Category Archives: Worlds

This category contains all posts covering the worlds/settings/universes I design. One sub-category for each world.

Enderra: An Age of Eternal Winter

Over the past few weeks, as I was distracted by a surprisingly busy real life schedule, I pondered what sort of world Enderra would be in its latest iteration. I was certain it would be a “points of light” style setting – a lot of wilderness with civilization surviving in the nooks and crannies of a dangerous world. The best real world match, I decided, would be post-Western Roman Empire late antiquity/early middle ages. The Dark Ages, as we like to call them.

While total societal collapse alone is all fun and games (until it happens to the country you live in), a civilization going out with a whimper and just fading away isn’t particularly interesting. And why are humans (and the other civilized races) not simply rebuilding?

The answer – as you presumably guessed from the headline of this post – is an added complication. The climate of Enderra has cooled dramatically since the days of the Menorian Empire. Summers are short and cold, and usually rainy. Winters are much harsher, with heavier snowfalls, frozen rivers and coastal waters. In some regions, the snow never really melts year-round.

The consequences are dire. Crops fail with regularity, where they can be grown at all. Many areas have reverted to hunting and gathering. Even fishing is hard when the ice extends many miles off shore. Even augmented by magic and the use of greenhouses, food production is nowhere near enough to support pre-collapse population numbers. At the same time, the harsh climate has made wild beasts and monsters all that more likely to prey on humans.

In short, Enderra is experiencing a harsher version of the Little Ice Age.

Iced Trees. Image by Jake N.

I’ve always loved winter imagery – you may recall that this site had winter landscapes as its headers for the longest time, and in 2014 I hosted a Blog Carnival about the Icy Embrace of Winter. Skyrim is one of my favorite video games, as is The Bard’s Tale – granted, there wasn’t much actual winter depicted in the original game, but it was still set in a city beset by ice and snow.

In practical terms, this means as little or as much as a prospective game master wants it to mean. You can, uh, embrace the concept wholeheartedly and add winter survival themes and mechanics to every adventure. Low visibility from falling snow, early nightfall and long nights add a touch of mystery to any environment. It helps explain why the adventurers might come across a relatively untouched Menorian ruin. In reality, old ruins were not only looted, but often quarried for the construction of new houses. It should even help keep the power curve flat, when a good fur armor’s protection from the harsh temperature becomes more important than a full metal plate armor’s better armor rating.

And if you don’t like snow all the time, set your adventures during a summer season. As the peasants emerge from the relative safety of their towns and hamlets to begin growing much-needed crops, monsters hungry from a long winter descend from the mountains.

I think a lot can be done with a not-so-little Ice Age, and little complications like this certainly make things a lot more interesting.

Ancient Empires of Enderra

Enderra has a long history, during which many empires rose and fell.

Ruins of the Old Ones

The Old Ones: This ancient civilization of lizard-men is largely a mystery. Ruins of their cities, temples, and castles can be found throughout Enderra.

The Ancient Elven Kingdom: The Elves once controlled much of Enderra. Elves still remember this era of benevolent rule; of enlightenment, arts and magic, and harbor resentment against those who destroyed the most advanced civilization in Enderran history.

The Archaean Empire: When the Humans first arrived on Enderra, they quickly expanded their territory. Within a short time, they had displaced the Elves as the dominant species on Enderra. Much blood was spilled by the Archeaens, and most of it was Elven. After a long reign, the Archaean Empire slowly fragmented, until plagues caused it to collapse entirely.

The Grand Alliance: Enderra remained fragmented into various smaller kingdoms and city-states until the Demon War. In response to the invasion, the Grand Alliance was founded. It was a military coalition, and not a true empire, but it aligned its members politically as well. Many forts and other defensive structures were built during the war, some of which are still in use today.

The Reign of the Unliving: The Grand Alliance succeeded in driving back the demons, but only at great cost. Armies were depleted, cities and nations decimated. A coven of vile necromancers took advantage of the situation. Raising the fallen from the war to serve as their army, they conquered much of Enderra.

