In the world of Beyond the Black Sea, magic is a potent force that can shape the course of events and turn the tide in the most desperate of situations. This blog post will delve into the intricacies of the game’s spellcasting system, providing players with a deeper understanding of how to harness the power of magic in their adventures.

Understanding Magic in Beyond the Black Sea

Magic in Beyond the Black Sea is not just a tool, but a living part of the world’s lore and history. It is deeply rooted in the cultures and religions of the game’s various races and civilizations. From the divine miracles of the holy men to the arcane rituals of the sorcerers, magic is a force to be reckoned with.

The Spellcasting System

The spellcasting system in Beyond the Black Sea is designed to be flexible and intuitive, allowing players to weave magic into their strategies and tactics. Spells are divided into different categories, each with its unique mechanics and effects. These categories include Miracles, Rituals, and Sorcery.

Miracles are divine interventions granted by the gods to their faithful followers. They can heal wounds, smite enemies, and even bring about miracles. Rituals, on the other hand, are complex ceremonies that can summon creatures, create magical barriers, or manipulate the elements. Sorcery is the manipulation of the raw magical energies, allowing the caster to unleash devastating attacks or create powerful enchantments.

Harnessing the Power of Magic

To effectively use magic in Beyond the Black Sea, players must understand the strengths and limitations of their spells. Each spell has a cost, usually in the form of Essence, which represents the magical energy required to cast the spell. Players must manage their Essence carefully, as running out can leave them vulnerable.

Additionally, some spells require specific components or conditions to cast. For instance, a ritual might require rare herbs or a particular phase of the moon. Players must plan ahead and prepare for these requirements to make the most of their spells.


Magic in Beyond the Black Sea is a powerful tool in any adventurer’s arsenal. By understanding the game’s spellcasting system, players can harness the power of magic to overcome challenges, defeat enemies, and shape the world around them. Whether you’re a holy warrior calling down divine wrath or a cunning sorcerer manipulating the forces of nature, magic opens up a world of possibilities for your adventures in Beyond the Black Sea.


In the world of Beyond the Black Sea, your character is more than just a collection of stats and abilities. They are a living, breathing individual with their own history, motivations, and personality. This blog post will provide tips and tricks for creating memorable characters that will bring the game’s rich and diverse world to life.

Understanding the World

Before you start creating your character, it’s important to understand the world of Beyond the Black Sea. This is a world of high adventure and ancient mysteries, where barbarian warriors clash with serpent people and ancient civilizations hide forgotten secrets. The more you know about the world, the better you can create a character that fits into it.

Choosing a Concept

Your character concept is the foundation of your character. It’s a brief description that encapsulates who your character is and what they do. Are they a Hyperborean warrior seeking glory in battle? A Stygian sorcerer delving into forbidden magic? Or perhaps a Pictish scout, expertly navigating the wilds? Your character concept will guide your choices as you create your character.

Selecting Attributes and Skills

Once you have a character concept, you can start selecting your character’s attributes and skills. These represent your character’s natural talents and learned abilities. When choosing attributes and skills, think about what makes sense for your character concept. A warrior might have high Strength and Combat skills, while a sorcerer might focus on Intelligence and Sorcery.

Creating a Backstory

A character’s backstory is a crucial part of making them feel real and grounded in the world. Where did they come from? What experiences have shaped them? What are their goals and fears? A well-crafted backstory can provide motivation for your character and give them depth and complexity.

Roleplaying Your Character

Finally, the most important part of creating a memorable character is how you roleplay them. Try to get into your character’s head and think about how they would react to different situations. Use their backstory and personality to guide your decisions. Remember, a character is more than just their abilities – they are a person with their own thoughts and feelings.


Creating a memorable character in Beyond the Black Sea is a rewarding and creative process. By understanding the world, choosing a strong concept, selecting appropriate attributes and skills, crafting a compelling backstory, and roleplaying your character effectively, you can create a character that will leave a lasting impression on your fellow players and bring the world of Beyond the Black Sea to life.

Void Spawn



Beyond the Black Sea offers a rich and diverse world for players to explore. From the frozen wastes of Hyperborea to the ancient ruins of Atlantis, the game’s setting is filled with adventure and mystery. This blog post will provide a guide to the unique setting of Beyond the Black Sea, helping players immerse themselves in the game’s world.

A World of Adventure

The world of Beyond the Black Sea is a place of high adventure and ancient mysteries. It’s a world where barbarian warriors clash with serpent people, where ancient civilizations hide forgotten secrets, and where brave adventurers can make their mark. Whether you’re exploring ancient ruins, battling monstrous creatures, or navigating the complex politics of the game’s civilizations, there’s always something exciting to do.

Diverse Civilizations

One of the defining features of Beyond the Black Sea is its diverse civilizations. From the Hyperboreans of the frozen north to the Stygians of the desert, each civilization has its own unique culture, history, and way of life. Understanding these civilizations can enrich your gameplay and help you create more complex and interesting characters.

Ancient Mysteries

The world of Beyond the Black Sea is filled with ancient mysteries waiting to be discovered. Ancient ruins hide powerful artifacts, forgotten civilizations hold lost knowledge, and monstrous creatures lurk in the wilds. Uncovering these mysteries can lead to great rewards, but also great dangers.

The Power and Peril of Magic

Magic in Beyond the Black Sea is a potent and perilous force. From the divine miracles of the holy men to the arcane rituals of the sorcerers, magic can shape the course of events and turn the tide in the most desperate of situations. However, the use of magic is not without its risks. The more powerful the magic, the greater the danger to the caster. Powerful spells can strain the mind and body, and repeated use of such magic can lead to physical exhaustion, mental instability, and even a descent into madness. As such, magic users must tread carefully, balancing the potential benefits of their spells against the risks they pose to their own well-being.


The world of Beyond the Black Sea is a rich and diverse setting that offers endless opportunities for adventure. By understanding the game’s world, its civilizations, its mysteries, and the power and peril of its magic, players can fully immerse themselves in the game and create memorable stories and characters. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a newcomer to the world of role-playing games, Beyond the Black Sea offers a unique and exciting setting for your adventures.



Journey To Carcosa

Carcosa is a fascinating place, a mythical land that was first written about by iconic author Ambrose Bierce and which was later adopted by a range of other writers before becoming a part of popular consciousness.

There’s a lot for us to talk about here and a lot of different sources to draw upon, so let’s cut to the chase and start travelling. Here’s everything you need to know about Carcosa.

Out Version of Carcosa

We draw inspiration from the more ephemeral representations of Carcosa. In Beyond The Black Sea, Carcosa is a world locked in an orbit with a black hole. Its a sword and sorcery setting mostly of bronze age or more primitive technology. We have several mini sagas set in Carcosa starting with The Skull. We also have our Aldebaran source book which details much of Carcosa, however this is a whole world and our intention is to create enough content for your gaming group to add what you need for the stories you want to tell. 

The Docks

Ambrose Bierce and Carcosa

The story of Carcosa begins with writer Ambrose Bierce and his 1886 short story An Inhabitant of Carcosa. In it, “the spirit Hoseib Alar Robardin” tells his tale, culminating with the iconic ending:

A level shaft of light illuminated the whole side of the tree as I sprang to my feet in terror. The sun was rising in the rosy east, I stood between the tree and his broad red disk – no shadow darkened the trunk!

