Monday, 28 December 2015


Pendulum makers create many items used in supernatural affairs; pendulums for mappers and travellers to find their way, or totems and echo tubes for spirit collectors in which they trap the deads' spirits. The items themselves aren't enchanted in any way, or at least don't need to be, but the tiny details can make a speaker's or collector's life much easier, like the proper colour and quality.
"Buy from Trenan in Southern Third Street, his totems are reasonably strong. Those from the fourth floor pendulors are too difficult to burn in cleansings."
— Gajikar, to a fellow collector
Pendulums can be used to find all sorts of things related to what they're made of, and can be surprisingly precise. The craftsmanship doesn't really matter, a clam on a string will do, but will find too many things. This is the real art of pendulum-making; to create a pendulum that will find only what is sought.

Artists' notes
When I invented totems, it was clear that not just every idiot could make good ones, and I doubted all collectors had the time to make them themselves, and so "Pendelmacher" were invented. I always liked the idea of holding pendulums over maps to find a specific site or item. And because many gems and metals have certain esoteric properties, there would be someone who makes special pendulums for finding water or Area thresholds or whatever. 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Art on deviantArt: Tribal shankeh, Northeastern Blades, Plasmats

More speedpaintings of different subjects are published on deviantArt now: a portrait of a tribal shankeh, the Northeastern Blades - a powerful set of artifacts -, and the plasmat concept. You can also learn more about them in their respective blog articles about shankeh, artifacts, and the plasmats.

Sunday, 13 December 2015


Elves, humans, dwarves, and beja can have children together. Children of elves are all elves themselves, there are no half-elves. This leaves three kinds of halfbreeds to be considered.
It's been in debate for millenia what influence the mental traits of the parents have, if any.

Kelromes are children of humans and beja. They have four eyes, which all see normally, without the beja's sight of ultraviolet. Their skin is dark, and the humans' fitness is easily inherited; unlike humans, kelromes do not get a cold. The extra eyes are lost in the second generation, unless both parents are kelromes.
"No, my hair is rather docile, thank the spirits. My father shaves twice daily and cuts his hair with what can only be called a shortsword."
— Martel, verkenor
Parunees have dwarven and beja parents. They have two eyes, the thick hair of dwarves, and slightly darker skin. Their hair stops growing at some point and isn't quite as colourful as a pureblooded dwarf's, tending to darker tones. Parunees are strongly built, can see through stone like their dwarven parents, and live much longer than beja.
"I serve alongside raganaj in the guard, that's not something just anyone can handle. Thanks be to mother for her strong bones, and to father for his height."
— Aldjagran, guard
Verkenors are children of dwarves and humans. They can see at night as well as dwarves but not through stone, their hair is long and thick but of plain colours. Especially with northern humans, they are strong, their height is between both parents. Like parunees, verkenors live for very long.

Artists' notes
Just like there are tiny differences between the single appearances of the species, so are halfbreeds not entirely the same. Most of the mixed-blood traits are lost in the second generation unless the second parent is also the same halfbreed. Racism being considered insane in most places, I can't imagine people being called names for being not pureblooded. It will be interesting to see what Kitaians think about the new halfbreed possibilities, with shapeshifter spells on the march.

Art on deviantArt: Mapper and beja bard

The illustration shown previously for the article on mappers was posted on deviantArt, as well as a new piece of a beja bard that I like very much, especially as I painted animals in that image (there are, oh, so many animals, and I rarely get around to paint any).
Mapper on deviantArt, and mappers on the blog
Beja bard on deviantArt, and beja on the blog

Friday, 20 November 2015


"How hard can it be?"
— Agorisan motto
Agorisai in the Vernan Bay of northern Lozir is a widely visible landmark and is considered the oldest city after the council cities. It was built by the rhu'khach, evident by the ending -ai; every new building is erected on the ruins of an older one, and so the city is growing towards the sky. Streets are named after people, tribes, cities, events, and the number of the floor, for example, Ganronian Seventh Street.
Agorisans are good craftsmen, optimistic, and think they can do everything themselves, from cooking jam to drawing protective circles. They're aware of their city's political and economical power and are generous, if not entirely above a small self-serving deal here and there.
"We were thrown out of our own house by the goldfairies, and re-invited nine days later when the construction work was done, keeping the floor above from caving in. They could have just told us so. Or their human staff, for that matter."
— Rahimbe, Agorisan
Agorisans wear at least four layers of clothing, rich in traditional patterns, and colourfully dyed, with sandals and painted feet, and the hair knotted high on the head.
Foreigners love the beautiful clothes, but barely understand the heraldic meanings.

The city's creative architecture and old buildings are left from the Diamond Age when the rhu'khach ruled, their palaces and official buildings are spread over the city's rock spires. Being so old, Agorisai is also littered with relics left by spells and Area travellers. For example, one can't see the opposite side of the street of Telfur's Ninth Road; Gald's Tree changes the floor every year, and it's custom to donate its sweet fruit to the voice hall.

Artists' notes
When it became clear to me that the rhu'khach of old had an empire, they had to have left some ruins or such, but then I thought, why ruins? People of Earth still live on the same sites today than thousands of years ago, so why not keep the cities of the rhu'khach thriving as well.
Now that I've arrived at inventing cities, there is a whole new world of detail open to consider. I want them to be at least slightly real - while I loved the depiction of Minas Tirith in the LotR movies, and agree that for the purpose of storytelling I didn't care where it gets its food, with no apparent farmland for miles around, I do want to take care that my cities can be supplied. People have always been creative about making their living place work, so I don't worry about every tiny detail, just the general needs - water, farmland, trade routes and so forth.

