Jul 19

Worldbuilding Wednesday, 7/19/17

Civic and Community Organizations

Not as glamorous as evil societies or those dedicated to dark magic. But every sizable town and city in a typical Medieval European society has them. There are guilds devoted to workers and tradesmen, merchants’ leagues, secret societies like Freemasons, civic leagues dedicated to improve some aspect of city life, and even rebels lurking below the surface. Can they serve the plot? Yes and yes. At the least, they will round out your world and make it whole.


The Provident Townsmen of Bitterend

Fraternity of Benevolent Buskers

The Iron & Bronze Society

League of the Unconventional Key

Glorious Citadel of Labor

Allegiance of Youth

The Hand of Charity

Axe & Snuffbox Fellowship

The Hand & Hoof Brigade

The Charitable Syndicate of Nungeska

The Temple & Sandal Fellowship

Munificent Coalition of Physicians

Lucid Association of Egalitarian Courtesans

Townsmen of Unprejudiced Good

Benevolent Coalition of Ironworkers

The Ear of Emancipation

Lodge of Plentitude

Company of Enlightened Witches

Consortium of Unprejudiced Husbandry

The Noble Handmaidens of Starsweet

The Dignified Ladies of Lovebegone

Kinship of Congenial Hospitality

Brotherhood of the Fetid Sandal

League of the Copper Wyvern

The Diligent Brethren of Greenchild

Association of the Orange Cravat

Fellowship of Bright Butchers

Provident Goodwives of Saltsark

Apprentices of Skeleton Mountain

Exalted Townswomen of Gingervot

Coalition of Beneficent Landlords

Brothers of Summer

Followers of the Precise Empress

League of the Playful Jewel

Pro-Farming League of Landowners

Ancient Gathering of Explorers

Citadel of Invisible Ecstasy

The Stonemasons’ Union Of Valerüch

Caravaneer’s League of Rumilady

Commune of the Cat

Sisterhood of the Yellow Iris

Society of Astrological Adventuring

Numinous Order of the Rainbow

Allegiance of the Humble

Brothers of the Fox

Esteemed Blacksmiths of Chanverandis

Society for the Study of Celestial Navigation

Pro-Exercise League of Magic-Users

Esteemed Kin of Wings

Gentle Tailors of Swanfest

Jul 17

Black Queen II

steampunk black queen

Her visage was so terrible she always kept it masked….
until the day a handsome man was able to pierce it. But that’s another story.

Jul 12

Worldbuilding Wednesday, 7/12/17


Organizations, Fellowships, and
Secret Societies


Fantasy fiction (and science fiction, for that matter) is full of secret societies, thieves’ guilds, Hellfire clubs, and other associations for like-minded individuals. Often these are major drivers of the plot. Frank Herbert’s Dune would not be the same but for the Bene Gesserit, or The Wheel of Time series for the Aes Sedai. H.P. Lovecraft had all matter of secretive covens plotting for the return of The Old Ones. And who can forget the brutal Owsla of General Woundwart in Richard Adams’ Watership Down?

Here are some randomly-generated sinister societies for you to use in, or inspire, your own fiction.

