Monday, 30 December 2013

Genius Loci in Worldscapes Magazine

"I'll never understand how speakers can be so insanely curious. And laborious. An essay about Kmalian teapots? Gimme a break."
— Fesa, market trader 

Artist's notes
I attend a group on deviantArt focused on worldbuilding which has just resulted in issue #1 of the Worldscapes Magazine. I wrote this three-page article about Genius Loci, an introduction and the current theme binding the worlds together for this issue; you can read the full article in the mag: Worldscapes Issue #1

Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Blue forest

The Blue forest grows tall but fragile plants, wispy and thin, held up by infinitely fine leaves, gaseous bladders, or grass-like built. Most of the fauna flies or floats; even if the sunbathed ground is covered with nutritious plants, most animals stay in the air. The blue forest grows on sandy grounds, on steep cliffs and rocks, and is easy to travel since even tree-sized plants are light enough to be pushed aside. Most spectacular: the air is lighter, they say, and indeed flying is far easier here than anywhere else, and floating down cliffs is possible with simplest devices. It's quieter here than usually in forests, because most animals do not speak in a way audible to people.
"Sometimes the forest is called the blue hole - it seems people going in don't come out again. Once you've felt its calm, you'll understand why leaving the Blue Forest isn't tempting at all."
— Shiteng, blue forest guide
The inhabitants are quiet and meditative. Flying is a popular sport, and clothes reflect this; voluminous sleeves, short capes and baggy coveralls, especially in childrens' clothing, are used to travel quickly. The Blue forest's wealth comes from medicinal exports and building materials famous for their lightness, notably the wood for dustships. Like in the Yellow wood, people are interested in aesthetics, but keep things simple.
"Me love the Blue. Sand float, plants float, me float - I am part o' everythin'. Me feels very important there. Me likes."
— Mimiparo, bug fairy

Artists' notes
As so often, much of my inspiration comes from films. One of the most important here is the chase scene from Crouching Tiger, hidden Dragon in the bamboo forest, which has all the mood I want in the Blue forest. It has a very "asian" flair to it, with dreamy, quiet landscapes, serene dwellers, and calm movements. Must be quite a shock to be jumped on by a predator here.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Genius Loci Calendar 2014

Artist's notes
There is a wonderful, large calendar with all my favourite Genius Loci landscapes available via my deviantArt account:

Some of my favourite pictures, sadly, had a format that wouldn't fit and had to be left out, but the calendar includes a previously unpublished painting.
As for other publications, look out for the first actual texts in novel-fashion - albeit very short - to be published soon (probably on dA as well).

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Elementarians: Stone giants

Stone giants are the elementarians of earth and air. They are around eighteen meters high and seemingly made of stone, but change appearance all the time - so slowly it's barely noticeable while it happens. At least part of them is floatstone, and a cloud of rocks, sand, and dust floats around their feet. Their heads are stumpy cones with holes for eyes, and giants move with the seemingly slow pace of all enormous creatures. They are mostly found around Sawa's volcanoes and in inner Lozir, although some are said to roam the Singing Ryaq.

"It took us fifteen years to puzzle out what the giant meant by "the blue will help, but must first turn white". Spirits know where he knew them from. If you want advice, ask the voices, they're way clearer about things."
— Goffi Celinad, merchant

Stone giants are kind and friendly, but ignorant towards most things that last less than forever. They are sought out for philosophical advice, but have a habit of speaking in riddles, and are hard to get to assist. There seems to be some form of communication between all giants; they carve great drawings into the ground most appreciated by dust sailors.

"And the giant decided to topple the insolent spirit's mountain. When he came to the peak, it fell and buried him, and neither spirit nor giant were seen again."
— lozirian tale

Artists' notes
One of my early creations, I like the stone giants for their zen-like friendliness. Their ground drawings are nice inspiration for environmental paintings, and I have always liked the Nazca drawings, hill-sized chalk pictures in England and such.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The White forest

"Night scares us outside the White. Black shadows and lightless skies are unknown to us. We much prefer the White Night - one can see into one's mind much easier."
— Uomiqa, villager

The pale fungi plantlife names the White forest. It grows in tropical regions; tree-sized fungi shadow the ground, bundles of mushroom stems take the bushes' place, but there are some regular plants as well. Many people consider the White forest boring - the inhabitants agree, and love it. There are no dangerous animals or plants, few natural dangers, and the soft, squishy flora prevents most accidents. Finding food in the largely indigestible plantlife is tricky, however. Life in the white forest is slow and soft, and comes to bloom after dusk; the many-coloured glow of plants and animals hold night at bay.

