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Fantasy Faction Writers => Writers' Corner => Topic started by: Nora on March 18, 2015, 04:05:33 AM

Title: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on March 18, 2015, 04:05:33 AM
Hello all!

I'm starting this thread hoping it could evolve in a sort of experience and source sharing. I hope this isn't a thing already...

My idea here is that Fantasy, and fiction in most its genres, is a type of story that strongly benefits from solid and realistic world building (as we all know and thrive to achieve) and the best example for us all is our real world.
While we all benefit from reading other fantasy writers and see how they managed to hook us with their worlds or with the underlying themes they chose, I personally think that my own world and ideas benefit from a lot of my non-fiction reading.
After all, good sourcing and research is how we avoid cliche and weak themes. But maybe by sharing more personal discoveries we could help each other out?
After all some of the greatest stories and movies out there were picked out of philosophy problems for example.

Well, i guess I'll make more sense if I just give my own examples. Worse come to worse it'll just be me throwing out a bunch of links and yaking my face off! :D

I apologize for the length of this post, but believe passion about reading or writing ought to be taken seriously and I shall fart in your general direction.

In the personal experience area :

I'm too lazy to make any researches concerning english speaking countries laws, but let me share mine.
In France, for centuries every citizen has benefited from a right, which is called "Glanage". It is still valid today, and allows anyone to walk on a farmer's land after the harvest and pick up whatever was left behind. It is also legal in orchads, where you can pick up fruits off the ground.
A famous painting is dedicated solely to that concept, called "Les glaneuses", by Jean Francois Millet :
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1f/Jean-Fran%C3%A7ois_Millet_-_Gleaners_-_Google_Art_Project_2.jpg/280px-Jean-Fran%C3%A7ois_Millet_-_Gleaners_-_Google_Art_Project_2.jpg)

Contrarily to what first comes to mind these women are not harvesting, this is probably not their field, and it won't go to the farmer. They are picking left over for themselves.
If you search around you'll find more paintings showing how popular a thing that was :
(http://tfp-france.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Les-glaneuses.jpg)

The laws surrounding the propriety of goods is a very useful knowledge. We have two types of "goods without owners". All "immobile" goods (buildings) without owners pertain to the state (which would lead to fascinating discussions about squats), so only "mobile" goods are detailed:

> Res Derelictae : objects voluntarily abandoned by former proprietors, the first person to put their hands on it becomes the new owner. This applies from objects left on the street to the content of bins (and is why I've got such a hard time with aussie and nz laws regarding bags left at charity's doorsteps. To me those are anyone's stuff until the shop takes them in).
The only nuance is that it does not include lost objects. So you're not technically the legal owner of a watch you found on the street!

> Res Nullius : Fish, game, and wild animals.

In France a "glaneuse" is what I called myself, while you would call me a dumpster diver or a freegan.
I was forced to learn more about the law, as you can be yelled at by people thinking themselves righteous in annoying you (this can apply to policemen who can be fairly pushy until you show that you explicitly know your rights).

I think anyone wishing to write about medieval times, or characters evolving in rural areas should know about this. More modern settings are worse. While older times had very organized recycling systems where little was wasted, we've got the stark opposite nowadays.

Take my word as a real-life bum for it : you need to try REALLY hard to go hungry in a city.
I'm attaching here a handful of pictures I've taken while dumpster-diving in Australia or France:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rj7qaq9107f8pwn/AAACcm9fFlDN26SY4zZ6GECha?dl=0

(note the mental haul in the last picture? It's one trip, all I could carry by myself in a cardboard, off a Melbourne's Coles back alley)
I've spent months of my life buying no food but the rare essential I would miss.
I've also never, ever been sick due to eating food taken off the bins. Bakeries dump fresh food every night. Markets are insane, with the smallest defect on a produce leading to it been binned.
The gold mines are in large supermarket bins.
A can with a scratched paper? Bin. Boxes of goon cracked open but perfectly fine inner bag? Bin. 12 pack of glass bottled beer, one broken? 11 in the bin. Products didn't sell on the last discount but is still perfectly fine? Bin. This includes new clothing, candles, beach chairs, but also consoles, watches, shoes, good bike parts and house keeping products.
In Adelaide I lived several weeks with only 20$ in my pocket.

End of the line, any type of character struggling through a city to find food will earn my immediate disbelief. A great depiction of the "underworld" of a large city would also widely benefit from research on that. Most people who shop for their food every day don't really realize how wasteful most systems are.
Every french speaker will have a funny time reading "Le guide du zonard" on the internet, where people filled a wiki with tips on "traveling by train for free", "fixing the soles of your shoes", "getting the coins out of a parking machine", "get free toilet paper off Mac Donalds", "having 87 postal addresses", "screwing a punk chick without getting a hepatitis" or "Still passing for an artist".
I wish there was an english equivalent!
Check out trash wiki for a peak in the freeman life. Some places have google maps with bins located and notes about staff attitude and common hauls.


Non-fiction reading I found very helpful and why :

For people who want to write extensively about war and its consequences, even if the subject is very often mentioned in fantasy and sci-fi, I owe a lot to these :

Guns, germs, and steel : the fates of human societies by Jared M. Diamond
This is proper history focused on war, epic read. Quite the thick book but worth the effort. His style is very easy to follow.

In philosophy, the following texts are short essays you'll find online (your philosophy Ethic classes could have asked you to find and read them) :

Cecile Fabre, Guns, food and liability to attack in war.
Jeff MacMahan, Ethics of Killing in War - where the author works his way toward the concept of "Just war" and "Just war" being the only time where a soldier ought to participate. Such concept is still open to debate, like everything else in philosophy.
But also Torture in Principle and in Practice
Samuel Scheffler, Is Terrorism Morally Distinctive -
Coady, terrorism, Morality, and Supreme Emergency
(a lot are public publications and if you struggle finding them you can PM me, I'll send them to you)

All those are short essays, and though the style is more dense because it's directed at people who enjoy a good mindf***, there is a lot of benefits you can take out of listening to these people.
For one, characters who questions themselves or the general situation in their story in terms other than "good and evil and where do I stand in this" are too rare to my taste.
Reading MacMahan could flesh out dialogs between warriors, reading Coady could add dimension to hostage situations or dialogs in terrorist attacks, whatever the side of the acts your POV follows.


Personally I find my work extremely influenced by a french historian called Philippe Aries who wrote mainly on "daily life" through history, and the evolution of behaviors in societies.

People who want to write about feudal systems, or other historical settings would benefit from reading him.
I found his writings fascinating. The bold is deserved. As you go through his books you realize how incredibly deformed our vision of history is.
While we all go and learn about facts and dates and events, classes never really paint the way life was back then. How ALIEN it could be to us.
Did you know for example that in christian medieval France, when all the family slept in one big bed, it was a rather banal practice to smother an infant to death, because you couldn't well afford this new mouth? Or that romans barely had a concept of "private life" and the entire depended fully on slavery, and how complex it was?
My favorite work of his remains the one he did on the change of attitude of the western world towards death. It's so well written and a topic that is still so strong for us all and since the dawn of times!

The hour of our death or Western attitudes towards death: from the middle ages to the present depending on edition.
Centuries of childhood: a social history of family life
A history of private life - covers in 5 books from the roman times to the modern times. Pick the time you're setting in and read the associated book. Well worth the time, fascinating discoveries.

He wrote more on the history of sexuality in occident and the history of french populations but not sure those got translated.
His works on death I use fully in my own works, as I have a futuristic setting but the mentalities towards death made a big leap backward.

Special mention for people who'd be interested in survival/makeshift medicine. There are two books fully free online you can read called

Where there is no doctor and Where there is no dentist

Besides personal benefits, I learnt some very vivid tricks in there that go beyond the tooth pulled with pliers and the gangrene limb sawed off and cauterized in fire! :D


Alright, I hope I got some of you interested in some stuff… Was well worth trying anyway.
If that makes your bells ring and you do have sources or ideas to share, because you've got a solution for things you find often wanting in fantasy, or just a specific quirky story that could benefit us…
Or just questions and topics you'd like to dig and would like to know if anyone can recommend you anything!

Cheers!
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on March 18, 2015, 04:14:45 AM
Guns, Germs and Steel is great, Diamond's later book Collapse is even better in my opinion. It deals with how civilisations sometimes fail and die, and how other civilisations survived situations that killed others. As a pair those books should be required reading for anyone who wants to write a realistic world  :)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Doctor_Chill on March 18, 2015, 04:34:34 AM
These collected pieces of fiction seem really interesting. I love looking at civilization and how, as Raptori said, we could best make our works "realistic" in a sense. But some of those laws look a little iffy when dealing with interpretation, especially Res Derelictae. I can already see a minor infraction getting blown off by a well-versed defense and then that snowballing into semantics later down the road for a bigger case. But I digress.

Coming from a Criminal Justice background, I couldn't begin to list how this degree is helping me when it comes to the stereotype of crime and "the thief/criminal" in fiction. Let alone cop dramas on TV or the famous John Grisham novel. I also have an interest in "prepping" so I've learned little survival tools here and there, like the very beginnings of pine cones (for instance, this time of the year right now) is the perfect thing to eat if lost in the woods. They're packed with protein and a couple could keep you going for a day or two. Helps they taste like mint, too. Or that it's better to drink all your water at once if in fear of dehydration. Body holds it better in the long run.

Anyway, I'll probably add some interesting things later (or answer any questions pertaining to US legal system, the shaping of crime as a whole, or the theories and the little I know on them for now (hah, yeah right)), but I do have three points to make: (namely because they irk me, and I'd like them to stop)

Lye speeds up decomposition on bodies and masks the smell, not lime. Prison is worse than jail, a different place altogether in fact; please keep these words separate when you're breaking out of the county jail. And (for the modern UF writers) a silencer/suppressor on a gun has only about 20 decibels difference. They're made predominately for hunting (ie. outside) or for suppressing the muzzle flash at night. James Bond movies are wrong.

It's also Dissociative Identity Disorder, not Split Personality Disorder. But these are little details.

On the fantasy side, copper turns green when exposed to harsh heat. ....yeah, I got nothing.

But I should probably make this clear before discussion takes a left turn (just a precaution people), but try not to sway too far into this territory (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/general-discussion/method-writing/). Keep things sane please.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on March 18, 2015, 06:17:19 AM
But some of those laws look a little iffy when dealing with interpretation, especially Res Derelictae. I can already see a minor infraction getting blown off by a well-versed defense and then that snowballing into semantics later down the road for a bigger case. But I digress.

No no!! Precisely you don't! It seems like you're setting the base of a rogue/civilian or rogue/policeman dialog.
Knowledge is the key, anyway. But of course I agree that the Res Derelictae probably isn't the most useful knowledge, but I think that the right of Glanage is, and Res Derilictae or Nulius are close brothers of that law. So mentioned in passing.

I did not know there was a distinction between jail and prison in the Us! To me it's two variants of the same institution. Care to elaborate or link for me please?


Raptori thanks a lot, I knew about Colapse but had fully forgotten about it. I'll put it on my Goodreads to remember and find it!!

Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Wizard Police on March 18, 2015, 06:45:46 AM
Guns, Germs and Steel is great, Diamond's later book Collapse is even better in my opinion. It deals with how civilisations sometimes fail and die, and how other civilisations survived situations that killed others. As a pair those books should be required reading for anyone who wants to write a realistic world  :)

I haven't read the books but I did watch the documentaries that were up on Netflix based on the books. It really opened my eyes about our world and how it may have been shaped and form. One of the most fascinating parts was how he discussed in length about how African civilization was a thriving land despite the conditions that currently plagues it today, and then Europeans ruined their way of life by "modernizing" their culture. The ancient Africans had a perfect system that had been developed for centuries on how to adapt to the African environment, and all that was forgotten thanks to the Europeans.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Wizard Police on March 18, 2015, 06:49:09 AM
But I should probably make this clear before discussion takes a left turn (just a precaution people), but try not to sway too far into this territory (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/general-discussion/method-writing/). Keep things sane please.

WTF
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on March 18, 2015, 06:56:22 AM
They're made predominately for hunting (ie. outside) or for suppressing the muzzle flash at night.
Interestingly they're rarely that bad in most films, thankfully! It's a particularly irritating one when it happens.

But I should probably make this clear before discussion takes a left turn (just a precaution people), but try not to sway too far into this territory (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/general-discussion/method-writing/). Keep things sane please.
:o

Guns, Germs and Steel is great, Diamond's later book Collapse is even better in my opinion. It deals with how civilisations sometimes fail and die, and how other civilisations survived situations that killed others. As a pair those books should be required reading for anyone who wants to write a realistic world  :)

I haven't read the books but I did watch the documentaries that were up on Netflix based on the books. It really opened my eyes about our world and how it may have been shaped and form. One of the most fascinating parts was how he discussed in length about how African civilization was a thriving land despite the conditions that currently plagues it today, and then Europeans ruined their way of life by "modernizing" their culture. The ancient Africans had a perfect system that had been developed for centuries on how to adapt to the African environment, and all that was forgotten thanks to the Europeans.
I didn't know there were documentaries, will have to hunt those down!

Yeah it's crazy how often the Europeans' attempts at modernising everyone else ended up screwing the other people over. Almost makes you wonder if it was a deliberate attempt to make them dependent, though it'd be a ridiculous amount of effort to go about it that way  ???
 
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on March 18, 2015, 08:23:39 AM
Raptori, as a member of a former great colonial empire I can confirm that though dependency was quite unintended in the beginning, it is shockingly the case today.
Hopelessly it's a bit both ways, with our former colonies often asking us for help, like in Mali, and you could see all those interviewed malians saying they wanted France to take the country back.  :-\
It's not benefiting anyone when things get that bad.

But let's not forget that Egypt was Rome's "grain storage" as we say (blast it I can't find an equivalent in English)
And Muslims conquered most of Northern Africa long before the crusades. It wasn't exactly a party. When the crusaders arrived, the princes there were so divided that they allowed the Franq to take a seat and start the "game of thrones" with them there, making alliances and breaking them...
Amin Maalouf wrote a brilliant book on the crusades, The crusades through Arab eyes
There are some pretty revealing passages. His conclusions also ring very true.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Henry Dale on March 18, 2015, 09:08:23 AM
Can confirm Nora. From the perspective of a colonial force. Belgium owned the large african nation known as Congo. (In fact it was a private property of the king and he was forced to sell it to the Belgian state)
It was the start of what was known in Belgium as the siècle d'or (golden age fr.) with a unique and opulent architectural style. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is set during this time period.
Anyway, on one hand there was the idea that it was the right thing to do (the white man must educate the noble savage and bring civilization to them), on the other hand, they did it out of fear for everything that wasn't like them.
Up to this day there are unused train tracks running throughout the jungle of Congo.

Tl;dr Heart of Darkness is a good depiction of colonialism from the colonialist side.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on March 18, 2015, 10:13:16 AM
I'm from England so I understand that perspective as well. The fact that the Commonwealth still exists, and that all those nations still put the Union flag in their own flags is really odd to me. I guess that's the same kind of thing as with Mali, once a nation has been influenced by a foreign culture it makes it hard to return to the old path.

For "grain storage", the literal term would be "granaries", but I think your actual meaning is the "bread basket" - a region that provides the food for a larger area.

Yeah it's interesting to look at the horrendous actions that were thought justified in the past - slavery, conquest, etc. There are still things like that going on today even in our most "civilised" nations, justified or excused using the same reasoning that was used for atrocities in the past.  :-\
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on March 18, 2015, 10:57:57 AM
But let's not forget that Egypt was Rome's "grain storage" as we say (blast it I can't find an equivalent in English)
And Muslims conquered most of Northern Africa long before the crusades. It wasn't exactly a party. When the crusaders arrived, the princes there were so divided that they allowed the Franq to take a seat and start the "game of thrones" with them there, making alliances and breaking them...
Amin Maalouf wrote a brilliant book on the crusades, The crusades through Arab eyes
There are some pretty revealing passages. His conclusions also ring very true.
@Saraband (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=32607), you should join this part of the discussion given your studies  :)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on March 18, 2015, 11:27:16 AM
@Nora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40237), lots of valuable and fascinating stuff. Very cool. You get 1 Karma point in the J-MACK unofficial karma system. This is the first point awarded anywhere under this program idiosyncrasy.

 Here are some books I've found useful and interesting for discovering our world and cultures. There aren't many here. I'll try to add more as I thin of them. (I do read! er, fantasy.  But other stuff too!)

Non-Fiction
> John Keegan, A History of Warfare:
> Barabara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: 14th (?) century noble family in France
> Lies My Teacher Told Me: Various deconstructions of U.S. mythology. A fascinating section on how we teach only the parts of our heroes' lives that fit the "uber-culture's" needs. Helen Keller was a famous woman who suffered from deafness, blindness and therefore muteness. Famous movies and every textbook tell how a talented teacher helped her lear to sign, then speak, and Helen became a teacher. They leave out that she became a radical socialist and crusader for many causes not always loved by the center or right.

Fiction
> The Teahouse Fire: Japan during transition from isolation to Western emulation, plus lesbian themes
> Gates of Fire: The Battle of Thermopylae, with fascinating cultural aspects of ancient Greece
On a personal level, what I have some experience with is how organizations work in terms of people and their needs and goals.

>One of the Management gurus said that the purpose of any organization is not profit, or its stated mission, or what-have-you; it's to survive as an organization. A version of this was experienced by my dad when he ran the department of epidemiology ad disease control in a major U.S. city. He was trying to guide AIDS money into programs for black citizens, drug users, prostitutes, etc. (not equating these three, but of course there was some level of overlap) because that was where AIDS was proliferating. He ran into tons of resistance from gay men's AIDS advocates, trying to protect their own cause and their budgets - even though the threat to that population had grown quite small.

> People want control and personal recognition, often as much or more as they want the benefits of the organization. I see this in churches, where folks argue and fight over things which, if you stood back from them are petty and ridiculous. But whole organizations get poisonous and die or are weakened terribly.

> CEOs truly are a different breed. (Apply this to leaders in your world.) The only ones I've known who really listened to their staffs weren't all that good. (One exception.) The ones who didn't listen weren't that good either. (One was fired for lying to Congress  ;D)

> Perception is reality, often born out of fear. Again, my father. In retirement, he was hired to engage with a small town in rural U.S. where there'd been a "cancer cluster", that is, a statically anomalous number of brain cancer cases among a small population. They blamed a local wood pulp factory despite no evidence. My father found that a) it was a statistical anomaly and b) the real health problem in the town was obesity and heart disease (something like 6 cancer cases to 20+ heart attacks). No one had any interest in this.

