On Writing - Topic - Geography
September 29, 2014
The central country of Grey, and where the bulk of Fallen Throne takes place. Ruled by a monarchy, Ramza has seen significant success due to its centralized location, acting as a hub for trade, as well as having easier access to resources from its surrounding neighbors.
However, while it has access to a considerable amount of technology and education, it still holds many of the old fears about freely available knowledge to the masses, and still regards much of the electrical and steam technology of Ouran as taboo.
In its infancy, the nation of Ramza was devote to the one god, an omnipotent being that answered their prayers and lead them through dark times. Belief waned folioing a decade long series of plagues, droughts and famine, culminating in the wars with the oblin.
Many lost faith that they were being protected by the one god, and for centuries, worship all but faded. It’s only in the last 7 years that belief has returned, starting with the pilgrimage of Roland Cross and the vision he received. Pockets of worship have begun to spring back up around Ramza, the people once again finding their faith.
September 24, 2014
Ouran is the technological powerhouse of Grey. They are leaders in the sciences, particularly in the study of steam and electrical powered constructions. Ouran cities are a sight to behold, using combinations of wood and steel, clay and glass, to craft wondrous domiciles.
Ouran is also the only country with no recognized religion. They put their faith in their people. Ouran citizens that make a name for themselves can look forward to being immortalized by having a location named after them. While most cities and monuments in Grey have names tied to the land, or an event, all of the places in Ouran are named after famous teachers, researchers, explorers and other great minds. The ruling council of Ouran makes declarations from Yhin’s Palace, Named after Glory Yhin, the first leader to establish an independent city in northern Grey. Zhan-hei’s Spheres is the music academy named after Joy Hei, the bard made famous for her 1,201 sonnets dedicated to the passage of a year. These and many more places all have histories in educated minds that brought knowledge and enlightenment to those around them.
This has also allowed Ouran to become the richest nation in Grey, and Ouran banks can be found throughout the continent. They have tackled converting the various coins into one readable ledger, though there are remote parts of Arcturus where they refrain from trying to convert some of the more ancient bartering goods.
Majere are few in Ouran, not for lack of interest, but the magical weave seems to elude the average citizen. Those that do learn its ways tend toward the artistic, creating musical devices, gravity defying buildings, and multidimensional paintings.
Ouran is also said to be the most friendly of the countries in Grey, more optimistic than Ramza, more open-minded than M’lan, and more accepting than Arcturus. This has made Ouran a very popular tourist attraction, and it’s citizenry very popular when visiting other places.
September 17, 2014
Arcturus takes up the majority of the eastern continent of Grey. It is believed that when settlers first landed on Grey, they traveled out from what is now Arcturus. Because of this, it is one of the oldest parts of the continent. And some of the tribes and cities that are nestles there still reflect this. The oldest cities in Arcturus still thrive around the ancient castles built to protest their citizens when monsters more openly walked the lands. These castles, called Kher’s, still stand today, and its inhabitants still follow the old ways, worshipping the land and revering nature.
You also find cities more in line with the times, like Brentin and Sales. These cities often have robust tourist economies as outsiders are more prone to visit the locations that have amenities from other nations, and cater to the comforts they desire. There are numerous cities in various stages of development in between.
Arcturus is home to two of the largest natural formations on Grey. The Terristia, a large forest the makes up the southern half of the region, and the Jhaele Mountains, which make their way all the way down into M’lan. The Watcher’s Terrace can also be found in Arcturus, on the outskirts of the Terristia. Said to once have been home to an ancient race of druids, the place now stands abandoned, though something or someone tends it, as it looks pristine today as when it was first discovered ages ago.
Terrestia is home to something else as well. Savage barbarians live in the deepest parts of the forest, where survival of the fittest still reins. They never evolved beyond many of their base instincts, and even people that live in the oldest Khers consider them primitive by their standards.
Lastly, unlike the other three regions, Arcturus has no single governing body. Each city looks out for itself. Some wonder how the cities do not break out into war on a regular basis, but it is telling that it’s also the oldest region in Grey. The more civilized cities have adopted the standard coin of Grey, but the more rural places still have their own currencies, or subside exclusively on trade.
September 12, 2014
The M’lan empire rests at the southern end of Grey, making up all of the southern lands. It is probably the nation the most different from the rest. The Lanese people venerate a pantheon of 103 gods. Curozun, He that Creates, the main deity among them. There are also many lesser gods, such as Vanzanc, the god of luck, Tiamen, the god of missed opportunities, and Kai’les, goddess of knowledge.
M’lan is ruled by the Priest-Majere known as the Seti, a female chosen by the people that is skilled in the magical arts, as well as a devout worshipper of the nation’s religions. M’lan’s caste system is separated by natural aptitude, with citizens who show no talent for any combative skill making up the bottom tier of the population, many families often selling off some of their children to neighboring kingdoms as servants because they can’t contribute to the society in any meaningful way. Above that are the warriors and writers, who help maintain the army. Next are the majere, and finally the devout.
