During the day, the Sun is the most prominent object in the sky of Enderra, and its light drowns out all other objects. Very rarely some of the moons or even parts of the Glitter can be seen during daytime hours. During nightfall, the scenery changes: The dark sky is sprinkled with stars. Some of these, “The Wanderers”, move around: The Planets. Enderra has three moons, and one very special feature called “The Glitter”, a thick ring that surrounds the planet and dominates the night sky.
The Sun: The sun is the embodiment of the solar deity, Helion. It is identical, for all practical purposes, to Earth’s sun.
Illustration 1: Relative sizes of Enderra’s moons in comparison to Earth’s moon Dures: Dures is the largest moon. It is silvery-white, and its surface is heavily cratered. Its orbit – and thus phases – is 31 days long. The visible size of Dures in the sky is about 50% larger than Earth’s moon.
Meriel: This is the medium-sized moon, orbits in 62 days. It is colored blue-green, with many white streaks, that some astronomers say are clouds.
Neron: The smallest of the three moons, and nicknamed “blood moon” because of its red coloration. Usually, it is orange-red, but in some nights it is a dark, deep red. It orbits in 93 days.
The Glitter: The Glitter is a ring around Enderra. It is a collection of tiny asteroids and dust; it does not look as solid as Saturn’s rings look on some photographs; rather it appears as an extremely thick band of stars that crosses the sky. The Glitter is used as a navigational aid and appears in many myths and legends.
Planets: The Wanderers
All worlds in Enderra’s solar system are spherical.
Goras: Appears to be a small, yellowish and very bright planet. Goras is a desert world, scorched by the close sun. The air is too hot to breathe. It has no moons.
Sharee: A very bright, white planet. Jungle World – Jungles and swamps, complete with monsoon rains and heavy cloud cover. Dinosaurs and other reptiles are the dominant lifeforms. One moon. White coloration is due to the thick cloud cover.
Kayla: Larger than the other planets, but darker than Sharee and Goras. Yellow-brownish color. A desert world, larger and further away from the Sun than the other two, this world is much less hostile. It has one asteroid size moon.
Delora: A small planet of white and blue-green coloration. “Cold” desert World, very few plants, Tundra and Taiga. Ice caps at the poles. Dried-out canyons and oceans. There are many sites of ruined cities spread around the globe, indicating the former presence of a now extinct civilization. There are short “green” times during the spring and fall; the summers are rather hot (about like the northern Sahara desert on Earth). This planet has 3 moons; two of asteroid size and one larger moon.
Celeste: A large bright blue planet. Huge Air World with a core of liquid fire. Many smaller chunks float around the air sphere, some of them as big as small moons. Virtually all of them support some form of life. 5 Moons and a ring system.
Aeron: This world is only medium sized as far as air worlds go, but it’s still large enough to have a solid core only a little smaller than Earth. It also has many moons, some of which orbit within the atmosphere.
Aguara: Medium Sized Water World. The surface of the water freezes when the planet moves away from one of the suns in orbit 11. There are permanent ice caps at the poles.
Orec: Small air world; cold, windy, no solid bodies in the atmosphere. This world is dark and scary; rumour has it that the planet is haunted. It has 10 minor and 5 major moons as well as a thin ring system.
Mikturu: Medium-Sized water world. The water is kept from freezing because this world has a small fire-body moon. In fact, temperatures on the world are very comfortable or even tropical. Far below the surface, volcanoes heat the water.
Dakordu: Ice World; A world of eternal snow storms and glaciers. There are some ruins scattered over the surface, many of them buried beneath the snow. Four moons, two of them only of asteroid size.
Nemesis: “Ice ball” – basically a sphere of black ice, polished like a mirror, reflecting all light sources. There is no atmosphere, and the planet has no moons. Nemesis is feared by space travelers for it is said to be cursed and inhabited by the frozen souls of those who die in deep space.
Enderra is also quite close to Andorra, though this also wasn’t my inspiration for picking the name.
None of which are related to how I actually came up with the name. I think I didn’t tell that anecdote to many yet: When I was building my world way back in ’92, I urgently needed a name for it and I just couldn’t think of anything. At the same time I was listening to the radio, tuned in to a station with the code/abbreviation NDR2. And when I rearranged and twisted it, NDR became En Der Rah. Enderra. I liked it, and it stuck.
