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  1. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    The Big Three (worldbuilding)

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by B-Gas, Feb 2, 2008.

    Everyone knows the classical four elements- Fire, Water, Wind and Earth. And many people know what they stand for in the human psyche. Fire for willpower, water for compassion, wind for knowledge and earth for goals and planning.

    What I was thinking was, in my novel, could I strip these down to just three, and make them human? The Combatant as a representative of Planning and Willpower, the Concubine for Compassion and Emotion and the Spymaster for Knowledge and Learning. Basically, I'd use these- and their RPS symbols (Combatant=Rock, Concubine=Scissors, Spymaster=Paper)- as a theme throughout my novel. The three empowered characters all fit into one of these; rage, skill and technique, respectively.

    My question is, how far can I push this metaphor; and how much should it affect within the storyline? Should I build the plot around it, or should I plot and then nudge it in when I can?

    Also, any feedback on the metaphor/RPS system is fine. I'd like to know if that's right.
     
  2. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    Well, there actually is a big "three" thing going on with the human psyche, namely the Ego, Superego, and ID. As Freud puts it: "The ID contains primitive desires (hunger, rage and sex), the super-ego contains internalized norms, morality and taboos, and the ego mediates between the two and may include or give rise to the sense of self and the well being of humans." (I'm sure it made sense to Freud at the time.) Not to mention the common literary belief that three people is exactly the right number for having an "outsider."

    And, of course, there is probably no need to remind you of a certain *coughcough* Holy Trinity that's pretty well-known to just about everyone...
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    for a rundown on the actual 'big three' elements [despite popular belief, fire is really the catalyst for all 3, not one of 4], see my piece on the subject, 'the essential trinity':

    Says Mom - Writing Content

    you may get some ideas for your story there...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  4. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    I don't understand what you mean that fire is a catylist and not one of the four, mama...

    However, B-Gas, in my world I've got a sort of hierarchal rock-paper-scissors thing, though with less obvious one beating the other.

    The Mind, The Body, and the Soul. Each one serves as part of a sort of "Wellness Triangle" (uh, think back to middle school health class, I think theirs was social-physical-mental). There's no circular defeat ring, but it is kind of like the Combatant, Concubine, and Spymaster. The Mind represents higher "attunement", not so much knowledge, but wisdom, and spirituality. The Body is resolve and determination, a sense of self. And the Soul is something akin to willpower, and social interaction. It gets rather complicated though, as it's all part of the religious/philosophical system. There are even three "heavens". One where you ascend to pure essence, one where you're body rots and becomes plant food and all that Circle of Life stuff, and one where your soul mixes back into the soul well. And that's not including the Tartaros-like Hell. Each even has it's own magic system.

    For yours, I'd like to know more though. The three sound more like just a Rock-Paper-Scissors style game than an elemental/magic system... though even without calling things Combatant Concubine and Spymaster (also: Concubine has bad connotations, and Spymaster breaks the C pattern) you could still have the three be a sort of Love Triangle of foils. (I'm assuming there's a love triangle, right?). One character is gruff and headstrong, presumably the Hero, one character is the one looking for a "better way", presumably the Staff Chick, and one is tactful and subtle, played by the Lancer? That I see no problem working. Of course, if you come out and say that they're the combatant the concubine and the spymaster (really needs a C) then it sounds weird. Unless it's a fortune teller scene... Fortune tellers are always putting people into creepily accurate archetypes. It's what they're paid for.
     
  5. Sywo
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    Sywo Member

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    Maia- I don't quite really understand half the stuff in that link. I understand it, but I don't really believe it, if you know what I'm saying. I think it may be slightly put down by the fact humanity is designed to eat meet, other wise we would need less teeth variation. I'm a man of science. Mostly.

    In my story world, the three worlds are ruled over by three gods, one each for Light, Shadow and Time.

    Shadow= Power, Death, Body
    Light= Birth, Leadership, Control
    Time= Knowledge, Mind, Life.

    Along with this, I include the five elements of Fire, Water, Earth, Air and Aether. :D
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    edward... fire changes/transmutes all of the other three, which makes it a catalyst and not merely one of four similar 'divisions' of physical substances, as it were...

    sywo... i'm a woman of science [largely] and my studies have proven that human teeth are more like cows and horses, than cats or dogs, thus made to eat anything but meat... those so-called 'canine' or eyeteeth were designed to strip the pith from stalks, not rip animals to shreds... and the appendix was originally meant to digest nuts and seeds, not bone and gristle... having drifted away from being the vegetarians we were designed to be, it's no longer needed, which is why it's no longer used by our body and just 'in the way' nowadays...

    but this is not the place for debate... so, i'll let you get back to your story dilemma...
     
  7. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Technically Maia is correct. Fire isn't an element. Actually none of those other three technically qualify as elements. Air can be any mix of gases, earth can be composesd of dozens of elements, and water is a polar molecule (A better phrase would be "Three states of matter and a Chemical Reaction").

    EDIT: One cold actually equate the four elements to the four states or matter. Well actually there are nineteen states of matter... but still the four most common ones fit:

    Water = Liquid
    Earth = Solid
    Wind = Gas
    Fire = Plasma

    However Maia, he is correct that the classical elements are Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire. The Greek Empedocles supposedly compiled this list. I say supposedly because Plato is the only one who actually talks about the origin of the philosophy.

    However there are acually many "classical elements" and they vary by culture. Those four are just the most well known in the west because they come from ancient greece and rome and were used for symbolism in christianity.

    Chinese Elements: Earth, Fire, Water, Wood, and Metal (No wind)
    Hinduism: Adds Aether to the other four
    Japan: Adds Void to the other four
    Neo-pagan: Adds Lightning
     
  8. JustinaB
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    JustinaB Active Member

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  9. JustinaB
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  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i know that's what's considered the 'classical' list... my point is that plato was off on that... hey, no one's perfect, right?! ;-)
     
  11. Sophronia
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    ...I always thought humans were omnivorous because we have both tearing and grinding teeth...

    ANYWHO, back to the subject:
    That's completely up to you, B-gas. To me, building a plot around such a concept would definitely add more background story and perhaps better character development (such as beliefs, origins, etc.). Of course, that's just me XD Having the concept as more of a background thing wouldn't hurt at all. In fact, what I said before (about backgrounds and characters) would work just as well with the latter.

    Bleh I can't word things right today. Hope I helped.
     
  12. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Don't worry. The ordering of what usually constitutes words- especially as applies to dangerously long run-on sentences that have no real need to be as drawn-out and complex as they eventually are- in the aforementioned and ridiculously complicated sentences tends to be a rather worrisome trouble for me as well.

    Thanks to everyone who replied to this one. What do you think of the concept itself, though, is my question- though the disturbing number of element sites is rather humourous- meaning the three humanoid elements? Does it work? Does it stand on its own?
     

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