30 May 2012


Yet another cartography-related post, and this time its about my old nemesis -projections.

Anyone with a decent knowledge of mapmaking knows that a flat world map (usually created in what's known as an equirectangular projection) becomes extremely distorted around the poles once turned into a sphere. so a budding cartographer is faced with two dilemmas- either create an equirectangular map and then distort it into a fitting perspective or do the opposite and draw a map to best-suit the intended projection and then work back and apply a distorted version of it into a world map.

As always I chose the hard route and, with a half-completed map decided to start from scratch with a realistic projection.

Here is the equirectangular map:

I've had this completed for some time now as a psd file, with ocean currents, prevalent winds, climates, graticlues, etc and have made 3d globes on photoshop before, though i've never been able to make a desired projection i've been happy with.

Using this link, i was able to find a great NASA-made programme that creates up to 90-different projections from a base equirectangular world-map (i have to thank the kind people at Cartopgraphersguild.com for the link). using that simple programme (little-to-no cartpgraphical skills required to use it;it's pretty intuitive) I was able to create a handful of maps, including these two: an Azimuthal equal-area projection and an Equidistant conic projection, respectively. 

Inner Sea - Azimuthal Equal Area

Inner Sea - Equidistant Conic 

the projections are very similar though i do prefer the Azimuthal Equal Area, which i think retains the proportions better than the Equidistant Conic (though that might well-be due to the properties i set in the programme).

other than those two i also created an Orthographic sphere, and a Wagner IX projection:

Elyden - Orthographic

Elyden - Wagner IX

28 May 2012


Another quick worldbuilding post today. I was finishing off the history of a region called Arkos an came up with the gran idea of having the main empire in the world (the Korachani empire, to you) split in two… about 300-years before the present. Of course, I have hundreds of thousands of words written down saying otherwise, but I thought it was a good thing to do and speaks of the worlds’ corruption in a more tangible way.
         This just means I have to do a small spot of rewriting to get all other regions I’ve mapped/fleshed out retconned to go with this change. An lot of painstaking work to get the land in line with my new vision. But is it worth it? Who knows. I had the idea while thinking of ways to have the world further devolve in line with my new ‘crawling-to-apocalypse’ setting and reasoned it made sense and was more characterful (sort of like rome and constantinople) and it allowed me to move away from a few creative corners i had written myself into (yes war for the shadow and the helix im looking at you :p - more on that later) 

25 May 2012

just who is Baphomet?

Baphomet (or Abufihamat) is one of the fabled Two-and-Twenty Demiurges; the so-called worker gods that in the days before count shaped the world. I have spent quite a while fleshing out these mythical characters, though some have received more attention than others. I'll try to write up a small teaser-bio, like the one above for the other 21. apologies for the sloppy words in this one; ill try be a bit more coherent and concise in the next one :)

method to madness

I thought I’d write about worldbuilding today. (also, please be warned i tend to write stream-of consciousness-style, so i may veer off at strange tangents before getting to my point, assuming i even remember to get there... see I’m doing it already)
          The world of Elyden has gone through many different iterations over the years. It began life about 8-9 years ago (maybe 10, i can barely remember what i ate yesterday, let alone what worldbuilding i was doing a decade ago! wow, a decade already...) as a D&D campaign setting (for the record my favourite D&D settings are planescape and dark sun, the latter of which would go on to inspire Elyden in no small part).

            Back in the day i did a bit of DMing though my passion was always worldbuilding, id spend far more time detailing my world and writing organisations and NPCs that i would actually DMing and my group had an annoying tendency of losing interest halfway through a campaign (I’m guilty of this too, as both a player and a DM!) so most of my worldbuilding would end up wasted. I say wasted... not really, as i'd always take something from a world id write and use it in my next grand project, which almost always started with a large A3 card map, such as the one shown in a previous post.

            If i was forced to think about i think the first spark that gave life to Elyden came from an older D&D campaign setting i had written called Sola. Actually, Sola came from another smaller setting i had designed called Khamid (ancient Egyptian/Sumerian/Babylonian influenced - i actually wrote a hell of a lot for that one, but i was the only guy in my group who was into that sort of setting) which i dropped due to lack of interest, though after designing an entire nation from the ground up i was reticent of letting it go, so i just designed the world that Khamid existed in - and so was sola born, around 10 years ago (i was 18 at the time, so forgive any silliness in the setting...).

