Unpacking Passing Customs

We’re about to step out into the wider Realm and see what’s going on beyond the shelter of the Fifty Peaks Mountains. First, however, Will had to get out of the Gnomes’ territory. Let’s unpack.

The Train Ride

Will’s vantage point of the train ride describes most of territory claimed by the Penny Gnomes. They live in secluded mountain valleys, and travel between their settlements through and under the mountains. Here and there some non-gnomes exist in hidden settlements, but they are mostly left alone as long as they don’t make themselves noticed. The largest of the Gnomish settlements is Great Roll, where the majority of Penny Gnomes actually live, but there are some other large towns in the mountains.

No Entry was originally a guard post but, as often happens around a permanent government post, a town grew up around it. Despite it’s ominous sounding name, No Entry is cosmopolitan as far as the gnomes are concerned. It’s the closest thing they have to a port, and from their well-guarded shipping lots goods from around The Realm enter into their lands — and Penny Ore travels in the opposite direction. There is even a section of the city which is considered “neutral” territory, and in it you can find every race of The Realm represented in a stable community 1. Travel to and from this section of town is somewhat limited, but it serves as a transportation hub for No Entry and surrounding areas. This is the section passed into by Will and his companions after they moved through customs.

What’s with Narrative?

So we’ve heard about The Narrator and Narrativism, but the idea of “Narrative” itself hasn’t made much of an appearance. This now changes.

“Narrative” is interpreted by many in The Realm as “the will of The Narrator.” It’s the structure of the plots which form Realmian’s lives — a structure through which most Narrativists believe the creative energy of our world is brought into being. Bug is not much of a Narrativist himself, nor is Nobody 2, but Sindy and and Sills are both devout believers. Sills is, in fact, a recent convert.

While the willingness to accept narrative convention in this scene may make it seem as though the average Realmian is devoutly Narrativist, this hasn’t always been the case. As with many times of strife and upheaval in our world, the people of The Realm have turned to an active Narrativism as a way to express their own grief and uncertainty. Were the war to end tomorrow, no doubt many of these Realmians would happily return to a life of unstructured narration 3, but some have had genuine awakenings of narrative awareness. For her part, Sills is a genuinely awakened Gnome. She witnessed the front lines, and survived the seige of Boarsblemish. It’s made her aware of Narrative’s power in The Realm.

Sadly, as with all religious revivals, many of the recently awakened have gotten a bit confused in their enthusiasm. While it is good narrative for a special agent to through her weight around in front of local officials, actually cheering because said agent has screwed up your day kinda of misses the point 4.

Will’s special role

Will is a true free radical. The Realm’s Narrative does not govern him. He can, therefor, overturn entrenched behaviors and spark The Realm with genuinely new ideas — against which the Hoard Copyright Lawyers will have no defense. Will can be shoved around by Narrative, as exemplified in the way the train’s sudden halt landed him in Sills’ lap, but he can resist.

Interestingly, it’s the voice of the Narrator which is helping him do just that.


  1. Even elves. 
  2. He acknowledges the existence of The Narrator, but his personal belief is in the “will to imagination,” whatever that is. 
  3. And Bug would probably smack them all with a stick. 
  4. Though this is a satire, so perhaps not. 
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