29 August 2012

Shaham of Nekoda AWOL!

Try as I might, I just didn't find the time to continue the adventures of Shaham and the entries seem to have stalled after just 12 parts! Oh the shame!

But never fear, though his updates will be sporadic, they will not end. In hindsight I realise that writing it in real-time was a bit of a stretch, considering my shift-work and other commitments (including miniature converting/painting freelance) to keep up with. I often wonder how people manage to successfully complete NaNoWriMo when I cant even manage 3 days I a row writing. guess I need to stop procrastinating (i do tend to spend a lot of time reading blogs and random websites (over and over) and get writing!

With regards to cartography, its slowed down somewhat at the moment, and I've continued writing backgrounds and regional histories, like this:

Nation that appeared in 835 RM following the ascent of the otherworlder known as the Steward to the ruling council, which was abolished. The kingdom was centred around a religion known as the Child’s Adventism, which was popularised by the Steward (considered a prophet of the child), that foretold the coming of a child emperor that would on the passing  of its 7th year unite Opham with all surrounding regions as one.
                This religion was almost universally accepted, save in the city of Naal, which for some years had drifted from the Ophami ideal and had become influenced by the regions’ imperial rulers (Opham was and remained at the time a vassal to Parthia (now known as Parthis), which in turn was under Korachani control), its own religion taking on many traits from the Church of the Machine. Naal was the only city to have voted against the change in government and opposed the appointment of the Steward as regent to (in Naal’s own words) ‘the invisible child’. The schism between Opham and Naal only grew following this until in 867 RM its armies marched peacefully into Tentael (the Ophami capital) and declared its intent to sunder itself completely from Opham. The Steward accepted, declaring to its people that once the Advent of Child occurred, Naal would and Opham would be reunited. The people largely accepted this and Naal was granted its independence.
                Under the leadership of the prophetic Steward, Opham prospered, though its vassalage to Parthis meant that much of its peoples hard work was lost in tithes and taxes. Nevertheless, a rigid doctrine appeared around the regency. A child under the age of 7 was chosen from prospective families, its lineage and the traits of its family playing a major role in the selection. The child would become Emperor, its will enacted through the actions of the regent, though if the prophesised events did not occur on by its 8th birthday, the child would be returned to its family, its name a mark of shame. Over the years, this process became highly ritualised with a great deal of ceremony and symbolism attached to the various processes and procedures and it was sometime in c. 1500 RM that the failed children would be ritually slain, in offering to the true Child.
                It people united by their religion and expectations of the prophecy high, Opham did what it could with that money was left after paying hefty tithes and takes to Parthis. Where it could it bolstered its defences, in the event of an invasion (such as the one that had claimed its twin nation Opret in c. 740 RM), and occasionally sent its troops south to slay any of the half-breeds that had resulted by unions between oghur invaders and humans at the time. Despite its vigilance, Cyhlagharr paid little attention to Opham during these decades, with a few sporadic corsair or privateer activities marking the extent of their ‘attacks’. It was changes to the north that caused the most unease for Opham. Parthis, despite its vassalage to Korachan, had been relatively autonomous, with the arrival of the so-called Scion Azer in 537 RM bringing great change to the region that echoes even 4-centuries later, despite imperial intervention to end their beliefs down (though many scholars postulate that even the Korachani administration, xenophobic as it was, had no choice but to acknowledge the scion of Avraham as a true entity, and his association with Rachanael (being his nephew, so-to-speak). Unrest in Parthis and a reluctance of its populace to be governed by Korachan, coupled with other problems north of the inner sea, led to Korachan abandoning the region to the interreges in 934 RM.
                Almost immediately, there came a change to the region. No longer enslaved by imperial morals and dogma, Parthis fully embraced its heritage and flexed muscles that had for too long been shackled. It continued tithing Opham, using the burst in money to expand its borders south, largely along the western coast of the sea of Byssos, and by establishing colonies in old Opretian lands. The Interreges fully abandoned Parthis in 967 RM, remaining in Naal, where the two disparate cultures slowly melded, the patricians that made Naal their home forsaking their true imperial heritage to start anew. Parthis suffered following imperial abandonment, and was forced to abandon its colonies and its borders with Opham faltered.
