1. Razzle

    Razzle New Member

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    Fantasy/scifi city setup when monsters wander the world?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Razzle, Dec 11, 2016.

    Finally getting an outline for a fantasy/scifi world typed up and need advice on something about how I want cities to work when monsters (placeholder name, I'm not sure what to call them yet) are roaming around outside and are quite powerful and vicious.

    I might go for barriers, but I recently decided I didn't want sorcery to be the norm in the story, and I'm unsure how to make it a science based system.

    Perhaps city guards with access to decent weaponry?

    What do you guys think?

    Also, when it comes to the monsters outside the cities I want them to be more intimidating than say the kind in rpgs where they never enter towns anyways like...I guess Final Fantasy 7 (before later in the game when WEAPONs are wandering around) I'll use as an example, but not as terrifying as Attack on Titan where humanity feels helpless and doomed.

    So if FF7 is 1 and AoT is 10 on a scale then I want somewhere around 6.

    Humanity is limited in what they can do on their own planet and traveling can be risky depending on the type of transportation, but most people are ok until a specific incident in the plot happens and smaller monsters are getting past the guards and causing trouble in the cities.
     
  2. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    Barriers would work fine; it just depends on a) how advanced the tech in your world is, and b) the monsters' capabilities. If they can fly, for example, you'll need to make a skydome or a barrier that covers the city (like an energy/force field). Otherwise, good thick walls should suffice. Check out some post-apocalypse TV shows/movies for more ideas.
     
  3. blklizard

    blklizard Member

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    For your cities, do they have to be above ground? Maybe you can have underground cities with monsters roaming the surface. Certain resources might only be available on the surface so encounters with monsters aren't always avoidable. Certain monsters might have evolved so they could burrow making the cities more vulnerable.
     
  4. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    You ready for some grade A anthropology? Prepare thyself to check it.

    Assuming your fantasy world is like Earth, humans underwent a very long evolutionary process in order to become the beings they are at the time your story starts. Other animals, the monsters you say that are vicious, were undergoing those same changes. That means in order for humans to actually even EXIST on your place at all, they would already have had to deal with the threat of monsters--or anything--that can murder-eat their faces open. They would have had to accomplish this LONG before they had a mastery of magic, and WAY LONG before they had a mastery of science. This is good for you, because it makes things simple. Commence the checkin' of it:

    Humans are small creatures that are relatively non-specialized with the exception of THUMBS HELL YEAH which enable us to grasp objects. Also, our fingers let us manipulate things fairly acutely when compared to other animals. This means, coupled with the fact that we have a big meat-based-information-processing-system (read brain) in our heads, we have the ability to think of and create tools for situations. We can think abstractly beyond what we have in front of us. Hands let us grab hammers, spears, and rocks with a sure grip, fingers let us flintknap and make tools. All of these things your humans were doing a billion million years ago (maybe 2.5 million)

    Ergo, your humans already know how to deal with monsters, because they've obviously survived long enough to be at a fantasy point in your fantasy story. So how did they do it before magic and before they had access to stone walls and fireballs? They found natural barriers. Caves, valleys, mountains on one side of which large predators didn't exist, islands, places too hot or too cold for large animals but where humans can thrive. They found spaces that monsters couldn't exist, and settled there because they were safe. Large monsters need lotsa' food to keep on bein' large walking mouths. Humans can live off of bugs and rabbits if they need to. Guess what can't? Freakin' dragons.

    So your humans spent most of their evolutionary lives staying the heck out of the way of monsters, adapting to areas where humans by their nature could learn to live but monsters can't. They stayed in these safe havens until they had the tools to venture out. Then little by little, they would begin to murder-hobo the things that threaten them. If they can't make a tool big enough to kill it, they retreat to their cave or whatever until they've got a better one.

    So your man-cubs found a place they could call home. A cold region, a valley, where monsters simply didn't have the means to exist. Eventually your humans happened to luck out and find a place where:

    a) toothy-mouths didn't exist
    and b) the conditions were right for humans to run agriculture.exe

    More food means more people, more people means more hands to make food, and also more hands to do labor. Even if its only in one valley, you find yourself with your first civilization. The easier people can make a lot of food, the less people need to be involved with making food, and that leaves a bunch of people with free time to do OTHER THINGS: like magic, and walls, and WEAPOOOOONS.

    Better weapons (i.e. not sharp rocks) means humans have a better chance of leaving their safe baby cradle. They can now bring the fight to monsters. Humans do their best to rid the entire surrounding area of monsters, and they persist until it happens. So then you have a city that occasionally gets monster attacks, but for the most part is calm.

