What do you think of when you think of history? History are the events that shape the current world. Ancient Rome brought Roman civilization and roads to the northern regions of Europe; the search for a western route to India lead to the discovery of North America. These are all historic events that shaped the world in which we live today. What about your fantasy worlds? What events shaped them?
The question I have always asked, “Why are historic events a thousand years ago or more?” Events such as, the great wizard was defeated nearly two thousand years ago or the kobold hoards swept across the kingdom a thousand years ago often amaze me. Where was the Earth a thousand years ago? Vikings landed in Newfoundland, Canada about a thousand years ago. The printing press was invented about a thousand years ago. Own world has gone from the printing press to the internet in a thousand years. We’ve gone from carts traveling for months on poor roads through thick forests to flying half way around the world in less than a day. If we’ve made such progress in a thousand years then why are our fantasy worlds locked in time? After the kobold hoards were defeated the kingdom returned to normal and nothing else happened. That may be fantasy, but it is not realistic. At least not to me.
When I decided to create the history of Aulea I didn’t want events from a thousand years ago affecting the character’s lives. The Empire of Aulea was founded about a thousand years ago but since then, the Empire has fallen and individual nations have sprung forth from the remains. Some nations still hold on to their Aulean roots (Orithia) while others could not be free of them fast enough (the Draewaneian Empire). Wars, invasions, strong and weak leaders have shaped the nations in a thousand years. While my timeline mentions events before the Aulean Empire, these are for me to know rather than the characters. Many of my events are localized to one nation or between two nations. While The Northern Wars actually effected four different regions while three others did what they could to avoid becoming involved in the south the assassination of a weak Emperor in the Draewaneian was not even acknowledged beyond their borders.
To begin with I once again turned to the World Builder’s Guidebook and reviewed what is written there. The Guidebook divides history into three distinct ages, the ancient, middle and recent ages. The book suggests random rolls to determine the number of events per age as well as the time period between those events. I was going to determine the time period of the event, but I decided to randomize how many events would happen for each age. Ancient Age events were localized to Aulea for the most part. Nation specific events were added as needed, such as rebellion between the original settlers of a region and the Aulea settlers. It is not until the middle Age that nation-specific events fill the timeline. When I was done rolling I found that I had to now create over 150 unique events. As I did I made the event bold on the spreadsheet to ensure that I saw it was finished.
I created a spreadsheet where I listed the three different ages, the year of the event, the event itself and the finally the nation most affected by the event. This allows me to filter the nations to get a nation-specific list of historic events. Above is the work in progress of my Orithian timeline. The first step is to select the one event that marks the start of the current calendar. For me this is the founding of the Aulea Empire (which appears on the Aulea timeline). This event is marked as year one. As you can see above the Aulea Empire falls 496 years later after what appears to be a 4 year revolution. Right now, there are no additional details. It then takes 40 years for the former southern province of Orithia to organize and become then Kingdom of Orithia.
Amongst the events you can see some that are not bold yet. These are the random events that were determined using the Guidebook. As I rolled them I decided to keep them in order. So shortly after the kingdom’s founding there is an invasion by a neighbouring nation following by a technological discovery. I’m not talking computers, but it could be the discovery of a method of making steel or maybe the discovery of the long bow. Technology means a small leap forward in the tools or weapons they use. The discovery is probably somehow linked to the invasion as the invaders would have brought their equipment into Orithia and left it behind afterwards.
I’ve built this timeline for all of the nations on my map and as I need it I’m going to fill out the details. I’ll get the pre-history in place (which will affect much of the area around the sea) as I image that at it’s peak the Aulean Empire encircled the sea much like Roman had spread during it’s peak. Only build what you need for your first stories as there is little point to build more right now. As the stories expand the world you can expand your world to fit the stories.
I’m going to return to my timeline but next time we’re going to talk about building a legend out of a historical event.
Do you have a timeline for your world? Would you every create one? How far back does it go? Do you have events for all of your nations? How do you track your timeline?
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