A chorus of howling wolves saluted the dawn. I saw them sitting on their haunches, singly and in groups, on the summits of irregular mounds and tumuli filling a half of my desert prospect and extending to the horizon. And then I knew that these were the ruins of the ancient and famous city of Carcosa.

What’s interesting about this is that the city itself barely features in the story. It’s mentioned more in passing than anything, with very little description and the lens of time shrouding the truth about the city. By the time that the reader encounters it, the city has already been destroyed, and we hear about it from a character who used to live there.

So where does the name come from? Interestingly, it seems as though it’s just one of those names that captures people’s imagination, because it’s since been reused by more authors than you can shake a pen at. The leading theory for where Bierce got the name is that he’d heard of the French city of Carcassonne and that he simply modified the Latin name of “Carcosa”, but who knows?


Robert W. Chambers and  Carcosa

Other writers to have used the Carcosa name and concept include Robert W. Chambers, who wrote, “I cannot forget Carcosa where black stars hang in the heavens; where the shadows of men’s thoughts lengthen in the afternoon; where the twin suns sink into the lake of Hali; and my mind will bear for ever the memory of the Pallid Mask. I pray God will curse the writer, as the writer has cursed the world with its beautiful stupendous creation, terrible in its simplicity, irresistible in its truth – a world which now trembles before the King In Yellow.”

So not somewhere you’d want to go on holiday, then.

Chambers’ use of  Carcosa was as a part of his 1895 work The King in Yellow, where the author used the  Carcosa concept along with a couple of Bierce’s other names including Hali (the lake with the twin suns) and Alar, a city that sits beside the lake. If you’re wondering about those twin suns, by the way, Carcosa isn’t a neighbouring planet to Tattooine. It’s said to be in the star cluster Hyades, the closest cluster of stars to our sun.

Other locations mentioned by Chambers include Demhe (with its “cloudy depths”), Hastur, Yhtill and Aldebaran. Not to be confused with Alderaan (what is it with these Star Wars similarities?), Aldebaran is a giant star about 65 light years from our sun. It’s the brightest star in the Taurus constellation and is nicknamed “The Eye of Taurus”, as well as the 14th brightest star in our night sky.

The King in Yellow also includes a short piece of poetry (technically it’s lyrics but without any music) called Cassilda’s Song, which you can listen to in the player below.

H. P. Lovecraft and Carcosa

Carcosa was later picked up by the legendary cosmic horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, who adopted it as part of his Cthulu mythos. This was an important boost for the Carcosa story because Lovecraft himself had a huge legion of admirers, including many writers who themselves expanded on the theme in their own work. On top of Lovecraft, these authors include Karl Edward Wagner, Lin Carter, James Blish and Charles Stross.

We should note, though, that Lovecraft never directly mentioned Carcosa in any of his short stories, or at least in the ones that were published. With that said, he did mention it in in an essay he wrote called Supernatural Horror in Literature. Sharing his experience with reading Chambers’ The Yellow Sign, he wrote, “After stumbling queerly upon the hellish and forbidden book of horrors the two learn, among other hideous things which no sane mortal should know, that this talisman is indeed the nameless Yellow Sign handed down from the accursed cult of Hastur – from primordial Carcosa.”

Lovecraft is also published alongside Chambers and other great writers like Arthur Machen and Edgar Allen Poe in a book called Shadows of Carcosa: Tales of Cosmic Horror. There’s also Lovecraft’s novella The Whisperer in Darkness, which mentions some key bits of lore including Hali and Hastur:

I found myself faced by names and terms that I’d heard elsewhere in the most hideous of [connections] – Yuggoth, Great Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, Yog-Sothoth, R’lyeh, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, Hastur, Yian, Leng, the Lake of Hali, Bethmoora, the Yellow Sign, L’mur-Kathulos, Bran, and the Magnum Innominandum—and was drawn back through nameless aeons and inconceivable dimensions to worlds of elder, outer entity at which the crazed author of the Necronomicon had only guessed in the vaguest way. I was told of the pits of primal life, and of the streams that had trickled down therefrom; and finally, of the tiny rivulet from one of those streams which had become entangled with the destinies of our own earth.”

What Carcosa is Like

We’ve shared a few different excerpts throughout this article which should give you a good idea of what Carcosa is like, but there are a few more clues that we can take a look at. In The Repairer of Reputations, a short story in Chambers’ The King in Yellow, we get a few clues such as that there are black stars in the sky and twin suns that sink into Hali. It’s also said that “the shadows of men’s thoughts lengthen in the afternoon”.

In a short story called Litany to Hastur, author Lin Carter said that Carcosa has black domes and huge towers. More recently, Neal Wilgus wrote a piece for a 21st century King in Yellow anthology which reimagines the legend and has Carcosa as a mysterious small town in the backwaters of America. What’s cool about this is that they bring it into a modern era by having Hastur’s Hardware store and the Yellow Sign Hotel.

There’s even a direct line of inspiration and retelling linking Carcosa to Stephen King, whose Dark Tower series is loosely inspired by Robert Browning’s poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came. In the same King in Yellow anthology, editor DT Tyrer wrote a piece also based on Browning’s poem and the fairy tales that it inspired in which the Dark Tower itself may just be one of the many towers in Carcosa.

Carcosa in Our World

By this point, you might be thinking that Carcosa doesn’t exist in our own world, and that’s true to a certain extent. That mythical place described by Bierce and Chambers might not exist, but there is a real world place called Carcosa that’s worth mentioning.

Back at the end of the nineteenth century, a building called the Carcosa Mansion was built as the official governmental residence of the Resident-General of the Federal Malay States. The first holder of the office was a guy called Sir Frank Swettenham, who’d read The King in Yellow and who’d liked the name. As recently as 2015, the building was being used as a hotel called the Carcossa Seri Negara, although don’t start booking your flights just yet as it’s now abandoned.

Carcosa has also been used as the name of two different publishing houses. The first was a specialist sci-fi publisher that was formed in 1947 by Frederick B. Shrover, Russel Hodgkins and Paul Skeeters. The second was founded in 1973 by David Drake, Karl Wagner and Jim Groce and published four collections of pulp horror.

Carcosa in Pop Culture

Because of its popularity in literature and fiction, Carcosa has also taken on an important place in popular culture. That means that it’s been reused and remixed in so many different places that it’s often hard to keep track. Just a few of my favourites include:

  • True Detective: Here, Carcosa is a temple used by religious leaders and leading politicians in Louisiana, essentially depicting Carcosa as the heart of a cult which worships “The Yellow King”.
  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: There’s a character and a carnival named Carcosa, and it’s slowly revealed that all of the carnival workers are mythological beings and deities.
  • DigiTech: This technology company has released a guitar effects pedal called Carcosa with two modes called Hali and Demhe.
  • Mass Effect: In the third Mass Effect game, there’s a planet called Carcosa.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: In the fantasy series that inspired Game of Thrones, there’s a city of Carcosa that’s ruled by a sorcerer and which sits right at the far eastern edge of the known world on the shores of a huge lake.
  • Joseph S. Pulver: This successful author has written dozens of stories based on the work of Robert W. Chambers, including Carcosa. He’s even acted as the editor for several Carcosa-themed anthologies.

And believe it or not, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Over the past hundred years or so, there have been so many additions to the Carcosa canon that we’ve only been able to note a few of the most popular and most interesting examples! There’s even a Carcosa-themed board game


Now that you know just a little bit about Carcosa and its real world and fictional heritage, it’s over to you to keep the discussion going. Carcosa has become a little bit like Atlantis in that it’s entered the popular consciousness and been used all over the place as a result of it.

The location has been mentioned so often and in so many different works that it would be impossible for us to cover them all here, and so instead we took a look at just a few of the most noteworthy examples.

And so now it’s over to you so you can share your thoughts on Carcosa. Be sure to leave a comment so we can keep on chatting. I look forward to hearing what you think!t

Serpent Folk

Serpent People: The Myths, the Fiction and the History

As soon as I start talking about serpent people, I find that people look at me as though they think I’ve gone crazy. That’s probably David Icke’s fault, but we’ll get to that.

What can I say? I just think that serpent people are cool, and some of my favourite stories of all time have featured serpent people in some form or other. Some of the very best are those that just use the classic myths as a background and then build on them.

Today, I’m going to be telling you everything you need to know about serpent people, from their origins in classical mythology to the science behind them and the place they’ve earned for themselves in popular culture. Let’s slither on in.

The Mythology

Serpent people have been around for years, and we can see signs of them in the tale of Medusa, the woman with snakes for hair who turned people to stone with her gaze, although she’s technically a (wo)man serpent. Snakes have long been associated with evil, presumably because of the very real fear of death due to a snakebite. It makes sense that they’d show up as a personification of evil.

In most tales, serpent men are depicted as human-like figures with scaly skin and the heads of snakes or other reptiles. They’re typically descended from a lineage that goes way back, often essentially evolving in parallel in the same way that homo sapiens descended from apes.

Another common theme with serpent men is that they usually have the ability to disguise themselves as human beings. This is where the idea of “lizards in people suits” comes from, although the older legends usually say that they’re able to do this because they have magical powers or other abilities.

Note that serpent men are different to “man serpents”, which are typically depicted the other way round, having the bodies of giant snakes but the heads of human beings. Medusa is a classic example of this, and indeed many other man serpents have the hypnotic stare and superhuman strength that the snake queen is known for.

Nagas and Lamias

Another mythic type of serpent people are the nagas and lamias, although they’re pretty similar to Medusas and as such are more like man serpents. Usually depicted with a human’s head, arms and torso and a snake’s lower body, they’re basically the reptilian equivalent of centaurs. Female nagas and lamias are usually supernaturally beautiful.

The origins of these creatures can, of course, be traced back to folklore. In the traditional tales, Lamia was a Libyan queen who ate children, but it’s thought that the popular image of her was subverted by John Keats, who might have combined Lamia with Lilith, Adam’s first wife, who’s associated with the snake in the Garden of Eden.

Nagas, meanwhile, come from India. If you’ve read the Harry Potter series then you’ll remember Nagini, Voldemort’s snake. She takes her name from the term for a female naga, with male nagas usually being called nagin. Nagas show their Hindu roots because they’re often depicted with more than one pair of arms. Sometimes, they even have multiple heads.

Robert E. Howard

The first appearance of true “serpent people” was in Robert E. Howard’s King Kull stories. Howard, as you might remember, is the creator of the Conan series and an icon in sword and sorcery communities. He’s arguably the reason why sword and sorcery is popular in the first place.

Howard called his creation “serpent men”, and they first appeared in a story called The Shadow Kingdom, which itself was published in the iconic Weird Tales magazine at the end of the 1920s. Interestingly, they were given a second life in the 1970s when Marvel released its Kull the Conqueror adaptations, effectively introducing serpent men into the Marvel cinematic universe.

H. P. Lovecraft

Another important thing to note is that in Howard’s work, the serpent men were one of the few examples of creatures from long, long ago, their dominion being measured in terms of the cosmos as opposed to the lifespan of man. This in some ways makes it a precursor to the unique brand of cosmic horror that H. P. Lovecraft helped to pioneer, a subject that I’ve written about at length before.

The interesting thing about Howard’s serpent men is that they were then adopted as a part of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, although most of the legwork was done by Lin Carter and Clark Ashton Smith. Some of Lovcecraft’s own short stories, including The Nameless City and The Haunter of the Dark, mention pre-human races of lizard people.

In fact, this also means that serpent people are directly connected to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, and the two of them officially live in the same universe. That’s pretty cool because they also pop up in Spider-Man, making them also part of the Marvel EU. I love the way that they all relate back to each other, even though some of the links are a little obscure. There’s even a cross between a demon and a serpent man that fought against the Avengers.

According to the mythos, the serpent people lived at roughly the same time as the dinosaurs, although they weren’t wiped out by the fateful meteorite. Instead, they dispersed all over the world, warring with mankind and eventually going underground.

Other names for serpent people include “snake men”, “serpent men”, “serpent folk” and “valusians”. And perhaps unsurprisingly, most named serpent people have names that evoke their flickering tongues and serpent-like features. Just a few of the most well-known serpent people include Ssathasaa, Sss’haa, Ssrhythssaa and Zloigm. Try saying those after you’ve had a few drinks.


In popular culture, when we talk about serpent people, most people’s minds automatically go to reptoids. Also known as reptilians, lizard people, saurians, draconians and reptiloids, reptoids are theoretical reptilian humanoids, and the concept was popularised by conspiracy theorist David Icke.

Icke believes that shape-shifting reptoids control the human race by assuming human forms and taking on important positions in global governments and at the top of society. It’s a bit like the Illuminati, except that the Illuminati isn’t made up of serpent people in lizard suits.

I don’t want to spend too much time dwelling on Icke’s ideas because you can look them up for yourself if you’re interested. I’m not too interested in them myself, but I do think it’s fascinating that they’re almost certainly inspired by (if not based on) the serpent people of Robert E. Howard.

In fact, most historians agree that Icke’s theories draw upon earlier myths and legends, and it’s pretty easy to see the parallels. Loosely speaking, Icke says that the world is being run by blood-drinking, shape-shifting serpent people who are adopting positions of power (including in the British Royal family and the Bush family).

They come from the Alpha Draconis star system and are living in underground bases while plotting to overthrow the human race. And whether you believe Icke or not, it’s hard to ignore the fact that at least some people do. According to one 2013 poll, as many as 4% of registered US voters believe in Icke’s ideas.

As for me, I’d rather read Howard or Lovecraft.


Now that you know a little more about serpent people, it’s over to you so that you can start carrying out a little more research of your own. If you’re a novelist, perhaps you can start to use serpent people as a plot device, while if you’re a keen movie buff then you could check out some of the movies that use serpent people as a plot device.

Of course, if you’re into conspiracy theories then you could also look into David Icke and what he thinks, although I’d caution you to take that with a pinch of salt. Far more interesting to me is the history behind snake people and where the legends come from. Snakes themselves have a lot of symbolic power, and you see them being represented everywhere from stories about Medusa to the parceltongue in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

So now you’ve heard a few of my thoughts, I want to hear from you. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on serpent people and the legends that they feature in by leaving a comment, or by reaching out to me on your favourite social networking site. Until next time!

Younger Dryas

The Science Behind the Younger Dryas

Building on from my last few posts where I’ve investigated lost civilisations and the legends of Atlantis and Lemuria, today I want to take a look at something else that happened a long time ago (though not in a galaxy far, far away).

I think that by looking back to the past, we can uncover insights about the future. We also get a better understanding of who we are and where we’re from, and we can become more empathetic if we start to realise that our cultures aren’t necessarily so different after all.

Today, we’re going to talk about the Younger Dryas, a subject that most people haven’t even heard of. I hadn’t heard of it myself until a couple of years ago, but then I started to carry out some research and I quickly got sucked in and hooked on the topic.

