Milly, the Mountain Province, Underground

Welcome to my ideas and reasonings behind the characters in the Mountain Province of Dorr! Mostly, I will be talking about the Sessa, the snake-like race that lives there. First off, from what I know about snakes, their preferred habitats are wooded areas. So I pretty much have no reasoning behind making a mountain terrain with 0 trees the home of the snake-like people. I’m sorry.

But yeah, there is a history to Dorr that forces all of the Sessa underground. A long time ago, they lived above ground with the rock giants until relations turned sour between them. That forced the Sessa to go underground. I wanted to make some cool underground cities, though I think I like crisscrossing tunnels with only the occasional grand chamber. The large open places are the most important areas. Most of the cities are more comprised up of tunnels with buildings and homes carved into them. So it’s not as impressive as the dwarven cities in the films of the Lord of the Rings. I do enjoy a smaller space, but not claustrophic. Oh no, there’s still more than enough room for stuff.

The Sessa have the upperbody of a human but the lower body of a snake. I suppose they reproduce the same way snakes do, not people. Their bodies continue to grow as long as their alive, so it’s possible to tell how old one is by how long it is. That was why I made the King of the Sessa so long. The Sessa show respect through eye contact, reverance by being lower than the person they are talking to, and dominance by being higher. They don’t expect that of other races, though they will subtly change height to the amount of respect they think should be shown.

The Sessa also like to call people by their titles instead of their names. Names are only for family and close friends. Though that also means each Sessa can be called several different things during the day since their roles might not be apparent on visual cue. The Sessa will always introduce themselves with their official position, and that will be the title used if known.

I might have been thinking of Helms Deep when I named the capital of Dorr Crown Deep. I designed the bright cavern and cave sprites to sort of resemble the black dust things found in Totoro, only not black. I did want to add a bit of whimsy as the Sessa were more serious of a race. I’m pretty sure I made up everything on the fly at that point, such as why Milly was ordered to collect the dust as anything other than an obvious test. But hey, I thought that an underground city still needed to tell time, so I had that be the reason.

I made the lava field just to have one more adventure in the land. It was always planned and was not a filler event. I wanted a place where Gale’s leg would be, and I wanted it to be someplace special. Geeze, her other body parts will be completely hazardous to get to at this rate.

This is getting a bit long, so I’ll get to the characters next time! It’ll give me time to look up the King since he’s not in my notes for some reason.

Milly, the Mountain Province

Time for some more notes on the story of Milly! This time, I’ll be talking about the Monutain Province of Dorr.

For that province, I wanted a sort of dark tone that ranges from sunset to night in brightness level. I suppose I wanted the romantic look of rays of light peeking over the peaks of the mountains and looking up at the star-filled night with mountains all around. Really, most of these provinces are indulging in some sort of scenery that I like.

So another thing I enjoy is hot springs! And what better place to put hot springs than in the Mountain Province? I enjoy those full service hot springs with a place to sleep and eat in addition to bathing. It comes with both private baths and public pools. The feel was supposed to be grandiose, surrounded on all sides by steep walls with the constant fall of waterfalls all around.

In order to make all that mountainous terrain a bit more magical, I included crystal formations. There’s no real reason for it other than looking cool. I forgot the exact name, but remember the zone in World of Warcraft directly underneath the floating city of Dalaran? I imagine there is a spot that looks like that in Dorr.

Still, all mountains would make for a boring view, so I added in volcanoes! I am conscious that heat radiates outwards, and it would be scorching hot anywhere near the volcanos, so I tried to mitigate that with the magems.

To further up the magical nature, I added in the rock giants. They were a fairly late addition in the planning phase, not really being there until I needed them for plot convenience. I wanted each province to be large, yet I did not want the realistic travel times that walking would bring. Not to mention just how badly Milly’s sneakers would be ruined. I’ll probably give Milly new shoes next book.

Anyway, I made the rock giants both to give a splash to color to the landscape and to give her an easy way around. But then came another problem of them revealing too muc about the past I didn’t want to go into at the moment, so I decided to make it so that they have to remember backwards at some speed that would mean it would take too long to be practical. Whew. Dodged that bullet with some bs explanation.

For fun, I made it so that the oldest rock giants actually do become the mountain, and just to head of any questions about how new rock giants are formed, I had one being born right in the story. Though that still doesn’t understand the question of where the heart came from. I’ll just say concentrated lava + magic.

On the animals living in the Mountain Province, I chose to base it on fiery versions of insects, arachnids and molluscs. I’m not sure why, I just I like the way their bodies would glow. They have the most interesting movements for that. I originally wanted a scene where Milly was riding a lava snail but couldn’t figure out how to work it in. Oh well.

Next time, I’ll talk about the underground of Dorr as well as the characters that live there!

Milly, the Wizard City

Hello and welcome to the next part of my design notes in the world of Milly! This time, it will be about the magic city Aretto. It is also the name of the center land in between all of the provinces, so this will also contain any other characters living in that area.

