We now have a greater sense of the geography of Ashen having established a list of 11 bits of the world. Which now leaves us with who is going to populate it.
Initially I was going to go with a challenge about factions of Ashen. Ask for three factions that can range from "gangs of pickpockets" to "entire nations or Empires" to be pitched and I still will, probably after this but I think we need to think more about the types of things that will be in these factions.
We've already established three Fae species that are distinct from the "mortals" of the world. But what do we really know about them? So the first part of this two part challenge is Five facts about the Fae.
I want to know five things about the Fae. Only a sentence or three for each, just lets rond them off. Want to know what we know already? we've started to list thing in our storybible page just for this thing.
This will also be the last chance to pitch a new Fae species so that we can just move on fleshing them out and the rest of the world from now on in.
So if you're thinking of pitching a new Fae species it might be an idea if we knew what we meant by Fae. Obviously the connotations are for a magical and mystical species but magic is about in Ashen and is tangible and real so does that work? I think the main thing we can go on is that the species which aren't Fae are known as "mortals". The defining difference is that the non-Fae die more often. That fits what we know so far, Centaurs' natural life expectancy is around 600 years and Trolls push 200 and historically used to live over 1000 years.
The other thing we've established is that in some way all the Fae species are in decline. Centaurs aren't as populus as they once where. Trolls are more so but aren't as physically dominating or long lived as the Trolls of old. So that is something to consider when pitching. Otherwise just do whatever you want to them.
The Second part of this challenge is about the mortal races. Humans are going to be one but are we going to have more. We have the transient races of Libation and the Brackenlands established but they are transient races they don't last. So is there a call for something more permanent and not human to have in Ashen?
I'm not sure so you get to pitch up to one idea for a new mortal race. If we're defining Fae as long lived and hard to kill than the longevity and hardiness of humanity should probably be a good idea of the natural limits of these things.
I think I need to be convinced of narrative/thematic importance of having a non-human mortals. What makes it interesting and important to have, what does it bring to the planet?
Are Faun to Centaurs what Humans are to Angels, does that make an orc or goblin game for a Troll comparison? But doesn't that fall apart when Trolls are now lesser than they once where?
Is there anything about the mortal species that can't be done with just dressing humans in a different culture. What makes the intelligent Bears different than angry hairy men? A compulsion to shit in the woods? A physical need for a high calorie intake which manifests in a maddening almost psychotic state of hunger? Give me something that could warrant them existing.
Don't be afraid to be limiting. All of the species so far have global reach they can be found all over the place. If you have a species of lizardpeople who are spawned from pools found only on one island in the middle of the ocean cool. It makes it interesting when they go abroad because they're not common anywhere else, and it makes for an easy way to make said island very different as a setting than anywhere else because this is the only place where spawning patterns and lizardpeople as a whole matter.
I can't stress enough how unsure I am about a second or third mortal race so it has to be convincing.
So to summarise.
Five facts about the Fae.
One to three sentences each fact to expand what we know about all these species or to establish a new Fae species.
One new mortal race:
No word limits, do whatever you can to convince me of the narrative and thematic merits of a not human species sitting alongside our humans but are in some ways comparable to humans (but not so much that we can put humans in a different hat and it'll be the same effect).
Deadline 14th of February.
So the, challenge for places in the world has ended and we have a bit of a firmer grasp on stuff. Some continents named, some freaky places existing and some mysteries founded it is all good.
So without further ado, the places we have. I have edited slightly to place things in continents and hemispheres to add a bit more sense of geography when needed if you pitched a place and don't like where I put it, yell and edits can be made before things get out of hand.
The Blessed Anvil
The blessed anvil; a totem ground in the continent of Lukurra Majoris, dedicated to the trollkin seeking enhancements from mechanics in which the give up tithes or sacrifices of colour to the Grand Mechanical totems that occupy the site. Each totem requires different variety of colours of which they dilute, use or desecrate for actions yet determined. By-product, refuse and the unworthy are dumped and washed in to the great Oubliette that consists of a vast ancient network of channels and tunnels.
The landscape around the Blessed Anvil is a wasteland devoid of most colour. Exhaust ports and rusted pipes dot the area giving a twisted reflection of organic life. A thick layer of smog occasionally covers the wasteland that can be hazardous to the most resilient races. The wild A.I. can be found foraging from time to time as well as Trollkin pilgrimages to the Totems.
What I like here, is the notion that the more modern aspects of the setting, the cyborgs and the mechanics has taken on aspects of what could be more traditional cultural importance with rituals and the use of Colour which is the physical manifestation of magic as a tithe.
