From a Mind of Eternal Chaos

A place where I post whatever happens to strike my fancy

Movie review #1: Spy Kids – They’re going to save the world — September 3, 2016

Movie review #1: Spy Kids – They’re going to save the world

Well, my brother just watched this movie the other day, I hadn’t seen it in a while, and I definitely remember liking it, so I figured it would be a pretty decent choice for my first movie review. In it, Carmen and Juni Cortez are two kids whose parents are international spies, which they only find out when their enemies break in and kidnap them and another secret agent has to explain the situation quickly and get the kids to safety before they get kidnapped as well. What follows is a combination of chases, wacky hijinks, action, adventure, drama, and intrigue, as they must escape the enemy agents and their robotic minions, figure out how to work as spies themselves with their new fancy gadgets, and make some unlikely allies along the way.

And…it works. I mean, it’s not some intricate, transcendentalist work of art or something like that, but as a family action-adventure movie with a little sci-fi thrown in, it’s really pretty decent. (Obviously, real espionage is about a hundred times more dangerous and painful than anything that happens in this movie, but hey, having Carmen and Juni get tortured for information or be forced to assassinate people would take away the fun of the movie, no?) I like the interesting gadgets and machines, the background setting, the quirky side characters…Spy Kids is out to entertain, and it certainly does that. While spy movies have probably been done quite a bit by this time (admittedly, the movie has been out since 2001), it had enough interesting twists on it—particularly anything involved with Floop—to feel unique and interesting. It also seems to divide its time between action sequences, worldbuilding, and character interaction pretty well. Even the kidnapped parents got some good scenes, such as the banquet with Floop and the (failed) escape attempt down the halls. The ending was nicely done, too.

Summary:

Plot: Fine

I guess one noteworthy thing about the plot of this movie is that there’s not really one single overarching goal that the protagonists are after. There is one main one, which is to get their parents back, but along the way, there are lots of “steps” to complete first.

Characters: Decent

While the two main characters weren’t that noteworthy, I think the side characters are what really made it work (again, particularly anyone involved with Floop). Though I swear I don’t remember Carmen being so…abrasive when I watched it as a kid…

Effects: Good

I don’t generally pay attention to special effects much, but they did a good job making the sci-fi-esque technology (the spy gadgets, the robots, the virtual reality sequences) look believable. Except maybe the “instant food”; that one stretched my suspension of disbelief a bit.

Dialogue: Fine

The dialogue was generally pretty decent, though I can’t immediately think of any particularly good lines (though “You’re not that strong, Juni…” might be at least marginally quotable).

Positives: Probably the best thing about this movie is that it’s interesting and mature enough for an adult to watch, yet family-friendly enough to show to kids without really needing to worry (unless they’re pretty little). I can’t think of a lot of shows that I could say that about, especially live-action ones.

Negatives: Remember what I mentioned about Carmen’s personality? Yeah, I’m going to reiterate that. If I remember correctly, she does get better in the sequels, as well as late into this one, but…honestly, she spends an awful lot of the movie acting like kind of a jerk to her brother for no particular reason. I’m also not sure why the heck either of them thought it was a good idea to try melee-attacking the robots after the first failed attempt. After Juni nearly broke his hand trying to punch them, Carmen headconking one could only grant me a reaction of “…You idiot.” (And doing that even to a human isn’t exactly fun…) “You’re not that strong, Juni” indeed. On a related note, I’m pretty sure that you can’t put someone on a merry-go-round and then spin it that fast without either the person or the playground equipment—or both—suffering some significant harm.

Final score: 7

Spy Kids is a pretty good movie for family entertainment, I’d say. Some people might fancy themselves too sophisticated or highbrow for this kind of thing, but then, I could say that about quite a few works of media that are less well-done and less mature than this was. In fact, this actually used to be one of my favorite movies as a kid, along with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? as I recall. I would highly recommend it. (Now, excuse me while I sing the theme song from the credits…)

Magic: The Gathering discussion #1: Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon, plus a general overview — August 17, 2016

Magic: The Gathering discussion #1: Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon, plus a general overview

Well, now that the Shadows over Innistrad block of Magic: The Gathering is over with and Eldritch Moon—the second and last set—has been out for a few weeks, I suppose it’s a decent time to discuss my thoughts about the block. Before I can do that, though, I suppose it would be wise to talk about Magic in general, since it’s definitely not a game that everyone plays or is familiar with. I will discuss the latest couple of sets in this ongoing game, but before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this story….

For anyone not in the know, Magic: The Gathering is a collectible card game (think Pokemon cards but for an older audience), wherein you buy various assortments of cards in random packs or individually online or secondhand and use these cards to build your own deck to play with. You can also get pre-built base decks, which are usually assorted with a specific color or faction in the game. The game is divided up into blocks, which each consist of a self-contained story and theme and are generally based around a particular world (or “plane”), and sets, which are subdivisions of blocks and are essentially parts or stages of the block. Most blocks contain 3 sets, though one of them had 4 and the newest ones have switched to 2. Planes often have a certain theme to them; in the past, there have been ones based around such things as Japanese mythology, gothic horror, old-time fairytales, and an enormous city with conflicting guilds.

There are 5 different colors of mana, each associated with particular types of spells (for instance, things that prevent damage tend to be white, things that damage players directly tend to be red, and large creatures tend to be green), and you need a certain about of mana to cast these spells, which is usually obtained by activating, or “tapping”, land cards that you’ve played. Each player has 20 life, at least in the normal style of play, and anyone whose life count reaches 0 loses the game. (There are other ways of winning the game besides reducing everyone else to 0 life, but that’s the simplest and most common.) There are various types of spells; creatures, for instance, stay in play and can be used to attack other players (usually), instant and sorcery spells grant a one-time effect and then go to the discard pile, and enchantments grant a permanent effect either globally or for a particular thing that they’re enchanting. Some cards can also have certain keywords for an extra layer of functionality; for instance, there is one keyword that causes a creature to gain you life whenever it deals damage, one that prevents the thing it’s on from being targeted by your opponents’ spells, and one that lets you look at a certain number of cards from the top of your deck and move some of them to the bottom if you wish. There are also keywords that are specific to certain sets and blocks, such as one that lets you make a single-target spell hit everything by paying extra mana and one that causes something to happen whenever a land that you control enters play.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the game overall. It’s decently fun, I suppose, and some of the story and flavor is pretty neat, but the story can also get really freaking depressing and outright disturbing at times (we’re talking A Song of Ice and Fire-tier dark here, at least from what I’ve heard of the series). And even if you don’t follow the story (which is fair; there’s no reason you need to just to play the game), it’s one of those games where there are far too many ways to make your opponents absolutely miserable; as a corollary, it’s also one of those games where the amount of fun you’ll have depends greatly on the people you’re playing with. And since everyone makes their own decks, it also depends greatly on what kinds of decks you’re up against. (Tip: In a game with 3 or more players, if there is anyone playing a control deck or the “Manabarbs” enchantment, gang up on that person first.) On the other hand, the customizable nature of the game and the sheer number of available cards means that just about everyone will be able to find things they like and put together a deck or two for their play style. On the other other hand, most people would probably gravitate toward the cooler and more powerful cards if given a choice, and a lot of those tend to be quite expensive to buy individually (naturally, they also tend to be rare, so one could not easily find them in random packs). For instance, there’s a pretty neat card called Sword of Fire and Ice that I’d like to use. How much does it cost? Well, depending on where you get it and at the time of this writing, roughly 43 dollars. Yeah, no. And that’s not even considered all that bad compared to some high-tier cards…or quite a few infamously imbalanced ones from the oldest sets, some of which get up to the thousands. It’s not as bad when it’s a card that I could easily do without, one of those “this would be pretty cool, but it’s not super important for any decks I have planned” cards, but then you get some that would be really useful in a lot of things. The most infamous of those is Doubling Season; I’d use that card in all sorts of decks if I could, but how can I when I’d have to drop 37 bucks on one every time I needed it? I mean, I’m probably stupid for spending as much money as I do on this kind of nerd hobby, but I’m not quite that stupid. (There is the option of using proxies, which would only cost about 9 cents per card, maybe less depending on where you print them, but my playgroup doesn’t seem to be too willing to let me use those.)

