Vocabulary and Sayings (Setting Flavor)

The setting background in this post is suitable for sharing with players excepting the “GM Information Only” section at the end. It does not give away any setting or campaign spoilers. This post represents things that an average person in The Land of the True Game might know.

Vocabulary:

  • Barish. In religious books the first eleven gamesmen to exist at the creation of the world are sometimes called “Barish’s Eleven.” Barish, a great wizard, was said to be their ruler. Religion says that Barish was banished after he committed heresy by daring to change the game.
  • Demensne (pronounced: “domain”).
    1. A named and organized settlement of gamesmen in a particular location, usually with a distinctive building (a castle or tower) and an attached town of pawn servants (as in feudalism the nobility had serfs). Synonym: Keep. “Welcome. We call this land the Bright Demensne.”
    2. A place where a game is being played/fought and powers are being used. “When the dead are raised they create a demensne of death.” “Great game is called, and has produced a vast demensne.” “The shapeshifter, in action, has a small but intense demensne.”
  • Dream Crystals. These grow in the ground from a substance like lava. When you taste one it makes images form in your mind.
  • The Council. In religious books this perhaps-mythical secret group is said to rule over all of the demensnes. Sometimes a synonym is “The Guardians.” It is said that if you speak too much about the council you will disappear.
  • Eesties. A fantastical race of star-shaped creatures. Synonym: Star-people or “the rolling stars” as they are said to move by rolling. Eesties are said to grant wishes. No one seriously believes in them.
  • Festival. An annual event held at major schooltowns where all rules are inverted or suspended, pawns mix with gamesmen, and everyone wears masks and costumes that are not their own. However, there must be no game played during festival, and students should never be harmed. During festival students are identified by special ribbons. A related term:
    • Festival-Get. A child born from one unknown mask-wearing parent, conceived during festival. Schooltowns are obligated to educate festival-get that were conceived during that schooltown’s festival at no charge.
  • Game. The True Game. For a gamesman to use power to move against another gamesman. Games must be announced and played according to the rules. The game is also religion. Types of games include:
    • Covert Game. (also: shadow game, hidden game) A game that is announced through some informal means. “In covert game against a seer, deciding upon the game is considered announcement enough.”
    • Game of Two. A duel.
    • Great Game. A game involving a large number of gamesmen (usually armies) announced formally with heralds.
  • Gamesmaster/Gamesmistress. A teacher in a schooltown, school, or occasionally found as a travelling tutor.
  • Ghost Pieces. Mythical gamesmen who are dead yet still use powers to game against the living. A ghost demensne is a region where ghost pieces are gaming.
  • Gifters. A perhaps mythical group of traders who give gifts that always bring misfortune. Stories about gifters are used to scare small children. Gifters are said to be spirits who take human form to trick travellers on the road at night. Lit votive candles are said to be wards against gifters. Sometimes gifters are said to eat people. “Be wary of gifters and what gifts they may make.”
  • Heresy. Heresy consists of questioning the rules, questioning the purpose (or value) of the game, saying anything against religion, or positing forces/talents that are not specified in the index. Heresy is forbidden.
  • Immutable. Religious stories and fables speak of a special class of pawn who is unaffected by talent and prevents talent from working nearby. Old books speak of a separate society or land of “The Immutables.”
  • The Index. The directory of all types of gamesmen, their dress, and their powers.
  • Lom. An arcane word for the world.
  • Magicians. A secretive, mythical group that is said to be dedicated to creating “devices,” whatever that means.
  • The Onomasticon. The true book of the world, describing how the world works. A kind of operating manual for reality. Supposedly only one copy exists. Just a few wizards and seers have heard of it, and even fewer think it is real.
  • Pawn. A person with no talent. Not a gamesman. A serf, laborer, or common person. (The offspring of gamesmen who have not manifested talent yet are called students or children, not pawns.)
  • Pawner. Slaver. Some believe that pawns are property and can be bought and sold. Pawns captured by a pawner are enslaved.
  • Pawnish.
    1. Having to do with pawns. “That is a pawnish settlement. It has no gamesmen.”
    2. Among gamesman, an insult. “Don’t be pawnish.”
  • Referee. A judge or (as plural) the organization of all judges. They enforce the rules. A complaint to the referee can produce a punishment. Most demensnes agree to abide by referee decisions and may enforce them.
  • Religion. There is no organized religious practice or priesthood among gamesmen except for the talents and the game. However, the word “religion” is used to label any explanation of why the talents and game exist, or where they come from (synonym is “history”). It is said that the first people in the world were Barish’s Eleven and everyone is descended from them. Most people memorize the first two chapters common to all religious books as part of their schooling. The average person doesn’t really believe religious stories are real (or care), but they would still avoid contradicting it as this would be bad luck or heresy.
  • Rules. The True Game consists of all of the rules, which are taught in schooltowns and are not written down, except possibly in the Onomasticon. It is forbidden to break the rules, but they are often broken. “It is a rule that all games must be announced.”
  • Schooltown. A settlement where gaming is forbidden so that the children of gamesmen can mature safely and be educated until they show their talent. Some gamesmen do not believe in schooltowns. A smaller school may not have a town. Synonym: School.
  • Shadowpeople. Tall tales speak of magical furry creatures that only come out at night. It is said if you trap and eat a shadowperson like game you will be cursed and if you ever see one in your life you are blessed, or lucky.
  • Talent. An innate power manifested by a gamesman after puberty. Influenced by heredity.
  • Thalan. A bi-directional blood relationship that is the most close form of kinship in this setting, as close as a parent or closer. This term encompasses both:
    • 1. Niece or nephew: that is, your brother or sister’s son or daughter. (Note the words niece/nephew are unknown.)2. Aunt or uncle: that is, your parent’s sibling. (Note the words aunt/uncle are unknown.)
  • Vulpas. A great wizard spoken of in religious books who was killed after he committed heresy by daring to change the game. Brother of Barish, the first ruler of the world.
  • Waeneye. Also known as “Wind’s Eye” or “The Windbone Mountains.” A famous place where, over millennia, high winds have carved the rocks into the shapes of the skeletons of gigantic, fantastical creatures. One of the wonders of the world. “I would like to see the sights of Waeneye before I die.”

