Wednesday, March 30, 2011


This book was written by a wizard who first caused their name to be stricken from the memories of all who knew it, then spent twenty years in the desert, listening for wisdom on the wind. The name 'Azaf' is said to resemble the voice of that desert, the night-sounds of insects and demons. The book is said to contain wickedness too terrible to be contained, and to bring madness and death to all who read it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Magical Artifacts

There is no organised trade in magical artifacts. What shopkeeper would be foolish or powerful enough to keep more than a few such artifacts in the one place? It would be like a signal-fire, lit to attract wicked sorcerers, demons and worse things from all over the universe, if not beyond.

It is said that one does not look for magic items; rather, they look for owners. Whether this is mere superstition, certainly such objects are rare. One who goes forth expecting to purchase, for example, the Remarkable Mittens Puissant Against the Unquiet Dead, is like one who goes forth saying to oneself
"I hope I meet my true love today; but if she be named Annie or Alice I shall reject her, for I rather hoped for a Mary." Yet the meanest bazaars have a way of selling remarkable items; just as one may find love in the least expected places, and if it be fate or mere chance who can say?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Witches' Grass

It is said that an ancient king had a garden, wherein his sorcerer had created plants, carnivorous like the Venus Flytrap of our world, but able to devour humans, a use to which the king would frequently put them.

The plants could preserve, and make use of, the body parts of their victims, and so the king could amuse himself by contemplating the face of a dead rival, or the choicest body parts of a discarded lover.

On the fall of the city the plants spread, and they are now the menace of the countryside in many areas. They seem to display a hateful intelligence in their use of the body parts of their victims, so that a bereaved mother may see the face of her child, its mouth spread to tear flesh, or a widower the hands of his beloved outstretched to strangle him.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Waste of the Iron Ones

This snowy waste is named for a group of talking bears, who mine iron and forge it into armour, which they believe contains their souls.

Every adult bear wears armour except for the priests, or Yogis, who go naked ('bear-arsed'). Only those who are more intelligent than the average bear are chosen to be Yogis.

The Waste is infested with ghouls. During the summer they awaken, ambushing travellers and turning them into ghouls. Towards the end of the summer they make their way to a lake if they can, or if not are covered by the snow. In either case they lie frozen for most of the year, until the lakes and snows melt again. The royal court of the ghouls is said to be at the bottom of a great lake.

Since ghouls are never seen with armour, the Iron Ones believe that they can only be turned into ghouls if it is stripped from them.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Tree of All Beasts

There is said to be a single tree which bears fruit, and each fruit is a different animal, and all animals are represented (including humans).

It is likewise said that somewhere at the bottom of the sea there grows a tree, green like seaweed and with fruit like oysters, each containing a pearl which grows into a different sea creature. Likewise there is said to be a tree made of cloud somewhere in the sky, whose fruit is birds.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Tower Unconquerable

Some slaves of Karsh or its allies talk of a great and hidden castle in the forest of this name.

It is widely believed that this is their poetical way of talking about death, their only curcease from toil.

Yet once I spoke to a Karshian slave, of a fellow-captive of his who had run away and was believed dead. The old slave insisted that no, he was not dead, rather he had found the Tower Unconquerable. Then the aged one put on the mask of humility, as slaves will, and begged my pardon for his mistake and his insolence.

Some talking birds, also enslaved by Karshians, talk of the Highest Eyrie.

The Gonterman Expedition, led by the noted explorer Prudence Gonterman, was a major attempt to find the Tower. The expedition was lost without trace. Rumours say that they went mad with hunger and disease and founded a city in the deep jungle, declaring it in their delirium to be the real Tower Unconquerable. They are said to have turned to cannibalism, sending emessaries from the forest who spread rumours of the Tower to entice runaway slaves and other explorers, whom they sacrifice to their god, Gonterman's son, and then feast on. They are even supposed to have killed many of those who came looking for them.

They are also said to leave masks lying around the forest, appearing to be valuable Ghost-Masks, but actually fakes coated in poison.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Tablelands

This land is named for its inhabitants, a species of living table.

