Hello fantasy lovers! I am so excited to share something special with you. Recently, I decided to add three maps of the Upper, Middle, and Lower Realm to the front of my paperback book. I had originally wanted to work this idea into my hardcover as a special insert, but when I heard I could do it for the paperback, I just had to jump in. I have been absolutely swamped with exams and exam studying for the past week or so (which is part of why I missed last Saturday’s post). My amazing boyfriend offered to take over the mapmaking process for me to relieve some of my stress. And boy, am I glad he did! He took my ideas and my mockup map from over two years ago and created something truly spectacular with them. He spent hours working with Inkarnate’s map-making software. I hope you all love them as much as I do!
Summary: The mortal Middle Realm has its high and low points. The atmosphere isn’t quite as spectacular and awe-inspiring as the Upper Realm, but it has its own unique modest beauty. This beauty can be found particularly on the coast and in the farmland. Cities, however, tend to be tiny and thick with people. They end up with high rise gray buildings with stacks upon stacks of apartments. Food is bought in small city marketplaces that hide under smoke and dimness. The richest people leave outside the cities in manors where musicians like Grace and her mom travel to to play. The outskirts and the poorest towns are filled with peasants and farmers who are just trying to survive. Some areas are facing extreme poverty and famine.
Flag: Deep purple flag with a circle of thirty white stars in the center.
Potency of Magic: 1/10
Main Exports: Copper, Mineral Resources, Salt, Farm Animals
Government: The Middle Realm government is a farce. It is a parliamentary government overseen by a puppet prime minister appointed by the Upper Realm. Speculation says he could be Fae himself. Each town and city elects two representatives to the main body of government which congregates in Clinton nine out of the twelve months in a year (30 places, 60 representatives total).
Lisden: Lisden has never been a city of glamour. The people do their best to make it one, but they have never had the means to be more than what they are: a factory city. The streets are filled with thick, pale grey smoke from dawn to dusk with little reprieve. The only spots to get away are high above the city. The factory whistles blow at 7 am sharp every morning although the smoke starts earlier. It’s that stand out sound that wakes you up in the morning and reminds you to get going. Lisden’s buildings are varied. You’ve got your silver skyscrapers that house the richest among the people as well as the most lucrative businesses. But most of the buildings in the city are brick and stocky and old. Doesn’t matter whether they house a factory or an apartment complex; they’re just old. The whole city is also crawling with tight alleyways. They’re really kinda sketchy. But they work very well when needed for discreet matters, especially for matters concerning the black market. Grace’s hometown.
Bay Point: Bay Point is an ocean city closest to the border. Leo used to spend time stationed there. With its proximity to the Upper Realm, it is a frequent center of black market smuggling from the Fae side. It’s a fairly quiet town. Most of the jobs are based down by the docks in fishing, canning, and trading by ship. Because of this, during most of the day, the town appears like it sleeps all day. Cobblestone streets wind through aimlessly around small cottage-like buildings. The city centers around a series of fountains, located at different circles throughout the land. The beach lays at the bottom of a hill that cacades outside the city down to the water.
Lorraine: Lorraine is the town on the Middle Realm/Lower Realm border. It’s a very dusty town, reminds me of a ghost town. It can really only be considered a town due to its size, not its activity level. Lorraine is a mining town, and most of its citizens spend their time in the home or underground. When night passes over Lorraine, the air is very still and the buildings are very silent. The people seem forlorn and almost forgotten even as they move through their daily lives.
Upper Realm/Middle Realm border: The border wall seems only as tall as the largest skyscraper in the Middle Realm, but there’s a visible shimmering force field that fills in the space from the top of the wall up to the sky. The border is heavily guarded every day on the Middle Realm side by Fae soldiers. Nothing goes in or gets out without their say-so.
Middle Realm/Lower Realm border: The border wall looms large, a mass of solid rock that extends to the sky as far as the eye can see. The dark grey rock is jagged and rough with no easily viewable gaps or holes in which to pass through to the other side.
There are two major political alliances in the Upper Realm: the Alliance of the Rose and the Alliance of the Lily. Within these alliances, trade flows relatively smoothly, and each lorddom comes to each other’s aid when called in case of war or extreme conflict. While trade does occur outside of alliances, it is limited in scope.
Alliance of the Rose:
- House of the Day
- House of the Sun
- House of Light
- House of Water
- House of Earth
- House of Peace
Alliance of the Lily:
- House of the Evening
- House of the Moon
- House of Darkness
- House of Wind
- House of Fire
- House of War (note: The House of War does operate primarily independently from the other Houses. However, when it does trade, it is with these Houses and there are legends of past administrations coming to the Alliance of the Lily’s aid. Although that hasn’t occurred in generations)
When I started working on this world, I knew I wanted to understand how trade flowed between lorddoms and between realms. So I did something a little crazy. I wrote down a multitude of crops, magical items, and other goods that might come up at some point in the story. I made an intense trading list of who produced what, who was importing it, and which producers were exporting. Although it sounds complicated, it actually reads well. It allowed me to summarize a lorddom’s best crops and exports in a separate document which then would be used to understand the individual cultures of the Twelves Houses.