"The rumours about the White night seem true - the inhabitants can apparently read thoughts. Whether this has the same source as the Gderan shimmer or another is unclear. As is the shimmer's source."
— Mage Ralvirr Jix, in a lecture

The people of the White forest are both playful and deep-thinking. They greet change but do not seek it, as they say. Clothing is wide and practical in pale colours, feet bare. Settlements are easy to transport and light-weight and put on the forest's middle floor. They are mostly left alone by the world, and most denizens are human living their vegetarian diet.

Artists' notes
My biggest influence for the mushroom forest was "Nausicaa of the Valey of the Winds", particularly since the film showed many types of fungi instead of the classic champignon shape; I was equally impressed by the fantastic vistas of Avatar. Shroom forests are somehow associated with playful surrealism and Alice in Wonderland fantasy stories, but the White forest is fairly normal (though trickier to paint, since I can't hide everything in foliage).

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Bug fairies

"If I ever find one of you in the pantry again I'll whisper a spell to the door, clear? Have you at least taken care of the pests under the windowsill, or were you too full with berrycake?"
— Mrinbira, farmer
Bug fairies are stick-thin creatures fourty centimeters high, with deep purple, hard skin, four membrane wings, and spikes on their limbs. Genders cannot be told apart, and nobody knows how they reproduce.
Bug fairies are called after their favourite prey, and are welcome in settlements where they hunt down pests. Unfortunately, bug fairies are dim-witted, cheeky, and wild-mannered. They are popular babysitters, though - bug fairies love children and look out for them with great care. They appear in flocks and are independent, but are very fond of homes and equipment made for them by bigger people. Bug fairies are hardly taken serious, but have an understanding of speechcraft that's not to be trifled with (and are utterly oblivious to academic education).
"My great people made us a house of whitewood that rides on the iunas when we travel to the summer pastries. We're very proud and grateful, and we will die before harm comes to their children."
— Vanvan-ira, Ashstone tribe fairy
Artist's notes
Every decent fantasy setting needs some koboldy creatures to get on your nerves, but still be useful. I imagine bug fairies zooming about, shouting and playing, tugging and poking, using the dinner table for a playground... there are many comical small folk in movies and other fantasy worlds that were inspiring for bug fairies, and many characters from the Mumins book series by Torve Janssen.
I'm not sure yet if either of the two fairykind will have magical properties, but I tend towards no. It's just too cruel to be ground to dust for potions, and I dislike magically overpowerful flippy crazies.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


Elementarians are four kinds of supernatural beings closely associated with their respective elemental principles. These are the dryads of the west, element of life; the stone giants of the east, element of earth and air; the plasmats of the south, element of fire; and the fleeters of the north, element of water. While they personify their forces, they are not slaves to it, and if the core principle of fire is new beginnings, a plasmat can still be stubborn and set in tradition.
"My mother's storage was inhabited by a gold fairy. Once I saw him put up paper cutouts of elementarians, and act as if they met and discussed. I wonder to this day if he played or relived a memory."
— Ji-Bo Yi'Amako, trader
All elementarians are tall and require huge living spaces. They are not races, but groups of individuals - their societies, are largely unknown, if they even exist. They do get along with each other and don't struggle when they meet; just like the four elements are but parts of creation that cannot stand alone, but are strongest together.
"Sabriena of the Ground was the most attuned to elementarians in magic history. She documented meetings with all of them, and it was her who found out about stone giants' names."
— Gaurakamat Inkstrider, mage
Artists' notes
I felt an additional explanation of the elementarians was in order since every fantasy setting handles its elemental forces differently. The four elementarians are as mentioned not slaves to their principles, after all, they aren't element-als, but element-arians. Big difference. I don't even know if there any elementals yet or how they would be, but probably dumber.

