04 December 2013

Humpday Musings: Elysium, del Toro, and Man of Steel .

Movies: Just saw Elysium the other day, which I'd not had a chance to see at the cinema.

I wish I had. Though the movie itself is nothing revolutionary and some of its themes seem to be a tad on the nose, I really have to hand to to Neill Blokamp, whose 2 movies so far (this and the great District 9) show a really great sense of art direction, which is something I look out for in fatasy/sci-fi movies.

The opening shots of favela-like slums in Los Angeles set the mood perfectly. Dystopian world, poverty, disease, unemployment. Many of them have come to accept their life, but others would dare to dream, to look up at the stars and literally see a better world look down at them. Powerful imagery, if unsubtle. I love the barrenness of Earth contrasted with the lush greenery of Elysium (even its offices are teeming in greenery). Perhaps some changes less noticeable to mist include the differences between earth-based ships and those originating in Elysium as well as the scarification that many Elysians(?) seem to have.

As always, Neill Blokamp's fascination with interesting weapons and equipment shines through and WETA workshop have once more outdone themselves deigning credible-looking items. The addition of cunning product placement, such as Bulgari watches, pesonal Bugatti ships and Kawasaki exo-armour. Really great stuff!

Though I found the characters somewhat one-dimensional (Matt Damon's Max in particular seemed somewhat flat after a great sarcastic start) There was much I took away from the movie, as a worldbuilder. And this is something i admire WETA workshop and directors like Peter Jackson, Neill Blokamp and Joseph Kosinski, who devote as much time to creating a beautiful world as they do to the storytelling (if not more-so).

This in turn pushes me to try harder with my own worldbuilding, showing me where i might be at fault, or urging me to perhaps explore a part of the world i might not have before (immigration, exodus, diaspora and social inequality, in the case of this movie).

Music: I don't listen to much normal music. Its generally audiobooks and movie soundtracks/scores for me. I'm still obsessed with the Man of Steel soundtrack from this year's eponymous movie (The movie itself is another matter...). Hanz Zimmer has really outdone himself with this one - the percussions in particular just get me going and really help me create a rhythm with my writing. I find I actually write quicker to such a beat, though my girlfriend says I also hit the keys on my keyboard a lot louder too...

Geeky Stuff: I used to love Lego...

Let me digress for a moment and express my uter contempt for people who refer to Lego in the plural. It's Lego, not Lego's! :)

Anyway... as I was saying, I used to love Lego and experiences what is known amongst the Lego community as my 'Wilderness Years' at around the age of 12, by which point I had already been heavily into wargaming and roleplaying for 2-years, and though I like to keep up-to-date with many Lego sites (the wonderful brothers-brick.com, being one of them) which offer a lot of great ideas for scenarios and machines, amongst other things. For instance, Mihai Mihu's Cuircles of Hell from Dante, which just got my creative juices flowing so much!

I hit thirty this year and think I might be getting my mid-life crisis a bit early. Amongst other (arguably far more important) things, I got an urge to buy a Lego kit, so ordered a Star Wars X-wing fighter for m,yself for Christmas. I'm looking forward to it.

I also got my my girlfriend to buy me Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities for Christmas. One of my favourite directors, I;ve been fascinated by his production journals for some years, enjoying them so much whenever they pop up in the documentaries on his movies' DVD's extras. I'm looking forward to that one very much...

02 December 2013

State of the Nation Address

So, we’re coming up to the new year and I’ve been thinking about the blog…

What’s that? Where have I been? What do you mean where have I been? Where have you been? Oh, you’ve been right here, waiting for me?

Time to back up. I haven’t posted here in a long time! My last post was back in June when I was racing against time to get my Nanowrimo ‘winning’ entry printed up for free. I didn’t get the free printouts (serves me right for leaving it until a few hours before deadline to try and sort any wrinkles out…) but I did get 3 copies printed out, which left me with an immense sense of satisfaction.

Even just holding the book in my hands, smelling the pages and looking at all the typos in their real-printed glory made me feel giddy – giddier than I’d have ever thought possible.

A couple of people were kind (gullible) enough to read the book (many more offered but didn’t follow through – shame on you!) and I got lots of useful feedback from them (apparently I use the word ‘thing’ a lot in my writing) which I’m planning on incorporating into a final draft (well, final is such a strong word…, at which point I’ll start shopping it around to agents. If that doesn’t work out, not to fret, I can possibly avoid a lot of hassle by self-publishing.

