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!