Thursday, 19 September 2013


"Many people make a little fun of us, as if we're funny old grandparents with spleens. We find that easy to overlook - we hand them a telescope, point them to a new star, and quietly smile about their wonder."
— Wilegund, nightreader
Astronomy, or the science of the stars, is a known but little practiced subject among scientists on Kitas, since most of their tables and charts are interesting but useless to the average person. Still, sailors regard them as lucky charms and like getting the newest updates for their navigation. New stars are born all the time in the two nebulae, and the two moons as well as the Eye and its moons - the planet following behind Kitas in its run around the sun - present many scientific questions.
"If only my daughter had not decided to become a nightreader. Useless enough to have two mapmakers in the family, and I never understand what the three talk about when they visit."
— Pien, farmer

When they aren't roaming the lands to find any and all stars, their guild is busy talking rulers into financing and building bigger telescopes. The latest and biggest success of that is the enormous telescope of the Bargassa engineering school. Nightreaders and mapmakers share an interest in the navigational value of new discoveries, and are often found in debate along travelling routes' inns.

Artist's notes
Since I threw out prophecy and religion, the usual fantasy meme of reading the future in the stars doesn't work for Kitas (and with that, star signs, horoscopes, and the likes). In my opinion, navigation fully justifies interest in the stars, and so nightreaders are cause for expensive prestige projects, and otherwise, as the quote shows, regarded as maybe not useful, but nice to have.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Speakers: Mages and Wizards

There are two schools of spellcasters: Mages and Wizards, together called speakers.
Mages follow the teachings of Ghabnah, who postulated that in order to understand the world, one must first understand every aspect of it. Mages cast formulaic spells that produce reliable effects depending on skill.
Wizards believe in the wisdom of Turachgekhan, who claimed that only by understanding how everything is connected, can the universe be understood. Wizard spells are powerful, but cannot be repeated the same way.

"Calling us undisciplined - ridiculous. Only a fool will fail to recognize the effort to juggle all the world in one's mind."
— Numi Ashkarot Bel, wizard

Both are equally regarded by society, have equal numbers, and show equal power. They are often at each others throats for absurd reasons; speaker wars are usually short, but devastating.
Because of their philosophies, wizards tend to occupations supporting widespread knowledge, and prefer social sciences; while mages like to quantify, and do so in natural sciences. This is supported by mages having a natural knack for all measurements, and wizards' gut feelings being always right.

"Laughing about tables and equations suits the wizards well. How will you recognize two things are related if you didn't understand either in the first place?"
— Absil Blackmane, maga

Despite their disrespect for one another, the two factions let candidates choose freely. Mages provide schools and exams proving the young mage's cunning. Wizards travel and keep their ranks loose, and often devote themselves to one or two of the Four elements and their principles.

Artist's notes
The speakers are sometimes difficult to balance, but I love the idea of scientism vs. intuition, and I am undecided which I like better. Most fantasy settings I know feature more groups, like witches, druids, several mage's guilds etc. Because there only two parties in Genius Loci, their members will be more versatile and individual.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Four in the Desert

Artist's notes
Finally, the Four in a painting. Since they are chosen anew every four centuries, I find it hard to picture them because I am defining them so much with it. Still, they needed an illustration - and here they are, fighting off an entire horde. Which means these particular Four are probably early in their cycle, as I imagine they're not normally bothered by foes in this number. On the other hand, every opponent needs to be dealt with.

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Yellow forest

"The apothecary gestured towards a shelf holding countless bottles, some labeled "solvent" or "for lung tightness", but most as perfumes; "perfume, relaxing", "perfume, agitating", "perfume/sleep agent" and so forth, all made up exquisitely in coloured flasks with beautiful labels."
— Tel-regach Khul, "A bottle of assassination", chapter 3
With its myriads of scented blossoms all year long, the Yellow forest is considered the most beautiful forest of Gdera. The export of scents has made the lands prosperous, with much time for art and education. Smells can present a danger on journeys; some are narcotising, others poisonous, bad for breathing, seeing, or thinking. The entire forest seems like a garden, even plantations look like parks. The animals partake in the olfactory symphony. The Yellow forest grows in the temperate and subtropical regions; some plants grow blossoms instead of leaves, most bloom several times a year.
"I have to hurry to finish my dress for the lights festival. I only got the one for the two moons day done in time, and there are still those for the day of four seasons, west holiday, and the Parashinan nights to sew. I wish I'd earn better so I could have some really fancy dresses."
— Moruk, yellow forest boatsman

The Yellow forest inhabitants are vivacious and open-minded and care much for aesthetics. Their clothing is rich, varied, and playful, and include breathing masks against dangerous smells. Poetry is an admired art, and Nuralks poems are widely known and cited. Buildings are open to the wind and its scents, and life happens mostly outdoors.

