Sunday, 29 July 2012

Genius Loci races: Dwarves

Dwarves are small, strong, sturdy, and a very colourful - and hairy - people. While only men have beards, the pelty soft hair has to be tamed, for dwarven hair never stops growing. If they don't just shave to save time,  dwarves like to wear elaborate fashions with multiple braids, combs, and needles. Colours can be changed with nutrition; eyes, hair, and the spots can all be changed. Unaffected, dwarves have maroon eyes, mauve hair, and light blue spots; since they require quite a lot of sustenance, though, that is a rare sight. Dwarven hands are sensitive and delicate, dwarves never lose their bearing, and - a source of many interesting building habits - can see through stone. This, of course, makes them expert miners; but dwarves also like to be cooks or surgeons, or singers, for dwarven voices carry far and wide.

"After Plokin was destroyed, it was mostly dwarves who rebuilt it. Within only a few years there was a new, thriving metropole. Conspiracy theorists say they also made it so that they can look through every wall. You can believe it or not, but the richest citizens of Plokin are dwarves."
— Bereban Djife, innkeeper

The dwarves' autophobia is legendary. They are deeply afraid of being alone, and the few that actually do live or travel by themselves are noticeably odd. Because of this, dwarves tend to live in cities rather than remote villages and have large families, and since they also live for up to four centuries, the clans have extensive family trees, often spread over many countries. Dwarves have a liking for parties and festivities, often take part in large-scale projects, and love to travel.

Artist's notes
I love how the dwarves turned out to be, and the exotic appeal of their colourfulness. Since I always wanted to have things a bit more different than your average fantasy settings, it was clear that my dwarves would not be silly drunkards, or be only miners and smiths. Artistically, it was the first race I decided would have different facial proportions, and spaced their eyes much wider than humans'; I like the effect of it, they look familiar, but definitely not human. And their hairdos are great fun to paint.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Traditional costume

"The natives of Markohan are wonderful to behold in their colourful dresses. Each of an array on traditional accomplishments grants them one more colour and fabric to wear, and their masters are a splendid sight indeed."
—  Rafach'queai, diplomat

Costume is a vital part of kitaian cultures. Many have symbolic parts, like colours or specific accessoires. And since clothing and attire tell so much about the wearer, most people, even in foreign countries, will not change their costume as long as it's survivable - furs may not be worn in the hot desert, but their wearer will insist on his ochre sash representing his leadership. How strict a dressing code is varies widely, however; while some peoples define everything from threads to colours to cuts, others only demand a somewhat similar appearance.

"Oh, to be stripped of the blue, and the stingray leather! I had tried myself at the noble art of boatmaking and failed - now I am marked. What worse fate than to be without the colour of the sea!"
— Sadda-Lon Daia, Markohanese
Artist's notes
Costume is an important part of my world's design. Costume sets people of different origin apart, different descendance, wealth, influence, occupation, age... I often dislike the modern look of games, as well as the gritty, "medieval" approach of starving peasants in undyed, torn tunics. Most of my inspiration comes from historical costumes; I am always interested in small bits, like Vikings inscribing their hands and nails with rune-charms, or that the ancient Egypts believed their life force could escape through their throat and wore necklaces as protection.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Genius Loci races: Humans

There are three types of humans: the dark-skinned southern, the blockier northern, and the flexible gderan. All of them have black hair and dark eyes. The southerners are more enduring, the northerners hardier, and the gderans dextrous. Most of the human population in Gdera is indeed gderan, while the other continents have mixed populations. Common to all humans is that they suffer ridiculously easy from the common cold - a steady source of jokes to other races.
The shimmer is far stronger in humans, resulting in a gleam that, without protection, will cause eye damage over time; gderans protect themselves with paint, veils, or masks. Gderans don't do well with animal fats, and many are vegetarians.

"Humans often worry they might stand out - more prone to mental breakdowns than others, more war-like, more ignorant; less talented, less supportive, not as sure. The good news to them is, the average-ness of humans is quite often what holds a society together."
— Stone giant

Humans tend to be curious, and are equally fatalistic and optimistic. They have a tendency towards cynism and philosophical short-sightedness, and at the same time suffer from helping syndrome and weltschmerz. They are regarded as one of the most discrepant peoples of Kitas.

Artist's notes
I thought about introducing subtypes into other races as well, but the humans are only slightly different in themselves; and when I think about it - the garren, dwarves, and raganaj are very different from one another, so humans have a right to be diverse as well, I guess. I never liked the human-centristic worldview often seen in sci-fi, and sometimes fantasy, and humans are no important race of the Genius Loci setting; neither in numbers nor occupations.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


Kitas has three main landmasses: Sawa in the north, continent of fire; in the south Lozir, the lands of air and earth; and Gdera in the west, the lands of life. The myriad of islands in the sea of the Singing Ryaq are considered the continent of water. 

"Don't think that only landmarks need to be charted. Speakers put places of power in their atlases, voices know the genius loci, shankeh every road and route."
— Zahkhi, shopkeeper

Four main oceans divide the lands: the dark Great Ulah around the north pole; the Green Ryaq between the continents; the deep Blue Trimal in the south, and the vast Singing Ryaq. Furthermore, the Pillar Street between Sawa and Lozir is famous for its many rock spires.

Artist's notes
The physical shape of Kitas has come a long way. I drew the very first map a few weeks after I invented the setting; it was then a tiny world with practically no water, and I had spent no thoughts on actual geography. The next maps showed the single continents, and I have refined those maps a great deal since then, I'm still adding tiny landmarks. There is also a map creation tutorial in my art blog.
The joy of having an entire world at my disposal is that, whatever landscape I come up with, there is room for it somewhere. I could draw Kitas landscapes for the rest of my life and not be done. Many fantasy worlds, especially in games, are to small for my taste (I don't want to run through the world forever without reaching any place, of course. But just a wee bit bigger).

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The night sky

"The moons in the sky are as useful to us as flowers on the fields; we do not have to concern ourselves with them, but life is richer if we do. However, it is said that the moons have strange effects on fleeters."
— Jio Farsight, wizard

Two moons accompany Kitas through the sky: the large orange one is called Companion ("Begleiter"), the smaller white one Runner ("Läufer"), circling both Companion and Kitas in a fast pace. The large turquoise star is called the Eye, visible just before dawn and just after sundown, and good telescopes show that the Eye has a herd of own moons. Kitaians can see two nebulae in the night skies; the summer shows golden green clouds littered with stars almost filling the sky, the winter features a smaller, deep purple nebula with dim dots of light.

Artist's notes
I was influenced by the wonderful night sky of The Elder Scrolls game series; I had loved it since Morrowind, and it was clear to me that I wanted a nebula as well. When I couldn't make up my mind between two colours for it, I decided to have both, and therefore two nebulae.
The stars play no significant role in Kitas' magic or superstition. While some cultures believe the moons have an effect on people, the stars are mostly good for navigation. There is no astrology on Kitas, and no prophecies; I have always hated the idea of fate.