Eliza von Holberg stretched out by the warmth of the camp fire. It was raining outside, and small droplets were falling through the round hole in the roof that carried the smoke away, but the simple structure was remarkably warm and welcoming and a few droplets of rain on her face bothered her less than they might normally. Three months ago she had grudgingly agreed to accompany Kaspar's mission to bring the Seven virtues to the Sand Fishers, filled with trepidation but eager to know more about the new settlers. Now that the new round house was complete, and she had conducted the ceremony to consecrate it, all her curiosity to know more about her hosts was flooding back. She could feel a profound sense of destiny laid out before here, acutely aware of everything that might be accomplished if they could convince these orcs to embrace the Way. She had so many questions she wanted to ask, things she wanted to know about the newcomers. When they had first come here, it had never seemed the right moment to ask, but now it felt like nothing was impossible.

She looked across at her host, an orc called Three Hands. He was stoic, he never spoke just for the sake of talking, but she could see he was deeply affected by the aura. Some of the Sand Fishers claimed their ancestors spoke to them when they were touched by Virtue, she wondered if he could hear them now.

"What do they say? Your ancestors... when you look at us... what do they say?" Too late she realized she'd spoken the question she was thinking aloud. It was a gauche thing to ask, her host probably wouldn't be offended, but even so.

Three Hands looked at her briefly, with a troubled look on his face. He bit his lip and then shrugged. "They tell us to be wary. They say you will take our lands. Rob us. Cheat us. They warn us to watch you. They say to give you nothing but the sun on your face and the rain at your back." She could tell the look on his face was a mixture of sadness, and no small measure of honest embarrassment. It was plain that Three Hands knew perfectly well how ridiculous such words must sound.

The silence grew taut but before she could say anything the orc broke into a big grin "Our ancestors are idiots. They've been dead for a thousand years. They left us to the snakes and the scorpions. The first thing we teach our children is not to listen to a single word the ancestors say."

Eliza blinked in astonishment. That was not at all what she'd expected to hear. She'd read somewhere that the Imperial Orcs often heard conflicting things from their ancestors, but the book had claimed that all orcs revere their ancestors anyway. Her host was clearly trying to make her feel more comfortable, to take away the sting of his words, but it seemed unlikely he was making that last bit up. If he'd meant to lie to her, it would make more sense to lie about the things his ancestors said than to denigrate them surely? Clearly her book was not written with the Sand Fishers in mind.

As she pondered what he'd said, another question came to mind and she blurted it out before she had time to think. "What do your ancestors say when you look at the Druj?". Dammit Eliza, she thought, you've stood in a hundred consecrated buildings before, why was she letting this one get to her?

Now she'd gone too far - her host had fallen silent, grim and stony-faced. She remembered too late that the Sand Fishers never named the Druj, fearing even to hear the name spoke. Three Hands was gripping the corded haft of the long steel scram he'd bought at the market place, his hand so tight she could see the muscles of his arm bulging in the firelight. For a moment she thought her host, who had been nothing but charming and civil since she arrived here, was going to attack her. But his eyes were elsewhere, staring off into the darkness and she got the distinct impression he was listening to someone and it wasn't her. She wet her lips nervously but she could think of nothing more to say.

Finally Three Hands spoke, his voice strained with emotion.

"They tell us to kill them all. They tell us to slit their throats and let the sea take their blood and the land their bones. They tell us to slaughter their cattle, salt their fields, and burn their homes. They tell us to drive every single Druj into the Howling Abyss and to dance and sing as each one falls into oblivion. They tell us that no Sand Fisher will ever be safe until the last Druj is wiped from the face of the earth."


Click for audio version

The Sand Fishers were one of the first groups of orcs that the Imperial armies encountered when they invaded Ossium. At first the Sand Fishers seemed a peaceful people, possessing few weapons, only the odd bow and long knives that they use for hunting, fishing, and defence. Later it became clear that they had been enslaved by the Druj and brutalized for decades. Forced to gather food for the Druj they laboured under soul-crushing horror of the Druj miasma. When the Empire gave them an opportunity to claim the dank forests of Misericorde in Holberg, they jumped at the opportunity to put the Semmerlak between them and the Druj.

