Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Redesigning the Setting: Drawing the Satellite View Map, 7

Last time we created some Cloud layers with random noise and patterns. This time we will use these patterns to create texture and terrain features. As with the previous post, we are just going to mostly duplicate the steps in Arsheeh's Eriond Tutorial for GIMP and Wilbur that was found at the cartographers guild. (Credits for this goes to him.) Note that as we progress, it's a good idea to make backup copies of layers before you change them. This way you have something to go back to if you make a mistake.

Isolating the Land

The next step is to mask out the Land Clouds with our Land Mask channel. This will restrict the clouds layer to only the areas of your map which are land. The rest of the areas will become transparent. Create a new black layer (set the fill type to Foreground Color and make sure your foreground color is set to Black) named “Land” and move it to just below the Land Clouds layer. This Land layer is really just a flat black background under your Land. Next, un-hide the Land Clouds layer and then right click on it to add your Land Mask.

Layer > New Layer > Black (Name “Land”)
Layer (Land) > Lower Layer (to just below “Land Clouds” layer)
Layer (Land Clouds)> Unhide
Right Click on Land Clouds layer > Add Layer Mask > Channel (Land Mask)
Land Clouds Layer

Now your land should be isolated. However, the Land Clouds patters have far too much contrast. Let’s go ahead and change that but before we do, make a backup copy of your layer by duplicating it and then hiding the duplicate. Make sure that the Land Clouds layer is active by clicking on it (and not the layer mask to the right of it,) then go to Colors and select Brightness-Contrast. Set the Contrast to -25. If you find that your map is too dark, you can adjust the brightness slightly as well (maybe to +10.)

Colors > Brightness-Contrast > Contrast -25

The result should look like the map at the right "Land Clouds Layer."

Monday, 23 February 2015

Redesigning the Setting: Drawing the Satellite View Map, 6

Creating the Land Height Map 

Creating the height map is probably the most important step for creating the map. This is what will give depth and height to your map and make the different geographical features identifiable. We are going to ultimately create 2 height maps, one for the land and one for the sea. This post concentrates on the Sea. By and large we are just going to duplicate the steps in Arsheeh's Eriond Tutorial for GIMP and Wilbur that was found at the cartographers guild. (Credits for this goes to him.)

Generating Clouds & Random Shapes

Create a new white layer above your outline and name it “Clouds 1”.
Layers > New Layer > White (Name "Clouds 1")

On that layer render a set of Difference Clouds. Set the Detail to 15 and (assuming a 3400x1700px size) the X and Y Size to 16.
Filter > Render > Clouds > Difference Clouds > Detail 15 ; Size 16
Create a new layer above Clouds 1 and repeat this step, only this time use a different seed for the Clouds. Name the new layer “Clouds 2”. Set the layer mode of Clouds 2 to Difference.
Layer > New Layer > White (Name Clouds 2) > Layer Mode (Difference)
Filter > Render > Clouds > Difference Clouds > Detail 15 ; Size 16

Right Click on Clouds 2 layer and select New From Visible and name the new layer "Difference 1"
Right Click on Clouds 2 > New From Visible (Name Difference 1)

Repeat this process. Create a “Clouds 3” and a “Clouds 4” layer (above the Difference Clouds 1 layer). Set the opacity of Clouds 4 to Difference and then create a New from Visible layer named “Difference Clouds 2”.
Repeat the preceding steps to make Difference 2

Next move the Difference 1 layer up in the dialogue to just below Difference 2.
Layer (Difference 1) > Raise layer (to just below Difference 2)

Land Clouds

Now set the layer opacity of the Difference 2 layer to Difference and then create a New from Visible layer right above it named “Land Clouds”. As the name implies, this layer will serve as the base clouds layer for our map. The picture captioned 'Land Clouds' should give you an example of what this looks like so far.

Layer (Difference 2) > Layer Mode (Difference)

Layer (Difference 2) > New from visible (Name Land Clouds)

Next we are going to generate cloud patterns to be used for mountains. To do so, follow the instructions given below. This should give you a set of clouds similar to that of the picture captioned 'Mountain Clouds'
Mountain Clouds
Layer (Land Clouds) > Hide Layer

Layer (Difference Clouds 2) > Layer Mode (Addition)

Right Click on Difference Clouds 2 > New From Visible (Name Mt. Clouds)

Colors > Invert. Set Layer opacity to 90%

Now that we have our cloud patterns we will isolate the Land Clouds with the map outline channel; but we'll deal with that in a future post.

