Solethania Is 20 Years Old
Wherein I stroll down memory lane, and the origin of Rins. I’ll be adding some of the artwork of the various stages.
I feel absolutely ancient, realizing the first seeds of the world of Solethania began at the young age of twelve. Though honestly it probably began even earlier, when my sisters and I used to stay up way past our bedtime creating stories involving our myriad of stuffed animals while we laid in bed (the three of us shared a room until we had our own house in our teenage years, because we couldn’t afford anything else). We never got in trouble for staying up that late because my parents thought it was adorable.
At 12 years old I was writing into a raggedy little handheld notebook I carried with me. It was a simple, flip-over thing. I think they’re called memo books on Amazon these days. My mind was filled with the works of Brian Jacques, his Redwall series being something I was all but obsessed with (A couple years later it’d be Tolkien and Lord of the Rings. Followed by Golden Sun on the GBA) and I wanted my own world like that. So I made one. The concept of worldbuilding was utterly unknown to me at the time -nevermind actually writing it down- until I went off to college. What I did do however, was daydream about it, write stories (well, pieces of stories usually), or doodle an absolutely ridiculous amount of images.
So the world itself shifted with all the whims and whimsy a young boy could have. Then in college it became more grounded. More official. Rules were set in place. Then broken, rethought, and set in place again. Documentation, words like ‘demographics’ and ‘rules of magic’ started appearing. Rules of magic came, went, and came back more convoluted (or simplified) than ever before. And so it went, back and forth, the world slowly fleshing itself out, until very recently I created a landmass as a basis for a map I was perfectly happy with.
So. What has changed? What has stayed the same?
If there’s one thing that has stayed true through all 20 years is this absolute basic statement:
“It is a world of magic.”
I never, ever meant it like ‘It is a world that has magic in it’ or ‘magic is a rare or fading thing’. It has always been filled with the wildest things my imagination could think of. When The Fellowship of the Ring came out in theaters, two things stood out and stuck with me ever since: The deep beauty, mystery, and sense of loss of the Mines of Moria, and the utter grandeur and awe of the Argonath. To this day, it still fills me with that sense of wonder. I wanted that kind of thing in my world. I wanted that sense of history. I wanted the beautiful and the grand. But I didn’t want these grand things to be relics of an age long past whose methods of creation have disappeared. I wanted the world to be in an Age of Wonders. Where empires, wizards, architects, and armies of artisans were in the process of building these things. The great cities have not fallen to ruin or decay, but are instead at the height of their power. Legends, not unlike the real life American Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Jim Bowie, etc. walk unexplored lands and leave their indelible marks on history. Great armies, filled with wizards, and magic weapons and armor march toward glorious battle or certain doom. Solethania has always been, and always will be a deeply magical place. The rules of such magic has probably changed every other year since its inception. Currently it’s pretty static D&D rules, because I was running a D&D campaign in the world. So chances are I’m going to away from that. If only to avoid run-ins with WoTC should I ever try to actually publish a story (I’ll also need to rename a couple places on the map. Like Tabax…).
Another thing that hasn’t really changed is anthropomorphic animals existing in the world. It’s a long time holdover from the earliest days of making my first stab at my own world and populating it with animals like Brian Jacques did (that was like, 90% of my early work. Taking things I liked and mimicking them. I mean, I was literally 12 at the time…). That has faded mostly away, as the Wolfkind and Dragonkind are currently the only anthropomorphic species to officially exist in Solethania (D&D races are acceptable in campaigns, but I don’t consider them official, and any stories I write don’t have them.)
So… About Rins.
Rins is an anthro wolf character who has been around six-ish years at this point. You’ll see her in most of my social avatars and as of the last couple years, various commissioned artwork. Currently she’s in the site’s header banner.
The origin of the character Rins goes right along with the origin of Solethania itself. I felt the desire to draw the various characters in my head, but couldn’t. I knew I couldn’t draw humans well. So I drew animals with human features, because I thought it looked better than my attempts at humans. And it stuck. Also, believe it or not, I didn’t even know furries were a thing until college. I thought what I was doing was akin to cartoon art, a la Disney’s Robin Hood or the cover art of Redwall novels. And then high speed, full access internet happened. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Rins was not always a wolflike creature. She started out as a he. And an otter. Because I liked otters best at the age of 12. And also not named Rins. He didn’t have a name until I discovered I liked drawing the female figure more. It was confusing because I never really ‘set out’ to create a singular character. But when the dust settled after a few years, I did have a more or less consistent character. One who has followed me through the years till now, when I can afford to have actual, better artists draw her the way I see it in my head.
Some more images I’ve drawn through the years. Probably a ‘best of’ to be honest.
Now compare to a commissioned piece, like this. (Artist: Chessi) I much prefer to commission nowadays for some reason…
Oh, and speaking of change… Solethania wasn’t always Solethania. Originally the name of the world was Fraewan. Because Fraewan sounded super fantasy-ish to super young me. Solethania started out a small city state (ruled by a faction that had a magical rose symbol emblazoned on their armor). But Solethania was such a catchy name, and an absolute waste for such a small thing as a city state. There was a brief period of wishy-washy where it was the worlds name and where it wasn’t. And then it just was. And that’s the way it is. I may name one of the continents Fraewan though, as a callback or something.
I have a ton of written work, in various states of “brief sketchy outline” to “This is going to be an epic” and everything in-between. I put a lot of effort at some point in the past converting the handwritten pages to more legible print form. I don’t know what happened with those specific digital copies, so I’ll probably have to type them up again.
And that’s pretty much that. I just felt like meandering around the memory lane a bit.