Speaking of Nanowrimo, I took the opportunity to spend this year’s month of frenetic writing activity to start work on a sequel of sorts to Twilight of the Idols’ (or ‘Twilight of the Gods’, as I’ve since renamed it), tentatively called ‘Legacies of the Gods’ or possibly ‘Children of the Gods’.  I’m about 60,000 words in now (about half of which is an immense prologue that needs to be severely cut down), and expect ill finish at around 150,000, at which point I’ll need to bring out the trimming shears.

Anyhow, So I’ve been busy with that, a lot of simple word-building (fleshing out my world map with regions and ruins) and working on the twin-hemisphere map I’ve been slowly working on. The latter project was made much easier thanks to the purchase of a new PC (thank the demiurges for SSD’s!) which has made work on large maps a lot easier than before.

I’ve also kept myself busy with random map commissions to help finance the PC and small bits of research here and there. I’ve just about settled into my new apartment, though the acquisition of a new demon… sorry, puppy, has meant a lot of adjusting and a lot less time to myself.

(to anyone interested, her name is penny and she’s adorkable, but a raging feline coprophiliac…), something my cat isn’t very happy with.

Now onto the matter at hand.

Blogging is a difficult pursuit, one which takes a lot more time that one thinks. I’ve learnt this the hard way, as my sporadic updates will no doubt bear testament to. With a new year coming I thought I’d try revamp the blog, and come up with a schedule. Not that many people are reading, but it’s more of an exercise in discipline than anything else. Now working shifts (very shitty shifts, at that) make this rather difficult, but I’ll try stick to my targets.

So, without more digression, here’s my plan for the blog:

2 updates a week:

Humpday Musings: just me talking about whatever I’ve been up to lately, cool links, films I’ve seen, movie soundtracks I’m listening to, worldbuilding stuff I’ve come across on the interwebz etc.  I expect this entry to be quite random, with pics and weirdness. Expect general geekiness to appear here.

Weekend Worldbuilding
: Anything related to Elyden comes here. New maps, thoughts on the worldbuilding process specific to the world. Fiction. Languages. Anything along those lines. I expect this to be the least updated section J

Let’s see how this pans out…

29 June 2013

Twilight of the Idols

Almost there! Not being published yet, though getting my 5-free copies done through Createspace. but it feels like a step closer.

09 June 2013

More on Elyden

some more notes to try and solidify tone and setting:

  • Elyden is a rotten place, ancient and decaying beneath the languid dreams of the Demiurges. Seas, already barren and polluted from millennia of industry, are in retreat. Empires are in decline. Corruption is the rule - governments struggle to maintain order as resources run out across the globe. Strife and rebellion are commonplace. In other places coups have already toppled the governments and nations lie sundered, their lands prizes over which rogue patricians and magnates fight, their previous loyalties discarded. Small towns are either cut off from the heartlands of their once-nations or lie dead, populated by dregs and wretches struggling to survive. Corpses litter a land that is increasingly unravelling, the laws of nature dissolving even as the Demiurges' dreams grow more despairing and bitter. Millions are dead, their bodies a feast to carrion-beasts, their bodies leading the way to the few cities that remain: shallow mockeries of the civilised order that once was, these city-states stand as bastions against the grotesqueries that threaten to drag the world deeper into chaos. The hinterlands between cities are a festering wasteland where the dual forces known as the Firmament and the Penumbra hold sway, altering the landscape in unimaginable ways that rend once-sane minds into madness. degenerates and grotesques haunt these lands, and where a semblance of society exists it does so in morbid tribes and archaic sects that serve as black echoes to the fragments of normalcy that struggle to survive.
  • The laws of nature are uravelling. It has been a long slow process of decay that has brought the world to its knees. Elyden was crafted through the toil of the once deific Demiurges, though they have long since fallen from grace. embittered by the lofty rank they once held, many have fallen into despair, the powers that once helped them create continents and oceans now polluting their dreams, warping the natural world. For it is they who are at the root of all that ails the world.
  • Elyden is an ancient place, covered in ruins and dozens of strata of mortal life, going back to the first ages, perhaps a billion years past. the place is rife with ruins and the eerie cyclopean monuments built by and in dedication of the Demiurges. That these monolithic structures remain in any form at all after the passing of so many years is testament to the artifice of the Demiurges and their followers. elsewhere, continental shelves, once submerged beneath coastal waters lie exposed, little more than deserts of salt and dessicated corals. Ancient machinery lie fossilised, their secrets impossible to decipher. Once-proud metropolises stand, half broken and abandoned, their people either died (genocide, starvation, ritual sacrifice, war...) or left to join other settlements.
  • Despair and grotesqueries. the people of this world have lived this way for generations, and in some areas this has gone on for dozens if not hundreds of years. entire areas once devoted to industry lie abandoned, the earth a scar of open-caste mines and quarries. lakes and inland seas are either dried up or polluted by bright-coloured chemicals. Everywhere the signs of the inevitable end are increasing - stillbirths, deformities, hydrocephaly, cyclocephaly, aepathy... the list goes on. The mortals of Elyden know their world is ending. Customs have changed and adapted to this. Some regions cling to a semblance of normalcy though in this world, they are the strange ones, living in a world of distorted traditions and broken dreams, ignoring the realities of the world. what were once deities are either forgotten or reviled as the cause for this decay. once-immaculate tenets and dogma are recycled, polluted by new apocryphal texts and used as propaganda by warlords and crusaders hoping to gain followers for their own causes. most hope is extinguished and where it remains it is distorted, as sickened as the world is grey. The Demiurges care not for the mortal's struggles and observe the world unthinking as they slowly decay to their own despair.
  • the legacy of the ancient demiurges can be felt everywhere - from ancient monuments to the corruption prevalent in the world, it is their actions that shape all. Though now rotten an forgotten by most, they are still central to the fate of the world and some hope against all the evidence that if awakened and elevated to a position of power, their thoughts might yet be turned from grim darkness to rebirth. It is a fleeting hop, though and most who know of them despise them for their langour and ignorance of the mortal race's struggling. most demiurges are recognised as 'dead', their bodies monolithic and fossilised, blighting the mortal realm with their presence. Despite this infamy, many regions now recognise them under corrupted forms, and might worship them under archaic guises, giving substance to entities they might not fully understand - or care for - their plight.

so, themes of Body Horror and Dying Earth, which are two of my favourite tropes and genres.

05 June 2013

boring physics stuff... i mean important physical characteristics

So, after a hiatus of sorts (working on some map commissions and trying to get some work done on my gigantic stereographic world map) I'm back with what might possibly be my most boring post,a bout aphelions, eccentricities (not the interesting sort) and orbits.
      The following is a small excerpt from about 10,000 words-worth of details that will be included in the stereographic map (amazingly, most of the surface of the image is actually a map, despite all those words!) and I thought I'd include them here to show I'm still alive. Most of the information below was slowly cultivated over my many years of working on the world, updated, replaced, changed, tinkered with, until slowly it became something believable.