The Kingdom (and later Empire) of Menoria: Also known as the “Last Empire”. After the fall of the Unliving, Menoria became the dominant economic and military power of Enderra. The Menorian kings, direct descendants of a line of Archaean emperors, claimed all of Enderra and used diplomacy, strategic marriages, threats, and where necessary (or convenient), armed force to expand their territory. When the royal families of Menoria and Thayne were unified in marriage, the King proclaimed the “restoration of the Empire”.

In truth, however, Menorian rule was all but absolute, as many smaller kingdoms remained independent. The Menorian Empire ruled for centuries in relative peace, until a sudden civil war erupted. Neighboring kingdoms saw an opportunity for invasion and took it. Menoria never recovered; it fragmented into countless petty kingdoms. Cities were razed or abandoned. Population declined, trade ceased, and monsters began to roam once civilized lands.

Enderran Agenda for 2020

Plans and Other Whimsy

I know, I know. I am great at making plans, maybe not so great at following through with them. But, contrary to what you might believe, not finishing things actually annoys me greatly.

One of the things I realized I really want to do is decluttering. Both in real life – it is amazing how much crap one accumulates if one lives in the same spot for a decade – and digitally. And Enderra.com is at the top of that list.

I started the process last year, with the big blog cleanup of 2019. I quietly continued that cleanup since then. There is more work to do, but there’s very little return on time invested after a certain point, and I’ll likely just fix whatever I find when I find it, rather than actively looking for stuff to change.

So, anyway, what’s my plan for Enderra.com?

Well, simply put, I’d like to turn Enderra into and actual thing. Something I can look at and say, “yup, this is done”. I mean, we all know that fictional worlds are never “done”. What I mean is something someone who finds their way to this site can grab and use. A complete campaign world. I will identify what “complete” means in another post.

The Future World of Enderra

From this point forth, everything that has ever been posted about Enderra is non-canonical. Enderra, in its almost 30 years history (oh boy – I am getting very old), has always gone through revisions and changes. Some minor, some major. And while I am happy to re-use old material, I don’t want to be bound by it. Times change. Tastes change. And one has to wonder if the world really needs another pseudo-medieval European fantasy setting.

(Indeed, the main reasons why I keep the “Enderra” name are a) it has history and b) I’d have to come up with a new name…)

While much remains to be worked out, and this really warrants at least one future post, I do have a general idea of what Enderra should look like.

  • D&D compatible: There are a couple aspects of Dungeons & Dragons I do not like, but in the end D&D remains popular and accessible, there’s a huge body of third party material out there, and, well, it works. (And this is an excuse for me to finally pick up D&D 5th Edition.)
  • Sword & Sorcery: Enderra has always been more of a low magic setting. Not that there were no major plots or high stakes, but the player characters were always more likely to free some prisoner, search treasure in a dungeon, fight some dark cult, or hunt some criminal than to have a tea party with the gods. Dragons exist, but are rare.
  • No Color-Coded Morals: Speaking of dragons, they’re not color-coded to alignment. Nor is anybody else. Some cultures, organisations, or species may tend towards specific alignments, but that’s it. In reality, nobody does something to be evil; villains are just as convinced they’re “doing the right thing” as the protagonists are. In the context of D&D, alignments are a tool to aid gameplay, nothing more.
  • Wilderness and Exploration: Enderra has always been reasonably civilized. Sure, with a lot of wilderness between the towns, but most of the known world was under the control of one organized, functioning kingdom or another. I’m thinking of limiting the civilized spaces a lot more, with most of the world wild and untamed. Of course, adventuring opportunities abound. Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition stipulated a setting type called “Points of Light” which is the right direction (again, I’ll post more detailed thoughts on this later), but I am thinking about “The Frontier” and a possible land rush.
  • Technology: I am very tempted to move the technology forward a little, notably to include firearms. I’ll have to see just how well it works. More technology probably moves the setting closer to a Fantasy Western. Which actually sounds like fun.

As usual, all of this will probably be refined as we go.

Last but not least – a teaser: I signed up to host the RPG Blog Carnival in February. I always enjoyed running these events, and they always spurned me on to create stuff.

