Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm going on holiday until the 31st. I won't be posting any more until I get back.

The Isle of Dogs

The inhabitants of this island are in dog form for one month, and human form for the next.

They marry one person for their life in dog form, and another for their life in human form.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Isle of Chains

The people of this island have a custom that every seventh child shall be born neither male nor female, and shall be a slave.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Isle of the Beast

On this island is an ancient altar with great iron chains. It is said that whoever wants to summon the beast must bind themselves with these chains, making escape impossible as a sign of their utter confidence in their ability to control the beast. It is also said that they must cut themself with a knife, drawing blood, which would normally drive the beast into a frenzy, for the same reason.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Isle of the Bald

The people of this island wear their hair cropped short. For incubi and succubi are said to abduct attractive youths - and these youths are found in the forest, strangled to death with their own hair.

The leader of the incubi and succubi is said to be named The Beautiful Woman Without Pity, or The White Lady.

"We are living in a material world
but I am an immaterial girl."

The Beautiful Woman Without Pity (attributed)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wicked Baskets

It is said that a sorcerer named Man of Hunger has a crew of thieves which he controls by magic. He knows a spell which turns them into open wicker baskets. At will the 'basket' can sprout legs and run away at great speed, stealing whatever is placed inside it. After 12 hours in a quiet and dark place the basket will turn back into a person. They are careful to have an accomplice empty them first, because if they do not it will be as if they had eaten whatever is inside the basket. The sorcerer keeps command over his unwilling thieves since the same spell which turns them into a basket, also turns their heart into a shell, shirt or other object, which the sorcerer keeps while they work.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wandering Ruins

These creatures are the rural cousins of Hungry Houses. Like Hungry Houses they mostly lie in wait for prey to come to them. A related species which actively hunts its prey is the Jumping Castle (although it is said by some that Jumping Castles are the younger, more active members of the same species).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Underground Humans

Humans will sometimes live underground. Some will come to the surface during the day or night, while others will live underground permanently.

If a group avoids the sunlight for several generations they will tend to evolve pale skin, and an aversion to sunlight. The eyes may become huge, to catch what little light there is. In areas of total darkness the eyes may become tiny and blind, perhaps permanently closed, or even absent altogether. To compensate, the ears may grow larger, or the feet evolve a new sensitivity to vibrations.

Lack of sunlight causes melancholy and sickness, and we do not survive well in darkness. Thus those who live underground are usually driven to it by dire circumstances. The main reasons are as follows:
  • Safety: Those who are harried on the surface may be innocent, such as refugees and escaped slaves, or guilty, such as criminals, murderous cults, or insane scientists who wish to perform unwholesome experiments with impunity.
  • Shame: An individual may punish themselves for some crime by never seeing the sun. Likewise those whose bodies are changed by magic may wish to avoid the sight of others.
  • Mania: Some forms of madness may lead the sufferer to seek darkness; for example those who falsely believe themselves to be vampires.
  • Fell Influence: Many creatures which exercise a destructive magical influence on the foolish or unwary live underground, and they may wish their followers to gather close to them.
  • Accident: As when a city is swallowed by the earth, or a group of miners are cut off from the surface, and there are survivors who find a source of food.
Naturally there may be a combination of reasons. When a culture falls into Degeneracy, the survivors may seek the darkness for all five reasons.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thirty Pockets

Sometimes said to be a demon and at others times to be an evil woman, Thirty Pockets is so named because her coat has thirty pockets, each one with a different kind of knife. The knives are sharp, and shine like new, though Thirty Pockets herself is old and dirty, and her clothes are rags. She is said to make her home under Telelelene houses, or sometimes in houses which have been destroyed by fire, and to murder any children who come exploring.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


It is well known that when a swan dies, it will sing a song of incomparable beauty.

Some base villains have tried to kill swans just to hear their song. Many of them have fallen afoul of a swan-maiden.

Swan-maidens, when not taking the form of a swan, are grim shadows of blood and fire. The name 'maiden' refers to their asexual method of reproduction, not to beauty. If they do not dismember their foes with dark magic, they have been known to posess them by burrowing into their spine, forming a 'marriage' wherein the victim's corpse becomes a puppet of the swan-maiden.

After some months the swan-maiden causes the corpse of the victim (who is called the husband, although they need not be male) to construct a cloak of swan feathers and its own skin. The husband then performs a ceremony which both summons a new swan-maiden, and destroys the husband's body.

