Conceptual World Map

Conceptual World Map

I haven’t settled on a name for this entire world, but I have put some thought into the cultures populating it (with the help of some scavenged ideas from earlier projects, of course). Each of the cultures labeled on this map is named for their most important god which is always based on an element from nature.

Sunborn Kingdom – A savanna kingdom of tall and slender people with very dark skin and tightly curled hair, rather like the southern Sudanese of our world. They take pride in having the world’s oldest civilization which remains a global superpower to this day. They venerate the Sun as their supreme goddess, believing her to be the mother of all existence and erecting the grandest stone temples and colossi in her honor. The Sunborn also boast universities teaching advanced science and mathematics, advanced technology rivaling our world’s Hellenistic kingdoms, and a formidable army that employs savanna creatures such as giraffes, rhinoceros, and elephants as battle mounts. Their primary influences are northern African kingdoms like Egypt, Kush, Mali, and maybe Ethiopia.

Thunderborn Jungles – Dinosaurs and other monstrous reptiles thrive in this equatorial rainforest basin bordered by volcanic rifts. The native population is distantly related to the Sunborn, with dark skin, kinky hair, and Central African physical features. However, instead of uniting into one vast superpower, the Thunderborn country remains divided into numerous smaller kingdoms with horticultural villages supporting royal cities of stone. They worship a fearsome god of thunderstorms whom they liken to an airborne black tyrannosaur, describing thunder as his roar and lightning as his teeth. Many of the wars that break out on a regular basis between the Thunderborn kingdoms are meant to collect captive warriors as offerings to the storm gods, whom they feed by mounting the captives onto the spires of their temples. Influences come from Central Africa, Dravidian India, Mesoamerica (especially Maya), and maybe New Guinea.

Steelborn Tribes – They roam the savannas south of the Thunderborn country, herding stegosaurs which supply them with almost everything they need (food, shelter, clothes, and even shields and weapons). Physically they are tall and dark, like the Maasai and other East Africans, and they like to dye their hair red with ocher. They call themselves Steelborn after the gift their volcanic goddess handed to them in legend, and to this day they produce steel through harnessing volcanic heat from the northern part of their range. Their influences include the Maasai of Kenya, the Zulu of South Africa, the Hadza of Tanzania, and to a lesser extent Native Americans of the Great Plains.

Isles of the Oceanborn – Though they share ancestry and most physical features with the Thunderborn, the Oceanborn have evolved slightly shorter physiques after colonizing the tropical archipelago they call home (insular dwarfism). They too are divided into city-states which fight among themselves for sacrificial captives, though the Oceanborn offer theirs to the giant mosasaurs they interpret as representatives of their sea goddess. Despite this propensity for internecine warfare, the Oceanborn have a reputation for being cheerful, easy-going, and hospitable, and they are proficient mariners and merchants as befits islanders. Influences draw on Afro-Caribbean, Minoan, Greek, and possibly Melanesian sources.

Fireborn Republic – This smaller continent, which is bisected by a range of volcanoes, has a dry subtropical (or “Mediterranean”) climate with scrubby vegetation supporting animals such as camels, straight-tusked elephants, and cave lions. The Fireborn people themselves have bronze skin, dark curly hair, and a “mulatto” physiognomy. They started out a collection of squabbling city-states before merging into one Republic governed by an oligarchic Senate. They believe their supreme god inhabits volcanoes, coincidentally like the Steelborn, and supply it with sacrifices picked from the losers of their recreational gladiator games. With soldiers clad in the strongest steel armor among any in the world, the Fireborn have established themselves as an intimidating superpower…even if the Senate has a habit of infighting over power. Of course, their main influence is the Roman Republic.

Cloudborn Empire – So named because they once believed in a godlike Heaven, the Cloudborn Empire has since changed to an atheistic, humanistic official ideology. Nonetheless, they are the only nation in all the world to harness steam power, which they use for their gigantic junks that can travel through air as well as sea. They are also the only nation to use gunpowder technology. Though they dominate the entirety of their temperate island continent, the Cloudborn got their start in the forested western regions before expanding to the prairies of the east, wherein they assimilated the bison- and elephant-hunting horse-riders known as the Earthborn. You could say the Cloudborn are steampunk imperial Chinese whereas their Earthborn subjects in the east are based on Great Plains Native Americans; all have light coppery skin, straight black hair, and epicanthic eyefolds that give their eyes a characteristically narrow “Asian” look.

Stoneborn Tribes – Their southern continent has a semi-arid to arid climate except for the swampy jungles of ferns and club mosses along its northwestern coastline. Ancient lineages of amphibians, reptiles, and pre-mammalian synapsids dominate the megafauna here, though there is an abundance of large venomous insects and arachnids as well. The Stoneborn people have dark skin, curly blond hair, and prominent brow ridges, and they claim to be descended from the eggs of a rocky Dimetrodon goddess. Stoneborn societies range from foraging nomads in the desert to sedentary sago farmers living in reed-hut villages in the north. Their culture incorporates influences from ancient Sumer in Mesopotamia and Aboriginal Australia.

Iceborn Clans – They are big, stocky, and fair-skinned people who dwell in the world’s northernmost continent, which is topped by a polar glacier wherein their grim, aloof god is said to reside. Most live as hunters and gatherers on the open tundra and in the conifer forests, hunting mammoth, steppe bison, and woolly rhinoceros and competing with saber-toothed cats and dire wolves. However, a few along the forested coast have settled down in timber fishing villages and supplement their subsistence with summertime raids across the southern sea. By virtue of their physical strength and legendary ferocity, the Iceborn are both feared and valued as mercenaries by the more southerly nations, who in turn may raid them for slaves. The Iceborn cultures draw on ancient Germanic (especially Norse), Celtic, and Cro-Magnon European influences.

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