Monday, 2 November 2015


Anyone can speak curses. A curse simply states that something bad should happen to someone and one must really mean it - it can't be done simply by muttering angrily. Curses must contain their solution, although how exactly this works is a matter of great debate among scholars. Speaking a curse pre-emptively - that is, without provocation and without having been wronged before by that person - means trouble to the curser, and something bad will inevitably fall back on him, there is no defense against that.
"Sure, young couples are sweet. But the speakers that moved into Draseem's tower have cursed each other half a dozen times since their arrival, and I do believe the neighbours are losing patience with the floods and fires the two set on each other."
— Zallajin, citizen
Curses cannot be spoken across the threshold into the Area, and therefore, people there are safe; the rare skill of creating curse-carriers can turn someone into a time bomb of sorts to go and meet the target and inflict the curse then.
The potential power of curses is virtually limitless. Entire peoples and countries have been cursed; however, the backlash is proportional and so, it takes someone very special to lay a curse on a tribe. The most famous curser is the Lonely Queen Dil-tona.
When a curse cannot be solved by following the instructions, voices can also help. Most of all curses do not last long.
"My uncle swears father sighed in relief when we broke the curse, some two hundred kilometers away, as if he knew. But he has never slept well again. And my sister hums always the same tune, then abruptly stops when someone approaches. We wonder if the voices might help get them back as they once were."
— Kliamara Talvreen, villager
Known curse in existence are for example Hilnired, who will wander until finding his general, whose resting place nobody knows; or the tribe of the Tsoltreemes, who cannot leave their land until making peace with their neighbours, which they refuse.
Other curses are suspected but could so far not be proven; the Brightholdian men might be cursed, as well as the burrmo princes, or the Kasillian crown.

Artists' notes
Curses are a dangerous device in fantasy. Therefore I tried to make sense of my curses' workings; you can't do it involuntarily, and they can be solved. On the other hand, they can kill you instantly.
Dil-tona will get her own article.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Art on deviantArt: Broken Jaw Rocks, Area Gate, and Insanity

I need reasons to post images in this blog, so when I paint something that's not immediately related to an article, they may lie around for a while. But of course I do a lot of sketches and speedpaintings for Genius Loci, and have decided they might as well be posted on deviantArt. For now, there are the illustrations for the Broken Jaw Rocks (already published here), Insanity (also blogged), and Area Gate, a surreal piece for Genius Loci's mindscape.

Why do I tell you this? Because the quotes are never the same, and you might just learn something new about Genius Loci.

Sunday, 18 October 2015


Whisperers have been described as the juvenile form of speakers. Indeed, whisperers that become powerful enough eventually turn into speakers, losing their abilities in exchange for the capacity of channeling the Fifth Power into spells. Whisperers are born, but one cannot learn to be a whisperer, while becoming a speaker is possible to anyone. Whisperers' abilities are always limited in number and strength. Some whisperers go to great lengths to keep their skills just low enough to not become speakers, to avoid the inevitable fanaticism both traditions are stricken with.
"I change the Fifth Power. My family forbade me to learn a profession, to marry, to have friends with strange ideas. I will live for nine centuries, and I'll never be anything but the power source for the speakers of my clan."
— Namtiin Giwanjur, whisperer
Whisperers' abilities are any of: resistance or complete immunity to mental control; empathy; telekinesis; shapeshifting their appearance; incredible physical resistance; manipulating the Fifth Power's strength; teleportation; silvercords; reading objects' past; supernatural combat skills; nearly irresistible skills of persuasion; artifact creation.

All whispering skills are limited to the user, they cannot use them outside of themselves. Therefore, while their teleportation is by far the most reliable, they cannot transport people with them, and cannot lift anything with their mental touch, but only protect or enhance themselves. Whisperers are subject to the mystical number five - mastership of five skills makes them speakers. They are treated wildly different throughout the cultures; some employ their unique talents like regular jobs, others see a duty for them, still others fear them, or value their talents but disregard the whisperers' individuality.
"Damned spells! I could jump from here to a room in Agorisai without fail when I whispered, now I can barely see the city upon my arrival!"
— Jukolar, wizard
Artists' notes
I wonder how it must be to have the choice to either never further your abilities or become a fanatic. Glad I don't have to make it. Whisperers' most important ability is to make artifacts - one could say that most have been made by them, although there are no more whisperers than speakers, who also can make them.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Art on deviantArt: Segrame race

I'm trying to get away from only showing concepts of Genius Loci, and provide proper paintings instead. Of course, they take much more time, and sometimes it simply takes too long to keep up the speed of three or four blog entries per month, especially since some need more than one image. Such is the case with the coming article on mounts. For now, there's the zehgraams (German: Segramen) on deviantArt:
And also with some WIPS and sketches on cgsociety.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Volcanism in Sawa and elsewhere

"Some think the lands of fire must be hot. Parts of it are; mostly it's northern and cold, but the Sawan houses are always warm. And so, the seemingly aggressive nature comforts its denizens."
— Gergadi, merchant 
The continent of fire is covered in evidence of its restless underground. There are proper volcanoes, but also geysirs abound, lava lakes, boiling mud, and fields of tiny smoking craters; rivers or lakes may be acidic due to the volcanic soil. Much of the land is covered in cold lava or ash, has lava tunnels, covered thinly with glasslike stone, and other dangers to travellers.
However, the Sawans have learned ages ago to use fire to their advantage. They reroute hot springs into their homes and bath houses, use hot air vents for drying and heating, and are very clever in building means to guide lava around what should not go up in flames. Greenworkers know the best plants to seed on ash-covered fields to break up the hardened lava.
"I know eruptions can't be predicted precisely, but I was promised it would go off sometime this week - without fresh lava I don't know how to keep the schedule!"
— Fenagi Tahar, entrepeneur

Sawa is not the only land to feature volcanoes. There are two belts around the world as well as some single or grouped volcanoes. Notably the Thrower mountains in northeast Lozir, and the Burning Islands of the Ryaq have large volcanoes.

