After some deliberation, I’ve signed up for the world building month, and I just decided what I will work on: I’ll revisit a project I started last year, and let slide way too much. Welcome, my friends, to the beautiful desolation of Arnâron.
Arnâron (pronounced roughly “Ah-nuh-ron” – [aʀ̥nɑˑʀon] in IPA, [aR_0nA:\Ron] in X-Sampa) is an ancient world that became arid is now slowly dying. Life on Arnâron is a constant struggle for survival as the remaining species – and people – compete for its dwindling resources.
The world is my attempt to design a modern mythical Mars – a new Barsoom, if you will. A dying Mars with canals and all the associated things is a world that I always loved more than most other settings. There are three reasons why I don’t simply use Barsoom:
First and foremost, Barsoom simply wouldn’t be my own setting.
Secondly, while most of the John Carter of Mars books are in the public domain, it seems that ERB, Inc. still claims ownership of the trademarks like “John Carter” and “Barsoom” and while I am in no position to determine to validity of such claims it makes using Barsoom impossible for anything worth-while.
The third reason is probably the biggest reason of the lot.
When I started out, I tried to make this setting work by using the real Mars as a foundation. This didn’t really work: Our Mars simply was never a truly Earth-like world, and even if I changed things around enough there was still the problem of the low gravity… in short, modern scientific findings completely ruined my suspension of disbelief. There are of course ways to work around this but they’re all obvious hacks. For example, I could have set the story in the past. But that would still leave the problem of Mars’ low gravity. It doesn’t work for me, so how could I expect others to suspend their disbelief sufficiently?
The approach I settled on is an easy one that solves all issues I have with using Mars in one fell swoop: I moved Mars to another universe, gave it more mass, changed the make-up of the solar system somewhat, and lo and behold, that problem is now fixed. No monotonous geography, no low gravity, no pesky space probes ruining the fun setting. I probably won’t get away with cool story titles ending in “… of Mars”, but I’ll survive that (and there’s a somewhat heavy-handed hack even for that problem). But there will be canals, ruined cities, vast deserts, violent cultures, beautiful princesses and most importantly, sword-fighting.
At the current stage, Arnâron consists of a collection of notes, background material, and a lot of work I did on using Mars. I won’t have to start from zero, but I would hesitate to call it a “work in progress”. As a listener of the Shakespeare & Dragons podcast, I am going to try and build this setting along Paul’s “story based approach to world building”.
So stay tuned – work begins tomorrow, on August 1st. And if you have any type of feedback, suggestions, or criticism, please, by all means, post a comment. I’d love to hear from you.