Tables are mostly sterile. Non-sterile tables are called Multiplication Tables. Like bees, the common tables will be suicidal in their defence of these fertile tables.

Their wizards or priests, the Actuarial Tables, are said to have the power to predict future events.

The species is mostly fairly friendly. However a few go insane and live in the wilderness. These fierce Random Tables are the terror of any travellers who cross their path.

Tables rarely venture from their home. However the place is also home to a species of living armchair, who are more likely to roam. Armchair Adventurers are useful to a party of travellers, since they can be rested on, giving a better night's sleep than the floor of a tomb or forest.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Sunken City of Anhotep the Great

Anhotep was ruler of a great city. He was as arrogant as an emperor of cats, as cunning as the wise owls of Yib, and as cruel as the Ape-Rajahs who rule the City of Dust. He had his throne room filled with rotting corpses, and he made them all Dukes and Barons. He sat on his gold throne all through the dark night talking to them, and had great feasts prepared, where there were many guests but only one was alive. He addressed the people, telling them that the dead were his only loyal subjects, the only ones who were filled not with wilfulness and rebellion, but only love and obedience for their lord - the only ones other than the thick cloud of filthy whining flies which attended him, flies who swirled around him like stinking black smoke, spreading disease. Anhotep called them the Pearls of the Gods, allowing them to crawl on him and suck his blood, and killed any who harmed one.

In the end the sea god Numen Mari decreed that Anhotep would be doomed to drown. As the sea rose inch by inch, Anhotep and his court crowded into the highest towers, sealing the common people into lower rooms and letting them drown. Then the higher nobles sacrificed the lower, cutting their throats and climbing on their bodies. Finally Anhotep himself stood on the highest tower in his city - now barely above sea level - and killed the higher nobles, just to climb on them and stay above water for a few more minutes.

It is said that the sea itself rejected the vile city, and to this day tries to vomit it out, so that the water around appears to be boiling.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Sky-Skull

Some believe that the 'fixed stars' (those that do not change their positions in the sky) are jewels set in the skull of a dead god, and the Celestial Realm the dust that whirls within. Some speculate that there are other such skulls, the universe being a great plain upon which the gods contend and die.

It is also rumoured that one who held to this theory planned an expedition to mine the jewels. Whether this was to be achieved by precisely-calibrated catapult, finding where the skull intersects the surface of the world and climbing it, by dealing with flying creatures, or some other method, the rumours do not say.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Sands of Solemnity

These stretches of sand, found in the underworld, have the quality of magnifying all promises. Those who make a promise here and fail to keep it might be stricken with guilt, or compelled to quest until the promise is fulfilled. Those who are made a promise here which is not fulfilled might be compelled to seek out the oath-breaker and kill them.

The sand itself, when removed, has proven to have no such quality.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Red Valley

There is a chain of high mountains wherein, should a traveller climb them, they may suddenly come upon a valley.

This valley resembles the hells that various religions speak of - a place of fire, plague and torment.

Although the damned souls here appear human, those who have tried to talk to them report that they speak no known language.

One traveller reported fashioning a mask to survive the sulphurous air of the valley, and infiltrating it in the guise of a devil. He communicated with some of the damned through sign language, and arranged to help them escape. But as soon as they left the valley and breathed clear air, the damned began to thrash around as if they were drowning. After a minute or so they were dead.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Red Land

The Red Land (Barsoom in its former inhabitants' own tongue) was once the home of a great civilisation. It is now a howling desert, and its people scattered to the four winds.

The desert brings no storms to wash away, nor damp to rot, nor plants to choke, and thus their ruins stand unravaged by time. Only the underground-dwelling rats-with-human-faces still live there, and they have no interest in precious spices. Nor will they attempt to carry away the stones of the temples for fear of the guardian golems, the "silver-studded, sabre-toothed dreams."

Records of the Red Land are written on tablets of unknown metal. They rise from the desert about a mile, so that from a distance they seem like a city. It is unknown how much is buried beneath. Those who have read them say they claim that the Red Land was created first, centuries upon centuries before the rest of the world. It has been suggested that this might be a misreading, and records may be poetically noting that the civilisation discovered the rest of the world centuries after its founding, or that it was civilised while the lands around wallowed in barbarism.