A part of Lunamtagga Majoris
The plutonist pulled the sample bore from the ground. Inspecting the lines in the sediment indicating the distinctions between the snow and ash fall, reading it like an annual telling the story of the past centuries. They glanced north, from this vantage point the lower valleys stretched all the way to the blizzards.
"Chokphel." Another mare of their kiang harem called their name. "What does it say?"
Chokphel looked back at the cylinder of rock and mud, "This site should be fine for next few seasons, Samdup, but it's still no good for the migration."
Samdup shook her shaggy mane in a nod. "I'll get Tenzin to gallop back to inform the herd. The hinterland looks good here. I look forward to living on the open montane again and leaving the krummholz behind." Samdup looked overly satisfied as she cantered off to find the others.
Chokphel sighed returning a longing gaze northward. The northern end of central plateau of Lunamtagga Majoris, were their ancestral grounds, yet they lived on not even an eighth of what they once did. The volcanic ranges create a fertile land eventually it'll all be snowy farmland and there'll be no room for centaurs not even the hermits.
Really nice colour text, a bit vague but captures a sense of place. There is a central Plateau and at the north where it approaches Equatorial Winter there is also volcanoes and a sense that the Centaurs are being displaced.
Libation and the Brackenland.
The Lake of Libation is a large body of water to the northwest of Lukurra Majoris, taking its name from the island and tower complex that once dominated its centre. Libation itself was once a haven for research into colour, and a rare site of vats beyond a city's walls. Destroyed and desiccated in some earlier epoch, much of it has sunk beneath the waters; waters which now bear much of the fruits of the long lost research...
The waters of Libation are steeped with Colour. A man might drink from its waters and gain gifts or curses, be reshaped in body or mind. Minor races rise and fall and rise again upon its shores, yoked to their salvation and their destruction. To the southern coasts of the lake, the land is broken; the earth riven in a long ago colour war. Waters pour from these apertures to soak the earth beneath, and form the wellspring of the western swamplands of the Brackenland. The Brackenland extends as far south as the winter-locked equator, and are home to ancient ruins of troll and man. These ruins were not meant for such conditions, which places them in the ages before the sinking of Libation. In an ancient fane near the swamps heart, ensconced deep beneath the fetid earth, the Court of the Artful Surgeon gathers- purloining stolen emotions and remade flesh into fresh colour and new Patterns. The roads to the Surgeon are not without danger, though. Bandits, transients and vengeful Grotesques lurk within the swamp in states of slow corrosion. The Surgeon has no time nor mind for artificial beings, and considers the manipulations of base mechanisms below him.
Much of the Western area of the continent is now mapped out, there'll be some north beyond Libation but from Libation to Winter it is all Brakenland. A quite foreboding place but I like the notion of the area and Libation being populated by Transient Races, species twisted out of magical evolution that don't survive for more than a few generations in the ruined remains of other civilisations. In many respects it is the sort of perfect lands and places to frame a typical fantasy roleplaying campaign, you have to go meet the Artful Surgeon who will only give you what you want if you bring him fresh waters from Libation or some such. Really fun.
The Statue of Bane at Wahstel.
The Statue of Bane is a seventy metre tall bronze statue depicting Bane the founder of civilisation with sword and spear. The statue also has large crystal wings with a combined wingspan of over a hundred metres. Each crystal feather of the wings is carved so that they will change colour as the sun moves across the sky or the onlooker moves around the statue.
Erected following the First War of Folly, the site marks the victory at Wahstel one of the turning points in the War and greatest triumphs of Bane's military campaigns. Wahstel was a market town, located near the foothills of the Qataqlysms, the mountain range that plunges through the Equatorial Winter and deep into Lunamtagga. The town was built around being the first stop for any travellers who made the dangerous trek northward or the last safe haven for any expedition going south. However it was also where the first blow was struck when the varied Kingdoms and nations of Lunamtagga and the Qataqlysms joined the war of Folly.
Located between the town and where the foothills start proper, the statue was built as a display of strength and to show that invaders from the south would be resisted and stopped. To that end the statue is actually hollow and filled with hidden weapons, Blue-fused lightning blunderbusses capable of grounding a Sky Knight, Brown fueled lava summoners that can melt even Troll hide with ease. Also beneath the statue is a large concealed bunker capable of garrisoning two thousand troops. Thusly during the Fourth and Fifth Wars of Folly the passage at Wahstel proved to be impassable. Were such a war to start again this may not be the case as the standing garrison at Wahstel is only 80 men.
