Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Vladria Overview

From Cosmographia: "In the middle part of the world are the Dwarvish mountains, so called because it is said that of old the dwarves first came to light from beneath their peaks, in the first age of  The Kindreds. But since it has happened that the old dwarf-kingdoms have been scattered, and the mountain fastnesses have been taken by crawling things, it is more common to refer to these mountains as The Teeth of the Gods, though it ought to be thought that the teeth of the Gods were neither so crooked, nor so riddled with cavities...

...let it be described here Vladria, the land west of the storied Trollstep mountains, and north of the Teeth, and yet east of the Alderwod. It is a hundred leagues broad, and somewhat more than two hundred leagues north to south. These are truly the foothills of both the aforementioned ranges, and are variable and rocky; the valleys betimes fertile, and with many forests about. Rivers there are, that wind north to the Frost Sea, or south and east to pay tribute to the river Argrar, which flows from the north reaches of the Trollsteps. Chief amongst the kindreds here are Men, though the other red blooded kind there also are. The people of these parts are ruled by many lords, who are called Volods, none of whom give way to any, and none of whom rule over the others, notwithstanding their pride and desire for domination. For the lands there about are difficult for great armies to move free, and none can build them great armies that their neighbors and rivals cannot see them. And though some of them be greater and some of them lesser, and at all times they press on each other, none may press so hard as to weaken their own strong place and be prey to yet other foes. And by virtue of these little wars, and the nearness of the Beasts of the mountains and the forest, and the Barbarians of the northern wastes, the warriors of Vladria are doughty and proud, and forward in battle."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Excerpts from "Cosmographia": The Whole World

Ed. Note: Cosmographia, widely know as “The Book,” is one of the most widely printed books of the known world: it is published by the Collegium (widely known as the wizard’s guild) and is viewed – in the civilized world – as the birthright of the trained mage, and the core text of any educated person.

Most mages are concerned primarily with the second “book” of Cosmographia, collectively known as The Spell Book. While the book alone is not enough to open the secrets of magic to a novice, for a trained wizard it holds both the basic spells of a wizardly repertoire and the key to understanding more. Many wizards unwisely ignore the pedestrian content of the early chapters: copies of the second book can be had without the earlier volume, though they usually show considerably more wear; complete volumes of Cosmographia virtually always have more damage (tears, bloodstains, burnt pages) in the later part of the book.

The first part of the book, however, is useful. It is a description and a rough history of the known world, describing its several ages. The book was available as a manuscript throughout the fourteenth century, and it was committed to type in 1482. It was little revised, so much of the information is a century old, and out of date. Its most interesting – and most often missing – leaf is a woodcut map of the world. (see previous post)

The world:
            "...Ignorant persons have it that the world is flat, or that it is set upon the back of a great elephant, or that it is in a bubble, or some other such nonsense. Any who have seen a ship sail off in the distance (as foolish an act as that may be),  can reason that the world must be round, and so it is. One could then make them a model of all of Ardis, in the form of a ball, if one could but know the form of the rest of the world. It is possible that The Dragons do know, for they alone have crossed the outer sea.
            "The continent of Ardis can be considered in four parts: The Southlands and Northlands, divided as it were by the Dwarf Mountains, are two parts. The Frost Sea, the Elves' lake of Eilin Ened, and deep Zilar mark off the west part of Ardis, and that is the third part. The Dragon Kingdom, the great Trollstep Mountains, and secret-shrouded Sset all lie beyond the Eastern mountains and the Black Sea and these are the Fourth part. All Ardis is bounded by water: To the south is the Inland Sea, where men and elves go in ships. The east and north are close set by the Outer Sea, where mariners cannot go. Also forbidden to the kindred of Ardis is the Sea of the West, though the elves say their fathers sailed across it in deep antiquity.
           "The Sea of the West and the Inner Sea are connected by a narrow strait, and the Wine Sea. Across it is the only other continent known to the wise, which is Qesh, which has two parts: Upper Qesh, which is a great desert, and Lower Qesh, which is a terrible forest. Mariners report no cities on those coasts, and none have reported that they have sailed far south or west along them."


Oh Hi!

Okay, I've been worldbuilding again: Fantasy this time, instead of Sci Fi; Tunnels & Trolls instead of Traveller. I'm starting with the BIG map, then drilling down: starting with the biggest picture I'm prepared to contend with, knowing I'd never ever use all of it, so that when I do detail I can have it be in context.

The whole world is Ardis.

The year is 1520.

And here's the world map, circa 1482: 

I'll post a bigger one later.

The known world is BIG: almost three thousand leagues wide, a bit larger than Eurasia. For some fantasy perspective: I've just been rereading Fellowship of the Ring, and the distance from Caradhras in the Misty Mountains to Mordor is about three hundred leagues. So I'm figuring the largest practical adventuring setting is liable to be about four or five hundred leagues in breadth, about the size of Western Europe, or India - and generally speaking, only a small part of THAT will ever have to be shown in detail.

I'm leaning towards two settings, here. There's a mountain range right in the middle of the map. I haven't named them yet - for now I'll call them the Dwarf Mountains, because I know that once there was a dwarf-kingdom there, and in antiquity it was destroyed and scattered. Their tunnelings have since been taken over by goblins and other nasties. So I want to stay close to those!

Just south of the mountains are the kingdoms of Khurasan and Angapam; rough analogs to Persia and the Mogul empire. That, in Ardis, is CIVILIZATION. The most cosmopolitan cities are along the coast of the Inner Sea, in the south. The northern reaches, in the foothills of the Dwarf Mountains, are more hinterlandish, and good adventure fodder. So that's one choice.

The other region that's attractive is Vladria, to the northeast of the Dwarf Mountains. Further east are the Trollstep mountains (full of monsters, good adventuring.) To the north are berserker tribes (good adventuring.) And to the west is a great huge forbidding forest (more good adventuring.) I'm picturing Vladria being heavily forested and broken by high hills and low mountains - not good for big kingdoms, but favorable for lots of little baronies.  And THAT'S good adventuring. So I'll think about both.

There's a lot of the game, at its root, that is based on Tolkien, and it's hard to get away from that. Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits all exist in T&T and all owe much to J.R.R.. Some of that I'll keep, simply because so much of what makes these critters is dependent on what's gone before.  But I'll try to recontextualize that stuff.

I'm going to try to incorporate a certain amount of the wackiness that's part of T&T's charm, but that's liable to be down on the very micro level: the broad context doesn't need to be silly - at least, no more silly than the whole RPG thing is in the first place. 

So, welcome to Ardis.