World Development (Language)

I don’t read much modern fantasy.  I don’t find much of it engaging or convincing.  Part of the reason for this that it is all purely derivative.  It is generally derivative of Tolkien, Howard, Moorcock.  Often with an entirely different level of (often unintentional) derivation from pop culture history.  By that I mean the trope of having a “Viking Land”,  “Asian Land”, “Celtic Land” and so on.  This is fine for a quick reference.   It is fine for beer and pretzels role playing.  But it leaves me unsatisfied.

When Tom and I at Golden Dragon Studio began our reworking of our game world and system (moving it away from a tactical modular board game to a full blown RPG), my main concern was developing a convincing and internally logical setting.  I wanted it to be accessible; few people have time to learn a whole new language or set of abstract concepts to play a game.  But I wanted it to be unique.  It was definitely destined to be a low to mid powered fantasy world.  But I didn’t want it to be Greyhawk DXXXII.  Due to my own interests it became closer and closer to a dark ages/dark fantasy world.  Perhaps not as bleak and primitive as Hyperborea.  But definitely not the high powered magic as utilitarian science in say… Forgotten Realms.   Plus it needed some additional element.  Something to… set it apart.

Most now don’t know me as a prolific, published horror author.  But that is where I default to when creatively writing.  So something is going on in this world that is not right.  And the results end up being rather … ghoulish.

I’ve spent much of my time working on the linguistics of the history, dominant culture and geography.   My first versions of the cities and landscapes had a lot of “Wolf’s Gate” and “Ironhold Mountains”.  Not exactly.  But you get the idea.   I felt my first task was to write up the place’s ancient history.  And thus had to establish a naming convention.  The basis is actually a reduction of ancient Greek vocabulary.  With of course the phonetic spellings winning out over the actual Greek lettering. Most of the current continent has gone through about 6,000 years of habitation.  So much like our modern Greek and Latin, names took on influences from regional tribe and cultures.  With the world’s current language taking on both Ukrainian and Armenian characteristics.   In some places early Germanic phrases are thrown in – to reinforce that sense of regionalism.  It gives the entire place a familiar yet slightly exotic feel.   This is just a bit of the map.   We hope to deliver both more visible content and concept art, as well as playtest possibilities later this year.  Did I invent a new language with my own sets of rules?  No.  But is there an indigenous system to create a cohesion and believably?  Yes.  All great settings start with language.  And Mythology.

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