Artists' notes
Volcanoes are so cool. I particularly love pyroclastic clouds and the lightning inside ash clouds during eruptions, and still I'm glad not to live around any active ones. I had to pull a bit of fantasy green thumbs, though, as new volcanic soil isn't nearly as fertile as "rich in minerals" sounds. It does make for beautiful geysirs though, with colourful minerals layering on their rims.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Lord of gubras Gahatenge

Gubras are popular if difficult pets. They are hard to tame, and have a reputation of being grumpy and only moderately child-friendly. Most famous today are the gubras of eastern Lozir. Many tribes hunt them for trophies or to keep them as pets; when one hunter's spear broke off in the proud gubra lord's flank, Gahatenge urged his kin to leave the treacherous humans, and return to the wild.
"Why I recall my kin? I am their lord, and you show so little respect for me - what will you do to them? I fear for my people. And as I see that some will not heed my command, I was right to."
— Gahatenge, to a listener
Some of those who followed immediately had to fight their way out, and since the command, meetings between wild and tamed gubras are even more difficult. While Gahatenge has a temper, he is a wise and far-sighted ruler, and it was expected he would forgive those who stayed; that he has not done so, observers find unsettling.
The lord appears as a muscular, tall southern man neglecting his hair, his elongated neck and pronounced teeth giving away his origin. He has been reported to hunt with his kin alongside humans, but not since his return call.
"I wonder why something as simple as a spearhead drives Gahatenge to such grim measures. He is a powerful warrior, and judging by his scars, surely he must have endured worse?"
— Wanailaka, wizard

Artists' notes
I like giving animals characteristics, reasons, and arguments that people simply can't follow. Animals might argue, why build a cathedral when a hut serves the same purpose, and at the same time insist a certain flower mustn't be eaten for obscure reasons. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Stairs of Grandrock

Gdera's northernmost country Grandrock is hard to reach because of its position high up its plateau, a series of cliffs and steep rocks making up its southern border, encompassing the entire land. This is not natural, however. Long ago, a placespirit - whose reason for existence is wildly debated - caused the plateau to rise, effectively cutting off Grandrock from the southern lands. Ages later, another placespirit enslaved anyone nearby to erect an elephantine staircase up the sheer cliffs. When the stairs were done, the remaining workers threw themselves off the cliff. Needless to say, the natives dislike the cliffs very much and won't even lead their flocks near it. To the unaware traveller though, the stairs are a blessing; their rise is perfect, and there are even niches to rest in on the long way up.
"Yes, we're safe from invasion. We were safe from Frullahan's insane expansions. Nobody enters the lands unnoticed, the cliffs are all but impossible to climb. As captain of the guard, I praise the stairs. As a being with a heart, I despise its memory."
— Quarin Tolmor, the queen's guard
The plateau is the most widespread relic known to remain of a placespirit, whose powers are normally restricted to their direct domain, which can still be very large, but not usually along an entire country's border. This has given rise to the belief the spirit was the result of a speaker exhausting herself to death with a spell, although there's no proof of that.
If the staircase itself is cursed is debated as well. There is an unusual amount of dead spirits around and on it, and the majority of those who die here become spirits. The Grandrockers take no chances and, while money doesn't stink, they much prefer traders arriving by boat or by Area over those that took the stairs.
"We have no friends. Our neighbours are scared, travellers are few, allies are too hard to reach because of the plateau. I hear some pity us, but they don't call either. We are quite alone."
— Penaka Ultor, citizen
Artists' notes
Every decent fantasy setting needs some monumental landmarks, doesn't it? There are a few in Genius Loci, but the stairs are among the useful ones, which I discovered while telling their story is worse to the natives than an entirely useless one. It's like employing knowledge gained through torture - you can't ignore it, but you feel dirty using it.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Art on deviantArt: Asgaan

The illustration previously published in the article on animal lords can now be seen on deviantArt as Asgaan, queen of the orlas.

Friday, 24 July 2015


Hallromm butterflies have thick pelt and long antennae, the six wings have a wingspan of half a meter, and the six legs are equipped with flexible toes that let them cling to nearly any surface. They are generally friendly and easily trained.
Dustships started using hallromm butterflies as messengers long ago, but nowadays they are popular everywhere, especially after new breeds proved to be more cold resistant. They carry letters in strap-on belly bags, and in some places heavy in short range messages the air is fluttering with hallromms. The butterflies insist on their own bushes to which they return faithfully - dustships keep those on one of the floating rocks.
Hallromms enjoy having their bellies stroked, leave tiny marks on elvish skin, and are mildly intelligent, at least enough to play with the omnipresent bugfairies.

"The bugfairies have painted the hallromms again. One almost lost an antenna trying to clean itself, but washing isn't a solution either, I'll break them to pieces. I'd ask the fairies to fix it, but I'm scared of what they'll do - probably paint the original colours back or something."
— Hetcal, Lozirian

Artists' notes
Originally hallromms (German: Hallrömm) were only found on dustships, but somehow a few years passed in Genius Loci while hallromms were around, and then they were popular on the ground as well. This is actually the first painting of them, I had just a few scribbles of their anatomy before.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Cities and settlements

Most of Kitas is rural, many peoples are nomads, and have settlements they only use half the year or even only tents. Notable cities are the three council cities for one - Gamahan in central Sawa, Plokin on Lozir's western coast, and Clom Vah in the Gderan Mahal Bay - gigantic cities dating back to the dawn of time, each over a million inhabitants large with uncounted visitors. It's here that all countries of the continent gather for talk and trade, and the council cities regard themselves not as power players but mitigators.
Secondly, the rhu'khach cities are the next oldest and therefore largest settlements. Recognizable by the ending -ei or -ai (like Agorisai or Eligei), their architecture is unmistakable, and their infrastructure is well-planned.

