D&D 5E 5e Oerth − the planet of Blackmoor and Greyhawk

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Planet Oerth and Its Reallife Inspirations

Yaarel 2022 - Oerth Earth.png


For 50e, the 50th anniversary edition in 2024, I want two regional settings: the City of Blackmoor to celebrate Arneson and the City of Greyhawk to celebrate Gygax.

These two cities have me thinking about the original setting of the 1970s C&C map (Castles & Crusades Society), that both cities are part of. This shared world is a stylized sketch of "North America". Blackmoor is in fantasy "Canada", and Greyhawk is in fantasy "America". Part of "Mexico" is at the edge.

Gygax publishes his own version of the original map, to be his 1980 World of Greyhawk, that the cartographer Darlene draws. It is a reasonably straightforward adaptation of the original C&C map. The celebrated Darlene map includes some modifications, such as the "Mississippi" and "Ohio" rivers become large bays, but original features remain moreorless recognizable. The spacial distortions between the original sketch and the adaptation compare well to the differences between various reallife medieval maps. Gygax calls this fantasy "North America", Flanaess, and understands it to be a northeastern area of a wider continent of Oerik.

Flanaess mentions "Blackmoor" as a wider region. There are "ruins" there that are notable ruins in the region of Blackmoor. The original city of Blackmoor is a coastal city. But the ruins are deep inside the mainland of the peninsula, and correspond to Ringo Hall, a former city in the midst of the elven forest. As Fey ruins, Ringo can be a place of eerie challenges and magical treasures. The original City of Blackmoor can continue alive and well, to the west of it on the coastal corner of the peninsula, albeit the City of Blackmoor no longer functions as a capital city for the region called Blackmoor. It can now be a city of commerce. Both the City of Blackmoor and the City of Greyhawk can be living contemporaries that are flourishing on planet Oerth. Note, much of the northern area of the Blackmoor region is under the strange Black Ice in the Darlene map. It is possible to superimpose the regional map of the City of Blackmoor that Arneson himself designs onto the area of Blackmoor in the Darlene map. His Firefrost Channel reaches northward under her Black Ice, where the rest of the terrain becomes hidden from view.

Over the decades since the arrival of the Darlene map of Flanaess in 1980, the Flanaess map has expanded outward, and now encompasses an entire planet, called Oerth. The continent of Flanaess enjoys considerable official detail. But the rest of the planet has only partial official descriptions and conflictive semi-official descriptions. The original book for the 1980 map adds a small map showing part of what is west from Flanaess. There is a Dragon magazine Annual 1996 map that is the first map of the entire planet Oerth. This planetary map received mixed reviews for its geological realism (or lack thereof) but it seems to have stuck within the D&D traditions. There is a 1989 French graphic novel, Chroniques de la Lune Noire, that details a subcontinent west of Flanaess, and a later 2002 Chainmail minis game map that details the same area conflictingly. A small inset map in the 2000 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer map shows where Flanaess is in relation to the rest of the planet. As such, given the disparate minimal content, the planetary setting of Oerth relies on homebrew campaigns to decide whether to reconcile, ignore, and-or modify the suggestive information that is available.

The lack of clear official content for the rest of the planet is today an advantage. WotC has a free hand to officially design a planet Oerth in whatever way they wish, with little or nothing in the D&D tradition to constrain them.

This thread is one among several ways to make sense of the official and semi-official planet Oerth. I came for the Blackmoor and Greyhawk cities, and the shape of the planet Oerth has come to fascinate me. The interpretive methodology in this thread considers the first map of Oerth, the one in Dragon Annual 1996, to be the definitive map. All interpretations are in relation to it. I also appreciate a popular version of this map, according to "The Oerth Journal", that includes various homebrew details that seem to enjoy wide use. I reuse this map for above, tinting it and overlaying it with my red text to identify the corresponding reallife cultures today. I also compare the "Greyhawk Grognard" maps (not shown here) that detail the planet Oerth, region by region. To identify the reallife ethnicities, I especially follow the coastlines of the Journal map, that trace reallife coastlines to feel more realistic. These coastlines (intentionally or unintentionally) pull the reallife ethnicities who inhabit these reallife coastlines into fantasy Oerth. Much of these coastlines is from the official 1980 and 1996 maps. Judging by contiguous areas, I also carefully identify which reallife mountains seem to relocate in order to divide up the continent. Thus the reallife ethnicities who inhabit these mountains, such as "Tibet" and "Switzerland", also have fantasy versions who inhabit planet Oerth. Note, the difference between greenish (moist) and yellowish (arid) flatlands mainly lacks official sources and can modify arbitrarily.

The Journal version of the map has some troublesome nomenclature, resembling difficulties with how Oriental Adventures represents ethnicities. For example, a location of orcs unfortunately appears where one might expect Mongolia. My map removes references to orcs. Today, Mongolia is a mainly Buddhist, vibrant and peaceful democracy. The term "kiri" is a Japanese imperial seal but appears across China. Nevertheless, the map of Oerth seems easily salvageable. It can celebrate reallife human groups respectfully. Despite focusing on humans only, I kept the "Domain of the Giant King" because this is actually a reallife Norwegian trope, where certain human families believe they descend from a jotnar, such as Logi who is a being of fire who shapeshifts into a human. The overlay in red names only refers to human ethnicities. It says nothing about other humanoids or monsters. Ideally, it should also say nothing about who has political hegemony over who, such as references to "duchies" and "marches" and "empires", but these many underlay names are difficult to alter.

Every ethnic red name on this map comes from careful considerations. Time permitting I might add posts later that detail why the names are what they are. In a map like this, space constraints make it impossible to mention every ethnic group on "Earth", but they are present. For example, I want the Flanaess area to mention fantasy versions of all of the reallife Native tribes in "North America", but a separate dedicated map can show their territories more clearly. Use the ethnicities that do appear to estimate where any unmentioned ethnicities can be.

