1. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    Fantasy world building.

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Witchymama, May 20, 2016.

    Holy moly. I've recently dived back in to world building from scratch. Woven into the story are legends, histories, genealogies, and customs. There are other species that my main characters will be interacting with, so I'm also getting into creature development.
    I've devised methods of communication and transportation on the planet.
    My question is this: fantasy writers of the forum, would you please tell me anything else that I might be overlooking or failing to think of?

    Thanks,
    Witchymama
     
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  2. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Religion. Even if there isn't one, know that.

    Obviously the ecosystems, but more specifically, what trade goods come out of each region.

    If you're building more than one country, government may come into play. Hierarchies too, knowing what makes a person upper, middle, and lower class.

    Clothing of each region too. Possibly even hairstyles, if it's specific enough.
     
  3. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    Technology.

    How advanced it is, and what they have/dont have from our own world. Machinery, alchemy, gunpowder and so on. You can always come up with your own, or tweak some existing ones!

    My tip would be to divide technology under different categories, so you get clearer picture. It also ignites some thoughts on how it translates to the life of your characters. I divide technology into medical, energy, agriculture, transportation and manufacturing.

    You have legends and historical events. Do you have any kind of idea how this world came to life? How about origins of the races?

    I personally put extra care to geography, as my fantasy world is different from our nature. Do you use similiar nature to our own world? If you don't, put some thoughts into that. Do you have different seasons? Some odd occurences in weather? If one of those two is "yes", you need to figure out how it translates to the living of your world. For example in the series of "A Song Of Ice And Fire", the winter is more extreme and lasts years. How this affects the people of the world? They need to gather lots of food, or else they die out from famine. Major play in the grant aspect of things.

    Lea Brooks mentioned economy, which is important. You can make it simple or complex, up to your taste! To me economy is the hardest of them all, here is some question on that:
    • do you have currency or do people barter with items?
    • does the country/world leaders regulate the economy or is it free?
    • how important labor is? do you have slavery?
    • figure out what resources different areas have and how they affect different settlements (lack of materials for example)
    Religions are important. Throughout human history, gods and beliefs have affected our daily life. Sometimes, even killed whole societies. Different beliefs create contempts towards "outsiders", and thus changes the dynamics of people. I myself see religions as major part of politics, but it can also be look at from divine aspect. Are your gods real? If yes, what they do and do they show up for the mass? For example in a videogame "Ryse: Son Of Rome", one god showed up to one centaurion to guide his way towards his destiny. This centaurion didn't realise it was a real god at first, and saw himself as delusional fool.

    Hopefully this helps, and gives you some thought about your world. Good luck with your own world. :)
     
  4. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    @Lea`Brooks and @IlaridaArch thanks for responding.

    Religion is covered., as is economy. The economy is based on bartering goods and services, but is loosely based on the communist or socialist way. No one goes without what they need, at least.
    The religion is based on a line of witch Queens, and runaway ego and power after one of them elevates herself to goddess status. It is this very thing that my main character must combat.
    For technology, they have some limited technology. Limited to the average citizenry anyway. Those higher up in politics have access to more. It's a major point of contention as the plot moves forward.
    The weather, geography and day/night cycle is where I currently am spending my time. I want it to be similar enough to earth that the adjustment for my main character is possible, but not easy.
    I've already started development of food stuffs, entertainments, etc. Things like crimes and punishments I've already touched on some. There is no slavery, per say, but there are clear class divisions, usually separated by job function and species.
     
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  5. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Try thinking about it less from a top-down perspective where you're putting a world together in broad strokes, and more from a bottom-up perspective focussing on individuals. What does the average person's day consist of? Where do they get their food and water? Who produces it, who transports it? What do they do for entertainment? What do they think and how do they interact with other people, and why?

    If you like, you could check out my worldbuilding blog, it might give you some ideas.
     
  6. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    Thanks @terobi. I might just do that.
     
  7. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Religious schisms? Cultural icons? Migrations? Wars? Plagues?
     
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  8. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    @halisme I have considered all of that but the plagues. But now that you mention it, my plot has been setting one up for a while. But not a medical plague. No. My warped mind has been setting up a mental plague....
     
  9. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    Ethnicity is one of the most important parts of human interaction, so don't forget it. Separate from race, ethnic issues have caused political turmoil and wars since the beginning of time. It's a concept many Americans have a hard time grasping (not saying you are American) due to our nature of existing as a nation of mixed immigrants. It's easy to say "they're fighting over stupid things," but ethnic issues of "they don't believe in our religion" or even "They write our language in a different alphabet" cause true societal problems. I've explore ethnic issues extensively in my own WIP. Hope this helps!

    Rwandan Genocide
    Bosnian War
     
  10. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    "not saying you're American"  Do we really have that bad a rep?
     
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  11. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    Lol.
     
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  12. SighFieGuy
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    SighFieGuy Member

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    Something I think is often overlooked in this sort of thing would be clothes.

    I mean, think about it. Clothes change all the time. Cultures are identified by what they wear. The clothes we wear are not even the same as those worn by our parents.

    So yeah. What do different people in different cultures wear and why
     
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  13. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    Movies, books, games, and food.

    You'd be surprised at how the things that take up about 30% of our lives (or 85-99% if you're me) aren't even mentioned in books.
     
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  14. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    No. Just saying, if they're European, they have an understanding of Ethnic issues (look at Bosnia) that far exceeds that of an American.
     
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  15. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    Lol. Well for the record, not all Americans are ignorant of ethnic issues. Most are oblivious, but some of us notice the acutely.
     