So what exactly is the Younger Dryas? Read on to find out…

The History of the Younger Dryas

Perhaps a more accurate question would be “what exactly was the Younger Dryas?”. It’s essentially a period in our planet’s history that occurred around 12,900 to 11,700 years BP.

In case you’re wondering, that stands for “Before Present” and refers to the period in our history that occurred before the development of carbon dating techniques. The “present” is considered to be January 1st 1950, meaning that the Younger Dryas period was around 10,750 – 9,750 BC.

During this time, the earth witnessed a sharp decline in temperatures over a remarkably short period of time (decades as opposed to millennia). Given that this had a major impact on many different ecosystems, you can imagine the kind of effect that this sudden change had.

So what exactly happened? Well, we don’t necessarily know, although there are a bunch of different theories out there, some of them more plausible than others.

The Younger Dryas Hypothesis

One of the more interesting theories about what happened to the Younger Dryas is that a large asteroid or comet disintegrated into large fragments, which then showered down over North and South America, Europa and Asia.

There’s a certain amount of evidence to support this, too. For example, we’ve found large concentrations of platinum and nano-diamonds across over fifty different global sites. It’s posited that these are as a result of the impact, and that’s certainly one explanation for something that we otherwise can’t really understand.

Some scientists have argued that the collision of such a comet could also have led to widescale destruction, burning biomasses and essentially triggering a mini ice age. There’s a lot of evidence that this mini ice age happened, and so it’s really the causes which are up for debate. Although it’s not just the causes that people like to talk about.

For example, many followers of the Younger Dryas Hypothesis suggest that these comet fragments also wiped out a previous civilisation. Given my last blog post on lost civilisations and the prevalence of real lost civilisations from all over the planet, this doesn’t seem particularly implausible, although it can be hard to find definitive evidence either way because of how many years ago it took place.

Previous civilisations and extinction

In the same way that it’s believed that a meteor strike brought about the extinction of the dinosaurs, it’s believed by many that the Younger Dryas meteor caused the widespread demise of animal and plant life. Of course, if this was the case, we’d expect to see some sort of evidence, and there are certainly clues out there for those who are looking.

The problem is that they’re just that – clues. Clues can be interpreted differently, and that’s why the Younger Dryas is such a hotly debated topic. Supporters of the comet hypothesis will tell you that it led to the extinction of a whole bunch of North American animals, ranging from camels and mammoths to the giant short-faced bear.

In recent years, the Younger Dryas has undergone renewed scrutiny, in part because of the popularity of a book called Fingerprints of the Gods by Charles Hapgood. In it, Hapgood suggests that a lost civilisation in Antarctica had been forced to relocate to the South Pole and that they’d been buried beneath the polar ice cap. He cited the work of Rand Flem-Ath, who’s researched this area before and suggested that the civilisation beneath the ice could be Atlantis.

What the evidence says

A wide range of different evidence has been cited to point towards the Younger Dryas hypothesis, including a strata of organic-rich soil that’s been discovered at numerous locations in North America. These locations are also said to house an abundance of nanodiamonds, magnetic spherules (whatever they are) and iridium, platinum and more.

This is actually a reasonably convincing argument, because it’s difficult to explain these phenomena away as a byproduct of any other natural process. But there’s evidence against it too, such as the fact that a study found that there was no sign of a population decline around the Younger Dryas, as we might expect to see. In fact, there’s even evidence to suggest overall growth in the global population towards the end of the Younger Dryas.

There’s also evidence to show that the widespread extinctions occurred at different times, which implies that perhaps a meteor impact isn’t really what’s to blame here. For example, it seems as though the extinctions in North America happened 400 years before the extinctions in South America.

There’s also been a lot of research into why certain species went extinct while others didn’t. For example, more larger animals seem to have disappeared than smaller ones. It’s also strange how some large mammals disappeared while others remained behind. This is seen as an argument against the comet impact hypothesis because it should have wiped out all of them.

Perhaps the most damning argument against the comet theory is that, so far at least, nobody has been able to show evidence of extra-terrestrial metals, which would presumably be brought in by such an impact. In fact, it’s really a case that there’s no concrete evidence either way, mostly because of the astronomical periods of time that we’re talking about.

What I think

That’s one of the reasons why it’s such a popular topic for discussion. If you spend a little time digging, you’ll find no shortage of scientific papers arguing for and against the comet hypothesis, with many papers responding to previous papers by people on the other side of the debate. It’s a scientific back and forth, and that’s one of the reasons why I find it so fascinating to research and to write about.

As for me, I still haven’t quite decided what I think, although I do think that there’s a lot to be said about both sides of the argument. There’s an argument that a crater in Greenland is the site of one of the meteor-strikes, but scientists are still divided on what caused it.

One thing that people do point out is that the odds of such an impact are almost miniscule, and so the fact that it’s said to have happened so recently would make it statistically improbable, though not impossible. Strangers things have certainly happened, especially when we look at the context of the entire universe.

Ultimately, it’s one of those mysterious conundrums that we might never get a definite answer to. Even if we do, it might not come in our lifetimes. Still, that doesn’t make it any less interesting to speculate over, which is why I’ve shared this brief introduction to get you started on your journey.


Now that you know a little more about the Younger Dryas, it’s time for you to do some further research of your own. It’s a truly fascinating topic and one that’s had an impact on many of the books that we read, as you’ll already be familiar with if you’ve read some of my previous posts.

If nothing else, I think that the story of the Younger Dryas is a warning to us about the dangers of climate change and the impact it can have. Anthropogenic climate change aside it had a huge impact in the past and can happen again.  We could end up undergoing a period of change that’s just as cataclysmic.

Now it’s time for you to take over and to share your thoughts on the Younger Dryas by leaving a comment. What do you think happened during this fascinating point in history? Do you agree with the comet hypothesis? And do you think it could have wiped out earlier civilisations? Be sure to let me know what you think with a comment so that we can keep the discussion going!

Lost Civilisation Header


Lost Civilisations and the Fiction Behind the Fact


I’ve always had an obsession with sunken islands and lost civilisations, ever since I was a little kid. As I grew older, I learned they were “just stories”, and then as I grew older still, I learned that there was a grain of truth to the stories, which promptly blew my mind.


Don’t worry, though, because I’m not one of those conspiracy nuts who thinks that Atlantis is in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle or that a race of merpeople is getting ready for an invasion. With that said, I still think that lost civilisations are fascinating, and today we’re going to be taking a little look at a few of the main lost civilisations in both fact and fiction.

What is a lost civilisation?

Lets get exploring!



















Before we go any further, we should first take a look at exactly what we mean when we’re talking about a lost civilisation. Broadly speaking, a lost civilisation is any type of human (or otherwise, especially in fantasy) civilisation that’s no longer represented amongst our general population.

Semantically, there’s a slight difference between a lost civilisation and a dead civilisation. The Roman Empire represents a dead civilisation, but it was never lost because their influence lives on today. Likewise, Latin is a dead language, but it’s not a lost language because we still know how it works. It’s just that there are no longer any native Latin speakers, and indeed we don’t know for sure how it actually sounded.

Our real world is full of examples of lost civilisations, and we’re going to take a look at those a little later on in this article. But when we’re talking about lost civilisations in literature, we’re generally talking more specifically about mythical civilisations. Fiction allows us to see these mythical and often downright fictitious civilisations up close and personal, often before whichever cataclysmic event led to their downfall.

