Saturday, December 31, 2011

Points of Darkness

Last night I was getting ready to create this post, when I thought I'd google "Points of Darnkess" to see who else had considered the idea. Not surprisingly, I'm not the first. Here's a recent post from Untimately: Points of Darkness.

The idea behind Points of Darkness is that the world basically feels mundane. The Sun rises in the morning, things fall when you drop them, and the world is heavily populated compared to say, Middle-earth. Rather than its inspired namesake, Points of Light, where isolated pockets of "light" (civilization) are scattered amidst vast wastelands populated by monsters, Points of Darkness are areas located just on the fringe of normalcy. They are the stuff of horror. A "point of darkness" could be cobweb infested basement, a mausoleum in a graveyard at the edge of town, or the last cottage on the left. It could be any one of the crumbling ruins dotting the hilltops which overlook the fertile valley where life is pleasant and trade is swift. It could be just a mile or two from town at the bottom of plain looking well, beside which lingers a curious looking old woman.

Calabria is primarily a "Points of Darkness" setting. Life in the Merchant's Republic more closely resembles Tolkien's Shire than it does some blasted wasteland with marauding orcs seeking the next village to plunder.  The vast majority of people have never seen an orc, giant, dragon, or other typical "monster", nor have they seen elves, dwarves, or any other non-human. Trade routes are dependable, travel is safe for the most part, and war is uncommon.

Yet the masses do not doubt that these unseen things exist. Nearly every abandoned building is believed to be "haunted." Folk magic is routine, with potions, charms, protections and the like relied on on a daily basis.

The dead do not stay so easily in their graves. The Bogeyman really is in the closet or under the bed. And Goblins want to steal your child.


  1. Hey, thanks for the shout-out. I would be very interested to see how this works out with a fantasy or pseudo-medieval setting, as most of the examples I have seen of "points of darkness" seem to be modern.

    Word verification: lutgrack (a goblin fortress).

  2. My fantasy setting is very "civilized". The thing to remember is that until recently, people thought that werewolves, vampires, goblins and giants were actually real. My setting more closely emulates folktales where the weirdness is something you have to travel to, rather than something that over runs your town.

    Harrow Parris is a good example. Harrow Keep is the most obvious "point of darkness" on the map, but there are things lurking in and beneath the lake as well.