The Encyclopedia Ermariana is intended to be a knowledge base for the Canon of the world explored by the Exile/Avernum series by Spiderweb Software. Its name is derived from Ermarian, the name that the fan community has coined for this world.
The primary purpose of the Encyclopedia is to build a complete, detailed picture of the world of Ermarian, its history, geography, creatures and cultures. As game canon lacks detail that must be filled in if the Encyclopedia is to be complete, it is necessary to include new content that is neither in the game nor can be derived from it.
Main article: Canon
Fan-invented content must not contradict the game canon, in letter or in spirit. Where the game canon exists, it has priority.
Information that is not dictated by the game canon, but which has become accepted tradition among most scenario designers (such as the name Ermarian) should be adhered to, but unlike game canon, it does not overrule other content automatically.
Whether fan-created content is included or not is determined by common sense and, in ambiguous cases, by an oligarchic decision among the older members.
Numerous user-created scenarios have been set inside Ermarian. The content that can be derived from them is treated as fan-created content.
Conflicts and Contradictions
Necessarily, the universe of Ermarian contains several unclear or ambiguous points; mainly where
- the games contradict themselves,
- the Avernum plotline differs from the Exile plotline
- no mention is made at all of a certain point.
In these instances (especially the last), the fan community and scenario designers make up their own theories, which are usually not in accord with each other. Examples for this are the unexplored early ages of humanity (see Origin Question), the declining days of the Empire, and most of the history of the Vahnatai - topics far removed from the game setting. However, such unclarities may crop up in more issues central to the games such as the founding of the Kingdom of Avernum, or the Hawthorne dynasty. The most central conflict of all is probably the question regarding the name of the underground Kingdom - namely, Exile vs Avernum.
Resolution of these issues, must come through some semblance of democratic consensus, as Jeff himself devotes little time to explaining the background of the world of Ermarian. Many such matters have been the root of bitter conflicts between established scenario designers.
See also Canon.
As the Encyclopedia has no affiliation with Spiderweb Software (see Disclaimer), the information it provides has authority only to those that acknowledge it. Although attempts are made to distinguish between between information derived directly from the games (and thus part of the Game canon) and fan-created content through the use of the "Source" box, this is done only on a rough basis with entire articles, and not with individual facts or ideas that may have different sources.
It should be noted that Jeff Vogel himself has no intention of developing the background world outside of a game setting any time in the new future:
- It [writing a book about the history of this world] is one of those things I would love to do. The problem is time. Between the multiple games I'm working on, other projects, and raising a toddler, I just don't have time for a lot of things it would be really cool to do. Sorry!
- - Jeff Vogel
- Spiderweb Software, Inc. Source)
The idea for the Encyclopedia Ermariana was first come up with in a topic on the Spiderweb forums (Wish List for BoA). The topic under discussion changed from a request for new features in the game Blades of Avernum to a request for Jeff to explore more of the Avernum world in a book. The actual suggestion for a coordinated project by fans came on July 17, 2003, which is therefore cited as the birth date of the Encyclopedia Ermariana.
The exact evolution of this site is explained in more detail on Arancaytar's user page. It started out with a collection of somewhat formatted text that had originally been part of a word document.
Some insight about the development of the geocities site can be gained from the old News & Updates page.
If you thought you knew all there is to know about the site's history, here's something new: Around Februar 2005, I looked into the possibility of using a Blogger blog to publish the news section, and perhaps even handle content that way. It could have worked too; with some readjustments what is intended to be used as a diary could have been made into an encyclopedia - but I abandoned that idea, because it would have been an insane amount of work and not really the suitable tool. The old site is still available at ermarian.blogspot.com.
The idea is actually older than it seems. I must have thought of it in December 2004 or perhaps slightly later, after I first saw the NationStates Wikipedia, which is another fictional encyclopedia. A wiki system is far more effective to handle a compendium than a site managed by a single person who people email their entries to. However, I never really got around to installing a Wiki site until August 22, 2005.