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Worldbuilding 10 – Religion August 22, 2009

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The Empire and Religion

crossing

The Empire of Uppsala  has long ago decided that religion, in any form, tended to divide the human family rather than enrich it. They saw that for innumerable eons, both on Earth and in Erde, more wars had been fought over religious principles than for any other reason. They listed countless examples of man’s inhumanity towards man, all in the name of religion. They saw that conflict not only occurred between opposing systems of religious belief, but also within various sects of the same religion. This truth led the political leaders of the Empire to become disillusioned with religion, convincing them that it was both a waste of time and considerably dangerous. Consequently, for more than 3,000 years in the OutSider controlled Empire of Uppsala in Erde religion has been outlawed. It is one of the few laws in which governing rival Proctors have remained in agreement with throughout the Rejoinders. They found it easier to deal with underground religious activities than with open wars prompted by opposing factions trying to force their belief system or the supremacy of their god(s) upon the will of others.

The rehabilitation of newly discovered OutSiders within Erde has been a primary function of the government. A major part of that rehabilitation concerns the removal of religion from the minds and hearts of prospective new citizens. No man or woman who does not swear to recant their religious beliefs or who still shows signs of conformity to religious thought, is allowed to enter into the population at large.

Lach (Circle) – The Religion of the Vigroth Peoples

Spiritfolk

The basic premise of the Vigroth is that humans are juistid deskes, spiritual beings manifested into al erdid erdol, a physical world by a single creator in conjunction with other spirit beings. They see two sets of laws governing creation, Justid Nelg, Spiritual Law and Erdid Nelg, Physical Law. These laws work hand in hand. Without one or the other, the known world couldn’t exist. They also realize that humanity doesn’t know all the laws. New discoveries and better understanding of them can and are being learned. It is their belief that the blueprint of these two sets of laws can be viewed by studying nature, which they call hac Cogin Velkrar, the Great Teacher.

The Vigroth know nature on a personal basis. They know the Spiritual Law and Physical Law that hold together the Injelacin or Universe are flexible. Through their study of nature they have learned that these Universal Laws can be stroked when they are understood fully. That is, they can be bent in certain ways to alter known results to make an outcome more favorable. They understand there is nothing magical about these processes, they simply use one set of know laws against others to bring about a conclusion.

An example of this would be using the danger signals of bees guarding a hive to entice swarms to attack an enemy. Another example would be using the mind to box a headache into disappearing. In our world, cloud seeding might be one example, as well as Native Americans dancing and singing to bring rain. The cloud seeding brings about the bending of Physical Law through the use of another Physical Law. The rain dances bring about the bending of Physical Law through the use of Spiritual Law. The strength of repeated incantations of shaman and witches bend Physical Law and Spiritual Law in the same manner as repeated prayer. Many examples could be put forth. Magic? Not really. There are physical laws that make cloud seeding work. There are also spiritual laws that make rain dances work as well. They may not be understood as easily because they deal with Spiritual Law rather than Physical Law. We humans are more comfortable studying Physical Law. The study of Spiritual Law is not considered a science.

Through their understanding of nature the Vigroth can see hac Socloh, the Oneness of all creation. They are aware that all life is dependant on the death of other living things. It is for this reason, like many Native Americans, they refer to their beliefs as Circle. The Vigroth know that they must eat plants, animals, fish, and birds in order to survive. When they die, they will in turn nourish the ground, insects, birds, and animals. They have great respect for this Circle. Their focus is upon the importance of every single living thing to manifest an awareness of the living Juis or Spirit in Erde.

The Vigroth concept of Oneness is not about making all the varieties of life the same. Oneness suggests instead that people have the opportunity to view this rich diversity as an example of the multiple ways in which the Soc Juis, or One Spirit, tries to find expression in life. Whether that life is the life of a fish, bird, animal, insect, plant, or person. Since there is only one Creator, the Universe must be composed of only one Force. Oneness as a force implies that all things are interrelated. Every one of us has a connection to one another, the land, the universe, and to the Maker.

