So in an attempt to bring additional readers to the Griffins & Gunpowder universe, I’ve decided to set my short story, The Red Dragon’s Gold, as Free! on Smashwords and Kobo (and hopefully on Barnes & Nobles and Amazon soon).
So please, pass word along to anyone looking for a short story (approximately 6,900 words) and feel free to download and read.
For the many years that I’ve been writing, weaving some amount of political intrigue or drama into my stories has been a recurring theme. Whether it’s an MC who suddenly finds herself at the head of an emerging third power in a previously two-party system, or the quiet intrigue of nobles as they plot to free themselves from their King.
Traditional Fantasy politics usually follows along the lines of the latter. Knights, Nobles, Ladies, Kings, and Queens vying for power, plotting and scheming against each other.
For a good example of a strong political storyline in Fantasy, look no further than George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. But that’s traditional fantasy. Travel in Westeros is slow and arduous; even messenger ravens take days to move notes from place to place. That allows for a much slower, long game form of Politics.
But when you start introducing aspects of Gunpowder Fantasy, especially improved communication, the political game needs to evolve, and it needs to do it quickly.
When creating a Gunpowder Fantasy world, it’s important to remember a couple of things as far as the technologies that you intend to use, and the industries that support them, when building your world.
The first is the impact that the fantasy aspects of your world have on the industrial revolution in your world.
Having fantasy and magic elements of your world will change how your industrial revolutions begin and grow.
On Earth, coal became a driving force in the industrialization of England, Europe and the United States. Coal drove the steam engines that pushed industry to greater heights. But what happens when coal is never discovered or exploited because the mages of your world suppressed the knowledge of the substance or how to extract it from the mountains?
What if your Elves are of the traditional “naturalist” type but they hold dominion over the lands where coal is the most plentiful, or where the best fields for raising sheep are? Do your Humans go to war with the Elves to secure this territory (and its potential value)? Or do your Elves see the value of the lands they hold and turn into a hybrid of naturalist and capitalist, finding sustainable ways to harvest the raw materials while maintaining the integrity of the land?
Magic and mythical creatures, and how they impact your world, will have direct consequences for how industrialization plays out in your world.
On the other hand, the second is the impact that the industrial revolution has on the fantasy of your world.
In our world the Industrial Revolution took many shapes and forms, and affected different parts of the world in vastly different ways. Some nations saw a boom in mining and metallurgy, while other nations grew their textiles industry. Quality of life improved and commerce exploded.
In a fantasy world, the majority of these effects would be similar. Nations with a strong agricultural base will develop new and better ways to grow and harvest crops, nations rich in minerals will learn how to extract them better, and learn new methods of refining the minerals into metals.
But fantasy worlds have aspects that were obviously not present on Earth during the industrial revolution, and its these aspects that you have to consider when you’re building your world.
For instance, how does the increase of steam power, weapons technology, and even the development of electricity affect magic and its users on your world? I would think that as your world becomes increasingly industrialized, any power that mages once held would begin to diminish as things that were previously reserved only for those with access to magic become available to everyone.
Or how do each of the species of your world react as the others move through their own industrial revolution? What happens when the Orcs of your world begin developing better weapons, faster transportation, and improved supply lines? Will the Elves that live nearby become worried and launch a pre-emptive strike? Or seek out alliances with the Humans of your world?
Worldbuilding is an incredibly interconnected process and remembering to evaluate how each piece of the puzzle changes the others is an important task.
As is wont to happen, an idea for a new story floated through my head the other day. In my defense, at least this one is related to the Griffins & Gunpowder Universe. I haven’t decided if I’m going to make this concept into a series of short stories, weave it in with one of the other planned storylines set on Zaria, or turn it into a full-fledged series of novel.
The main body of the idea was easy enough, but when I got to my protagonist, I realized something: my main character was going to be different than every other Protag I have ever created. My MC is going to be a lowly soldier.
It was then that I realized that this is a common theme in both the Sci-Fi and Fantasy that I’ve read. So maybe I’m just not well read enough, but a lot of main characters are not lowly soldiers. The closest a great deal of MCs get is to be a lower ranked officer.
There are a lot of sub-genres of Sci-Fi and Fantasy that really don’t have this problem, but military themed fantasy definitely does. The closest that a lot of the stories I have read comes to having a “lowly” protagonist is a lower-ranked officer.
So why is it so rare to have a private, or even a corporal, as a protagonist in a story. What challenges does this create? Are there any advantages to have a “grunt” as an MC?
One of the biggest problems that you run into when you write an MC as a lowly soldier is that the character has very little initiative in their activities and no control of their setting. If your story is centered around a conflict, your Main Character is going to spend most of his/her time marching/camping/digging trenches and then there’s the occasional battle. Unless you add in some personal drama, you’re going to run into the problem of having a rather boring.
Another problem is that if you limit yourself to a single character, you’re going to have a limited strategic account of the rest of the campaign. Depending on your setting, news could still be conveyed by general announcements, newspapers, or good-old-scuttlebutt, but you’re not going to be able to convey an accurate picture of the campaign without breaking some rules.