My first pitch, I like my ideas and it seems hard to defend them, I was having my cake and eating it, because the pitch was the statue but I got to make a town on the sly because that is where the statue was. I wanted to start to build a framework of history and we've already established that Bane started the first recognisable city and fathered civilisation as we know it with Bane's Folly. So we now have the "first war of folly" which suggests at least a second occurred and that presumably the very same Bane was involved and had a Statue made about it. This was also the first of my many attempts to slide in the notions of Angels as a species in Ashen.
The Grey Gardens and the Pale City.
These two places; found in the south of Lunamtagga Majoris, are completely monochromatic and devoid of any of the magical colours of Ashen. They serve as a reminder of the greed of all races and are considered cursed grounds. Most take heed coming within sight of the old city and others only consider it a myth or tale to frightened the young of the perils of gluttonous use of the colours.
The gardens themselves occupy the outskirts of the venerable city. Most of the flora and fauna range from grey to black and most turn to ash when touched others have the reverse effect on the toucher reducing some or all of them to ash while bleeding color back into the fauna.
The Pale City itself seems to absorb most colour from just about anything including rays of light from the horizon and the vibrant colours of any item, clothing and even skin tone. It has a draining effect on most of the sentient races of Ashen usually causing severe pain or even death as the city takes its due. Many who have stepped foot on the grounds and returned have been driven mad and some almost drained of colour. They are mostly shunned or ostracized from the communities they derive from, most are killed in belief that they bring the cursed colourlessness from the city
It is rumoured the an insidious being dwells deep in the heart of the city that hoards any colours that the garden or city absorbs. It is also said there is entities that some have named "the grounds keepers" that move almost ghostlike throughout the garden, apparently tending to the melancholic garden.
Damned spooky, alongside Libation a display of how historic Colour misuse can make some bad stuff happen. But here it is shown how a lack of colour has its own toll on the people of Ashen.
Majoris is the largest continent on Ashen and is three times the size of the next biggest. Cartographers separate Majoris into three distinct regions, Lunamtagga Majoris in the Southern Hemisphere, Lukurra Majoris in the Northern Hemisphere and Qataqlysmis Majoris a mountainous region that ranges across Equatorial Winter into both the Lunamtagga and Lukurra hemispheres. The Qataqlysms as the region is also known is the largest mountain range in Ashen being approximately 8,000 km long and 7,400km wide at its widest point in Lunamtagga. Quataqlysmis Majoris stems from the far South East of Lukurra Majoris but is centrally placed in relation to Lunamtagga Majoris.
The size and scope of the mountain range as well as the near constant blizzards that occur during the four thousand or so kilometers that mark Equatorial Winter make accurate cartography of the region extremely difficult but some general geographic features are well established. The East Coast of the mountain range are thick with steam as the frozen seas of Equatorial Winter collide with volcanic ridges. Volcanoes dot the rest of the range, along with tropical valleys where Springs of Colour in the base create microclimates beneath the peaks of the mountains.
Dozens of cities exist within the Qataqlysms, forming independent states and claiming ever changing borders of their dominion amongst the tribes and other city states in the region. From Mystical cities where martial and physical arts are practiced and perfected, secret Aviaries of the Angels formed after the fall of Tokoyonokuni to prevent further sieges, to the newer cities that have founded at the base of the docks of the airships; supporting the new economy that has grown now airships allow somewhat safer passage across Equatorial Winter but are also restricted to need safe harbour during storms and only the greatest airships can travel more than 1000km in good weather with assisting winds. This means that those travelling the Qataqlysms are likely to come across a varied mix of differing civilisations without even accounting to any tribespeople that lurk amongst the peaks.
Still despite the length and danger of the journey with, wild animals, robots, storms and volcanoes all a threat the Qataqlysms are one of the busiest regions for passing through the Equatorial Winter be it trading caravans, floods of refugees or armies massing for wars in their opposing hemisphere. 9 of the 12 Great Railway lines of Lunamatagga Majoris have at least one stop in the foothills of the Qataqlysms that border the area of Qataqlysmis Majoris to deal with the freight that passes through the region.
In which I pitched a Mountain range with dimensions lifted from the Wikipedia page of Africa and made it join two other continental bodies to form a supercontinent. I moved it to the far South east of Lukurra Majoris to keep it away from the Brakenlands (in my head both the other Majoris landmasses are going to be at least Asia sized which means the next biggest continent at a third of that size will still be pretty big). I was pitching lots of stuff, from Angels again to establishing Railways and Airships. Also established the range of Equatorial Winter to be approximately 4000km wide.