It remains a great mystery why such foul creatures would dedicate their entire existence to protecting swans.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sock Puppets

These creatures have the appearance of giant sock puppets, about the size of an adult human. If the creatures are killed the outer skin/sock can be removed, revealing the giant forearm and hand underneath. The underside of the creatures is black and burnt, as if the forearm had been cauterised to prevent blood loss.

Each group of sock puppets appears to be telepathically linked, or even to share a single mind. They have almost human-like intelligence.

Sock Puppets live in a dark, foul-smelling lair called an Arm-Pit.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Silicate Spiders

These gigantic creatures live anywhere in the Celestial Realm where two planetary bodies may be found close together.

They trap spacecraft by building webs between two planets.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


My very short story Sometimes has been published. It's thirteen words long, and you can read it here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Talking Animals

In general, for any species, there might be a talking, intelligent version, as well as the mute, bestial version that we are familiar with.

Some sages believe that apes and humans form such a pair. Yet there are rumours of bestial humans, and what of the Ape-Rajahs of the brass-walled City of Dust? Though some say that they are not true apes.

Teleleli is home to large numbers of talking animals, particularly cats, dogs, and mice.

Talking cats reach about five feet tall in adulthood. Young adults (toms and queens) rather remind one of characters from The Three Musketeers.

Normal cats have the ability to sense entrances to the underworld, and the desire to enter them (this is why they spend so much time under houses, and why they frequently disappear, never to be seen again). Some believe that talking cats have a dim echo of this sense.

Courting among talking cats involves toms displaying agility, for example by balancing on a fence, while playing the bagpipes. Talking cats are unique in their love of this instrument. Its music also affords the toms further ability to display their grace, by dodging the objects thrown at them by the neighbours. Queens are only allowed to court toms on one day of the year, the holiday Lost Saturday. This rule, being the command of the church, is universally obeyed, just as in our own society sex outside of marriage is unknown.

Although I have been unable to determine its truth, there is widespread agreement that a talking cat's fur colour indicates a particular talent, as follows:

BlackHeld to have the ability to wish bad luck, especially hunger, on those who oppose them.
White, or van (coloured ears, rest of the body white):Believed to be lucky.
Grey"In the night all cats are grey" the Telelelenes say, since such cats are believed to excel in being stealthy at night.
OrangeBelieved to excel in predicting the weather.
Tortiseshell (black and orange patches)Said to excel in thwarting snakes, scorpions, spiders and like creatures, both normal and talking. Legend says that a tortiseshell cat defended the Tree of All Beasts from demons in the form of venomous animals, and was given this ability as a reward.
Tabby (light grey and dark grey-black stripes)Credited with an uncanny nack of locating hidden treasure.
Paws, chest, and lower face white - upper face, ears, legs, back and tail blackBelieved to excel in all matters pertaining to love, the home, marriage, and children.
Paws, chest, and lower face white - upper face, ears, legs, back and tail of any colour other than blackBelieved to excel in attracting the admiration of others (a most valued attribute for this generally vain and superficial folk).

Talking mice are about four feet tall, and generally have a similar style to talking cats.

Both talking cats and mice are physically ideal for the profession of burglar, but they are usually handicapped by their immense vanity in the first case, and their sense of fair play in the second. There are many famous cat-burglars, but few who are said to have lived for long. Some talking mice have become pirates, but talking cats generally disdain the sea - perhaps they retain some of their ancestral dislike of water.

Talking dogs can be any size from three feet to higher than the tallest human. Strangely, the variety of breeds in mute dogs is reflected in talking dogs. They believe that they were made thus by the Great Race. These theories are at least more credible than talking cats' belief that they were created from the sneeze of a lion. The largest talking dogs of all are those with wolfish blood. True talking wolves are thankfully not seen in the city, but they are the terror of the forests.

Gangs of talking cats and dogs often fight each other. The main issue is religion, with one species being mostly Catolic, the other Eastern Orthodogs (except for some who follow the teachings of Martin Woofer).

Talking sea creatures can sometimes be seen in Teleleli, particularly around the docks. The mercantile Sell-Fish, ever seeking new markets, uses its fins as feet in order to walk on land. While on land, talking fish carry un-brellas. These devices look like umbrellas, but drop a constant stream of water on the talking fish. Talking dolphins transform into human form. Their human bodies are hairless, slim and muscular. They are said to have a city underwater, location unknown. In some accounts it is destroyed.

