Awesome work! Love being able to see the rivers, canals, and road networks in more detail. The geography of the Rim and South Riding being connected along the main river system makes the nationalist sentiment make a ton a sense given how disconnected it is from the metropole.
One legend question. Are the backward L icons like Brecksands forts, ruins or gates?
Edit: gates in the Wards are represented by a double line, like the two near Grand Shayard: Osterport and the Abhuman land border. Green solid shading (hard to see in this photo) is farm country, “grass” is grassland.
Folks will notice that “Laconne” appears twice. The vast forest used to span both Ridings, but its Westriding half was largely cut back for farmland or destroyed in the Scouring, leaving just a small remnant against the mountains.
The map will look slightly different from my previously shared ones, partly because of inevitable inaccuracies with freehand copying (even when using a grid) but mostly because I’ve adjusted the projection. As I said about my previous map:
The one I’ve shared today adjusts the projection to better fit the actual distances along each line of latitude, which means that all the northern stuff has gotten skinnier, and Shayard looks beefier by comparison. This version should help me make more consistent estimates of travel distances along roads, rivers, wilderness, and Theurge flightpath.
There’s a potentially interesting in-universe reason that could apply here: every previous “daring adventurer” who foolishly attempted to visit the Bloodless Reach (in an attempt to fill the remaining world map’s details) vanished and never returned, thus discouraging future aspiring cartographers to the point that they’re willing to settle for an incomplete map.
How much of Horion’s past correspondence/essays (or written documents in general) will players be able to read in future XoR games?
I wonder if there’s an entire wing of Grand Shayard’s library solely dedicated to Horion’s written works? (assuming of course, that Phyrgia didn’t burn/suppress them)
Does this mean some of the high-country clan subordinates are described as Eyebrows, Eyelashes, Pupils, or Irises? (or am I reading too much into the analogy here?)
I admit that as usual, this was a rather sugar-fueled, spur-of-the-moment brainstorm that may or may not make sense.
But please, hear me out.
Even though the Whends may not have the geography/incentive to invent submersibles for their own personal use, MC’s future Shayardene/Erezzan pirate allies do.
From how I see it, it’s a win-win situation here.
The Whends get reliable foreign customers for their steampunk/waterpower technology (which by the way, has some very fascinating Google Imageexamples), and in return, MC’s Shayardene/Erezzan pirate community gain massive boosts to their raiding/scavenging capabilities (and that earlier mentioned naval superiority I mentioned earlier too!).
But not by ALL of the Westriding noble houses, correct? Surely there must be a lingering minority of Cabelite aristos out there who wish to atone for their black sheep ancestor’s treachery, right? (e.g. it turns out that Jac and his closest followers (under new identities) are taking refuge in a Westriding aristo’s manor, an ironic hiding place that the Hegemony’s hunters would least expect from the Cabelites)
That will probably need to change (if MC aims to foster a sense of international brotherhood amongst his future koinon buddies/compatriots).
Perhaps a koinon-wide, worker/student exchange program might do the trick here?
There’s an interesting quoted conversation from GoT that I think very much applies here…
SPICE KING: “Your ambition is an inspiration. But like all upstarts, you overreach. Three dragons the size of cats and an alliance with a charlatan do not make you a king.”
XARO: “An upstart and a charlatan? Empires have been built by less. Those on the margins often come to control the center, and those in the center make room for them, willingly or otherwise.”
That’s a giant relief.
Looking forward to the “There’s a Party Here in Agrabah, er, I mean Grand Shayard” musical number!
Duly noted. On another note, however, can a female Homelander warlord MC deliberately evoke Samena’s legacy/image as part of their propaganda/advertising? (especially if she successfully claimed the role of Laconnier monarch)
As usual, I look forward to witnessing the final draft.
But specific details/analogies aside, I’m nervously praying that it will be far easier for MC to advertise Teren’s value as an ally (to MC’s original G1 band of followers), compared to MC trying to make justifications for the notoriously murderous/scheming Calea and/or “equivalent of political suicide” Phaedra.
Hopefully, Teren’s brand of ruthlessness falls under the “only pursue ruthlessness as a last resort after all other reasonable options have been exhausted” nuance.