In the original 1970s map of the Castles & Crusades Society, the Dry Steppes and the Sea of Dust appear to be arid areas that are west of the Rocky Mountains, such as the deserts of Arizona and relatedly Mexico. However, the Darlene map of Flanaess repurposes these and nearby areas with names suggestive of Asia, like caliphate and sultanate. The result is, the fantasy "North America" and the fantasy "Asia" mash up to form a supercontinent. Ultimately the planet Oerth expands to feature a supercontinent called Oerik, that includes several subcontinents forming a pangea. This supercontinent includes fantasy versions of "North America", "Eurasia", and "Africa". "Australia" remains separate and understandably "evolves differently".

The mashup of Africa-Eurasia-Americas results in a fantasy formula where "the familiar combines with something unfamiliar". These mashups appear across the planet. The area that is officially called Erypt is both by name and by geography an intentional blend of "Arabia"+"Egypt". Whether intentional or not, the official name Naresh can construe as a mashup of "Norway"+"Russia". But it also comprises the mountains of "Turkey" and "Iran". Perhaps more properly Gigantea to the north is "Norway" and "Russia", while Naresh is "Turkey" and "Iran". Naresh is known for its "jotun" giants in the north and its demons in the south, perhaps according to Turkish traditions that equate djinn with daimon. Nevertheless, Naresh is the fantasy versions of the lands of where humans dwell, including "Norwegian", nearby "Russian", "Turkish", and "Iranian" humans. The forested land of Ravilla is the countries of Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, rearranging to form a peninsula. These are cultures of humans, that the elves there can adopt. Fantasy "Africa" requires further development, but the "Congos" region and the "Sahara" region feel a good start. Note, how "Turkey" splits, with its mainland being a mountainous land bordering Russia, while the coastlands of "Turkey" ("Istanbul" and "Ephesus") are elsewhere in "Aegea", the islands of the Aegean Sea in association with "Greco-Rome". "Iraq" locates anomalously to correspond to Ishtar, an ancient deity of Babylon. "South-East Asia" ("SEAsia") splits up in ways contiguous with various mashups. China organizes according to its modern "core cities", but what is west in "China" instead rotates north in order to match up with the shape of the map of Oerth. In relation to "China" and "Egypt", I would expect Draconis Island to either be "Taiwan" or "Cyprus". However judging by its shape, it seems to vaguely resemble the city-state of "Singapore", which actually borders "Malaysia". Here the connotation of an ethnicity known for economic prowess seems like a fun connotation to flavor the dragons who live among the humans of fantasy "Singapore". "Japan" officially mashes up with "India". And so on, various considerations supply the names across the map of Oerth.

The purpose of this map is to help DM worldbuilders create the verisimilitude of an ethnically diverse world. The fantasy cultures can riff off (compassionately and respectfully) from the corresponding reallife ethnicities. It also helps the DM whose players surprise by deciding to venturing off to an unknown location. The DM can create adventure details on the fly that are inspired by a reallife ethnicity that corresponds to that location. This setting welcomes an ethnically diverse approach to religions, and whether monotheistic, polytheistic, animistic, none, or so on, there can be corresponding spiritual "domains" within the Astral "Sea". Each domain enjoys inspiration from each reallife ethnicity. With due caution, I am confident that D&D can represent well any historically-accurate or mythologically-accurate reallife culture. Likewise any fantasy version of it.

According to the official and living traditions about Oerth, the planet Oerth has four continents and four oceans. But different traditions evolve with regard to how to count them.

Regarding four continents in this thread, they are Hyperboria, Polaria, Antaria, and Oerik. Humans inhabit Hyperboria and it counts as a continent. However, here in this interpretation of planet Oerth, Hyperboria is actually a floating polar ice cap, and is made entirely of ice, except for various islands here and there under the ice. So, other traditions prefer to count the large island of Hepmona ("South America") as a separate continent instead. Oppositely, some traditions would suppose Hyperboria has a continental landmass under its ice, thus would be a proper continent. Polaria ("Antarctica") and Antaria ("Australia") are two other continents. The last continent is Oerik, a supercontinent comprising several subcontinents: East Oerik counts the subcontinents of Flanaess and Hepmona; Central Oerik counts Celestia and Zindia; and West Oerik counts Aquaria and Gonduria. These subcontinents often divide up according to prominent mountain ranges.

Regarding the four oceans, I interpret the Dramidj Ocean to be a polar ocean that Hyperboria floats on top of. The rest of the four oceans are: Solnor-Titanicum, Tempest-Storms, and Agitoric. One sails east from the subcontinent of Flanaess past the Solnor-Titanicum Ocean, across the Agitoric Ocean, to reach the subcontinent of Aquaria. The boundaries of Agitoric are Aquaria, Fireland, and a chain of islands under Hyperboria.

Here is a cool map by Anna B Meyer, that I edit to identify my interpretation of the four continents (in yellow), the subcontinents of the continent of Oerik (in red), and the four oceans in blue.

Oerth (Anna B Meyer 2020) Four Oceans (Yaarel 2022).png
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Here are the original C&C, TSR, and WotC maps of planet Oerth.

1970 (circa) Castles & Crusades Society: North America, compare Flanaess
Greyhawk (Castle and Crusades Society c 1970).jpg

Note, "Florida" in the southeast corner, "Hudson Bay" (Great Bay), "Great Lakes" (Nir Dyv), "Mississipi" and "Ohio" rivers in south, and "Rocky Mountains" in west.



1980 World of Greyhawk, "Darlene Map": Flanaess
576CYmap_th.jpg


1980 World of Greyhawk, Folio: Flanaess with parts of Hepmona, Zindia, Celestia, and Hyperboria
Oerik 1980, Greyhawk Folio, original, with coasts and mountains only, oerik-FOL-1024x718.png


1996 Dragon Annual: Planet Oerth
Oerik 1996, Dragon Magazine Annual 1, two-page map - oerik-DA1-1024x779.png

Notice, the continent of Antaria at both southwest and southeast corners. Polaria in south. Hyperboria in north. Most of the planet is the supercontinent of Oerik.