The City of Ig'zost
The City of Ig'zost is located upon the southern pole of Ashen the largest city on the continent of Lower Lunamtagga. It is thought to be the most advanced in the world. That those who pierce the thick toxic smog that smothers the city will find wonders and technology beyond the comprehension of any engineer or scientist of any other land. It is also widely considered a cursed city, and that the advancement and the huge cost of consumption in people and materials to keep the rate of advancement so fast is the only thing that wards off inevitable destruction.
It is almost impossible to discuss Ig'zost without mention of its founding. Build upon the ruins of Tokoyonokuni, the largest Aviary in the world thought at the time to house approximately thirty per cent of the worlds Angel population. A thousand years before the founding of Ig'zost 2000 years ago, the siege o Tokoyonokuni started when the Industrialists attacked. In the 700 years of the siege Angels from across Ashen flocked to the defense of the site, even those who had lived in Lukurra and had centuries prior migrated from aviaries to the cities of the new civilisation. The siege took so long partly because historical estimates suggest anywhere between sixty and seventy per cent of all Angels spent at least a year fighting in the siege but also because Tokoyonokuni was actually a collection of dozens of smaller aviaries collected around the Spire of Heaven built on the Southern Pole that grew and combined but in ways that didn't prevent the original aviaries functioning as independent fortresses.
It was the Spire of Heaven that drew the industrialists there, the tallest structure in all Ashen it towered 300 miles into the sky, its upper levels unscalable by all but the angels unaided due to the lack of air in the atmosphere. To the great engineers of the industrial movement the Spire of Heaven was the perfect framework for the largest smokestack in the world, capable of supporting the output of factories and forges unbuildable anywhere else.
It took over 200 years to convert the Spire of Heaven into the Smoke Spire, in which time Ig'zost existed unofficially, labourers and engineers from a hundred lands had gathered and built but it wasn't until the Smoke Spire was complete that it officially began.
No one knows why the colour changing smog clings to the city and chokes it like it does, it did from the start. Some say the Angels had kept huge stockpiles of rare colours and that these were being burned and used in unnatural ways in the forges and factories that fed the Smoke Spire. Either way the use of respirators first used to allow workers to convert the top of the spire into a chimney soon became widespread amongst all the inhabitants of Ig'Zost. That isn't to say Ig'zost had no environmental impact on the area around it. The immediate area is called many things but in all the languages of the Fae it translates to something similar 'the blight' 'the scar' 'the wasteland'. The smog will stretch out from the city propelled independently from any wind and smother and choke all that it touches, some say the smoke can think for it has often struck at armies intending to sack the city. For hundred of miles the rains can turn toxic and acidic, burning flesh and poisoning crops. But sometimes it is alchemists rain, that can cause plants to spring from arid earth, flesh to turn to metal and stone to turn to flesh, few live within sight of Ig'zost because nothing around it can be trusted, the nomadic peoples sometimes fleeting linger in the shadow of the city, sometimes just as they move into it and out from it to trade and what not. They will tell you a thousand stories about reading the shades within the thick black smoke clouds to know if death or life is coming but those who got turned to stone or worse had the same stories.
Still for all the death and devastation that shrouds the city, it is the place to go for the greatest technologies the world has to offer. It was in the 450th year of Ig'zost that the first machines gained sentience, sentience that spread like wildfire across the world. It is Ig'zost today that allows machines to pass a test to prove intelligence and be able to vote and stand for public office. The elite regiments of the greatest nations are armed with Ig'zostian weapons, and that means money and workers still are drawn to the city enough to stave off its destructive nature for now at least.
Again I went into much more depth than many, now you see why I took away the word limit. Anyway, we have a bit of detail to establish some of the thematic elements I'm getting from what we're doing so far. A timeline for machines being sentient, just over 1500 years ago it happened which gives us some things to hang a timeline over.
The Bare Maiden
In the north of Lukurra Majoris, near the foothills of the Steeples, The Tower was first raised. Some claim it was coaxed from the flesh of the earth, like a great spar of bone; others say that a hand of divinity reached down into the world and shaped it. Its origins are as lost to time as its integrity. The tower was home to multitudes; cultures born and dying within the confines of its halls. They wrought wonders in its heights and shaped atrocities in its depths, foundations extending deep beneath the earth.
Some say it died in accident, or in civil war. Some insist that it as it was born in judgement so it died in judgement, lightning-struck and deadened. Whatever happened, it shattered the tower, but did not truly kill it. Great sections have sloughed away, baring the innards to the air, while other segments are suspended in colour-shrouded glory- never falling. In the heights there are gates between segments, or bridges that defy logic. In the deeps, there are immense earth-workings and reshapings. With each passing epoch, more and more of the tower is remade or cannibalised; atolls and continents of debris, stretching out into the heavens, mined and altered, weaponised and cannibalised. All the while, the Pits grow beneath.