Talking sea creatures are largely uninterested in the religious conflict between dogs and cats. However they are sometimes the target of zealots from both communities, because of their liberal attitutes. For example prawnography is openly sold, and they have produced Salmon Rushdie, author of the controversial novel The Sardinic Verses. To protect themselves they have trained a force of Navy Seals.

Talking weasels are likewise uninterested in religious conflicts, due to their belief in the seperation of church and stoat.

Talking cockroaches, or Roaches of Al-Shahab, are about the size of a wolf or foal. They keep the streets reasonably clean by eating garbage. This reduces disease, and can keep away the eggs of many dangerous creatures such as the Invisible Worm Which Flies in the Night. Thus it is dangerous to drive them away, despite their many revolting habits. One such is that they dig up cemeteries. Although even this ensures that a place will not be infested by ghouls, who do not always limit themselves to those already dead. Another is their willingness to work with criminals such as the Bright Company, who use them to dispose of bodies.

Talking snails, turtles and tortises often find the pace of other creatures difficult to adjust to. Thus many of them live in the Slowtown district. Outsiders who enter this walled-off area are required to wear modified diving suits to slow them down. The economy of this district is largely based on the silver found in the trails which talking snails leave behind them.

Talking beavers mostly live in rural areas. However there is a small colony in Teleleli, who were driven here when their dam was destroyed by human farmers. Many of them listen to the bitter talking beaver Clint Eatwood who has sworn that he will take revenge, forcing the farmers to "go ahead punk - make my dam."

Where most talking creatures are close to human-size, talking birds are the same size as their mute equivalents. Naturally many live atop the Roofs.

Lizard-folk are not talking animals, since their bodies are halfway between a human and lizard form.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Shining Ones

The Shining Ones come from a distant country, "the mouths of the outer darkness", in the prehistoric past.

They are a tall and fair race, as beloved and cruel as children.

Some have speculated that the names of the Bright Company and the Sun Heroes suggest a connection to the Shining Ones.

The engraved metal plates of unknown origin called the Key to Unimpeachable Wisdom state that talking wolves were created to guard the Shining Ones while they slept "the greater sleep."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sheets of Eyes

The Sheet of Eyes, or Sheet of Eyes and Tongues, is flat and highly malleable like a bedsheet. It is covered all over with human-like eyes of various colours and sizes, and likewise with mouths.

It is said to visit its victims in the night and cover them. This does them no direct harm. But the feeling of waking up to find the creature's eyelashes and lips brushing on one's exposed skin is said to be utterly horrifying. Indeed some of its victims are said to have gone mad or committed suicide. There are many who sleep with a lit lamp or candle for fear of the creature, who is said only to visit in complete darkness.

Holy Sheets and Pillowdins are the archenemies of the Sheets of Eyes. They are servants of the goddess of sound sleep, The Madoona.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shallow Ones

In the distant past, a group of the frog-like Finfolk rose from the depths of the sea to corrupt and destroy the surface world. However after spending some time in Teleleli they found that the shopping was fantastic and some of the cafes were to die for, and decided to stay. The Shallow Ones are their descendents.

(edit: for a player-character Shallow One race for the 1970s version of Dungeons & Dragons, see here).

Saturday, January 8, 2011


These creatures look like halflings who have been severed vertically, so that only one half of their body is left. They are also known as hoppits.

They are often vicious and spiteful creatures. Perhaps they have cause, having obviously been created because some god thought of a pun. Also they find the traditional pleasures of halflings very difficult: lighting a pipe really needs two hands, and if they eat too much they get too lop-sided and fall over. They also have poor depth perception.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Primordial Ooze

It is said that millions of years ago, when the world was first formed, all was shapeless, forming and re-forming. This time is called the Plasticene Era.

Primordial Ooze is a blob of this world-stuff, somehow left over. It can take on the basic shape of anything, but will retain its softness and bright colours. Thus it will only fool the traveller in near-darkness.

As a result, and because of their lack of defences, they mostly confine themselves to empty places in the underworld.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Humans and related kindred who explore the underworld, even if blessed with the sharp eyes of dwarves, hemianthropoi and elves, face as much danger from falls, twisted ankles or other injuries in the darkness as from any monster.

If they attack a group from the surface, intelligent creatures who are familiar with surface-dwellers will usually attack whoever is mapping, or the torch-bearers. Other creatures are also likely to attack the torch-bearers. However they are likely to try to attack the torches themselves, believing them to be living things.

Some who enter the underworld have been known to first buy whole herds of swine, and drive them before them to set off traps, draw ambushes and so on.

