Saturday, April 30, 2011


The hated pharaoh Set-Thoth-Geb, whose name was forbidden to be written in Egypt, and who is largely known to us via the Persians (who called him Tsathoggua), was said to have dealt with a demon to ensure that he would gain another empire every time he was dethroned. But, the legend continues, the gods decreed that he would lose every empire he regained, condemning him to an eternity of being both the cause and victim of great suffering.

Certain descriptions of the pharaoh resemble those of Anhotep. It is possible, then, that he made his way from our world to that of Teleleli (or the reverse), and that the two hated rulers are one.

Friday, April 29, 2011

From a map made in 1367

Here are statues which stand before the shores of Atullia and which have been set up for the safety of sailors; for beyond is the vile sea, which sailors cannot navigate.

Franciscus Pizzigano.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

from On Three Ways of Writing for Children

When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

CS Lewis.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Humans: Their Relation to Dwarves, Elves and Halflings

Many scholars have suggested that these four groups, who resemble each other at least in appearance, share a common origin.

Laodameia suggests that the four were created when an ancient race, who may or may not have been the Great Race, were each split into four parts. Her writing is obscure and mystical, but she seems to suggest that each currently living member of these groups has three counterparts, one in each other group. Unlike the similar story told in our world by Plato, she does not seem to be offering a metaphor for love. For example she specifically states that members of a group will not recognise their counterparts as such (although a cynic might argue that this is indeed a metaphor for love).

Userkaf believes that each group is associated with a season. In ancient times, he writes, only a single group would be conscious. The other three would sleep or die. He draws correspondences as follows:
  • Elves - autumn (because of their beauty, and their association with decay and passing away)
  • Dwarves - winter (because of their stoicism and fortitude)
  • Humans - spring (because they are the most varied and unpredictable)
  • Halflings - summer (because of their optimism)
Userkaf seems to assume that the ancient world had the four seasons familiar to us as opposed to, for example, the situation in Teleleli, where the three seasons are monsoon, a short winter, and a long summer.

Monday, April 25, 2011

from Shambleau

Man has conquered Space before. You may be sure of that. Somewhere beyond the Egyptians, in that dimness out of which comes echoes of half-mythical names -- Atlantis, Mu -- somewhere back of history's first beginnings there must have been an age when mankind, like us today, built cities of steel to house its star-roving ships and knew the names of the planets in their own native tongues -- heard Venus's people call their wet world "Sha-ardol" in that soft, sweet, slurring speech and mimicked Mars's guttural "Lakkdiz" from the harsh tongues of Mars's dryland dwellers. You may be sure of that. Man has conquered Space before, and out of that conquest faint, faint echoes run still through a world that has forgotten the very fact of civilization which must have been as mighty as our own.

CL Moore (Catherine Lucille Moore)

Sunday, April 24, 2011


This god of servants and those whose good deeds go unrewarded was once an ordinary domestic dog. It belonged to a noble whose name has been lost. One day the noble went hunting, leaving the dog to guard his infant child. When the noble returned he found the cot overturned, the child nowhere to be found, and the dog with bloody jaws. Believing that Ginnafort had eaten the child, the noble killed the dog. The dog made no sound as the noble's club hit home; but as it expelled its last breath, the noble heard a crying child. He turned over the cot to find his son, and the body of a snake. Ginnafort had killed the snake and saved the child.

The snake is said by some to have been Dry-Corpse, the servant of the God of Unnatural Death.

Some talking dogs say that they are descended from dogs who saw the unhappy fate of the dog, and realised that they must be free of their masters.

Similarly, the Conspiracy of Equals uses the dog as a symbol (although they do not necessarily consider it divine), saying that the suffering of the dog is like that of all who rely on the gratitude of their masters.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

AND Gates

These creatures live inside dungeons.. They look like open doorways.

They are inevitably found in pairs. The peculiarity of the gates is that anyone who attempts to walk through the 'doorway' will be repelled by an invisible force, unless someone walks through the gate's partner at the same time.