One thing that is certain is that the inhabitants of the Red Land were not the Great Race. For their artifacts are unlike any others. No Glorious Hand has been found in the Red Land, and radium swords are found nowhere else.

The civilisation of the Red Land had declined greatly before its final destruction, and so there are few records of its fall. However it appears that the land relied on a certain plant, to purify the atmosphere of poisonous vapours that were otherwise prevalent. This plant appears to have faced extinction. It also appears that their system of canals had fallen into disrepair. These canals, miles wide and connecting every city-state, seem to have served as roads as well as methods of irrigation.

They appear to have had two entirely separate priesthoods. One performed weddings, funerals, and other priestly duties that we would be familiar with. The other was entirely devoted to the maintenance of the canals. No written records of the canal-priests' fate survive. Oral tradition speaks vaguely of a descent into wickedness. Certainly this priesthood is dead among the Red Land community in Teleleli, and other cities where such exist.

Their canal-priests may be compared to the priesthood of Healos Athair. However they appear not to have had the same smothering dominance, and the cities of the Red Land appear to have never been united in empire. Or perhaps the Red Land was once another Healos Athair, but the priesthood were thrown down by disaster or rebellion?

Physically the inhabitants of the Red Land are rather like lizards or crocodiles, but with six limbs rather than four. In colour they range from red to green. Many of the pets and herd animals they have brought from their home are likewise six-limbed. Some of their scholars claim that the lizard-folk of other deserts are related to them. In support of this they cite a supposed legend of the lizard-folk, that their ancestors had six limbs, but the gods caused two of them to drop off in punishment for various sins, or that they agreed to lose them in return for permission to commit certain acts necessary for survival in the desert, such as killing excess children.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Also called The Feathered Land, after its people's distinctive hairstyle. A land of dinosaurs and mighty-thewed barbarians, its primary exports are battleaxes and thrones made of skulls. It is reportedly the homeland of the owner of Sonja's.

The Telelelene ethnologist Ephra Zetta has made an extensive study of Panelvania. He reports that the inhabitants' mighty thews are gained by rigorous training. Men traditionally build up their muscles by walking around with a young woman holding on to their leg. Women traditionally increase their toughness by wearing a chainmail bikini in all weathers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Mountain of the Father of Wine

This mountain lies beyond a great desert. It is so high that any climber would feel drunk from the lack of air (unless they wore a 'climbing suit', a modified diving suit which allows one to carry their own air). But no climber comes, so far is it from any habitation. It is known only as the place of exile of the Father of Wine.

The Father of Wine is the god of wine, as well as comical theatre and carnivals. He is married to, but estranged from, the Ale-Mother. He is accompanied by a retinue of various creatures, who in days past roamed the land in a permanent state of drunken revelry, which could erupt into murderous violence at any moment. Centaurs of the wilderness often exile those of their number who go mad, and these are said to find and join the god. Dryads and fauns are also said to be found among the god's followers.

The most distinctive worshippers of the god, however, are the Snake-Wearers, also called the Howling Ones or Iron-Fingers. These are women who work themselves into a state of madness through dancing and wine. They are said to have a variety of magical arts, the most feared of which is a frenzy similar to the Viking berserkers or 'shield-chewers'. In this frenzy their fingernails are said to grow and harden until they are more like the claws of lionesses. It is not known whether their fingernails become literal iron, or whether the name Iron-Fingers simply indicates that they are as deadly as forged weapons. When livestock is found mutilated, it is said that it must have been one of these witches, on her way to the mountain to join the god.

The reason for the god's exile is as follows:

At one time lived Man-With-A-God-In-His-Mouth, the greatest singer, poet, and actor the world has seen, beloved by all. One day he happened upon the Father of Wine and his attendants in one of their ecstatic frenzies, and the Snake-Wearers fell on him in their madness and tore him apart. Out of spite, or perhaps from superstitious fear that this greatest of orators would denounce his murderers even after death, they cut off his head and sewed his mouth shut before burning it. Both god and witches went into exile to escape just retribution. On the way they formed the wine-lakes of The Desolation of Ozymandias. They now live in miserable poverty, which has reportedly not reduced their debauchery.

