Thirteen iterations of this place.
The initial genesis of the place I call world was the notion and idea of the Seven Cities of Cibola. To that I began to add the assorted mythical bits and pieces, the invented and pop cultural things, the stuff that influenced the stuff that people love today.
It changed with my own education, my own experiences. The gods shifted around a bit (Paria is the oldest of them all n terms of creation, though they are quite a ways away from where they started), the things that were popular or cool fading and my own ongoing exploration and learning and growth proceeding.
So, eventually, I have come to this one.
The first thing to note is that it still retains a great deal of the original “flair”, the surface gloss, the overarching concept of the seven Cities. It is a world to explore, to travel in, and so there are some utopian elements there, some satirical ones, some outright humorous ones.
That is the skeleton on which I had to hang the flesh and blood of the new version.
Two concepts immediately struck hard, simultaneously:
- What would happen if I yanked all the Tolkien inspired crap out of D&D?
- What would a world colonized by Black and Brown people come to look like?
To those points were added some things of interest. First, it still had to at least seem like a “regular old everyday D&D world”. No weird shit. Direct quote. That means there had to be a strong sense and feel of a medieval, roughly 1200 to 1400 CE thing.
So that’s four things now, four points of reference. Time for the fifth.
It might surprise some to learn that I have, for the most part, given up on fantasy fiction of the sort that is what gave D&D its underlying ethos. I lost a sense and a feel for and a desire to revisit the journeys of a bunch of men when, well, men pretty much go about the journey in the same way every freaking time and honestly, I needed to see something else, and so I looked further afield and came to the whole field of Urban or Paranormal Fantasy. yes, the stuff with romance in it as often as not.
You know what those stories had that most regular fantasy didn’t? Women Protagonists. And, eventually, women of color leads. And they were written by women who weren’t worried about an audience of just men. and that became the fifth point of reference.
Now, some will say “but you don’t have vampires and werewolves as love interests! And they are right, I don’t. I feel the same way about those things I do the standard Fantasy tropes that I had left behind. Fastest way to not get me to read a book — and I should note I will read a 400 page book in an evening — is to have it feature a vampire or were whatever as a love interest. I have been around a while, I have seen all the variations on that, and no offense to the writers I love, but vampires and werewolves are not sexy or hunky or handsome, they are evil and crazed and bestial and that’s my opinion and I am glad a lot of folks disagree with me.
It would be boring otherwise.
I have buried the one man I will love until I die, and I would prefer a woman for my next go around if I am so lucky. Sexy times do nothing for me.
So, I have my core concepts for my premise:
- The Seven Cities of Cibola
- in a D&D World
- Colonized by people from Morocco, Mali and Nigeria, Persia and India, Korea and Thailand, Mexico and Peru, North American Indigenous peoples, Polynesia and the USian Southwest in which I grew up.
- Without any Tolkien influences (expanded to include everything from 1920 to 1980)
- And using some of the conventions and stylings of Paranormal Fiction and Anime shows of a certain sort.
There is always a subtle bit of both absurdism and Horror in my Fantasy, and I like a good basis for everything, so reaching a point of horrific Science Fantasy was easy then — I started snagging ideas left and right, and began to assemble a few things that would be exactly what I wanted.
The original and early framing was intended to be one of the Gods speaking tot he Players as they were preparing for their Characters to be born and grow. I was going to use a variation on my It campaign, from the book by Stephen King, where they all start out as children, then return as 1st level adventurers.
So the initial voice was meant to be a living elemental, a being whose life was tied to the world itself, and that became Chicory. Her current status is the result of the development of the world, lol. But also, she was too distant, too reserved a voice, and so Arabesque came intot he picture, and with her limitations I needed others and that’s how I ended up with pedants.
now, some will note that I don’t use a lot of images of light skinned folks — but if you ever saw the inspirational images i used initially, grabbed from google before folks like me flooded the internet with a bazillion AI images, you would be shocked because of the 2000 or so images I snagged, less than 25 were people of color.
I was not pleased. I am a light skinned Black woman, and I have always wanted a bit more depth to my color. To help me feel less alone, to help me feel welcomed. And there is a lot of nasty shit around that and its ugly and I’ve gone on at length elsewhere both free and for pay on that topic.
So I made the determination when I finally found out that a tool I already had could do this stuff that I would make most of the secondary images those of people of color, and while it took a lot of time to get there, I am there now.
And honestly, if that seems mighty woke to you or offensive to you, well, bitch, you gonna fuckin hate this whole site, because this is one seriously woke world, lol.
Yes, it still has slavery. Yes, people still get raped. No, the governments are not free of corruption, and the world is not a gran utopia. Aside from being boring as shit to play D&D in, utopias are always predicated on the exact opposite of their stated mission. Which was the point of all utopian writing.
But note that because this was a colony, I was able to do one thing that is kinda cool: the Charter Laws are based on Human Rights. If there was a major and enormous difference between Sibola and Lemuria, it would be that Sibola clings to those, haphazardly and incompletely as they do, while Lemuria has thrown them aside.
But also, really, look at Lemurian culture. Realize that is where I placed all the grand evils of the world. On purpose. Witness me, indeed.
So, that’s my premise. I don’t do elevator pitches. A lass has got to know her limitations, and brevity is one of mine.