Enough for now. May think of more. But, thought a very angle might be interesting.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on March 18, 2015, 12:17:54 PM
I am not quite sure when he wrote it, but Poul Andersons "On Thud and Blunder" (http://www.sfwa.org/2005/01/on-thud-and-blunder/) is a really well written piece on this subject.

I think the most important item is the misconception about horse speed. Horses can run very fast, but not very long. If you need to get somewhere nearby as fast as possible, a horse makes all the difference. If you're traveling for more than a few hours, it's not much faster than going on foot. (Great thing about horses is that they can carry more stuff than you without slowing to a crawl.)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Saraband on March 18, 2015, 12:30:35 PM
@Saraband (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=32607), you should join this part of the discussion given your studies  :)

Thanks for 'inviting' me into the discussion @Jmacyk (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=37094), otherwise I might have missed it  ;)

Your original post was fascinating for me, @Nora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40237) - I had never heard of "Glanage" before. Also, you lead a much more interesting life than mine, and I thank you for your honesty in sharing an experience which may hold considerable stigma for many people: living on 'dumpster-diving'. I'm certain experiences such as these have given you a very unique perspective on modern society.

Raptori, as a member of a former great colonial empire I can confirm that though dependency was quite unintended in the beginning, it is shockingly the case today.
Hopelessly it's a bit both ways, with our former colonies often asking us for help, like in Mali, and you could see all those interviewed malians saying they wanted France to take the country back.  :-\
It's not benefiting anyone when things get that bad.

Well, Portugal was the first colonial empire (alongside our Spanish neighbors, of course) and one of the greatest, for a few centuries. And our colonial rule was considerably non-violent towards the indigenous peoples of our colonies, at least until the 1960's, when independent movements in Africa got caught up in the Cold War and our Dictatorship tried to put a stop to them - which only resulted in a decade-long colonial war, with the inevitable independence of all our African colonies at the end. Today, unlike France or the UK, Portugal is actually a weak link on the chain, and is becoming increasingly dependent on our former colonies - particularly Angola, which has invested millions of euros in Portugal in recent years. Brazil has also been very important to us since its independence, a few years before the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. This is just to show that it can go both ways, of course, in terms of the relationship developed by the colonialists and the ex-colonies.

But let's not forget that Egypt was Rome's "grain storage" as we say (blast it I can't find an equivalent in English)
And Muslims conquered most of Northern Africa long before the crusades. It wasn't exactly a party. When the crusaders arrived, the princes there were so divided that they allowed the Franq to take a seat and start the "game of thrones" with them there, making alliances and breaking them...
Amin Maalouf wrote a brilliant book on the crusades, The crusades through Arab eyes
There are some pretty revealing passages. His conclusions also ring very true.

Well, reducing Egypt to Rome's granary was something often done in the 60's / 70's / 80's, but History has changed, has all social sciences do, and so have its many perspectives. Egypt is one of the world's most successful civilizations, having survived from +3000 b.C. to the successors of Alexander the Great, the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Arguably, it still survives in many ways, particularly in the Coptic branch of Christianity and its liturgy. While its identity was almost utterly diluted by the time Rome conquered it, it still lasted in many other forms besides a strap of fertile land.

I should also warn you about Amin Maalouf. He is a journalist, and a brilliant novelist - Samarkand is one of my favourite books - but not a Historian. The Crusades were incredibly complex, and still generate a great deal of debate within the scientific community. The Middle-East was very unstable at the time of the First Crusade, with the Turks pouring in from the Steppes and threatening the established dynasties - but the Firanj (Franks, or how Europeans were called in Arabic) were no less alien than these invaders. In many ways, Saladin was only successful because he rallied Egypt and other neighboring territories to his side, as part of the newly formed Mameluke power, against this common foe. Arabs & Turks even later united to fight the Firanj.

(Sorry if I came across as pedantic in any way, is just that an awful lot is written about these subjects, many time without full knowledge of the facts, adding to the perpetuation of a stereotyped historical discourse. Particularly when Islam is involved.)

Can confirm Nora. From the perspective of a colonial force. Belgium owned the large african nation known as Congo. (In fact it was a private property of the king and he was forced to sell it to the Belgian state)
It was the start of what was known in Belgium as the siècle d'or (golden age fr.) with a unique and opulent architectural style. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is set during this time period.
Anyway, on one hand there was the idea that it was the right thing to do (the white man must educate the noble savage and bring civilization to them), on the other hand, they did it out of fear for everything that wasn't like them.

Unfortunately, Belgium also set the grounds for one of the most awful genocides in History - the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. Belgium practically invented the difference in ethnicity between the Tutsi and the Hutu. And it was a fairly small colonial empire when compared to others, so we can imagine in how many ways, and at what depth, has colonialism completely changed the nature of the relationship between countries, and even entire continents.

I always draw from History to write. I don't mind reading about the typical Medievalish-Feudalish setting in Fantasy, but it does tire me, and I enjoy reading about cultures inspired by other historical settings, particularly Islam. Does doesn't mean it's always great, of course. Peter V. Brett's depiction of a somewhat Islamic culture is offensive and verging on complete bigotry, and I say this as a gay atheist with no personal interest in the matter.

There are also great examples, such the series I am currently reading, Daniel Abraham's The Long Price Quartet. It brings together elements of various Asian civilizations, particularly China, Korea and Japan, but there's also a Middle-Eastern flavor punctuating some of its world-building. The cotton trade is a fundamental part of the first novel, for example, and is explored in an interesting, fantastical way - it is important not to forget the importance of the cotton trade for the aforementioned colonialist empires, mainly the UK.

Terry Pratchett was (it is so strange to refer to him in the past...  :'( ) was a master at bringing philosophical, historical, religious, and many other things, to a Fantasy setting, clearly inspired by sources outside literature and fiction.

In my own writing, I am very interested in making sure the things I have learned from History - and still keep learning, and hope to keep (re)learning until I die - are present. Particularly how easy it is for revolutions to get romanticized in fiction, to the point of making them utterly unbelievable (Hunger Games immediately springs to mind...). I do have a particular interest in Medieval Islamic & Middle-Eastern History, and so I often draw on these settings / sources for my writing. Having learned some Arabic and coming into contact with practically unexplored sources, such as the one I used for my master's thesis, I often become amazed at the lack of originality in some authors of fiction, since there are still so many new things to draw from in our own, collective past.

[That was a long post, sorry for the embuggerance  ;) ]

[Edited typos - many still survive, I'm certain]
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on March 18, 2015, 02:01:04 PM
On the subject of colonialism and post-colonial relationships: Germany is an interesting case, because Germany never really got into the whole colony business. (Not for any ulterior reasons, they really wanted to, but were so terrible at it that everything was already taken by the time they figured out how it worked.) There was Tanzania, Cameroon, and Namibia (the least densly populated country in the world), but that was pretty much it. Cameroon went to France after World War I and so the entire decoloniation process and post-colonial relationship is a thing between Cameroon and France with Germany not really being involved.
An interesting result from this situation is that Germany has a very good reputation throughout Asia. The countries of Asia all have difficult pasts and complicated relationships with all the major European powers, except for Germany. (Don't really know about Africa, but I believe it's simlar there.) This put Germany into the unique position of being able to provide all the modern European know-how and technology but without the difficult historical baggage that comes with the other European countries. Within Europe, Germany in the first half of the 20th century is clearly the bad guy. But to the people outside of Europe none of that really mattered and Germany was pretty much the nicest European power to have business with. That Germany did not participate in any military opperations outside of Europe until 2002 also helped a lot (and even since then, the German presence in Afghanistan is limited to the region that predominantly welcomed the western troops as allies against their internal enemies, so they are not seen as invaders).

I think this is a very interesting option to consider in geo-political worldbuilding. A "villainous" country is mostly a country that does bad things to you. If they help you against the people who are doing bad things to you, it usually doesn't matter much what they are doing to their enemies. Especially in a fantasy setting, where people get few first-hand accounts of things that happen in other parts of the world.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on March 18, 2015, 03:00:40 PM
I think this is a very interesting option to consider in geo-political worldbuilding. A "villainous" country is mostly a country that does bad things to you. If they help you against the people who are doing bad things to you, it usually doesn't matter much what they are doing to their enemies. Especially in a fantasy setting, where people get few first-hand accounts of things that happen in other parts of the world.
I think Germany is a very interesting nation to look at from this kind of perspective. To some people (thankfully a diminishing number of people), Germany is still closely linked with Nazism and still has all the baggage that comes with that particular era - even though pretty much every single country has committed atrocities in the past. The results of colonialism and the slave trade are perfect examples of that, but are often glossed over by people in the west.

It's startling to see prejudices like that last so long, and that people are so unable to see past the problems of the past and realise that the people alive right now didn't even commit them. Slavery is a good example of that - I've had a number of people rant at me on separate occasions, telling me that I'm racist because I'm white, and therefore my ancestors owned slaves.

Firstly: it's racist to assume something about someone purely based on their race - even if that person is white (something that a lot of people clearly don't understand). Secondly: it's unfair to damn people due to any crimes their ancestors committed. Thirdly: even if you ignore those two points, my ancestors in particularly actually did not own slaves - they were relatively poor farmers - so you're associating me with the taint caused by... my ancestors neighbours.

I see the Germany/Nazism association as basically the same thing as that, and both are stupidly widespread. It'd be interesting to see something like that explored in fantasy novels.



Edit to add: just read an article from 2004 in a major English newspaper, which I will not dignify by posting here, titled "Sorry, but the Germans must never be allowed to forget their evil past". Just... wow. Apparently Germans are evil, and English people are saintly. No mention whatsoever of anything that England has been reponsible for in the past. This kind of thing is exactly why I despise nationalism and patriotism.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: silvijanus on March 18, 2015, 03:19:39 PM
I'm thinking something similar all week. Knowing history is good thing when writing, but can we get into "the medieval mind" well. Medieval, Roman, Egypt, Greece... same thing. Fantasy is usually set in that time period, but these people were so much different from us today. How well can you cope with their motives? For example, today people don't want to go to war. Can you imagine selfie from the trenches? No, they cant either.  ;)
1000 years ago your King would call to arms and you had to go. Not much question asked. Our fantasy knight would say "I will be honored my King", while our reader goes "no way, you go you foolish old man."
Sorry if I'm slightly off topic with this thought.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on March 18, 2015, 03:24:01 PM
I'm thinking something similar all week. Knowing history is good thing when writing, but can we get into "the medieval mind" well. Medieval, Roman, Egypt, Greece... same thing. Fantasy is usually set in that time period, but these people were so much different from us today. How well can you cope with their motives? For example, today people don't want to go to war. Can you imagine selfie from the trenches? No, they cant either.  ;)
1000 years ago your King would call to arms and you had to go. Not much question asked. Our fantasy knight would say "I will be honored my King", while our reader goes "no way, you go you foolish old man."
Sorry if I'm slightly off topic with this thought.
I think part of the problem with that is that our perception of that time period has been warped by fiction and skewed reporting of history. For example, from what I've read, knights were actually basically mercenaries, and were not the honour-bound noble warriors they're often pictured as. They were more likely to be involved in kidnapping and ransom than heroic pursuits :D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Doctor_Chill on March 18, 2015, 03:27:14 PM
^ There's a fine line between patriotism and terrorism. Sometimes too thin to see before it's too late.

I think it's funny that when talking about colonialism we never mention the US. One of its first major actions outside isolationism was to take over Cuba and colonize some Pacific Islands and the Philippines.

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No no!! Precisely you don't! It seems like you're setting the base of a rogue/civilian or rogue/policeman dialog.


Good point Nora. Perhaps it's a simple case of Mores/Ethics over in the US and my cultural fixation of private property or trash is trash mindset.

But as for Prison v. Jail, a prison requires you to commit a felony before you can be transferred there. There are some exceptions with a few Class A Misdemeanors, but on the large put, only big infractions get you there. A jail is usually overseen at a county level (Prisons are state or federal), so anything under 2 years is sent there. If you're looking at laws, assault is the best example. Verbal assault or liquid assault are all misdemeanors, but following through in the case of physical (though there can be some leeway), aggravated, or assault with a deadly weapon (kicking somebody will get you here) will lock you up in a prison. Theft is also interesting, but it's on a scale that varies state from state. I think $500 is the usual minimum for a Misdemeanor.

As for RW knights, yeah, they weren't the best bunch in the crowd. Bullies if you want to get in the nitty gritty of it, though as every profession, there were exceptions.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: silvijanus on March 18, 2015, 03:30:06 PM
It's startling to see prejudices that last so long...
One thing that last so long is Japanese emperor tradition. I'm not sure now, have to check on the net to be precise, but their line lasts more that thousand years. Fascinating, so fantasy like 8)
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Apparently Germans are evil, and English people are saintly. No mention whatsoever of anything that England has been reponsible for in the past. This kind of thing is exactly why I despise nationalism and patriotism.
I despise the thin line making patriotism and nationalism good or bad. Frodo adores Shire, Boromir loves Gondor, elves are loving their forests... are they good patriots? :D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: silvijanus on March 18, 2015, 03:39:09 PM
I think part of the problem with that is that our perception of that time period has been warped by fiction and skewed reporting of history. For example, from what I've read, knights were actually basically mercenaries, and were not the honour-bound noble warriors they're often pictured as. They were more likely to be involved in kidnapping and ransom than heroic pursuits :D
Yes, and History channel experts say they had to have manners for ladies, but on the field of battle knights would avoid each other. Huh... knight to knight, chest on chest. Apparently no, "gentlemen" don't fight each other. On the other hand Japanese samurai and ninja tradition would be worth exploring. Great skills, good looking armor, sense for honor... I would love to see good fantasy novel about that.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on March 18, 2015, 04:07:43 PM
It's startling to see prejudices that last so long...
One thing that last so long is Japanese emperor tradition. I'm not sure now, have to check on the net to be precise, but their line lasts more that thousand years. Fascinating, so fantasy like 8)
I've always loved oriental cultures, some of it does seem perfect for fantasy settings :D

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Apparently Germans are evil, and English people are saintly. No mention whatsoever of anything that England has been reponsible for in the past. This kind of thing is exactly why I despise nationalism and patriotism.
I despise the thin line making patriotism and nationalism good or bad. Frodo adores Shire, Boromir loves Gondor, elves are loving their forests... are they good patriots? :D
Myeah, I usually don't agree that anything good comes out of it - at best it just helps people feel like they belong to a wider community, but often that directly results in restricting their empathy so that they see foreigners as "the other".  :P

I think part of the problem with that is that our perception of that time period has been warped by fiction and skewed reporting of history. For example, from what I've read, knights were actually basically mercenaries, and were not the honour-bound noble warriors they're often pictured as. They were more likely to be involved in kidnapping and ransom than heroic pursuits :D
Yes, and History channel experts say they had to have manners for ladies, but on the field of battle knights would avoid each other. Huh... knight to knight, chest on chest. Apparently no, "gentlemen" don't fight each other. On the other hand Japanese samurai and ninja tradition would be worth exploring. Great skills, good looking armor, sense for honor... I would love to see good fantasy novel about that.
Sadly, the honourable samurai is largely fictional as well, just like the medieval knights! There are huge similarities there. Same goes for the idea spread around back in medieval times that nobles were honourable, though that one has been emphatically destroyed in our culture :)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on March 18, 2015, 04:16:57 PM
I despise the thin line making patriotism and nationalism good or bad. Frodo adores Shire, Boromir loves Gondor, elves are loving their forests... are they good patriots? :D
I think the issue is about ethnocentrism, or exceptionalism, leading to bigotry. My country is better, my country is good, my country is virtuous; your country is...  We associate these things with patriotism and nationalism, perhaps too much.

Since I can make up my own definitions, I think I'll follow @silvijanus (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=35017) here and use "patriotism" as the more positive noun, and "nationalism" as the gateway drug (if you will) to jingoism and all the other -isms.

I'm a patriot about the United States. I'm a lover of humanity (most of the time  ;)).
I try not to be a nationalist.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on March 18, 2015, 04:46:57 PM
I think Germany is a very interesting nation to look at from this kind of perspective. To some people (thankfully a diminishing number of people), Germany is still closely linked with Nazism and still has all the baggage that comes with that particular era.
It's mostly England.  ;)

Well, actually, it's only England. The one country that got the least affected by German war crimes and never got invaded or occupied  ::)

I am always very amazed how quickly Germany was able to make peace with all the other neighboring countries in Europe, especially France and Poland. France and Germany had been fierce enemies for over a thousand years, and then all of a sudden they became best friends in a matter of two or three decades. And even in Poland, the country that probably suffered the most from centuries of German military agression, people seem to have made peace with the current population of Germany. Even while some of the occupaying soldiers are still alive. I can only remember one single case of anti-German polemic in Poland in the past 20 years, and that was a mud slinging contest between a German and a Polish tabloid paper, which I believe actually have the same owner.

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Edit to add: just read an article from 2004 in a major English newspaper, which I will not dignify by posting here, titled "Sorry, but the Germans must never be allowed to forget their evil past". Just... wow. Apparently Germans are evil, and English people are saintly. No mention whatsoever of anything that England has been reponsible for in the past. This kind of thing is exactly why I despise nationalism and patriotism.
Yeah, England is really the only place in the world I am aware of where Nazi polemics are still en vogue. And even that is changing. I think during the football world cup five years ago (which was in Germany) I've read a couple of articles on English news sites where lots of interviewed people from England were saying that it's really quite embarassing when people still do that and that it makes England look terrible. So I am not really that concerned about it.

Which again, can be an interesting element of worldbuilding. A recent example I've come across is in the Mass Effect games, where the humans and the Turians had a really violent and costly war 30 years ago before the allies of the Turians negotiated a peace, and now the humans are even joining that alliance. Many older soldiers still have reservations about the other species, but mostly the two groups are now their closest allies with which they actually have the most in common. (Though of course, neither side did invade the enemy homeworlds and occupied them or engaged in any genocidal activities.)

Strangely enough, the Americans are sometimes really good at that. Germany and Japan both became very important allies very quickly after having been bombed to rubble by the American forces. (The fact that Germany and Japan both started the fighting and were clearly to blame for it probably was an important factor, though.)

