Monday, January 27, 2014

Preview: The Soltan Ephemeris

The World of Calidar as presented in the first book, "In Stranger Skies", depicts a star system somewhat similar to our Solar System. The sun is called Soltan. The heroes' planet is Calidar, which possesses three moons, two orbiting on the same path (Alorea and Kragdûr), on opposite sides of Calidar, and the third further out (Manaan).

Two other planets exist nearby—Draconia, closest to Soltan, and a red world, Lao Kwei. The latter has a moon called Kumoshima. Based on their names, I’m sure you can figure out the general nature of these settings. Beyond Lao Kwei lies the Fringe, a ring shaped collection of dwarf planets and asteroids. It is a cosmic frontier with all sorts of hidden worlds gravitating alone or in clusters. An extra planet, Ghüle, also orbits through the Soltan Ephemeris. My previous post describes this most peculiar world.

Having listed these asters, the issue of travel time quickly comes up in a world where space-faring skyships are the norm. I’ll skip the "how" because this is a chapter of its own which will be featured in the upcoming book. This preview provides a few other things, such as the illustrations above and below and a calculator to plot the positions of planets based on a calendar date. I decided to tackle this topic since the Star Phoenix’s story lists dated log entries, which means I can’t just "fudge" travel times.

The diagram above shows the approximate orbits of planets. The diagram on the left shows the relative sizes of the worlds.  The hex grid helps estimate travel times. Using the various magical techniques available in that universe, the fastest travel speed between planets amounts to five days per hex. From a mother world to a nearby moon takes approximately 15 hours, or in the case of Manaan 20 hours.

Several points are marked on the first diagram, as follows:
A: Ghüle has now thawed enough for orcs to be able to reach the surface of their world. No raiding happens as of yet.
B: Ghülean orcs may begin raiding if Lao Kwei is in range
C: Ghülean orcs may begin raiding if Calidar is in range
D: Window of opportunity to raid Calidar ends
E: Window of opportunity to raid Lao Kwei ends, however the Fringe is now within raiding range
F: Window of opportunity to raid the Fringe ends
G: Ghüle has frozen over and will remain locked beneath ice for the remainder of its orbit
Because of the difference in orbital speeds, Ghüle’s raiding season on Lao Kwei can only last at most 24 days. Raiding season for Calidar can last, however, as much as 45 days!

The trick is that planets move while skyships travel. Likewise, the actual position of a world on its orbit path at a given date makes a huge difference. I posted a calculator to help figure out where planets are.  It is located at the end of this article because of formatting issues I've been unable to solve.  All you need to do is enter an actual date. The calculator is set up with the 3rd of Loreath 1512 (the fall equinox in Calidar’s northern hemisphere) as its default "start date." Entering a different date will show where the planets move to. Positions are expressed in hours and minutes, as if Soltan were the center of a clock, twelve o’clock being "north" on the diagram, six o’clock "south." This provides a quick and simple way to locate the planets and measure the distances between them.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sneak Preview: the Orcs of Ghüle

Like any heroic fantasy setting worth its salt, Calidar is host to many bogeymen of its own. The orcs clearly stand among them. Although they exist on this world, orcs, goblins, trolls, ogres and many other related creatures aren’t natives of Calidar’s universe. Neither are they true space-faring races. Instead, these creatures hail from another reality, one ruled by evil, voracious gods whom they serve. Though orc flesh occasionally furnishes adequate sustenance, these alien divinities crave another. Man flesh is sweeter and far more pleasing, while elves and gnomes provide the greatest of delicacies. Curiously and inexplicably, fellfolk lie on the opposite end of the edible spectrum, those of Calidar’s Dread Lands tasting the vilest. Though marginally more palatable than orcs, dwarves are favored as working slaves. Epic heroes, mighty monarchs, demigods, and legendary creatures of goodness are all highly sought-after prizes, well worth the terrible cost of capturing alive.

With this in mind, these gods have built several worlds over the course of millennia, planet-sized spheres of rock imbued with air, water, and self-sustaining life, engineered as colossal dungeons. Anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of their servants now live within these worlds, which are intended to travel other universes and return to their home plane periodically. Their purpose is to fetch all that their gods demand, live food, slaves, treasures, and magic. Success enables these wayward humanoid realms to escape their gods’ voracity, thereby conferring them the morbid determination to continually seek out and pillage other planets.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Calidar Fireworks!

Wow!  We did good with The World of Calidar's Kickstarter.  We topped $19,000 funding or more than 300% of the initial goal.  What a thrill.  There are still a couple of hours before the official end of the crowd funding session (10:00 am US Central time) to adjust your pledges and secure that extra Gazetteer map, or jump in if you haven't yet.  Contact me if you missed the boat but would still like to be involved.  Happy cheers & thanks to all!

Click here for the Kickstarter event