08 June 2016

ATLAS ELYDEN #8 - the Free Lands of Vârr

Vârr is an unfortunate place, haunted by the echoes of a past tainted by the actions of a mad god. Vorropohaiah, he was once known as, though his name is now whispered only amongst the most learned of scholars. He was one of the Two-and-Twenty worker gods – the Demiurges. They were abandoned by their creator as punishment for their hubris in creating the mortal races. Vorropohaiah went mad following his divine emancipation and spent his days shaping the features of Elyden into monuments: first to his Father, then to himself, and finally to nothing at all. Many of these ancient monuments survive in the dead parts of Vârr, testament to his godly artifice.

None, however, as famed or feared as the twin wonders of Carceri and the Varrachon. The former is a world-spanning cavern built by the god in the latter days of his insanity. None know its purpose or how even such a monolithic edifice can survive the timeless movements of the land itself, but it simply IS. To descend into its depths is to court madness and the whispers of the languid god, or, if one is lucky, merely death. The latter - the wretched mountain known as the Varrochon - measures no less than 400-miles long and 175-miles at its widest point and is commonly thought to have been created by millions on toiling hands hauling rocks from the construction of carceri into a large valley that in the day dominated the area. over the years the valley was leveled and was slowy turned into the foul mountain we see today.   

In more recent memory, Vârr was occupied by the Korachani empire, which used it as little more than a resource to be plundered. For over two millennia the empire mined its ores, cut down its forest, and fished its seas. IT left no resource untouched and retreated only 300-year ago after taking all it could. Vârr now lives in the shadow of that empire, al and unwanted and uncared for despite its attempts at rebuilding the ruin that Korachan left behind.

A dichotomous leadership – in the form of the priestly Heirogoths and Regent-kings – picked up the pieces left by Korachan. Some of the abandoned quarries and open cast mines are not fully spent, and they work them at great toil to get what they can from the land. Forests stripped bare by Korachan are only now starting to regrow and the Vârrans have learnt to tend to them, careful not to take too much, as the risks of what await over-exploitation are all-too apparent.

the Free Lands of Vârr 


So map #8 is done, and with it the journey around the Inner Sea slowly continues. This was a relatively easy map to do – the south west was ready from previous maps (Korachan and Pelasgos), and the region of Vârr itself was pretty well-thought out in my head. This type of map doesn’t do the region justice at all. I have a mood board for this place filled with pictures of grey hills covered in tree-stumps, sprawling open cast mine, industrial pollution, wastelands and other inspiration. It’s a bleak place, but I have a morbid fascination with such things, and that’s really where Elyden came from. Vârr is probably the epitome of what Elyden and the Korachani empire are.
Some of you might recognise the word Vorropohaiah – so now you know where it comes from and what it means J

I've actually made some updates to the maps - making the territories outside the focus map paler. I’ve also made the roads thicker and clearer added a bit of hue/saturation to make the colours 'pop' a bit more.  I also started applying a greyed-out colour to show areas of corruption, which I felt was missing before. I now have to go back and update the older maps to match this one.



I've also updated the mosaic map to include the latest maps. I've also added a grey-out border showing a poster-map I hope to make of the Inner Sea once the individual nations and regions around its coastline are done. At this rate though I don't imagine I'll even start if for another year or two... If I continue at this rate I might manage 16 maps by the end of the year, which is close to circumnavigating the Inner Sea, though not enough to map all the lands that fill out that area.

Remember, you can support my work on Patreon, where you can gain access to high-res images, textless maps, more stories and background and other exclusives

#Elyden, #Fantasycartography, #Atlaselyden, #Varr

31 May 2016


Map #7 is done. complete with inset map. I went for a more simple approach in the end, keeping the topography/elevations the same for ease of reference.

Atlas Elyden #7 - Laaskha

Second of the territories annexed by the Korachani empire following the Archpotentate Malicher’s rise to power, Laaskha was then and remains now a militant culture famed for its unique tradition of employing spirithosts in battle. In their most basic form, spirithosts are artificially-maintained bodies imbued with the spirits of great past generals, allowing them to impart their wisdom to those in the present. So important were the spirithosts in their culture that a great hall, still standing, was constructed to house both the vessels and the spirits. There, in the Temple of the Spirithosts, they are venerated as great cultural heroes and champions of the Laaskhan people.