                Liberated from 200-years of vassalage, Opham flourished. Produce and money that had previously been appropriated by Parthis were suddenly their own once more. The region experienced a renaissance, with art and growth experienced across all settlements. Its own borders began increasing as new settlements and colonies were established, many of which encroached on old Opretian lands. Crusades into those lands increased and between 976 and 982 RM hundreds of oghur half-breeds were slain, paving the way for more expansion. During these crusades, the city-state of Roah (last remnant of Opretian culture) was encountered and trade was established between the two.
                Within the span of 50-years, Opham had become the dominant force in the region, exerting its influence on Parthis through trade negotiations as well as west with Cyhlagharr, where it tentatively traded items the oghurs could not produce locally, with the oghurs in turn restricting their activities in Opret to a defined border (where they had effectively established as many as a dozen human ‘farms’, the largest of which was known as Ograd, to supplement their need for slaves). An alchembral calamity in the oghur city of Halgdaggr in 1008 RM had left much of the Camarinal sea penumbrally tainted, severely restricting fishing in its waters, negatively affecting Ophami settlements along its shores, though the oghurs were far more severely affected, leading to a dwindling of their presence in Opret and their acceptance of this trade agreement.
In the north, Ophami borders expanded across the less-afflicted shores of the Camarinal, reaching the city-state of Eruto in c.1110 RM, which had been in a precarious position for some decades, trading with both Opham and Parthis. Nearby lodestone and ore deposits recently discovered made the city a favourable acquisition and after years of threats and diplomatic missions to the city-state, it finally relented and in 1121 RM became a vassal to Opham. The region stabilised after this time, securing its trade with Parthis and other nations. The Child’s Adventism remained a powerful religion, despite what outsiders would claim to be a misinformed prophecy – hundreds of children had been elected as emperor, only to see their 8th year come without fulfilment of the so-called prophecy. Enjoying sertain priviledges that others did not have, the child emperors were buried in a great necropolis outside Tentael upon death. The Stewards powers of oratory served the nation well in those days, for many would see a child rise to the position of emperor only for him to be forced to step down. The peoples’ faith was tested and many saw themselves drifting away from the religion, gravitating to the faith of nearby Naal, whose own borders had been steadily growing.
In the south, the city of Olnnad – the southernmost of major city in Opham – had become notorious for its growing alchemical tradition, thought by many to be attributed with trade with the many lhaus enclaves to the south. Through its alchemical guilds, the city had rapidly gained an influence over surrounding areas, its distance from the capital ensuring it was allowed to progress at its own pace, its own culture surpassing that of Opham proper by c. 1250 RM. Meanwhile, in the south-west the caravanserai known as Holothan (built on the ruins of an old Erashan city, Alatean) had become very influential in the region, seeing much traffic from Roah, Ograd, Olnnad, Parsimenia (a small but rising settlement built on the Opretian ruin of An Simeia), Tentael and, farther north, Eruto and Tethra. By 1274 it had grown so powerful that its merchant houses were effectively able to purchase Roah, bringing the last remaining fragment of Opretian culture into Opham territories.
Holothan and Olnnad had both grown exponentially, rivalling Tentael in grandeur, and surely surpassing it in wealth and size. The growth of these two cities (not to mention the added pressure of Naal to the west and a resurging Parthis to the north) caused tension in Tentael, with many businesses and industries abandoning the city in favour of the two upstarts, leaving Tentael a diminished city. Holothan itself adopted the moniker Ophram (meaning ‘of Opham’) by 1440 RM. This was an open challenge to Tentael and the older capital of Opham (which by then had been reduced to little more than a way station along the Holothani trade route), a challenge Tentael was unable to accept. The capital continued to diminish, losing control of the Holothani trade route by 1462 RM, when Olnnad and Ophram (the name Holothan by then forsaken) effectively ended its rule, emerging as separate entities. The Child’s court was relocated to Ophram in 1465 RM, leaving Tentael little more than a ruin tended to by Templars and a handful of families.
The major trade route of Ophram was sundered, with contact with Olnnad reduced following several trade disputes. To avoid war, the trade route was divided in two – with Olnnad maintaining exclusive rights with Naal and Lira, Ophram maintaining exclusive rights with the lhaus enclaves and Ograd, and both allowed to trade with Eruto (still under vassalage to Ophram) and Bahal.

pretty basic stuff, and out of context some things might seem rather bland. For instance, the oft-mentioned lhaus enclaves are remnants of the ancient lhaus empire, the lhaus being one of the two-and-twenty mortal races (so theyre not human), in this case, obsessed with immortality and the building of golems/clones in which powerful lhaus can place phylactries containining their souls.

