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Sanctum | Strategy, Sorcery, SubterfugeSanctum | Strategy, Sorcery, Subterfuge



Ngozi's Way

A periodic column on Sanctum strategy, theory, and fun, by Ian Schreiber, Sanctum player name Gannon. You can reach Ian at

Say What?!?
August 19, 1999

It all started when I called up Leslie and asked to do a column called Ngozi's Way ...

Leslie: Who's way?
Gannon: Ngozi.
Leslie: Who's that?
Gannon: You know, the Hero in War. Nnn-GAH-zee.
Leslie: Oh, you mean Ngozi ... NGOH-zee.
Gannon: Okay, I have absolutely no idea how you could command human vocal cords to make that sound that you just did. Say it again.
Leslie: NGOH-zee.
Gannon: Hmm. I'll take your word for it. Is it alright if I say Nnn-GAH-zee?

It occurred to me that half of the cards I own, I can't even pronounce. So, I called up Leslie again and asked her how to actually say half of the names in the game.

She admitted that it made customer support ... um ... interesting, when someone would call up with a question and totally mangle a name.

Of course, she referred me to Matt rather than just answering my question. Must have been Matt's lucky day, to have to deal with me when I had an important question such as this on the brain. But have no fear, it only took a few mild death threats to get the answers I was after. Well, it also took a hefty fine, thanks to the local police office, but hey, I did it for your benefit.

So, here's how to say most of the oddly-spelled names and words in Sanctum. The syllable that's stressed is the one in all caps. First the easy ones:



























Now, some of the harder ones:



Important to note because Gargoyles don't actually speak, and when the Elves wrote it down the characters were DRXH. When the Humans saw the thing, they pronounced it as DRAH-kah. And you know how trustworthy Humans are. I have a copy of the actual Elvish runes right here, but you can't see them ... nyah nyah. Okay, I lied; I don't have them. Maybe they're in the Fishbowl of Death somewhere.



The “G” at the beginning is silent.



Not NYE-ill, like I thought it would be.



The beginning “ng” is like the end sound in the word “sing” or “ring” or “ending” without the vowel next to it. Like I said, I didn't know a human could do that.



He's also been called AH-jee, AH-gee and OH-gee, but OH-jee is the more or less “official” variant. Or so Matt tells me.



The “zh” is like a “j” without the “d” sound at the beginning – like Zha Zha.



And here I thought the “X” would be pronounced like a “ks” or “ch”. So much for my marketing idea for “Xia Pets”.

Xin Shian


And likewise.



Great way to win a bar bet – tell the person that there's no such card as a “SORD uv ZAY-nah”.

Oh, and Matt also had the nerve to tell me that Tan'u'zhadhi was pronounced just like it was spelled. What a wise guy. I got him back though; asked him to pronounce my name, and he just sat there gibbering until I told him. When he finally gave up, I said “GAN-uhn”. Then he called me a wise guy; go figure.

The next day, I called back. Collect, this time (I learned my lesson). I asked some questions about the backstory of the Sanctum universe. You see, I was working on this little theory, that there really wasn't a backstory and DA had managed to keep the fact secret for years. Well, so much for that; I'll tell you what I extracted from Matt some other day. But I did notice that a lot of the story sounded familiar, like it had roots in various Terran mythologies. I wasn't enough of a myth buff to know where though, so I asked.

Turns out there's a lot of Greek and Arabic mythology, and little bits of Nordic, Gaelic and Germanic (mostly in House War) as well as some medieval European legend scattered all over the place. I also learned that the four classic elementals (Gnome, Sylph, Salamander, Undine) were from alchemical tradition, specifically Paracelsus. Now I just need to figure out who this Paracelsus guy is, and why he thought that air elementals couldn't be damaged without Alterations; I'll keep you posted. He also gave me some further reading, in case any of you out there want to look at the historical basis for this game known as Sanctum:




Bullfinch's Mythology

Thomas Bullfinch

Very readable, academically accurate, kinda stodgy.


Edith Hamilton

Similar to Bullfinch, same kind of stuff.

Magic Into Science

Henry M. Pachter

Biography of Paracelsus, good info, kinda dated writing.

The Norse Myths

Kevin Crossley-Holland

Good stuff, although Sanctum only borrowed lightly from the Norse.

The Power of Myth

Joseph Campbell

Or really anything by the same author; much more theory than myth in and of itself, but if you apply his ideas to some of the other mythologies, one of the places you could end up is Sanctum :)

Of course, there's a lot more to Sanctum than that. Some of the ideas in the game were completely made up by the deranged minds of DA's finest. There's even a map and a complete history of the Sanctum gameworld somewhere, although I think they'd need a mighty big fishbowl to hold it all. (I gave up on hoping to win a copy in a tournament, although I'm just as happy with a few boosters anyway.)

And the game mechanics didn't come from mythology at all, not that I have to tell you that.

So, this is NGOH-zee, signing off. At least until I learn how to make a labiodental fricative at Leslie.

[Disclaimer: Any similarity between the above events and real, actual events is fictional. The names have not been changed, in order to embarrass and make fun of the guilty.]

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