 "The architecture of Akosh and Ukosh is quite pleasant, even if the denizens are weird, but I like Nalvar's Isuanda best. It's beautiful at every time of year, and not as crowded as the council cities."
— Drasam Murish, traveller
There are many other notable towns and cities; there is some debate however, dating back millenia, if the likemindedness of city dwellers doesn't attract placespirits too easily, and thus, growth of settlements should be discouraged altogether. The inhumanity of seeing this through stops doubters from acting - usually - but the debate remains, and indeed, some peoples believe it firmly enough to not gather in settlements larger than small villages.
"The Discordant Cities have irked Zir again with a newly hired pirate fleet that Grimoga set on Henasset, but that attacked Ziranian traders, too. I don't think Zir will be forgiving about their idiotic politics much longer."
— Wekanar Hissomirr, Lozirian

Other famous cities are the powerful Nalsiir in eastern Gdera and Elisacett in its far south; the Tritowns Nini, Oryor, and Drani; Brighthold's capital Sokarnon; and the engineering school's home, Bargassa.

Artists' notes
Cities are such fun to invent and so painful to paint. Given that I arrived at a world pretty much littered with relics and ongoing spells like autumn leaves covering the forest floor, it might well be safer in the woods than in the cities, concerning otherworldly entanglements, where much fewer people have come through who could have left trouble behind.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


Umarvas are creatures with rusty red fur, a dark dorsal stripe, and dark paws; they are about thirty centimeters high, have large bright eyes, and seem plump in their thick pelt. In the wild, these nocturnal animals are very shy; around humans, they can only be found in voice halls. Here, they are peaceful co-dwellers of the voices, ostentatively ignoring visitors. Umarvas can be found everywhere except southern Sawa.
"As if the voice hall wasn't creepy enough, around midnight all the umarvas got up, gathered in the garden and silently stared up to a dwarf woman in a frock, who had appeared seemingly out of nowhere, then collectively turned around and returned to the hall. I've never slept in a hall again."
— Enipomor, mercenary
As mysterious as the umarvas are is their unnamed queen. As all her subjects, she seems to only talk to voices. She can be seen travelling with them and is most often spotted in northern Gdera. As a human, she has the appearance of a dwarven woman with umarva-coloured hair, in simple clothing and hairdo. The queen has a habit of quietly standing at the path's edge and observing, but leaves when others than voices come near. She has been reported to behave the same way in the Area, where she has been spotted frequently.
"Maybe it's not important what she's called when she hasn't introduced herself. I think you'll know when you call her her right name."
— Huun, voice

Artists' notes
Another animal lord, or rather, lady. Umarvas are another strange addition to the voices, who harbour so many secrets - from what makes the world go round to why only left socks ever go missing. I also enjoy quiet animals in games that you meet in the wild and for a change do not want to eat you.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Art on deviantArt: Gahatenge

The lord of the gubras has been painted to accompany a later blog article, and can now be seen on deviantArt: Gahatenge.
It also appeared on, where you can also see sketches and wips of Genius Loci artworks.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Animals and animal lords

Animals are not mindless beasts. The dwellers of Gdera's Lower forest maybe know this best - their beastly neighbours are smart, some even wise, and have a mind of their own; some are tricky, others helpful, yet others ignore people as long as they can have their way.
The animal lords are not their masters - as many examples have shown, beasts are strong-willed and individualistic. But they all acknowledge the undeniable power of their lords, and follow most commands. Gross mistreatment of a species may result in their tribe declaring war on the violators.
"I will not tolerate you mistreating my kindred so badly. You will release them by dawn. Fail to do so, and I will swear my people to follow and harm you any way they can, for as long as our brethren's suffering lasts. Do not test me."
— Asgaan, queen of the orlas
Bug fairies all know animal speech, and gladly act as translators. As most people don't understand beasts well, fairies help in repelling them from fields and houses, guard flocks, and protect children from being harmed by animals, but also talk beasts into becoming pets, not always to the joy of parents.
"Oh, for crying out loud. Get the fairies here, the naddis are ruining the vegetables. And make sure they don't use them for jousting this time, the poor things didn't give milk for two days after their last brilliant idea."
— Laqihe, farmer
Famous animal lords are the proud lord of the gubras Gahatenge; the mysterious umarva queen; and Eonorora, the sad and gentle lady of the neribrees. Most can take human shape but show features of their kind, like colouring or strength.
Not all lords are known (some even regard a lortsen lord as a ridiculous idea). Neither is it known if there is a hierarchy, or just one lord - or pair thereof - to each species. There seems to be a difference between the Crowned and the Uncrowned Lords, but what it is, remains unclear.

Artists' notes
I very much love stories that tell of the times when people and animals still lived together and humans knew they were just one kind of animal too, and understood the language of animals. So given the opportunity of my own world, I put Kitas in that era.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Art on deviantArt: Lozirian cave cities

A concept not previously published in the blog is now on deviantArt: Lozirian cave cities.
There may be an article on them someday, but for now, other articles take priority.

Saturday, 23 May 2015


Loss of sanity and various forms of lunacy are common in lands where you might fall into a parallel world at any time, or lose your mind to solitude. The different species are prone to various forms of mental issues. Some views are considered insane as well, like racism. The survivors of spirit attacks, either by the dead or placespirits, are never sane again, but results may vary.

Dwarves cannot endure loneliness and become erratic and obsessive when exposed to solitude; this is normally addressed by making sure dwarves need not be alone.
Elves easily suffer from delusions or paranoia. They often feel like they're missing out on some greater truth they could understand if only they opened up towards... something. It can be difficult to keep track of the longlived elves and their issues to get them help in time. These are but two examples; all species have their peculiarities.

