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Author Topic: Experiences with worldbuilding  (Read 29769 times)

Offline Skip

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #120 on: April 14, 2015, 01:59:26 AM »
@Yora, at least give Goedel, Escher, Bach a try. It's an extraordinary work unlike anything I've ever read. I spent weeks trying to work the MU puzzle!
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Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #121 on: April 14, 2015, 09:43:16 AM »
It's one of those real rare magical tomes, that expand your mind beyond time and space.  ;D
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #122 on: May 31, 2015, 05:17:00 PM »
I found a big flaw in my world that just doesn't fit with the overall themes and atmosphere and needs to go. I am dumping the silk road that brings exotic goods from distant lands in the West and instead nobody knows what lies on the other side of the giant forests, or if they go on forever until they reach the sea. But that raises the question what things people are actually trading between communities? Bronze is a valuable material that is made only in a few places and the neighbors of the bronze makers could trade for it with food they have grown. But what about everyone else? What can they give to others to get their bronze? If you trade surplus food to get bronze, you certainly won't give the bronze to someone else and get food again.
What did people trade with that everyone wanted but could not be made in every village?
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Francis Knight

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #123 on: May 31, 2015, 05:22:22 PM »
Salt? There was a huge trade in salt, and salt roads, and wars over it and taxes and....yeah, people traded salt a lot.

My tongue has been in my cheek for so long, I've eroded a new mouth.


Duellists Trilogy (as Julia Knight) coming soon from Orbit!

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Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #124 on: May 31, 2015, 05:56:39 PM »
What for, exactly? I know when you sweat and drink a lot, you can get a salt deficiency in your blood which can harm cells. So that desert people need additional salt to not die an unpleasant death seems obvious. But I don't think that would be much of a problem in temperate climes or areas where people can eat a lot of fruits (which are mostly water with plenty of minerals). Why would they need to trade for salt in larger quantities than as a spice?
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #125 on: May 31, 2015, 05:57:50 PM »
In a world without refrigeration, salt is used to preserve food, especially meat and fish.
So yes, it was key.
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Offline JMack

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #126 on: May 31, 2015, 06:07:45 PM »
see Salt: A World History by Kurlansky on Amazon (or wherever). A book I've often said I'd like to read, but haven't.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
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Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #127 on: May 31, 2015, 06:28:49 PM »
Oh yeah, that sounds indeed like super useful stuff people would buy in large quantities. Turns out salt can be found in the Himalayas, not just in coastal plains. So the people from the plains who used to bring spices and now are going to live the hills could instead bring salt which they mine at their homes. How convenient for me.

Somone on another forum gave me this wonderful list of what things people would trade for and most of which could be produced even by simple villagers if they live in the right place: gold, silver, amber, other gems, furs, honey, olive oil, wine, pottery, glass, feathers, books or their materials, wax, salt, leather, manufactured goods, clay, flint, ochre, dyes, rare animals, drugs (pipeweed), preserved foods (fermented fish sauce, dried meat), good horses. That's so much stuff that it's probably mostly irrelevant how any given village trades for stuff. Pretty much everyone would have a few things other people want to buy.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline ClintACK

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #128 on: May 31, 2015, 06:37:19 PM »
I believe I somewhere read recently that potatoes are the crops for anarchists, because it takes lots of people a lot of work to destroy a potato field, while wheat fields can pretty easily burned down to subjugate the population. Potato farmers can simply flee into the forest and wait until the army has passed on and they won't be missing the next harvest.

I heard this was why the Irish liked them so much, back before the famine.  They could "harvest" them one meal at a time, and leave the rest safely in the ground rather than in an easily pillaged barn or silo.

I *think* I got this from Botany of Desire, which is a really good read. 

Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #129 on: May 31, 2015, 07:05:00 PM »
Oh, that's also neat. I didn't know you could do that.  :D
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline donalddallan

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #130 on: July 02, 2015, 03:58:53 PM »
Yora,

That was a great post. I've often wondered how everyone else would deal with world creation.

I found while writing my first novel, Duilleog, that in order for me to truly immerse my characters in the world and be certain that I didn't introduce "breaking the fourth wall" type events that I required a complete world in the background.

I did this piecemeal.  I would be writing and discover that I simply couldn't have the character pay for something with a coin that would change in future writings. I needed to create a currency and a weight and measures for coin.

