Monday, February 27, 2012

All There In Black & White

"Just a moment, Burridge.  Allow me to finish digesting the Gazette.  It's half-past-nine on a Sunday, and I'm certain that whatever that lich at the door wants, he's not a barbarian."

By dint of being a melting-pot, Wampus Country favors a common tongue based on certain well-known Western Kingdom languages, with assorted loan-words.  Nearly everyone in the Wampus Country can communicate with one another via this tongue, and it is only recent immigrants who maintain much fluency in other languages of the Kingdoms.  Some residents have a passing facility with the tongues of the sub-men, or the Old Tongue language of the fairies and stone-dwarfs, but this is less common.

All PCs in Wampus Country are assumed to be fluent in Common, and at least semi-literate.  Literacy rates throughout the region are surprisingly high; this is in part because of the value placed on self-education (the self-made man of Wampus Country must be tough, to be sure, but being able to read books and newspapers is very valuable as well).  The truly well-educated - including most sorcerors and priests - may be fluent and literate in several languages, including those of holy scriptures and moribund civilizations.

The Golden Bugle began as a one-woman operation, the dream of  young Cecilia Popper.  Since her untimely death at the hooves of a herd of fire caribou, several investors jointly run the newspaper.

Printing-presses of varying cost and complexity are spread throughout the region.  A number of periodicals are currently in print in parts of Wampus Country.  Of particular note are the newspapers found in River-Town (two dailies and a weekly) and Thistlemarch (The 'Golden Bugle' is printed twice a week).  Print shops will eagerly take coin to produce a run of posters or notices, and can print and bind books as well, albeit at greater expense.  Short works of fiction and poetry are generally printed on cheap pulp stock and sold for a dime or quarter, depending on the length of the work and the fame of its author; save the cover, these volumes are typically not illustrated.

There has, of late, been a rise in popularity of large-format periodicals printed with many illustrations.  Some of these are "gentlemen's magazines" which include articles on firearms and hunting, frontier life, tales of discovery and adventure, and practical matters, combining this with short fiction, illustrated in black-and-white or sometimes color.  Agricultural magazines are also strong sellers.  These periodicals are sold at around eighty or ninety cents, the printing costs defrayed by the copious advertising within the magazine (often half the pages are adverts).

Popular periodicals include:
The Golden Bugle (twice weekly newspaper, Thistlemarch, b&w, 5 cents.  Fairly straightforward small-town newspaper)
River-Town Gazette (upscale daily newspaper, River-Town, b&w with some four-color on front page, 15 cents.  Covers headlines, but best-known for its society page and racing results.)
Morning Herald (daily newspaper, River-Town, b&w, 5 cents.  Has politically-outspoken editorial page which often skewers public figures with cartoons.)
Johnson's Weekly (weekly newspaper, River-Town, b&w, 10 cents.  Reputation as a gossip rag; nevertheless, popular outside River-Town as well, as its lascivious articles contain entertainment value long after the date on the byline.  Good recipe content.)
True Adventure Tales (magazine, partial color, 80 cents.  The truth of many of these tales is subject to debate, but most of them seem at least grounded in reality.)
The Free Farmer (magazine, b&w, 80 cents  Agricultural content, primarily.  The Free Farmer also prints an annual almanac.)
Frontier Living For Independent Gentlemen (magazine, color, 95 cents.  Combines frontier-skills content ("How To Skin & Roast An Owlbear") with entertaining articles and fiction, as well as the latest catalog-page adverts from major manufacturers.)

"That's plum interestin'.  Says here I have syphilis."


  1. Are there the equivalent of "dime novels" or early pulp magazines in Wampus Country? Perhaps that's what Adventure Tales is like?

  2. Yep - I mention dime novels in the post (para below the printing press), and alluded to it in an earlier post ("Thunderbolt Black and the Insatiable She-Demon of Snollygoster Swamp", I think it was). :)

  3. "Lost, by the subscriber, one very fine rifle gun. It has brass funriture and a sugar maple stock made fairly dark with aqua fortis. Also, cursed by the Hetman of a fierce Lizard Man tribe. Reward if returned."