Terra Obscura (working Title)

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Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by S W Dickson on Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:21 pm



Very much a work in progress - but heck, that's what this is about, eh? No Christo-Judaic gods hanging about to do it for us in seven days?

The most interesting part of Terra Obscura is the massive impact crater covering approximately one tenth of the surface. This was a planet destroying event that somehow didn't destroy the planet. Instead what there is, is a magically infused land, with unique geography.

The crater - not as desolate as you'd think. The break in normal gravitation and magically infused stone allow island masses to float in near geostationary sub-atmospheric orbit. This area has a great diversity of life and cultures, most notably the Seraphs, whom developed from the need to travel to other "islands" over the massive crater sink using their bird-like gliding wings. Culturally peaceful and artistic, but parochial, their habitat leaves little thought for technologies and the working of metals. Graceful and isolationist. On the flip side of the islands, clinging to the dark crevices in the deeps of the craters and the barren underside of the islands, are the shadekin, a breed of arachnid like sentients with dark ancestry and bestial minds.

The massive city seated on the archipelago west of the crater is the biggest city of the known world, and the seat of governance of the Dwarfen realms. Built into and out of the volcanic rocks, it is a bustling port, cultural seat of power, and everything to everyman and dwarf. Make no mistake, the Dwarfs are in charge. And wear top hats. (Victoriana) They don't all wear top hats, I just reckon Dwarfs have spent too much time down the mines, and it's time they formed a middle-class. Still, the most culturally diverse population - Dwarfs can be pretty much whatever you want in Terra Obscura - from Nordic Warriors, to Mechanical engineers, to diplomats, to utter swine.

The Badlands to the east of the crater is the realm of no-one, save perhaps a minor populace of Centaur and Satyr races. Definitely isolationist, the Satyr being more cultured and civilised than the bestial Centaurs. Many trading posts, minng colonies and anything you'd find in such a place. No-one "owns" the badlands - it's everone for themselves.

South of the Badlands is the realm of the Shades. A now redundant race of evil buggers. They used to be powerful, but someone stole the mojo. And the gods are dead. Or not listening. But gods are always good to blame when someone comes and spoils a good evil plan of world domination.

North of the Dwarfen realm is the feudal lands of the human lords. Not especially impressive place. Usually damp. Lots of grass. Tonnes of peasants. And the Lords ain't much better. Humans are dumb. Lucky to make it as a slave for a Dwarf. Lot's of food production and minor squabbling over regional control. Largely seen as an extension of the Dwarfen realms.

West of the feudal lands is where we shall find the seat of human endeavour in this land. They try and keep to themselves whilst trying to unseat the Dwarfs from their position of power. Bunch of scholars and priests really. If there was ever a human wizard, he came from here. They get quite shocked when no-one listens to them. They do have a much better understanding of how things work than you'd think, but then, they'll never get anywhere because they have achieved such high cultural peak that they've a invented more gods than you can shake a stick at, therefore are always fighting themselves in some holy war or other.

Spread throughout the lands are various other beasties and peoples. Orcs are mercenary types usually employed by nobles wanting a good bodyguard - their appearance tends to lead people to believe in the flasehood that they are stupid. Goblins are like rats - many and annoying. They get everywhere.
Dragons are rarely the winged beasts seen in ancient lore - they tend to be primordial leftovers left to breed in isoloation. Given the right circumstances though someone may be able to do a touch of splicing
Nyadds have their own underwater realm. Related through simliar circumstance as the Seraph, Nyadds have a darker more aggressive nature, and their realm is en par with the Dwarfen Realm, just a lot more submerged. They can of course, breathe air if required, or there would be no point mentioning them.

Major causes of strife are Dwarfen middle classes annoying everyone. Silly political feuds within Dwarfen realms. Trying to clear supposed "baddies" from any given area. Cults and various other organisations are able to influence widley. Constant attempts at world domination by the shade cult. Business led factions vying for government funding. The usual affairs of fun.

Work to do - Clear and concise map. Flesh out human realms. Flesh out pantheon of gods. Flesh out origins of the shades. Much more.

But more importantly, feedback?
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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by sucramreverse on Wed Dec 09, 2009 6:57 pm

Dwarves are in power affraid . That is actually a great idea putting the human race off on the sidelines like that, brings an interesting feel to it. I think you've got something going here and I like it. And without any mention of elves Shocked .

That begs the question, who are the earth loving celts that wield the mighty bow and arrow? the seraphs sound more like angelic beings. the satyr could fit this bill maybe? I actually like the idea of satyrs with a bit of an elven demeanour, better than just giving them pointy ears.