Two of the most popular and most interesting lost civilisations are Atlantis and Lemuria, and much of Robert E. Howard’s work can be said to focus on lost civilisations. In fact, his Hyborian Age is essentially a lost epoch in our planet’s history. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular civilisations.

All about Atlantis

Atlantis is arguably the most famous lost civilisation, iconic for sinking beneath the waves. Used as an allegory for hubris, Atlantis is first recorded in some of Plato’s works. Interestingly enough, in Plato’s stories, it represents a rival naval power that attacks his native Athens. When it sank beneath the waves, it was because they’d fallen out of favour with the gods.

Atlantis is actually not particularly important in Plato’s original stories, but the story has taken on a life of its own and has become an important part of popular culture. In fact, people are so obsessed with the story of Atlantis that many pseudoscientists and conspiracy theorists have tried to locate it. Unfortunately, Plato didn’t exactly leave directions, and so all we really know is that Atlantis was said to have disappeared beneath the waves sometime before 9,000 BC and that it can be found beyond the Pillars of Hercules.

For the most part, most literary scholars and history buffs agree that Atlantis is fictional, but there’s some debate around where the inspiration for the story comes from. As with most storytellers of his time, Plato borrowed freely from other stories and other traditions, and so it’s likely that there’s an even older tale of a sunken city that Socrates was inspired by.

Some of the historic events that Atlantis has been linked to include the Minoan eruption of 1,600 BC, as well as the so-called Sea Peoples and even the Trojan War, the source of the legend of the wooden horse of Troy. But perhaps it doesn’t matter whether Atlantis was inspired by these events in the same way that it doesn’t really matter if the island of Atlantis is even real. I’d rather investigate the stories that they allow us to tell.

Learning about Lemuria

Lemuria is essentially another take on Atlantis, a purported lost land that’s said to be somewhere in either the Indian or the Pacific Ocean. It was originally adopted by scientists and other thinkers, but it’s now seen as discredited and a dead theory. That doesn’t make it any less interesting to learn about, though.

As with Atlantis, even after the initial death of the theory, Lemuria went on to find a place in popular culture. And also like Atlantis, some people have claimed to have discovered its present-day location, with many Tamil writers drawing parallels with Kumari Kandam, another mythical lost continent that’s said to be south of India in the Indian Ocean.

The original Lemuria theory had it depicted as a former land bridge that’s sunk beneath the waves, although we now know more about plate tectonics and can disprove that theory. Curiously enough, these types of sunken continents exist in our own world, including in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans, but none of them could be Lemuria.

As it turns out, Madagascar and India were originally part of the same landmass, but there wasn’t a mythical bridge as the Lemurian theorists would have you believe. Instead, they simply slotted together as part of a larger “supercontinent” called Gondwanaland. If you’re a comic fantasy fan and this sounds familiar, it’s probably because Terry Pratchett parodied it in his Discworld series with Howondaland.

The problem with the Lemuria myth is that Gondwanaland didn’t sink under the ocean. Instead, it broke apart and the pieces slowly floated away from each other.

The “real” lost civilisations

As you can tell from the real story of Gondwanaland, just because some of the most popular takes on lost civilisations are fictional, it doesn’t mean that they all are. There are countless real lost civilisations, and most of them became lost because they were wiped out by larger tribes and empires. The Romans and the Greeks did a lot for us, but they also created a more homogenous culture and wiped out a lot of history.

Just a few of the most fascinating lost civilisations in our real history include:

  • The Khmer Empire: Located in Southeast Asia over 1,500 years ago, this empire was particularly known for its naval strength. Angkor, their capital city, was the largest city in the world at one time with around a million people.
  • The Mayans: In popular culture, the Mayans are arguably most-known for their calendar, and the popular conspiracy theory that they’d predicted the end of the world in 2012 because of it. Spanning much of South America, the Mayan civilisation itself has long since died out, though there are still millions of people of Mayan descent and a couple of dozen surviving Mayan languages.
  • The Aztecs: This civilisation rose to power in around 1300-1500 AD in modern-day Mexico. Sadly, they were wiped out by Spanish conquistadors led by Hernan Cortes, who overthrew the empire and brought their reign to an end.
  • The Babylonians: You might have heard of the Babylonians because of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Their capital city is said to be the first in the world to reach a population of over 200,000, and its remains are in modern-day Iraq, not too far south of Baghdad.
  • The Tiwanaku: This Bolivian empire existed towards the end of the first century AD. When the Incas discovered them, they thought the Tiwanaku were made by the gods due to the grandness of their cities.
  • The Incas: The Inca Empire was the largest empire in America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus, effectively coming to an end at the hands of the Spanish in the late 1500s. Its size varied, but at its biggest, it covered parts of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile and Columbia.

You might get the impression from this list that lost civilisations are almost exclusive to Asia and South America, but the truth is that there are lost civilisations all over the world. You just have to look for them, which is somewhat ironic.

For me, I find them to be a fascinating area of research, not only because it exposes me to new cultures but also because we can often borrow from them to create new fictional tales of lost lands and lost peoples.

The future

It’s been said that there’s no such thing as an original idea, and it’s certainly true that most of the stories that we hear today are inspired by other stories that have come before them. In the future, then, we can expect to see more and more stories of lost civilisations, especially because they can do a great job of reflecting our own society.

Part of the reason why stories about lost civilisations are thriving is that they tap into the very real threat of our modern society collapsing. Humanity and society have always been under threat, but we’re arguably more threatened than ever before thanks to COVID-19, global warming and other existential threats.

Stories of lost civilisations can help us to make sense of our own reality, and they can also help us to prepare for the future by showing us a glimpse of what different scenarios might look like. But more than that, they can help us to expand our minds.

George R. R. Martin famously said that a reader lives a thousand lives while the non-reader lives only once. What’s interesting to me is that every time we consume a story, we also consume the setting of the story. That means that reading novels can expose us to new cultures, and in the case of lost civilisations, it can expose us to cultures that we might not otherwise have experienced.

So even though the world feels like it’s getting smaller and smaller as technology continues to evolve, there’s still a place for stories about lost civilisations. Sure, we might not discover any new real examples, but that’s where fiction comes in. And I for one can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring for today’s generation of writers.

Atlantis Banner

Exploring the Origins of Atlantis and its Place in Sword and Sorcery

In our last couple of articles, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the different myths and legends that have fed into sword and sorcery mythology, and this post will be no different. The truth is that sword and sorcery is such a huge, diverse genre that it’s influenced by a little bit of everything.

Today, we’re going to be climbing into our diving gear and heading under the water to pay a visit to the sunken island of Atlantis, starting out by taking a look at its origins and moving on to take a look at how sword and sorcery has felt its impact.

Like many myths and legends, the tale of Atlantis dates back at least a couple thousand years, and while it does go hand-in-hand with sword and sorcery, it’s been used in pretty much every genre there is. So what is it about Atlantis that makes it so enduring? And who are some of the authors – both classic and contemporary – who’ve used its story to good effect?

Let’s jump into the water and find out.

The origins of Atlantis

The lost island of Atlantis has its origins in philosophy, and in fact it’s the brainchild of Greek philosopher Plato. Taught by Socrates, Plato taught Aristotle, who then taught Alexander the Great, arguably the closest thing our real world has to a sword and sorcery hero.

Much of what Plato talked about was based on real events, but the legend of Atlantis has essentially been proved to be false, though there are still one or two people who’ll swear there’s evidence that it once existed.

