“The Canyon Of Living And Dying” – Free New Salt Mystic Lore Card

Grailrunner is excited to announce the latest addition to our growing Salt Mystic Lore Card set: a mood-setting, rousing vignette titled “Canyon Of Living And Dying”. Download it for free here.

Welcome to the Grailrunner Story Arcade!

Salt Mystic is our rapidly growing western science fiction setting, upon which we’re building everything from novels to games and merchandise. You can learn more about that here. Key to this innovative new way of exploring immersive storytelling is the idea of worldbuilding through a collision of art and fiction. Sometimes the art comes first, then a story is built around it. Sometimes, a story idea percolates and only starts popping after an image is crafted for it.

However it happens, we’re building out locations and settings, characters and background lore, all through experiments and inspirations that often get shared for free on social media and here on the Grailrunner site. The hope is that those of us out there who dream of adventure and exploration, of new worlds and intriguing concepts, we’ll all find a home here! And that you’ll buy books and stuff.

Definitely buy the books and stuff.

The Story Arcade is also a place for people playing the Salt Mystic tabletop wargame to find interesting settings for the battlefields they play upon. That’s where this week’s addition was born, actually.

What was the inspiration for this?

Writing this article here, I was reminded of a really well designed dungeon adventure that appeared in a Wizards Of The Coast compilation titled Ghosts Of Saltmarsh.

Spoiler alert – there is a point in this adventure where the very dungeon setting itself (a ship) starts sinking and flooding. The dungeon destroys itself, and you have to get your characters out or drown. And to me, that’s incandescent genius! I became enamored with the idea of a battlefield setting for the Salt Mystic game where the battlefield floods or sinks or catches fire or otherwise starts snuffing out characters not fast enough to survive.

Generally, I haven’t solved how to convert that to a Salt Mystic terrain book yet. Maybe one day. But one of the ideas that didn’t pan out as I thought about it was a high canyon where the battle was to be fought on crumbling rock walls. I imagined a giant stone golem at the base throwing boulders up at the armies and snatching random people away. It sounded cool, but game rules and art to make that work just didn’t click for me.

This image is what came of all that. I had the picture of a carbine gunslinger nervously clinging to a high rock wall with a derelict in the mist behind him, precariously perched in an inaccessible place.

What was the process to create the image?

Like most of the imagery I produce, this is a photobash of several elements composited together in Photoshop and painted over. The carbine weapon strapped to his hip is something I generated in Blender, but re-textured recently. The climber is a composite of two AI-generated elements and a handful of stock images, run through a filter in Photoshop and color and light graded to match. The background is a composite of two AI-generated landscapes from two different pieces of software, and I used two overlays from Nucly for lighting effects.

What about the story?

I rewrote that three times, trying to give it a western feel. The idea is a dude from a rinky-dink town in the middle of nowhere deciding that the fear of climbing up there is not as strong as his need to really live, to maybe make a name for himself. Or maybe to solve the mystery of what’s inside that derelict.

In the story, he says “to live is to burn”. I totally stole that from Harlan Ellison, who said he stole it from an Egyptian papyrus. Whoever said it first, it’s awesome.


Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new Lore Card. Shoot me a comment or note if you’d care to chat it up about Salt Mystic or where we’re going with all this.

Have a great week!

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