S is for Sahasra #AtoZChallenge

SahasraOne of my first professional game-writing jobs was for Dog Soul Publishing, in their Folkloric series. I created the land of Sahasra, an analogue of the India of folklore. I wrote the setting book, Sahasra: Land of 1,000 Cities, following it with an adventure, Sahasra: The Spirit in the Spice Groves, and a book for incorporating religion into the campaign, The Books of Faith: Hinduism.

The books were beautifully produced, with gorgeous graphics and maps. I purposely didn’t link to them here, because I was only paid for the first book. I’ve never received payment for the others to which I was entitled, and, as far as I know, royalties are still going to Dog Soul’s owners. You can see the books at DriveThruRPG, if you’re so inclined.

I’ve heard countless stories of game writers not getting paid, and it’s not a happy experience. I may see if I can get the rights for Sahasra reverted to me. It’s a fun and exciting setting, and I’d love to actually be able to do something else with it. We’ll see.

Here’s a bit from the overview of the setting book:

Sahasra, the Land of 1000 Cities is an exotic region of urban settlements interspersed with wild forests. The land mass juts out into the ocean and is roughly equivalent to India—the India of ancient folktale, legend and sacred text. Rich cities are ruled by kings and their beautiful queens.  Dark terrors lurk in the forests and burial grounds. Fabulous artifacts await the adventurer clever enough to find them.

Although the tales about King Vikramaditya and the variously-named vetala (goblin, genie and vampire are a few of the translations of the word) were first written down about 1070 AD, they were passed down as oral tradition for over a thousand years. The settings of these stories exist without historical context, however, and easily fit into any fantasy campaign. The focus is primarily on city dwellers who travel between urban areas by land or, less frequently, by sea—and even once by air in a magical flying chariot. Their concerns are universal—love, wealth, power, spiritual enlightenment—but from the perspective of rulers, counselors and merchants, rarely that of the villager or farmer.

The inhabitants of Sahasra are passionate people, given to impulsive actions. King Vikrama makes a promise to a stranger that nearly costs him his life, merely on the basis of the stranger’s rich gift. A young prince falls desperately in love with a woman at first sight and vows to marry her, even when she tries to poison his best friend. Another love-sick prince cuts off his own head as an offering to the gods because he had promised to do so if she became his bride; fortunately her prayers restore him to life.

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On the tops of haystacks

On July 25, 1850, at Rajkote, India, according to All the Year Round, 8-255, after one of the heaviest rainfalls on record, the ground was found “literally covered with fishes.” Apparently some of the fish were found on “the tops of haystacks.”

–Charles Fort, The Book of the Damned, p. 87 (The Complete Books of Charles Fort, Dover, c1974).

Not only in playhouses

“It is not only in playhouses that there are theatrical performances,” Fort observes in connection with the events surrounding the June 12, 1897 earthquake in Assam. The Englishman (Calcutta), July 14 and 21, 1897, reported that six days before and one day before the quake, a green moon was observed in Assam. The day before, torrents of rain fell suddenly from the sky, as had never been seen before, from a clear sky. According to the Allahabad Pioneer of June 23, 1897, there had been a drought previously. Following the quake, dust fell from the sky near Calcutta on June 25 (The Englishman, July 3). Mud fell at Thurgrain (Midnapur) on the 27th, and in the Jessore District of Bengal on a cloudless night on June 29, according to Madras Mail, July 8. Further falls of dust that lent a perpetual haze to the horizon occurred five days later at Ghattal, while mud fell again around July 1 at Hetamphore (Beerbhoom).

–Charles Fort, Lo!, p. 768ff (The Complete Books of Charles Fort, Dover, c1974).

The weather was semi-stormy

A report in L'Astronomie, 1886-310, tells of a resident of Pondicherry, Madras, India, who, on June 13, 1885, was sitting in a closed room when a mist appeared near him. At the same time there was a violent explosion. The reporter explained it as “at the time the weather was semi-stormy, and…an hour later rain fell heavily.”

–Charles Fort, Wild Talents, p. 945-946 (The Complete Books of Charles Fort, Dover, c1974).

Some peculiar tension in the cooling

A pyramidal stone fell at Segowolee, India, on March 6, 1853.

–Charles Fort, The Book of the Damned, p. 123 (The Complete Books of Charles Fort, Dover, c1974).