World Building Stuff: A Glance at Terra Eternal

It’s time for some nitty gritty stuff. Everyone likes world building, at least everyone that I know, and it’s one of the most involved parts of writing there is. Today, instead of messing with all the boring theory of writing, I thought I’d take you on a quick tour of some of the fun world building that I’ve done while writing stories. Today let’s look at Terra Eternal, a major part of the Endless Horizons story setting. If you haven’t read The Doyen and The Dragon, my first short story that involves them, you might want to do that before checking this out. On the other hand, perhaps you’d prefer to browse this first. It’s up to you.

Now technically, Terra Eternal represents all or part of 52 different worlds scattered about under the great sky. So really, working with them is more like worlds building than world building. But at the same time, since all of these worlds are connected to each other and even share something like a unifying culture, in many ways they are actually a single world.

Now I could run you through the entire history, or give you a quick sketch of the overarching government and social systems, but really that would be way beyond the scope of a single post.

Besides, that’s really not how their world grew up. Believe it or not, Terra Eternal actually started out as the villain of another piece, which I haven’t shown you all any part of as yet. However, beyond knowing that they were a vast, interdimensional empire with practically inexhaustible resources, I didn’t bother to set much in stone about them when that project was starting. I simply selected a number of cool sounding ideas and figured I could work out a good overarching structure for a society they could call home later.

So rather than give you the unified theory of Terra Eternal, I decided to just share some of the ideas that now define them, and let you enjoy envisioning the shape of their worlds just like I did. Ready? Let’s go!

  • Bruja” Magic – In some worlds, magic itself displays consciousness and can form the basis for strange and alien forms of life. This is called bruja magic by theorists in Terra Eternal. The origin of the term is not known, although it’s frequently credited to Veronica Locke. Because it is often hostile or malicious towards humans, bruja magic is considered a bad thing by most in the borders of Terra Eternal.
  • Doyen – Literally means “brilliant” and refers to a small group of crack problem solvers. Doyen are called in whenever the red tape that binds the empire together pulls too tight and what needs to be accomplished cannot be done in good time. They have a great deal of autonomy to deal with problems, and can take great liberty with the resources on hand, but they also suffer a set of fairly draconian restrictions to keep them from running wild. Technically speaking, they don’t belong to the nobility of any of the fifty two worlds, or swear allegiance to any of the three lesser thrones.
  • Friedrich Goltermann – One of the Three Founders. A shrewd politician and philosopher, he is credited with establishing much of the basic theory behind Terra Eternal’s government. The fact that it still functions several hundred years later, on a much larger scale than he ever anticipated, is credit to his brilliance.
  • “Powers” – Refers to any creature that embodies, or claims to embody, an abstract concept. In some cases, can also refer to creatures that embody or claim to embody specific places or the consciousness of things. Exactly what the power embodies tends to severely warp it’s personality and perspective. A form of bruja magic that is considered particularly dangerous.
  • Regula – Term that refers to the commanding officer of a military unit. The rank is always given along with the position and size of the unit the officer commands. Thus a regula millenia outranks a regula decima and a regula centuria.
  • Sail – The foundation of magic is the sail. Just like a ship is propelled by sails collecting the wind, so magic matrices are propelled by sails collecting magic as it rises up out of the earth. Also, just like the sails on ships, more surface area creates a better sail. Thus, those who use a lot of magic tend to wear flowing, many layered garments.
  • Soul of One – The nature and rules governing the many Earths vary greatly, and as often as not the face of the world is different as well. But sometimes there are enough similarities between worlds that even some people are duplicated. People that exist on multiple Earths are known as Souls of One, and Terra Eternal has a special role for them to play in the life of the Empire…
  • “Sterile” Magic – Magic that is simply a resource to be harnessed, like the wind or water. Pretty much the opposite of bruja magic.
  • Throne of Terra Eternal, The – Refers to a massive magical construct built by the Three Founders when establishing Terra Eternal. The exact functions of the construct remain known only to the successors of the Founders, but it is generally viewed as an important part of keeping the empire ticking.
  • Thrones of Terra Eternal, Three Lesser – Refers to those individuals who have inherited the authority of the Three Founders. The roles of the three lesser thrones are defined by the True Throne, making the people who hold the lesser thrones surprisingly limited in their powers. These three thrones are frequently referred to by the name of the founder who’s authority they embody. Thus “the Throne of Vesuvius” refers to Terra Eternal’s supreme military authority, and so on.
  • “Thrones” – A generic term for the individual who rules a specific political group or piece of territory. For example, “So-and-so is the throne of Terra Geodesia.” Frequently used when the speaker cannot remember the local name for such rulers. It’s automatically considered respectful, since it’s also the term used to refer to the seat of Terra Eternal’s powers. Of course, not everyone likes to be reminded that there’s a bigger power out there that they have to answer too…
  • Throneworlds – Refers to the first two worlds of Terra Eternal, which are still the seat of culture and progress for the empire. Unlike the other worlds in the empire, no special measures are needed to travel between the two beyond finding one of a series of “shallowings” between the worlds that were created by Locke.
  • Veronica Locke – One of the Three Founders. Credited with first envisioning the Throneworlds and convincing the other two to help establish them. Many of the spellworks that tie the empire together are based on her work. When they are not direct copies.
  • Vesuvius the Great – One of the Three Founders. Locke’s ideas required influence across two globes to implement properly. Vesuvius led the military campaigns that gave Terra Eternal that influence.

So there you go! A few of the ideas underpinning Terra Eternal. Is there any other part of the world building process you’d like to see me highlight here? Or perhaps another part of another story you’d like to see highlighted? Project Sumter? The Divided Futures? Post it in the comments!

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