Unpacking Buzzing About


The world of The Realm has been percolating in my mind for at least the last fifteen years. In that time it’s shaped itself into a mash-up of absurdity I have come to dearly love. It’s going to be a huge joy for me to lead people through this bizarre landscape, and “Buzzing About” was probably the first real step into the world itself. Let’s unpack.

Grandpa’s information

It’s clear Will’s grandfather knows something about the Penny Gnomes, but some of his information is incorrect. Their economy is based on Pennies, certainly, but they actually have a rather robust and diversified industrial base. Their mountain slopes also happen to grow the finest coffee in all The Realm, it’s their major export. Bug wasn’t feigning offense when Will suggested the Penny Gnomes didn’t know how to make coffee. In Great Roll, that’s a terrible insult.

So if the Penny Gnomes can make a whole bunch of stuff, why do they bother going on their “shopping sprees?” Two words, Luxury Items.

Standing Out

Human’s are not welcome in the Penny Gnome’s territory. In fact, the town which serves as their gateway to the wider Realm is called “No Entry.” This will, as you might expect, cause Will some issues.

After the Gnomes on the street get over their initial shock of seeing a human among them, however, they tend to assume someone knows Will’s there. So they just leave it up to the people in charge to sort out. In fact, Gnomes were more freaked out by Will’s admission he’d never had coffee. Coffee is something a gnomeling drinks from they time there are six months old 1.

There’s a funny thing about the gnomish attitude about leaving things to “the people charge. Because no one bothers to report Will to the authorities, the Gnome in charge of seeing outsiders remain outsiders was literally the last Gnome to in Great Roll to hear about Will’s presence.

Apollo’s Coffee

The impulse to name Coffee brands with a mythological bent spans realms. Gnome tastes, however, are a bit unusual. Basil and oregano are great flavors, but don’t seem to me to be natural compliments to coffee. What can I say? Gnomes are weird.

Bug is not known for being a good tipper. It’s part of his dubious “charm.” Sindy usually follows in his wake spreading pennies to make up for her husband’s lack of generosity. He’d probably have been banned from all Apollo’s locations years ago if she didn’t do this.

Mining pennies?

Yup. They pour out of the seams of Penny Ore and are collected in coin separators. This is necessary because sometimes you get a random nickel in the seam and, as every Gnome knows, those things are useless.

Hearing voices

Will can, indeed, hear the narrator 2. This makes for a rather unusual break of the page-wall. He’ll pretty much ignore the narration, except for times when the story requires him to listen up. Special abilities are convenient that way.

Every time I listen to Bug recite the conversation Will has with the narrator I chuckle. The fact he ignores the troublesome implications of Will’s odd behavior in order to focus on coffee makes him a kindred spirit.

  1. Gnome houses have lots of dents in their walls, right about toddler height. 
  2. By the way, the Narrator is not me. 


  1. What a fun breakdown! And of course I’m most curious who the narrator is, especially since he was listening to some not-penny-gnome-friendly music the other day… 😉

    1. wezlo says:

      Heh, well that was actually a joke about the music volume at most Starbucks. There was a lead up to it, but it got cut.

    2. Alas, the perils of editing. 😉

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