Plato first told his followers the story of Atlantis in around 360 BC, nearly two and a half millennia ago. According to Plato, the Atlantians were half god and half human and they lived in a perfect society that can best be described as a heavenly Venice. He said that Atlantis existed around 9,000 years earlier and that its stories had been passed down orally from generation to generation, but his own testimony is the earliest known reference to the sunken island.

No one really knows exactly where Atlantis was supposed to be, and historians and mythologists alike have made suggestions that literally span the globe. In fact, its exact location doesn’t really matter when we’re talking about its influence on sword and sorcery, because it’s usually being ported into some unusual fantasy world anyway.

The only thing that really matters for our purposes is how the legend ends, which is always the same. The island disappeared beneath the sea and was never heard from again. At least, not until it started popping up in our literature.

Atlantis and Robert E. Howard

You can’t talk about Atlantis in sword and sorcery without talking about Robert E. Howard. He’s the creator of many of sword and sorcery’s most well-known characters, most notably Conan the Barbarian, but he also used Atlantis and Atlantian mythology to create Kull the Conqueror. You might have heard of him under his other name, Kull of Atlantis.

Kull came first, and he’s arguably a less refined version of Conan who’s set amongst a different backdrop. Born in around 100,000 BC, Kull lives in an Atlantis that’s populated by barbarian tribes and which lies on the west of the continent of Thuria. Kull’s own tribe is from the Tiger Valley, an area of Atlantis which was destroying by flooding, foreshadowing the eventual fate of the whole island.

Kull is interesting because there are similarities between Kull and the character of Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. In fact, he’s arguably the Atlantian Mowgli, because he survived alone in the wild from a young age before being adopted by the Sea-Mountain tribe. Kull is eventually exiled from Atlantis and spends a short period as a pirate, further continuing that watery theme.

There’s more to Kull’s story of course, but we don’t want to spoil it for you and his later years don’t tie back as heavily to the theme of his early years in Atlantis. Kull himself only featured in a dozen stories, and only three of those were published before Howard’s death in 1936. Howard later reused many of the elements of his Kull mythos to create the character of Conan, but he ultimately left the Atlantis elements behind to establish Conan instead as a Cimmerian.  

Atlantis in Sword and Sorcery

But that’s not where Atlantis’ influence on sword and sorcery comes to an end. In some cases, as with Kull of Atlantis, the connection is more direct and more obvious. In other cases, it’s used subtly, with story elements or little nods to the original myth.

Robert E. Howard wasn’t the only one of his contemporaries to write about Atlantis. For example, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote about a colony of Atlantis, called Opar, in his Tarzan series. More recently, Kara Dalkey wrote her Water Trilogy, which mixes up both Arthurian and Atlantian legends. There’s really nothing quite like it.

Even earlier than Howard, Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a novel called The Maracot Deep in which a deep-sea diving team finds the lost city beneath the waves. Conan Doyle didn’t live long enough to witness the rise of sword and sorcery, but he did use elements of it in his historical fiction novels about the swashbuckling Brigadier Gerard and the adventures of The White Company.

In her The Fall of Atlantis series, Marion Zimmer Bradley channels the spirit of sword and sorcery and mixes it up with the Atlantis legend to tell the story of Britain’s ancient druids. For Zimmer Bradley, the druids were the direct descendants of the survivors of Atlantis. Even the Godzilla series looked to get on board with a novel called Godzilla and the Lost Continent that was eventually shelved by Random House before it could be published.

And when it comes to more hardcore, traditional sword and sorcery, you’ll want to check out Sherrilyn Kenyon and her Dark-Hunter series. Following a hero called Alak, the series also has elements of the paranormal, its own impressive mythology system and a bunch of reinterpretations of Greek myths. The leader of the Dark-Hunters is a former Atlantian god.

A new take on Atlantis

As with anything that becomes a cliché, the legend of Atlantis then started to spawn a range of new interpretations which played with the legend or which looked at it from a different light. One of my favourite examples of this is Sir Terry Pratchett, who used a spin on the Atlantis tale in his Discworld novel, Jingo.

Here, instead of Atlantis sinking beneath the sea, it suddenly rises, catching two rival fishermen unawares. Each stakes a claim to it on behalf of their respective nations, and before we know it, two of the Disc’s most powerful armies are at each other’s throats, preparing to go to war. Of course, it would be more like traditional sword and sorcery if his epic barbarian character Cohen the Barbarian made an appearance, but it’s still a cracking take on the Atlantis myth.

Atlantis even appeared in K. A. Applegate’s Animorphs series, which has helped to introduce the legend to a new generation of readers. But let’s not forget the older takes on Atlantis, those that predate the sword and sorcery genre. We haven’t even talked about Jules Verne and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, in which the crew of the Nautilus walks along the sea bottom before discovering the sunken ruins of the island. Nor have we talked about John Wyndham and his The Kraken Wakes, which features a terrifying deep sea monster.

The lost island even gets a namecheck in Eoin Colfer’s crazy popular Artemis Fowl series, as well as a little reference in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. The fact is, it’s virtually impossible to write about the water without feeling the spectre of the Atlantis myth hovering on the horizon. There are even those who’ll swear that the cataclysmic flood in the Bible is what drove Atlantis beneath the waves in the first place. If nothing else, the Kraken Wakes, the Bible and the Atlantis myth all tap into our sense of wonder about the water.

The earth’s surface is 70% water, and even with today’s advanced technologies, there’s a lot we don’t know about the ocean. In fact, as much as 80% of the ocean is unexplored, and so who’s to say? Perhaps the lost continent of Atlantis is out there somewhere after all.


We’ve covered a lot today, but there’s no way that we could cover absolutely everything. That’s why we want to hear from you! If you’ve come across other examples of sword and sorcery tapping into the legend of Atlantis, be sure to let us know in the comments.

Ultimately, the main conclusion to be found here is that the Atlantis tale is super adaptable and that it sneaks its way into every genre, and not just sword and sorcery. Sure, there are a few natural ways in which the two can work together symbiotically, but with so many authors out there – and so many genres – we shouldn’t be surprised to see it cropping up everywhere.

As for me, all this talk about Atlantis and sword and sorcery has got me wanting to revisit some of the classics, and so I think I’m off to revisit some of the books and movies that we’ve talked about in this article. It’s a good job I can swim!

Article Written by Dane Cobain for Epiphany Entertainment

Copyright ©Epiphany Entertainment 2020

Cosmic Horror

Cosmic Horror and H. P. Lovecraft’s Influence on Sword and Sorcery

Sword and sorcery is one of my favourite genres, in part because it comes with a certain amount of nostalgia for me, but I’m also partial to a little bit of cosmic horror here and there. In fact, one of my favourite things is when I’m reading some other book, perhaps a thriller or a suspense novel, and little elements of cosmic horror start to creep in.

It happens more often than you might imagine, and there are quite a few reasons for that. One of the biggest reasons is a chap called H. P. Lovecraft, who you’ve probably heard of. His name is synonymous with both cosmic horror and weird fiction, and while he never really wrote straight up sword and sorcery, he certainly had an influence on its development.

That’s why today, we’ll be taking a closer look at H. P. Lovecraft, his unique brand of madness and the influence that it’s had on the genre of sword and sorcery.