Artists' notes
The Yellow forest always looks like autumn, which I love like all painters. I look forward to painting the pronounced aesthetics of the people and landscape. The Yellow forest is perhaps the place in Genius Loci where my style definition of "elven orientalism" comes out the most. Stories taking place here will be more about politics and such than natural disasters, and odd effects on people caused by weather.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Spirits: Echoes

"My grandmother left an echo when she fell sick that comforted me until I grew up. I later met the echo of Genaleonder Blue Hands at the battlefield of Tix; she taught me the sword."
— Awanek Graystrider, general
Echoes are the third kind of natural spirits after nature spirits and dead spirits. They come into existence in a moment of utmost importance to someone - the signing of a treaty, finding one's love, the birth of a child, to name a few. It is always very individual.
Most echoes fade over time, but some linger for centuries or millenia, often left by great people, and are popular teachers. The person siring an echo doesn't need to be dead, and echoes aren't dangerous per se.
"A bug fairy's echo - I laughed the first time I heard. But when I met it, the purity of its happiness about having saved the child was truly heartwarming. As was the grace with which it declined the sweets I offered, as if it knew it wasn't corporeal; a knowledge many echos lack."
— Voypa, mage
Not all echoes are aware they're ghosts, and are repetetive, stuck in the moment they came into existence. But they're eager to spread their knowledge; a few of the most powerful even retain the ability to cast spells. Some people have left several echoes, and some parts of the world are filled with them as people leave echoes on any occasion.

Artist's notes

After making the dead spirits very dangerous, I also wanted nice ghosts. It must be interesting to meet oneself as a ghost; echoes do not develop, and by kitaian cosmological philosophy, you aren't the same person at any moment as you were in any other moment, therefore you and the echo are not the same.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Creatures: Perwons

Perwons seem to have no other use than being loved. They have a snakelike body covered in fur, a pointy snout and large ears. They slither, using their single pair of legs to hold food, scratch, and climb. Perwons come in rusty red or shades from pearl grey to jet black, always with a white tailtip set off with a black stripe. They love heights, greasy food, and skin contact, can jump surprisingly high and are nice to wear as clothing as well.

"Keep that hairy beast out of my study or I'll wear it for a hood! No, I won't stop eating my 'fat-dripping' garnais there - teach it not to beg instead, for spirit's sake."
— Hfaie Pangaror, mage

Perwons have no use in the household. They are cute pets for children and people with time to react to the nudging and to clean the hair away. Sometimes they are bred for fur, but need good treatment to develop nice pelts which makes them mainly luxury goods. Wild perwons are also hunted or trapped for it. One only needs to feed them to get them into the house, and parents enjoin upon their young to not share their snacks.

Artists' notes 
It was interesting to learn that polynesian cultures wore dog furs, and here we have small animals used as pets, which can also be worn. Perwons are much like cats (they don't purr, though), but the main inspiration for the physiology of two-legged slitherers are medieval wyrms.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Genius Loci races: Beja

"I wish me and my husband could do more of my favourite things together; swimming, boating, diving. But he gets a cold every time we get wet from early autumn to late spring. Humans just aren't build for the coast, I guess."
— Anwynn, sawan
Beja (speak: beh-ya) have almost black skin, black hair, and two pairs of either black or bright blue eyes. Their upper eyes can see in dim light and under water. Beja are expert breathholders, and rarely get sick from contact with water, be it infection or pneumonia. Those facts have led to the widespread folklore connection between beja and the element water; the Swordmaster is often depicted as a beja.

Beja tend to deep thought and often become philosophers and politicians. The famous Ghabnah, founder of the mages' tradition and author of the Book of Magic (commonly called Ghabnah's book), was a beja. The most dreaded ability of beja is their life control - a beja can drop dead on the spot, simply by willing it. Hence, they make both exceptionally bad hostages and easy targets for assassinations, and societies are careful to not back them into a corner.

"Life was worth little in ancient Hremur; it was common to consider suicide in dire stress. Many beja died this way, but only when the beloved prince willed his life to end for an insignificant matter of honour did the culture begin to change, to preserve at least his brother."
— Anderfar, historian
Artist's notes
I always eagerly await comments about the seasick feeling one gets when looking at a beja, and I have to say it is one of my most successful designs. Earlier versions had black lower and blue upper eyes, but I think all four eyes in the same colour looks nicer. Beja have the storytelling advantage of seeming very human, but allow me to whip up some exotic little feature anytime I need to.

