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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

WBM: Geography (Part One)

So, I've begun really working in the mapping details of my new continent/world. I'm going to try to follow the list found at SFWA on worldbuilding, although in no particular order (probably only in order by section). As you can see I have mountain ranges now and the beginnings of some rivers/lakes:
I've only got one named location (The Cliffs of Marth). I'm very behind as far as worldbuilding is concerned; at least in comparison to other folks doing this. So, I'm going to focus on the geography for a while just to get it all ironed out.
I have plans to draw two more circular chains of islands with the intention of having this world be subject to a lot of the mythology revolving around what might be considered "near extinction events". Some of the circular items are actually volcanoes, such as the one where the Cliffs of Marth are present. This would be a fairly inactive volcano, but one with significant folklore surrounding it, since it's occasional explosions might be the cause of the invention of gods or spirits, although I am intentionally avoiding the quite silly and cliche indigenous cultures that we are all too familiar with (you know, the kind that dances in hoola skirts and sacrifices virgins into the fires of the volcano and other such cliche stuff; thankfully I can avoid this considering that most of the volcanoes that are visible are actually primarily underwater).
Other instances of circular structures, and primarily islands, are instances of impacts from space: comets, asteroids, and other such strange anomalies. These, of course, would be constantly on the minds of the people living in my world, and will fit right into the fantasy world I'm trying to create. What sort of beliefs will they develop from fearing the heavens? Well, I like the idea of there being a constant fear, one where even the simply sighting of something burning in the sky sparks civil unrest and possibly even revolution. But we'll get into that some other time, since this is primarily focuses on geography.
One thing that has to be resolved is the name of this world of mine. I've tried coming up with something, but nothing felt right. And I have a name. It came randomly while talking things over with my girlfriend (talking, mind you, about nothing related to WBM whatsoever) and officially this world is called:
Yep, it's Altern. Don't know where the name came from, but there it is. Now, back to the geography!
So, one thing that will affect the climate is going to be that big mountain range in the middle. Currently it is unnamed (as are most things, though I will periodically update the map in new posts). Not only is this going to create a divide between cultures, but it also should, upon further research, create interesting climate differences (possibly making one drier than the other and certain areas more difficult to traverse and generally unlivable).
The mountains and most of the actual landmasses are done, thankfully. As a note, I generally draw maps in this order:
  1. Continent/landmass (because you can't do anything else without this being there first).
  2. Islands and other landmasses (since they're related and it makes things easier if you do them relatively soon).
  3. Mountains (I do these next because they are the most difficult to erase, so it's best just to get them out of the way).
  4. Rivers/Lakes (so all the water stuff is done with)
  5. Forests (these tend to nestle near rivers/lakes/mountains, so it's best when they aren't the last thing I do)
  6. Naming (cause, well, you need names right? I violate this rule when I have a name I don't want to forget for smething).
  7. Leftovers (whatever they may be, they get done last; this is also generally when I do any erasing edits that I find compulsory because the evil map editor in me doesn't like something)
Yeah, so right now I'm on the rivers/lakes bit, which leaves me with quite a lot to do, actually. Finding names tends to be the most difficult for me because my landmasses are never small, but large. You can see in the sidebar on the right, just a little down where the WISB Chapters section is, my map for Traea, the continent in WISB and SoD. That had a lot more names on it than ended up in the finalized version, which were taken out to make the map readable.
I will be honest, as I end this post for the day, I have very little intention of spending a lot of time dealing with the logical, realistic aspects of climate. It's not that I don't like realistic climates, I just don't have the mental space in a fantasy novel to devote to something that won't necessarily matter anyway. My world has a naturally occurring magic that has very little to do with genetics (most of the time), which means that Altern may or may not follow what might be natural laws in our world. Of course I intend to spend some time on climate, just so I can get the basics of how things would look, but I don't want to get into the complex dealings of climate simply because that sort of detail would never show up in a novel or story I might write anyway. I really don't want to spend ten pages explaining the climate cycles of a particular area. I'll just write the weather as it occurs.
Okay, so I think that's it for right now. I'll be focusing more on the other aspects of the geography in another post. I really want to spend some time on the magic system of Altern in the near future, since I haven't done that as of yet.


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