Sunday, August 26, 2018

Developer Diary: The Orc Cities

Delving further into the nations of the Age of Steel we now come across the Orc Cities. These aren't a coherent state but rather independent city states - left overs from the ancient orc empire of Orchiag.

In the Age of Steel, orcs are the enemies of practically all human kingdoms in the Northlands. Its a quite classical setup - and one I see little reason to change as there will be plenty of opportunity to turn the tables and put a big question mark on the whole racial war thing in later ages.

Most fantasy settings contain traces of older civilization of some sort - not rarely grander than anything the world has to show at the current date. In Centuria I didn't want this; it should be a world that is moving forward - not looking backwards - as new inventions and ideas will lead on towards the Age of Knowledge. However, old ruins and fallen empires certainly have their charm - so I wanted some of that but without the classical stereotype.

Now then, the orc cities were a result of solving two issues with one solution. By making that old fallen empire orcish in origin we provide rather tangible proof that orcs don't have to be wild beasts living in the forests (useful for explaining that race's later inclusion in civilized settings). And at the same time we get that old empire with a very good explanation as to why it's remains would stand apart and also why it fell in the first place.

What is left as a problem to solve is how and why the remaining cities have managed to survive. Common sense suggest it should be due to a combination of mainly size and location - and possible to some extent local culture? In the Age of Steel there is four orc cities remaining, from north to south: Rhegor-Thurk, Wierkrag, Nargor and Egarga. With the first two it is pretty easy to explain their survival; they are situated very far to the north and their only enemy is the nation of Gwendellor to the south, which is portrayed as sparsely populated and also quite focused on the conflict between Damasa and Menlor. Nargor, on the other hand, is surrounded on all sides by human lands (and also elves and gnomes). There is quite inhospitable terrain surrounding the city, but it still has to be pretty powerful in order to fend off invasions - given that its neighbors are unlikely to all be occupied elsewhere at once. Thus Nargor is the biggest and also militarily strongest of the orc cities.
Lastly there's Egarga, situated far to the south. Here its location can explain quite a lot; it's situated quite far off from the human lands but within reach of the shortest sea trade route between Cenowar and the rest of the human nations of the Northlands. So it seems likely Egarga walks a balance between being able to support its population in such a remote location while still being strong enough to dissuade any direct military actions against it.

The end result provide us with good insight not only into the cities themselves, but also into the political context of the surrounding lands. It also provides a lot of possibilities to build on in the next age!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Developer Diary: Duiden

Alright; vacation's over and it's time to do some writing! This time it's all about Duiden: the small country with a big future (read about it in the Age of Knowledge)! Duiden is located on the west coast of the Northlands. In the Age of Steel it is a rather backwards, if progressive, place. It's neighbors are Gwendellor to the north, Usabia to the northwest and Arbea to the south (though the Umo mountains lie between).

Duiden is perhaps the best setting for a down-to-earth campaign as much of the country is wilderness or at least not densely populated. The people have banded together against nature and, perhaps more critically, the surrounding orc tribes.

In Centuria, Duiden has about the same role as the Shire in Lord of the Rings; its the quiet homeland of the would-be heroes yet to experience the real dangers of the outside world. Its a place ment to portray a simple society where people, generally speaking, are trying to help each other and make for a better tomorrow. The challenges are of a practical nature and so are the solutions.

Fitting Duiden into the world of Centuria poses some challenges. An explanation is needed as to why the general sentiment of the nation is different - especially given the rather extreme differences among their neighbors. And, as with any country, it needs a background to explain how it came to be. Thankfully, these difficulties come together to explain themselves.

It seems most plausible that if the nation of Duiden is different in its culture then this is related to its history. With the war that tore apart the human empire, Duiden is geographically a good place to retreat to for those seeking to escape marauding armies. So a combination of not very organized settlers and war refugees making up the population explains both the sentiment and also the state of the nation as a whole. Nationhood is not a given status; it is a circumstance born out of necessity. As Gwendellor to the north was formed after the civil war it seems plausible for the Order of the Falcon to have attempted to establish itself in Duiden first (it being closer to Gothia) - but apparently failing (possibly - even likely - contributing to a stronger sense of unison among Duiden's inhabitants). This also gives a hint as to the continued relation between the Order and Duiden.

The emerging picture is of a nation where those in charge came to be, not because they were powerful warriors or land holders, but because they were the sort of people that could get others to work together. They rule with the support of the people below them and know they stand to loose if that support should dwindle. The idea of a benign though perhaps not very advanced or powerful country arises quite easily from this train of thought. And this is where Duiden stands - and as for now it is all it needs to be.