Excerpts, Inspiration

Cusian Linguaphore

Today’s endeavors, beyond a surprising amount of people desiring my company and chatter, have very much revolved around trying to put my finger on something I learned about years ago.

There is a lot in the world I find thrilling or interesting, be it the natural world, history or any number of other topics, to the point I think I just have too many marbles rattling around inside my skull.
My challenge, therefore, is not to find my marbles, as one might expect of a slightly loopy person, but to find the right marble instead.


I’ve long been a fan of Terry Jones, not just for his comedy work, but also his approach to history and very engaging documentary style. Through his work, I have found humor in everything from the number 1, to the lives of medieval men and women.
Somewhere along the way, I also learned about a signaling system the Romans had once used, though it turns out I have no recollection at all of what the system had been called.

This, in turn, led to a fun few hours of trying to find the knowledge I wanted with an arduous crawl over the internet. Lucky for me, it only took a few clicks to land on an article describing the system I was looking for… but no name.


The messaging system in itself is thought to be Greek in origin and was recorded by Tacticus in the 4th century BC. It involved the use of matching water bowls and message sticks at two separate outposts to pass long complex messages.
For example:

Outpost A wishes to ask Outpost B for reinforcements. Inside their bowl of water, they have a rod stood upright with the sigil for ‘reinforcements’ as the third marker down. Outpost B has a system that matches theirs exactly, including the size of the bowl.

Outpost A uses a torch to get Outpost B’s attention, then when they know they are ‘listening’, a torch signal is given, and both outposts pull the bungs out of their water bowls, so water drains out the bottom.

Outpost A watch their bowl drain until the water level is on the ‘reinforcements’ marker, then signals Outpost B to put their stopper in.
Outpost B can now look to see which marker the water level is on in their water bowl, and understand Outpost A needs reinforcements.

Using sigils or codices, one could send complex messages to each other at the speed with which water drained from the system. Simple, and pretty effective for its time.


But do you think I could find the name of this system anywhere online? Could I toffee apples!
Nevertheless, today was spent sketching a variant of the system out, for an example of Hevna’s ancient technology (specifically, having been in use in Ancient Helze). Then, a new name of my own invention before putting this thing to bed: Cusian Lingupahore.
Cusian for the ancient scholar who invented it, Linguaphore for ‘language-bearer’.

And here it is, all ready for the Compendium!



A rose by any other name, right?

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