But Laaskha is more than the followers of these millennia-old champions. It is a land of borders - to the west, beyond the Gulf of Skaros, are foreign lands without the Korachani empire. It is a land of many people - lascar, Korachani, Vaalkan, Almagesti - all mingle in its cities. It is a land whose people, disparate as they may be, are united by belief (faith in the Church of the Machine is absolute and its ancestral god, the seven-armed martial deity Seithenyn, was succesfully converted into a major saint of the Church of the Machine long ago) and a hard-working nature.

That hard-working nature was put to the test when, early in the fourth millennium RM, it became apparent that the oceans of Elyden were slowly drying up. Inch-by-inch, the coastline was expanding, leaving coastal settlements surrounded by mudflats that allowed sea access only during high-tide. Over centuries even the tides could not rescue such cities from becoming land-locked. Some cities were relocated at great cost, others had new ports built closer to the new coastlines. Still others toiled to deepen their harbours, but the fate of such cities was inevitable. The Laaskhans relocated and rebuilt many times over the past centuries, and the ruins of abandoned cities pepper the land, in some places over a hundred miles from the present coastline. Such cities might be forgotten by other nations, but the Laaskhans look at them as reminders of their past and the dedication that marks them as Laaskhans.

#atlaselyden, #laaskha

24 May 2016

Laaskha feedback!

So I’m working on the next map in the series – Laaskha. It’s mostly done, though still requires lots of labels (though not as many as some other maps as its quite zoomed in, as you can see by the graticule scales).

Laaskha WIP inset

I’m posting it to get some feedback as there was a lot of dead space in the lower right and I decided to include an inset map (my go-to thing for dead space!) of the western coastline, showing the coastline around 500-years ago. In a nutshell, sea levels have been steadily dwindling over the past centuries, leaving many coastal cities land-locked and coastal salty lakes where once bays were located. I intend on adding a dotted line to the inset to show the present coastline and cities as they were 500-years ago as they are quite different.

My question is the elevation map in the inset map – of course as the sea level is higher in the inset map, the other topographical elevations should not match up with the other map, but should be higher up, if that makes any sense. I can do this (though it may take some time to go over all the elevations to make them appear higher. But is it worth it, or does it even make sense?

#Atlaselyden, #Encyclopaediaelyden, #Laaska, #Fantasycartography 

11 May 2016

Atlas Elyden - Skaros

Skaros is a land with a long history, dating back to the dawn of the Fifth Age of mortal life, where the lascar people settled the eastern coast of the Gulf of Skaros. They prospered, spreading to the south and east before outside powers in the east stalled their growth. They would dwindle, their ancestors becoming the forebears of Laaskha and Bassorah, as well as Skaros.

By the coming of the Korachani empire, Skaros had become a powerful region with a history of charismatic, if ruthless, leaders who had a propensity for wielding the Atramenta against follower and foe alike. This was further exacerbated by the Korachani exile of its ancient witch-rulers, the cheiroahin, into Skarosian lands. Many cities in the south-east of Skaros retain their old Atramental traditions.

The civil war, known now as the War of the Artifexes, left Almagest (to the north of Skaros) an independent nation, sundered from its once-parent empire, taking with it a large portion of Skaros’s northern territories - a blow Skaros never fully recovered from. Though it remains today a valuable part of the Korachani empire’s economy, it remains known to most around the Inner Sea as a land of occultists and shipyards, a stereotype its people fight hard to shed. In truth, the Skarosi people see themselves as the descendants of conquerors and explorers, and the finest Atramentists in the empire.

Atlas Elyden: Skaros 

(note: patrons get access to a higher res version on my patreon page at - www.patreon.com/elyden )

#Elyden #Atlaselyden

06 May 2016

A Brief History of the Inner Sea

Elyden is a large world of many cultures and civilisations, some neighbours, and some divided by many thousands of miles. Though those around the Inner Sea share at least a modicum of history - shared ancestry, languages with common roots, linked histories - those on the other side of Elyden are barely known to them. Such distant lands - far Meniscea and the island-continent of Bror, as well as most of the continent of Sammaea - are a world unto themselves, and wholly alien to the civilised lands around the Inner Sea.