Enderra 2015

E2015: The Moons of Enderra

Back when I first designed Enderra, I decided that it had three moons and a (thin) ring system. I did this mostly for the imagery, not really thinking about the consequences much. Multiple large moons can have severe effects on the planetary environment. Universe Today has a summary of some of the effects of adding a second, Moon-sized, moon to Earth.

twomoons2
White Moon, Meet Red Moon

The scenario they describe is extreme, and I am not quite sure where they get some of their numbers (tides “thousands of feet” in height seem off) but I am sure they know more about this stuff than I do. Anyway, even with lessened effects, I have come to think of three moons as excessive.

At the same time, I do like the “exotic” visuals. Let’s ditch one moon and the ring system.

Enderran Moons . Size Comparison
Enderran Moons . Size Comparison

I’ve done some math to make sure the moons don’t cause huge problems. I mostly used GURPS Space for this, since I couldn’t find formulas easily, and ran the numbers for the Moon (of Earth) through the same process – for verification. Even when the two moons align, their effect on tides should be at most twice that of Earth’s Moon. The actual tidal levels, though, depend a lot on geography and local conditions. Yes, we will have some tides that are more extreme than on Earth, but it won’t mess with the fundamental state of affairs. Nights will be a bit brighter, and there will be a little bit more volcanism on Enderra than on Earth.

Both moons are tidally locked to Enderra – that is, they always show the same face to Enderra. The White Moon’s synodic month is 30.33 days, the Red Moon’s is 43.22.

What’s in a Name?

The two moons are simply named “the Red Moon” and “the White Moon”, similar to how Earth’s moon is just called “the Moon”. I might give them name later (the three original moons had names) but I think I like the simplicity of “Red Moon” and “White Moon”.

Enderra 2015

E2015: Revisiting Enderra

Planet drawn with Inkscape
Planet drawn with Inkscape

Oh, Enderra. You were my first fantasy world. I named this site after you. And yet, I have neglected you for a decade. I am sorry.

I’ve recently been in the mood to do some fantasy world-building again. Part of it is that I’d really like to get back into gaming; part of it is a desire to get rid of all those post-Enderran attempts at fantasy worlds that are cluttering my Worldbuilding folder. And part of it is that I’ve been doing too much Science Fiction in the past few years.

And there’s another reason. My nephew is going to be old enough to start gaming in a few years. I should prepare for that.

Enderra is now over twenty years old. It was created, more or less ad-hoc, for a GURPS Fantasy campaign, but it’s been used with my own D&D clone rules, Tunnels and Trolls, AD&D 2nd, D&D 3rd, and even TORG. We played campaigns of our own invention and “official” modules. The Temple of Elemental Evil, to me, is not in Greyhawk – it’s in Eastern Enderra.

Enderra already went through one major revision, in circa 1999 when we started our D&D campaign. I had not been happy with some of the decisions I had originally made, so I advanced the timeline and changed a lot of stuff around.

So – what are my goals for Enderra 2015?

Since Enderra is not actively used by anybody, and I have published very little of my material, I feel like I can afford to reshape the setting from the ground up – apply everything I have learned about world-building in the past twenty years. One of the lessons I learned is that it really helps to have design goals and guidelines:

  1. Enderra Is Real: Well, it’s of course not really real; but the approach should always be that “this is not a game” – Enderra is a parallel earth, and can easily be found in a universe one phase shift away from our own, if you just know how. I believe that treating it as “real” will help make the right design decisions.
  2. Enderra must be internally consistent: This is really my number one golden rule for worldbuilding. Everything must make sense inside the setting. If there’s a Raise Dead spell, then why isn’t the world ruled by immortal kings? Or is it? Hmmm!
  3. Enderra shall not be a kitchen sink. Do you remember Eberron? “If it exists in D&D, it exists in Eberron”. Or consider RIFTS. Kitchen sink settings rarely work out well.
  4. Enderra is not a hexcrawl: Hexcrawls might be compelling, but a world consists of more than random hexes filled with combat encounters. Enderra is a place, its inhabitants lead lives, plot against each other, wage wars… I’ll use the story-based approach described by Paul in the Shakespeare & Dragons Podcast.
  5. There are no holy cows: I’ve got a lot of material and notes about Enderra. I have even more in my head. I will re-use material where I can, but if there’s a better way to do something then I will change it.
  6. Enderra shall be a fantasy setting that works with D&D and its clones.  This doesn’t mean that much, considering how archetypical D&D really is. It does imply certain assumptions, for example how magic works, and will guide certain thematic or stylistic choices.
  7. Enderra must be compatible with Contact Light: Enderra is the “lost homeworld” of the Contact Light setting. This places some minor restrictions on my design – for example, I can’t turn Enderra into a Ringworld.
  8. Produce a publishable World Book: By publishable I don’t mean “for sale”, but my end product should be a campaign guide that other people can use. This places some limitations on the scope of the work, and above all, provides me with a measurable goal.