On the other other hand, there are also plenty of cards that are pretty decent and much cheaper. Druids’ Repository, for instance, is also quite useful, and it’s only 24 cents. And let me just say—and I’m speaking from first-hand experience here—that even if they might not be as flashy, a hand-picked assortment of 200 15-cent cards for $30.00 will serve you much better than two $15.00 cards for the same price would. On the other other other hand (apparently, we’re borrowing Lakshmi Tatma‘s limbs to count on)…it’s possible to go a bit too far that way as well; you can buy large assortments of random cards on places like eBay, but in my experience, they tend to be mostly junk. I guess it’s okay if everyone is building their decks out of the same junk, but personally, I’d rather at least be able to get more of a plan together.

There’s also the issue of that story and flavor that I mentioned earlier. Now, generally, when a person talks about something being a work of the devil designed to corrupt innocent minds or something to that effect, my mental response is usually something like “Pffffftt…yeah, right, whatever you say. Hey, did you know they’ve now discovered that the world is round?”. In this case, however, I must admit that the puritanical types might actually have something of a point. No, I obviously don’t think Magic was inspired by Satan or anything like that, but it’s not exactly innocent either; simply put, the game might say it’s for ages 13 and up, but I don’t think it’s quite appropriate for 13-year-olds. It’s not because it encourages antisocial acts or anything, or even because it’s too complex for young people (a few rare edge cases of mechanic interaction might cause a bit of confusion, but a quick Google search ought to elucidate those reasonably well); it’s the imagery that’s the problem. I’ll be the first to admit that Magic: The Gathering does have some very nice artwork overall, and there are at least a few cards that I’d consider getting just for the artwork even if they weren’t that efficient in-game (providing they weren’t too expensive) because they’re just so gosh-darned pretty. But then you also get plenty of cards that are genuinely creepy and unsettling (yes, I can think of a few in particular; no, I’m not going to link them here). Some people might have a problem with the demon-related cards, but honestly, the cards that depict demons generally aren’t even that bad. So I suppose you just have to find the right cards, some reasonably innocent dryads, fairies, centaurs, or what have you.

tl;dr: Magic: The Gathering is a decent enough game, provided you have the right group of friends to play it with. But I wouldn’t give it to your 13-year-old if I were you, unless you’re prepared to go through the cards with him or her and filter out certain ones.

Now, that brings me to Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon…

In Shadows over Innistrad, the first set of the block, we return to the plane of Innistrad, where mysterious mutations are afflicting people and creatures there. It turns out to be the work of Emrakul, an Eldrazi (basically, think H.P. Lovecraft-style monstrous otherworldly abominations) lured to the plane by a former friend of Sorin, a vampire from the plane, as revenge for leaving her own plane to be ravaged by the Eldrazi centuries ago. We don’t find that out until the second set, Eldritch Moon, though it’s pretty obvious to anyone who has been following the recent story, since the previous block also had a lot of Eldrazi involved and it was specifically brought to attention that one was missing (and the one who is most known for causing mutations of that nature). The main characters prevail, sort of, though there’s an odd plot twist at the end that might leave a lot of people wondering. The block introduces some new mechanics: investigate, which gives you an artifact that you can pay some mana and sacrifice to draw a card and only shows up in the first set; delirium, which allows cards that have it to grant an additional or more powerful effect if your discard pile contains four or more card types (there being seven card types in total, or eight in rare cases); skulk, which prevents a creature from being blocked by anything with higher power than itself; escalate, which allows you to choose multiple modes of modal spells by paying extra mana and only shows up in the second set; emerge, which allows you to cast certain creature spells cheaper by sacrificing an existing creature (also exclusive to the second set); and meld, which allows you to combine certain pairs of cards into one more powerful one should you have both of them out (ditto). There is also madness, a returning mechanic that allows you to cast cards as you discard them.

So, what do I think of this block? Eeehh…I’m not a fan, honestly. The main issue is definitely the story/setting/flavor; Innistrad was already a fairly dark, gruesome setting (it’s the “gothic horror” plane I mentioned in the second paragraph), and adding eldritch abominations to the mix just makes it that much worse. Granted, it’s still probably not as bad as the Scars of Mirrodin block from late 2010/early 2011 (though that level of dystopia is hard to top), but it’s a shoo-in for second place in most nightmarish block. Remember what I said about the game not really being appropriate for young people? Well, the Shadows over Innistrad block definitely isn’t, unless it’s a kid who has already seen enough fictional horror to be desensitized. I mean, some of the artwork for the corrupted creatures and stuff gives me the creeps, and I’m old enough to do basically anything lawful except run for president. (Okay, so I’m also rather sensitive to that kind of thing, but still…) Now, how about the mechanics? I mean, even Scars of Mirrodin had some pretty decent gameplay mechanics to play around with. Well, as far as that goes for Shadows and Moon…swing and a miss, I’m afraid. I’d imagine they’re fine within the set, but generally, the kinds of game mechanics I like tend to be ones that are open-ended enough to work well in a lot of different settings and with a lot of different cards. While meld was an interesting idea and escalate is one that I’m frankly surprised took this long to show up (at least as a keyword), the mechanics in Innistrad Part 2 generally aren’t things that seem particularly useful outside of the block, and they certainly don’t add anything to most of my existing decks. It really does not help that, with the exception of investigate (which, might I remind you, was only in one of the two sets), they only really care about the cards that they’re actually on; they can’t directly affect anything else. Big hairy deal.

It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the Shadows over Innistrad block is unquestionably one of my less-liked blocks in the game. I don’t know if it’s my outright least favorite, but it has to be close. I didn’t hate the story, setting, and flavor as much as Scars of Mirrodin’s, but Scars of Mirrodin at least had some interesting mechanics to play around with outside of the setting; Shadows over Innistrad didn’t even have that going for it. On a side note, what is with return blocks and turning the plane into a complete dunghole? Wizards of the Coast has done a total of four blocks (at least among the modern sets) that returned to a plane previously visited, and only one of them—Return to Ravnica—didn’t have all of the smelliest, grossest poop hit the biggest, fastest fan on that return trip. If it’s true that about every other set from here on out will be a returning one, I’m not looking forward to seeing what other planes they decide to ruin. (I really liked Ravnica in particular, so if they decide at some point to do “Ravnica 3: Now With 250% More Dark and Edgy”, it would be an understatement to say I’d be ticked off about it.) I’ve gotten a few particular cards from the Shadows over Innistrad block that I quite liked (Second Harvest was a particularly nice one), but…I think I’ll leave most of the rest of it to play in the septic tank. With any hope, I’ll like the next block much better.

Minor status update 11: Happy anniversary to me? — July 27, 2016

Minor status update 11: Happy anniversary to me?

Guess what day it is? It is the 1-year anniversary of when I started this site, if you didn’t know. I don’t have anything special in mind for the occasion, though. Here’s hoping I actually do more with it in the next year. Besides, I figured I had to post something this month.