2000 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, inset: Planet Oerth
Oerth - 2000 living_greyhawk_gazetteer_inset_map.png




2002 Chainmail Skirmish Minis Game: West Oerik and Hyperboria
Oerth 2002, Chainmail Skirmish game, renaming for Chainmail factions - ChainmailMap.jpg




Here, I overlay the 2002 Chainmail map with the 1996 Dragon Annual Oerth map, for a gestalt of West Oerik
Yaarel 2022 - Oerth map overlay (1996 Dragon Annual 1) (2002 Chainmail skirmish).png
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Wow, impressive work. Have to say, that Darlene's map never get's old. It always stands out. It is truly a work of art among fantasy cartography. Few maps from that era age well, her's get's better with age.
Part of the success of the Darlene map is gaming considerations, and part of it is intuiting the vibe of popculture.

The gaming considerations stretch out the densely populated areas and squeeze together the sparse expanses, so places of interest tend to be within reach of premodern travel, wherever the player characters are. The experience of endless outlands is also present, but relocates to the western edge of map.

It is an image of the popculture of circa 1980. It is hard not to infer some lighthearted commentary from a moderate perspective. There seems to be frustration with the religious right. Quebec includes the Theocracy of the Pale apparently referring to the deep Catholic culture (albeit the Quebec Catholics are both liberal and deeply religious). Pale might be pun for both wintery light skin and a close-knit community territory, as in "beyond the pale". South Carolina has been broken up an pushed off the mainland. Georgia becomes the county of "Sunday" perhaps referring to shut shops and no alcohol. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the progressive east and west coasts have also been broken up to form islands onto themselves.

The regions of Ulek are "oil-ic", where Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas are major oil producers. The Principality of Ulek is places like Houston and popculture Dallas. The premodern lacks the need for oil, but perhaps Flanaess can have these regions produce an analogous valuable commodity, perhaps something that fuels magical applications.

Generally, the map reflects a perfect blend of "combining something familiar with something unfamiliar". The places are all present, but one needs to look twice to recognize it. So it functions as a fantasy version.

The borderless quality of all these places probably feels relevant today than then.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Gygax calls the fantasy versions of Native tribes of Canada, America, and Mexico: Flan. The members are Flanae. They are the etymology for the name of the Oerik subcontinent, Flanaess.

In Canada, the City of Blackmoor corresponds Churchill on Hudson Bay, and the Flan there correspond the nations of Cree and Chipewyan as well as some Metis and Inuit. In pre-Euro times, it is known for arctic nomadic tribes.

In America, the City of Greyhawk corresponds Chicago, whose area includes diverse Native tribes, including the reallife nations of Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi, Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac, Fox, Kickapoo, and Illinois.

Flanaess merits a separate map for its Flan Native tribal nations, across the subcontinent − namely, the reallife nations that correspond the Flan identities. The reallife maps that I can find seems to only be a sampling, that leaves out many tribes at the local level. While this is probably fine for gaming purposes, I feel hesitant to have one larger tribe represent (thus erase) a smaller different tribe.

Gygax describes the Flan as mainly peaceful nomads, but some tribes have formed permanent agricultural settlements, as well as urban civilizations in several locations.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Cool work.

I have to say that I enjoy contradictory maps with dubious or inaccurate scales for fantasy settings, and for my old homebrew Aquerra, I justified the different maps with slightly different distances, place names, and island/coastline shapes over the 20+ years I and others ran games there by explaining that different cartographers of different levels of experience/talent and different political agendas had made the maps.

This also allows me to do things like tell the players "It looks like a week's march from X place to Y place" but until they actually do it I have a lot of leeway to decide along with the regular leeway that comes from washed out roads, bushwacking, avoiding canyons, finding places to ford a river, weather, etc. . that allows the DM to fudge the travel time as needed for some drama.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Cool work.

I have to say that I enjoy contradictory maps with dubious or inaccurate scales for fantasy settings, and for my old homebrew Aquerra, I justified the different maps with slightly different distances, place names, and island/coastline shapes over the 20+ years I and others ran games there by explaining that different cartographers of different levels of experience/talent and different political agendas had made the maps.

This also allows me to do things like tell the players "It looks like a week's march from X place to Y place" but until they actually do it I have a lot of leeway to decide along with the regular leeway that comes from washed out roads, bushwacking, avoiding canyons, finding places to ford a river, weather, etc. . that allows the DM to fudge the travel time as needed for some drama.
Heh, this is an example of reallife medieval map of the known world. It represents much of Eurasia, and North Africa. Year 1154. Note the spacial distortions, including scale and rotation, and combining the known with estimates and speculations.

Medieval Map of World 1154 Al-Ildrisi.jpg
 

Mercurius

Legend
Fun stuff - I didn't know a lot of that.

A question for the OP, or anyone who knows: Is that later full continental map from Gygax or was that a later TSR creation?
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Fun stuff - I didn't know a lot of that.

A question for the OP, or anyone who knows: Is that later full continental map from Gygax or was that a later TSR creation?
The map of the subcontinent Flanaess is Gygax himself in 1980, working with Darlene to adapt the earlier Castles & Crusades map.

The world map Oerth is TSR, in the 1996 Dragon Annual. Apparently Skip Williams is one of its designers, while its features derive from complex sources.
 

Mercurius

Legend
The map of the subcontinent Flanaess is Gygax himself in 1980, working with Darlene to adapt the earlier Castles & Crusades map.

The world map Oerth is TSR, in the 1996 Dragon Annual. Apparently Skip Williams is one of its designers, while its features derive from complex sources.
Yeah, that's what I thought. It seems similar to what happened with the Realms. I'd really love to see what Gygax envisioned for Greyhawk beyond the Flanaess, or what Greenwood's Realms look like beyond Faerun.

