Tag Archives: avenoth

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Inspirations For The Twelve Great Cities

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  I’d like to peek behind the curtain and talk about my inspirations for the Twelve Great Cities of Telvaren.

The idea for Twelve Great Cities sprung right into my head when I was messing around with ideas.  Inspired by some lovely visuals in anime (if you ever want amazing cityscapes, many SF/Fantasy anime have jaw-dropping designs) and some past fiction, I came up with the idea of a city dominated by a dozen great city-states.  Each city has its own personality, and these are the inspirations.

The Cities

Allanax – The capital of the Great Cities is somewhat inspired by Washington DC, but as it also acts as a culture center it takes some inspiration from Cincinnati, Ohio and Boston.  Visually it’s inspired by Seattle and the fictional city of Numbani in the game Overwatch – all soaring high-tech skyscrapers.

Brightguard – Brightguard is a massive academic center of magic and knowledge, so Boston was an enormous influence.  As it has a military past, there’s also some influence from San Francisco’s Navy days.  In the setting as of the novel it’s experiencing gentrification, inspired by many sources, and visually based on the way I’ve seen old buildings in Silicon Valley converted to other things.

Grand Ivar – The “little sibling” to Allanax and Brightguard, Grand Ivar’s is a fun city to write about because it’s amazing and diverse, but is always contrasted to others, leading to it trying hard to stand out, while also being insecure.  Culture wise it’s inspired by San Jose and Toronto, though visually I’ve described it as a “well laid-out art deco Hong Kong.”  The insecurity comes from watching rivalries in the Bay Area, and watching competition among various real cities.

Highpoint – The Great City made by various cities allying themselves together, building a bunch of roads, and asking to join the other cities.  Highpoint is inspired by those areas where cities and towns just kind of grew together, including Boston, New York, The Bay Area, and Columbus, Ohio.  Culturally it’s very laid back, taking some hints from smaller cities I’ve visited.

Kalfstaff – Financial center Kalstaff is heavily inspired by New York and London, as well as the cityscapes in the late MMO City of Heroes.  Ut.  It’s extremely neat architecture and well-kept streets are inspired by Toronto.

Mindarion – The great city of manufacturing and fabrication is a strange one.  In some ways it’s inspired by manufacturing cities like Pittsburgh, but the design of the city is well-planed, combining urban architecture, greenery, and massive factories.  It takes definite hints from anime designs combined with Jack Kirby’s imaginative cityscapes.

Nasharex – The high-tech friend/rival to Mindarion, Nasharex has an erratic layout, and is inspired by Silicon Valley, Seattle, and other cities who suddenly found themselves growing, with widing roads and surprising hidden places.  Nasharex is a mix of Eastern and Southern culture, making it a uniquely diverse city.

Olanau-Kau – A coastal city, the last survivor of the South, and a center of Botanomancy and reclaiming the lost lands, this is a complicated city that has many inspirations.  It’s giant walls are inspired by fantasy art and classical art of castles and fortresses, and it’s layered architecture comes from some giant hotels, buildings, and apartment complex I’ve seen.

Triad True – The great theopolis is more of an original idea – asking what if there was a city just dedicated to religion.  It takes some hints from Jack Kirby’s art, art deco, and anime – I visualize it as an embellished place, with shrines and great idols everywhere.

Sabillion – The media capital, Sabillion is obviously inspired by Hollywood and Los Angeles, though it’s more spread out.

Vasikon Zek – The only city upon the Ocean, Vazikon Zek is really made up of islands, artificial islands, magic, and clever architecture.  Visually and layout-wise I see it as organic, like a nautilus shell or a crystal.  It was inspired by SF ideas of oceanbound cities.

Zafrel – The giant transportation hub is clearly inspired by Chicago.

 

– Steve

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Demons

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  It’s time to talk Demons.

Demons

Demons figure prominently in the history of Avenoth and the human worlds around it for good reason; they’re murderous and dangerous creatures that eat information.

Scholars and demonologists have debated over their origins, and older gods have provided what information they could. The conculsons reached about them are as follows:

  • They likely were human or a human sub-species. They may be releated to the uncommon human variants of Vampires, Shifters, or the extinct Changelings.
  • They exist due to magic – they are a magical fields constructing a physical body. This is why they can posess others and in a few rare cases, transmit themselves.
  • They are hierarchical, almost insect-like, and have specialized roles. Most of them are ignorant and manipulated by their leaders or humans.
  • They evolve. Demons consume information from living minds or echoes and ghosts. This can lead them to be conscious, and perhaps even evolve a soul.
  • Demons with souls are very controversial – it’s clear the Royalty who lead them have souls, but do not try to die or reincarnate. There is evidence demons do reincarnate as humans and there’s no records of humans doing the reverse. Why do more demons not simply commit suicide?
  • The Demon leader is the Emperor, formally the Emperor of Three Faces. It is clearly thousands of years old.