The witches claim that Man-With-A-God-In-His-Mouth was about to suggest a great crime, and his fame and grace were such that all would follow him. They refuse to say what the crime was, lest it be given the glamour of martyrdom. This is generally believed to be one of their many pointless lies.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Moon

The Moon is surrounded by a mist of unknown nature, which is not visible from the surface of the Earth, but which prevents close observation of the surface. Venturing into this mist, called the Veil of Ignorance, causes craft to lose their ability to fly, and instead to fall, presumably causing the death of all crew. Thus the Moon is unexplored, and its nature and inhabitants unknown.

The esoteric book History of the Computer God speaks of cities on the far side of the Moon, or perhaps buried inside it. Some interpret the text as meaning that the Moon is hollow, and that these cities lie on the inside surface.

"Infrared crusader priests from beyond comprehension" are said to travel to the world, steal the "Brain Bank Brain" of their victims, and house them in these cities.

The "Brain Bank Brain" is said to be the "other real brain". The meaning is obscure, but perhaps relates to the ancient Egyptian belief in multiple souls.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Land of Thin Flowers

This place is lower in the ground than even the deepest part of the underworld. It is the abode of demons, and the place of torment of the wicked dead.

At least, that is the teaching of many religions. Yet there are stories of people who have found the Land, either by delving too deeply in the underworld, or by falling into a pit. The latter mode of entry may be set as a trap; for those who claim to have fallen always report that they fell so far they expected to die, yet did not, and that a demon was waiting to bind them with chains. Escape is difficult, not so much due to any great vigilance of the demons, but due to the horror and misery of the place which saps the will.

Some have claimed that this place's physical existence, and the fact that it can be escaped, prove that it is not any kind of afterlife, but rather is a real place created in imitation of the teachings of religion. Who would do this, and why, is unknown.

In any case, the place is described as filled with a fire which gives no light or warmth, but burns flesh and produces choking grey smoke.

The Land is said to have five families of demon, each dedicated to the torment of a particular sense (vision, smell, touch, hearing, and taste). In peak periods each family may also hire imps (from a timp agency).

Others hold this to be mere superstition, saying that there are far more. La-La-Luff lists ten, with touch actually being divided among three families, one each for pressure, texture and temperature; an additional type specialising in the sense of balance; and two more types dealing in senses only posessed by non-humans; the perception of electric and magnetic currents. The last type, she claims, discovered that iron could be used to torment fairies.

There is agreed to be a great hatred and rivalry between the demons of sight and the demons of hearing. This is because both claim dominion over the echo-locative sense used by bats, and the similar ability of some blind people to sense objects by sound.

Relations between the demons of taste and smell are also somewhat tense, due to disputes over which parts of The Sewers the two clans may use for research.

The demons of touch (or those of pressure and temperature in the scheme of La-La-Luff), will be most familiar to the reader, resembling the demons of Christianity, or the Oni of Japan. The demons of taste are said to resemble giant tongues. Those of hearing are said to resemble blackboards, and to have arms with long, hard fingernails. They love to scratch themselves, producing an agonising squeak.

All these demons may be summoned if the correct ritual is performed. However the summoner must have discovered the ritual for themselves, not learned it from another (the law of copyrite).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Land Beyond the Winds

This land is home to the people called Sun Heroes.

In days past the Sun Heroes sailed all over the world fighting evil. They defined evil in the usual way; "their skin is a different colour to ours and they have treasure." They had not invented the idea that their gods were better than everyone else's, but no doubt were working on it.

While most people say 'Sun Heroes' to refer to the entire civilisation, they themselves used it only to refer to adult noble males. A noble male achieved adulthood once they had returned from their first voyage, or died on it.

