30 June 2012

of Vorropohaiah and the Prison Carceri

Vorropohaiah, the Broken One, 21st of the Two-and-Twenty Demiurges. My favorite of the Demiurges, not quite sure why, but he is... so there! Well, maybe I should say a bit more as I believe this touches on some of my likes and dislikes and how they differ with regards to what i enjoy reading and what I enjoy writing.
    When it comes to reading (or roleplaying or anything I get to participate in as a viewer, reader, spectator and what not) I tend to like fantastical things: 

    Books: Wayne Barlowe’s ‘God’s Demon’ springs to mind; a meld of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ portion of ‘the Divine Comedy’ and a more modern ‘out-there’ sensibility, if that makes sense. Souls fashioned into behemoth-mounts, and used as currency and literally as building block; demons casting sigils of power, hellish landscapes. If you haven’t read this book I suggest it. I also suggest looking through Barlowe’s art-books ‘Brushfire’, ‘Barlowe’s Inferno’, and ‘Agares’, which just add so much life to his already-evocative world. Amazing stuff. 
    Game settings: Planescape, Dark Sun, Spelljammer, Warhammer 40k, Deadlands. I think with the D&D settings, my choices are probably the most extreme ones. I love the concept and the infinite potential of Planescape – the character of the outer planes, how the land itself has its personality, how Arcadia is (without even looking to its inhabitants) intrinsically different to the Abyss or Mechanus. I was in love with Planescape for a around 10-years, with most of the games of D&D I DMed being in this setting. Favourite planes? Pandemonium, Carceri, (keep those two in mind, if you know what they are, when reading the story below) and the Abyss. Dark Sun is a setting I never had the pleasure of playing (blame my conservative RP group for that). I loved the concept of the dying world, of a place that had reached the end of history, and the sadness of a world in which all great events and leaders had come and gone and were so far in the past that they were not even myth any more. Perhaps the source of my love of deserts? Deadlands is another setting I love, that have never played in. I’m not, in any way shape or form, a fan of westerns, but weird west, as a genre, has always interested me, with Deadlands first and foremost amongst them. Finally, 40k. I’ve been a GW ‘fanboy’ for some years (though their pricing trends recently leave much to be desired…) I haven’t played a game in years, though still keep an eye on their models and fluff, and greatly enjoy the Horus Heresy series. The dystopian setting of 40k is something that I have always loved; the gothic atmosphere and general sense of desperation, the debilitating bureaucracy of it all. Great stuff.
    Art: Hieronymous Bosch. ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’. ‘Terrestrial Paradise, Ascent of the Blessed, Fall of the Damned, Hell’. ‘Allegory of Gluttony and Lust’. I remember these painting from when I was a very young child and they left a big impression on me. Also, Giovanni Piranesi's Carceri Della Invenzione plays a big role here too :)
    Movies: where do I start? There’s many to choose from, though for the purposes of this I’ll mention things like ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, ‘Dark Crystal’, ‘the Fountain’, ‘the Cell’, ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’, amongst many many others.

Something all these things have in common – they are fantastical to the extreme, often to the point of being completely unrealistic. Doorways to alternate planes. A hierarchal evolutionary history of demons. A psychic lighthouse that consume the souls of thousands of psychics every day just to keep navigators going in the right direction. An unending realm of caverns and howling wind. Literal representations of judgement and the apocalypse. On and on it goes.
Elyden, though a fantasy setting, tends to be pretty realistic. There are very few alien races (and I have often toyed with removing the non-human mortal races entirely, leaving only the otherworlders and halfbloods). Magic is very subtle, and more of a resource for use in archaic technologies (the so-called technarcana) and it is also something I am heavily leaning towards leaving entirely in the realm of a material resource, discarding the more traditional magicy stuff (hand gestures, arcane words etc., which I always hated), using it only as fuel for biomechanical implants and orthoses. No dragons, with most fantastical creatures just alternate version of earths fauna or, in the case of the aurochs and indricothere, extinct fauna. Thew closest thing to a dragon is a ‘wyvern’ which is about the size of a quetzalcoatlus, or a t-rex-sized raptor with large feathers (balaurs) or giant upright crocodile-like beasts (monitors). Undead I have always had a problem with and the closest I got is the penumbrally afflicted Sathep the Risen – ruler of Sarastro – a singular character.
On the other hand my love of the mind-bogglingly strange is present, more-so than anywhere else in the Prison Carceri; greatest (some might say most deranged) construct of the Demiurge Vorropohaiah; inspired as much by Dante’sInferno’ as it is by Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s ‘Carceri D’invenzione’ and D&D’s Planescape plane of Pandemonium.
An anomaly in another-wise realistic world? Perhaps. An indulgence amongst nations I’ve strived to ground in reality? Almost certainly. Hopefully it’s things like the Demiurges, Hetepheres the Sphinx-queen, the Archpotentate Malichar; and places like the Palace of Steam and Rust, Daekyn and, hopefully, the Prison Carceri that set this world apart from others.


