Tag Archives: World Building


Eight thousand (ish) years ago, my ancestors sat on the banks of the Black Sea in a region that is now Ukraine and looked out over the waves, probably telling stories. By all accounts they had a language, but what it was is unknown, and they had religion, which we do know a bit about. The stories they told around the fire or in holy places were probably not all that different from the ones we tell now. They’d speak of divine intervention, the power and might of warriors, the calm and love of healers.

Today, we speak of the same things with the same reverence. We build the same mythologies, these stories that might have no importance to someone outside of the tribe, or might be thought of in the opposite like, a tale of woe a tale of glory; a tale of victory a tale of defeat. But the sharing of these stories, the telling of having been there, of having felt the emotion first hand, will only last so long. These beloved memories will slip fully into myth.

But they also slip into myth today, in real-time, whenever they are recounted to someone who had not been there. Or every time we add a little detail, subtract a little detail, or embellish something a wee bit. When we let emotion get the best of us and blind us from an objective retelling, because an honest retelling not need be constrained by reality.

I’ve been thinking about these modern myths recently because a coworker asked about my desktop backgrounds, modern cave paintings depicting warriors in celebration or battle. Warriors wearing rouge and gold and those who see them off to battle sounding horns and manipulating the battlefield with smoke and fire. He asked what they meant and so I told him in a rather round-about way. I didn’t tell him the objective truths behind the images; I told him the myths, as real to me now as they were when I witnessed them with my own eyes, my own ears.

I told him of the great warrior WMB, swift as the wind, as nimble as a bird, who with strength and resolve dashed our foes, the vile Lansing, breaking them forever, never to rise from field again.

I spoke of the Dragon, who with rippling abs too numerous to count, dug in and rescued our forces from defeat in such a glorious way that the songs of our people summoned forces far greater to extinguish our fires.

I regaled him with the story of the beast Louro and his one-man-stand against a great stag, and beating his chest when he left that monster bloodied and dead in its own meadow. And of when he raised that golden belt above his head, surrounded by a grateful tribe who had traveled seeking revenge.

And the mousy knight, with his right foot of destiny, when things looked tight and bleak, and that our wall of brick would be called upon to save the day, did lay low that monster from the suburbs in the ninety-third minute.

But not just warriors, I also told tales of great journeys to far off lands. Of invading Cleveland (a story that I told second-hand), of bus trips to sleepy towns in Wisconsin, or converging on a field of corn in the midst of a thunderstorm.

Of friends from far overseas who came in celebration, of culture shared, history shared, of pride shared.

I told him of foes.

Of dances that could’ve lasted forever.

I spoke of friendships that were forged with one who should’ve been our enemy, but when we saw him on the field, leg shattered, we rallied around him, brought him care and comfort. Sent him home more one of us then one of them.

There were great community gatherings, of celebration, of care, of community coming together to fix a chariot, or to heal one of our cherished sisters.

And too, I told him of that darkest moment, when things looked grim, and the vile enemy did have the advantage three to nil, with one of our warriors out of the fight. And how our songs never ceased. How our voices lifted and united. And slow and steady our warriors fought back, and before the day was over, found ourselves evenly matched. And the great warrior Seb did celebrate as a windmill, standing strong over a field of rouge and gold tulips.

He listened with eyes wide, he understood what it meant, that these were no ordinary tales of gallantry, these were myths, enshrined forever by the tribe. They would only grow brighter with time, a little fuzzier sure, but no less true, no less glorious.

In the nascent days of a kingdom, these myths bind us together, and they tell of who we are, what we stand for.

Kits and Writing.

So I got some updates for the site we’re going to skip the “it’s been a whi-” and just move on.

A lot has gone down since the last update, including getting a fancy new position at Ford which I am greatly enjoying. That has made things a bit hectic but the last few weeks have gone by lightning-quick. I am really loving it.

I’ve also made the decision to work more on professionalizing my portfolio of soccer kits. Will it lead to a profession switch? Unlikely. Could I potentially make a few bucks off it? Maybe. Honestly, I’d love to see some of my designs become real. That would be absolutely fantastic.

