I’m still waiting for my latest batch of models to come from Shapeways, so I figured I’d occupy my time by providing a map of the story.
This is my second draft of Rossbera (trust me, the first was complete rubbish). It’s still not finished, but this version includes the final shape, as well as the larger islands, the most important mountain ranges, and all the major rivers, including the Slezbogi (Slavic for “god’s tears,”) the Zerkalbogi (“god’s mirrors”), and the Grand Cross (guess which one that is). At the end of the northern branch of the Grand Cross is the Grand Delta, so called because it spans almost 100 nautical miles! By the way, that scale is 2000 nautical miles long.
I made this whole map in Adobe Flash CS3, in which I am entirely self-taught (so do forgive some of my less-refined pieces). The various layers include the terrain, waterways, objects (that layer includes the cities and other landmarks), and borders. Notice that not all of them are called empires, despite the name of the story. Well, they need not be empires, but they are the major powers of the continent. Here’s a breakdown:
Bulmut: technologically, Bulmut is the most advanced. The industry that the dwarves brought to the country after the fall of the Rhûnnish Empire allowed the Bulmutians to leap forward and become a major player. Bulmut is a Regency, or quasi-democracy (similar to the Holy Roman Empire, though not as dysfunctional), in which landowners vote for a regent, or constitutional monarch. The more land one holds, the more one’s vote counts. The dwarves still cling to older customs, and while the dwarven king is offically a subject of the regent, the other Bulmutians largely let the dwarves do their own thing.
Alexandria: the original Rhûnnish Empire, sans the dwarven kingdoms. This land is named after the founder and first ruler of Rhûn, Empress Alexandra Skharnova, also known as Alexandra the Conqueror. Alexandria is among the most powerful of the nine, but its power is a mere shadow of the power that Rhûn possessed (relatively speaking, as steam power and breach-loading cannons didn’t exist in those days).
Kantossa: based on the Hanseatic League, one of those “countries” that hardly anyone has even heard of. Kantossa’s wealth and power stem entirely from maritime trade, and their seafaring tradition, combined with modern technology, has given the country dominion of international shipping. In spite of the fact that Kantossa has little in the way of a military, they are able to hold their own, given that most Kantossi merchants choose to arm their ships – and there are a lot of merchant ships.
Drachania: the territory of the Rhûnnish Empire slowly acquired following the Conquerer’s death. Wild and untamed, these lands continued to rebel against the crown, and none of Alexandra’s descendents seemed to be able to inspire the kind of loyalty that she could. Even now, Drachania remains in the game only because of its sheer size.
Sondor: an unusual nation with unusual geography. Here, everyone owns a boat, but only the wealthy own houses. Many towns are built entirely as a network of crannogs, as solid ground is a rarity – at least on the mainland. The capital is on the diamond-shaped island in the middle. Were it not for the War of Karadenian Succession, Sondor wouldn’t exist, and the islands would all still be independent kingdoms, along with huge swaths of the mainland.
Taressim: the youngest and most troublesome of the nine. Essentially a land-locked version of North Korea, this country has been gobbling up smaller nations ever since its formation, and has nowhere left to expand. If any single nation is likely to ignite the powder keg, it’s this one. By the way, North Korea isn’t my only inspiration: rearrange the letters, and you’ll figure it out.
Karaden: arguably the oldest of the nine (with Arcadia being the other contender), the Karadenian Empire was formed slowly from the ashes of the Minkutian Empire, which the Skharans from the north utterly destroyed. Alexandra Skharnova’s distant cousin, General Kazímir Skharnov, led the campaign. Karaden and Rhûn formed around the same time.
Arcadia: arguably the oldest of the nine, though in truth, the name is the only thing old about it. The Arcadian Empire has waxed and waned through multiple internal power struggles, dating back to the Rossberan Bronze Age, when Arcadia was but one city state. The houses in power have changed, the borders have changed, the culture has changed, and the laws have changed. Only the name has remained the same.
Breace: once part of Arcadia, but broke away during one of the latter’s weak periods. Breace was very quick to build up its military and economic power and make an alliance with Kantossa, such that Arcadia would not be able to reclaim the territory when its power returned. Ever since, Breace has been the ball-and-chain keeping Arcadia under control.