This concludes the racial templates - all major races of the Genius Loci setting have now been described: garren, humans, elves, dwarves, shankeh, raganaj, and beja. There are other races, like the goodminded, digging mul'ahman or the mute "Hünen", or the mysterious seraphs or rhu'khach, who will be presented later.

Monday, 3 June 2013

The shimmer

"The day I realised my shimmer was entirely gone, I cried, and cursed the wretched foreign lands my lord had sent me to. When I found it in my skin again after my return, I held a feast on that day every year."
— Syfa han Dannas, ambassador
All inhabitants of Gdera have "the shimmer". It's a gleam of the skin and hair, like powdered metal, and considered rather attractive. Humans, however, shine and don't just shimmer, in an amount that can cause eye damage. Because of the humans' need for it, many cultures wear ornamented eye protection.
Travellers acquire the shimmer soon after their arrival in Gdera and loose it after their departure; again, not humans. The shimmer is an honour badge of sorts, and Gderans look down their shimmering noses on those who have none.

Artist's notes
The strong eye makeup of desert peoples from the Egyptians onward is in fact protective against sun and parasites. I always liked adding decorum to portraits, and have a wide range of choices from mud to silk veils with the shimmer. In any case, distorting faces with patterns or hiding them behind veils and masks is an interesting character design feature.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Spirit collectors

"It is said that Baqimba of the East was a collector before he turned evil and caused so much death and destruction. He is held as the example of ultimate failure that could befall any collector."
— Wennikim Olikaa, historian
The spirits of the dead are dangerous. They can only cause harm, and should be unified with the Great Spirit. That's done by spirit collectors, who entrap spirits within themselves or totems, carry them to ritual places, and cleanse them out. However, dead spirits constantly struggle for control, and so collectors are always at battle with them. Possessed collectors harness the power of all other spirits trapped within their bodies and are a force not to be trifled with.

"Within the turmoil, the court's collector was cut deeply. I'll never forget his expression as he held the wound closed and swallowed the deadly poison capsule from his necklace, taking the spirits trapped within him into death - else, none would have walked out of the court alive."
— Nuwanor, palace guard

Every inch of a collector's body is room for more spirits. Spirits can escape through openings and ends of the body - mouth, hands, feet, etc. To make the collector's life easier, they are sealed with rings which also mark the extent to which the collector uses his body. Young collectors wear rings on the upper arms and forelegs, moving them further out with more experience.

Artist's notes
Collectors have great potential for being tragic figures. When they loose their concentration, all hell breaks loose. I wanted a profession that's instantly recognisable and causes both fear and awe in the general public. Plus, the shaman-inspired costumes are fun to design. I imagine there are lots of collectors in the world, trying to keep up with death as spirits pop up all over the place, trying to sort out the more dangerous first, and grouping together for larger rituals. There's a bit of exorcist/vampire hunter flair to them.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


Gdera is the largest continent of Kitas and promised to the West, element of Life. The continent of forests is indeed covered with woods, named after the colour of their main vegetation; the Red, White, Blue, Yellow, and the Lesser Green and Great Green forests make the majority; each has its own kind of fauna and flora.
"We have to get through while the wind blows in from the south. We'll never make it to the pass if the full scent comes down on us."
— Braq, yellow forest guide
 At Gdera's east coast lies the ocean of the Green Ryaq, which blooms with edible algae harvested for the markets, and the scent is carried far into the land. In the west lies the Singing Ryaq sea, sending its songs over the lands.
Most humans are gderans; flexible, with sharp features and shiny skin. Many elves live in the untouched woods, where they're safe from destruction. The powerful country Gderet is called an elven land, ever since eight centuries ago an elf married into the royal line, and the majority of its people are indeed elves.

"Alchemists import all kinds of plants from Gdera, that's always good trade. Except that one time when a howling box cracked open and mate Djixen went to catch the contents. Lost a good sailor that day."
— Hirall Govapoer, trade captain

Artist's notes
I never get tired of painting forests; fantasy forests offer so many possibilities, it's hard to keep them orderly since I have so many ideas that I want in there. I have to remember every now and then that people should be able to live there as well. However, southasian or southamerican cultures live in the jungle, I mean, really with jungle all around, so Gdera shouldn't be a problem.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Genius Loci races: Shankeh

One of the strangest people of Kitas; the shankeh are long-legged, with blue skin, hair, and eyes, with long heads and four fingers. Their nickname "messengers" is in fact a sign of respect. Indeed most shankeh are message runners, with a reputation of being incorruptable. Shankeh eat an enormous amount of salts, making their food inedible to others.

