SIM: The Blighted Lands

13 Mar

Background for a later book …

The Blighted Lands

Unlike the Allied Lands, the Blighted Lands have no formal existence.  The necromancers who rule the lands wage war on each other with a terrifying frequency, to the point that borders – insofar as they exist at all – shift so rapidly that it is different to parse out the true size of any single necromancer’s domains.  The landscape itself is mutable, depending on how much wild and/or tainted magic runs through the ground.  It is a dangerous region to visit even if one should not encounter a necromancer or his servants.  A person caught in a storm of magic might end up wishing he was dead.

The history of the Blighted Lands is not, in broad strokes at least, in dispute.  Prior to the Faerie Wars, the Blighted Lands were part of the Empire.  The names of long-gone kingdoms and city-states might have been forgotten over the years, but they existed.  The wars, however, smashed the pre-war order beyond repair.  The combination of wild magic, enemy intrusions and – eventually – the necromancers was simply too much to handle.  The lucky ones managed to flee.  The unlucky ones were killed, sacrificed or simply enslaved. 

Despite their shifting nature, certain things are beyond dispute.  The high-magic zones within the Blighted Lands, particularly the ones that play host to Faerie structures are far more dangerous than their northern counterparts.  Even necromancers tend to give the dangerous ruins a wide berth.  Storms of wild and tainted magic ravage the land, killing or transforming anyone unlucky enough to be caught in their grip.  The lower-magic zones play host to everything from giant monsters, warped and mutated by the magic storms, to orcish settlements and human villages.  The necromancers themselves tend to inhabit abandoned fortresses or cities, turning them into giant abattoirs.  Even the smarter necromancers, the ones capable of understanding that killing all their slaves means depriving themselves of future slaves, can become lost in their lust for power.  Most visitors to their lands never return.

Orcs are, as far as can be established, the most numerous race in the Blighted Lands.  Shambling parodies of humanity, created by the Faerie; orcish males are incredibly strong, incredibly fast and almost mind-numbingly stupid.  They are literally incapable of building a workable civilisation, if only because they fight each other for dominance.  The only thing that keeps them in line is power.  The necromancers have no trouble battering obedience into their heads (although even obedient orcs can’t follow complex orders, or indeed anything much more difficult than “charge”).  Orcish women are supposed to be smarter, but very rarely seen.  In theory, orcish women are grossly outnumbered by the males; in practice, despite the lopsided birthrate (ten males for every female), the high level of attrition amongst the male population keeps the gender balance remarkably even.

The human settlements within the Blighted Lands are nightmarish.  Necromancers don’t need anything beyond magic and life force, so they rarely bother to encourage farmers to grow crops or craftsmen to produce much of anything.  The settlements are more like plantations, with a goal of producing as many humans as possible.  The inhabitants are effectively slaves, forbidden from leaving and striking out on their own (although the dangers surrounding the settlements are often enough to keep the inhabitants in place without fences and chains).  Each settlement has a headman, who serves as liaison between the inhabitants and the local necromancer, and thugs, who serve as basic enforcers.  (They often have some magic, although never enough to threaten the necromancer.)  The arrangement is permanently unstable, if only because the necromancers are dangerously insane.  A headman can be killed at a moment’s notice, on a whim or if he angers his master (regardless of how well he serves).  Accordingly, none of the settlements are nice places to live … but some are worse than others.

The necromancers themselves have no formal structure.  They do not ally with each other, save for a handful of very rare alliances that don’t last beyond one partner seeing advantage in betraying the other.  Their society, such as it is, is ruled by force and force alone.  A newcomer who overthrows a necromancer and takes his place is, insofar as the rest of the necromancers are concerned, the legitimate ruler.  The smarter necromancers realise that fighting another necromancer is often dangerous – the loser will be dead, the winner will be so weakened that a third necromancer could jump him – but, given the nature of necromancy, it can be difficult to avoid a challenge.

The Blighted Lands do not have any formal relationships with outside powers, diplomatic or otherwise.  The necromancers simply do not have the long-term focus to try to build relationships, even if they wanted to.  There is very little trade between the Blighted Lands and the Allied Lands, almost all of it thoroughly illegal.  A handful of merchants do move back and forth, at severe risk of their lives (particularly if they’re caught trafficking in illicit substances or simply anger a necromancer).  Refugees are not unknown, but given the dangers of travel and the difficult terrain, rarely seen. 

