1. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Member

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    Building a Culture

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Andi. Just Andi., Jun 9, 2018.

    Currently, I am working on building the culture for the world of my first story. I'm looking to different countries for some inspiration, most notably Russia, Georgia, and Armenia. I specifically need help in establishing what the people wear, different traditions, and supertitions. Does anyone have any suggestions for these or just about anything having to do with culture?
     
  2. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    There is a pretty simple process to do this (at least one I have found works):
    • Ask yourself what species (if human than it's a little more simple) you need a culture for. Maybe you want a vampiric culture, or a new elf culture, or an alien you designed, etc.
    • Then ask yourself where they would have originated; what environment do they prefer or stay in (at least at the beginning of their life as a species).
    • Now its on to basic things like what they would have eaten and what their life would have been (nomadic to hunt their prey? stationary based upon a large water supply, etc).
    • Once you have figured that out ask yourself what would the first buildings they would make look like, would it be spacious and fancy or would they prefer more spartan quarters.
    • Ask at the start of their building societies what would be something they care about, what would be most important to them for keeping civil order and what would they look back on with pride (which will become traditions in some form).
    • Then fastforward through the centuries; how many traditions will be lost or changed, how many new ones will come up from the expansions of their civilizations. The more advanced you want them the more fastforwarding you will need to do.
     
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  3. Infel

    Infel Senior Member

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    Oh ho ho ho! You came to the right place my friend! I'll leave a small essay here, but feel free to PM me: I love creating this kind of stuff.

    Step one: location. Where do they live? This will effect nearly everything about the culture from their beliefs to religion to their value systems.

    Step two: what are external threats? Predators, environmental restrictions, potential for agriculture? People base their societies off of minimizing threats to their tribe--or cities, whatever.

    Step three: what is their typical understanding of the natural world? Humans are creatures that fundamentally attempt to create order from chaos. We will do literally anything in our power to put natural phenomena into understandable information so that we don't literally die of anxiety. Sure, your culture is however it is now, but it's basis is in the 205+ thousand years "humans", or whatever your race is, have been around.

    So everything from what they wear to their superstitions will be based on their environments, their threats, and their attempt to rationalize the world around them. Obviously clothes are utilitarian, but they don't HAVE to be. Your Inuit people would gladly wear bikini tops and suffer the cold if they thought some HORRIBLE otherworldly fate awaited them otherwise. Your Aztecs would GLADLY skin children alive and wear their skin as costumes if they were CONVINCED that if they didn't the sun literally would not rise the next day and the universe would freeze and die.

    So make a big ole' list and answer some of those questions! Hope that helped!
     
  4. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    Read Anthropology. Levi-Strauss would be a solid start, and for gems of real-life insights into strange cultural misconceptions and traditions I’d also recommend Geertz.

    I have been reading Levi-Strauss’s Structural Anthropology, but if that is too dry and heavy for you you should at least give Geertz a look in - a much more “amiable” style compared to Levi’s more clinical approach.

    The book by Geertz I am referring to is called The Interpretation of Cultures.
     
  5. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Member

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    Well then, I didn't expect to get this many replies in less than three days, not that I'm complaining :D

    Anyway, so I can answer somethings about the environment here. The village is located in a valley and was formed because the area has good soil for agriculture and an abundant water supply. Because of their agricultural-based society, I made it so they mainly worship a farming and cattle god along with a river god because of their irrigation system. Aside from little traditions tied to marriage, that's all I've got so far. I'll hopefully have more ideas soon.

    Let me know if you have any suggestions based on that.
     
  6. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    Just off the top of my head a lot of pagan groups with ties to agricultural gods sacrificed different things like goats and sheep and sometimes would give the gods a percentage of their farmed crops to keep them happy and make sure that the next farming season was as good as the last (and yes; there was the occasional human sacrifice). As for a river god since water is the most important to survival you could always have couples who become married be baptized in the water (I had an alien race do this because they couldn't swim, and if they could hold onto their loved ones for a certain amount of time then it proved their love).

    Just a few ideas, hope it helps.
     
  7. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Member

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    Since baptism is connected with rebirth and purification, maybe the ritual is supposed to make both halves of the couple pure for one another. Perhaps this ceremony can take place right before a wedding or right after. As for sacrifices, I might consider human sacrifice. It could actually help push the plot forward.

    Thanks for the idea.
     
  8. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    Considering the river, that will likely affect their religion a lot. The rivers of ancient Sumer were prone to random flooding, so the river gods were tempramental and prone to anger at the slightest events. The Nile, however, is very predictable, so the egyptian river god was pretty chill. Otherwise, if you want to base your fantasy culture on a real world one, I'd suggest looking at the running themes within their narratives, such as the ancient greek focus on fratricide.
     
  9. FifthofAscalante

    FifthofAscalante Member

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    Check out the mythical genesis of the Slavic nations: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lech,_Czech,_and_Rus , and this primary deity of pagan Slavs: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svetovid . Also, since there is of rivers, check out this one, considered to be a metaphorical mother of the Rus nation: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volga_River .This should get you started on a Wiki trip.

    Just like Greece and Rome, many elements of Slavic mythology have their equivalents in Norse and German mythology, so don’t be particularly afraid of diluting your inspirations by mixing in some of those other mythologies. These people have mingled a lot, a lot. Have a look at Ivan Bilibin’s art. For further research, including linguistic reference, focus on Ukraine instead of Russia. Ukrainian tongue is as close as it gets to the original Slavic. Russian has many foreign influences. Though it’s a loose match, the Lithuanian people were the last pagans in Europe, so this could be a good place begin research into the Slavic paganism.
     
  10. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Member

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    Hello again!

    So, I've thought of the first part of the origin story for the village. To put it shortly, with a tribe of people fleeing the war in their country. However, at this point, I'm debating if they travel across the sea and settle to form a seaside village rather than travelling across the land. If they settle by the sea, wouldn't they really worship a sea god instead of a cattle or river god?
     
  11. Beloved of Assur

    Beloved of Assur Member

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    Depending on time period and such Youtube can perhaps help you if you look for some clips about mentioned culture's traditional dress or older film clips. All of it pending on how close you want to cut to reality.
     

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