Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ruin + Stronghold

Last Week's Poll:
What should I worldbuild next?
  • Winner: Ruin or Stronghold
This week, I took the poll's advise and sketched out a ruin or a stronghold for today's Worldblogger. Because I'm an indecisive son of a bitch, I decided to actually combine them and build a ruined stronghold. There is, however, a little extra exposition that comes along with this one.

The map depicts a location (tentatively) set in a distantly future novel of mine, entitled The Hog King. On the surface, The Hog King's your typical fantasy fare; epic conquest, marching armies, political squabbles. The catch is that it's told from the perspective of orcs. The cheap elevator pitch is "What happened to all of Sauron's forces once he was destroyed?" 
In The Hog King, humanity has, in the distant past, thrown down a Sauron-esque necromantic evil, a great and terrible warlord with dark powers none can guess and armies of monsters marching at his command. To ensure these loosed horrors do not run rampant in the dark lord's absence, the various kingdoms of man take a sacred covenant and erect massive walls between the mountain ranges that encapsulate the Enemy's region. For hundreds of years, all the leaderless monsters – orcs, goblins, giants, trolls, wargs – have been fighting over territory and resources and, most of all, multiplying. 
Their homeland is now dotted with the ruined and ancient fortresses the dark lord once conquered. One of those fortresses was the subject of this week's map. Make sense? Then, behold!

The notion was, before the dark lord's rise, humans built many of the strongholds that could eventually come to dot his country. During the dark lord's rise, however, his armies laid siege and claimed each of the once-human fortresses within his realm. Once the humans were driven out, of course, they remained in terrible disrepair for as long as the orcish armies laired there. As orcs, I don't imagine they've any skill at masonry, stonework or architecture and, over the years and the various occupations, the building's state of repair has only gotten worse.

So, the fortress consists of a curtain wall, now shattered, resting atop a high cliff. It sported eight turrets along that wall, two of which have fallen or been utterly destroyed, three of which are in serious danger of collapsing and three of which are more or less intact. One section of the southern curtain wall was smashed by thrown stones from giants and never repaired, leaving a convenient slope of rubble and skeletons leading up to the gap in the wall. In many other locations along the wall have the thrown stones from the giants left vulnerabilities; most notably, at the gate.

The game is smashed, its portcullis gone and now only a pile of rubble and broken battering rams lay scattered across its choke-point. In order to access the fortress proper, its orcish garrison must clamber awkwardly through the rubble which, after a fashion, serves as an impromptu barricade in its own right.

All the fortress' outbuildings have been burnt or broken; none now remain except as smoldering beams or partial walls. Much of their original purpose has been utterly forgotten by the years. Some orcs continue to lair beneath them, most prefer the comfort of their own yurts.

A pair of stout keeps guard the choke-point but a heavy pelting of giant stones has all but collapsed the northern one. Orcs continue to lair in the halls and chambers of the more intact keep (I imagine their chief or leader holds power here) but the crumbling keep is often avoided or, better yet, used for some fouler purpose. Hmm. I'll need to think on that.

In the absence of the gates proper, the orcs have erected the best possible defense they know how – a palisade of sharpened sticks around the perimeter of their camp. Many of the orcs that currently lair here (around 300 in total number) find the place unnerving, with too much presence of their ancient master still lurking about, corrupting the place. These orcs dwell in animal-skin yurts outside the main fortress, while a decent number do erect their own tents within the fortress walls.

That seems a decent enough summary for the time being. Next week, I'll go into more specific details!

What should I name the fortress?

  • Kogr
  • Tvek
  • Qagga
  • Mzu
Next Week on Worldblogger: The Siege Begins!

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