Demon History

Demons have been with humanity forever, unfortunately so. Arose around the first civilizations, and achieved prominence roughly a thousand years before current times. They were both dangerous and featred, but also useful as they were easily manipulated or summoned, and many older ones retained knowledge they’d eaten.

As civilization grew, demonology became more and more publicly proscribed. Privately, however, experimentation and summoning continued and was used to this days. Gods have not entirely forbidden demonology for reasons that aren’t apparent.

During The War, demons spawned rapidly, feeding on the echoes of dying minds. Their threat could have been even worse, but the use of weapons of mass destruction ensured that many new demons died quickly. It is often said that the South’s genocidal war against itself may have saved the world, as even demons couldn’t survive the poison-choked cities and bioweaponry that walked.

At the end of The War, the Emperor’s underground legions burst forth in the ruins of the old Dragon Kingdoms, and surged westward towards Allanax, the capital of the new alliance. They tore through towns and armies, growing their numbers, while attempts to kill them poisoned the land and the air.

Several gods incarnated to attack them while humans plotted with science and sorcery to defeat them. In the final battle at Pemmelock Vale, the goddess known as the Swordswoman died attacking the emperor while the Deceiver tried to scramble the minds of the demons. Finally, a great experimental weapon, the Vortex Bomb, was detonated above the demons, casting them to the uninhabitable world of Pandemonium.

The demons leadership had been cut off and banished. It was hoped they would die on that world of fire and ice, but they persisted. Though humanity had avoided corrupting vast swaths of land with demon poison or hunting down royalty, demons were still there, with their knowledge, and portals – and curious humans calling on them.

Common Demons

Demons vary with function and, as Royalty, personal choice. All demons appear as black creatures, usually humanoid past a certain size, with colored eyes. The eye color of a demon often denotes creator or personality.

Seekers: Seekers are some of the oldest and most common demons- single-eyed winged creatures created by Royalty or from eggs to find things. Seekers have preternatural senses as good as any diviners, and it’s theorized they’re more a form of living technology.

Hivers: Hivers are brute force creatures, used for labor or simple killing. Like Seekers, they’re thought of as a kind of technology, and are among the most common demons found as eggs and used by humans. Hivers can also hibernate for centuries.

Rippers: Multi-limbed killing machines, rippers are shock troops that tear into their targets and keep moving on. Rippers are more evolved than Hivers, but also harder to control.

Swoopers: Swoopers resemble large Seekers, and are aerial troops. They swarm enemies and function like a hive mind.

Knights: Knights are the highest of the common demons, and are borderline conscious. Huge, armored figured with bladed bodies and living weapons, they’re fearsome combatants.

Royalty

Demon Royalty is variable and individual. There is a complex ranking system that use human titles like King, Duke, etc. Curiously, all titles are male, and all appear humanoid.

Royalty can create other, lesser demons. Those demons always have the eye color of their creator and may have similarities in form.

Royalty are strong, posses various abilities, and can posses others. As Royalty progresses up the ranks, possession becomes harder to maintain, so it is often an activity of low-level Royalty. They scheme among each other in various plots, and enjoy backstabbing each other.

At the top of the Demon Royalty is the Emperor of Three Faces. The Emperor is an unknown, but he is said to be some twenty feet tall and wield power equivalent to an incarnated Gods. He is thousands of years old and has a patchwork soul that is cunning and dangerous. His motivations are unclear, but he takes great pleasure in the mass murder of humans and seems driven to exterminate humanity.

Human Use

Humans still employ demons. Most popularly they are used as assassins or consultants, and powerful Royalty are recorded in tomes and grimoires with summoning instructions. Everyone knows demons will betray them, but the power tempts them – and demons do not always get the best of the deal.

Some humans study low-level demons and hatch them from eggs for the sake of safety but also practicality. Hivers or Rippers are excellent killers. Seekers are simple, but easily impressed upon and can become loyal servants and spy-eyes.

There are also experiments done on demons by various orders, guilds, and scientists. It’s an open secret among people in The Military and The Guard that some weaponry is derived from demons. The most common not-discussed item are acidic weaponry based on demon ichor are disintegration rounds, popularly called Dzers.

This is all supposedly forbidden. It goes on anyway.

The Lost Gods

Demons are sometimes associated with the mad deities known as Lost Gods, those who have lost their focus or become monomaniacal. There has been some interaction, but Demons in general despise the gods, and Lost Gods are insane, unpredictable, and often degenerate. Worse, the Lost Gods often have their own minions, and aren’t interested in demons – this is said to have terribly offended The Emperor.

Demon Royalty works with Lost Gods and their followers rarely, but it does happen. For one side, it will always end poorly – for everyone else it will definitely end poorly.

– Steve

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Popular Entertainment

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  Let’s talk about entertainments in the Twelve Great Cities and their planets.

Popular Entertainment

Everyone needs to relax, and the people of Avenoth have their own ways of doing so with popular entertainments.

