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Author Topic: Experiences with worldbuilding  (Read 22776 times)

Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #105 on: April 04, 2015, 03:24:25 PM »
Yesterday I was once more thinking if I should try to read Gödel, Escher, Bach. (And concluded, no, that seems to exhausting.) And that got me thinking that for ages there have been big collections of educational texts, ranging from philosophical to theological and the entire range between them. And that had me wondering if it might be worth to have such major texts exist in the background material for a fantasy setting. You would not need to have any actual text for them or create any information on who wrote them in what place in what situation and how big they are and what their internal organization is. But simply a name for each body of teaching and a general outline for one philosophical argument or point of view it presents for the readers.
Within the story, you can then simply have characters mention those texts and perhaps recite some lines which you can just make up at the moment. Stuff like "Confuzius says..." or the Ferengi Rules of Aquisition.

Of course you can always make things up as you go and invent new philosophers and text on the fly, but I think spending an hour or two on considering what the four or five most important and well known educational texts are and what they deal with and which values they promote could possibly be quite valuable when creating a larger work in which questions of values and ideals come up on a somewhat regular basis. For a simple Heroes Journey plot I don't see much use for it, but for something like one of those multi-character, multiple connected plotline epics or serials, I think it might really add some interesting depth and texture to the whole thing.

Offline Raptori

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #106 on: April 04, 2015, 03:39:18 PM »
Yesterday I was once more thinking if I should try to read Gödel, Escher, Bach. (And concluded, no, that seems to exhausting.) And that got me thinking that for ages there have been big collections of educational texts, ranging from philosophical to theological and the entire range between them. And that had me wondering if it might be worth to have such major texts exist in the background material for a fantasy setting. You would not need to have any actual text for them or create any information on who wrote them in what place in what situation and how big they are and what their internal organization is. But simply a name for each body of teaching and a general outline for one philosophical argument or point of view it presents for the readers.
Within the story, you can then simply have characters mention those texts and perhaps recite some lines which you can just make up at the moment. Stuff like "Confuzius says..." or the Ferengi Rules of Aquisition.

Of course you can always make things up as you go and invent new philosophers and text on the fly, but I think spending an hour or two on considering what the four or five most important and well known educational texts are and what they deal with and which values they promote could possibly be quite valuable when creating a larger work in which questions of values and ideals come up on a somewhat regular basis. For a simple Heroes Journey plot I don't see much use for it, but for something like one of those multi-character, multiple connected plotline epics or serials, I think it might really add some interesting depth and texture to the whole thing.
Definitely agree, it adds a nice bit of detail to the history in a way that is still relevant to the stories that you tell because those philosophies can and will influence the characters' way of thinking. :)
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Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #107 on: April 04, 2015, 05:09:07 PM »
Yesterday I was once more thinking if I should try to read Gödel, Escher, Bach. (And concluded, no, that seems to exhausting.) And that got me thinking that for ages there have been big collections of educational texts, ranging from philosophical to theological and the entire range between them. And that had me wondering if it might be worth to have such major texts exist in the background material for a fantasy setting. You would not need to have any actual text for them or create any information on who wrote them in what place in what situation and how big they are and what their internal organization is. But simply a name for each body of teaching and a general outline for one philosophical argument or point of view it presents for the readers.
Within the story, you can then simply have characters mention those texts and perhaps recite some lines which you can just make up at the moment. Stuff like "Confuzius says..." or the Ferengi Rules of Aquisition.

Of course you can always make things up as you go and invent new philosophers and text on the fly, but I think spending an hour or two on considering what the four or five most important and well known educational texts are and what they deal with and which values they promote could possibly be quite valuable when creating a larger work in which questions of values and ideals come up on a somewhat regular basis. For a simple Heroes Journey plot I don't see much use for it, but for something like one of those multi-character, multiple connected plotline epics or serials, I think it might really add some interesting depth and texture to the whole thing.
In one abandoned novel I wrote many years ago, I began each section with a quote from the philosophical master one of the characters follows. I do intend to revisit the character eventually, so I might revive that idea.

Offline JMack

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #108 on: April 04, 2015, 05:57:10 PM »
I think I've mentioned before the theory that Western culture is strongly influenced by wheat agriculture, which can be done by a family; and that Eastern culture is strongly influenced by rice agriculture, which takes a village. The theory says that wheat leads to individualism and rice leads to collectivism. (Not sure where potatoes, corn, yams, olives, etc. come into this, but it's an interesting idea anyway.) If there is some logic to this, then in world-building, we would want to connect philosophy to the basic economic structure of the culture, either as it is now or as it has been inherited.

So, Confuzius = structure and obedience = rice; Ferengi Rules of Acquisition = er... hmmm.
 
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Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #109 on: April 04, 2015, 06:41:31 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.

Offline JMack

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #110 on: April 04, 2015, 06:50:07 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.
ROFL
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Offline JMack

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #111 on: April 04, 2015, 06:52:44 PM »
Speaking of anarchists and revolution...

