I’ve yet to actually sit down and play games on an International Tabletop Day.
Usually I get pretty close, and play the day after, or at least the same week. My regular D&D game is tomorrow, and we’re going to play for the first time in about three weeks, even though we’re down a player who is gallivanting in the US at the moment. (We’ll be nice and not slay the dragon without him…. probably….)
But, since I didn’t get to play, I did sit down and do a bit of writing and thinking.
I’ve been trying to decide some things about my Old Crown setting. At the moment, I’m working through and re-writing some bits and pieces. There’s a whole big bunch of history for the setting up in my head, but at the moment I’m trying to focus more on one specific place – Queenstown.
My problem now is that I’ve been at it so long, I’m second guessing names of places!
My setting has an odd relationship with names.
Knowing a god’s true name gains you a portion of their power, so mostly they go by a title like the Black Lady or the Beggar.
The towns and places are currently an odd jumble. I’ve got places like Queenstown and Kingsmead, both the original parts of the setting, and they’re technically titles for places. The City in Cliffs and the City of Festivals, both in foreign countries to the most detailed part of the setting, is also a title. Even the Old Crown, the name for the main country, is a title.
But I’m still really unhappy with it for some reason.
I’ve been toying with the idea that it’s because of the language I’m using. The setting history involves a similar looking back to golden ages that our world had for a long time. We venerated the ancient Greeks and the Romans so much so that Greek and Latin are major roots of a lot of languages. But I’ve also gotten into some etymology more recently, and interested in Indoeuropean and Proto-Indoeuropean (as you do), and I’ve also been thinking about my world’s analogues.
The history of the Old Crown world is tangled. After a very rough start, an empire rose up that conquered much of the world (although not the Old Crown area itself). I was basing them upon the Babylonians in my head, because why not make them different from the Greeks and Romans? They were founded by Lizardfolk, but I haven’t settled on a name for them yet, and going down any line that makes them sound dragon-y (which I have been doing) is annoying me.
They conquered a sub-continent of warring kingdoms called Istan (and here’s where the names start going a little awry). The several warring kingdoms of Istan were a bit like a loose confederacy of city-states who occasionally went to war with each other. Ancient empire subdued this, but when it fell, this got worse, and eventually the entire continent burned.There was a magical ritual, I won’t get into details, but it was nasty.
In my head again, I was thinking they were middle eastern, so had been looking at Arabic and Somalian as interesting languages to favour.
So refugees from Istan pirate it up but eventually land in the Old Crown, and found a city and treaty/marry up a bunch of the locals, and drive another bunch of locals out with their new allies. But now we have a weird mish-mash of languages, with the Somalian mixing with something vaguely Celtic-rooted (thinking maybe Welsh or Breton or something). And after five hundred-odd years, the languages would assimilate at least a little bit, so there’d be this weird language thing going on and I can get away with going a bit crazy.
But the problem now is, why is the city of Queenstown a place? Why not Suldaanabad? Why is Kingsmead called Kingsmead when it’s named for a Sultan and a honey drink that could be mil or mel or medd or anything?
So here’s my problem: How do I fix languages straight in my head? I want the city to feel different and this exotic port city with a different style to the traditional eurocentric fantasy land, and to do that it would be great to get places (at least the big important places) named right. Yes, you might be heading down to the Redmarkets on your way to the Riverwitch’s Bridge, but why can’t you do this in a city named after a missing, presumed dead Suldaana and not a Queen?
So that’s where my head’s been for much of the day. And that’s why I’ve been playing games with Google Translate, and even changed the name of the country a couple of times just to try and get a more interesting sounding name, and flicking back and forth between Somali and Basque and Catalan and Welsh and Irish and Esperanto and Galician and Maltese and even Yoruba.
If I manage to actually get my head straight, then there might be a change of name afoot.