Who is this for?
This wind of fortune is long, and includes a lot of narrative and world building. It is definitely not for everyone. It's intended for those players who are specifically interested in the Sand Fisher situation, and in philosophical questions about Prosperity. There are levers here, in the first section entitled Ambition, but even they are more about the narrative impact of bringing former slaves of the Druj under the League's wing than they are about building commissions.

Despite a few early misunderstandings the Sand Fishers quickly adapted to their new home. Heedless of cynical warnings that recalled how badly relations with the Lasambrians deteriorated after the Empire shared the Way with them, priests from across the Empire made a concerted effort to instruct the Sand Fishers on the seven Virtues. They hope to instil them with Ambition, Courage and Pride, while the Skywise gave them hope that they might cross the Howling Abyss. To ensure that they might prosper in all ways, the Synod mandated that the Sand Fishers and the people of Holberg be asked to respect the first tenet of Prosperity to claim the just rewards of their labour.

The burgeoning confidence of the Sand Fishers was shattered by the arrival of the Druj in Holberg. Disregarding the heavy losses in Ossium, it gradually became clear that the Druj had risked everything to attack the forests of Holberg, in a desperate attempt to wipe out the Sand Fishers as punishment for their "rebellion". Despite Imperial assurances that they would be protected, the orcs found it almost impossible to comprehend that the Empire might find a way to stop the Druj from attacking them struggling to conceive of anyone fighting the Druj, let alone doing to so to protect them.

To their evident surprise of the Sand Fishers, the Imperial heroes intercepted the the Druj forces before they could reach them. Merely making an attempt to fight for them would have been enough to bolster the Sand Fisher's crumbling morale. The resounding victory sent a clear message to everyone - the Empire would defend Holberg and everyone in the territory against the Druj. Having failed in their attempt to destroy the Sand Fishers and faced with the impossible task of assaulting the high walls of Holberg, the Druj armies turned tail and fled, retreating back into the Barrens.


The Imperial victory over the Druj has had a profound impact on the Sand Fishers. It seems that many of them still regarded life in Misericorde with a degree of fatalism, unable to accept that this was not simply a sojourn before they were returned to a miserable existence as Druj slaves. But seeing the Druj armies flee before the Empire while inspired by the powerful auras created by Bartimaeus and the priests accompanying Skywise Rykana has transformed them. Everyone who is working to teach them the Virtues cannot help but remark on the change... the Sand Fishers are rapidly gaining the fervour of the converted.

As if to prove the cynics right all along, this transformation is not without complications for the Empire. As the Sand Fishers grow in Pride and Ambition, they are beginning to ask questions. They remain deeply grateful for the land the Empire have ceded them, there is no sense yet of the impossible demands that characterised the Lasambrians' embrace of the Virtues. But no matter how courteously they might phrase their requests, it is clear that they are asking for things the Empire might not yet be ready to grant.

The civil service have discussed the various options that the Sand Fishers have politely enquired about and present them below in order of ease with which they suspect they might be granted.

A Seat of Learning

  • The Senate could increase the upkeep costs of Holberg by 7 Thrones each season to provide access to Imperial education for the Sand Fishers
  • Increasing the upkeep costs of Holberg by 14 Thrones would greatly increase the benefits to the Sand Fishers

The Sand Fishers remain uncomfortable in the city of Holberg. They are clear that they find it cramped, noisy, smelly, and inhospitable and frequently express amazement that the League gave them the richest parts of the territory while choosing to live in a place where almost nothing grows and there is no food to be had. However they are slowly growing accustomed to the city, and some of the younger Sand Fishers are seen coming and going on the streets. That is when one of them discovers Holberg University.