In both cases, I can't help but feel that the "real" Greyhawk or Realms is what Gygax and Greenwood imagined, respectively, and everything else is akin to fan fiction. Sort of like post-Roddenberry Star Trek or post-Lucas Star Wars. In all cases, something seems lost of the original flavor once it leaves the hands of the original creator. IMO, of course.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Oerth - West Oerik - Empire of Lynn - Yaarel 2022.png


Rumor has it. The content of a comic book in French is semi-official for the D&D World of Greyhawk. Hence, fantasy France is a region on planet Oerth. The author who writes the stories of the French comic is an associate of Gary Gygax. Apparently they agree, the fantasy world that the comic develops is a far-off region on the same planet that the City of Greyhawk is on.

The comic is Chroniques de la Lune Noire. Its English title is Black Moon Chronicles. The author is Froideval (François Marcela-Froideval). There are a few artists for it. It has a successful run spanning 1989 to 2008, with one of the spinoffs in 2017.

In my image above, the map on right is from the comic book itself, depicting the "Empire de Lhynn". The map on the left is my gestalt that combines the two official maps of West Oerik. Here it highlights the part of the continent of Oerik that corresponds the Lune Noire regional setting. Notice, the official D&D map includes elements from the storyline, including the Empire of Lynn (≈ Empire de Lhynn), the Elvanian Forest ( ≈ Forêt Elfique), even an adaptation Ishtarland ( ≈ Hishtarland). While not on this map, the French comic also describes places by name, like Erypt. As far as I know, the comic book map publishes in 2013, later than the 1996 Dragon Annual does. Yet, the earlier Dragon Annual incorporates the even earlier elements from the Lune Noire stories. There seems mutual collaboration between the official map of Oerth and the Lune Noire comic series.

Regarding the Lune Noire region, it is France. The peninsulas of the regions of Bretagne and Normandie, and the coastlines from Pays de la Loire to Aquitaine are evident. "Spain" to the south is minimal but note the "Pyrenees Mountains" that would border it. Empire de Lhynn is fantasy "France". Lhynn its capital is in "Aquitaine".

The official map from Dragon Annual 1996 is non-identical with the comic map but coheres much of it, and adds the rest of France. In my image below, the map on the right is reallife France, and on the left is how it squeezes into the continent of Oerik. The "France" of the Dragon Annual tucks in tight and adds an "English Channel" and what might be a mashup of the British Isles across it. The missing peninsula of Normandie relocates elsewhere to serve as several "Elven Lands" but now transforms into forest for this purpose. The Alpine region transitions into arid wilderness. Various locations, such as "Paris" and "Bordeaux", are all locatable for adventure.

Heh, the fantasy "France" is roughly the size of North America, but France is larger than life.

Yaarel 2022 - Oerth map overlay (1996 Dragon Annual, 2002 Chainmail Skirmish, 2005 Bouron map ...png
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Here is the full map of the Lune Noire regional setting, 2013.

Lune Noire 2013 - Empire de Lhynn.png




Here Lune Noire situates in the Dragon Annual 1996 map of Oerth. But note Gigantea (Gigantomorphes) and Orcs (Orques) relocate, and the coastline of Ishtarland (Hishtarland) is conflictive. The empire of "France" encompasses "Germany" and elsewhere, whence a Merovingian or Carolingian connotation.

Yaarel 2022 - (1996 Dragon Annual, 2002 Chainmail skirmish, 2011 Lune Noire) Lynn, Elvanian Fo...png
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
One expects Thalos to be a mashup of the "British Isles". The Dragon Annual places a "Channel" north of "France" and a large island across it.

Thalos is a triangle. The British Isles are also a triangle, but it needs to be narrower to match Thalos

There are several ways to do it, but possibly the fantasy version looks something like the following.

Yaarel 2022 - British Isles (SciLands De) Thalos.png



The British Mashup situates thus.

Yaarel 2022 - Oerth map overlay (1996 Dragon Annual 1) (2002 Chainmail skirmish) Thalos.png




And a closeup.


Yaarel 2022 - Oerth - Thalos.png
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Here I give an image of the Dragon Annual 1996 page that describes the map of planet Oerth. The brief one-page article, "Beyond the Flanaess", by Skip Williams, page 72, offers a thought about each name on the map, page 73. The tone of the article is mainly an unreliable narrator, whose comments are often uncertain and speculative about what exists beyond the subcontinent of Flanaess: "seems", "tales from", "if such a place exists", "fabled", "perhaps", "so Ive heard tell", "secrets even I have not fathomed", "reputedly", "unsure of the places real name", "its inhabitants remain unknown to me", and so on.

On the one hand, these descriptions about the planet are a Dragon magazine article that is only semi-official − and even it is conjectural. On the other hand, it is the about the only source for the rest of the planet beyond the subcontinent of Flanaess. The other sources are not even D&D, but rather a minis game and a comic book. Of course, there is much official information about Flanaess that Gygax articulates and that Living World of Greyhawk articulates. But the rest of the planet is unknown.

I mention this because describing fantasy versions of ethnicities is sensitive endeavor. The designers at WotC have the freedom to update and develop the planet Oerth according to the needs, aesthetics, and concerns of D&D players today.

Oerth - descriptions - Dragon Annual 1996 Skip Williams.png

Oerik 1996, Dragon Magazine Annual 1, two-page map - oerik-DA1-1024x779.png
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Yaarel 2022 - Oerth - Lune Noire Sites.png


Allowing for medievalesque spacial distortions and schematization, the above map locates places in the French comic series, Chroniques de la Lune Noire, whose setting spans West Oerik.

Remember how vast West Oerik is. Compare in East Oerik: Flanaess is the size of North America. The locations of the Lune Noire setting are far-flung.

The giants moreorless inhabit the Nordic forests, which feels appropriate enough. The elves of the Elvanian Forest (Forêt Elfique) are mainly French, relating to the fée (faie) of fate, oracles, and magic words. The dwarves of the east are in the mountains of Iran. I am unsure how dwarves relate to Iranian culture, but Iran has many volcanoes, corresponding the "Scorched" mountains. The dwarves of the south correspond the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain. Dwarves are significant in Spanish culture, and tend to be magical, even fey ethereal. The orcs inhabit in Slavic regions, including European Russia. I am unsure how Russians would interpret the concept of orcs living alongside them?

