Saturday, August 28, 2021

Goblins Make Their Own Languages

A group of goblins is called a 'spell'. Why?

Goblins love spelling like trolls love counting.

They seek out letters and sounds like magpies collecting shiny trinkets, piecing them together in new and incomprehensible permutations. Perhaps they feel safety in encryption. Perhaps it satisfies some inalienable drive of goblin-ness. It's been suggested to be a tactic to confuse predators.

When you find a goblin, it's likely to make a loud noise: a keyboard faceroll of sounds, a morse code sequence of claps using dismembered squirrel hands, a dial tone, a long singular screeching hence-unheard-of vowel, a recitation of three interspersed alphabets to the tune of row-row-row your boat, or most probable: a combination of all the above.

The best way to fend off a goblin attack is to make new sounds at them or spell things out loud. Well, 'fend off' is a little inaccurate. It'll buy you some time.

Example: "GOBLIN - GEE OHH BEE ELL EYE EHN." Then watch as their little brains painstakingly try and sort that out while you stab them in the gut.

This is a goblin shark. It has no relevance for this post.
But I think it's pretty neat.

Goblins love to collect written things. The value of the thing doesn't matter: spell scrolls are as equal as hastily-scrawled notes or street signs in their little manic eyes. They love these written things and slice them up with their teeth into frantic magazine collages: cutting and pasting them together in new combinations to form their own 'little languages'.

The code disseminates throughout the 'spell'. It telephones, morphs, recombines. It gets chewed up and thrown up, then the throw up gets re-ingested and reinvested. What results is language twice-vomit.


(When in doubt, just throw out jibberish)


As A Base It’s Using...

With Some Intermixed...

And It Inexplicably Includes...


Flag Semaphore

Guttural Growls

An out-of-tune violin


Morse Code

Orchestra Conductor’s Signals

A dead squirrel marionette


Army Drumming Commands

Alphabet Soup



Middle Elvish? How???

Numbers Thought To Be Letters

Human skull drinking cup


Throat Singing

Plumbing Jargon

Shakespeare as performed by William Shatner


Arcane Spellcraft (Warning, Dangerous!)

Wolf Howling

A coin collection depicting thirty frumpy kings


Interpretive Dance

Grating Monotones

A Frog Hat



Square Dancing

Hallucinogenic Mushrooms


Pig Latin

Thigh Slaps

Filth Flinging


Lowest Common

Wind Sounds

26 goblins each with a letter painted on their backs arranging into words


Upside-Down Dwarf Script

Winking and Blinking

Smoke Signals


Mirrored Draconic

Rude Hand Gestures

Sock Puppeting


Though the developmental biology of goblins remains elusive to most human societies, the orcs of Shadowmountain know exactly where and why 'spells' of goblins appear. They're just "undercooked" orcs. They call it 'Swamp Brain'. Orcs that grow up in environments of acidic soil (bogs, pine forests, mine drainage sites, sulfur vents, whale stomachs) fail to develop into adolescence and remain growth-stunted in perpetuity. Eventually the effect becomes permanent. Orcs tend to want to stay away from these places, since any orc children born in the area tend to grow into weird little screeching maniacs.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Isle of Tyrants

(One of the advantages of RPGs is that you can play out some really fun and stupid ideas. This is no doubt one of them.)

Somewhere in the southern ocean near the Empire of Truth and the Kinglands lies an island paradise. Beaches of pure crystal water, warm sunny weather, and an entire religiously devoted servile populace to keep the island's guests in wealth, luxury, and comfort.

The guests exclusively being, notoriously, the absolute worst people on the planet. Only tyrants, unjust dictators, powerful madmen, and maybe evil geniuses can become guests upon the island. (And their families and friends, if they want to bring them along). Everyone else will be repulsed.

The island was leased to the Serene Order of Peace for a period of one century, approximately three centuries ago. Since then the lenders have stopped existing, having fallen to a revolution or a coup or something of the like. No nation as of yet has decided to substantiate any claim on the isle. Why? Well, because the Serene Order of Peace will fend off invading armies to the death.