12 August 2012

My lovely Inner Sea

So I've been hard at work trying to finish off a decent web-version of the Inner Sea map (the print version is still far from completion however, as I want to wait until I flesh out most regions before I commit to the 150€+ cost of having it printed out).

The below pictures are the 'culmination' of years worth of work. I'm finally happy with the colour palette and overall feel (though I'm surprised at how different it looks on different monitors - my Asus Transformer, for instance, shows it very yellow while my laptop screen is more balanced) though I'm sure I'll keep on tinkering as i spot things I don't like.

I've divided the image into quarters so i can upload it at a higher res.





09 August 2012

the travels of Shaham of Nekoda. pt2

8th Ashtalen; 4011 RM (3 RMe), Amouar, Vârr.

Everad, my guide, fits the Vârran mould well-enough. Dour and of few words, his eyes seem to do most of his talking. Dark skin slowly acquired from years of hard work east in the harbours of Amouar sets him apart from most Vârrans, but those talkative eyes are as dark and sunken as those of any Vârran man. Like many of the workers born after the empires’ retreat, he wears his hair long, pulled back tightly in perhaps a dozen bunches, held together by a handmade reed-and-aluminium band on which the disk of Solum is sewn. His frame, though lean, its sinewy muscles clearly visible beneath a body that is almost completely bereft of fat, is a welcome sight in a world where physical ailments, disfigurements and diseases have become all-too common.
                I stop a few times during our ascent of the escarpment that once served to divide the administrative and noble quarters above from the workers’ districts below – a large marine shelf that was submerged beneath the waters of the Propontis until around 3,000-years ago. The city stretches behind me, before reaching the boundary with the dark waters of the Propontis. Beyond, the border between sea and sky is imperceptible, hidden beneath a thick morning mist, rendering the vista behind me in murky tones. The harbour is as busy as can be expected of a city that, during its peak 300-years ago boasted a population of around 350,000 souls, though which now would be lucky to claim 7,000. The morass of vacant structures is palpable, doubly so from this height. The rotting frames and toppled debris of ancient imperial structures flank the north and south edges of the city, a labyrinth that is ignored by the hard-working folk of the ‘city’, populated instead by degenerates and other dregs.
It is their ilk that I am looking for today, though not in the ruined quarters, but rather the ruin of the great temple that has stood guarding the city for just over 2-centuries. It was the last effort of a faltering imperial presence there to assert itself amid they dying continent. Construction was begun there in 3795 RM by the Avénethi order of the Fraternal Inquisition of the empire, whose influence in the region was faltering. Begun under great duress from Korachan to acquire resources and funds without denting its annual allowance, the surrounding lands were scoured for resources. With most natural resources spent centuries earlier, they were forced to search elsewhere. Though some veins of granite and other resources were found, they were too few to fuel the great construction effort that was beginning west of the administrative district. Slaves and workers were drafter in their thousand from around the city and other settlements in the region, beginning work on the catacombs and scaffolds that would become the temples most noteworthy features.
The Avénethi fraternity was the last imperial caretaking presence in Vârr and ultimately departed in 3843 RM, some 50-years after construction began. The temple was left less than half finished, a crude and imposing metal skeleton only partially clothed in concrete and granite slabs, all pretence of art or design as yet unrealised, little more than unrealised designs in architects’ plans. Construction on its voluminous dome was only half-finished, with great metal ribs arching from immense columns, meeting in the centre, the sky visible beyond. So big was that dome that once completed scholars envisioned it having its own weather, with rain expected to be a common occurrence, as it was in the superior Bastion of Steel.
But alas, the fragmentation of the Korachani empire had many casualties. The temple was one, and it stands now, a rotting shell; gentle reminder to all that even Korachani dreams lay unfulfilled. Since that time, the raw materials that lay unused at the things feet were taken, used and sold elsewhere. Great sheets of metal skin were ripped off where they could be, leaving the thing a rusted patchwork. Refugees fleeing the predation of militant gangs and their warlords made the place their own, its labyrinthine catacombs and crypts, its passages and hundreds of side-chapels and unfinished ossuaries becoming their homes.