First off, you have no idea how many times I accidentally spelled Aretto as Arreto. This happens a lot with other words. I am uncertain of where the double letter is. Thank goodness for the search and replace function in my word processor.

Now, then, I’ve wanted a center place where the wizards of the world live. Now just to make it clear, the word wizards refers to the race that look like regular people. Even if they don’t have magic, they are called wizards since that is just what everyone else knows them as.

I wanted something grand and mystical for the center city but unassuming for the outside parts. So that’s why there is just one large city with all of the magical works from sky trams to tall, radiant buildings. It’s supposed to have a feeling that’s a cross between medieval and magic/tech.

The city of Aretto is going to be the home base, so to speak, of Milly. Every book starting from the second, she will start there and go out on a new adventure following that. I gave her a free room and meals because I worry too much about how she would be getting by otherwise. Even if she does have a bit of outsdoorsy training, living off the land is not easy. And that’s all stuff I’ve learned from those survival shows.

I also decided to give Milly and official position because I thought it would be fun. She is the happy ambassador that goes out to help the provinces! It also helps my justify the city letting her stay for free if she’s providing them a service of being a neutral party that the other people won’t object to.

As for the outskirts of Aretto, they are more like a calm, country life dotted with small outposts for travelers and a bit larger villages. It would be the shortest change from country life to city life ever just by walking for a day or so. I don’t think there’s too much I want to say about those small villages. They are just normal, old-timey places with the addition of magic to help out.

Next time, I will talk about the characters that populate Aretto. That includes Carl, Soarwidhe and the officials of Aretto among some others!

Milly, Swamp Province

Welcome to the next installement of my design notes on Milly, the story of a girl in a strange and magical land. This time, I’ll talk about the Swamp Province, Herghkl. First up, that name. I wanted to add whimsy and fun, so I thought about making something unpronounceable would be a good idea. I have no idea if that is the case or not. But the way I pronounce it in my head is Her-gekkle with a bit of a throat sound at the ‘ge’ part.

I am not sure why, but I’ve always been drawn to boardwalks over pools of water, so that’s why I made Herghkl that way. Though the more I think about it, the more I feel Herghkl is more suitable to being the marsh province as it is should be deeper. But I really liked making the imagery for it with trees that have roots above the ground, lights off in the distance, and tiki torches lining the wooden path.

I didn’t go much into the fauna living there, but imagine the magical version of toads, alligators and stuff. I’ll talk more about the people and animals living there next time.

The part I like best about Herghkl is the border, about how the water is just stopped by some magical force. But it is possible to swim through it, so I’d be careful.

The villages of Herghkl are all built on stilts to be above the water. Many places have private fishing holes, which are basically holes in the floor. If you could imagine World of Warcraft, the Burning Crusade, there was a zone called Zangarmarsh. I wanted Herghkl to look a lot like a brighter, friendlier version of that, villages included.

As for the wawaks, the race living in Herghkl, I think I did them partially based on the creatures in the Dark Crystal mixed with lizards. I did want to show that all of them were friendly and inviting people, even the old and grumpy ones. It was deliberate to not make them cute while still maintaining them as good and caring.

Oh, about the ruins in the mountains at the edge of the province? They’re just ruins from the time when the provinces were warring. Nothing more, really. At least I haven’t come up with anything.

Out of the provinces I’ve made so far, between the first two books, Herghkl is definitely my favorite. I’d like to add in some giant swamp monster if I ever return to Herghkl. Heh.

Milly, the World of Benavill

This time, I will be going into my thoughts and design notes about the world of Benavill. For one, I do sort of regret the name. It’s too long and a mishmash of words. Oz is a nice and short name. Wonderland is made up of two well-known worlds. Benavill just kinda sounds like a medicine. What I was going for was Bien, meaning good, and vill a short of village. So Good Village, which makes no sense and Benavill is a collection of eight provinces.

Speaking of the provinces, boy do I have to try and avoid speaking about them. Yet I couldn’t help but indulge in the first book to list all eight of them. But I try not to talk about provinces that are not central to the story as a way to keep the amount of strange fantasy words one needs to keep in mind to a minimum.

I decided to have eight separate provinces because I wanted a wide variety to landscapes and creatures. Having a clear separation for each of them allowed me to throw what I want into each one without regard for ecosystems of other provinces or why temperatures are so different. It’s magic. I don’t have to explain poo.

In the backstory, three sisters uses giant threads to hold the eight provinces together. Originally, I sort of modeled them based on the Fates that weave, deal out and cut the thread, which was why it’s like that. I don’t know if that will be the case in the future, though.

Sometimes I think it would be better to cut out the strange names and just go with normal descriptors of the region, such as Forest Province for Lillilin. But I also like giving things names and like differentiating different places by name. I just worry that since this is meant for a younger audience, it would be too overwhelming. I even have a ninth province which is the Wizard city in the middle of the other 8. Aretto is both the name of the city and the province. Not good for lessening confusion.

