View Full Version : My First Project in Illustrator

12-11-2009, 12:46 PM
Well since school is out for a little while, I decided to start a mapping project. So as I've said elsewhere, ever since I saw HandsomeRob's atlas and the tutorial for his style I've wanted to try out Illustrator. Here goes...

I started by just messing around in Illustrator making land shapes, rivers and the like. I was particularly interested in text and labelling. I found the results inspiring, so I decided to push it up a notch.

I imported imagery from my Al Burphaban test project into Illustrator. Both with text and without. The version with text I used as a guide, the version without I used for the background image. This is far from finished. I plan to add a lot more cities and regions. I plan to go back to Wilbur and create a straight separate hillshade map a few separate hypsometric gradient maps for forest areas, deserts, grasslands and such. I also need a white-on-black river map to trace river vectors on. I will also probably play around more with an excellent erosion and terrain creation tool a local programming guru kindly let me use. He will remain nameless until and unless I get permission to identify him and his marvelous app.

Since this is turning into a major project, I've started to create a bit more background to flesh out this region. First off, I imported a map of Australia, sized it to about the same size as the northwest blob of my continent and roughly copied the scale bar. This set the size of my continent. I may alter it down a little in size later as I think the continent may be a bit big. This may also come in handy later if I decide to georeference this mess in ArcGIS.

The region around and to the south of the Al Qalaffiyeh bay(Khuluj al-Qalaffiyeh), to the southwest of the Al Kannadiyya mountains is ruled by civilized pseudo-Arabic Goblins. This kingdom is relatively tolerant and has enclaves of many other races and cultures, although the restive orcs of the northeast mountains have rebelled enough times to be put under strict military rule, this still isn't a very safe place. Dwarven cities in the Kannadiyya are considered independent of the goblins although they are friendly.

As one might presume, the Orclands to the northwest are ruled by orcs. As orcish kingdoms kingdoms go, the Orclands is pretty civilized(after a fashion) and even sort of, kind of, more or less tolerant. In a good year they might aspire to be as unified and well organized as the Holy Roman Empire and pogroms against the humans, goblins and other races in the region are frequent. Mostly, the orcs just can't get their act together enough to eliminate the other races in the region, and their economy is seldom far enough out of the basket that they can afford not to cooperate with their neighbors. Raiding, pillaging and brawling is common, though, even among their own kind.

The islands encircling the North Sea are largely inhabited by frog-man pirates. That speak something like French. ;)

The island across the Imperial Strait to the southwest of the arabesque goblins is the home to a somewhat loosely knit empire of mostly human kingdoms currently under the rule of a psychotically mad emperor in the formerly lovely city of Kobenhag. Used to be a good-guy empire and pretty utopian, but is starting to go to hell. Some of the southern duchies are strongly considering rebellion. The great Order of Paladins has already denounced the emperor and fled to the south and to the imperial colonies on the southwest coast of the northern continent. Some of the imperial colonies have become the worst places in this world under the demon-ridden minions of the current emperor, while others, under the rule of rebellious Paladin Knights are still shining exemplars of what the empire had once been.

I have already traced a few rivers in an inland area in the west of the northwest continent, just north of the imperial colonies. This Shire-like region of halflings was formerly under the loose rule of the Kobenhag Empire, but is now independent although they still claim to be an imperial province. This is as much to keep their neighbors at bay as because they really don't care that much who rules what. Besides, wars are terribly inconvenient and unpleasant, and who wants to leave the comforts of home?

Somewhere out there, some great evil is rising and taking hold.

And dear God, is my 1.5TB drive slow...

12-12-2009, 07:07 PM
I'm on Windows, thus without Illustrator, here's my attempt to georeference Burpwallow in ArcGIS. Georeferencing is, to my mind, the one thing ArcGIS does better than everything else.

I got the size pretty near exactly what I wanted, but I think the location came out a little too tropical. More gerrymandering may be in order. Have a look.

12-12-2009, 08:07 PM
There's a lot of oceanic ridges but otherwise I think looks good.

12-13-2009, 02:21 AM
I'll likely ditch the bathymetry, except as a pretty texture. For my chosen scale, the continental shelves are uniformly too narrow, I think.

Clearly, I need to refine this a bit to make it look less like an accidental result of a noise engine and more like a place. This is a big part of making a graphical experiment into a world.

12-14-2009, 03:43 AM
Well, now this seems to be less of an experiment with using a particular tool(Illustrator) than the beginnings of a serious attempt at worldbuilding. Wish me luck :) .

Most of what I've done tonight is resiting the region a bit further south. It seemed a little too tropical for my tastes, with Kobenhag on the southern island being at about 23.5ºS. I pushed it down 20º to place Kobenhag at about 43.5º S. This seemed more in line with what I wanted this place to be. The southernmost parts of the landmass will be below the arctic... er antarctic circle. I also think the planet will be a bit cooler, making Kobenhag just a touch more European/Nordic in feel.

Also, I needed to get things lined up a little better so that my elevation map would register properly with the imagery. Things were just slightly cackeyed before.

I've uploaded the worldmap with the region in its new location as well as a globe image from ArcGlobe to give a sense of where this place would lie in the real world. I decided not to upload another image of the region as it really hasn't changed yet. Also, for some bizarre reason, even though it is in the same resolution, etc., the map export comes out ten times as big as the world version(??!?), and is too big to upload here. I'm sure if I opened it in Photoshop and used the web export option I could bring it down to size, but... ten times!?

Anyway, I don't think anyone can fault me for not having things to scale this time.

12-16-2009, 02:22 PM
It looks like the image upload is fried.

Anyway here's the latest iteration of my work. I used the Raster to Features tool in ArcGIS to create a shapefile of landmasses from a seamask raster I created in Wilbur. I added fields for name and other information to the attribute table. I'm growing addicted to ArcGIS.

12-16-2009, 03:11 PM
Those fan-shaped river valleys look sweet.

12-16-2009, 04:53 PM
I like the fans as well, although I'm not sure how well they fit the scale.

I'm not entirely ecstatic with the layer overlays in ArcGIS. In order to get a passable hillshade, I had to have my color layer(a combo of elevation-coloring and slope-coloring from Wilbur) opaque at the bottom(of the visible layers) a 35% transparent hillshade layer and then another copy of the color layer at 80% transparency on top. Although the current look of the hillshade is growing on me, I still think I need to go back and do my compositing in photoshop.

After all the trouble getting everything georeferenced, I kind of hate to say I need to do some remodeling of the basic DEMs. The big mountains in the southern continent look to me like they would make good stand-ins for the Alps, but they range from 430 to 1400 miles wide. The mountains in the north are a little narrower than the Alps, but they are basically one sharp ridge. I'm conflicted about reworking that, because once I stick my finger back in I'll have to noise it up and erode it all over again. Ugh! One recommendation for anybody trying to worldbuild like this: get your elevations perfect first before you do any cartography. Since this is more of an orcs-and-goblins fantasy milieu, I'll likely reduce bathymetry to a flat blue surface at sea level, and ignore what's beneath. The merpeople keep their secrets jealously.

I seem to have dropped the whole Illustrator focus along the way... Maybe I should see if I can get the title changed.

12-16-2009, 09:09 PM
Here's a bit more. I mostly worked on shapefile data, adding names and classifications. The blue areas are water, the green areas are land and the pink areas(chosen specifically because it was eyecatching and a little annoying) haven't yet been classified. There are a total of 699 polygons in my continents shapefile(ocean, continent, islands, bays, lakes and whatnot) plus however many cities and other features I decide to add. I have a lot of naming ahead. I haven't even added rivers yet.

12-17-2009, 04:24 AM
Nightmare of nightmares. So far I have had no luck rasterizing my rivers in ArcGIS. I was about to give up and see if I could get my Illustrator traces(with their issues) into a shapefile(it can be done, it ain't pretty) and then figure out if I could get them scaled properly for my map. Just then I figured out how to make ArcScan work. I may be past a major impasse.

12-17-2009, 02:31 PM
Had some success with my rivers. Yay! In the image below the green lines are from my raster river layer, the blue lines are the rivers I've named and digitized into a shapefile. Again, I have a lot of naming ahead of me :) .