I am writing now in the shade of one such chapel, resting from the ascent before we go in. It is an unassuming protrustion to the temple’s main body, the metal on its door worn smooth by curious or perhaps devout hands touching it over the years. Flanking the door are two niches, designed to house statues or idols of some form, though they were either never placed there or were taken (probably melted down to their constituent parts) years ago. Instead the vacant spaces are now covered in candles and cathadems (lead streamers with litanies and devotions etched into their surface); the prayers and hopes of the Vârran people almost palpable. It is clear that, despite the empire’s retreat less than 2-centuries ago and the resurgence of the ancestral deity known as Solum, that the influence of Korachan is still strong here. The children of imperial immigrants yet live here and, though some are persecuted, their beliefs in the old imperial deity and its saints clearly evident.
The verdigris-encrusted plaque that stands above the door of the chapel is corroded beyond recognition, whatever divinity or aspect the place was once dedicated to now unknown. Inside, I feel confined by the meagre size of the chapel, its oppressive aura attributable to the stench of mould and rust. The walls around me are covered in mostly broken bass carving murals in stone, any features they once held disfigured by the filth that cakes them. The encaustic colours that would once have covered them are long gone, peeled off under the stresses of the regions’ humidity. In front of me are 4 simple stools, at the head of which is a typical imperial statue, the large sword and sword that are common motifs of the old religion prominent. Less-so is the pale face – stark in contract to the brown-and-orange patina the rest of the statue is covered in – barely visible beneath the shadow of a heavy cowl and the grime of decades. The whole thing is chained and bolted to the wall and floors – possibly a deterrent to opportunists. More candles, their grey-brown wax common to this region, line the feet of the statue, more cathadesms poking out from beneath them.
Despite the growing persecution of their kind, it is clear that those loyal to the old religion of the empire remain common here.
I leave and re-join my guide, who is some distance away now, speaking with a local soldier. A common sight beneath the temple. Indeed, the apex of the escarpment, running for at least 2 miles, north-to-south, dividing the ancient coastal shelf from the higher lands to the west, is peppered with pillboxes and towers overlooking the city and sea beyond. Agents of the hierogoths that reappeared in the wake of imperial occupation, their role is largely to maintain peace; a difficult prospect in a city that is rife with corruption and friction between different denominations and religions.
They city’s main religion is the rapidly spreading divinity known as Solum, an ancient deity that was worshipped by the people of Vaern before imperial censors quashed its worship, converting it into a saint of Rachanael in c. 1000 RM. Though subsequent generations of Vârrans were brought up with Solum as an imperials saint, its dogma and belief-systems corrupted by the imperial church, many factors of the deity remained true, most notably the worth of martial strength and its link with wisdom and mental purity. The Church of Rachanael remains stubbornly rooted in places it has converted and nowhere else is this more evident than in Vârr, where even close to 2-centuries of freedom and over half-a-dozen generations born outside of imperial influence have failed to tarnish its strength. Though the church itself has all but died in Korachani lands (the schism of 3705 RM sundering the church in two, an even neither ever truly recovered from) fragments of it persist in Vârr, albeit heavily corrupted and laced with resurgent legends and other impurities that have been handed down the generations. The third and smallest local faith is the worship of the Lyridian Augurs and their divine head the Sibyl of Myra. Beholden to nine mystic beings known as the Abulia, the Sibyl and her servant s the Augurs are farseers of unparalleled power and prestige and are worshipped as deities in Lyridia. Though it goes unrecognised by the augurs, the influence of the Sibyl is clear, for it is felt as far away as Amouar where even in the wake of imperial fanaticism it is considered a heathen practice, its worshippers conducting their rituals in the secrecy of their own home.
As though the clash of religions were not enough, Amouar is a place of various peoples. The descendants of imperial immigrants and Vârran natives are the most common, though many people in the city can trace their lineage to Pelasgos, Rhamia and even Lyridia. I have seen few halfbloods during my stay here, and I can see reason why, for I doubt they would be welcome. The influence of Lyridian xenophobia? The War for the Shadow and the Helix brought saw many Ahrisheni refugees fleeing south, settling in Vârr amongst other places. There are even whispers of witches and sorcerers from the north-east settling the hinterlands Vârr, though I have seen little evidence to support this claim (though given the regions’ distrust of  Firmamentalists and their ilk I can only assume that any dwelling here would do their utmost to keep the fact secret. The Prison Carceri has a long history, knowledge of which has spread far beyond the borders of Vârr over the years). This   
 Though conflict between different religious groups is common, it is downplayed by the authorities, which are trying to bring stability and trade back to the city and surrounding towns. In sharp contrast is the persecution of those deemed not Vârran enough, criteria I have discovered is open to much interpretation and abuse. Indeed, it is only through my letters of marque issued by the turrets of the ruling Heirogoth in western Amouar that I am afforded the comfort of safe travel, and even then the going has been turbulent, at best. This is such a time.
Everad beckons me over, asking for my papers and sigils. I produce the heavy paper and lead seals from my bags, and lift the aluminium sigil around my neck into sight. The soldier is speaking hurriedly, speaking as much with his hand gestures as he does with words. The language is harsh, owing more to the pidgin Korachani tongue than it does to the Vârran language of its natives and other cultures, and dialects differ from district to district within the city itself. The outlying towns and other vassal of Amouar sound like different languages to me. He gestured to a colleague, who lowers his powedergun (an ancient thing, probably dating back to the times of Korachani rule) and looks at the papers. He assures the other soldier (and us in so doing) that the papers are legitimate, and gestures to the temple, as though in invitation to enter. 

