Friday World Building

Language — Does your world have different languages? How did they evolve? Does each race have a different language or is it regional? Is there laws that are broken by speaking the wrong language?

Origin Tales — How did the world came to be? Is there a myths about the world’s origin that is disputed between societies? Is it seen as a religion?

Jobs/professions — What kind do people have? Do men and women divide work, share it? What kind of training do your characters receive, if any? How are they trained and by whom?

Gender roles – What are people’s attitudes about gender roles? And does it differ between species? How?

Clothing/Costumes — How do people dress? What do your characters wear and why? Where does fabric come from? Who makes it?

Weather — Does your place have four seasons? How is this expressed and does it affect your story?

Food — How it’s planted/harvested/hunted/gathered? What do people eat and when? How it’s cooked? Who cooks? What’s poisonous? And does it differ from species to species?

Animals – Are there any special or magical animals in your world? Are there any who are unique to your world? Any race hold an animal sacred? Is there animal sacrifice in your world?

Politics/Power – Who is in power and why? How is power transferred to the next generation? What people do or don’t do to get close to powerful people?

I really hope that this series has been helpful. Please feel free to comment your answers and discuss your world with me.

Friday World building

       Today the world building topics are Religion and Time. These are both the most important and the least important for any world.

     This world has multiple religions. Each religion has a different view of the divine. Religions shape morals and virtues, and how the inhabitants view themselves. Morals are a strange thing. People aren’t born with an innate knowledge of what to do inlife, or how to act. It only makes sense, then, that people would turn to religion as a guide for how they should behave. That’s easy enough to see with the world we live in. Nearly everybody learns the golden rule growing up. Nearly  every religion has this same rule, in some form or another. When you get further into the details of differing religions, you see that each has its own set of morals and what it feels is “right.” This can range from Evangelicals who feel that same-sex love is a sin because of an archaic passage from the old testament to vegetarianism as a way to avoid hurting other living creatures,commonly found among Hindus. So, what does this mean?

        Well, this  means that when you’re crafting a religion, one of the things to think about is what morals you want in your world. What do you want the gods to stand for? Do you want to have a full pantheon to cover all of the aspects that one can find in the divine? Are there different gods for each race? Different taboos are often religion-centric as well. These taboos can have minor consequences on your world-building in some ways. For example, maybe you just want to make things more interesting by adding details such as characters who avoid certain kinds of metals or stones because they’re strictly forbidden in their religious texts. These taboos can also have major consequences on your story. For example, even in the modern day and age there are a lot of prejudices against albinism in some African countries. You can imagine the consequences for such a character.

       When crafting a religion, it only makes sense to think about the cultural impact said religion will have. Holidays, prayer, rituals, religious pilgrimages, the way that people keep track of time (as in our AD system), taboos, fasting, celibacy, religious bathing/cleansing… These are just a few practices that exist within different religions. Many are so ingrained in our culture that people don’t even think of them as “religious” any more.  Also remember that the same religion can have many different interpretations, leading to different branches and sects. They can be quite different, and they may not get along that well. This is another thing that is often forgotten. Throughout history there have been many different types of religions. Some have a single god. Some have an entire pantheon. Some see gods as people. Some see gods as animals. Some gods are both people and animals, depending on the story that’s being told. Some religions see gods as having no form. Some religions teach that god is the universe. Some say that there are no gods, but there is power in everything.

   Is your main religion science or a lack of religion? Why is this so? Religion is sometimes a bit of background knowledge. It may never come into your story, or it might be the focus. Still it is something you should know.

Time

  Look at your calendar, Is the way your world laid out similar to ours? Our world is on a 24-hour day.  We have a 7-day week and a usually 30-31-day month. There are worlds with 20-hour days, or 48-hour days. There are worlds with tenday weeks. Time controls everything we do. Often the time is controlled by sun and moon rotation, but you could have a world that had a magical accident. Your world has flexibility. Though this information can help your story to form.

Economics and magic : a lesson in world building

Ok. Back to the background work for writing. Here’s some ideas for questions you should be asking in your worl building.

Economics

It’s not just a “money” thing. Though money is a part of it. Economics is all about how things move in a society – where certain things come from, who produces or crafts those things, and – most importantly for worldbuilding – how the people in a community are affected by that system. The biggest thing to consider is what “wealth” means in the world you’ve created. First and foremost, where does most wealth come from? Does your world use money? Gems? Bottle caps? Credits? Barter? This affects how people see their labor, their belongings, even themselves.

In most societies, economics are centered on two basic principles.

The first is surplus. Having a surplus means having more than is needed of something.

The other is scarcity. You can guess what this is. The more scarce something is (i.e. the less of something there is) the more valuable it becomes.

