Monday, May 7, 2018

Niu Bo Wei, the Hobgoblin Opium King

The forthcoming book Under the Demon Sun: The Warlords of Cinderheim details the Cinderheim Reaches, a large desert on the wild continent of Hygaea. An unrelenting sun beats down on the arid dunes of Cinderheim, making it the hottest place in the world during the brutal summer months. Despite being a largely barren wasteland, the desert has become a dangerous refuge for outcasts, barbarians, the desperate, and the depraved.

The population of Cinderheim centers around seven oases within the desert that provide potable water and stable agricultural production. Each oasis is under the control of a warlord and their band of warriors. Life under the aegis of a desert warlord sometimes approaches serfdom for the people of Cinderheim, but each warlord provides protection and a degree of security. All seven oases boast permanent encampments that create a microcosm of civilization within the desert wastes—life within the fortified walls of an oasis encampment is the safest bet for the people who live within the Cinderheim Reaches.

This is one of the seven warlords, as selected for this preview by the good people of Google+:


The Prince of Pleasure
Niu Bo Wei is a sybarite and hedonist; he does not care for the responsibilities that leading the Thanorek encampment imposes on him, but he does enjoy the pleasures that his position allows. Niu Bo Wei maintains power mostly through his intense charisma and charming decadence—he sees his encampment as the indispensable desert bagnio where all are welcome and where all appetites are satisfied.

  • Appearance. Hobgoblin, dusty rose skin, flashing blue eyes, dresses in loose silk robes and slippers. 
  • Abilities. Intoxicant alchemy, persuasion. 
  • Traits. Pleasure-seeking, makes other feel at catered to. 
  • Ideal. Make Thanorek a place where peace is brokered between the other encampments. 
  • Bond. Cares for his children more than most expect. 
  • Flaw. Chafes under imposed obligations and duties. 
  • Warband. Thanorek’s ragtag band of goblinoid raiders is bolstered by companies of dragonborn mercenaries. 


  • The Night Wives. Niu Bo Wei is polygamously married to a harem of women—each of whom is a skilled assassin. Niu Bo Wei’s Night Wives eliminate his rivals. 
  • Daiyu. Daiyu is Niu Bo Wei’s favored child from among his many progeny. What few know is that the teenage girl is actually a weretiger. 
  • The Tenebriate Guard. The Tenebriate Guard are the elite hobgoblin war-chiefs who lead Thanorek’s warbands. Most are loyal to Niu Bo Wei, but if his leadership were to be opposed the challenge would most likely come from within the Tenebriate Guard. 

THANOREK Thanorek is the least powerful encampment in terms of its ability to wage war, but it provides a useful outlet for the Cinderheim Reaches—it is widely regarded as a place of pleasure and excess where successful raiders can purchase all manner of intoxicants and carnal experiences.
  • Population. The majority of Thanorek’s population is comprised of goblins, bugbears, and hobgoblins. 
  • Aesthetic. Round yurts and pleasure domes pigmented in garish, eye-searing colors. 
  • Supplies. Opium, spices, beans. 


  • The Dancer’s Quarter. The euphemistically styled Dancer’s Quarter is where the pleasure palaces of Thanorek are located. The Dancer’s Quarter is home to numerous taverns, brothels, opium dens, and “dancing halls.” 
  • The Brazier. The Brazier is a fire pit made of rune-etched iron in which an efreeti is bound by magic. The goblins of Thanorek worship the “Flame Lord” as a god, but the efreeti wishes to be freed. 
  • The intoxicant fields. The encampment’s poppy fields along the sheltered mountain slopes are closely guarded; the drug trade is the major component of Thanorek’s economy. 


  • Support Niu Bo Wei against one of the Tenebriate chiefs who wishes to seize power. 
  • Break the enchantment of the Brazier that holds the Flame Lord captive on the mortal plane. 
  • Protect a caravan load of intoxicants from Thanorek to another encampment in the Cinderheim Reaches. 
  • Retrieve a wealthy patron’s wayward child from the depths of the Dancer’s Quarter’s depravity.

Here's what the entries for Niu Bo Wei and Thanorek will look like in the print version of Under the Demon Sun: