What’s in a name?

One of the hardest things for me to do when I’m being creative is to name that thing which I have written into existence. Many times I search Google on prospective names, and most of the good ones always seem taken. Then we go through the mediocre and/or bizarre stuff, and I either can’t spell it, don’t like it, or won’t remember it.

Left-handed Blarg-eater

The same goes for NPC names and encounter town names. Names for inns and names for shopkeepers. Yes, I keep lists and stats and such like, but without my notes – I’m doomed. Doomed, I tell you.

Numbnutz Inn

And where did I put those notes? I’m quite sure they are with the map I can’t locate…..

On the way to West Coast Bay?


For those of you who insist on the TL,DR version of everything, here you go.

There is no TL,DR version.

TIRRA is a continent and several related islands on a planet roughly earth-like. It is elf, dwarf, and orc-free. There are three races of humanoids and three races of lycanthropes. It has nearly twice the area of the North American land mass, as well as extreme terrain, new creatures and plants, politics, and… Well, sorry. That’s all you get for a TL,DR section. You’ll just have to start reading.

What’s so different about TIRRA?

The main difference is that you’re not going to find iron or steel. There just isn’t any to be found. Most of the iron that is available is from meteorites, and these bits get used as compass needles, magnets, or door stops.  Iron is so uncommon that steel has not been developed. Iron is smelted into cast iron, but this is brittle – meaning that iron really isn’t of much use anyway.

Technology therefore is the science of what is possible with this planet-wide handicap. There is no steel to support an industrial revolution. The people here are smart enough to figure it out, but there just is no iron available.

Since you’re going to ask, yes! The planet has a magnetic field, and that’s a good thing for navigation and keeping the solar radiation out. If you want to find the source of the magnetic field though, you’ll have to dig an extremely long way down into the core of the planet where molten iron is available.

This lack of steel will influence your choice of weapons, armor, friends, and other attitudes. Things that you may have done in other game environments need a nudge in a different direction in TIRRA.

Is there magic?

Yes, moreso in some areas than others. Some areas of Tirra are very technology (tinker) centric and they have developed clockworks, small steam engines, and anything from music boxes to devious traps – all based on physics, chemistry, or some other branch of learning.  Other areas of Tirra are very magic (wizard) savy, and magic and alchemy are preferred, as are all the old ways.

To which era from earth’s history can Tirra be compared?

The closest approximation is probably the Renaissance.  Art can be very realistic. Music can be very complicated. Buildings can be full of surprises and a variety of building materials. Politics, intrigues, and a tension between magic and technology. And don’t forget the four churches and their interests!

Is Tirra steampunk?

Not exactly, though in some areas it can be played that way within the limits of available resources. The rule of thumb (subject to your game referee’s guidance) is that if Leonardo Da Vinci could conceive of it, you can try to build it, buy it, or use it. Most brass, bronze alloy or copper versions of things that may come to mind may be heavier or more cumbersome than you’d like, but there is no iron available – so get over it already.

Oh, for a clump of Dup cheese!

A dup? And what is this about cheese?

Dups are used as pack animals and as dairy or meat sources from Hillport to Eaglebrook.Think of something between an American bison and a rhinocerous, and that is getting close to what a dup looks like. The legs are quite stout, and the shoulders mound up behind the head. Wool hangs down in huge hunks of molding hair, which is gathered and prized in the spring to make great sweaters! These beasts are slow moving unless they are provoked. The males have horns that jut out forcefully from the skull, and they are not afraid to use them – especially in rutting season.

The tundra nomads breed dups in the far north. The dup diet is vegetarian. It’s a little bit troublesome because sometimes dups are finicky eaters when traveling, so don’t plan on them eating provisions you brought along. Also, plan on quite a large volume of food for each dup. They always like their tundra grasses though, as long as they can dig down to them through the snow.  They travel better in the mountains than some pack animals, but they are much more adapted to the plains.