Let’s get cracking.

 

A New World, Part 7: Mythology – The Five Gods of Man

Third and last part in the Mythology arc of posts.

The names of all Old Gods were created using the Lovecraftian Names generator.

The Five Gods of Man

Even though his mother got better in the years after Darac and his companions freed her from the Underworld, where she had been imprisoned by the dead god Rarthot, Darac himself was a changed man. He had seen so many horrors in that realm of torment, too much suffering, and too much brutality. Before, he had been convinced that some – if not most – gods were benign; now he doubted this belief.

His doubts on the matter were finally settled when, five years after Darac’s return from the underworld, a series of calamities began to hit the lands: A drought led to forest fires and a famine. The following year, winter lasted so long that there was no summer. The snow finally melted at the time autumn arrived, and the seasonal rain and the melting snow led to floods and mudslides. Without a crop that year, the famine grew worse – granaries were empty, and even the foragers returned to their villages empty-handed most days. And as if this had not been enough, the dead rose from their graves that winter.

Darac sought his mother’s council. Because of her years in the Underworld, she had developed a… gift, saw visions in her dreams, and had great insight into the workings of the divine.

“The gods,” Darac’s mother said, “are angry at you, my son. They seek revenge for their humiliation, for your defiance.”

“But we are not suffering, mother,” Darac replied. “We have enough food. our lands are large and my estate small. Why must others suffer for what I did?”

“That is the way of the gods, son. Your first punishment is to see those suffer who are innocent in your eyes. It will get worse.” She paused. “It always gets worse.”

Darac knew, in his heart, that Iruwa was right, but his mind did not want to accept what was clear to his sight. As before, he summoned his companions. Of the three who had accompanied him to the underworld, two answered his call. Darac told them of his mother’s explanation, and what he intended to do about it. The two replied that they believed that Darac had become insane, but yet, they once more swore an oath to stand by his side, no matter what the cost to their own being or souls.

Darac, his companions, and Iruwa then travelled across the land to the palace of the God-Queen, Nuria, whose lands had remained unaffected. Three times he demanded that the God-Queen Nuria open the gates of her kingdom to refugees. Three times he demanded that she share the contents of her granaries with the starving people outside. The God-Queen Nuria denied each of his demands. Darac then challenged her to, and with the use of the Sword of Yorhorh and the powers of the dead god, Rarthot, defeated her in personal combat. As he was about to behead the God-Queen Nuria, she yielded and offered her loyalty in exchange for her life. Darca accepted, and the God-Queen Nuria henceforth fought on Darac’s side.

Indeed, Darca had had no intention of killing the God-Queen Nuria, for her abilities and powers played an important role in his plan. As a goddess herself, she was able to find, and lead Darac to, other gods. They met Daugggol by a stream, as the Wild God was feasting on still-beating hearts. Darac killed Daugggol after but a short fight. Thalhar was the next god they confronted – the lustful god was killed in the brothel he had been frequenting in disguise. Sorth-zaraug survived, but was banished to the Underworld – the first time that a God would be imprisoned there.

In similar manner, Darac’s band of adventurers hunted down and killed every god they could find. Word of his deeds spread, and volunteers arrived. Soon, Darac had an army at his disposal.

The gods had, of course, taken notice, and they, too began to band together. At first smaller groups challenged Darac, but while Darac lost some men, and could not always kill all of his opponents outright, he and his companions remained undefeated.

At long last, the gods united under the leadership of Rarakrsha, who had led many armies over the eons as his enjoyed the bloodshed and death of soldiers on the field. The gods called their faithful to a crusade against Darac, and the army of the gods and the army of men clashed on the northern plateau of Tarn. The battle raged for weeks, with heav causalities on both sides. Darac and Rarakrsha met in the midst of the battlefield, and the hero of mankind slew the god of warfare right there, raising his severed head high. Silence fell on the battlefield, and then the mortals in the army of gods betrayed their masters. The few remaining gods present on the plateau of Tarn did not survive their general for long.