Sayings:

  • “What game is this?”
  • “___ was lost in play.” (___ is dead.)
  • “Move and game.” (idiom, meaning: the matter is concluded and someone has won the better of someone else.)
  • “Strange are the talents of wizards.”
  • “What is the talent of wizards?” (idiom, meaning: no one knows this)
  • “Beware gifters.” (idiom, meaning: do not trust this gift)
  • “Things are forbidden, and still we do them.”
  • “When we do things that are forbidden, there is always a cost.”
  • “Shifty in one, shifty in all.” (about shapeshifters, but could be said about anything tricky)

Game Jargon (Labels of Risk):

In the true game, gamesmen traditionally specify labels of risk with the name of the piece, a specialized noun, and a number from one to ten, where one means perfectly safe and ten means certain death. So “Demon’s Eyes Nine” would mean that a demon is at great risk. Sometimes the noun is omitted, as in “Necromancer Nine.” Examples:

  • Armiger’s Flight
  • Demon’s Eyes
  • Dragon’s Fire
  • Ghoul’s Ghast
  • Healer’s Hand
  • King’s Blood
  • Sorcerer’s Power

GM Information Only

All of the mythical things in this post are real, but they may not work in the way described above. Shadowpeople and Eesties are alien races. The Immutables exist and have anti-psi powers, ghost pieces are possible. The Council and The Magicians are all real (if secret) organizations. The Onomasticon is real. Barish and Vulpas were/are real people. Etc.

At Waeneye the bones are not carvings made by winds. Instead, winds have uncovered the bones of giant alien dinosaurs.

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