           Sola was a supercontinent and originally an ecumenopolis - think of a more classical Ravnica (from MtG) or a fantasy-version of Coruscant (from Star Wars) though i rapidly learnt that such a setting was in no way, shape or form sustainable (the only excuse that Ravnica, Sigil or Coruscant have is that none of them exist in a vacuum as my world would have so they had explained their resource problem from the get-go - i could not), but i loved the idea of a city-nation so much that i worked my way around it, coming up with the city-empire of Almagest (a name and character that would be recycled in Elyden), around which other normal nations would exist.

            I cared little for climate, tectonics, weather etc. at this point and was just enjoying fleshing out the world and its people - jungles existed where they shouldn’t, high mountains were old, and forests were downwind of mountains. Indeed, i could easily argue that the micro-management of determining rainshadows, climate-zones, Hadley cells etc. saps the fun out of this hobby, though realism is something that i at least try to acknowledge if not actually adhere to.

            I eventually ran out of steam with sola. I was unemployed at the time and was spending at least 12 hours a day writing and drawing and there's only so far you can go on full-steam. Sola died the abrupt ignominious death associated with most of my ventures, though i took from it a handful of things - the corrupt city-nation. Badlands with exotic stone-formations, corrupted wildernesses and a world that had been forsaken by its gods - which i placed in a safe place in my head and kept.

        Then around 7 years ago i began writing. There was no grand plan, no world created beforehand. I just wrote and let the story take over. I came up with a name - Melchior (that will mean absolutely nothing to anyone but me, but maybe someday it might...) and a nation - Temuja, and just worked around them ,drawing a map as i went, creating culture, and history as i needed, rarely stopping to flesh out the world unless the story itself called for it. I became fascinated by the place i was creating and the possibilities that existed beyond the page, just beyond the borders i had drawn.

            I came up with an inner sea around which ruled an industrious empire (think the roman empire at the onset of its downfall + industrial age England + technarcana and you have the idea of what i had in mind). beyond its borders were the so-called barbarians and heathen races (not truly barbarians, but not as technologically advanced as this empire). so was born the first iteration of Elyden. i began naming nations that had nothing to do with the story and drew a map (the pencil one i shared in an earlier entry and slowly i began coming up with an arching storyline of an undead god sustained by a technarcane engine - Rachanael, 7th of the Demiurges.

            Where did this god come from? why was he physical? was he alone? and so i created the Mythologia Elyden, and came up with the two-and-twenty demiurges. over the years i became fascinated by the concept of a dying world and mad gods and thought of melding the two together - the gods (demiurges in this case) were tasked with the creation of the world. they built mountains, made oceans, seeded the forests, painted the skies etc. they created the perfect world but they grew restless in the wake of their completion of that same world and they continued crafting, destroying the perfection they had created. they were punished and exiled to the world (Elyden - a conglomeration of Elysium and Eden, in irony of the broken world they inherited) where they each became father/mother to a tribe of mortals shaped in their image. they did not want that responsibility, but their lives came to depend on those mortals - their power was reliant on worship. some used tyranny to inspire fear, making people worship them. others forsook their charges, becoming solitary things, little more than mortals, yet still with the divine spark. others still accepted their punishment and became just leaders, using love to inspire worship.

            But as time marched on the mortal trines grew disparate from their demiurges parents and mingled, turning to other deities and idols. the demiurges slowly grew mad, their dreams and bitterness corrupting the world. some fell into a torpid state, the terrain around them growing increasingly maddened. the world began to die.

               That is a very brief example of thousands of words of cosmogony and creation myths, omitting far too much detail. but it gives an idea of the melancholic flavour i wanted.

               As the years went on and i created my encyclopaedia Elyden and began adding entries to it, the world evolved, it became a living place... almost too living, as though i had forgotten my concept. i had. so i went back and made what i called Elyden 3.0 (I can’t remember what 2.0 was, but that’s what the file says so i won’t argue with my past self) and came up with design points, that ill post here (these are my own notes, so might be somewhat incoherent):

Enough time has passed to move Elyden from the shallow plane of half-thought-out fantasy world into something more unique and befitting the vast history and story that I have created around it. Less yet more real than before, more fantastical, eerie, odd, and decaying.

1.        Dead and rotten deities. Elyden is a world living in the shadow of the Great Creator and the Two-and-Twenty Demiurges. Where once their presence was aegis and the womb of life and evolution, their slow decay and madness after their Great Creator’s divorce echoes across the material plane as cankers and grotesqueries; mockeries of all that is natural. Despite this, the memory of certain Demiurges brings with it pockets of normalcy where life may flourish.

2.        The struggle of those deities’ scions. Be they mortal, fantastical or abysmal, the children of the Demiurges have evolved in a world bereft of their primogenitor’s presence. Some, like humans, largely thrive in a world where they are not tethered by their Father’s dogma and beliefs, whereas others are either extinct, or clinging on to their twilight days with bitterness and despair.  

