I have spent the last week creating characters and building a fantasy outpost called The Happy Harpy. This enclave sits along a major trade road on the eastern side of the Dragonspine Mountains, on the Adaran continent. Located in the southern hemisphere of its world, this continent has had virtually no contact with any peoples outside Adara.
When sailing from one side of the continent to the other, most ships hug the northern coastline. The deep ocean of the Dragon Sea is the habitat of various aquatic monsters and unknown civilizations. Pirates skulk near the Dragon Claw Islands and Port Freehaven, long known to be a pirate port, no matter how much its representatives try to pretend otherwise. The southern coast is impassable.
Largely unexplored, the sea north of Adaran is uncharted, and very few know of the northern continent, Karnas. I haven’t outlined the lands to the north, as it is mainly undiscovered, very possibly having been laid to waste some millennia in the past. Anyone claiming to have been there being promptly laughed out. Everyone knows the other continent is an uninhabitable myth.
Once, elves ruled the continent. After humans found their way south from Karnas some eight thousand years ago, the elven population has dwindled. The other races have also declined. Halflings have retreated into the confines of the Lower Warren region. Dwarves withdrew deep into the mountains thousands of years ago. Orcs push their way north from the icy reaches of the Southern Wasteland toward warmer climes.
All of this is part of the landscape of the Adaran continent. As with all worlds, the inhabitants are affected by their environments. The wildlands stay wild because many commoners are afraid to leave the safety of an enclave. They don’t have the training or desire to hunt down the monsters that roam the forests and mountains. A very few have the wherewithal to venture out and put their lives at stake for the greater good.
I’ve had Adara rolling around in my head for twenty years or more. It is like many fantasy worlds that combine magic with the mundane. The economy is feudal, most lands are governed by a secular king or religious ruler. Wars are commonly fought over land and water resources, not to mention the various religious differences.
I am slowly building the pantheon for this world. I discover what I need to know when I need to know it. So far, I have learned of two goddesses, Ashta’Qi and Beltania. Many more people know of Beltania than of Ashta’Qi. Beltania is based on the Celtic god Belenus, who is often compared with Apollo.
When I began building my world, I wanted to make sure the pantheon would be different from our world, but without being so different as to be alien. I haven’t dreamed that deeply about its history as yet. Getting my pantheon and some of my kingdoms fleshed out will require excursions to the public library. Wikipedia and Google can take me down too many rabbit holes. Not only do I have the local public library, but I also have the university library in which to conduct my research. And as an added bonus, if I go to the university, I’ll be able to visit some of my old professors.
I’ll also need to build a variety of governments and economies. There again, my best research will probably be the library. If I need to see exhibits of primitive living, I can go to the natural history museum in the city, which is only an hour’s drive away. The same applies to a zoo or art museum. I’m blessed to live in such an information- and culture-rich area.
How about you? Where do your story and worldbuilding ideas come from?