27 June 2012

more maps...

going away on a semi-holiday soon so wont have much time to be doing anything though i was able to finish off a mock-up for the Inner Sea map I'm working on. This is more of a 'colour-study' than anything else and was actually pretty helpful in helping me determine the level of grunge i want (ie: less that whats in the pic!) and that i also need an incredibly high-res image of a good paper texture to get the effect i wasnt as it became pretty blurry as i scaled it up (unsurprisingly - the paper texture was A4, while the map is almost 4' x 6'). though i got a good feel of the colour-palette im looking for - thoug hthe grunge-effect leaves a lot to be desired, im very pleased with the colours.

the mountains are nearing completion though im still to highlight the majority of them (all thats done are the ranges around the Anubian desert) and still need to add some cartouches, fix the keys and maybe fix any text thats been stretched-out too much.

EDIT: here's a link to a version saved on Dropbox - much bigger! https://www.dropbox.com/s/xjhpxpb7tgjw1kr/NEW%20-%20inner%20sea%20-%20map%20-%20colour-grunge.jpg

23 June 2012


well not much to report unfortunately. I've been busy with that dreaded thing - real life - and have devoted much of my time at the moment to a contest entry on cartographersguild.com. The theme is 'Extremes' and here is my entry (still WIP and not related to Elyden in any way):


The concept i went with was a geologically-active satellite, with metallic (and oxidised) plates akin to those on earth though far more active, with regions of lave between them where they push together, which has created a crust of various minerals and ores that are ripe for exploitation from greedy human colonists (of course)

With regards to Elyden, I've done little writing over the past week though have managed to transfer some details from the old map to the new one, with the hopes of having the major points marked on the map within a few weeks (then I'll probably decide to change the font and key marks again (with a rasterised text layer thats not going to be fun...). Though even once i get that done i wont consider the map 100% done until ive written a history for all of the extant nations. here's a brief list of the nations (ordered alphabetically) and where i stand with each at the moment:

Aethios: aiklah ruins. A central. mountain with radiating rivers. Thats it.

Ahrishen: done, though needs some updating

Alam Bethyl: some cities and areas have names, but little else. i have a very cold celtic-like theme in mind for this place with wooden demon-masks used by sorcerers (shamen).

Almagest: has a pretty detailed history though its a very old version that needs to be changed. its since become an independant entity (no longer part of Korachan) and the eponymous city - once a steampunky dystopian place of 8,000,000 bodies) has been toned down in size and scope and is now quite different.

Anubia: a vast desert region with little true backstory yet, though its few oasis cities are enticing and i look forward to detailing them

Aquariia: little more than the name exists for this region, and the name is likely to change slightly by the time i get round to it (though i do like it, particularly the double-i at the end)

Arkos: the most-recently detailed region, spanning 4 consecutive cultures of which Arkos is the latest, this region is fresh and needs little additions for now. a nobility that is descended from the first crude imperial clones (adonis-figures, with hairless alabaster skin) they now indulge in incest to keep their biology untainted. though the region recently fragmented.

Artalscelli: Like Hoamm, this region is an offshoot of Korachan and a recent addition to the world. history is largely complete though needs updating to reflect the Sundering of Korachan in 3075 RM.