On that note, yes, I realize I never finished Worldbuilding June. I’ll get around to it eventually. I was planning on not posting anything else until I had finished, but obviously, I decided against that. So I may post some reviews and stuff while I work on the remaining prompts.

Worldbuilding June – Days 26-30 — June 30, 2016

Worldbuilding June – Days 26-30

Well, I was behind on the prompts up to the end…and since I’ll be on a trip for the first week and a half of July, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get them done very soon. I’ll finish them when I can. Sorry for all the delays.

Day 26: Transportation

*to be filled in*

Day 27: Major Figures & Important Players

*to be filled in*

Day 28: Communication

*to be filled in*

Day 29: Weather

*to be filled in*

Day 30: Disasters

*to be filled in*

Worldbuilding June – Days 21-25 — June 25, 2016
Worldbuilding June – Days 16-20 — June 20, 2016
Worldbuilding June – Days 11-15 — June 15, 2016

Worldbuilding June – Days 11-15

Yes, I haven’t managed to finish most of the prompts for this round yet. I was too busy with another project that had a much stricter deadline, so…sorry.

Day 11: Fauna

Well, since I don’t really have enough material for this prompt and the next one to need two days, I’ll be describing them both on day 12 and continuing the one from last time.

Last time, we discussed Nimesilai, the common language of Larezzia, and its alphabet. Now it’s time to learn about the grammar. I will be using transliterations of the letters rather than the actual alphabet, since of course, the latter would require a custom font. (See the prompt from day 10 for a transliteration chart.)

For starters, Nimesilai is significantly more agglutinative and synthetic than English; i.e., it has a higher tendency to string together words and parts of words to make longer words, and it often uses affixes to convey grammatical meaning. For instance, the phrase “science fiction movie fan” could be a single word in Nimesilai, and the verb form “I will run” always is (unless modified for emphasis or something similar). It also has a more complex case system than English, with 4 different cases for nouns and adjectives and remnants of a fifth for some words (particularly pronouns). (English, in comparison, has but a single noun case, or arguably two counting the possessive, and only two or three for pronouns.) This means that in Nimesilai, the word “house” in the sentences “The house stands on the hill”, “The roof of the house needs fixing”, “We will see the new house today”, and “My sister went back to the house” would actually have a different suffix in each case (no pun intended), though the root word would be the same. On the other hand, since Nimesilai does not use articles or mark nouns for definiteness, there would be no difference between “the house” and “a house”.

Nimesilai has 6 different declensions for nouns (and pronouns). It could also be construed as having 4 declensions for adjectives, but since the only difference between them is the ending vowel, there are no adjectives that are contrasted purely by ending vowel, and the forms are nearly identical anyway, they are often simply grouped as a single declension with slight variants. The declensions for nouns are as follows:

First declension: -is (example: aimis, meaning “person”)

Case/number Suffix Example Meaning
Nominative singular -is aimis “(a/the) person (subject)”
Nominative plural -issa aimissa “(a/the) people (subject)”
Genitive singular -ia aimia “of (a/the) person”
Genitive plural -eia aimeia “of (a/the) people”
Accusative singular -os aimos “(a/the) person (object)”
Accusative plural -usa aimusa “(a/the) people (object)”
Dative singular -es aimes “to (a/the) person”
Dative plural -essa aimessa “to (a/the) people”

Second declension: -an (example: zifan, meaning “fire”)

Case/number Suffix Example Meaning
Nominative singular -an zifan “(a/the) fire (subject)”
Nominative plural -ina zifina “(a/the) fires (subject)”
Genitive singular -ansa zifansa “of (a/the) fire”
Genitive plural -ansai zifansai “of (a/the) fires”
Accusative singular -inis zifinis “(a/the) fire (object)”
Accusative plural -ineis zifineis “(a/the) fires (object)”
Dative singular -aine zifaine “to (a/the) fire”
Dative plural -ainei zifainei “to (a/the) fires”

Third declension: -al (example: shamal, meaning “forest”)

Case/number Suffix Example Meaning
Nominative singular -al shamal “(a/the) forest (subject)”
Nominative plural -ala shamala “(a/the) forests (subject)”
Genitive singular -alsa shamalsa “of (a/the) forest”
Genitive plural -alsai shamalsai “of (a/the) forests”
Accusative singular -ili shamili “(a/the) forest (object)”
Accusative plural -ilis shamilis “(a/the) forests (object)”
Dative singular -aile shamaile “to (a/the) forest”
Dative plural -ailei shamailei “to (a/the) forests”

Fourth declension: -ad (example: kaimad, meaning “wall”)

Case/number Suffix Example Meaning
Nominative singular -ad kaimad “(a/the) wall (subject)”
Nominative plural -ida kaimida “(a/the) walls (subject)”
Genitive singular -era kaimera “of (a/the) wall”
Genitive plural -ereia kaimereia “of (a/the) walls”
Accusative singular -ides kaimides “(a/the) wall (object)”
Accusative plural -ideia kaimideia “(a/the) walls (object)”
Dative singular -eida kaimeida “to (a/the) wall”
Dative plural -eidai kaimeidai “to (a/the) walls”

Fifth declension: -ys (example: kithys, meaning “language”)

Case/number Suffix Example Meaning
Nominative singular -ys kithys “(a/the) language (subject)”
Nominative plural -ysti kithysti “(a/the) languages (subject)”
Genitive singular -ysa kithysa “of (a/the) language”
Genitive plural -ysai kithysai “of (a/the) languages”
Accusative singular -esi kithesi “(a/the) language (object)”
Accusative plural -esai kithesai “(a/the) languages (object)”
Dative singular -elisa kithelisa “to (a/the) language”
Dative plural -eleisa kitheleisa “to (a/the) languages”

Sixth declension: -ai (example: nirai, meaning “day”)

Case/number Suffix Example Meaning
Nominative singular -ai nirai “(a/the) day (subject)”
Nominative plural -aia niraia “(a/the) days (subject)”
Genitive singular -aisa niraisa “of (a/the) day”
Genitive plural -aisara niraisara “of (a/the) days”
Accusative singular -ei nirei “(a/the) day (object)”
Accusative plural -eisa nireisa “(a/the) days (object)”
Dative singular -itha niritha “to (a/the) day”
Dative plural -itheia niritheia “to (a/the) days”

There are actually a few minor variants; the base vowels for declensions 2, 3, and 4 can differ, and some fourth-declension nouns can also end in -r rather than -d, but we will leave it at this for the sake of simplicity. Note that the accusative forms are used for direct objects, while the dative forms are used for indirect objects and the genitive is the equivalent of the possessive. The declensions are arranged roughly in order of frequency for common nouns, though the last two are actually quite common among proper nouns and pronouns.

For adjectives, the following forms apply, where “B” is the base vowel (a, e, i, or ai):

Example: kitsa, meaning “cold”

Case/number Suffix Example
Nominative singular -B kitsa
Nominative plural -ai/ei/ia/aia kitsai
Genitive singular -Bsa kitsasa
Genitive plural -aisa/eisa/eisa/isa kitsaisa
Accusative singular -o kitso
Accusative plural -oi kitsoi
Dative singular -Bra kitsara
Dative plural -aira/eira/eira/ira kitsaira

Adjectives in Nimesilai nearly always follow the noun and must agree in case and number with the noun they modify, as in shamailei kitsaira (“to the cold forests”). It is also possible to form substantive adjectives, or adjectives used as nouns. (We do this in English on occasion, as in “the rich” and “the elderly”, though it is more common in Nimesilai.) Substantive adjectives are always treated as sixth-declension nouns, so kitsai (yes, it resembles the normal plural form of the adjective, one of the few cases where one word form in Nimesilai could be confused for another, though context usually makes it clear which is being used) could be used as a noun meaning “a cold thing”. Do not, however, confuse it with kitsys, which is also a noun that means “cold” but refers to “cold” as a concept or attribute in itself (as in “the cold never bothered me anyway”). Many other adjectives follow the same pattern.

