Was originally the Occalis world map for my old (but occasionally still used) NationState of Kalmarium, but became the world of a story I've been working on that ties into the larger Scifi universe I've partially envisioned. Inspired mostly by the world of Ace Combat, some FMA too.
Staeus is a power as rare as it is dangerous in the universe. By “offsetting” one’s spirit from their physical vessel and soul, they can “break” into the higher planes of Creation and tap into powers no mortal should feel. According to the Knights of Lightford, the power only resides in those who are descendants of the Kimary race, who were mostly wiped out when their homeworld was destroyed in a war. Some survived and spread across the galaxy, their gifted genes with them, populating new generations of Kimaer - those who possess the powers of Staeus. Crusades and other efforts were conducted by Emperor Wolghast and his successors of the Stahlvelkan Empire to purge the stars of those who could oppose Imperial rule with such power, though enclaves have always tended to remain in some fashion. Most unsanctioned Kimaer will flee to words either out of Imperial control or too primitive to bother with or detect. Occalis was one such world.
Though the ancient colonial history and its technological decline is unknown, Occalis is believed to be one of the oldest human-settled worlds in the galaxy, and had undergone extensive terraforming. The single survivor of the Exzaldra family to arrive, a Kimary woman named Vetima, found herself in a medieval society of feudal lords and peasants. Though she did not want to drastically affect the world for fear of attracting Unwanted attention, Vetima taught her Staeus healing powers in the land that would eventually become Kathad, by the modern age becoming something of a mythical prophet to the religion that spawned around her called Etyshmanism.
While she could not fully confer the knowledge of her powers to her followers (even if she wanted to) due to some unknown limitations, those who took up the art could mimic it for very brief periods of time. Of course as time went on the power of the followers’ Staeus waned across the newer generations but a few discovered a trick to strengthening the power immensely. By concentrating Staeus powers on a person who is close to death, the “offset” of spirit, soul and vessel of the caster becomes greater, allowing for more Staeus power to be channelled at-will. The closer to death, the more this offset can be made. The more people, the power channels out quicker and in greater amount. While the victim’s spirit remains free to escape to the Afterlife, their soul energy is used up and absorbed into the caster. As the soul outside of its original vessel is an infinitely-renewable source of energy, the added soul-power will permanently enhance the Staeus of the Kimaer, creating a significantly weaker version of Staeus called Soulcrafting. While this knowledge would have brought those who discovered it to the brink of world-conquest, a power struggle within the Etyshmanist clergy brought cooler heads to lead.
These “cooler heads” would become the Yǐn-Verein, operating from the shadows for their ultimate plan far into the future. With a vague understanding that overusing their powers would attract unwanted attention, every method was employed to keep their magical arts a closely-guarded secret. While they manipulated the creation of the Kathad Empire and an eventual release of their powers to the public, as a counter to the impressive “industrial revolution” taking hold elsewhere, they themselves had ironically fallen prey to manipulation and even possession by Eldritch Entities which lay beyond the material universe, in the “offset” Staeus plane. Curiosity towards these lesser beings trespassing into their void domain by “Staeus” power had brought forth quite a fearsome appetite for the exotic, and all it requires is a grand sacrifice to open the doors to reality…
By 374 ADE (After Death of Etyshma)
The Empire of Kathad today is isolated from the rest of the world by-way of massive walls, lobotomized Kimaer sentries and a large impassible desert to the north-west. Though the Imperial court has tried to keep it secret, the knowledge of what “Soulcrafting” the Empire has been toying with has leaked out to the wider world (not helped by the fact that Kathad is mostly land-locked on a megacontinent, but the Yǐn-Verein had planned all that) and Shadow Arts must deal with foreign agents attempting to kidnap Soulcrafters.