Dealing with a terrible past and post-war national identity in Germany is a pretty unique case, as far as I can tell. We don't need English newspapers to tell us that not to sweep it under the rug and forgett about it. It's a huge part of modern german identity which actually borders on self-flagellation. There is a certain sense of superiority coming from the fact that we are pretty much the only nation in world history that does not in any way attempt to downplay crimes in the past (which of course pretty much none of the currently living people had any part in). We can point at the Japanese, Americans, and Russians and berate them about admiting their past, as we now have the moral high ground, having done even worse things and fully admiting to them.
But at the same time, there is also the widespread view that Germans have a certain responsibility: The German people made a terrible mistake and after decades of debating and reconsidering, we now have an understanding what happened and why and that it could happen to anyone at any time, with which comes a duty to speak up any time someone else might start to go down that same terrible road. Which of course can come off as quite obnoxious, especially to people in other countries who don't actually know how much time German society still spends on educating following generations and trying to repair some of the damage.
Of course, Germans are now extremely anti-patriotic. Anything that has even a hint of patriotism is automatically suspicious. Black-Red-Gold flags during football tournaments don't count. Black-Red-Gold are out team colors, they do not represent and identification with the state.  :D
However, this topic is so incredibly complex that I don't recommend to anyone to try to go there with fictional nations.  ;)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on March 18, 2015, 05:01:32 PM
I think Germany is a very interesting nation to look at from this kind of perspective. To some people (thankfully a diminishing number of people), Germany is still closely linked with Nazism and still has all the baggage that comes with that particular era.
It's mostly England.  ;)

Well, actually, it's only England. The one country that got the least affected by German war crimes and never got invaded or occupied  ::)
And the U.S. Lots of feeling here (among my 50s-ish generation) that Germans are great folks, but we can't forget WW2. And, yes, we're another country that wasn't invaded  ;)

Just finished reading your post. Wrote too soon.  No, I agree.  There are no "anti-Nazi" polemics in the U.S. Just a sense the events and the atrocities not be forgotten. While we conveniently forget the firebombings. And the atom bomb.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: silvijanus on March 18, 2015, 05:15:03 PM
A-bombs are not forgotten. Otherwise they would throw them again. I think we are just not talking about it, aware of things they can do.

My granddad got through ww2 and some big fights. Later in time of peace, working in the factory few miles outside a town, he had to walk home through a forest. Not very big one. I remember people talking how they would get scared walking in the woods back home cause of the witches and ghosts. Which don't exists of course. Think about that for a moment.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on March 18, 2015, 05:21:00 PM
A-bombs are not forgotten. Otherwise they would throw them again. I think we are just not talking about it, aware of things they can do.

My granddad got through ww2 and some big fights. Later in time of peace, working in the factory few miles outside a town, he had to walk home through a forest. Not very big one. I remember people talking how they would get scared walking in the woods back home cause of the witches and ghosts. Which don't exists of course. Think about that for a moment.
My math teacher wife doesn't like the idea of going to Salem, Massachusetts or some town in New Jersey that also advertises it's witchy history.  ;D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on March 18, 2015, 05:59:32 PM
I think Germany is a very interesting nation to look at from this kind of perspective. To some people (thankfully a diminishing number of people), Germany is still closely linked with Nazism and still has all the baggage that comes with that particular era.
It's mostly England.  ;)

Well, actually, it's only England. The one country that got the least affected by German war crimes and never got invaded or occupied  ::)
I agree that England is traditionally the most vocal about it, but it's still there in other countries to some extent. Just look at the crazy demands Greece are making at the moment - they clearly still resent Germany because of the invasion, though admittedly in their case it's made worse by their perception of more recent history.  :-\

I am always very amazed how quickly Germany was able to make peace with all the other neighboring countries in Europe, especially France and Poland. France and Germany had been fierce enemies for over a thousand years, and then all of a sudden they became best friends in a matter of two or three decades. And even in Poland, the country that probably suffered the most from centuries of German military agression, people seem to have made peace with the current population of Germany. Even while some of the occupaying soldiers are still alive. I can only remember one single case of anti-German polemic in Poland in the past 20 years, and that was a mud slinging contest between a German and a Polish tabloid paper, which I believe actually have the same owner.
Yeah it's great how quickly everyone moved on from it and started anew.

Quote
Edit to add: just read an article from 2004 in a major English newspaper, which I will not dignify by posting here, titled "Sorry, but the Germans must never be allowed to forget their evil past". Just... wow. Apparently Germans are evil, and English people are saintly. No mention whatsoever of anything that England has been reponsible for in the past. This kind of thing is exactly why I despise nationalism and patriotism.
Yeah, England is really the only place in the world I am aware of where Nazi polemics are still en vogue. And even that is changing. I think during the football world cup five years ago (which was in Germany) I've read a couple of articles on English news sites where lots of interviewed people from England were saying that it's really quite embarassing when people still do that and that it makes England look terrible. So I am not really that concerned about it.
They're only really in vogue in certain circles though, the problem is that they're quite vocal. Like you say, the majority of people find those idiots an utter embarrassment, and wish they'd shut the hell up :D

Which again, can be an interesting element of worldbuilding. A recent example I've come across is in the Mass Effect games, where the humans and the Turians had a really violent and costly war 30 years ago before the allies of the Turians negotiated a peace, and now the humans are even joining that alliance. Many older soldiers still have reservations about the other species, but mostly the two groups are now their closest allies with which they actually have the most in common. (Though of course, neither side did invade the enemy homeworlds and occupied them or engaged in any genocidal activities.)
Yeah I think I remember you mentioning it somewhere else, it's a really interesting detail that makes it sound like the relationship they've thought up is pretty nuanced and realistic.

Strangely enough, the Americans are sometimes really good at that. Germany and Japan both became very important allies very quickly after having been bombed to rubble by the American forces. (The fact that Germany and Japan both started the fighting and were clearly to blame for it probably was an important factor, though.)

Dealing with a terrible past and post-war national identity in Germany is a pretty unique case, as far as I can tell. We don't need English newspapers to tell us that not to sweep it under the rug and forgett about it. It's a huge part of modern german identity which actually borders on self-flagellation. There is a certain sense of superiority coming from the fact that we are pretty much the only nation in world history that does not in any way attempt to downplay crimes in the past (which of course pretty much none of the currently living people had any part in). We can point at the Japanese, Americans, and Russians and berate them about admiting their past, as we now have the moral high ground, having done even worse things and fully admiting to them.
I was reading a blog post written by someone who travels for a living, staying in places for three months to a year and immersing himself in their culture - he mentioned that one of the cultural quirks of Germany is that everyone is very honest to each other, which could be a part of why as a country you've faced up to the past while others like to pretend it didn't happen. It's one of the things that makes Germany appeal to us should we ever want to move country again (which is quite likely) :P

But at the same time, there is also the widespread view that Germans have a certain responsibility: The German people made a terrible mistake and after decades of debating and reconsidering, we now have an understanding what happened and why and that it could happen to anyone at any time, with which comes a duty to speak up any time someone else might start to go down that same terrible road. Which of course can come off as quite obnoxious, especially to people in other countries who don't actually know how much time German society still spends on educating following generations and trying to repair some of the damage.
Of course, Germans are now extremely anti-patriotic. Anything that has even a hint of patriotism is automatically suspicious. Black-Red-Gold flags during football tournaments don't count. Black-Red-Gold are out team colors, they do not represent and identification with the state.  :D
However, this topic is so incredibly complex that I don't recommend to anyone to try to go there with fictional nations.  ;)
Yeah, but the key is that the potential for that kind of mistake is not unique to German culture, and could happen elsewhere  (and has). In fact, due to the cultural norm of honesty and frankness I wouldn't be surprised if it's far less likely to happen again in Germany than somewhere else.


This kinda reminds me of A Canticle For Leibowitz, such a brilliant story. I won't say why though, since it'd spoil it for people.  ;)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on March 18, 2015, 06:11:32 PM
At which juncture, dear friends, we may want to start a "national identities" thread and go back to the OP, which was to share our personal experiences and influential books in unique areas that may help with world building.  Sorry, yes, I'm being bossy.  :-[

Now you're all wishing the karma button was back.  ;)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on March 18, 2015, 06:14:23 PM
At which juncture, dear friends, we may want to start a "national identities" thread and go back to the OP, which was to share our personal experiences and influential books in unique areas that may help with world building.  Sorry, yes, I'm being bossy.  :-[

Now you're all wishing the karma button was back.  ;)
Sooo tempted to start calling you "boss" now.  :-X

I do agree though, it's a really interesting topic and well worth its own thread. I've noticed that happen many times recently, loads of interesting discussions that could deserve their own threads. I have an aversion to creating threads though, always assume that other people might be less interested in it than me  :-\
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on March 18, 2015, 06:22:12 PM
At which juncture, dear friends, we may want to start a "national identities" thread and go back to the OP, which was to share our personal experiences and influential books in unique areas that may help with world building.  Sorry, yes, I'm being bossy.  :-[

Now you're all wishing the karma button was back.  ;)
Sooo tempted to start calling you "boss" now.  :-X

I do agree though, it's a really interesting topic and well worth its own thread. I've noticed that happen many times recently, loads of interesting discussions that could deserve their own threads. I have an aversion to creating threads though, always assume that other people might be less interested in it than me  :-\
Please don't call me boss. I was really reluctant to comment. Just felt we were having a very interesting discussion that was way off topic. The OP is worthwhile too, sooooo. (But I do feel sort of assholish) :-[
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on March 18, 2015, 06:31:20 PM
I was reading a blog post written by someone who travels for a living, staying in places for three months to a year and immersing himself in their culture - he mentioned that one of the cultural quirks of Germany is that everyone is very honest to each other, which could be a part of why as a country you've faced up to the past while others like to pretend it didn't happen. It's one of the things that makes Germany appeal to us should we ever want to move country again (which is quite likely) :P
I think that's a much older thing and (mostly) independent from any post-war developments. A lot of cultures throughout the world practice "politeness judo", where there are lots of customs and social norms that govern how you present oppinions in a socially acceptable way. Germany, and I think that extends to Scandinavia as well, does not really have that. If you can say something in four words, it's usually socially acceptible to say it in four words, and when you want to be extra polite you say it with six. Germans generally see no reason to say it in 16 or 24 words. Not for any real reason, but simply because that's what we're used to. In other cultures all the native speakers know exactly what the other person means as well, because everyone knows the conventions of the language with which you insult someone with only nice words.
Problems happen when you have two people talking to each other who are not used to the same conventions, and it's often something that is not a big part of language classes. Germans easily get annoyed by people from other countries who always change their oppinions and don't do the things they said they would do. Because we Germans don't get the idea that someone is refusing your request without using the word "no". The other way round, Germans often seem pretty rude, since we always skip the pleasantries and don't show any concern for the other persons feelings or dignity.
These things about language tend to be very subtle and even if you know about them it doesn't mean you know how to do them right. It's not uncommon for people from cultures that use a lot of politeness in their native language to turn down the politeness from 80% all the way down to 0%, even though actually Germans are comfortable with 20%. And 0% is still regarded as unacceptibly rude.  :D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Wizard Police on March 18, 2015, 08:56:44 PM
RE: Knights and Samurai, I've read the same myself. Most of the time they were seen as corrupt who pilfered money from the poor. Ninjas were actually created in order to combat the Samurais. Doesn't seem too far off from how the modern world, or at least Americans, view police officers.

I think there may be a psychological reason for why time romanticized these high authorities as noble and honorable, and it could be tied to why romance readers find it hot to be seduced by a vampire and/or werewolf when those types of creatures should be feared. There's something alluring about a person with power not succumbing to their vices, even when they're fully capable of getting away with it. The act of self restraint itself is seen as more powerful than the authority they wield. And story is going to prop up the few that battled and tamed their temptation rather than the ones who didn't, which seems to be the overwhelmingly majority of knights and samurais.

The problem though being is that time has fazed out all the corrupted individuals with the few good virtuous ones only being remembered, misinterpreting the samurai/knight class as a whole as being virtuous for those that haven't lived through those experiences.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on March 18, 2015, 09:57:56 PM
Please don't call me boss. I was really reluctant to comment. Just felt we were having a very interesting discussion that was way off topic. The OP is worthwhile too, sooooo. (But I do feel sort of assholish) :-[
Don't feel assholish, it's a perfectly reasonable suggestion :)

I think that's a much older thing and (mostly) independent from any post-war developments. A lot of cultures throughout the world practice "politeness judo", where there are lots of customs and social norms that govern how you present oppinions in a socially acceptable way. Germany, and I think that extends to Scandinavia as well, does not really have that. If you can say something in four words, it's usually socially acceptible to say it in four words, and when you want to be extra polite you say it with six. Germans generally see no reason to say it in 16 or 24 words. Not for any real reason, but simply because that's what we're used to. In other cultures all the native speakers know exactly what the other person means as well, because everyone knows the conventions of the language with which you insult someone with only nice words.
Problems happen when you have two people talking to each other who are not used to the same conventions, and it's often something that is not a big part of language classes. Germans easily get annoyed by people from other countries who always change their oppinions and don't do the things they said they would do. Because we Germans don't get the idea that someone is refusing your request without using the word "no". The other way round, Germans often seem pretty rude, since we always skip the pleasantries and don't show any concern for the other persons feelings or dignity.
These things about language tend to be very subtle and even if you know about them it doesn't mean you know how to do them right. It's not uncommon for people from cultures that use a lot of politeness in their native language to turn down the politeness from 80% all the way down to 0%, even though actually Germans are comfortable with 20%. And 0% is still regarded as unacceptibly rude.  :D
Lol yeah exactly, I definitely prefer the honest approach! :)

Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on March 19, 2015, 01:55:00 AM
Thanks you so much people! To say I was afraid of making a flop there, only to wake up to 3 pages of passionate posts! Damn! Yall do me proud!  :D

However I don't know if it's a win or a fail, but it took you guys 15 posts to win a Godwin point by mentioning Nazi germany!

I'm shortening my post by answering the (more and more off topic) themes in a spoiler.

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And our colonial rule was considerably non-violent towards the indigenous peoples of our colonies, at least until the 1960's

@Saraband (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=32607)  Koof kof *conquest of the Americas* kof...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide_of_indigenous_peoples_in_Brazil

Quote
Well, reducing Egypt to Rome's granary was something often done in the 60's / 70's / 80's, but History has changed, has all social sciences do, and so have its many perspectives.

Yes, I was a bit too blunt in my statement. What I only meant was that Africa, and especially North Africa, wasn't truly a land of freedom and independence and peace until the white man arrived.

Quote
The results of colonialism and the slave trade are perfect examples of that, but are often glossed over by people in the west.

Indeed. The specific topic of the Muslim slave trading is largely forgotten and hushed. Arabs played a huge part by getting black africans themselves to sell them to white merchants who would only trade for them in the city's port. Some black africans also traded captured members of other tribes. The reason why north african countries don't have a big black former-slave population like the US does is that they used to castrate their slaves. References needed though.
It was always a joke between my french ex and I. While I have a quarter of muslim Algerian blood and ancestors who participated in the North african slave trade some centuries ago, my boyfriend had a black grand father who was a reunion island Creole. Meaning a descendant of french slaves. We both look more caucasian than anything else, so I enjoyed mentioning how our pairing was a hidden reconciliation between descendant of slaves and descendant of slave traders. (plot twist, my ancestors sold his ancestors away!)


@Raptori (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=38840)

Quote
It's startling to see prejudices like that last so long, and that people are so unable to see past the problems of the past and realise that the people alive right now didn't even commit them.

Mmmh... While I fully agree that resentment is lasting a bit too long, I don't share your surprise. What people resent is not the war (that's a pretty mundane human behaviour after all, even as gruesome as it got).
It's the Jewish extermination. And I don't even think it's the genocide itself either, but mostly the way it was organised and executed.
What still shock people about the whole thing is how such a cold killing machine could be instituted and then ran. You'd think there would be enough people to refuse to take part in it... but mentalities and times where probably on their side, along with indoctrination and prejudices.
Today most people react pretty indifferently to Genocides like the one we had in Rwanda and the one that started in Sarajevo. I think in a way it's because there is a chilling difference between a mob of angry people with machetes and the construction of buildings specifically designed to mass execute people, sort their belongings, and such.

On that topic, read Night by Elie Wiesel

As a french person, I can confirm that most of the younger generation feels no anger towards the current german population. I think the internet and the european union are both to be thanked (though the EU will probably also be our downfall).
it's pretty logical. Europe still has a very heavy tradition of remembrance. As a french kid I was brought to movies on the topics at school, we studied the war exceedingly, and not many months can ever go by without commemorations, military or civilian. 
I completely agree when you guys mention the way countries tend to apologize to everything. However it isn't a German privilege. France, especial socialist France is on a perpetual guilt trip, with presidents spending a lot of time apologising to every former colony or harmed country or entity.
I think it soon becomes absurd and I regret this attitude in my country. Yes we colonised a lot of people. Blame Napoleon. Blame the times. Imperial France was a different time. It's good to say you're sorry, or good to make amends in a way, but it's ridiculous to bow our head every time someone raises their voice with some incriminating memory. We did what we did, it was another generation. As it is, when I see my country having fun rescuing Mali and stealing their resources in the same movement, it strongly smells of double standards.

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I despise the thin line making patriotism and nationalism good or bad. Frodo adores Shire, Boromir loves Gondor, elves are loving their forests... are they good patriots?

I appreciate patriotism. To an extent. I agree that Frodo or Boromir are patriotic characters. Frodo gets a lot of his motivation from the sights of a devastated Shire if he were to fail, after all.

I think patriotism is great in the way it helps preserve national particularities and identities. Would we love Japan if it had the same culture as ours? Would we enjoy visiting India or Italy or the USA or Aussie, if all those countries looked exactly as ours? I think not. In that aspect I'm rather opposed to the European Union and the way things are globalized. How depressing is it when you cross half of Europe and arrive in a town where you hear more touristy english than local tongue, and recognise every single shop?
The current wave of nationalism in Europe is mostly due to people reacting against that generalisation and the way Europe over-rides national laws, especially the ones that happen to be locally popular somehow.