The Shades actually sound pretty interesting as well. They bring to mind a society of assassins who are trying to get revenge with their cunning plots of overthrowing power. And that they blame their gods for their situation...did they lose their magic?

If I were to choose a race in this world it'd be the shades. They sound like my play style as well if my assumptions are somewhat correct; Low numbers but powerful/quick units.
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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by S W Dickson on Thu Dec 10, 2009 11:58 am

Probably the Nyadds would be the closest fit to the elven archetype. I see the Seraphs as being a form of universal elite unit - not usually enough to make a whole army. The magic is definitely in the steampunk feel of things - golems, machinations and even vehicles powered by a magic crystal in various forms. I thought to call it aetherate or something pseudo chemical. Biological experimentation to bring life to otherwise impossible creations such as winged dragons, walking corpses, etc.

The Shadowlords I've seen as being the all creators - the serpent and the sky. Basically a pantheon that has been worshipped over the years in varying forms by most every race and culture. Their existence as a precursor super race of near immortals is almost guaranteed, and they may have shifted off elsewhere, some may visit Terra Obscura from time to time for fun and games.

But magic should be possible - but definitely only for the wise and knowledgable.

The shades would definitely be into their subterfuge, but also cover all the bases in having minions and brutes to carry out the hardy tasks. I've been a bit scared to follow it through too far as evil tends to be more memorable, and very often hard to make original - Lots of black and spiky stuff with skulls just ain't enough. I've thought of aspects of destruction, zodiacal connections, all forms of historical occult imagery - and it's quite tricky.
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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by sucramreverse on Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:09 pm

nyads as elves, intriguing. how far does an arrow go underwater? tongue

I definitely like the steampunk idea of magic, gives more possibilities while also making it grittier and more realistic...as far as magic can be realistic anyway.

And black and spiky isn't the only way to be evil. It'd be enough to make them morally evil, with dirty tricks and stunts that would make small children cry. As far as symbolism goes though, some mannerisms and physical posture can be used to make them look quite shifty with no skulls required. And you could go with bastardizations and defilements of the other culture's holy signs to get even more of a feel of them being the defiant spit-in-your-face-while-your-not-looking type.

I can imagine one of them dressed up as a priest wearing an upside down cross, hunched over and skulking in the shadows (perhaps drooling and muttering to himself, lol) . very evil Twisted Evil .
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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by S W Dickson on Fri Dec 11, 2009 12:20 pm

Dunno how far the arrow would go, but it'd be better than relying on a cannon!

Harpoons have a fairly decent range - and as most of the time underwater they wouldn't have much to worry about - just sharks and levaithans - the real offensive weaponry would be land based.

Stabilising fins for harpoons as opposed to flights, but concept is same.
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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by sucramreverse on Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:11 pm

harpoons you say?...brilliant!

what do these nyads look like? as Greek mythology where they are human in appearance with legs, or with fins or fishy tails, like mermaids or naga?
In other words, what will differentiate them from the silly human population? All the other races seem to have some differences; wings, goat legs, being half horse, super short, being insectoid, and whatever shades look like? (did I miss anyone?)

Also, how much of an importance do dragons, or other lesser creatures play? is it common to see them used in battle, possibly with splices and whatnot? or is this something rare that would make even a hardy dwarf wet himself?
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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by S W Dickson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:50 am

I figured nyadds would be fairly humanoid, very slim, large partially webbed hands and feet. I was reckoning to gills - no need to make them mammals with a blowhole - as they can breathe on land too but stay underwater indefinitely. Dolphinlike skin - obviously a lot thinner and translucent.

Scale mail armour - but made from the actual scales of large armoured fish creatures - megacrabs and supersalmon stuff.

I'm sure there'd be lake dwelling nyadds also, with more of a leaning towards inland activities - such as forest management.

Dragons are incommon in the lands - dwindling population found only in the deepest, highest or furthest reaches of the world. Not truly sentient. Almost Dog-like if tamed. No riddles from ancient immortal spirits here. If someone stuck a pair of wings on one, and rode it into battle, everyone'd simultaneously void their bowels. Then run away. Unless they were operating a Dwarven steam-giant.

Thanks to it being all overseen by a progressive culture, many on the richlands of the dwarfs would be aware of these kind of creatures, and with such a diverse sentient population, things aren;t always seen as that odd. But some creatures, specifically the Dragon is all the more terrifying for it's being real and dangerous - albeit rare. If no-one knows where they are, how do you avoid them - hence swathes of land are simply specified as "...here be dragons".