Regarding the Sphere of Elyden
Elyden. She is our home, hanging in the Æther, product of the divine shaping of the Two-and-Twenty beings known as the Demiurges – shaper-gods whose literal hands were (and are, in some cases) responsible for the creation and evolution of this terraqueous globe that is called home by us and so many other peoples and races.
            Elyden is the third of seven known Ætheric bodies, sometimes known as planets, to have been discovered by observers (astronomers, astrologers, orrerists, Penumbrists, et al) within the system known as Sorchar; the others being, in successive order moving outwards from our star Sor: Hael, Algol, Elyden, Liviad, Gnihlas, Cykranosh, and Nihav. Others have been postulated by mortal observers, though the evidence given by otherworlders and those with abilities beyond the ken of ‘mere mortals’, suggest that the Sorchar system is complete with one star and seven planets. Many of those stars are themselves orbited by one or more satellites, with Liviad and Gnihlas each known to possess seven and three, respectively. Elyden herself is orbited by two satellites – Arakhamé the Red and Siella the White (Details on the two satellites may be found elsewhere on this treatise).
            Elyden orbits Sor at a mean speed of ~65,000-miles per hour in a counteclockwise direction when observed from above the northern pole of Kholamor. She orbits Sor at a mean distance of 92,000,000 miles, with a periapsis of ~90,500,000-miles and an apoapsis of ~93,500,000-miles. She has an equatorial radius of ~6,028-miles, with an equatorial circumference of ~37,880-miles and a polar circumference of ~37,815-miles and an estimated total surface area of 455,957,666-miles.
            Elyden is a rocky planet, with a metallic core, rocky shell and earthen crust in the depressions of which collect oceans of water; giving the term terraqueous globe (Elyden is thought to be the only terraqueous globe in Sorchar, with the other planets thought to be either terraous or gaseous in nature). Above this is an atmosphere that retains gasses due to the sphere’s gravity. It is this atmosphere that largely protects us from Ætheric cauterity, severe effects of the elementae vitale originating without Elyden and also regulates temperature extremes between night and day.
            Of the seven Sorchari planets, Elyden is thought to be the only one with an atmosphere and liquid water, both believed to be vital components in the propagation of mortal life, though it has not been entirely discounted that other forms of life might exist on extraterraqueous globes or even in the Penumbra of the Firmament themselves (indeed, the number of creatures whose existence relies on one of the two elementae vitale, as they are called, would lend credence to the belief in extraterraqueous life, though little solid evidence exists to support it yet). Some claim the very existence of isawhani (Otherworlders) is direct proof of the ability of either the Firmament or the Penumbra of spawning and sustaining ‘life’, though given their detached and, for want of another term, alien personalities, first-hand evidence has been difficult to glean.
            Despite this mystery, Elyden has had no shortage of what naturalists classify as life (described as Vitalism – the fundamental difference between organic and inorganic matter, and the belief inherent that life can only be derived from organic matter), even in these dark days that bear witness to her death throes.
            If one disregards the corruption of the natural world and goes back, even as little as one millennia, one can find a plethora of examples of life in almost all conditions imaginable – the is little-to-no terrain or climate catalogued by our brave explorers that have been unequivocally bereft of life. In some form, minute as it may be, some manner of life exists. Be it microscopic organisms that subsist on the oxidisation of metal, or the gigantic behemoths that lurk in the abysms of our oceans, life has, since the appearance and hubris of the Demiurges, proliferated, and there is little reason to doubt that it will disappear any-time soon.  

Characteristics of Elyden
Age:        ~1,000,000,000 years
Epoch:   Sixth Age of Mortal life

Physical characteristics
Mean radius: 6,023-miles
Equatorial radius: 6,028-miles
Polar radius: 6,018-miles
Flattening: 1.0016616
Mean circumference: 37,845.5-miles                            
Equatorial Circumference: 37,880-miles                       37880 / 1436 minutes
Meridional Circumference: 37,815-miles
Surface area: 455,957,666-miles2
Land area: 235,274,155.656 (51.6%)
Sea area: 220683510.344 (48.4%)
Volume: 915,504,739,986.3-miles3
Mass: 2.9739x1025 pounds
Equatorial gravity: 32.06 Ft/s2
Sidereal rotation period: 0.9972 d (23h56m4s)
Equatorial rotation velocity: 1,582 m/h
Axial tilt: 28O46’23”
Minimum surface Temperature: -103.4 oC
Maximum surface Temperature: 71.9 oC
Firmamental pericentre: 1.02~/O/∞1.08
Firmamental apocentre: 0.82~/O/∞1.01
Penumbral pericentre: 1.21~/O/∞1.32
Penumbral apocentre: 1.33~/O/∞1.57

Orbital characteristics
Mean distance from Sor: 92,000,000 miles
        Periapsis: 90,500,000-miles
        Apoapsis: 93,500,000-miles
Eccentricity: 0.02564275
Orbital Period: 365.8572 days
Average Orbital Speed: ~65,000 mph
Satellites: 2

Surface Pressure:
Composition: 76.2% N, 19.64% O, 0.87% Ar, 0.042% CO2, 1.624% Fir, 1.624% Pen 

17 April 2013

the Encyclopaedia Elyden

Here's the title page of the Encyclopaedia Elyden, and the start of my new project... though don't expect it to be done anytime soon.