The effect is that groups of adventurers must split up, and that lone adventurer may not proceed. However some gates may be 'tricked' by throwing an object through one gate at the same time as the group proceeds through the other.

Some AND gates only bar passage one way, generally the way that leads further into the dungeon, so that a group must split up to proceed but one sub-group need not wait on the other to return to the surface.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Feral Robots

The interior of the Downunderdark is overrun with feral robots. These creatures were brought by the Australiens as servants. However several escaped, and since they are able to make more of themselves their population has exploded. Australien settlements of any size are protected by robot-proof fences. These fences consist of a ring of insoluble logic puzzles which, it is hoped, robots will be unable to resist attempting to solve.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Foul Air

Though Paste of the Spirits is sometimes held to be the opposite of the Noble Spices, they also have a naturally-occuring antithesis: miasma, more commonly known as 'foul air' or 'bad air'.

Miasma is a gas formed when air mixes with the breath of poisonous animals or decaying cadavers. It is invisible, but may have an odor (which, if present, is always unpleasant). In other respects it is, unfortunately, indistinguishable from air. Unfortunately, because miasma is entirely harmful, causing sickness and death to whatever it touches.

The formation of Hollow Mockeries is a specific case of the action of miasma. Other, more common examples are the illnesses suffered by those who spend too much time in a swamp or in close proximity to corpses. Some have suggested that the curse that falls on anyone who robs a corpse is not in fact caused by vengeful spirits, but is the natural action of miasma.

Burning the Noble Spices will purify the air - although miasma is very cunning, and may flee the purifying fumes, to return when they have dispersed. Holding them to one's nose, for example in a handkerchief, will purify the air that is breathed in. However some forms of miasma may cause sickness upon contact with the skin.  The essence that arises from old books is more effective (which is why librarians and the owners of second-hand bookshops tend to be incredibly old).

So-called Miasma Elementals are Air Elementals that have been corrupted by miasma.

(my thanks to M. Grognard, upon whose research I have drawn in preparing this entry)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Words of Ruin

It is said that sometimes words appear on the walls of towns or cities, with no known origin, and that soon afterwards the place will be visited by some all-consuming disaster.

Some who have visited the scene of recently destroyed settlements have described nonsensical strings of letters and numbers. Others have reported seeing words too faint to be read. Still others have reported that the words are nothing but banal and perfectly harmless observations.

It is said by some that when Atnos first decreed its policy of carving all knowledge on its walls, an evil incantation asked to be included. But the city rejected it. In fury, the incantation declared that it would appear everywhere, and bring destruction to undo the work of Atnos.

Others say that the words are extracts from the accursed book Azaf.

The mystic Arah-Sharrat claims that the words are commands in the ultimate language of reality, and unmake the world itself.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Speculative Map of the Downunderworld

The southern settlement marked here as Morborn is said by some sources to be named Melnibourne. Likewise the settlement of Hobartton is sometimes called Hoborea. The Australien sage Son-of-the-Law states that "our home is girt by sea", suggesting a vast underground ocean. Australiens appear to have little or no idea what lies beyond it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Whispering Rope

This magical rope can hold any creature, and only those creatures, whose species has never known captivity.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Water of Waters

This water may be used to find corpses which have been buried or hidden, for example to expose a murderer.

If a pitcher or bowl of it is left overnight, in the morning any corpses in the area will be found, as if someone had dug them up. It is believed that the water is so refreshing that corpses instinctively un-bury themselves in an attempt to drink it. The spirit of the departed is not called back into the corpse. Rather the water works directly on the animal instincts which are stored in the cells of a body, and last after death until the cell itself decays. If a body has lain so long that it is mere bones, with no flesh or organs, this water will not work. Corpse-flesh will last 50 days to a year for a body left above ground; the more hot and moist the climate, the less time taken. Bodies last longer underwater (up to a few years), and longer still in the ground (up to several decades). However bodies buried in shallow graves, as murder victims tend to be, are usually dug up by predators. Mummified bodies, and those preserved in other ways, for example peat bogs or being frozen in ice, may last longer still.