Their mastery of the sea ended as a result of their meeting the hemianthropoi. These creatures neither died in battle against them, nor submitted in dismay, nor fled in terror. They melted into the forest at the first sight of a spear. Yet no sooner had the Sun Heroes slept off their victory feast, than the cowardly creatures would creep back, killing all they could with their slings, stealing back their loot or burning it out of sheer spite. Having turned the wine of victory to blood and ashes, the hemianthropoi would flee once more.

The hemianthropoi presented a great crisis for the Sun Heroes. Clearly it was necessary to seek vengeance on these murderous assassins who seemed to have no concept of courage or honour, and would rather set fire to a ship under cloak of darkness than fight in open battle. There was, equally clearly, no glory in killing such small and powerless creatures - even if they could be found to be killed. And, finally, there was little loot to be won from those who would poison their own grain, salt their own fields, and dump animal carcasses in the very wells, ere the first ship had landed.

Even as slaves the hemianthropoi were no use. With mouths full of soft words and lies they would submit to the master, yet would flee as soon as his back was turned. Their effect on other slaves was poisonous. The noble custom of 'living as a wolf', wherein adolescent boys of the noble class were sent into the wilderness with only a spear, to live for a few years raiding the commonality, became more and more dangerous. At last, the Sun Heroes could hardly contemplate setting sail at all, such was the discord and treachery in their own plantations.

Thus, over many decades, the slaves were given their freedom - throwing many great plantations into ruin - the raids ceased, and the heroic age of the Sun Heroes came to an end.

In recent generations the culture of Sun Heroes has become much admired, like a man-eating tiger which, when finally killed, is noticed to have a beautiful pelt. Their heroic tales are now very popular in the theatre of Teleleli, and likewise their pottery and statues may be found in its markets. This has given greater wealth to the common artisans, and adds to the rage of many nobles.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Labyrinth of Eyasa

The Labyrinth of Eyasa is said to be "a palace composed of many palaces". Its great stone courtyards and pyramids are connected by long, numerous and winding passageways, so that no stranger can find his way either into any court nor out of it without a guide.

It is said to contain statues of all the gods, kings and demons of that land.

Some of the palaces are so made that the opening of a door makes a terrifying sound, like thunder.

It is built so that, even though its upper levels are open to the sky, all but its outermost halls are in total darkness, even during the day.

In ancient days the place was used for important ceremonies and meetings, but today the people of Eyasa loathe the Labyrinth. They will allow no one to be buried there, except for birds, which they place in brass urns. Thus no one is known to go there except in desperation; criminals, those fleeing arranged marriages, and so on.

The Labyrinth's exterior walls and passages are covered in painted curses, and show damage from sling stones and fire. It is said that the people resolved to destroy it once and for all, but that some people or things which lived inside kidnapped a local prince, and held them hostage until the place was let be. Others say that the Labyrinth is destroyed constantly, but regrows like a plant. Yet others say that some people still meet there secretly, and keep the place standing with their power.

The lower levels of the Labyrinth contain the tombs of the kings who had the place built, as well as those of sacred bulls, crocodiles and other animals. Passages from these levels lead to many underground palaces, including "a palace of mirrors, where dog-soldiers are reflected."

The name Labyrinth of Eyasa is not used by the locals. They call it simply Eyasa, having forgotten or never known who or what it was named for.

Some explorers of the Labyrinth report that they have found apparent exits to lands unknown. It is unclear whether these are other worlds, far countries, or large areas within the Labyrinth itself.

The explorer Taran Shud writes of one such area: "The sky was sickening, like a nightmare, with huge suns and moons filling every inch."

Another expedition found a land with a yellow sky, and a huge, broken highway in the sky stretching from one horizon to the other. The expedition, hailing from the Isle of the Fat Kings, believed that they were seeing the Royal Road of the Sun, broken by some unimaginable evil, fortelling the end of the world. Thus they arrived home wailing in despair, and soon died, and we know nothing more of the place.

The wandering barbarian Roland Roland Roland Roland Roland Roland Roland Roland Roland Rawhide says he found a land where all creatures were made of stone. The only intelligent species were gargoyles. Unlike those on The Roofs of Teleleli, they were alive and mobile during both day and night. They made sculptures and temples of meat, which was unliving and found in the ground as stone is in our world. The barbarian says he was only declared to be a living thing once he defeated the gargoyle's greatest warrior, Rocky Balboulder. He next met a race who resembled skeletons, who when they died 'decayed' into whole bodies. To them he seemed a walking corpse.