Most popular entertainments contain a strong social factor, such as attending concerts, playing games together, or discussing books or comics. The need to tie society together is a constant element of the culture, and permiates everything.

Because of this, “truly getting away” entertainments are specifically noted.

Music

The cultural evolution of the last century has produced several distinct musical styles that are popular.

Glitterpop – Glitterpop is light, bubbly music often sung by groups who tend to be themed, and have specific focuses (such as singing about romance, or nature, etc.). Glitterpop concerts are highly social events, though the music is often criticized as being shallow and repetitious – if accessible.

Sway – Sway originated from dance music, and is instrumental in nature – many Sway tunes have no lyrics. Sway has split the last few years into a form using regular instruments often meant for dance and an electronic format that is more for listening or relaxing. The latter is sometimes called Tech-sway, or “T-sway.”

Thunder – Thunder is percussion-heavy music that is loud, powerful, and often grounded in legends and history. Bands vary widely in style and depth, and “true” fans usually distinguish between “Iron Thunder” (raw, heavy, and historical) and “Blood Thunder” (more focused on current events, emotion, and experimental).

Because of it’s nature, Thunder music results in one of the few concerts attended by angsty teenagers, their grandparents, and historians.

Video entertainments

Recorded videos, often burned into crystals or recorded via magic, have a centuries old history on Avenoth. With the advent of the Network and related technologies, local broadcasts grew in popularity before the war, and global ones afterwards. Now video entertainments are broadcast across the planet via the techno-magical Network or played from distributed video units.

Television: Televisions are common and have been for a time. More and more television programs are produced in Sabillon, but most Cities have local productions. Those local productions, in turn, are often shared across the planets.

In general Sabillon-produced shows are meant for mass consumption, and locally produced ones are considered “more intellectual.” This is hopelessly simplistic, but local pride does affect people’s opinions.

Dramas, especially historical ones, are very popular – there’s many historical events that have been re-enacted so often it’s endless fodder for comedy shows.

Talk shows and educational programs are also popular, though many of the former are local.

Movies: Movies made for mass consumption tend to be fictional, whereas locally made ones vary in subject matter. As movie attendance is a big deal – people usually make an event out of it – films tend to be produced carefully. Ruining someone’s evening doesn’t help one’s career.

Locally-produced films often find more forgiving audiences, and sometimes local films take off globally or even among planets.

Films tend to be long (about two to three hours) fitting their importance and the sense of an ‘event.”

Animation: With the use of magic to create imagery as well as advanced technology and human artistry, animation tends to the experimental and artistic.

Literary entertainments

Literacy has been valued for aeons on Avenoth – in a world of magic, gods, and dangerous history being able to read is a survival skill. Books are valued and appreciated, from records to ways to relax.

Novels: Local authors are a sense of pride for the Great Cities, and many an author’s novel takes off locally before going worldwide. Large publishing interests cultivate local talent, who a century or more ago might not be known outside their City. However, due to this inclination to seek local authors, attempts to cultivate new “major” stars often fail.

Popular novels tend to be less about historical events than video entertainments; many are set in recent, current, or future times. What we consider science fiction or fantasy do not quite exist in the larger culture – speculating on other worlds is rare when you have other worlds, and most fiction is set no more than fifty ears in the future. Such literature is

Comics: Comics are popular with all ages, and are usually published in large sets (similar to graphic novels) or combined together in themed publications (similar to manga). Individual comics, on their own as we know them, are unknown – and likely were considered wasteful in the past.

Comics tend to the fantastical more than novels, leveraging the unique imagery of the artists. They are thus considered more radical, more advant-garde, or more silly depending on their themes.

E-games

E-games are what we’d call video-games. They’ve existed in several forms over the last century or show as computing power and The Network spread. They are considered to be (still) experimental, and a place for people to try various unusual and otherwise impossible forms of entertainment.

A few common genres are:

Puzzles: Puzzle games are popular and are viewed as intellectual challenges. Puzzle games are considered something one does alone to relax.

Stories: Similar to RPGs or graphic novels, story games are increasingly popular and some are played on Slates. Fans discuss them in detail, and designers love packing them with references, hidden details, and more.

Strategy: Strategy games are popular, but are controversial as they often involve history which has many dark corners.

Common Events

Surrounding movies, television, and more there are common social events.

Movies as noted are events for many people, something to do with friends and families and make an evening (or a day out of). They are often used as excused for many other social events, or just outright drinking.

Online Communities use the Network to discuss things. This is popular for discussing television, movies, and of course publishing fanfiction (a popular past time).

Reading groups and book clubs are popular for all kinds of books and comics. Many libraries, guilds, and more sponsor a variety of them. Many of them are held at theocades, coffee shops, and more – which is also an excuse to hang out, drink coffee, or ask for a few blessings.

Concerts are popular social events. Much like movies, people tend to make a day of it.

– Steve