I noticed that a lot of my favorite rivers lie right under the subtropical high-pressure zone. The Everflow has its mouth at about 30*, that's pretty marginal to the high-pressure belt and most of its headwaters are in more temperate regions. This area works for me.

The big fan in the northwest corner of the northwest continent is close enough to the equator to benefit from moisture from the ITCZ. Some of its more southerly tributaries may have more seasonal monsoonal moisture patterns. It is largely downwind of high mountains from the prevailing equatorial easterlies. I figure it has wildly varying discharge, with limited flow in the winter and floods in the summer.

The Bloodhammer River which more or less defines the somewhat fluid southeastern extent of the Orclands, could well be pretty much intermittent. It's not like we expect orcs to live in paradisical places.

The Longwater basin in the west is my problem child. Most of the area drained by this river system is pretty firmly embedded in the subtropical desert belt. Doesn't seem well suited to halfling shires. It might be best to move my hobbits to a spot between Colonia Bellcap and Pennyfarthing Island. I'm a bit irritated, though, 'cause that's a pretty attractive drainage system and it's just about the perfect location for a nasty little desert. The Applewater and the Longwater could well be fed from mountain glaciers.

Deserts are a problem for this continent. I want some, and I've had to handwave away some of the best desert locations for the sake of my good rivers. I might skip some of the left bank tribs to the Everflow and let the area between the Everflow and the Bloodhammer go to desert. Most of the eastern shore of the Middle Sea should probably be desert.

I think I need to drop back into Photoshop or Wilbur to composite in my climates next.

12-18-2009, 12:13 AM
Between Applewater and South Sea you have a basin that could be a desert of approx 500 miles wide. Not a big one by any means but the mountains around it aren't all that huge and it could be in a rain shadow. Or maybe around Squidward. My two cents.

12-18-2009, 04:19 AM
I measured that basin between the South Sea and the Applewater River. Came out to about 135,000 sq. mi. That's about twice the size of the Mojave. Not a bad idea. I'm thinkin' the isthmus itself will be a lot like the Eastern US. Warm summer rains a lot of mesoscale convective storms, maybe tornadoes. The coast wouldn't get as many hurricanes with such a broad expanse of land-bound sea between it and the equator.

Looking at my elevation histogram again, this place is a good deal more rugged than the Earth taken as a whole. I had a method in Wilbur to bring the histogram more in line with real world values, but I didn't document it. If I can recreate my steps, I'll try to put up a tutorial. After all, the best reason to create tutorials is as a reminder to yourself of how the heck you did something!

12-18-2009, 08:08 AM
I completely agree with that last statement, if I don't write it down I'll lose it and since it's written down why not post it up, right? I also would like to read that tut if you ever do it.

12-18-2009, 11:05 PM
If I ever figger out how to do select by value on a floating-point raster in ArcGIS, I'll be very happy.

I loaded up the ETOPO1 grid and got a histogram for comparison to see how reasonably my elevations looked. ETOPO includes bathymetry, though, and my elevations are clipped at sealevel(I knew my bathymetry was whack, and didn't want to deal with it). So I wanted to select just the areas above sealevel on the ETOPO for a more reasonable comparison. No dice as yet.

I'm also trying to get ETOPO into Wilbur, 'cause it looks like Wilbur has better selection tools. Even if I could get that off the ground, I don't know how well Wilbur would handle a 21601x10801-pixel raster. Unless Mr. Slayton put a lot of work into optimizing the program for speed, it will likely be balky...

Eyeballing the Earth elevation histogram on wikipedia, it looks like the 90th to 95th percentiles are close enough to 1000 meters. On my continent, slightly smaller than North America, 90th percentile is about 1600 meters and 95th is about 2500. I'm not sure how reasonable that is.

12-19-2009, 02:43 PM
Well I've been engaged in a long, largely useless digression into playing with the Earth. I don't have a lot of time till I go back to scholarly pursuits so I need to get back to Al Burphaban. I read a post on a Traveller forum about a future where global warming had rendered the Earth essentially uninhabitable except near the poles. This made me curious about what Antarctica would look like without 3km or so of ice. A quick bit of play with an exported tiff of the ETOPO bedrock map led to the following image. The edges of the dark areas are at current sea level, with all that ice melted actual coastlines would be higher. Isostatic rebound would complicate things further...

Just a treat for my loyal readers(reader?).

Also my attempt at getting a slopemap in ArcGIS failed ugly. Pretty much everything but ocean surface came out close to 90º. I think it's because my data is in geographic reference. To get slope, the dumb algorithm compares n units of elevation change(possibly several meters), to the cell size of m units(in this case degrees). That means my slopes are off by factors approaching 100,000 near the equator. Yech!

Anyway, back to work!

12-19-2009, 06:53 PM
I'm sure there are other readers, almost none of us have the software that you have and the technical knowledge you talk about goes over our heads so we can't really make any decent comments without sound like noobish idiots :) I don't care if I sound like a noobish idiot (because I'm cool like that) so I'll keep on talkin at ya and helpin if and where I can ;) Plus it helps me learn the technical side of things even if I never put that much thought into what I do on my own...the smarter my gut gets the better my whims will be.

12-22-2009, 06:12 PM
Sorry, I've been off for the last couple of days. Still can't look at the screen long before my stomach starts roiling. Great plan to lose all those eggnog pounds! I lost five pounds overnight!

At the start I intended this just to be another one of my pointless experiments, this time in using Illustrator. I just kind of fell into using the ArcGIS, although it solved a few problems. Having the map scaled and georeferenced gave it an odd sense of reality. To be honest it wound up a bit bigger than it needed to be. I'm enjoying the hell out of using some toys that just won't be available to me for much longer!

If anybody feels like a noobish idiot it's me! I look at some of the stuff I made when I started here and I cringe. I've been worldbuilding for a long time, but terrain-building is new. Cartography is really new, and my maps still lack a certain touch of good taste.

I haven't quit on this I'm just still having a little trouble doing detailed work.

12-31-2009, 08:37 PM
No real mapping work done in the last week(travel an' all that), just thought I'd mention that I am now the proud owner of a new Garmin Nüvi GPS. At last, the geography nerd will have some idea where he is on the face of the Earth!

01-05-2010, 09:44 PM
Created a version of my original HF with bathymetry omitted. Some things work better this way, but some things like erosion become problematical. Everything deposits on the flat, zero-level sea surface. Second experiment with simpliflied bathymetry(gradual dropoff to somewhat significant depths). Doesn't look too bad and does make erosion work better. Tried to make hypsometry more realistic with limited success. :( Played with erosion and hydrology in another app. Nice effect, but it should look even better with some climate going on.

The image is my current stage on this little side-experiment. I haven't tried importing this to ArcGIS yet as it's really early days.

My question is, do the terrain features look better before or after? Comments greatly appreciated.

Steel General
01-06-2010, 06:53 AM
I think it looks pretty good.

01-11-2010, 07:44 PM
Well, I'm back to school. Unless I do a whole lot better than I did last term, I need to lay off on the extracurriculars. I kind of wish I'd gotten more done on this, but it'll have to wait.

01-20-2010, 08:15 PM
A little experimentation with climates. Still not happy with it, but it's slow going what with all the time I'm wasting with trying to fail classes and all that.

BTW: The colors in the Attachment Manager are... difficult... Otherwise likin' it, though.

01-20-2010, 08:51 PM
I think your colors look quite nice. Where is that island/continent on your world (or is it just a proof of process)?

01-21-2010, 02:51 AM
It's more a test of process. I've never really had a successful climate run, so I have to build up a whole new set of skills and tools. This one is by far my best attempt at climatic representation, although I'm still not entirely satisfied. I've had some success with more automated measures, but I somewhat like the artistic appearance of this.

Wherever this winds up, it will clearly be in the northern hemisphere.

01-22-2010, 03:12 PM
I had a little play with Bryce. Since I can't tell if Blender handles 16-bit displacement maps, I've decided to try exporting the terrain as a Wavefront object. Maybe I'll play with that in Blender. Then it's back to homework an Al Burphaban!

01-22-2010, 04:35 PM
Those are some colossal-looking mountains. I'd hate to have to go through those :)

01-22-2010, 10:50 PM
Yeah. It would probably be better as a much smaller island. Probably no bigger than New Guinea, I think. The wide variation in climate doesn't really fit, but this was really just a testbed for some ideas I've had. I always have lots of good ideas when I should be doing homework:oops:.