Lach is not a religion that is written in a holy book.  It is memorized and passed down from parents to children through a series of  TilgGutzin or FireSongs  These are repeated from birth until death at public meetings so all know and remember the workings of Circle.

weald

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Worldbuilding 8 – Magic August 17, 2009

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raven

Every fantasy reader and writer has their own thoughts about magic.  Make it realistic.  Require a cost to use it.  Develop a system with reasonable laws that make it work.  All good suggestions, I suppose, but for me magic in any world should just be.  That’s all that’s required.  It certainly doesn’t need a long drawn out discussion of how it works or where it came from or whose behind it.  This is my view.  Anyone with a different view is just as justified in what they do as I am.  No fights, no arguments.  If it works for you, that’s all that’s important.

So what kind of magic exists in Erde?  The people of Erde view magic much as the people on Earth do.  The more educated they are, the less they believe in physical magic like disappearing at will and reappearing somewhere else.  They also have trouble with spiritual magic like chanting until a shaman can see through the eyes of a bird as it flies over their enemies.  Others will be mystified by the idea even if they have no proof that it works.  Some will think the whole idea of magic in a world driven by physical law is ridiculous.  Illiterate natives will live in fear of it.  In other words in any world there will be many opinions about magic.

Magic could range from the ultra fantastic, like two magicians throwing fireballs at each other, to the natural magical experience of two people falling in love or the birth of a child.  That’s not magic you say?  Ask the two young parents who’ve just witnessed their first child being born.  What we call magic is individual to each of us.  It’s what the combination of your beliefs and physical senses make it to be.  The people of Erde are much the same in their views of magic.  We all know nature exists but we don’t know everything it can accomplish.  When something happens in nature that goes beyond our understanding, we call it magic.

So does magic exist on Erde?  Of course it does.  For instance there is a hallucinogenic drug called nicroot, which seems to propel people who know how to use it on fantastic mind journeys to different parts of the universe, both physical and spiritual.  Is nicroot real?  Yes, it’s the root of a common flowering plant that grows in the central forests of Erde.  Is it truly able to transport ones spirit all over the universe?  That depends on whom you speak to in Erde.  What are the effects of chewing peyote buds in Arizona?  I’m sure you’ll get an answer from a local Native American that will differ from a professor at Arizona State University.

Then you have medical magic as produced by the physicians of the Empire and the shaman of the native tribes.  Fixing a broken arm or healing an infectious disease may not seem like magic to you, but to uneducated farmers it carries the sense of magic.  Do the spells of the native shaman work?  Well, there again, it’s a matter of how you define ‘work.’  Did the young child survive because of the spells of the shaman or did her own body heal itself?

We’ve already discussed the survival abilities of the Vigroth such as camouflage and Deep Chat.  Without doubt to the Riggrathi the Vigroth make magic that must be confronted with magic of their own.  But the Vigroth know these skills are learned.  They camouflage using plant leaves, moss, furs, skins, dyes, and makeup.  They use animal urine and feces to change their smell.  They practice running until they can do over twenty miles without making a sound.  They can control their breathing and their bodily urges to appear dead.  Magic?  No, all learned skills, just like the Deep Chat.

There are powders that make fires smokeless, berries that make it nearly impossible for a woman to conceive, and a heavy metal that can be honed to a point that will penetrate almost anything yet because of its weight it can’t be used for weapons larger than a small hunting knife.  Magic?  That’s for you, the reader, to say as you experience them.

Erde is a magnificent place full of wonder and awe with many surprises for folk visiting from Earth.  I hope you enjoy its magic.

Worldbuilding 6 – Where oh Where is My Protagonist? August 14, 2009

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se erde

Allow me to introduce you to the south central portion of Erde.  On the western side you see the bottommost peaks of the Corrin Mountains as they dip into the Rigga Sea.  In the northeastern corner is the capitol city of the Empire – Uppsala itself.  As you come south along the Selgen River, you pass the town of Selga, the southernmost town of the region.  Continuing south, you come into the southeastern part of the Rigga Sea.  As you turn southwestward, you pass the impassible Kyrrell Swamp.  Once through the channel you head back north until you reach the free city of Hummel.  It doesn’t belong to the Empire because no troops from Uppsala have ever attempted to travel this far south.  Hummel is a trading port, where even the tribes of the southern Weald come to barter their goods.  It’s an active fishing port with ample on shore fisheries that supply many parts of the Empire with various aquatic delicacies.