Below are the main map from the comic itself for comparison, plus two stylized maps from videogames based on the comic and in collaboration with its creators. The video games are "Black Moon Chronicles: Winds of War", and "World of Lhynn". These are the clearest images I could find from the games.

Lune Noire - Empire de Lhynn (L Empire de La Negation 2013).png


BMC Black Moon Chronicles videogame.jpg


BMC - World of Lynn videogame.jpg
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Heh, I am unsure that this book represents how Russian culture perceive orcs, but it is kinda funny. The English title is, The Last Ringbearer, by Kirill Eskov, but it hasnt yet translated from Russian.

"While readers of the Lord of the Rings were led to believe Mordor is an evil place, desolate and dedicated to the destruction of the world of men, The Last Ringbearer wants you to know the glorious world of Mordor was filled with engineers and artisans on the brink of a new industrial revolution, whose beauty was cut down in its prime by the imperialist pigs led by the Elves allied with the Elvish puppet Aragorn."

These Russian orcs view elves as bloodthirsty capitalists, hobbits as propaganda artists, and dwarves as deep state conspirators.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Yaarel 2022 - Oerth - Ships.png




FANTASY NORDICS AND FANTASY GREEKS

Note the two warships that decorate the Dragon Annual 1996 map of Oerth. The top right is a Norse langskip ("longship"), a kind of viking ship. The bottom left is a Greek trieres (τριήρης "three-rower", also called a "trireme" from Latin triremis "three-oar").

The langskip signifies fantasy Nordics. The trieres signifies the fantasy Greeks.



dra1[1].jpg


NORDICS

The langskip flourishes across Scandinavia in the Viking Period (800s-1000s CE) and the first century of the Post-Viking Period (1100s-1300s). Ship designs loosely relating to it are evident as early as the 200s and even upto today. There is a fluid continuum of different kinds of ships during the Viking Period that blend into each other. But the longer narrower ones tend to be used for war, because they are faster, while also able to transport many warriors. The ships can navigate both ocean and shallow river, and are surprisingly light to carry distances on land. The famous drakar ships, literally "dragons", are luxury versions of these longships, such as ornate prow carvings, suitable for a prominent family whence also a jarl. The Norse texts mention dragon head figures and similar that can be placed on the prow, to make the whole ship appear as if a slithering dragon, but these heads get removed before approaching land so as not to alarm the nature beings there that might attack the ship. What these figurative heads look like remain speculative.

The langskip that decorates the Dragon Annual map illustrates where the 1980 Darlene map of Flanaess has "Ice Barbarians" and "Snow Barbarians" to correspond the Norse communities in Greenland and has the "Frost Barbarians" to correspond the Norse communities in Newfoundland and elsewhere in Canada.

Fantasy versions of Nordics are part of the World of Greyhawk, including Norway, Saami, Iceland, Sweden, and Finland. I am proud that these Nordic heritages are part of D&D. Heh, I appreciate less when misrepresenting Nordic peoples as "barbarians". But that is a concern that D&D today realizes more sensitively. (The "Barbarians" of fantasy African Congo, and the "Savages" of fantasy Central America, are also likely to find more accurate updates in any future product.) Personally, I find the berserkar a fascinating element in Norse history. They are a small group, who the general Norse society fears. The berserkar repurpose the (typically feminine kinds of) shaman magic for (typically masculine) melee warfare.

The wintery Norse "Barbarians" of Flanaess inhabit fantasy North America, including Greenland. Apparently, these fantasy Norse peoples come from West Oerik, from Ravilla and Jotnumheim.

Ravilla looks like Normandie, but locates as Denmark, and its forests and size − and elves − are Sweden and Finland. Alfheimr is one of the names for a coastland in today Sweden. The land is between the border with Norway and the Swedish city of Göteborg (aka Gothenburg). In the Viking Period it is part of Norway, and also called Ránríki. Today it correlates with Båhus and the Swedish cultural province of Bohus-län. During the Viking and Post-Viking Periods, the region is known for its Pre-Viking aristocratic family that descends from Alfr the Elder, who are known for their alfar extreme goodlooks. Generally, alfar descendants are masters of every form of magic. It might be that the Norse concept of alfar originates from Alfheimr and spreads from there to elsewhere in Scandinavia. The alfar are the nature beings of the sunlight, of the solar corona, sunbeams, and even the solar reflections off of clouds and snow. The ambient daylight relating to Baldr is different kind of light. Moreover the alfar sunlight symantically encompasses success, sex, joy, fate, luck, and magic.

The 1996 Dragon Annual map calls this area Elven Lands while the Chainmail map calls it Ravilla. Ravilla is fantasy Sweden-Finland-Denmark, including Alfheimr along the coastline of the Swedish area. Fantasy Alfheimr is one of its Elven Lands, but not the only one, and would include elves, humans, and half-elves.

Jotnumheim, labeling as Gigantea, is mainly Norway but includes the Swedish side of the range mountains, with the Saami lands, plus the nearby lands of European Russia with Karjala and Kola.

Thus the Ice, Snow, and Frost communities in northern Flanaess come mainly from Jotnumheim-Gigantea, but also from Ravilla.



JOTNUMHEIM WITHIN GIGANTEA

The 1996 Dragon Annual map mentions the Jotnumheim Sea. This is also an appropriate name for the land that it borders.

Notice the informed difference between the Norse names: the traditional Jǫtun-heimr (literally "the jǫtunn realm") versus the neologism Jǫtnum-heim (with the dative case jǫtnum meaning something like, "the home among the jotnar").

Regarding Jotnumheim. I prefer the name Jotnumheim to represent the fantasy version of Norway because, while distinct from Jǫtunheimr, it is a meaningful Norse phrase and suitable for a Norse-esque location. (Maybe Russians are ok with their north being called Jotnumheim too, in a nod to Rus. This Russian "Jotnumheim" can include Russian animistic beings, such as Baba Yaga. Or perhaps a new name will specify Russia and Karjala areas.)

