With my artistic inspiration slowly starting to return somewhat, I've been thinking about my fantasy world Bhejenin a lot. If I ever actually get it done, there will be several comics and hopefully one game situated there. The world-building has been progressing somewhat oddly because I started it from one dream vision and then dumped it chock-full of basic fantasy clichés. And now that I'm finally taking it as a serious world-building project, troubles arise. I have to get rid of some clichés and find plausible explanations to some. As much fun as totally converting some fantasy clichés would be, it could turn against me by looking obvious, cheap and ridiculous. Better to just make everything from scratch, in the limits of my original vision and some of the newer things I've gotten very attached to.
At the moment the setting of Bhejenin is a planet quite similar to ours in terms of sunlight, gravity, atmosphere and thus, ecosystem too. On the other hand, not similar. Humans still are from Earth though. They came to Bhejenin a long time ago - how long exactly, still is a bit fuzzy. At first it was a few thousand years, then I cranked it to 11000, and now I'm thinking if it should be even longer, because I need some minor evolutionary changes in humankind to explain one species (or 'race') I have and will not get rid of no matter how unoriginal it might be. And evolution doesn't happen overnight, not even in alien environment, and especially not within a species that reproduces as slowly as humans do.
Logical timeline pains, in addition to tiredness of fictional clichés made me get rid of the medieval Europe type setting Bhejenin originally had - of course it did, because that's exactly the kind of fantasy I was reading daily when I had the dream that inspired the creation of Bhejenin. But I've grown up and so shall Bhejenin. Medieval Europe copy wouldn't make any sense in a world that has never seen even the first glimpses of Middle Ages, or the nations on which European culture was founded, for that matter. So I can (and must and will) base the cultures, their politics, mythologies, architectures and people, on what makes sense and happens to happen in that strange world. They are colonists, only trying to survive. The faeries might help them (more about them in a moment) but there are many things that can hinder them as well. Like, let's see... A totally alien world perhaps? Which plants can be eaten, which not? Is that animal safe to approach or will it kill us and eat us? Is that water drinkable? How fucking long will this winter last, will we have enough food to survive it? OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT IN THE SKY AAAAA. And so on. Given the long timeline (which really might expand even farther if I can't find a plausible way to fit those minor evolutionary changes in ten millennia) anything can happen. Cultures may rise, they may fall. People die, but never enough to make humans perish completely. And then some of the cultures actually last long enough to have impact on the history, or even be present, of the current setting of the world.
Oh yes, the faeries. They've been somewhat present from the very beginning, but their meaning to the world was very minor until quite recently, as I came up with the theory of faeries having come to Bhejenin alongside humans. I still haven't decided if they brought humans here or was it the other way around, or did they just happen upon the same interdimensional rips together, or what. Anyway, their influence on Bhejenin's written history has been significant.
The 'faeries' in this case mean the highly magical, somewhat chaotic beings with no one stated form. They don't live on the planet as much as they live in the dimensions around it, in its 'neighbourhood' so to say. The wispy-minded live-in-the-moment energy beings that dance in forest clearings all nights long. The dark, furry critters that steal babies. The folklore faeries.
In Bhejenin there are also dragons, which have come there from elsewhere (or possibly evolved there, I still haven't decided and I might even leave that open since the dragons don't know either) and demons. The demons are very much like faeries, in that they're highly magical, don't have a set appearance, and some of them live in the planet's neighbourhood rather than on it. They're not servants of evil (unless the evil pays well or is really fun), they're not the enemies of the world (as long as the world isn't their enemies) and all in all they're not Always Chaotic Evil (check TvTropes if you don't know the meaning of this). They are, depending on the level of intelligence and magical powers, anything from hungry and territorial otherworldly beasts to god-like beings that rarely even pay attention to mortals or the world they live in. If HoofFoot and I ever get that game done, there will be one demon as a playable character.
The dragons. They were very much part of the original vision, and besides they are such an important symbol of imagination to me, that this cliché I was not willing to get rid of. Now the only thing to do is to explain them somehow logically. How can a giant reptile fly? The easy answer is magic. But even that needs a bit thinking. Do the dragons actively use magic to fly? Or is it somehow part of their genetic code to be so awesomelly magically charged that they can defy the laws of physics? To dodge this cliché I've already made two non-flying dragon races and one that consists of ghostly energy beings, and thus can fly without even needing wings. Still haven't decided what to do with the traditional western fantasy dragons. I would like to keep them in honor of the original vision, but they bother my logic senses so badly I might change or scrap them in the end.
And then there are the 'relatives of humans' as I call them. I this case, goblins and elves. The Bhejenin goblins are actually just a different human race, and the result of that 'minor evolutionary change' I mentioned earlier. They are to 'normal' humans kind of like what homo sapiens neanderthalensis were to homo sapiens sapiens, except maybe not even that much difference. The elves are actually a hybrid species of kinds - what the people of Bhejenin call 'elves' are all the children of both human and fairy heritage. Someone with one fairy parent and one human parent is an elf, but so is someone with one great-grandparent of the other species in a family of the other species. I also don't intend to make the elves 'perfect' or 'high and mighty' in any way. Some might be flaky and chaotic like the faeries, or more organized and prone to science like humans, or something in between, but their personalities are their own. And the goblins are not sneaky, stupid, little green-skins. They're very much like humans, just more adapted to the planet Bhejenin.
In fact I might even name those two 'species' something completely different because the names are so misleading. Originally the names were supposed to be a relic of the humans' past home - the elves and goblins were supposed to be named after creatures from old human folklores. But since they came to Bhejenin so long ago that those myths may not have been born yet, and travelling with faeries no less, it doesn't make sense. There's just one thing holding me back from renaming them, and it's the chronology known as 'elven memory' which starts from the children of humans and faeries being given their own name. So any name I give them will also make it to the chronology. It must be something good.
So I have a few name issues, one time issue, and the dragon issue to solve before I can really get into designing the history and cultures. In the meantime, I'll have to finish the world map with all the funny stuff like tectonic plates and mountain ranges so I can know how the ground and climate behave... And only after that I can really concentrate on creating the flora and fauna.
Sometimes, just sometimes, it's really tiring to be such a science nerd.