Friday, September 30, 2005

September 2005

This month, in a timely link to Roundworld, we look at the dangers of extreme weather and other natural disasters: which Signs are prone to which, and what you can do to avoid them or at least survive them. On a world as magickal as the Disc, with its whimsical gods, "natural" disasters occur with considerable regularity; in fact, one must be aware that floods, fires and other fell happenings are as often the fault of gods and other magic-wielders as of jograffy and atmospheric disturbances - the denizens of Cori Celesti tend to loose stray thunderbolts the way that, say, we mortals belch at embarrassing times. Some of the more unusual Discly disasters include Hurricane Kev, which struck and destroyed two houses in Ynci Street in Lancre town (the only inland hurricane ever recorded, it is widely assumed to be the result of a feud within a witch-blessed family); Tropical Storm Dibbler, which once threatened low-lying Genua but failed to do major damage due to cutting its own throat at the last minute; and of course the infamous localised earthquake in Dagon Street, Ankh-Morpork, that occurred immediately following the opening of Mr Hong's Three Jolly Luck takeaway fish bar. So remember, keep your wellies close at hand, your powder dry (especially if you're a Seamstress; nothing like a good disaster to boost business) and study your horoscope very carefully this month. It could happen to you!

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

Disaster to beware: tornado

This month is tornado season on the Sto Plains. Remember that one just last year, when the Sto Lat palace privy block got sucked up and landed smack on the Floral Clock in Quirm? Some might say it was a good thing, getting a full delivery of high-quality fertiliser in one shall we say go, but the Dowager Duchess was not amused. And tornadoes are rarely that thoughtful! The best place to go when you see a tornado heading your way is down into the nearest vegetable cellar. It may take months to get the smell of brassica out of your nostrils, but at least your nose will still be connected to your face. Suggested sacrifices to: Flatulus, God of the Winds, and Zephyrus, God of Slight Breezes.



Gahoolie, the Vase of Tulips 21 Apr - 21 May

Disaster to beware: flood

Old legends tell the tale of a great Flood that once covered the entire Disc, but it's worth noting that these legends all originate in Llamedos where observing rainwater is a national pastime. Naetheless, there are certainly tidal marks in the lower Ramtops, and the plains of Agatea are noted for their floods in the springtime. And if you live near the mouth of the Vieux River, you know that there's nothing like a bevy of levees for when the floods get heavy. If you hear reports of likely flooding, be sure to get out your Sonky Big Buoy Inflatable and your Ramtops oilskins and check that you have plenty of bargepoles. Suggested sacrifices to: Ka-Nuti, the Agatean Sea Goddess; Offler, who has a thing for rivers; Koryolus, God of Drains.



Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

Disaster to beware: meteor strike

As Great A'Tuin swims through the vastness of Space, S/he often encounters swarms of heavenly bodies (like those encountered by roving iconographers at clickpit premieres, only less friendly and accommodating...or maybe not). On occasion, some of these are large enough to make it through the Discly atmosphere, where they appear as "shooting stars", and a few of these remain large enough to land as starstones (often, strangely, in the centre of crop circles or secret desert military bases). But once in a very long while, a truly large heavenly body will cross A'Tuin's migratory path and land with enough force and mass to flatten mountains. These can generally be seen coming, if you know where to look. If you spot a "star" getting larger and brighter every night, it's a good time to take a holiday on the other side of the continent. Especially if that "star" turns out to be made of space-frozen Elephant poo! Suggested sacrifices to: What, the Sky Goddess; Herne.



The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

Disaster to beware: hurricane

The best - as in most spectacularly violent - hurricanes tend to make landfall around Chirm on the Circle Sea coast, but as no-one of interest lives there these tend to go unremarked except by Sea Trolls on their holidays. The second-best hurricanes aim for Genua and sometimes Brindisi. Hurricanes have been known in Ankh-Morpork (as a seasonal bonus for the Builders' Guild), but A-M tends to be immune to the threat of storm surge: after all, what tide could possibly fight its way up through the nearly-solid wat-, erm, colloid of the River Ankh? If your area gets a hurricane warning, put up your storm shutters and don't forget to bring the goats into the kitchen. In case of severe hurricane warnings, you may want to take some time off to visit Ankh-Morpork. Or Lancre, as long as you avoid Ynci Street. Suggested sacrifices to: Blind Io; Alohura, Goddess of Lightning.



Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Disaster to beware: volcanic eruption

There are, historically, two sorts of volcanoes on the Disc: the kind that spouts red-hot lava, ash and poisonous smoke, for instance Mount Edina that exploded and buried the Ephebian town of Rumpeii-Pumpeii, and the kind that spouts raw treacle, such as the Big Rock Candy Fountain in upper Uberwald. While the fiery sort is a must to avoid, beware the treacle volcano - being instantly burnt to a crisp is preferable to being boiled alive in a coating of hot toffee! Nature's early warning signal for volcanoes is a sudden stampede of small animals, led by Herne the Hunted, though this is far from foolproof: they could be running from Nanny Ogg's bathtime, which in itself is a sort of natural disaster. If you see smoke and steam beginning to rise from a nearby mountaintop, run away at all speed, but bring a saucepan in case treacle erupts. Suggested sacrifices to: Cubal, God of Fire; Cariees, God of Dentistry and Boiled Sweets.



