World Workshop

The World Workshop – A New Take on an Old Favorite

Today we’re going to be discussing City B, which sits on what I have been calling “Cock Island” but which will, from here on out, be known as Duraun Jörgmadnr (dwarven for “isle of the serpent”).

The latest iteration of our map, finally with some water you might be willing to drink.
The latest iteration of our map, finally with some water you might be willing to drink.

Right off the bat, there were a couple of things I knew about City B – also known as Magwer (its people are known as Magwothi). Mostly I knew that I wanted them to be something a little different – a way to make something familiar and reassuring into something different and frightening. I wanted them to be at ideological odds with Kungarde – which would help explain the pressures that led to the war I alluded to a couple posts earlier. Most of all I wanted them to be the opposite of Kungarde – that is, not a bastion of freedom and racial intermingling – while at the same time not being evil.

Which brought me to my favorite fantasy setting subject – religion.

If you take core assumption #9 (“the gods are distant”) to its logical extreme, it stands to reason that the followers of the gods probably don’t know all that much about the beings they worship. Which opens up all kinds of exciting prospects for different flavors of a single faith coming into conflict with one another – which brings us to Magwer.

Magwer is a theocratic monarchy ruled equally by both king and queen. Specifically, the city traces its true founding back to the mythical figure of Magwoti – chieftain of a human tribe who led his people to the site of Magwer. Below the ground of this site was an already active dwarven city, and Magwoti sought and received the blessing of the dwarven thane to settle the lands above the city – an agreement known as the Deeping Compact. The humans built an aboveground city over the dwarves and the two lived together in peaces and harmony – for about twenty or thirty years.

Magwoti was a warrior and a war-monger, aggressive and brutal in his rule, and his people strayed far from home to make war on their neighbors. Eventually, their neighbors decided that it was perhaps time to be rid of the violent and treacherous Magwothi and banded together to assault the newly-founded city. The battles raged for sixty nights, but ultimately Magwoti was undone and led his people below ground to seek the asylum and aid of the dwarves. Combined, the two people drove out the aggressors and the dwarves remained to assist in the rebuilding.

Seeing the boons of the two people’s cooperation, Magwoti sought to sow the seeds of a new Deeping Compact that would forever unify his people with the dwarves and secure the might of Magwer by arranging for his daughter to wed the dwarven thane’s eldest son. The pledge of marriage secured, Magwoti then murdered the thane, the thane’s ailing wife, and then his own sons – ensuring that the newly-wed couple would inherit all authority over both man and dwarf. This done, he surrendered himself to the city’s own justice and was executed for his crimes – ushering in the reign of the first King and Queen of Magwer. The truth of the story is impossible to verify, but Magwoti’s willingness to perform horrific acts in the pursuit of a noble cause is a facet of the Magwothi character even today.

Unlike the oligarchic republic of Kungarde, Magwer is ruled by a dwarven king and a human queen – when a monarch dies, his replacement is selected by the priesthood of Magwer and the remaining monarch weds the chosen replacement. So it has been, since the death of Magwoti and the dwarven thane.

The priesthood is the other primary power in Magwer – and various priests fill governmental roles typically occupied by nobles in most kingdoms. The city of Magwer recognizes only two true gods – Moradin, god of the forge, and Erathis, goddess of civilization and law – whom they collectively refer to as the Divine Union. The priesthood acknowledges that a few other gods existed at the beginning of all, but have since been slain – specifically they acknowledge the previous existences of Corellon (who was weak, and thus died during the Dawn War against the primordials), Kord (who was slain in battle during the Dawn War – his final droplets of blood carrying on his legacy to its eventual inheritor: Magwoti), Io (who was tricked and betrayed – you guessed it! – during the Dawn War by the demon who is now known as Tiamat), and Pelor (the sole divine survivor of the Dawn War beyond Moradin and Erathis – who later betrayed the Divine Union and was struck down by them). They regard most other deities as demons or devils (Tiamat and Asmodeus) or non-existant fabrications of barbarians or pathetic fools (Avandra and Sehaine). The only other “gods” with a place in Magwer theology are Ioun, Bane, and the Raven Queen – all of whom have a subordinate role, like the saints do in Christianity. There are no Magwothi priests of Bane – only priests of Moradin, who belong to the Order of Bane (a politically important distinction).

Considering how Magwer is not the starting point for my campaign, I think that’s enough for now, so I’ll toss a few additional details out and call it a night. Magwer is very intolerant of religions that conflict with their own, considers the dragonborn a slave-race (for a couple reasons I might touch on next time), and tends to regard the divine power source coming from anyone who doesn’t worship Moradin or Erathis as “witchcraft” or demon-powered sorcery.

Next time I’ll be looking at City C – or Surilphu as the locals call it. A city of predominantly eladrin, Surilphu was once a colony of Ravantamar – an elven nation to the north that rose to prominence after the fall of Arkhosia. Lots more for mapping enthusiasts after the jump.

Our setting as we last saw it. Click to see an enlarged copy.
Our setting as we last saw it. Click to see an enlarged copy.

I made a couple of promises when we stopped mapping last time – that we’d finish touching up our map, and that the ugly primordial soup that is our ocean would finally stop looking like shit. It’s a tall order, but I intend to deliver on it. We’ll start with the terrain touch-ups.

Oh, forgot last time, but as always – full credit to Ascension over at the Cartographer’s Guild for his tutorials, which this map owes a lot to.

Before we begin, our topmost three layers – grid (highlight), grid, and base – should all be hidden. The rest – mountains, hills, adjust2, adjust1, land, ocean, and clouds – should all be showing. Create a new layer above adjust2, name it adjust3 and select the Brush tool (B). For these touch-ups, I’m going to use the “Soft Mechanical 300 pixels” brush and set the Flow setting to 20%, and start with a light olive green (RGB: 154, 169, 75).

Ctrl-click on the base layer to avoid drawing into the ocean, and then use the brush to extend your grasslands. Specifically I’m going to be adjusting the large landmass in the lower-left that I still haven’t gotten around to naming yet. I’ll be extending the grasslands  all the way along the northern coast, as well as the top half of the eastern coast. Next I’ll be grabbing a flesh color (RGB: 182, 170, 141) and using that to darken to south-east portion of the landmass, reducing the desert and replacing it with plains.

Using the same colors, now I move on to working on the “dragon’s claw” island. I use the flesh color to make the four small “talons” into plains, and then convert the central island to grasslands using the green. Moving up to Duraun Jörgmadnr in the top-left, I use the flesh color to add some plains along the southern coastline (just a little), as well as adding some plains coloration to the three islands to the east (between Magwer and Kungarde). Lastly I switch the color to black and use it to add some swamplands to the dragon’s claw island.

For those wondering, terrain touch-ups can be frustrating and it took me a dozen or so tries before I was happy with what I had. Growling at your map, pounding your head against the desk, and going downstairs for a beer are all normal side-effects of doing them.

Our map, with terrain touch-ups applied and mountains added to the dragon's claw. Click to see an enlarged copy.
Our map, with terrain touch-ups applied and mountains added to the dragon's claw. Click to see an enlarged copy.

Lastly, there’s one more change I want to make before moving on to the ocean/sea. I want the dragon’s claw (which I’m naming next time, because I’m getting sick and tired of saying “dragon’s claw” over and over) to be a little more mountainous than it is (you may not be able to see that level of detail on the maps I upload; trust me, there aren’t many mountains). First I hop over to the mountains layer, then I use the Lasso tool (L) to select a chunk of mountains, right-click and then Layer via copy which duplicates the selection in a new layer. I use the Move tool (V) to drag the new mountains over the island. Then I merge the two layers back together – which isn’t as easy as merging down, as I want to keep the layers editable. Short version: I right-click and Clear Layer style on both the mountains layer and the temporary layer, then I merge them (renaming the resulting layer mountains), re-apply the Cover Overlay and Bevel and Emboss styles (same settings as the first time, in the last post), and then set the blend mode back to “Hard Light.”

The above step would have been totally unnecessary and not nearly such a pain in the ass if I was better at planning, it’s worth mentioning. Okay, on to the water! I’m sick of my landmasses floating through space anyhow.

Firstly, hide all layers above ocean (that is all but ocean and clouds) and select ocean. Filter -> Render -> Lighting Effects, using the same settings that were applied to create the hills in the previous post. Duplicate the ocean layer twice, name the resulting layers ocean overlay and shelf, and hide both new layers.

Working in ocean, Layer -> Layer Style -> Color Overlay, set color to (RGB: 110, 160, 200) and the opacity to 75%. Reveal ocean overlay, set the blending mode to “overlay” and the layer’s opacity to 25%. Reveal shelf and then create a new, temporary layer above it (which I’ll call temp as it won’t be around for long).

Working in temp, Ctrl-click on base (the preview pane, not the title) to select the map’s landmasses. Expand the selection (Select -> Modify -> Expand) by 80 pixels, feather it (Select -> Modify -> Feather) by 80 pixels, inverse the selection (Shift-Ctrl-I), fill it with black, and then deselect (Ctrl-D). Merge temp down into shelf (the resulting layer should be called shelf), and make shelf the active layer. Make sure black is the foreground color, Select -> Color Range, set Fuzziness to 150, hit OK, delete the selection and then deselect (Ctrl-D).

Set the Fill setting for shelf to 0%. Layer -> Layer Style -> Color Overlay, using white (RGB: 255, 255, 255), setting the blend mode to screen, and opacity to 25%. Layer -> Layer Style -> Bevel and Emboss, set the style to “outer bevel,” the technique to “chisel soft,” depth to 20%, size to 32 pixels, highlight mode to “linear dodge” (opacity to 33%), and shadow mode to “linear burn” (opacity to 33%). Add a contour to your bevel (not a gloss contour – click contour on the left, indented underneath Bevel and Emboss). Click the gray/white line to bring up the Contour Editor. Click on the line (anywhere) twice to create two anchor points. For the first anchor point set the Input to 25% and the Output to 2%; for the second, set the Input to 95% and the Output to 85%.

At long last, our map has some water in it. Much better. Click to see an enlarged copy.
At long last, our map has some water in it. Much better. Click to see an enlarged copy.

As a final note, I think it’s time to start better organizing these layers. To that end, I’ll create a pair of layer folders – water and terrain. Into water I place shelf, ocean overlay, and ocean, and into terrain I place mountains, hills, adjust3, adjust2, adjust1, and land. That should clear some space.

Next time I’ll sink my teeth into rivers, the final details of the physical aspects of our world, and get started on defining political borders.