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  • Writer's pictureNathan Foley

The Basics of Ankora

Before I get too deep into what the basics of Ankora are, I’d like to first thank my wife, Julianne, for believing in me. It’s a lot harder than it may seem to do something like this. I don’t necessarily mean the creative process is hard (though it can be), but what I find most difficult is the constant turbulent sea of self-doubt threatening to capsize my meager boat under its immense waves.


I’m thankful she is okay with me commandeering the wall next to our bed for my massive map, shown in the video below. I’m thankful for the potential she sees in me, even though I struggle to see it myself. I’m thankful that she is enthusiastic to help me cultivate new ideas and refine the ones I’ve been wrestling with for weeks. I’m lucky to have a partner as supportive and encouraging as she.


So, without further ado what the hell is Ankora?



As I shared in my first post, Ankora is a fantasy world I've been conjuring up over the last few years. It was incredibly murky the first year, but as I continued imagining, conceptualizing, mulling, and building, the image became clearer by the day.


When I started, I knew I didn't want to just slap a name on a random assortment of continents I thought up and have at it. I committed myself very early on to build the world I want, from the ground up. Because of that commitment, the universe's history begins far before the inception of the planet Ankora. It begins with the formation of the cosmos by powers immeasurable and long since forgotten, and Ankora will have been spinning for unknown millennia before the advent of recorded history. Much like how our own history is but a blip on the immense timeline of the planet Earth, so too will the stories I share be minuscule footnotes in the extensive histories of Ankora.


I'm not sure how much of the minutiae I'll eventually share because I'd like to keep at least some degree of mystery. But, just so you understand where I am coming from in this whole process, I'm building the universe in such a way that everything will have an explanation—either natural or supernatural. Details such as what celestial beings created the universe and the process of how it came to be are examples of obscure elements I'm actively developing, all of which will in turn influence the progression, underlying meaning, and significance of the stories I do share.


At its heart, Ankora is a world of high fantasy, but the conflicts we'll delve into are also painfully human.


So, what do I mean by that? First of all, the world is one of high fantasy. Magic is entwined throughout the fabric of reality, dragons rule the clouds, mythical beasts roam the wild, otherworldly artifacts disrupt the natural world, and legendary heroes are dedicated to vanquishing evil across the globe. Though the things of myth and legend are important elements of Ankora, the stories of conflict do not depend solely on them. The world is run by people, therefore I want to focus on the people who comprise Ankora, not the magic that surrounds them.


What are the politics of Ankorans? How do they work together? How do they sabotage and betray one another? How do societies rise to power and decay to obscurity? What effect does family life and upbringing have in the development of a fantasy character? How do they use magic for the betterment or detriment of their fellow inhabitants? What role does the human condition play in a setting rich in magic?


I believe George R.R. Martin provided an incredible example in showing what can be done with the fantasy genre if you approach it from this type of angle. Magic will play a fundamentally different role in Ankora than it does in Westeros and Essos, but the core of the story relying on the study of human nature is something I hope to emulate within my own creation.





How am I building Ankora?


First, I mapped the world out as one massive super-continent, depicted above in what is the first image I created of the world. That particular image was drafted in early 2019, therefore minor elements have since changed, but the general geography is much the same.


I know it isn't breathtaking, but it's where it all started. After I quickly sketched this out on Photoshop, I sat at my computer and stared at it for what felt like hours. I stared at it and pictured towns, cities, and entire civilizations sprouting up here and there. I imagined struggles for control over real estate, natural materials, and magical fonts of power. I thought of what biomes would thrive where, what that would mean for its inhabitants, and how that would influence civilization.


This super-continent is the backdrop for Ankora's ancient history—think ancient Mesopotamian, Greek, Egyptian, and Roman history. This ancient land is ruled by unforgiving elements and monstrous beasts, but it is also home to a budding civilization of ancient Elves at the heart of the continent, small bands of nomadic Orcs in the western reaches, and independent Dwarves inhabiting the sprawling mountain ranges in the south. After millennia under the rule of primordial beasts and savage elements, civilization begins to take root and dominion over the continent gradually falls into the hands of the mortal humanoids, the chief of which are the Elves. This era of Ankora is marked with the birth of recorded history, rapid magical discovery, and tyrannical rule by those capable of wielding the newly discovered arcane arts.


From this initial map, I played around with different ways the super-continent could separate into various continents more akin to Earth's. I kept iterating with a cut up Photoshop document until I landed on a general shape I liked, pictured below, though the second era of Ankora now officially sports an updated geological shape.





The sundering of the super-continent is a monumental event that will be central to our story, so I won't be going into too much detail about the specifics at this time. For now, let's separate the two "worlds" into two eras: Pre-Shattering Ankora, featuring the super-continent, and the Post-Shattering Ankora, which features the various continents.


This post-shattering era of Ankora is one of massive upheaval and prolonged struggle for survival. The elements run wild for hundreds of years and once-thriving societies are decimated. The people unfortunate enough to be alive during this cataclysmic event are thrown into a life of primitivity and sheer survival. Eventually though, after an undocumented amount of time, the angered elements subside and the few scattered communities of people who survived the brutal upheaval of the planet take root once more and slowly rebuild what was so tragically lost.


Society grows at a faster rate than it did prior to the cataclysm, but much of the knowledge acquired by their ancestors was lost. As the previous era of Ankora loosely follows prehistory and ancient history, this post-shattering era of Ankora is one that more closely resembles Medieval through Industrial Earth. It is a time of rediscovery and conquest over long-forgotten lands, a time of renaissance and technological advancement.


My main motivation behind shattering the planet and segmenting the history in two parts is driven by my desire to have a clear break between settings. Pre-Shattering Ankora is a place where I can focus on the stories of myth and legend, whereas the post-shattering Ankora is where I can delve deeper into the humanity of its inhabitants.


As I continue creating, all of this will become clearer, and in subsequent posts, I'll share further information about the races that inhabit the planet. Future blog posts will feature general background behind who they are as a people, and how their histories all tie together.


Pictured below are other pieces of artwork I've created to capture the overall landscape.


Playing around with different mountain styles
Playing around with color/texture


This is the current version of Ankora's Post-Shattering formation

Now that I've given you a short introduction to what Ankora is and how I laid the foundation, the question remains:


What do I plan on doing with Ankora?


The answer to that question is deceptively complicated: everything.


I will write books, produce shows, and develop video games. I’m sure you’re at least somewhat familiar with the Star Wars universe. I know it’s a lofty goal, but I want to create something like that. Star Wars has books, it has comics, it has cartoons, it has movies, it has an entire wealth of lore behind it, and it all started with one guy’s crazy idea to make a sci-fi movie.


In short, I want to make a universe that I can do whatever I want with.


Want to make a western-themed story following a nomadic cavalier? Sure! Want to make a cartoon following the lives of depressed and jaded youths struggling to make it in a world that doesn’t value them? I’ve got just the setting. Or want to make a virtual world that leaves you inspired and wanting to dive back in for more? I know just the place.


The first project I started blocking out is a cartoon following the exploits of a guild of adventurers. The guild is called The Guild of Heroes and it is comprised of quest-seekers, thrill junkies, bored retirees, kids, adults, and geezers. It's an organization that is inclusive to everyone, from all walks of life. They participate in quests ranging from government espionage, treasure hunting, and dog walking to dragon slaying, body guarding, and party entertaining. It is set in a time on Ankora that resembles that of a mid to late 20th century Earth, but with more magic. The main characters through whose eyes we'll see the world are a small group of young adults struggling to make sense of the world and their place in it.


I readily recognize that I’ll need lots of help to make this cartoon, and my eventual ultimate vision a reality, but it’s all gotta start somewhere right?


Thank you very much for reading and embarking with me on this journey. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please subscribe below and you’ll be the first to know when an update is posted.


If you think anyone you know might be interested, please do me a favor in giving me and Ankora a shoutout on your social media pages.


The more eyes that see this, the more likely this dream becomes a reality!



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