  16. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not the not noticing, it tends to be the lack of nuance in viewpoints.
     
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  17. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well first there is the need for the right furniture, wardrobe and so forth. Then you need to figure out who and what will be going on, location key well be it a dungeon or a studio.(anywhere) :superlaugh:Oh my bad, you meant the other kind of Fantasy.:superlaugh:

    I don't really know. I would assume it is like Sci-fi, but with less space and tech involved. There has to be a hero figure that must embark on some sort of daunting task(s), the most difficult is typically towards the end of the story. And in between taking care of business there is a lot of getting to know the customs of the various races, and their ideologies with in the story (sometimes during tasks). It can take place anywhere as long as it does not evolve into sci-fi, cause I think the upper limits are Urban Fantasy (cause Sub-Urban and Rural Fantasy haven't been given a chance yet :D ). Magic is not a necessary element to the world, unlike tech in sci-fi (other wise it would not be all futuristicy and stuff :p). I am not really sure if mythological creatures are a mandatory or not, as I am not too familiar with more modern works of Fantasy. I guess it is equal parts environment, characters, and plot? Well I tried to be of some use, Fantasy tends to become far to complicated for this Fantasy based creature. (The Irony Police will be by shortly to arrest me :p ).
     
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  18. SighFieGuy
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    SighFieGuy Member

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    The further away you are from something, the harder it is to see the details. I'm sure most non-Americans would be quite baffled by some of our internal issues that go back centuries now.
     
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  19. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Harry Potter counts, surely? All of the main wizard families and all live in little villages in the middle of nowhere....
     
  20. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Considering you put legends, might I recommend adding a few false ones, or ones that are half true at least.
     
  21. Quixote's Biographer
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    Quixote's Biographer Member

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    Question: Maybe I'm missing something important here, but shouldn't the world build serve your story first and foremost? Sure, you can spend a lot of time coming up with more or less brilliant religions, politics, world/city economy and so on, but if none of that actually has any place in your story, what's the point? I.e. if economy/trading and the likes is not relevant to my story whatsoever, why should I spend time figuring it out? I think both the reader and I understand that there is some form of economy in place, but if it's not relevant I don't see why I should spend time coming up with a world economy. If I write that the characters use gold or whatever coins they may have and buy stuff from merchants, I think most people are able to follow that without having to have the entire world economy explained (unless I'm writing a Dylan Saccoccio novel). Sure, it can benefit me as the writer and make sure I'm consistent with how I handle money, but other than that I don't see the point of making a world economy unless it actually influences my story in important ways. (I'm genuinely asking here btw, not trying to be critical or anything. I'm quite new to world building myself so I know I have a lot to learn :) )

    So, that's my question, now for my theory on religion in world building :) I thought about this when I was considering whether to have religions, gods and myths as part of my world build and basically I came up two different types of Worlds that you can build, one where you should come up with religions and gods and myths and the likes and one where you shouldn't. I've called the first one the Realistic World Build and the second one the Mythical World Build (these are names I came up with in about 3,5 seconds so they're probably not very good, but they'll serve a purpose).

    The Realistic World Build; In this world build you have societies that believe in different religions, different gods and different myths for creation, the afterlife and so on. I called it Realistic because it builds on our real world (greek, roman mythology and what have you). If I understand you world builders correctly, this is the world type you're using and in this world build religion absolutely plays a part and it's important to create as part of your world build. So we are completely in agreement there.

    The Mythical World Build; This is where I think I would place a trilogy like the Lord of the Rings. Here the world is the myth (in my own understanding). It's not a world where people believe in myths, but the world itself is the myth. So the story of Frodo and the ring and everything else is THE myth, not a world where people believe in other myths. So, Sauron, Big Mythical Evil Dude, is very real in this mythical world but so are everyone else and there are no myths outside it.

    Did that make sense? Personally, I quite like the idea of this world type as I think it has potential to be much more epic in a lot of ways. In the first World type people believe in mythical creatures and mythical worlds. In the latter, these mythical creatures and worlds are present, you can go there, meet them and so on in an entirely different way than the first. So, in the Mythical world you wouldn't have to come up with any religions, gods or myths (nor churches, priests, monks etc) as part of your world build. People don't believe in myths because they live in them.

    Don't know if that made sense to you (it's a clear idea in my head but I'm not sure I was able to put it into words) but that's my thoughts on religion in world building. As I said, very much a theory in process so I'm open to criticism, suggestions, comments, answers to my first question and so on :)
     
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  22. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Birth control.
    Have condoms been developed? Things like leather and animal intestines have been used before the advent of latex. Consider whether your alchemists have learned to make rubber from tree sap. Are herbs or potions used to induce temporary sterility or interrupt hormone cycles? Do couples rely solely on timing to avoid pregnancy? In a pre-industrial society, it's important not to strain the family's resources.
     
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  23. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Perfectly true - but if it seems wildly inconsistent all the time (Harry Potter for instance) it can knock readers out of the story.

    The trap you have to avoid falling into if you're just going to go "gold pieces", is that if you follow fantasy game pricing schemes you end up with utter madness. 30 gold pieces for a dagger? Well gee, that's a hell of an expensive knife - you've just accidentally made steel more valuable than gold.
     
  24. Quixote's Biographer
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    Quixote's Biographer Member

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    Absolutely, but if it's not relevant to your story, you wouldn't mention any prices anyway so that shouldn't be a problem :)
     
  25. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    I did some searching for world-building, and I ran across this site. It has a whole list of things you should consider when building a world, which covers everything from the macro (geography, cultures) to the micro (how people spend their day).
     

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