Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Brothers Squamous: Introduction and Key Themes

Once again, politics has reared its ugly head on G+ and the blogosphere. The only antidote, I feel, is for those of us sane ones who remain to Keep Calm and Carry On. To that end, a creative project. (Long term readers of the blog will know how appalling my track record is with this kind of thing. But whatever. Sooner or later one will stick.)

I have a folder on my desktop which is called "Current Projects". It has over a dozen subfolders. One of them is called "Three Green Dragons Dungeon". There is nothing in it except a .txt file called "Basic Idea".. Let's change that: I'm going to create this "Three Green Dragons Dungeon" through posts on the blog, little by little, drawing direct inspiration from this awe-inspiringly wonderful series of posts by Benoist on therpgsite. Now just try and stop me.

What is the "Three Green Dragons Dungeon"? Well, it's a dungeon created by three green dragons, duh. The "Basic Idea" .txt file reads as follows:

Dungeon on an island in the middle of a lake which is itself on an island in the middle of a bigger lake.
Conceit is that three green dragons, all brothers, created a fortress there to house their treasure. 
Guarded by golems they created from wood, earth, mist, dawn light, noon light, evening light.
Then something happened and they went into a deep slumber. Over time new inhabitants moved in. But the golems are still there. And also the dragons.

Looking at this now, I instantly pick up a few broad themes that I would like to explore:

1) The number "three". There is a kind of interesting symmetry between the notion of a dungeon on the island in the middle of a lake which is itself on an island in the middle of a lake, and the notion the dungeon is created by three brothers. (If I wanted to push that symmetry, there I suppose ought to be a dungeon on an island in the middle of a lake, which is on an island in the middle of a bigger lake, which is on an island in the middle of an even bigger lake.)

2) Rings. Islands on lakes on islands on lakes creates visions of concentric circles - at least in my head. This is something to be explored in the architecture of the dungeon. Also, dragons like rings.

3) Family. The dragons are three brothers. I like the idea of them as rivals. But I also wonder if another family member could be involved somewhere - a sister, or their mother?

4) "New inhabitants". I already feel like I know the tonal palette, here. It's Northern Europe; it's old school dragons like Smaug or St George's enemy; it's deep dark forests and brooding fjords and mountains; it's mist and rain; it's Celtic, Nordic and Saxon myth-inflected; it's fairy tales and folklore and bedtime stories - but it all has to be original. No straight lifting, and no orcs, goblins, dwarves or elves (at least as we understand them).

5) The golems. Again, we find echoes of the number three. The golems are made of wood, earth or mist; or of dawn light, noon light and evening light. Maybe each brother has purview over one element from the first of these trios and one from the second? Mist pairs nicely with dawn light, but other connections aren't readily apparent...

6) The nearest town. Why is it that I want it to be ruled by ettercaps? But I do. A silk-spun settlement with an ettercap queen, where human life is tolerated in the interests of trade - and in return for the occasional titbit of fresh, tasty human flesh.


  1. I can see wood connected to noon light, the plant-feeding light of growing things. I can also see a connection between the growing darkness of evening and the blackness of buried earth. Dungeon sounds good so far.

  2. The image of concentric rings of water and land is compelling. There is actually a real island-on-a-lake-in-an-island-on-a-lake-in-an-island-on-a-lake, which I learned about from Boing Boing:

    I wonder if, hidden somewhere along the path to the center, there are three emerald rings (engagement rings?) that somehow improve one's chances when dealing with the dragon brothers?

    1. I like that - definitely something along those lines.

  3. Concentric circles make me think of the cup and ring marks you find in neolithic architecture. I feel like there are a lot of ways you can use those: as set-dressing, as a bunch of symbols which can be deciphered, maybe even as a guide for dungeon layout.

  4. Great stuff! How do you imagine the golems? Like hulking brutes, or more whimsical?

    1. More whimsical definitely. Maybe not even humanoid. I'll probably post about them later.

  5. youre missing the trifecta for the golems as well, maybe something like heart/mind/body? morning/noon/evening light is the heart or spirit. wood/earth/mist as body. something like fire/alcohol/tar for the mind