The more food that is available, the less difficult it becomes to acquire food. It can be freely traded, whether for other items/services of equal value or for money (or whatever symbolic exchange product a society uses, like “credits” in a sci-fi world). If there’s not a lot of food to go around, it becomes more difficult to acquire food. The person who has a lot of a needed thing holds power over those who don’t have that thing.

The system of money also affects how certain things are seen. Items used for making the currency can be seen as valuable to the shady, as they will use it to forge fake currency.

Magic

How does the magic work? Do you need ingredients to cast a spell or just a word? Are there more difficult rituals that must take a longer time to perform? Is there more than one sort of magic? (I.e. Arcane, Divine {or godly}, shaman, Druidic, Demonic)

What are the limits for your magic? How many spells can you use before you’re “empty”? (Make sure you take into account the difference of using many simple spells up to more than one difficult spell.)

How does one gain magic power? Do they gain it from a higher power, by reading and learning from books, from genetics, or some other way?

How does the people react? Is magic widely accepted and available? Or is it a shamed/secretive thing? Is it legal? Or would those who have it need to hide their power?

Are there forbidden spells or forbidden paths of magic? Some good examples of what is usually seen as a forbidden path or magic are necromancy, demonic, and blood magic. How are the users punished, if at all?

For the higher level spells, why are they more difficult? What about them makes them more difficult? The amount of magical power or prowess needed? The necessary ingredients? The time period needed to cast the spell?

Tell me about the economy and magic in your world! What is scarce? What is so common that the characters don’t even think about it? How rich is the magic in your world?

World building level two

Let’s talk magic and religion. They are not always symbiotic. Is it that way on your world? How does the magic work? Do you need ingredients to cast a spell or just a word? Are there more difficult rituals that must take a longer time to perform?What are the limits for your magic? How many spells can you use before you’re “empty”? (Make sure you take into account the difference of using many simple spells up to more than one difficult spell.)How does one gain magic power? Do they gain it from a higher power, by reading and learning from books, from genetics, or some other way? (You can always gain help with this area from D&D player’s handbooks.) Are there forbidden spells or forbidden paths of magic? Some good examples of what is usually seen as a forbidden path or magic are necromancy and blood magic, or Demonology/pact magic. For the higher level spells, why are they more difficult? What about them makes them more difficult? The amount of magical power or prowess needed? The necessary ingredients? The time period needed to cast the spell?Is magic illegal in your world? Would your character(s) need to hide that they have magic? If it’s illegal, what happened to make it illegal? What are the main religious beliefs on your world? Is one more recognized than the others? Why?

Religion is a big part of every culture that can influence the daily life of large groups of people so it’s important to define it if present in your world. The other thing is that is a good way for world building, you can define the life of people, the way cities are built and the way of thinking of the population.-

Polytheist or monotheist: choose the type of religion that fits best in your world, it’s important because polytheist and monotheist religions have some differences that have relevance when you write. (not only the number of gods but for example how gods are worshiped or how are the followers building temples)

Read about real religions: this is a good base for understanding how religion works and you are going to see a lot of how to write the followers.

Decide the characteristics of the God/s: After have a clear idea of what you want to do (example: religion similar to Romans’ one or a mix between Egyptians and Greeks gods) you have to clear up some points:

  1. Is you god/s good or bad? : so how are they seen by the people, what are they famous for, how is their temper, are they revengeful or are they forgiving, if they are feared or loved or both. If you create more gods then you can decide to make them represent something.
  2. Are your god/s in contact with mortals?: The relationship with mortality; If they don’t meet mortals you have to decide if they communicate with them and how.
  3. Physical appearance: if they have a physical appearance describe it or describe characteristics that the god have when in physical form.
  4. Worship: While the points before where about the point of view of the God/s, you have always to define how mortals venerate God/s.
  5. Is all the population religious?: This is important because there you can determine the relationship between who believes and who does not or between different religions. Or say if is imposed.

Other points of interest :

  1. What role have religion in the State: So if religions have a political power, how much power do they have and if is used for good or for bad.
  2. What are the religion institutions: Is there a leader of the religion, what are the offices and how they are built, how much the institution influences the population.
  3. Where: where does the faithful worship God/s (temples, groves, churches, or at home)
  4. HOW: this is probably the most important aspect. Here you need to define how people practice their own religion, so if they only pray or do make sacrifices, if there are rules that influence the daily life, if there are festivities or particular ritual, if there are symbols that are worshiped.

World Building

I plan to do a whole series of posts on world building. This is the first of several. In future I will likely be including some links to assist you in your  writing endeavors.