The owner of such water will feel a great temptation to drink it themselves. If they do so they will enjoy a temporary increase in vigour. But for a long time afterwards all other water will taste so foul that it will be difficult to drink.

Dehydrated water may be used on this water. It will double in volume, but it will be merely very pure water, with no special powers.

There is rumoured to be a way of preparing Water of Waters so that, if it is poured in the eyes of a corpse, the eyes will reveal the last thing the deceased saw.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Vest of Protection From Frost

Vests of Protection From Frost are not actually magical. Mothers just say they are to get their children to wear them.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Spice-Box of Earth

This item was described to me as a box. However from its description, I believe it to be a radio. Some who claim to have seen it say they heard a 'cryer', who gave them details of magical rituals. Others say that it spoke as if giving news, but that it spoke of events months or years in the future. Whether the events the spirit fortold came to pass is unknown. Others say they heard nothing but "a hissing sound, like an army of snakes and mosquitoes." It is unclear whether this was static, or an alien language.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Silver Thread and Golden Needle of the Lady of Charity

This artifact is said to resemble a gigantic sewing needle, about the size of a human hand, of solid gold, and a spool of silver thread of corresponding size, which never runs out.

The thread should be passed through the eye of the needle, and then tied off, as one would with a normal sewing needle. The needle should then be plunged into the patient's chest, forced through a fold in their skin and out again. It should be plunged in and out again and again, until the thread is used up. This will mend any ailment of the heart - melancholia, grief, or fear - so long as the thread holds.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Paste of the Spirits

Paste of the Spirits is an ingredient used in evil magic, especially Boko. It is said to be the opposite of the Noble Spices, as foul as they are fragrant, and to cancel their benevolent powers. It is said to resemble whale meat. One ingredient is ants which have been feeding on a grave.

Possession of Paste of the Spirits is, naturally, punished harshly almost everywhere.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"When I Was Six or Seven..."

When I was six or seven I used to be tormented constantly with a peculiar type of recurrent nightmare in which a monstrous race of entities (called by me 'Night-Gaunts' -- I don't know where I got hold of the name) used to snatch me up by the stomach and carry me off through infinite leagues of black air over the towers of dead and horrible cities. They would finally get me into a grey void where I could see the needle-like pinnacles of enormous mountains miles below. Then they would let me drop -- and as I gained momentum in my Icarus-like plunge I would start awake in such a panic that I hated to think of sleeping again.

HP Lovecraft.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Necromantic Salts

Some sorcerers have the secret of reducing their bodies to this powdered salt.

Some who use this knowledge are wicked sorts who have sacrificed their humanity for immortality, for the salts can be mixed with appropriate ingredients, such as purified blood, and if done correctly a new body will be formed with the memories of the sorcerer.

By contrast, others have sought a more complete death in this wise. Fearing their body might be the subject of some fell magic (for sorcerers are ever the prey of seekers after revenge or knowledge) or perhaps fearing some future resurrection, they seek to reduce their body to a fine powder which can be cast to the wind.

If these salts are mixed in their entirity with water, mayhap by one who mistakes them for dehydrated water, they will likely produce a malevolent water spirit. The effect of combining them with water elementals is not known.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dreamtime Octopuses

These creatures, as their name would imply, look like the octopus familiar to us. However they possess a human-like intelligence, and are not sea creatures. They float a few inches above the ground, and move in a fashion suggestive of swimming. Their only known community is a small suburb in Teleleli.

The language of the creatures is visual: they do not speak, but convey meaning by causing their bodies to display various symbols and colors. While they can understand speech, and have learned to 'write' the trade-pidgin of Teleleli on their skins, it is clear that some shades of meaning are lost. Certain artists have learned their language, which they paint on canvases. Likewise some wizards have learned to communicate with them by means of casting illusions. They report that the creatures' language is like that of art or magic, in that feelings, symbolism and metaphor are easier to get across than are concrete facts. Thus there are many things that are unknown about the creatures.