Organizations clearly up to no good


The Savage Alliance of Saxluft

Brethren of Whispering Sorcery

The Fingers of Destruction

Order of the Bloody Whip

Brotherhood of the Damnable Dawn

Eldritch Allegiance of Villainy

Shadowed Acolytes of Darkness

Circle of Unmentionable Thaumaturgy

Sisters of Searching Doom

Worshippers of the Black Bee

Fellowship of the Fiery Cowl

League of Cthonic Triumph

Order of the Hideous Hood

Conclave of the Undead Eye

Confederacy of the Shadowed Prophet

The Shadowed Wives of Garamshire

Fathers of the Jackel

The Scabrous Trillium

Coalition of the Faceless Cobra

League of Malefic Dark

Conclave of the Red Tower

Brotherhood of Scarlet Abomination

Fellowship of Hell’s Bookbinders

Coven of the Amber Badge

Society of the Black Crocodile

Scarlet Legion of Villainy

Handmaidens of the Hooded Order

Matriarchy of the Demon Scarac

Sisterhood of the Infernal Gorgon

Kinship of the Hellbound

Brothers of Monstrous Mayhem

Sanctum of Inexporable Darkness

Townsmen of the Bewitched Wizard

Enclave of the Vulture

Brothers of the Squamous Solstice

Society of the Vampiric Trousers

Coven of the Scabrous Claw

Legion of the Hook and Hand

Cenobites of the Mumbling Void

Vile Disciples of Pestilence

The Squirming Basilisk

The Monstrous Shadow

The Eldritch Sisterhood of Stabworth

Brethren of the Twilight

Minions of Cloaked Decay

The Shadows of Caryod

Gray Company of Death

Slaves of the Blind Ibis

Sanctum of Despair

Silent Bone Society

Kinship of the Iron Sphere

Disciples of the Red Claw

Jul 10

Tea Party

horror tea set by Ronit Baranga

Crumpets and finger sandwiches, anyone?

(Ceramic art by Ronit Baranga)

Jul 05

Worldbuilding Wednesday, 7/5/17

black magic masked sorceress

More Magic


I was going to list some ideas for evil societies for this week, but the randomization software needs more tweaking. So here are some more random magic spells and items.

Lamp of Grim Digging:  Enables the owner to find and dig up buried bodies quickly and easily.

Yungamel’s Levitating Unicorn:  Causes a unicorn to rise into the air for maximum of 50 feet. The unicorn can be willing or unwilling.

Pipe of Lengthy Wonderment:  A lightweight metal pipe of 1” diameter that can expand up to 20 feet and contract back again. May also be cast on the owner’s genitals to impress the ladies.

Saddle of Kicking Turmoil:  When placed on any equine, it causes the animal to go into a frenzy of kicking so nothing can sit on its back.

Incense of Sorrow:  When burned, it causes all smellers to lament loudly.

Dice of the Shape-Changer:  A very rare magic item that can range from five to twenty sides. Each side is inscribed with symbols, glyphs, numbers, or icons. When rolled, it enables the user to turn into the creature or thing depicted on that side.

Sandals of Persistence: Enables the wearer to walk all day and all night as long as they have a clear goal.

Whistle of Unseen Grease: This item is covered with an invisible greasy coating that makes it impossible to hold or blow.

The Automaton of Singing Torture:  This magical item sings so badly anyone in its presence will immediately capitulate to the owner’s demands.

Olnimea’s Squamous Bracelet:  A bracelet in the shape of a coiled snake that becomes a real snake on the owner’s command.

Scissors of Hideous Brass: Doesn’t do anything but look ugly.

The Sarcophagus of Meddlesome Bones:  When a body is buried in this, in time it becomes a skeleton that doesn’t know it is dead and keeps trying to return to the land of the living.

Rhianista’s Alluring Comb:  Makes the wearer attract flirtatious attention.

Jandchel’s Napping Quest:  A minor spell that points the caster to the perfect location for the ideal nap.

Vuatëha’s Amazing Charcoal:  A stick of dark pigment that can sketch a scene, portrait, or map on command.

Arrow of Fetid Fog:  When it hits the target, it releases a large cloud of stinky mist.

Missile of Vermin:  Creates dozens of rats, flies, termites, and fleas around any target it hits.

Bell of the Celestial Vacuum:  When rung, it creates a pocket of deep-space vacuum around the ringer. Probably hazardous to one’s health.

Snuffbox of Angry Thorns:  When any of the snuff is inhaled, it turns into hundreds of small, painful thorns that clog the victim’s nose and throat.

Beniam’s Glass Improvement:  Strengthens glass so it doesn’t shatter.

Book of the Blue Chameleon:  A magic book long thought to be lost.

Yunöbalin’s Accursed Tentacles:  Causes strong green tentacles to appear out of nowhere and grab the target.

Oiramusa’s Opal Lightning:  Looks like a regular lightning bolt, but is attractively colored in glimmering pastel hues.

Ledger of the Unwashed Glove:  No one knows what this book, purportedly owned by Sir Churnus Of Chivekettle, contains.

Skeleton Key of Gibbering:  When put in a lock, this key gibbers uncontrollably, attracting unwanted attention.

Jul 03

Book Bingo at the Seattle Public Library

Do you like read a lot in the summer, and live in Seattle?

The Seattle Public Library is hosting a book bingo, where you read some books in the categories printed on the card, and then turn it in in September with your comments. The contest runs between May 17 and September 5. Drop off the finished card at an SPL branch and you will be entered to win a gift card to an independent bookstore.

Jul 03


Trapped by

The viscous cream with the nutrients came once a day through the tube. But  the limited air she had was running out. Encased in metal bondage, she looked around desperately for a rescuer, knowing full well none would find her in this underground space.

(trapped02, image from LXXT on DeviantArt)

Jun 30

Cinder [Reading Challenge 2017]


by Marisa Meyer

Macmillan, 2012


cinder by marisa meyer

Challenge #4: A book you started last year and haven’t yet finished

(Note: I am reading and blogging these Challenge books out of order)


I started Cinder last year. It was one of the first ebooks I ever bought because I could not seem to finish the hardback I had borrowed from the library. Then, after working on it intermittently, I could not finished the ebook. Finally I slotted it into the Authors’ Watercooler challenge, and after some starts and stops, I did finish it. Now know why I had such a problem finishing it. It was that dull.

Now, I know this book has its defenders, and many of them have valid points; I’ve also got three decades on the intended audience, which was 12 to 17. But even considering that, I still don’t get the love. The whole plot was obvious, for one thing. It’s a science fiction take on Cinderella, with a female cyborg as the title character, and that should tell you how it’s going to go. Fairytale/SF mashups have been done before, and well; I was a big fan Joan D. Vinge’s Snow Queen series, for example. But Vinge did what Meyer did not, create a solid SF underpinning for her world. Cinder was more like an old-fashioned Sword and Planet action story from the glory days of the pulps. The SF elements were given only the most cursory of explanations, if at all.

On to the story. Cinder is a put-upon cyborg stepdaughter in a future Asian nation that has somehow gone backward and reinstated its emperor. Cyborgs are considered inhuman, and shunned by everyone. Fine, but the book also depicts being a cyborg as pretty cool and transhuman: the heroine has internal interfaces that let her call up information at will, like a mental internet, and she can adjust her own senses and regulate her emotions. She CAN ALSO TELL WHEN PEOPLE ARE LYING. That’s a pretty useful skill! She’s got a metal hand and leg! So why doesn’t wicked stepmother send her out to play poker, or shake people down for cash? Plus, all those useful implants must be pretty expensive. Why are cyborgs considered worthless slaves? Why doesn’t everyone want to be one? Faulty plot logic there.

The setting also made no sense. It wasn’t until the last third of book that I found out this is the time after the “Fourth World War” and nations and cultures have gotten mashed up and amalgamated, with some, for no reason, reverting to monarchies. I couldn’t figure out why a Singapore-like city was being called an Empire and the son of the emperor was just casually walking around, or why the heroine has a Vietnamese surname, but her family no Vietnamese culture. Actually, the whole setting just served as pretty window-dressing like dangling red lanterns in a noodle shop.

And then there’s those royal families and their damn gowns and balls. Why does every other YA book aimed at girls have some variation of this, even the unpublished ones on Wattpad written by actual teens? Was it from the writers growing up on the Disney princess movies and toy lines that have been shoved down young female throats for the past two decades? Granted, the author subverts it by having Cinder show up at that ball in a dirty borrowed gown and not looking her best, but it’s still there serving its purpose for intrigue and romance.