The Sand Fishers are unexpectedly excited about the prospects offered by Holberg University. It appears they are very familiar with the idea of places of study; the Druj had great mastery of herbal lore and maintained more than one such site in Ossium. However their Buruk-Tepels jealously hoarded every scrap of lore and only their most trusted and loyal apprentices were permitted to study with them. They permitted the Sand Fishers just enough training to recognise and collect herbs for the Druj, but no-one among them has the skills of a trained physick or even an apprentice apothecary. Exhibiting skills you were not supposed to have was a dangerous act of sedition, the lucky ones were press-ganged into the Druj armies, the unlucky ones were made an example of.

As a result, the standards of education among the Sand Fishers are execrable. They are highly skilled at hunting, fishing and collecting herbs, but know almost nothing else. Now that they are filled with Pride and Ambition however, it has not taken them long to appreciate the value of the things they have been denied for generations. Holberg University is spoken of in almost mystical terms, the site of the Empire's great learning, a treasure house of secrets, a place where citizens of the League might learn the secret arts of the chirurgeon, or study the forbidden knowledge of the apothecary. And who knows what else must lie there? The Empire knows the secret of defeating the Druj in battle... perhaps such mysteries can be learned in Holberg University...

Thus the Sand Fishers submit a formal petition to be allowed access to study the secret lore of Holberg University. At first, the merchant-princes of Holberg are somewhat bemused. Nobody is keeping the Sand Fishers out - anyone who has the money to pay for tuition or the ability to win a scholarship is welcome to study there. But of course, the Sand Fishers have neither of those things. They are growing more prosperous each season, but it will be many years before one of them has the wealth to spare for a season's tuition at the university and unless someone helps them learn the basics they will never pass the exams the University sets for those chasing a scholarship.

As an Imperial territory, Holberg enjoys an extraordinary level of basic education that it provides free to all its citizens, part of the great legacy of Urizen joining the Empire. The Empire could choose to extend that teaching to the Sand Fishers to instruct them in the healing arts, the techniques of making potions, and so forth. They might eventually even pay for some scholarships to Holberg University for the most adept students amongst them. Nobody who has dealt with doubts that the Sand Fishers are as smart and canny as any League citizen, they've just been cruelly forbidden access to even basic schooling. The Empire could set that right.

Such things are not cheap however. To provide effective practical change would require a Senate motion expanding the benefits of Imperial education to the Sand Fishers. The civil service estimate that that would cost the Imperial Senate 7 thrones a season, effectively increasing the costs to maintain the territory of Holberg. That would solve the shortcomings in the Sand Fisher education within the space of a lifetime. If that were not quick enough, the Senate could throw money at the problem. Paying the University to put on extra courses to help the Sand Fishers master the basics of modern medicine would double the costs but such an intensive approach should rectify the issue in a few years rather than a few generations.

The Sand Fishers would be deeply grateful with either solution, as they view the arts of the apothecary in particular with something approaching religious awe.

A Reservoir of Lore

  • The Conclave could provide access to Imperial Lore to the Sand Fishers

The Sand Fishers possess just two magicians: an aging tribe-member who successfully kept his mastery of the Spring arts a secret from the Druj for half a century, and his apprentice, a young orc who evidences some ability with both Spring and Night magic. Unfortunately their knowledge of the magical arts is every bit as woeful as their knowledge of mixing potions.

Extending Imperial education to the Sand Fishers would help many more of them study the rudiments of basic magic, allowing them to learn to detect magic, create bonds and even cast a few more simple spells. It would not however, enable them to perform powerful magic - for that they would need access to Imperial lore.

To grant them that, would need a successful Declaration of Concord by the Imperial Conclave. In the past the Conclave has extended some benefits of Imperial lore to the Great Forest Orcs, but they gave them access only to a handful of key rituals. The civil service advise that such a solution would not be effective here. The only way the Sand Fishers will be able to develop their own magical traditions is if they are given the free access to Imperial lore in the same way the Conclave recently voted to extend access to the Commonwealth.

Doing so would not cost the Empire any money - but it is not without certain risks. Once ritual lore is shared, there is no way to control how the Sand Fishers might use it - as a recent misunderstanding in Therunin perhaps demonstrates. With access to a regio and enough crystal mana, it's not impossible that the people of Holberg might find their territory subject to an enchantment they did not anticipate for example. It's unlikely with just two magicians, but the risk of an incident grows over time.