So where is my protagonist?  Well, she’s not been born yet.  But I can tell you this – she’ll be a member of a tribe of natives called the Vigroth who inhabit the small village of Thelra.  A strange people, the Vigroth.  They are unlike any people found here on Earth.  Their whole existence is predicated upon survival.  They live in an extremely hostile part of Erde, with enemy tribes that would like nothing better than to hasten their demise.  Even though most of them are above six feet in height, they are experts at camouflage.  They are so good at it that other tribes of the Weald think they are magical creatures that can appear and disappear at will.  The truth is that they train at camouflage from the age that your children would enter kindergarten. They get very good at it.

Their religion, called ‘Circle,’ emphasizes survival.  As does their family unit.  Families here on Earth have a mother, father, and kids, right?  That’s not exactly how the Vigroth handle things.  As children are born over a ten year period, they are assigned to a family group given an animal name.  Given the birth rate combined with infant mortality rates, each family group has between six to ten members, all ages within a ten year period.  Children stay with their parents family unit until they go through a coming of age ceremony.  This is usually around the age of ten.  Then they leave their parents family unit and live in their own clan abode.  From the time they can barely walk, the members of their family unit undergo education in survival.  These ‘classes,’ if they can be referred to as such, start at daybreak and continue to sundown.  They learn simple things like ‘focus’ and ritual singing and using a knife and bow.  And they learn not so simple things like the Vigroth Deep Chat or Gibwa Rach in their language.  The children are together from the time they start training, from the time they move into their home, until they die.  The best way I can put it is – it’s like they are all married as a unit.  In other words, these six to ten people are together all their lives.  The Deep Chat brings them even closer in relationship.  Everything they do in life, they do it with each other.  This causes an incredible closeness.  I’ll give you an example of how close they become.  If one is hurt, the others feel it instantly. By the time they go through their coming of age ceremony, the Deep Chat even allows them to communicate with their minds.  Simple one or two word thoughts.  Again, others think of this as magic.  But you can see it’s actually a learned skill.

Anyway, it’s this kind of family unit my protagonist is born into.

Worldbuilding 5 – My Antagonist, an Historical Person August 12, 2009

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ship

If you don’t know the story of the Mary Celeste you’re missing out on one of  the largest maritime mysteries in recorded history.  The brigantine was found abandoned in the North Atlantic between the Azores and Portugal on the 4th of December, 1872.  Missing were the captain, Benjamin Briggs, his wife Sarah, their two year old daughter, Sophia, and the rest of the ships crew of seven.  Briggs’ seven year old son, Arthur, was left at home with his grandmother.  Briggs had a brother, Oliver, who often sailed with him but did not make the trip bound for Genoa, Italy.

The Mary Celeste was discovered by the Dei Gratia, a Canadian vessel under Captain David Morehouse, a personal friend of the Mary Celeste‘s Captain, Benjamin Briggs.  The Dei Gratia left New York City on the 15th of November, eight days after the Mary Celeste set sail on her voyage.  Dei Gratia discovered a ship under full sail which was obviously in trouble.  She tried to hail the ship but received no response.  As she advanced on the ship her crew realized the endangered vessel was the Mary Celeste.

Once aboard the Mary Celeste, the Dei Gratia crew found the ship completely deserted.  The only lifeboat on the vessel was gone although it looked as if it were launched, not ripped away.   You may read varying accounts of the conditions aboard the Mary Celeste but the facts are as follows:

The ship was in good order, and had not suffered severely from the weather, although some of the sails were slightly torn.  A meal was cooking on the stove but the dishes were properly washed and stored.  A vial of oil was supposedly sitting upright on a sewing machine, indicating that the seas had been calm, and a clock was still ticking on the wall.  The captain’s personal effects were on board, and toys were on his bed, as if a child had been playing there.  The cargo of 1,700 barrels of alcohol was intact, although there was three and a half feet of water in the hold.  However, the ships papers, except for the captain’s logbook, were missing, as were the navigation instruments.  A sword was found hanging on the wall with blood (or rust) stains on it.  A six months’ supply of food and water was still on board.