Adverbs are declined the same way as adjectives. To form adverbs from adjectives in Nimesilai, one must add the infix –ysh– before the ending vowel of an adverb; for instance, mosa, “slow”, becomes mosysha, “slowly”. Note, however, that there are a few adverbs that do not follow this pattern, mostly ones that do not have a corresponding adjective, such as adverbs of time. These always end in -i, -ai, or -ei.

Day 12: Flora

Well, since I still have a decent amount to say about Nimesilai, let’s do a third day discussing the language! It seems we’re still stuck on the nineteenth story.

This time, let’s talk about pronouns. Some pronouns in Nimesilai are declined the same way as nouns, but the basic personal pronoun is not. This pronoun, the equivalent of “I”/”me”/”you”/”they”/etc., changes according to case, number, and person, and unlike nouns and most other pronouns, it actually has five cases, including a prepositional case, which tends to be used in relation to most prepositions such as “with” and “by”. (Depending on context, it may even be possible to leave the preposition out entirely and still convey the intended meaning with the prepositional case.) The basic pronoun is declined as follows (rows for case, columns for person and number):

1p-sing. 2p-sing. 3p-sing. 1p-pl. 2p-pl. 3p-pl.
Nom. sai dai kai saia daia kaia
Gen. saisa daisa kaisa saiasa daiasa kaiasa
Acc. sei dei kei seia deia keia
Dat. sitha detha katha saitha deitha kaitha
Prep. sadha didha kadha saidha daidha keidha

At this point, you may be wondering where the markers for gender are. Nimesilai actually uses an infix to mark gender for both pronouns and nouns (so one can distinguish between, for instance, a stallion, a mare, and just a generic horse), and it has 5 potential genders for both: common, masculine, feminine, neuter, and dual-gender. Common gender is the default form, the one without an affix that encompasses all others and can be used when the gender of the noun or pronoun is not important or not disclosed. The masculine and feminine forms are exactly what they sound like, used to mark something as male or female. (These are almost exclusively used with living creatures; about the only times when they would be used with inanimate objects are as terms of endearment [as in “You like my new shotgun? I call her “Alice”.] or for comedy [as in “The bad news is, it’s a girl nickel!”].) To specify the gender of nouns and pronouns, one adds “r” preceded by the appropriate vowel: -e for masculine, -a for feminine, -i for neuter, and -ai for dual-gender. (For instance, the word for “she”, as in third-person plural feminine, is karai in the nominative.) In practice, however, the common-gender forms are generally used unless specified otherwise, and when referring to people, the best gender to use is whichever that person uses (since NImesilai, unlike English, has gendered first- and second-person pronouns).

There are also relative pronouns, emai, irai, and eilai, which mean “who”/”whom”, “that”, and “where” respectively. The interrogative forms add th- to the beginning (compare “a person who loved me” to “Who is it?” – the latter would be themai rather than emai). Nimesilai also has indefinite and reciprocal pronouns, though I don’t have those down yet. Finally, there is a reflexive pronoun, lai, which is the equivalent of “myself”/”yourself”/etc. It has only three forms: lai in the accusative, lei in the dative, and laisa in the genitive. It is never used in the nominative or prepositional case, and it does not show person or number. When used with a simple verb form, it is often attached to the verb (e.g. kharasa “I wash” -> lai kharasa or kharasalai “I wash myself”).

Now we shall discuss verbs. All verbs in Nimesilai end in a vowel plus -mi in the present active infinitive, considered their base form (either -ami, -emi, -imi, -aimi, -eimi, -ymi, or -aemi [note that the “ae” is a transliteration of a single letter, not an “a” followed by an “e]), though all of them are conjugated the same way. There is always the root of the verb followed by the base vowel, then an infix of one or more letters depending on tense, aspect, and mood, then a personal ending. These can be summed up as follows:

Example verbs:

Conjugation Verb Meaning
1 kadami to walk
2 lesemi to see
3 mairimi to write
4 ishaimi to change
5 kazeimi to come
6 tsefymi to believe
7 symaemi to surrender, give in

Personal endings:

Singular Plural
First-person -i -ei
Second-person -o -u
Third-person -a -ai

Tense, aspect, and mood infixes:

Tense/aspect Indicative Subjunctive Conditional
Present -s- -n- -mys-
Preterite -l- -sh- -maets-
Imperfect -r- -dh- -meith-
Future -th- -zh- -mer-
Perfect -mat- * *
Pluperfect -mist- * *
Future perfect -mesm- * *
Present progressive -nais- * *
Past progressive -nish- * *
Future progressive -nor- * *

*Only the indicative mood has unique forms for the perfect and progressive aspects. For the other moods, add the infix -shai- for the perfect tenses or -nai- for the progressive tenses to the stem and use the regular endings (use the imperfect ending for the past tenses).

There are also emphatic and passive forms, which require infixes as well. All emphatic forms are created by adding -thei- after the base vowel (e.g. lesetheisi – “I do see”), and all passive forms are created by adding -tsi- (e.g. mairitsila – “it was written”). These can also stack, in which case the emphatic infix precedes the passive infix. There are also a few special forms that do not follow the normal patterns. The endings needed for these (added to the base vowel and any extra infixes) are as follows:

Imperative, singular -da
Imperative, plural -dai
Imperative, singular (polite) -ba
Imperative, plural (polite) -bi
Infinitive, simple active -mi
Infinitive, simple passive -mai
Infinitive, perfect active -mei
Infinitive, perfect passive -miri
Infinitive, progressive active -mansi
Infinitive, progressive passive -mizari
Participle, present active* -menai
Participle, past active -mikai
Participle, future active -malai
Participle, perfect active -mysai
Participle, pluperfect active -mothai
Participle, future perfect active -muvai

Notes:
– The passive participles are formed by adding -ar- before the ending -ai.
– The imperative is always in the second-person present indicative, and it does not have aspect. (The subjunctive is used for first- and third-person “imperatives”.)
– When a participle is used as an adjective or adverb (as in “frozen fruit” and “tired parent”), its base form will be treated as a fourth-declension adjective, which also means that it can be treated as a substantive adjective.
– When an infinitive is used as an noun (as in “To love truly is the greatest thing”), the ending -lai is added, and the result is treated as a sixth-declension noun. When one is used as an adjective or adverb, it takes the same ending and inflects like a fourth-declension adjective/adverb.

If Nimesilai verbs seem too complicated to learn, keep in mind that the simplest, most pattern-based forms tend to be the most commonly used; the complex forms with multiple affixes are usually very rare.

With that, I’ve probably said more than enough about Nimesilai. There are a few details I could have touched on but didn’t for want of time.

Day 13: Food

*to be filled in*

Day 14: Technology

*to be filled in*

Day 15: Magic

*to be filled in*

Worldbuilding June – Days 6-10 — June 10, 2016

Worldbuilding June – Days 6-10

Second post about this, covering the next 5 days’ worth of prompts.