After the battle, Darac and his companions decided to push on for a final victory, advised to do so by the God-Queen Nuria. She said that if there ever was a day to strike against the Pantheon, it was this very day, and so they set forth, bringing with them a small group of their best fighting-men.

Tensions ran high among the men as they approached the white marble pillars, and a few fell to their knees as they crossed the Threshold, frozen in fear. The rest left them behind. They followed the long, tall halls, their steps echoing through the eternity of Pantheon. They were alone. They found nobody – no god, no mortal, nothing. The Great Chamber was deserted, the throne room of Anagkekra was empty. It was here that Darac and his companions held council. Again, it was the God-Queen Nuria who, through her own status, could offer an explanation.

The gods, she said, had fled. Fearful for their lives, their very existence, they had abandoned the world for good. “You know what must be done now,” she said.

“I do not know,” Darac replied. “I do not.”

“You must take it,” the God-Queen replied. “You must sit on the throne. You must take the reigns of power, and replace the gods you have slain.”

“I can not,” Darac answered. “I do not want this power, can not carry this responsibility!”

“That,” the God-Queen Nuria said simply, “Is why you must.”

Darac’s mother, Iruwa, put her hand on her son’s shoulder. “You know she is right,” she said. “There is nobody else you can trust. We will be with you, son.”

And so, with a heavy heart, Darac approached the enormous throne, his two remaining companions, his mother Iruwa, and the God-Queen Nuria at his side, and it is they, who have since that day, protected and guided all the peoples of the world as the new Five Gods.

 

A New World, Part 6: Mythology – Darac’s Descend into the Underworld

These turned out to be longer than I thought, so I decided to split them up. Part two of the Mythology arc:

Darac’s Descend Into the Underworld

Darac’s victory felt hollow to the great hero, as he knew that his mother was still trapped in the Underworld, suffering unmentionable pain every day. And not only his mother – he knew all too well that there were hundreds, maybe countless, people who had been taken by gods over the eons.

Two year after his return from the Pantheon he called his companions to him. Three answered the call, and after they arrived, Darac proposed that they should descend into the Underworld, to free his mother, and any other humans they could. His companions agreed they would follow him, but said that such an endeavor was plainly impossible. Everybody had known, they said, how to get to the Pantheon. Nobody knew how to get into the Underworld. Darac told them that he had thought about this, and had come up with a solution. He asked his companions to swear that, no matter what, they would be loyal to him, and the cause, and all three agreed and swore this oath.

Darac smiled and gave a sign to his servants. They opened a large door at the other end of the hall, and armed guards led in eight priests and priestesses. Each was in chains. Each served a God known to be particularly cruel – Thachac, Mmoldar, Teggogh, Yor-Sothan, and others.

“You serve your Gods well, do you not?” Darac asked the men and women. They nodded in agreement.

“And what you see, your Gods see, do they not?” Again, the priests agreed.

“Then know this. We are coming for you. We will hunt down every one of you, and kill each and every one of you, until your masters stop us. Banish us to the Underworld, I dare them! Nothing will stop us!” and with this, Darac drew the sword of Yorhorh, and killed each of the eight priests and priestesses in turn.

Darac revealed to his companions that he had used the treasure of the red dragon to gather a small but highly trained and fiercely loyal group of mercenaries – five thousand men in total. And he intended to carry out his threats. At first, the companions were aghast, but Darac reminded them of all the evil the Gods had committed, and convinced them that his way was just.

For the next six years, Darac’s army traveled through the lands, and they killed every servant of those gods they could find. As word of his deeds spread, some cities and kingdoms denied him entry, and so he forced his way. He spared the God-Queen Nuria, but only after burning down her temples and palaces.

At the end of six years, the Gods decided that enough was enough. They banished Darac and his companions, and his entire army, to the Underworld. Darac and his companions used every trick at their disposal, all the power of the dead god Rarthot, to protect their men from the torment, but most succumbed and died in the first weeks. The rest marched on and made war on the demons of the Underworld. They even freed some people, who then joined their crusade.

