Hi! Your Unfriendly Neighbourhood Dungeon Master Kyle Scott here, with the first in a series of posts explaining some of the lore in Caverns and Comedians that didn’t make it into the released episodes. Usually this is because the party think (wrongly) that they are the stars of the show, rather than my detailed world-building. We all know that it is backstory, not story, that makes fantasy fiction interesting. So these posts will give you a taste of the world as it will appear in either a previous or future episode, spoiler-free, of course. Also, these posts have what Douglas Adams would say is, “much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate.” Such are the whims afforded to a Master of Dungeons.
Now, the accents…
The city of Tudot is cosmopolitan and multicultural. A magnet for immigration, especially under previous, more progressive governments, Tudot is home to people of every race and culture possible, living side by side and blending in unexpected and surprising ways. Rock gnomes and High Elves, Lightfoot Halflings and even demonic Tieflings, everyone finds a home in Tudot.
Lacking a racial majority, but still the leading minority, are the humans. The city as it stands today was built on the ruins of a previous society, lost to the sands of time. But a group of hardy humans from the Imperial heartland to the East built anew. For centuries, Tudot had a reputation of being a bastion of Imperial patriotism as well as being impeccably clean, if a little puritanical.
Great social upheavals throughout the Empire in the last 200 years has led to great migrations of people, from which Tudot has benefited greatly. The small folk, gnomes and halflings, fled invasion and genocide, finding safety and prosperity on the outskirts of the stonework spires. Elves and dwarves brought goods and learning, beckoning people from all corners of the Empire.
Which brings us to language as spoken in Tudot. It’s a bit of a mess. The Human tongue as spoken in the Empire is so pervasive as to be called Common. But in Tudot there are dozens of languages people would call their native tongue, and most know two or three more. Within those language groups there are numerous regional dialects that rush headlong into one another. A native Tudonian may appear to have a flat accent with big “R’s” and a slight drawl, more recent immigrants bring the sounds of their homelands with them, such as the tundra-touched growl of a Stokys or the rolling rumble of wherever it is the Wimble clan of gnomes hails from.
None of that explains the so-called “South Taronian” lilt of Finnick Fleetfoot. If one were to reside in a small, frontier town, perhaps once or twice a year the travelling caravans could roll on through. And should your village be graced with the presence of the Fleetfoot caravan, led by “Da” (no other names recorded). A good caravan master is a great showman, and the patter of a born charla- er, salesman, like Da is what puts food on the barrel-lids for his family. Is his accent an affectation, drawn as it seemingly is from every corner of the globe, a way to disorient potential rubes? Or is there really a pocket of the tiny Halfling enclave known as Taronia large enough referred to as the “South” yet too small to appear on any maps.
Finnick’s accent itself seems to have settled down into a specific mode, but is that just a sign that he’s telling no lies, or one big one? An accent tells a story, about where one has been, and where they are. Who they have been and who they want to be. Accents tell stories, if you’re listening.
The Imperial Association is the premier professional Mage Hand Ball league on the continent, featuring eight teams from all the largest cities. The league plays a 120 game season, with the top four teams advancing to the playoffs and eventually the Imperial Series for the legendary Emperor’s Cup.
By longtime tradition, the 8-person roster is set at the beginning of the year, and changes to it can only be made under certain circumstances. Injuries are considered to be an inherent danger of the game, and so a team may not replace an injured player on the roster. Illness, not being a typical result of play, is excusable, as is death. A team unable to field four players because of accumulated injuries is eliminated from playoff contention, though they may continue on for exhibition purposes (and to keep those gate receipts coming in!)
The current season has been a barnstormer, with the rebranding of the Massacara Mutuals as the Maimers, and their rampage through the ranks, and rosters of other teams. The Tudot Perpetuals are thus on the brink of qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in over 130 years!
What follows is a list of the teams, their colours and win-loss record for the current season, with only make-up games left to play:
Massacara Maimers- Green and Brown- 89-33
Otavia Owlbears- Grey and White- 87-36
Cornerbottom Cockatrices- Red and White- 75-44
Tudot Perpetuals- Blue and White- 29-91
Kingshill Krakens- Pink and Black- 29-91
Capitol Clappers- Orange and Brown- DNQ
Hogsbridge Guardians- Red and Blue- DNQ
Reginalby Bullywugs- Yellow and Purple- DNQ
It’s that time of year, when impoverished shop clerks and starving day labourers begin to feel that overbearing sense of shame for being unable to buy expensive flowers or extravagant dinners: Valentine’s Day. At least on Earth. In the land of Caverns and Comedians, it’s still late summer (those murder hobos take half an episode just to walk up some goddamn stairs!) and there’s no such thing as Valentine’s Day. Instead, there is a midwinter festival called Sunetalia, in honour of the love goddess Sune.
While official government observances focus on the family and “traditional values”, for many of the peoples of Tudot, it’s seven straight days of dancing, drinking and bad decisions. An old saying in Tudot goes, “what happens at Sunetalia is forgotten the next day, and regretted forever.” Apothecaries do robust business in ointments in the weeks following.
Premarital sex is officially frowned upon, but widely practiced. In a world where magic potions can be had for just about any purpose, unwanted pregnancies exist mainly for plot purposes. And in a world where various species live side by side, it is quite frequent for them to sleep side by side, as well.
Humans have a reputation for being fairly indiscriminate in their choices of lovers. There are half elves and even half orcs in relative abundance, and most of the darker rumours about orc raids are untrue. Many a human will bed down with the right orc. Sometimes you just wanna be the little spoon, ok?