    Because animals aren't dumb unless their turkeys. They learn to be afraid of humans with their stab-rods and their red flower. They don't mess with those guys. Monsters just want an easy meal and a nice lady-monster on a cold night to have a monster baby with. They leave those humans the fuck alone.

    Then humans can grow even bigger. They can expand further. They can leave their valley, and find new places that aren't QUITE as perfect as the first place, because they now have better tools. Maybe they find a place that only has one or two monsters. So they introduce the monsters to their friendly neighborhood sharp stick, and those monsters decide they'll go find a different field.

    And so on and so forth. Eventually humans have found what works, and are constantly working on better ways of making it work. But the truth of the matter is, most places in your world probably aren't plagued by monster attacks because humans likely already dealt with that shit before they settled. Only in new towns, new frontiers, would it even be an issue. And now my rant is over. I hope you enjoyed 900 words of scientific opinion on fantasy. As you can tell I'm feeling a little intense this evening.

    Love you bye.
     
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  5. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    Walls, guards, civilian militia. Preferably with spears or guns depending on if the tech allows.

    If you want the realistic version go with what @Infel said. Also, stealing the term "murder hobo things"
     
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  6. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    ... Wow :eek: Humans are scary.
     
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  7. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    We made it to the top for a reason. We're the champions of long distance travel, the smartest, and incredibly resistant for our size.
    In other words, we cannot be stopped, we will survive and we will find you. We are the horror film villains of nature.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
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  8. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    It also occurs to me that we're not nutritious enough to normally be worth the effort of another predator. Isolated hunting parties and weakly defended communities might be vulnerable to a predator who's unusually desperate, but moderately defended communities tend to work as well as strongly defended communities just because predators would quickly start looking for something easier.

    @Razzle I just had a thought about your world's backstory that you can feel free to ignore if this isn't what you're going for: magic could be more widely used than it is, but there's a huge stigma because two nations destroyed each other with magically-created zoological weapons of mass destruction that everybody else now has to deal with.

    This could also work into an anti-anti-intellectualism theme if that's something you're interested in (given that if magic is something you can use, then it's a kind of science like physics and chemistry ;) ) : obviously, technology can be misused, but denying somebody permission to develop something good is at least as bad.
     
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  9. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    Other neat facts about humans:

    1) Many animals can outrun us, but we always catch up.... in time. And find the stragglers.

    2) If we break a bone, we just relax for a few months and it gets better. Many animals die from the trauma. We're basically wolverine compared to a lot of species.
     
  10. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributor Contributor

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    I take it no one here is a fan of Zoo, especially the TV series. I loved the movie "The Ghost and the Darkness", those cats didn't listen to Infel. :)
     
  11. Razzle

    Razzle New Member

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    Something I forgot to mention is that the monsters aren't originally from this world and are invaders, so the humans WERE on top before they showed up.

    And in my current outline I'm using the underground civilization as a kind of placeholder.
     
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  12. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    Please disregard my entire post then because it no longer applies LOL.
     
  13. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Sounds like the entire plot of the story is about people trying to make it apply ;)
     
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  14. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    This suddenly made me think of cities being held up by metal structures very high in the sky, a long, long way from the monsters. That would solve a lot of problems. However, they would have to be very strong metal structures, and it would take a long time to build. That means that digging an entire underground civilisation would also take a lot of time. How would the humans get by until they had done it, if the monsters are a relatively new thing? It would probably be quicker to build some walls and have guards on duty. Then the monsters would most likely leave them alone, until something happened to them to make them desperate enough to keep on trying to invade the cities. Your monsters are some of your characters, along with your protagonists, and they need a motivation just like them. They need a reason that makes trying to get such a difficult meal worth it. Are there so many monsters that other animals are disappearing fast, and there isn't enough food for the food chain? That's one simple example, but you can probably think of something better.

    It was a good post, though. I'd never actually given that much scientific thought to the reasons for fantasy monsters at all. It's something I can now keep in mind myself when I'm writing! :)
     
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  15. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    What's wrong with a wall? There were no monsters in the Middle Ages, but they didn't know that. On old maps you'll occasionally see the initial HBD. It means here be dragons. It's a term for unexplored areas, but people did think there were monsters out there. Beowulf wasn't just literature, it was a warning not to venture far from civilized areas.
     
  16. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributor Contributor

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    We have these monsters you speak of here in central Florida. They are called fire ants and are impossible to be rid of it seems. They invaded the area some years back and now their ant hills are so numerous they practically merge into each other. If you make the mistake of wandering into their territory you pay a painful price, for days. Shotguns will not help, not sure an atom bomb would stop them. Fortunately they have not mutated into house invasion pests - yet.
     
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  17. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Spent my late childhood in a suburb of San Antonio, Texas.

    Frodo failed.
     