The Inner Sea, however, is a different story. The history of Elyden is one of layers and ages. This, the Fifth Age of Life is over five millennia old, and is but one age. Records have been known to go back even further: tantalising clues into the lives of ancient mortals.

Despite the clues buried in sands and ruins, we know little of such times. Archeology, divination and other methods have given us snippets of knowledge, however. We know that humans were not as widespread as they are today and other mortal races (the Two-and-Twenty tribes) were present in hitherto untold numbers. Empires, sprawling and under the aegis of scions and otherworlders were common. We do not know the causes, but there was a great war that spanned continents and eons. In that war were empires toppled and races obliterated. Humans, their instincts for survival greater than those of the other races, were first to emerge from the ashes and rebuild. We live in the world born from that death.

Not all that the ancients had built was lost, however, for the artifice of the Demiurges and their scions remained, superior to what even the technarcanists of today can manufacture. In most cases these marvels of the ancients are ruined, though a few have been found in working order, and it is thought that many of the technological breakthroughs of the Fifth Age lie in rediscovered techniques and technologies of the ancients.

It is with these gifts that the modern age was slowly built from the ashes of ancient war, and though few know the full truth behind our origins, there remains a collective memory of sorts - an echo of forgotten empires and cities that lingers even as the modern age moves inexorably towards its own end.

In these days of fading some turn to the fading of past age for answers, or perhaps solace. Perhaps knowing that others before us experienced the ending of an age gives us strength, or maybe hope, if not a perverse delight in the suffering of others. Regardless, there are those who have taken it upon themselves to record the history of this age.

What follows is an abridged timeline of the Fifth Age, noting major events of note within what would later become the Korachani empire, the Republic of Almagest, the Reformed Sarastroan empire and the Secular Republic of Parthis.    