If you read my twitter feed, which I don’t necessarily recommend Mum, I often post stuff while working including some snapshots of a big on-going project I’ve started.

What is this project; you ask.

Well, I am doing a big world building project set in the same world as my novels. It’s a big world cup write up, and it’ll have news articles, team profiles, stadium profiles, potentially player profiles, and a whole boat load of kits. At least 96 of them: home and away for 48 teams.

I’ve already got 48 crests made, though I am not 100% happy with all of them. They were quickly thrown together with stock heraldry images from Wikimedia. Already I have about 18 kits finished, so I have quite a bit of work to do. And that’s okay, I’m planning on this taking most of the summer.

It’ll be fun and I’ll make sure to have a page to showcase it. Not sure how, but I got some ideas. I hope that everyone else will enjoy it half as much as I have so far.

There’s a lot to post and explore so I’ll only have a few slices here.

Done on a whim for Paradox Interactive (not popular with the studio manager, Johan):

A little idea for Bristol Rovers FC:

And of course Detroit City FC:

Another quick mock-up for a friend:

If you have any ideas or criticism, reach out on twitter. Currently I take requests on an impulse-based sort method. Not sure how long that’ll last, though. As the Detroit City season quickly approaches, my free time will soon dissolve to nothing.

On the flip side some news regarding my writing. I have finished the rewrites of book 2, finally! It has grown by about 10,000 words to 137,000. I think the pacing has been improved and I’m happy with it in general. It’ll definitely need a final smoothing that’ll come once I get the drafts for books 3 and 4 done, which I am going to start in about ten~fifteen minutes when I am done here!

I’m pretty much actually being productive, which is great. It feels great to be getting so much done.

Of course, as I write this, it is a quarter to eight and I’ve been trying to get this done since before four… then I got distracted with the Bristol kits.

So I am going to sign off and get back to writing. I got a long way to the expected 175,000 words of book 3.

Cheers, everyone.

The Winding Road

Today I went on a bit of a winding road of world building and it all started because I wanted to make a soccer kit. Over-all the kit took about ten minutes to make and the world building took about four or five hours by my count. It involved conlanging, linguistics, some alphabet work, image manipulation, heraldry, and then eventually some soccer.

Let’s get a baseline.

Anyone who follows my profile on Wikipedia (if you do, wow, that’s uh… dedication…) will see that I often just “doodle” soccer kits there using the Wikimedia template for kits. In the last week I added six more:

These are meant to represent home and away kits for three nations from the world of my novels sped up to the “present” day (about 450 years after my novels). Why? Because it’s fun for me. The top two are Hadyrland, the country most of my novels are set in; the middle two the Union, which is heavily involved; and Steriou, which a couple characters have ties to.

Note: yes, the three shades of orange in the bottom two bothers the FUCK out of me.

The national sport of Hadyrland is Kémõ /keɪmɔ̃/ (Hurling) and the national sport of the Union is (in Hadysh) Wixgaħ /wɪxgaʁ/ (Cricket). I have these words because they are in my novels. I’ve even posted about Hadysh Hurling in the past.

But like in this world, just about every nation plays football, which is also the national sport of Steriou. And also like in our world, there is a big international organization that regulates the sport and organizes the world game between all the nations.

I wanted to make a realistic rendering of the Hadysh home kit, so that meant I needed certain details, like a crest. The crest would need some details too: shapes, colors, labels, elements. So for that I started with the crest of the Italian National Rugby team (they played today, so it was on the mind). It’s a simple tricolor crest with the initials of the national rugby federation on top and the name of the country at the bottom. Plus a little wreath.

So that’s where I started. Hadyrland’s modern flag is also a tricolor, though with horizontal bands of white, green, and black. This physically represents the nation, with its frozen north, forested center, and mountainous south. But to give this a bit of dynamism, instead of using three horizontal bands, I used a peaked design.

The Hadysh national coat of arms shows the white-green-black motif:


For the wreath I went with something that had berries. The Yew Tree is the national symbol of the nation, as well as being an important religious symbol for the majority of its citizens. So I found a vector of a wreath with berries and moved forward.