The Political Experiment

The Grand Idea was to lower the exit cost for tyrants so that they would increasingly give up their power and go retire in luxury and peace. If the exit costs of tyranny were high, the Order reasoned, then tyrants would cling to their power, forever fearing retribution and betrayal. If they could easily leave when things got dicey, then they would, accelerating peaceful transfers of power.

Political science theorists (and the tyrants themselves) loved this idea. Everyone else hates it. Hates it. To even have the social experiment the island had to be fortified. It had to be militarized. Its keepers had to be zealous beyond reproach, incorruptible. It had to be a religion, with punishments for deviation along religious lines, not simply punitive.

And so the Serene Order of Peace militarized itself in order to repel assassins and expeditionary armies from its shores, to assuage tyrannical distemper abroad.

There is a catch: any of the tyrants that claim the island's sanctuary are not allowed to leave. They're not allowed to communicate with anyone on the outside. Tyrants are allowed to bring their families, friends, and mistresses, but none of their personal guards. Arrivals will be vetted by the Order to determine if they actually want to remain with the tyrant or not (those who don't are released and granted passage to any port they'd like on arrival).


Andre Le Penn - Oversaw the military occupation of the Island-City of Deadwind. Massacred approximately 1200 people over the course of three days and claimed sanctuary on the Isle of Tyrants before the government shifted again.

Hammilhan The Impaler - An infamous border lord, hated by the royalty of the Kinglands for his murderous treatment of their merchants and emissaries. After impaling some ten thousand enemies of the state on pikes, including most members of his family and those of his supporting families, he sniffed the power shift and left for the Isle.

The Lich Arugal - He threatened Death to leave him alone and he’s regretted it ever since. After ruling a surprisingly boring dictatorship of undeath for several centuries he’s got weary of existence and now seeks to woo Death with numerous attempts at suicide. He keeps a list of crossed-out ideas. Pleaded for asylum to throw himself into this particular volcano, which he believes might finally kill him due to nature of its volcanic glass.

Dr. Chrome - Attempted to destroy Space. Almost succeeded. Since arriving she’s been suffering severe mental decline and can barely remember her own name, let alone that she almost destroyed Space. Though, it all could just be an act to earn her sympathy... You never know with evil geniuses.

Major General Finius Darkside - Tried to invade the Moon with an army of shadows. His forces were repelled in a stunning decisive defeat by the confederate forces of the Greater Mares. Retired in shame.

Queen Corvinia Eleneal - A thousand-year old elven tyrant of a country that no longer exists. So-called the Queen of Secrets. Been here for centuries. Rumored one of the first ‘guests’. It’s surmised she secretly engineered this entire social-political experiment to ensure she had a place to retire in comfort. Treats mortals like pet dogs.

Lubinia Black - Supposedly a retired Time Tyrant - a time-hopping traveler that poaches timelines and systematically ruins them one at a time until they experimentally get the results they want. Brought with her a train of cohorts and oddities from failed realities. Even the other tyrants fear her.

The Count of Nowhere - The scum mortgaged the county he lorded over in a loan from Hell, and defaulted. The land was swallowed up and tucked over like it had never been, with all the land’s people trapped within and dragged down to Hell. Using laundered funds he’s retired to the Isle of Tyrants, and fears Hell’s collectors, who care not for the laws of man and nature. So far they’ve managed to collect his name and his sleep. He requires heroin. Lots of heroin.

The Island

It's a volcanic island surrounded by shark-infested waters. It is, in every single way, an evil genius volcanic lair. There are hot springs and beaches for recreation, exotic animals to hunt and eat, tunnel networks, and a five-star resort excavated into the volcanic crater. There are underground safe rooms, guard monasteries, defensive tunnel networks, bunkers, and magical armories.

