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  • Writer's pictureZoe Franznick

Episode 16: The Wonders of the East, Pt. 3

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

We're concluding our guest series with Mary Osborne of BookSquadGoals this episode with our final ratings and thoughts! While we ordinarily put these in their own Master Lists (and you can still find them there,) we've also added them here with other conclusions and some tips from the Leech's Corner.

First up is our collection of D&D or other TTRPG ideas! The Wonders of the East really does suit any game you might want to create, from high-fantasy to sci-fi or anywhere in between. Here are some of the ideas we came up with for you to use as you will.

Pepper Snakes: The pepper-guarding corsias are a perfect addition to any game. Perhaps your players roll into a gold-rush style town on the outskirts of a desert, desperate for a bit of coin. A local chef might contract them for a pepper-harvest heist - whether or not they know about the snakes is up to you.

Whispers in the Dark: The Donestre are great for any travel encounter, night watch, or any time you split the party. Soothsaying monsters who can speak every language, the Donestre can lure party members into a trap or combat, since they can mimic the voices of friends. Can your players pass the Wisdom check to recognize the voice?

Flaming Chickens: The red hens of Lentibelsinea make an interesting set dressing. Use these combustable chickens as a quirk of a certain town, complete with "Do Not Pet" signs. Allow players to harvest wings, glands, or other parts for their weapons, or perhaps the town sells unusual fire-related items found nowhere else.

The Dragon King: As an alternative to Tiamat, consider utilizing a dragon rat-king as a high-level enemy! How did the dragons become entangled, and for how long? How deep is their collective madness? Best used when your players are less familiar with the concept of a "rat-king."

Sweating Blood: why not make this strange quirk playable? If a character gets particularly nervous for frightened, have them roll a save. If they fail, their racial ability kicks in and they start sweating blood. Bonus points if it's a curse or pertains to backstory!

The Snake Guy: He's not selling snake-oil, he just really likes snakes. Like, really likes them. Maybe he needs an escort to a location known for its snakes, or perhaps he's researching antidotes to snake venom (or something more sinister). Either way, here's an NPC who just really, really likes snakes.

Next, we're sitting down at the kitchen table to look at a few of the things you might find around the "East" from this text.

Pepper: apparently guarded by snakes, these peppercorns are black because the locals burn the plants in order to flush the snakes out to harvest the pepper.

Cinnamon: Reportedly, the phonenix utilized this fragrant spice to create its nest.

Raw Flesh and Honey: A delicacy to the Cetini, we aren't sure what sort of raw meat they were eating with their honey, but we're hoping it's not human.

Human Flesh: There are a variety of peoples who dine on human flesh in "The Wonders of the East," including the Hostes (meaning "enemies" in Latin) and the Donestre, who have the appearance of "soothsayers."

Gemstone Berries: There are a few plants which have the propensity to grow gems, but our favourite are the berries 10-feet across which are filled with organically grown gemstones.

Our next stop is the Dungeon Master's Dictonary to catalogue a few of our new terms you can use in your home games.

Stadia: Depending on whether you're using the original Greek, the Latinized version, or the Anglicized version, the singular form of "stadia" could be "stadion," "stadium," or "stade." This unit of measurement varies greatly and is inconsistent even within single texts, which makes it a perfect unit to use in your game as needed. Use it as a foreign word to add some world building, or establish a conversion such as one stadia is three day's travel, or fifty miles.

Sigelhearwan: Tolkien's reconstructed Old English term for "sun-people," this term originally referred to Ethiopians, but can be used for any race or culture you like as your world building needs.

Gársecg: The Old English word for "sea," this term is actually a kenning literally meaning "spear-man." We're not sure from where the kenning came or to what it refers, but it should inspire some fascinating terminology for sailors!

Finally, let's cover a few lessons from our text with Street Smarts:

Do Not Pet: If you ever come across an animal you're unfamiliar with, don't touch it. Even if it looks fairly tame or domesticated, you never know - it could be a combustable chicken.

Assume It's a People: When coming into contact with a culture or group you've never met before, go ahead and take a tolerant route - assume it's a people! Whether long eared, furred, or two-nosed, celebrate differences in all folk!

Finally, in our Leech's Corner, we've revisited the Old English "Against a Dwarf/Wen" cure. There is a surprising amount of literature on this specific cure, with some fantastic science. Each study goes a different direction as to whether this cure works, so we leave the conclusion-making to you!

  • Brennessel, Barbara, et al. “A Reassessment of the Efficacy of Anglo-Saxon Medicine.” Anglo-Saxon England, vol. 34, 2005, pp. 183–195. Link.

  • Harrison, Freya, et al. A 1,000-Year-Old Antimicrobial Remedy with Antistaphylococcal Activity. mBio. Link.

As an added note, here is a great read on how old cures can become defunct due to modern science. This article covers the cure against scurvey over time, and is a fascinating read.

We've really enjoyed this text and loving having Mary join us for this adventure! If you are looking for her other work, please do check out BookSquadGoals to support her podcast. You can also find her work on Looper and SVG.

Final Rating: 9.5

Thanks for joining us in this week's episode of The Maniculum Podcast. Looking for more? Check out our Master List series for the full collection of segments at the end of our show, and for more gaming and world building ideas, check out The Gaming Table section of our blog, Marginalia!

Searching for our sources? Look at The Wonders of the East manuscript here, and check out our Library for more! The Nowell Codex can also be seen in full here, and the Cotton Tiberius B V manuscript is available here. Here's a look at the Unicorn Cookbook Mac mentioned, for those interested!

Additional references for interested scholars:

  • Raging Swan Press, resources for DMs. Link.

  • Drieshen, Clarck. "The Trees of the Sun and the Moon." Medieval Manuscripts Blog. British Library, 31 January 2020. Link.

We do our best to accurately research, source, and cite the works we use, and make them available to you, too! Each episode has a corresponding blog post which includes further breakdowns of the big ideas in each text as well as cites our sources and references. We also have the Maniculum Library, which actively collects resources and recommendations for writers, scholars, and geeks alike! We update our collection of Master Lists after each new episode, so be sure subscribe and stay updated!

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