I got a banner and then things started going down hill…

So if you look at the Italian crest you see FIR – for the Federation of Italian Rugby (Federazione Italiana Rugby) and at the bottom a simple Italia, which I think most people can get without a translation. Well, I know the Hadysh name for Hadyrland: Volgamfyə /vɔlgamfjə/, but I am missing the “FIR” element. So I started working.

I started with the name “Hadysh Football Federation” and then reordered it into proper Hadysh (while still using English): “Federation Hadysh Football”. “Federation” is the subject, “Hadysh” is an adjective, and “Football” would need to be a genitive noun.

Then I open up my Hadysh dictionary. Which words do I have? Hadysh. That’s it. The adjective form is b̌olgē /bvɔlgi/.

So I have some work to do making up new words. Federation was easiest because it could be a concrete idea. In German the word for federation is Bund. This comes from the same root as “bind” in English, as in “bound together”, which a federation is – units bound together to make a whole. For “federation” I went with a simple word, like German: ya̋f /jaʊf/.

Two down, now “football”. Well, I can break that down into two units: “foot” and “ball” and then recombine them, which in Hadysh would be “ballfoot” with the foot being in the genitive.

Ooooookay…. for “foot” I went with bod /bɔd/, which is a reference to “pode” the Greek for foot. And for ball? ð̌aç /dðaç/. Little bit more work… the genitive for bod is bot (the genitive is usually word + (e)d, but if it ends with d it devoices to t). So the Hadysh for “football” is ð̌açbot /dðaçbɔt/.

But… but… we can take this further. So, oftentimes, words get adopted into a language from another language. “Football” is one of these words that often end up in other languages because it is easier to just adopt a new word then something up. For a bit of fun I decided that in Hadysh ð̌açbot would be the actual piece of equipment, while the word for the sport would come from Union Common, which is a distant relative to Hadysh. I don’t actually have two conlangs going so we needed to de-evolve the words ð̌aç and bot back to the last shared ancestor of Common and Hadysh and then re-evolve it forward to present-day Common.

Common is more like English in how it compounds words so in Common it would be foot + ball instead of ball + foot, so I decided it was best to do the two components separately and then recombine them.

I actually have a chart showing the genetic relationships between Hadysh and some of the other languages back to a language called “Proto Piylo-Tundric” which is the mother of many of the northern languages on the continent Sun-King and others take place on. Whole branches of these languages are extinct so I need to go up six steps and then down five.

Now, not every step is distinct, but it helped think about how the languages worked and this whole thing would come in handy later. Also, the question, why not Sterian for the language if that’s where the sport is most ubiquitous? Common is more of a prestige language and while the Union is not nearly as big as it once was, there are far more Common-speaking nations than Sterian or Hadysh combined.

So, “ball”…

Hadysh to Old Hadysh: /dðaç/ ➝ /ðʲaç/. The decision here was that consonants at the start of stressed syllables underwent sound changes akin to Gaelic/Russian where they could be palatalized before open vowels, unchanged before mid vowels, and labialized before close vowels. /a/ is back, so /ð/ becomes /ðʲ/. The implication here is that as Old Hadysh turned into Middle and then Modern Hadysh, this palatalized phoneme became it’s own sound /dð/ unrelated to /ð/.

Speeding up: /ðʲaç/ ➝ /dʲæç/ ➝ /ˈdʲæk.əl/ ➝ /dəˈkʲʌl/ gets us as far back as it needs to go, back to Old Piylean. Now it needs to move forward through time:

/dəˈkʲʌl/ ➝ /dəˈkʌl/ ➝ /dᵊˈkʌl/ ➝ /gʌl/ ➝ /gɔl/

And “foot” from Hadysh to Old Piylean:

/bɔd/ ➝ /bʲɔd/ ➝ /bʲɑd/ ➝ /bʲɑt/

And now from Old Piylean to Modern Common:

/bʲɑt/ ➝ /pɑt/ ➝ /pat/ ➝ /paθ/

You’ll notice that the word for “foot” has been significantly more conservative than the word for “ball”. This is because a foot is more significant to ancient peoples than a ball. So the word is preserved better. When you look at the ancient word for “ball”, it had two syllables. As it moves toward the present it drops to one with the Hadysh branch keeping the first syllable /də/ (which in its first step away from Old Piylean becomes stressed to /dʲæ/) and the Common branch keeping the stressed /kʲʌl/. The words /dðaç/ and /gɔl/ have nothing in common, but are related none the less.