The island is surrounded by perilous reefs, steep cliffs, and the upper atmosphere is poisoned by fumes produced by the volcano. Worst of all, though, is the Thunder Jack - a flying moray eel the size of an two 18-wheelers back to back. Nobody is exactly sure why the eel doesn't attack the inhabitants of the island, but there are theories:

  • The monks are devote worshippers of Tiamat, earning the allegiance of the serpent. They have a shrine to the Ocean-Dragon goddess inside the active volcano, and regularly perform human sacrifices at it.
  • It's the personal pet of one of the tyrants. But which one would, or could, engineer a giant flying electric eel?
  • The eel can't stand the poisonous fumes emitted by the volcano, and so stays its distance from the island.
  • Even eels respect science. This one doesn't want to interfere with the social experiment.

Any approach is dangerous on its own, not to mention the guards of the Serene Order, who maintain a watch 24/7.

The monks wear military dress of the color of jungle shade, and when in formal function wear berets of baby blue. They wield long bows and hefty knives, though each is trained in the prevailing ascetic-warrior traditions of the day. 

They employ a number of outsiders to do work for them: experienced volcanic miners, merchant captains, turncoat diplomats, interpreters, mercenary admirals, and the odd bureaucrat. Their contractors are often paid in highly-valued volcanic glass - useful for destabilizing necromantic fields.


1. Kill a Tyrant

A woman named Zill wants you to kidnap or kill Andre le Penn, one of the recently arrived guests upon the island. This man ordered the death-by-torture of everyone Zill had ever known: her family, her friends, her neighbors. Five generations of everyone she knew, murdered. The hatred she feels for this man cannot be understated. She would end the world to kill this man.

Andre has three hobbies that might leave him vulnerable: imported wine from the Empire of Truth, having numerous affairs with domestic staff, and painting using exotic ingredients. The more suffering you can impart upon this man the happier Zill will be. She'll promise you her family's lands, recently reacquired in land reforms, which she can no longer bear due to the pain of the memories.

2. Rescue a Tyrant

Hammilhan "The Impaler of Karkenhome" has decided that coming up with exotic executions for his failed ministers and rivals is a far more fulfilling existence than hedonistic spiritual peace on this island. He wants out. The Order, of course, will do everything in their power to prevent this... He'll need to be smuggled.

He promises you a just and mighty reward, a tyrant's ransom if you complete this task. He'll try to avoid being specific as to what exactly that is. If it comes down to it he'll promise a castle belonging to one of the people he'll need to depose. He'll say it's his to give. (It's not)

But if that doesn't fool you, you could certainly get a reward for delivering him unto his rivals...

3. Plug a Leak

Brother Philox, a senior monk of The Serene Order of Peace needs assistance: one of the tyrants on the island is managing to smuggle communications to the outside world, and they need some people to find out who. They've recovered some coded messages, and suspect they're connected with some power moves and assassinations abroad, though they can't conclusively draw any links yet.

They suspect one of the monks of the Serene Order is an infiltrator, and they need some outsiders who are beyond suspicion to root them out. Or perhaps you could puzzle the foreign political situations together yourself and infiltrate one of the tyrant's cohorts to find out who's breaking code.

If one of the tyrants is found out to have been breaking their covenant with the Order they'll be unceremoniously thrown into shark-laden waters. (Death by exile, essentially).

Secretly, it's a framing. One of the tyrants doesn't like one of his tyrant neighbors, and wants to frame them with breaking covenant in order to get them killed. Y'know, typical scheming tyrant stuff. The question is, does it really matter? Here's an opportunity to off a horrible person, framing or no.

4. "Retire" a Tyrant

Someone wants you to kidnap a tyrant, a king, an archpriest, and take them to the Isle of Tyrants for retirement. First you need to kidnap them (you'll have some help). Then you'll need to convince the Order that they came here of their own will. Do this and you'll be handsomely paid with some definitely-embezzled money or possibly a chest full of jewels.

Why not simply kill the tyrant? Well, the replacement tyrant isn't terribly comfortable with this precedent for obvious reasons.

