Secret History of Verduria IV: Fonts and history

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Posted by Mark Rosenfelder ( on November 20, 2000 at 17:34:04:

In Reply to: Re: Secret History of Verduria: College Hijinx posted by Mark Rosenfelder on November 14, 2000 at 15:27:03:

After college, in 1983, I got one of those newfangled Macintosh things, not least because I could create fonts for the special Verdurian characters. (This was before TrueType, so these were bitmap fonts, not the ones you may have downloaded.)

I typed in the dictionary and rewrote the grammar, making use of some of the transformational grammar and semantics I'd learned in school... this is essentially (with minor updates) the grammar that's now online.

My next project was the Historical Atlas. I had some maps of various points in the history of the Plain and of Ereláe, but they weren't very satisfying. Basically I'd just make up names and borders on a map-by-map basis; there was no coherence to the overall narrative, no reason why such-and-such place had such-and-such people in it at a particular time, no explanation for why the Plain was littered with non-Cadhinorian peoples, and no rhyme nor reason to other regions of the continent.

So, I started over with a single piece of paper and designed the entire history of the continent. The vertical dimension represented time, the horizontal, various regions of Ereláe. Now it was possible to see entire nations rise and fall, or split into pieces. The movements of barbarians could be planned-- one wave of barbarians would trigger more waves later. People could migrate around in a realistic fashion based on their circumstances.

I could also suggest entire stories-- for instance, the milennial rise of two ktuvok empires; the several invasions of Skouras; Gurdago and its three empires in three separate geographical areas.

My scanner is broken, dang it all... someone pushed the USB port into the machine... when it's fixed I'll scan this diagram.

Once it was done, I could basically create a map for a given year by reading a horizontal slice of the map, and seeing who was in the Plain, who was in Xurno, who was in Dhekhnam and Skouras, and so on. Of course I'd have to come up with particular borders, but this was not to hard once the overall story was clear.

As each map was done, I wrote a page or two of commentary and explanation. Again, the idea of a fixed map with commentary-- and even the writing style-- is gratefully borrowed from Colin McEvedy's Penguin Historical Atlases.
I also learned a lot from McEvedy about the likely course of history on an earthlike planet: the slowly spreading realms of agriculture and writing; why barbarians start to invade and why they eventually fade away; the reasons for feudalism; what went wrong in the Western Roman Empire and why the same causes didn't kill the East; the influence of mountains and terrain types on boundaries.

I did all the maps in pencil first, and then redid them in pen and colored markers. In between, I decided to change the model for the Lenani-Littoral languages-- they used to be rather Greek in appearance (e.g. Paphliopagamos; now they look rather Indic (Pafliopagimi).

I'm working now toward putting the Atlas online. The main hangup is that I've been reworking the Xurnese names; all of them now mean something in Wede:i, Axunashin, Xurnásh, or Sheo. Whoops, it's not Sheo anymore. :) It's Teósi.

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