Honestly, the thing is generally just way too rough.

01-23-2010, 01:14 AM
Isn't that always the way things work? Instead of working I'm thinking about maps and techniques.

01-23-2010, 11:42 AM
Nice stuff. Your Bryce view is pretty impressive. I've just started fooling around with trying to import the terrain surrounding my city map (Haibianr) into Bryce so I can use it to visualize how things look from various points in the city for scenes I'm drawing. Can't say I've had a lot of luck with it so far. :)

01-23-2010, 01:35 PM
It's pretty easy to get okay results out of Bryce. Better quality imagery is much more difficult, and precise measurement...? Yeah, that might be for the expert... I d'no, never managed it.

BTW, I tried importing my terrain into Blender as an obj. Twice. First time I exported at really high grid resolution. Took forever to export. Ran just over 130MB(1,216,800 polys). When I finally got to try importing it Blender farted and fell over dead. Tried exporting it at a lower polygon count(about 5.7 MB, 58,482 polys). Looked terrible. Still slow. Somewhere in between might look better. But it wouldn't be quick.

Texturing in Blender can be kind of a nightmare, too. That thing has a lot of power under the hood, but it's like driving a 454 Cobra. Lots of ditch time.

01-25-2010, 01:41 PM
This is probably the last bit of play I'll do with this terrain. Bryce again, 'cause Blender was being a noodge. The 2.5 Alpha can't seem to import .obj yet. And I can't get a sufficiently detailed obj in a size small enough for 2.49 to handle(goes straight from rounded and lame to slow and crashy :(. I think I have a good water tex here. I saved it for more serious work. I added a dark lower surface to hide the edges of the HF and then clipped the lower elevations of the HF to break up the edges. I think these two ideas, at least will prove useful. For good climate maps I need to create a set of selections based on elevation, latitude and combinations of the two, as well as distance from water. Maybe I'll take it into Wilbur for that and some light erosion. Maybe not... I really need to get back to more serious things like Hydrology, Long-term Climate Change, Remote Sensing and A Burphaban Island. Not necessarily in that order ;).

EDIT: Might be worthwhile to paint in some surf around the edges. Wouldn't necessarily be in scale, but neither is the transparency. Could give a nice illusion of reality.

Steel General
01-26-2010, 01:15 PM
I don't understand some of terminology and such that you're using - but I do find it interesting to see how this is progressing

01-27-2010, 02:58 AM
I'm not sure what the terminology issue is. I have two versions of Blender on my computer. One is the 2.49 version, stable, but staid and… 32-bit. The other is the 2.5 Alpha. All kinds of new bells and whistles, doesn't really work yet. An alpha, what can you do?

The water tex? I just found a good looking set of settings for the water surface. Unfortunately, this good looking water has a bit of transparency and the square region isn't perfectly centered in the view. Annoyingly the edges of the terrain show through. So I did two things. First I made another flat surface under the terrain and water surfaces. This worked, but you could still see the straight edges of the terrain. Then I used a feature in the Bryce Terrain Editor to clip the lower elevations in the terrain leaving void areas where the elevation was below a given value. Instead of laser-straight edges you simply saw the terrain disappear into the depths of the water. More satisfactory.

In other news, I just found out that Bryce has a new version out, 6.3. Yay! They have also put out a public beta of Bryce 7. It has a type of instancing. Vegetation is finally not entirely a nightmare in Bryce. As an aside, having nothing to do with my current project, I have attached an image with vegetation. Two separate vegetation types and multiple instances. This is the first time I've done vegetation in Bryce beyond one or two lame-looking trees in the middle of a tiny island.

02-02-2010, 02:13 AM
Desa Hutan means Forest Village, Seberan means Far Side(across the river). This is at the confluence of the Air Mengalir(Flowing Water), and Sungai Hitam(Black River) rivers. The capital of this little kingdom in the tropical northwest of the Burphaban continent is Takhta Raja(Royal Throne). I also have a couple of pictures of a city model I built with my kids Connor and Sophie. The North Arrow is only an approximate indicator. In the view Seberan is in the foreground, while Desa Hutan is just across the river. Much of the area beyond these little towns is a thick, nearly impenetrable jungle surrounding this little waypoint outpost of civilisation. In this part of the world, Desa Hutan is considered a major trade center.

EDIT: As you can see from these maps, I am definitely approaching the limits of my base maps. Probably time to do a little local refining.

02-02-2010, 06:55 PM
Now this world has, to all appearances has a lot of sapient races(Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Orcs, Goblins, Humans, Trolls, Ogres, Reptile Men and Hobgoblins). This isn't even including the clearly the clearly magical horrors and wonders, such as Demons, Angels, Fairies, Vampires and all manner of Zombies. Trying to rationalize the evolutionary tree of any classic swords-and-monsters fantasy world is challenging, and this one is pretty much an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink world. I'm mostly a science-fiction guy, that gives me two problems when I'm in a fantasy mood. Firstly, I still kind of want a sort of kinda semi-reasonable world. I might want to have a ship from the Interstellar Federation land there when I decide I want a Space game, but ain't tired of my characters yet :). So here is my attempt at bringing a touch of Newton and Darwin into my insanely hyper-diverse Zauberland.

First off, Humans, Goblins, maybe some others like the Trolls? Yeah, they ain't from around here! They showed up within the living memory of some elves. Somehow they came here from their respective worlds. Maybe they were just pulled here from their medieval huts by some magical storm or maybe they are survivors of colonies placed before the great war between the First Human Empire and the Gabrook Interglobal Confraternity knocked them to the ground. I'm still considering the history. Suffice to say, Humans, Goblins and by extension Hobgoblins didn't evolve here. As would be expected by any human scientist of the 21st century, these two separate and separately evolved races are indeed separate species and thus incapable of interbreeding. Fortunately, they are fairly compatible biochemically, at least to the point of being able to eat the same things, which are just the kind of things they found on this world.

Now onto the definitely native folk. The Elves, Dwarves, Halflings and Orcs do come from this world. Now there are a lot of headaches for a biologist on this world. Many of the plants and lower animals on this planet are very familiar to humans(oaks, apples, pines, peaches, deer, wolves, and squirrels to name a few) and some are recognizable to the Goblins(parasol trees, shoreweed, stingbush, spiderdogs and songfish to give human names to a few), this isn't the major headache. Apparently, if humans got here by their own devices, they would already have noted that the Precursors, before they lost interest in this plane, seem to have gone on a massive terraforming orgy through a major portion of known space, and also seemed to borrow genetic material from any naturally evolved ecology they found that was close enough biochemically to their own digestive needs. On the other hand, while it's conceivable that the locals are hominids evolved from primate stock planted by the Precursors, the possibility of such things as half-orcs and half-elves is rather shocking. More shocking, is the Reptile Men, brought into being through the breeding of orcs with goblins(?). Fortunately half-elves aren't all that common 'cause there just that many elves around any more, halflings are chummy but they usually draw the line a bit short of interbreeding and dwarves... not as chummy as the halflings, not as hedonistic as the elves, and lacking in the orcish love of rape-and-pillage, it doesn't come up much. If a scientifically advanced galactic culture finds its way here I'll leave that whole headache to their scientists.

Elves and Dwarves are really the same species. Until they mature at about thirty years of age(Earth years), the children are fairly similar to each other and to halflings(who reach maturity at about twenty-five and of a pretty similar size to the their contemporaries). After maturity, the real differences between the three groups comes down to the use of magic and their ability to alter their own shape. Halflings are for the most part uninterested in magic and exercise no capacity to alter their form. They age gracefully and gently till their in their nineties and usually pass on comfortably before their hundredth birthday. Dwarves focus on attaining a respectable and attractive personal appearance, which they will maintain for the remainder of their lives. This appearance tends to be swarthy, portly and hirsute even for females. Dwarven magic is typically specialized towards their interests in tinkering, delving, and mining with a focus on the geomantic arts and enchantment. Elves retain the ability to change their appearance as their tastes, fashions and situations change. This is a gradual process taking potentially decades. Fortunately, elves are far from flighty in their sense of aesthetics and tend to approach what they consider to be an optimum fairly quickly, making only minor modifications over their lifetimes. Sometimes, in times of great stress and responsibility, elves attain a more gnarly and formidable appearance, still beautiful, but oftimes terrifying in its awesome grimness. This has become more common among the great elven leaders as they watch and try to overcome their race's decline. Elven magic, while no more or less powerful than that of the dwarves is often flashier as befits their cultural nature and more generalized. Elven healers are greatly sought after, being the only real specialists in elven magic.