This is sometimes successful, but has the side-effect of making the inhabitants of the underworld more aggressive. Many an adventurer has been angrily greeted as "the bastard who keeps sending me all this spam."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


These monsters are actually humans in the last stage of Cabin Fever, a disease caused by prolonged confinement. They look like hairy, bestial humanoids. They are inevitably naked, since the sufferer cannot abide the feeling of clothing on their skin and will tear it from their body. They are extremely violent, and hysterical in behaviour, screaming and repeating words they hear without any sense.

Cabin Fever often occurs in arctic environments, where a hunter might be 'snowed in' and have to stay in one place for weeks. The Piblokto appears to be uneffected by the cold. Yet they will eventually die, apparently of exposure, if they are not cured.

The cure, difficult or impossible though it may be, is to take the sufferer to a warm place, with people around, not to restrain them but to ignore their behaviour, only defending oneself when necessary. until after several weeks they will return to sanity and change back to human form.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

from The Neverending Story

Continents and oceans, mountains and watercourses, have no fixed locations as in the real world. Thus it would be quite impossible to draw a map of Fantastica. In Fantastica you can never be sure in advance what will be next to what. Even the directions -- north, south, east, and west -- change from one part of the country to another.

Michael Ende.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Perverse Space Brains

Perverse Space Brains live in the space between the world and the Moon.

They look like oversized human brains, including a brain stem, which of course connects to nothing. They have two red and glowing eyes which float in front of their brain/bodies. The eyes have the same size and relative position to the brain as a human's eyes do to their brain. No nerves connect eye and brain.

The 'lizard brain', which in a human governs the animal-like instincts, appears to be separated from the Perverse Space Brain, but to still sleep within it. When threatened the Perverse Space Brain will cause this part to awake and exit it, fighting to protect its 'parent'. This separated part is called a Laser Hound, as it resembles a dog or wolf, and can emit beams of scorching light from its eyes.

The appelation 'perverse' refers to their inhuman thought processes, not to any unusual lusts. Indeed they seem to have no understanding of "this human emotion you" During certain periods the Brain enters a hibernation-like sleep, while the Laser Hound goes forth to seek a mate. Once the new Brain is born the parents separate, returning to their host Brains.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Fathers and New Mothers

It happens at times that a child reports that their parent abandoned them and, soon after, a 'new mother' or 'new father' arrived, with glass eyes and a wooden tail.

The appearance of these creatures is so frightening that, invariably, the child reports that they fled in terror.

The creatures are said to simply stay in the house. They apparently do not need to eat. A pall of fear seems to keep away neighbours as it does the children. Thus they are known only by the occasional flash of their eyes seen through the window, and the muffled sound of their wooden tail.

Some say that these creatures are doing their best to comfort the poor children, but their unearthly nature defeats their aims. Others say that they are simply concerned with gaining access to the parent's property, or to the children themselves. Yet others suggest that their coming is arranged by an Angel of Poetic Injustice enforcing the offhand remark of an exasperated parent.

(Thanks to Swords & Dorkery for the link to the document that inspired this post).

Saturday, January 1, 2011


These creatures look like men and women, clad in a strange armour. This 'armour' may really be part of their bodies. They have no heads, instead posessing a flattened block which somewhat resembles a cinema screen.

They are known for their treatment of the dead of other races. They are said to drill into the brains of the corpse (the drill may be part of their armour, or of their bodies), and extract something. The superstitious insist it is the soul of the deceased, but the learned reply that they do this to corpses long-dead, whose soul would have flown long ago.

In any case, the treatment causes their 'head' to show an image of the dead person, as they were in life. Some have claimed that it speaks, showing knowledge that only the dead person could have. Others claim that the head tries to give this impression, but in reality gives general observations that could apply to anyone, or repeats information they glean from observation. This 'face' seems to last for months or years, but eventually to fade.

They are said by some to be aggressive, having a need to kill in order to make their strange harvest. Others dispute this, and say that they are attacked due to the horror that they provoke, and only defend themselves. Yet others claim that their behaviour is a merciful freeing of trapped souls.

Their reputation for aggression may partly come from their reaction to the death of one of their own. Should its face-screen have been blank, they show no emotion. But if it had a 'face' they seem to be utterly dismayed, and run howling in all directions. In either case they will return, and perform some activity which none have seen, which removes all evidence of the corpse. Should they be observed they will carry the corpse elsewhere. They will retrieve the corpse of one of their own at all costs, and seem to have an unfailing ability to know that such exists. If an entire group is killed, others will eventually arrive for them.
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