Creepy shit happens in Ashen and it scars the world forever. First example of a region where our laws of physics aren't as applicable.
The Grand Artery
This great highway spans across Lunamtagga connecting cities and settlements providing easier travel and limited protection from predatory creatures and harsh environment of the continent. Its ancient path bridges across wild rivers and endless chasms. In some sections it tunnels through entire mountain ranges or beneath the oceans and seas. The wide berth of the roadway is capable of holding hundreds of beings and supporting the weight of massive engines which makes it perfect for its current use as transit to feed the warmachine. It is a mystery to most on who built the Grand Artery but its has been used for at least a few thousand years.
I added the Oceans and Seas bit rather than link it to a specific continent in Lunamtagga because it seemed cool and even cooler still to have it link the continents and the islands between them or whatever. Providing some sense of possibility for travel in earlier ages and a neat tactical/political element to wars in the Southern Hemisphere. Those who can control portions of the Grand Artery have strategic and economic influence across the region.
The crypt nation of Cabal
In western Lunamtagga Majoris The Crypt Nation of Cabal sits in the conurbation of catacombs below the capital and the boundary city states. The labyrinth like tunnels converge.
The garrisoning soldiery must protect their nations borders above and the surface. The dead of these wars line and sometimes clog forgotten tunnels, until some days when they don't.
The capital and boundary city states of Cabal? Do we have a firm sense of a physical country formed? Looks like, but this one has a nation of the undead living beneath it which is...
An opportunity to tell amazing stories even if it is once again a really creepy thing. Some days the forgotten dead aren't in their tunnels that's totally a turn of phrase to explain bad luck in Cabal isn't it.
At the tip of the Gallus peninsula of Lunamtagga-Sequoia; the Westernmost continent of Lunamtagga, Huashik the Tree of Life can be found. It isn't hard to find being as it is a 100 mile high tree with a trunk that is 20 miles in diameter at its base and a canopy that stretches 50 miles. The roots of Huashik stretch the length of Gallus and can be found periodically breaking through the earth at various points in the densely forested peninsula. The cliff edge that Huashik sits on is 200 feet of pure interwoven root plunging into the Central Ocean, it is said that the roots of Huashik stretch across the Ocean to Lunamtagga Majoris in the East and to all the islands of the Central Ocean.
The Sap of Huashik is rich with colour the specific tone changing with the seasons and the years, to dig through the thick bark of Huashik you can access a stream of almost pure colour. But access to the Huashik and the draining of colour from the tree is carefully regulated and protected by the Corbin Larchmeisters who are sworn to protect Huashik and by extension all of Gallus.
Historians are divided as to if it is the Corbin Larchmeisters or the Blizzard Strewn hills at the top of Gallus where Sequoia brushes up against Equatorial Winter that stopped the tree cullers from claiming the forests of Gallus but it is commonly considered unassailable due to the cultural importance of Huashik to the Centaur Nations and the Thrice Skinned Tribes.
Each Centaur Nation and Thrice Skinned Tribe has its own calendar which dictates how often the Nation should pay pilgrimage to Huashik, these can vary from every decade to every two hundred years and is considered the main factor for if a Nation is primarily a nation of Lunamtagga or Lukurra for those who must visit every ten or twenty years rarely risk leaving Sequoia let alone venture to the Northern Hemisphere. As each of a Centaurs two hearts is considered to last 300 years, most Centaurs will visit Huashik at least two or three times in their lifetime. This isn't the case for the Northern Nomads who share the calendars of the Centaurs but not the life span and can thus have entire generations who never get to taste the mystical fruit or learn the craft of the Corbin Larchmeisters. Each Nation or Tribe pays a tithe to the Larchmeisters; goods, and equipment from the outside world as well as members of their collectives who will renounce their old lives and become Corbin Larchmeisters themselves, devoting themselves to the Tree of Life and all it represents.
Snuck in some worldbuilding about the culture of the Centaurs (and their biology) and the Thrice Skinned Tribes that follow their lead as well as forming a new continent (Lunamtagga the Southern hemisphere now has three named continents whereas the Northern hemisphere only has one but time is on our side, we can go more specific in future for filling places up) to round this off.
So let us keep the ball rolling with our adventures in world building.
We now know some things about the World of Ashen. They're cool things, there is magic and robots and several species and some sort of thematic drive developing around the conflict around technological progression. So far so awesome am I right?
But we can't stop there, there needs to be more to a world. A world is full of places. So I'm asking for everyone to pitch 4 places in this world to me.