"At first it looked like a simple poisoning, nothing to worry about. Then she started seeing things and talked to the forest. On the fourth day, she bit Relgaan and fled into the canyon; Relgaan has never spoken again."
— Orewasse, traveller
Time and again, people leaving the Area think themselves to be the servants of Starmaker, and of course her favourite. These raving lunatics pursue unfathomable goals, sometimes even violently, and almost always end up in the voices' care.
Goldfairies are hard to understand at the best of times. They all have secret goals and one together, it seems; they can often be found talking to themselves or the furniture, and stop in midsentence when they become aware of company. It requires patience to handle them.
"Sanity is a matter of circumstances. Are the Redforesters insane for living in poison? Is it mad to build on a volcano?"
— Hafana, scholar

Artists' notes
There are plenty of dangers - wild animals, illnesses, curses, volcanoes, elementarians... but I didn't want to leave out insanity. After all, it's a good explanation for some rulers' behaviour. And I like it better than them being eeeeviiiil; since I ruled out the Evil from Genius Loci, I thought it'd be better to blame it on loss of mind when rulers become cruel.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Garren clothing

"I'm not wearing that. I'll look like a humped idiot. I'll rather freeze my tail off."
— Badhea, Gderan gar
The garren have a crest down their back, from between the eyes to the tip of the tail. This argues with clothes, but craftsmen have long found solutions.
Garren shirts and trousers have straps sewn on to go over the crest's dips. Stiff, backless shirts are held up by the sleeves, or are worn with a ring on the neck and another around the waist. Garren can have the crest slit to fit fasteners through, or have it pierced with a knobbed fastener to tie clothing to; this is usually done by hairdressers. Buttons can be glued to either side of the crest with strong resin, and wearers may need help buttoning up. And of course, some simply wear pull-over clothes; when made of heavy fabric, they weigh the skinny crest down.
Trousers are cut to allow room for the tail but have some excess down the tail to cover the buttocks thoroughly; some regional costumes enclose the entire tail. Garren clothes are more expensive when they are snug fits.
"These tail bags are nicely warm."
— Badhea, traveller
Aesthetically, a standup crest is sightlier as well as more comfortable, and well-tailored dresses are prettier than bulging backs. Garren much prefer warmth, and cold regions sport special makes that enclose the crest separately. Morégar have it easier, with straps that fit right between the separate spikes. In general, since the garren are changeably colourful and care for aesthetics, sufficient garren population means the traditional dress takes their needs into account.

Artist's notes
I've had discussions about my lizard people wearing normal clothes, with trousers and shirts despite their crests. My argument stands; if the dominant culture says to wear clothes, you will wear whatever keeps you warm and decent - what's the point of looks when you die of cold?

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Art on deviantArt: The Empty Lands

The illustration accompanying the recent blog entry about inner Lozir now also appears on deviantArt: The Empty Lands.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Broken Jaw Rocks

Deep in the yellow forest lie the Broken Jaw Rocks. They are a large, roughly circularly arranged mass of sharply jagged rocks, in a swamp whose permanent mist enhances the mysterious atmosphere, making the entire region unusually inhospitable for the yellow forest. Many researchers tried to learn what might be inside the rocks, but none have succeeded so far - although some claim it, and others have gone insane, building up a legend of the rocks possibly being cursed, or inhabited by unspeakable things.
"The stone isn't from the region, the mist makes it impossible to peek in, there are inscriptions but only half can be reached. The Broken Jaw Rocks are surely among the most frustrating sites there are."
— Mehanid Kopahr, mage
The mage Ralgonkin Lair and his guide have been lost in the rocks many years ago; recently, Ralgonkin was found some distance away, babbling incoherently, and so far has not been able to explain where he was.
Clues have been found that skirmishes of the war against Sii-uri Darkheart have taken place here, most apparent by the inscriptions on the rocks themselves by those who dared venture close. Gold fairies have hinted at the rocks being encircled by protective marks, although it seems unlikely that a circle of such magnitude would have been forgotten, and evidence has yet to be found.
"Seritamifah, who is a friend to fleeters, asked one to go into the rocks, but he refused. She returned from him puzzled and frightened - apparently he gave a reason, but she never said which."
— Prasimur Ohalmar, traveller

Artists' notes
One of those places that came from a painting. It became more mysterious and finally almost hostile as I watched and built it, until finally, it became a taboo place that only the most daring adventurers will go into. That's okay.

Friday, 24 April 2015


Artifacts are commonly objects which have a spell or spell-like effect on them, but living creatures can also be enchanted, and being cursed or blessed is - scientifically - being enchanted or bewhispered (the terms are interchangeable). Not all artifacts are made on purpose, but by the times or circumstances. Indeed, exposing a thing to the same situations can turn it into an artifact; using a sword in honourable duels repeatedly might make it demand chivalric behaviour of its bearer and support her greatly while she does so, but refuse to obey if not. Some powerful artifacts will not be wielded by everyone.
"I created many artifacts when I was still a whisperer. I never thought they would take a liking to me - that damned dagger nearly killed the guard for me."
— Shirozuk, wizard
The most famous artifacts are of course the Four Weapons, the bow Gajtualih, the axe Khachgallah, the sword Rwannakah, and the spear Lefenned, which allegedly have limitless control over their elements and principles. They cannot be held by others than the Four unless they allow it.
Other widely known artifacts include the Whiteblade, the Bloodcollar, Blightfang, the Heavenspear, and Krinsar's Dowry.
"You cannot really predict an artifact's outcome, much like a child's character cannot be determined; you'd be a fool to try. But nurture it, guide it, and it will lend its power to a worthy bearer, and with luck, help them make a better tomorrow."
— Fanigla, pendulum-maker

Artists' notes
Everyone loves artifacts, as do I. Ged in Tales from Earthsea by Studio Ghibli said "I doubt you're powerful enough to wield it [the sword] yet", and that set how I wanted to have my artifacts - just like Mjolnir can only be wielded by Thor. I also like the fact that artifacts can create themselves without any magic involved. I suppose the greater artifacts will be like having a companion, with their demands. And of course computer games had their influence in artifact sets, like Krinsar's Dowry, which consists of five pieces.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Art on deviantArt: The White Night