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Arakasha, Part 3


Modern Arakasha keep no written records but they do have some ancient written lore from a time when Arakasha civilization was at its peak. These writings can only be read by sacred lore keepers, the Manikix, appointed keepers of the Velo. The records are called Nabask and they speak of the Velo. According to legend, Velo was brought to them by one known only as “Sar a’Naskara,” the one who had no Sar (guardian or protector.) Being that no Arakasha could survive without a Sar he is something of a mythical figure. The Nabask details that Sar a’Naskara gave the Arakasha their way of life. He built their civilization and introduced reading, writing, mathematics, magic and other mystical practices. Some of these practices were rejected, some were learned but soon forgotten. Sar a’Naskara became disillusioned and realizing what the Arakasha were becoming he withheld the fullness of Velo from them until they will be ready to receive it. He then disappeared but is today revered as a messianic figure. Nabask is full of his teachings and the statutes that Arakashas base their lives upon. Manikix believe that the people in their present state cannot receive the fullness of Velo, but when Sar a’Naskara returns to fulfill the Velo they will be restored to their former glory.

Velo is the term used to describe and encompass every aspect of Arakashan life. All are parts and segments of the greater Velo. Loosely translated Velo can be thought of as meaning “The Way.” It can mean The Way of Combat (Wazkinasha) which includes all form of combat, particularly ritual Styt combat; The way of Blood Sharing (Chykaar) which also includes all rituals sacred to the Arakasha and The Way of Relations (Sarakarzu) which includes all social and political relationships

The Arakasha culture is structured and based heavily upon battle and blood. The field of combat, whether for personal or familial obligations is where the destiny of the Arakasha is ultimatelydecided. Within a clan there is a strict hierarchical ranking based upon battle prowess and adherence to the etiquette of Velo. To violate the way is considered an ultimate disgrace and often merits death without honor.

Arakasha religion, also called Velo, centers largely upon the worship of ancient heroes as war gods and awaiting the return of Sar a’Naskara. Their worship includes recalling and reenactment of their hero’s victories and deaths. Most Arakasha clans claim lineage from one or more war heroes.
The Velo also sets the philosophical framework for the Arakasha world. The Arakasha understand that they reside in a cruel and unforgiving climate. They call this aspect of their lives the Trial, and it is only by passing through the Trial can an Arakasha attain glory and be reunited with his ancestors. To pass through the trial successfully Arakasha must practice the Velo.

Ultimately Velo encompasses their entire existence and contains ancient lore that an Arakasha learns in stages as it moves through the hierarchy of the Clan. The first lore is that of the Dunes. Young Arakasha's learn about the Dunes and how to survive in its harsh environment. The second lore is that of the Styt, Wazkinasha, or combat, and etiquette of honor.  The third lore is the lore of their people, their past and their origins.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Arakasha, part 2

The Dek Var

The Dek Var

Dek Var Sand Storm
The black sand of the Dek Var takes a variety of shapes. Unlike other deserts where rolling hills of sand crest and fall the mounds of the Dek Var vary greatly. Some are huge aberrant monstrosities, angular where they should be smooth or coiled like a snake; some no more than small mounds. The erratic weather has made many in unfamiliar shapes and the blistering sun has fused many together into hardened mountains with razor sharp crests.

Tall, lonely shards of glistening obsidian grasp up for the heavens erratically among the lows and valleys between the sands. The Arak's call them 
Kunonistok, scarring them to sharpen their Styts and leaving them appearing like twisted devils.   

To the east and to the west are the open seas, to the north the foot hills of the northern mountains. Within it's canyons are strewn the skeletal remains of cities from a forgotten age. One populous, these desert mountains are home only to numerous wild beasts. The climate there is cooler as the altitude increases, but it is still relatively hot and dry. Small lakes can be found at the highest altitudes where glaciers once sat eons ago. Just beyond the northern reaches of the Dek Var, as if to mock the Arak's is the Kom; a vast lake. While inaccessible to the Arak's its tributaries flow through the Dek Var supplying water to hidden canyons and underground rivers guarded jealously by many Arak tribes. 
The few oases’ found throughout the desert are fought over by nomadic tribes. 

To the south of the Dek Var lies the vast expanse of the Jah-Re-Bah desert. Jah-Re-Bah is inhabited by nomads and traders who occasionally attempt to cross the Dek Var seeking trade in other lands. They rarely survive and so most are forced to trade by sea.


Vegetation is rare in the Dek Var but there are some hostile desert plants used for food and folk medicine. Seasonal rainstorms bring the Dek Var to life as if in an instant. Plants and flowers spring up from desolate landscapes and the Dek Var is transformed into a place of alien beauty. 

Despite its appearance, some animal life thrives here. Fierce creatures and reptilian beasts inhabit this vast and perilous desert, particularly in the northern and coastal areas, but the creatures that are most valuable are the Moroskaa; called the Black Camel by the Jah-Re-Bahn's.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Introduction to the Arak's

The Arakasha, by Ricardo Bare
May the trial of the Dunes sharpen you
May the Way of Velo guide you
May the entrails of your enemies adorn your styts

          Arakasha Benediction

Greylynn's Bane, Abberant, Unholy, Scourge of Navaaris are all terms used to describe the Arakasha. Their homeland is known to them as the Dek Var, but outsiders call it the Black Sea or the Blight; a blistering hot desert of biting sands as vicious and black as the Arak's souls. This is an infernal land, with a severe climate and treacherous landscape that rejects anything weak, fragile or benign. Even the most innocent looking plant or animal is equipped with some deadly mechanism to ensure its survival; the Arak's fit right in.

