Friday, November 30, 2012


If you're ever trying to describe what it is you do, and people just look at you funny when you say "I'm a world builder" - say "I do mythopoeia" and watch their face...just watch.

The founding father of fantasy, Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien, revived this word in the 1930s. Mythopoeia means - a narrative genre in modern literature and film where a fictional mythology is created by the writer of prose or other fiction. The idea is actually from the Hellenic Greeks in the fashion of the Homeric epic the Illiad and the Odyssey.

There are many examples of this now, but Tolkien was among the pioneers in modern times.

One last bit of trivia: Tolkien was never knighted. Queen Elizabeth did award him with the Order of the British Empire (one level below knighthood) in early 1973. He passed away September 2, 1973. It is thought that perhaps if he'd lived longer to see the Silmarillion get published in 1977, he may have died Sir J.R.R. Tolkien.

I like to think that even if he were knighted it would mostly be an honorary title that didn't change his hobbit-like outlook - much like Merry and Pippin being conferred with the titles of Rohan and Gondor.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Sense of Belonging

Why do I do this? Because it's fun and I like it.

I was telling my wife how much I would love to tell our future kids completely original stories set in a world of my own creation. Sure they'll get the regular fairy tales and Arabian Knights and King Arthur, but they'll also get stuff no one else gets. Whether it's ever published or not I would get a kick out of it if my kids take the ball and run with it, spinning tales of their own in my setting. I think of R.A. Salvatore and his son Geno now partnering to tell Drizzt tales 20 years in the making.

Another thing I love (and hate) is when I do something and then later come across it in the writings of other famous authors, i.e. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, R.A. Salvatore. I love it because it gives me this little ego boost that I am thinking and creating like the greats. I hate it because it means anyone who has read them and then reads me will think "he totally stole that from..." I will state clearly that the only fantasy I read prior to beginning to build was The Hobbit and LOTR (after the movies came out) and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. So any similarities to those are probably subconscious. But that's what I'm getting at - subconscious archetypes!

I checked out a few books to kill the long weekend with and the first one I read is loaded with insightful references to "modern fantasy" being so popular because it mirrors ages old archetypes. Celtic deities and faeries, Norse elves and dwarves, Shakespearean sprites and witches. Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell basically state they're buried in every human brain the world over, that's why LOTR was one of the most read, influential, and beloved tales of the past century. And it's not losing momentum anytime soon because people are eagerly awaiting The Hobbit trilogy (I am so excited it's more than just one movie!) and I'd bet that many of them who will purchase tickets haven't read the books or perhaps weren't even alive when the first trilogy came out over 10 years ago.

The Silmarillion is one I've yet to complete cover to cover because it's Tolkien overload. I can't process more than a chapter or two at a time. I have read The Hobbit a few times. I need to re-read the LOTR books. And The Children of Hurin was one of my favorites.

What I'm saying is, we read [fantasy] to escape the mundane world and get a glimpse into the sacred, mythical worlds that our human experience so seems to lack. Some of us build such worlds to get even further into the experience. And sometimes unintentional, almost unavoidable mimicry is going to take place. But they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We do what we do because we are compelled to. Our inner elf is forever trying to break down the divide from the physical world and the faerie realm.

Some interesting tidbits to finish with: the words yourself, ourselves, themselves come from the long held Celtic belief that humans are descended from elves. That's why Tolkien's tale of Aragorn, Arwen, and their son Eldarion resonates within us. And over 30% of modern Americans have Celtic ancestry from Europe's days gone by. The Celts also believed that if someone makes you think "hm, that person looks like an elf, faerie, dwarf, etc" it's because they have that race somewhere in their bloodline. It's the same way that you can very closely resemble an ancestor for 5-6 generations ago.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Booking the Cooks and Other Writing Advice

I follow Juliette Wade's blog TalkToYoUniverse and she is a gem. A constant wealth of knowledge, experience, inspiration, wisdom, and encouragement. And no, I don't know her personally. But that's the awesomeness of it all. Being a blogger, you don't have to meet and shake hands and make awkward smalltalk and remember to send insipid holiday cards. You just find each other, and WHAMMO! you share common interest, exchange supportive words and you're off and running.