Title Page

I've always had an interest in bookbinding and grimoires and codices, especially prop-books used in movies, like the Ninth Gate book from the eponymous movie, 'the Ninth Gate', the Red Book of Westmarch from 'the Lord of the Rings' lore, or Lovecraft's Necronomicon, amongst others. I've always wanted to craft the Encyclopaedia Elyden to look like an in-world artifact, though until recently I envisaged creating the entire thing on computer and printing it out at a pro-printers or somewhere like createspace or lulu and then re-cover the book myself.

Though recently I've been toying with the idea of making the entire thing myself from scratch. Luckily for me, the mechanical printing press is no stranger to the world of Elyden so i could easily use an appropriate font and craft the book on computer, print signatures and bind the entire thing myself. I have some success crafting small diary-sized books and feel comfortable crafting the book, aging the pages, and binding it myself.

Even though that's the idea, its not something that'll take form anytime soon as i need to finish writing the book first, something that's a vicious circle tied to my other worldbuilding exploits... A life-long project, I imagine.

13 April 2013

Technological Innovations of Elyden

Sorry for the radio-silence, though I’ve been busy on some map commissions (I might post some here once I get permission and they’re released) and some tinkering on broad history strokes of my world.

Over the past few days I’ve been busy thinking about Elyden and what she started out as and where she’s going (as a quick aside, like any good ship captain I always refer to my world in the feminine…). She started out as a word doodle, with no forethought and just evolved over the years (coming up to 8-years now), taking on new aspects as I researched (learning about Giovanni Battista Piranesi's Carceri d'invenzione, the art of Wayne Barlowe, H. R. Giger& Zdzislaw Beksinski, amongst many other influences), grew up and just consolidated what I wanted out of the world. This evolution of the world is still-ongoing and wreaks havoc on my futile attempts at trying to craft a solid history and mythology – new ideas have sometimes created huge shifts in the world’s tone, and added large periods of tumultuous history to nations’ timelines, making me rewrite large parts of history. 

Recently I have been thinking about the world’s technology level. This, like many other things, has evolved over the year, slowly changing from a classical late medieval period (with the Korachani empire having some magical-engines) to what I can only describe now as being a Dystopic victorian dark-magical steampunk setting with para-natural influences and swathes of body-horror. Of course technology bases differ from region to region (imagine things like the battle of ‘Rorke’s Drift’ or the ‘Last Samurai’). That’s a long way to describe the setting, though I like the fact that it cant be summed up by a single word (well, at a stretch, maybe despair or decay). 

I originally envisaged the height of real-world tech in Elyden would be: advanced printing presses, primitive telegraph system (still unsure of this) steam-powered cars with WWI artillery tracks (I’ve attached some pics of early steam-powered tracked vehicles and one of my fave’s, the Alkett VSKFZ 617 minesweeper) and I thought even that was pushing it, given that fantasy techs I decided I wanted (in sparse amounts) would be archaic powered-armour and mechs, magically-operated viewing portals (video-phone), amongst others, though again; used sparingly and not a common part of everyday life.

A couple of things I’ve come across in my research over the years have struck me, and though I’ve resisted using too many archaic real-world sources, I’ve finally relented and have decided to add a few things, some less extreme than others, with some modifications: 

1) Thao Jansen’s e Strandbeest 
2) Charles Babbages’ difference engine 

The Strandbeest 

Amazing feat of engineering and something that has really excited me since I fist found out about it a few years ago, though only something I thought I could incorporate into my world – not as a common invention though an innovation used by a particularly group of people (not even that technologically advanced, or perhaps salvaged from an ancient otherwise forgotten invention). So I decided on a large flat coastal region, sand an wet, going on for many many miles. It’s subjected to near constant coastal-winds and is otherwise not very fertile, but its nomads need a quick way of traversing the expanse – so they use these machines. I imagine a solitary itinerant travelling on such a thing, personalized by his years of scavenging, all his belongings and piles of scrap carried on its back. Ah bliss! 

The Difference Engine 

Most of you are probably familiar with this. In a nutshell Charles Babbage’s difference engine was a prototype analogue computing machine that was never completed, devised between 1823 – 1842, when funding was cut by the british government, Babbage worked slowly (or was a perfectionist…). Had the engine been completed and built upon, the world today would be a very different place indeed. 