This land name "Gigantea" includes Jotnumheim but actually extends beyond upto parts of the northern coastland of fantasy France, where giants also inhabit. The Lune Noire setting refers to this wider sense of Gigantea by the French name, "the lands of the giant shapes" (Terres de Gigantomorphes). So, Jotnumheim is part of Gigantea but is specifically fantasy Norway-Russia, while Gigantea also includes other areas of giant populations as well, such as in the fantasy versions of France and Germany.

By the way, in the 1980 Darlene map of Flanaess, there is also a place called Jotun, that appears to correspond the wondrous rock formations that Arizona is famous for. These rocks are living beings, whence "jotun", albeit properly from a Flan perspective, corresponding the Indiginous American tribes there.



HYPERBORIA: THE ICE BRIDGE BETWEEN GIGANTEA AND NORTH POLE ISLAND

There is a significant conflict between the 1996 Dragon Annual map and the 2002 Chainmail Skirmish map. The Dragon map has Gigantea written across fantasy Norway-Russia. In the 2002 Chainmail map, there is no Gigantea, and where its land is is instead a few islands.

The conflictive representations probably derive from an alternative understanding of the wording by Skip Williams: "Hyperboria is my name for an icy continent whose interior holds Oerths north pole. A semipermanent bridge of ice connects the land to Oerik proper." Thus the change between the two maps seems to assume Gigantea to be as if this "bridge of ice". Then supposes, perhaps there are at least some islands below this ice.

The confusion arises because Hyperboria is called a "continent" despite the fact that it is actually a polar ice cap that is floating on the ocean water. There are some islands here and there under the ice, but most of it ocean. That the continent is itself the "bridge of ice" doesnt occur to some readers. Glaciers cover the entirety of Hyperboria, and what is land or water below is often nonobvious. Humans inhabit it, and the vast area gets counted among the continents.

In any case, there is a more useful way to reconcile any conflicts between the two maps. The 1996 Dragon Annual map is correct.

This Gigantea, relating to the Jotnumheim of fantasy Norway-Russia, is a geological terrain of rock, especially its steep mountain range that continues the vast continental mountain range across the supercontinent of Oerik. It is easy to handwaive the conflicting coastlines in the Chainmail map because both maps are representing fjords. Indeed, Norway has hundreds of thousands of islands while the ocean itself weaves in-and-out the convoluted fjords deep into the mountainous interior of Norway. To represent the coastland of Norway as either a simple coastline or a group of islands is equally a stylistic oversimplification.

Moreover, the Chainmail map drastically oversimplifies. For example, despite the Seameast being a vast "primeval forest", probably a dense equatorial jungle, it appears on Chainmail as if a barren desert because the minis game is uninterested in carefully representing it.

There is also a more careful way understand the descriptions here of the continent of Hyperboria. Notice on the 1996 Dragon Annual map, an island peeks down from the northern edge. This island is the "interior" land of the continent of Hyperboria, where the north pole is. I here name it, North Pole Island. This location is the north pole of planet Oerth. At this location, one sees the stars spin like wheel, rather than rise and set. North Pole Island is one of the islands underneath the Hyperborian ice cap.

The continent of Hyperboria is mainly an ice cap that is floating on the polar ocean. This polar ocean is the Dramidj Ocean. Part of this ocean is ice-free north of Flanaess, but most of it is under the ice cap. Therefore, the "icy continent" of Hyperboria (being mainly made out of ice) and the Dramidj Ocean underneath it, are roughly the same place on a map.

In other words, almost the entire continent of Hyperboria is the "semipermanent bridge of ice" that connects the "interior" "land", namely North Pole Island, to the supercontinent of Oerik, namely Gigantea.

The reference to "Oerik proper" relates to part of the mountains of Gigantea being covered by the icy continent. Thus it is ambiguous whether this overlap is part of Oerik which is the continent of rock or else is part of Hyperboria which is the continent of ice. The rock part is the "proper" part of Oerik.

In sum, we have fantasy Norway-Russia as the Jotnumheim, which is a region within Gigantea. The Jotnumheim Sea gets its name from the land. The floating icecap of Hyperboria is itself the ice bridge that includes the treacherous path between Gigantea and North Pole Island.



JOTNAR

The jotnar nature beings normally coexist alongside humans. Note, the Nordic nature beings are the actual objects of nature, like a mountain or a river. These objects of nature have minds, in the same way that the physical bodies of humans do. If the mind of this natural object manifests in a human form, it is usually human-size. In Norse folkbelief, certain jotnar, such as the mind of a mountain, can manifest in the form of a human that is as tall as a mountain, whence some jotnar really are "giants". But most jotnar are normal human sizes. Similarly, in Finnish folkbelief, any humanlike manifestation of a nature feature is normally a humanlike size.

English-speakers tend to have difficulty representing Nordic folkbeliefs accurately because of its historically Christian cosmology. For example, for Finnish folkbelief, a Christian during the 1500s (a Lutheran bishop) describes Finland as if having "gods" and as if polytheistic. Even since the 1700s, scholars are already clarifying that these nature beings are more like "guardian spirits", and are nondivine. And even the term "spirits" feels somewhat misleading because the nature beings are often solid objects, like rock formations and water bodies. It is more accurate to think of these apparitions of nature as mental projections out from these objects of nature. A mountain has a mind and can project its mind elsewhere in the form of a human. Despite the academic awareness that these folkbeliefs are animistic, rather than polytheistic, English-speakers often use the confusing terms "gods" and "spirits".

In any case, for D&D, a jotnar family of natural features can have a family member who manifests as Huge (or Large or Gargantuan), even when most family members do so as Medium.

Some jotnar have minds that are powerful enough to manifest as a human of flesh-and-blood indefinitely, and can intermarry and have children with humans. The offspring are mainly human but also inherit the magical aspects of their nature being parentage.

Nordic peoples share interesting cultural heritages, and the planet Oerth that is the D&D World of Greyhawk and Blackmoor has several locations to explore the fantasy versions of the Nordics.



