Tuesday 26 August 2014

Elementarians: Plasmats

Plasmats are the elementarians of fire and the south. They are made of hot air, made visible by structures of molten dirt - the enormous heat tranforms any material into precious stones, and plasmat gems are said to have great supernatural properties. Their shape is a bulky legless torso with a flat head and strong arms, the size changes fluidly between several and several dozen meters. It's the plasmats' choice what they burn. They have a good feeling for earth's heat and often travel to new volcanoes to greet them.

"Overcoming weaknesses is a principle of the south, and my plasmat teacher really made it a point. When he sent me into the world, I felt like I had been thoroughly reconstructed."
— Crowned Aslahenaed of Brighthold
Plasmats are seen as harbingers of change and are counted among the good omens. They are also muses and can light the spark of inspiration in both leaders and artists, who seek them out to be taught. Plasmat mentors are relentless, but very successful, and all their apprentices have done great deeds. It's said the rhu'khach had been under their blessing.
"I heard a plasmat is on his way to the Gorngon plateau. I guess soon it won't be so flat anymore."
— Ferha, messenger
Artists' notes
I am rather fond of the name plasmat. I was looking for nice, innovative names for elementarians, and classic dryads and stone giants were nicely completed by fleeters and plasmats, I think. Teaching great heroes is a bit inspired by the centaur that taught Hercules - mythical creature teaching mortal.

Sunday 17 August 2014


Alchemist and apothecary are interchangeable terms and refer to someone making chemistry goods for a living. The science demands a lot of precision and tables, which all satisfies the likings of mages, who are the majority of apothecaries; unlike other sciences, where speakers are only a fraction of all practitioners.
Apothecaries create medicaments, soaps, dyes and inks, acids, and perfumes, and their knowledge is useful for an array of other professions, like mining, botany, tannery, or medicine.
"I am looking for a new medicine against greyskin disease. It proves to be very tricky; so far I have found several antidotes, a complex fertilizer, and ingredients that make black earth grow a quarter faster, but nothing I aimed for."
— Sdarin Farree, apothecary
Many apothecaries are surrounded by a nimbus of danger and crime. Indeed, some of the substances they use are either dangerous themselves or can only be procured under doubtful circumstances. In any case, all apothecaries love the imports of Gdera's colourful forests and Lozirian minerals, and can make good money with their rare and dangerous profession.
"At first we thought the homebody apothecary would be dead by afternoon. But she was quick with analyzing and antidotes and had saved three of us by evening. We are grateful she accepted to join the tribe, and have suffered much fewer losses since then; although she still complains we hadn't any decent biscuits."
— Rawwa Fue Kun, red forest nomad
Artists' notes
Alchemy is one of my favourite fantasy subjects. I must have spent dozens of hours in every part of The Elder Scrolls making potions. I think it's neat to cook up strange elixirs from weird ingredients, and it's fun to come up with alchemical uses for things. I don't think I will make alchemy a big point in Genius Loci, but it's nice to have a job like this for added interest.

Sunday 10 August 2014

Voices and the Great Spirit

Voices are on either side of death - very young, very old, or terminally ill, with one exception: elves can be voices for life. Voices are blessed as they truly understand the world. Knowing that no-one else does, they gladly give advice but rarely bother explaining themselves. They don't trade or sell their services. Instead they live off the communities' generosity, but many cities feature halls of the voices, which are kept in order by the ruler. Voices are always right; following their advice will always solve the problem, but it's often hard - still, refusing them is said to be a recipe for rotten luck.
Voices are marked by a sign on their throat.
"Akani in the desert is said to be a voice. You're not the first pilgrims to seek her, but most people I point her way come back crying and refuse to speak. Her advice does seem to work, though."
— Peqati, innkeeper, to his guests
The Great Spirit is the cosmic will that shapes the world. It is a force of nature rather than a person, does not perform miracles and has no priests. It never acts directly, only sets the rules. The Great Spirit is the world. Understanding it means understanding the world. The question is, how does one start when the thread's end is the ball of yarn?
"No, you don't notice how you loose your ear for the Great Spirit. When I turned eight, I began to misunderstand my fellows, took easier tasks on my own accord, and left the hall with ten without sadness. I barely remember now, but I know the voices are right, and that comforts me."
— Cirinall from the White Stones, scribe
Artist's notes
Many fantasy settings have detailed religions, which I generally like, but it seemed I had only two choices: one religion for all (boring), or teeny-tiny cults everywhere (too much work). So I turned to animism, with spirits providing supernatural plot-hooks, and kept the thing/being that created the world out of the equation. Hopefully, this way I will avoid "How could (insert name of deity) let that happen". In a way, the speakers in their desire to understand the world are indeed theosophic truth-seekers (which I suddenly realise is definitely a nod to the wizards of LotR).

Friday 1 August 2014

What's not in the setting

Genius Loci is a subjective setting where I let my imagination run free. I do not want it to be "mainstream"; it is not planned to be liked by as big an audience as possible; therefore, I take a lot of freedom with many ideas, and like to change things away from the usual, the expected, and have added or changed common fantasy elements.
What does that mean? For you to better understand Genius Loci, here's what I deliberately decided.

  • No race-specific cultures - practically all cultures are mixtures of several races, who all live together instead of separating themselves; e.g., no "elven lands".
  • No dominant humans - some settings have too many humans for my taste. In Genius Loci, they are only one of many species.
  • No overpowered elves - although I thought of Norse elves when I invented them, they are another race in the setting. Elves are no more intelligent, magical, or beautiful than others.
  • No silly dwarves - too often fantasy settings reduce them to drunken miners. Dwarves on Kitas are as dignified as anyone else.

It was fairly important to me that non-human species aren't too exotic and as detailed as humans would be anywhere, not reduced to their racial traits.

  • No prophecy - the art of fortune-telling (and horoscopes, birth-signs and so on) is unknown to kitaians. I hate the idea of foresight and have thrown it completely out.
  • No inborn magical aptitude - speakers can focus energies from birth; but it can be learned, and there are no all-magical races.
  • No black magic - or, more specifically, neither necromancy nor demons. Also, no lurking evil force that seeks to corrupt the good (no Mordor, no Dark Side).
  • No dragons - really, there are none.

As with so many descriptions, I am tempted to be thorough and explain why a land would be called elvish anyway, why mages have no staffs, and why all intelligent races are called humans. But that will have to wait until it comes up individually, there's simply not enough room.