A new piece of art can be found on deviantArt, showing the white forest: The White Night.
You can also find out more about the white forest here in the blog, here:

Friday, 10 April 2015

The Empty Lands

When Lozirians mean to say something's lost for good, then "it's gone to the Empty Lands". Most of Lozir is dry to say the least, but the Lozirians consider only the inner lands to really be a desert, with no known water sources or inland seas like Sawa and Gdera have. It is notoriously difficult to map and so, unknown indeed.
"A map of the Empty Lands would be either very useful or very useless. If it turns out you can't go there anyway the effort is wasted; so for now it's in our best interest to leave news of inner Lozir to the Areal travellers."
— Gramegar, Mappers' Guild spokesman
Some orders deliberately placed their strongholds or secret headquarters in the Empty Lands. That way their secrets are well protected, and they can always be sure that visitors are serious when it's so hard to reach their bases.
"The Knights of the East have their stronghold in the Empty Lands, but one can hardly ever see anyone come and go, and they remain silent when asked if they travel by Area. I wonder."
— Nelre dun Ruikin, citizen
Several tribes have vanished after crossing the imaginary border where the desert begins, the most famous being the rhu'khach after leaving the thrones of the Diamond Age - or so scholars assume.
Stone giants and plasmats roam the lands, and it's said the plasmats had a city, built of metals and precious stones they burned inside themselves, that's a sight to behold, and where no humans are welcome. It is one of the more colourful legends; many stories tell of the slow death, of halluzinations and mirages, and of travels that only happenend in the mind. Lost travellers are found clutching at air, holding their ears shut and having died screaming, many have died eating sand until choking on it.

Artists' notes
One of my favourite books ever was a gigantic, lushly illustrated two-part edition of the Tales of 1001 Nights that I had as a child - when stacked they were big enough to serve as a coffee table - and of course bits of that went into building Lozir. Other continents are not actually safer or easier to travel, but the meme of the mysterious desert remains alive in my imagination. I think part of that fascination is that an open desert invokes the feeling of being alone, while the forests of old have an air of beng watchful, and both are intriguing to have in a fantasy world.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Art on deviantArt: A Drastic Opinion

When I publish Genius Loci artwork on my main online gallery, deviantArt, there are other artworks, other quotes, and other descriptions, that I will link to as well in the future.

We'll start with a piece for the Area, A Drastic Opinion.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Radseri Spiritfriend

Radseri is the foremost expert on nature spirits. The Sawan elf has been studying them from early childhood and learned at the renowned School of Magic in Gamahan. Today, he travels to learn more about spirits; everyone agrees he has a special connection to spirits, but nobody can really say what that is.
"Radseri is known to us. He told the people of the town on my home mountain my wishes and made them understand when I could not. He is as good as a fleeter and wants less, we wish him well."
— Molmorur, the spirit of the Nonobur volcano
Radseri has human parentage and a quiet character, and is regarded as sitting in the ivory tower, but is undisputably a genius in his field. He can be seen playing with spirits all the time, splashing through rivers and running across meadows, but he is serene, well-spoken, and a good advisor to those seeking his counsel, and very undiscriminating. It is sometimes matter of concern to the same leaders who ask his help, that Radseri always hears both parties and may decide in favour of the spirits.
"And here we thought we understood our spirits just fine. The entire elven population of the city might have been killed by that unfortunate business with the collector's chest, had Radseri not intervened."
— Onitsor, councilman

Artists' notes
Radseri first appeared in a quote for a nature spirits concept where he said they made him become a mage, and he later received his own painting. I was long undecided if he was an elf or a human, but finally settled on elf because they are attuned to nature and spirits anyway.

Sunday, 22 March 2015


Moochs are peaceful flying animals found mostly in and around Lozir, but also wherever the air is favourable. Moochs aren't fast and glide slowly around in small flocks or sometimes singledly. They are held up by gaseous bags in their bodies, and it's said that larger moochs don't touch the ground at all. They are covered in eye-like spots and vary greatly in size, from the Pillar Street mooch spanning almost six meters, to the pocketsized arrowmooch. While peaceful, they can defend against attacking birds of prey well enough. Moochs are not hunted by humans.
Although they are docile and come to be fed and get attention, they don't bond and show no interest in the affairs of people, and there are no domesticated moochs. What they eat when they don't get vegetable treats is unknown; some think they don't eat at all.
Moochs are the only known creatures to go to the seraph cities, but scholars are puzzled as to why and how.

"Our hallromm tribe showed the moochs what they thought of them getting all the attention from smut Fresian. We had to patch up half of them, but the moochs didn't come back. Which made our cargo hold goldfairy cry. The disorder of the cargo is unbelievable, and I'll need to fix the fairy's mood somehow."
— Sefinama, dustship captain

Artists' notes
The German original, "Much", is a difficult phonetic translation; speak "mooch" with the same ending as Scottish "loch". So, yeah, flying rays, I couldn't stop myself, although it's a bit of a fantasy/sci-fi trope, but I love the shapes so much. There are places (in Africa, I think) where actual rays come to the shore to play with children and be petted, which is very, very cute, and I brought some of that into moochs' behaviour.

