Game Fu 5: A Seasonal Glimpse

Posted on May 26, 2009


In the universe I am creating, people occupy islands that consist of three zones aligned with the seasons of Spring, Summer and Autumn. The game will present these seasons by describing them in this manner:


The heart of every island is a riot of color and growth, the Spring that generates new life. It is here the flowers bloom and the birds sing most beautifully. Leaves are bright green, trees are full of surging sap, bees buzz merrily from one perpetual blossom to another.

The strength of the Spring determines the size of the island and the vitality of its people. Each island is ruled from a capital at the very center of the Spring, and it is to the Spring that all things come to be distributed to the people. Houses of healing and learning are situated in the Spring to take best advantage of the vital life force. Guards wearied by the long watch in the Autumn come to the Spring to renew themselves in heart and mind as well as in body.

People, animals and plants can grow, age and eventually die within the Spring as time passes, but they are usually hale throughout their days and are always replaced. There can be injury and illness, but wounds heal and sickness is overcome much more quickly and thoroughly than anywhere else. Felled trees are rapidly replaced by growing saplings. Hunted game returns from other regions.

Spring is the most important part of any island; without Spring, there is no island. However, Spring needs the Summer to properly feed its people and the Autumn as a buffer region against the Winter. A Spring is never found within the Winter without Summer and Autumn wrapped around it in protective shells.

A stable island’s Spring usually occupies a roughly circular area at the center, with a radius approximately a quarter that of the island’s own.


Surrounding the Spring of an island is a wide belt of warmth and long sunny days, where crops grow obediently through lazy, regular growing periods and most of the people spend the majority of their lives. This is the Summer.

The Summer is where the life force radiating and rippling through the Spring is calmed enough for measured growth. It is slowed, allowing it to linger and ripen to fullness, symbolized and in part driven by the long-lived sun tracing its deliberate arc overhead. Game is still plentiful among the fragrant, shaded forests, and vast fields wave with grains and run riot with colorful vegetables, but their maturation and replenishment take longer than in the Spring and are easier by far to control. The days, longest of all three inhabited zones, allow industry to continue for long hours and still leave time for play.

Summer contains the farming villages and bustling towns. The roads are usually maintained with great care, allowing easy travel all around the ring and into the central Spring, as well as outward to the defenses of the Autumn.

Summer swells from its border with the Spring to the ring at its center, then gently fades on its way outward to the Autumn. Summer generally spans half the island’s total radius, with the other half split between Autumn on the outside and Spring on the inside.


Starting with the first fadings at the edge of Summer, the buffer region between an island’s vital heart and the cold of Winter turns from gold-tinged green to gray and brown. This is Autumn, the place of beautiful dying.

Autumn is where the life welling from Spring and slowing throughout Summer cools and bleeds away its vitality, and the winds of Winter can still be felt, blunted though they may be. The skies often weep chill, soaking rain, and occasionally give forth snow. Things can be born and grow here, and life does migrate outward from Summer, but most crops raised here will grow slowly and remain stunted, and only hardy beasts roam the red, gold and brown woods. There are a few exceptions, a few slow-growing crops that eventually reach a tough maturity despite the frosts.

Further out toward the Winter, crops cease growing, most trees and shrubs barely hang on to skeletal life, and the variability of the Winter causes changes many living things, often making them powerful and hostile.

Because Winter’s changeability bleeds across the border into Autumn, slow and often useful changes occur here. Mineral and metal mines shift and regrow the veins of their contents. Geography will occasionally slide or warp, raising a hill or turning a valley.

It is here that the people maintain fortifications to guard against Winter’s incursions. The watchtowers and walls maintain a kind of stability, a protective bulwark that most times prevents the defenses from being changed and also fixes the land nearby.

The ring of Autumn around an island generally is as deep as one quarter of the island’s radius. The outer fringes of Autumn are usually indistinct, however, as the last of Spring’s energy fades away into the snowy and chaotic dark.

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