One of Calidar’s objectives is to depict a world whose skies are ruled by flying ships, and whose people yearn to conquer their corner of space. Naturally, I won’t get into too much detail before the book’s release, but I can give a glimpse of skyship design and styling.
Inspired from Earth’s Age of Sail, most human and elven airborne vessels are powered by atmospheric or ethereal wind, at least as regards short distances and battles. The dwarves of Kragdûr rely instead on pressurized, steam-powered vessels. On Calidar, the main races live in close proximity to each other. Some of their skyships combine different technologies relying on wind, magic, and mechanical power. When space travel is involved, each culture exploits a different technique to overcome the vast distances between their worlds.
I’m pleased to announce that Meryath’s poster map is ready to go to the printer. This one’s story is as long as the Great Caldera’s (see my previous blog articles). The two were developed concurrently, as soon as we had a viable coastal outline. Some of Meryath’s geographical details carried over to the Great Caldera map, while some of latter’s graphic styling, especially the labels’ fonts and color scheme, found its way into Meryath’s poster map after Thorfinn and I settled final cosmetic details.
At a glance, Meryath’s poster map relates directly to Mystara’s Gazetteer maps, although hex symbols were altered to avoid copyright issues. Our favorite Master Cartographer designed new topographical symbols (hills, mountains, forests, etc) and selected their colors. I drew the tower, village, and various town symbols, besides generating basic map details.
May fate shower upon you, O Master Cartographer, felicity, good fortune, and endless maps of fantasy!
Dealing with Alfdaín presented the challenge of generating Elvish names without sounding too much like a Tolkien-wannabe. The names used here blend Nordic-sounding syllables, old English/Germanic, and Breton Celtic. I reverted to plain modern English for geographical features, like bays, forests, and mountains. I may yet invent a new language, as I already did for the dwarves. Instilling some rhyme and reason to all these fancy words may be just the thing I’ll do when the time comes to focus on Alfdaín (or Alorea). This parenthetical reference does bring up another issue. While rereading the manuscript, I noticed a curious discrepancy. All accents in Alfdaín names rise toward the right. However, there is the Alorean society called Tòrr-Gàrraidh whose accents rise toward the left. If you’re tending toward OCD, the compulsion is to fix the disturbing detail, immediately nudging all accents to lean the same way. But no-no-no: any OCD predisposition on my side rests backwards and upside-down (especially on even-numbered days). I decided that Alorean accents should aim one way and Alfdaín’s the other, if you get my penchant. The logic behind the offending accents is a form of subtle intellectual mutiny only making sense among elves (and French readers). Elven grammarians on either side will never agree on which is the right way and, if given the opportunity, will probably come to bold words (no doubt appropriately accented) and italic blows over their diverging linguistic standards. The dwarves quietly snicker at the oh-so pedantic conflict. Their accents look like miniature mountains (sans serif), making everyone there ever so smug about their stonelike cultural rectitude.