To (sort of) repeat myself, The Nua Gazetteer, my fantasy atlas, is available as a big fat PDF from DriveThruRPG! This post collects some of the social media promo I’ve done for it over the past few weeks—some of which disappeared after I nuked the Keirtography Twitter account. 

Initial observations

Two initial observations on finally releasing (a digital version of) this book: 1) 1992 Keir would love that he’d gained the skills & time to realize one of his most imaginative flights of fancy. 2) Working on this during my feast-or-famine freelance reality for 3ish years has kept me creatively stable.

“Hell, I can do better than that.”

I’ve always had what I call a “hell, I can do better than THAT” reaction against lazy creativity. It can be snobby, but if I can get past that, it can also be creatively catalytic. It certainly was for this book, in two ways.

When 2 big sci-fi/fantasy franchises ended badly in 2019, instead of griping about it, I thought a better use of my time would be to try emulating what worked. My brother had started a homebrew D&D campaign, which proved to be a good creative tool for that, so I did the same.

When I chose to revive my old fantasy maps to help do that, I found that genre to be a sea of samey Hobbit-style hand-drawn maps. Not “bad,” but not unique. I wanted my stuff to be unique, so I adapted my own found-texture style to suit the project. 

That reactive-emulation impulse has served me well for other creativity in the past, from hobbies like songwriting or fiction to professional design projects, & as long as there’s no envy or other toxic residue there, it can be a good spark for doing great work.

What’s in this book

Fantasy maps that table-top role-playing (TTRPG) players or game masters (GMs) looking for new settings to explore or adapt for their own homebrew games:

Book 1 of the Nua Gazetteer is a gateway to one region, Aviridia, as a setting for games & stories. It’s mostly maps, but it can also guide GMs, players, or authors through options for themes, plot hooks, character backgrounds, & more to fire up figurative imaginations.

Chapter 1 introduces the world of Nua in broad strokes, then zooms in on Aviridia in particular. All the main ideas start here: where in the world this is, who lives here, what they believe, & what life is like. Two narrators who know these lands also provide notable guidance.

Chapter 2 recounts myths & legends of Aviridia and how those tales reverberate in this region to the present day. There are no “what really happened” spoilers to share—yet—so if you love how mysterious and epic lore can shape hazy history, this is the place for you.

Chapter 3 presents an overview of Aviridia’s political divisions, with a focus on the city of Seven Harbors & its role in the region. This chapter also details other major settlements & points of interest in each territory, which might spark inspiration for further tales.

Chapter 4 covers other regions of Nua that shape the Green North directly or indirectly. It’s general info that draws heavily on your guides’ expertise in the wider world, but if you want more detail, sit tight. Each region may be the subject of future Nua gazetteers!

The Appendix lists specific details for fleshing out backgrounds of games or stories set in Aviridia: a pronunciation guide, historical timeline, prominent houses & heraldry, & educated fictional speculation about where the powerful Hinges of the World might be located.

What it is, what it’s not

For me, the best thing about TTRPG is that you can disregard anything (rules, characters, settings, whatever) and homebrew your own stuff instead. This book describes a homebrew setting.

It’s a gazetteer of that setting—not a sourcebook, adventure book, or rulebook. It’s system-agnostic; there’s nothing in here specific to D&D, Pathfinder, or any other TTRPG.

The Nua Gazetteer covers only one region of several I’ve made up for my own TTRPG sessions, but it doesn’t cover everything in that region. There’s plenty of space for readers/players to fill in their own details as needed.

It’s my own synthesis of all the fantasy & sci-fi creativity I’ve ever enjoyed, old & new, famous & obscure (more on that later). The themes may not be original, but the mashup of details might be.

Influences

In my experience the best creativity is often a mashup of influences accrued over years, decades, lifetimes. Within “The Nua Gazetteer” are some obvious lifts from famous fantasy/sci-fi folks like Tolkien, LeGuin, Herbert, and GRRM.

But I also tried to loosely include (in general tone if not actual content) a similar feel to what I absorbed from works like NK Jemisin’s “Broken Earth” series & Rebecca Roanhorse’s Fevered Star/Black Sun. Or rather as much as feasible within Aviridia’s faux-medieval-European setting.

Maybe Euro-stuff is played out, but it worked for integrating historical fic I’ve loved forever: Mary Renault’s Theseus/Alexander books (like Funeral Games), Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy/Wicked Day, Rosemary Sutcliff’s Eagle of the 9th/Warrior Scarlet, Scott O’Dell’s King’s 5th.

The gazetteer’s influences aren’t just novels, though—it’s also got DNA from some of my favorite 8-bit epics starring Link & Zelda, Simon Belmont, & every nameless, cipher-like adventurer from games like Ultima III & IV or Final Fantasy I.

So Nua/Aviridia is made from a pretty thick stew—and that’s just from the fictional sources, because there’s *tons* of details from non-fiction swirling around in there too. Maybe that’ll be another roundup for another post!

A Grand Tour

In my house, TTRPG books are jokingly called “textbooks,” so maybe it was inevitable that my gazetteer would be more (fictional) facts than (fictional) fiction. Ideally the maps help keep things from feeling too dry, especially in bulky Chapter 3, a geographic survey of the five nations of Aviridia, “The Green North.”

After 50+ years of sleepwalking through misrule & conflict, Aviridia’s 5 nations finally seem to be on sure footing, each in their own way. It’s not easy, but for the first time in generations, no military threats imperil any country—but each have their own problems: 

Veirmaark (The Four Marches) is wild moorland carved into feudal provinces by interrelated conquering warlords. Aviridia’s only city Saithaaven (Seven Harbors) is here, & might become great if it could rise above post-war ethnic tension to overcome the organized crime & lycanthropic terrorism infesting daily life.

Kronvaal (Crown Valley) was once the center of Aviridian civilization, but post-conquest it’s become a half-forgotten & depopulated backwater plagued by misrule, piracy & sorcery. The king’s incompetence has citizens contemplating the possibility of the Crownwood’s elves reclaiming this land that was once theirs.

The storm-wracked, tin-rich Klasioda (Green Jewels) Archipelago, four large islands (& dozens of others) off the eastern coast, remains free from conquest—but its people are consumed with vengeance against the mainlanders, with more joining fantatical druidic cults & ruthless piratical gangs every day.

Enormous Haervudt (The Greatwood) is made of alpine peaks, thermal lakes, a winding shoreline, extensive subterranean caves, & leagues of dark, magical forests. Its small, uneasy, afterlife-obsessed peoples awkwardly balance power with a diplomatic conclave that’s slowly forgetting its true purpose.

Vessegard (the Borderlands) is the Westwatch’s domain. This once-glorious martial order can now barely protect Aviridia from violent western nomads, who never seem to stop coming. Glorified guard duty in this lonely land has demoralized many noble knights & sorry scoundrels sent from Aviridia’s other nations.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more when the print-on-demand version is ready.