Wednesday 20 March 2013


The northern landmass Sawa is the continent of Fire - the power of the North. Sawa with its rugged coastline, many islands, and inland seas is the smallest continent; the far north is ice-covered. The landscape is shaped by volcanic activity, from the Great Talash-Keh's vast mountains, to fields of boiling mud, to the omnipresent geysirs. Travelling Sawa is treacherous; dangers include unstable ground - thinly covered chasms filled with boiling lava -, toxic fumes, hot ash clouds, and lahare, the giant landslides accompanying volcanic eruptions.

"Where the water fell upward/ and the mountain shifted in its sleep/ we bonded hand in hand/ an alloy of loyalty and trust/ and like such metals/ will never part again."
— Nuralk, "Ode of Vhalo", verse 3

Sawan humans are the blocky, tall northern type, the coasts are populated by seafolk. The Great and Lesser Talash-Keh kingdoms are considered "dwarven lands" due to the dominant population; Mul'Geranan is populated only by mul'ahman and therefore nearly invisible above ground; the infamous state of Sawaland, an openly racistic country of pro-human orientation, is a black mark on the map; and last not least the heroic warriors of Brighthold are widely known, keeping the warring neighbouring tribes in check.

"We inhabit the lands of fire, and we Sawans are proud of our ability to start all over. I can't imagine living in a place where the ground never changes."
— Mugikri, Sawan farmer

Artist's notes
Volcanism fascinates me, and I have Sawa as a playground for it. The trouble with painting volcanic landscapes is that everything's covered in smoke...
I found it difficult to describe Sawa's diversity correctly; it has landscapes like Iceland and Alaska as well as Polynesia-inspired tropical zones. The landscape changes so frequently - mountains coming up here and there and sinking back into the ground - that mapmakers can make good coin here.

Thursday 7 March 2013

The Four

Spear's bearer - Firebolt
Bow's archer - Nevercold
Axe's swinger - Worldhauler
Sword's master - Wavecaller
Four there were since times of old

Speeres Tr├Ąger - Flammenherr
Axtes Schwinger - Weltenschwer
Schwertes Meister - Wellengrund
Bogensch├╝tze - Lebensmund
Vier von alters Zeiten her

The Four are a symbol occuring everywhere in Genius Loci. The number refers to the four elemental forces of the world - Water, Fire, Earth and Air, and Life - embodied by the Four Creators of the world, and their magical foci, the Four Weapons. Each is assigned a cardinal point, colour, and many more associations: character traits, times of day, spells, continents, plants, minerals... Each culture adds own representations and local symbols; the Four Weapons usually take precedence and take many shapes. It is said that the Four maintain the world's balance.

The Four:
  • The spear Lefenned, associated with fire, the colour blue, and the south. Its sign is a bar. Its principle is cycles, new beginnings untouched by the old, and overcoming weaknesses and obstacles.
  • The sword Rwannakah, associated with water, the colour red, and the north. Its sign is a kite-shaped rhomb. Its principle is change and compromise, and ability to adapt.
  • The bow Gajtualih, associated with life, the colour green, and the west. Its sign is a half circle. Its principle is movement, shaping, and optimism.
  • The axe Khachgallah, associated with earth and air, the colour yellow, and the east. Its sign is a triangle. Its principle is foundations, willpower, and both loyalty and unpredictability.

Artist's notes
The Four were one of my earliest decisions about Genius Loci. Red for water because many rivers on Kitas come through rock containing iron and are reddish, especially in Sawa; blue represents the fire at its hottest (its a concern to me whether this will confuse people too much).
The rhyme is also an old invention. I wrote it practicing calligraphy; I was writing Tolkien's poem of the one ring, and wanted something similar for Genius Loci. It is widely used on Kitas, from children's rhymes to the chorus of Nuralk's famous epos "The Four" (the insane often mumble it, too).
The Four are very important to the setting. They're the closest thing to gods in Genius Loci and have many more features which I gradually develop.