When it comes to EU fuelled hate, Greece is a perfect example. I grew up in a France that believed vaguely that Greece was a lovely summer destination, filled with lovely ruins, goats, cheese makers, gay men and broken statues. Ever since the crises hit, I've been hearing a lot of hate. Greeks are lazy, they deserve their problems, they're corrupted, they're going to drag us all down, they don't deserve our help, they never worked, they lived way above their means.... All of that because our already endebted state had to empty millions of Euros down the Greek hole. And then came Italy, Spain... Ireland. Countries we never had any grief against suddenly became an issue to us. Germany, I believe, is also pretty strained, as their very strong economy is part of the problem, and also what keeps the EU together to this day.

Anyhow, I'm glad I left Europe. What I genuinely loath about my country's "patriotic/nationalist" side and parties, is just how incredibly stupid they are when it comes to nuclear power and resources management like over fishing and soil protection. It makes me murderous when someone who loves his patrimonial, his land, his region, his soil, his "terroir", says that nuclear power in France is great and welcome. How morbidly illogical is it?
And Marine Le Pen, wanting to abolishing fishing quotas... Gee, European quotas are scientifically proven as decimating our fish population. To the extent that Tuna is about to go extinct. Scientists are desperate to lower those quotas who don't allow population renewal, but our nationalist party wants to fully abolish those quotas (serious facepalm)...

People interest in the danger faced by fish populations and how close most our to extinction ought to watch the documentary "The end of the line". It starts slow but you end up pretty stunned.

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Sadly, the honourable samurai is largely fictional as well, just like the medieval knights!

Yeah a lot of good anime and manga cover that.

Right. Now unto some relevant comment :

Quote
I think the most important item is the misconception about horse speed. Horses can run very fast, but not very long. If you need to get somewhere nearby as fast as possible, a horse makes all the difference. If you're traveling for more than a few hours, it's not much faster than going on foot. (Great thing about horses is that they can carry more stuff than you without slowing to a crawl.)

Actually, I'm honestly not sure about that. I've been working with thoroughbred these past three months, and I totally agree : they can run extremely fast for up to 2km or so but you won't gallop 5km with one.
However breeds like Arabians are built for endurance.
I have a hard time believing that horse riding developed so thoroughly while foot travel would be faster on longer distances.
I think this event would also disqualify your claim :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_versus_Horse_Marathon

When you take into consideration the fact that while most horses can participate, most humans who travel around on horseback in fantasy would not be fit or willing to casually run 35km to get to the next town while horses will do it carrying both you and your belongings. All the winners of that race ran around carrying nothing but their clothes too, while the horses were all ridden.

Horses are actually one type of character who very often spark in fantasy, and not often enough work and developed. They Are pretty amazing creatures though, with very intricate personalities and levels of smartness.
I'll probably write down some of my conclusions and discoveries in the topic, after three months spent taking care of horses, I think I could offer some hindsight to people who never rode or cared for horses, even if it's a topic that is pretty easy to research.

 
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on March 19, 2015, 02:31:16 AM
@Nora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40237)... "Hindsight", you may mean "insight"? Hindsight usually implies looking back at something that has happened, but now with regrets or wisdom of how it could have been done differently, or was the best it could have been, etc. I actually think "hindsight" is kind of funny, though, applied to horses  ;D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on March 19, 2015, 08:15:24 AM
Quote
It's startling to see prejudices like that last so long, and that people are so unable to see past the problems of the past and realise that the people alive right now didn't even commit them.
Mmmh... While I fully agree that resentment is lasting a bit too long, I don't share your surprise. What people resent is not the war (that's a pretty mundane human behaviour after all, even as gruesome as it got).
It's the Jewish extermination. And I don't even think it's the genocide itself either, but mostly the way it was organised and executed.
Yeah I meant the prejudice itself rather than the holocaust - it's not something people should forget, but it's also not something that people should blame on those who happen to be from that country.  :-\

What still shock people about the whole thing is how such a cold killing machine could be instituted and then ran. You'd think there would be enough people to refuse to take part in it... but mentalities and times where probably on their side, along with indoctrination and prejudices.
Today most people react pretty indifferently to Genocides like the one we had in Rwanda and the one that started in Sarajevo. I think in a way it's because there is a chilling difference between a mob of angry people with machetes and the construction of buildings specifically designed to mass execute people, sort their belongings, and such.

On that topic, read Night by Elie Wiesel
And most people are completely okay with mass-murdering non-humans, using the same techniques that were used by the Nazis. I do find it odd that people are so upset by some kinds of killing and just shrug off others as if they don't matter at all.

As a french person, I can confirm that most of the younger generation feels no anger towards the current german population. I think the internet and the european union are both to be thanked (though the EU will probably also be our downfall).
it's pretty logical. Europe still has a very heavy tradition of remembrance. As a french kid I was brought to movies on the topics at school, we studied the war exceedingly, and not many months can ever go by without commemorations, military or civilian. 
I completely agree when you guys mention the way countries tend to apologize to everything. However it isn't a German privilege. France, especial socialist France is on a perpetual guilt trip, with presidents spending a lot of time apologising to every former colony or harmed country or entity.
I think it soon becomes absurd and I regret this attitude in my country. Yes we colonised a lot of people. Blame Napoleon. Blame the times. Imperial France was a different time. It's good to say you're sorry, or good to make amends in a way, but it's ridiculous to bow our head every time someone raises their voice with some incriminating memory. We did what we did, it was another generation. As it is, when I see my country having fun rescuing Mali and stealing their resources in the same movement, it strongly smells of double standards.
Yep, not to mention it's crazy to send billions in aid to countries that are largely corrupt when your own economy is failing.  :P
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ArcaneArtsVelho on March 19, 2015, 09:07:14 AM
It amazes me how much text you guys and gals can produce in a day.  ;D

I felt a little sorry for @Nora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40237) as I watched how quickly things went off topic (well, not strictly off topic, but still slightly off from the intent of the original post, i guess). But that kind of "derailment" happens on forums, and sometimes (like in this case) it's not entirely a bad thing, since the ensuing conversation is good. Still, It's totally appropriate to comment on it when it happens. So, i don't think there's any need to feel assholish, @Jmacyk (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=37094).  :)

And now to the topic (in a way). I have looked through the Internet (the whole Internet, really) for resources relating to traveling speeds in medieval and roman times, and I try to see if I can link some of it here at some point. But for now I just want to say, that even though horses can carry people faster than those people could walk, the distance traveled per day and the sustainability of the speed (for days or weeks) depends quite a lot on the skill of the rider. I would think that an inexperienced rider would feel the strain of controlling the animal and sitting in a saddle pretty soon.

I don't have any first hand experience with horses, though. Maybe someone who rides horses can tell how straining riding horses for longer distances is.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Henry Dale on March 19, 2015, 09:26:53 AM
As a citizen of the place that still has most of the remains of the western front, I can't stress enough the necessity of our remembrance culture in Europe. Especially with the last generation that knew the war dying out, there will no longer be any first-hand reports of that WW2.

Personal experience.
A lot of older people here are still very anti-germanic, not just because they blew up pretty much most of the country (the allied forces are equally guilty of that), but because both wars were wars of collaboration and traitors. That hatred runs deeper than simple hatred for a country and up to this day some people are marked as "blacks" (named after the german uniforms or the tar after the war was over, depends on source) for being family of a traitor.

Historical.
The European Union originated from the war in the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) to help revitalise the economy of a place that pretty much had nothing left (reason it was European Community of Coal and Steel initially). Perhaps it will break up one day, but a lot of realizations (the euro or ecu, the Schengen accord,...) will stay in place according to my vision.

As a sidenote: concentration camps were pretty common in that time and an invention of the English (first reports during the Oranje-Boer wars in Southern Africa). The Nazi's took an existing concept and placed it in a streamlined apparatus. (I am by no means minimizing the holocaust)

Again personal sidenote.
I want a story that has a belfry in it...and a carillon. Anyone? :)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on March 19, 2015, 09:56:32 AM
Yes, remembrance is vital. So is humor on the topic, and forgiveness.

I'll share two memories, on-topic, both topics, war anecdote

As a kid they got us to see movies with a lot of former-soldier or former incarcerated jew experiences. Some stories were pretty graphic for kids as young as we were, and one is imprinted on my memory :
A man, I don't remember if he was jew or a political/gay prisoner, but he certainly never fought before, was a member of a smaller camp, one that produced or repaired goods or some such. Anyway, they had a little room in which several of the prisoners were given tools in order to repair the shoes/coats and other items belonging to officers. The man who told the story participated in a rebellion that completely overthrew the camp (ran away and got caught again!) but he shared with us the most vivid memory he had of the revolt.
It was when they actually attacked, he was inside that working room, and when a german officer opened the door to get in, our man killed him with a big strike from an axe straight in the middle of the face. And he said he could still picture how a massive spark appeared as the axe met the man's teeth.

*boooom* in my little 12 yo brain!

Another from another documentary : former soldier of the french resistance tells how, on one of his first missions, barely 18 yo as he was, he suddenly bumped into a kid the same sort of age. Except he was in a german uniform. They were both armed, alone in a forrest path, both instructed to kill the enemy, and probably neither had ever killed before (the man assumed).
They both stared silently at each other… then started circling each other… and went their separate ways.
I'm definitely not telling this in the same poignant way as the man did. But yeah…
WWII docos give extensive clues and anecdotes about real war situations. They're a great resource. Both to know personally and for support.

@Henry (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=8080) Dale  : yep, agreed, older generations still have mixed feelings in France too. But we're altogether more concerned by our muslim populations than any remnants of serious hostility towards Germany. I suppose we're too strong a duo by now.
However I don't believe the euro will survive. I reckon it'll crash, and take the EU down.

@Raptori (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=38840) : please, let's not start on animal mistreatments…. It turns me nuts very fast…. So does debate on nuclear power.
Seriously, I recently met an english guy who worked for a milk farm, and when it was mentioned that cows are massively mistreated in the business, and traumatized even more each time a baby is taken away from them (you can hear them cry for days)  the dude said "Ah doesn't matter, they completely forget it and pretty fast". Came that close to punch the bloke.
A video that doesn't need you to understand french to break your heart - seriously don't watch if you don't want to take the train to feeladelphia :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUnwj6T3I0A&feature=youtube_gdata

The voice says the baby was born during the night.

@Jmacyk (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=37094) : shall I admit to my mistake, or claim the pun?
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on March 19, 2015, 10:15:47 AM
Claim the pun. Own the pun. Be one with the pun.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on March 19, 2015, 10:18:19 AM
@HenryDale. Belfry and Carillon. I'm on it.  ;)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Henry Dale on March 19, 2015, 10:22:19 AM
@HenryDale. Belfry and Carillon. I'm on it.  ;)
+1 karm... err.. like!
Title: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: xiagan on March 19, 2015, 10:33:35 PM
As a fellow German I agree with about everything Yora said about our country and history. :)

If you guys really want I can split this (or any other thread) in two, separating the nationalism stuff from the original topic.
It's a bit of work, but if you want, I can do it.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Elfy on March 19, 2015, 11:10:17 PM

Again personal sidenote.
I want a story that has a belfry in it...and a carillon. Anyone? :)
Does the belfry have to have bats in it?
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on March 19, 2015, 11:11:27 PM
As a fellow German I agree with about everything Yora said about our country and history. :)

If you guys really want I can split this (or any other thread) in two, separating the nationalism stuff from the original topic.
It's a bit of work, but if you want, I can do it.
I kind of think so. :P @xiagan (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=1148) gets the second award of a Jmack Karma point!  ;D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Henry Dale on March 20, 2015, 06:10:40 AM
Again personal sidenote.
I want a story that has a belfry in it...and a carillon. Anyone? :)
Does the belfry have to have bats in it?
Not necessarily? Unless it suits your mood :p
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Justan Henner on March 26, 2015, 06:06:19 AM
It took several days, but I finally finished reading this thread... *sigh* why is there no "Like All" button.  :-\
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ArcaneArtsVelho on April 08, 2015, 09:00:55 AM
I promised earlier in this thread that I would link here some information on traveling speeds. (One thing I hate about forums is when someone writes that they are going to post some solution/information/reply later and then never do, so I'll be damned if I become such a person. :) )

So here it is: ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World (http://orbis.stanford.edu/)
It's an online map application that models the Roman transportation/communication network based on research of historical documents and sites. It gives average traveling speeds, sustainable for days or even weeks, for multiple different transport types / modes of travel. It even tells you how much it would have cost to travel from one place to another in the Roman Empire.

Examples of traveling speeds (rest can be found in the Building-part of the About-section):
-Ox carts,12 km/day
-Foot travelers or armies on the march, 30km/day
-Routine travel on horseback, 56km/day
-Armies on rapid short-term marches without baggage, 60km/day
-Continuous horse relays, 250km/day (ceiling for terrestrial information transfer)

The model has it shortcomings (most of which are brought up on the website) and it is an ongoing project, but I think it's still quite a good resource as it is. Or at least it's somewhat fun to play with for a while. :P
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on April 11, 2015, 12:33:04 AM
Thanks a lot @ArcaneArtsVelho (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40090) that's very useful info to me so big thumbs up!!

Let me join the scientific simulator game by including a very useful page on nuclear bombs :
This bloke allows you to pin anywhere on google maps where to drop any of the main nukes in existence. You can see the drop, and the different regions of effect (fireball, radiation kill zone ect).
He has a link to a 3D page too.

If anyone wants a city nuked that's a must use! http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Justan Henner on April 11, 2015, 04:11:46 PM
I promised earlier in this thread that I would link here some information on traveling speeds. (One thing I hate about forums is when someone writes that they are going to post some solution/information/reply later and then never do,

...

as an example of this, I'm going to post a story in the rogues contest later this week which will hopefully illuminate what I mean.

*presses fingers together and cackles maniacally*
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on April 14, 2015, 04:05:41 PM
Here is a fun little detail that most people don't know, but would be quite important for many fantasy heroes: Gold is incredibly heavy.
It's not only several times as heavy than the brass you usually see in movies (to the point that brass looks more golden than actual gold), but even almost twice the weight of lead. In fact, gold is one of the heaviest substances in the universe. The only things heavier than gold are uranium, platinum, iridium, and osmium, and even those not by much. The weight of a given volume of gold is almost 20 times as height as an equal volume of water. "Your weight in gold" is not a very large pile (though still 2 to 3 million dollars today). With a gold ring (which most probably isn't pure gold anyway), it's not so noticable. But when you have a sack of gold or bars of gold, this will be a major factor. And the classic chest of pirate treasure would require a team of horses to move, which is assuming the handles don't rip off the chest or the bottom breaks out. Even a small to mid-size chest would probably weigh about a ton.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on April 14, 2015, 04:18:36 PM
Here is a fun little detail that most people don't know, but would be quite important for many fantasy heroes: Gold is incredibly heavy.
It's not only several times as heavy than the brass you usually see in movies (to the point that brass looks more golden than actual gold), but even almost twice the weight of lead. In fact, gold is one of the heaviest substances in the universe. The only things heavier than gold are uranium, platinum, iridium, and osmium, and even those not by much. The weight of a given volume of gold is almost 20 times as height as an equal volume of water. "Your weight in gold" is not a very large pile (though still 2 to 3 million dollars today). With a gold ring (which most probably isn't pure gold anyway), it's not so noticable. But when you have a sack of gold or bars of gold, this will be a major factor. And the classic chest of pirate treasure would require a team of horses to move, which is assuming the handles don't rip off the chest or the bottom breaks out. Even a small to mid-size chest would probably weigh about a ton.
I've watched Battle of the Five Armies twice now, and each time I cringe at how Bilbo is carrying a chest at the very end as though it was a box of kleenex. He famously did have some gold, but this sure couldn't have been it. Not sure what the producers were thinking. In a mixed movie, this was just dumb. (Meanwhile, I have a pet peeve about coffee cups in TV and movies. They're always really empty, so the actors handle them like they are. Then sip. Yrgh.)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on April 14, 2015, 04:29:05 PM
I think Tolkien did think of it and wrote that Bilbo made several trips to the troll stash any time the money he had in the Shire ran out.
I looked around for the volume of the gold idol from Indiana Jones, and if that thing were solid, it would weigh about 20 to 25 kg. Given the size of the sandbag and that it was still too heavy, it probably was just wood with a thin layer of gold. ;)

Bank robbery movies aren't much better. They oftern swing these huge bags over their shoulders like if they were filled with styrofoam. But bank notes would have the density of paper, and just imagine carrying old paper to a recycling bin with a bag like that. And not crumpled boxes: Just old newspapers.
They have those big bags in the opening of The Dark Knight, but drag them around on the floor because they are too heavy to lift.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on April 14, 2015, 05:38:38 PM
I think Tolkien did think of it and wrote that Bilbo made several trips to the troll stash any time the money he had in the Shire ran out.
I looked around for the volume of the gold idol from Indiana Jones, and if that thing were solid, it would weigh about 20 to 25 kg. Given the size of the sandbag and that it was still too heavy, it probably was just wood with a thin layer of gold. ;)

Bank robbery movies aren't much better. They oftern swing these huge bags over their shoulders like if they were filled with styrofoam. But bank notes would have the density of paper, and just imagine carrying old paper to a recycling bin with a bag like that. And not crumpled boxes: Just old newspapers.
They have those big bags in the opening of The Dark Knight, but drag them around on the floor because they are too heavy to lift.
And love the heist movie "The Italian Job" (the recent one; the old one is just straaaaaaange). They figure out which of three armored trucks is actually carrying the stash because the stash is so heavy it lowers the profile of the trucks.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on April 14, 2015, 06:14:28 PM
Is that the one that invented the Cliffhanger? I think I really have to watch it one day.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on April 14, 2015, 06:20:18 PM
Is that the one that invented the Cliffhanger? I think I really have to watch it one day.
The original, 1960s version does have a crazy cliff-hang scene, where a bus (?) keeps teetering on the edge of said cliff. Strangest darn movie.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Elfy on April 15, 2015, 12:55:26 AM
One of Wilbur Smith's novels; The Sunbird, featured an archaeological discovery of gold and he made the point of how incredibly heavy even a small amount of it is.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on April 15, 2015, 11:18:18 AM
I haven't had much to contribute new to this thread for a bit, but here's a little something. I was wondering how 18th and 19th century (and earlier) folks dealt with travelling and snow removal during winter.  While we maniacally have to remove with plows, tame with salt, etc. , their interest was in smoothing the snow for sleighs. I've barely researched this, but I've found references to municipal snow wardens, and huge, weighted rolling drums that the warden would pull behind a horse team to compact the roads. People delighted in the speed and ease of sleigh travel vs. wagon travel, which would usually be on bumpy, stony roads.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on April 15, 2015, 11:23:13 AM
I haven't had much to contribute new to this thread for a bit, but here's a little something. I was wondering how 18th and 19th century (and earlier) folks dealt with travelling and snow removal during winter.  While we maniacally have to remove with plows, tame with salt, etc. , their interest was in smoothing the snow for sleighs. I've barely researched this, but I've found references to municipal snow wardens, and huge, weighted rolling drums that the warden would pull behind a horse team to compact the roads. People delighted in the speed and ease of sleigh travel vs. wagon travel, which would usually be on bumpy, stony roads.
Hmm, wonder how that'd work in the long term (i.e. in a climate where the snowy part of winter lasts months). The snow would probably need to be smoothed every day to get rid of the sled tracks, but then surely it'd slowly compress the snow into ice?
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on April 15, 2015, 12:22:07 PM
Here's a link to the Colonial Williamsburg history journal. Scroll down to see all articles on things like bastards, fleas, winter cold and more. Very interesting for getting snippets of info on life before electricity, etc.

http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/feature2.cfm#.VS5JFk9vcao.gmail
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on April 25, 2015, 04:10:31 PM
Alright, another insight on a life fact maaaaaany stories, be it in movies or books, get very wrong.
Hunger, fasting and starvation.

http://blogs.plos.org/obesitypanacea/2011/05/13/the-science-of-starvation-how-long-can-humans-survive-without-food-or-water/

http://annienygma.com/2013/05/the-worlds-longest-fast/

Going a bit more into the details of what happens to your body as you starve/fast : http://io9.com/5941883/how-your-body-fights-to-keep-you-alive-when-youre-starving

This one is also interesting. While they describe complete starvation (nothing but water) you'll notice that it isn't "recommended" to starve a soldier for 10 days because the guys got tired and unmotivated, but they sure as hell survived without any indicated lasting ill-effect : http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/20/7/672.abstract

So. In general movies and some books treat the matter of food in a rather ridiculous manner. Panic at the idea of loosing the last bits of ration food. 3 days without food and characters start to think death is looming! After 3 days, you'll be puking, not dying.
It's a surprisingly common misrepresentation!
Any french or german speaker might want to check the very good documentary on fasting done by Arte.
While life in general gets harder and harder, and someone walking/hunting/running, on only water, would probably last longer than someone sitting on their arse sipping at fresh water, we can still pretty easily give a month worth of active starvation to any character who is gifted with enough water.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on April 25, 2015, 04:53:15 PM
Yeah, I was thinking about just that a few days ago.

