Pandemia is the fantasy world in which Dave Duncan's series A Man of His Word and A Handful of Men take place.


Pandemia consists of one large continent surrounded by smaller lands; it is unknown whether there are other lands in the world.


The inhabitants of Pandemia are made up of several different races. Some of them are very close to human subraces, though some of them are further off the baseline. Most, if not all, combinations seem to be interfertile, with the exception of Imps and Jotnar.

  • Anthropophagi--Cannibals, but not necessarily savage ones; Pacific Islanders?
  • Djinn--Middle Eastern/Arabian
  • Dwarf--Dwarves
  • Elf
  • Fairy--African
  • Faun--Big-nosed, passive but stubborn as mules
  • Gnome--Smaller than dwarves, dwell in filth
  • Goblin--Inuit/Native American
  • Imp--Roman/Mediterranean
  • Jotnar(sing. Jotunn)--Norse Viking-types
  • Merfolk--Have an irresistible sexual attraction to other races
  • Pixie--Very reclusive, thought to be mythical
  • Troll

Imps rule most of the continent as part of the Impire, from their capital of Hub. Many races on the fringes have their own kingdoms, and even some mixed kingdoms such as Krasnegar exist.


Magic in Pandemia is based on the accumulation of magic Words. In general, knowledge of one Word enhances one's natural talents, and two Words makes on an "Adept", with some small magical powers. Three and four Words give increased magical powers. In general, anyone with magic Words is more powerful than anyone with fewer Words, but there are some exceptions. Extraordinary individuals(such as Rap)can be more powerful than others with the same number of Words, almost up to the next level.

Gaining a fifth Word can be dangerous, though. It will burn out some sorcerers entirely, causing them to spontaneously combust. Some extraordinary few can withstand the power of the fifth Word. However, even for those, having the fifth Word brings a barely-controllable desire to share it, and the rest of one's words, with a loved one. A pair of people sharing five Words will become a God, and live on a mystical plane above the normal plane of existence. (Wizards with four, or even three, words can perceive and act on that plane, but only Gods are fully comfortable there.) This is why a God in Pandemia is always referred to in the plural.

Magic Words themselves are merely long strings of syllables without intrinsic meaning. They start as the names of Fairies; under the right circumstances, a Fairy may tell its name to another person, and then die. A Word can be told to other people, though only through an effort of will which increases based on the number of potential hearers--it is difficult to whisper it, but nearly impossible to shout it. Sharing a Word decreases its power based on how widely it is shared. If a Word is shared too thinly, then some of the hearers may forget it, leaving its magic to return to a few. A Word may even die out completely in such circumstances.