The shaggy coats are allowed to shed in the spring. Nomads don’t like to try to shear them, preferring to remove the shaggy wool from nettles and trees where the animals rub themselves to be rid of the heaviness before the summer heat arrives. Perhaps it is better to say the dups don’t like being sheared.

When dups are in the mating mood (early autumn), make sure you are some place else. Both sexes can be very difficult to keep under control at that time. Males will butt heads constantly until one backs down or is killed. Calves are born in the late spring, which is when the tundra is coming to life a little bit for a brief, warm summer.  They are full sized and ready for mating in 2 years. The lifespan is quite long – 25 to 40 years is not uncommon.

Yummm! Cheesy!
What dup cheese might look like?

Nomads use the milk of the dup females to make a strong cheese that smells a little bit like somebody vomited. It tastes pretty good though – especially on a cold day when you’re really hungry. Dup meat is quite rich and fortifying. One animal can feed a tribe for several weeks as needed. The meat is usually boiled down until it is very tender, and seasoned with heavy dollops of garlic, herbs, and other vegetables. The meat can be a little gamey, so additional spices are usually used. It makes for a very hearty stew!

South of the Northern Rim, dup meat is treated much the same as any other meat – jerked, smoked, fried, ground or in large cubes held briefly over a flame and consumed nearly raw.

Most of the animal can be used – including the hide, bones, teeth, horns and wool. Several internal organs are also consumed by the nomads. Perhaps if you travel there they may share their recipes with you?

Welcome to TIRRA

From the frigid Ice Barony to the balmy tropic islands of the Spice Barony, there is much to discover in TIRRA.

Tirra is a large continent on a world called Talia, a world that has a large number of different kinds of peoples who are spread across TIRRA and two other continents, and several large islands.

One sun crosses the brilliantly blue sky each day, and there is one smallish moon that has a bluish tint to some areas of it.  Weather patterns and tides are predicatable to a certain extent.

One thing Talia does not have is an abundance of iron.  By whatever act of the gods (you can blame Narvad if you’d like) or evolution, creation, or random visits by asteroids long ago, iron is nearly non-existant for the average person.  Thankfully, there is a plentiful supply of copper and tin so that bronze is easily made. This makes any iron (or steel) extremely expensive, as it is in high demand. Those governments who can afford it are purchasing iron for their armories and weaponers.

It’s a pity really, because many areas would have seen an industrial revolution by now if iron had been available. As it is, the people are doing the best they can with bronze. They can make engines that run on steam, machines of intricate gears and cams, or deadly traps.  Mass production is difficult, and therefore most clockworks, engines, and other devices are painstakingly hand made, which is also quite expensive. For this reason they are often passed down through family lines as a proud heirloom, or gifted to the community in remembrance.


TIRRA Kickoff

This blog has lain fallow for nearly a year. Creatively I was just in a place where I didn’t have anything to say – due to a lot of reasons that should probably be left unsaid.

But, yes, it’s a nice sunny warm Sunday, and I’m inside pretending I’m very far away.

I’ve dusted off a creative project that has been neglected since January 2004. In those seven years I think I’ve made great strides in both writing and graphic editing. I plan to prove it – to myself if not to anybody else.

TIRRA is a continent on a planet in some other place. I’m setting up a detailed continent for RPG gamers and fiction writers.  Following the world book will be a rule book and a critter compendium of some sort. A lot of the groundwork has already been done over the years – stretching back to the 1980s!  So now it’s a matter of cleaning up loose ends, fixing up a few illustrations, and finding somebody to do some book covers or something.

Ideas are welcome, but please let me post a little bit more about what’s going on before we all get too excited. In some ways this is FAR bigger than a novel, with tons more information. In other ways it’s a place for me to put creative bits that I have not found a home for elsewhere. Besides, my writing style is best at characters and setting – I never really did master the whole ‘plot’ idea – so perhaps this is down my alley.

I’m not sure how much of the sun I’ll be seeing this spring….  But don’t worry, I’m having fun.