"It has been decided to instate a staff of shankeh in the council, to put an end to blackmail and corruption regarding false messages, wrong deliveries, and loss of mail."
— spokeswoman Ruuno Efdill

Their mentality is often difficult to understand. The reason for this may be their lifespan: at fifty-six years of age shankeh start aging quickly, and die no more than three months after their sixtieth birthday.
Because they pledge most of their time doing what they love most - running -, to the community, shankeh are highly regarded. Unlike most peoples of Kitas, shankeh keep to themselves. They have a universal culture of their own, less dependent on origin and birthplace, and are allowed many exceptions from social rules.

"If given a choice, no, I would not want to know my time of death; but since I do, I plan my life. The voices taught us to be happy with what we have and not ponder how unfair it seems that everyone else has twice the time we are given."
— Wankerah, shankeh, at twenty years of age

Artist's notes
I find shankeh both tragic and cool. There is a background why shankeh are so very different, but I don't think I'll reveal that just yet. That said, they are a great storytelling device - the trustworthy messenger can get into all kinds of troubles, or ask for help, hand over dangerous messages to innocents, or the wrong people... infinite possibilities of what could go wrong.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


The northern landmass Sawa is the continent of Fire - the power of the North. Sawa with its rugged coastline, many islands, and inland seas is the smallest continent; the far north is ice-covered. The landscape is shaped by volcanic activity, from the Great Talash-Keh's vast mountains, to fields of boiling mud, to the omnipresent geysirs. Travelling Sawa is treacherous; dangers include unstable ground - thinly covered chasms filled with boiling lava -, toxic fumes, hot ash clouds, and lahare, the giant landslides accompanying volcanic eruptions.

"Where the water fell upward/ and the mountain shifted in its sleep/ we bonded hand in hand/ an alloy of loyalty and trust/ and like such metals/ will never part again."
— Nuralk, "Ode of Vhalo", verse 3

Sawan humans are the blocky, tall northern type, the coasts are populated by seafolk. The Great and Lesser Talash-Keh kingdoms are considered "dwarven lands" due to the dominant population; Mul'Geranan is populated only by mul'ahman and therefore nearly invisible above ground; the infamous state of Sawaland, an openly racistic country of pro-human orientation, is a black mark on the map; and last not least the heroic warriors of Brighthold are widely known, keeping the warring neighbouring tribes in check.

"We inhabit the lands of fire, and we Sawans are proud of our ability to start all over. I can't imagine living in a place where the ground never changes."
— Mugikri, Sawan farmer

Artist's notes
Volcanism fascinates me, and I have Sawa as a playground for it. The trouble with painting volcanic landscapes is that everything's covered in smoke...
I found it difficult to describe Sawa's diversity correctly; it has landscapes like Iceland and Alaska as well as Polynesia-inspired tropical zones. The landscape changes so frequently - mountains coming up here and there and sinking back into the ground - that mapmakers can make good coin here.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Four

Spear's bearer - Firebolt
Bow's archer - Nevercold
Axe's swinger - Worldhauler
Sword's master - Wavecaller
Four there were since times of old

Speeres Träger - Flammenherr
Axtes Schwinger - Weltenschwer
Schwertes Meister - Wellengrund
Bogenschütze - Lebensmund
Vier von alters Zeiten her

The Four are a symbol occuring everywhere in Genius Loci. The number refers to the four elemental forces of the world - Water, Fire, Earth and Air, and Life - embodied by the Four Creators of the world, and their magical foci, the Four Weapons. Each is assigned a cardinal point, colour, and many more associations: character traits, times of day, spells, continents, plants, minerals... Each culture adds own representations and local symbols; the Four Weapons usually take precedence and take many shapes. It is said that the Four maintain the world's balance.

The Four:
  • The spear Lefenned, associated with fire, the colour blue, and the south. Its sign is a bar. Its principle is cycles, new beginnings untouched by the old, and overcoming weaknesses and obstacles.
  • The sword Rwannakah, associated with water, the colour red, and the north. Its sign is a kite-shaped rhomb. Its principle is change and compromise, and ability to adapt.
  • The bow Gajtualih, associated with life, the colour green, and the west. Its sign is a half circle. Its principle is movement, shaping, and optimism.
  • The axe Khachgallah, associated with earth and air, the colour yellow, and the east. Its sign is a triangle. Its principle is foundations, willpower, and both loyalty and unpredictability.

Artist's notes
The Four were one of my earliest decisions about Genius Loci. Red for water because many rivers on Kitas come through rock containing iron and are reddish, especially in Sawa; blue represents the fire at its hottest (its a concern to me whether this will confuse people too much).
The rhyme is also an old invention. I wrote it practicing calligraphy; I was writing Tolkien's poem of the one ring, and wanted something similar for Genius Loci. It is widely used on Kitas, from children's rhymes to the chorus of Nuralk's famous epos "The Four" (the insane often mumble it, too).
The Four are very important to the setting. They're the closest thing to gods in Genius Loci and have many more features which I gradually develop.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


The southern continent is shaped by Earth and Air, the element of the East. Dryland and deserts cover Lozir, some sandy, others rocky, or made of salt; proper states only exist along the waterways. Lozir is rich in valuable minerals, among them the famous floating stones used in dust ships. Traffic is bustling along the waterways, and Lozirian crafts are known for their quality.

"Some expect Lozir to be quiet, but the sands mumble, the rocks sing, and the wind jubilates. Still, quiet enough that many a wise man seeks solitude in the inner deserts, where according to legend, forgotten peoples survive, ancient cities slowly decay, and the traveller may find untold wonders - or dangers. Sometimes, they are one and the same."
— Asfile 'hu, dust sailor

Lozir's hot areas are packed with garren, and raganaj enjoy the lively winds. Humans are of the dark-skinned southern type. The famous glass plains of Brunnavah are in the southeast, a relic of the speaker war a hundred and twenty years ago: almost the entire plains in the backlands of the country were transformed into clear glass, engulfing many fighters. It is rumoured a genius loci resides in its middle. Other sights worth seeing include the engineering school of Bargassa, the galwanian opera, and the ancient, beautiful spires of Gianbaldee.

Artist's notes
Each continent is differently mysterious. In Lozir, there are vast empty lands that hold wonderful surprises. I feel about Lozir as a stage for adventure stories like Indiana Jones - some long-forgotten tribe lurking in the unforgiving wilderness, ruins of advanced civilizations long since forgotten, holding treasures... caves! Subterranean monsters! Emery storms! And yes, earth and air are indeed the same element in Genius Loci. "Scientifically", they represent the unliving foundations without which nothing could be.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Genius Loci races: Raganaj

The six-winged raganaj are the tallest race of Kitas, standing an average of two and a half meters. The stripes on their thick fur convert into blob shapes towards the front. Colours go from dark chocolate to pale gold, the stripes from faint orange to dried blood, their green eyes provide nightvision. The feathered wings allow silent flight. While the upper wing pairs are used for lift, the lower, smaller wings are for steering; the pawlike, clawed hands lack fine dexterity.
Psychologically, raganaj enjoy their physical gifts, and use them to their advantage in life and work. Many raganaj are fighters, soldiers, or guards, or work in strength-demanding crafts like smithing or carpentry. Dancing is popular with raganaj - and their audience, which enjoys the extra movement flight adds. However, raganaj are equally often found in social work like politics, psychoanalysis, and as bards. All raganaj dislike confined spaces.
"The bard sung tales of love and despair, and many a tear was shed at his words. His fur shone like an aura in the tavern lights, and gave an eerie sense to his voice as if it came from a half-wake dream."
— Errinnö Silversmith, villager
Most interesting about raganaj is their companionship with the solano. These small, plump creatures come to a raganaj in his early teens and form a strong bond. Cosmologists have theorized that the raganaj spirit might be divided or lacking, and completed by a solan. Others simply see a special friendship; however, raganaj without a solan are regarded as defective. The raganaj themselves believe it's the solano that make them peaceful - more peaceful than a born warrior might be otherwise, and that their little friends open their hearts to others. Raganaj indeed have a sense for romance and aesthetics, making them successful in working with people.

"Tineet, get back here! NOW! No, don't go in there! ... oh, damnit."
— Brashame, to her solan

Artist's notes
I gave much thought to the anatomy of raganaj. How their flight works (it probably wouldn't, in our world. But then, a pterodactylus had a wingspan of seven meters), how the wings would fold, how they would dress, and how it would be to others, having flying neighbours twice your size. I especially like the idea of giant war-creatures being romantic and soft-hearted.