the Inner Sea

  • c. -1500 - -1000 RM: following the fading of the Fourth Age the mortal races begin to emerge from isolation, in small groups at first. Fourth Age empires, such as the Svathi Domains, are extinct, the only memory their scorched ruins that stand nameless over an uncaring land. Familial groups begin to encounter each other. In some areas they remain separate, whilst in others they join together in larger (albeit still small) groups. These groups, regardless of their size, tend to explore the ruins of past civilisations. Some settle these regions whereas others remain nomadic, wandering the lands they encounter. Over time these disparate groups will consolidate and breed together, spreading and eventually giving rise to the ancestral races from which modern humans are descended - the achshi (populating extant Vârr, Rhamia and Ahrishen), the areshi nomads (who would clash with the achshi), the dheans and dhamateans (populating what would later become Ba’ath and Lidea), the lascar (who would populate the eastern coast of the Gulf of Skaros, giving their name to Laaskha), the nathi (whose ancestors would expand to Narthel, Lyridia, Sarastro and Venthir), the svathi (who would scatter and settle the Haréshk, Zion, and Ba’ath), amongst many others. It is during this time that most city-states and demesnes remaining from the Fourth Age disappear, either falling to vice and corruption, or becoming assimilated by the new cultures.
  • -1280 RM: in Ithoia, the Dhamas, wealthy from trade with Dhea, erect the city of Dhamatea. It is one of the first known major cities from the Fifth Age and the name becomes synonymous with the region.
  • c. -1200 RM: In the plains of Hamshen, Vagash subjugates surrounding tribes, becoming a major power in the region.
  • c. -1125 RM: the Achshi people beat the marauding tribes south of their settled lands. The city of Fascia can be traced to this time.
  • c. -1100 RM: the city of Amnath is home to as many as 15,000 people; one of the largest cities of the day. Kheri nomads move east from Haagen into Anubia, where their descendants remain to this day.
  • -1019 RM: King Sathep I unites Shaos Kher, funding Saostana, which would later become Sarastro.
  • c. -1000 RM: by this time many of the emerging cultures have consolidated and become nations and empires - the classical empires of antiquity from which modern nations are descended. It is a time of rediscovery and repopulation. Cities begin to grow rapidly as do their parent empires: Amnath, Dhamatea, Arsheesh, Asibaia, Azor, Conth, Haagen, Hara, Olnnad, Opham, and many others. Largest amongst them were Sammon, which dominated northern Sammaea; Nath, which covered extant Venthir and Nárthel; Saostana; and Korachan, which would never solidify into a single culture, but rather thrive as disparate city-states.
  • -615 RM: In Saostana, the Simulaeids raise their patron deity Sathahan to true divinity, leading to uprisings.
  • c. –600 RM: Nath emerges as the dominant state in the Vagash region, this golden age lasts until -400 RM.
  • –593 - –589 RM: civil war in Amnath, which leaves it sundered into 9 separate nations. Thousands of slaves escape to the north and south.
  • –579 RM: civil war in Saostana culminates in the rise of the Shananid Dynasty.
  • By c. -500 RM the Korchani people have mastered the production of steel, putting them at a distinct advantage over their neighbours, many of which were still in a neolithic state. With the gift of steel, the Korachani people slowly abandon their old god, Libor and gravitate towards a dichotomous religion, worshipping light and dark, life and death. They soon cover the entirety of the Korachani peninsula, where the tribes consolidated, becoming seven distinct regions. Soon the caste of Cheiroahin (Atramental users) rises to power in Korachan.
  • c. -400 RM: coins first minted in Bithyn, Almagest.
  • c. -250 RM: coins first minted in Korachan.    
  • c. –200 RM: the Almagest, an astronomical treatise, is written, in part from knowledge taken from stargazer ruins of the Desolation of Astudan / People of Tahmal move south-east, merging with Saostanan people, out of which the Saoshyants would rise / Nath dissolves into warring states, which would eventually give rise to Venath.
  • –106 RM: Palace of the governor is built in Khadon, one of the seven city-states of Korachan. It will later become the Bastion of Steel.
  • –41 RM: Malichar is born in Korachan.
  • –33 RM:  In Sarastro, the Saoshyants gain backing of most city-states, becoming its unquestioned rulers. The capital is moved to Solonia.
  • –23 RM: The merchant Malichar is shipwrecked in the island of Maleth in the middle of the Inner Sea, where he ultimately finds the Scripture of Shadow. Using the scripture, he changes the path of his life. He leaves as a prisoner and makes port in Vaalk where he is sold as a gladiator.
  • –13 RM: The Solon laws appear in Sarastro.
  • –7 RM: Malichar kills a beast in the ring and earns his freedom. He leaves a free man, but not before slaying his captors and owners. He makes sail for Korachan where he begins his unification.
  • –6 RM: Malichar finds the sword Tartaruch, which he wields for the rest of his life.
  • –6 - 1 RM: Malichar unites the city-states of Korachan. The reign of Malichar and the Korachani empire begins. Trade pacts made with Azazem.
  • –5 RM: Malichar finds the shield Aegis in Bachan, wields it until the creation of the Iron Angel in 341 RM, at which point he gives it to her.
  • –3 RM: King Ahrishen I dies in Aresh and the nation is renamed Ahrishen in his honour / Hetepheres, last of the Nathi sphinxes, travels to Teigirs.
  • –2 RM: Malichar leads the seven City-states against the Cheiroahin, deposing them, exiling what remained of them to the north-west.
  • –1 RM: A powerful personality cult forms around the sphinx Hetepheres in Teira.
  • 0 – 100 RM: Rise of the Venathi empire from the ruin of the Nath state in what is now Venthir.
  • 1 RM: so-called Age of Steel begins, lasts until death of the Undying Machine, in 4008 RM.
  • 1-5 RM: Worship of the old Deities of Life and Death is abolished in the Korachani empire in favour of The Undying Machine, which is an enigmatic figure and centre of a growing mystery cult. The prevalent sorcerer-caste of Cheiroahin is persecuted, driven to the north-and-west, where they settle in Skaros.
  • 1-82 RM: Unification Wars in Korachan; where the proverbial seven nations were acquired.