Take a look of this overview of key items!
Magical items/artifacts: Produced by the most magically potent areas of the Upper Realm. Imported by the House of Fire, the House of Earth, and the House of the War. Few items present on the black market of the Middle Realm.
Amulets: Usually produced in areas with gemstone mines. Half of the houses produce, and the other half important. Items present on the black market of the Middle Realm.
Protective charms: Produced by the House of the Moon, House of Light, House of Peace, House of War, and House of Fire. Imported by the remaining houses. Few items present on the black market of the Middle Realm.
Clothing and Materials: Cotton, cotton fabric, and cotton clothing can be found across all twelve Houses as well as the Middle Realm. Silk is only produced by the House of Peace and the House of the Moon and is very expensive, reserved for the upper echelon.
Wheat: A main staple of a Three Realms diet. The only House that does not have the acreage to produce their own wheat crops is the House of Darkness. They have no choice but to import. This puts a great strain on their economy and their people.
Fruit: Most fruit is produced in the House of the Day and the House of the Sun. Their climates and geography are best suited for growing fruit, hence the bountiful harvests often showcased at local markets. These fruits drive their economies: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, and tomatoes. The House of Fire also produces a decent amount of fruit, from plums, to oranges, and peaches.
Vegetables: Another staple of the Upper Realm diet are potatoes, produced mainly in the northern half of the realm. Other vegetables such as peas, carrots, and corn can be primarily found in the House of the Sun and the House of Earth.
Furs: The best winter furs are found in the mountain regions: the House of the Evening, the House of the Moon, and the House of the Wind.
Coal and Oil: Possessed by the House of Earth, the House of Fire, and the House of War as well as select regions of the Middle Realm.
Salt: Salt is a key resource to a society thriving. Yet only two of the Upper Realm Houses (House of Wind and House of Water) have access to a consistent salt mine. This is where the Middle Realm comes in. Not only do they have a multitude of salt mines, but they have enough to supply their people and the Upper Realm on their own. This is what keeps the trade relationship between the Upper Realm and the Middle Realm alive.
I hope you found this as interesting as I do! Let me know in the comments below what you think!
Note: This is, of course, still a work in progress especially because I’m not as well versed in politics and economics as I would ideally be. I’m always open to hearing constructive criticism on my worldbuilding!
When you’re worldbuilding, creating a map for your world can be helpful in seeing how kingdoms, cities, and towns fit together. Especially if your novel involves some sort of journey, a map can show you the logical paths to take to your characters’ destinations. A map adds an element of reality to your world and will absolutely make you feel like you’re getting somewhere.
Now, you can get into all types of mapmaking software that will allow you to customize every detail to your desire. But why get into spending money and learning how a software works with complicated instruction manuals that will take you at least a few days to learn the basics? My recommendation is getting a pen and paper or if you prefer, opening up a PowerPoint document and going to town.
Step 1: Understand the regions of your world.
Before you start mapping your universe, you need to understand how the world is broken up. Do you have multiple realms that you need to take into account? How many kingdoms or states do you have? How are those divided up: cities, towns, villages? You also want to make note of main geographical features that may divide up your land as well. Mountains, rivers, and forests can divide land or encircle it in such ways that can be important notes in your book. Go back to your notes from my Worldbuilding Questions series for help.
Step 2: Decide how to represent each place.
If you’re a fantastic artist who can draw beautiful buildings and detailed trees and mountain sides, you can skip over this section. If you’re like me and can’t really draw to save your life, you’re going to want to come up with some simple icons to represent your regions whether you’re drawing by hand or creating by computer. In terms of my PowerPoint, I used clipart of small houses to represent villages, a town hall to represent towns, and a group of skyscrapers to represent cities. Triangles became mountains, and blue lines became rivers. Make sure you write down your key so you’ll know what your icons stand for when you go back to edit your manuscript six months later.
Step 3: Create.
Once you’ve got all the logistical brainstorming out of the way, it’s time to create! Plan on spending at least an hour or two on your map even if you’re working with simple icons. This is a real opportunity to ground yourself in your world before you write your story. Really enjoy the process of creating your map. It’s fun!
Examples: The Three Realms
Grace Andrea Richardson
Hometown: Lisden, Middle Realm
Physical appearance: Brown hair, blue eyes, pale skin, average height, slim and athletic build
Objective: Find out how and why her brother died
Grace has had a rough year. Her older brother, Leo Richardson, who has always been her best friend and only rock was suddenly killed in a mysterious accident in the Upper Realm. When the Fae didn’t step up to assist with a military burial, Grace and her mother, Amelia Richardson, drove themselves nearly into debt to give Leo a funeral he deserved. Grace has been the main provider for the family since then, using her impressive talent for the violin to dazzle and astound the upper classes.
When she’s not performing, Grace has been preparing to take matters into her own hands, sneaking into the Upper Realm. Bold, brave, and stubborn as hell, Grace has spent countless hours sparring, training, building up her pain tolerance, and collecting supplies from both the Middle Realm and the Upper Realm off of the black market. Now, all she has to do is wait for the perfect moment to make her move.
Vengeance will be hers, no matter the cost.