Saturday 11 November 2017


Many proverbs and expressions are derived from local cultures, others are more general. Greetings more often than not are common all around the world and in any language.

• "Light with you" is the most common greeting for meeting and parting. Light is an important part of spirituality as the symbol of the Great Spirit itself, and is used in many sayings.
• "Safe ways" are wished on respected people leaving and is hardly ever said as a mere ritual, but the speaker either means it, or omits saying it altogether.
• "Guard of the Four" is a shortened greeting when parting, to grant the leaving party the protection of the Four, the greatest force of order, who have also been known to happen upon travellers who're lost or in trouble.
• "Silence!" is hardly a standard greeting, but is used among those who think being a speaker is bad. The voiceless are the counterpart to the speakers, and thus, keeping the silence will keep it that way.
"The older natives spoke almost entirely in proverbs and were so hard to understand even our polyglot friend Mianrat scratched his head in puzzlement. Fortunately the younger people spoke quite regularly, even though their elders frowned at their lack of finesse. Or so we think they said."
— Pelehnot, traveller

• "By the Great Spirit", "in the Spirit's name", or "by all the spirits" are called out in shock or awe. With large protective nature spirits around, they may be called on instead; flourishes include attributes of those spirits like "by the eternity of the Spirit", or "by Molmorur's mumble".
• "Dalgango" is an insult. Dalgangos are pack animals that are considered dirty, mean, and stupid.
• "Iskilanian" describes most honourable fulfillment of duty, even in danger to oneself. It goes back to the message runner Iskilan, who crossed the frozen sea to deliver the letter preventing a war between two countries.
• "Kmalian teapot" is a thing that is superfluous, gets way too much attention, or is suspected to be useless altogether.
• "black-handed accuser" refers to the custom on Accusation holiday (17th day of Judgment). Everyone's sorrows are heard, but every grievance requires one finger to be blackened, and so a black-handed accuser is one who is never happy.
"My friend claims that nature spirits have proverbs too, but hasn't found what they refere to. He thinks its the Great Spirit; the larger spirits have also been found to quote former Four, which took quite some historical research and a bunch of wrinkly elves, but it seems true."
— Verelin, mage

Artists' notes
A world of fun, inventing proverbs. One standard expression may come from sounding awesome, and then it needs a cultural background, and then I have new historical events. Some were harder to translate from German and have been left out for now, like "magisch" and "zauberhaft", referring to the mages or wizards, respectively.

Saturday 7 October 2017


Most animals of the blue forest strike the traveller as odd, but lessevehnes have made some think they inadvertently landed in the Area. Lessevehnes have incredibly long legs and necks, and flexible antlers, with which they gather fruit, and make noise as well. The water-blue fur is so soft it can barely be felt. Always do they look as if the wind could take them away, and they never run, only walk. Lessevehnes are not hunted, but their antlers are used for a special musical instrument in the blue forest.

"The bard played wonderfully on her instrument, but when we met a living lessevehn weeks later in the forest, and heard what it could do with its antlers - the bard's skill really paled to insignificance."
— Hafjim, traveller

Artists' notes
I painted a creepy giant beast ages ago for a surreal card game, and the basic idea stuck with me until I could make it work for these beasties. It's fun to make animals stick to the general impression of the single coloured forests.

Wednesday 30 August 2017


Northern Gdera is where Frullahan lies, between polar Chasland, Elnarland, Dannamar, Omarhan, and small Nalwar, and southern neighbour of cursed Grandrock. Politically, it's unimportant but influential at the same time - there are few alliances and trade partners, but the baseless, twitchy actions of Frullahan puzzle the neighbours frequently and have them take action. A long-dead mage king had led numerous campaigns to conquer surrounding territory, which leads to conflict to this day; since Frullahan makes no gestures of giving back any of it.
"Many have suspected the king sought for the Deep Archive in the expansions, but scouring the conquered lands hasn't turned it up either. Others think the Archive always belonged to the Frulla, and the contents made him take so much land."
— Zounana, historian
The Frulla - the country's largest tribe - are liberal and carefree, but laborious and perfectionistic, and often compared to goldfairies because of it. Their traditional attire supports the assumption that they're not quite right in the head; Frullahanians carelessly throw together colours, adding foreign patterns and accessoires in no apparent order. Typical are the belted long shirt with vertical stripes in various widths, and the jacket with shoulders quilted from triangular pieces.
Frullahan is known among historians and treasure-hunters as the home of the Deep Archive. What it contains is wildly debated and sprung many legends; it is said to be guarded by a fleeter, and while many thieves, robbers, and adventurers have tried to find it, none succeeded.
"Yeah, the capital has been restructured again. We voted on it, but less than half wanted to cover the river, so we built the aqueduct instead and use it for traffic now; but there's already debate if more towers wouldn't be better. With bells."
— Hetcheckran, Frullahanian

Artists' notes
These wonderful countries of which you've hardly ever heard, but that turn out to pretty exciting. With people that barely make sense at first, and secretive rationales to their actions. Frullahan, as so many countries, has more to offer than I admitted to here, so let's see where telling the Genius Loci story takes us.

