Just like the game itself, we had a ‘design brief’ for the world which went something like this (the brief was never written down so most of this is based on our recall).
First was that the world had to be as original as possible – original races, cultures, beasts, monsters, etc. Now original here doesn’t mean that we didn’t ‘acquire’ some previous creations, such as snake-men, but we ensured we gave them enough of a twist.
Second was that any race or culture we created had to be one that we would want to play as in the game. Later on we established another benchmark in this area where we would show the races, cultures, beings and so on to non-gamers and if they thought they were cool, then that thing was in.
Third was that anything included in the world had to make sense and had to integrate with the rest of the universe. The example we came up with at the time was that if we had dragons with hoards of gold there had to be a logical and good reason why dragons hoard gold.
Fourth was that the world we created – Edath – would be a disc world, shaped like an inverted cone. As per our third item detailed above, there is a logical and good reason for this.
Fifth was that Edath would be a spiritual place with the soul – the actual personality of the individual – surviving death as a known fact. We liked the idea because it opened up interesting avenues for the world. Alongside this we decided to have superstitions be real.
Sixth was that we wanted dinosaur-like beasts as well as larger ones still – godzilla-esque. Why wouldn’t you?
Seventh was that any skill could be elevated to a magical level so that heroes (and villains) could have ‘super powers’.
Eighth was that martial arts similar to those of the East – China, Japan, etc. – would be common globally on Edath and that with an empire that banned martial weapons amongst the masses, everyday objects had been turned into weapons.
Ninth was that it had to have a cool factor. No point in creating a dull world.
And that was the blueprint of the universe of Edath. That and a whole ton of inspiration.
Most of our inspiration came from researching the history of ideas – myths, legends, folklore, religions, historical cultures, architecture, costumes, warfare, crafts, and so on. We spent a long time doing this and garnering ideas from it.
But there is no doubt we found inspiration also within books and film & tv. Some of these that influenced the blueprint itself were the films Mr Vampire and The Dark Crystal, the tv series Robin of Sherwood, and the Tales of Alvin Maker novels by Orson Scott Card.
Creating both a game and its world side by side enabled us to ensure that they worked together harmoniously. The world enabled us to do things in the game we couldn’t otherwise have been able to achieve, and the way we wanted the game to play helped us inject more creativity into the world.