So the Common word for “football” is /ˈpaθ.gɔl/.

So now I can come up with the acronym for the Hadysh Football Federation: YB̌P for Ya̋f B̌olgē Paþgold.

I will remind you, this entire exercise was for one of those three letters.

So now I can finish… making…

Fuck, Hadysh doesn’t use the Latin alphabet except when I write on the internet. In the fantasy world it would use it’s native alphabet. Luckily I have that alphabet, I just don’t have it digitized. So hang on.

There YB̌P at the top and Volgamfyə at the bottom. The crest is done.

Now I can put together that soccer kit.

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

That said, the longest parts were the image manipulations. Even though the linguistics takes up the lion’s share here, I played around with the vectors and the images far longer than I spent making up words. There was also a lot of background stuff with the linguistics, like filling in my dictionary with the new words and their declinations, which is important only to me.

Now will I make a crest for their dreaded rivals, the Sunrays out of Rannot?


Probably not.


Cheers, everyone.

The Obsession of Symbols

I have a very fond obsession with symbols. All kinds of symbols, maybe things you don’t think of as symbols per se. To me a symbol is anything we use to define ourselves whether through common understanding or inside understanding.

We cover ourselves in symbols. Colors. Kits. Flags. Even phrases. We use them as a shorthand of who we are, what we stand for, or who we stand with.

If I were to write:


Most of you would probably think “Very nice, Nick. Those are in fact the vowels in alphabetical order.”

How many of you would instantly think “Alles Erdreich Ist Österreich Untertan” (All the world is subject to Austria) or “Austriae Est Imperare Orbi Universo” (It is Austria’s destiny to rule the world)?

That’s what I see.

AEIOU was a symbolic device of the Habsburgs of Austria. It represented their belief that they were the one true masters of Europe and thus the world, and who could argue? The Habsburgs ruled two of the largest empires for centuries with night falling on their reign only after the end of World War One.

What about what we wear?

The discussion about hats came up on twitter recently. “No one I know wears a [flatcap],” said one indignant (and rather uneducated) user. “Well half of the Northern Guard does,” said Killted Ken.

Flatcaps are a symbol. They can represent Irish influences. Working class influences. They were popular in England for centuries as a cheap hat, their significance as a poorman’s hat brought about by short-lived law requiring men over eight to wear a hat.

What about soccer kits? What do soccer kits tell us about people? Their colors, their designs. Hoops. Stripes. Sashes. There’s lingo and basic elements. A lot of it is based off what you like. I’m not sure that the colors or anything meant anything. I’m probably wrong. Those colors, back in the 1870s meant everything. There’s a lot of combinations of claret and blue in England.

Maybe they’re all copying.

Recently, in my boredom and partially out of a desire to procrastinate, I created twenty hurling kit sets (home/away+socks) for the “premier” hurling (called Caman in my books) league using the Azzurri GAA kit builder. Part of it was an exercise in thinking about the different cities I had created for my story. What did these cities do? What sort of people lived there? What did they do and how would that affect their favorite teams?

What did different designs and colors mean? Some patterns and themes emerged as I worked on them. I also tried to think about our own trends in sports, drawing differences between EPL and MLS. Here are a handful, hope you enjoy.

Union Macenburgh

Union Macenburgh

Union Macenburgh (and the next entry) feature in their old incarnations in the sequel to Sun-King. They are based very much on my beloved Detroit City FC (as is obviously apparent in the colors) but also in the fans. The “Union” in the name is used by teams to reflect that they were originally founded by working-class people, this is backed up by the hoops (which I took from Celtic). The fans are rowdy, dedicated, ready for a scrap, and pile into the bars before and after every match. Macenburgh itself is very much based on Detroit (including it’s southern suburb Southfields). Rozenn is a huge fan of Union, dragging Einar to a game in book 2 where she of course starts and ends a fight with the supporters from across the river.

