My goal with Alkainos is to build a fantasy world from the bottom up. I wanted to start with a world rooted in the history of our own, which hopefully would give it some believability and consistency ‘baked-in’. Then, as the foundations take shape, start to bend the reality and layer on more fantasy elements (all the time thinking about what impact they would have had on the more ‘historical’ base world). I’ve resigned myself for this process to take many years (a lifetime, even) – which is no bad thing really, as I really quite enjoy it.
I thought starting with a solid base in historical fact would make my life easier, but as I get into it – I’m not so sure that’s the case. The price you pay for leveraging existing historical information is that, well – you have to find, read and process that information. All of this requires time, and at my age and with my commitments, time is the most scarce commodity I have. Oh, if only I’d started all this back in the care-free, wife-free, child-free days of yore…
One of the things I’d been struggling with for a while has been to determine an equivalent historical age. I’d been toying with the 17th century (Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General played a large part in that idea, along with films like ‘A Field in England’). This was partly driven by a desire to have gunpowder weapons in my world. However, I didn’t want them to dominate – I wanted them to be available, but not so effective that they entirely dominated combat.
For that reason I have currently decided to go for a more 15/16th century based world. It’s very rough at the moment – and I’ll probably pull things from the 14th century too.
Also – one of my earliest ideas (back when I drew the first map) was to have each kingdom in my world draw inspiration from one (or more) kingdoms in the real world. Just very loosely, to get started with fleshing them out – in time they will deviate as they develop their own characters more. For example – Balcia was England, Ostland Germany, Aquistria – kind of a French, Melnibone thing, Karpavia Romania/Transylvania, and so on.
Balcia was always going to be the kingdom I started fleshing out more first – purely because it would be easier (given it was to be based on England, and I’m English – I immediately have more reference points for it). Tudor England is it’s starting point.
All of this just ‘feels right’. While I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination, this period is one that is well known to all of us in England, and indeed one I covered in my History A Level (though I can barely remember anything of those lessons now).
I’ve been looking at various books, but I haven’t actually sat down and read any big normal books for many years now. I’ve lost the knack (along with the time). It’s something that I’m planning on re-training myself to do (not very successfully so far unfortunately).
However – I did pick up one of the Osprey military history books on Henry VIII’s Army. I have to say it’s great. I’ve only skimmed it so far – but already it’s providing all kinds of input and ideas, and is presented in such an easy to digest format even I have no excuse not to read it.
I plan on writing more – and getting many more books to cover some of the other kingdoms.
I’ll write more about it soon – but for now here are a few screen shots to get an idea of the great content in this slim volume.