5. A Rogue Monk

The High Council of the Serene Order has a big problem: Sister Carthage, a senior priestess of The Serene Order, has gone rogue. She's convinced two dozen hardened members of the Order to join her rebellion, staking out guerilla positions in the island's jungles and volcanic tunnels. They've taken two tyrants hostage, threatening to kill them in the event of an attack.

No lists of demands have yet been made. The High Council is in shock. Sister Carthage was one of the most effective and loyal monks they had. What could have caused her to turn so? Is she being manipulated or mind controlled? One of her hostages is an infamous sorcerer... What does her rebellion hope to accomplish?

Plans within plans within plans... A scheme is afoot, but whose? Is Sister Carthage in control, or is one of the tyrants secretly pulling the strings? Is this all a part of a hidden agenda from the High Council, or perhaps an outside force? Who's lying, and who's telling the truth? Does it matter?

6. A Spy in The Great Game

The Isle of Tyrants isn't exactly what you'd call 'cheap real estate'. It's strategically located, posing security concerns for no less than half a dozen nation-states, close and far. The Dragon-Mansa, the Divine Emperor of Truth, the Wizard-Traders of Chronulus, the Twilight City Greater Houses, the Children of Raki, all of them have a geopolitical and/or mercantile stake in the island.

Any or all of the above will pay handsomely for intel about the island: 

  • Which beaches are suitable for amphibious landing? Where are the dangerous reefs, shallow waters, and paths through them?
  • Maps of the underground tunnel networks.
  • Paths through the jungles.
  • Who's in charge of the Serene Order of Peace, and what are they like as people? What are their weaknesses?
  • How strong is the Serene Order? Where are located its bunkers, armories, and fortified monasteries?
  • Who are the Island's 'guests'? What are they doing? What are their plans?
  • What are the Island's natural resources? What's the weather like?
  • Are there any additional factions upon the Isle? Any interesting indigenous species?

Monday, August 16, 2021

Rumors About The Supermarket

I get an existential dread when I enter the supermarket. 

Today I learned I wasn't the only one.

I believe there is a werewolf at the supermarket. At night a man disappears somewhere at the back of the store: between the home improvement section and the place where you see pet fish. He hunts and stalks by the shoes, listening for when the boxes open and the laces are untied - when one is most vulnerable.

I believe there's something odd about the greeting card section. The manager says nobody on shift has updated its stock in seventeen years, and yet its cards are always new. She doesn't question it, and neither should you.

I believe the two butchers on staff might be aliens. Extraterrestrial aliens. They have eyes behind their eyes, and they're always talking about sitcoms and sports teams that don't exist - The Denver Superintendents, the Knoxville Salt Slugs, the Detroit Lions. I think they're here to spy on us. They keep asking if there's anything I want. I always say no.

I believe there's a ghost at the supermarket. It lingers in that place where you recycle your bottles and cans. When you're alone, you can still hear the sounds of distant crushing and clinking long after the cans and bottles have been processed. The ghost is a petty judge. It despises foreign entities. A xenophobic ghost, that also hates ginger beer.

I believe there is a poltergeist. Sometimes it throws items off of the shelves or undoes screws letting whole stocks collapse. When one reaches for the freshest milk at 3am you'll feel its cold grasp, and raspy whispers that the ones at the front are still fresh. Ignore the Best Use By date.

I believe the supermarket is infested with gremlins. Someone keeps finding the discarded wrappers of Little Debbie swiss rolls and chocolate cupcakes stashed in high and low places - under shelves, tucked behind the store logos, inside the middle stacked shopping cart. They leave the Nutty Buddies alone. Gremlins allergic to peanuts?

I believe shopping carts are the spirits of the dead. Soothed by the Orphean sounds of uncontroversial 90's music, by their orderly processions to and from the parking lot. They are kept clean and attended, and they help those who come. It's far more personal than a graveyard. People used to go to graveyards, but not anymore. Sometimes, a spirit will attempt to escape. You'll find them, lost and alone, unable to move on their own accord, on some walk by side of road. Nobody wants to help them.