Prudence Gonterman found people mute, yet fair and friendly, and both natives and explorers were filled with joy to behold the lush land. However after a few days these explorers found green mould growing in their mouth and nostrils, and their breathing becoming ragged, and so they departed.

In another place the entire sky was a huge eye, and they feared to leave the Labyrinth for the plain, though it seemed a fair place, a veritable sea of grass, and purple mountains on the horizon.

Wandering further in the Labyrinth, she found herself in an overgrown jungle. There she found a great covered dome, which she eventually found a way into. Inside she found a group of people who, she records, called their city 'Paris', and their king 'Louis the 13th'!

She eventually led a new expedition back, and found the dome again. Or so she thought; for when they entered a second time, 'Paris' was gone, and in their place was a wasteland, roamed by Antipodean-accented gangs in automobiles who fought one another for fuel.

The reader would no doubt conclude that she had become lost, and found two separate domes. Yet she records her certainty that this was not so.

Some have speculated that the place is a museum or a zoo, and some unknown creatures have plucked examples from history, recreating their habitat as we would for pandas or baboons. Others suggest that the place was a park, and the inhabitants robots, where members of some unknown civilisation could visit recreations of various historical periods (one hopes, if so, that the wasteland represents a misunderstanding of history, some far past unknown to us, or at least a world other than our own). Perhaps the surrounding jungle indicates that the civilisation is gone, and the robots are unknowingly actors without an audience. Or perhaps thick jungle is the unknown observers' version of a pleasant lawn.

I find myself most taken with the idea of robots who believe themselves to be musketeers and ladies of old France. What, I wonder, would the robot Cardinal Richelieu make of the knowledge that he was no son of Adam? Would he despair that the crucifixion was not for him, or rejoice that he was free from Original Sin? Mayhap he would reason that if, as Plato has it, all matter is a pale reflection of an ideal form, then he was no more nor less an illusion than a man of flesh and blood.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hills of the Bitter Ones

The folk of this land are plagued by bandits of the mountains, called the Bitter Ones. Their suicidal fierceness of these warriors is said to resemble that of a mother bear whose cubs have been killed.

Their victims claim not to know where the bandits come from. However some have pointed to the widespread practice of leaving sickly babies overnight on the hillsides to die.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Healos Athair

This unfortunate desert land is an example of what the scholars of our world call a "hydraulic despotism."

Like Egypt of old, it is a highly developed civilisation in the midst of a harsh desert. As such it relies on the constant flow of water. The flow of water, in turn, is maintained by an intricate system of dams, pumps, and canals.

Thus the farmer who defies the government may be destroyed with the turn of a wheel. The runaway has nothing to run to but thirst and death. And, in a land where the only liveable land is near a well-maintained canal, where is there to hide?

The head of the civil service has therefore, over the centuries, become also the monarch, high priest, and finally a living god.

The army are slaves, bought as infants from Karsh, and raised with no loyalty but to the state. This, at least, is the theory, but the ruler has at times been the slave of their slaves, and it may be that some have gone from general to god. It is impossible to say how many dynasties have been founded in this way, or by the garotte or blade wielded by concubine or servant. The histories, little more than myth, speak only of an unbroken line of rulers, serene and unchanging over a serene and unchanging land.

The common folk (all who are not royalty, their servants, or canal-priests) are subject to conscription, not military but of their labour. Most projects relate either to the flow of water, or to the empire's increasingly monumental religion.

All this being said, some more free-spirited souls have managed to survive in the desert, and there are bands of nomads who roam the fringes of the empire, threatening it not at all in concrete reality, but a great shadow in the minds of the rulers.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Halls of Ulfar

It is said that in the distant past, there were more colours than there are today. But the extra colours are said to have withdrawn to, or been imprisoned in, these halls.

