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What people say...

by Jesper Andersen

The Known World is a fantastic place with numerous different cultures and customs. Using different expressions to underline differences can be the spice that makes your campaign come to life.

The following is a series of sayings, exclamations, expressions, proverbs and curses from the nations of the Known World. Sources are the Gazetteers, and my own imagination.


"A handful of patience is more worth than a bushel of brains"
Specularum street saying amongst cat burglars.

"Fare thee well"
A common way of saying goodbye and good luck

"Win with humility; lose with grace"
Saying in the Order of the Griffon

"Even the smallest candle burns brighter in the dark"
Karameikan saying

"Every good friend once was a stranger"
Karameikan saying on Traladaran hospitality


"By the Prophet!"
Commonly used by Ylari nomads to express surprise.

"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens"
Ylari saying

"Write injuries in the sand, kindnesses in marble"
Ylari saying


"Come...sit a spell..."
Glantrian joke (a spell = a minute)


"A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor"
Ierendi proverb


"A journey of a thousand miles always begins with one step"
Alfheim proverb

"Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember; and I remember more than I have seen"
- elven wanderer from Wendar

"Money is an excellent servant, but a horrible master!"
Elven saying


"By Kagyar's Hammer!"
Common when dwarves or gnomes need to express strong emotions such as a curse or an oath.

"Any job worth doing is worth doing well"
Rockhome saying

"It is a poor workman who blames his tools"
Rockhome saying about incompetence.

"It's not junk, it's a collection!!"
Gnomish exclamation when receiving visitors to their workshops.

Northern Reaches

"Sons of Cnute!"
Commonly used by Ostlanders to express surprise or awe.

"Go to Hel!"
A rather hateful way for a Northerner to tell someone to get lost.

"May the Serpent take him!"
Commonly used by Northerners to express ill will towards someone

"Peace of Odin"
Northman way of saying hello.

Five Shires

"He is a proper Fishtickle, that one!"
Commonly said of an industrious Hin who is eager to improve his wealth and lot in life.

"Everyone who enters this house bring happiness. Some by coming in and some by going out"
Halfling door sign.

"Keep your head and your heart in the right direction and you will not have to worry about your feet"
Halfling saying about Wanderlust

"Handle yourself using your brain but handle others with your heart"
Halfling saying about interacting with other races during the Wanderlust

"Worry pulls tomorrow's cloud over today's sunshine"
Halfling saying

Minrothad Guilds

"Learn to listen, opportunity often knocks softly"
Minrothad saying

"Without risk there is no opportunity for gain"
Minrothad proverb


"You don't get elite quality for copper prices"
A common retort by Darokin merchants, when a buyer complains about high prices.

"A copper job"
Darokin expression: A menial task, usually one perceived to be below one's station

"Silver and gold"
Darokin expression: Neither exceptionally good nor bad. ('The cough is better thank you, but I still feel pretty much silver and gold')

"No matter how shiny the copper, it is still not gold"
Said in Darokin about something or someone whose ambitions are beyond his abilities.

"An elite day"
Darokin expression: used to describe beautiful weather or other cheerful events.

"A mind full of copper"
Darokin expression: said about someone who is either a stupid person or a pessimist or both.

"A life of silver"
Darokin expression: A life of unrelenting mediocrity.

"Don't learn the tricks of the trade, learn the trade"
Darokin proverb

Ethengar Khanates

"Eat and drink with your relatives; do business with strangers"
Ethengarian proverb


"A camel is a horse designed by a committee"
Snide Thyatian remark about Ylari riding habits

"A goal without a plan is just a wish"
Thyatian proverb

"Going to the temple doesn't make you a devout follower any more than going to a smithy makes you an armourer"
Thyatian saying

"A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood"
Ochalean proverb

"When an old man dies, a library burns down"
Ochalean proverb


"May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you are dead"
Alphatian officers' way of wishing good luck before that start of battle.