While you won't die from hunger for a very long time, you're in no shape to go hunting much sooner. But the main problem is really getting water.

Another very interesting thing is that some reptiles, especially large one, can go for over a year without food. They don't really do anything other than lying around doozing all day, but even after having had nothing to eat for a year they still can get back to normal without any lasting damage.
Given that dragons are huge, it's not actually completely improbable that one could sleep for a decade.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on April 25, 2015, 04:59:57 PM
Yeah, I was thinking about just that a few days ago.

While you won't die from hunger for a very long time, you're in no shape to go hunting much sooner. But the main problem is really getting water.

Another very interesting thing is that some reptiles, especially large one, can go for over a year without food. They don't really do anything other than lying around doozing all day, but even after having had nothing to eat for a year they still can get back to normal without any lasting damage.
Given that dragons are huge, it's not actually completely improbable that one could sleep for a decade.

Well that's the thing though, people who fast often manage to keep activities going. Ideally drinking teas, light broth and other nutritional drinks is best, but overall getting a good fast isn't as bad as often believed.
Yeah, penguins also get some great results in fasting. When they reproduce, one of the couple stays with the baby (the male I think?) for 2 to 4 months, while the other goes hunting.
If a penguin can do that, a dragon sleeping on his hoard could have it easy...
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on April 25, 2015, 05:09:20 PM
Yeah, I was thinking about just that a few days ago.

While you won't die from hunger for a very long time, you're in no shape to go hunting much sooner. But the main problem is really getting water.

Another very interesting thing is that some reptiles, especially large one, can go for over a year without food. They don't really do anything other than lying around doozing all day, but even after having had nothing to eat for a year they still can get back to normal without any lasting damage.
Given that dragons are huge, it's not actually completely improbable that one could sleep for a decade.

Well that's the thing though, people who fast often manage to keep activities going. Ideally drinking teas, light broth and other nutritional drinks is best, but overall getting a good fast isn't as bad as often believed.
Yeah, penguins also get some great results in fasting. When they reproduce, one of the couple stays with the baby (the male I think?) for 2 to 4 months, while the other goes hunting.
If a penguin can do that, a dragon sleeping on his hoard could have it easy...
If you're talking about emperor penguins, then yah it's not really great - they come close to starving every time. If the female is late (or dead), the male has to choose between abandoning his child and starvation. Plus it takes a lot of fat storage for them to last even that long. It's definitely possible, but it's best to give a good reason for it.

I think a better comparison to the dragon sleeping on his hoard is bears hibernating  ;)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on April 25, 2015, 07:26:05 PM
But do you know why the penguins are doing it? Because that's literally the only place in the entire world where absolutely nobody is coming and trying to eat you. It's the safest place anywhere, because nobody else can survive there.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on April 25, 2015, 07:41:00 PM
But do you know why the penguins are doing it? Because that's literally the only place in the entire world where absolutely nobody is coming and trying to eat you. It's the safest place anywhere, because nobody else can survive there.
Yep, exactly. As with everything in nature it's an imperfect solution to several problems, and obviously it's now so ingrained in their society and habits that it'd be pretty much impossible for them to change.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on April 25, 2015, 07:46:49 PM
Which brings me to another lesson of worldbuilding: Evolution is lazy.

Creatures don't evolve to a form that is perfect for their environment, but just good enough to not go extinct. Natural selection really only selects for "not dying faster than you reproduce".
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on April 25, 2015, 07:50:25 PM
Which brings me to another lesson of worldbuilding: Evolution is lazy.

Creatures don't evolve to a form that is perfect for their environment, but just good enough to not go extinct. Natural selection really only selects for "not dying faster than you reproduce".
Yep, exactly. Also, the idea that "humans are the pinnacle of evolution" is ludicrous on several counts, not least because evolution isn't reaching towards anything in particular. There is no "more evolved" or "less evolved". And genetic evolution doesn't necessarily mean actual change either - sharks have remained physically unchanged for millions of years, but their dna has actually continued to change.

There are tons of incredibly interesting things out there that never make it into fiction. One thing I absolutely loved reading about was ring species (think that was the name anyway) for example. Definitely going to put that into our writing somewhere...  :P

Edit: Ring species was correct (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species). Such an awesome phenomenon, definitely wouldn't be out of place in fantasy.
 
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ScarletBea on April 25, 2015, 07:57:24 PM
the idea that "humans are the pinnacle of evolution" is ludicrous on several counts,
Or when people say that our environment/world is perfect for humans - well duh, because if it was different, 'humans' would be different too, perfect to whatever this other environment would be.
Like people defining 'life' based on Earth's parameters and ignoring all other possibilities out there.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on April 25, 2015, 08:11:15 PM

There are tons of incredibly interesting things out there that never make it into fiction. One thing I absolutely loved reading about was ring species (think that was the name anyway) for example. Definitely going to put that into our writing somewhere...  :P

Edit: Ring species was correct (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species). Such an awesome phenomenon, definitely wouldn't be out of place in fantasy.
My dentist once told me that plaque on your teeth is colonies (or houses colonies) of bacteria and that in the environment of your mouth can communicate to each other via chemicals. When an event occurs on one side of the mouth (say, flossing), the plaque on the other side is affected.

I think he said they "sing" to each other, but I suspect that's an incorrect and sort of hopeful memory.  ;D
Or he's just weird like that.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on April 25, 2015, 08:30:25 PM
the idea that "humans are the pinnacle of evolution" is ludicrous on several counts,
Or when people say that our environment/world is perfect for humans - well duh, because if it was different, 'humans' would be different too, perfect to whatever this other environment would be.
Like people defining 'life' based on Earth's parameters and ignoring all other possibilities out there.
Perfect is stretching it a bit of course, says the pedant in me (http://www.smiley-faces.org/smiley-faces/smiley-face-angel-006.gif)

But yeah, it really bugs me when people assume that all life must have evolved under the exact same conditions as life on earth. It's a good starting point, but it seems like a really arrogant assumption to make.



There are tons of incredibly interesting things out there that never make it into fiction. One thing I absolutely loved reading about was ring species (think that was the name anyway) for example. Definitely going to put that into our writing somewhere...  :P

Edit: Ring species was correct (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species). Such an awesome phenomenon, definitely wouldn't be out of place in fantasy.
My dentist once told me that plaque on your teeth is colonies (or houses colonies) of bacteria and that in the environment of your mouth can communicate to each other via chemicals. When an event occurs on one side of the mouth (say, flossing), the plaque on the other side is affected.

I think he said they "sing" to each other, but I suspect that's an incorrect and sort of hopeful memory.  ;D
Or he's just weird like that.
Lol crazy, that reminds me of the descolada in the sequels to Ender's Game.  :o
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on April 25, 2015, 09:48:19 PM
Like people defining 'life' based on Earth's parameters and ignoring all other possibilities out there.

There are however very good reasons to expect most alien life to be found on planets similar to earth and have many similarities to Earth life.

The most basic one is chemistry. Even the most basic living things consist of many different chemical elements and substances that are combined and arranged in very complex ways. And to get chemical to mix and combine, you really want them to be in a liquid. If they aregas they are unlikely stay together long enough for longer reactions and processes, and when they are solid they can not mix. Having the chemicals all in a body of liquid is perfect. That's why animal cells are mostly filled with water. Water also happens to be a really amazing substance. For one thing it consists of Hydrogen and Oxygen, which are the first and fourth most common elements in the entire universe so there is plenty of it in asteroids and newly formed planets. It also is able to dissolve a staggering number of other chemical compounds. There is no known acid that can dissolve nearly as many substances as water can. We can't rule out that there is any life in the universe not based around water, but it's not coincidence that Earth is the most watery planet in the solar system. This stuff is really amazing to mix chemicals.
Life is also most likely to start right at the edge of water and land, because then you can have the sun heat little puddles and make them evaporate, and a few hours later another big waves makes it wet again, allowing for many more chemical processes tha you could get entirely underwater. So a planet that is completely covered by water with no land might still not have any life, but that's hard to predict.

If you have a planet that is somewhat like Earth, then all life on that planet has to evolve to forms that are well suited to deal with that environment. And guess what, creatures on Earth have been at it for over a billion years to evolve forms that are best adapted for just this kind of environment. And even though there are potentially unlimited possibilities for animal forms, im practice there are only relatively few that are actually being used. And mutations are completely random, so it can be assumed that over the last billion years, almost everything has been tried out. But we still see the same forms everwhere all the time. Because these are the best to deal with an environment that has Earth like gravity, an atmosphere as thick as ours, with a given amount of oxygen and sunlight, snd temperatures in which water is a liquid.
Anything that you would find on a similar planet and you would call an animal will most probably have a mouth and a stomach, eyes, bones, and legs. The ancestors of vertebrates and squids had split of into different evolutionary paths long before the development of eyes with lenses, but now a human eye and a squid eye look almost the same and work the same way with the same parts. Because thisis just an amzing way to detect light reflecting of objects in the environment. And it's very likely that on a planet with a similar star, animals also would get eyes like these. Anything you would find would not be a dog or a fish, but it would probably look pretty similar to one. Just look at dolphins. They are descended from animals that looked like rats, and now they look almost exactly like sharks. And sharks have been using that body shape almost unchanged since a time before any animals went on land. There were also reptiles that went back to water and also evolved into the same form. While there is no evolutionary perfection, this body shape is so ludicrously well suited for life in Earth oceans that it evolved several times. If we find large animals on an Earth like planet,I would actually be very surprised if there isn't something that also looks like a shark.

True, other planets can have very different environmental conditions than we have on Earth. But these are rarely seen in science fiction and almost never in fantasy. So scientifically speaking the old practice of taking existing animals and slightly changing their colors and horns is actually the most plausible way to create fictional creatures.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on April 25, 2015, 11:17:27 PM
And mutations are completely random, so it can be assumed that over the last billion years, almost everything has been tried out.
I don't think that's even remotely possible. The processes of evolution are actually a massive handicap, and there are a ton of things that would be wildly successful that are almost impossible to occur naturally. It's possible that they could happen, but it's extremely implausible.

A perfect example would be the axle - technically speaking that could develop through evolution, but the chances of it actually happening are miniscule. Each individual mutation from A to B (so in this example from ball & socket to axle) would have to be beneficial enough to be an adaptation that is passed on. There's just too big a jump, and evolution doesn't deal in jumps like that. If we develop genetics to the point where we can essentially program anything we want, however...


And yeah, you'd expect to see convergent evolution - we see it all the time on earth, no reason we wouldn't expect to see it elsewhere. That's not to say evolution elsewhere couldn't have gone down a completely different path though, just that the ecological niches that exist would generally result in life forms that work in similar ways.

Eyes are a good example of that actually, sight has evolved multiple times, and some of the different eye systems are very different to others - just compare mammal eyes to insect eyes.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Elfy on April 26, 2015, 12:39:48 AM
But do you know why the penguins are doing it? Because that's literally the only place in the entire world where absolutely nobody is coming and trying to eat you. It's the safest place anywhere, because nobody else can survive there.
That'd work if penguins only occurred in the Antarctic, but they don't. Even the ones down there take their lives in their own hands every time they go searching for food. The leopard seals in particular enjoy eating penguins. We have penguins here in Australia, there's a fairly large colony on Phillip Island, seeing them come in nightly is actually a tourist attraction, before people realised that and commercialised it and protected that colony they were under threat from foxes, domestic pets like cats and dogs and also feral cats and dogs. There's also a colony living in St Kilda quite close to the city. There are between 17 and 20 species of penguin, and they can occur as far north as near the equator, which is where the Galapagos penguin comes from.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on April 26, 2015, 12:57:49 AM
Which brings me to another lesson of worldbuilding: Evolution is lazy.

Creatures don't evolve to a form that is perfect for their environment, but just good enough to not go extinct. Natural selection really only selects for "not dying faster than you reproduce".

Well yes, but then... A few animals do end up going extinct quite easily precisely because they've evolved to fit their environment too to much perfection. When animals evolve to become a killing machine for a precise species and itself goes missing for example. Or take extreme cases of camouflage, adapted to the specific environment of the animal?
It's no proof that genetics got motivated, only that an animal can become super adapted through evolution.
Like sharks. They've been around for so long probably because their evolution put them to an optimum shape no?
Humans of course, are different. Not pointedly adapted but wickedly adaptive on their own, surviving everywhere and killing in their wake just like a virus (shamelessly quoting the matrix here).
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on April 26, 2015, 01:08:47 AM
Which brings me to another lesson of worldbuilding: Evolution is lazy.

Creatures don't evolve to a form that is perfect for their environment, but just good enough to not go extinct. Natural selection really only selects for "not dying faster than you reproduce".

Well yes, but then... A few animals do end up going extinct quite easily precisely because they've evolved to fit their environment too to much perfection. When animals evolve to become a killing machine for a precise species and itself goes missing for example. Or take extreme cases of camouflage, adapted to the specific environment of the animal?
It's no proof that genetics got motivated, only that an animal can become super adapted through evolution.
Like sharks. They've been around for so long probably because their evolution put them to an optimum shape no?
Humans of course, are different. Not pointedly adapted but wickedly adaptive on their own, surviving everywhere and killing in their wake just like a virus (shamelessly quoting the matrix here).
Ah yes we are horrible things in so many ways, it's true. But I still rather like us.  ;)
And we invented ice cream, so it's not all bad. ;D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Doctor_Chill on April 26, 2015, 03:14:01 AM
Something I learned today: Honey (and not your generic Walmart crap, but actual bee pollen honey comb) is an anti-septic/anti-fungal and is used for dressing wounds. So cool.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on April 26, 2015, 05:13:19 AM
Something I learned today: Honey (and not your generic Walmart crap, but actual bee pollen honey comb) is an anti-septic/anti-fungal and is used for dressing wounds. So cool.

It also preserves things (like an insect fallen in your jar) for amazing periods of time. And it's the only food that never rots.
Check out the properties of propolis too! Bees are the best bugs ever. Love them.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ArcaneArtsVelho on April 26, 2015, 08:22:03 AM
One thing to note about evolution is, that even though it's conceivable that in two similar environments the evolution would follow quite similar paths, change of only one variable could make the evolutionary paths stray a lot from each other. For (a very weak) example, there was a time in earths history when there was significantly more oxygen floating around, and because of that, back then insects were huge. If the conditions had stayed unchanged, maybe we would now be much more insect-like.  :-\

Humans of course, are different. Not pointedly adapted but wickedly adaptive on their own, surviving everywhere and killing in their wake just like a virus (shamelessly quoting the matrix here).
Dang it, I was going to quote lord Elrond from the Matrix!  ;)


I really love how this conversation EVOLVED from starvation. (Pun very much intended.)  ;D :D :-\ :( :-[
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: xiagan on April 26, 2015, 08:36:06 AM
Something I learned today: Honey (and not your generic Walmart crap, but actual bee pollen honey comb) is an anti-septic/anti-fungal and is used for dressing wounds. So cool.
I burned my hand on new years eve and put honey on it. The burn didn't hurt at all and didn't break open. No scar remains. :)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on April 26, 2015, 09:59:38 AM
But do you know why the penguins are doing it? Because that's literally the only place in the entire world where absolutely nobody is coming and trying to eat you. It's the safest place anywhere, because nobody else can survive there.
That'd work if penguins only occurred in the Antarctic, but they don't. Even the ones down there take their lives in their own hands every time they go searching for food. The leopard seals in particular enjoy eating penguins. We have penguins here in Australia, there's a fairly large colony on Phillip Island, seeing them come in nightly is actually a tourist attraction, before people realised that and commercialised it and protected that colony they were under threat from foxes, domestic pets like cats and dogs and also feral cats and dogs. There's also a colony living in St Kilda quite close to the city. There are between 17 and 20 species of penguin, and they can occur as far north as near the equator, which is where the Galapagos penguin comes from.
Emperor penguins have a much longer incubation period since they're far larger, so that's probably a major factor in their habits. They have to spend a lot more time in one place while incubating, which has a knock-on effect on the amount of time they can spend gathering food - the way they are now, they can spend the summer months eating as much as possible while there are more fish around.  :)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on June 02, 2015, 02:24:10 AM
Can't vouch for all the data, but I know a few of them to be true, so leaving this here for whoever needs it!

