Category Archives: Fantasy Sandbox

Sandbox: Part 2 – Labels and History

The second step in the Sandbox Experiment is:

Label important regions

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:

Naming names
Naming names

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:

  1. Humans are the latecomers to this continent
  2. Elves are the “ancient civilization” – they used to rule most of this continent, but orcs have gained much territory.
  3. 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
  4. Dwarves – Gotta have dwarves.
  5. 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.
  6. Avians – I love Kenku, and they will be an important race in the region as well
  7. 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.

Racial Distribution
Racial Distribution

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.

Atelan Explorations
Atelan Explorations

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.


Tsunami! (affected areas in red; black circles are controlled by Atelan)
Tsunami! (affected areas in red; black circles are controlled by Atelan)

As an aside, Sunken Atelan looks like this:

Sunken Atelan
Sunken Atelan

(The map was cropped from the Twin Continents map.)

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.

Atelan Holdings
Atelan Holdings

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.




Sandbox: Step 1b – Still Mapping the World

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:

Got woods?
Got woods?

It probably still needs some additional rivers but this will do for a start. Some details for illustration purposes:

Rolling down the river
Rolling down the river
Ice, ice, baby
Ice, ice, baby

In the next step, I will finally get around to actually writing some background about this world. Stay tuned.

Continued in Part 2.

Sandboxing a World – Foreword

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.

Let’s see what happens…