For example, they are native to a place called the Dreamtime. However it is unclear whether the Dreamtime is literally connected to the world encountered in dreams. Likewise it is unknown whether they have travelled from another time. The place may, indeed, be merely a far land in the same world as Teleleli. In any case, the means by which they come here is also unclear.

In Teleleli many of the creatures have, unfortunately, fallen into burglary as a profession. Their tentacles make them skilled in climbing and in the manipulation of small objects, as is needful in lock-picking. Further, the fact that they float above the ground means that falling does not injure them as much as it would a human or similar creature. Traps such as concealed pits and blades triggered by pressure-plates, likely to be used by the wealthy and security-conscious, are quite useless against them. The creatures place no pressure upon the ground unless they have fallen from a height, and thus they will glide over such traps without setting them off.

It should not be thought that Dreamtime octopuses would make perfect adventurers. While they have the advantages detailed above, they also have handicaps. They are far more delicate than humans, somewhat weaker, and quite slow (though not as slow as the inhabitants of Slowtown). They can only wear armour that has been made to a special design, quite different to that used by humans.

Popular sentiment has connected them to the Seventh-Day Inventists, since they appear to have no religion. The octopuses, however, state that the gods of the Dreamtime are not present in Teleleli. As with many such statements, it is debated whether they are speaking literally.

Dreamtime octopuses are excellent swimmers, but will drown in water just as humans will.

(My thanks to The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope, upon whose research I have drawn in preparing this entry)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Malakhi's Melodious Montage

This incantation may be uttered before a person or group enters a period of isolated study or training.

It will have the effect that, when the training is finished, only a few minutes will have passed in the outside world.

Note that it will not make the training any easier or quicker from the student's perspective. Anyone entering or leaving the training area will cause the spell to fail.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Bonds of Friendship

These two magic items appear to be woven wristbands with a pattern of brightly-coloured stripes.

They fit tightly around the wrist, adjusting themselves to the wearer.

If two people wear one Bond each, they will be forced into a magic 'friendship'. This will not alter one's opinion on the other. However they must invite each other to any celebrations they host, confess to the other who they favour romantically, and share their food. They will be unable to denounce the other to any authorities, nor directly harm the other.

The two will also magically be aware of the other's name and location, even if they were strangers beforehand.

The Bonds may not be cut off, but one may be able to work their hand free (possibly requiring breaking it), or the knot may be untied. Severing the hand will also free the victim from the Bonds' influence.

It is not known what would happen if one person wore both Bonds, or if one were placed on a corpse.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie;
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Elenwe's Ectoplasmic Exposition

The target of this spell is unable to speak. Instead, balloons of ectoplasm materialise in the air above them. On the balloons are written the words they tried to utter, in the language they tried to use. The words will be spelled correctly, even if the 'speaker' is a poor speller or illiterate.

The balloons thus formed are lighter than air, and slowly float away. They dissolve after a few hours. They can be used as flotation devices, but they aren't sufficiently light to enable a human to fly. Crippled fairies have however been known to use a bunch tied together to stay airborne.

With particularly powerful examples of the spell strong feelings might cause ecoplasmic characters to appear; for example an exclamation mark for shock, a question mark for puzzlement, or a heart for love. In more powerful versions still, the character might find their thoughts materialised for all to read.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dehydrated Water

A measure of this powder, when put into water, will double its volume. It will effect about a swimming pool's worth of water.

If it is placed on a water elemental, it will create water equal to the water elemental's volume. However the new water will not be an elemental, merely very clear and sweet water.

Unfortunately this powder looks very similar to Necromantic Salts.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Deck of Many Blings

This item appears from its description to be a record player.