To those would-be writers and blogging hemmers and hawwers (one or two Ws in that?), just give it a go. You won't become famous overnight, you may not be saying anything staggeringly original, but the plain fact is you're at least saying it. For a while it may seem like a futile effort of talking to yourself, that no one is listening or cares. But there really is a sense of liberation when you put yourself out there. And best yet is when you grow your network of like-minded readers and writers. Soon you'll start getting comments and exchanging emails and ideas with folks half a world away. Trust me, it ROCKS! I have chatted with folks on both coasts of the US and places in between, Australia, Germany, and Malta. We're all creativity junkies, geeks, artists, writers, builders, and most of all bloggers. So like I said, give it a go.

Circling back around to Juliette and holidays, in the spirit of Thanksgiving and with writing wisdom (as usual), she had this to say.

Easy As Pie?

Because she typically gets a lot of comments, I thought I'd share mine here so you can see the kind of return you get from faithful readers when you offer up your snow globe for a giddy shake. 

My comment:
Nice allegory :) If someone unfamiliar with writing and the process thereof were to stumble across this post they might think "why the hell is she talking about cooking?" They may completely miss the point that reading, research, and practice make perfect. For instance, I make a mean lasagna. Meat, veggie, cheese, whatever, it's delicious - everyone tells me so. But how did I ever learn to make such deliciousness? Simple. It wasn't. I started with a recipe and without a clue. Over the years I learned what works and what doesn't. Now I just do it by memory. I don't even have to think about it.
It's the same with writing, the EXACT same! Learn what flavors you like, shop for ingredients, read a lot of cookbooks/recipes, and try it out. If it doesn't work...try it again. If it tastes horrid...try adding nutmeg ;) What I'm saying without saying is research, practice, and don't give up. Oh, and watch out for those with peanut or gluten allergies.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nerdatorium Pics As Promised

Back with photographic evidence!

Brace yourself, there are lots. Sorry for the flashy glare on some, it's what happens when the poster paper is glossy.

This is what one is first confronted with when entering the Nerdatorium. This is the Ustalav region of Pathfinder, which you'll see in a sec. I'm thinking of making a sign to hang on the door (yes, like a teenage girl trying to keep anyone and everyone out of her room) that reads "Please Knock: World Building in Progress" or, for the more blasphemous, "Do Not Disturb: It is the 7th Day and the Creator is Resting". In fact Nils was gracious enough to make some mock-ups for me. What a swell guy!

This is the poster of Westcrown behind the door.

This looks like just another poster map, right? Oh how wrong you are....this is THE wall map to end all wall maps! If you linked to before you'll know what I mean.

Just look at that monster! That's actually 4 posters that combine into one gi-normous map! It's the entire Inner Sea Region of Pathfinder. I took this shot to show the size comparison next to the closet door. This was the perfect use of that otherwise awkward bit of wall space. I couldn't even get the whole thing in the picture, the room is only so wide to back up for the shot.

This is the back wall of the Nerdatorium, aka Tolkien Corner. It's some awesome Middle Earth maps I found while in Texas for a bit last summer, hanging above my drawing table. I still can't believe I finally have a real table, I used to just lay on the floor. You can't tell, but under the stack of books is a built in tracing table - so cool! These next few pics are close ups of Tolkien's ground-breaking, foundation-laying fantasy world. My hat is eternally off to that man!

Numenor, before it was lost beneath the sea.

Middle Earth. Sorry for the bad flash, it was even worse if I tried to get closer, and too dark without it.

The Map of "The Hobbit". Man I love that book! I've read it 3 times now and I'm sure I'll read it again before each of the movies come out. Hallelujah that Peter Jackson is directing those too - they deserve nothing less than consistency with the other LOTR movies (even if Thorin does look a bit like a Klingon). Again, sorry for the flash that blotted out the Misty Mountains and westward.

Beleriand, the northernmost part of Middle Earth. I believe I got this map out of "The Children of Hurin", another fantastic read and one I'm sure I will revisit. Or perhaps this was in "The Silmarillion", either way a great map in a great book.

This here is Compie Corner, where I spent hours upon hours trying to "make the magic happen". Surprise, surprise, my wallpaper is a fantasy map - thank you Aventhar of cartographersguild. Yes, that chair is very comfortable.

These are 5 of about 2 dozen town and city maps from Pathfinder. I would love to have all of them up all the time, but I simply don't have the space. So I started with my five favs and I'll rotate through the stack as the notion strikes me. Yes, that's a beer by my pen cup. I usually have a few whilst hammering the keys and clicking the mouse. Sometimes I drink because it helps. Sometimes I drink and it doesn't help at all. Mostly I drink all the time because...well, I'm a drunk.

Here's a close up of ye old computadora. That keyboard is going on 10 years old and still going strong. The new computer came with one of course, but I found I just didn't like the feel of it. OCD much? Yes, yes I am. The coins to the left are because I was jingling them for size and weight feel while mulling over a currency idea for stories.

This here is the handy, dandy bookshelf that replaced the clunky old dresser I was using. The left half is mine - within easy reach of the desk - and consists of: scanner/printer, D&D manuals and other such nerderies, computer games, comic books, and file folders of maps. My wife has claim to the right half (we planned it that way, because she's always right and I'm always the know, the W word) which is much more adult and useful (just like my wife) which has important paperwork, college fundraising binders, cookbooks, and a dictionary.

I have posted close ups of each shelf before, so you other fine worldbuilder folks would know what titles I'm working with. And since that past post the collection has expanded again. I'm not going to take pictures of each new book I get or you people might start thinking I have nothing else to do besides work, read, and worldbuild (and Skyrim, or course).

Hang in there - we're coming to the end, I swear.

Forgotten Realms above the bookshelf. Because why in the hell would I have all those D&D manuals without the map to go with them? Thank you Ed Greenwood for crafting this amazing world. If you could tell, on the shelf I had the readers guide to R.A. Salvatore's "Legend of Drizzt" which came with this big map. And The Inner Sea World Guide, which I purchased to flesh out the huge Pathfinder map/world I'm just beginning to discover.

And last, but certainly not least, my faithful companions Domino and Shadow - since they did their damnedest to try to get into each and every shot and dad had to keep shooing them out of the way. I figure they earned a spot in the line up. They're right where they usually are, Shadow crowding my feet under the desk/table and Domino right in the middle of the floor where she's to be found snoring when not honking her hedgehog, and noisily slurping her butt when not doing either of the first two. And that face says "Dad, I can't believe you just put that online about me! Hopefully people got tired of your excruciatingly looooooong post before they got to the part about my butt."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pathfinder Maps

This morning I ordered my big prints from Banners on the Cheap of Ansaera and Westerlands! A 2x2 tabletop/game mat map and a 3x6 wall hanger with grommets for under $40 (including shipping). What a steal of a deal. Their 30% off sale is still going until next Tuesday 11/20, so you better hurry if you want to save on your awesomely mappy early Christmas present.

And speaking of wall hangers, I think I'm up to 2 dozen maps from various Pathfinder map folios from the brush of one Rob Lazzaretti. Sadly I don't have the wall space to hang them all in my Nerdatorium and what space I do have is going to get rearranged and gobbled up with my banner maps get delivered. Next time I'll post pics of what the Nerdatorium currently looks like and then I'll post more after I make the switcheroo.

In the mean time, here's a look at some of the Pathfinder maps that adorn the walls of yours truly.

Start at the bottom of the page and go up to get to the goodies.

I love how simple and colorful the maps are without making things appear too cartoony. I want my adventures to take place in medieval/fantasy towns and villages, not the Disney theme park version of a medieval/fantasy town or village. I like the ambiance of dwarves and halflings wandering about with brigands and sell swords, not Snow White and Mickey glad handing 5 year olds.

With Disney owning Hasbro (which includes WotC/D&D), Marvel, and Lucasarts now, I'm sure it's only a matter of time until Pathfinder is under the corporate umberella. At what point does a corporation become an imperium?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Know Thyself aka Seek Immediate Professional Help

Know thyself. As a person and as a writer. It makes for better characters, better dialogue, better stories, a better you. 

I am on Holly Lisle's weekly email list and I've never been disappointed with the topics. The emails themselves are simple in nature, the goal being to teach you how to make you a better writer. Each is a few paragraphs, usually with several resource links, and the subjects are always thought provoking.

She recently did a multi-part string of emails that made you step back and really consider "you". Your flaws, fears, hopes, dreams, scars, lessons learned, etc. It's not just about that introspection that we all need sometimes, the focus is to get you in tune with those things and drive you to put them on the page. You don't have to be writing an autobiography to inject those deeply personal touches, you can work them into characters and conversations. Maybe you never learned to swim, so your character can't. Maybe you almost drowned and so your character has a paralyzing fear of deep water. Spiders, snakes, fire...q-tips. Who knows?

Your character be could fearful of anything for nearly any reason. Even worse, what if they're irrationally afraid of everything? How do they deal with their bizarre compulsions? Can they? Perhaps they must be medicated everyday, the degree to which they are doped is entirely up to you. Do they take a simple pill each morning? Is it an injection that must be administered by someone else? What if part of their phobia is needles, but there is no other way to get the dose? These are all things to consider. They're a normal, every day person with the help of the meds......but then what if they lose that oh so important little bottle?