Reptile Men are the only hybrid folk to have created a truly distinct culture of their own, half-orcs being hunted among orcs and driven to the status of underworld thugs in human culture, and half-elves having the cultural adaptability to do quite well for themselves in either of their parent's cultures. The Reptile Men came into being long ago after a raid by orcs on a goblin village. The youths proved too tough for either orcs or goblins to eradicate, but were driven out into less hospitable habitats where they proceeded to prosper and create a society of their own. Reptile Men are smart, incredibly tough, adaptable, and, while they lack the mindless aggression of their orc parents, they are highly territorial and react violently to trespassers in the unpleasant places to which they have been relegated.

In terms of spatial distribution, the northern node of the Al Burphaban continent was largely populated by halflings, the larger southern node was distributed between the great elven empire in the lowlands and the cavern fastnesses of the dwarves burrowed under the mountains. Orcs dominated the great Angloia island in the south, now held by the human Grand Imperium. Goblins first colonized the southernmost tip of the Al Burphaban continent, near Wilaya Janubi. Humans colonized coastal enclaves on Angloia and up and down the west coast of Angloia. The First Imperium rose by largely exterminating the orcs of Angloia, after which it acquired most of the human enclaves on the continent by conquest and peaceful diplomacy. As the Elves declined the Goblin Kingdom and the Imperium expanded to fill the vacuum. In the north humans colonies grew alongside the halfling communities from west to east. After the fall of the First Imperium the goblins expanded up the west coast to Al Qallaffiyeh Bay. During the time when the goblin kingdom was about halfway through expanding to its current size a human proselyte succeeded in converting the goblin king to Islam. Under islam, the goblins were more tolerant to humans, even allowing them to retain their cultures if they agree to abide by moslem goblin rule. In the regions around Al Qallaffiyeh Bay over half the population is still human. The successor states to the human empire in the north were far less peaceful and tolerant. In many places, halflings were reduced to second-class status, relegated to ghettos in many of the human kingdoms of the north. In some places, the successor states tried to exterminate the halflings. These kingdoms were less than successful, and in their stead are now some of the few remaining halfling-dominated states. Fortunately for humans, halflings are poor with concepts like revenge and grudges, preferring peaceful coexistence.

02-02-2010, 07:07 PM

You could have an entire series of novels based just on that alone! (or decades of gaming fun)

That's great, I wouldn't have any problem with the suspension of disbelief aspect. there's enough thought in there to make my inner scientist happy :)

02-02-2010, 07:13 PM
Yeah it's coming out a little coredump-wise, 'cause it's stuff I keep thinking about, like while I'm doing dishes(or... homework) and I really need to just get down on, um… paper. I should also put down my story of the Red Queen and the Vampire King, before it completely molds.

02-03-2010, 02:31 AM
First off, my ideas on skeletons, zombies and mummies. These are kind of derived from the GURPS Fantasy rules. Something true of a lot of things I do, especially in the fantasy genre. Okay, so: mummies > zombies > skeletons. In other words, mummies are tough SOBs, they'll eat a double load of buckshot and just keep comin', zombies are equally tough, but decay will get them in the end, skeletons... yeah throw a whole lot of 'em at the enemy, should slow 'em down… maybe. Now zombies are pretty easy for a necromancer to make: find a fresh corpse, say a little incantation and sprinkle a little of the cheap fairy dust. Can't find a fresh corpse, take matters into your own hands, "Say hello to my little friend!" Skeleton: same technique, exactly, but why bother? They aren't worth much and are just as expensive as the much better zombie, what you can't find any fresh corpses? Over time, as decay sets in, zombies become skeletons. Skeletons are forever so long as they don't trip over legos or some other trivial obstruction and break themselves. Mummies are expensive, they take a lot of effort to create and require expensive material components. This pretty much follows those GURPS rules I was talking about. The difference is, you can't just wave your hands over an existing mummified corpse. If the corpse is fairly fresh you get a well wrapped salted zombie, if its had time to season you get a skeleton in bandages. Eh... No, this is evil. It takes weeks and starts with a live subject. The necromancer kills his victim slowly, saying his incantations and sprinkling his (EXPENSIVE) fairy dust while removing a vital organ here, packing salt in there, draining fluids... A true mummy is clearly the work of a sadistic inhuman monster. We're talkin' Pinochet bad here. Fortunately they're also kind of a pain to create. Usually requires blood and bits of flesh from the caster and a lot of time and effort. Skeletons, zombies and mummies have the huge advantage of being perfectly loyal. They will fight for their master until they are a stack of broken bones on the ground. There is no Turn Zombie, etc spell, they can only be Dispelled or destroyed. Something like Turn Undead could cause them to ignore your party, but any attempt to turn them against their creator is futile. Of course if the necromancer has a mishap while creating his undead monster, well… he will probably have created a monster implacably bent on his immediate destruction. Not a lot in between. These are very simple clear entities without guile or gorm.

Vampires. Where did they come from? Nobody knows. As far as anyone can tell, all vampires are of human stock, which sets a limit to how long they've been around. When a vampire feeds on a human, instead of ingesting the life force of his victim, he can feed it back in a corrupted form. This does not feed the vampire's dependence on blood, and in fact costs him some of his own… puissance. When he's done, though, he has a thrall, a powerful vampire slave who, for a time, will obey his every command, even unto it's own destruction. This is a temporary thralldom though, in some cases a particularly powerful sire could hold its thralls for years or even decades. When the younger vampire breaks his thrall, as inevitably happens, his first goal is to destroy his sire after that to escape. If the sire manages to evade death and the erstwhile thrall escapes the attempt with his life(this isn't a totally self-sacrificial compulsion, though the ex-thrall will often take some pretty stupid risks to kill his old master). Actually, given the difficulties inherent in this life-cycle, siring of thralls might need to be made easier, perhaps just a normal side-effect of feeding. In that case you could see a sire commanding his less-gifted thralls to stake themselves to save himself the trouble. Eventually, after the compulsion passes, the former thrall and his sire can come to cooperate as equals. At least as well as any two evil, brilliantly manipulative, sociopathic monsters that don't play well with others… Yeah. Anyway. This isn't to say there isn't room in my world for romantic vampires, oh dearie no, but they aren't all covered with glitter and you really don't want your daughter getting involved in that sort of relationship.

Resurrection is sometimes considered to be one of the more socially acceptable necromantic activities, but the creation of revenant life is not without its hazards. One theory about the origin of vampires involves a resurrection spell gone catastrophically wrong. For other examples of ways in which resurrection could go wrong, I would suggest reading the story of the Monkey's Paw and Pet Sematary. My world will definitely have some toxic dumping grounds for this sort of necromantic oopsie...

Steel General
02-03-2010, 08:57 AM
Interesting stuff here Su_Liam

02-03-2010, 05:11 PM
Just so you're aware, I do appreciate the long thought out explanations. Usually when I see a post like this, I skim quickly and then go to the next unless something catches my eye. For whatever reason, I can't help but read these in detail.

Reminds me of the kind of things I used to try and take into account for my own campaigns back in the day.

02-03-2010, 05:20 PM
I agree, I love the philosophy that goes into making things "the way you want it" - why you want it that way.

02-03-2010, 07:28 PM
Yeah I'm jotting down notes right now. I especially like the your thoughts on undead, I just might have to borrow from you if you don't mind (I've also never played around with GURPs, gotta check into that now). I'm really impressed with your attention to detail. I really am a novice when it comes to cartography, and I'm not catching allot of the references you discuss regarding your maps, but the outcomes speak for themselves. You've got an attractive and highly photo-realistic looking map there. I look forward to watching it develop further, and reading your further insights into the ecology of your world. This is good stuff, enjoy some rep.



02-03-2010, 09:42 PM
Hey thanks! A lot of folks from Oregon seem to be popping up lately. Borrow away. Most of my stuff is stolen to start with. Although I try to give attribution to my stolen stuff.