This in itself sounds fairly easy, so let’s get right on it. First are the basic labels of landmarks. I named as many as I could, running out of ideas in the process. That’s okay – as always, I am sure names will suggest themselves later on. And of course some of the names may change when more logical choices appear. The current continental map looks like this:
Step 3 is actually to write background this is the big one – I’ll have to split this up over two or three posts.
Write one page of background giving no more than a handful of sentences to each region.
For this I first need to decide roughly where my Elves, Gnomes, Trolls, and so on will live. At this point we have not decided what races will be present, but due to the history of my fantasy worlds, the fact that Tolkien and Gygax are so dominant in the fantasy genre, I will use a fairly standard catalogue of races:
Humans are the latecomers to this continent
Elves are the “ancient civilization” – they used to rule most of this continent, but orcs have gained much territory.
Orcs – I simply dislike them, but it’s easy to give them shades of grey and play with their culture, so they are my main antagonist race
Dwarves – Gotta have dwarves.
Gnomes – I was never sold on them much, until I played World of Warcraft. I’ve become a huge Gnome fan ever since. So I want them in as well.
Avians – I love Kenku, and they will be an important race in the region as well
Lizardmen – It’s fun to play with people’s fears, and it’s either spiders or lizards. Spiders don’t fit too well into a list of humanoid races.
Of course there are also many other races, like ogres, trolls, giants, and what have you.
That’s just a rough distribution of what might fit.
The humans on the continent arrived long after the other races. They came from their home land, Atelan (see the Twin Continents), and established an outpost on the southwest coast of Enderra. As they are a sea-faring people, they then proceed to explore and map this new continent by circumnavigating it. They establish more outposts; a few for strategic purposes, but mostly trading posts.
The humans were not liked by everybody. They immediately got along with the dwarvess who, similar to the people of Atelan, appreciated the arts of war and engineering. The Elves were mostly neutral – seeing the humans as a valuable trading partner, but as a possible future enemy. It did lead to some fighting around the Sapphire Sea, but these were mostly skirmishes that the humans won.
In other parts the Atelanians were not so successful.
The Avians in the western part of the Westland islands however immediately attacked what they saw as an intruder on their territory, and decimated an unsuspecting outpost. And the human fears of lizards led to wars against the lizardmen of Marsh Bay. The lizardmen used the territory to their advantage, and managed to slaughter the colony there to the last man.
Atlean’s outposts near the Sapphire sea, the Pearl Bay, east of Stone Mountain, and what would later be known as the Gulf of Brania expanded – as did the original outpoist south of the Korogo Desert.
In the following decades, the Atelanian colonists expanded further, moving mostly into territory that was either uninhabited, or only inhabited lightly. There were no major wars, but skirmishes continued with Lizardmen and the Avians. The later were very effective at defending their islands from human encroachment. The humans also encountered the orcs, and found that no love was lost between the two peoples: Orcs and humans fought each other bitterly whenever they met.
Perhaps 50-100 years after arriving, the Atelanians held a lot of territory and had built many cities, most of them still simple affairs, but population was increasing quickly.
Then, disaster struck.
A huge flood wave hit the south-western coasts without warning, devastating many settlements. It utterly destroyed the original outpost, and caused damage as far north as the Sapphire Sea, where the flood wave had been channeled through the Emerald Bay.
After the Tsunami, no more ships arrived from Atelan. When ships that had been sent there returned, they reported that Atelan had disappeared entirely. Investigation showed that only a few tiny islands remained of the small continent. What had caused this catastrophe was an utter mystery.
After the loss of the homeland, and the loss of the regional capital, the various disconnected possessions of Atelan each began to follow their separate ways (labeled A to J on the map, below).
Kingdom J engaged in a series of border wars with the orcs, but was otherwise simply consolidating its holdings.
Kingdoms F,G and H split up peacefully and remained allies with various defense pacts.
Kingdom I was fighting many skirmishes with Lizardmen, and otherwise – as the “legitimate successor of Atelan” attempted to bring the other colonies back under its control. It lacked the manpower to wage war, though.
Kingdoms B,C and D were fighting several naval battles against each other over control of the Azure Straits, which was of great strategic importance as it controlled easy access to much of Enderra, via the Azure Sea.
From this point, the humans will establish control over the continent, but it will not be one unified empire but rather a patchwork of warring nations. This and what happens next, however, will be the subject of the next post in this series.