400s Greece - Athens - Trieres (L triremis, E trireme ship).png



GREEKS

The 1996 Dragon Annual uses a langskip warship to illustrate the presence of Nordics. Likewise, it uses a trieres warship to illustrate the presence of Greeks. Fantasy versions of Greek-speaking peoples are part of planet Oerth, as well as fantasy versions of the many peoples near-and-far who adopt their Hellenistic cultural crosspollinations.

Like most warships, the trieres is built for speed and transport of warriors. The Greek name tri-eres means "three rowers" and refers to the three tiers of rowers that can paddle in the same location without their oars interfering with each other. The later Latin name triremis, whence English trireme, is a loan translation, where tri-remus means "three oars" in Latin. The trieres is a ramming ship, whose prow has a bronze-plated ram to destroy other ships. This ship design especially flourishes around the 400s BCE, in the context of Athens and other seafaring city-states.

The Ancient Greeks, of course, are mainly polytheistic. The popculture understanding of Ancient Greek spirituality is fair enough. Perhaps the existential experience of polytheism is worth nuance, where local traditional ceremonies are vital, but systematic theology is irrelevant. Perhaps the fact that the dryad (Greek druas) is a god is worth mention, a tree god who controls a local place and receives worship and offerings, and sometimes priests to serve her and her holyplace. (Thus for D&D, this region might have its dryads be Celestial rather than Fey.) The Post-Classical, Medieval, and Modern Greeks are mainly monotheistic, and proud of their originally Greek New Testament that, in some sense, sanctifies the language. This part of the world tends to be deeply theistic.

On the Dragon map, the location of the trieres warship is in the Gulf of Ishtar that adjoins Ishtarland. The Greeks are one of the coastlands (whether mainland or island) of this Gulf of Ishtar region. More on the location of fantasy Greece below.



IRAQ

Ishtar is a city, and Ishtarland is the many lands that are under its governmental hegemony. The identity of Istharland is complex involving the peoples of many lands, but the city of Ishtar itself is in fantasy Iraq, the land of "at least two great rivers", namely versions of the Euphrates and the Tigris. Today Iraq is famously an arid flatland, but it includes the highly fertile areas "watered by southern storms" and especially the rivers that descend from the surrounding mountainous lands.) The name, "Ishtar", is a prominent god of Babylon, a city in Ancient Iraq.



CYPRUS

Note, there is a conflict between 1996 Dragon Annual map and the Lune Noire comic map that details this part of Oerth. In the Lune Noire map, Histarland labels an island. But in the Dragon map, Ishtarland labels a sizable area on the mainland of West Oerik, while this particular island is said be part of the Tarquish Empire instead. The city of Ishtar is on the continent, and the city of Tarque is on its own island of Tarquish. The two cities rival each other for control of the coastlands of this island and other coastlands: "The city of Ishtar vies with Tarquish for the control of coastal trade." In the Lune Noire map, Ishtar currently controls the island in question, while in the Dragon map, Tarque controls this island. In my map above in this post, this particular island is the one between Tarque and Isthar. Realistically, Tarque has cities that serve as its ports on one side of this island, while Ishtar has cities as ports on the other side of this island. Thus, the island in question is under the hegemonies of both Tarque and Ishtar. Thus both maps are correct.

If this island includes both Greek ports and Phoenician ports, then it is probably fantasy Cyrpus.



ITALY

The identity of Tarque is known. The island of Tarquish is fantasy Italy, and its city of Tarque is fantasy Rome. The French comic series Chroniques de la Lune Noire is mainly about the places in fantasy France, especially the city of Lhynn (near fantasy Bordeaux). But it occasionally describes events in Tharque. The comic artwork is high quality, even fine art. My impression of this wider region is something like a blend of Italian Renaissance paintings about ancient Greece and Marvel comic superheroes about Mount Olympus. The architecture of Tarque is vaulting Classical Roman monumental style, and its clothing is an eclectic anachronism of Greek muscular-shaped esthetic armor, medieval Holy Roman crowns, and aristocratic robes and capes. The term Greco-Roman applies. It is Rome, but emphasizes its ancient-to-modern fascination with Greece.

The presence of the Greek trieres warship in the Gulf of Ishtar relates to fantasy versions of the western and northern coastlands of the Mediterranean Sea, including places like Greece, Italy, and Spain. However the eastern and southern coastlands of the Mediterranean Sea are elsewhere on planet Oerth, contiguous with Erypt on the Celestial Sea, that relates to fantasy versions of places like Israel, Egypt, and Morocco.



LEBANON AND TUNIS

Ishtar feels like an anachronic blend of ancient Babylon and Islamic Bagdad. It is a landlocked place, but accesses the ocean via its rivers, and is a destination of globally prominent traderoutes by land and sea. The two rivers reach the open waters near fantasy Kuwait.

Yet Ishtarland perplexes. The rivalry between Tharquish and Ishtarland connotes the rivalry between ancient Greeks and Phoenicians. It especially connotes the rivalry between Rome and Carthage. Carthage is a Phoenician port on the Tunis coastland. So, while Ishtar is fantasy Iraq, the ships of Ishtarland are fantasy Phoencia. The fantasy connection between the two cultures is something like a medieval atavism of the Babylonian Empire.

Phoenicia is the Greek exonym for Lebanon. In ancient times, the prominent coastal cities are Tyre and Sidon, but in modern times, the prominent coastal city is Beirut. Both Lebanon and Israel are the land of Canaan. Lebanon is Northern Canaan, and Israel is Southern Canaan. The languages of Phoenician and Hebrew are mostly mutually intelligible.

Nevertheless, in the ways of Oerth mashups, fantasy Lebanon is in the Gulf of Ishtar as part of Ishtarland, while fantasy Israel is in the Celestial Sea east of Erypt. Fantasy Tunis is also in the Celestial Sea, whose coast is clearly visible west of Erypt. The continental area of Ishtarland, comprises fantasy Lebanon and Kuwait on its Gulf of Ishtar coastline. Fantasy Iraq is farther inland.