The one who possesses it will gain the ability to detect the presence of gold and other precious metals, if they lie within a mile or so. However, the owner will be compelled to turn these metals into chains and rings (if they are not in this form already), and to wear as many of them as possible.

If the owner gathers so much jewellery that they are unable to bear the weight of it all, the Deck will summon four-legged, horned animals who will protect the wearer in return for getting some of their precious metals. These creatures are called hip-hoppotamuses.

There are some who say that the Deck will turn its owner into a criminal. Others say that it gets a bad rap.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Crone's Blood

This rare substance is said by some to be the blood of the Crone, goddess of winter and natural death. Others say it is the blood spilled to create a Hand of Glory. It appears to be blood of unusual colour and thickness. It is inevitably found in vials of thick glass.

When placed in a body of water it will cause that water to become fetid and undrinkable. Any guardian spirits of the place will be twisted into evil, sent insane, destroyed, or freed from their connection to the place. It is said that even one drop can contaminate an entire lake, or a river for ten miles.

Crone's Blood is a deadly poison, since it will affect blood. However it is difficult to administer, since all drink and most foods have enough water that Crone's Blood will change their appearance and odour. In any case there are other poisons far cheaper and easier to obtain.

Friday, April 1, 2011


'Boko' may be used informally to mean perverted, wrong, un-natural, crippled or deformed (it is a grave insult in all cases, not to be used casually). However it more specifically refers to the arts of the boker, or necromancer, one who creates zombies.

Such people are also known as Planters' Mates, from the belief that they sell their victims to work on plantations.

An assistant to a boker, who may procure the bodies, is called an Abra-Man (whether male or female). They may also be called Auntie Gunnysacks, after a villainous stock figure of the theatre who steals children for her boker husband.

Zombies must be created from a living person, who is killed during the ritual. It will do no good to steal a body from a graveyard. The main secret of the boker is the composition of their lightning powder (sometimes lightning power), which the victim must eat or inhale.

The exact ingredients of the powder vary from boker to boker. The number of ingredients is always an odd number less than fifteen, and it always includes Paste of the Spirits. Ground glass is a common ingredient, as is the dried and crushed corpses of small lizards. The other ingredients tend to be plants or fungi.

Any of the Noble Spices may act as an antidote to the powder. Some people carry a small amount of spice, or chew cloves or ginger, to protect themselves from bokers.

The ritual for creating a zombie is likewise secret and individual. However it always involves the victim dying from the powder. They are then buried, and after a time dug up, 'reborn' to undeath - or sometimes simply dead, if the ritual has been mis-performed or the victim has taken the wrong amount of powder.

Some reports say that the victim is lost from the time the ritual is completed; that even if rescued, they will be drooling and helpless like one in their dotage. Others say that there are a few months during which the boker must feed small doses of powder to the zombie, and that if they be rescued during this time, they may return to their senses after a long recovery.

Some say the creatures may retain a kind of will, and attempt to run away. For this reason many bokers cut off their toes.

It should be noted that zombies are not figures of fear. Indeed they are widely regarded as weak creatures, who will shrivel like slugs if covered with salt. Rather, the horror of a boker is being turned into a zombie. Zombies are believed to suffer an undending bone-weariness, and are pitied. Being turned into a zombie is seen as akin to slavery, and in fact both are referred to as "the fate worse than death."

Some say that zombies may also be destroyed by throwing them a ball of rag soaked in fat. When they try to eat the rag it will become lodged in their throat. They lack the wit to remove it. Since they must breathe, albeit far more slowly than when alive, they will be destroyed in a few hours.

The 'Boker's Haircut' is a term for decapitation. This seems to arise from the general association of bokers with murder; a headless corpse is in fact useless to a boker. Note that the sage He-Who-Should-Not-Have-Been-Born has a contrary opinion on the phrase, asserting that it arises from the danger faced by bokers, that their "tools without voices" will recognise and turn on them; apparently this inevitably involves the removal and consumption of the boker's head.
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