16 Responses to “SIM: The Blighted Lands”

  1. georgephillies March 13, 2020 at 3:14 pm #

    But one of the necromancers we have seen from the Blight references a necromancer’s organization or cause, or something similar, though little more than a name was given.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 13, 2020 at 3:21 pm #

      An organization or some non-human Powers that will give him more power?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 13, 2020 at 3:34 pm #

      If you’re talking about “The Harrowing” that Shadye talked about, I got the idea that it was more like a “Dark God” than an organization.

      • georgephillies March 13, 2020 at 5:27 pm #

        Yes, “The Harrowing”. I took it to be an organization.

      • Hanno Frerichs March 13, 2020 at 5:32 pm #

        Also thought of it as a dark god, but there was also a reference referring to the lords of death.

        What i wonder more about is how do all the necromancers end up in the blighted lands. The technique to become one is quite simple, so it must be people from the north turning necromancer, but then they would be somewhere in the north and not in the blighted lands, or some of the weak magicians in the blighted lands who serve their master and maybe observe him become necromancers of their own?

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 13, 2020 at 6:00 pm #

        We saw one Necromancer outside the Blighted Lands but it could be a matter that newbie Necromancers in the Allied Lands either get dealt with very quickly or decide to travel to the Blighted Lands to grow in power.

  2. Warren The Ape March 13, 2020 at 5:48 pm #

    Yeah…BUT do the they have toilet paper?

    • Jacqueline harris March 13, 2020 at 8:59 pm #


  3. wazman1930 March 13, 2020 at 9:38 pm #

    I’ve always appreciated the extra effort Chris does for his readers by providing additional background information for his various series. I’m curious which future SIM book this latest info is intended for?.

    I don’t know how the SIM Series is going to conclude, but I wonder if anyone other than Emily and/or Void have considered what they are going to do once the final Necromancer is taken care of. The Allied lands solely exist to stand up against the necromancy threat the only thing I can think they would stand semi united against the would be unshackled orcs and warped humanity that resides within the Blighted Lands.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 13, 2020 at 9:49 pm #

      The next SIM novel Oathkeeper involves the Blighted Lands.

      Oh, Chris has considered “what happens if/when the Necromancers all killed” (but I’m afraid to say anything about that).

      As for thought within the Allied Lands about that, I suspect that those thinking about the Necromancers are more concerned about “not losing to the Necromancers” than what happens “when we win”.

      As for the “freed orcs” and the warped humans, I suspect that without the Necromancers those won’t be a major problem.

      • wazman1930 March 13, 2020 at 10:48 pm #

        I think they would become a troublesome nuances and the Kingdoms that embraced the “New Learning” as well as gun powdered weapons will have a effective deterrent verses the ones that refuse to change.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 13, 2020 at 10:59 pm #

        troublesome nuances

        Only for the Kingdoms bordering on the Blasted Lands. 😉

        I wonder if anybody would be researching how to restore the Blasted Lands. I doubt that it would be an easy task (even if possible).

  4. G March 14, 2020 at 12:51 am #

    This would be a great series–especially if there wasn’t an easy fix, but a long drawn out war with lots of backstabbing among a breaking apart and jockeying for advantage former Allied Lands…can’t wait for Barb’s Tale…Does anyone know whether being exposed to high magic areas increases power??

    • wazman1930 March 14, 2020 at 1:37 am #

      My thoughts exactly…and I can’t wait for Frieda’s Tale this would be a good way of demonstrating how little common a new born magician has with their former mundane lives. The family that sold her to the fist magician to pass through their town probably won’t recognize her and will be terrified of her power.

      • Jacqueline harris March 14, 2020 at 10:54 pm #

        I m looking forward to freidas perspective so much.

    • Jared July 4, 2020 at 9:52 am #

      It is more likely to twist and cause mutations in the people who go to these high magic areas. There are plenty of examples to show that it’s usually detrimental to the persons health.

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