You can really run with it. Maybe they have just lost their job and don't have the money for the prescription. They changed jobs and their new insurance won't take effect for 90 days. Perhaps the new insurance doesn't have drug coverage at all, or doesn't pay for their usual rx and now they have to change medications. Or they have moved to a completely new area and need to find a new doctor to prescribe. The search is proving difficult and the increased stress of the move and a new home and job are taking their toll. New symptoms begin to manifest. They are becoming more and more delusional, suffering from intense anxiety, hallucinating. I could go on and on, but I think that's enough.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fantasy Worlds

Yet another awesome share from my Gandalf. 

Planetocopia is one of the best complete world(s) sites I've seen because the maker, Chris Wayan, doesn't just do it because he loves it, but he can explain in great depth why he does it and loves it. His worlds are crafted with great precision, and if there is a hiccup/hole, he can account for it. Whether you're after theoretical worlds, ancient, future, would-be Earth, or even alien worlds with multiple moons, this has them all!

I especially like Jaredia because it's based entirely on the concepts of Guns, Germs, and Steel a book I meant to read for years and years. It was suggested by professors and friends alike, and wouldn't you know, as soon as I bought it and started reading...the 3 part documentary version was loaded on Netflix. Win, win.

This wondrous resource pairs especially nicely with the donjon fractal world generator because it handily explains the whys, hows, and pitfalls of the generated world maps.

If you're like me and "grounded" fantasy on one Earth-like world suits you, or whether you want a smattering of worlds for a vast Traveller system, this will serve your needs.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Reply Regarding Printed Maps

Yet another great email reply from Banners on the Cheap

Greetings Realmwright,

Very, very cool!!! Thank you so much for sharing this with me and for sharing our info with your audience. We truly appreciate the free advertising!!

I can't wait to find out how your maps turn out!! I've bookmarked your page so I can check it out at a later date. We'd love to see photos of your maps in action, of course, when you find the room to hang them in your nerdatorium!

I hope Santa treats you well and crosses this off the wish list!!

Just today we started a sale on our banners which will be good through November 20th to get 30% off!! I couldn't find you on our mailing list so I've forwarded this email to you, it's a click through promotion so if you are able to buy by the expiration date you want to head to our site by clicking through the link in the email so it will apply the discount.

Hope this helps!! Thanks again for sharing!!

Have fantastic gaming day!

Melissa Mcquiston
Customer Love Team
M-F 7AM-9PM Central
Saturday 9AM-6PM Central

Monday, November 5, 2012

Printed Fantasy Maps At A Good Price

 I came across a great post/recommendation for printed maps from Banners on the

As you can see from Zachary Houghton's post on his blog RPG Blog II he scored a vinyl 3 x 5 wall hanging map for under $28. That sounded pretty sweet to me, so I shot them an email asking if I could order a few of my own and any limitations that may apply.

Their lovely "Customer Love" (mind you, not just plain old 'customer service') team sent me a reply the next business day which read:

Greetings Realmwright,

Good afternoon & thank you for your inquiry!

WOW! There must definitely be a trend going on with these map banners!! What a wonderful idea, I've seen quite a few of these creations lately!

You can certainly order the images you want, the only restriction is that we cannot print images that have a watermark on them.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you need any additional assistance!

Have a great day!

Thanks for choosing us for your printing needs, we know you have many options for printing and we are glad you have chosen us.

Melissa Mcquiston
Customer Love Team

How's that for service? Prompt, courteous, enthusiastic, and all at a great price! Needless to say I will start saving my pennies for my own wall hangers. They will be the Ansaera and Westerlands maps I previously posted (with permission from the artists, of course). Now I just have to find more wall space in my nerdatorium...

Friday, November 2, 2012


NaNoWriMo kicked off Wednesday. Sadly I never received any requests for worldbuilding assistance, but I suppose there is still the chance someone will get stuck and reach out. Whether they ask me directly or not, I hope my blog can give them good info and resources, and best of luck.

Along the same lines of November being the "official" month for creative ventures, I recently learned of NaGaDeMon from

Through the NaGaDeMon site I found this link. 


I'd have to straighten out a few other projects in life before time would allow me to begin gaming, but it's nice to know freebies like these exist so you don't have to drop a lot of money to get started.