Day 6: Civilization & Architecture

Today’s prompt is about…well, read the line above. There isn’t too much to say here, partly because I haven’t thought much about what kinds of dwellings Larezzians live in and partly because there aren’t many details to tell. One thing worth noting, though, is that in quite a few places of Larezzia, houses are designed to seamlessly combine elements of the natural world with modern technology. A particularly noteworthy example of this is in the fairy dwellings of the Enchanted Forest, where entire villages are built in and around large trees and yet manage to have conveniences such as electricity, running water, and even the Larezzian equivalent of the Internet. In province 23, which I discussed in the previous prompt, the houses tend to be very metallic and mechanical in nature, often in the form of geometric shapes and patterns. There are also people living underground in some parts of Larezzia, particularly province 21 (as mentioned), and these person-made caves are often lined with stones and wood and furnished as a normal town and houses would be.

There are also large cities in Larezzia, such as the city of Ytsetyssa (pronounced /ˌɪts.ɛˈtɪʃ.a/, i.e., “its-eh-tish-ah”) in the northeast of province 2. Of course, there are as many different designs for cities as there are cities. Large to medium-sized cities and towns usually have many multi-story buildings and at least one public transport system, and occasionally some unorthodoxly-designed buildings (for instance, Ytsetyssa has a large crystal pyramid in one area). It is also worth noting that cities in Larezzia are designed more with aesthetics in mind than Earth cities tend to be.

Finally, the sky cities of Larezzia are noteworthy. There are some places in Larezzia where there are cities built in the clouds, far above the land and help up by magic. Most of these are quite new, because the technology for building and maintaining them was only developed fairly recently, as well as the airships commonly used for transport within and away from them. They can be built at varying altitudes, but the most well-known one, and the only known one to have been built before the unification, is above the clouds. In the modern sky cities that are built above the clouds, solar power is easy to obtain, but because of the thinner atmosphere, systems must be put in place to allow for the people to have enough oxygen and heat. For that reason, these tend to be built at lower altitudes in modern times. Even today, it is not known how the ancient sky city was made.

Day 7: Economy

Larezzia’s economy is relatively simple to describe. There is a common currency accepted throughout the country called the raizen (plural raizina), which comes in units of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10,000 (they do not need a larger denomination). Based on purchasing power parity, one raizen would be worth around 3 to 4 U.S. cents (close to 3.5 at the time of the first story), so, for instance, if an item cost $3.50 in modern America, an item of the same value in Larezzia would cost around 100 raizina. However, in small towns, it is not uncommon to pay for things by bartering. The units of 100 and below come in coins, and the ones for 200 and above come in bills, though the “bills” in question are made of a stiffer material and are more like cards. (They cost more to mint, but they last longer.) There is also an electronic money system in place, though it’s moot in some of the more remote places.

Day 8: Hierarchy, Power, & Governance

For this eighth prompt, let us discuss the government of Larezzia. One thing to note first off is that each province has its own small government, and while federal law supersedes provincial law, the provincial governments tend to have more power than, for instance, state governing bodies in the United States would have. The main government used to be a sort of parliamentary system, but just before the invasion, it had been reduced to the emperor and empress plus a small group of their compatriots. (The royalty of Larezzia used to have ceremonial duties only.) Now, after the invasion, the country is more or less ruled by a combination of dictatorship and anarchy, and every indication is that it will continue to be so until the missing heirs are found.

Within the provincial governments, there are differences between provinces. Some of them merely have a single elected governor, particularly the less populous ones. Province 13 has a council usually elected from respected elders. Province 19, on the other hand, has an entire large organization based around two groups, the Light Court and the Dark Court, which work in tandem. There is royalty here, usually a queen and possibly her husband and immediate family. (Or a king depending on birth order and abdication, but the fairy royalty has historically been matriarchal.) The queen is not expected to rule the territory by herself, but she is generally considered (and expected to be) a role model and leader figure for the entire province, despite not having all that much in the way of actual governmental power. An unlikable queen does not usually get far. The courts, meanwhile, are prestigious and elite, and the leaders of those are considered the ones truly in charge, but both courts are also considered public servants; a self-centered person cannot make it into the Light or Dark Court nor stay in them.

Day 9: Religion & Cosmology

There are quite a few different religions in Larezzia that are practiced and (more or less) accepted, as well as atheism. Ancient Larezzians followed a polytheistic belief system involving gods tied to specific concepts (god of the sun, of trees and forests, of families, or of combat, for instance), but this is very rare as a religion in modern Larezzia, though there are still festivals in some places that are based on it, often involving actors playing the parts of various gods. In modern Larezzia, there is a strictly monotheistic religion that is commonly followed, but the most common religion, actually, is a sort of agnostic animism. It can be concisely described as the belief there may be a being who created the universe and watches over it, possibly even more than one, or there may not be any such beings at all, but we do know that there are many other beings, creatures, and things that are very real (at least, relative to our own perspective), and we can do as this divine being would, even if there is none, by treating all of his/her/its creations with respect.

Overall, though, religion—or the lack thereof—is not seen as being as important to most Larezzians as it is in our world. In Larezzia, people tend more toward the ideas of spirituality and commnity than following a specific system of beliefs and dogma.

Day 10: Language

Well, it’s time for the extra-fun one…and for once, I’m actually not being sarcastic. There are many different languages in Larezzia originating from before the unification (and even a few from foreign immigrants), but there is also one language considered to be the standard, the more or less universal language of Larezzia, which is called Nimesilai (pronounced basically how it’s spelled, which in English would be something like “nee-mess-ee-lie”). The alphabet of Nimesilai actually comes from an ancient empire that was around during the Larezzian years 2591-2933 (for comparison, the story takes place in the year 5144 by their calendar system, which would be somewhere in the 2010s in our own), but it has remained in use—with some minor modifications—and is commonly used in modern languages. It has 37 letters, which in Nimesilai comprise 28 consonants, 7 pure vowels, and 2 diphthongs; the language is almost entirely phonetic. This is the Nimesilai alphabet, with descriptions for each letter’s pronunciation and notes on them:

Nimesilai alphabet chart

A zoomable version of the chart can be found here.

Worldbuilding June – Days 1-5 — June 5, 2016

Worldbuilding June – Days 1-5

See my post from June 1 if you don’t know what this is about.

Day 1: Introduction

Okay, the prompt for the first day is kind of vague. But in any case, it’s time to introduce you to the world of Larezzia, a fantastical world I created for a book series (possibly multiple series?) that I’m writing. You could think of it as being in a sort of alternate universe, I suppose. Larezzia is a country that consists of 24 provinces, each of which used to be separate territories before their unification (which happened a bit over 500 years before the story takes place). Each territory also used to be a lot more homogeneous before the unification; as it stands, while some of them have a tendency toward higher concentration of particular species, pretty much any race can be found anywhere nowadays. On that note, probably Larezzia’s most notable feature is its sheer diversity. There are humans living in Larezzia, but there are also many creatures that would be considered mythical in our world, such as fairies, dragons, elves, merpeople, werewolves, goblins, centaurs, unicorns, hydras…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For the most part, the different races coexist reasonably well, though of course, that’s not to say everyone gets along perfectly all the time, nor that Larezzia is a land of nothing but peace and harmony. I’d say it’s about as peaceful and harmonious, as, say, our world is nowadays. Well, maybe not that bad; I’m not writing a dystopia here.

Naturally, I would consider the stories of Larezzia some form of fantasy, but pinning down the exact type isn’t so easy. A side effect of the diversity is that there is also some diversity in technology, so some parts of the country could be using laptops and playing video games while others are still riding in horse-drawn carriages. Perhaps even both simultaneously. Also, while all sorts of possible stories could be set here, in the first subseries, The Lost Crystals of Larezzia, three people from our world are brought to Larezzia and given a quest, the completion of which will help defeat an evil sorcerer from a neighboring country that is taking over the place.

