Illumination

Ellesland is almost bereft of man-made illumination, and, when night falls, the land is swallowed by an inky blackness. Come twilight livestock are herded into pens or byres, the peasants retire into their hovels, and the doors of the great hall are closed and locked. Supper and sleep are the last tasks of the day, taken before the dying heath fire, for artificial light is expensive and used in sparingly or on special occasions (though the church, with its nightly ceremonies, is necessarily more liberal in the use of illumination). Winter time, however, with its all-night fire, is a time for staying up long after dark and listening and telling tales of ghosts and goblins

Dragon Warriors details two devices of illumination – the lantern and the torch – but several others exist. Domestic lighting includes the following:

  • Hearth fires or camp fires are ubiquitous. They put out a dull light, enough to sew or cook by, or to keep watch beside.
  • The cheapest form of lighting is the rushlight, a foot-long rush stalk, peeled, dipped in tallow, and dried in the sun.
  • Humble little lamps of pottery or metal are also common. They are bowls filled with oil, usually fish oil, and burn up very quickly. The smell of the burning oil tends to negate any chance of surprise.
  • Guttering tallow candles, unreliable and needing constant trimming, are the common lights for indoors, but the church and the rich use finer candles of beeswax. Candles are carried impaled upon candlesticks or are placed on a candle-ring fastened to the wall.
  • Torches are dealt with on page 54 of Book One, but an interesting drawback to using one is that it tends to drip pitch as its bearer moves, leaving an easily followed trail.

Outside Illumination

Travellers plan their journeys so as to reach a hostel or hall or monastery by nightfall, for without the full moon there is not even enough light to see the road, let alone follow it. Those who must travel abroad after dark carry more hardy methods of lighting than those above, cressets or expensive lanterns.

  • Cressets are iron baskets of burning débris . The carrier can periodically fill the cresset with leaves and sticks as he goes along.
Each method of illumination has its drawbacks, whether cost, quality of light or reliability. This last is important; if a light is placed in a hazardous situation – being dropped, carried in a strong breeze – the referee should roll a 1d100 against its Extinguished on a… number. That number or less is rolled the light is snuffed out.


Illumination Duration Range Extinguished on a ... Cost
Rushlight Half an hour 2mr 50% 3 pennies
for 6
Lamp Half an hour1 5mr 70% 5 pennies
Tallow Candle One hour 8mr 60% 4 pennies
Wax Candle One and a half hours 8mr 60% 2 florins
Cresset Quarter of an hour1 8mr 10% 4 florins


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