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?


  1. That's both inspiring and quite daunting. I've only been worldbuilding for about 3-4 years now. I have mostly manuscript notes scattered throughout several different notebooks. Every time I try to "compile" them they generate new ideas and I end up scribbling more. Tolkien is one of my heroes too. I think if I were more into linguistics I'd get even more from his writing.

  2. I know what you mean about organisation inevitably leading to new ideas!

    im actually trying to study linguistics but im just not cut out for that academic study stuff. though i do have a great guide book (http://www.amazon.com/Language-Construction-Kit-Mark-Rosenfelder/dp/098447000X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268637297&sr=1-1) which is a companion the author's other book (the worldbuilders construction kit that is very concise and helpful with lots of sources listed as well, should I want to study further.

    though I doubt I'll ever be able to create a cohesive fully-rounded language.