Sunday, 15 March 2015


Following the disastrous worldwide conflict of the Splinter War in the 48th and 49th century, shapeshifting was outlawed by any country that considered itself civilized. It was agreed that shapeshifting changed one's heart; how should one be unaffected by turning into beasts or monsters?
About three centuries ago, however, evidence was unearthed that indeed the mind remains untouched by the change. Of course, even if news travel fast, not everyone today knows or accepts this. It might take shapeshifters centuries to regain acceptance.
"Naturally, the shapeshifters fulfilled a role in society that, when left empty, created a hole that we only now slowly begin to understand."
— Vatarna, mage, in a lecture
Shapeshifters are spell users, whisperers, or were born with the ability. Whisperers can only change slightly. Spells are powerful, but don't last very long. Born shifters, depending on skill, can change their appearance or physiology indefinitely, and turn into creatures or even things. These are still feared today even by openminded experts.
Although it's hereditary, few shapeshifters are born. It's more likely to have shifter children when the parents shifted much, but most shapeshifting is done with spells. Much spellcasting in turn means the children are likely to be speakers, and speakers are never shapeshifters.
"The elves were the first to jump at the chance of changing their outsides. I suppose it was to be expected - if regular twins want to be different, how must it be to look like everyone in town?"
— Blinai Namtoneh, historian

Artists' notes
I had created a huge war with shapeshifters early on. The logical conclusion was that shapeshifters would fall victim to genocide; prejudice and paranoia would bring anyone to the gallows who was suspected to have the gift. I then found that I robbed myself of a charming magical feature of fantasy worlds and thought hard how to get it back. I finally decided that the relentless effort and insatiable curiosity of the mages could rediscover the truth, and here we are.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Headless Nakani

When the sometimes imcomprehensible Nakani was called "headless" first, she took the edge off this insult's knife by wearing the nickname proudly. Nakani has been accused of many things, and even freely admits she is at the center of quite a few plots and conspiracies, some of dazzling reach and consequence, like the dethronement of King Mahetbe, or the fall of the Gisterian Stones.

"Headless? No. As you can see. But restrictionless, which is what most people seem to be using the great gift of mind for."
— Headless Nakani
Nakani is a whisperer and powerful in artifact creation, combat, and endurance, and a master with the starblades, a staff weapon invented by the Order of the Violet; it's rumoured she were their leader, but she only admits to being a member. The mysterious order has a house in Agorisai, where Nakani can often be found, but it's unclear if it's their headquarters, although most suspect it to be.
Nakani has six dead husbands, more tattooed signs than signmakers deem safe, no fear, and razorsharp wits and tongue. And she is quite brilliant, and an advisor valued by many rulers.
"By the Spirit, she claims she had made it so that the road crosses the fields, and the echo inevitably met its maker, both eradicating each other. And this was her solution when we asked her to rid us of both the echo and Hetambe, nine years ago?"
— Councilwoman Tangange

Artists' notes
Nakani was fun to design, but first came as the idea of a spokesperson of the Order of the Violet - the very idea there is one, is considered half insane by almost everyone. I like the weirdos who speak almost entirely in riddles but turn out to be right every time, so you inevitably start to listen to even their strangest ideas, because the solutions always work.

Sunday, 15 February 2015


Flying is a popular travel method and sport in Lozir, the land of earth and air, but just as well in the Gderan blue forest and parts of the Ryaq's island realms. The few flying animals that can be trained into mounts are rare and often expensive or difficult to keep, but technology - thanks to the efforts of the Bargassian engineers - is quite advanced on materials and techniques and makes flying possible for many folks.

 "I heard the rrani lords raid dustships. Don't know if it's true, but I wouldn't put it past them, and it certainly would explain why dustships are such a rare sight here in the Ryaq - or at least better than some weird notion about our weather."
— Kenaha Chimeen, Ryaqer
The most widespread version of flight is done with sailflyers, which are used throughout Lozir; the blue forest has very similar equipment. A triangular rigging is fitted with a sail, and pilots need to jump off heightened positions for takeoff. The flats around the Lozirian rock island were difficult to travel by air before the denizens erected the sailtowers, which are climbed to gain the necessary altitude.
Flying with animals is an entirely different matter. The large, docile dur birds of Gdera carry passenger baskets, while the fierce rrani are flying predators of the Ryaq, prestigious but difficult to manage and seen almost exclusively with the rrani lords' tribes.

"... and then I almost lost a finger in the hinge when the spring suddenly slammed shut. Other than that, this new foldable sailer is ingenious, I will definitely have one made."
— Onbimgi aht Runar, Bargassian

Finally, there are the dustships with their ever so secretive crews, and sometimes a garden ship can still be found in Gdera. Garden ships grow an enormously large garden of gaseous plants and hang a handful of tiny huts below, where little more than a large family lives, and the ships are very fragile. Few are left, and their dwellers are considerd a peculiar lot.

Artists' notes
Oh, flying, mankind's oldest dream. Seriously, it's one of the coolest things in fantasy to make up flying creatures and airships and things that will never work with our physics, but are so wonderful to imagine having. Of course in the blue forest people can also just jump off the next tree and float down slowly, because the air is so light there, but that's not flying, that falling with style (end of quote ;)).

Friday, 6 February 2015


Among the travelling professsions, mapmakers or mappers are equally regarded and well-paid as discarded as scoundrels and liars. Indeed, in the many changing lands recent maps can be invaluable, and the mappers know it. Whether the traveller has to put up with overgrown paths in Gdera, new volcanoes in Sawa, or treacherous desert ways in Lozir, without knowing the lay of the land no-one gets anywhere. Maps can be pricey, depending on their age and quality. Mapmakers are scientists, surveyors, and merchants in equal parts, which makes the average mapmaker proud, self-confident, and devious.
"Contrary to popular belief, we do care what happens to our maps. It's not about criminals hiding stashes - we couldn't care less - but that people believe us to be amateurs when the map's wrong. We are very, very good."
— Mexin, mapmaker
Mapmakers usually have a speciality; some map power lines, coasts, weather, political borders or cities, mountains or rivers, seaways or inland paths, or any number of things. They are also sometimes hired by criminals for "special maps", or devious potentates to fake maps for the political opponent - these projects make half of the mapmakers' bad reputation, and are a cause for conflict within the profession. A reliable mapmaker improves the public perception of a king, and is highly sought after.
The Mappers' Guild is one of the most adamant organisations there are, it - unlike some members - is uttely incorruptable and sworn to science only.
"We should have bought a more recent map."
— Elirad Truum, traveler

Artist's notes
I like character types that are regarded as scum by some and heroic adventurers by others. Mapmakers are free in their choice of work and very knowledgeable and well-travelled, people children in the villages crowd around in the tavern. And what more interesting thing to find or be presented with than a map?

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Nuralk Trochkompin

Nuralk is the world's most famous poet and commonly called by his first name. He is already several centuries old but still travels a lot, and rarely has the time to be a university teacher in his home city Mourinor in the Great Talash-Keh realm.
Nuralk's works have become the standard for any and all bards, and are widely known. Among his greatest works are the epos "The Four" and the poem collection "The Mists of Yallahan", both of which were translated into many languages, and serve many learners of foreign languages to get a grasp of rhyme and rhythm. Aside from his accomplishments in the literature and entertainment world, youths love him for making his wild hairdo of felted strands, barely tamed with tin beads, fit for good society (more or less).
"I have romanticized rebellions and told out rulers, insulted several orders, met a seraph, and almost caused war on at least three occasions, but my most discussed deed is: was my use of the Four's verse in "The Four" genius or theft?"
— Nuralk, poet
Also, Nuralk has made a name for himself by claiming he met a seraph. The seclusive people have not left their floating cities in millenia, but apparently this one came to talk; about what, Nuralk has never remembered, nor what the seraph looked like, except that he or she "walked like silk in the wind", which has since become a popular flattery.
"Valiantly prosperous, the bright land holds/ ashen and blood-smeared, the sharp land folds/ furiously blind, upheaving dim remains, the namesake groans/ thus is Sawa, the fiery, where each mountain moans."
— Nuralk, children's verse to remember Sawan states
Artists' notes
This guy was a really early celebrity while I created Genius Loci. Bards are a great thing in fantasy games, books, and whatnot; I remember several cool rpg companions, and also the joy of having bards sing the song of the Dragonborn in TES V: Skyrim. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


The vast majority of political, financial, and social positions lies with women in the highly militarized Sawan country Brighthold, weapons-related professions being closed to men. So, men stay at home during their wifes' long war tours, and take care of the large families and fort-like homes.
Brighthold has the world's largest and best-led army, and keeps the many bickering tribes and nations around in order. Their heroines are known far and wide, their skills undisputed and admired, their honour unquestionable. At home, Brightholders enjoy the simple life, social gatherings with bards, and their families. The Crowned is chosen by the Nobles' Assembly, and has never yet been cruel or unskilled.
"We just left the west, and we have to go back already and settle down the neighbours we just defended? Why can't the world stay saved for a day or two?"
— Unedirokar, soldier
Although Brighthold lies in the south, as a plateau it is windy and rather cool in temperature.
The Brighthold wear consists of leathers and pelts, exquisitely worked and adorned with animal tails, rims, pearlwork, and embroidery; woven fabrics are rare and expensive. The notable "underwear" is a leather suit covered with the typical, irregular metal plates. Brightholder civilians are proverbially "better armoured than other armies' skirmishers". Men's and women's clothing differs only slightly in elaboration and practicality.
"Ah, whenever my wife is home she disrupts our routines, leaves messes, and frightens the children with her challenges and loud behaviour. Still, we love her; I wish she'd stay longer so we could have another child - but alas, some tribe in the north is sure to rattle their spears and she'll leave sooner than we think."
— Halakamiron, husband
Artists' notes
I can't remember how Brighthold ("Lichtfeste") became a matriarchy, but it stuck and now I have all kinds of plot lines around it. It's not a feminist statement, though, I believe the only way to live in peace is if we agree genders aren't different. Brighthold was one of the earliest and because of its extremes most notable countries I invented; the costume is inspired by the Native Americans' and always fun to come up with.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Splinter War

The most devastating war Kitas ever had to endure lasted over a century. Started by subversive forces of shapechangers reaching for power, long suppressed conflicts broke out everywhere. Naturally, shapeshifters were hard to discover; their tactics were political and their network tight. Starting in northwest Sawa, the war burned its path eastwards, travelled to Lozir and then Gdera; it was finally managed to develop means to discover shapeshifters, but it took great effort to pacify the realms enough to employ them.

The real reasons of the shapeshifters' warmongering are lost in history; whether they wanted to rebuild afterwards, simply sought destruction, or followed some other plot, is unknown.
"It's not that we think our men were worth any less than us. It's that we don't trust them - after the cruelties committed by them in the Splinter War, they have no business being around weapons."
— Kiromatonak Stillhand, Brighthold scribe
After the war, the maps had to be redrawn. Shapeshifters were hunted and killed, shapeshifting was outlawed. Natural shifters were presumed extinct, spells forbidden, the name used as an insult.
Two millenia later, the shapeshifters' role in society was rediscovered, along with the forgotten spells. Scientists made a great effort for its acceptance and today, very slowly, shapeshifting is growing back into society.
"You should overcome the Splinter War. Even if it was such a great incision, you cannot linger on it forever - how will you brighten the future if the past throws such shadows?"
— The Kirnanas fleeter
Artists' notes
The original German "Splitterkrieg" might be more accurately translated as "Shatter War" but I didn't like how it sounds.
The Splinter War is a deep cut in history - there's a before and an after, and both are very different. So much was destroyed that entire countries have been forgotten. The war and the difference to before will be interesting along the way of telling the story of Genius Loci.
Why, do you ask, have the Four not helped? Because the Splinter War started at the end of one cycle and prevented the new one from beginning. The Years of Sorrow were not four years that time, but decades of a world without the Four to protect it from itself.