It is said that the Seti personally interviews each child to test their aptitude for preaching faith and weaving magic, but rumors also abound that money can ease the way for many a newborn, spent by parents seeking to rise in the culture. The Lanese also believe that females have a greater aptitude for religious understanding than males, but again, some view this purely as coincidence from the many centuries of Seti influence.
September 10, 2014
I hope this can be one of the least controversial discussions of the topic. There is religion in Grey. But before I get too far into it, I wanted to give a little insight to myself.
I was raised a rebellious catholic, attended a private grade school, went through with confirmation to please my grandparents, chose Porthos as my confirmation name, and years later, I now go back and forth between atheism and agnosticism.
What I have discovered through all those years, is that what is important is belief. I don't care whether you believe in God, Buddha, your friends, your family, your significant other, your children, mother nature, the greek pantheon, yourself, science, or unicorns. As long as it isn't hurting you or other people, and it gets you through the difficult times in your life, that's all that matters. Having something to believe in can get you through the toughest of times, when all seems dark. A belief should bring light.
Now, on to Grey. Worship in Grey is mainly split by the main countries; Ramza, Arcturus, M'lan and Ouran. Now while I speak in generalizations, remember, they are just that. There is always spillover.
Ramza has had a strong resurgence in belief in the One God. Worshipped centuries ago, then having fallen out of favor, the religion is finding it's feet again. The One God is responsible for all creation, and believes in truth, unity and understanding. A war has never been fought in his or her name. Often portrayed as a male, Roland's recent pilgrimage has him preaching that the One God is in fact a she. Seeing as how someone gifted him with the sword he carries and the powers he wields, it is an oft discussed topic of debate.
Arcturuns worship nature, living close with the land. This has produced some of the most benevolent, and vicious, splinter cults in all of grey. People embrace harmony, while others survival. Science, while used for its health benefits, is viewed more of a byproduct of nature. Many Arcturuns are mindful of how others treat the wilderness, and are careful to make sure it is treated with respect. They are the people most likely to invoke the earth when given offense, or to correct a foreigners misdeeds.
M'lan is a land of many deities. Worship is a central part of their lives, the empire ruled by the Seti, A high priestess. Religion governs daily life, job security, marriage, and even the dispersal of children within families. Religion has an answer for any question a Lanese citizen might have. This is not as stifling as it might sound. Because the pantheon is so diverse, so are the scriptures of each god or goddess, resulting in both strict and lax rules, as the situations dictate.
Lastly is Ouran, which has no religious structure in place. Ouran is a land of science and discovery through and through. Ouran citizens love facts and research, always finding better ways to grow a crop, write a book, give a speech, or prolong a life. Most of the great marvels built or manufactured in grey came from a mind that spent a fair share of time in Ouran. That's not to say the occasional scientist doesn't offer a little prayer to a god of luck or goddess of destiny. After all, they're having a hard time disproving religion exists.
So there you have it. Not too deep. Not too preachy. Just a splash of beliefs that the inhabitants of Grey look to.
July 28, 2014
Today I'm going to talk a little bit about geography. Not ours, though that's important too. Geography is important in most stories. Stories generally take place somewhere. If you're writing anything that takes place in the real world, you have tremendous resources at your disposal.
People all over the world have been compiling information for you to use. You don't need to figure out how long a flight from Los Angeles to Paris is. Or how many miles does it take to get from New York to Atlanta. Most of these resources are a google search away. Be sure to use them.
If you've got some amazing story, but don't know where it should start, there's nothing wrong with your home town. You already know where all the best locations are. You might have to change some specific names, but all the places are there. Don't sweat the details like this when you don't need to. Let the internet, or your life experiences, help you.
However, sometimes you are going to places no one has gone before. How far is it from Balthwell to Caulment. How big is the M'lan empire. How many days does it take to walk from the eastern to the western border of Arcturus. You don't need to know every detail, but as soon as your characters start getting around, you'll be creating distances whether you know it or not.
First off, maps are still your friends. I don't know about you, but I'm no expert on the formation of rivers, mountains, forests and plains. Don't be afraid to lift some ideas from what nature has produced. Their are four main nations in the World of Grey; Ramza, Arcturus, M'Lan and Ouran. I looked at many maps of Great Britain, Germany, Egypt and Ireland, respectively, for ideas on how these land masses would look. Plus when you start writing about the locations you are creating, you have some visual references in your head to draw from
Even if you decide to go completely original or have surreal landscapes, it never hurts to study up for inspiration. These tools are all about making your work simpler, not more difficult. Sometimes you'll want to sketch out a rough map, just to keep places in check. If it takes four weeks to get to one place, and five weeks to get to the next, just make sure the places are appropriately far apart, so if you ever have people go back to those locations, you already know the distance, and don't contradict yourself. Or just some a record of how long it takes to travel from one point to another.
I think that's enough for now. Stay well-traveled, friends.