Next time, I’ll go into individual provinces in detail!

Also, since I already named all of the provinces, I’ll list them out here.

Swamp Province: Herghkl. Located in the northwest.

Sky Province*: Raltia. Located in the north.

Forest Province: Lillilin. Locted in the west.

Cliff Province*: Balab. Located in the southeast.

Night Province*: Murt. Located in the southwest

Mountain Province: Dorr. Located in the South

Snow Province*: Vias. Located in the East

??? Province*: Jathy. Located in the northeast

Things labeled with a * are not final and might change.

Feast of the End, Betaia

Last time I talked a bit about my design of Sorta, this time I’ll talk about Betaia. In the current course of the story, I’m not planning on visiting Betaia, though, so this will actually be mostly made up off the top of my head and be based on rought thoughts. If we ever do visit Betaia in the future, it will hopefully remain consistent with what’s here.

Out of the three powerful nations, Betaia is the most technologically advanced. There is a reason for this. Originally, I wanted to put the history of Betaia into the second book but couldn’t find a good place to put it in. Their history is in the third book, but I’ll put a short version here, too.

Betaia used to be run by mages, but they abused their power. The people rebelled and eventually drove off the mages. The wizards and witches fled to either Thalliance or Sorcnon. The people of Betaia then decided to focus more on technology because it wasn’t as esoteric as magic.

For the story, the main thing I changed about Betaia was that they originally brought over steampunk-like or clockwork golems to Sorta. I took that part out partially due to me straddling the fence between wanting real physics or not in the book.

What I mean is that the humanoid robot design wouldn’t work that well since the legs would have a tough time holding up the rest of the body. Then I went with a tread design for the lower half. It just didn’t feel right, though. I want something with clocks whirring away inside or maybe pipes running through the body. After that, I think I went with just the normal artillery before taking it out entirely since that was too ‘normal’. So the end result was just a line of normal defense by the Betaians.

I always wanted some steampunk elements to the world, though I don’t describe them as much. So canonically, Betaia does have golems, they just weren’t brought to Sorta.

Now, for the part I just thought about briefly. Culture-wise, I want them to be something like turn of the 20th century America or London. The design of their buildings are more straightforward and functional compared to the striking look of Sorcnon, though. Betaia accepts all races but the women there aren’t allowed into certain higher level positions or the military. They are already starting to phase out carriages for automobiles.

Betaia has a Prime Minister and a cabinet of other ministers that run the nation. The lower-level officials are appointed while all of the ministers are elected. Regional governors are elected as well.

Just as a side note, Thalliance still uses a monarchy system. Sorcnon’s council members are selected from among the elite and powerful. The Anthelia Maiden is chosen by the council.

Feast of the End, Sorta

Welcome to the first of many design notes for Feast of the End 2: Wistful Article! This time, I’ll start with the new land of Sorta, a place where most of the events of the book take place. There shouldn’t be any spoilers here. Hopefully.

The island of Sorta is located directly east of Aarhsolm. It partially extends down to Sorcnon and north to Betaia, so both of the large nations tend to help out if needed. There is a huge wall around Sorta to protect it from the dizaks infesting the water. The other islands don’t need so much protection because they are not close to Sorcnon. Remember that dizaks only prowl around the Sorcnon area. There is a reason for that which I will get into in the third book.

For the culture of Sorta, it’s a bit of a mish-mash between African and Middle Eastern. I definitely tried to strive for a more Middle Eastern feel to the names, sometimes even accidentally. For instance, I made up the name Basma, but it turned out to be a real name that means smiling. I had a lot of fun researching the foods that those cultures ate and tried to show off how different it was compared to Sorcnon.

For the landscape, I wanted something a bit more different from typical forestry and plains, so I went with a more savanna kind of look with the addition of golden grass instead. Sorta is mainly small villages with the occasional large city where major things happen. A webway of dirt roads travel between all the towns and cities.

The idea of the Autumnal Feast actually came from an old Greek or Roman tradition (I believe. It’s been a while since I learnt it. I could be completely wrong.) There, the rich people would take turns throwing massive feasts for the entire community, mainly to show off their money and influence. It was something of an honor, really to be able to display their wealth.

If there wouldn’t have been a disaster, the Autumnal Feast probably would have played out like the above, with the rich from individual villages throwing their own party. With the storm, however, the Autumnal Feast turned into one island-wide feast.

I added in two somewhat other-worldly landmarks into Sorta. The Drooling Wall and Olak’s Spiral. I wanted them to obviously feel like an intentional creation, but they weren’t created by man. I mentioned several such structures all over Sorcnon as well, such as a massive archway and how Forehearth Forest’s floor had ripples in them. All of it will play to the overall history of the world in the next book.

That’s about all the notes I can think about for Sorta at the moment. If I come up with more, maybe they’ll be a part two. Next time, I might talk a bit about Betaia.