3.        Nature unravelling. With the caretakers of the natural world largely gone (and the few that remain having fallen so far into hopelessness and bitter entropy), there is little left to uphold the laws of nature and stopping it from falling into decay and aberrancy. There are those who strive to maintain and expand this world, though others seek the raw power that the chaotic realm of grotesqueries and perversions offers them. Most are ignorant to this waxing and waning of natural forces and live in blissful unawareness.

4.        Empire. Much like humans burn brightest and strongest amongst the two-and-twenty scionic races; so too does the Korachani nation’s flame cover the most land. It is the weight against which all other realms are and were measured. At its height it was a pervasive, insidious might that mirrored the corruption that spread in the wake of the Demiurge’s demise. After its death its ruined body was the great corpse that fed the scavenger-nations that remained, breeding decay and rot like never before

5.        Ether and Incarnate. The shadow and the helix, the firmament and penumbra. Whatever name the various races give them, these are the fundamental elements from which Elyden was created, shaped and maintained. With the fading of the demiurges from the world, these elements ran amok, effectively unravelling the natural world and the balanced mixture of the two, drawing out the elements into pure Aether (firmament/light/helix) and Incarnate (penumbra/shadow/dark). With their unravelling, the art of Firmamentism and Penumbrism became widespread, no longer contained to the confines of the Demiurge’s teachings and their adepts.

6.        Body horror. Much as the threads of the natural world are unravelling, so too is that corruption observed in the bodies of living (and sometimes unliving...) creatures. This corruption is pervasive, trickling slowly yet  vehemently through the waterways of Elyden, clogging the roots of cankerous tubers and other flora, where it is passed on to fauna where it lingers, exerting its malign influence of their bodies, slowly expanding with each generation, destroying bloodlines and species. Some creatures are tough enough to weather these horrors and stabilise, a new breed of life, though most are irreversibly crippled becoming unfortunate grotesques; bitter degenerates, victims of their world’s horrors. Hydrocephaly, cyclocephaly, ankylosis, ossification of the dermis and countless other maladies are relatively common.  Where this taint is absent, dismal technologists and fleshweavers fulfil the same role, destroying what remains of nature’s hard work in the name of research.

7.        Despair and corruption. The slow wretched death of Elyden, coupled with the situations thrust upon the mortal races have created a form of omnipresent despair that pervades most aspects of life. Many people live relatively peaceful happy lives and have no real need for this anguish, though in most cases this depression is founded in truth – the plebe who lives his life in oppression, the steward whose lands are forfeited to Elyden’s growing corruption, the Shaper to whom the Firmament has grown distant, leaving him naked, hesitant. The corruption of Elyden takes many forms, physical corruption being only one amongst them.       

8.        Conflict and struggle. (people struggle for resources and clean water/arable land)

9.        Metals and ores. Much in the same way that earth is a water-world, so too is Elyden a world of metals and ores. Fields of iron deposits stand against salty winds, oxidizing even as teams of slaves toil harvesting it. The propensity of metals is most-evident across the Inner Sea, where it has allowed the Korachani Empire to burgeon at a horrifying speed. This proliferation of metal is not even, nor is it restricted to certain substances. Marble, copper, obsidian, gold, granite, glass, silver... all in different volumes and regions.

10.     Bloodlines. Fireblooded, Desposyni, halfblood, scionic races

to show how much i need this design philosophy, i read a few entries that i had managed to forget about in the years of writing. however the thought of going back over the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written in that fabled encyclopaedia (half a million at my last count) and retconning them to match this is daunting... though it must be done.

           To add to that, I’ve recently begun to think of Elyden 4.0 (or possibly 5, or even 6.0... i lose track of things). for a world that was dying i realised that my world was overpopulated, metropolises that rivalled extant NYC were far too many in number and considering the map was so large, i had never thought of communication and contact - if the world is dying, travel must be dangerous. communication must be difficulty across hundreds of miles of what is effectively radioactive wasteland. i had never thought of this.

          So now begins the process of retconning yet again - adding flavour and character to the encyclopaedia entries, show rather than tell the decay of the world.

           I suppose what I’m saying is that, much like the real world, these worlds we create are constantly evolving and changing. perhaps a symptom of the human condition? who knows? all i know is as long as I’ll be writing this world; I'll also be changing it.

22 May 2012


just thought I'd share this very helpful link: http://www.squidoo.com/fantasyworldbuilding

it's got loads of different choices, for creating creatures, conlanging, mapmaking, worldbuilding etc. lots of cool links that lead to yet more links. oh the linky goodness :)

And on the second day...

... more about maps.