The colours are said to have quarreled. Some are content to rule the halls, and fear the outside world. They will destroy any who venture in. Some wish to be free, and will aid any who help them in this aim.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Gods' Chess Set

Here there are huge rock formations which look like chess pieces, scattered about as if they had been thrown down in anger by a god.

Local tradition holds that this is precisely what happened. Father-on-the-Mountain is said to have thrown them down after losing at chess to Scarab-Rabbit. The clever rabbit had arranged with Shepherdess-of-Heaven, the beautiful goddess of rain, to distract him.

The 'base' of each 'piece' is about as wide as a town. And, indeed, they have become such, as local people have hollowed out homes in them.

Each rock is held to be a particular piece, and it is believed that residents take on the characteristics of the piece in which they live. Thus those in pawns (which, the reader is no doubt aware, are named for 'peons', meaning peasants) become skilled at tilling the soil, bargaining, knowing the ways of animals, and the like. Those in knights become skilled in war, and those in bishops in religion. Those in rooks, living 'in an ivory tower', are said to gain an aptitude for all kinds of academic learning, while those in kings and queens gain a regal bearing.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Some travellers report being hired by a local merchant, who had entered into a criminal scheme to transfer thousands of nambers out of the distant kingdom of Girenia.

A scribe in this kingdom, they were told, was given care of the money by a local adventurer, as he obviously could not take it on expedition with him. Sadly, the adventurer was killed by evil cultists, leaving no heirs.

The scribe, unable to move the money himself, needed someone to pretend to be the adventurer's relative and thus have legal claim.

When the travellers arrived in Girenia, they found that the scribe needed money for various bribes, paperwork etc. After handing over much of their wealth they began to suspect that Scribe Thomas Nkembe was not telling the whole truth.

Their belated suspicions were correct. They had fallen victim to the infamous Girenian Money Scam, which continues to bring wealth into this kingdom.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Country of Sickness

No one goes here, despite the great wealth to be found, because of the Stones of Sickness. Once a tribe were turned into stones because of a great evil. These stones gather around travellers at night, or hide under them in the sand. They are so malevolent that their presence causes sickness, unless they can be found and destroyed.


My very short story lonelyguy72 is now available for free online.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The City of Fellowship

A villager who lives near an entrance to the underworld might meet a group of adventurers going to explore. Perhaps they have among their number a grim barbarian, a courteous and gentle knight, a scheming wizard, a merry halfling, and a nature-loving elf. How, the rustic might wonder, did such a varied group ever meet, let alone decide to enter danger together? The answer might lie in the custom of this city.

Long ago a drowned sailor's widow grew to hate the sea. She found the largest island she could, and walked inland with an oar over her shoulder. When someone asked her what the oar was she stopped, and founded this city.

Because of her lonely widowhood, the custom of the city has ever been to group orphans and the like into 'families', that they might support and comfort one another. Upon the completion of appropriate rites the group are considered brothers and sisters, in law and custom.

Unfortunately, travellers who enter the city without their family are assumed to be orphans by the city's citizenry, who would not think to do such a thing.

The evil of this custom is compounded by the law that if one member of a family dies without a will, his relatives inherit. How much blood has been spilled in the darkness due to this single law? It surely outranks in infamy even the belief that the sole survivor of an expedition is henceforth blessed with the luck of all who died.

On the other hand, the custom has created a situation where the barbarian of our example, full of fear and hate for all magic, will yet protect his sorcerous 'brother', and not kill him outright, burn the corpse, then sow the burial ground with salt so that nothing will grow (as is the custom among many tribes). The thief will not steal from the priest, nor the knight slay the thief, nor the witch corrupt the knight, nor the priest condemn the witch. This implausible companionship may be found throughout the world, and the underworld, especially near the city.

The traveller to this city is cautioned, then, never to enter an inn in the foreigner's quarter, lest they find themselves sitting at a table with some random strangers, and find that they have "decided to adventure together" in the eyes of the authorities. Better to wake up on the cobbled street than to wake to find all your wealth in the hands of a 'family treasurer', your amorous glances at your new 'sibling' earning you contempt and disgust in the eyes of all, and with a life sentence of defending an evil wizard with body and sword.
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