Cosmic Horror

The most obvious place to start here is by defining cosmic horror, a term that’s often used interchangeably with the term Lovecraftian horror because they’re essentially the same thing. Cosmic horror brings together elements of horror and science fiction to tell stories that exploit our fear of the unknown and the unknowable, often with the idea that there are things underpinning our reality that are so horrible that to see them would drive us mad or otherwise harm us.

Lovecraft developed an interest in the cosmos after learning about physics and astronomy as a child, something which gave him a deep-seated feeling of mankind’s insignificance in the grand scheme of things. Much cosmic horror is underpinned by the idea that humanity resides in a deep, dark cosmos in which many strange, incomprehensible things are watching us. Interestingly, despite the horror, these entities aren’t always malevolent – sometimes they’re indifferent, and that’s just as bad.

To understand cosmic horror, it helps to first understand Lovecraft. He was something of an anomaly, a man out of time who got much of his sensibilities from the literature of the 18th century. This also goes some way towards explaining why he’s been accused of racism and xenophobia, and not without some merit. But we’re not here to talk about Lovecraft’s politics. We’re here to talk about his incomparable body of work, as well as some of the ideas that Lovecraft’s work has led to.

Deep Time

One of Lovecraft’s most interesting concepts is the idea of deep time, which is essentially the concept that the entirety of human history is but a blink of an eye in the face of the cosmos. Comparing it to a clock, if the earth was formed at midnight and the present day is 24 hours later, humans didn’t show up until 23:58 and 43 seconds.

In the excellent 2008 documentary H. P. Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, author Caitlin R. Kiernan explained, “Most people tend to think of history in terms of years. Deep time is that time before the comprehension of man. Geological time. You’re working on a timescale where mountains are pushed up and eroded, continents shift, species evolve and become extinct. It’s not really something we can process.”

Lovecraft takes this idea to its logical conclusion, and many of his stories are simply about these old, old evils, the old gods and the strange creatures which predate human memory. This had been done before to an extent, and it’s a staple of much sword and sorcery, but Lovecraft was the first to take those gods and creatures and to show what would happen if they appeared in today’s modern world.

If you thought the dinosaurs of 65 million years ago were crazy enough, wait until you meet the eldritch abominations which are billions of years old – and which have been watching our planet through their dozens of eyes since it first started to form.

The thought of it alone gives me the heebie jeebies, perhaps in part because the hugeness of the universe and the incomprehensibility of deep time keep me awake at night and spark off my anxiety. Lovecraft was able to tap into this deep-seated and very human fear to exploit the emotions of his readership while simultaneously creating his very own genre of fiction from scratch.

In many ways, this reminds me of what Stephen King does with his work. Carrie taps into our fear of social humiliation to make us feel sympathy for the protagonist. The Shining taps into our fear of isolation and being cut off from society. The Stand taps into our (all too legitimate) fears of a global pandemic wiping out most of the population. And I’m still not sure whether he wrote IT because people are scared of clowns or whether people are scared of clowns because he wrote IT.

King himself is a big Lovecraft fan, and it comes across in his work. His famous recurring line of “there are other worlds than these” could well be referring to the mysterious Lovecraftian dimensions from which Cthulhu and other beasties can be summoned through the Necronomicon.

Cosmic Horror in Sword and Sorcery

So how are cosmic horror and deep time linked to sword and sorcery? Well, let’s start with deep time. One of the most obvious comparisons here is the fact that a substantial chunk of sword and sorcery – and fantasy in general – is presented as a land lost in time. In some cases, the fictional worlds are presented as taking place on our planet, but so many millennia ago that the continents and the creatures look vastly different to what we have today.

But to draw that comparison is to underscore just how deep a deep time story can go. With deep time, continents merge and break apart at the speed of a timelapse. Entire species come and go in the blink of an eye.

With that said, we can easily see the influence of deep time in many of the beasts and creatures that the heroes are sent off to fight. In Conan the Destroyer, for example, Robert E. Howard’s iconic barbarian faces off against a manifestation of Dagoth, the Dreaming God. Dagoth is summoned by the placing of a magical horn and a virgin sacrifice as opposed to through the Necronomicon, but otherwise he could easily be some many-tentacled Cthulhian monstrosity.

As for cosmic and Lovecraftian horror, there are definitely echoes of many of Lovecraft’s ideas in some of the harder sword and sorcery. But for me, some of the most interesting parallels between cosmic horror and sword and sorcery occur when we dig down and look at language and writing styles.

H.P. Lovecraft had a unique style of writing, to the point at which you could pick up one of his stories with no name attached to it and immediately know it’s a Lovecraft story from the way it’s written. Even certain words have a Lovecraftian feel. He was a big fan of describing things as Eldritch, for example, or of describing the moon as gibbous.

Lovecraft’s impact on alternative fiction, horror, science fiction and fantasy is impossible to overstate. And just like the way that generations of novelists have emulated and echoed Ernest Hemingway, often without even realising it, many SFF writers do the same thing with Lovecraft. I’ve done it myself without even noticing it. Lovecraft is just that closely associated with the genre.

And this has a delicious knock-on effect when it comes to sword and sorcery, because many sword and sorcery writers are also keen Lovecraft fans because of his depictions of vile and unspeakable creatures. Then, when they write their tales, a little bit of Lovecraft spills out in their writing style, and the results are cracking sword and sorcery novels that I can’t get enough of.


This post is just an introduction to the links between cosmic horror and sword and sorcery, and I’d encourage you to go out and do a little research of your own. What at first glance might seem like a tenuous link quickly becomes something bigger, and once you scratch the surface you realise you’re looking down at a mountain.

In fact, you could easily write a full dissertation on the topics that we’ve covered today, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I found that somebody, somewhere, already has. But in the meantime, hopefully this post has helped to act as an introduction and you’ve learned something new today that you didn’t know already.

No genre lives in isolation, and sword and sorcery is no different. It’s inspired by everything from cosmic horror through to old Greek legends, but I find that Lovecraft’s influence in particular can be felt, particularly in the sword and sorcery movies of the 80s.

Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard were contemporaries, and so while it was Howard who essentially defined the genre of sword and sorcery, we shouldn’t be surprised that a certain Lovecraftian vibe has slipped in too. And perhaps now you’ll start to notice some more of the similarities. Happy reading!

Article Written by Dane Cobain for Epiphany Entertainment








Copyright ©Epiphany Entertainment 2020


The Statue In Mammoth Short Beyond the Black Sea Fiction

Ivar didn’t know the woman. Her wry smile and flashing eyes, curly black hair spoke of a Stygian or Canaanite. She had bronze skin; her dark lips maybe had a Pictish origin. “Ummm Ten silver ingots no more Cimmerian she coughed. The guttural sound was odd and didn’t at all match her features of the language of Canaan. Ivar, a simple man from north east of the Black Sea, was standing at least a foot above her, holding the tusk of a mammoth in his brawny hands. His short black hair, ice blue eyes clean shaven face and smooth tanned skin gave away his origins all too plainly. Clearly she meant to cheat him, ivory of this quality hacked from the living skull of a Mammoth was worth far more than ten silver ingots. “I can make this into a fine carved idol of your god Baal for you, or a statue or some other precious item. I know that this is worth ten times the amount you say woman. Give me a fair price I wish to drink and eat.”

“You foolish brute, I would not think a Northman such as yourself would be capable of carving anything. You don’t even have cloths. But, should you carve this for me and attend to some other vices of mine. I will give you 500 ingots of silver.” Her brown eyes flashed and she licked her lips tussled her hair trying to distract the Cimmerian. “My name is Lilania and I hold power in this city, the next time you call me woman I will cut out your tongue.”

