Monday, August 29, 2011

Project Report 3 Water/Stone/Light: Places to go

The map is going to change as I expand my idea of the story.

Work on this story is going very well. The little pieces are starting to fall together into larger, more coherent sections. The land itself (as you can see from the map) is taking shape. Things may still change on the map, though. I'm not quite done with it. For instance, all the city names are borrowed from Assyria right now. They are likely to change or at least mutate a bit (just as Tygen mutated from Egypt).

By putting in the major cities and indicating a few of the smaller villages, stockades, towers, etc., I now know how things have to work. Arratta is not only in the north, but also in a climate and terrain much different from the rest of the land. There is the great water fall where the river begins, a lake, and even trees, which are lacking in the lowlands.

This makes Arrata a rather powerful local power, and under less control by the lowland capital of Kish. They are cooperative, though. Lower Tygen supplies food and stands between them and the sea. Traders want Arrata wood. They need to maintain friendly conditions with the lowlands to keep the river open and navigable for them.

Or else they need to take over.

The people of Arrata are not of the same stock as those of the lowlands, though over the last 1000 years, they have intermarried -- especially in the nobility. Lady Nahid, the King's younger sister, married the Lord of Arrata. He died in battle. She's ambitious.

This area is strongly associated with the Temple of Water and tends toward matriarch households.

The lowlands has a number of large cities and several villages. The cities -- moving north to South -- are Isin, Lagash, Kish (Capital), Eshnanna, and Tibira. Tibira had been on the bay, but over a thousand years much of that land has filled in and now the city sits several miles from the coast.

The lowland cities are in a state of constant mistrust and defense against each other. Control of the river (and the canals that water the crops), is a continual battle. Isin, in the northern section, has extensive orchards and tends to want more of the water than they might really need, sometimes creating dams and small lakes and ponds. In most years, this isn't a big problem, but if there is less snowmelt, then the lowlands can experience drought. If that goes on for many years, the orchards die out and the desert encroaches from the west.

It's a precarious balance, all centered on the river and water.

Lagash is in constant disagreement with Isin over boundary lines. Isin claims all the orchards, but Lagash has held on to as section in the south, and there are often skirmishes at this point. Lagash has also taken over the control of a smaller village on the other side of the river which has its own small orchard. The villagers are ambivalent about this control. It does give them protection from river marauders (which many believe are from Isin). However, Lagash controls their government and they are no longer allowed to sell crops on their own.

Kish is the largest city in Tygen and the only one with extensive building on both sides of the river. It became the capital about two hundred years ago and has held control, even though the royal family has changed. When the battle between Kish and Tibira took place over control of Tygen, many villages between Lagash and Kish sided with Tibira. When the war was finished, Kish destroyed all the villages (except the one on the far bank that sided with them), leveled the land and planted crops. Many of the disposed went to live in Kish, which is one of the reasons the city is so large.

Between Kish and Tibira is Eshnunna, the ancient holy city. The three priesthoods rule here, and no one would ever try to attack the city. They are tolerant of outside aggression, but they have been known to step in. Even the king is careful not to cross the line with them.

The last major town to the south is Tibira, the former capital. Once a graceful, huge city, it is dying back to little more than a fish port town, though the statues, temples and other signs of the former glory still draw a number of people. Tourism, in fact, may soon outstrip the fish market -- for which everyone in town will be very happy.

The land between Tibira and the bay is swampy, snake and rat infested and dangerous. However, it is also a good source for waterfowl, which is mostly shipped to the palace in Kish and goes for a good price at the docks.

There are other dangerous creatures in the swamps. It is also a hideout for criminals hoping to escape to foreign lands. They float down stream and if they survive, they hide out in the swamp until a chance comes to reach the outer bay and perhaps find transport to the Island kingdom not far away.

Only the really desperate will try this.

At the mouth of the bay are two military posts, one on each side of the opening to the river. The bay itself is a dangerous place of rocks, changing currents and tangled plants. Some say there is a sea monster that dwells there and helps guard the secret entrance to the river. Whether true or not, no one reaches that opening without guides.

There are a few fishing villages along the shore line. A ship comes out from the river entrance once a day and collects the fish at the nearest small village. From there, it is transported up to Eshnunna where it is sorted. Some are dried. Others are sent on to the other cities, mostly Kish.

The largest section of Tygen is actually the Eastern desert. This is a higher plateau rising above the river valley and the lowlands along the coasts. The plateau rises some 3000 feet (about half a mile) above the lowlands with a steep escarpment all along the edges until it melds into the highlands in the north. There are few really easy places to climb

This is a Hamada type desert -- high plateau, rocky outcroppings and very little sand. There are areas of artesian springs, mostly in the northern area where they are fed by snow melt. There are also some areas where enough dirt has accumulated to get a bit of scrub brush growth, which the nomads (who tend to live around the wells and the outskirts of the area) have started using for feeding stock.

None of the river people know much about the Eastern Desert. The only time they traverse it is through The Way, a wide path cut into the desert that leads from the area of Kish all the way to The Barbarian Gate, which was the only pass from the north into Tygen before magic pulled down the mountains and sealed it shut 1000 years ago. There are three towers guarding The Way and ten wells dug into the path.

To the west of the river valley is a wide expanse of badlands -- a maze of stone cut by wind and erosion. Beyond that is the seemingly endless golden sands of the Western Wastes. There are rumors of treasure hidden in the badlands, but few people who go in ever come out.


Mikaela said...

Zette, what software did you use to make the map?

Zette said...

It's Campaign Cartagrapher

I've had it for a while, but never had the time to sit and learn it. Still haven't really approached what it can do, or done well with what I have.

I also did some post work in Photoshop, so the colors are not the same as the original. I hope to be able to work with this more, though. Fun program.