While I was still enlisted with the Navy, I began a world-building project to occupy my time and keep me (barely) sane throughout deployment. This had been ... about six years ago. Recently, I've found all my old notes, and have been feeling the itch to work on it again. Just one problem. Everything's all wrong. I could go on for minutes with harsh, slanderous, lovecraftian babel about how nothing fits, but I won't bore you with my new found and apparently unreasonable standards.
For a little background, check the spoiler below.
So, originally I had an archipelago world, 2 1/3 the size of earth, boasting a considerable 80% of her landmass bathed in water and three moons gracing the heavens above her -- two appearing after dark, while one lags behind, warmed and chased by the dawn. Climate, environment, hours in a day or night, seasons, etc. None of it fit. There was nothing save for the explanation of "magick" to support any of this ... and while for some, this is all fine and good, it really isn't enough for me. Especially now, when I look toward this world and would like to expand it's use to something more. SO, I decided to take the original concepts, and start from the beginning. Adopt the Asimov and (Frank) Herbert way of observing, studying and adapting real world concepts to build something new and fantastic ... and it all starts with a map.
I am going for a level of realism, partly because this stuff interests the heck out of me, and partly because I understand it will impact any world with a great many variable. The heavens and celestial bodies, while minor considerations from a player, character's or reader's perspective, will affect some important aspects of any world. Things like distance from it's star, number of moons, axial tilt, speed of rotation on it's axis, speed at which it rotates about it's star ... If you haven't guessed by now, this stuff is like crack to me. I can spend days just reading about it.
Next is the landscape itself. I am debating on generating a landscape with a program that can handle fractles, like Wilbur and edit as I go along ... My attempts to generate an acceptable landscape solely through gimp have been atrocious. The idea of an archipelago world is out and I am leaning toward something more familiar. With that done, I would move on to establishing plate tectonics, fleshing out the world from there as I determined where mountains, valleys, river basins and the like would go. From there, work on something similar to the Atlas tutorial here and try to develop a way to make a realistic wood relief effect, since the tutorial that was linked here, seems to have vanished, and I've not had much luck tracking a replacement down.
Once I have a working map, sans traditional labels (can be added as layers anyway), I would have a point in which to redevelop the predominant cultures, outline the boundaries of their empires and rework their histories in a way that was more natural to the progression of such things on Earth. Only then would I even begin to whisper the words "Magick did it", since everything else would be as near believable and immersible as possible at that point.
Big project. Lots to do, lots to learn and thankfully I love the latter. With all of the above out in the open, I would like to ask for any bits of wisdom and advice the community would have for an admittedly ambitious project that, I will update here for the sake of showing off progress and asking critiques.
Also, for those interested, and don't mind a quick wikilink, one of the minor cultures I have worked on, and thankfully will remain fully intact, were inspired in part by the Ma'dan (Marsh Arabs) of Iraq.
Quick Edit: Borrowed from a post made by jbgibson in 2012, quick organization to follow in spoiler below.
Step one: Determining year -- Kepler's Law
- Kepler's First Law: The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci. Find average distance in Astronomical Units (AU) from the planet to it's parent star. One AU is approximately the distance from the sun to the earth, about 93 million miles. This distance is an average, due to Kepler's first law. If one AU is 93 Millions miles, and my planet is 120,600,000 miles from the sun, this means the distance is 1.296774193548387 AU.
- Kepler's Second Law: A line joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time Cube the average distance. If we had a planet at twice the distance of earth to the sun, we would have an average of 2.00, which becomes 8.00 when cubed. Being lazy, and sitting here at 4am, I let google do that for me, getting 2.18068571045 ... that's too many numbers for me to be bothered with. I want realism, but im not going to slam my head into a wall worrying about every single decimal. Lets round up, shall we? Our original AU was 1.296774193548387. Rounding up, we have 1.3 AU. 1.3 cubed brings us to 2.197. For the sake of simplification, round once more, giving us a nice 2.2 for our second step.
- Kepler's Third Law: The square of the orbital period of a planet is proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit. Now we take the square root of our cubed (and rounded) average distance. This makes up for the orbital period of the planet, around it's parent star in earth years. So, 2.2 becomes 1.48323969742. Rounding up to 1.5, this would make my world's orbital period nearly one and a half times that of earth, or 547.5 days. That wasn't so bad.