The first step of the Sandbox experiment turned into a much longer post than I had anticipated, and when I was done it was very late. I simply did not have time to do the last part of the first step, namely placing rivers and forests.
I did well by that decision; it took me two evenings to get it done. Now the world looks much less barren:
It probably still needs some additional rivers but this will do for a start. Some details for illustration purposes:
In the next step, I will finally get around to actually writing some background about this world. Stay tuned.
Enderra has the advantage of being my fantasy setting all along, so a lot of my material would “fit” automatically. The last incarnation of the map is the best one I have designed for that setting, but I was never entirely happy with it. Besides, this is not all about Enderra – while my consolidated fantasy setting will inherit a lot of material from Enderra, and will probably be called Enderra unless I come up with a more compelling name, I do not want to lock myself into that particular setting.
The Twin Continents were never really worked out too well. There are a few things I like about that map – the big chasm that runs northwest to southeast across both continents, the whole Atelan thing, and I personally think that this map is fairly well executed. However, I think I am probably not too happy with the continental shapes and layout. I could recycle the banners and some ideas – but this map itself is not really a compelling choice.
The Impossible Earth, a setting about a world whose huge underworld collapsed and drained the ocean, is a setting that I really love the concept of. However, it is too specific – it wouldn’t make for a good generic fantasy setting. Impossible Earth would be about survival and set in both lush cave systems and a harsh surface desert. Like the Enderra map, if I continued using Impossible Earth I would be doing Impossible Earth and not a consolidation of all my fantasy efforts.
The Much Neglected Continent is – no big secret – based on Antarctica without the ice sheet. It was more a start at Mythopoeia than at Fantasy, but this is not mutually exclusive. Indeed, the grandfather of fantasy authors, Tolkien, coined the use of the term Mythopoeia as he created Middle Earth. This map is smaller than the others – a single continent – bug again this is not in itself a bad thing.
As I looked at these maps, I realized that the Neglected Continent is actually not a bad fit for Enderra. Enderra was originally centered around the Cirrian Sea, a roughly circular inland sea connected to the ocean by a narrow strait. This campaign area expanded to Thaine, which is – geographically speaking – quite nondescript, and to Andarien, the Gulf of Brania and the Amber Bay, and the as-yet unnamed strait that connects the ocean to its eastern counterpart.
On the Neglected Continent, there are two large bays that could serve as the Cirrian Sea without any changes, and two more I could edit into a fit. The most prominent area of the Neglected Continent is a long and narrow strait northwest of the main continent. And let’s face it, this Antarctica-based map is much nicer than my Enderra map. So I’ll use it.
So, back on track. Rob’s first step is to apply global wind patterns and ocean currents. For this, I need to find out how big my continent is. Measuring it, I get roughly 5500km in the north-south direction and roughly 5000km west to east. This includes the island chains. 5500 kilometers is about an eights of the earth’s circumference, or 45°. To give myself an idea of what this actually means, I like to overlay an Earth region over my maps. In this case, I am picking Europe:
So this should give me a good spread of climate, from icy at the far north to Saharan deserts in the south. I could move it a bit south, too, sacrificing the subarctic and arctic north of the map for a generally warmer climate in this region. I enjoy snowy excursions now and then, so I probably won’t do this, but of course I can always add another snowy continent on the north or south of the map – south if I move this to the southern hemisphere. I probably won’t do the later either, by the way, because I feel the island chains on the west side of the map should be tropical.
Each of the rectangles in the distance bar at the bottom represents 250km by the way.
Now that we can place the continent on the globe, I can place the basic air currents following Rob’s simplified model. Both the Horse Latitudes and the Polar Front are crossing the continent – this I think is a good thing, as it will give me a variety of situations to work with later.
It also looks like the center and northeast of the largest landmass is going to be fairly dry, as is its southern end. The west and north are going to be wet and consequently the most fertile areas.
As a next step we’ll apply simplistic ocean currents.
I always found ocean currents hard to “model”, and this is no exception, despite the very minimalistic model used in Rob’s sandbox process.
Now that we completed these steps, let’s place our climate types. First, some general notes.
