Elyden - Inspirations and Influences
Elyden is a world born of various influences with different themes that have emerged over the past 15-years of my writing and worldbuilding. Some were intentional and designed since pretty-much the conception, while others developed naturally through the course of writing.
At its core it is a world approaching the end of its tether. Here are some of the main influences and inspirations responsible for making Elyden what it is, that might not be immediately apparent from my maps :
H. P. Lovecraft
While not explicitly Lovecraftian, there is much in Elyden that draws influence from the writings and philosophies of Lovecraft.
Though far from the indifferent beings that he wrote of, the Demiurges are heavily inspired by the Cthulhu mythos, with even some of the Demiurge’s names being inspired by his creations. Though Cthulhu himself may not exist in Elyden, I am fascinated by the cosmic horror that pervaded Lovecraft’s writing. The meaninglessness of life and insignificance of one’s actions in the grand scheme of things is a subtle theme within in Elyden.
The mortal races were created by mistake, following the hubris of the Demiurges and have no real place in the world. Ancient magicks that were used in the creation of the world and the founding of the mortal races may be uncovered by those industrious- (or unlucky-) enough, though attempting to use them is not recommended. Ancient technarcane machinery created by gods may yet be used by inquisitive mortals who are ignorant to their true purpose. Antediluvian deities lie sleeping, their dreams polluting the natural laws of the world, waiting for enough blind devotion to wake them from their languor.
The Dying Earth subgenre is a big influence on Elyden, and this is evident in its waning seas, depleting resources and growing decay and corruption. Popularised by Jack Vance in this delightfully kooky Dying Earth series, Elyden is heavily inspired by this genre. Not quite post-apocalyptic, but well on its way there
Little in Elyden is pristine or without imperfection. People bear ailments and disfigurements as those of other worlds might wear jewellery. The Atramenta taints that which it touches, and the dreams of dead gods pollute the world, warping the landscape with their madness.
Elyden is a grey land of rusted girders, pitted concrete, and barely-understood machinery from past ages. Most rulers live in luxury even as they ignore the waning of their resources and the growing restlessness of their people. Churches take advantage of followers that have been brainwashed by years of indoctrination. Mercenaries fight for who those with the deepest pockets. Knowledge-crazed scholars and demagogues search obsessively for ancient lore that is as likely to awaken ancient belligerent gods as it is to grant them power. Shaper abuse the gifts of the Materia Omna, not knowing the extent of the wellspring from which they leech their powers.
Nations struggle to survive as resources run out. Metropolis lie on the brink of starvation as war looms across the world. The seas have been steadily, slowly retreating over the past millennia, as though drying up.
There is a blunt pragmatism amongst Elyden’s denizens regarding the entropy of their world. Life goes one for as long as it can, and then… it stops. Many generations have been facing this world and they came and went without ever seeing it. Though the inevitable demise of mortal life approaches inexorably, it remains something in the future. something the next generation will have to deal with. Few seem to care enough to try to change they way of the world, and even if they did try to do something, things are so far gone that their actions would be for nothing.
This is Elyden.
Much in the way that Star Wars is fantasy dressed up as Sci-fi, so too is Elyden, if not quite so blatantly. I’d say it’s fantasy-realism, with many fantasy aspects and anachronisms that should probably not exist in the relative timeline of the world, dressed up on contemporary 1880’s aesthetic. If that makes sense.
Tanks exist in this world, as does cloning, and genetic engineering. There are primitive mech suits and powered armour suits, as well as hermetic suits designed to safely traverse Atramentally-tainted lands. Six-shooters are commonly seen, as are rifles and long-range cannons. Trench warfare is a new form of fighting that is spreading to new wars across Elyden. Shaping is an ancient tradition, and has eschewed the mysticism and esoterica of its roots and is now studied in universities. Those who graduate are not magicians and wizards, so much as they are mechanics, engineers, and diplomats. There is little difference between an engineer and a shaper in industrialised nations - each has studied their craft and now implements it in their work.
Creatures, either extinct in our world, or fantastical, populate Elyden (or once did before being driven to extinction by its resource-hungry people), though where possible I've tried to base them in reality. Though there may not be dragons in the traditional sense (too big to fly in an earth-like atmosphere), I do have bird-like saurids, cranked up to 11.