Legend has it that ancient Sol’ Väsen Kings imprisoned them in this land, bathed it in the heat of the sun and placed sentinels round about it to keep imprisoned. It was the folly of men that released the Arakasha's from their prison and armed them with knowledge, cunning and magic; weapons that they turned on their captors. Almost to their utter ruin. 

Whether the legends are true, no one knows, but many point to the decaying statues that are found on the desert borders as proof. 

Arakasha's are Mör’ Väsen Barbarians, standing an imposing seven feet tall when fully grown. The black sands of their homeland grow so hot that the bare flesh of a human would begin to cook but the hide of the Arakasha is highly resistant to the extremes of heat. Their dense skin, which shields them against the sweltering sun is naturally black but vicious sandstorms tear away at all of the unprotected areas of their skin exposing a dark crimson layer. 

The abberant appearance of the Arakasha is due to their adaptation to sharp sands, strong winds and furious storms which are so common in the Dek Var; their eyes have two lids, their noses are broad and flat with nostrils on the underside and they have membranes which cover the inner recesses of their ears. For balance while running into the wind they have short heavy tails and their feed are broad and flat.

Long ago, before the domestication of the Moroskaa, the most reliable and still fastest method of travelling the black sands was to run them, and Arakashas are capable of amazing feats as runners. They can travel long distances through the desert quickly with little food or water, which they can go without for long periods of time. 

Perhaps their most recognizable feature, and a locus of their culture, are their "Styts." Within a year of being born all Arak's begin to grow an excess of dense ivory protrusions from the sides of their forearms and elbows, penetrating through the skin in large lumps and knobs. This growth can become quite heavy and irregular, however, the Arakasha shave the ivory into keen spikes, ridges, and blades by using different grades of obsidian rocks and sand. These Styts are incredibly hard and their honed edges make dreadful side arms which the Arakasha employ with lethal skill. 

To be continued.....

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Väsen

No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united Cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

I would, that it were so easy....

The world of Lycadican is locked in a struggle. In-corruption puts on corruption and fires her vacuous arrows of righteousness into a darkness she cannot pierce. Not because light cannot rend it asunder but because you cannot play in the dirt without staining your clothes, and she has long been wallowing in filth.

Once, she had many names: Sol'Väsen, guardian, light bringer, slayer of the hordes, bane of the Mör’ Väsen, but she came to the realisation that rent her soul in twain and shattered her faith. Her Väsen, no longer deserved salvation.

At first glance nothing seems amiss, but even the simple common folk can smell the rot in the air. All is not well. Hidden within all of the civilizations, cultures and nationalities of Khardan are the great cabals. No one knows how these machinations came to be, only that they exist in three great combinations called the Väsen. The cabals within each Väsen share similar symbols, iconography, principles and often form political affiliations and orders which can span both races, cultures and broad geographies.

The cabals of the Väsen are most often secret orders, their memberships are guarded jealously and identification is protected by secret knowledge known only by the initiated. Sometimes common key words are used, sometimes signs, tokens or gestures identify members to each other while other less sacred signs are used to identify members of allied cabals. Almost always, there are specific rituals for induction and advancement within these orders as well as emergency calls that identify a brother or sister in need of immediate aid.

Sol’ Väsen – These Väsen often bear the symbol of the Celestial Sun. The Sol’ Väsen are the so called righteous defenders of peace, order, freedom and truth. When Sol’ Väsen are immortal species they are often ancients, who remembering the tyranny of darker times strive for the rule of law as a provider of peace and harmony. The Sol’Väsen are not, however, all benevolent. Their long struggle against the Mör Väsen has tainted many of them. They are likely to be as oppressive, dictatorial and corrupt as they are peaceful and benevolent.

Jor’ Väsen – The Väsen of the lesser light or false light, bear symbols of the moons, stars and flame, The Jor’ Väsen are somewhat benevolent and include those who may be both sympathetic and apathetic to the highly vaunted principles of morality, but are not wholly evil. Jor’ Väsen do not thrive in the full light of the Celstial but they also shun the Darkness. Jor’Väsen fight as often for what suits them as for what they believe is right. Often that can mean allying with the Mör’Väsen as often as the Sol’Väsen.

Mör’ Väsen – The brotherhoods of eternal Night vary widely in their symbols and standards and are not always easily identifiable. The Mör’ Väsen consist of combinations that are of varying degrees of wicked from the malicious to the malignant. They are not all wholly evil, but they thrive and draw power from the darkness, from chaos and the true freedom that comes from living in shadow and anonymity.

Within both the Sol’ Väsen and Mor’ Väsen exist terrorist-like extremists. These individuals exhibit the most extreme ideological characteristics of their groups and are distinguished from the others by the name prefix Ren. i.e. a Ren Mör’ Väsen denotes an extremely evil character while a Ren Sol’ Väsen would be either an extremely righteous character or at least self-righteous.