The idea of gaining access to Imperial lore seems to interest the Sand Fishers less than the prospect of being able to study medicine at Holberg University. Both their magicians are keen of course, and the Sand Fishers are eager for any opportunity, but as a group they seem to regard medicine as fundamentally more powerful than magic.

A Design for Life

  • The Imperial Senate might use an appraisal to explore new ways to aid the Sand Fishers - and the Empire

Many of the Sand Fishers express surprise at how little development there is in Holberg - outside of the city, that is. They are accustomed to the slovenly approach of the Druj, who deliberately avoided developing any part of their dominion if it risked benefitting anyone but themselves. The inhabitants of the League seem to take a very different view - the city is a bustle of sprawling development and the lands around have rich vineyards. But the further from Holberg's walls you travel, the less signs of habitation you see. The forests of Misericorde and Utterlund in particular contain a few sporadic farms, forests and herb gardens, but little of any size or importance.

The Sand Fishers have embraced the lessons of Ambition and Prosperity wholeheartedly, and are eager to do something with the land the Empire have given then. Now that the Empire has convinced them that the Druj will not return to drag them back to Ossium, they are enthusiastic about the prospect of developing their new homeland. They lack the means to pay for it, but more importantly, they lack the knowledge of logistics and planning necessary to carry out some wide-ranging assessment of the swamps to identify any opportunities that exist. This is hardly surprising - even the mighty Empire only has the capacity to carry out one such appraisal each season, it can hardly be a surprise that such a thing is beyond the ability of the Sand Fishers.

The Imperial Senate could order just such an appraisal. The Sand Fishers are certainly keen for that to happen, but of course there are often multiple competing demands for such a thing. Furthermore the civil service advise caution, any appraisal would be able to identify one or more opportunities for the forests to be developed, but there is no possibility in the imminent future that the Sand Fishers would remotely be able to afford to carry out the kind of construction an appraisal might recommend. If any commission arose from an appraisal, it would be the Empire footing the bill.

However any appraisal of the forests and marshes of Holberg would provide options for commissions some of which would benefit the Empire. The Sand Fishers are highly adept at navigating the difficult waters and overgrown woods and their presence and enthusiasm creates options that have not existed in the territory since it joined the League. Given how positive the Sand Fishers are towards the Empire, it is certain they would be eager partners in any investment that benefitted both parties.

An appraisal would interest the Sand Fishers more than access to Imperial lore, but less than access to the learning embodied by Holberg University.

The Prosperity assembly believes that it is vital that not only the Sand Fishers but all who deal with them respect the first tenet of Prosperity. We send Bartimaeus with 50 doses of liao to urge both foreign orc and Imperial citizen to set prosperous prices and trade fairly so that all may claim the just rewards of their labours.

Bartimaeus of the Shattered Tower, Mandate, Prosperity Assembly, Autumn Equinox 383YE, 271-0


At the recent summit, Bartimaeus of the Shattered Tower was granted the authority to spread the mandate of the Assembly of Prosperity to the people of Holberg, both the Sand Fishers and the city folk. He urged all to set prosperous prices and trade fairly, so that all may claim the just rewards of their labours. His words find a warm reception among the orcs, who have taught about the importance of the Seven Virtues by Kaspar Yakovich von Holberg and encouraged to believe in a more hopeful future by Skywise Gralka. Crucially he arrives at a time when the Imperial heroes have just defeated an invading Druj army many times their size, causing the soldiers of the scorpion banners to flee. This awesome victory has helped to complete a transformation of the Sand Fishers' outlook, and Bartimaeus and the priests who support him find the orcs eager to learn more.

There is little difficulty convincing the people of the importance of working hard - Sand Fishers tend to rise at dawn or just before and work til well after sun down. But the idea that they should claim the just rewards of their toil strikes a deep chord with them. For generations the Druj have taken everything they produced and left them with barely enough to eat. Now they have lands of their own and for the first time everything they gather, everything they grow, everything they hunt belongs to them.