When I Googled ‘terza rima’, Dante’s Divine Comedy was the definition’s listed example.
Which leads to me ask the following- have any of XoR’s poets/singers (e.g. Carles, Erezzans, or somebody else in general) ever invented their version of the Divine Comedy?
Duly noted. Then what about my next faction analogy/template: Ancient Carthage/the Carthaginian Empire?
(Especially since MC’s post-Hegemony faction will hopefully be…
1- primarily Cosmo,
2- in possession of a strong mercantile network,
3- secured by a large/powerful navy,
4- and is backed by a fearsome army of foreign mercenaries and giant elephants/Plektoi)
And on a related note, could MC’s pseudo-Hanseatic League naturally evolve into (or backslide, depending on one’s perspective) XoR Carthage?
(especially if we consider the “nominal koinon which is actually Hegemony Lite in practice” angle here)
How funny/interesting would it be if it turned out that several of our Game 1 followers’ “long-missing grandparents/great-grandparents who got lost wandering the border” ended up living happy/extended lives as Abhumans?
That would be quite the family reunion, right?
While that’s a nice idea, I should be clear that this is very much a map for the author and readers; nothing looking like this could exist diegetically within the gameworld. The couple of dozen people for whom it would be possible to make a map that includes all these named features would also be able to fill in the gaps in the northwest.
I’m definitely not going to write Horion’s letters to Pan Szeric, and in general his writings are in the hands of his friends around the world, not yet collected in one place. We’ll see about written documents; I used them heavily in the D&D campaign this is based on, but ChoiceScript doesn’t have the capacity to make them visually interesting, and they break up choice flow.
But incentive can’t be relied on to generate invention. The wheel wasn’t invented in plenty of cultures that could have used it. Right now, we have every incentive to invent commercially viable nuclear fusion, and have since before I was born. Inventing submersibles requires you to solve a lot of thorny engineering problems around buoyancy, propulsion, oxygen supply, and (if you want to use them militarily) engagement with the enemy. While Theurgy makes it thinkable that they would be invented earlier in the gameworld than in ours, it doesn’t make it remotely necessary; and since at present I’m planning for naval warfare to be a relatively simple component of the late game, I don’t think it would be wise for me to overcomplicate it by adding Theurgic submarine warfare.
Correct. Like I said, Cabel doesn’t judge aristos by where they come from, but by how they’ve treated his rebels.
And Teren will be much more palatable to your Rim rebels than either Calea or Phaedra – though T’s Leilatou name will make them less palatable than another noble like Abelard might be, let alone a renegade like Suzane.
There is no Divine Comedy of Elysium and Taratur in the gameworld. I imagine some of the G5 end states will be evocative of Carthage.
#1: Are there any melting glaciers (or some other inconvenient climate-related issue) in XoR that could end up causing a border dispute in later games, similar to the real-life “melting glacier in the Alps has shifted the border between Switzerland and Italy”?
E.g. perhaps a Xaos-storm (if uncontained, due to MC dropping the Wards) ends up confusing the borders between Shayard and its neighbors? (thus exacerbating the already high tensions from everybody competing for Shayardene grain in later games)
#2: And on a more political note, can koinon-specializing MCs acquire the ability to gerrymander districts/provinces to their personal preference?
(What younger Horion potentially wrote in his younger years)
“Dear diary, The Hegemony is a big meanie who keeps seizing our lunch money (and blood!). But oh boy, when I grow up, my koinon and I will have the last laugh by giving them the wedgie of a lifetime!”
#1: Key phrase here being “not yet.”
Will there be any sidequest opportunities for Leaguer MCs (who personally visit the non-Shayard locations of later games) to gather those scattered writings?
(and then as an alternative for the imagined Grand Shayard library wing, perhaps MC instead presents the collection as a wedding anniversary gift (or as a platonic friendship gesture) to Teren?)
#2: And by the way, how close (or distant) were Teren and Horion as fellow family members? Obviously, Horion trusted/educated Teren to the extent that Teren is properly equipped to inherit Horion’s dream and take charge of the Leaguer legacy, but how do we describe their personal relationship? (outside politics/anti-Hegemony scheming)
Does Teren love Horion? (but often grumble/feel frustrated towards Horion’s “eccentric philosopher” behavior)
(or is this yet another “wait for the official demo”-triggering question?)
