As I stated earlier, Hævenstadt Harbor started as something smaller than what it is now becoming. Originally I had dubbed it Keresk Harbor and worked up an initial elevation file to show only the harbor itself. This included both an Upper and Lower portion of the city/town, naturally occurring docks, an engineered promenade between the two portions of the city/town and a short span of the sea cliffs that dominated the region.
The original idea was that all of these land forms came about naturally, except for the Promenade leading from Lower Hævenstadt to Upper Hævenstadt. That is still somewhat true. The problem with that original concept was the fact that the lower portion of Hævenstadt was simply a bit too unique given it's sole existence along a six hundred some odd mile length of coast. Why in the world would Hævenstadt be the only place where those sea cliffs were broken by one tiny little area that was located at sea level?
For a while, I didn't have an answer other than to say that "the gods made it so." For the characters, this answer might be enough, but from a geological stand point, it just wasn't enough for me. I needed something more, an origin that could have at least some foundation in reality. To that end, I let things simmer in the back of my mind as I worked on other projects, figuring an answer would come to me at some point in time. And that's exactly what happened.
I've mentioned before, that I grew up along the Oregon coast, Florence in particular. One of the big attractions in that area is a place called Sea Lion Caves. Sea Lion Caves (actually a singular cave) is (according to the Guiness Book of Records) the largest sea cave in the world, soaring to the height of a 12-story building and stretching the length of a football (American) field. It is also the only year-round, mainland habitat for Stellar Sea Lions.
During a recent trip home to visit with family, I happened by Sea Lion Caves and got struck by an epiphany. What would happen if the caves collapsed? How would it change the appearance of the lands above the caves? What could cause them to collapse? The more I thought about it, the clearer the picture became.It's a pretty awesome sight, by the way, and if you ever have a chance to visit, you should jump on the opportunity.
A massive earthquake . . . Collapse of the caves . . . The land above the caves crashing down to sea level . . .
I had my answer. It was still a bit far fetched, but it could, at least in theory, work.
Millions of years of erosion have slowly dug away the underlying bedrock beneath the area of Hævenstadt. Unbeknownst to the locals, the land, over that time, has cracked and started to slip, resulting in small earthquakes that have been attributed to the anger of the gods. Then a massive earthquake hits. All those cracks finally give way and a portion of Hævenstadt collapses, falling not quite into the sea, but far enough to put it at sea level. As for why it hasn't happened in other areas . . . Maybe the bedrock in this particular location wasn't quite as dense as it is in other locations, or maybe the erosion was helped along by a natural existence of the caves to begin with. Like I said, still a bit far fetched, but workable.
Now it was simply a matter of extrapolation. How could the people of Hævenstadt turn a rough, rocky grave into a viable piece of land again? A little engineering help from the Dvergar. Sure, it would take several years, decades, probably, but it could be done. And, of course, there'd likely be a bit of magic involved, but all of that could wait for a detailed write-up from a literary stand point. I now had enough to work with from a mapping point of view, so it was off to the drawing board.
At first, I did things "by hand," intending to import my manufactured elevation file into Terragen. I wasn't looking for extreme detail at this point, just some basics. I figured that, as part of the engineering and excavation process, some of the material culled from the collapsed area would be used to create "natural" docks and/or jetties. They'd also have to create a staircase (or Promenade) leading from the lower portion of Hævenstadt to the upper portion. That meant a little more work when it came to creating the elevation model, but it still was a pretty basic process that resulted in;
I plugged this into Terragen, added a few Surface Maps for some general coloring and rendered up a couple of quick images just to see where I was at. A birds eye view gave me a basic idea of what the area looked like on a whole;
But just to be sure things were working out the way I wanted them to, I took a look at the Promenade leading from Lower Hævenstadt to Upper Hævenstadt;
It wasn't pretty, but it was enough to start working with. Armed with a general idea of how things looked, I buried myself in the writing process for a time. As the story became a bit more involved and needed to expand into other areas, I realized I was going to have to do more with the mapping process. Like many things in my creative life, however, the project hit a brick wall when the professional and personal aspects of my life came calling. To that end, the project, as a whole, sat on a back-burner for quite some time.
One day, not too long ago, I got to looking for something online for FTPro. Well, actually, I was looking for my registration key. A major computer melt-down put me in a position where I had to install a new hard drive. Fortunately the people at Profantasy were able to help me out and, in the process, I happened across this forum.
In hindsight, I think I always knew about the Cartographers Guild, but I'd never taken the time to look into it. Now I'm kicking myself for that. In any event, I joined the forum, saw some great work and then caught the Challenge Bug. How nice would it be to have one of my own maps (one that will hopefully become known in the literary world as well) professionally produced as a wall map and available as a feature map on a professional site? It'd be great! So I launched myself into the January Challenge.