Sandbox: Part 2 – Labels and History

The second step in the Sandbox Experiment is:

Label important regions

This in itself sounds fairly easy, so let’s get right on it. First are the basic labels of landmarks. I named as many as I could, running out of ideas in the process. That’s okay – as always, I am sure names will suggest themselves later on. And of course some of the names may change when more logical choices appear. The current continental map looks like this:

Naming names
Naming names

Step 3 is actually to write background this is the big one – I’ll have to split this up over two or three posts.

Write one page of background giving no more than a handful of sentences to each region.

For this I first need to decide roughly where my Elves, Gnomes, Trolls, and so on will live. At this point we have not decided what races will be present, but due to the history of my fantasy worlds, the fact that Tolkien and Gygax are so dominant in the fantasy genre, I will use a fairly standard catalogue of races:

  1. Humans are the latecomers to this continent
  2. Elves are the “ancient civilization” – they used to rule most of this continent, but orcs have gained much territory.
  3. Orcs – I simply dislike them, but it’s easy to give them shades of grey and play with their culture, so they are my main antagonist race
  4. Dwarves – Gotta have dwarves.
  5. Gnomes – I was never sold on them much, until I played World of Warcraft. I’ve become a huge Gnome fan ever since. So I want them in as well.
  6. Avians – I love Kenku, and they will be an important race in the region as well
  7. Lizardmen – It’s fun to play with people’s fears, and it’s either spiders or lizards. Spiders don’t fit too well into a list of humanoid races.

Of course there are also many other races, like ogres, trolls, giants, and what have you.

Racial Distribution
Racial Distribution

That’s just a rough distribution of what might fit.

The humans on the continent arrived long after the other races. They came from their home land, Atelan (see the Twin Continents), and established an outpost on the southwest coast of Enderra. As they are a sea-faring people, they then proceed to explore and map this new continent by circumnavigating it. They establish more outposts; a few for strategic purposes, but mostly trading posts.

Atelan Explorations
Atelan Explorations

The humans were not liked by everybody. They immediately got along with the dwarvess who, similar to the people of Atelan, appreciated the arts of war and engineering. The Elves were mostly neutral – seeing the humans as a valuable trading partner, but as a possible future enemy. It did lead to some fighting around the Sapphire Sea, but these were mostly skirmishes that the humans won.

In other parts the Atelanians were not so successful.

The Avians in the western part of the Westland islands however immediately attacked what they saw as an intruder on their territory, and decimated an unsuspecting outpost. And the human fears of lizards led to wars against the lizardmen of Marsh Bay. The lizardmen used the territory to their advantage, and managed to slaughter the colony there to the last man.

Atlean’s outposts near the Sapphire sea, the Pearl Bay, east of Stone Mountain, and what would later be known as the Gulf of Brania expanded – as did the original outpoist south of the Korogo Desert.


In the following decades, the Atelanian colonists expanded further, moving mostly into territory that was either uninhabited, or only inhabited lightly. There were no major wars, but skirmishes continued with Lizardmen and the Avians. The later were very effective at defending their islands from human encroachment. The humans also encountered the orcs, and found that no love was lost between the two peoples: Orcs and humans fought each other bitterly whenever they met.

Perhaps 50-100 years after arriving, the Atelanians held a lot of territory and had built many cities, most of them still simple affairs, but population was increasing quickly.

Then, disaster struck.

A huge flood wave hit the south-western coasts without warning, devastating many settlements. It utterly destroyed the original outpost, and caused damage as far north as the Sapphire Sea, where the flood wave had been channeled through the Emerald Bay.

After the Tsunami, no more ships arrived from Atelan. When ships that had been sent there returned, they reported that Atelan had disappeared entirely. Investigation showed that only a few tiny islands remained of the small continent. What had caused this catastrophe was an utter mystery.


Tsunami! (affected areas in red; black circles are controlled by Atelan)
Tsunami! (affected areas in red; black circles are controlled by Atelan)

As an aside, Sunken Atelan looks like this:

Sunken Atelan
Sunken Atelan

(The map was cropped from the Twin Continents map.)

After the loss of the homeland, and the loss of the regional capital, the various disconnected possessions of Atelan each began to follow their separate ways (labeled A to J on the map, below).

Kingdom J engaged in a series of border wars with the orcs, but was otherwise simply consolidating its holdings.

Kingdoms F,G and H split up peacefully and remained allies with various defense pacts.

Kingdom I was fighting many skirmishes with Lizardmen, and otherwise – as the “legitimate successor of Atelan” attempted to bring the other colonies back under its control. It lacked the manpower to wage war, though.

Kingdoms B,C and D were fighting several naval battles against each other over control of the Azure Straits, which was of great strategic importance as it controlled easy access to much of Enderra, via the Azure Sea.

Atelan Holdings
Atelan Holdings

From this point, the humans will establish control over the continent, but it will not be one unified empire but rather a patchwork of warring nations. This and what happens next, however, will be the subject of the next post in this series.




4 thoughts on “Sandbox: Part 2 – Labels and History

  1. Pure coincidence, I swear, but thanks for the tip. There's enough forest around "my" Stone Mountain that I can easily get away with this:… – that sort of landscape works for me!

    But this is also an awesome example of making "unrelated" sources work for you when looking for ideas for your world. On the page you linked, I saw a headline "more than two million twinkling lights", for their Christmas event. For a fantasy setting, this immediately evokes all kinds of images: Faeries who flutter about at dusk. The view of the stars from the summit of Stone Mountain. Mountain spirits that drive off prospectors. An army of angry Orcs that is descending into the valley…

  2. Haha! Glad to help. The thing I remember most (aside from a trip with some pretty girls I took there in middle school) is the laser show – it's reminiscent of that "The South will rise again," rhetoric that you encounter every now and again in Georgia and surrounding territories. I wonder if you might work in some backwoods nationalism. It'd be the first time I've seen that sort of sentiment in a fantasy world.

  3. Backwoods nationalism should be really, really easy. How about this angle: Things are going well in Kingdom X. The nation is easily the most powerful in the region, mostly because of its large caste of wizards. The western Half of the country is mostly agricultural, but is continuously increasing output and they recently opened mines and began to export weapons of good quality. These enterprises are controlled by the local wizards, who make a lot of money this way. The wealth spills over to the common public though. Then household golems begin to appear. Eventually it is discovered that the mines and smithies are being worked by undead dwarves and elves. There is an outcry, especially from the religious community. The West refuses to cease using necromancy. The wizards there take over power and declare the foundation of the first magocracy. They get trounced in the following war, and the west afterwards returns to an existence as a backwoods agricultural area. The locals haven't forgotten the past glory however, and their rallying call is "The sorcerers will rise again."

    Okay, a bit silly perhaps, but it's easily doable. 😉

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.