But there are going to be conditions. I am looking for some specific things to vary it up a bit.
This can be anything from a small hamlet of 6 people living in three houses to a massive city of over a billion souls living in an hollowed out mountain. It can be whatever you want but it has to be interesting and provide some sort of narrative worth. Why would anyone care about a small hamlet of only 6 people? "Because the people living there are the guardians of the forest and protectors of natural justice." OK I'll give you that.
Bane's Folly is the first city. "The seed of civilisation" is what is known as. Other than that we don't know anything else.
We know there are Forge Cities, they're a thing and it is where people (mostly trolls) go to become cyborgs.
Other than that we know nothing, so pitch a Forge City, flesh out Bane's Folly do something completely different. It is all up to you.
A landmark, heritage site etc.
There are going to be structures, places and things in Ashen's geography that will have magical, spiritual, cultural, historical religious or some other type of significance. The 7 wonders of the world could be a good launching post for your considerations but it could be of a smaller scale and significance to some specific people on Ashen. It needn't be a Colossus of Rhodes style affair but a totem pole illustrating the of family lineage and the cultural heritage of native peoples.
Nothing specific has been established so far with regards this sort of thing so the canvas is really blank. If you want inspiration in what we have going on so far I'd point at the gods. We have gods in Ashen, they're named for the colours (or colours are named after them). The Seven colours of the rainbow even have moons signifying them so I can see them having an influence.
A region, range, natural geographical area.
Mountain ranges, forests, deserts, seas, oceans, lakes, rivers, volcanoes. Lets get a feel for our environment and the things that are happening there. Will there be giant trees the height of skyscrapers? Will the Equatorial Winter have areas of tropical brilliance in some sort of magical valley? I want to know about the sort of things people will draw on maps that aren't destinations but just useful information for travellers.
We've established a mountain range called the Steeples in the north. It is "infested with the faithful" and has bells that may or may not create storms. What else can we know about that. We know there are swamps in the west. Those swamps are the home of the Artful Surgeon but what else calls those swamps home and what are those swamps?
We know the area around the equator is of an arctic or antarctic climate but how many landmasses stretch across both hemispheres and what of the frozen seas?
Something else, it can be one of the other three categories again if you have two ideas for cities or whatever. It can be something completely different that I haven't covered explicitly here and you don't feel you can make the case that it counts as one of the categories above. It just has to be a place.
Some final suggestions if not requirements.
There is no word limit to any of your writings on the four places. Some things you may want to keep in mind when establishing them though.
Where is it?
I want to know the hemisphere, north or south at least, but any details can be useful such as west or east or far north or whatever. Be sneaky say it is close to another thing and you've sneaked in the name of something else as something that exists.
When, what and how?
Places have histories, cities get founded. What is that happens in the place, how does it happen why is this important. Lets get some meat on these bones we're fleshing out the entire setting with this.
Lunamtagga has been used several times in the last challenge as a place, it is clearly what people want though I think the only aspect came through to the established facts list is that there are fire juggling trolls in "Lower Lunamtagga" that do things to their dead.
So I'm making the call that Lunamtagga is the name for the Southern Hemisphere. Does that make "Lower Lunamtagga" a reference to the south of that hemisphere, to the underground empires of that hemisphere, to a country, continent or landmass of some description? Probably one of those things yes. The North is as of yet unnamed so feel free to sneak that in if you want to try and name it. Libation, Cabal, Paradox, and Finagle are all nouns that are in play from the naming polls to associate with things in this world.
Deadline for entries January 29th
If you do not want to register on this site feel free to comment below as a guest with questions or pitches or discussion. If you do want to register or have already dones so make your way to the forum and do it there (or still here I am fine with that).
So the submissions have been put forward and ideas shared and judged by me so we now have a few things that we know about Ashen to inform us about things going forward. I'll follow up with some explanation as to how I am reading and what is exciting me about all this gorgeous world building.
Colour is magic. Named for the Gods each shade and hue has different abilities and gifts different powers. Colour is scarce and is thus also used as currency.
Colours are stored in large vats under the major cities of Ashen. Gangs have formed and fight over the right to control them. Certain colours are scarce but most people don’t know this. Secret Cabals have formed to control the interest of the lesser known colours. Colours can be loaded into weapons and have different effects.
Small sects of travellers roam the landscape mining the colours of the spectrum. Red is the easiest colour to find and mine. Its goes in order of the rainbow for the colours that are more difficult and dangerous to find.
The planet of Ashen is surrounded by 7 moons, each representing a different colour. The moons, as far as anyone’s aware have never lined up, however scientists believe they are going to. Magic on the planet seems to be awakening. Are they linked? Will it last?