I feel a little guilty about tossing my stream of consciousness stuff onto the site, but I figured I should show that I am still working on this thing and I needed to put that stuff down somewhere... So, hey, two birds, one stone. If nobody objects too strenuously, I'll probably do a couple more of these dumps.

I'm kinda feelin' more Old West at the mo'. I'm thinking that will flavor Desa Hutan and Seberan.

02-03-2010, 09:52 PM
Dump away I say. I do it too - stream-of-consciousness kind of stuff. I've been feelin Old West-y too lately...want to do that lil town from High Plains Drifter.

02-04-2010, 12:07 PM
Long ago, well before the humans and allochthons arrived, there was a great and vicious war. Myths vary as to the enemy, maybe it was a cruel and horribly debauched elf, perhaps it was ancestral halflings, bigoted towards the new changed races of elves and dwarves, possibly it was a demon dragged forth from the Underworld of Flowers. In any case this enemy was opposed by all decent folk, with only the most debased, cruel and corrupted following it. At the time, this world was much like our world today, so the fight was pretty evenly matched. This dark enemy captured many decent halflings, elves and dwarves and tortured them brutally, subjecting them to immense pain, indignity, crippling injury, terrifying psychic trauma and horrible physical mutilation. These victims were rendered mad by their horrific treatment, their magical acuities destroyed, their ability to alter their form crippled and their lives truncated. Early on, the elves and others managed to rescue some of these benighted creatures from their captivity, but they could not be restored. Even worse, they bred true, the young they produced from their frantic, mindless ruttings being of the same cruel, physically hideous, and mentally debased nature to which their parents had been reduced. The orcs had been born horribly into this world. The decent folk ultimately destroyed all of the orcs they captured, seeing that as the greatest and only kindness which could be bestowed on such irreparably ruined beings. The enemy found them useful. It began to experiment, torturing even the lower orders of its own allies. These experiments, directed specifically toward the creation of horrific mutations to make superior slaves, led to the creation of the stronger, tougher, yet no more or less vicious and cruel ogres.

This ancient enemy may be gone from the world now.

02-04-2010, 12:37 PM
This is even rawer and less thought out.

Gargoyles(Troglodytes): Originally hewn from animated stone to guard temples and palaces. These creatures return to stone when exposed to sunlight. As stone, they are completely invulnerable. Gargoyles can only be killed while they are animate. In the daylight they can be ground to dust, cast into fiery pits of lava, and they will crawl out of the flames in the next sunset, unharmed. Even in their animate state, they are very tough and regenerate almost as quickly as trolls, they can only be truly destroyed by immersing their pieces in flame, lightning or acid. Many of them have escaped to live in the sewers, tombs and dungeons of the world.

Minotaurs: It is not accidental that minotaurs are found in labyrinths. These were not magically created from bovine stock just to be big vicious thugs, ogres fill that role just fine. They were created for their magically perfect sense of direction, path and location and their ability to completely obscure those senses in others around them. They are not just useful to pursue unfortunate prisoners through trackless mazes, but also in hunts, to keep the quarry inextricably lost and running in circles without hope of escape.

Fairies, gnomes, demons, leprechauns, angels and such: These critters are completely magical. Probably a natural result of a magical world. These are rarely encountered although probably ubiquitous. They only appear to mortal senses at their own choice or when summoned by powerful magics. Sometimes demons are attracted by terrible magical mishaps.

As with the undead, there are many dumping grounds for errantly created magical monsters. In spite of being magical in nature, many of these have no magical powers beyond their existence. Others continuously and mindlessly alter their surroundings magically in pursuit of some comfort they can never find. Some are basically just people of a different kind.

02-12-2010, 07:07 PM
¡ I Forgot Gnolls !
¿ How could I forget Gnolls ?

Yeah, homework is drivin' me crazy.

03-16-2010, 02:40 PM
After two weeks of shear, steaming, concentrated hell, I am now one final away from graduating with a geography degree. I want to make some progress on Burphaban then, tomorrow, back to studying!

Greason Wolfe
03-16-2010, 03:05 PM
Just so you're aware, I do appreciate the long thought out explanations. Usually when I see a post like this, I skim quickly and then go to the next unless something catches my eye. For whatever reason, I can't help but read these in detail.

Reminds me of the kind of things I used to try and take into account for my own campaigns back in the day.

I have to agree with Coyotemax 100% It all works to give character to the map, and I find myself doing the same thing on a fairly regular basis. I'll be working on a map and get hit by an idea that I just have to take the time to write down somewhere. An hour or two later, I eventually make it back to working on the map.


03-19-2010, 05:16 PM
Okay, so I said I'd try detailing the tropical northwest corner. Still having some issues. It didn't scale up real well to start with. I may have to start the process over again(upscale a little, noise erode, noise; upscale a little more, ad nauseam).

I've been testing a real peachy keen dem tool for one of the local genii who prefers to remain nameless. I've put in maybe three hours on his marvelous program in the four months since he sent it to me. :( Me mal! Anyway it was working real well for my, thus far unambitious goals. Well, this one seems to have hit just the combi of scale and resolution to be kind of intractable. Basically, I can't seem to find a set of params that don't either leave me with smoothed out inundated mess or a desert.

Enough about me and my tiny brain. This is the northwest corner of Al Burphaban, in the region of Takhta Raja, Desa Hutan and Seberang. The area from 10 deg S to 30 deg S and 80 deg W to 100 deg W was resampled to 2048 square in Wilbur, then I added a bit of noise(my own secret recipe for noise), did a few iterations of basin fill erosion, noise, basin fill, and saved as an hf2. I took the hf2 into the very cool program I referred to earlier and, hey presto. I used the eroded output of the secret program as the dem. For texturing, I used a blend in Wilbur of 3 parts color output from ###, 2 parts altitude texture and 1 part slope texture from Wilbur. Needs work. A lot. But I think it's a good start. The climate still screams anything but tropical forest.

03-19-2010, 06:55 PM
That looks pretty good. The sea falls off a bit in the first photo - I know you get these continental shelves so maybe that's realistic I dunno. What do you think the terrain is lacking that would make it into a tropical forest type region. I have no idea because I have seen endless flat terrain with the amazon and also stuff like Angel Falls where theres a mile of vertical cliff. All it seems lacking to me is a load of trees as a tree texture on top.

03-23-2010, 06:48 PM
Here is a hillshade derived from my more detailed DEM georeferenced onto my continent.

03-23-2010, 08:21 PM
I'm liking it, i've attempted such experiments with different programs as well, but nothing that gets to the detail i'd like... While I LOVE to play around with wilbur, i do not understand enough of it to make any use of it... i've followed the tutorials, but the best thing i can do up is basically just copying the tut using a different image or such... i'd love some erosion tools that are a bit simpler to use... (not saying anything against wilbur but i think its a known fact its quite complex)

My wish is that i could get a DEM to enough detail that I could do all the work for myself (hydrology tools for arcmap can create rivers, as well as use the ... dammit i forget the names (drainage basins? sounds wrong :P), DEM can also come up with hillshades, aspects, etc and all that put together can create a respectably realistic way to come up with vegitation regions... tho creating climate, temp, and rainfall rasters would also add to that effect...
something i would really love to do, if i could learn wilbur enough to create something like that, or find a program that would be able to... (if anyone wishes to help.. by all means!)

ArcGIS in my opinion is the best GIS software out there.. of course there are cheaper, and of course there are others that do some of the stuff good, but ArcGIS more... it helps when they have a design and dev team that probably equals the total number of employees in any other GIS company... Their stuff is generally easy to deal with.. and if you REALLY wanted to do some Illustrator GIS mapping i'd suggest looking into the company Avenza, and their Illustrator plugin called MaPublisher... basically GIS capabilities in Illustrator (handles all the projections etc for you, and also imports/exports pretty much any GIS format you can come up with... no wonder its worth almost twice as much as illustrator itself..

They also have a GIS plugin for photoshop, and last i checked (which was years ago) they also had a Flash based web gis product in the works... who knows what they've got now...