As i said in the earlier post I'm currently slightly obsessed with maps. The first iteration of the map in the first post was a drawing on an A3 piece of card, just simple pencil outlines ouverwritted with a fine ink pen, though by the time I finished it I was already looking to other means of drawing my maps - Gimp, Photoshop, etc. I took a photo of it and used PS to add layers and built on it. this is the original photo, taken about 4-years ago:

It's changed a bit since then, though general outline has remained the same - large dry continent (Sammaea)to the south, the Inner Sea and Dark Seas in the middle, and the more temperate continent (Llachatul) to the north. The map a bit land-intense, so i warped the coastlines, making most seas, gulfs, bays, oceasna ect slightly bigger or with conaved coastlines (if that makes any sense), through no worldbuilding need as such, though to make it more balanced, in a manner of speaking.

Using bevel and emboss, textures and masks on various layers i built up the seas and lands, to get a more realistic map, with contours and a feeling of depth to it:

I was quite pleased with it at the time (i was still relatively inexperienced with PS, though as I kept on looking at it I realised it wasnt in the 'in-world' style i was looking for. Themap i wanted was meant o be something to have come from the world itself. This looked too computer generated, so I went on and made the map that I showed in the first post.

I'll post something about worlbuilding here too soon, I promise :)

21 May 2012

And on the first day...

...on the first day, I thought this would be a good idea :). 7 years down the road, and after various writing courses, not an insignificant amount of time and money spent researching worldbuilding, getting an ACE certificate in adobe photoshop due to my masochistic love of cartography, and god knows what else, I'm not really any closer to getting this damnable world of mine done.

A bit alarmist, probably. I have an encyclopaedia detailing various facets of my world clocking in at over 500 double-sided A4 pages, most of which is bullet points detailing histories, myths, locations, ruins, nations, people, flora, fauna etc. I've gone from being someone with no-experience of PS5 to being pretty adept at it (if i do say so myself... which I do), though I haven't ventured too far from things like maps, timelines and star-charts with it to be honest with you. What started as simple poetry, short stories and the accounts of imagined explorers, itinerants, travellers and merchants (a.la Marco Polo or Ibn Batuta) slowly changed into a series of larger, sprawling epics that never got very far from the planning stage as my thirst for knowledge and yearning to populate this world with coherent histories, timelines, lineages, hierarchies etc got the better of me and I moved instead into the Worldbuilding aspects, concentrating on details like determining the rainshadows of my continents to the chronicling the dynasties of long-dead nations whose ruins have been meticulously named and placed in my beloved maps.

This is my new obsession. The short stories and plotting of the overarching storyline have been sidelined (yet not forgotten), in favour of the detailing of this world that grows more alive with every word i write (at least i hope so). This blog is a means of keeping track of my thoughts in a more coherent manner than my usual scatterbrained attempts. Also there is the hope that fellow worldbuilders stumbling upon my efforts might find something that's to their liking or find something to comment on or provide help with.

Anyway, to start things off, here's an old version of a map that I created for the world of Elyden, which, once the new version (5.0, at my last count) is done (no time soon, I'm afraid) I plan on priniting out at high-res at about 4' x 6" and will grace my geek den at home. Ah, I look forward to the day when I can sit back witha  glass of icy cider and look at that map hanging on my wall...

Since making this map I've made a few changes, including changing the rhumb lines to proper latitudes/longitudes (makes more sense on a map of this scale), added some detailing to the coasts and resized it so that the focus of the Map are the Inner, Dark and Iapetan Seas (basically cropping out everything east of the Argent Mountains and south of the Roiling Sea). The change in scale has allowed me a bit more freedom with font sizes and allowed me to add some more areas and locations to regions that would have been conspicuously without notable features due to the large-fonted nation-text filling up the entire territory! The map borders themselves have also changed considerably with the new (as yet unseen) version having a more classical carographical feel with alternation white/black wide striped border with lat/long details on them.

On the whole I'm still happy with this map and it can be seen as an older version (in-world) of the one I'm working on now (though that doesnt really make sense as an older version, in-world would have had different borders...) but anyway, not to take anything from this, I do feel a bit of pride when I look at this (particularly the folded paper/mouldy effect); though hope to be able to better it. I've come to realise that its not only the worldbuilding aspect of this world that i enjoy but also some more artistic things, like the maps so when I get bored writing histories I can always try my hand at something else, like this:

Well I think that's enough for now. Not much insight into the world I've created, though don't let that fool you. There's mythologies, histories and timelines aplenty, and various civilisations old and new that im currently detailing.

If anyone comes across this and finds it interesting, or if you ahve any comments or suggestions, please let me know,