At long last, Darac found Iruwa. She had not aged a day since Rarthot had imprisoned her, and she was physically unharmed, though her soul had been broken. She did not know who the strangers were who suddenly faced her, and had long forgotten the notion of a life without eternal suffering. She followed, but not out of enthusiasm to be free once more; she followed like any broken slave would in fear of the whip.

Despite having achieved his goal, Darac had a great moment of doubt. It seemed that despite all the hardship, he could not even save his mother. He nearly gave up, there, in the deepest levels of hell, but his companions reminded him of the good he had done, of the people he had saved, and that it was not, after all, too late for his mother – if Darac would lead them out of the Underworld.

Darac agreed, and with a heavy heart took charge of the men again. They soon found that their entry had been easy – all the guardians of the Underworld aimed at keeping people and souls in, not out! Roads that had been free were now open. Rivers of molten lava had appeared where there had been serene lakes of blood before. Things with sharp teeth came for the men when they rested, and the gods sent armies of the dead to confront them. Darac’s army, already reduced to a fraction of its size, dwindled. They fought and defeated Zotsa, whose phlegm dissolved a man within seconds. They came across a lake where a dozen men would not heed warnings out of thirst and turned to stone as they drank. They climbed a wall made out of the writhing bodies of disloyal temple slaves. They braved the burning air of Genvahorr and the frozen caverns of  Ucpelardi.

It was in these caves that they nearly found their end, were it not for a strange coincidence. Through the thick snow-storms, they saw several shapes. As they got closer, it became clear that what they saw was a battle. It was a naked woman, with dark hair, surrounded by a dozen winged demons. Her skin was pale, almost blue from the cold, and the demons had frost-covered skin. She was using a horn she had ripped off a demon’s head as a club. Then Darac recognized her, it was the God-Queen Nuria! Without much thought, Darac charged the demons, and his companions and men followed him.

After defeating the demons, and providing some of their clothes to the God-Queen, Nuria explained that she had been cast into the Underworld as punishment for being spared by Darac. She was not the ally Darac would have chosen, but she was a familiar person. More-over, she said she thought she could find the way back, even though she was feeling too weak to make it on her own.

Darac agreed to trust the God-Queen Nuria, and she was true to her word. She led Darac’s now very small group of men to the surface, where they emerged amidst the volcanoes of the southern islands.

 

A New World, Part 5: Mythology – Darac’s Origin

As promised, I’ll continue to flesh out the New World setting I created for the January Blog Carnival. I haven’t really had time to work on the map, so I am doing something different today and maps will come later. I’ll deal with the Colonist’s religion. I’ll try to make this semi in-character:

Darac’s Origin

In the past, Gods walked the Earth. Everybody knows this, and everybody learns the stories about the Old Gods – how they created the world, and how they made it their own; how they gave it life. The Old Gods were very much invested in mankind, and interacted with it frequently. A traveler could come across the goddess of beauty bathing under a waterfall. If he was lucky, she would take a liking to him. A fair maiden might be visited by a god as she brushed her hair in front of a mirror, and if she was unlucky, he took a liking to her. The gods were whimsical, unpredictable, sometimes generous and often very, very jealous.

Mankind continued to thrive, learned to make better tools and more powerful weapons. Humans built cities, connected them with roads, founded kingdoms and began to explore the oceans. But they did not contest the power of the gods until Rarthot, one of the Old Gods, came across a group of young women near a village. All of the girls fled at the sight of the God, except for the most beautiful of them, Iruwa, who faced him without fear. Impressed by her beauty and her boldness, Rarthot took her to be his mistress.

Rarthot, however, soon discovered that Iruwa was carrying a son. Enraged that she was not pure any longer, Rarthot took the son from her and threw him to the Earth without a thought. He then banished Iruwa to the deepest levels of the underworld; a place of eternal pain and suffering. She was tormented by the underworld demons, a suffering only surpassed when Rarthot would visit, and unleash the worst cruelties he could imagine. This went on for sixteen years before Rarthot’s visits became less frequent and he, eventually, abandoned Iruwa, so she might suffer for the rest of eternity.

Rarthot had never thought a second time of Iruwa’s son, however. He survived and was found by a poor shepherd. Desperately poor, he nonetheless took the child home, and he and his wife raised him as his own. The boy was given the name Darac.