Mubbo the Hyena 24 Aug - 23 Sept

Disaster to beware: tidal wave

We all like to go swimming in the ocean, but we prefer to leave our houses when we do it. When a tidal wave comes along, one doesn't get much choice in the matter! The High Energy Magic department at UU tells us that tidal waves are caused by underwater earthquakes, but Agatean traditionalists believe they're caused by Su-Nami, the Goddess of Vengeful Oceanic Activity, having a bad hair day, and XXXXians believe they are manifestations of Bhondai the Surf God that occur when beer offerings grow scarce. As tidal waves tend to appear with no warning, the best way to avoid them is to live well above sea level, or to join the UU Undersea Thaumic investigations Unit (open only to student wizards, but there's always room for a tea lady or pizza chef). Alternatively, live by the sea but practice running really, really fast. Suggested sacrifices to: Su-Nami; Phucdis, Bhangbhangducian God of Tides; Bhondai.



The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Disaster to beware: bush fire

Where there's smoke there's fire (or a Yen Buddhist temple full of expensive incense, or a treacle volcano ready to blow...), and no-one knows this better than your typical Fourecksian bush ranger. Bush fires are the bane of XXXXian life - they destroy lives and property and play merry hells with the beer harvest! If you live in bush fire country during the dry season (which in Terror Incognita runs from Offle to Ick, with occasional breaks for the June-Grune rainy season) you can take the following precautions: cut down gum trees near your house; clear the dead possums out of your yard (they burn really well); dig a seriously big swimming pool. If all else fails, try not sacrificing to Bhondai, in the hopes that he will send a tidal wave. Suggested sacrifices to: Skelde, Spirit of the Smoke; Cubal.



Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Disaster to beware: rain of frogs

Not to be confused with the Reign of Frog (as some historians term the Lady Lilith period in Genua) or the Rain of Fog (a seasonal event in Llamedos, distinguishable from normal Llamedosan weather by its extreme intensity and air you can bathe in). Rains of frogs are often looked upon as Blind Io's little comic relief, but in reality there's nothing funny about a veritable downpour of the little cold-blooded buggers - they're wet and messy and can do quite a lot of damage when falling from a great height, and we won't even mention they way the run-off blocks up the privies! And rains of frogs can cause tragedy, as was seen during the Great Batrachian Deluge in Brindisi when dozens of chefs died of exhaustion after trying to fillet and cook endless frogdrifts. Safety tips: carry a willow-reinforced umbrella and at least two well-seasoned frying pans. Suggested sacrifices to: the Lady, on general principles; Herne the Hunted; Hoki (that way you appease two Nature Gods for the price of one).



Great T'Phon's Foot 23 Nov - 21 Dec

Disaster to beware: avalanche

Mountains are beautiful, but they do have this distressing tendency to explode or collapse on one's head. If you're planning a skiing holiday in the Ramtops or any other popular mountain ranges, be sure to stay away during avalanche season, which is usually during early Spring; the whole point of skiing is to go downhill really fast, but avalanches have perfected that art beyond the best efforts of men and Yetis. Remember that in any race between you and a mountain, the mountain is bound to win! If you must risk this, at least take along a good teleportation spell - a good, quickly-read teleportation spell - or a troop of Troll bodyguards trained to form protective synchronised foothills. Or stay indoors in a nice warm inn on the lower slopes and enjoy the parade of trapped skiers as they scream past you. Suggested sacrifices to: Foorgol, God of Avalanches; Thwap, the Troll God of Falling Rocks.



Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

Disaster to beware: hailstorm

There are few things more disconcerting than being pelted with hail on a sunny day. Oh, all right, there are a number of things more disconcerting, but few are as sudden. Or as hard on the skull. Your basic hailstorms are born high in the upper atmosphere and tend to come downwards without warning. They are also endowed with malice, and supernaturally good aim! Hailstorms disrupt traffic and play merry hells with the soft fruit industries, but have given many a window merchant or glass eye manufacturer a much-needed boost in business. The most dangerous variant is the hailstorm of frogs, although this is welcomed by Brindisian chefs as it keeps the icehouse bills down. Suggested sacrifices to: What, the Sky Goddess; Friflo, the Goddess of Unexpected Spills. Consider converting to Omnianism, as Om is big on falling out of the sky.



The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

Disaster to beware: blizzard

A full-blown blizzard is Nature's equivalent of a rowdy block party. When all the winter elements combine, the result is a beast that's part hurricane, part tornado, part avalanche, part hailstorm and all ornery. Unwary visitors to blizzard country are frequently found, when the spring thaw comes, as rather large icicles less than four feet from the privy. But how can you tell when an ordinary, dusts-the-landscape-charmingly-with-pretty-white-powder snowfall is likely to become a blizzard? Well, if you open your front door and get pelted with what feels like a whole herd of Special Snowballs, the best plan is to hope that you've laid in enough root vegetables to last you until springtime. Beware: blizzards can bring out your Inner Cannibal. Or your mother-in-law's. Suggested sacrifices to: Brasbal and Frosantit, Hublandish twin gods of ice and snow. Well really, any Hublands or Chimeran gods will do the trick here. You might also try invoking the Ice Giants.

† The ones with the cleverly concealed rocks in the centres.



Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Disaster to beware: heatwave

It's funny how the first people to complain about cold winter weather are so often the first to complain about summer heat! A true heatwave is no laughing matter, though. Road paving melts - people melt! - the young, the old and the sick collapse even faster than usual, and all trollish business comes to a stony end for the duration. Heat waves are no respecter of the high and mighty, either. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to rule a city-state when your black robes are stifling? One good thing about heat waves is that the crime rate goes down (good news because the Watchmen are too heat-exhausted to chase criminals anyway). Another is that the female clothing ratio also goes down, although the sight of large matrons wearing very little can also cause fainting. The best way to ride out a heat wave is in a nice cool pole-dancing club; at least the dancers won't be complaining about having to take their clothes off for strangers. Suggested sacrifices to: Thrrp, Charioteer of the Sun; Scrab, Pusher of the Ball of the Sun; Cubal, just to be safe.

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