03-23-2010, 08:28 PM
Also I'd like to express the value of the hydrology tools in arcmap... (statistical analysis extention i believe?) if you have access to it, you can do things to better the look of your DEM, some proccesses like fill basins (wilbur has a similar function to my knowledge) and mainly, a function called burn rivers or some such... basically if you have a feature class of rivers but you DEM doesn't display them greatly, you can preform this function the "burns" the rivers into your DEM... (it may need to be a TIN, its been so long since i've used it)... think of taking a block of wood and a hot piece of wire in the shape of your river to press against it... it'll burn into the wood, which is essentially what the tool does. There are also sinks and basin tools as well, which i believe can even do rivers for you, but i've never used them...

*sigh* makes me want to bust out arcgis and go to town again :P


03-24-2010, 06:14 PM
The hydrology tools in ArcGIS are good, although sagagis has some really nice options. I wish I could find another tool as good as ArcGIS for georeferencing. Sadly, my ArcGIS license is going to lapse in june.

I'm trying to work with saga. Making a decent map with saga kinda, bites.

River burning is involved if you don't have a hydrologically proper dem for the stream network in question. I'd like to do a basin-select on a raw dem with wilbur, save that as an image, basin-fill the dem and save the river network for that. Then I go back and reroute the rivers so that they meander across the flat areas without travelling uphill. Finally, I go back and burn my river network into the basin-filled dem.

That should work.

By the way. You really should go to town with ArcGIS. On your map!

EDIT: Here's an image showing how much detail I've added to the northwest region of my map.

03-25-2010, 02:16 PM
Spent the whole morning trying to re-align a 50 mile stretch of the Air Mengalir River southeast of Desa Hutan and Seberang with the newly detailed channel. It looks really good. It took me three hours. I have about another 15,000 miles of river to go. Back to the drawing board methinks.

03-25-2010, 03:52 PM
We are now looking to the north towards Takhta Raja from a point above the great Haggisfart Highlands.

This was made with difficulty using the 3d-view option in sagagis. Och Aye!

03-25-2010, 04:42 PM
Nice! You're a busy fellow :)

03-25-2010, 04:54 PM
You just know that all of those gasses have a hard time escaping that valley...pee yew.

03-25-2010, 06:59 PM
Sometimes they have to shut down the smeller... xxx smelter when an inversion rolls in.

04-02-2010, 05:21 PM
Experimenting around with some hand-drawn elements and climate. Nothing I really like yet, but...

04-13-2010, 11:06 AM
So far I like the map in post #20 the best and the town name of Haggisfart.

05-04-2010, 01:28 PM
Well. Ya gotta love Haggisfart! ;) Anyway...

I haven't been too active of late, what with the heartbreak of jobhunting and all. I'd rather have psoriasis...

Here's another little aside. I've been playing around with ETOPO2 data using my new copy of Photoshop CS4, Wilbur and Flexify. I was inspired by Chris Wayan's work(here) (http://www.worlddreambank.org/P/PLANETS.HTM). The original data was in 21601 × 10801 resolution, but I think I'd need 64-bit windows to open that in Wilbur. Even my old PS8 ground to a near stop on that. CS4 chugged right through it, though Flexify took awhile to render...

So here is a slightly altered Earth, for your enjoyment. Oh I also have Burphaban as seen on GRASS.

05-14-2010, 01:47 PM
I've been kind of busy with job-hunting, but, since my ArcGIS license is closing down in june, I decided to pause and try doing a few things that are really hard in SAGA or GRASS. I've already mentioned what a champ ArcGIS is for georeferencing, so that's a biggie, but another thing that ArcGIS does really well is to convert raster line drawings to shapefiles. So I went a little crazy with ArcScan getting all of my rivers digitized.

I probably won't put any more time into this map for awhile. Job-hunting is a patch of hell, but a necessary one. I also want to use my last little bit of time with ArcGIS to georectify some other maps: Sadwillow, Carcharien, Wark and my CWBP entry need to get some basic work-up. Carcharien is one of my better world-building projects from my youth, with a worldmap generated in FWMG. The general shape of the continents is set in stone, but the planet deserves a better map... Sadwillow is my namesake planet, the homeworld of my current GURPS game, my old Nationstates country, and also my favorite name from Populous. Anyway, the mainworld of the Sadwillow Federation needs a good map. The Boroughs in CWBP clearly needs some help, I need to get back to it. Finally, Wark is sort of Craw backwards. It's a desert planet with a large polar sea based on the work-up of Craw in the JTAS article "A Referees Guide to Planetbuilding" by J. Andrew Keith. Think of it as a tribute.

Oh, yeah, I also need to work on Asdakseghzan, homeworld of the Vugoa, essentially early steampunk Vargr. Need a good map to detail the adventures of Aloysius Featherington Quadroon among the canine wogs! But God-DAMN did men used to have some proper-ass names (http://achewood.com/index.php?date=02022009)

05-15-2010, 11:11 PM
Here's another little aside. I've been playing around with ETOPO2 data using my new copy of Photoshop CS4, Wilbur and Flexify. I was inspired by Chris Wayan's work(here) (http://www.worlddreambank.org/P/PLANETS.HTM). The original data was in 21601 × 10801 resolution, but I think I'd need 64-bit windows to open that in Wilbur. Even my old PS8 ground to a near stop on that. CS4 chugged right through it, though Flexify took awhile to render...
Hmmm... Does ETOPO2 have bedrock elevations for Greenland and Antarctica? If not, where did you get them from? It took me quite a while to find additional DEMs to augment my global SRTM for my own "after global warming" mapping experiments, and I'm still not sure my projections are matching up correctly.

05-17-2010, 02:11 AM
It does. The actual soundings are pretty far apart, so there is a lot of interpolation. This is part of the reason why the shorelines are so smooth. You could get away with a lot of fudging around on the elevations since most of them are basically educated guesses.

I originally got the DEM as an ESRI grid, which I exported as a geotiff. Unfortunately, the tiff was signed, which caused some oddities. I later added the depth of Marianas trench to the DEM in ArcGIS and re-exported it to tiff. Much better, but no sign of sea level. What you see up there is basically that tiff rotated, downsampled and converted to png for rendering in Wilbur. No modifications on my part other than that and picking out an appropriate sea level. The sea level is higher than ours because there should probably be less land at high latitudes to intercept snowfall. Actual sea-levels are pure conjecture.

06-27-2012, 08:16 PM
Change is at Hand
Okay, I'm back. After a fashion. I've been stewing on some ideas for Burphaban for awhile now, and I think I'll post them up.

I recently acquired a copy of "The Planet Construction Kit," by Mark Rosenfelder(Zom (http://www.incatena.org/)pist (http://www.zompist.com/)). The effect of this was to get me back to thinking about mapping and, for some reason, more specifically fantasy worlds. Burphaban is my fantasy world of choice at the moment, so I figured I'd try rebooting this thing.

The biggest revision I've decided to make is to remove humans, at least as a dominant species. There might be a few humans among the Goblin emigrées in Al Qallafiyeh, but they're not terribly significant. Other than introducing the Goblins to Islam. Yeah, I'm keeping that.

Part of the reason for ditching humans on Burphaban is because there are enough stand-ins for humans already. The Goblins are technologically advanced(less than they were when they got here, but still more than most of the rest of the world) followers of a human religion(Of course this means I have to research Islam...) and formerly part of a human interstellar polity. The halflings(I think I'll call them stoutlings, since they're actually about four feet tall, and my CWBP entry is gone now) are somewhat like friendlier, kinder, gentler stand-ins for humans. And the Orcs are pretty good stand-ins I encounter while enjoying highway traffic. So humans are pretty superfluous here.

Another reason for leaving humans out of the mix is that I already have plenty of species to deal with as it is. Why not skip the least interesting one? Besides, as time goes by I might have some humans land from elsewhere.

The really dominant reason(the gripping hand, as it were)is based on some discussions I had been having with Chris Saunders (http://www.cartographersguild.com/member.php?25457-cjs0216) about his world of Tannin (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?11233-Arnan-WIP). I particularly liked his idea of a country of civilized orcs. So of course, I decided to give the formerly human Grand Imperium on the island of Angloia to those orcs. The Orclands in the north-central portion of the main continent are still run by your familiar, unfriendly, tribal mobs of psychotic backstabbing "normal" orcs.

I'm going to start by printing out some of my old head dumps and doing some editing. What stays, what goes. I want to make sure I keep the good stuff, ditch the bad stuff and work in the new stuff(which may prove to be good or bad).

06-27-2012, 08:17 PM
Some History
A long time ago, the people of this world, let’s call it Burphaban, all looked a lot like the stoutlings. About four feet tall, weighing around 145 pounds, hairy feet. Otherwise, these people were pretty much like humans. Nuclear bombs, computers, telecommunications, war, a few dozen people in space stations, a moon base, solar power satellites, fossil fuels and climate change, starvation amid plenty and morbid obesity, the whole bit. Just like Earth. Sometime in the 2030s, perhaps...

Then these proto-stoutlings learned to alter themselves. Not by genetic engineering, though they were as advanced at that as anything else. No, they learned to alter themselves by thinking about it. One might say by magic...

That wasn’t the limit of magic. The proto-stoutlings discovered that just about everything they did with their old-fashioned technologies they could do with their new powers. They could communicate to each other instantaneously over any distance, they could light up a room with a thought and a word. What few things they couldn’t do with magic, they could magically power.

In the early days of this new magical civilization, the people of Burphaban gloried in their ability to easily do things that once had been hard. Many people flew to the moon using their magical powers. Several flights were made to the nearest planets in Burphaban’s system. Some people even learned to change matter into antimatter to power the flight of fast probes to nearby stars. Finding the other planets in their own solar system to be dull, lifeless rocks and the other stars still too distant to conveniently reach even with their new powers, the proto-stoutlings quickly lost all but an aesthetic interest in the skies beyond their world. There was just too much they could do without leaving the comforts of their own pleasant world.

The people of Burphaban voluntarily separated into two broad groups. One group cared for the old-style machines and began to build extensive underground tunnel complexes and vast caverns to house their new civilization. Over time, they became uncomfortable with the open skies of the surface world. They began to specialize their skills to support the kinds of intricate, powerful and constantly tended spells needed to support the world’s new magical infrastructure: spells to light their caverns and grow crops in the vast subterranean greenhouses that were replacing surface agriculture, spells to desalinate the sea water they were using to irrigate those crops, spells to support ventilation of the hundreds of thousands of miles of tunnels they were delving, and spells to support all manner of other practical tasks needed for their lifestyles.

The other group stayed on the surface. They abandoned the cities, preferring to live among the trees, “in communion with nature.” This group built up their aesthetic sense based on open spaces, plants, wild animals and the star-strewn skies. They grew in their disdain for the specialization and solid, practicality of their underground cousins. Their arrogance drove them to a bitter anger over their dependence upon the underground people. Even as they saw themselves as becoming infinitely more wise than once they had been, new rivalries and old vices grew and them and would be the undoing for the new golden age that was just dawning. It would also be the source of a sense of humility, empathy and caution which would lead them, later, to a far truer wisdom.

Over about a century, these two groups separated into two very different races. Almost species. The first, underground group became the dwarves, or troglodytes or mole-men. Any of these names could apply; their own name for themselves might translate as People. They retained their former height. They saw no need to build larger caverns to accomodate a taller people. In their stolid practicality, they altered themselves to become more stolid and more practical. They became heavier, stronger, tougher and their senses became more adapted to handling the cool, damp, sometimes dark world they lived in. Their magic altered, too. Many specialized to handle the complex and continuous difficulties of maintaining the sophisticated systems needed for survival. Flashy, showy spells were discarded for quiet lasting and practical enchantments. Much of their magic required large groups working together on long and involved rituals. Dwarves prefered things to be well planned, well thought out, not spur-of-the-moment. Dwarves gained their greatest pleasure from problems solved, from jobs well done. Having attained what they considered to be a perfectly good, practical form, they discarded the ability to alter themselves. They had a life expectancy of almost a millennium, which they found perfectly adequate, and even the last few years when old age began to affect them, senescence was never terribly debilitating and death came gently.

The second group could be called the elves. Dwarves often referred to them as useless. They had a distaste for practicality. Much of their magic was dedicated to dispensing with hard work, which they found distasteful. Their lives were dedicated to art, music, dance, the development, enjoyment and enhancement of the natural environment, and advancement of the magical arts. The major work to which they dedicated themselves in a leisurely but devoted way was repairing the damage done to the world’s environment by the earlier industrial civilizations consumption of fossil fuels. They enjoyed their ability to change their forms and all elves have a tendency to slowly mutate throughout their lives following ever changing aesthetic preferences, seeking perfection. Elven magic is varied and often flashy. Magic is often part of their musical and artistic expression. Images shimmer and move, dancing is often accompanied by streamers of light and magically perfumed air, and singers are often accompanied by more than mere instruments. The metaphor of, “height is importance,” was obviously familiar to the proto-stoutlings and they have grown tall and graceful in general. Most elves generally chose to be five to six feet tall, towering over most of the other people on their world.

Before long everybody on Al Burphaban had taken the form and culture of either Dwarves or Elves. The proto-stoutlings were essentially extinct.

A long golden age followed for several hundred years.

Then an elf was born who would prove to be one of the most powerful elves ever and who would display and extend all of the worst attributes to which elves are prey. This elf, now spoken of only as, “The Dark One,” would bring an end to the golden age and nearly bring ruin to his entire world.

The Dark One was a great orator and had a great and probably magically-enhanced charisma. He was able to convince many elves to follow his quest for elven dominance with him at the head. His new army made war first against the dwarves, enslaving millions, then they found themselves at war with the other elves. The Dark One, enraged at the perceived betrayal by his fellow elves sought the total destruction of all who fought against him and began using old-style nuclear weapons against his foes. Even his followers were horrified at his use of such cruel and ecocidal and demanded that he stop. In response to this final betrayal, he tortured all of his followers brutally, using their own powers against them. When he was done, all of his followers were rendered into cruel, callous orcs incapable of resisting his evil will.

A group of surviving elves and dwarves gathered together for a final stand against The Dark One’s orcs and other twisted monsters of his creation. The Dark One smiled at that and launched all of his remaining nuclear and magical weapons against his enemies’ stronghold even knowing that the brutality of his attack would render the entire world a blasted ruinous waste. As twisted as he was with his own rage and evil, he didn’t care so long as his foes were crushed utterly.

As a final desperate attempt at defense, the elves and dwarves created a powerful magical Maelstrom that rendered the nuclear weapons and most other old-style technological tools temporarily useless and blunt the power of his magical attack as well. Fed by the power of the Dark One’s attacks, the Maelstrom proved far more effective and destructive than expected. The Dark One himself was drawn into the Maelstrom and much of the power that drove magic was drawn from Al Burphaban and the Maelstrom went on to spin about the world for decades more destroying many things before finally dissipating.

The golden age was at an end. The Orcs and other monsters created by the Dark One outnumbered the surviving Dwarves and Elves. Much of the old magic and even more of the old technology no longer functioned properly. No one truly understood how the Maelstrom functioned, all of the dwarven and elven wizards who participated in creating the magic superstorm were consumed by it along with the Dark One himself. Most of the vast dwarven tunnelings were flooded or no longer habitable.

The Orcs may not have seen much joy ahead of them in life, but they proved survival machines in themselves. They would do or say anything to survive for even another moment. Neither pride nor hope nor love nor empathy stood in the way of orcish survival. Though the life they had was ridden with the pain and dismay of their ruined forms they did remarkably well in the hellish aftermath of the terrible war.

The Dwarves retreated to their caverns to save as much as they could of their once great culture. With most of the magic they once used to light the agricultural caverns ruined, they needed to create farms on the surface. So they took control of the land above the great Al Kannadiyya mountains and as much as possible(for they did not like to spend a lot of time exposed on the surface)they hired other people to tend those farms. A few elves would take up the task of helping to care for the dwarves farms, but the task fell mostly to the new race of Stoutlings.

After the war many elves were wracked with guilt and humility over their part in the wrecking of the world. Some were followers who had escaped the Dark One before he converted the others to Orcs. Some remembered that they had quietly supported the Dark One in his early years. The vaunted wisdom of the Elves was great enough that they all realized that he was an expression of the great flaw of arrogance and disdain for others which they all shared. Some elves sought to develop their empathy, compassion and wisdom and work far harder to help the environment recover from a catastrophe greater even than the after-effects of the industrial age. Others however rejected the power which had made them so dangerous. This majority of the surviving former elves became the Stoutlings.