Later I realised that I even needed a full calendar, holidays, words for days, months, years, etc. Using words like Monday or August would be cheating and base the world in this one and place it sometime after the Romans. So I had to borrow from something more archaic if this was to remain a new world. So I borrowed from celtic lore (a little bit).

I drew maps. Then realised I had to know how long it would take to walk a mile. Ride a horse for a mile at a canter, and a walk, and a gallop. And how long could a horse gallop before thundering in? Goodness, the world gets so complicated. But I couldn't have my characters suddenly traverse miles of terrain in a flash and then take weeks to cross a river.  I was always measuring this when I read Tolkien and other journey tails (Shannara, etc.).

All this to say that I think it is vitally important that you have consistency in your world. For that to happen I believe you need to qualify and quantify all the little aspects. Just to keep it straight. Because if you suddenly break your own world rules the reader will notice. The sense of wonder will pop like a soap bubble. And your reader will toss your book aside and that is criminal.

Can't let that happen. Ever. So build a world and immerse yourself in it.

Disclaimer: Folks, I'm a noob but I believe this to be honest and truthful opinion. Cheers.
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Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #131 on: September 22, 2015, 05:09:06 PM »
After a considerable break I am back to working on my writing stuff again. And I've now stepped back entirely from an encyclopedic approach and think of it much more in context of storytelling. I used to do worldbuilding for roleplaying games for over 10 years and it made some sense there. And perhaps for epic fantasy where the fate of the world will be decided by politics. But for heroic pulp adventures the relevance of worldbuilding seems to be focused mostly on small scale stuff that adds local color.

So I've been thinking for a while about what events in history had a big impact on the common people and still affect them in the present. A big coup in the palace might only be two nights where people stays at home with their doors locked until things got back to normal. Big politics, but insignificant to normal people.
Most recently, just a few years back, a group of warrior monks who have been working as very highly paid mercenaries for decades, have started to go from demanding hefty tribute from the people near their fortresses to outright raiding other towns when work is low. They completely burned down a whole city and don't seem to be very much bothered by it. Which has people greatly worried that this might become a regular thing and much worse than ordinary bandits or pirates.
Close to a century ago there had been a great plague that affected several of the central countries. Many villages were abandoned and fell into ruin, and many elves still remember those years. Every decade or so there's some new small outbreak somewhere and every rumor of plague or just signs of suspicious deaths quickly get people in a panic.
More further back, there was a great volcanic eruption in a range of mountain near many major port cities, which is well known for being full of holes that lead into the Underworld. Not only did the ash lead to two cold and dry years after the eruption, many of the people who got sick from hunger and poisonous dust turned inti ghouls. And in the mountains lots of demons came up from the Underworld, some of them still roaming around after all those centuries. Since then, everyone knows that the mountains are haunted and the dangers of the many volcanic vents that steam and bubble from the ground. And any minor earthquake gets seen as an omen that another major disaster is soon to come.

Have you thought of any big events that are in the public conscious of your worlds and that affect peoples superstitions and common expressions?
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline JMack

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #132 on: September 23, 2015, 12:41:15 AM »
I have a character called The Night Queen. She was an empress 500ish years before, whose career had parallels to Napoleon. It's believed she survived and wanders the lands taking bad children away. Parents fthreaten their children with "Behave or the Night Queen will get you." There is a children's jump rope chant that goes:

"My brother sold your brother to the Night Queen
My brother sold your brother to the Night Queen
Brother, Sister, Mother, Mister
My brother sold your brother to the Night Queen."

Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline ArhiX

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #133 on: September 23, 2015, 03:42:36 AM »
Hi there! I reallly apriciate your posts about worldbuilding in many of the threads. Helpfull and very insightfull. It really helped me a lot, when I was just another lurker and not registrated here - at the forums.

And here, after 6 (because I'm very bad with writing anything longer than my own name) or more hours of fighting with this language i actually managed to write what I wanted. So here it comes. I'm here with a W.I.P world which is worked on by me and my friend, who was an actual creator of it, but we develop it together now.

Spoiler for Hiden:
So everything started 2000 years ago. Actually not. It was 3 years ago when I saw one of my friends, with which I was never talking to, holding a self-made map. He seemed to be truly shocked when I have asked him about it and told him I'm interested in such things. He actually took me for a boring, games or drug addict - but it was 'just' a severe depression I was undergoing at the time. I guess everyone can be mistaken. Yes? I was trying to write some short stories before, but because all of them were taking place here - on Earth - they always seemed too boring for me. And so my friend asked if I am interested in helping him to further develop the world, which he wanted to use as a base for his RPG.

