07 January 2013

back to worldbuilding and cartography

So, after my brief adventure with NaNoWriMo and novel-writing, I think I’m slowly gravitating back to worldbuilding and cartography: my true loves. I’ve been sick in bed for the past week and, though I should have been finishing off the first draft of my novel, which is nearing completion, I've found myself looking at my beloved Elyden and wondering what I can do with the regions of the world I'm not that familiar with.

I have often mentioned the Encyclopaedia Elyden (more on this later), and though the bulk of my notes and established world histories are located here (in varying degrees of completeness), I do still have various far smaller documents and notes that include bullet points with details for distant regions, toponyms and other ideas. Many such notes explore regions without the borders of the Empire and the environs of the Inner Sea. Most established of these places are the lands east of my current world map: the original world map was a smaller scale which meant that there were more lands in it, so places such as Tethysia (Isuras), Rhea, Cuth, Thetis, Commaea and Turcar are relatively fleshed-out (cartography-wise) though haven’t been featured in recent maps, so it’ll be a good opportunity to get to know these places again. I do have small snippets of other places – mostly regional names and some coastal features, which I’ve been slowly collecting over the years, and I feel it’s about time to get these collected in map form.

So far the majority of my attentions have been absorbed by the so-called Empire of Korachan (later sundered into two: the High-empire of Korachan in the north and the Reaffirmed Empire of Sarastro in the south), though I've decided now to spend some time in the so-called hinterlands of the east.

So, please welcome my 2nd continental map of Elyden: a Map of the Hinterlands of the East and other Realms, including the Meniscus of the Firmament:  

This is a W.I.P tracking the progress of my attempts at fleshing out the lands east of the Korachani empire. The map is a low-res version (anyone who's seen the Korachani map will know I like working at high res) mock-up of what I imagine the final product will look like. This may take a while to get off the ground as I only have a reasonable idea of what encompasses the western-most of the two continents detailed here (a dry-temperate and arid land populated by a diapsora of people from more southern lands. The major nation here [Tethysia, to anyone interested, Isuras to imperial folk] is an advanced nation of dark-skinned people who migrated there from the south, sort of a cross between renaissance europe and ancient egypt, with some archaic steampunk elements) – the eastern-most continent across as as-yet unnamed sea, is a big blank canvas save for the so-called Menusics (the wellspring of Firmamental enegries on the planet represented by that broken cracked region to the south of the  continent. Other than that I have very little fleshed out here, so coming up with names and histories will be a return to anembryonic form of worldbuilding I haven’t enjoyed in a long while (working as I am with well-established regions and ideas) and at least I have the graticules and climate bands to guide me now...

The projection is equidistant conic, with quite a bit of distortion, particularly around the north pole and lands south of the equator, though I wanted to keep it in a similar format to the other map, not just style. The scale is smaller than the previous map (ie: there is much more land covered in an identically-sized map).

C&C welcome as well as suggestions  

Now, onto the Encyclopaedia...
I imagine it as an in-universe book, that like the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, collates the sum total of human knowledge in a single volume (or series of volumes). In reality it is a word document that collects my total knowledge of the world in one place, organised alphabetically.

It began life 7-8 years ago now as a small document containing bullet-points of ideas and regions I came up with for my conworld of Elyden. This slowly evolved until it became the somewhat unwieldy 466-page, 500,000-word long word document and is divided in two sections or volumes: The first 241-pages are in an alphabetical format similar to a normal encyclopaedia. The second volume is comprised of appendices like mythologies, regional histories, flora/fauna, languages, timelines, heraldries, economies etc. The document is currently A4-format, and the first volume is in standard 9-point font arranged in 2-columns, with the second volume in 10-point font in a single column (though some parts might be divided into 2-columns). Despite this, it’s not really in a format fit for consumption yet as many entries are just placeholders and some regions are fully detailed (some places might take up as much as 10,000 words despite them being extinct nations that do not even appear on any maps, while other extant places might be little more than a name and nothing else) and some are correct to a previous version of the world (for instance, before I devised the sundering of the empire)

There are no pictures or maps included in it so far though eventually I want to add detailed regional maps as well as some small sketches similar to those in books like the Encyclopaedia Britannica etc. I expect the full thing to grow to close to 1,000-pages when (if) I ever finish it. I’d love to print it out one day with an accompanying atlas, in which case it will take a 3-volume format: the encyclopaedia, the appendices, and the atlas.

I originally wanted to develop a wiki (mostly for my own use) though got discouraged by the mount of hyperlinking involved (as it's a living document, I'm constantly revising and editing and removing parts so if I ever go down the wiki-route it'll have to be after I finish it.

Here is a photoshopped mock-up to show what I have in mind for the finished thing. Size and font might change though this gives a general idea. The below picture is a two-A4-page spread, to give an idea of what I have at the moment:

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