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The continent of Ertset is known for tall granite spires in the north with plains and lowland forests in the south. The Ertsetans are all centauroid, based on hoofed creatures, with the northern unicorn kingdom of Rinnock laying claim to a wide span of territory. The duchies don't mind sending taxes north for protection, but the border of the kingdom is hard to define and Meracchia has also claimed a lot of the same land. The magic-heavy ruins of Tenjō are in this contested area.


Those are in the right general area. "Species" is too technical, though (the Zemrin encompass a whole range of apparent "species", and the scientific meaning of the word doesn't match either), and "kind" is too vague. I'll keep looking, but my thought for now is that I might not even need a word for it. There are nationalities and upbringings and cultures, and there are physiologies and inborn traits, and those are two totally separate things.

What is a "fantasy race", anyway? A lot of settings with animal-folk make them match species, but that's not how Delyria works.

I used to have a list of dozens of them, all based on mythical creatures I liked, and it grew into the dozens before I realized that I could group them back together into something more coherent while keeping all that diversity inside each one. But I never liked the term "race". It's imprecise and calls back the wrong parts of human history. What to use instead?

It's impossible to capture the people of the continent of Zem in a single picture. The reptilian Zemrin are not just Delyria's most populous group, but also the most diverse, consisting not only of a wide range of lizards, snakes, turtles, and dragons but the aquatic Vanagantans, the avian Xeraphandi, the dinosaurian Tximisti, and possibly others. There are more kinds of Zemrin alone than other worlds have kinds of people, so here's just one of the many.

The music of Cirque du Soleil is a good example of something in the same ballpark. Sometimes the lyrics are in a recognizable language, sometimes they're (probably) meaningless nonsense, and they draw from musical traditions from all kinds of times and places.

Also, there are Cirque songs that would absolutely belong on an RPG soundtrack, and "fantasy RPG" is what Delyria keeps trying to become. The problem, of course, is that is a very very wide space of possibility.

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The motto I used to hold myself to is that Delyria should feel foreign but not alien. I'm not trying to create an entire planet like so many other worldbuilding projects are, with a fully fleshed-out and original ecosystem and a whole conlang for people to speak and so on. There's a place for projects like that, and I have a deep admiration for them, but ... again, it's not what I'm doing here.

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That zodiac is a good example of the Delyria world-building ethos at work. It's obviously a copy of the standard Western one, but with extra stuff added to it. "Real worldbuilding", in my mind, would be to generate an entirely original set of constellations and give them all deep lore and associations, but that isn't what I'm going for. I don't know what I'd call what I'm doing; it's not out of laziness, but a desire to stay halfway familiar and halfway weird.

Obviously there's a lot more going on here. That's a 21-sign zodiac in the bottom right, and it might be fun to try to guess what the new signs are. The diagram with the black lines is a Fano plane, a neat mathematical construction that ties the numbers 3 and 7 together elegantly. So what might the sword, wand, and other symbols mean?

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A page full of colorful notes. Delyria's magic is heavily based on color, revolving around an energy called "chroma" that is present in all kinds of things and can be controlled to make magic happen (I'll explain how later). Roughly they correspond like this:
Red - fire and explosions
Orange - earth, metal, sand
Yellow - light, lightning, and sound
Green - life and death
Blue - wind, water, ice
Purple - time, space, and dimension
Silver - thought, emotion, other abstract things

The one surviving character from the first ideas for Delyria is Professor Vassa Naganti, because who am I to deny the appeal of multi-armed snake people? This is reflected in her status in-world as a very old woman who never wants to retire. She's in her 90s and still kicking, and still teaching generations of students at Featherglass how to properly wield magical powers over life and transformation.

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Delyria is a much bigger and longer-lived project than Elseways, though actually not by much. Delyria got its name in 1997 as a variant of "Illyria", the setting of Twelfth Night, because Shakespeare felt about right as a historical timeline landmark. So did the Tarot deck, which initially gave it a very Renaissance Europe feel. Over time, though, it grew to encompass more cultures and eras, all seen through the lens of magic and mythical creatures.

Let's kick this off with kind of a crossover. Here's Blit's newly updated shape in color, showing off that he's still got some hologram-related abilities. He's always liked to juggle little sets of shapes, and the seven magic symbols from Delyria make a good set; they're explicitly based on card suits (the usual 4 plus sun, moon, and star) combined with elements I'll explain later. There used to be more, but I've been working the kinks out of this for years now and I finally like it.


I think I looked that up once and it has something to do with fitting perfectly into the pocket of a sport coat. It's a stretch, but I could see it.

And with that I'm calling this story done. I had no idea going in it would take this long, and there's a lot I'd go back and edit (because I was just drawing this day to day with only vague plans), but it's over and my attention is going to turn to Delyria for a while.

🧬 That's about the end of it, I think. I got my body-crafting studio back, and Blythaniel "Blit" Bitkin there was my first customer. We went with a look halfway between his old and new forms. He's a part-time defender of the city and needs to look the part, though it's a city that can speak for itself now and that we know is going to look out for us.
⊷ So what is he? Organic? A hologram? A wizard? Some kind of physical math spirit?
🧬 It doesn't matter. This is Elseways. Here, you're just you.

There are some consistent ground rules:
• Non-magical technology is capped at 18th-century Earth level outside very special cases.
• There are no humans (or fantasy side-cases like elves or orcs) by default. Human-looking hybrids are possible but rare, and even then it's never a 100% resemblance.
• Magic is driven by otherworldly beings and, despite how everyone treats it, is not an exact science. There is -always- room for weird results when magic is involved.
• There are always more secrets.

This "national park" thing feels about right for a Delyria-related-post emoji. There's a whole lot of wilderness there.
There's a question I still struggle to answer, though: what -is- Delyria, fundamentally? It's a big collection of ideas that all add up to a fictional place, but why? To what extent are these RPG rules actually part of the setting? Are people supposed to be able to play this, or is a computer meant to keep track of details, or is it just a world-building exercise?

Felt like more exploratory Delyria sketching. Here's another attempt at figuring out how Meracchians look. Her two heads aren't entirely separate; they're joined just behind the cheek, giving her only single pairs of ears and horns. I think it's a decent compromise.
Meracchia is home to a school of magic that emphasizes practical applications over theory, which makes it a good place to study medicine. This woman is one of their instructors.

⥣ Good evening, Blythaniel … is your surname still Bitkin?
⎈ I don't know if it should be. I'd like to be one again, at least.
🧬 We can work on that later. But since I'm leaving the Corps, there's an opening.
⎈ You want me in the Corps?
⥣ You know more about the Empire than almost anyone in the city. We could use your expertise.
🧬 If you've got this new responsibility, you may as well get the badge that goes with it.
⎈ But I still work here.
🧬 _And_ the body.
⎈ …Part-time consultant, then?

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