All of these things played really well into having a sense of magic in the world and establishing it as a fantasy setting. Interestingly for me though is that it is a quasi-physical and quasi-natural resource which means that magic is in some ways restricted by economics. You can be a powerful wizard but if you can't afford the blue you need to do the spell you're going to be screwed.
Artificial Intelligence has been achieved but despite the quickness with which they can process information the sentience of machines is of a base level akin to wild animals unable to process beyond immediate needs and desires. Higher thought and function can be trained and taught however, decades spent can domesticate any Mecha-beast or Homodroid, decades more and they will often be able to operate on a human level.
Grotesques; steel without, decay within. Frankenstein constructs, organic machines that hunt the AI things of former times.
So not only do we have magic but we have a reasonably high technological base line. Artificial Intelligence and robots (some of which are bound to be pretty hefty) exist. They may even be plentiful but they're not all smart reasoning robots or even task performing things, they're like wild animals. Not only that we have the Grotesques which provide a firm AI food chain as they're predators for our wild robots and have some fairly monstrous aspects to them. Decay within? That sounds like it'll be nasty.
At their height if you combined all the nomad nations of the centaurs then they would have been the most populous of all the Fae peoples. They have since diminished following the great culling of the trees but their teachings and philosophies live on as the basis of the religion of the tribes of thrice skinned nomads who roam the varied tundras of Ashen.
The Trollkin haven't dwindled in the same manner of other fae civilisations. If anything there are more Trolls now than there have ever been but they are lesser in different ways. 3000 years ago the average troll would grow 16 feet tall and live a thousand years. Now they rarely grow beyond 8 feet tall and few make it to a second century. This shame at being lesser than the Trolls of old may be why of all the races of Ashen Trollkin are the most likely to seek cyborgization in the forge cities.
The colour decorated flesh of their ancestors are prized heirlooms to the fire juggling trolls in lower Lunamtagga.
Bane's Folly was the first city. The seed of civilisation and the dawn of reason. Bane was of the Fae races and inspired the first mortal dreams of civilisation. He became his namesake, and remade the world; a world unkind to gods and monsters.
So now we've got a few things in play for who and what beyond the robots and monsters populate the world. There are two classes of being, Fae and mortals. At least two types of Fae, Centaur and Troll. Both have experienced some sort of decline though in different nature since a heyday sometime in the past. There is an identifiable correlation made between the decline of the Centaurs and an event known as the "great culling of trees" which seems to provide an ecological angle to things.
Bane the first historical figure we've defined in our setting. Founded a city, started what is considered civilisation. He was of the Fae but maybe not any of the two Fae we know about.
There seemed to be a theme of some sort of war between magic and technology in some of the suggestions. I haven't gone for them yet as whilst the potential conflict between the two aspects is bound to come up I don't want it too firm a notion too early on and overshadow other ideas. Thematically the notion of progress and decline and the link and relationship between the two being front and centre in the setting seems strong and really interesting but I'd argue that colour as a fuel probably propels some of the technology so whilst firm distinctions might exist for some people on Ashen between technology and magic it is going to be a matter of perspective.
The greatest effect of the Soul-poi is summoning monsters of the imagination.
The Steeples are a great northern mountain range infested with the faithful. Their temples reach for the heavens, and the frequent winter storms are twinned with the constant din of bells.
In the swamps to the west, the Artful Surgeon holds court. He does not simply mend flesh, but flaws of the spirit. When men return they are heroes, or monsters, or both. Each time, there are more emotions left on his table.
Equatorial Winter is the region that covers the centre of the globe, dividing north and south with inhospitable coldness and snowstorms which makes transport between the regions inconsistent. That said during True Winter the frozen seas spread further allowing those willing to risk being stranded when Spring more opportunities to move between hemispheres by crossing by foot or track or wheel.
There isn't really a link between all of these ideas they're just the last ideas that add a little "colour" setting if you pardon the slightly meta pun.
Soul-poi isn't specifically linked to the colour-magic system and whilst it could be part of that I don't want to make that call just yet. I really like the notion of summoning monsters being freed by the Faustian style pacts you'd typically get summoning dark powers and daemons and the like. You can just imagine monsters into being which will have the consequences become more surprising, unforeseeable and unique for everyone who summons anything.
Then we've got some geographic notions and depth to play with. The infestation of the faithful is an interesting reading for the Northern Steeples. The Court of the Artful Surgeon just sounds really awesome and there being some swamps in the west is a useful thing to keep in mind.