They find the notion of enjoying the fruits of your labour today without worry for tomorrow much harder to grasp, especially when coupled with the idea that anything that is unused is wasted. The Sand Fishers have never had a surplus of anything - the prospect of having enough food put by that they need not worry whether they can eat if they have a bad day hunting appeals strongly to them. Any suggestion that such bounty should be quickly consumed does not appeal to them. But Bartimaeus and his fellow priests are able to demonstrate the importance of the tenet by comparing it with the behaviour of the Druj, who hoarded their wealth and resources and shared them with no-one, not even their own. The Empire defeated the Druj in Ossium; all their hoarding did was to ensure their own defeat.

The last of the tenets are of particular fascination to the Sand Fishers. The idea that the Prosperous share what they have with those who deserve it intrigues them. The orcs are acutely aware of the generosity of the Empire in giving them a safe heaven from the Druj, they find the beneficence of the people of Holberg who have given them the richest part of the territory as their own almost incomprehensible. Even when some priests are honest enough to admit that many League citizens don't really see much value in the forests of Misericorde, it doesn't shift the Sand Fishers' conviction that the Empire have given them something of inestimable value. Was this great gift simply because the Empire shares what it has with those who deserve it? If so, what exactly did the Sand Fishers do to deserve this act of generosity?

But it is the final words of the final tenet that arose the most interest. Despise those who take without giving. The Sand Fishers are very interested in this teaching - they soon have questions for what it means and especially for what it means for them.

Overall, the mandate appears to have been accomplished everything that might have been hoped for. The Sand Fishers have taken eagerly to the virtue of Prosperity, they are incredibly hard working and the belief that they have a virtuous right to own the fruits of their labour is clearly uplifting to them. The constant reminding to the people of Holberg to trade fairly with the Sand Fishers means that people are dealing with them honestly and resisting the urge to take advantage of their naivete. The Sand Fishers may never be truly comfortable in the city itself, but they clearly feel welcome to come and go if they need to.

One thing a few priests note is that their work is made easier by the fact that many Sand Fishers seem to regard the Way itself with a profound reverence. Admittedly this respect is less for the deep spiritual importance of the Way as a philosophy of life and an approach to Virtue - rather it is a degree of awe for the raw power of the auras created by the priests, which the Orcs regard as a potent magic far superior to spells or rituals. When asked about this, they are frank that the Druj fill their lands with Miasma to break the will of those who would resist them. This is how they maintain their empire and their hold over the territories like Ossium. The Empire are the only people the Sand Fishers have met who have a power greater than that of the Druj.

The Sand Fishers simply don't accept that the Empire beat the Druj because they have bigger armies, better generals or more rituals. They absolutely believe that the Empire beat the Druj because they have the Way and because the Way is stronger than the Miasma.

Food That Goes Uneaten

  • Misericorde Market has been expanded as a consequence of the Sand Fishers' embrace of prosperity

The Empire recently approved the production of the Misericorde Market, a simple facility designed to enable trade between the Sand Fishers and the Empire. Construction has not yet started, but when it is complete, a new Imperial title will be created to oversee the market with the rather grandiose title of Merchant Prince of Misericorde Market. The position will earn a simple income of 10 crowns, 5 measures of ambergelt and 12 random herbs taken from the profits the market makes each season.

Mithril SoldHerbs Acquired
1 wain50 random herbs, 1 dose of Realmsroot
2 wains90 random herbs, 2 doses of Realmsroot
Weirwood SoldHerbs Acquired
1 wain45 random herbs, 1 dose of Realmsroot
2 wains90 random herbs, 2 doses of Realmsroot

Although work on the market has not yet begun, the Sand Fishers are already asking for more. They have food that is going uneaten, they say with a wry smile, yet the people of Holberg cannot even hunt their own food! They have herbs that are going unused, while the Empire's heroes are fighting the Druj in battle. They want to trade the things they have... and now they are eyeing the things they need more than anything

Thus they have asked if the Empire and the merchants of Holberg would be prepared to countenance the sale of mithril or weirwood at the market once it is complete? The Sand Fishers understand how valuable these materials are. The mithril from the Crawling Depths was taken by the Druj to build their armies, and for years the Sand Fishers have been forced to make do with bone, flint and other poor quality substitutes for their arrows and their spears. Such things are perfectly practical, if a little slow, for hunting. But soldiers protected with good quality armour have little to fear from skirmishers armed with hunting bows and bone tipped arrows.