I'm quite happy with the scaling, as many worlds try and squeeze a lot of diversity into a very small space - this is a global map - and it's close to the size of the Earth - that crater is huge! It also means, as a project, if anyone really NEEDS to have elves in there - I'm sure a sub-continent can be annexed. I'm gonna work on slightly more detailed map - and fit a few thousand islands in there, along with loads of other useful features. Very handy, and once the basics are fleshed out, greying out areas for future development with "...here be dragons" seems a good way forward.
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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by sucramreverse on Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:50 pm

I like it. these nyads sound like some cool fellows, and your world generally has a dimension to it that is...realistic? Not exactly the right term for fantasy, but with some other fantasy realms there is always that feeling that it was invented by a 3 year old working for Disney, with baddies just generally fighting because fighting is cool. I think you've overcome this pretty well...though I wouldn't be able to point out exactly how. baffles me.

I am looking forward to this amazing map, and I like the idea of the "here be dragons" bit for later expansion, clever.
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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by S W Dickson on Sat Feb 20, 2010 6:55 am

Just mucking about this morning with the map and my new way of terraforming.

Hope it gives a clearer picture...


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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by S W Dickson on Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:50 am

And here it is so far as a whole - this mapped area leaves about a third of it's globe uncharted. Same size as the original sketch - for ease of overlaying. This has been given an aging colouring too, I will however make a more traditional geo-political map soon.


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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by S W Dickson on Sun Feb 21, 2010 12:43 pm

Just been working out some scales - how big everything is (also created the rest of the landmasses) - and figure that the entire circumference of the planet would be about 10,000 miles. This is about the same as Mars, and would make the big crater about 1500 miles wide. The Map above is "pointless" to scale as it is a spherical projection, therefore the only scales that would work are the equatorials.

Also having a thought on earth-inspired cultures - and would you guess it? The full map overlays nicely on a similar eart projection - and theres some really cool things. Most of the massive landmasses have little coralation to earth ones, but some areas overlap interestingly - giving a good idea of what form of cultures may have formed. (specifically for design of iconography). Accident really, but it's quite cool. I may get some place names from corralating the areas with planetary features on earth/mars/the moon. That'd fill our database up quckly.

Language is a weird one. I was thinking of going for a purely English method, but using a pseudo Runic form may be workable, especially if the dwarves are in charge.

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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by sucramreverse on Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:21 pm

that map is so beautiful :')

Seriously though, I wouldn't mind learning how you do these things; it looks like a professional map you'd find in an atlas.

also I'd like to see some mars overlay with some name similarities, that would be neat. And psuedo-runic sounds good, harsh corners and guttural language (which English is, mostly), reminds me of dwarves.
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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by S W Dickson on Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:00 am

sucramreverse wrote:that map is so beautiful :')

Seriously though, I wouldn't mind learning how you do these things; it looks like a professional map you'd find in an atlas.

Just a bit of Photoshop magick. And a high degree of patience... (from Girlfriend as well as me)

This one was more "do it first - iron out problems later" - simply opened up the sketch in photoshop, selected round the continental areas I had created (individually. for more control) - and then edited the selection mask with series of filters. (usually Distort - Glass or Ocean Ripple, a Bit of Gaussian Blur, Brightness Contrast etc.) Once Happy with the final shape I filled the selection with one of the Textures I made for "Earthshock". Used various pieces of satellite imagery from (my friends and yours) NASA for Elevation and real world colouring (Gotta love Blue Marble). For the ocean it was just a water texture hard lighted over my fairly uncomprehensive ocean floor height map. The Crater itself is from Mars I think. I just need to edit a couple of bits and the whole planet is done. Watch this space.

I've also been playing around with Terragen recently, which may make landscapes easier.

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Re: Terra Obscura (working Title)

Post by S W Dickson on Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:16 pm

And here she is, terra obscura in all her multicolour glory. Sorry I've had to preview link it - Servimg tends to throw up annoying pop-ups, please make sure you have a blocker, but orkut resizes it down too much and it is 1600 pixels across - way too much for a web page.

Anyway, as for how to use this (as well as any other global map I tend to do...) - grab your favourite 3D program and project the texture on a sphere. You can also wrap it onto Google Earth (wrap it onto Mars for accurate measurements) - 90 degrees north and south, 180 degrees east and west. Nice for comparitive details - like how long it would take you to cross continent a, if you could see continent b from island c etc. And just how gargantuan is that volcano south east of the crater, let alone the crater itself!


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