On the other hand, there are some advantages to having a protagonist that doesn’t have as much control.
You can increase the amount of tension with a lowly soldier. The character isn’t going to know what’s going on with the rest of the campaign, they’ll be nervous as they march into battle.
I think that the reason that so few writers have lowly main characters is because it’s a more difficult approach to writing, especially military fiction. Of course, I could just need to read more =D
Founding and History
The Rhonish Republic was a collection of City-States in the center of the “Eastern Continent” on the southern half of Zaria. It consisted of five human cities (Venosh, Demosh, Pisor, Cahath, and Tohr), three Orcish cities (Rhon, Oros, and Idis), and one Elvish city (Sidor).
It was founded in the year 325 (according to the Ansgari calendar; a standard or common calendar is not in use) by the great Orcish warlord Aurak Tal’ar.
It was originally a defensive union between the Orcish city-states as they watched the human kingdoms around them consolidate power and evolve from centuries of internal struggle. Fearing that they would make easy prey as single units, the Orcs banded together under the Rhonish banner.
Soon after (approximately the year 334), the Elvish city of Sidor negotiated entry in to the Republic. With the addition of the first non-Orcish city, the Republic’s governmental system had to evolve to handle different kinds of citizens. Laws were enacted providing equality for any citizen of a Republican city in any other city.
In the year 417, Aurak Tal’ar passed away, leaving the leadership of the Republic in doubt. A clear line of succession had not been established and each city-state leader claimed the right to lead the Republic. From this chaos, a strong warlord rose to power. Ir’sus Ta’or, leader of the city of Rhon’s guard, beat his opponents into submission and then began building an army.
The island city of Pisor was the first human city added to the Republic. The leaders of Pisor saw the growing power of the army within Rhon and sought entry on their own terms.
In the year 441, Ir’sus lead the first war of conquest against the city of Demosh. The siege of the city was long and brutal, but with Pisor’s naval supremacy and the determination of the Orcish armies, the city was eventually subjugated. The city of Venosh followed within a year.
Fearing the expanding power of the Orcs to their north, the nobles of Istivan launched a suprise assault on Rhon. But the men moved too slow and the Republic’s army swept in from the north and destroyed the besieging army.
Ir’sus Ta’or led a counterattack against Istivan, invading the cities of Tohr and Cahath. When the peace treaties were drawn up, the cities remained as part of the Republic.
Fall of the Republic
For two-hundred and fifty years the Republic grew and developed as a commercial powerhouse. It’s position in the Jenis Sound, gave access to the major naval nations of the world and the trade convoys that brought wealth and goods.
But with the growing power and influence of the Republic came the increasingly complex beauracracy necessary to keep the Republic in line. The first major signs of trouble came in the year 733. The leadership of the Republic enacted laws limiting the influence of non-Orcs within the government structure.
In 751 a civil war erupted, pitting the Orcs of the Republic against the non-Orcs. Despite their greater strength and endurance, the Orcs were unable to contain the revolutionaries. Saboteurs within the predominantly Orcish cities caused chaos and disorder.
Finally, in 768, the Republican Council declare the Republic disbanded and returned all power to the constituent city-states.
Being that The Cerberus Rebellion takes place in the nation of Ansgar, I think it is fitting that we discuss that nation first.
Founding and Recent History
The nation of Ansgar is located on the Northern Continent of the planet Zaria. It was founded by a group of colonists from the nation of Welos 1248 years prior to the beginning of The Cerberus Rebellion. The nation is largely populated by the medium height, light skinned and dark haired Welosi, though intermarrying with the native Nordahrians has created a mixed lineage in many areas of the nation.
Ansgar is an absolute monarchy supported by a powerful feudal system including Dukes, Earls, Barons, Lesser Lords and landed Knights. At the beginning of The Cerberus Rebellion, Ansgar is home to approximately 20 million citizens, including the occupied territories of Kerberos.
For near 1100 years, the nation of Ansgar was at peace with the nations around it. They fought with pirates along their southern coast, raiders from the nation of Franta and the occassional invasion of marauders, but for the most part maintained a policy of peace through strength.
In the year 1148 After Founding, the small neighboring nation of Kerberos, lead by their King Sigurd Jarmann, invaded the eastern territories of Ansgar. The war rages for 3 years on Ansgari soil and then another 8 years as King William the Defender pushes the Kerberosi back across their own lands and finally captures their capitol of Agilard.
King Sigurd surrenders his power and accepts the rule of the Ansgari throne, converting his nation into a region of Ansgar. He retains his position as liege lord of Kerberos and is given the title of Duke.
Ansgari International Relations
As a one-time colony of [[Welos]], Ansgar has maintained close ties with its mother nation, despite centuries of independence. As the most industrialized nation on the northern continent, Ansgar enjoys a position of power among its neighbors as well. Most of the firearms used in the northern hemisphere are manufactured in Ansgar.