The Sand Fishers are eager to point out that they will pay for these materials - though the only wealth they have spare that the Empire really values is herbs. After some discussion with the civil service about how this might best be accomplished, they make an agreement to make herbs available to the new Merchant Prince as soon as they are appointed.

As a result of actions by the Sand Fishers, once the market is complete it will also gain the benefits of a ministry, albeit one that allows the Merchant Prince to purchase a large number of herbs, in return for one or two wains of mithril or weirwood. There is no need for the Senate to act on this, it is simply a consequence of the trades the Sand Fishers are hoping to carry out in the new market.

When asked what they want mithril and weirwood for, the Sand Fishers give big grins and say "It's for next time... when the Druj come back..."

Those Who Take

  • The Sand Fishers have a profound question about the implications of the tenets of Prosperity, and are looking for an answer
  • Any Statement passed with a greater majority in the General Assembly, Prosperity Assembly or League Assembly is likely to reach the ears of the Sand Fishers

The priests who are spreading the virtue of Prosperity to the Sand Fishers soon report that one question above all others is vexing them. The final tenet that urges the virtuous to despise those who take without giving. The Sand Fishers are not blind to the generosity of the Empire, it has freed them from the Druj, given them lands to live in, defended them when the enemy came to punish them for fleeing. And now this latest act of generosity, they have been simply given the benefits of these auras of extraordinary power that the Empire's priests create, all to help them throw off the last lingering influence of the effects of the Miasma.

All of this has been simply given to the Sand Fishers... at no point has anyone asked the Sand Fishers for anything in return. How then are the Sand Fishers not "those who take without giving?" The Sand Fishers will quietly admit that their ancestors often warn them against trusting the Empire, telling them that they will be cheated and robbed and driven from their lands. None of that makes any sense of course, and they are ignoring those words for now, but more than a few are pointing out that if the Empire and Holberg really believe what they say about despising those who take without giving... then they should despise the Sand Fishers...

Those enacting the mandate are at pains to stress that nobody is seeking to trick the Sand Fishers, there is no trap that anyone is aware of. But they soon realise that the Sand Fishers are not worried about being tricked or trapped. They were slaves of the Druj who had nothing, now they have their freedom, they have as much food as they can eat, they have lands of their own and wealth to spare.

But now they also have Prosperity. And Prosperity says to despise those who take without giving... The Sand Fishers are quite adamant, that if they are to follow the path of Virtue then that means they must not take without giving. They have taken everything the Empire has offered them... so what can they give in return?

The Sand Fishers are no fools, they don't always see the world as the Empire does, but they know the meagre wealth they have scraped together is a pittance compared to the riches of Holberg, let alone the Empire. They know they are in no position of any kind to do anything to repay the Empire for its kindness towards them... Not today...

But the Sand Fishers are no longer thinking about today... they have begun to think about tomorrow. They have begun to think about the future and what they might accomplish one day if they work hard enough and claim their just rewards for their toil. The day is not yet here that they can repay the Empire for sharing all that is worthwhile with those who deserve it. But they have come to believe they can never be truly Prosperous until that day comes, and so they want to know now what the Empire wants of them... Because the sooner they know, the sooner they can start planning how they will achieve it.

And so they ask... what could the Sand Fishers do for the Empire?


A number of statements of principle were raised during the Winter Solstice in the Imperial Synod offering advice to the sand fishers as to how to proceed. The Imperial Senate chose to encourage the orcs to attend Holberg university, increasing the funds allocated to the territory to support their motion.