However Larezzia turns out in the end, I hope to share its stories with you, to describe its mystery and intrigue and build a rich and believable world with fleshed-out characters, culture, and environments. Oh yeah…and I’m not much of an artist, so as much as I’d like to accompany these prompts with cool pictures showing off my world, it wouldn’t be feasible.

Day 2: Geography

For the second day, the prompt is to discuss the terrain of our world in question, which is a bit easier. Larezzia is a somewhat rectangular-shaped land, bordered on the north by another country and on all other sides by the ocean. Much of the border consists of a large mountain range. The country is large enough to have quite a variety of climates, to say nothing of the magical forces affecting it in a few places, so there is a good amount to describe.

The northwesternmost point of Larezzia is mainly composed of a number of large, cold, rocky islands with heavy precipitation. Shortly to the east of this is a rough mountainous area, so jagged and abrupt that it would be considered inhospitable to most people. Nevertheless, there is life there, and there are many caves underneath these mountains—some natural, some constructed—that house large numbers of people and creatures who are somewhat comfortable living underground, such as goblins. These mountains taper off into a range that extends almost all the way to the southern coast of Larezzia and branches off roughly three-fourths of the way down; in the corner formed by these two branches is a large desert, and at the southwesternmost point of the country, a single large island. To the southeast of the large cluster of mountains is the Enchanted Forest (there are many enchanted forests in Larezzia, but this one is the largest and most well-known), a place of intense nature magic that stretches between parts of three provinces.

South of this large forest is a moderately flat but somewhat hilly area veined by rivers, and south of this plain is a lake, the largest lake in Larezzia, which has another large (but smaller) forest along part of its southern coast. In the middle of the country, slightly to the southeast, is a large, flat area. Much of this consists of farmland and small towns, but there are also larger cities here (the capital city is in the northwest of this area). The bottom of this gives way to swampy terrain in the middle, up until you reach the southern coast. At the southeasternmost point of the country is a sort of croissant-shaped archipelago of volcanic islands with a tropical climate.

Moving back north and slightly west from here, we find another mountain range curving around the east coast of Larezzia with a small protrusion to the left. At the intersection of these is the tallest mountain in Larezzia, so tall that its peak is above the clouds, and it can be used as an access point to the nearby cities in the sky. A few mountains up, we find a large river pouring into a lake, and at the left side of the branch-off, a large wall of thorny hedges magically grown and maintained, which were used many years ago as part of a barrier to the outside world. The northeastern area of Larezzia is mostly mysterious and secluded, with huge chasms full of monsters, warped magical phenomena, and scars from the wars of times past.

Day 3: People and Races

For the third prompt, let’s discuss the population of Larezzia. I already mentioned in the first prompt how varied the races of Larezzia are, and because there is such diversity in this respect, racism in Larezzia is considered taboo, not something that’s against the law but that would at least ruin your reputation. (It might be on the level of, say, humping sheep. Baby sheep.) Because there are so many different sapient species in this place, however, talking about them all would take too much time (especially with my terrible procrastination habit), so I will just focus on a few particular ones.

Humans: Pretty typical. Humans are humans. Humans can have innate magical power in Larezzia, but not all of them do (though nearly any human can learn to use magic with an external power source), and for most innately magically-empowered humans, this is a sign that they may have a magical creature or two somewhere in their ancestry.

Fairies: They are one of the most common categories of race in Larezzia, found everywhere in the country (though most densely in the nineteenth province), but there are many different types of fairy. All Larezzian fairies are human-sized, but the only other thing they share is innate magical power. Sprites are the most common type, and they are one of the types of fairies that have wings, except for water sprites, which lack them. Many sprites are associated with—and have innate magical powers corresponding to—a particular force of nature or classical element, such as fire sprites, which can conjure fire, have immunity to fire and heat, and tend to have red or orange hair and eyes (but, correspondingly, are more affected by cold temperatures and ice magic). There is also a “generic” type of sprite that is non-elemental. Pixies are another type of fairy. They lack wings but can fly nevertheless, and their ears are slightly pointed but less so than those of elves. Elves, meanwhile, are sometimes classified under fairies but sometimes not (not that they usually care either way). They were originally very druidic and nature-obsessed, but this is no longer true in modern times, and one can find elves throughout Larezzia in a wide variety of roles. (Most people probably have an idea what Tolkien’s elves were like, but it’s worth noting that about the only traits they share with mine, or at least Larezzia’s, are the pointed ears and lack of facial hair.) Finally, there is a very rare and usually powerful type of fairy called a border fairy. They have ears and wings resembling those of a bat, and they possess powers of spatial manipulation. Fairies tend to live slightly longer than humans; if the average human lives to around 75, the same person as a fairy might live to 90 or so (with the possible exception of border fairies, who might be closer to 110 or 120).

Dragons: Larezzian dragons are intelligent creatures, at least as smart and capable of speech as humans; in fact, dragons tend to have a talent for learning and speaking foreign languages, partly because most of the old draconic languages had large phoneme inventories and complex grammar. In addition to speaking with their vocal passages, they can also communicate telepathically. There are several different “breeds” of dragon, so to speak, which we shan’t get into here, but they have the common and typical features of being large winged reptilian creatures, something like lizards as big as semitrucks. The fourteenth province of Larezzia, which contains the tall mountain I mentioned in the second prompt, has a high concentration of dragons; however, because of their long lifespans (around 250 years on average), dragon culture and society tends to progress relatively slowly. Older dragons in particular have a penchant for being quite conservative and mistrustful of outsiders, though dragons who have moved far away to live in other parts of Larezzia are generally more open-minded (and their long lives can also make them very wise). Dragons possess innate magical powers.

Werebeasts: This includes werewolves, of course, but there are other types of werebeasts in Larezzia as well (for instance, werebears, weretigers, and even weresnakes). In Larezzia, werebeasts have innate magical power and the innate ability to shapeshift between a humanoid form, a full beast form (but retaining their minds), and an in-between form, and their power increases and decreases according to the level of moonlight. (So their power would be strongest at night during a full moon, while it would be weakest during a new moon or daytime. The exact difference varies between individuals, but it always follows a sine wave pattern.)

Therianthropes: These, in case you don’t know what the word means, are beings or creatures that a person from our world would think of as being half human and half animal of some kind, most commonly humanoid from the waist up and animalian from the waist down. Centaurs are the most common type of therianthrope. They are usually thought of as being half human and half horse (split at the human waist), but in Larezzia, the bottom half can resemble other four-legged animals too (though horses are still the most common and other ungulates, such as zebras and deer, the most common outside of those). There can even be pterippus centaurs, where the equine half has wings, and unicorn centaurs, where the unicorn horn is attached to the humanoid forehead. (See a few paragraphs down for more information about unicorns and pterippi.) The second-most common is merpeople, which populate the waters all over Larezzia (some have even developed technology for living and moving about on land). Merpeople, or merfolk, are humanoid from the waist up and piscine from the waist down. Their fishy scales can come in a variety of colors and patterns, and it often varies depending on location. They can breathe equally well above or below water. Other Larezzian therianthropes include harpies, whose lower halves resemble a bird of prey; satyrs, whose lower halves are goatlike (though as with centaurs, it may be another animal); nagas, whose lower halves taper into a long snake body and tail; driders, which have a spider body from the waist down (and if I can find a better term for them, I will, beause “drider” just sounds far too “Dungeons and Dragons” for my liking); and cecaelias, which are half octopus (think Ursula and Morgana from The Little Mermaid). There are also minotaurs, whose upper halves resemble those of bulls or cows aside from their arms (though they are not carnivorous, unlike the original; while their bodies are not strictly bovine, they do tend to have digestive issues with animal products and especially meat). Finally, there are lamias, which are half humanoid and half dragon (with the dragon half scaled to match in size…no pun intended there), and the dragon half can be either upper or lower, though the latter is more common.