Azazem: i just need to ollate the many bullet-points and snippets of history and expand them into a full history.

Ba'ath: once at one with Suma'ya i only recently divided the two. both are complete, history-wise -ba'ath has a history of penumbral corruption and culturally, hates it, giving rise to a caste of Set that use the penumbra to understand it and ultimately defeat it. a gross generalisation, of course.

the Broken Lands: the isles resulting froma cataclysmic devastation in Khamid in 101 RM, this region has little history following that point, so it will be interesting to create the various disparate cultures that evolved from the common ancestor (Khamid) and to see how they diverged since that time.

Cyhlagharr: oghur (ogre) lands. lots of cyclo/hydrocephaly. looking forward to fleshing this place out!

Erebeth: just a name for now!

the Growing Mountains (Mulciber): 30+disparate tribes of barbarians. most are little more than a name. a handful have a vague clichéd character that needs expanding. this will take a while to get done, though luckily their histories are localised.

the Hareshk: 8 closely-tied nations with roots in the genepools of many different ancient peoples, this will be time-consuming but interesting. i have little other than recent events and spattering of ancient history (initial settlement and colonisation etc).

Hoamm: a relatively-recent addition to the world, this was a natural offshoot of Kroachan. once used as a prison-island, it was largely forgotten with the meteoric rise of Korachan and became its own entity. history needs slight updating to bring it in line with the new Sundered empire.

Hololach: just a name, for now.

J'Thana: i recently tore this region away from N'rach and made it its own place. as both regions mentoned have no full history yet its pretty much a blank slate

Juras: i have very little done here, other than links with Korachan and Parthis.

Karakhas: one-barbarians, though still blood-moon worshipping culture, lots of riots under Korachan. I have lots of tidbits ready for this region and with the scattered encyclopaedia entries i have ready I have the basis for a strong history.

Kaspia: with a name that isnt even visible on the map yet, there is l;ittle history created from here, other than an angelic deity and a harsh scion leader.

Ketesh: the epicurean city. thats it, but a great start :p

Khamid: this is a leftover form an older world (Sola) that has lots of alternate history that i ported over from the old setting that needs to be retrofitted into the new world. this will be a fun one to do.

Khitai: little more than a name, this region is harsh; the north made up of jagged mountains and the south largely an iron (rust) wasteland. it is home to the abyssal templars. will be fun learning what this region brings to my world.

Khuraur: on part of Karakhas though since-sundered. thats all i have.

Kolchis: (aka the grey forest). now Kolchis (and Alam Bethyl, for that matter) are on the 70th parallel, i might have to reduce the forestyness of the place. obviously a harsh place to live. perhaps some geothermal vents to make climate a bit more manageable?

Korachan: the less i think about this place the better... the timeline of this nations also includes the timelines of those nations its subjugated or conquered over its 4-millenia existence... other than that i know more about Korachan than most

Laaskha: a decent timeline and history exists for here but for the time being its just bullet-points and snippets in various encyclopaedic entries.

Lidea: Next on the list to receive the history treatment. still not sure where to take this place, though i know the ancient history so ill just move from there and piece the tidbits of history i have to that.

Lyridia: needs little updating.

Lyridia Dhai: needs little updating

Mharokk: perhaps a name change is in order, though i still like the moroccan influence (stucco, domes, vaulted markets, hot climate, rich myth). thats about all i have so far.

Naareth: an interesting region - matriarchal society where men are little more than workers and sex-slaves to the monstrous breeding Maphrians (thing alien Queens, but evolved from humans) this femme-centric culture has lots of tidbits of history that I've yet to evolve into a full history.

Nakhe: the oriental place - a clichéd pastiche of Japanese, Thai and Chinese culture and myth, this needs a big update, though there's little written about it yet.

Narthel: the first nation to receive the updated history treatment, Narthels history is exhaustive and goes back to the previous age and 'forced' me to elaborate on the extinct cultures of this area -something ive done with all other regions to get the full history works since.