07 August 2012

the Travels of Shahm of Nekoda, part 1

Note: after much thought I’ve decided to change the character to someone living in the present-time, rather than one form the past (and age of discovery). As I wanted to focus more on the present world and the rapidly decaying nature of things, I figured that I’d be better served doing it now (c. 4000 RM) rather than the age of Navah Berden (c. 550 RM), so without further ado, here are the adventures of Shaham of Nekoda.

7th Ashtalen; 4011 RM (3 RMe), Amouar, Vârr.

I sit in the evening shade, sketching a group of old men as they sit talking, chewing on sticks of ekhun. A quaint practice, and one I have not encountered elsewhere, ekhun is little more than limestone crushed and mixed in with the red resin of the eucalyptus that once thrived in the region. Prepared into long hard sticks, the stuff is sold in markets around Amouar, where it is enjoyed by males of most ages (though I have spotted the odd matriarch chewing on the stuff, also). It has a bitty substance, turning powdery once chewed and tends to stick to the roof of your mouth, taking ages to wash out. The taste is, as one would expect, earthy, though the addition of the resin and other herbs and substances adds variety. Though it is still far from my favourite regional food.
Ekhun is an acquired taste, surely, and one that goes back to the earliest records of the region, before imperial colonisation began in around 210 RM, when the area was still known as Vaern, an archaic name though to be derived from a Fourth Age culture that once flourished in the region. Similarities to the far older though perhaps more recognisable name Vorropohaiah are invariable, and not unfounded; an accusation that can be lain at the feet of perhaps a dozen words common in the region. The more modern name of Vârr that replaced Vaern following full imperial occupation of the nation in 792 RM springs to mind, as does the ‘Cursed Mount’ of the Varrachon, which local myths claim to be an artificial mountain, created through the refuse of mining efforts under the maddened regime of the Demiurge Vorropohaiah during construction of what is perhaps Vârr’s most famous legend, the Prison Carceri. Indeed, the Korachani word for the Twenty-First Demiurge is Ropohaii, its root blatant to anyone willing to search,
And that is the crux of Vârr. A dead place that yet thrives, if such a word can be used, on the patina of mystery and fear that its history – both ancient and recent – carries. For what does this dying place have to call its own other than its past? And even there, one has to go far back, over three millennia, to reach a state of independence. Freed of its imperial shackles for just over 160-years now, we are only now beginning to see a nation where every generation is one born to freedom and the wasted land left behind by the ravenous empire of Korachan.
As the empire began to grow more powerful following its acquisition of nations (by the time its forces moved permanently into Vaern, after many decades of censor, exocrine and iconoclast forays, Korachan had become a super-power in the Inner Sea, rivalled only by the nations west of the Sea of Serpents, if even that) its need for resources became great. It saw an opportunity in the troubled lands of Vaern, then ruled by warring Hierogoths and their tribes, each with its own belief system. Once its Domnitors gained a foothold and the major population areas became corrupted to its cause, Korachan was quick to send its industries north. The basin of Lamedua and the lush plains and scrubland of Solum were attacked by armies of industrialists; the largest open cast mines seen in imperial history appearing around the region. Within a few centuries the land had been changed – where once forests and lavish hills thrived, instead appeared scarred lands, marked by dozens if not hundreds of depleted quarries and open-cast mines, some many miles wide, reaching well over half-a-mile down, their bottoms stained brightly by chemically-tainted waters. So voracious were these industries that within less than a millennium of its appearance there, Korachan had left Vârr a wasteland, ruined, its ecologies devastated, its populace broken, any national pride that may have once existed shattered. A fitting precursor for Elyden’s waning, perhaps.
However, I look around, some six-hundred years following the administrations’ abandonment to the Interreges, and I see, despite all odds, a thriving city. A generous word, perhaps. Thriving, in the way maggots, worms and other vermin thrive on the bounties of a rotting corpse. The signs of the old Korachani empire are everywhere; brazen idols that now lie tarnished, disfigured. Old municipal structures, despite being reconditioned to their new tasks, still bearing the distinct harsh lines of imperial architecture. And, above it all, the looming beast that is the temple of Nemesis, largest – if uncompleted – temple in any land once occupied by the empire.
I look up to the west, the need to shield my eyes from the dying sun unnecessary, for the colossal shape of the temple mars the horizon above the great cliff that once divided rich from poor. Its silhouette stark, skeletal half-finished dome jagged against the vermillion of the dying light, it stands, a reminder that no matter how much these people may try, how many generations of freeman come and pass, this nation will never truly be rid of its subjugated history. Perhaps, the legends of Vorropohaiah give hope to these people, hope that they once served a noble purpose, and might one day do so again.
I pray their naiveté remains unshattered. 

