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Worldbuilding – And So It Begins… August 24, 2009

Posted by Yarnspnr in Worldbuilding.
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“There is as much difference
between us and ourselves
as between us and others.”

– Michel de Montaigne

An Invitation To Experience

The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp

This is not the end of my worldbuilding.  Like any planet, Erde changes over time, so competent worldbuilding is never finished.  But I would like you to take some time and experience over the next few months the novels that settled into the world of Erde.


Many lives are lost at sea every year.  Large ships, small boats, sailing ships, war ships, fishing vessels, and aircraft of all types have disappeared over time.  Some had been lost in bad weather, some when the weather appeared perfect, some sank beneath the waves during a war, some left behind the wreckage of their misfortune, some seemingly vanishing into the air or water.  Oftentimes, even when wreckage surfaced, bodies remained unrecovered.  Think of the thousands of souls lost on the HMS Hood when she blew up in 1941.  How about those that sailed with the German mega-battleship, the Bismarck? It is easy to conclude that the dead and missing have simply gone on to a watery grave, leaving behind only the question of what happens to the soul at death.  John Dryden had an interesting observation concerning that question.  He said, “To die is landing on some distant shore.”

If you agree with Larry Kusche, author of The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved, there is little doubt as to the final resting place of the men of Flight 19, or the Cyclops, or any of the other ships or aircraft mentioned in Mr. Kusche’s book.  As one reviewer noted, “This is the only book you can get that has trustworthy information concerning the ships lost in the Bermuda Triangle.  Everything else is soaked with fiction.”

I have to admit that in the last 200 years we’ve gained a more scientific understanding of life. Now we can even clone it.  But what we can’t do is produce life from scratch – from nothing.  Nor do we have any idea of what happens when life ends.  Oh we have theories, many of which are backed up by myths, belief systems and religious testaments.  Yet, we know no more about the afterlife than we did 5,000 years ago.  So if we must bathe ourselves in trustworthy information, I suggest we do so using a keen sense of the absurd.  Even Mr. Kusche admits there are issues concerning the disappearances of ships and aircraft and the people they contained that are still beyond the scope of our knowledge.  Perhaps John Dryden is closer to the truth then many of us realize.

There is one thing I know – water, although quite physical, it has always been considered a spiritual medium. Edgar Cacey, for example, mentioned in one of his readings that he should locate his psychic hospital near water because such a location would enhance his psychic abilities. He chose Virginia Beach, Virginia. Even that most spiritual of events, Christian baptism, takes place in water.

So now I speak with reference to possibilities. The likelihood that somewhere, somehow, there is a planet similar to our own that exists in the Universe that can sustain human life as we know it.  Add to that possibility another.  What if this planet could be reached from Earth through a watery portal?  As Thomas Hardy said, “Though a good deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened.”

This is the world that a small group of men, one woman and her child entered when they disappeared from their ship, which remained in the Atlantic Ocean in December of 1872.  This is when they became OutSiders and found themselves on a “distant shore.”  What did these people from Earth find after traveling through the water to Erde? The same kind of physical circumstances that they left behind, I imagine. Life can be similar. As year stacked up upon year it became apparent that they did not age.

Is it possible that humans could live for hundreds of years? I would think that the physical laws of Erde must be slightly different from the physical laws here on Earth. Humans birthed in either place are able to live approximately 75 years. But humans who have traveled from one place to the other find themselves living for over 900 years. This must be due to the physical laws that cause the breakdown of cells.  After all, doesn’t the Bible tell us about such people?

What are they like, these OutSiders of Erde who live so long? How does a person with a lifespan of 900 years differ from a person who feels fortunate to live 75 years? Their outlook on life must change dramatically. If they marry a native they must watch their spouse and children exit life well before they themselves, perhaps many times over.  But if they marry another OutSider, such a marriage would last for hundreds of years.  Oh, the possibilities!

What kind of world would such a people craft? Bringing their knowledge of Earthly morals, religion, and technology with them, what would they keep and what might they lose? What elements of this knowledge would they allow other OutSiders who came after them to embrace? What would they force them to discard? What knowledge might they possess that is different from our own? Knowledge that they discovered and we have not, or that they have improved upon and we have not? The possibilities are staggering. The history of the OutSiders of Erde is similar to our own, filled with the ascent of local governments, of conquest, nationalization, the rise and fall of empires, of greed and a lust for power.


But what of the Vigroth peoples of this land, one of the tribes that inhabited Erde before the arrival of the OutSiders? They are so very different from any human culture on Earth.   Can we, who find it difficult to commit for life to one single person, fully understand what it’s like to be committed for life to seven or eight people?

Is it possible that we who disdain the idea of “fixed marriages” can fully appreciate an arrangement that finds one committed to such a relationship for life right from birth?

Is it possible for a people such as our own, whose morals differ from one person to the next, to fully understand a moral system that’s universally accepted by a whole tribe and passed down from generation to generation without question?

Is it possible for us, a people who love youth and for whom survival is rarely questioned, to comprehend life where continued existence is in doubt on a daily basis?  Can we understand what it’s like to have death as our closest neighbor minute by minute?

In understanding the Vigroth of the great Weald, we must see them as Robert Zend sees us – “People have one thing in common: they are all different.”

There you have it.  The Myth of Kyrell Swamp concerns possibilities.  You are in the unique position to experience these possibilities for yourself.  As Einstein said, “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.”  You are entering upon a journey that will allow you to do so.  As the Vigroth say, “tzagrast lur seted krind kynpa ecoy” – “It’s a long ways from anyplace here.”  I truly hope you enjoy the trip.


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

Posted by Yarnspnr in Worldbuilding.
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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.