Lilania lead the Cimmerian away through narrow alleys until she arrived at a large mud brick building with white lime wash, and a parapet with a ladder made of sturdy timber fixed to the wall. She quickly climbed the ladder her yellow and red chiton hitched up to the side exposing her thighs and calves. Her top was yellow with red geometric designs and around her neck she wore the symbol of Baal Alaakum the god of the city, two gold disks with a crescent above. The Cimmerian climbed, his loin cloth made of fur and his bundle of skins slung across his back. The crystal dagger in his girdle and large two edge sword made of hardened bronze on his back. He mounted the top of the parapet and saw the woman opening a trap door in the flat roof. “Thieves abound in this city, especially trying to rob me of my trade goods.” Welcome to my home and place of business.

The room was large at least ten paces across. The floor was covered with fine carpets made of wool or flax the Cimmerian could not tell. A fire burned in a spherical hearth made of bronze. All around were metal items, bronze mirrors, silver goblets, copper ingots stacked high in a crate. A bubbling weird black iron cauldron hissed and popped. Her slaves were here too a small Canaanite woman with short cut brown hair and green eyes worked some form loom, a beautiful Galli woman with long braided light brown hair and blue eyes was skilfully painting a vase in swirls, circles and braids of her homeland far to the west, a large black skinned Dogon man, his tribal marking and proud features marked him as a warrior of ten years, he was a long way from the Barbary and was probably the bodyguard of the merchant. The wealth of the merchant was staggering.

Gold and gems adorned the alter of Baal. So much metal the Cimmerians eyes widened at the site of it. “Come Cimmerian I will show you my workshop”

Lilania lead Ivar through to another adjoining smaller room in this room the roof was more open, he could see the sky. A granite forge with bronze tools was arrayed before him, along with many other benches and work-spaces. The woman grabbed wet clay and skilfully fashioned a statue of Baal. Carefully etching in the geometric magical symbols, the priests revered. She carefully and patently showed the Cimmerian every aspect of the statue he was to carve.

“See Cimmerian, like this the symbols must be perfect.” She coughed.

“I understand Lilania, I will carve the idol for you”

Ivar began his work the next day after eating a meal of dried fish, bread and an apple prepared by the young Canaanite slave girl Leeta. He began clearing his work area and selecting tools, so many good fine bronze tools for him to work with. He took his time examining the dry statue and began to find the form within the mammoth tusk.

Ivar had been working for a week now, the statue was lifelike, taking the form of Baal. Lilania had been pleased and been more friendly with Ivar. The Cimmerian learned that she had a Pictish mother and father of mixed blood who had lived for a long time. She herself was over one hundred years old and looked barely thirty. She knew sorcerer and numbers and that was her main trade, as a seer and necromancer she had learned Stygian secrets. He found a charm in her raspy husky voice. The Cimmerian enjoyed the company of the slave girl from Gaul. Her culture had many similarities with his own, but she was far more artful and skilled in painting and drawing. A few times she had helped him with the carving outlining the runes for him. He learned some of the local languages quickly, in the house they mostly spoke Canaanite, but used a few Pictish, Gaelic and Stygian words.

The next week was the slow finishing of the statue, rubies, silver gold and orichalcum were added carefully as inlays. The idol took on a life of its own now, the artwork impersonating the god. Ivar was please and showed Lilania, she viewed it shrewdly carefully examining it and squinting her eyes.

“This is good, who would think a barbarian from the wilds could handle tools with such skill and make such an item as this.” Lilania then took the idol wrapped it up, produced a pouch of some silver ingots. Now, lets see how you fight. I suspect the guards of the merchant that I will sell this too will try to take it. He is a dirty Sygian from far away. If I give this motion, she placed her hand on her forehead you and Enlu will attack his guards. “Do you understand Cimmerian?” she coughed “I understand, my name is Ivar and you know that witch.” His muscled had tensed at the insult, and then she saw that she was playing again, which she did with all the people she met. “I will deal with the merchant” she said, and the servants and his house will be mine. But maybe he will pay the price I asked and we will not need to use your Barbarian skills.

The dust had been kicked up the wind as they walked down the street, the Cimmerian noticed that many of the people of the town shut their doors as the woman walked towards them. They obviously were afraid of the sorcerer. Ivar had seen no evidence of magic or sorcery except the many idles and items she carried. The statue was wrapped in a fine red cloth, of exception weave.

The house they approached was similar to her other houses didn’t have holes in the roof, what made these ones different. As if to answer his question, Lilania explained “Long ago, the town was Pictish and this was the method of construction, we had no laws to govern our behaviour, my fathers father came her and taught them how to forge bronze. The town grew up around us, the house we are going to is another ancient, he came from the east some thousand years ago. The Picts he lived with are all dead, but his descendants remain. He comes from Lemuria, and you will see why he may betray us soon enough. Don’t be afraid Cimmerian, there are far worse than he in this world.”

All three of them climbed the ladder quickly, Lilania kicked the trap door pounding on it with her boot. Ivar saw that she had a obsidian dagger in her belt carved in strange Stygian symbols. Enlu had a two short stone bronze spear and a shield of cow hide and wood on his back. The trap door was opened and they descended into the house, this one had walls covered in crude paintings of aurochs, horses and crocodiles. A fire was burning in a stone hearth. The merchant had five Pictish warriors, their stone spears and hides covered their small broad frames. The Lemurian was strange his yellow skin and long blonde hair and red eyes and tall conical elongated skull gave him a grim appearance. His delicate frame was almost insect like in its movements. He stooped, towering over the Picts though his bones appeared far more delicate, a human of a bygone age. The Cimmerian wondered what things he had seen in his long life, and if he knew that he would meet his fate at the hands of the Canaanite witch. 

“Lilania, I see you have a new guard with you. Did you bring me what I asked for this time, or cheep trinkets?” The Lemurians serpentine tone and soothing voice showed confidence in his position, a mistake because the Cimmerian had already planned to kill the first two Picts, as soon as the signal was given. He was already inching his way subtly forward to swords reach. The sword was on his hip this time.

Lilania revealed the statue, and the Lemurian shrewdly reviewed it, she turned it over in her hands rolling her fingers across it.

“Lilania you have outdone yourself this time, this looks like it may match my specifications however. I must see if it is accepted into the ritual you understand of course.”

She gave a little nod of head, and handed him the statue which he then placed on an alter which had a cloth of a red gold metal. The Cimmerian had never seen such a wonder, how could you make a weave from metal?

He lifted up a strange green bag and affixed a bracelet to his wrist. He spoke magical words and viewed the bracelet light flighted on the bracelet in many colours. A strange voice came out of the bracelet speaking a weird language.

“We have an agreement; the navigator agrees it will serve my purpose. I shall give you 1 ton of black earth from my farms, and the seeds of the future. Plant them and feed the people of Canaan for 10,000 years.”

“We have an agreement Shu, let us drink wine and eat the flesh of birds.”

The two sorcerers drank wine from strange goblets. The Barbarian could see through the walls of the goblet to the liquid within. Never had he seen such a thing. What wonders did these sorcerers have, the strange devices and knowledge.

He had travelled far in all his days, seen the great city of Zar’Grim, Sailed the Aegean, learned of the existence of many metals including the ancient Atlantean metals of Steel and Orichalcum, but the wonders in that ancient Pictish room he dreamed of for many days.