The beginning of world building is asking  questions about your new locale.

Start with some basic details.
1. How big is your world. (Is it about the size of earth? Or Jupiter? or is it small like Pluto)
2. How is your world laid out? (Do you have an earth clone? or is it completely different? what is the terrain? Is your world a water world style or a desert planet (Aka Arakkis via Dune.) this is where you plan the general flora and fauna)
3. How is your world populated? (Is there just humans? or is there more races? If so how many are on there?)
4. How does the sky appear? (How many suns? How many moons?)
5. How far from the Star/Stars is your world? (This affects the temperature and weather on your world.)
6. How is your world as far as technology goes? How is it as far as magic? This affects how your cities are. Is it Steampunk? High magical fantasy? Diesel punk? Cyber punk? or perhaps Stellar traveling fantasy? This helps to set the expectation for the genre.

Once you have those details let’s get slightly more in depth.

*How do people get water?
Is the water sanitary and if not, how do they sanitize it?
*How does agriculture work?
Is it large corporations or individual farms?
*What sort of agricultural technology exists in your world and how does it affect food production?
*Are farmers wealthy or poor?
*What sort of natural resources does your world/country(ies) have and how are they obtained?
*How does this affect the average wealth of the country?
*How does this wealth affect the culture?
*What livestock or beasts of burden are most valued? Least valued? Why?
*What is considered a luxury good vs. a regular good?

Think clearly on each question. Visualize your answers. Go deeper.

  • How does your world keep time (i.e. watches, sundials, water clock, etc.)?
  • Does your world have a currency system, barter system, or something else?
  • If you have multiple countries, do different currencies have different values across said countries?
      • How does this affect travel?
  • Do you have banks in your world and if so, how are they run?
    • Who owns the banks? Government? Wealthy? How does this affect the economy and/or class system?
  • How does credit operate in your universe?
  • Does your world operate more on big corporations or small business? Something in between?
  • How are workers/laborers treated in your world?
    • Are there workers unions and if so, what are common views on unions?
  • Describe your tax system. If you don’t have a tax system, explain why and how your world is affected by that.
  • Can certain social classes not own property, certain livestock, certain businesses, etc.? Why?
  • How are business records kept? Are business records kept?
  • If your world has technology, does your world prioritize developing entertainment tech, communications tech, transportation tech or something else entirely?
    • What does this say about your world?
    • How does this affect your economy?

This speaks to the way society runs. This speaks to the way  people function on your world.

Government / Politics/ Racial Divide

  • How many races are there?
    • Does the races intermingle? can breeding happen between them?
    • Are there wars  that go on between races? If so then why? what started it?
  • To the closest approximation, what type of government does your world have?
  • How are rulers/presidents/nobles put in place?
  • How much power does an individual ruler have?
  • Is there a veto process?
  • If you have multiple countries, do they have different types of rulers?
  • Describe any large-scale alliances (i.e. countries, factions, etc.) that are present in your world.
    • How did they come about and how are they maintained?
    • Are they strained or peaceful?
    • How does it affect the greater politics of your world?
  • Describe how wars are fought both internationally and nationally.
    • Do methods of war differ between countries/races?
    • What about philosophies about war?
  • If there is a military, what is its hierarchy structure? 
    • How does the military recruit?
    • Is the military looked upon favourably in your society?
  • What weapons are used by each country/type of people during warfare, and how does that affect war strategies?
  • Describe the sentencing system of your world.
    • Is your accused innocent until proven guilty, or guilty until proven innocent?
  • How are lawbreakers punished?
    • If you have prisons, describe how they are organized and run, and who owns them.
    • Does differing ownership change how the prisons operate?
  • What are the major ways in which laws between countries vary?
    • Do laws between cities vary? If so, how and why?
  • How does citizenship work in your world? What rights and privileges do citizens have that others do not?
    • Can certain classes or races not become citizens?
  • Are there certain taboo subjects or opinions that artist/authors/musicians are not allowed to depict (i.e. portraying the official religion in a negative light, explicit sexual material, etc.)? What does this say about your society?
    • How do people get around these censorship laws?
  • What is the official hierarchy of duty in your world? (i.e. is family the most important, or patriotism? What about clan?)
  • How many languages are there in your world, and how many languages share a common origin?
    • How many people are multilingual?
    • Which language is the most common?
    • How is multilingualism viewed?
    • How are different languages viewed? (i.e. is one language ugly/barbaric while another is romantic and sensual?)

Gather the answers. Next time I will link to a couple  of good map making resources, But this is enough to get you started. What world will  come of the answers? Will you create the next fun game? or will  you use it to write a Novel that everyone will want to read. I will be adding more questions next time as well.