1. [BlackBird]
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    [BlackBird] New Member

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    Setting for a Medieval dark european village

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by [BlackBird], Feb 18, 2015.

    Hi there!

    I'm a new member so this will be my first thread - hooray for me! :crazy:

    I'm trying to write a small story about the superstitious fear of vampires and the overall living dead on the late Middle Ages. The "creatures of the night" will always be omnipresent and I intend to create an unsettling atmosphere of horror and mystery.
    While I'm still researching on burial customs, diseases and daily life on medieval eastern Europe, I would love some help and opinions on how should I develop the setting of an appropriate village for the tale.

    Thanks!
     
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  2. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    Are you looking for help with how the village should look from a historical/atmospheric point of view or more how you'd introduce the setting and build the atmosphere?
     
  3. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm. The Dracula myth in particular is very much rooted in Transylvania, which is of course a very real place in modern-day Romania, and specifically rooted in the historical figure of Vlad the Impaler. So, if you're looking to play into that ethos, I would definitely look at setting your story somewhere in or near medieval Romania - and if I were doing it I'd be pretty painstaking in portraying the culture as Southeast European rather than your standard-issue British-based medieval fantasy. But I'm also a cultural geography junkie so that's a very "me" thing to do.

    Then again maybe you don't wan't to be in the actual vicinity of the Dracula myth. In which case I would consider very carefully where you DO want to be, build the culture from there, and then explain the relationship between your vampires and Vlad the Impaler and how the vampires got to your area. That said, I'd still veer on the side of making your setting distinctly East European to set it apart from other medieval settings.

    The other thing I'd note is that the real-life Vlad Dracula was born in 1421 - well into the period we now call the Rennaissance (granted Romania was a bit far away from the center of that movement and not quite advancing on the same lines as Italy). BUT since you specified your planned setting as MEDIEVAL, I think you've unwittingly offered yourself a great opportunity. If your story is set in Transylvania at the height of the Dark Ages - lets say sometime between 800 and 1100 AD - you are at least 400 years BEFORE the genesis of the Dracula myth, and as such your vampires are likely the ANCESTORS of Dracula himself.

    I think you could have a brilliant story here as a sort of distant prequel to Dracula - perhaps chronicling the arrival of the first vampires into Transylvania during the Dark Ages. THAT is a story I would love to read.
     
  4. [BlackBird]
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    The historical part. I cannot build the atmosphere without knowing some stuff about the daily life of a village in a setting like that. The fear of Darkness and the Unknown will be the major highlight in the atmosphere but I want to keep it has close to how real life would be in that age.

    Thank you for replying to the thread, by the way :)
     
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  5. [BlackBird]
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    [BlackBird] New Member

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  6. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you answered your own question with your choice of superstious citation - set it in medieval Greece and expand on the practice you cited. That by itself would make a very original setting for a vampire premise.
     
  7. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or if not Greece than maybe Bulgaria would be a good option with Greek spillover. I'm still leaning Greece - or more specifically either someplace on the North fringe of the collapsing Byzantine Empire or (even better) one of Crusader States set up after the sack of Constantinople.
     
  8. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Something else to consider if you're setting it in the medieval era...was this during the Medieval Warm Period between 950 and 1250, or during the Little Ice Age from 1350 to 1850? This will affect vegetation and crops. Not so much in, say Bulgaria, as further North - although the weather experienced in Bulgaria during the making (last year) of 10,000 BC was pretty damned cold!
     
  9. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    Luckily, a lot of these little places haven't changed very much over the years, so although I don't think they're 100% original, you should have a look at places like Bucharest or Sighișoara which is Romania, they're cities but you'll get a feel for it. Might also be worth looking up Novgorod, although you'll be drifting into Russia, it has a massive historical record dating back to the 10th century.

    Wherever you go, there will be a huge religious presence and depending on the area you choose you'll need to consider what branch of orthodox etc your people follow. If you're in Eastern Europe you'll possibly have a Jewish vibe as well, and maybe all the tension that went with it.

    Society wise you'll be dealing with a feudal system arrangement, various lords/knights crashing in and out asserting their power with the Crusades raging. You may also need to look up the Black Death and all the other plagues that would have effected communities. Houses would be simple one story thatch roof, wattle and daub type of things, very dark and by our standards, really foul smelling. The darkness, the unknown and the deep superstitions will flow.
     
  10. PuffNewty
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    PuffNewty New Member

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    I really love your ideas! There's a lot you can really do with this setting. Although there's a lot of documented history about this time period, there is still a lot shrouded in mystery. There is certainly a lot out there about this time period that you could learn about. If authenticity is something you're reaching for, clothing and language might be an important research focus, as well as societal issues such as women (and their place in society), religion, class, etc.

    Since many people weren't educated that well at this time, perhaps the setting can be based on the imaginative wive's-tales or horror stories told by your characters? You could definitely make a dark, interesting and hyperbolic setting out of this.

    Very interesting ideas, I would love to read this story!
     
  11. Sipsik
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    Dirt on the streets. Lots of dirt. Pleague. Rats.
    Okay, okay, when one mentions dark, European and medieval, The Pillars of the Earth come to my mind. Witches and witch burning should be included too. And terrors of religion and church.
    Of course make sure, you place your setting in a certain country. Idk where you are from, but many Americans tend to think Europe is this one big connected thing. Learn about countries and history at least a little before you start to write.
     
  12. Trev_Star
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    Trev_Star Member

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    Depending on where you base your setting, feudalism was the prevailing social system of the period. Think the "Help, help I'm being oppressed" Monty Python skit. Class division was for life, and life conditions for the poor were fairly abysmal while the nobility & their vassals lived fairly comfortably. The Church was beginning to rise to prominence as well, as the poor flocked to the church for comfort and the corrupt used it to manipulate the masses. Combining those dynamics with the fear/distrust/superstition of a horror setting presents a lot of potential for interesting conflict.
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Just for fun, I just googled 'medieval village photos' and came up with lots of pictures that would certainly get the ball rolling for you. Particularly interesting are some of the line drawings, which often contain people and building plans, etc, taken from various locales (not all of them Western European.) I was intrigued by the one that shows the street as being sunken, while the houses are built on raised ground along it. If you click on any of the pictures that interest you, you might get led to even more interesting views.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2015
  14. Thunder_Bard
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    I could probably hel you out with that if you want?
     
  15. Thunder_Bard
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    Finally I have found the history buffs of the forum :D!
     
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  16. TheSerpantofNar
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    I could give you tips on atmosphere ect. But once you see it in you're minds eye then that's when the atmosphere will be made. I try to put myself in that place where the story takes place. But given it sounds dark ages don't include a lot of bright colors but mainly dark browns,grays,blacks and maybe some decay and dirty desciptions. Like a begger dressed in gray with a pale deathly face asking for coins. Or crude muddy town streets with animal feces in it.
     
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  17. Carlos Danger
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    Balkans could be interesting if you wanted Islamic influence, thing as the area would have been under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Definitely read the opening two or three chapters of Dracula. Some very good descriptions there, even though I don't believe Bram Stoker ever visited Transylvania. As far as I know, he used tourist guides and maps to write his novel.
     
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