The last log entry on November 24th put the Mary Celeste 100 miles west of the Azores.  By the time it was found eleven days later, it was 500 miles to the east.

Today the fate of the occupants of the Mary Celeste is as much a mystery as the day the ship was found deserted at sea.

The Bermuda Triangle Mystery – Solved by Larry Kusche

History has passed on to us rather small amounts of information concerning Benjamin Spooner Briggs, Captain of the Mary Celeste.  We know that Captain Briggs was an able seaman and an excellent ship handler.  Well respected by those who sailed with him, Briggs’ fairness and ability were never brought into question.  He captained four other ships before signing on with the Mary Celeste.  A humble, religious man himself, he married Sarah E Cobb, daughter of Reverend Leander Cobb, and bought the Rose Cottage in Marion , Massachusetts.  Sarah accompanied Captain on many of his sea voyages.  There is also a letter, written by Briggs to his son, Arthur, just before the Mary Celeste left New York City.  It shows the devoted father Briggs was to his family.

I wanted a man of strict discipline and outstanding moral character for my antagonist.  Captain Briggs filled the bill quite handily.  There is little question of how the man managed to travel from Earth to Erde but there are many questions concerning how such a man as Briggs managed his way in the Empire of Uppsala.  The entire first part of my novel sets out to answer these questions.

Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs would be my antagonist.  Briggs

Worldbuilding 4 – People August 6, 2009

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erde3

So I had a map of my world, or at least one large part of it.  And I knew I had OutSiders and Natives.  I know the map I’m looking at shows Erde +4,873 years since the coming of the OutSiders so much has historically changed.  Now the next problem I have to consider is what kind of people frequent this world now and where do they belong.  Does that make sense?  Let’s take the OutSiders first.

Take any large city in the world, New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, you name it.  People who come there tend to form communities of their own kind of people.  A single city actually becomes many smaller cities.  The Italians have their sector, the Germans another, the Spanish their own, and then there’s a Chinatown almost everywhere.  I figured the OutSider tended to gravitate to their own over the years as well.  The government of the Empire of Uppsala, which has subjugated all the various historical city-states of the land, now calls individual states “Rejoinders.”   So you have nine states carved out of Erde with one large unnamed area to the east.  The term Uppsala is confusing.  It is the Empire, a Rejoinder, and the Capitol City of the Empire.  Folks living in the Rejoinder of Uppsala tend to be of Nordic/German stock.  In the Capitol, however, all types of peoples can be found.

The majority of peoples in the other Rejoinders are easy to figure out.  Aingland – English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh.  Merica – peoples from North or South America, including Native Americans.  Pare – let’s not forget the French.  Nippon – Oriental peoples.  Mongolya – Russia, eastern Europeans, Hungarians and nothern Orientals.  Jena,  Italians, Swiss and Slovakians. Finally there is the Rejoinder of Sigtuna, who’s population consists of a melting pot of city states defeated by Uppsalan armies in the historical past.  I’ll discuss how these Rejoinders are governed by Uppsala at a later time.  Now the locations of the Native tribes of Erde.

tribes

Over the years, the Natives of Erde have been pushed east, over the Corrin mountains.  The remaining tribes reside in a densely wooded strip, called the Weald,  that runs from north to south and from west to east from the Corrins to the Selgen River.  The northern tribes reside above the River Pison in a land called by the Sogroth, Havilah. Their lands lie between the Pison and Gihon Rivers.  The Telroth are the northernmost tribe, living above the Pison in a land they call Kosh.  Some of you may recognize these names as the lost lands and rivers of Genesis.

The central tribes are rather nomadic and can be found anywhere from the River Fyris to the edge of the Kyrrell Swamp.  They are the Summanari, who range to the north, the Riggrathi, and the extremely war-like Colarathi who range more to the south.

Finally, there are the Vigroth, who live in small villages far to the south in the swamps of Kyrrell.

The lands to the east of the Selgen River are wastelands, thought to be uninhabited.

Next week I’ll talk about where I decided to set my first story.

