Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Calidar Moving Ahead

Calidar John Dollar
Concept work from John Dollar
It's been almost a year since my most-viewed-ever blog post "Bye-Bye Princess Ark" went online.  Since then, a lot has been accomplished.  The Kickstarter succeeded, and the Calidar project is now nearly complete.  I had started with the idea of adopting much of the feel and general themes from Mystara and, more specifically, the Voyages of Princess Ark published in Dragon Magazine back in the 80s and 90s.  I think I have accomplished this goal, without running roughshod over WotC's IPs . . . and then some.  It's very hard to tackle something as deeply ingrained and as much beloved as Mystara, which has benefited over the years from a wide array of published material and fan work.  Where did I start, you might wonder.  Many supporters of the popular game world may look at Calidar with a certain amount of doubt, if not indifference.  However, this new fantasy setting has now developed into something that clearly goes beyond what Mystara accomplished, at least regarding the initial themes and the general scope of the first book, "In Stranger Skies."  The present work certainly exceeds the boundaries reached by the Princess Ark.

So where are we at, as of today?

Calidar John Dollar
The text has been completely written and gone through the editorial process.  Geographical maps are a work in progress, and will remain so until the last minute. Poster maps still require a modification of the gazetteer-style icon art and new fonts. Cover art is in its final stages and looks wonderful, depicting the Star Phoenix flying by Glorathon's sea port. Internal art is still being worked on, which will continue throughout April and into May.  The Pathfinder guidelines from Thomas Reid are complete, and so is Ed Greenwood's contribution (the City of Glorathon).  Sadly, artist Ben Wootten has pulled out very late in the process from the initial goal of drafting ship profiles, due to a family crisis.  With little time to turn around, these illustrations were replaced with detailed deck plans.  Although I was terribly disappointed by this recent turn of events, I discovered these deck plans to be more useful from a roleplaying gamer's point of view.  They have already been fully drafted, plus one more in the works which will appear in this blog due to lack of space in the book.  Our good friend Thorfin Tait is finalizing this work, rendering it in vectorized format, which will perhaps allow the deck plans to be printed at some point in poster-sized format. Actual page layout should take place late May to early June 2014, with a final release date of late June for the book and the two poster maps. The book will be available through DriveThruRPG.com and the poster maps via Amazon.com

Here's a breakdown of the main sections covered in the book:

Page 1: Table of contents, legal statements, and Honor Roll--all that in a very compact format. Little space is left here for art, save for a logo.

Pages 2-49: "In Stranger Skies," the first adventure of the Star Phoenix recounts how its crew entered Calidar's universe and became embroiled in a war between the Heroes of Meryath and the Draconic knights.  Be sure to read the short stories before or after this one, which will give you some interesting insights about the main plot and the thinking behind the fantasy setting.  The short stories are a prequel to the main fare.     

Pages 50-66: "The Calidar Universe."  This section gives an overview of the planets near Soltan, including Draconia, Lao-Kwei, Ghüle , and the Fringe.  It describes the main races inhabiting these worlds, and provides the basis for their godly pantheons. Much is said here about the strange relationship between Calidar, epic heroes, and their divine patrons.


Calidar John Dollar
Pages 67-78: "The World of Calidar" takes a closer look at the Star Phoenix's adoptive world. It gives an overview of the main continents and focuses on the Great Caldera, the part that looks like a gigantic eye.  This region may remind readers of Mystara's Known World.  It describes its nations and their relationship with their former colonial overseers.  Only the tribal fellfolk are native to this world and remain at peace with the fey nature behind the vast Dread Lands hostile to foreign encroachment.  The other races (humans, dwarves, elves, and even orcs and their monstrous cousins) originate from "outer space."  The first three in particular hail from Calidar's three moons, rival empires coveting Calidar's natural resources, in particular precious Seitha which is needed for space travel.  This chapter provides a massive timeline detailing world events, from the advent of skyships, space travel, colonialism, the great orcish raids, and the wars of independence leading to the setting's present condition.


Calidar John Dollar
Pages 79-105: "The World of Meryath" focuses on this region of the Great Caldera. It describes the peculiarity of a setting reminiscent of Mystara's Ierendi.  Except it's done better.  In this realm, being a hero is a legally-regulated profession with direct political ramifications (as well as divine ones).  Meryath becomes the home port for the Star Phoenix and her crew, both a place of solace and a golden cage.  The war between Meryath and the Draconic Knights (who dwell in Draconia's Hollow World) naturally makes everything so much more perilous, a conflict that the loosely allied nations in the Great Caldera do not necessarily endorse.  They see a war against dragons and their living gods as a danger to the entire region and an excuse for the lunar empires to intervene.  At the center of this explosive plot, as you might have guessed, lies the Star Phoenix and her crew.  Aside from Meryath's history and geography, this chapter also provides a description of NPCs, guilds and brotherhoods, and a grand tour of the City of Glorathon.

Pages 106-109: "Monsters of Calidar" describes a short list of curious creatures appearing in the main tale and in the short stories.

Pages 110-115: "Pathfinder Guidelines" lists game stats specific to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.  It details the heroes of the Star Phoenix, protagonists in the world of Calidar, and the monsters listed earlier. I was amazed by the detail and general complexity of game stats and the required legal statement to be able to publish them.

Pages 116-129: "Ships of Calidar" features atmospheric and space navigation.  It describes the various ship styles of the Calidar's universe and how they work. Five full pages are devoted to detailed deck plans.  To date, only the Star Phoenix will have its profile illustrated next to its deck plan, although this still remains to be confirmed.  Fortunately, the cover art gives a magnificent view of the ship,  which, in the worst-case-scenario, should be sufficient.


Calidar John Dollar
The last page is an advertisement sold during the Kickstarter process last January. For those of you who are interested in being listed in this very first book's Honor Roll and in supporting this project, there still is time to contribute to its financing. The Donations button in the right-hand sidebar will allow you this alternative.  Be sure to check the options offered on the Kickstarter page before jumping in.  Please contact me first to confirm everything.  "In Stranger Skies" is intended as the first in a series of future releases developing the World of Calidar.