First Blackwater

First Blackwater

When I first named “Blackwater” I wasn’t actually thinking about PMCs or anything. It was originally named after Dublin (Dubh Linn – Blackpool). As I was writing Blackwater and Macenburgh traded places as the working class and upper class sides of a single massive metropolis. Blackwater sounded more exclusive so it took over. Blackwater’s fans are mostly wealthy or conservative in general. The two teams and their rivalry draw from the Old Firm derby (Celtic v Rangers) hence the blue details for Blackwater.

ACC Aurora

ACC Aurora

Whereas the Macenburgh and Blackwater teams are ancient fixtures in their cities, ACC Aurora represents that new breed of sports team, eager to stand out and eager to build an ancient identity in a few short years. In the books it’ll be hundreds of years before they are even founded. They represent a disneyfied team – bright colors and weird patterns based on the local  scene. In this case the auroras above the city of Aurora, far north of the “arctic” circle of this world. They aren’t the worst team, they certainly aren’t the best. They are young and thus their owners make silly mistakes or are in general less interested in keeping with traditions or words of wisdom. Hence purple kits.

Dockyard Union CC

Dockyard Union CC

This team quickly became one of my favorites, those kits on the right are a good reason. Like Union Macenburgh, Dockyard is a Union club. In my world they are a very St. Pauli-esque club. Punk, anarchic, supporter-run, vulgar, and ready to shout-down fascists at the drop of a hat. While they hold Macenburgh in high esteem, they reject the idea of capos in the crowd, opting instead for spontaneous chants and lots and lots of pyro – mostly stolen from the docks.

First Valkburgh NCC

First Valkburgh NCC

I nearly wasn’t going to include this one. This is the team from Einar’s hometown and that he (secretly) roots for despite Rozenn’s passion for Macenburgh dominating their sporting relationship. Nicknamed “Rangers” that is more an homage to Sun-King and the “Nyrnish Rangers” who are head quartered in Valkburgh. Before any real-life Rangers fans jump on board, the Nyrnish Rangers were an elite scout force turned traitorous IRA-esque militia. Their colors green and brown harken back to these military roots. I also wanted a team that had unusual colors without going into the realm of the disneyfied teams.  Brown was an interesting choice, again inspired by St. Pauli.


Some other teams of note:

Union Waldenhof – Essentially the Newcastle United of this world.

Kairnburgh ACC – Based off Liverpool, good but never quite good enough.

Waldenhof City – The rich team that almost always buys their way to the top.

Southfields CC – The team in the burbs who wonder why no one takes them seriously.

NCC Fovel Town – That team you’ve never heard of and then are surprised to find out are significantly older than your side.

Launburgh ACC – That club out in the middle of nowhere with a tiny stadium.

Lexember #9 – ƿabál

Orthography is, in its simplest terms, how you write a language. You probably don’t think of it much, but the written word is in your face all day. It probably becomes invisible to you until confronted with the foreign. Arabic, Hindi, Cyrillic, Greek, Japanese, Chinese characters stand out because they are intrinsically meaningless to a non-speaker, or should I say non-reader. It takes time and effort to learn and eventually see through the new script. But we also rarely think about how even the same alphabet is used for different languages.

For instance, I’ve posted quite a bit of Irish on here. One of the things that makes Irish so strange and so hard to pick up is that it is essentially incompatible with the Latin alphabet. Some things are easy, like mór is pretty easy to figure out. It’s sort of like more in English. What about mhór? Can you figure out that it is like war English? Or are you stuck on that ‘h’ in the middle? What about Maidin mhaith? Maiden wath? What about “mazin wa”?

H does weird things in Irish.

Orthography is also important in translating, specifically in what is called transliteration. Transliteration is taking a language from its native orthography and putting it into a foreign orthography. When I post translations here it is always in two forms of Latin Orthography – the extended and the simplified (basically one that I use when able and one that is better compatible with reddit and this site).

Some languages are easy to transliterate. Usually because they use similar alphabets to ours. Take German, which uses an extended Latin alphabet. Fußball is easily made Fussball. Bäume is easily made Baeume. But what about Chinese? Or Korean? That gets a little harder.

Anyway, Hadysh is pretty easy to transliterate. It uses a very “shallow” orthography. That is to say most letters correspond 1:1 to letters. That isn’t 100% true, but compared to most languages it is. Today’s word is  ƿabál, which can also be written hwabail.  Both are pronounced the same, but I think that the first is significantly more concise.

What does it look like in Hadysh? It looks like this:


Hadysh is an alphabet in the truest use of the word. That means individual glyphs (letters) must be combined to create a syllable. This is compared to abjads (like Arabic), abugidas (like Tamil), and syllabaries (like hiragana).

In an abjad the vowel sound is often not written. In an abugida the vowels are marked, but often as a part of the consonants (think Tengwar if you are familiar with it). Syllabaries use a single glyph for each, distinct syllable.

Hadysh started out as a abugida but eventually transitioned to an alphabet (though can easily still be written as an abugida, and usually is for religious and ceremonial reasons). In-world the shift occurred  when writing became cheaper and more in-demand and then was formalized with the creation of the printing press. Basically it was easier to print words when you didn’t have to worry about the placement of vowels over consonants. That explains why vowels are simple (e.g. “=” for /a/ and “v” for /ɛ/) with much more complicated glyphs for the consonants.

Some sounds retain their old abugida versions. Diphthongs and nasalized vowels still appear over the letters “y” and “n” respectively. You can see a diphthong in the example above, the three apostrophes over the long symbol represent the /a/ and /ɪ/ sounds that make up the diphthong.

Like some alphabets it lacks a distinct “upper” and “lower” case.  There are also hand-written versions, though I have yet to work on a cursive script for the alphabet.

Anyway today’s word:

ƿabál (adjective) – gentle

I have chosen this word specifically for its use in a little translation fun I’ve had. I’ve translated the second-ish stanza of An die Freude, the words that go along with Ode to Joy.

Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

So here is An die Freude translated to Hadysh and in the long-form of Latin:


tshathwuzhac donazhulk

din thwoitaut sleid dzhukeguhad

adzhuzax hed pfau’s pfaucalren

um zhe threelin dzhuwelfezh hwabail

Cheers everyone!

NaNoWriMo and Lexember

Not that I posted about it at all or anything, but I partook in NaNoWriMo. I say “partook” because I finished back on 24. November. I’ve written on and off since, with Thanksgiving being my only full day off, but none of my days have been much more than 600 words.

NaNo, for me, is both a great month and a terrible month. Often times my competitive and obsessive natures take over and turn the month into a long, dark, maddening thirty days that constantly threaten to force me into the hateful arms of depression. It can be very damaging to my social life and to my self-esteem.

But I get a LOT of fucking work done. A lot. 50,000 words isn’t enough for anything I’m writing but it essentially meant I doubled the length of the Sun-King sequel in 24 days. That means it is about 2/3rds the way through.

Is it worth it?

That’s where I’m not so sure.

The last time I did NaNo was back in 2012, the year we moved to Detroit. Since then, while I try to write a lot all year round, I never gave any special attention to November. 2014’s November was mostly a dead month waiting on first readers to get back to me with their feedback.

This is quite possibly the last time I do NaNo. It will certainly be a while before I consider doing it again.

It’s a big reason why I wasn’t here much. I didn’t even open the page between October and a few nights ago (when I was scrambling to make sure my email servers were working – they are thankfully).

So, on top of NaNoWriMo, I will also be attempting to do LEXEMBER. I’m sure you’re all extremely excited.

Lexember, for the uninitiated (i.e. everyone), is a month-long challenge for conlangers to invent and then post a new word for their conlang.

Since scrapping my work on Hadysh earlier this year, I’ve started anew. You can find me talking on /r/conlangs in the 5 minute challenges. Hadysh has new life, an “official” transcription, and a lot more. I’ve really enjoyed bringing it back to life so hopefully for the linguistically-minded of all you out there, you’ll also enjoy a month of vocab and some chatting about how and why languages are so fantastically strange.

Hrol, everyone!

Kit Nerd Day?

Apparently some people had some suggestions for the home kit. While I stick by mine with the rouge/rouge combo, you can’t argue that these aren’t damn fucking sexy as well.

Like last time, I don’t own the rights to any of this nor did I get permission. I am an amateur/fan with basic access to a kit customizer so don’t think that these are real. They are intended only as possibilities of what future kits can look like. For more info/reasoning check the post from earlier today.

The Other Home Kit – Because Hoops and Because Rouge AND Gold


So here is the Rouge AND Gold kit for the bhoys.

I certainly can’t complain. These are some damn sexy kits. Are they my first choice? That’s… uh… hard to say. There are definitely a lot of pluses to these. First, the hoops are more apparent. Second, we finally have gold in the Rouge and Gold. Third they are an older Adidas model and are therefore cheaper. Fourth – holy shit do they look good.

I have to admit those are some strong reasons to say that this kit is the better.  As I write this I think less and less of my original design and more and more of this one. So there you have it, I guess? The new Detroit City home kit for 2016.

Other views:

Hoops_16_shirt_front Hoops_16_shirt_side Hoops_16_back

So here’s the line up (with an alternate away so we don’t out-do the collar):

Hoops_16_shirt_front Away_16_shirt_front_alt Alt_16_shirt_front


I would want nothing more in life to win an award for drawing coastlines. Like most fans of strange, rugged terrain – I am always in awe of the fjords of Norway, though I am ashamed to admit my favorite piece of geography will always be Newfoundland. Not just for its historical context, but also because I feel like if I had to pick a great piece of Earth to plagiarize for a test – it would be Newfoundland. It has it all: gentle coasts, rugged coasts, finger lakes, rivers, ocean, thin isthmuses, and deep forests.

Luckily I write fantasy so it is almost mandatory that I make lots of maps. Lots and lots of maps. I posted previously about adding some level of detail to my maps and now I sort of want to go over my process as an alternative to literally jerking off in front of you all. So sit back and marvel at my genius.


Anyway, recently I added a great deal to my map partially out of boredom, partially to keep my mind on my writing even when not writing, and partially to just flush out the rest of the world I’ve been writing in. This post will only focus on geography because I tend to actually finish my geography but will fiddle with cultural and political stuff endlessly.

So how can one go about making a map? There are numerous ways, I prefer hand drawn because I can think about the world as I draw and come up with ideas. Some people prefer to use tools or filters to create randomized maps and then place things as they make sense. I feel like world builders prefer the randomness while writers prefer the control but that is an opinion with no meat behind it. I’m a writer and I prefer hand drawn just so my bias is crystal clear.

Starting is a matter of coming up with ideas, or at least a goal in mind. Generally size is a big question. I use engineering paper so I think in terms of how many sheets I want to use. Six to eight seems to be the sweet spot for continents, but obviously continents are not all similarly sized so that might need to change depending. So the first hour or two of work might be done in the car, at work, or eating dinner. Basically I come up with ideas for what the terrain should look like, what kind of features are needed to support ideas for cities, nations, or cultures.

And that is the key – I usually decide what kind of places and people I need before I start drawing. If I need highlanders, I will draw mountains. If I want an oceanic civilization, I will draw safe harbors – only rarely the other way around and then usually as secondary thoughts or filler. Some world builders might gasp, but maybe not. I’m not terribly involved in their world (haw hee haw hee haw).

So I fill up engineering paper and eventually a sheet looks like this.


It’s hard to explain how I draw the lines because I just draw them. I assume it is not hard. Just draw lots and lots of squiggles. It probably sounds patronizing or self-aggrandizing but I’m not really sure what to say. Draw something, decide if you like it, if not erase it and redraw it. Simple as that. Only show what you like.

To do edges I have a top secret technique of counting boxes and then marking the point the line cross the dark green as best I can on the second page. And if they don’t match exactly that is okay, there are steps to hide that.

I usually also keep a sheet that has the layout so I can number the map sheets and rearrange them later. Counting boxes and some hand math makes for pretty accurate mapping if needed, so I can’t recommend getting a stack of engineering paper highly enough. Plus who doesn’t love engineering paper?

Eventually they all get smashed back together.


I do this in CS2 and this file is generally pretty huge. I scan them in at 200dpi. Why 200? Because I accidentally did that for the first several sheets a few years ago and everything has needed to match since. So 200 it is.

In CS I have a number of layers I’ll use with different stuff like rivers, water, boarders, and then eventually meta-stuff like political regions, linguistic, and even religious areas. This makes it easy to flip through data and keep boundaries consistent in the case of needing changes. E.g. if People A only worship God A, if I change where people A live, I better also change where God A is worshipped.

Anyway, getting ahead of myself.

Second step is tracing.  This usually doesn’t take too long and can be relaxing as well as a good time to fix any near misses. I think the furthest I was off with this map was an eight of an inch, which is pretty good given that it was eight sheets some portrait and others landscape and three not aligned to the given edges.

Borders are done on their own layer so I can play with them later.

Tracing 1

That lake and inlet are by far some of my favorite geography to date. Very proud of it.

Once everything is outlined, I copy the border and merge one into a white sheet, run a threshold, then run a filter that creates flattened, trippy maps based on black lines.



This allows me to quickly and easily color water blue and land white. Which I need for making rivers, which is step four.


Rivers are part traced from the original yellow sheets and part free-hand. Getting them to look right is a pain in the ass. Rivers are essentially fractals. They are curvy no matter how far you zoom in or out.

There is a science that is pretty easy to understand about how the curves in rivers form and they are actually pretty regular – when a river is allowed to run unimpeded down a flat plain. The Nile and Mississippi are good-ish examples of large rivers allowed to run their course, while the Ohio and Colorado are good examples where things like mountains and gorges might have some say.

Yes I know the Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River, but sometimes one digs their own grave.


After I get rivers set I start doing terrain and biomes.  I usually sketch a rough idea of where mountains go on my maps, but nothing else. I then decide as I draw where things go. Unfortunately, while I have a basic understanding of geography, I’m also not a climatologist so I have to sort of guess where things like rain shadows go.

The other problem is my drawing style has been changing over the last few years. It’s pretty solid, but I’m better with small details. Mountain ranges aren’t many hundreds of kilometers thick anymore – they have a bit of variance. Of course this means that my northern continent and southern continent are slightly different visually. Hopefully it is not too noticeable.

Each terrain feature gets a layer and I usually do them one at a time starting with mountains and ending with “rare” terrains like large fens/marshes.


Eventually all those layers start stacking up to something that looks nice!


Something that comes much later, and only if needed, is adding map icons for terrain. I usually add cities as part of the “politics and sociology” part, so I’m not covering it in much detail here. Though, as an overview, humans like water and cities should congregate near water or abundant resources.  Important cities should be in important places: straights, major river fords – never buried deep in the mountains (though that might be good for major fortresses).

So I dig out the Tolkienesque map brushes and get to work (switching to the Northern continent).

last of trees

slow and steady

Then intent is it should eventually look good in black/white.

Tree tree tree

I also do a fine detail version (shown above) and a coarse detail version (more cut out for printing).

Hadyrland w Cities

For Book copy v4

Unfortunately wordpress cuts into the detail.

But to give you an idea, here are a couple of finished black/whites of my northern continent (where Sun-King takes place).

Hadyrland with Cities

The Whole Damn Thing

Cheers guys! Perhaps conlanging next time?

Writing, Conlanging, World Building

Haven’t updated in a long while. Sorry.

Fairly certain not many people are too worried or were desperately missing it, but it isn’t professional so here we are.

My writing has continued to move forward. Currently between 60,000 and 61,000 words and hoping to break through that line today.

Also, just got back from Germany. Pretty sweet.

Sent out Sun-King to some agents in a push to get published. No word back so far, but then again its only been a few weeks so no rush either.

Been working on the map too. Expanding it to include more of the world – spoiler alert – for future books. Map-drawing is often one of my favorite things to do, strange to be doing it with business purposes in mind. Really like what I have done this far but I have a lot of world left to go. Hopefully it doesn’t all suck balls.

Lastly been thinking about restarting my work on Hadysh, essentially flushing most of my work down the drain. If I do that expect some posts here about it. I have some new ideas and want to rid myself of some bad ones that had crept into the language. So. Who knows?

Anyway, this is about as much time as I am willing to spend here.