the Voyages of Navah Berden

This is something new I want to try. I've always liked the idea of writing a travelogue-style story, or maybe some sort of episodic/epistolary Victorian style that's most popularised by Frankenstein and Dracula, where chapters are made from diary excerpts, phonograph recordings, letters, newspaper clippings etc. real characters I admire very much are those brave adventurous souls like Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, Christopher Colombus etc; the great explorers of the age of discovery, whose stories are as much fancy as they are fact.

One of my old campaign settings had a character whose name now eludes me. Basically, this character was the eyes and ears of the world, a window into this setting through which players and DM's alike could see the flavour and character of various regions. every regional or monstrous entry was preceded by a paragraph of text supposedly written by this character during his many travels, even some magical items had a commentary written by this guy. I always liked that.

I've started (and never finished) a daily travelogue where I write for an hour-or so in character, detailing the travels and experiences of an explorer in foreign lands. a great way for me, as a worldbuilder to explore culture and customs while still writing fiction (rather than technical encyclopaedic entries, as I've found myself doing lately. Navah Berden is a great explorer whose exploration of the seas dominating the Korachani empire are now legendary, much as those of Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo are. A great chance to draw some route maps, maybe try my hand at sketching and elaborating on various regions' backgrounds, customs and histories as well as showing the worlds' decay in a more detailed light. Basically fleshing out the world.

The goal is to add an entry every day, in a form of travellers shorthand, with each entry amounting to around 1000-words long (though shorter/longer entries will probably be the norm). days where i cant write will be explained in the next diary entry as some sort of in-world deterrence Spent two days marching in the marshlands of Khalut. Had little chance to write...

To anyone interested, here's the entry for Berden in the Encyclopaedia elyden:

Navah Berden: (B. 537 – D. 615 RM) Zionic explorer and pioneer. In 559 RM he began an epic journey that would last until the end of his days, taking him around the known coast of Sammaea, from the Sea of Serpents in the west to the Lethean sea in th south-east. His epic travels have since come to be known as the Voyage of Berden.
Voyage of Berden, the: journey begun in 559 RM by the explorer Navah Berden. Heading west from Zion, Berden crossed the Inner Sea, reaching Sagittaria in 562 RM, crossing the Gates of Erebeth in 565 RM before sailing south-west through the Sea of Serpents. Illness and unnavigable waters forced Berden to turn back in 568 RM, where he sailed across the Inner Sea’s north coast to the strait of Nárthel. A lengthy sojourn in Venthir followed between 570 – 582 RM, after which Berden continued south-east. Stopping in Sour for some time in 598 RM, where an obsession with crossing the Roiling Sea began to consume him. After many failed attempts and serious injuries, he was successful and reached Gibeah in 609 RM, sailing south past Porphyr and Sabaisa in 612 RM and finally turning north into Lethea in 615 RM, where he finally died. His crew continued the circumnavigation of the Lethean sea in following expeditions, returning finally to Lethea in 732 RM, reaching the Cliffs of Berden in later journies in 793 RM, where Novatul was first settled and the voyage was continued north-west across the Umbra Solare where they arrived in Karakhas in 796 RM.

Lets see how long this venture lasts...