The Equatorial winter idea I like both as an inversion of our own polar ice cap geography but also because the division of hemispheres and periods of varying difficulty to travel between them allows us to play with them developing independently which breeds variety and conflict.
As always feel free to, comment on this article (if you don't want to register, you'll come up as a guest so if you want identifying you have to identify yourself in the comment) or on our lovely forum.
The next challenge will come shortly. Within 24 hours I am sure.
Hello folks and welcome to the first of a series of challenges to create a new fictional setting for us all to play around with and make stories for and whatnot.
Earlier this month I took suggestions for names of the setting and ran a series of polls to determine which name this world of us will have. The people chose and they chose Ashen.
Now Ashen has a series of definitions which could influence the shape of the world.
Which as the only nailed down thing we have for the setting gives us lots of very poetic angles to explore. But we do need to know more things and desperately which brings us to the first challenge. I want you to pitch up to six things about the setting, the best suggestions will become facts that we can then use to frame and define future creation in the world. These should be status quo facts for "contemporary" Ashen though you can allude to the past as history is what defines us all. You should not write more than 100 words for each of your ideas, we don't want to get too into the nitty gritty we want to establish flavour and springboards for new ideas.
Feeling like you need more to go with? Well a variety of other potential names were also very popular and they could still be names for things in the setting.
What are these things. They could be the names of places, Bane's Folly could be a large market town or even an empire spanning many nations. They could be the names of people, superheroes, gods (and maybe things in Ashen can be all three at once) Paradox a famed general who did something of note? Sure that could be cool.
Maybe the words could be the names of something more abstract like academic disciplines or something. If Cabal is a science what is it that Cabalists are studying, what technologies and knowledge is created on the strength of our learning in Cabal?
Or you can go and create something completely new. The Canvas will never be this blank again so it is time to really push the boat out if you want to convince me to choose some outlandish crazy idea for Ashen gong forward.
Want more of an idea of what I am looking for? Well here are my 6 pitches, which being my ideas probably give them a head start over all of you for being chosen but also will give you an idea of the Ashen in my head right now so you can decide if you want to try and convince me to change direction or play along with me. All is cool, I am open to persuasion and want the best ideas.
One:Colour is magic. Named for the Gods each shade and hue has different abilities and gifts different powers. Colour is scarce and is thus also used as currency.
Two:At their height if you combined all the nomad nations of the centaurs then they would have been the most populous of all the Fae peoples. They have since diminished following the great culling of the trees but their teachings and philosophies live on as the basis of the religion of the tribes of thrice skinned nomads who roam the varied tundras of Ashen.
Three:Some people hear voices, some can speak in those same voices. These are the Witches of Ashen. People who can listen, understand, converse and command in the Seven Elemental Languages; Fire, Water, Wind, Stone, Tree, Storm and Death. Only the greatest Witches of an age are fluent in more than a couple of languages.
Four:Artificial Intelligence has been achieved but despite the quickness with which they can process information the sentience of machines is of a base level akin to wild animals unable to process beyond immediate needs and desires. Higher thought and function can be trained and taught however, decades spent can domesticate any Mecha-beast or Homodroid, decades more and they will often be able to operate on a human level.
Five: The Trollkin haven't dwindled in the same manner of other fae civilisations. If anything there are more Trolls now than there have ever been but they are lesser in different ways. 3000 years ago the average troll would grow 16 feet tall and live a thousand years. Now they rarely grow beyond 8 feet tall and few make it to a second century. This shame at being lesser than the Trolls of old may be why of all the races of Ashen Trollkin are the most likely to seek cyborgization in the forge cities.
Six: Equatorial Winter is the region that covers the centre of the globe, dividing north and south with inhospitable coldness and snowstorms which makes transport between the regions inconsistent. That said during True Winter the frozen seas spread further allowing those willing to risk being stranded when Spring more opportunities to move between hemispheres by crossing by foot or track or wheel.
So there you have it my six ideas, Ashen is a world where magic and technology exist alongside each other. Where Colour is important and magical but rare, with forge cities and varied tundra. You may think differently or may find inspiration in these pitches. So let me know your six ideas for the world of Ashen in the comments to this post or on the forum that will see lots of the information gathered (and likely be the best chance any of you have to lobby me in the future for making Ashen go any particular way).
A summary of the rules:
6 Ideas posted in the comments here or on the forum.
No more than 100 words per idea.
Last call for Entries is Sunday the 8th of January. The winners and the next challenge will launch later that week.
Libation, Cabal, Paradox, Bane's Folly Lunamtagga, Finagle are all encouraged names for things in this setting. I am going to look favourably to people defining new sciences with them.