Nymphs: In Larezzia, “nymphs” usually refer to beings associated with a particular aspect of nature that can also become it. The most common type of nymph is the dryad, which can take the form of a tree or other plant, a humanlike being (though often with hair and eyes to match the color of their leaves when in tree form), or an intermediate stage, often a humanoid creature with leafy vines for hair and a faint green tint to their skin. There are also naiads, which are associated with water, and oreads, which are associated with mountains (their fully-transformed form is usually a boulder or other rock-based shape), along with unnamed nymphs such as fire nymphs and cloud nymphs. Nymphs naturally have magic and abilities corresponding to their form.

Other non-monstrous species: There are a number of other species that I shan’t discuss in too much depth right now because of the constraints of time and attention span (yours or mine? you decide). These include dwarves (or dwarfs), which tend to be somewhat shorter, stockier, and hairier than humans; gnomes, which are bald-headed and often live underground; goblins, which are big-eyed, pointy-eared creatures about the size of dwarves, also tend to live commonly in caves and dark places, and have skin colors of various shades of grayish-blue; gremlins, which look similar to goblins (though their skin is green) and tend to have a natural talent for technopathic powers; kitsune, which have ears and tails resembling those of a fox and grow more tails with age (up to a maximum of 9 except in extremely rare cases); selkies, which can change from humanoid to seal form and back; sirens, who focus their magic through powerful voices and song (no animaloid parts, though); tengu, which are long-nosed winged humanoids; trolls, which come in three varieties, each a different size and level of intelligence and savagery; and vampires, which in Larezzia are not undead but gain strength from drinking blood and are very pale (so they can go out during the daytime but will burn easily).

Other monstrous species: See above, but this time, we will be discussing the species that are less humanoid or would be considered more “monstrous” by the standards of our world, though all of these would be considered “beings” rather than “beasts” by Larezzian standards. Chimeras are part lion, goat, and snake; gorgons are fanged, clawed humanoids with snakes in place of the hair on their heads; griffins have the front half of an eagle and the back half of a lion; hydras are reptilians (similar to dragons, but larger and never winged) with multiple heads and limbs; manticores have a humanoid top half, a lionlike bottom half, and a scorpionlike tail; sea serpents, which are enormous ocean-dwelling snakes; and sphinxes, which have a body like a lion and a head like a human. There are also pterippi (singular: pterippus), which are winged horses. (Also called pegasi, but I prefer to use the term not derived from a proper noun.) There are unicorns, which resemble petite horses with a single spiraling horn protruding from their foreheads. Their coats can be a variety of colors, commonly white but even possibly things like blue, purple, or splotched red and orange. Unicorns have innate magic and communicate through telepathy. Finally, we have phoenixes, wondrous birds that are among the longest-lived species in Larezzia, certainly among sentient creatures. They can live to be thousands of years old, and they have powerful innate magic.

Day 4: Cultures

Well, at this point, I may have to deviate from the prompts a bit. (Hey, if Raibys can do it, then so can I.) Since I don’t have that much Larezzian culture fleshed out yet, I thought I’d describe each of the different provinces of the place, but that goes hand-in-hand with the prompt for day 5, history, so I can’t easily discuss one without the other. So rather than talking about culture today and history tomorrow, we’ll be doing a bit of both. I suppose now would also be as good a time as any to mention that these posts will contain minor spoilers for the story. They won’t be anything major (nothing like “you mean the main character was really an amnesiac dragon disguised as a human and Bob McAngelsweetie was actually working for the villain the whole time?!”), but at the very least, you’ll get some information earlier than you would by just reading the books.

Now, Larezzia wasn’t always a single country. Centuries ago, it was actually 24 separate territories, each its own kingdom, city-state, or what have you, and each territory tended to keep to itself except when getting into conflicts with neighboring ones. But all that changed when a much greater threat came along in the form of an invasion from the large country to the north, which was far too much of a danger for any one territory to combat alone. Thanks to the efforts of a small group of heroes, the individual territories joined forces against a greater threat, and through that alliance, they became the parts of a much larger country, though a very conflicted and warring one at first. In contemporary times, the borders of some territories have shifted slightly, and their cultures have bled into each other and spread across Larezzia, along with their different races. But history repeats itself, and over 500 years after the unification, the now single land of Larezzia lies in the grip of another great danger from the same place, which, now a bit over a decade later, our unlikely heroes must deal with….

So, what were these individual territories like, at least before they were unified and their cultures blended together? That is what I will describe in the rest of this post and the next one. I have not named any of the provinces/territories yet, but they do have official numbers, in order of when they joined.

Territory 1: This is the birthplace of the person, or people, who had the idea for the unification in the first place, who became Larezzia’s first rulers. Pre-unification, it was home to a fairly homogenous group of humans; in modern times, it contains many large cities, including the opulent capital city.

Territory 2: This territory was also home primarily to humans in medieval times, but, being farther south and with a warmer climate, its population were somewhat darker-skinned than those of the first territory. Naturally, that caused the unenlightened people of these darker times to mistrust their southern neighbors, often labeling them “spawn of the devil”, “inferior creatures”, and other such disparaging epithets (because what’s scarier or more demonic than people whose bodies contain more melanin than yours?).

Territory 3: Toward the lower end of population density in Larezzia, this territory is the flattest in the nation and contains much farmland.

Territory 4: The northern areas of this territory include a forest, which was mainly populated by harpies in old times, while the ocean area beyond the southern coast was home to large numbers of merpeople. The hilly, rocky grassland in the middle contained mainly satyrs. Conflict between these three races was a continual source of civil war, though one that was thankfully rectified by modern times. Now, the southern ocean still contains large numbers of merpeople, but the rest of the territory has all but lost any racial homogeneity.

Territory 5: This is Larezzia’s middle southern province, but probably its most notable feature is along its northern border, where we find a subtropical forest with such a thick canopy that it is dark even during the daytime except for the numerous bioluminescent plants and creatures dwelling within. This forest was home to many strange beasts and beings (werebeasts in particular), along with a few mages who wished to live in solitude (and no doubt with a very confused circadian rhythm), and it remains so to this day, though it is more regulated and less dangerous than it was.

Territory 6: Most of this territory consists of a forest bordering a large lake, the latter of which was the subject of many hostile disputes between the residents of this territory and the one directly north of it before the unification (with the merfolk living in the lake constantly getting caught in the middle). This forest and the surrounding area were primarily populated by centaurs.

Territory 7: This territory is surrounded on two sides by mountains and most of the other two by ocean, but most of the middle area is desert. There are few people living in this desert, and there were even fewer in old times, but the primary residents then were djinn, sphinxes, and nagas, who had a few towns and settlements on the barren sands. Nowadays, most of this territory’s population actually lives on the edges, near the coast or the mountains, though there are some colonies underground below the desert.

Territory 8: Consisting of a peninsula and a single large island, the latter of which was under disputed ownership until quite a few years after the unification, this is one of Larezzia’s smaller territories and marks the end of the desert from the previously-mentioned territory. In medieval times, this territory’s sole inhabitants were a race of catfolk with tufted ears and tails, who were—and, to some degree, are still—known for their skill in riding large emu-like birds and battling while atop them. The island has remained something of a mystery through the centuries, being seemingly made entirely out of some sort of crystals.

Territory 9: This territory is located in the opposite corner of the mountain range that borders territory 7, and it was mainly populated by dwarves, particularly along the mountains (medieval dwarves were a lot more known for mining and smithing than their modern counterparts are).

Territory 10: This territory also contained dwarves along its eastern edge, but much of the rest of the territory contained sirens, particularly in the coastal areas. While sirens make up only a small fraction of its population in modern times, it has not lost its association with music and song, and it is now home to many prestigious theaters, studios, and other performance-related institutions.

Territory 11: A rainy coastal territory consisting mostly of islands with rocky cliffs around them, this northwestern territory is nevertheless home to many selkies, leprechauns, banshees, brownies, kelpies, and nixies. In modern times, it also contains a sizable population of oni who immigrated there from one of the eastern territories during the upheaval following the unification. Its people have a reputation for being free-spirited but crude.

Territory 12: This territory consists of a number of volcanic tropical islands in a lunate pattern. In old times, the people of these islands were mostly tribal (what many people might think of as “primitive”…but then, pretty much all people were primitive in that era). The local populace was mostly human, with a few werebeasts around as well as a few nature spirits. The one person respected by all the island tribes was their de facto ruler, a nymph of the volcanoes.

With that, we are about out of time for today; in the next prompt, we will discuss territories 13 through 24.

Day 5: History

Continuing from the previous day…

Territory 13: This is a coastal province with a large population of kappa and tanuki, as well as dragons.

Territory 14: Sitting right next to territory 13, this province features many mountains and rivers, including the tallest mountain in Larezzia. This province has the largest population of dragons of any in Larezzia, though the difference was even more pronounced before the unification. Other inhabitants include kappa, oni, kitsune, tanuki, tengu, and more recently, harpies. In particular, the flying creatures tend to live on the mountaintops, as well as in the cities floating in the sky above this province (most of which were built fairly recently).

Territory 15: This province was known for its magical system involving 5 different colors of magic, each one corresponding to a particular classical element (in this case, earth, water, air, fire, and chaos), each associated with particular types of spells and skills, and each forming its own sort of caste or group in their society. These elemental mages often clashed with the inhabitants of territory 22 (as mentioned below), who used a similar system but gave each color a secondary element as well (nature, ice, electricity, light, and darkness) and were split up into 10 groups that each used 2 colors rather than 5 single-color groups. In modern times, this territory is known for hosting a number of renowned schools of magic and an above-average population of lamias.

Territory 16: This territory’s southern area contains part of a large enchanted forest, and part of its border is formed by a large chasm (see the entry for territory 24 for more on that). Its population is composed mainly of dark elves and a number of border fairies, but before the unification and for a long while after it, they bore a bitter grudge against the people of territory 19 to the south for what they saw as oppression and “stealing away their magic”. The border fairies, in fact, lived in hiding for a long time due to fear of being persecuted and used as magical slaves.

Territory 17: This is one of the more unusual provinces in Larezzia, a shadowy, almost dreamlike place, with a powerful but warped sort of magic that tends to make the place quite chaotic. On the other hand, it is one of the very few provinces that, even before the unification, was generally accepting of all different races and lifestyles.

Territory 18: Primarily consisting of plains dotted by forests, bordered by mountains and a huge magically-grown hedge of thorns, this was the territory of the unicorns. Unicorns in medieval times were deeply mistrustful of outsiders, but they have warmed up considerably since then. They used their magic to make their land difficult to get into or take over. Nowadays, it is noteworthy for its beautiful natural scenery as well as its tall, sparkling crystalline architecture and being the center of a number of technological organizations.

Territory 19: This is one of the largest provinces in Larezzia. Back in pre-unification times, it is where almost all of Larezzia’s fairies lived, and back then, fairies were rather notorious for their inhospitability and imperiousness, as well as a sense of morality that did not always match with most people’s. For these reasons, this was the last province to join that does not directly border the opposing country. It has, however, notably done a complete turnaround in the intervening time, and in the contemporary era, this province is considered among the most progressive in the country, and fairies now live nearly everywhere in Larezzia and get alone perfectly fine with the other local folk. (There is a small sect of fairies that believes that they should go back to the old ways and considers every other race and their standards of morality beneath them, but this group is considered extremist, ridiculously conservative, and probably crazy.) The province’s most noteworthy natural feature is the large enchanted forest, most of which is contained within this territory.

Territory 20: This is the coldest province in the nation. Being a coastal territory (with large islands, much larger than those found in territory 11), it gets a lot of snow. Not many people lived here pre-unification, just some northern tribes, a few yuki-onna, frost giants, and yetis. Nowadays, there is a bit more civilization here, though it is still pretty barren.

Territory 21: This territory is so mountainous that most of the people here (mainly dwarves and gnomes pre-unification) live underground, aside from oreads and a few other people brave enough to live on the mountain slopes. Naturally, this place is renowned for its mining.

Territory 22: This territory’s main claim to fame other than being the most northeasterly province in Larezzia is the fact that, in old times, the mages here were placed into 10 different groups, each focusing on magic related to 2 of 5 colors associated with classical elements. (See the entry for territory 15 for more information on that subject.) Nowadays, the old magic system survives only in popular media and entertainment, such as card and board games.

Territory 23: This is probably one of the territories that changed the most from old times to new. In modern times, it has the unusual aspect of making use of a lot of biomechanical technology; nearly every native to this province has modified their physical form in some way, sometimes by adding mechanical parts to it. Even the animals have such modifications, or at least the domesticated ones. (If you’ve ever wanted a six-legged cyborg kitten, you could get one from here.) These are the type of people who would give themselves a tail or extra fingers, or make part of their skin blue, just for stylistic value. Before the unification, the people of this territory focused more on a type of magic based around animal familiars, to the point where they would be able to let their mind share the animal’s body or gain the animal’s abilities or even their form, or at least part of it (for instance, if one needed the tail of a snake to grab onto an object or the arms and torso of a gorilla to lift or push something heavy).

Territory 24: The final territory is the one that has suffered the most of any of them from the war between countries, being the most directly in line with the other land. In particular, the lower area of it, surrounded by chasms on three sides (which were not there before the first invasion but created for it to isolate the area and provide a breeding ground for monsters), was used as a base for the enemy both during the invasion circa 525 years ago and the one in recent history. As a result, it is a scarred landscape, with monsters roaming around it and few native Larezzians brave enough to live there.

And that is all 24 territories, or provinces, of Larezzia. One thing that is worth nothing about the shift from medieval to modern times is that, 525 years ago, magic was much more restricted than it is in modern Larezzia; few beings without innate ability for it used it, with a few exceptions such as the mages of provinces 15 and 22. Beyond that, many great changes were made, and Larezzia is now a country that stands tall with the strength of diversity.

With that, that is also the end of my first post for Worldbuilding June (or first five posts, rather). Stay tuned for the next one!

Minor status update 10: Links, worldbuilding, and whatnot — June 1, 2016

Minor status update 10: Links, worldbuilding, and whatnot

Well, I’m more or less over my sickness now (and I’d darn well better be by now, given that it’s been almost a month), though I still have some lingering symptoms. Still not much progress on either the puzzles or LPs, but I have finally added some stuff to the Links page. Also, this month, I plan to participate in a sort of online event called “Worldbuilding June”, in which each day of the month of June, you are given a prompt to describe a particular aspect of a world you created. You can find more about it (as well as the prompts if you want to participate yourself) here, and you can view a completed one that someone else did here. I probably won’t be posting every day, though, partly because it might get boring for my readers. Currently, what I plan to do is respond to each prompt and type up a post each day if possible, then compile 5 or 6 of them into a single block and post that on here. So keep an eye out for that in a few days.