(http://i.imgur.com/H7TMltN.jpg)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Doctor_Chill on June 02, 2015, 05:52:58 AM
What did Hellen Keller's parents do to punish her when she did bad?

They rearranged all the furniture.  8)

(The emoticon is surprisingly ironic this round.)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on June 02, 2015, 07:38:16 AM
Well that's pretty funny... I actually have a similar list full of actual life tips, and got the wrong one here! Don't mind me I guess?  ;D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ScarletBea on June 02, 2015, 07:51:09 AM
I did wonder if you had posted this in the wrong thread hehe
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on June 02, 2015, 03:19:31 PM
OK, here's the ACTUAL picture I meant to put up!

(http://i.imgur.com/1GG1b9Z.jpg)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on July 16, 2015, 06:05:20 AM
Locally "fished" and re crafted iron, aka, from river garbage to beautiful blade.

(http://img-9gag-fun.9cache.com/photo/anBy42n_460s_v1.jpg)

Also, the origins of Morse code :

(http://i.imgur.com/WBrdZBV.jpg)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on August 12, 2015, 04:46:36 PM
Heard a very interesting article on U.S. public radio this morning about a study of pupil shapes in the eyes of mammals.

Here's a link to an article:
http://news.discovery.com/animals/pupil-shape-can-show-whos-predator-and-whos-prey-150807.htm (http://news.discovery.com/animals/pupil-shape-can-show-whos-predator-and-whos-prey-150807.htm)

And here's a good clip from that article:
Quote
When all of the data came together, the researchers and their colleagues determined that four basic pupil shapes corresponded to particular behaviors and other factors:

Vertical: Predators that are active both day and night, such as domestic cats, tend to have vertical pupils.

Vertically elongated: Animals with what the scientists called "subcircular eyes," such as lynxes, are usually ambush predators that capture their prey using stealth and strategy, as opposed to primarily relying upon speed and strength.

Horizontal: Grazing prey animals, such as sheep, deer, and horses, typically have eyes with this pupil shape.

Circular: Most predators that are active during the day, like humans, have evolved this type of pupil.

The predicted patterns come with a few exceptions, though.

"A surprising thing we noticed from this study is that the slit pupils were linked to predators that were close to the ground," co-author William Sprague, a postdoctoral researcher in Banks’ lab, said. "So domestic cats have vertical slits, but bigger cats, like tigers and lions, don't. Their pupils are round, like [those of] humans and dogs."

One of the fun things about the radio article was that they completely understood and talked about this information in terms of fictional world building! They said something like: "A vertical, cat's eye pupil might look awesome and terrifying on a dinosaur standing 8 feet tall, but it wouldn't have happened. They'd have had round pupils."
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Raptori on August 12, 2015, 05:26:57 PM
Heard a very interesting article on U.S. public radio this morning about a study of pupil shapes in the eyes of mammals.

Here's a link to an article:
http://news.discovery.com/animals/pupil-shape-can-show-whos-predator-and-whos-prey-150807.htm (http://news.discovery.com/animals/pupil-shape-can-show-whos-predator-and-whos-prey-150807.htm)

And here's a good clip from that article:
Quote
When all of the data came together, the researchers and their colleagues determined that four basic pupil shapes corresponded to particular behaviors and other factors:

Vertical: Predators that are active both day and night, such as domestic cats, tend to have vertical pupils.

Vertically elongated: Animals with what the scientists called "subcircular eyes," such as lynxes, are usually ambush predators that capture their prey using stealth and strategy, as opposed to primarily relying upon speed and strength.

Horizontal: Grazing prey animals, such as sheep, deer, and horses, typically have eyes with this pupil shape.

Circular: Most predators that are active during the day, like humans, have evolved this type of pupil.

The predicted patterns come with a few exceptions, though.

"A surprising thing we noticed from this study is that the slit pupils were linked to predators that were close to the ground," co-author William Sprague, a postdoctoral researcher in Banks’ lab, said. "So domestic cats have vertical slits, but bigger cats, like tigers and lions, don't. Their pupils are round, like [those of] humans and dogs."

One of the fun things about the radio article was that they completely understood and talked about this information in terms of fictional world building! They said something like: "A vertical, cat's eye pupil might look awesome and terrifying on a dinosaur standing 8 feet tall, but it wouldn't have happened. They'd have had round pupils."
I saw that in the Guardian. As with so many of those type of things, it annoys me how they've simplified it - particularly the "all herbivores are ruminants" meme. :-\
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: m3mnoch on August 12, 2015, 05:52:21 PM
I saw that in the Guardian. As with so many of those type of things, it annoys me how they've simplified it - particularly the "all herbivores are ruminants" meme. :-\

right?  i mean, "helllllooooo....  dragons?"
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on October 08, 2015, 01:37:04 PM
http://fossilworks.org/

Check out this website! It allows you to do many types of research, by genre or by location or time, on the types of fossils found in the area of your choice.

So if you want to know what lived in Melbourne a million years ago, bim! Answer!  ;D

Also has a specific map generator!

Also, dinosaurs!!!
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ScarletBea on October 11, 2015, 11:25:33 AM
^ I found that site a big confusing, to be honest. Couldn't see where I find the map of my area...

And I saw this today on the BBC News site, about current Jousting :D
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-33995808 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-33995808)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on October 22, 2015, 06:00:59 AM
Ok a post full of videos.

I'm just sharing some random things I've been using to help with world building, see if anyone can benefit from it.

One of these things is foreign, totally alien music and videos of people playing them. I usually listen to a lot of drums from all around the world, and chants in foreign languages also help me while I write. They can give me ideas, spark images in my mind.
But what I really appreciate is the ideas they can give me for a more realistic world. Did you know how epic and intense a three strings instrument can get?
Or needing some otherworldly string music and needing a visual to help along your description?
This is just a random assortment of things that are very real and that force us to be a bit more original - I think, in our ideas for our own alien worlds.

Let me introduce you to some videos that I think are cool to browse, even if it's not your thing. I'd also love to get some replies in that area... if you have your own stash of interesting musics, please reply!  ;D

Here is one of my favorite types of drums, the japanese taiko drums. This big boy is O daiko, the biggest drum and deserves the volume on maximum :

[youtube]C7HL5wYqAbU[/youtube]


The Shamisen is a three strings instrument from Japan. Fun fact? Student use(d) shamisen made out of dog skin, while advanced players have them made out of cat skin. Not shitting you. The art is even in danger these days because Japan has only one tannery left that can make cat leather.

These brothers are famous and rather popular, though I wouldn't listen to that in particular :

[youtube]MgN_xIHqLUA[/youtube]

But the video that first sat me back on my haunches and caught my eye was from that guy :

It's a shame the video isn't of greater quality because it doesn't do the instrument justice, but the guy is so skilled, his song so graphic, and his hands are totally captivating :

[youtube]qWJrMA3zJ5o[/youtube]

China is the country for badass instruments that sound weird yet awesome.

The Guzheng looks crazy and sounds like many tacky chinese action movies. The players tape their fingers with the picks in order to play :

[youtube]ujzMHLac404[/youtube]

(https://downthedragonhole.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/img_0428.jpg?w=640&h=480)

Different asian countries have different version of it. The yagta is mongolian. Look at this artist making modifications on her instrument. Look at that headdress!

[youtube]fjy4htp89VU[/youtube]

I have a pretty strong fondness for mongolian music. One of my favorite band has a couple of songs for example, where I only have to close my eyes and listen to see entire scenes unfold and come to life.
Give them a shot, this band is called Anda Union :

[youtube]hCuqrF-3Q-Q[/youtube]

This one is insane. Their 2 stringed violin-like instruments imitate horses so well, it fills your brain with large plains and galloping soldiers.
 
[youtube]JX7S2p6Zxb4[/youtube]

Tibetan, mongols and others in that area are well known for their overtone "throat singing" which is totally tentalizing and alien to our western ears...

This guy gives a crazy example of that, though the quality is a bit crap, at least you can see him sing both with throat and normal voice and it's pretty crazy :

[youtube]HwANedEkqaY[/youtube]

Check out the band Hanggai. They're chinese but love mongol music and have been doing modern songs. This one also has some throat singing. I used to listen to them a lot when I was road tripping through France.

[youtube]tTvyMBEDupQ[/youtube]

Totally different type of throat singing, from inuits. It's not made in the same manner, and it's crazily alien!
I think it's great to know about if you want to depict really awesomely weird musical habits :

[youtube]wEk5odW6KGY[/youtube]

In this one she explains it and it's batshit weird really.

[youtube]KNb2ZDjeiU4[/youtube]

And that's how it sounds like when she mixes as an album :

[youtube]7uS_OadHCWM[/youtube]

Insane right?

Completely different country, but even more impressive string instrument :

(http://8CnhcGpmH9Y)

I listen to a bit of modern and traditional Native Indian music, but only recently discovered the religious songs going along with the Peyote cult. I find them very mesmerizing to listen to, without needing to know much about the meaning they wish to carry :

[youtube]QLvYp0vNEGY[/youtube]


Less foreign but even less of an excuse for boring street players or worlds without drums :

(http://FqJdzYY_Fas)



On a totally different topic but who knows, some of us do write about combatant... Do you know what Karate Katas are?
If not, don't research it but look at this first, I don't think one needs to understand to enjoy it. She's in France, look at the crowd being delighted, look at her warrior's stance, her perfect moves, and how she gets a standing ovation even though she just won against the french, in France!

[youtube]KTpM0d6lr4A[/youtube]

These guys are even crazier since they have to synchronize, and then work with each other :

[youtube]D50AVVpiAIg[/youtube]

What kata is : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karate_kata

I'm afraid this is all pretty chaotic and useless. Dunno, felt like sharing.  8)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on October 22, 2015, 11:29:03 AM
On a totally different topic but who knows, some of us do write about combatant... Do you know what Karate Katas are?
If not, don't research it but look at this first, I don't think one needs to understand to enjoy it. She's in France, look at the crowd being delighted, look at her warrior's stance, her perfect moves, and how she gets a standing ovation even though she just won against the french, in France!

[youtube]KTpM0d6lr4A[/youtube]

These guys are even crazier since they have to synchronize, and then work with each other :

[youtube]D50AVVpiAIg[/youtube]

What kata is : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karate_kata

I'm afraid this is all pretty chaotic and useless. Dunno, felt like sharing.  8)
Eh... It's important to understand that this is not combat. Just because Asians are Asians doesn't mean their current forms of old arts and fighting are any more authentic than in Europe. Most modern asian martial arts competitions have as much to do with authentic combat as olympic fencing. When your goal is scoring points according to an arbitrary scoring system and the only penalty for a mistake is your opponent scoring a point, you fight completely different than when you're trying to kill and a mistake means getting killed.

(And since I am at it, though completely unrelated, the Japanese Tea Ceremony is a complete travesty of what the creator intended. Sitting in your backyard with a beer and watching the sunset is much closer to the original thing.)
And there's actually a good number of people who believe that the practicing of forms has very little effect on improving fighting skill.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: night_wrtr on October 22, 2015, 12:46:45 PM
I have an old VHS of me doing a Kata at a competition. I was in karate for a few years in middle school. I knew them pretty well, but we didn't expect our instructors to use Korean language to assign the katas. So I froze for a couple of seconds until I recognized what the others were doing, then I started. It was awkward and embarrassing because the performers are supposed to do this in unison, so I was a few steps behind everyone else the entire time.

The school was Moo Duk Kwan -

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moo_Duk_Kwan
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on October 22, 2015, 02:10:42 PM
Very interesting what you both say.
Of course it's not about fighting here, but can you really say that being good at kata is bad in combat? Maybe it doesn't influence a lot, but it can't be detrimental, can it?

I think it's interesting to see how we've pulled things out into useless but valuable activities. Like the tea ceremony, and other rituals that seem pointless. Katas would be weird to witness the first time right? If you didn't know what the person was doing...
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: night_wrtr on October 22, 2015, 02:41:21 PM
Very interesting what you both say.
Of course it's not about fighting here, but can you really say that being good at kata is bad in combat? Maybe it doesn't influence a lot, but it can't be detrimental, can it?

I think it's interesting to see how we've pulled things out into useless but valuable activities. Like the tea ceremony, and other rituals that seem pointless. Katas would be weird to witness the first time right? If you didn't know what the person was doing...

I would side with it being beneficial. Yes they are predetermined movements, which would not be useful in a fight with another person as a whole, but the movements would still be second nature. Practicing a dozen forms until they are ingrained into your mind would make it easier to react in a real life situation. You could flow in and out of each different kata, using specific movements from the form at appropriate times.

I don't think there is any kind of practice that wouldn't be beneficial in some way. 
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on October 22, 2015, 04:33:03 PM
Can't see how it could do any harm. And probably there is some benefit in practicing movements in a precise and choreographed way. But at the end of the day, it's still a sport. It's not combat.

Which in regard to fiction is problematic, as there's a huge number of people who describe sports and claim that it's real combat. You can do that, but when you claim what you're doing is closely inspired by actual combat, it will be disapointing to people who know the difference. Who would probably also be the people who would most appreciate the difference.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ClintACK on October 22, 2015, 07:26:26 PM
Which in regard to fiction is problematic, as there's a huge number of people who describe sports and claim that it's real combat. You can do that, but when you claim what you're doing is closely inspired by actual combat, it will be disapointing to people who know the difference. Who would probably also be the people who would most appreciate the difference.

This.  I worry about this in trying to write violence.

So far, I've tended towards flashes of panic and confusion and only really sorting out what happened later.  Focus on the emotions and the aftermath rather than a detailed blow-by-blow choreography.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Mr.J on October 22, 2015, 09:40:22 PM
Which in regard to fiction is problematic, as there's a huge number of people who describe sports and claim that it's real combat. You can do that, but when you claim what you're doing is closely inspired by actual combat, it will be disapointing to people who know the difference. Who would probably also be the people who would most appreciate the difference.

This.  I worry about this in trying to write violence.

So far, I've tended towards flashes of panic and confusion and only really sorting out what happened later.  Focus on the emotions and the aftermath rather than a detailed blow-by-blow choreography.
Was done writing a long post in response to this, accidentally clicked the back space button on the screen and it sent me back a page (WHY IS THAT A FEATURE LJSLKJFSDASFD).

So basically Bernard Cornwell is great at writing battles, I recommend his Grail Quest series.

Also my own writing with violence is pretty grim and up close, because that's what violence is. There's a danger to prettying it up I think too. I hope its not gratuitous, I don't feel as if it is. But I like focusing on the icky bits, the sweat, the liquids, eyeballs and nails against skin etc.

Should be in your face and fast because that's also what violence is really. Nothing more jarring to me than having a long ass fight that runs for two pages or more (unless its a sword fight/joust but even then, we can experience the heat and sweat and dust and filth inside the helmet can't we? Rather than just a blow-by-blow thing).

This should be it's own thread, How do you Write Violence?

Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on October 22, 2015, 09:51:16 PM
This.  I worry about this in trying to write violence.

So far, I've tended towards flashes of panic and confusion and only really sorting out what happened later.  Focus on the emotions and the aftermath rather than a detailed blow-by-blow choreography.
Action scenes usually bore me. The emotional narrative is the interesting part. The swinging of sharpened bars of metal is not.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on October 23, 2015, 12:57:26 AM
Can't see how it could do any harm. And probably there is some benefit in practicing movements in a precise and choreographed way. But at the end of the day, it's still a sport. It's not combat.

Which in regard to fiction is problematic, as there's a huge number of people who describe sports and claim that it's real combat. You can do that, but when you claim what you're doing is closely inspired by actual combat, it will be disapointing to people who know the difference. Who would probably also be the people who would most appreciate the difference.

Totally agree. But, these sports are here for a reason, a reason so simple that it would also be in any fantasy world close to our own : they're substitute to real combat.
Some, like karate kata, have some measure of usefulness in real combat, others don't really... But at the end of the day, a nation at peace needs its members exercised.
So many of us have that drive! Running, climbing, swimming, martial arts, football, volleyball, basketball, cricket, tennis, boxing, triathlon! Ect.
Nowadays even martial arts can't even be deemed a reserve sort of occupation for the military, as it would have been back in the days of hand to hand combat.

Except that it was the case, back in the days. Being good at such a thing would make you survive in battle, and if your country/city was at peace for a decade, practicing kept you springy for the next round if you wanted to. Now, go figure the point of sports like Turkish Oil Wrestling...


But worlds are often too devoid of social traditions. And even mentioned in the background, I think it's a nice touch.

And while I like some gritty details in my own fights, I have to say that the kind of narrative you describe Mr J, is only valid if both parties are trained for combat.
I've been attacked several times, I've risked accidents several times as well, close calls.
Most of the time your entire body goes "Whoooaaa" and doesn't click. It feels like an internal bucket of cold water. That's the point of katas, the point of drilling. Professionals ingrain reactions in themselves to avoid that very dumb, reptilian cortex moment of stupor.
It's not really in your face in the first moments, you get very detached, when it falls on you by surprise. Actually had my life really close to being driven over, and you realise the extent of what happened a bit after...

In between combatant though, I guess it's totally different. trained minds and bodies wouldn't react the same way.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on December 24, 2015, 01:38:42 PM
Here for anyone planning on writing about knights in full plate of armor. These are from the 15th century. Just look at it all, but especially the "mobility" part they show early on. It might debunk a few people's idea of the clumsiness of armor.

[youtube]5hlIUrd7d1Q[/youtube]
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: SarahW on December 28, 2015, 06:06:06 PM
Well it's funny, whether I'm writing Fantasy or Science Fiction (I really don't make the distinction in my work) I seldomly use magic and generally base the plot around situations I'm familiar with.