In the context of Ishtarland, the "Ishtar" of Lebanon is Ashtart, a Canaanite god relating to Babylonian Ishtar. Even for fantasy versions of Lebanese Christians and Muslims, Ashtart is part of the Lebanese cultural heritage. So, the seafaring culture of Ishtarland is more about Ashtart, even tho Ishtar itself is more about Ishtar.



SPAIN AND PORTUGAL ... AND TARTESSOS AND ATLANTIS

Fantasy Spain is between the fantasies of France and Italy. On the Dragon map, it is the peninsula between Lhynn and Tarquish. The map labels Spain as the "Tarquis Dominions". References to dominions, marches, empires, and so on, are fairly useless for gaming purposes because they name the ethnicity of the dominator but say nothing about the ethnicities who are there being dominated. At least here, we know these dominions correspond fantasy Spain and Portugal, which is at times a part of the Roman Empire and today part of the EU.

Spain is one of the ancient Mediterranean coastlands that includes both Greek and Phoenician port cities. In this context, it is worth mentioning ancient Tartessos in today Andalusia, Spain. It is a harbor city on the Atlantic coast of Spain, on the mouth the Guadalquivir River. It has hegemony over much of mainland region. Archeology tends to identify Tartessos with Tarshish of Phoenician and Israeli traditions. It is also probably one of the inspirations for the fictional fable of Atlantis, by Plato, his allegory about a tragic utopia. Tartessos is especially valuable because its traderoutes funneled tin, to alloy copper into the vital bronze of the Bronze Age. It continues to flourish during the Iron Age. The location of Tartessos beyond the Mediterranean Sea enjoys semi-mythical status, and its name Tarshish is synonymous with seaworthy ships generally.

On Oerth, fantasy Spain and Portugal is exactly the geography of the reallife Iberian Peninsula, except that its eastern coastlands, including places like Valencia, are instead adjoining lands contiguous with Iraq, including Phoenician Lebanon. Probably one of the nearby islands "holds" the flavors of the fantasy Spanish eastern coastal cities.



GREECE

Fantasy Greece lacks identification on the map, but it appears to be one of the islands of the Tarquish Empire. As part of a network of many islands, it works out as an island for Athens, and island for Sparta, and similar. In this significant context, the "nesia" of many islands (Greek nesos, "island") likewise includes coastlands such Istanbul aka Constantinopolis in Byzantium, as well as the coastlands of Turkey, such as Ephasis. During the Classical Age, all of these locations are Greek-speaking ethnicities.



WEST OERIK COMPRISES THE SUBCONTINENTS OF GONDURIA AND AQUARIA

In sum, the subcontinent of Aquaria has the fantasy Nordics in Jotnumheim-Gigantea and Ravilla Elven Lands. The subcontinent of Gonduria has the fantasy Greeks alongside Rome and Phoenicia. The langskip relates to the Nordics. The trieres relates to the Greeks.

The name Gonduria doesnt occur on the 1996 Dragon Annual map. But Gygax mentions it in passing in one of his novels, Dance of Demons. In the book, the demon Tharizdun chases the heroes across the planet: "from the distant south, through the Moving islands, up and across Gonduria’s vast continent, and thence across the Agitoric Ocean to western Oerik’s shore." This sentence is tricky to reconcile with the Dragon map. The map is the entirety of the planet Oerth. Note both sides of Antaria (fantasy Australia) on both west and east edges of the map. There is nowhere else that a "vast continent" can be. Wherever Gonduria is, the map depicts it plainly.

The solution is, the continent of Gonduria is a subcontinent. Gonduria is the southern part of West Oerik. But the northern part of West Oerik is Aquaria. Compare how the reallife supercontinent of Eurasia counts both Europe and Asia as separate continents, despite the arbitrariness of the Ural Mountains officially dividing the two.

Thus, the sentence by Gygax tersely describes the heroes traveling the distant southern hemisphere of planet Oerth. The heroes pass thru the "Moving Islands" that I interpret to mean the icebergs from Polaria floating across the open waters of the Storms Ocean. From there they reach the Solnor Titanicum Ocean. East Oerik calls this ocean Solnor, possibly in Flannish (corresponding one of the languages of Indigenous America), but West Oerik calls the same ocean Titanticum, namely the Latin language of Tharquish. The heroes hug the vast coastline of Gonduria, specifically along the Gulf of Ishtar. But after passing Tharquish which is still part of Gonduria, they head due north in the open waters of the Solnor Titanicum. They reach the Agitoric Ocean, whence they sail westward, and finally land on the shores that are on or near Ravilla. Note Gonduria is part of West Oerik, but the heroes land on a part of West Oerik that isnt Gonduria. Namely, the heroes land on the northern shores of the subcontinent of Aquaria.

The name Aquaria relates to the Frank Mentzer campaign, since 1976. Aqua-Oerdians dwell there, who relate to the early history of Flanaess in the World of Greyhawk. Aquaria is a continent that is 5000 miles due east from Flanaess. 3000 miles is width of the Solnor Titanicum, thus 2000 miles is the Agitoric, then finally reaching the northern shores of Aquaria, which is thus a subcontinent of West Oerik.

All of the obscure information that is available about the rest of planet Oerth reconcile. The disparate details piece together a reasonable picture of what this planet looks like.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
In 2000, the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer sketches a map of planet Oerth. It is a small inset within a larger map. Here is a closeup of it. It is official for the setting, but low resolution, blurry, and murky. The shadowing makes parts of Hepmonaland and Gigantea seem missing. Several islands are missing. Fireland relocates a difficult distance relative to the size of the planet.

Oerth - 2000 living_greyhawk_gazetteer_inset_map.png




I overlay the Dragon Annual map and adjust the Gazetteer map to match it. Together they give a clear sense of the size and shape of the planet.

Yaarel 2022 - Oerth (1996 Dragon Annual, 2000 Gazette).png
 

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