How Iiosia Started
Ever since I was young – and we’re talking twelve or so here – I've loved fantasy and Sword & Sorcery. When I first saw a picture of an orc charging across a battlefield on a huge black boar, I was hooked. From there, I played Hero Quest and other board games, I read books on Conan, Elric, Shannara, and played interactive Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf game books. I was heavily involved in playing Warhammer, and then started making my own games.
Along with that, I started to write stories.
The world that these stories were to be set upon started to develop slowly. I’ve always loved maps, and any fantasy story with a map in the first few pages was a hit with me. I started combining maps from different universes into one world. I’d join Allansia from Fighting Fantasy with the Warhammer world and mix and match places to fit with each other, and copy all of the maps by hand and stick them all over a bedroom wall so they fit together into one combined, jumbled world.
This, I suppose, was the first incarnation of Iiosia.
It wasn’t long before I started adding my own maps. That’s all they were, mind – just maps. No real thought or reason went into them. I just laid out what I thought would be cool to have and where it would be cool to have it, and added different names to things with no thought of the people that really lived there.
It was only while my education continued the way it did that I started to learn about tectonics, relief, erosion, evolution, migration and climates. This knowledge, undoubtedly, had a huge impact on the world. I scrapped a lot of things. (There wouldn't be a swamp there! The water basin is over here! And so on.) And it wasn’t long before I started to think about who may live in these places I made, and as I wrote and finished my first ‘major’ book when I was fifteen or so, and set it on one of these maps, I forced myself to think of reasons why things were the way they were. There suddenly had to be a reason why the dwarf city was there, what kind of trees the woods comprised of and what sort of infrastructure the place had. That county was called Magador, and has survived wthin Iiosia to this day (albeit in a heavily modified version)
Over the years, I made Iiosia to be a setting for the stories I attempt to write, and also for the pen and paper role-play game I made to play which is currently known simply as Iiosia RPG (IRPG).
It is an amalgamation of all of my ideas of what I think a fantasy world should be. It is steeped in an epic, yet forgotten ancient history which has made the world as it is. It is populated by (what I hope is) a variety of different races and people.
I do not really feel that I made it, but rather that it is making itself and I am the one who records its progress.
The idea of making a website about the world and displaying it within a web format came to me in 2006. After many failed attempts, re-starts and re-designs, I'm glad I've finally got the site up.
I do have issues with staying on task - I can give up on things, take a break (for a few months) or simply get distracted and not come back to them, so I'm very glad it's completed enough that I can upload it to the internet.
In the future, I hope to write a series of stories about major and minor events within Iiosia, and then possibly Alderon (which is the world that follows Iiosia - but that's a whole other story).
And in the end? Well, I'm dubious that there will be an end to this. The world, despite all my best efforts to stop it, keeps on growing even when I physically shrink it! It is a symbolic testament to my childhood and I think that if I ever completely give up on it, or forget about it, then that's the day when I've finally grown up.
And that, my friends, will be a very sad day indeed.
The Evolution of Iiosia
Iiosia has gone through many transitions throughout its development – not least of which is how the geography and maps have altered throughout the years. Luckily, maps of the older designs have survived to this day, and in this section I’ll be talking about each of them and how they have changed through the years, and how each design led the evolution of the next.
From this point, I will be describing the changes that happened to Iiosia as it developed into what it is today. It is somewhat self indulgent, and is included largely for my own benefit - so that I can look back and see how things have grown. It also assumes that the reader is somewhat familar with Iiosia in its current maifestation, so is not for the newer visitors.
The easiest way to do look back like this is to talk about the maps that have been designed throughout the years, how they have changed, and why.
The Early Years (pre-2000)
The very, very first incarnation of what would become Iiosia was, I suppose, when I initially discovered my love of maps I would find in fantasy-style books when I was in my teens. They would always capture my imagination as I wondered of the people and places within them. I would combine maps that had no relation to each other whatsoever, combining the maps of the Lone Wolf books with those of Fighting Fantasy, Warhammer, and several others. I would make hand-drawn copies of the maps (this was in the days before the internet was a major thing, and printing them was not an option), and made a collage of them on my bedroom wall to create one huge mess of a world. Where my creativity started to shine through was when I had to “fill in the gaps” between maps that didn’t fit well together. I’d add a desert here, coastline there, and eventually structured entire new kingdoms to straddle other maps that didn’t fit together.
The very first map I created that was anything more than just that, was of a country called Magador. It was for a set of short stories I wrote when I was 13-14, called Owen the Barbarian. These stories, long consigned to history, borrowed heavily from everything from Warhammer, to a series of books about Paedur the Bard and, somewhat obviously, Conan the Barbarian. They weren’t very good, and yet the land “Magador” persists to this day.
A Huge, Underdeveloped World (2000)
This image is a hand-drawn map of Iiosia from around the year 2000. This was back when the world was called Taleron, a name that I changed later due to a google search resulting in a technology based company. This world, designed to be as big as Earth, was filled with half-developed ideas that in the end overwhelmed me and resulted in me changing a large amount of it in the next design. It was still at the period where I would put things here or there with little thought to what they would be or why they would be there, yet it still set the building blocks in motion for the world we have today. Many of the ideas have been carried through to the current incarnation of Iiosia, and yet some are abandoned completely.
Indulge me, as we take a quick tour of this underdeveloped world
A Map finally Completed (2009)
After many years of dithering and not doing much with the hobby (I could blame many things, but really it was laziness), we have this design which I drew around 2008-2009 and which really launched me back into developing the world. At this stage, this map of Iiosia is still as big as Earth. This is the first complete map to ever be compiled of Iiosia, with everything filled in and no huge, blank gaps like with the previous map. In this map, every country has an idea behind it and a direction I want it to go in. I switched things around a bit, though I kept the north much as how it was. I erased much of Kharanda, and deleted Tanyato, and Khaan, as I had no need of any of them. Arachnidia, is gone also, instead favouring that giant insects, especially spiders, could instead be found almost everywhere.
Gnoll Country, Dalsion island, Sugurd, Rune, Ghreal, Chkarthamoré, Immire, and Maleri are all much the same as in the previous incarnation.
Beginning to Re-design (2011)
This image from early 2011 shows some further tweaks. I basically remove some of the areas that I do not like and add some other tweaks. The map still shows a region the size of Earth.
The Finished Result (2011)
And here we are at the current and, I really think, final design. I decided that, even with the changes I made previously, I still wasn’t happy. The world is too big and too much for me to handle. I set out to delete everything I’m not happy with, slimming down the world and the complexity of it. As I explain in this video, I reduce the size of the map to that of Europe, to make everything scale down and be easier to manage.
While it is far, far too early to think about such things, it is worth baring in mind that because Iioisa is only the size of Europe now, there are other landmasses out there, possibly with other races and peoples that can be added. But, such thoughts have only briefly drifted through my thoughts. One thing at a time!
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