Darac grew to be a healthy young man – strong as an ox, quick as the lightning, agile as the cat but also of sound mind, he was well-liked in his village. He left his home during the Navorish wars, and learned to use sword, spear and bow. He distinguished himself as a very capable warrior, his skill and fighting-spirit inspiring those who saw him in the thick of battle.

One day, a priestess came to bless Darac’s legion before an important battle. As she touched Darac’s head, she fainted. As she recovered, she sent everybody away and told Darac of his true origin as the son of a woman taken by Rarthot – it had been revealed to her as she had been unconscious.  At first, Darac did not believe it, but after the war he returned home and his foster parents told him that, indeed, they were not his true parents but had found him. Now Darac was filled with doubts, and decided to find out more about his origin. He left his village again, vowing to return once he had discovered the truth.

Over the years, he lived through many adventures. Darac’s Voyages led him to all known lands, and far beyond. He saw things no mortal had seen before him, fought gruesome monsters, and received audiences from priests and kings alike. He was led astray often, made wrong decisions at times, but never gave up on his quest. He gathered a group of four friends, who assisted him. He obtained a sword blessed by none other than the god Yorhorh, which he used to slay the Red Dragon. The gods took notice of this, and some began to aid him, while others toyed with him. The God-Queen Nuria told Darac of his mother’s fate. Darac swore that he would kill Rarthot for this, and rescue his mother.

Rarthot was at first annoyed, then over time frightened, as Darac overcame one hurdle after the other, defeated every enemy that challenged him. Eventually, Darac and his friends forced their way into the Pantheon itself, and confronted and killed Rarthot in a mighty battle that was witnessed in all of the world as a violent thunderstorm that lasted three days.

Darac was offered to replace Rarthot in the Pantheon, but Darac rejected this. Instead, he returned to the world. He parted ways with his companions, each vowing to use the powers they gained from the dead god Rarthot to protect the peoples of the land.

 

A New World, Part 4: Mapping the Coastline

Now that I know a little about the situation of our colonists, I’d like to know what the geography is like. Usually, I make up my maps from complete stretch, but the other days I saw a map of Sumatra on the BBC News site and I decided that its eastern coast looks pretty awesome. The New World setting being a fairly small one, I thought it’d be quite okay to actually use Sumatra and modify it.

The source map I picked is one provided by Wikimedia, and is public domain. (Always respect other people’s copyrights!)

I set up an Inkscape document with dimensions of 420x594mm, that’s DIN A2 format. This will allow me to create enough detail for a medium-sized posted map, if I so wish, and I can easily halve the size to make it an A3 size for a 2-page spread in a booklet or magazine. Landscape format for the same reason. I realize that I am probably overthinking it, but then, it doesn’t hurt.

My Inkscape Setup
My Inkscape Setup

Normally, you’ll want to avoid using real geographic features as much as possible, despite it having a long tradition (the D&D pioneers based their settings off a fantasized version of the USA), because humans are insanely good at recognizing patterns and players will spot your sources. All my settings are “officially” parallel Earths, though, so at least I have a rationale for it.

Tracing the coast
Tracing the coast

As you can see I trace the coastline in many small sections; this is so I can do it zoomed in. I don’t try to match it precisely, and I am ignoring the islands off the coast for now. A little filling action later, and we have ourselves an east coast.

First Draft of East Coast
First Draft of East Coast

It looks bland at this stage, but that’s okay. Do note two things: One, I’ve marked a possible site for the colony. Two, the coast is not contiguous in the south and extends “off map”. This could be a bay, or the New World might be split by a strait. I’ll leave this up for later.

Now it’s time to add higher elevations. I add rivers first, because I find it helps to use them as a guide for mountains rather than the other way around. For the elevation colors, I am re-using the palette I used for my Northern Territory map. In the following screenshot, I’ve filled in some preliminary mountains – as you can see, each “height range” is a separate layer. In this map, they are abstract levels, but on some maps I go by numerical height bands.

Going Vertical
Going Vertical

Note that only the coastal layer has an outline (dark blue) to provide better contrast; all higher elevations have no outlines because here I find outlines to be distracting.