Matters have not been helped by the fact that the Empire is at war with the neighboring Empire of Tetsu, where the mountainous fortress-cities shift hands constantly, as they have for the past eight years. The Tetsu have attempted numerous times to capture Kathad Soulcrafters but thankfully the foresight of the Yin-Verein saw the Soulcrafters in the western provinces evacuated further east. Worries from Midlander Imperialist expansion have subsided when the Fourth Continental War broke out in June of 371 and the technological marvels of the East were put to churn the forges of war. The technological and military prowess of the Kalmaar had forced the otherwise divided and warring states of Midlands together in a Grand Alliance which pre-emptively attacked and gained some speed; but it was a fruitless effort. That genius in Ancaster, Director Sworde, had used the Midlander invasion to rally the Kalmaar people to his planned wars of global conquest. Within weeks the technological lead the Kalmaar possessed was too apparent: jet aircraft and faster, stronger tanks and other weapons and tactics allowed them to defeat the Alliance armies in short order. It was only through sheer numbers and along the mountains of Stahlwehr and Lendaria that the Kalmaar advance was halted, just barely. The stalemate has lasted over two bloody years, but hope comes from the south as Aerugo has joined the war on the side of the Alliance following an attack by Kalmarium’s ally Aruelia.
The Sovereign Union is a massive and highly authoritarian state that sprawls across the northern subcontinent of Albria. Defined by it's martial culture and collectivism, the Sovereign Union seeks to eventually conquer the world as a benevolent force, assimilating all those "liberated" into an enlightened society, and those who would not conform willingly would be exterminated for the greater good. To Director Sworde, this war should not be have protracted as long as it has, or so the public would believe. He has other motives very few in his government even understand or know of. To him the battlefield is a lab to which he can experiment with his scientists' latest devices, and the war is a means to tighten his grip over his nation and impose his plans for redefining society from the ground-up on what would otherwise be called 'Orwellian' methods, if perhaps less extreme.
The Kalmaar war machine is spearheaded by the massive air force, the Union Army Sky Forces, and on the ground by "StrongKnights" (tanks). Initially relying on blitzkrieg tactics involving speed and maneuverability, the geography confronting them and the defences set up ahead of them have force them to adopt doctrines of overwhelming firepower and total destruction: cities that resist assault are to be flattened by bombers and artillery, forests hiding partisans are burnt out with napalm and civilian refugee convoys attacked to break the enemy's resolve. Newer weapons roll of the assembly lines in the form of more monstrous tanks and high-flying aircraft, and Kalmaar soldiers fight to join Velkarian in his Great War (basically Valhalla but a little personalized) after death, never miscounting their kills.
Rallying those nations which oppose Midlands' dominating grip over most of the world, the would-be Axis powers signed the Kastion Treaty as a means of containment before the war. Now called into action, this unlikely alliance of theocracies and nationalists stand firm against the Alliance. Of course they've unwittingly signed the destruction of their nations, for their military capability is hardly showing in this war and assistance from Kalmarium can only alleviate so much disadvantage.
Opposing the Kastion Powers are the Allied Forces of Midlands. Made up from often-times quarrelling nations such as Stahlwehr and Radren, they had united in the last Continental War into a League of Nations-type organization in the event of another war with Kalmarium or Velkiorostovya. Now that time has come but the military advantages of the Kalmaar and other Axis powers hadn't been calculated to be this much. Stahlwehr and Lendaria receive the thickest fighting, for they are the "ancestral homelands" of the Kalmaar people and as such the Kalmaar wish to both unite them as well as exact revenge for decades of extortion centuries past. Stahlwehr in particular has been ravaged, the Kaiser's battleships sunk, his panzer korps mauled, and his cities in flames from Kalmaar strategic bombing. He pits the last of his nation's hopes at the Battle of Wassel, the largest city in his empire as well as it's capital - and thus containing him along with it. Though most of the Imperial family have been evacuated, Kaiser Frederick stands firm to bolster the morale of his men until the Aerugan reinforcements arrive.
Lendaria, meanwhile, is managing to hold off the Kalmaar invasion on their own for the moment, using the mountainous terrain of their nation to funnel Kalmaar tank divisions into narrow mountain passes, and overall giving the Union Army a hard time. Their air forces have also proven exceptional against the Union Army Sky Forces, which has alleviated some of the destruction from UASF bombers against their cities, though not enough. Radren, a long-time dominating force in Midlands and a nation with ancient roots dating back to the days of Remo the Conqueror, has been unaffected by the war directly and is thus in a position to strengthen themselves in the world at the expense of their allies. They have not even deployed their entire military yet nor have they undergone Total War economies like Stahlwehr, instead preparing and re-equipping their military with the latest and greatest of Radren military technology, some that even matches what the Kalmaar have unveiled, such as jet aircraft.