N'rach: the spider-man place. penumbral mutants stabilised into a 'race', of sorts. disfigured human slaves. one envisioned as a true nation, theyre now little more than degenerate savages, with a couple of 'cities' (gossamer fortresses built over expansive birthing pits)

New Pelasgos: brand new place. 0-history. likely needs a new name too

Ophiussa: much like most of the nations in the west of the map this region is little more than a name and a vague clichéd concept - snakes. much work needs to be done!

Paraiya: tribal people, 3-different regions. a rich monarchic history that is now shattered, they are a shadow of the kingdom that once was (like ethiopian empire)

Parthis (Parthia): lots of history detailed for here but its old and needs a big revision. this is one of my favourate regions and was, at one time (in-world) a rival of Korachan.

Pelasgos: one of the earliest places i named so it has quite a few snippets of history though nothing truly unifying or characterising, so ill need to brainstorm some ideas for this region.

Rhamia: an old imperial colony that was abandoned and became its own nation. needs little updating.

Rhinocoloura: massifs, rivers, ancient ruins, a harsh land and dour/stoic people. this is all i have for this region other than a kickass name (at least i think so :p)

Sabia: not even parked - one of the nations north of Temur. i have lots of cultural tidbits done for this region (and its neighbour Kaspia). but little history - they will be linked.

Sagittaria: links with Tahab, migration, slaves in exile. Thats about it.

Saragos: a reltively recent addition to the world - an offshoot of Venthir, following Hetepheres' exiling of technarcanists following her increasing paranoia. litle needs to be changed here (unless the forthcoming Naarethi history makes me)

Sarastro: alongside Venthir, one of my favourite nations with a detailed history to match (why is it i like the desrty places so much?)

Shotha: a new nation i added after coming up with a big civil war in the empire. needs history.

Siriphagos: started out (in my mind) as a bandit stronghold but evolved over time (in-world and in my head) into a tradeing powerhouse, forming the hub of trade in this arid region of Elyden - the backbone of the so-called salt-road. other than his it has little history and needs expanding.

Sour: pirates and traders. Thats about it.needs fleshing out some more!

Skaros: a vague timeline and historical outline exists for here, though needs collecting into a coherent format.

Soleyn Territories: nothing exists here but the name. suggestions? LOL!

Stolas: creepy emaciated birdmen (think tall gaunt skeletal-looking men with horrid beaky faces, disfigurement and spike-like feathers on their backs and heads and elbows. gross) that worship a totemic remnant of a long-dead demiurge. have a basic outline for this region though no true history. this will be a good one.

Suma'Ya: i recently created this region, sundering Ba'ath into two - Ba'ath in thenorth and Suma'ya in the south. both are up-to-date.

Tahab: i have some broad history done for this nation, but its old (both in-world and in real-life) so it needs updating

Tartak: horse riders that at some point was subjugated by Kroachan and Parthis.

Temuja (Temur): interestingly considering this was the first place i named and the one I've researched the most (heavy mongolian influences) I have very little history created for this region, but lots of cultural character (pretty much the opposite of many other regions). Ill enjoy this one as itll take me back to my first experiences in the world of Elyden.

Thrace: allie/vassal of Parthis. oghur wars and lots of hydro/cyclocephaly (please dont google those words if youre of a squeamish disposition!)

Tzallrach (Char Mathi): the savannah/lion place (many region names and cultural features here are derived from real-world leonine names, like Aslan).with this now located between the 35 - 25 parallel and in the rainshadow of a mountain, i either need to change the geography to keep the flavour or change the flavour to keep the geography. this region is linked with Venthir so anything i do here will likely impact that regions' history.

Vaalk: cultural links with Laaskha. all i know is that this is a militocratic culture.

Varr: history is ready for this region though I've since changed much of the grant history of this age (the largest change being the sundering of the Korachani empire into two around 300 years before the present,. plus on re-reading I've realised its lacking character, so needs more oomph, particularly in the antique ages.

Venthir: done, with one of the most expansive histories. One of my favourite regions with my favourite ruler - the ruthless sphinx queen Hetepheres, last of her kind.