Even if I make the world/colony a hellish meobius strip, the plot will always ultimately be slice of life and sitcom like. Some might call it plotless.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on January 21, 2016, 01:19:26 PM
This is a really cool island (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball's_Pyramid). And it's huge. Perfect for a dark lord's island fortress.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Henry Dale on January 21, 2016, 01:30:58 PM
This is a really cool island (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball's_Pyramid). And it's huge. Perfect for a dark lord's island fortress.

*checks island location, it's near Australia*
Why am I not surprised you guys are the source of all evil?  :P ;D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: tebakutis on January 21, 2016, 02:24:34 PM
Fun fact about Australia (actually I have no idea if this is true, but it would be awesome if it is).

In school, they simply teach you the animals in Australia that aren't poisonous. Because that list is by far the shorter of the two.

Also, they have spider rain.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/05/19/the-science-behind-australias-spooky-spider-rain/ (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/05/19/the-science-behind-australias-spooky-spider-rain/)

In other words, NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Henry Dale on January 21, 2016, 04:05:36 PM
Fingers crossed for spider rain when I visit  :D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on January 22, 2016, 02:05:17 AM
That rock looks epic. It's a shame it's so out of the way of everything, probably won't ever get to see it.

Don't worry, Asutralia is pretty safe. It never rains spiders, and unless you're hanging out in rural NSW or other warm corner, and looking around the garden, then you hardly ever cross the path of red backs or funnel webs.

I've seen two snakes in two years, one dead and one just before we drove on it.

Also pretty sure they teach you every animal in school, like in any school... xD
It's a myth that the list of poisonous animals is longer than the other. Here everyone knows exactly what to do in case of snake or spider bite though!
The problem really is that the dangers here go farther than poison : every year crocodiles kill people. Sharks and jellyfishes as well, if in small numbers.
But kangaroos and wombats as well! They kill you by crashing your car! At dusk roos come out and these dumb fucks tend to jump ON the road when they panic.  ::)
Bumping one is alright (depending on the roo, and your car) but swerving can kill you.

I think you have more chances of ending in a fist fight than being bitten by anything. And this is me telling you this, and I've been in a fist fight.  :-\
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Justan Henner on January 22, 2016, 02:11:26 AM
The problem really is that the dangers here go farther than poison : every year crocodiles kill people. Sharks and jellyfishes as well, if in small numbers.
But kangaroos and wombats as well! They kill you by crashing your car! At dusk roos come out and these dumb fucks tend to jump ON the road when they panic.  ::)
Bumping one is alright (depending on the roo, and your car) but swerving can kill you.

I think you have more chances of ending in a fist fight than being bitten by anything. And this is me telling you this, and I've been in a fist fight.  :-\

Unbearable heat, poisonous and viscous beasts... Do you ever wonder if the first people to write about hell, just happened to be describing Australia? "One day, Dante's ship was taken by a harsh wind..."
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on January 22, 2016, 02:32:11 AM
The problem really is that the dangers here go farther than poison : every year crocodiles kill people. Sharks and jellyfishes as well, if in small numbers.
But kangaroos and wombats as well! They kill you by crashing your car! At dusk roos come out and these dumb fucks tend to jump ON the road when they panic.  ::)
Bumping one is alright (depending on the roo, and your car) but swerving can kill you.

I think you have more chances of ending in a fist fight than being bitten by anything. And this is me telling you this, and I've been in a fist fight.  :-\

Unbearable heat, poisonous and viscous beasts... Do you ever wonder if the first people to write about hell, just happened to be describing Australia? "One day, Dante's ship was taken by a harsh wind..."

Hmm well... You do realise that this country was colonized only to be turned into a penal colony, right? I mean, the Brits knew what they were doing.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Justan Henner on January 22, 2016, 02:37:27 AM
The problem really is that the dangers here go farther than poison : every year crocodiles kill people. Sharks and jellyfishes as well, if in small numbers.
But kangaroos and wombats as well! They kill you by crashing your car! At dusk roos come out and these dumb fucks tend to jump ON the road when they panic.  ::)
Bumping one is alright (depending on the roo, and your car) but swerving can kill you.

I think you have more chances of ending in a fist fight than being bitten by anything. And this is me telling you this, and I've been in a fist fight.  :-\

Unbearable heat, poisonous and viscous beasts... Do you ever wonder if the first people to write about hell, just happened to be describing Australia? "One day, Dante's ship was taken by a harsh wind..."

Hmm well... You do realise that this country was colonized only to be turned into a penal colony, right? I mean, the Brits knew what they were doing.

Are you implying there's no value in the noble platypus? Surely, you must be joking!  ;)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Lady Ty on January 22, 2016, 02:40:01 AM
Don't worry, Asutralia is pretty safe. It never rains spiders, and unless you're hanging out in rural NSW or other warm corner, and looking around the garden, then you hardly ever cross the path of red backs or funnel webs.

I've seen two snakes in two years, one dead and one just before we drove on it.


Oh you city slicker  ;D

I have my garage and shed, under the house and around the house sprayed to get rid of redbacks every year, have just had huge European Wasp nest dug out from tree roots in garden about half a meter diameter, bitten by unknown spider when picking up leaves and eyelid swelled for a week . :(  I get snakes in the garden in spring until we can start cutting the grass regularly and when it's very dry. We used to get kangaroos in the street when it was drought because they were looking for water.

Also, NEVER poke at a hole in the ground.

But Nora's right it is mostly exaggerated,  don't worry visitors unless you go out in bush then you do have to watch out for biting stinging things and the mozzies are dreadful and also the flies. I live in a suburb but there is bush around.
To me the summer heat is definitely hell, but lots of other things make up for it and the other seasons are comfortable.

Justan the platypus is a gentle nutcase but good for tourists if they ever manage to see one which is unlikely.

Fingers crossed for spider rain when I visit  :D

Queensland has far worse things than anywhere else  ;D ;D ;D ;D

ETA These are genuine , camels only in centre, but kangaroo and wombat signs all over the place out of town

(http://travelingcanucks.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Australia-Road-Sign-Kangaroo.jpg)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on January 22, 2016, 03:44:48 AM
OMG yes, the FLIES. They nearly drove me NUTS last year! They're everywhere, they land on your, on your hands, your face, your nose, your eyes, your mouth, they crawl all over the fucking place!!! People go out with nets over their hats, and in some places it's almost a fashion item, it's so necessary.

I've killed some 20+ redbacks as well, but these are ok so long as you mind where you're putting your hands, since they're not aggressive like a funnel web...

But I think one of the video that would sum up Aus the best is this one :

[youtube]0cdOEEp1MmU[/youtube]

Also, all the wildlife sounds like hell. Seriously, koalas calling for mates sound like angry wild boars, cockatoos have the WORST bird voice of creation, like, ARRRRH, AAAARRRH. 0_0*
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Elfy on January 22, 2016, 04:40:30 AM
The problem really is that the dangers here go farther than poison : every year crocodiles kill people. Sharks and jellyfishes as well, if in small numbers.
But kangaroos and wombats as well! They kill you by crashing your car! At dusk roos come out and these dumb fucks tend to jump ON the road when they panic.  ::)
Bumping one is alright (depending on the roo, and your car) but swerving can kill you.

I think you have more chances of ending in a fist fight than being bitten by anything. And this is me telling you this, and I've been in a fist fight.  :-\

Unbearable heat, poisonous and viscous beasts... Do you ever wonder if the first people to write about hell, just happened to be describing Australia? "One day, Dante's ship was taken by a harsh wind..."

Hmm well... You do realise that this country was colonized only to be turned into a penal colony, right? I mean, the Brits knew what they were doing.

Are you implying there's no value in the noble platypus? Surely, you must be joking!  ;)
Don't mess with a platypus, they can kill you too. They carry poison in a spur on their hind foot. Actually it probably won't kill a person, but it will cause severe pain. Don't get me started on the stone fish.
Thing is Nora is right. Yes, parts of Australia can be dangerous, but so can pretty much everywhere else. We only have the one apex predator and that's the estuarine crocodile, which ranges from the top end of Australia right up to India.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Justan Henner on January 22, 2016, 05:05:10 AM
The problem really is that the dangers here go farther than poison : every year crocodiles kill people. Sharks and jellyfishes as well, if in small numbers.
But kangaroos and wombats as well! They kill you by crashing your car! At dusk roos come out and these dumb fucks tend to jump ON the road when they panic.  ::)
Bumping one is alright (depending on the roo, and your car) but swerving can kill you.

I think you have more chances of ending in a fist fight than being bitten by anything. And this is me telling you this, and I've been in a fist fight.  :-\

Unbearable heat, poisonous and viscous beasts... Do you ever wonder if the first people to write about hell, just happened to be describing Australia? "One day, Dante's ship was taken by a harsh wind..."

Hmm well... You do realise that this country was colonized only to be turned into a penal colony, right? I mean, the Brits knew what they were doing.

Are you implying there's no value in the noble platypus? Surely, you must be joking!  ;)
Don't mess with a platypus, they can kill you too. They carry poison in a spur on their hind foot. Actually it probably won't kill a person, but it will cause severe pain. Don't get me started on the stone fish.
Thing is Nora is right. Yes, parts of Australia can be dangerous, but so can pretty much everywhere else. We only have the one apex predator and that's the estuarine crocodile, which ranges from the top end of Australia right up to India.

I love platypuses. They're so strange.

TBH, the US has a fair share of deadly animals as well. I think it's just the fact so many Australian animals are venomous/strange they seem so much more dangerous (and the fact that I despise snakes and there are so damn many poisonous snakes in Australia).

Let's see... within a two hour drive (or less), there are bears, mountain lions, wolves, diamondbacks, great white sharks, black widows, brown recluses, and orca whales. Aside from the snakes, its pretty rare for any of those to be aggressive enough to be a day to day threat, in any but the rarest of circumstances. We have coyotes too, but I've never seen one that hasn't immediately run upon seeing people.

It's weird how not one of those is something I worry about... and yet Australian animals somehow seem like more of a danger from afar.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ScarletBea on January 22, 2016, 08:25:26 AM
I've been in the desert around Uluru, and in the rainforest close to Cairns. Nothing happened to me and I'm still alive ;)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Henry Dale on January 22, 2016, 08:32:20 AM
I've been in the desert around Uluru, and in the rainforest close to Cairns. Nothing happened to me and I'm still alive ;)
Or so you think  :o

My mom keeps making a silly joke about Australia.
Supposedly it only has one animal species: The dangerou. (Pronounce in a french way)
After all, all these animals are dangerous.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ScarletBea on January 22, 2016, 08:59:33 AM
I've been in the desert around Uluru, and in the rainforest close to Cairns. Nothing happened to me and I'm still alive ;)
Or so you think  :o

My mom keeps making a silly joke about Australia.
Supposedly it only has one animal species: The dangerou. (Pronounce in a french way)
After all, all these animals are dangerous.
Super!

I did jump and screamed in a not-so-quiet way when I was buying somethign to eat in a shed by a big reservoir off Cairns (can't remember the name) and there was a huge spider (by any non-australian standards) on the wall! The girl selling it just laughed and said it was harmless ::)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on January 22, 2016, 10:37:26 AM
But I think one of the video that would sum up Aus the best is this one :

[youtube]0cdOEEp1MmU[/youtube]

This is from Germany.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2yJXq21HjA[/youtube]

Just around the corner from my grandparent's house someone was keeping nandus on his farm. At one point a group of them escaped into the swamps and they never caught them all. People thought they would all just die in winter, but as you see, they didn't. There are at least 150 now.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Elfy on January 22, 2016, 11:29:35 PM
I've been in the desert around Uluru, and in the rainforest close to Cairns. Nothing happened to me and I'm still alive ;)
I had a small lizard living behind the painting in my hotel room in Cairns. The information about the place said that if it didn't bother you to just leave it alone, because they don't do any damage and they eat the insects. I found it rather cute.
While I really enjoyed the time I spent on safari in Kenya, I felt more at risk from the wildlife there than I ever have in Australia. Lions, hyenas, leopards and even baboons are all carnivorous, not to mention the crocodiles and then there's the non carnivorous dangers: rhinos, hippos, buffaloes and even elephants. Most of those are unpredictable and you can never really tell when they might attack, don't want to get caught out in the open with one of them around.
Given Australia's reputation it is surprising that people haven't really explored the possibilities of using it as a fantasy setting. The only one that springs readily to mind is Cecelia Dart Thornton's Bitterbynde trilogy and a lot of that setting suspiciously resembled the Dandenongs, which is where the author resided at the time she wrote the books.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Lady Ty on January 23, 2016, 12:17:54 AM
And TP's The Last Continent which would certainly induce further fear and trepidation among possible visitors. ;D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on January 24, 2016, 12:50:32 PM
I have my garage and shed, under the house and around the house sprayed to get rid of redbacks every year

 ;D

(http://img-9gag-fun.9cache.com/photo/a2m44Ed_700b.jpg)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ScarletBea on January 24, 2016, 12:51:37 PM
oh.my.gawd.

SCARY!!!!!
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: night_wrtr on January 24, 2016, 12:55:19 PM
I have my garage and shed, under the house and around the house sprayed to get rid of redbacks every year

 ;D

(http://img-9gag-fun.9cache.com/photo/a2m44Ed_700b.jpg)

(http://littlefun.org/uploads/524b17a5e691b20c24c4428b_736.jpg)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on January 30, 2016, 11:52:48 AM
Tiger Hunting in India 1924 (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140803-tiger-hunt-1924-india-maharaja-safari/)

Pictures and Account of the Battle at Little Big Horn by Red Horse (http://lbha.proboards.com/thread/3575/red-horse-pictographic-account-lbh)

I always find it very interesting to read contemporary accounts of things that people no longer experience in the presence. Lots of fantasy writing is modern thinking and acting with a thin coating of medieval paint.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on January 30, 2016, 02:58:01 PM
Wow, @Yora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=35236). Those are fascinating. Especially the Little Bighorn drawings.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on January 30, 2016, 03:08:15 PM
I am particularly impressed by that he dedicated four full pages to show nothing but horse tracks on the ground. They must have completely torn up the entire ground of the place.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on January 30, 2016, 03:26:34 PM
I am particularly impressed by that he dedicated four full pages to show nothing but horse tracks on the ground. They must have completely torn up the entire ground of the place.

Yeah and then pages upon pages of the fallen, and each American scalped. I love how good his horses are as well, almost better drawn than humans.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on February 06, 2016, 09:17:01 PM
I found three pretty nice videos of university lectures about rarely mentioned elements of viking culture.

One (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJZBqmGLHQ8), Two (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu2gN8n15_A), Three (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Db9sG1PSsQ)

Not just interesting when you want to write about Vikings, but about premodern cultures in general.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: night_wrtr on February 07, 2016, 12:08:12 AM
I found three pretty nice videos of university lectures about rarely mentioned elements of viking culture.

One (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJZBqmGLHQ8), Two (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu2gN8n15_A), Three (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Db9sG1PSsQ)

Not just interesting when you want to write about Vikings, but about premodern cultures in general.

I'll be watching these later!
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on February 10, 2016, 01:26:45 PM
I've been doing some more research on prehistoric tribal violence and warfare and discovered two pretty interesting and solid sounding hypothesis about the rarity of warrior women.

The first is very simple and bland and just plain math: Men are expandable. In the short term, the loss of any healthy adult is a big loss for any small community. But for the long term recovery from such losses, having a large number of surviving women is much more important than having a large number of men. If a group of 10 men and 10 women loses 5 men, the group can theoretically have 10 new children within a year. If the same group loses 5 women, they could have only 5 new children within a year.
Most tribal societies have to expect to lose substential numbers of their people in the coming future to disaster and war, and recovering from those losses depends entirely on the number of surviving women. If you lose a man to war, you only use a warrior. If you lose a woman to war, you lose a warrior and also decrease your ability to recover from the losses. In small communities of only a few dozen people or less, where it's not unthinkable to lose 30 or 50% of the whole population to war and ever single adult makes up a considerable percentage of your workforce and troops, this is a really important concern for the long term survival of the group.
This doesn't mean that women are automatically excluded from warfare, but it's a strong incentive to keep the majority of women as far away from death in battle as possible. Even if it's not forbiden, it would be discouraged.

Another interesting observation (though pretty old (http://culture-of-peace.info/women/title-page.html) by anthropological standards and I am not sure about the quality of the source data) asserts that the presence or absence of women among the warriors of a group directly correlates with who people of the culture usually fight against and how they arrange marriages. The claim is that you find women fighting in war only in cultures where it's certain that they won't be fighting against their brothers and cousins. If a society commonly marries women from outside and generally fights war against outside groups, then women in these societies are excluded from war. And generally not just fighting, but anything related to it. Any planning and preparation would take place in exclusively male groups and women forbidden from listening. I am not sure how big the sample sizes are and how data was collected, and whether the statistic data really holds up. But unless the author completely made things up and cherry picked his examples to support his point (which I am inclined to very much doubt), I find it very convincing that there is a real connection there.

As societies get larger, these two factors become increasingly less relevant. But as societies get larger, they also become a lot less egalitarian with more strictly defined social roles and positions and so women are kept out of warfare because that's how it has always been the most common.

On that note, what always eluded me is the big importance given to marrying princes to princessess so their parents can have diplomatic agreements. I don't really see how that would make or break the diplomatic relations between kingdoms. Is there anything to that or is that mostly fiction?
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Rostum on February 10, 2016, 05:02:09 PM
Thanks Yora for posting up the links. I will take a proper look at the lectures as time allows. He is simplifying from his books.

Just a thought as not everyone lists it a a reason for the viking expansion. Start by looking at the Frankish empire a few centuries earlier and all those little tribes that get pushed north and east. This will explain population densities and why the now people of scandinavia wound up so land poor. The French getting raided gets ironic very quickly.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Mr.J on February 10, 2016, 06:08:02 PM
Oh the diplomatic power that comes with marrying off your royal children to other royal children is vitally important, and was a very real thing.

That's all the heirs of royals are really, they exist to create alliances if needed and strengthen the relations with other countries, either through marrying into an enemy of your enemy or one for trade etc etc.

I remember my history teacher referring to the other princes of royals as 'spares'. Henry VIII was one such spare, and was raised as one, hence his penchant for fighting so much, he was actually allowed to spar and fight compared to his older brother who was taught kingly stuff and how to rule etc.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on February 10, 2016, 09:41:47 PM
Maybe marrying royal children is a more ritualized and positiv looking version of exchanging hostages. But demanding hostages from your former enemy might look a bit rude, so instead you say that your son wishes to marry his daughter. You still get your hostage, but it doesn't look as much like you're not trusting the other guy to keep his word.
Or alternatively, you could use it as a vehicle to send a big load of tribute but not calling it tribute but a dowry.