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  18. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    New York City rats and pigeons are as big as beavers. No one thinks they can be gotten rid of, we just make sure to put our trash all in one place. Take whatever they're attracted to and separate it from the population as much as possible.
     
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  19. mikasa

    mikasa Member

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    If the story takes place across different areas of the globe, consider different habitats for people. Areas that have natural defensible geography would be useful, like a plateau or natural cave systems. I like the idea of just living where we are in some places too, for example major cities would become jungle gyms of bridges as people live on the tops of buildings and build out to escape the creatures. The cities could also be defended by rail guns or something, those feel fancy to me still, and are apparently very accurate and don't require explosive propellant, something that would be harder to make when humanity no longer has free access to the world. Railguns also require enormous amount of electricity to operate, making them great for a city or large vessel with power to spare, but impossible to move into the field without large scale logistic support, so it can't be used to kill all monsters. I suggest large naval style weaponry because I was wondering: If guards can carry guns/weapons capable of defeating the monsters, why haven't they just made more and killed all the monsters? Handheld guns that are effective might also pose a problem to your later plot, where the monsters get into cities, for the same reason as before. Imagine the desperation of a city turning a rail gun toward its population to blow something away, the collateral damage sounds like fun to write about, might also be a good motivator for people/characters to do something.
     
  20. MrIntensity

    MrIntensity Member

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    I love the idea of having an active co-existence with "monsters", as the invaders the monsters would have caused, I assume, great losses to the ecosystem. This creates an almost post apocalyptic effect where because of sudden monster presence these beasties will need a lot of food to keep up their intimating and powerful statures. What could be interesting here is you could emphasise the over-consumption they cause leading to habitat loss leading to severe lack of resources. You could then even go as far as having the monsters being forced to feed off of one another due to severe lack of resources as well as getting them out of their comfort zone due to desperation and hunger which would fuel more relentless attacks by the beasts. Of course you could apply a scorched earth tactics us humans used against other invaders to cause damage to the opponents by depriving them of any spoils or you could have fake settlements used to draw monster attention away from actual settlements and have them as mass farms that in turn provide humans with monster meat as they get trapped and killed in fake settlements. As for security what I could see are cheap means like ditches made to trick monsters that they are deeper than they actually are or using natural elements like islands or mountains too risky for the monsters to brave through.
     
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  21. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Also consider that people do like with some very dangerous monsters and it actually affects the culture. It's common for Alaskans to leave their cars unlocked, just in case a passer by comes across a hungry polar bear. Tigers are a big problem in parts of India.
     
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  22. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributor Contributor

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    One man's monster is another man's food. If the surviving human population figures out how to use the monsters as a resource then the tables could be turned quite quickly. The big problem I see, IIRC, you, OP, said the monsters were not highly intelligent and sort of just sprung up on Earth, this almost seems to imply another factor at play here such as an galactic alien race introduced them for their own purposes like we introduce cattle that eventually displace the native grazing species in various ways. So if human kind strikes back at the monsters this alien race may take action such as bigger more destructive monsters being introduced. You could convert this into an ongoing story.

    How many rats does it take to stop a New York subway train? Just one if it has a ticket.
     
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  23. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    If it makes you feel any better, I will definitely be using that logic in any story I use that involves monsters. xD

    As for OP, it's difficult to help with defense systems without knowing what the monsters are. How big are they? How strong are they? Can they fly? Are they poisonous? Are they flexible? Do they have any higher intelligence or are they as dumb as rocks? The people building the defenses would need to take all of this into consideration.
     
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  24. Sam Woodbury

    Sam Woodbury Member

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    The question of the monste's intelligence is important. We have a lot of deadly monsters on Earth ; grizzly bears, black widow spiders, man eating tigers, Salt Water Crocodiles, or sharks, but they are only a threat to isolated people in rare circumstances because they simply do not exist in places where people primarily live. Also modern humans have the weaponry to neutralize them if needed. Indeed many of them only continue to exist because they have been classified as endangered species. If they are like these species then no wall or barrier is necessary.

    If they were very intelligent, at least as intelligent as humans, perhaps with their own technology, then that could change things, and they might be cunning enough to outwit most defenses. Another possibility is abnormally high birth rates - i.e. Star Trek Troubles with Tribbles with a lot more fangs, which could quickly get out of hand and could be very devastating to the existing ecosystem. This could dramatically change society as resources are diverted to this new crisis. Maybe walled cities reminiscent of the Middle Ages would make a come back.
     
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  25. WNP

    WNP Member

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    I know you didn't want magic to be the norm, but what if there are cities protected by magic barriers that were set up a long time ago, but the ability/knowledge to use magic has disappeared from the world.

    Maybe the ability to use magic even coincided with the arrival of the monsters
     

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