Sunday 20 August 2017


A golbehl ist a Gderan animal that feels so unloved it's become a proverb. Golbehls are slender, long-legged animals with grey fur and red ears, the markings in the whiskered face make it always look sad. Golbehls quickly approach humans to become friends, but are so easily startled and so emotionally fragile that they just as quickly leave their would-be masters; only to try again with someone else days later. Only in the ninth year of being a pet do golbehls quite suddely evolve into loving, perceptive, and hard-working companions. Then they have unmatched qualities as guards, are smart and quick on the uptake, and can learn surprising tricks. Always do they need much love and appreciation. Golbehls are only kept by few, envied trainers, but many try training a golbehl.
Golbehls live in the lesser green forest and can become fourty years old in the wilderness, and much older in captivity.

"Golbehls are so hard to train it's always a suprise seeing somebody with one, and I've met them as companions of people from adolescents to elders and soldiers to housekeepers. Even the romantic raganaj have no advantage in training them; but a surprising amount of brownforesters are accompanied by golbehls."
— Kihpabe, traveller

Artists' notes
I've been typing 'til my fingers bled inventing animals and plants for all regions lately, and now it's high time to sketch some and make them public. Simple sketches will have to do for many, however.

Thursday 13 July 2017

The Waters of Lurekin

The Waters of Lurekin are an assembly of waterfalls, ponds, and rivers in Gderet. The delta is beautiful on its own, but the waters are also a place of power with some fame in the region. Numerous old battlefields in the vicinity mean lots of spirit collectors, who come here to cleanse themselves of the spirits trapped within them. Also, fleeters seem to have a liking for the spot and can often be met in and around the waters.

"By all rights the Waters should be within Nalsiir's borders. It's unfair they put down their oversized weight to rob us of our rights to possess such an important place. One day they'll learn they can't treat us this way."
— Bakaada Tsureen, Nalsiirian

The waters are a famous place to make the voiceless into speakers, granting formerly ordinary people the power to cast spells by channeling the Fifth Power. There is also a fairly large hall of voices here that manages to remain almost entirely invisible to the visitors unless actively sought, even if the place is teeming with listeners who also accompany the visitors to dangerous tasks if necessary.

"Lurekin is a fascinating name. It's the name of a nearby city that now lies in ruins; three speakers of the name are known, but only two came through here; finally, there's an artifact called Lurekin's cap, which isn't a hat at all."
— Ma'apik, historian

Artists' notes
That mages aren't only born but can also be made is one of my most important decisions about Genius Loci, I think. It's also nice for the artistic side because, naturally, places where such a change can be accomplished will be mysterious, legendary, remarkable in many ways and therefore, fun to paint.

Thursday 6 July 2017


Most people know their house medicine against everyday sicknesses and small injuries. For anything beyond, apothecaries provide sophisticated healing aids, and larger cities at the least have proper hospitals with surgeons and therapists. Dwarves with their delicate hands make great surgeons, and speakers come to all medical professions and exact their obsessive ways to become experts in their fields.
The red forest provides poisons which, in proper dosage, are medicinally useful, and there is barely a sickness for which a cure cannot be found in there; but it's difficult to travel, and many cures still await their discovery.
"I was astonished when they brought me a redforester - a sick redforester? I couldn't find what was wrong with her until a desperate attempt, following a seemingly outlandish theory, revealed the cure to be tsemakar venom and the matching antidote. Apparently, redforesters need to be poisoned daily to be well."
— Jraneh, apothecary
Elves are proverbially "more different than others", and display a range of differing reactions to normal medicine. But in the end, every species has its preferences; garren show better healing when the medicine is applied hot, raganaj when it's based on animals, both as well as dwarves show in their colouring when they're not well.
Most sicknesses affect all species, if not always with the same symptoms; bluefinger disease, for example, does the same to everyone, while only shankeh can get straipiness, and only humans suffer from the cold (which is a source of amusement to other species - stand them in cold water, they get sick. Hilarious.).
"My shankeh patients would have needed rest to heal properly, but their need to run always drove them out of bed and their condition worsened. So I finally, if arguably, turned to the practice of either putting a nail into the knee, or breaking the leg altogether."
— Vranejar, Gamahanian doctor

Artists' notes
There's always this chance when building a world that you either make it a hellhole where everything's dangerous and rotten, or way too nice because every problem has been solved, so I design diseases and poisons carefully (and civil wars, insanity, and tyrannies). The red forest may well treat everything there is from cancer to the common cold, but finding anything is bloody difficult. Literally.
It's fun to come up how elves react differently to things, and define the miniscule differences between species' physiology, seen from a medic's perspective. There are of course lists of these, but I won't bore you with them.

Friday 30 June 2017

Art on deviantArt: Repaints, Nightly Traveller, Red Forest

I have recreated or rather expanded some older works for Genius Loci: the Yellow Forest Borderlands, Fog in the Ryaq, and the Salt Flats. Now they're much more grand and therefore closer to what I had wanted them to be. The Nightly Traveller from a recent blog post was also published on deviantArt, and finally, there's another landscape piece of the red forest.

Sunday 25 June 2017


There are many breeds of bans, who can be used as pets, hunting beasts or even beasts of burden, or as guards for house, family, or herds. The best-liked ban breeds are plushy herderbans, whose fur is also worn; hunting bans in all sizes, from small energetic tunnelbans to the mighty surabans with their powerful jaws; and of course the affectionate and intelligent kalagrenos, who make excellent pets and learn many tricks. Wild bans are rare, although some small packs of domesticated bans that run wild exist.
"Between my orla, ban, yaaf, and myself, I think I'm the worst hunter. But at least the best cook, and I swear they are going for the fat prey first because it tastes best when roasted."
— Chrekor, hunter
The most basic build of bans is slender with long legs, thin horizontal ears and a narrow snout. They are omnivores but prefer meat, and hunt for smaller animals like amphibians and rodents, but also eat up insect states. The bans in northern Gdera specialize in catching birds. Preferences and character often depend on breed; some dislike water while others won't get out again; some are husky and lazy while others won't stand still. The appearance is equally dependent - from plush, multicoloured fur to being covered with wire, and from flat, shortlegged hunters to gracious, fragile runners, everything goes.

Artists' notes
Bans take the place of dogs in Genius Loci. After some consideration I threw out all Earth names for creatures, and have them look differently. It's just too tempting to make all kinds of weird animals that do what well-known animals do normally - mounts, cattle, pets. Now there are pervons instead of cats, wempons instead of camels, bans instead of dogs, and I'm happy.

Thursday 15 June 2017

The Nightly Travellers

"We had followed them into the valley, and found there an obstacle course of sorts, made of Areal thresholds. Apparently they train to leave, make, and enter them as a sport - it's no wonder we were never able to catch them."
— Rastann, guard
There are orders aside the speakers that look for wisdom and truth. The Nightly Travellers believe it can be found in the Area, and live almost exclusively there. As the nature of the Area makes reconnaissance nearly impossible, nobody knows what they are doing there, where they camp or live, and where they will come out. Also, since paths are shorter in the Area, they can travel vast distances very quickly, and have thus always eluded capture.
"I will take your daughter with me. She shall learn to weave, spin, and dye the mountainsides and shallow seas."
— Night Traveller Hmakinga
The Nightly Travellers are not the friendly helpers they claim they are. They steal children, to raise them in the Area. People staying within the Area for long often become strange and incomprehensible, and nobody knows what this upbringing does to the children.
When Nightly Travellers leave the Area, they create astonishing, intricate Areal relics of strange effects, and rulers become worried when they are sighted.

Artists' notes
There are a whole lot of other, friendlier orders with altruistic goals, but describing the freakish, strange orders with intransparent agendas is fun. The others will get their time as well, of course. Meeting a Nightly Traveller is like the opening scene of an urban fantasy novel, when you see a modern mage do something incredible with casual ease.

Monday 5 June 2017

Ghabnah and Turachgekhan

The speakers have entirely opposite (but to the voiceless, indistinguishable) plans how to achieve understanding of the world. Wizards believe that the world will make sense only as a whole, while mages seek to understand each detail first, then assemble them all. Both ways have been codified early in history by the greatest thinkers of their time, who are today's idols of their respective beliefs, Ghabnah and Turachgekhan.

Ghabnah, who is thought to have been a beja mage, wrote the first magical tome collecting the spells strung together from the words of power. This First Book of Magic, or Ghabnah's Book, also contains the principles mages should follow. It is constantly being revised and modernized, and there are different interpretations of her thoughts.

"Look at any one thing and find that it is made of parts. Learn their workings - learn every thing's workings, and you may finally understand the world's workings as well."
— Ghabnah

Wizards follow the teachings of Turachgekhan, a rhu'khach sage, who said that the world is wondrous and whole, and can be only understood if one dares to broaden one's mind to encompass it. Today, wizards are acknowledged as skilled holistic thinkers. Each spell is invented at the time it is cast and has widespread effects.

"Look at how marvelous the world is intertwined, and everything inseparable from everything else. We know the Great Spirit is at the foundation of it all, but we only know this, we do not grasp it - and when we finally do, I believe it will be most grand."
— Turachgekhan

Neither Ghabnah nor Turachgekhan said anything about hating on the other half of the human supernaturals. Some very optimistic philosophers even believe in unification of both schools. The fact however remains that in six millenia, no-one has learned both the way of the mages and wizards.

Artists' notes
There had to be idols among the speakers, and the most important idols would of course be the founders of their way of life. There's much to say about speakers, spells, and the philosophies. It's sometimes thought that maybe spells are "poisonous", because it's only after casting their first spell that speakers are set in one way.

Tuesday 11 April 2017


Of the greater predators in the great green forest of Gdera, suras are probably the largest - animals that are bigger still usually are herbivores. Suras are six meters long without the tail, and have a powerful jaw. Their thick, saggy, blue-grey skin has a small mane of greenish brown fur. Hunting sura is dangerous and needs well-trained surabans to accompany the hunters; but several parts are considered delicacies, and the skin is a great trophy.
Suras are perfectly aware of their place at the top of the food chain, and are often impolite to travellers by striding into camps, taking food and scaring pets. But, suras will not usually openly seek trouble, and the greatforesters have taken to wearing sura bells; small bundles of bells worn at the ankle, to announce themselves to the predators and make them take a different route. Suras are true to their homeland and easy to expect.

"Our nearest neighbours exiled their head hunter last year. It turned out that she had not, as she claimed, hunted and killed the sura alone, whose skin she wore; but that she had bought it from nomad traders. Sentries say she made a hut up on the fallen sky fig; we tell the children to stay away from her."
— Haamhile, Greatforester

Artists' notes
Suras aren't even that important (but how can any animal be, when there are so many), they are mostly the reason for a local custom of wearing bells to make suras go elsewhere. I do believe however, that some animals will quickly learn that bells in the forest mean food, toys, and easy prey. And the choice between meeting a sura, and being pestered by nureewings may just go the way of not wearing bells; at least suras don't attack without provocation.

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Art on deviantArt: Red forest, burrmo, Vrebin

The recently posted Standing Stones of Vrebin (see the article here) are now on dA as well, as are a concept of the red forest - ever so delightful to plan a poisonous forest - and the fierce burrmo (who also already made an appearance here). And last but not least, a repaint of the Watching Tree, an older image showing the Area.

Friday 17 March 2017

The Lonely Queen, Dil-tona

Perhaps one of the most dreaded people alive, Queen Dil-tona rules in western Lozir. She is known for her elaborate curses. The issue with that is, of course, that curses fall back on the curser to some degree, and the sheer amount of curses muttered by the queen is enough to make anyone else snap. That she still seems more or less sane is puzzling to experts of the field. It is unknown from whence she came, and even how exactly she came by the throne is forgotten, although most genealogists agree she wasn't a child of the former king. They say Dil-tona is a Dohl Churon, which might account for her great supernatural powers.

"My aunt came from only the outer fringes of Dil-tona's realm, and still was caught up in a curse that made her lose words all the time, and that took almost a year to get rid of. She hasn't set foot in Lozir since."
— Grawada Imnirun, merchant

The realm of Dil-tona is not closed to outsiders but few travel there, and few natives leave - not all the neighbouring lands accept them either, because they're afraid of what the refugees might carry. Curse-carrying is unusual and difficult, but the queen masters even that almost effortlessly, feeding the fears.
Nevertheless, the queen is beautiful, and as love goes, some men with heart feel they could save the queen - or the land - by softening Dil-tona. None have succeeded, and by now the row of wooers' graves is almost longer than the line of the wooers themselves.

"Who knows how many of the curses of the Empty Lands trace back to the Lonely Queen. One can only hope the stories about her finding love and being cured by it are true, and that someone endures to give it to her."
— Sraminar, Lozirian noble

Artists' notes
Creepy rulers, cursed somehow, who can only be swayed by true love, or the famous true love's kiss, is a classic in fairy-tales, and as such has of course found its way into Genius Loci. I won't tell if that can actually turn Dil-tona from a bloodthirsty lunatic into a lovable woman. But it would be nice if being loved could do anything, wouldn't it?
The sketch is a design sketch, and I'm not set on it yet. Making an atmospheric illustration for Dil-Tona is of course mandatory, but it'll have to wait since it's been so long since my last article here.