Worldbuilding 3 – Maps July 30, 2009

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Erde1

So now I’ve nailed down how my story will begin.  A survivor of a Bermuda Triangle story ends up in a mirror world called Erde.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to use disappearance of the captain and crew of the Mary Celeste.  That gives me a start date of early December 1872.  This means that 4,873 years have passed on Erde since the first OutSider appeared.  It also means that our present date would sit at 5,009 years passed.  The Erde of my story will take place during that 136 year stretch.

It’s time for a map.  Hey, map making is fun.  My first attempt at a map appears above.  I drew it by hand on graph paper.  It gave me some idea of what I wanted to do, but in no way was it compatible with my story.  It looked a bit like Australia, but Erde is larger than that.  It’s about the size of both Europe and Asia together.  So back to the drawing board.  This time I gave up on my freehand version because I now owned a computer with a major art program on it.  The final map of Erde looks like this:

erde2

Remember, this is the Erde of 1872 our time.  It is not ancient Erde, which would have looked much different.  For instance, the large forest would have stretched from the mountains, westward to the coast running from north to south.  The woodlands would rescind as time moved forward.  I needed some names for what I was looking at.  The southern ocean area I called ‘Rigga Sea.’  I used the term ‘Weald’ for the forested area.  ‘Weald’ is an old English term for ‘forest.’  For the long mountainous area, the continental divide, I used a native term – ‘Corrins.’  I was happy.  Things were starting to flesh out a bit.

Now I needed to think about countries.  I knew that countries and borders would have changed over the years, much like the forest did.  I needed to outline a history now so I could see how Erde had progressed from wilderness to the sophisticated ‘rejoinders’ found in Erde in 1872.  An outline would have been good enough.  It would allow me to drop my characters into any time and place and maintain the continuity. When it came time to flesh out an area with a story, I could slip the stories into dated files that would allow me to refer to characters or places at any future time.

Now it was time to tuck the OutSiders, their kin, and the Natives into Erde.  We’ll cover this next week.

Worldbuilding 2 – People July 23, 2009

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native

Last week I spoke about the foundation for my story – the idea I went in with.  Imagine if you will, two similar worlds connected spiritually by water.  People disappear from one and end up in the other.  All this is based on the Bermuda Triangle stories.  Okay.  I have this to work with.  Now I need to delve into those questions I spoke about.  What kind of people live in this mirror world I called Erde?  This is what I came up with:

Originally, before people from Earth came, Erde was populated by natives – tribes of aboriginal hunters and gatherers with their own forms of religion, languages, and societies.  It was much like America before the coming of the white man.  Then the OutSiders began showing up.  People from Earth that found themselves washing up on the shores of a new world not knowing where they were or how they got there, other than they thought they’d drowned.  Finally, as these people grew more numerous they had children, producing a third group of people who bore the name of the region they lived in.

The natives had an average life span of about 30-40 years.  The people born in Erde of OutSider parents lived about 50-75 years.  But the OutSiders themselves lived between 800-900 years unless, of course, they met an unnatural death for some reason.  If an OutSider managed to get back to Earth somehow, they lived their normal three-score and fifteen year lifespan again.  If a native or a child of Erde managed to get to Earth, they lived 800-900 years here.  There has never been a record of someone from Erde coming to Earth though.

The next decision I had to make was the time period to set my story.  Obviously if OutSiders had been coming to Erde and reproducing for thousands of years, Erde would be a lot different than when they first started showing up.  The beauty of what I had so far was that I could pull stories from any time period and fit it into the land appropriate for that time in Erde’s history.  Of course I needed to outline that history because it would have changed dramatically as the OutSiders became more prevalent.  Obviously, as you moved along the historical time line, people and places would be different. The question became, when did the OutSiders first start showing up?

The Bermuda Triangle stories go back to about the time of Christopher Columbus.  But I figured people started disappearing from Earth about the time of the first ocean going vessels.  Historically, this would take us back to around 3,000 B.C. when the Egyptians began sailing in the Mediterranean.  So now I had a time frame of when the first OutSiders started showing up in Erde.  Now all I had to do was decide when along Erde’s time line I wanted to set my first story.  We’ll get into that next week.