(note: this is an excerpt of a larger timeline, detailing the first centuries of the Korachani empire's conquest over the Inner Sea. The full timeline is available to patrons pledgiung at least $1 a month on my Patreon)

02 May 2016

what's next? Atlas Elyden

Ok, so now that the Almagest map is ready, I’m thinking about what to do next. The next logical step is to continue with that general region. Now that Almagest, Azazem, Korachan and Pelasgos are done, All that’s left to complete the N-E part of the Inner Sea coast are Skaros (S of Almagest) and Laaskha (S of Skaros and W of Azazem), and I’ll have a continuous string of nations stretching from almagest in the N to Pelasgos in the E.

the Inner Sea - finished maps so far

If I also complete the nation of Vaalk (S of Laaskha, across the Inner Sea) that will complete what’s known as the ‘Seven Tribes of Korachan’ - basically the first 7 nations (Pelasgos, Azazem, Laaskha, Skaros, Vaalk, almagest + Korachan) that were taken over by the Archpotentate Malichar in the first decades of the Korachani empire’s rule, 4 millennia past (of course the Seven Tribes are no longer recognised in the present day – Vaalk is part of The Sarastroan empire, and Almagest gained independence 1,000 years ago, for instance).

There’s a few other regions I’m itching to map.

The first is Khamid, which is probably the oldest region in terms of my writing – Khamid was a campaign setting a I had devised for D&D about 12 years ago – an Egyptian-themed setting, heavily influenced by Stephen Sommers’ the Mummy and the Mummy returns, amongst others. Even in that old iteration it was a region shaped by a massive magical calamity that sundered thousands of square miles, reducing the landmass of Khamid, leaving the entire region flooded and peppered with cliff-sided archipelagos – the remnants of the land. Only a small hooked peninsula remained in the west, enough for the region to not go entirely extinct and to remain, embittered by the glories and hubris of the past. (the setting was basically transported into Elyden as I started fleshing it out many years ago and remained one of my favourite regions since. I have mapped this area before, as part of the Venthir and Tzallrach map, though it’s never been the focus of a single map before.

Another region I’m interested in fleshing out more is Saviud, or the Surrach as it is known in the Korachani empire. It’s a vast dry region of independent city-states, each ruled by charismatic individuals – tyrants, otherworlders, sorcerer-kings, theocracies, mystery cults, etc. Each city is unique and tends to control a particular resource, making trade an important aspect of life, with merchant caravans and caravanserais a common sight. It’s the setting of the serialised novel I’m working on at the moment and deserves to be fleshed out more. The problem is its an even larger area than Almagest was and the the A3 format I’m working with seem a bit too constraining. I might work on a larger map and then divide it map in two – Surrach north and Surrach south – for more detail, with the larger one featuring in a generic overview of the region that concentrates more on territories and resources.

Any feedback?

29 April 2016

the Republic of Almagest

Atlas Elyden: the Republic of Almagest
Here's the fifth map in the Atlas Elyden. Work slowed down due to illness, some commission work and writing. I Was hoping for 2 maps a month, though I don't think I'll be able to regularly keep up that pace. This one covers a much larger expanse of land than the other maps I've worked on so far and took a while longer to finish, largely due to the topography, and it has quite a few labels, though even looking at it now I can see there's room for more :)

(Note: the pale square in the top right corner will be where another inset map, this one depicting the capital city of Almagest in greater detail, once it's done (as it's taking a bit longer than I thought it would :) mostly because I'm designing it as a full-size map and will then be shrinking it to fit the space. The finished full-size map will be included in the Atlas as one of a handful of city maps describing important or strategic cities)

The Republic of Almagest has a long history: as an independent land of astronomers and scholars based around the coast of what is now known as the Strait of Almagest; as a territory of the Korachani Empire (under the control of which it spent most of its history, prospering as an industrial centre); and as an independent region freed of its imperial shackles since 3014 RM, after a long period of civil strife with the Motherland. Almagest remains a powerhouse of industry, though waning lands have left its many large cities without food. The capital, Almagest, was once the largest urban area in Elyden, with no less than 6-million bodies calling it home. What remains of that is now a greatly diminished city where starvation and disease run rife. Press-gangers recruit desperate people with promises of glory in the army. The reality is quite different, and most who join up trade one form of hunger and uncertainty for another

Please let me know what you think in the comments, as I'm always open to input.

remember you can follow me on my blog at www.vorropohaiah.blogspot.com and become a patron at www.patreon.com/elyden for high res files as well as textless versions or .psd's