I believe there are more store brands by the day. Store-brand pickles, store-brand broth. Store-brand bread and store-brand shoes. Store-brand "Caution: Floor Wet" cones and store-brand floor tiles. I think I met a store-brand person yesterday. Not an employee - what I initially thought was a shopper, with a store's logo shirt and a barcode tattooed on their forehead. They asked me whether I was able to find everything I needed. I uncomfortably replied: "Yes", and quickly moved on.

I believe I've seen several greeters at the doors. Different people, same nametag. Do they really just have one to share among them all? I might've thought so, until I asked one about a question and he responded like the woman I saw at the door last week.

I believe the supermarket has long-armed men working the stockrooms. The shelves are made in ways that no normally-proportionally person could reach, even with use of a stepladder. I've seen drag marks on mopped floors of wide boots flanked by trailing knuckles. In the dairy section the shelves go too far back. I'm 6'2'' and still couldn't reach the sour cream.

I believe there's a snake that lives in the supermarket. A big one. I've only ever seen its rattling tail, trailing around the corner of the aisles. It must be as big as a full grown man, from the size of that tail. Maybe bigger. I think it must live underneath the freezers, maybe, where it's warm and dark. Or maybe in the shelves between the aisles for mac & cheese and barbeque sauce.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

d100 Weaknesses

A quick list for nobles in mind.

Everyone has a weakness.

For people of viceful or unfortunate character, roll three times. Or more.
For normal characters, roll twice.
For particularly strong characters, roll just once.

d100 Weaknesses

1. Expensive Liquor
2. Cheap Wine
3. Reliant on Mercenaries
4. Flattery
5. Downers (Opioids, Benzos, etc.)
6. Uppers (Cocaine, Speed, etc.)
7. Psychedelics (LSD, Mushrooms, etc.)
8. Lazy
9. Takes Cash Bribes
10. Addicted to Power
11. "Lucky" Personal Object
12. Family Member Wants to Usurp Position
13. Pissed Off a Powerful Cleric
14. Unlucky, Categorically
15. Gambling
16. Throws Tantrums
17. Dog Fighting
18. Religiously Pious
19. Uncompromising
20. Prideful, Excessive
21. Partakes in Dangerous Sport (Hunting, Mensur, etc.)
22. Supported by Religious Fanatics
23. Mother is an Embarrassment
24. Father is an Embarrassment
25. Petty, Excessively
26. Affairs with Servants
27. Weak Relatives (Multiple Relatives with 3+ Weaknesses)
28. Low Self Esteem
29. Gout
30. Stress-Induced Panic Attacks
31. Dangerous Unreliable Pet (Crocodile, Cockatrice, Giant Frog, etc.)
32. Completely Reliant on Underlings to Do The Basics
33. Sexual Taboos, Partakes In
34. Prophesized Doom
35. Deadly Allergy
36. Cheap Prostitutes
37. Expensive Prostitutes
38. Compulsive Collector
39. Secret Weirdo Serial Killer
40. Idealist
41. Reputation as Political Opportunist
42. Disloyal
43. Bad Breath, Perpetual
44. Neurodegenerative Disease
45. Gluttony
46. Secretly/Accidentally Married Sibling
47. Secret Cancer
48. Vain, Terribly
49. Pissed Off a Powerful Druid
50. Outdated Doctrinal Notions
51. Superstitious
52. Arrogant
53. Liar, Compulsive
54. Appears Weak
55. Outshined by Parents
56. Snake Oil Medicine
57. Consorts with Sorcerers
58. Secretary Controls Everything
59. Alienated Spouse / Consort
60. Quietly Covered Up Advocating for Politically Indefensible Position
61. Bad Eyesight
62. Vomits When Lying
63. Cursed by a Hag
64. Powerful Fighter Thought Dead Seeks Revenge
65. Pissed Off an Assassin's Ring
66. Doesn't Pay Their Contractors
67. Indebted to the Mob
68. Defaulted Loans to the Mob
69. Plebs Hate Them
70. Patricians Hate Them
71. Secret Political Radical
72. Two-Faced Even to Friends
73. Freezes In a Dangerous Situation
74. Thinks They're Invincible
75. Gut-Wrenching Stench
76. Tax Evasion
77. Owns Capital Beholden to Foreign Government
78. Disloyal Bodyguards
79. Makes Foolish Investments
80. Steals From Employer
81. Kleptomania
82. Adventuring
83. Beautiful Men
84. Beautiful Women
85. Beautiful People
86. Can't Sleep Without Favorite Keepsake
87. Bad Memory
88. Moonlights as Vigilante
89. Getting Old
90. Jealous Relatives
91. Numerous Conflicts of Interest
92. Puts Things in Their Mouth
93. Complete Charlatan
94. Overstretched Attention
95. Achilles Heel (Physical)
96. Achilles Heel (Magical)
97. An Obvious Tell
98. Gullible
99. Weak Immune System
100. Never Lost a Battle

Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Greater Houses of Twilight City

The Greater Houses of Twilight City were already long established by the time of its republic. Their lineages stretch back millennia, each to ancient priestesses who tempted gods. Each of the Old Houses holds in their family's possession a Persona - a symbol of their divine seduction and a powerful magic object in its own right. Personae can take many token forms, traditionally: death masks, symbols of authority, weapons, or any myriad of marvelous objects.

The Artifacts of Imperium are no doubt Personae, though no House can lay claim to them, as was determined by agreement of the legislative assemblies after the fall of the monarchy.

While these objects hold potent magical effects, it's rare for them to be brought out into public. No House wants to risk losing it, and in turn potentially losing their legitimacy in the eyes of their peers. Houses that lose their Personae often disintegrate, either disappearing into ignominious legend or mysteriously reforming centuries later after the object has been reclaimed.

Each Greater House takes its name from the god that it stole, and in doing so granting the gods' tutelary status - in imprisonment, entombment, or bribery by worship. Some gods have been seduced willingly, others tricked and permanently interned.


(A note on drow names: The First is the personal name. The Second is the Mother's. The following particle indicates rank: du = slave  ; di = house member  ; di la = esteemed member; de = matriarch . The final name is the House name.)

House Kaisar

Insignia: A Hand Bearing a Hidden Knife                                 Tutelary God: Kaisal, God of Knives

Persona: The Kris of Dark Waves, whose blade can pierce any hide and find any heel. 

Their priestesses wield hidden invisible blades made of glass that break off and splinter inside the wound. They hold blackmail on every public figure in the city and are said to use bees as spies.

One of the oldest and most prestigious Houses of the Twilight City. Before the overthrow of the monarchy they were considered the Second of Loyal Houses, behind the Royal House. Now they're the First. Their Matriarch, Laetha de Kaisar, presently leads the largest coalition within the Senate. She is a shrewd politician and an expert practitioner of Psychology. Her enemies have given her the title The Numb Knife in dread respect of her demonstrated ability to wedge apart alliances.

House Timurin

Insignia: A Bloody Whip                                               Tutelary God: Timir, God of Sadistic Violence

Persona: The Flail of Seven Parts, made from the braided leathered strips of back flesh of seven kings who refused surrender during the campaigns of the Horned Conqueror.

Their priestesses wield cruel whips and keep seven diaries detailing every slight against them - one for those within the House, one for those outside, one for other priestesses, one for slaves, one for their elders, one for their children, and one for people like you. Though they rarely enact direct retribution against full members of another House, they will frequently prey upon undistinguished slaves, subjecting them to pain, torture, and mutilation in appeasement of their Persona.

Though unpopular for this tactic, they nevertheless remain powerful due to the influence of Cordatha de Timurin, who maintains an iron grip on the silver trade and controls substantial ownership in the city's slave markets.

House Arnkar

Insignia: A Bloodshot Eye Pierced and Threaded by a Needle.           Tutelary God: Arn, God of Fate

Persona: The Apocalyptic Hourglass, keeping imprisoned the Sands of Time, which continually counts down to the next cataclysm.

