Mythical beasts and places of Stoke-on-Trent:

Mythical beasts and places of Stoke-on-Trent:

An unofficial expansion for The Midderlands RPG. Which runs on Swords & Wizardry Complete, now free as the S&W Revised PDF.

Update: revised slightly to be in line with the “Stoke Pottington” section of the second book for the Midderlands, which I’ve now seen.

Turnstool Market at Turst | Tunstall Market. (Akin to Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. This is where Josiah Hedgewood sells his magic-focussing pots).

Broodwell Woods | Bradwell Woods. (A dark place of brooding and grumpy ghosts).

Trent Thumb Gurndens | Trentham Gardens. (A weird garden of Thumbelina Hall, full of plants with gurning faces, and leaves like hands with deformed thumbs. Lady Thumbelina despises Josiah Hedgewood for taking the peasants off their ‘rightful place’ on the land and giving them indoor work at good wages).

Eat Rear | Etruria. (A very strange ‘greasy cafe’ in a small wood, run by gnomes who escaped into the wild from the gardens at Josiah Hedgewood’s mansion. These gnomes were originally small prototype Clay Golems, made that way because Mrs. Hedgewood wanted garden gnomes as workers in the garden).

Bastard Bank | Basford Bank (A steep place, impossible to climb up. Used for new-recruit training practice by the Clay Guard).

The Lemmy of Borslemy | (A fearsome shrieking beast, believed to be extinct… but its voice can still be heard on dark nights…)

The Poorlands | The Moorlands. (Full of ragged folk, vicious thistles, and emaciated ponies in need of rescue).

Snootcastle-under-Rhyme | Newcastle-under-Lyme. (Full of snooty folk who fancy themselves as poets. They often have ‘poetry-duels’ with each other, wounding each other with terribly bad poetry).

Honeylee or known officially as Hanelet | Hanley. (A blissful utopia, where no-one ever works and yet wine and honey perpetually flows from the golden bottle-ovens).

Meow Cop | Mow Cop. (Strange hilltop castle ruin which serves as a cat-rescue home and also a residence for old cat-ladies. Not all the moggies are what they appear to be…).

Bear Town | Congleton. (Notorious for having sold the town’s library to buy a dancing bear. The bear was later elected to be Mayor).

Hairthistle | Harecastle. (Triffid-like walking plants found between Turnstool Market and the Broodwell Woods, that will sneak up on walkers and give them a nasty nip while plucking out some body-hair. At night they all retire into the Hairthistle Tunnel).

Kidsgrubs of Kidsgroove | Kidsgrove. (A nasty-looking insect of the district, bright green and poisonous to adults but edible to certain ‘groovy’ musical children who inhabit Kidsgroove. The grub sometimes conveys temporary magical powers when eaten, usually powers relating to ‘musical magic’…).

Burt365 | Bet365. (A team of young wizards who will deliver Burt anywhere, 365 days a year. Burt is not too happy about this, and would rather be up on his allotment).

The Up Handee Duck | (Tame ducks that can be trained to work as not very skilled, but very cheap, handymen on the river. Good at repairing the underside of Josiah Hedgewood’s boats, but not much else).

Burrs Loom at Borslemy | Burslem. (A gigantic and dark hilltop barn, where spindles packed with horrid plant-burrs from the barren Poorlands are used to run monstrous spider-silk looms).

Owlcake | Oatcake. (A surprisingly tasty flat pancake made from owl droppings. First, catch your owl…).

Owt-cake | Oatcake. (Not to be confused with the Owlcake. Made from ‘owt, and is thus invisible).

The Potty Loo Line | The Potteries Loop Line. (Travelling toilets on primitive rails. For the use of the Clay Guard only. Other folk have great difficulty grasping this new concept of the ‘rails-away’).

Wool Standing | Wolstanton. (A town of talking but rather woolly-minded sheep. They walk upright like men, and demand to be treated as such).

The Wedgeweird | Wedgwood. (A silent clay-covered golem, tattooed all over in blue-and-white patterns that resemble bird-droppings. Unconnected with the Clay Golems, but akin to a natural/supernatural wild Clay Golem, and as such cannot be given commands).

The Surly Knell | The Sentinel. (The doom-laden local town-crier, full of dire news of crime and grime).

Creel | Keele. (A small and very insular community of creel basket-makers. World experts on basket-making, but utterly clueless about anything else).

Stuck | Stoke. (A small pottery town, part of Stoke Pottington but so small and obscure it went un-noticed by the chroniclers. So full of sticky wet clay that the inhabitants can’t drag themselves out of it).

Wetport and Longspurt | Westport and Longport. (Has a certain reputation, locally, for its ‘amorous’ ladies who are always eager to ‘serve’ the Clay Guard. The name ‘port’ was originally given because it’s where Josiah Hedgewood stores his wares in warehouses, for sending down the water to the Great City of Lunden).

Bull-Terror | Staffordshire Bull Terrier. (A bull-size wild dog with luminous green eyes, scary but harmless unless provoked).


14th century English ‘face’ jug.

A “face jug” produced by English potters in the 14th century. Apparently once widespread in England, and presumably a direct precursor of the ‘Toby’ jugs.

In northern mists

Free on, In northern mists: Arctic exploration in early times (1911) Vol. 1, and Vol 2. It’s a deep history of the discovery of the high northern lands, with plenty of well-scanned hand-drawn maps. “Early” here means from the Greeks to the discovery of North America.

A new one-sheet map will help readers of such books orient themselves, although it doesn’t cover the integral area that lies a little further east — where Finnish culture leaps the dividing channel of water and shades down into the lake-country of what is now Lithuania.

Tea for too

A nice idea for an exhibition, albeit down in at the other end of the West Midlands in Warwickshire. I wonder if something similar could be done for Stoke’s ceramics, showing the journey of the clay up from Cornwall and the same for all the other elements, glazes and components that go to make a humble pot in 2020?

Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath

Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath. No, not a reference to an especially rough Sunday in Stoke-on-Trent. It’s a Kickstarter for a horror-story anthology revolving around the Birmingham heavy rock band Black Sabbath. I hesitate to inflict a Kickstarter on readers, but it seems a worthy and novel idea, and it appears to be struggling a bit with just six days to go.

It also segways neatly into news that Home of Metal: Black Sabbath – 50 Years is a major retrospective exhibition set to open in Birmingham, on 26th June and it will then run through to 29th September 2019.