At the time, his world was really early in development. He had some origin myth, some backstory and general idea of what is happening "now". Two sides of seemingly never-ending relious conflict, undermined by lengthy war. Religious and financial problems of both sides and sooner-or-later third-party confrontation. Religious zealots popping out of nowhere, vicious organisation trying to change world's order and gods who are more and more angry. An empire that starts to shake. Those were my friend's basic ideas. At least they were basic when I joined.
Then I managed to add some of my work, that was creating even more backstory, myths, and influences. Secrets lurking in depths of history. A plague. Creatures. Magic system. Lots of characters to streanghten up the conflict.
It started to develop so well, he decided to give it a try in some RPG sessions. It was a failure. But a sweet one, as it gave us even more world ideas to play with. This was also the time when I realised I would like to actually write down the story of this world, and started to actually learn how to do storytelling and worldbuilding. And so only a year passed from the time when I actually started to work more over the world, as my friend decide to move to a different project. During the time I was alone with my ideas, I managed to re-done magic system
to one that is inspired by actual scientific theories, add a monstrous race (I tried to justify their ability to fly and move on two legs for about 6 months) which I want to become "iconic" for this world. I've even drew planet's orbit and divided year into months. I was sane enough not to name them. Yet. One can say that worldbuilding like that is a big waste of time (it propably is) but every of this things were important for this world.
And so - here I am now. Sitting on few kilos of paper with scraps of world info, poems, art and ever deepening psychosis over this fictional world. I even considered a character or even an event that will break a 4th wall. Still considering it a good idea (but I know it is not).

So for now, The East Continent is dark and gritty - just as I like. You could divide it's history into five parts that are corresponding to "eras" of the world.
"Fabled" - times where only gods were existing, and when life was created.
"Mythical" - when planet was inhabitet by vicious and horrific creatures. Or so it is believed.
"Ancient" - that covers up origins and fall of first truely human civilisation.
"Pre - war" - when new empire was born, and when it started to divide, and when current war started.
"War ages" - times from the beginning of faith-wars to the 'present day' when the story actually begins. World building is rather extensive. The empire is consisted out of 24 provinces. Every of them has at least 2 big cities and a ruler. And The Empire is only about 1/4 of a size of continent so there's much more. And by more, I mean more to burn, kill and slaughter. Have I mentioned purging the unclean and heretics? Also there is no convenient method of fast healing in this world. Poor main characters, really.

Story was always the most important as world acts like one of them. There were some exceptions - yes, but it was because we knew how the world was like at the beginning and how it is going to look like, and sometimes the story had to change in order to fit it. Becauses the story begins in the middle of it, the creation myth must be served... differently. I also think it is generally a bad idea to drop something like this without a reason in a very beginning. It's like going to ice-cream-shop, and having to eat a soup before they are going to sell you an ice-cream...

About non-human (or maybe not-humanoid) protagonists. It bothered me too... Usually if we are going to meet something that is not human-like - it's going to be a dragon, as even demons are usually just a men in funny outfits. That's why some of my biggest characters are 100% unhuman, and can only be considered about 50% dragons. And that's why I have spent half a year creating them to be a realistic race. They were the only thing that my friend considered "good" from the very beginning and actually really liked them. And by any mean - they are not small talking creatures. I hope my drawing skills will improve enough to share a drawing soon.

About big events in public conscious - East Continent has one really big (and many smaller ones), when half of the continent was turned into ashes and cinder by gods, when the dark plague started to overcome people's minds, and 1st Empire was destroyed. This is why people are now fighting religious wars: to never let that happen again, as a great desert and mountains literally ripped apart are a reminder, that it's generaly not the best idea to riot against gods. The other one is the fall of 2nd Empire, when it was shattered in two by slaves' uprising. Now every single war is almost directly related to it.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2015, 03:49:47 AM by ArhiX »
"The world is full of stories, and from time to time, they permit themselves to be told."

Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #134 on: December 15, 2015, 11:07:40 AM »
I saw this interesting article on worldbuilding. And the first three items are an approach to starting the process that I had not really thought about before.

I often see people starting with the creation story, the gods, and a list of all the major kingdoms, but starting with the Rules first sounds like it really makes a lot of sense. And how Power in the world works is something I've never really seen discussed in reagard to worldbuilding.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor