[Region 1][Map 18]The Heart of Orvaelos - Luwath Peninsula
I will begin with a bit of lore here, since no map of mine exists in a vacuum.
Orvaelos hosts a primarily sea-going people. Though much of the inland areas are rich farmland known for renowned sweet wines, endless flocks of tender sheep and hearty grains: the true calling of every Vaelan man is the sea.
Best known for their navy, said to be the most powerful of the known world, Orvaelos is the best traveled of the major territories and relies mostly on sea-trade with the other lands due to the tumultuous state of Groam to the north and the limited trade routes through the deserts to the south east.
As expected in such a land, ships are a possession prized greatly over horses or even land in many cases. Anchored floating cities called 'Orvetros' can be found wherever the sea is consistently calm, often more sizable than the villages and cities along the coast nearby. Some spend years never stepping foot on their homeland, simply going from ship to their base orvetro and back to ship. Only going ashore upon reaching a far-flung destination that lacks such ports.
One would wisely say that Luwath is truly two people, rather than one. While the mainland Vaelan are much like their cousins to the east and, to a lesser extent the Groamen northward, those who live by the gifts of the sea call themselves the Vetara, an ancient word inherited from the first men to come to Orvaelos after the fall of the empire that once reached far north and east and even across the sea. Its remnants seen throughout the known world, but only prized in Orvaelos, where they have been painstakingly cared for over hundreds of years. The name is all that remains of the true Vetara that settled, but their modern descendants still retain their sea-faring life and the few traditions left to them through the rot of time.
The Vaelan and Vetara both have the look of the old Vetara, bronzed skin from birth and from the sun, narrow and pale eyes rimmed with dark lashes and hair ranging from sandy gold to black but always with a hint of the brilliant red of an Orvaelan sunset. An almost elfin slim build is common and sets them apart from most mainlanders despite their above-average height and well-known martial prowess. These features are so well known in fact that amongst many human cultures of the world, one might say "Fellow was taller than a Vetarish oarsman" or "Hair like a Vaelan princess" as they told a story.
Humans and Elves alike have both often questioned the genealogy of the Vetara, some claiming they must have come from an Elven brother race that had lost their more distinctive features, or perhaps a far-flung people of mixed ancestry that retained only hints of elven blood. Elves certainly are known for mingling almost uncannily well with the Vaelan and Vetara alike, and Orvaelos houses one of the highest Elven populations of the human realms.
Dwarn, smaller and even hairier cousins of the far northerly Dwarves are less common, though some small settlements can be found in the mountains above the central valley and the range separating Orvaelos from the plaguelands to the north. Also in those mountains can be found a people believed to be the children of the ancient empire that once ruled from these lands, a burly race of barbaric giants having long lost the civilization and talents they used to build their impressive monuments. They rarely leave the high peaks except to occasionally raid a village or farm build too high in the foothills, and the Vaelan patrols drive them back quickly with a deadly vengeance.
Because of the predominant ocean-faring culture, fish is the primary meat for the majority of the population, a necessity during the long droughts of the generations long past and now a proud tradition. The coasts are rich with red-fin shark, known as much for their tangy meat as their over-sized toothy jaws. Further out, schools of Yulo and Mirrorscale fill the sea in a seemingly endless bounty. Losa Eels, Spire crabs and Obeliss can be found easily in the tide pools and warm shallows, delicious if one will risk the sharks, rocky lagoons and reefs.
In recent years, the people have demanded a wall between their lands and those of the Groamen, terrified of the plague that threatens them on the other side of the narrow pass between the sea and the mountains to the north. Though the Vetara put less importance upon the lands of Orvaelos, they have never-the-less helped their mainland cousins with the construction of the far-reaching wall, and in organizing a powerful militia to guard it from those trying to cross the border in secret. Others have gone to join with the Groamen and fight by their sides, but a particular sensitivity to the plague means few come back, and should the plague ever breach the valley that connects them, or the mountains that protect them from the main brunt of the plague, the whole of the Vaelan civilization may quickly become as much a remnant as the ancient civilization who's capitol they claimed.
Ah-hem, now that I've got that out of my system:
I'm going with a sort of stylized semi-hand-drawn look with this, lots of texture and hand-scribed labels. Not sure if I'll continue that theme with the smaller maps of towns and places of particular notice, but luckily the way I work in photoshop, using layers and layer effects the way I do, I can easily change the style at any time without having to redraw any of the major land features.