What I Did On My Social Media Sabbatical (Part Two) – World Building The Shaper’s World

All through the month of August, 2013, I stayed almost entirely away from social networks. In part one of this little blog series, I revealed one of the things I did that month.

Here’s something else that kept me busy: world building essential details of the Shaper’s World storyworld, the setting for my upcoming serial fiction by subscription offering, “Walk Like A Stranger: Passing Through Home.”

What Is The Shaper’s World?

This is:

world building with an image of gundifai, the shaper's world, from space

Sunset over the central section of the continent of Kaebrith on Gundifai, the Shaper’s World

To be specific, that’s Gundifai, the Shaper’s World, from about 12,000 miles above the surface. The upper half of the hemisphere is dominated by the continent of Kaebrith. While I didn’t plan this when I took this screenshot, you can actually see the region where “Walk Like A Stranger: Passing Through Home” takes place: it’s the dark, hilly blotch just below the inland sea near the top of globe.

While Gundifai is slightly smaller than Earth, here’s an equirectangular projection of both worlds with Gundifai overlaid on our world’s map:

an image showing a comparison of the continents of the shaper's world and earth for world building purposes

A comparison of relative land mass size and placement between Gundifai (black) and Earth (gray).

The Shaper’s World is something I’m referring to as a “wholly original fantasy setting.”

Nothing is “wholly original,” of course… that’s just my shorthand for “no orcs, no elves, no Dungeons-and-Dragons-style wizards and whatnot, set on a world that is Earthlike… but not Earth, and populated by people who are human hominids… but not Homo sapiens, at a level of development roughly comparable to the postclassical era. And there’s something that seems very much like magic there, too.”

You can see why I’d use a shorthand phrase, yeah?

The Continent of Kaebrith

Nearly all the action in the Shaper’s World storyworld takes place on the central continent of Kaebrith, which is very roughly comparable to Africa in size, but is much more mountainous. The northernmost tip of Kaebrith touches the 55th parallel; the southern tip is ten degrees south of the Equator.

This map shows the dominant biomes on the continent, ignoring the impact of human settlement:

a world building exercise with a map showing the biomes on the continent of kaebrith on the shaper's world

The major biomes on the continent of Kaebrith.

The following map gives you an idea of the wide range of climates on the continent.

a map of the shaper's world continent of kaebrith showing wind and ocean currents

A map of Kaebrith showing the regional major ocean currents and prevailing winds.

Kaebrith After Empire

“Walk Like A Stranger: Passing Through Home” takes place about a generation after the fall of the empire that had controlled most of the central and western areas of Kaebrith.

Now, especially in the interior, territories are Balkanized, with zones of control ranging from full-fledged governments to lawless bandit kingdoms ruled by warlords. It’s a dangerous place to live if you don’t stay where you belong.

That’s a worrisome state of affairs if your mission is to deliberately go places you’ve never been before. Alone. On foot.

Which is precisely what Tae Keb, the hero of “Walk Like A Stranger: Passing Through Home” must do if he is to strengthen his relationship with his god and advance in his order.

Vale and The Surrounding Region

Tae Keb is a member of the order of Caretakers, who worship the Shaper of the World. When the Caretakers washed their hands of the empire — one of the disruptive events that triggered continental war and the end of stability for Kaebrith — they chose Vale as their new seat of power.

a map of the area of the shaper's world where walk like a stranger passing through home takes place

Vale, the seat of authority of the Caretakers, and surrounding region

Vale sits on the peak of a steep in the highlands at the base of a range of rough, hilly, low mountainous terrain. The region is not unlike the higher elevations of Algeria on Earth, with temperate grasslands giving way to chaparral, deciduous forests and boreal forest as the topography ascends.

topographic map of the vale region of the continent of kaebrith on the shaper's world

Topographic map of the Vale region.

While the Caretakers have absolute control over their own lands, their power and influence varies in the surrounding territories, which are largely loosely governed collections under the sway of former soldiers, merchant princes, and, mostly, warlords.

Why Bother With All Of This World Building Stuff?

You might wonder why I would spend tens of hours creating maps, working out climates, biomes, and all the rest of this stuff. Why not just say, “yeah, the story takes place in a region kind of like the highlands of Algeria — hilly, rough, with scrub and forests and stuff. There are bad guys in charge most everywhere,” and get on with the writing?

The answer is: I’m not just writing a single serial fiction arc of fifty two installments called “Walk Like A Stranger: Passing Through Home.”

I’m adding canonical material to a storyworld called “The Shaper’s World.”

Not only might there be future arcs of “Walk Like A Stranger,” I have (at least) six books roughly plotted in this universe. It’s all part of the same timeline, all connected… and while it almost all happens on the same continent, people will be doing their thing — and hailing from — all over the place. A consistent world is integral to a successful whole.

That’s not even taking into account the possibility that others might play in this particular sandbox, too. They’ll need a baseline to work from.

It all goes in the mix. It’s all work that will pay out dividends across tens of thousands of words to come.

Enjoy The Fruit Of My World Building Labors… For Free!

All this world building stuff will go into my upcoming free serial fiction-by-subscription project coming later this month from Selznick Serials, “Walk Like A Stranger: Passing Through Home.” I talked about the serial in great depth in a blog post back in June, if you’d like to learn more.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit Selznick Serials and get on the wait list to be notified the moment you can subscribe to the serial. Remember, it’s free! Nothing to download, either.

What Do You Think?

So that’s the second thing I did during my social media sabbatical. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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