Their priestesses have their mouths sewn shut with fated thread to prevent them from gibbering prophecy. They communicate in writing or a fast one-handed sign language. Their training has them develop a parallel mind so that they can maintain their wits despite the overwhelming influence of the Apocalyptic Hourglass upon the psyche. Due to this nature, it is extraordinarily dangerous to attempt to read their thoughts. Anything that would affect their minds has a 50% chance of failing automatically, feeding back into the caster.

Alylin de Arnkar is a recluse to Twilight City social and political life, often acting through her House Abettor Nizana, who is an energetic liar. Alylin and other wizards of the House's inner circle reside in a tower on the outskirts of the city, said to be weaving a tapestry that will foretell all events unto the end of the world. They started at The End and are working their way back. Who knows how far they've gotten?

House Grachia

Insignia: Crescent Moon Pierced by Arrow            Tutelary God: Grachus, the Guardsman at the Gate

Persona: The Grave Ledger, which continuously records the names of the recent dead.

Grachia is known for three important assets: lawyers, necromancers, and necromancer lawyers. Their priestesses can always be found at the doorsteps of the recently bereaved, offering funeral rites (or necromantic bindings). They carry quills made of phoenix feathers, speak very softly, and travel in groups of no less than three. They sew necromantic contracts into their robes, protecting them from magic and blade for as long as the contracts remain valid.

Their matriarch, Miz'ra de Grachia, is considered by many to be one of the most intelligent and beautiful drow in the city, due in no small part to her overbearing girth. Such is her weight that she must be carried by four servants if she wants to go anywhere, and keeps as a retinue her seven undead 'loyal husbands' bound by 'til-death-do-you-part marriage contracts (that do not expire until the death of both parties). Her jovial attitude and appearance should not fool you though, she is without a doubt the most powerful necromancer alive, and not only commands an enormous living family (she alone has mothered 72 children to date) but an entire tree of undead ancestors running back hundreds of years.

House Fingol-Mar

Insignia: Half apple with a worm coiled up inside                           Tutelary God: Mar, the Worm God

Persona: Mar, The Worm King. The wriggling orb sheds the True Worms, of whose simulacra all the world's worms are descended.

Rufus Krieger

Fingol-Mar's priestesses are bankers and accountants of all the House's stored riches, mineral and caloric. They protect their portfolio with legions of indentured servants, both alive and dead, and carry strange cubic abacuses to assist with calculation. They are simply thrilled to offer loans and extend lines of credit, especially to those they know are unreliable. Often debtors' flesh is worth more than the loan itself - bodies can be made to work for long after the spirit has died, after all.

Quil de Fingol-Mar is the House's infrequently seen matriarch, and that's because she is the Worm That Walks - the wielder of the Worm King. Long ago the Worm King devoured her flesh, but due to her influence she kept her mind and memories. Now she is the progenitor of all worms - virtually immortal and eternal in power for as long as her mind lasts. It's possible the Worm King ate Quil's memories and is simply masquerading as her to ascend in power. For what dark purpose few could guess...

House Fingol-Mar is filled with empty halls bearing bowls of rotting fruit bearing all manner of carrion, but mostly writhing worms. They prefer apples. It is a cold and lonely place.

House Mendar

Insignia: A sickle encompassing an eye.                      Tutelary God: The Glacial River Titan

Persona: The Frozen Titan Eye, from which flows the coldest vacuous waters.


Their priestesses wear black hooded robes and chain great weights to their backs, in supplication to the deceased Titan, who used to carry mighty glaciers upon his back across the land. His great body is interned within the Mendal Peak, a mountain on the outskirts of Sunless Rim. From his cold-preserved eye flows a constant stream of pure water where the sun strikes it, providing mineral-infused irrigation for Mendar's lands in the prosperous Feyfjord.

House Mendar is a new House, younger than a decade, having split off from House Fingol-Mar upon their recent acquisition of Mendos. They are staunchly allied by kinship and economics, due in no small part to the diplomatically-minded Zephyr de Mendar - the robber baroness of wheat. "Gold!... That Edible Gold" she calls it. While other houses were adjusting to life on the surface after the revolt, she was already three steps ahead: planting the seeds of her House's prosperity centuries ago.

House Kordelia

Insignia: Black unicorn over crossed javelins.            Tutelary God: Ikord, God of Sport and Victory

Persona: The Ikordian Mantle, gifted to athletes who have earned the honor of defeating 100 enemy contestants of equal rank. Its wearer cannot be pierced by any weapon or magic.

House Kordelia's priestesses are fucking cut. They spend the decades of their youth training, fighting, and competing for the favor of their Matriarch and Persona. Their physical primes last a hundred years. They hunt beasts and man alike, preferring to capture their quarry alive that they might later be used in the city's gladiatorial arenas. When in the city, Kordelia's priestesses often carry leaden training weights on their shoulders, arms, and legs that look like folded wings.

Matriarch Ghilaera demands from all members of her House a total willingness to sacrifice and an utter ruthlessness. She has a win-at-all-costs attitude, and has no mercy for those even hinting at projecting weakness. Winners get to stay in the House. Losers are expelled. Cheating is only cheating if you're caught; hence, the Kordelians cheat a lot.

In one notorious instance she expelled three of her own daughters (in which all three were revealed to her to be cheating), which brought her near-universal condemnation from the city's elders as an overly strict use of her powers as head of the family. Two of these daughters eventually died, separated from their networks of support and socially poisoned by House Kordelia's no-holds-barred culture. One eventually became Quenze, now the matriarch of House Hakar (and has since been restored in good graces as an ally of Kordelia, and is also high literally all of the time).

House Hakar

Insignia: Skeletal hand dissolving into smoke.      Tutelary God: Hakoldo, God of Smoke and Vapors

Persona: The Great Pipe of Purple Smoke, whose blessings ascended the Warlocks of the Crippled Kingdoms

Their priestesses carry long pipes made of a thick hollowed deep cave fish bone, who carry the sweet stench of recent death wherever they go. It's the drugs that make the smell, though, not the fact that they animate animal bones. They're very 'clean' when it comes to necromancy.

House Hakar keeps an impressive menagerie of loyal skeletal beasts: pegasi, giant snakes, tigers, basilisks, rust beasts, deer, and supposedly even a regenerative bone hydra. Their estates are covered in a perpetual purple fog that addles the minds of the uninitiated, and are guarded from the sky by flocks of supplicant black pegasi notorious for their petty Mean Girls senses of humor.

Quenze de Hakar is a laid back person, which is very weird for this city. It's the depressant drugs, no doubt - the cocktail of opiums breathed in by her massive hallow (sic) Great Pipe, and the fistfuls of mushrooms she consumes that would probably kill something ten times her body weight. She's much nicer than someone raised by Ghilaera would be expected to be. She loves beautiful things and beautiful people, and surrounds herself with these comforts in excess. You won't find anyone else easier to deal with in the city, provided you don't mention her mother...

House Nix

Insignia: Decapitated praying mantis head        Tutelary God: Nix, Goddess of Jealous Love and Envy

Persona: The Heartbond Locket, which contains the still-beating heart of a goddess.

Their priestesses wear bright colorful cloaks that flow from their wrists and bladed forearm guards. They build callouses on their hands and fingers that allow the slightest touch to snare. They pursue those whom they love with a furious and sometimes murderous passion. Woe to those who befall a priestess of House Nix's advances.

Their leader, matriarch Koren de Nix, is a cannibal. Cannibalism was the exclusive privilege of the now-extinct Royal House. It has become outlawed during this era of the republic, leaving those practitioners who had previously been bequeathed such rights in a tenuous predicament. House Nix tries to keep it a secret, but all the other Houses already suspect the truth.

House Nix is allowed this latitude because they control a monopoly on some rare species. They farm and grow bugs: spider, mantis, and scorpion. Big ones for guarding the estate, small ones for the poisons, and eggs ground up for the protein. Their estates are littered with them, fielding a perilous hazard for any visitors, who find frightening numbers of eyes and fangs in every corner.