Map Collaboration and Lore Council for the Cancelled ‘Nosgoth’

Soul Reave Era Nosgoth

This is an explanation of what transpired leading up to the creation of the maps of Nosgoth, created in collaboration with fellow selected fans on the “Lore Council,” in place to help as a check for the lore on the now cancelled game, ‘Nosgoth,’ developed by Psyonix and Square Enix. In addition to our advice to help the game better integrate with the canon of Legacy of Kain, this project was a task to create an accurate world map for them to use for the future Soul Reaver era. We wound up developing two versions of that map, one for the past Nosgoth, as seen in Blood Omen 1, along with the future version. Both versions were set also to be added to the canon of Legacy of Kain as world atlases to help Square Enix better represent the series’ world representation. Since Nosgoth wound up being cancelled before ever going live, and the talks within the legal department on using these maps never were concluded, these maps wound up not being incorporated in either ‘Nosgoth’s’ production, nor were they added to the series’ canon.

As I outline in the video introducing The Pillars Scene in Unity 5, months of discussions and debates over everything from the placement of a mountain chain to the level of trees that would exist into the future transpired. In the future version of the map, you will notice, there is a new lake. The Avernus Cathedral map from the “heaven” part and the map tile from William the Just’s stronghold were inspired choices to use as a way to distort the land in a very believable outcome which could certainly have happened due to the natural passage of time, as well as the unnatural decay and corruption, with the cataclysms it caused, from the damning of the Pillars. This did present an issue where we would have to label a new lake, as the Lake of Tears had greatly diminished and with it, a new lake in the northwest had formed, creeping into Coorhagen and offering the reason for the destruction at Nupraptor’s Retreat seen within Soul Reaver 1’s playable areas. When you look at the map of Nosgoth, we noted, it follows through a very deliberate motif. Around the map as a circle, starting from the west, you have Lake of Tears, Lake of the Dead, Lake of Lost Souls, and Lake of Serenity. The only one not fitting into this labeling pattern is the Great Southern Lake. If you take the ones that do, you have Lake of Tears, which evokes sadness and sorrow, which branches almost right into the Lake of the Dead. So, extrapolating, sorrow at someone who is dying, and then they die at the LoD. Now, you have two polar opposing continuations from this point. The Lake of Lost Souls and the Lake of Serenity. Either the soul passes on to the afterlife where it is in bliss, heaven, serenity, etc., or the soul is damned to either hell, or purgatory — a lost soul. Certainly, this also fits with the theme of the games. The land winds up corrupted and veritably sick, dying, and the choice comes to either let it be reborn into purity, bliss, or to damn it utterly to an eternity of decay.

Back to our dilemma: we reasoned that any new lake that sprung up from the depletion of the Lake of Tears would need to fit thematically. It wouldn’t totally need to, but it was a better reasoning than randomly labeling it, or not labeling this huge new body of water at all. Subsequently, we spent a few nights coming up with every terminology you can think of for pain and suffering. Since it would need to fall before death, as in the Lake of the Dead, it would need to evoke the anguish that comes right before, or as someone is dying, or seeing someone you love die. Besides that grim line of thought, this did offer up some macabre moments of humor, as we debated over suffering, anguish, or if terms like that were too simplistic, too generic. This proved to be a few nights of delirious and fun debating into the wee hours of the morning, before we all finally went … yup, Anguish is still about the best there is.

Then you have the debates on just how far east should the Lighthouse be, and where should it be. The new diagonal river branches I mention which have sprung into being from the draining of the Southern Lake provided a natural reasoning for that lighthouse, which otherwise in Soul Reaver doesn’t have the usual purpose for a lighthouse that you’d expect. There is no river, lake, or sea, with which the lighthouse is helping to direct boats and ships along, so it just kind of exists to house the light glyph. This offers up more a plausible original reason for it, existing to direct shipping lanes along this new river, splitting the bit of mountains south of Vorador’s mansion. The question came whether to put the lighthouse there, or push it further north. Same thing with Kain’s Retreat and the Silenced Cathedral. We looked at everything available, from the Soul Reaver 1 intro movie stills, per-production stills, ingame mapping, and logic and reason of just where and how far in each direction the iconic places should go. Same with the Lake of the Dead. We watched and distilled the intro, the stills, and the ingame overhead view on Shrykull and Raina Audron’s ingame overhead maps of the Lake of the Dead to figure out how many sources of water and what shape that inevitably should be (along with the iconic two islands within it), how those sources of water should feed into it, where and if that could still connect back to the logic on the Avernus and WtJ map tiles, etc. It was an amazing bit if scrutiny and care put into each location. We were absolutely intent on being as authentic to what was, while trying to find a means to fill a gap that was not truly ever pinned down in the future mapping of the world. It all had to line up, however. Others before us have made amazing fan maps, which I take nothing away from and I am sure none of the others do, either. They paved the way. Their maps would not line up directly over the BO1 map, for instance, and it is no small feat to make everything fit.