We should all bone up a bit on peasant revolts, etc.
I think folks often have the sense that serfs took it all lying down.
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)

Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #112 on: April 04, 2015, 07:13:59 PM »
Oh yes. When you look at 3000 years of Chinese history, the biggest common theme that has the most impact on things is peasant revolts. The most recent of which would be the Communist Party of China.
Occasionally the empire would fracture into multiple regions fighting each other for dominance, but a great deal of all war in Chinese history was peasant revolts.

Another great thing about potatoes is that it grows in areas where almost nothing else grows. Which is wonderful for people trying to avoid being part of an empire as they can move into areas into which the wheat and rice empires won't follow them.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2015, 07:15:31 PM by Yora »
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Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #113 on: April 13, 2015, 11:43:17 AM »
I think I am about to do what I always tell people not to do: Using a different word for elves.

I am normally a strong proponent of calling the things as they are. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then call it a duck. Because it is a duck.

However, the main reason I am really considering to make up a new name is that no people and places in the world have names in English. Animals, plants, and tools do, but not people or places. Nobody in the world speaks English and even though I write in English, I don't translate names. And even though the elven language is based on Germanic languages, in which the word for elf is "elf", it just doesn't seem to fit to call them that. The elves have a word for themselves, and since I am doing it with all the other people, I think I should do it with the elves too.

Thoughts?
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Offline JMack

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #114 on: April 13, 2015, 11:52:11 AM »
Is there a related German word that you could use and which would both sound right and be separate from elf at the same time? And if there's nothing that sounds unique enough, you could just twist it some.  I took 5 years of Grrman but don't speak more than the numbers, alphabet and a now muddled version of the definite and indefinite articles tables, since no help with suggestions. But something along te lines of using kobold instead of goblin.
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Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #115 on: April 13, 2015, 12:14:13 PM »
Creating a new name for them is the easy part. The word for the lizardmen is made up of chopped pieces for the Malay words "lizard" and "man".
I've been doing pretty good, with only ten items on my list still needing a name. I hope I get those finished today.

It's just that I usually really dislike when people try to pass of some old generic thing as something new and original. Or even worse, do what those pricks from Talislanta do and make "No elves!" your brand slogan while still having 10 races of humanoids who are trying to out-elf Tolkiens elves.
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #116 on: April 13, 2015, 12:20:42 PM »
The name Forgotten Realms used for the dark elves like Drizzt Do'urden was drow. It was used as both singular and plural as far as I can remember and also as the race name - The Drow.  I always thought that was strongly evocative of what it represented. I have no idea where it originated or if R A Salvatore just made it up, but if your elves are evilly inclined it may appeal to you.

Edit  our posts crossed, didn't realise you were making up names rather than looking for alternatives. Still love the name of Drizzt Do'urden and the use of drow, it was so unelf-like at the time when they were all meant to be tall, elegant and beautiful. :D
« Last Edit: April 13, 2015, 12:26:46 PM by Lady Ty »
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Offline Henry Dale

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #117 on: April 13, 2015, 12:28:12 PM »
Or you can use another germanic language (old dutch) and use the word Alverman, which goes back to mean elf-man in the germanic relation between elves and dwarves.

Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #118 on: April 13, 2015, 12:35:31 PM »
The name Forgotten Realms used for the dark elves like Drizzt Do'urden was drow. It was used as both singular and plural as far as I can remember and also as the race name - The Drow.  I always thought that was strongly evocative of what it represented. I have no idea where it originated or if R A Salvatore just made it up, but if your elves are evilly inclined it may appeal to you.

Edit  our posts crossed, didn't realise you were making up names rather than looking for alternatives. Still love the name of Drizzt Do'urden and the use of drow, it was so unelf-like at the time when they were all meant to be tall, elegant and beautiful. :D
Drow goes back to an older Dungeons & Dragons world. Not sure where the name came from, though.
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #119 on: April 14, 2015, 12:45:40 AM »
The name Forgotten Realms used for the dark elves like Drizzt Do'urden was drow. It was used as both singular and plural as far as I can remember and also as the race name - The Drow.  I always thought that was strongly evocative of what it represented. I have no idea where it originated or if R A Salvatore just made it up, but if your elves are evilly inclined it may appeal to you.

Edit  our posts crossed, didn't realise you were making up names rather than looking for alternatives. Still love the name of Drizzt Do'urden and the use of drow, it was so unelf-like at the time when they were all meant to be tall, elegant and beautiful. :D
Drow goes back to an older Dungeons & Dragons world. Not sure where the name came from, though.
Drow, also spelled as Trow, is from Shetlandic and Orkney folklore. D&D appropriated it for their own purposes. The name loosely translates as troll, but it seemed to apply to a variety of dark sprites. There's also the svartalfar from Norse mythology, they are dark elves.  They appear in Thor (both comics and the 2nd film), the Dresden Files and Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series. Elizabeth Boyer also used them in her 80's fantasy series based on Norse mythology. Tolkien took a lot of what he did from Norse mythology and that's why he used the anglicised elf, as opposed to the nordic alf or alfar.