This is what I think of the various regions of the continent. Distributing some Köppen types, I get this:
Unfortunately, I have to call it a day at this point – this posting is getting way too long. I am not yet convinced these climate types are all correct. It also turns out that this landmass is now too far north to have a tropical island chain. I can’t move it further south, due to the deserts that will happen in the Horse Langitudes, so I have to expand my map to the south.
I’ll look into climate more tomorrow, as well as updating the map with more islands, rivers, and so on.
By chance – thank you, cartographer’s guild poster – I came across The Piazza which linked to a series of articles by Rob Conley about creating a “Fantasy Sandbox”. I have only skimmed the beginning, and it looks like a fairly logical process not unlike what I do anyway, so I decided to use it to create my “Consolidated Fantasy World”. I’ve done this sort of experiment before: When I created Arnâron, my Barsoom replacement, I followed ideas put forth in the now defunct Shakespeare & Dragons podcast – even if I did not post about every single step.
And that is something I’m going to do different this time around; I expect to post the results of every step in the process. Rob writes he expects the entire process to be about 24 hours of work, so it is tempting to try this in weekend of insanity, but instead I’ll aim for one step per day. If I get through these steps faster, then that’s fine of course.
Consolidated, you say?
So what is that “consolidated fantasy world” anyway?
As you probably know, my fantasy world is Enderra – the namesake of this site. Enderra was originally developed in a mad two week bash for a 1992 GURPS campaign, and recycled years later for our Dungeons & Dragons campaigns after massive redesigns. And after I stopped gaming, I began to create “Enderra v3″. It never got “done” – as you will know if you’ve followed my work for any period of time, I tend to get distracted by all kinds of new ideas way too easily.
Some of those ideas also covered fantasy worlds. Naturally, these were mostly collections of ideas rather than real designs. But in the end I have to admit that I have only a very limited amount of time, and that it is impossible for me to actively maintain a number of fantasy worlds (even one is difficult!) and so all the material I create (and eventually publish) should feed one setting.
Since the Fantasy Sandbox process does not specify the necessity for prior planning, I will leave it at that – but of course I already have a lot of ideas on where I want this to go as well as a good amount of material from previous Enderra incarnations to base this work on.
The past weeks I’ve been working on collecting notes about Enderra, the fantasy world. I’m going through my written material, all the way back to the first notes about the world, and gathering it all up in one document in an attempt to create a concise and definitive world book about Enderra. I’m at the point where I “only” have the notes about adventures from the Enderran Dungeons & Dragons campaigns left, and the Tales from Enderra. The Tales were a series of sword & sorcery fiction I wrote in circa 1995, and they’re about 50,000 words in total. The adventure notes are much shorter, but there’s still a lot of material in them.
Even so, I’ve reached a nice milestone today: The new Enderra World Book is just over 30,000 words long. And that’s just existing material, I added very few “new” things to it.
As a little sneak preview I thought I’d share the all-new work-in-progress Enderra map with you guys. This pushes the history of Enderra about 30-50 years into the future from the 1999 D&D campaign.
I expect to be done with gathering “old” material in about a week or two, and then I’ll start editing it. From the looks of it, Enderra will become my first World Book after all. I also have a tentative plan for the first additional book for the Enderra setting, but I won’t reveal this just yet.
…you have to worry about it actually meaning something in another language. There was the anecdote of the car company – Volkswagen, I believe; but it does not matter – which tried to sell a car brand called “Nova” in Latin America. No Va meaning “doesn’t go” or even “doesn’t work” ruined their product for them.
Whether this story is true or not doesn’t matter any more than who made this mistake. It still means that any words you invents, especially names of important places like planets or your protagonist names – need to be checked on-line. Otherwise you may add just a little more humor to your setting than you’d like.
I guess I was lucky. One of our Turkish translators tells me that “enderra”, in Turkish, means “rare”.
I spent a lot of my spare time working on maps. Here’s what I have to show for my effort.
First off, Thraeton now has mountain ranges. I experimented a little and came up with the following abstract style, which I like a lot.
I am currently working on climate – wind, ocean currents, climate zones.
In between, I revisited that world which started it all, and which gave the name to this website: Enderra. I began by recreating what geography has already been established over the past 17 years. As you can see, this is not the entire planet just yet – the entire “new world” in the west was never mapped out, so it’ll be added later.
I also experimented with drawing pretty national borders. These are very rough, and I’ll have to redraw them as the map evolved, but as a stylistic experiment I think it was quite a success: