Black Queen III

The Black Queen’s personal life was full of misery, which was odd for such
a powerful figure. Sad to say, she wasn’t above taking it out
on her slaves.


(Misery by FrankT on DeviantArt)

Worldbuilding Wednesday, 7/26/17: Secret and Arcane Societies

Secret societies are a staple of fantasy fiction (Necromancy_by_Lyndseyh.jpg)

Necromancy, by Lyndsey Hayes

Secret and Arcane Societies

Secret societies are a mainstay in popular fiction. (Just look at Dan Brown.) In fantasy and science fiction, we have the Bene Gesserit, The Dharma Initiative, The Talamasca, The Sith.

In mundane life, there are many, from the sinister to the accepted. Freemasons are one. But there’s also Aleister Crowley’s occult group Order of the Golden Dawn, the mystical St. Germaine Foundation, The Skull & Bones Society of Yale, and the Opus Dei of the Catholic Church. They may be secular, commercial, community, or spiritual in nature. Often their membership is restricted, and members cannot speak of what goes on in them.

Here’s a list of randomly-generated names you can use for your own.


Brothers of Euphoria

Association of the Shadowed Sword

Starry Institute of the Bright Seafarer

Egalitarian Sanctum of Enchanters

Mothers of Fate

Coven of the Stringless Lute

Brotherhood of the Savage & Wondrous

The Starry Disciples of Sidefess

Minions of Solitude

Enclave of the Emerald

The Elder Syndicate of Dracotis

Union of the True Lantern

The Mist & Lightning Society

Citadel of the Iron Mage

Legion of the Scarlet Pyramid

The Minds of Profane Silence

Beauty of Ancient Ivory

The Golden Solitude

Apotheosis of Ash

Diviners of the Chimeric Veil

Legion Primal Clay

Order of Unconventional Fire

Utopia Of Hidden Beauty

Heaven’s Minions

The Nuanced Silence

The Looking Glass

Commune of the Twilight Eagle

Enclave of Perfumed Earth

Servants of the Idol

Society for fhe Study of Aquatic Phenomena

The Eternal Sanctum

Mothers of Dauntless Purity

Conclave of Night

Brethren of Harmonious Shadow

Black Alliance Of Tamschim

The Spellmasters Union of Eurä

The Fire & Water Society

League of the Behemoth

Kin of the False Stone

Fraternity Of The Fiery Cowl

The Onyx Hegemony

Brothers of the Contorted Star

Sanctum of the Violent Dawn

The Sylvan Breath

The Salient Shadow

The Free Energy Syndicate

League of  Bright Transcendance

The Clear Day Coalition

Kin of Kharmic Discovery

Eternal Sanctum Of Winter

The Spiritual Fire

Dawn of Luminous Gold



Dungeon Quest [Review]

Dungeon Quest Book One by Joe Daly

Dungeon Quest

by Joe Daly
Fantagraphics, 2010

As I often do, I picked up this graphic novel at random. The name intrigued me, as it implied AD&D gaming sessions, and also the figurine on the cover, which did not fit the name at all. It seemed more Pre-Columbian, Toltec maybe, except for that very big Brainiac  head.

The head in question belongs to the titular character, Millennial Boy, who, being bored one day, decides on the spur of the moment to go on a quest, eliciting friends and collecting supplies and equipment on the way. His adventures have a Gen-X, slacker vibe, mixing the fantastic and the mundane. Instead of dungeons and feral wilderness Millennial Boy and his companions trek through vacant lots and back alleys, encountering petty thugs and Molelocs (a cross between orcs and moles.) It’s haphazard and good-natured in the way of underground comic artist R. Crumb. Millennial Boy is snarky and cynical — at times I expected him to betray or take advantage of his companions in pursuit of his own goals — but he’s actually a stauncher companion than you’d think, and someone whom you’d want along on a mythical quest, even if he is too assured that he knows the best for everyone else.

The artwork I found enjoyable. There is some nudity, chiefly penises, but it’s employed in service of the story. For example, Lash Penis, who serves as the generic Fighter of the group, is wounded and enters a Pool of Healing where he encounters a oneness with the universe. I was expecting, given the snarky tone of the story, some ironic punchline for this episode, but it was played straight, and oddly affecting because of it.

In this full-page pic the adventurers trek out of a stand of trees by a canal/sewer. It’s mundane, yet grandiose.

I’ll continue to follow these characters on their odd yet endearing quest.

Seeming Perfection

mannequin horror

A crazed artist vented her rage at the mannequin’s seeming perfection.
Shortly she moved on to human subjects.

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.

Civic and Community Organizations


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

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.

Worldbuilding Wednesday, 7/12/17: Organizations Clearly Up to No Good

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

Townsmen of the Bewitched Wizard

Enclave of the Vulture

Sanctum of Inexporable Darkness

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

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

Tea Party

horror tea set by Ronit Baranga

Crumpets and finger sandwiches, anyone?


(Ceramic art by Ronit Baranga)

Worldbuilding Wednesday, 7/5/17: More Magic

black magic masked sorceress

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.

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.