Looking at the map, it does seems too sterile. Let’s add some quick islands.

You gotta have islands
You gotta have islands

And there we have it, a nice, fairly dynamic coastline, some cool islands that beckon, and you almost can’t tell that it was Sumatra once. To see how it works as a hexcrawl, I added a 0.5 inches hexgrid to the map. I use an online SVG hexmap generator, open the resulting SVG file, group all elements and copy them over into a new layer.

Hexgrid Overview
Hexgrid Overview

And a zoom:

regional002b-cropped

I am, if I may humbly say so, quite happy with how this turned out. Next time, I will work on the interior – and work on some local details.

 

A New World, Part 3: What’s the Colony Like?

Log_Cabin_BAHAccording to Wikipedia, it took the Mayflower pilgrims three weeks to build their first common house, 6×6 meters in size. They were severely hampered by disease. They assigned single men to families to reduce the number of houses that needed to be built. They completed their initial settlement another month later, with 30+ people dead (about 25%).

In the case of the lost colony, there is no major disease (our settlers have it hard enough), but a severe shortage of food and other supplies, and unrest among the refugees.  The group is also much larger, so ideal logs for building have to be brought in from further afield, or less ideal trees used. The refugee fleet was not as well prepared as the original fleet, but there are some woodworking tools on any (wooden!) sailing ship.

Size

How many houses does the settlement need? Assume six to eight people per house, or 250-330 buildings. Some of these will be common houses, storage barns, and the like. The available land will be split into long, stretches; the house is at the front of the grant, at the roadside; the rear will presumably used for agriculture. Common houses will be clustered in the center of the colony, near the waterside. There are native tribes in the New Lands, but none survive nearby; with food and shelter an urgent matter and the settlement being fairly large, the town will not build any defensive structures.

As a side note, I realize that 2000 people is a lot. That’s basically the entire population of the Thirteen Colonies in 1625. However, with contact with the old world completely lost, 2000 people is a very, very small population – perhaps too small to survive in the long run. I also decided that I’d like to have the main colony have some semblance to a real town.

Timing

The colonists had a while to set up before the refugees arrived. The less time before winter arrives, the fewer houses will be built; this means more overcrowding and might also mean that the buildings that are built are closer together. It also leaves less time for foraging and creates a greater strain in the colony.

Location

The colonists explored the coast for a short while, maybe a few weeks, until they found a suitable spot (they also tried to find the site of the original outpost, since some maps of that area existed and a few native settlements there were known to be friendly). Features: Defensible hill, old growth forest, a protected natural harbor, and a river. (The river for easier transportation and travel inland, and for building watermills.)

Administration

The settlement is governed by the leader of the original colony fleet, let’s use the term “Governor”. He is authorized – by the King personally – to run the colony in the King’s name. He is supported by a handful of officers and administrators, and ten men-at-arms. Another few dozen “trusted” men make up the settlement’s militia, though of course in any larger attack everybody who can hold a weapon (or a club) is expected to help in the defense. It is noteworthy that no members of the refugee group serves as guards or militiamen.

Resources

The original fleet carried some crops and some livestock – especially the later is among the most valuable property of the colony. A few cows, chicken, sheep, pigs. None of these will be used for food, as they are needed for breeding.

Both fleets also brought cats (to keep rats and mice in check) and dogs (as guard dogs). I am considering to omit horses and donkeys,; locating an animal suitable for riding or as a beast of burden could be a priority for the colony.

Tools are “colonial” property and issued as needed. Anything anybody owned privately that was deemed useful for the colony was confiscated, with promises of payment “if and when” the colony survived.

Ships: The colonists probably stripped a few ships for supplies. Some ships might be suitable for fishing. Two – with minimum crew – were sent back to the old world, they have not yet returned. Some others are used to explore the coast.

Money

There’s no official currency. Some people barter for what little surplus there is, or use old world gold and silver coins. Most other metals are way too useful for tool-making to be used for coins. Written IOU’s are used in some cases.

Name

The settlement needs a name. I was thinking “KIng’s Cove”; there are a real life King’s Cove in Canda and a King Cove in Alaska. I think that’s okay. The colony was named before the arrival of the refugees, so it will have a “normal” colony name, and not anything connected to its status as a refugee camp.