The other major pulpy element was the mysterious Lunar race. These humans have mind-control powers which are given a lame explanation as being based in bioelectricity. Nice try, but brainwaves just don’t work that way, and if they did, that society would be extremely egalitarian, or extremely chaotic, not ruled by a Royal house with queens and princesses and royal dressmakers. There’s no explanation anywhere for why the “Lunarians” developed these powers, or how they can live on an airless, sterile world with no resources and yet be able to raise an army there large enough to threaten the “Earthens.” (I hate this author’s terminology. What’s wrong with the time-worn but worthy Terran?)

Unlike Red Queen, which was infuriating in the same way with its faulty science, but entertaining and readable in a potboiler way, Cinder depicts its elements too carefully and seriously. It lacked the trashy exuberance it could have had.

My Kindle addition also had some glaring errors — a “coy pond” instead of a koi pond, “under-arms” not underarms, and “preoccupied fingers” instead of occupied fingers. At one point Earth is referred to as part of a greater galaxy of human planets, but it’s never mentioned again. As far as I know, in this series the only inhabited planets are Earth and the Moon.

And no, that sexy red high-heeled shoe does not make an appearance in the book.

Jun 28

Worldbuilding Wednesday, 6/28/17

“Yes, I do heartily repent. I repent I had not done more mischief; and that we did not cut the throats of them that took us, and I am extremely sorry that you aren’t hanged as well as we.”

 —  Anonymous Pirate, asked on the gallows if he repented


“I am sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man, you needn’t be hanged like a dog.”

— Anne Bonny to “Calico Jack” Rackham in prison after he had decided
to surrender to pirate hunters instead of fight


 “There is none of you but will hang me, I know, whenever you can clinch me within your power.”

— Bartholomew Roberts, explaining to his victims that he was under no obligation to treat them kindly or fairly


Pirates are like onions in cooking, and monsters in AD&D campaigns. There is never such a thing as too many.

Here’s a list of generated pirate-type names if you need to add a quick pirate or two to your writing.


Male Pirates

Captain Claw, Bladeslinger of the Thousand Reefs
Greenbeard the Plunderer
Captain Bran Riley
Captain Matt Kettle
Neal the Red
Shoeless Xavier
Dan the Knife, Rotter of the Maelstrom
Rummy Ivan
Edmund the Ruby Bastard
Jean the Lazy
Widowmaker Matt
The Whistling Buccaneer
First Mate Tuck, the Starboard Smuggler
The Proud Plunderer

Female Pirates

Alma Ann Dagger
Ann Peck
Fanny Pug
Captain Sheila Skull
Helen, the Black Brigand of Battlesea
Nellie Nora Kidder
Frances Bess Tanglemore
Juanita the Red
Jenny Beard, Bounty Hunter of the Briny Depths
Mary the Russian
Jorimae the Blind Buccaneer
Captain Jenny Whistle, Avenger of the Seven Seas
Cannonmistress Wilma Rump
Pearl the Prowler



Pirate Ships

Brave Avenger
Dancing Devil
Devil’s Harrier
Flying Slaver
Inglorious Sinner
Iron Brigand
Northern Terror
Brave Bastard
Copper Phoenix
Gambler’s Venture
Gilded Fist
Leakin’ Fortune
Foolish Bastard
Merry Loser
Silver Lady
Sleeping Gorgon

Pirate Inns and Other Hangouts

The Admiral’s Atoll
The Captain’s Hammock
The Bastard’s Shipwreck
The Painted Crab Inn
The Sinner’s Dock
Redraven Island
Pennywinter Isle
Atoll of the Shrouded Lamprey
Sea of Agenakhell
Silvertongue Sea
Rubyshark Rock
Isle of tThe Winter Summoner
Crimson Sands
Empatreena The Sea-Witch
Three Isles of Ysaithis
The Lone Isle of Perrufrell


Jun 26

The Little Merfish

The Little Mermaid received quite a surprise when she tried to return to the sea.
(Strange how horrific a mythological creature becomes when its parts are reversed.)

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