Friday, December 29, 2006

Antaria: Geography

With the Internet connection out-of-kilter this morning, I spent a few minutes sifting through my personal files. Interestingly enough, sitting among the old work assignments and lost fiction drafts, I found this:

Well... not quite this specific map, exactly. What I found was an old attempt at codifying the geography of the fictional Antaria setting, done via a few tutorials on cartography from the web. I noticed more than a few literary inconsistencies in the original version, so I spent a bit of time doing some corrections and filling in the colors. The result is what you see up there, but it's still far from complete -- mountains, rivers and forests should make up a great deal of importance in the final product.

The current map does give a fairly good impression of what the land looks like, though, so the general idea is already there. I still maintain a few notes, though:

- Lorendheim takes up the largest area of land, although most of it is only sparsely inhabited. It should have two main centers of population: the capital of Lorendheim (somewhere in the east near the Hadrian/Allandrian borders), and an area near the northern coastline known as the Northlands. The southern tip of Lorendheim is dominated by a massive mountain range, which discourages conflict with the Tajikar tribes.

- Hadrian is a relatively small country that owns a long stretch of coastline. This allows it to control the main shipping lanes (which must access both the northern and southern ends of the coast.)

- Allandria has a longish shape, stretching from the coast to the southern wastes. In a sense, it's in a position that arouses a lot of potential conflict -- it doesn't have much access to the sea, it shares borders with all the other countries, and most of the fertile ground lies close to Tajikar territory. Apart from that, however, Allandria should be heavily forested. Thorngarde Keep lies somewhere near its western border.

- Kun is a tiny buffer state sandwiched between Allandria and Vanarum, period. If anything, it should give people a "what's this doing here, of all places?" impression.

- Vanarum gets the longest coastline, but it's located on an outcropping at the tip of the continent. Vanarum is also mountainous for some reason, which implies a lot of seaside cliffs and such. The country claims a lot of islands and sizeable inlets, which is perfect for the national shipbuilding industry.

- The yellow area on the map represents the start of the Tajik Wastes, although in actuality the desert is so large that it couldn't possibly fit on the map. Most conflicts against the Tajikar tribes take place in this general area, so much that the southern borders of Allandria frequently shift and change. Lorendheim sees very few conflicts due to the fact that it maintains its southern border on the sides of an ancient mountain range.

Apart from the above, there are a few areas of moderate interest that I want to work into the map somehow:

- The Northlands is the name for a sizeable urban center somewhere in north Lorendheim, near the Hadrien border. This area is cordoned off from the rest of the kingdom by a series of hills, all blanketed by constant winter throughout the year.

- The Shroud is the label given to a large patch of land in northwest Lorendheim, next to the Northlands. It is characterized by a thick, everpresent mist that has persisted for as far as anyone can remember, and is theorized to be magical in origin. Explorers who walk into the Shroud, moreover, have an unsettling tendency to disappear without a trace.

- The fortress of Harangaard sits at the edge of Lorendheim's southern border, and is the country's only line of defense against a possible Tajikar incursion. No such incursion, however, has materialized in the last few generations.

- As mentioned, Thorngarde Keep lies somewhere near Allandria's western border. This landmark was once an important military outpost somewhere in Allandria's past, but its strategic value was neutralized once the borders between Lorendheim and Allandria became more stable. It's a favorite hangout of adventurers, having been extensively landscaped, constantly reconstructed, and excessively booby-trapped within its lifetime.

- Sanctuary, a massive complex that houses whole families of Thanatai mages, lies somewhere within Kun. As Kun is considered to be neutral ground for all sects and affiliations, the Thanatai find this to be an excellent arrangement.

- The Bay of Thrones sits off the southern cost of Vanarum, the primary construction and launch point for the country's merchant traders and advanced warships.

- The Maw -- the sea that prevents long-distance marine travel to the north and east -- extends for leagues in both directions, and is difficult to navigate even without the constant hurricanes, waterspouts and natural occurrences that usually take place there. Most Antarian seafarers stick to the general coastline, which has been dubbed "The Lesser Maw" for its own level of turbulence.

As a final note, I will point out that there is a combination of natural barriers that effectively cut off Antaria from the rest of its world -- there's the desert to the south, the mountains to the west, the Shroud to the northwest, and the Maw to the north and east. Theoretically, this concentrates a lot of arcane energy in the area, and has given rise to a population of mages as a result.


Marie said...

'tis funny... I'm a writer, too (sort of, anyhow), and I as well have a place named Vanarum in my little world, only it's a whole continent rather than a country. And I came up with that name in the spur of the moment because I needed a name for the continent.

Sean said...

Marie: Hi, Marie. When I first put the world together around three years ago, all of the names were spur-of-the-moment as well. :)

I've noted, however, that the main problem with "Vanarum" as a name is that the name of the inhabitants is not immediately obvious. I go with "Vanarumites" on this one, but it could just as easily be "Vanarumians", or "Vanarians", or whatever. Your other choice, "Sarden", actually sounds easier to work with. :) It's too late for me to change now, though...

I've observed that there are a lot of commonalities when it comes to names in fantasy and sci-fi; Most writers just pick out names that either sound good, or roll off the tongue quite well. As long as we can get along with this in mind, though, then everything should be fine. :)

Marie said...

Well, "Sarden" is actually the name of the whole world, so I doubt I'll need to use any kind of "Sardenians" or things like that. And it's fairly easy in Norwegian, too - nothing more complicated than "sardenere" or "vanarumere", maybe "vanarere", at least not that I know of.

And "Vanarumites" sounds nice. It kind of fits. =)

Hm, once I made up a name, figured I'd see if it meant something and found out it was the name of an African drum. Fun.

Sean said...

Marie: If there's one thing about making up names, I suppose, it's the fact that they really shouldn't tie into weird or inappropriate things. They would make the readers' minds wander around if they did. :)

Marie said...

Which is why I decided not to use that name. xD

Sean said...

Marie: Ah, I see. :)