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!

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