Unlike the Elves, the Stoutlings made themselves to enjoy hard work. In fact the Stoutlings became a race renouned both for its great honesty and for its work ethic. The work ethic and honesty, however was predicated upon their enjoyment of life. An employer who denies Stoutlings the right to sing and laugh while working will soon see his workers leave. Along with any necessary travelling expenses they might find in the till. Stoutlings also work on their own time. Theirs is not a work ethic of the more work done the better, but one of getting necessary jobs done without others having to work harder to take up your slack. Stoutlings do not approve of people enriching themselves on the hard work of others, nor of sloughing off jobs you find unpleasant on others. The average stoutling will cheerfully dive into a cess pool to dredge out useful fertilizer for the fields, if the boss shows a willingness to join them now and again. On the other hand they will throw up their hands in disgust and leave even the softest jobs if the boss shows contempt for the task or an unwillingness to join in. They are realistic in their expectations: they don’t hold the Dwarves fear of open spaces against them(particularly as they have shown themselves to be hard and cheerful workers at similar jobs in their caverns), nor will they expect a crippled person they are helping to join into physically demanding tasks. Mostly they need to be assured that their work is valued and that they are respected for it.

Stoutlings are quick to mild annoyance and display it just as quickly, but they seem incapable of holding grudges. The good humor and tolerant demeanor of Stoutlings has done much to make the world a more peaceful place. The first Stoutlings chose a shorter lifetime than either the Dwarves or the nearly immortal Elves. They usually live for about a ninety years before they start to show debilitating effects from aging. Usually, to start with they just start to get more sedentary after about their ninetieth year. By the time age starts to really make a Stoutling particularly uncomfortable, he is usually pretty close to a peaceful death, typically at an age of about a hundred years. Between about the age of thirty and ninety it is almost impossible to tell what age a Stoutling is by appearance or behavior. To human eyes, anybody in that age range would appear to be about forty to fifty years old. Even the typical Stoutling laying down to sleep on the night before his death will look no older than about sixty. Almost all Stoutlings die peacefully in their sleep.

06-27-2012, 08:18 PM
Although the Orcs were created essentially as an act of cruel vengeance to live without joy or hope, the generations of separation between Orcs alive today and those first sad victims of the Dark One have made them much more normal. They remain fairly callous, by nature, but they are not incapable of mercy and compassion. Orcs are capable of feeling love and affection, and often possess a circle of friends to whom they feel some degree of devotion. Orcs have a crude sense of humor, their music is clangorous and not always pleasant to non-orcish ears, and its difficult for outsiders to tell when their dances end and their brawls begin; their art is usually evocative of bloodshed and torture and their hopes and dreams revolve around vanquishing foes and gaining vengeance upon their enemies, but they have humor and music, dance and art, and they have hope. They often see this as their greatest victory: defeating the Dark One himself.

Most Orcish societies are small tribal bands, hardly able to cooperate beyond the level of family. The Orclands are slightly better organized: a short dynasty of kings has been able to dominate the various tribal chieftains of the region and hold them together loosely for two or three generations. The Grand Imperium on the southern island of Angloia is the only truly civilized Orcish society, a culture that has created its own cities and technologies and maintained them in a coherent fashion for centuries. In many ways, while Imperial orcs are still brutal, callous and bloodthirsty, and while they are still largely organized by a principle of violent Social Darwinism, most other Orcs would consider them strange and effete. Given the martial arts of the Grand Imperium those Orcs would be wise not to call an Imperial orc an, “elf,” to his face even if that’s what he’s thinking. Of course, being an Orc... He would! And so would an Imperial if the situation was reversed. All Orcs like a fight even more than they like winning one.

Trolls, interestingly, aren’t even people as such: they’re very bright animals. Probably as closely related to the proto-stoutlings as Homo erectus is to Man. The Trolls were actually created originally by a military genetic engineering experiment before the proto-stoutlings discovered magic. The big, dangerous creatures probably would have been quietly destroyed by their government if they hadn’t managed to escape into the wild. The Trolls managed to remain a mystery for quite a while after the advent of magic, occasional sightings raising them to the level of urban legend among the proto-stoutlings and later elves and dwarves.

In his youth the Dark One searched out everything he could find about Troll sightings, and he eventually hunted them down and came to dominate them. As he came to dominance, the Dark One was always surrounded by a group of Troll bodyguards on public appearances. Although he didn’t create them, the Dark One left his mark even more on the psyche of surviving Trolls than the Orcs.

Ogres were the result of hybridization between Trolls and Orcs. It gets worse from there, but their immense strength(nearly as strong as a Troll) and their ability to be disciplined in combat and tolerate close contact with other ogres, orcs and other people makes them useful to many Orc chieftains. It doesn’t pay to imagine how they accomplished the deed. Trolls have trouble tolerating their own kind enough to manage reproduction, usually the female crawls away barely up to maintaining pregnancy and the male only survives by dint of great toughness and luck(usually he doesn’t). Fortunately Ogres breed true and seem to enjoy the act. Often if their not carefully watched. They don’t mind much being watched, but they’ll usually lose interest after a guarding orc pokes ‘em a couple times with a spear.

Dragons were one of the Dark One’s greatest failures. After hunting down a species of flying warm-blooded reptiles(surviving dinosaur-analogues really) he was successful in imbuing them with demonic spirits causing them to grow immense, magically and physically powerful, and brilliantly intelligent and cunning, but they immediately fled from him and frequently attacked him and his servants when they unwisely came to close to the mountains where the dragons chose to hunker down. These fearsome dragons were a major reason for the survival of dwarven cities in high mountainous regions and have been a major challenge to the dwarves in their attempt to dominate those regions.

Vampires were the Dark One’s last attempt at creating demonic life forms before his defeat and perhaps his most successful. Vampires began as elves and dwarves captured by the Dark One’s minions before and during the war. Using an agonizing magical process more painful even than that used to create Mummies, the Dark One imbued those people with demons he had discovered in his explorations of the darkest magical arts. This rendered them essentially immortal(even longer lived than elves, some of his first-created vampires may yet be walking the land. Vampires are incapable of reproduction in the conventional sense(physically they are little more alive than a zombie or a mummy), but they are capable of reproducing, in a sense, by infecting still-living victims with a bit of their demonic nature. Vampire infection is slow, agonizing and recognizable enough to most people that the victim will usually be killed on sight if he doesn’t kill himself. To reproduce, the vampire usually has to kidnap its victim and hold him or her tightly bound till the infection runs its course after about six months. The vampire sire will then have his new vampire thrall as a very useful slave for several years until that one’s thralldom ends. The first act of a vampire when it leaves thralldom is to try very hard to kill its sire and take its place. Most sires try to kill their thralls before they reach that point. This is very fortunate for the rest of the world, because vampires are extremely aggressive and incredibly tough creatures, if their population growth was any more efficient they’d be a horribly dangerous existential threat to Al Burphaban. As it is their threat is mostly on a very personal basis to the people who encounter them. And that is an immense threat!

The Goblins showed up at the same time as the tiny population of humans. They were refugees escaping others of their species who wanted to kill them for following a religion of their hated enemy, the humans. These are pretty much as described previously. They retain some of the higher technology they brought with them from the stars and a relatively tolerant culture they inherited from their human friends. There was a great deal of surprise and consternation when it was discovered that mating between humans and orcs and humans and stoutlings actually resulted in live births. This led to a hypothesis, already well supported by the very human appearance of the natives, that the planet must have been seeded fairly recently with life from Earth. Things became more confused when the first Reptile Men were born.

Reptile Men were the result of matings between Orcs and Goblins, usually resulting from Orcish rape-and-pillage raids against Goblin villages. Since it was clear that Humans and Goblins had no shared genetic heritage it remains a mystery how this happened. Most people blame it on magic and stop discussing the matter.

That’s pretty much where my coredump is at at the moment, so I’ll stop. We’ll see where this goes.

I intend to mirror any activity regarding this world on my blog here. In fact, I suspect this thread will get more love because I'll be putting up WIPs more frequently than I'll put up finished blog articles.

Thank you for your patience,
The Astrographer(aka Su_Liam)

btw is there any way I could get the thread title changed to, "Al Burphaban?"

06-27-2012, 11:35 PM
Not enough settings ditch the humans.