04 August 2012



I just managed to crack open the seemingly-impenetrable (almost wrote impermeable there...) depths of my ancient hyundai computer. bought about 15-years ago it was my first non atari/amiga computer and boasted an impressive 8gb hard drive and pentium 2 processor - and cost my dad a whopping 2000 euro (not inflated, though converted as back in thsoe days our currency was the maltese lira), including a first gen digital camera and printer/copier/scanner. a veritable treasure trove of geekery to my 14-year-old self :)

Anywho, this technological miracle was a welcome move to digital worldbuilding after a childhood of using wet teabags to discolour droughtsmans paper for cartography and buying ledger books (the type John Doe and Francis Dollarhyde would use for their creepy serial killer scrap-books, which, incidentally are two pieces of movie memorabilia that I would love to own) to write my write-your-own adventures (must write something about those some time), campaign settings and doodles in. Sadly, I'm the complete opposite of a hoarder and everytime I spring clean I tend to throw all these wonderful things out, a process I have decided to now curtail (though since everything is now stored digitally, its somewhat of a moot point, despite my love of deleteing files) as I've realised that nostalgic trips sifting through old stuff can be really therapeutic as well as informative.

Take the aforementioned PC. i was finally able to, after 7-years of using laptops, transfer all its data into a computer i can access. See, back in the dark days of the later 90's most computers only tended to have read-only CD roms, with floppy drives used for day-to-day saving of stuff. its single usb drive is so old that it did not have the necessary drivers for things like pen drives.and i was unable to connect it to the internet due to its ports having been fried in an ancient storm. in my laziness i was never able to conveniently find a CD to copy the required drivers from one of my laptops onto the pc. a few weeks ago I finaly did that and was able to finally transfer its voluminous 8 GB hard-drive onto a 32 GB pen drive (hard to imagine i one worked with only 8GB of storage, where some of the movies i download nowadays are close to that size... imagine downloading such a film on a 54kbps dialup connection. opening websites with images was hard enough!

Again, I digress. once transfered i was able to find a whole treasure-trove of stuff, from old D&D campaigns i had forgotten about (my love as a DM was worldbuilding and making rules for NPCs. i had hundreds of files with different unused NPCs for 3rd ed D&D) and the embryonic stages of the Elyden setting, which years earlier i had transferred to laptop through email.

I decided to have a look through the old iteration of the Encyclopedia Elyden, which stands at a whopping 17,645 words, mostly bullet points, mostly scrapped! The encyclopaedia is now clocking in at 543,345 words and I expect it'll breach 1,000,000 easily once/if I ever finish it (My goal, whether i ever publish or not, is to print out and hard-bind the encyclopaedia as a 3-5 volume books for my own pleasure, in a faux-antique style. Something I imagine few people have done).

Finish a world? IMPOSSIBRU!

And that's what I wanted to talk about - how the most embryonic of ideas can grow into something far larger. Many worldbuilders and fantasy enthusiasts probably know the following story. The germ of an idea that set J. R. R. Tolkien down a road that would see him devote many decades of hard work and passion began one night when he was correcting english papers. He turned a paper round and scribbled the words In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. That something so small and simple can one day grow into something so large and monolithic is of such great inspiration to me that I never feel daunted by the blank page. instead, I see opportunity and the promise of dreams as yet undreamt.

So it's quite amazing that something that started life as a notepad file to jot down notes and ideas and place names has evolved into something that's half-a-million words long and that led to me becoming an Adobe certified expert (solely due to my growing love of cartography). Who knows what other, more talented people than I can achieve?

03 August 2012


i wanted to come up with a catchphrase to add above the name, though couldnt think of anything that wasnt cheesy :)