Since an elven lifetime can span centuries, lifelong monogamy is rare. They seek partnerships for extended periods, but view sex as a fun diversion, like racquetball. And will sometimes combine the two.
What dwarves do in the night is universally considered disgusting and is not talked about in polite society. Two words: moist beards.
Halflings generally face discrimination because of their size, and as such are eager to prove themselves. That this makes them unselfish lovers is seen as a great boon to the tallfolk. It is also seen as being advantageous to continue to deride the halflings so as to keep them hungry.
Gnomes are faced with the prospect of cultural extinction after the loss of much of the Gnomish Kingdoms. Their sheer will to survive expresses itself biologically. And gnomes are known to express themselves wherever and whenever possible. Stories are told amongst the more sophisticated Tudot perverts of the marathon gnome bacchanals. Fook Wimbles is perhaps an extreme example, but he’s definitely on a spectrum.
There are no reliable records of any Tieflings engaging in the physical act of love within The city limits of Tudot or any of its environs. Ever.
One could go on, but then when would one have the time for a post-coital cigarette whilst reclining ‘neath the L-shaped sheets one shares with one’s lover(s)? Suffice to say that the peoples of Tudot are living their lives as they see fit. With whomever they fit into.
The introductory paragraph of Volo’s Guide’s section on Orcs reads:
To feel the thunder of orcish war drums outside the gateand to hear a chorus of voices growling, “Gruumsh!"is the nightmare of every civilized place in the world. For no matter how thick its walls, skilled its archers, or brave its knights, few settlements have ever withstood a full-scale onslaught of orcs.
Is this truth, or Imperialism? How often have conquering peoples described their victims with phrases like “savage”, “barbarian” or “monster”? History is written by the victors and survivors. Success in battle becomes glorious triumph over mighty foes, while failures become massacres, exercises in horror. “Our forces have taken the city, subduing a hostile enemy population.” “Their forces have pillaged the city, massacring the defenceless inhabitants.”
I have no intention to rehash the myth of the Noble Orc, a fictional figure that depersonalizes via its dishonest perfection. The culture of Orcs is as varied as that of Men or Mer, filled with heroes and villains in equal measure to ourselves. Conflict between Orcs and Men have appeared in historical records stretching back before the period of reliable history. The repeated cycle of encroachment, conquest, reprisal and ethnic cleansing is found everywhere. For every human village or halfling caravan set to fire, there are a ring of orc tents ground into the dirt by the hooves of marauding knights.
And how do the Orcs fare in this time of Pax Imperialis? The existence of Orc ghettos on the outskirts of most Imperial cities attests to the difficulty of integration. In Tudot, far from the Orc homelands to the East, there is little but the Emerald Arms to provide a haven for the Green Ones in the city. A disused stable for City maintenance wagons, its proprietor, Ribs Mizell, once served in the Imperial army, winning medals for valour in the Yuan-Ti Incursion. He single-handedly saved a halfling orphanage from being eaten by giant snakes, after finding their supposed protectors had fled. He is known for running a peaceful, if humble establishment. The guests must make do with piles of hay for beds, few respectable breweries will deliver their goods, and there was much local opposition to its establishment. However, over a decade of community-minded operations has made it a respected landmark, even if few respectable citizens will dare to step foot inside.
It is efforts like this, or the dramatic rise of the Massacara Maimers to Imperial Association Mage Hand Ball glory, that have done much to normalize relations between Orcs and those that have conquered them. With the building of a fragile trust underway, must reconciliation be such an unthinkable dream? Must the drums of war forever echo in our nightmares? Perhaps not, perhaps not.
Whether watching a game at Taberhill Grounds, strolling through the Market District or stumbling home drunk in the Scarred Borough, there are a variety of local delights to choose from. Perhaps you’re looking for a swig of teatwater, made from the runoff of the city’s cheese makers. It’s frequently flavoured with an assortment of herbs, spices or just about anything that might mask the taste.
Those suffering from both a rumble in their tumble and a curse on their purse might scrounge up the tin for a Heat Pie. A simple dish, it consists of a a week old pie crust heated over a fire, and eaten without any filling. Costing three for a copper, it provides sustenance for the city’s poorest and/or dumbest residents. The crust is generally served hot enough that it burns the mouth, making the consumption of further vittles impossible for reasons other than finance.
But the jewel in the culinary crown of Tudot has to be their famous Beef Mittens. Invented following the quashing of the Great Baker Rebellion, the Beef Mitten was a solution to the lack of buns for the people’s beloved hot beef sandwiches. Local sandwich artisan Felt Grossfingers hit upon the idea when he forgot his tongs one morning, leaving him no way to handle the beef shavings that were his specialty. Undaunted, he reasoned that the coating of grease semi-permanently covering his hands would protect him. He packed the shavings around his greasy nosepickers, creating a veritable mitten of beef. The idea was a disaster. His hand was so badly burned it had to be amputated. However, its replacement, an armoured gauntlet fared better as a cooking utensil.
Felt secured a vending contract at Taberhill grounds, entertaining customers by dipping his beef-encased gauntlet into the fire and reenacting his fateful experiment and screaming his head off in jest. When the beef is cooked, a mechanism in his gauntlet causes the joints to collapse and the beef to be easily removed in a single peace. A little cooling and a lot of gravy later, a delicious, messy and wearable snack can be yours for five coppers!
Sure, the elite epicureans may turn up their nose at humble street food, but there’s little like the taste of a dripping beef mitten paired with a lukewarm teatwater. And thankfully there’s little else in the world like the consequences, which is oddly resistant to all known Cure Poison or Cure Disease spells.