's lair and refer to the treasure as junk.

Can a dragon be talked into parting with some of their treasure? Answering that question is the art of book dealing.

Negativity is rarely fun to be around. I know this bookdealer named Centuri that points out every fault, and bluntly states the issue online - almost as if he does NOT want to sell the item. One would think Centuri has succumbed to the madness of hording rather than making a profit. There is an art and magic to describing and selling books on the internet. Describing a book flaw in a manner that compels someone to want it, is the mystical art. Or is it a curse? The grumpy art of spotting every possible flaw a buyer needs to know about the book prior to purchase can skew a person's outlook on reality. Turning the negative into a positive is the magic of a book dragon's liar.


Adventuring makes a person hungry. Since I was in Europe, the adventurers in America did not reveal any secret dungeon recipes. Thus, today we take a look at a book dedicated to vinegar. The book of apple folklore and what vinegar can do is somewhat interesting. This copy is selling at Captain's Book Shoppe for $4.25 plus tax and shipping.

Did you know vinegar is mentioned eight times in the Bible?

Page 31 of the book discusses the 1717 Clarendon Press (Oxford, England) misprint. The "22nd chapter of the book of Luke, the word "vineyard" had been misprinted." Collectors call the Clarendon 1717 Bible:

The Vinegar Bible

You can find more interesting vinegar folklore and alleged medical remedies in the Vinegar Book.


The Ends that are New Beginnings

The "sweet sorrows" of transition means this essay is about to conclude. One book I would like to part with is by Ignatius Donnelly. He was an attorney, and the second Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota. He wrote 900 pages about a cipher. "The Great Cryptogram: Francis Bacon's in The So-Called Shakespeare Plays" I have a rebound 1888 original sitting in the store for $120.

The realities of time mean people transition. One of my regular clients is leaving town. Every semester, after his last law school final he would treat himself to a browsing experience at Captain's Book Shoppe LLC. As a book dealer, I could tell University of Iowa Law School time, by his regular visits. His first visit three years ago seems like yesterday. Unfortunately, I was in Europe when he took his last final. Thankfully, the Haunted Bookshop was open. He stopped by when I returned and reopened. We traded stories and I have permission to tell this story. It seems that upon every visit, I would tell him my latest plan or concept that I was reviewing for bookstore expansion.

Change is constant. People's lives change. Whenever life gets a bit too hectic, consider stopping time with a visit to Captain's Book Shoppe.

Whenever time appears to warp, a dragon is near.

= = = = =


Jeffrey A. Rothermel

Captain's Book Shoppe

1570 S. 1st Ave, Suite H

Iowa City, IA 52240


Store Phone: (319) 351-3166

= = = = =


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2.) The Mystery of the Loaded Dice

3.) The Medical Facts of Time


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