01 August 2012

Chorhyst, Rising Hell

'Sailors' Bane', the 'Edge of Reason',’Ralhael Chthonis’, 'Rising Hell, 'Macerah'…
It has many names, most imaginative amongst them those bestowed by explorers and mariners, who are, thankfully for us, the only breed of man to have encountered this abomination with any regularity, if even that. Those scholars with leisure enough to examine and muse over the vagaries of this region from the safe distance of their libraries and reclusiae have granted it the name Chorhyst, which is the word most whispered by mortals around the Inner Sea.
It is a place seemingly forgotten by the laws of the natural world, designed as though the creators were under the effects of a fever-dream or delirium, the resultant aberration of nature a colossal monument to their antediluvian dementia. Colossal without compare, few of the worlds’ other abnormalities – the Boiling Sea of Khamid, the writhing plains of the Flæschus, the rusted badlands of the Anomoferroh – compare to the mind-numbing enormity and the sheer… impossibility of the Chorhyst. Perhaps it is true, what the doomsayer preach; that our world is unravelling, that the laws that once maintained its natural state are decaying. Perhaps we really have reached the a time of fading, a precursor to chaotic oblivion.
The approach is not easy. Not with the strongest of imperial dreadnoughts and behemoth-class tanker can one navigate the roiling seas beneath that great expanse. The best most people manage is a distant glimpse; more than enough to take in its enormity. Those approaching it say is truly like a dream, a thing of wonder that begins as a stark mountainous shadow in the grey haze of distance, steadily gaining corporeal form as it moves slowly into view, its cyclopean form slashing through fog and cloud, revealing the immensity of its wretched form. It is only then, once the eyes have seen the totality of that aberrant form, that the mind begins the fruitless attempt to wrap itself around the concept, that there, before you, stark as the air you are breathing, the deck beneath your feet, an entire continent hangs suspended, as though an unseen divinity were lifting at one side, the heavens beckoning it to dizzying heights. Water trickles down its fractured skin, deceptively serene, belying the ferocity and weight of the mass of liquid - largely condensed air from the penetrated clouds - that gushes down the void before slamming against the misshapen meniscus of ocean roiling at its base, lave thrashing and steaming wildly about it, vaporizing water.
The thing moves, inching upwards slowly even as we look upon it, eyes disbelieving. It is inexorably pulled upwards, at a rate of as much of a dozen-or-so yards a year, or so the loremasters would have us believe, for who in their right mind would travel up that thing, taking the treacherous journey through tectonically belligerent lands to reach a peak from which observations can be made? Indeed, who can say what other laws of nature are broken around its summit or along its treacherous ascent. It is rumoured that the rocks themselves sense those treading upon them with a grotesque sentience. Some say that the dead rest uneasily there, stirring in their graves, even as the living find their sleep fitfully broken, their bodies unable to rest beneath the palpable shifting of stone. Dreams dreamt under its influence are broken, echoing an ancient pain and anger that reverberates across time and space. And amongst such sleepless murmurs come the ancient whispers of long-dead Demiurges, hanging heavily in the air; warnings to any vestige of sanity that yet remains there to leave that place or risk corruption.
That is the Chorhyst, and the madness that surrounds it.

Chorhyst (pronounced core - heist), one of many regions I’m detailing at the moment cataloguing the dementia of the Demiurges as translated to ‘natural’ phenomena and effects. Commonly-known as the floating continent, it is found to the east of the populated regions, across from Tethysia and the Sea of Myrmarea, close to the so-called meniscus of the Firmament. A huge chunk of continent, perhaps 700,000 square miles in all, like the corner of a page being slowly peeled upwards. Earthquakes and tremors are common around the base as the stresses and fractures give wayto the slow inexorable movements of thFe continent. Though few know this, the reason for this is the general messed-up-edness of gravity here; a result of the Demiurges’ deaths and the unravelling of the natural laws outside their influence. Similarly, water is messed up here too, with various currents and maelstroms subjected to the whims of the impossibly chaotic gravity here. Due to surface tension the majority of the waters’ surface remains intact, though bulges upwards with seemingly-random swells of up to a half-mile in height, the peaks of which find rivulets of water sucked upwards, sometimes in the form of reverse rain or even waterfalls that strike the embryonic cliffs and jagged rocks of the continents’ underbelly, pooling thee in eerie meres and lakes straggled by vines and roots and strange mosses that have since taken hold. Beneath these gigantic watery swells are vacuums and air pockets that can collapse at any time, spelling doom to any vessels foolish enough to venture there. Indeed,  wrecks and shattered hulks of ancient ships caught in that maelstrom 'hang' from the cliffs of the rising continent; victims of the chaos in the region.
Lava is an all-too-common phenomenon along the base of this continent, where metamorphic rock meets water that eons ago spilled into the raw hollow left by the regions upheaval. Now magma pumps out of the earths’ flesh like an oozing wound, creating oddly-shaped landmasses that cool and solidify under the vaporous protests of the boiling water around it.
All the effects of an intricate machine that is decaying and malfunctioning without the supervision of its machinists and technologists. It is only so-long before the amchie breaks down completely. Who knows what will happen then?