I’ve been meaning to add such a thing to my world for some time; perhaps as something the half-dozen largest cities would have as a means of computing knowledge and maintaining contact with one-another. But a video I saw the other day gave me another idea: 

I love Adam Savage: he’s somewhat of an idol, alongside characters like Stan Winston, Nikola Tesla, H.P. Lovecraft, J. R. R. Tolkien and Robert. E. Howard. Anyway… that video and the comparison of old storage sizes and new storage sizes got me thinking… How about a city-sized computer made up of millions of vacuum tubes and a legion of workers to maintain it, constantly replacing burnt bits in an endless cycle. Of course such a machine is unfeasible in the real world, though fits in with the cyclopean sense of wonder I want my world to have and the nature of human life – toiling like ants as part of a greater hole, their individual actions insignificant, though when taken together, creating a whole so much greater than the sum of its parts. 

I envisage a city in the cold north (the climate helping cool the monolithic thing) served by millions of tech slaves overseen by demiurne overlords whose objectives are undisclosed (what the hell is the empire, analogous to the roman empire in Victorian England, doing with a terabyte of computing power?)…

So I think the world is taking place. Another piece of the puzzle fits in place.

16 March 2013

the Legacy of Worlds-gone-by

What follows is an excerpt of what I've been working on (worldbuilding-wise), regarding the development of the 'contemporary' nations of Elyden. In a nutshell, the world is now populated by the descendants of the handful of survivors of the end of the previous age, who weren't forced to discover things for themselves as the original mortal races had...

the Legacy of Worlds-gone-by
Being a world of many pasts, the development of Elyden’s present Age had as its advantage various factors, not least of which were the ruins and remnants of past cultures. There was no slow rate of progress as one invention slowly appeared and became popularised, paving the way for other discoveries based upon its virtues. The survivors of the Fourth Age and its cataclysmic war found a world tarnished, filled with the ruins of their forebears, littered by the detritus of both war and peace.

We can never know what it is like for developing peoples and cultures to develop at a natural rate. Such a thing can only have happened once – following the creation of the Two-and-twenty mortal seeds and their eventual birth following the actions of the Demiurges – and even then, their actions were guided by the Demiurges. We of the Fifth-Age have inherited an old, used world. Many skills and technologies were either remembered by the descendants of the Fourth-Age or re-discovered through their exploration of the dead empire’s remnants.

Many advancements that took the first mortals centuries to develop; like husbandry, agriculture, organised trade and metalworking, amongst many others, were skills carried-forth from the old age. Tools lay rotten, disused, their forms echoing their one-time purpose. Skills were recovered far quicker than they originally took to develop, leading to an unnatural cultural development, where small groups of people – familial tribes or the retinues and followers of rogue leaders – advanced at a rapid rate. Within centuries, if not decades, of their re-emergence following the Fading of the Fourth-Age, these disparate group were wielding iron or bronze weapons of their own design (subject, of course, to the availability of resources and the logistics involved in their manufacture), erecting monuments and structures of a sophistication rivalling that of their forebears, and waging war with their neighbours over resources – raw materials and, as history tells us, slaves.

Dubbed the Renaissance of Rediscovery, this rapidity of advancement has, as records show, led to an aggressiveness that seems difficult to understand at face value. Unfortunately, there are little to no records of similar events having taken place in previous ages with which we can compare this phenomenon, but we can find theories.

Small groups of emergent mortals can be imagined to be a world onto themselves. They are isolated and restricted by the advancements and skills that their best members possess. Historically, all groups were on a relatively equal-footing, with most discoveries and inventions following a vague timeline. For instance, in the postulated first age of mortal live, the production of steel could not exist without a reliable history of extracting and smelting iron, itself a practice that favours agricultural communities with the resources to set up quarries and mines to excavate the raw materials, which would have required the development of husbandry techniques and the domestication of grasses and livestock.

The groups of people emerging from the Fading of the Fourth-Age had little of those constraints. The remnants of past cultures were all around re-emerging groups – disused mills, tools, quarries, raw materials, art, culture, coinage, and so on.