That the children are now legally married might not mean much to the kings, but the providing of hostages and treasure payments might.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Mr.J on February 10, 2016, 10:04:16 PM
Maybe marrying royal children is a more ritualized and positiv looking version of exchanging hostages. But demanding hostages from your former enemy might look a bit rude, so instead you say that your son wishes to marry his daughter. You still get your hostage, but it doesn't look as much like you're not trusting the other guy to keep his word.
Or alternatively, you could use it as a vehicle to send a big load of tribute but not calling it tribute but a dowry.

That the children are now legally married might not mean much to the kings, but the providing of hostages and treasure payments might.
Pretty much was a form of hostage wasn't it, especially for the women (or basically girls as they were).

Also a nice way of extending your power, if enough people end up dying or not producing any heirs your son/daughter might inherit an entire piece of new land.

Look at Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Fucking Everywhere (seriously, he was impressive) - he inherited all sorts of places via the intertwining of marriages and short life span back then. The many invasions he did helped as well of course, but a lot of inheriting. :D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Lady Ty on February 10, 2016, 10:11:06 PM
Yora just for interest in this respect, check out how Queen Victoria married her children off into the royal families of Europe in order to have close allies and influence but this spread haemophilia throughout, which had serious consequences. Particularly in the case of Russia, where Rasputin gained influence over the Royal family because he could ease the pain of the young Tsarevitch. If it was a plot in a fantasy it would seem far fetched.

http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/haemophilia.html
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Mr.J on February 10, 2016, 10:16:48 PM
Yora just for interest in this respect, check out how Queen Victoria married her children off into the royal families of Europe in order to have close allies and influence but this spread haemophilia throughout, which had serious consequences. Particularly in the case of Russia, where Rasputin gained influence over the Royal family because he could ease the pain of the young Tsarevitch. If it was a plot in a fantasy it would seem far fetched.

http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/haemophilia.html
Or as we know from Doctor Who...they're actually all werewolves ;)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on February 10, 2016, 10:49:13 PM
Since we're on that topic, some related and complicated terminology:

Dowry: Wealth given to a bride by her parents, to help the groom support the now larger family and to serve as her wealth if her husband dies. (Like inheritance, but given at leaving the household of her parents and not at their death.)
Dower: Wealth given to a bride by the groom's family, to be her retirement money if her husband dies. It's a guarantee that they won't kick her out on the street with nothing if the groom dies or wants a different wife. (Basically severance pay.)
Bride Price: Wealth given to the family of the bride by the family of the groom, as compensation for the loss of the bride's labor power. Or it can be seen as a gift and gesture of goodwill by the groom to show how serious he is about the bride. (Replacing her if he wants a new one would be expensive.)

If the dowry or dower includes land or livestock, it's a resource that the husband and his family can use to make profit (but not sell). So a dowry can make their household more wealthy, and a dower is an incentive to not make the wife leave.

Much of marriage law is about what happens with that wealth in case of divorce. If the wife caused the divorce because of her misbehavior, the money stays/goes to the husband's family. If the husband commited an offense against his wife, it all goes to the wife and her family. If any wealth is transfered before the marriage happens and it's then called off, or if part of it is to be transfered after the wedding and keeps getting delayed, things can get pretty ugly. The groom's family might refuse to return any advance payments if they think canceling the marriage should be treated as unjustified divorce. And if the groom's family doesn't really care for the wife and they don't get their promised payments, things can become very rough for the bride.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on February 10, 2016, 10:56:18 PM
However true these comments are, let's not deceive ourselves : Europe was pretty good at going to war with countries ruled by their own relations or descendants. Marrying off is never a complete safety against war.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on February 10, 2016, 11:03:02 PM
At the end there were really only two royal families in all of Europe who held all the thrones.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on February 11, 2016, 12:29:32 AM
Out of subject, but a good thing to know for people who want flames of funky colours to feature in their stories ... Alchemy and the like... Cool looking as well.

http://img-9gag-fun.9cache.com/photo/aDo4947_460sv.mp4
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Francis Knight on February 11, 2016, 12:39:01 AM
Maybe marrying royal children is a more ritualized and positiv looking version of exchanging hostages. But demanding hostages from your former enemy might look a bit rude, so instead you say that your son wishes to marry his daughter. You still get your hostage, but it doesn't look as much like you're not trusting the other guy to keep his word.
Or alternatively, you could use it as a vehicle to send a big load of tribute but not calling it tribute but a dowry.

That the children are now legally married might not mean much to the kings, but the providing of hostages and treasure payments might.

In some cultures you "fostered" your son or daughter out to other families (same result -- see Theon Greyjoy)

In Saxon times a woman married to man who was an enemy of her father was called a Peaceweaver -- she might have some influence over her husband when/if it came to war (or might bring extra allies prepared to protect her from a mutual enemy),especially once children enter the equation

Also never underestimate the power of a mother-in-law :D
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Rostum on February 11, 2016, 10:13:55 AM
In the medieval UK a dowery was money given by the brides family to support their daughter in the event of her husbands death so she was not a burdan to his family. It was the responsibility of the husband to invest this money wisely to give a yearly return. This paid for her dress allowence and other personal income.
This obviously was not always done. However if done well it would be the source of future dowries often for grandchildren.

Dower houses where often hived off from the estate of a rich family or bought from a widows dowry and the impression I get was it was to get the mother in law out the way so the wife of the current heir got a free run at managing her household.

If you look at the Welsh they used to foster out their spare kids this means if you are raided your family is not all in one place and was used to ensure that those friendly to your family stayed that way.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: shadowkat678 on March 26, 2016, 03:16:09 AM
But I should probably make this clear before discussion takes a left turn (just a precaution people), but try not to sway too far into this territory (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/general-discussion/method-writing/). Keep things sane please.

WTF

I'm probably going to sound insane, but having read the entire thread, if they'd warned upfront instead of after, I'd think that would have been kinda cool. Do it all in a safe, controlled environment to understand what characters go through. Not as crazy as some thing's I've heard of people doing. Some are just...way crazier. And less controlled. And just nasty. I do a lot of mental method acting, but nothing physical, so no one jump on me here. I'm very good at slipping into character skin, so no need to put myself in a situation where I'm being chased by a monster to feel the fright.  :D

Anyways...before I get this all awkward.

I always find it great to look up the different civilizations. For instance, I'd looked at a bunch of tribal and hunter and gathering societies for my Wood Elves. Took a bit from each. For example, one I looked at had all the members of a generation refer to each other as siblings. Of course, they weren't biologically, but that's what they called themselves. No cousins. Just brothers and sisters. Same with there being no aunts or uncles. I think this might actually have been Hawaii where they were all mother and father. I took from another, and you'll see this with a few native american tribes, where there's a law that you're not allowed to waste any part of a kill, and for the wood elves, this includes in battle, which gives them...a none too favorable reputation, despite not going out to murder another elf, human, so on for this, you know.

I also use a lot of historic events to shape things, taking from here and there, that strategy works well on this terrain, etc. 
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ScarletBea on May 07, 2016, 11:25:26 PM
I'm not going to use this for writing, but I wasn't sure where to post.

Today I learnt a lot about medieval armour, how the right arm had much less protection to keep flexibility, and that's why it was really bad to be left-handed then, how there were 2 main schools of armour: italian (lighter, airer) and german (all over protection, quite stiffling), how the hip straps help bear the armour weight so that it's not all on the shoulders.

I tried on a helmet, quite heavy: I can't imagine fighting with that weight, although it you're getting banged on the head all the time, it *is* quite useful, hehe

And I held a long sword, did some movements and stuff :D it felt great, and this was much lighter than one I had tried some years ago. I thought swords would have a very sharp blade, but not this one, you were even supposed to hold the blade with your hand.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ScarletBea on May 28, 2016, 05:53:59 PM
(Oh I hadn't realised I'd been the last to post here...
Anyway.)

Please be aware: bruised ribs hurt. Not A LOT, but a lot. Not when you do anything specific, you can still move your arm and stuff, but there's this constant ache that pervades your thoughts.
So when you're writing fights, think that they don't have to break ribs to be out of sorts, a simple bruising can have the same effect ::)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Peat on May 28, 2016, 07:40:25 PM
(Oh I hadn't realised I'd been the last to post here...
Anyway.)

Please be aware: bruised ribs hurt. Not A LOT, but a lot. Not when you do anything specific, you can still move your arm and stuff, but there's this constant ache that pervades your thoughts.
So when you're writing fights, think that they don't have to break ribs to be out of sorts, a simple bruising can have the same effect ::)

Bruised ribs + sneezing = fun.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on May 29, 2016, 01:12:35 AM
Yes, I got a bone bruise under my kneecap, and it took over 6 months for simple contact to stop hurting, and I still have a big lump jutting out, that is sensitive to shocks and prevents me from kneeling on hard floors, 8 months later.
That from a simple bike fall on concrete.
Title: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: marshall_lamour on May 29, 2016, 10:38:04 AM
Yikes. Got a bone bruise on the top of my foot doing judo the other day. I didn't notice it for hours but when it swelled up, I could have sworn my foot was broken by the pain and stiffness; thought it was, in fact, but the x-rays said no.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on May 29, 2016, 01:47:23 PM
Yeah took me around two weeks to stop limping, a whole month to get rid of the pain. Doc said it's because my bruise is right where the tendons involved in WALKING are connected, and it was real dumb of me to keep going to work, but no one would cover my shifts, and the managers thought I was being a little sassy, so it took longer to heal.

Take time off @marshall_lamour (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=41172), leave it to heal while it's fresh, bone bruises can turn really ugly if not given consideration.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Mr.J on May 29, 2016, 03:41:37 PM
This is why outside is bad.

Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ScarletBea on May 29, 2016, 06:26:23 PM
hehe, mine was done inside.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Mr.J on May 30, 2016, 01:16:49 AM
hehe, mine was done inside.
This is why inside is bad.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: ScarletBea on May 30, 2016, 09:30:27 AM
 ;D
That's why you like fantasy then, you live in a parallel world, neither outside nor inside
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Mr.J on May 30, 2016, 12:18:58 PM
;D
That's why you like fantasy then, you live in a parallel world, neither outside nor inside
Boom.

Psychology 101 NAILED.  8)

But yes, it's pretty much true isn't it? :p
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on November 21, 2016, 12:15:01 PM
I've just started reading The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs by Tristan Gooley. (Have your ever read quite so Brit a name as this?  ;D)

So far, really interesting. The author teaches how to observe the natural landscape around us and make predictions about weather, routes to take, and more.

@Gem_Cutter, thought of you when the author wrote
Quote
[my father] was introducing me to a fundamental appreciation of landscape, one shared by everyone that walks close to the edge, from special forces to nomads.

Of course, mention of "close to the edge" gets me thinking about the rock album by Yes, but that's another story.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: The Gem Cutter on November 21, 2016, 06:14:46 PM
Heheh, yeah, my life experiences lend a different perspective on landscapes (we call it terrain), and we literally are trained to look at it differently, as always, guided by an acronym:
(http://i1.wp.com/prepography.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/OCOKA.png?resize=300%2C177)

I never noticed this thread before. Very interesting, especially for a person who began life at 11 as a writer, but chose to go out an acquire some experience, and succeeded. Maybe too much! The more I write the more I realize how little I knew - or at least, I am beginning to begin to understand. But I would do things the same. I can learn about pacing and structure from my desk. Falling out of an aircraft, seeing a landmine detonator being stepped on, gently guiding a terrorist through broken glass so his bare feet don't get cut - that stuff I can't learn at a desk.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on November 21, 2016, 07:20:13 PM
(http://i1.wp.com/prepography.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/OCOKA.png?resize=300%2C177)

(https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/velociraptors.jpg)
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: J.R. Darewood on November 22, 2016, 07:09:16 AM
I'm commenting for the sole purpose of seeing new replies to this thread on my "Show new replies to your posts" tab.  I'm loving lurking on this one.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: m3mnoch on December 12, 2016, 04:03:38 PM
was just reading this interview with one of my heroes (kevin kelly) about his new book:
https://slackhq.com/wired-founder-kevin-kelly-on-letting-go-of-ai-anxiety-bcd94e50dedc

these two quotes struck me:
Quote
In my study of technology, I was really surprised to discover that in fact, on the planetary global scale, that there’s been no technology that’s gone extinct. Nothing. There are more blacksmiths alive today than ever before in history. There are more people making telescopes by hand than ever before in history. There are more masters at flint-making, arrowhead-making, than ever. I’m talking about absolute numbers, not percentages.

Quote
Machines will have answers. What humans are good at are questions.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 13, 2016, 08:04:30 AM
was just reading this interview with one of my heroes (kevin kelly) about his new book:
https://slackhq.com/wired-founder-kevin-kelly-on-letting-go-of-ai-anxiety-bcd94e50dedc

these two quotes struck me:
Quote
In my study of technology, I was really surprised to discover that in fact, on the planetary global scale, that there’s been no technology that’s gone extinct. Nothing. There are more blacksmiths alive today than ever before in history. There are more people making telescopes by hand than ever before in history. There are more masters at flint-making, arrowhead-making, than ever. I’m talking about absolute numbers, not percentages.

Quote
Machines will have answers. What humans are good at are questions.

@m3mnoch I basically think of you as a mentat.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: m3mnoch on December 13, 2016, 03:18:57 PM
it is by will alone i set my mind in motion.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on December 13, 2016, 04:16:22 PM
This guy in the first quote is a bit overdoing it. Of course some technologies have gone instinct. Just because we have re-mastered a lot of things, does not mean that everything remains to this day.
Besides, there is a very, very fine line between technology and art in the cases he cites.
Is knapping flint a technology, or an art? Because in this case, there is lost knowledge. Even to this day for example, some crafts are going completely extinct. The art of doing hand dyed wool and fabrics from plants and minerals is going down. Many lines of women who practised it did not share their secrets and when they had no apprentice, their knowledge went into flames.
I also doubt that there are more talented ninjas now than 200 years ago. But is the art of using ninja tools and stealthily killing or robbing your targets an art or a technology?

By number there is more of everything, and that includes all the bad things as well.I find his statement a bit questionable. I'm not sure if he's lauding this situation or not.

One might add that absolute numbers are pointless. If today there is more people doing X than 2000 years ago, that might be great, but since there were so few people back then, with so little time/means for pointless luxury, it is likely that that craft was then a lot more widespread and respected.
What does flint knapping bring you today, besides mild recognition in the anthropologist community? People around them probably see them as eccentrics. 10 000 years ago your work had vital value, and a wider proportion of the population knew some of it.
Obviously that doesn't apply to everything, but it just makes me wonder, what is his point with such a comment?
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 14, 2016, 07:36:35 AM
it is by will alone i set my mind in motion.

That quote is from Piter a la Lynch, but I think I'd rather call you "Gilbertus" a la Herbert...
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: m3mnoch on December 14, 2016, 03:28:16 PM
it is by will alone i set my mind in motion.

That quote is from Piter a la Lynch, but I think I'd rather call you "Gilbertus" a la Herbert...

/shakesfist

damn you, bradley!  i just lost an hour to the dune encyclopedia.

because, who wouldn't want to transform into a sandworm and become god-emperor?
http://dune.wikia.com/wiki/Leto_Atreides_II/DE
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 16, 2016, 06:08:44 AM
it is by will alone i set my mind in motion.

That quote is from Piter a la Lynch, but I think I'd rather call you "Gilbertus" a la Herbert...

/shakesfist

damn you, bradley!  i just lost an hour to the dune encyclopedia.

because, who wouldn't want to transform into a sandworm and become god-emperor?
http://dune.wikia.com/wiki/Leto_Atreides_II/DE

Yeah... I don't know what's worse.  Loosing your genitals or developing the mental deficiency of celebrities (like Tom Cruise who between plowing through everyone around him and having his own religion has reverted to the maturity of a third grader).
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Nora on December 31, 2016, 02:27:03 AM
People were taking interest in disabilities recently, and I remembered that great video. It's a couple of married women, from the states I think, one deaf one hearing, giving advices for mixed couples. It's very insightful and shows both sides of the coin. They have a cool channel.

[youtube]Q8mmbuHuPUs[/youtube]
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on April 07, 2018, 12:29:44 PM
Would you like to understand how it feels to be an apprentice sorcerer, pouring for nights over big dusty tomes to find a long and complex incantation that allows you to do something amazing, followed by hunting further for various obscure references that enable you to understand how the words are uttered? And after years of practice, you are finally starting to see the patterns emerge and know when to add a line that isn't mentioned in the instructions but vital to make the ritual work in your specific circumstances, even while most of it is still completely incomprehensible words you don't have any idea what they are doing.

Try to learn how to install graphics drivers in Linux.  8)

Just look at this mess: https://www.if-not-true-then-false.com/2015/fedora-nvidia-guide/ If you don't already know what all of this means, nothing of it will make any sense of you. But do it long enough, and eventually you will understand what "chmod +x" means and does, and when you might have to use it.

And the magic word is not "abrakadabra" but "reboot". When you use that one, you will see the swirling wirls of magic and wait in anticipatiion as you either get success or disaster.
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: JMack on April 07, 2018, 12:57:50 PM
I’ve decided that your Linux driver manual writing guy developed that entire page as an elaborate joke. Because the alternative is too frightening to contemplate.  :o
Title: Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
Post by: Yora on April 07, 2018, 08:35:54 PM
It actually worked. Even though I have no idea what "dracut /boot/initramfs-$(uname -r).img $(uname -r)" does. But I typed it in anyway and the computer did not explode.

Though it did get somewhat scary when I rebooted and had to continue the process with nothing but typing text on a black screen because the computer no longer was capable of showing any windows, desktop, or mouse pointer.

(http://labtestproject.com/files/linuse/images/f4-big/023-username-textbase.png)

For when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

But I realized that this was because I had given the computer the instruction to remove the necessary files and this is actually exactly what should be happening in that situation. So I continued to follow the instructions with confidence that I wouldn't have to spend my whole weekend rebuilding the whole computer from scratch.

The computer still doesn't do what I originally wanted it to do, but I feel quite certain that I actually made a significant step to getting there.  :P