Then there was the shore line, and if we should make a self contained world without anything spilling over. It essentially is basically that now, however we do have some portion of the land continuing to the south in the Blood Omen past. For the Soul Reaver era, however, the whole point was the land was truly in peril, slowly decaying away. Seeing the jagged shoreline eroded and the fracturing of the world via rivers and bodies of water which were spreading, or invading areas, was a nice way to starkly visualize this. It showed that all that you see is what Kain’s empire was, too, that he had gotten his wish, at the cost of the vibrant, expanding world which used to be. Blood Omen 2’s extension was carefully incorporated. It didn’t fit into the proportions from that official map. When the first draft was created by rabban, it was less of an issue, but it did have to be stretched to make sense in the BO1 proportions. Too far north of an arc in the western shoreline and things feel like they are being closed off; the world loses its broad and huge feel. Plus, contrary to how it’s portrayed in the BO2 map, the areas of Provance on down need to be as far as you can logically get them away from the very center of Kain’s empire for any of the human resistance using these locations to make sense.

The other thing about the Lake of Tears, having the tail southwest end river veer around into the sea gives a nice starting point to that shore line, but it also makes a logical sense feeding into its name. Just like the salty tears in its name, a saltwater lake only makes sense in the end.

In addition to placing the major locations, when I delved deep into making this map, the idea came to me to see if my thoughts might line up correctly that the paths taken in each of the games could be made to fit logically within the entire world. Despite things like Defiance’s totally different Pillars area mapping, different paths and just a completely different layout, really, I was sure that the logic of it could be made to line up. It might start to get a little crowded, so I had to see if it would indeed work.

For the future, just where does Raziel emerge from after waking in Spectral in the Abyss and making his way through the caves? I knew it had to be close enough to the Lake of the Dead, and still be west of the Silenced Cathedral. I remembered the cave systems in the swamp area of Blood Omen 1, before Kain gets to Vorador’s Mansion, and all the goodies he finds in those swamp caves. This was a logical place to put the standing stones Raziel emerges to, where he finds the first material portal. If those caves had collapsed, exposing the clearing (long after the swamps had dried up),  then the caves linking from it and wrap around back to the Sanctuary of the Clans would be going right through the cave system seen in BO1 and that all links up nicely. There is also a lot to the south that is not defined on the Blood Omen 1 map, south the playable swamp area (it’s nothing but trees). In the map of this area in Soul Reaver 2, and using a map key to it, which Daniel Cabuco graciously provided, the swamps extend father down, feeding eventually into the Great Southern Lake. So, there is precedence for having the southern extension that’s on our map. That could be just the right spot for Raziel to emerge from in Soul Reaver 2, out of the underground water channel, and then the ruins with the Dark Forge, which when mapped there, conveniently wall off the section Kain traveled through north of this. It is little things like this which just came together nicely.

We also took some time to talk about how the Sarafan Stronghold in Defiance could be seen as the west side, vs. the east, somewhat mirrored side seen in Soul Reaver 2, and if that could work. It would make sense in why the locations of rooms seem about the same, yet completely different at the same time, and certainly paths connecting them are not the same.

I won’t bog this down going into everything we deliberated over, but rest assured that we did take the time to labor over every location. I am sure questions will arise, but we have the answers. It was more than a year ago when last we did debate over things, but luckily, that’s why a chat record is nice to verify that our memories are still intact :p Sommerdam is obviously attributable to the game, ‘Nosgoth.’ The location of Valeholm is also up for interpretation, but otherwise, this is the “final” map. Always subject to one last tweak, however 😉

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