Virahan: brand new - a nation splintered from ahrishen some time ago. i know little beyond the time of its fracturing form ahrishen. so what i come up with for here will likely impact neighbouring nations

Zion (sarastroan Zion): golems, lost magical lore, occupation and fragmentation. i like this region and it needs little updating for now.

as you can see a huge list and nowhere near close to done with them. keeping in mind that these are just the nations that feature on the map im currently working on (theres at least twice again as many that are named...) there a LONG way to go. it takes me at least 3 weeks (no less than 60 hours) to detail one of the above regions, assuming i have enough time to and that along with the regions history comes updating of the encyclopedia with the addition of dozens of new entries and revisions of old ones so there's a lot of back and forth when writing, taking notes, updating other entries for future revisions, new regions, groups, people, races etc, updating timelines... and you get an idea of the work that goes into just one nation (which almost invariably brings lots of editing work to be done to other (supposedly completed) regions. At best it makes the world that more real, at worst it gives me a big headache and results in things like the sundering of the Korachani empire that requires a big overhaul of all regions' histories.

well thats the hobby i chose :p

04 June 2012


not much progress on worldbuilding (I'll be sure to write up something in the coming week-or-so as I write some more), though I've been concentrating on cartography and physical characteristics of the world (circumference, climate bands etc), so thats translating in little being done in the worldbuilding department. I also have some leave coming up at the end of june/early july, so Ill try write up a short story.

Anywho, the below pic is a small exert from the world map as it stands now -still boring and uncoloured, though with the added difference of a slightly different border:

You'll notice the chequered border is now in line with the long/lat graticules (each graticule being divided into 5 - equalling 1 degree). I've since made the the chequered border thinner (keeping the map border itself the same size - 1" wide, added long/lat numbers to the map and added rivers and a faint paper texture.

now comes the arduous task of trying to replicate the region borders from the older equirectangular map onto this one... then i can continue with worldbuilding, working on the next nation in my long to-do list.  

03 June 2012

of stars and constellations

One thing I notice a lot of people that create worlds (both professionally and amateur. of course, I'm the latter...) is that they tend to leave out certain things, like varieties of flora and fauna, climate and geography (other than the broadest implementations) and the skies.

Almagesti Star Map, c. 3000 RM
 With Elyden I've created a star map with a catalogue of all the stars and constellations and other extraterrestrial objects (satellites, planets, comets etc.). Like much of the world, I'm still deep in creating these facets of Elyden's skies, though I have completed a star chart. the above map was created in the nation of Almagest in c. 3000 RM (the present day is 4008 RM). Though very far removed from the neolithic stargazing culture of its past (extinct now by around 4000 years), the great city Almagest remained a hub of astronomical knowledge, with astromancers remaining in power throughout its existence. The city was once one of the great gems of the Korachani empire (with over 8,000,000-bodies at the peak of its influence), though the so-called Artifex Wars left it an independent entity. sundered from the empire, it died a slow death of disease and starvation, and the city remains now as a ruined metropolis with the descendants of degenerates populating its haunted streets. These are the constellations as recognised by the Korachani empire. Much like western and eastern constellations bear little resemblance to one another, the constellations detailed here are those as recorded by the Korachani empire, based off of ancient knowledge from people it has subjugated over the years. Also, much like our own constellations,those of the southern hemisphere are more 'artificial' as they come from far later in history and were first recorded by sea explorers (indeed there are far fewer in the southern hemisphere as the exacting requirements of the Order of Astromancers in almagest has failed to recognise most of the newly-named constellations).

on a more practical standpoint, I really enjoyed using noise/levels/hue&saturation in creating the stars in the background. though the constellations haven't been described in any detail yet, most of them are based off fauna that I created for the world (or pinched from extinct genera, in the case of the Indrik - indricothere), or mythological objects/events, that i deemed worthy-enough of making it into the skies in the form of constellations, most of which are carried over from ancient cultures (much like ours).

in addition to the standard map (as i imagine it would have looked hot off the printing presses), i also created an older-style version of the map:

antique Almagesti map
 Took me longer than I wanted, though I'm rather pleased with the end-result.