Aerugo is the largest and newest member of the Alliance, being accepted out of reluctance by most of the members (save Stahlwehr, a long-time ally) due to a past history of annexing smaller Midlands states into their country. Being the most powerful and richest democratic nation on Occalis, the Aerugans at first saw little benefit to joining the war against a nation they held no contempt for. However it wasn’t until Director Sworde’s declaration of war against the Aerugans that the USA awoke from an aborted isolationism to set about saving the day. The Aerugan military isn’t up to spec for the fighting, despite it’s impressive size, and it will take some time for the Aerugans to deploy their full might against the Axis. Additionally they have taken up the role of dealing with those Axis nations not within the subcontinent of Midlands, such as Aruelia and Zymirah, thus spreading their forces out more than they'd want. Already the first of Aerugan reinforcements reach the front in Stahlwehr, bringing hope to the Allied defenders.
Though awakening the sleeping giant may have not been enough. The Tsar in Velkiorostovya might preside over a mostly obsolete military but his empire is no paper tiger, and just like Aerugo it is an industrial giant, and the Tsar himself a good friend of Director Sworde too. Alkatris debates it’s options, fearing that the Kalmaar might attempt to open up the Renault Canal by force, while President Ahmed fears a military coup by war-starved and ambitious generals who see Kalmarium as an ally. The Kingly Confederation detests the rest of the world, especially the whites of Midlands who’ve tried time-over to try and conquer their nation, enslave their people… If the either Empire wasn’t distracted with their pointless war they would attempt to form a third front to take down Midlands for good.
And the Axis and Allies look to the further south for more allies, in Sud Aeglix and Sudmare. The former is a pariah in the region, formed by Aerugan settlers who cast out or enslaved the natives then later broke off in the Aerugan Civil War and formed a white supremacist nation built around apartheid. They’ve dropped the slavery only fifty years ago but some still find it a viable method for turbo-industrializing their nation to compete against their “yellow” and “brown” neighbors. Ostensibly neutral, but they loathe the Aerugans a bit too much. Sudmare by contrast is a very egalitarian and democratic nation and has only recently begun to emerge onto the world as a significant economic and military power. The locals are… weird, though. They follow religions that are not found anywhere else in the world, worshipping dark gods and the eldritch that are abhorred elsewhere, and apparently possess a knock-off of Soulcrafting within their unholy priesthoods. Massive blackened pyramids from ages past are the centerpieces of many of the major cities, but are kept off-limits to most citizens. Don’t eat the “pork” here.
In vast underground complexes and laboratories Kalmaar scientists claim they are growing ever closer to creating the superweapon Sworde desires. A bomb, powerful enough to eradicate an entire city instantly. While the scientists on the project secretly debate to themselves the moral consequences of what they had created, Sworde had been long-aware that such a weapon existed, among many other technologies this backwards world is bereft of. Occalis will reach out into the stars soon and reclaim the lost artifacts of Mankind among them. Of course the destructive machinations of Mankind all pale in comparison to what the secret black rituals prepared within the Kathad Empire could unleash: forces beyond mortal comprehension await.
For now it's basically that everyone has a spirit and soul, but some spirits are stronger than others, which allows them to leech power from a dimension between the material realm and the afterlife that has properties no one can really explain (something Lovecraftian I suppose). This provides them with excess "soul" or "vitalic" energies that can be channeled out to bend the world around them, mostly through willpower. Many of these powers are universal among them, but one's character can sometimes create niche focuses (someone might be skilled at mass telepathy, while another is more skilled in out-right mind-control). Most of these people were called Kimary, who abruptly at one point all received this power and became quite a strong force in the universe until an empire of hedonistic, cyborg superhumans tried to remove them as a threat, and were quite successful.
And you don't have paint?
Otherwise, it wasn't hard it was just _very_ time-consuming having to go-back and keep adding detail to coastlines and borders. I looked at the map of Earth I normally use for some inspiration, same with an Ace Combat world map, among others.