The mortals of the Fifth-Age are largely (though not exclusively) plunderers, building on the ruins of their forebears, having earnt little of their technologies and culture through toil, instead borrowing it from dead nations. As a result of this, things like currencies became prevalent quickly, using the treasures and coins of past empires for trading. Groups lucky enough may have found access to untapped natural resources – coal mines and iron-fields lying disused, awaiting extraction from the surface; overgrown fields, already sown with domesticated crops, and so-on. This led to a rapid growth in some areas, particularly in temperate and dry climates, such as mid-to northern latitude Llachatul and Meniscus, as well as southern Sammaea (though the latter two, being distant lands, have not been as thoroughly explored as Llachatul and the Inner Sea), with groups expanding rapidly thanks to the boons they found. Cultures developed quickly, inheriting the artistic traits of the ruins they raided, developing their languages around the written records they found.

So were the nations of Elyden’s Fifth-Age born; in the wreckage of those who fell before them.

13 March 2013

Sweet Norfolk

I love Norfolk. My mum is from there and her family lives there. I myself am Maltese. to those of you who don;t know, Malta is this tiny speck of an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. To be blunt its been raped by most old world cultures imaginable, from Carthaginians, Phoenicians,  Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Italians, French, and English, leaving us with a long history, from some of the eldest standing monuments (dated to around 5,000 BC to a couple of remarkable sieges - one in 1565 and another, more famous one, known as the 2nd world war - leading to our independence as one of the smallest nations in the world in 1964, with a population of about 450,000.

I hate Malta! Its filthy, populated by what I consider to be ignorant Mediterranean people, obsessed with religion and politics and football: three things i care very little about. It's loud, extroverted and is horribly humid (making summers unbearably hot and winters horribly cold, despite our latitude). Despite what tourists insist in, i find locals very brash, uncourth and far from friendly. I Often feel an outside in my own country, possibly something to do with my dual nationality (English mother, Maltese father) and what I consider a close affinity with English culture.

Having said that I do respect its history and what it's (my) people have lived through. Picked on by ottoman pirates for centuries, housing the Knights Hospitalier for 268 years, withstanding some pretty intense sieges and sticking it to der fuhrer in WWII, Malta has had its fair share of ups and downs...

So Going north to England for my holidays is always a strange experience. i feel nothing but warmth for the English people, their self-deprecating humour (something Maltese people are not entirely aware of), their sarcasm. I also get a very 'old world' feel whenever I'm in the U.K. - i imagine this is due to the fact it's a relatively old country with established laws and mores, unlike Malta, which has only been self-governing for 40-50 years, and, in many ways, is still finding its feet. I love its buildings, its weather, and the determination of its people and its pubs! its many faults notwithstanding (its faltering debt-based economy springs to mind...) I love the place.

What does this have to do with worldbuilding? Nothing! It's my sister;s birthday in a few weeks and i decided to make a map of Norfolk for her:

It's in an old 18th century style, with distressed old paper and uses old-school naming conventions. I'm quite happy with it and will probably start working on a Maltese one soon - for all its (perceived) faults, Malta, being the Centre of the Med, has a rich cartographical history i can steal from.

Also, I might be working on my first map commission soon - an ancient Egypt map, something I've always been interested in. maybe a career in cartography beckons! My Elyden Atlas/encyclopaedia seems that much more plausable now :)

On the worldbuilding front, I'm slowly working on ideas for coins - done in PS as small relief pictures, depicting the various coins of different regions, base don time and reign. i have a few ideas for coins, many of them already use din my fiction, others little more than new ideas I'm still working on. My favorites are the coins that are minted with dents and perforations dividing them in quarters, which can be snapped and broken into smaller deniminations. i'm not sure how plausable the economies of such coins are, though i like the idea.

13 February 2013

the City-Kingdoms of the Haréshk

So, I finally finished the Haréshki map, after some setbacks (both real-life and within photoshop - damn i hate saving after making an unnoticed mistake that cant be edited...).

The Haréshk is a dichotomous place, its idyllic terrain and beautiful hills and grasslands forming a stark contrast to the politicking of its regions and their rulers; kings and queens and their countless lords and advisors. The place is somewhat antiquated, still holding onto traditions that the world's major powers (amongst them the two Korachani empires and the Secular Parthian Republic chief amongst them) consider to be antiquated, such as knightly traditions and a feudal state. The region is renowned for its myriad flags and heraldic devices and the angelic and draconic motifs (both attributed to its religion) that fill its art and culture.