The last few kings of Ansgar, however, have abused this position of power, using the incredibly large market that their nation represents as leverage against other nations of the world. This has created resentment even in the nations that have the best relations with Ansgar.
Regions of Ansgar
- Eastern Ansgar is the heart of the nation. It is the location of the first settlements that the colonists from Welos built. The oldest castles and cities of Ansgar are found in the East. While there are some mineral deposits and smaller foundries, the eastern territories are only moderately industrialized. They focus on luxury goods such as wine, spices and beers, and on basic food stuffs.
- Central Ansgar is largely considered to be the breadbasket of Ansgar. The low plains and fields, and constant flow of percipitation from the ocean provides perfect growing conditions for food and spices. The central regions of Ansgar are the least industrialized.
- In the West, iron rich mountains have resulted in a robust industrial base including major weapons foundries at the Black Mountain Barony. Silver mines at the Odwolfe Earldom provide a steady stream of income for the western districts and taxes for the Throne. Farms in the Black River Valley provide steady foodstuffs and major ports at the Sea Watch Duchy. Tirrell Barony, and White Ridge Duchy.
Because of its status as an annexed territory, the Kerberosi territories of Ansgar are the most self-sufficient. They are moderately industrialized, but still maintain a healthy agriculture, and have extensive mineral reserves that provide the raw materials for their foundries and factories.
The nation of Ansgar is so expansive that its economy stands on many legs. Weapons manufacturing in the west, shipwrights in the southwest, spices and food stuffs in the fertile central region, and luxury goods in the east all support the Ansgari economy. Industry spread throughout the nation provides the heavy lifting for the whole nation, though no single area of the nation is especially focused on industrialization.
Again, apologies for a lack of posts in the last few weeks. My father passed away recently and I was responsible for a lot of the planning. It was a physically and emotionally draining task that I’m just starting to recover from. Additionally, I moved shifts at UPS from the night sort, to driving trucks during the day so that has taken its toll on me through a serious change in sleep schedule and a major change in the physical output required of me.
But I’m back, and taking a page from fellow Gunpowder Fantasy author A.S. Warwick (author of the Commonwealth Chronicles) I’m going to do a few posts on the people and nations of the world of Zaria.
In addition to posting here, I’ll also be updating the Zaria Wiki to reflect the information.
On a side note, in watching the Game of Thrones series on HBO, and having read the books, I was kind of looking forward to my wife’s reaction to the events of Episode 9 in Season 3. But alas, my wife read a spoiler on a wiki so there wasn’t any fun in that. So, I’m trying to figure out a way to keep the wiki up to date with new information as things change, but without having spoilers for new readers. If anyone is any good at making/updating Wikia entries, please feel free to give me some tips.
…when you don’t really get anything productive done.
This year, I’ll be working part-time at Best Buy (Black Friday was absolutely crazy) and working full-time at UPS for the Christmas Season.
Unfortunately, my writing is going to suffer and I’ll probably be posting very little.
However, I did manage to finish Battle for Broken Plains and I’m getting ready to send it to a couple of Beta Readers. It clocked in at just over 27,000 words, about twice as long as I originally expected.
My plan is to put Battle up for free across all of the major distributors and advertise it as much as possible to garner readers.
I’m going to try to get more work done on The Hydra Offensive, which is currently sitting at a sliver under 44,000, with the goal of having it completed and published before June. While 2 books a year isn’t the pace I’d like to keep, the rigors of life are such that it’s going to have to suffice.
When I decided to add Orcs to the world of Zaria, I decided immediately that they would be different from the stereotypical “hulk smash!” Orcs that are so common throughout most of the Fantasy genre.
I had already developed the concept of a group of city-states that had once been a republic. I knew that these city-states, or at least some of them, would be places of high culture that were also home to mercenary legions.
So when it came time to develop my Orcs, I decided that they would be the core to these city-states. But that wasn’t enough.
I decided to add a couple of wrinkles to the Orcs and so I created the colonies of Thayer and Galten across the Vast Sea, nestled in the mountains near the nation of Ansgar. But now I had another problem: these colonies would have been separated from their homeland for so long that they would have culture all their own.
Right now, I’m working on Battle for Broken Plains, the story of how Raedan Clyve came to be the Baron of Broken Plains, and as I write, I find myself creating the culture for different parts of my world that haven’t been explored as fully elsewhere.
The challenge is to create a culture that clearly descended from the established culture of the City States, but at the same time has its own aspects. The Orcish colonies have lived near the brutish Nordahrians for so long, they have picked up on some of their traditions.
It’s one of the things that I like so much about Fantasy: the worldbuilding of a culture that mixes mercenary instincts with fierce clan loyalty and a culture of marauding.
Good news for those of you without Kindles: The Cerberus Rebellion is now available in all e-reader formats from Smashwords. Hop on over and take a look here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/246079
From Smashwords, The Cerberus Rebellion will be distributed into all of the major ebook retailers.