I was going to reply with a cheesy “when there’s a will, there’s a way” rebuttal, but at this point, I think I’ll just meekly submit to your more comprehensive logic.
Could you go over one more time in detail why the Leilatou name is very much despised by MC’s Rim rebels? (and other anti-aristo groups such as the drudges)
If my memory serves correct, it’s because the Leilatou history of ruling Shayard as the Hegemony’s Archons/governors for centuries (or was it decades? I forgot) has created a reputation of the Leilatous being “Shayard’s biggest sellouts”, right?
With regards to my past recurring topic about Jailbreak MCs potentially feeling that they’re honor-bound to follow (or at least ally with) Abelard (due to Abelard’s role as the G1 jailbreaker and G1 anti-plektoi spear supplier), how compelling would the “debt of honor” narrative be for MC to convince the Rim rebels that Abelard is a trustworthy ally? (or perhaps, even “the one true Laconnier king” worth following)
The meltdown of the Thaumatarchy? All borders will potentially be on the table in Book 5, and a powerful enough character will have some ability to affect how they’re redrawn.
I am not planning a sidequest to gather the writings of Horion Leilatou. He and Teren got along well; you’ll have to wait for the demo for more detail.
You’re right about why the Leilatou are despised – Archons generally are, since they have to enforce all kinds of policies that benefit Karagon over their home province. They also have the power to dole out consolation prizes to keep their subjects on side, but those don’t make it to the margins. (And they’ve been Archons for decades, not centuries.)
Abelard’s sending spears (in gameworlds where that happened) will win him gratitude and a generous measure of trust from your Rim followers (who in those gameworlds will also include many fewer helots).
Flying, if you have the blood to burn on it. Theurgy-driven riverboats, for cargo; there are a lot of those on the main river arteries, with Phalangite guards, accompanying the flow of trade goods to Karagon.
Including Halassur’s borders?
MC may not be able to depose/conquer Halassur’s government by G5’s end (per what we discussed earlier), but since Halassur is obviously interested in assimilating ex-Hegemony provinces, why not return the favor by taking chunks of their outermost territories?
(or perhaps even hold those Halassurq territories ransom, with the price of release being a two-for-one special: surrendering both Nyryal AND Karagon to MC’s faction’s custody/protection).
Preferably redrawn with the ink of diplomacy/deterrence, rather than the (additional) bloodshed of innocent millions, if my MCs will have anything to say about it.
How swayed might Phyrgia be by the prospect of the Leilatou legacy earning redemption/respect in the eyes of her fellow Shayardenes? (aka by joining Homelander MC’s cause)
Perhaps this is her fundamental dilemma in “Game 2 Chapter 4: The Archon’s Choice”: whether or not Phyrgia remains a Hegemony stooge (stuck in a gilded cage), or if she grows the ideological backbone (or opportunistic vision) to finally turn rebel.
‘Consolation prizes’, eh? Assuming that Teren has been embezzling from Phyrgia’s allotted “consolation prize budget”, how wealthy is the Leaguer’s starting position in Game 2? (especially when compared to the Laconniers)
Could Abelard also be COM 3 MC’s (potential) main supplier of ventisputori? (or will such weapons be provided by somebody else)
How’s this for another imagined G5 scenario: even though older King Abelard has been tragically deposed by the ancient Gryphon claimant (at the time of G5’s start), the goodwill that he’s generated (and retained) with MC’s faction has allowed him to covertly lead a government-in-exile in either the Whendward (or in Abhuman Federation territory).
From his hiding place (after having rebuilt strength across the years), Abelard then rallies together both MC’s surviving original Rim followers (and newly hired foreign mercenaries) for one last bid to (once again) reclaim the Shayardene throne.
FYI, the inspiration I had in mind was ASOIAF’s Golden Company (and how it was founded for the sole purpose of helping House Blackfyre win the Iron Throne).
Are any of these treasure chests (if partially emptied of trade goods) big enough to smuggle infiltrators across Karagon’s border?
I doubt our future realm will have capabilities to directly beat Hallasurq to the point of taking their own territory. Remember that whole post-Hegemony territory will be just after a series of devastating wars and without significant blood supply. I think the most we will be able to do is to resist Hallasurq so we(Erezza) don’t lose too much.
Happy to note, as I did on the Joel Havenstone Facebook page yesterday, that I’ve crossed the 200k word mark on Stormwright. It’s feeling great to finally be making real progress after slow years.
The Halassur-Erezza border will be very much in play, though as Sowe notes, it may not be in the direction you’d prefer…
Any new western empire strong enough to capture what the Hegemony has failed to seize for centuries wouldn’t need to worry about losing Nyryal and Karagon, in any case.
She’s too tough to be swayed by unpopularity, and too much a realist to think that there’s much respect to be won from people who’ve always hated her. But her “Choice” under some circumstances might still take a form that brings her closer to your revolt.
Not especially, I’m afraid. The Archon spends primarily to shore up Loyalists, secondarily to keep some of the main Laconniers on side, and only then to win over the small faction of her troublesome cousins. Teren isn’t that close to the purse strings.
Possibly, along with either merchants or foreigners (Halassur/Abhuman).
Don’t get too invested in speculations involving the Gryphon claimant.
Is Halassur mostly animated by revenge in this war or is some portion of Erezza considered of vital national interest to secure their state? I suppose it is also possible they see the Hegemony population an untapped source of aether. Just seems like a very expensive resource extraction operation.
My mc would rather look into setting up production for what will hopefully become the main weapon of the rebellion himself.
This one seems the most likely, although it is not like empires to refuse additional territory either. Halassur seems to be on the foolish course of wanting to be more like the Hegemony, magically speaking, and wants the slaves to sustain what is essentially an unsustainable model.
Come to think of it Halassur could well fatally undermine itself and thus lose by “winning” if it pursues that course too long and too far. While that would take down the two biggest empires at once the costs of that in tortured slaves is not something I’d like to contemplate.
Normally what drives imperial power accumulation is insecurity. The “Scramble for Africa” was less about the potential upside than about the potential downside of letting your imperial rival gain access to a larger share of available resources. That being said, direct confrontation is normally relatively short as total war between powerful belligerents is exceedingly painful for both sides. Usually it can only hope to weaken both and invite a challenger or rebellion.
Since the mutual antagonism is so consistent in the game world I have to think there is more to it than what drives imperial conflict irl. Somehow one side at least is profiting from forever war. The prospect of blood harvest seems to be the likely explanation, but it seems unlikely that accounts can be balanced from POWs alone.
When I post G2 Ch 1, there will be some sharing of the (a?) Halassurq perspective from Erjan.
By his account, the Hegemony has been the aggressor following every truce, always yielding to the temptation to push its boundary deeper into Halassur. The Karagonds have the massive advantage that Border Wards are a Theurgic “tech” available only to one side, helping them consolidate the gains they make if they can hold them long enough to shift the wall. Only self-sacrifice on a massive scale by the Empire’s subjects has foiled and disrupted that process consistently enough to prevent the Hegemony’s turning its Halassurq bridgehead into a new province.
The hard lessons of centuries of Karagond aggression will prevent an easy peace on the current boundary. Even if the Border Ward were to be destroyed and never re-established (a major Halassurq war goal, though they’ve no clear idea how to achieve it) the Empire will not feel secure as long as the Karagonds and Erezziano hold defensible hilly terrain with lots of harbor cities on the edge of a bit of Halassur that is largely flat and vulnerable to incursions, especially with naval support.
Halassur’s minimum goal is thus to take and hold the isthmus as far as Cocenza (Kochent, to the Halassurqs), to ensure that any future contestation takes place mainly on Erezziano turf. The fact that this area also has a lot of the best mines and farmland in Erezza is an incidental bonus.
Cerlota will have some perspectives on this from the Hegemony’s side, too. It’s what drove her to turn renegade.
Speaking of - is Erezza in general more rich in mineral resources than the rest of Hegemony? If so - could the rest of post-Hegemonic states suffer shortages of said resources if Erezza deposits were seized by Hallasurq(and stopped any export to the west)? Or is it not really that much problem, considering that Shayard itself size is like 4x France(so there are probably minerals-rich places on that massive land too)?