25 January 2013

Hareshki heraldry

Just thought I'd post this quick pic of some of the heraldic devices I've been working on for my next regional map (that goes with the history I'm devising for it).

A few pointers on some of the emblems that appear in the shields:
Angel/wing: the region's deity is an angelic figure that appeared around 1500-years ago to a shepherd-girl, who is now revered as her prophetess.
Hourglass: a relic said to have belonged to an avatar of the angelic figure, now carried by a missionary of the faith.
Skulls: a chthonic demigoddess of death common to this and other regions; the skull is a common emblem and appears in design motifs of areas that venerate her.
Pastoral devices: the Hareshk is an uncharacteristically idyllic land, with verdant hills and fertile farmland and as such, many of its fiefs bear pastoral emblems - livestock, seafood, wheat, scythes, sickles etc.

Other devices are more closely associated with their respective fiefs and have little bearing on the region's personality as a whole.

I only need 38 shields for the map, though I'm having so much fun making these that I'll probably make some more, at least 10-more, as i continue fleshing out the region and come up with more historical events or characteristics that i can depict on the shields. I'll then pick my favourite ones (with the aid my my girlfriend! time to give her something to do...)

24 January 2013

world map

Hey all. Just thought I'd post a quick WIP of a world map I've started working on.

Yes, its yet another large wall-map, though i tend to like these maps that show off a large area. At this stage the map is more of a colour and style study than anything else, though it also helps me see the layout of things so I can plot things better. Looking at this, the first thing that strikes me is how long it is. ill probably increase the height of the background, which will also give me more room for other details and information.

It also serves to show off the more distant parts of the world to anyone interested. The projection is stereographic, so there is some degree of distortion around the edges of the maps, though distance is constant throughout, which is generally the point with these maps. It's intended to be a stylistic map rather than a reference one and when done will probably end up being something akin to the map in this link (this link), as well as to this real-world counterpart:

Also, on the worldbuilding front, I'm busy fleshing out another region of the world: the City-kingdoms of the Hareshk. I'm also getting close to finishing a new map for that region (look at me, ever the multitasker!). This map includes something i've never really looked at before: heraldry, and comes after a good few months of research and book-buying (yay! adding to my home library is always fun!). though the world isn't the real world, i like to base some things on reality and the laws and rules of heraldry seemed like something interesting to extrapolate from. Of course I've not stuck religiously to the real-world rules of heraldry (particularly metals and colours), though most changes do have an in-world explanation.

I'll post the regional history together with the finished map, though for the time being here's a snippet of the WIP on the map itself:

09 January 2013

Ryhassharauch - the Stillborn God

Bit of a flash post, this. The world is growing! I have unearthed a new Demiurge: Ryhassharauch - the stillborn.

The story of Ryhassharauch is one of bitterness and a hope extinguished before it could ever shine. This fell thing's life was cut short before it was even born. As its siblings indulged in the hubris of Elyden's Shaping, this palled, bulbous-headed grotesque was already rotting, the seven seeds of what would, had fate dealt it a decent hand, borne seven mortals - four women, three men - in Ryhassharauch's image. 

Yet it was not to be, and as their stillborn father lies in state, its unborn dreams rotting the world. so too do the bodies of its children - fossilised and buried 'neath the chthonic earth before birth could ever bless them...   

I was just sorting through some old notes and came across a throwaway thought I must have jotted down sometime (honestly cannot remember doing this) that says simply 'stillborn god - fetus-deity' . And that was that. 

Now, is this a forgotten 23rd Demiurge, or do i remove one of the Two-and-Twenty (perhaps taking the least-developed one and merging it with one of the others. i like the latter idea more, as it means the imperfect Demiurge can be the 22nd one, meaning that its inclusion destroyed the perfect number (7 x 3 = 21 all seen as symbolic perfect numbers in many faiths, including the Church of the Machine) of Demiurges. Perhaps Ryhassharauch is inadvertently (or not) responsible for the hubris and eventual punishment of the Demiurges and the corruption of the world. 

I also came across this little tidbit: '2-faced god/dichotomy/conjoined twins' nothing too original about a dichotomous god, though i though the image of a conjoined god/s just fit the world of Elyden pretty well. Oh ideas, why must you come to me so close to bed-time (and why must i wake up so damned early for work...)

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: