Worldbuilding: An Interesting Approach

Hey everybody! Welcome back to Fluff About Fantasy on another wonderful Saturday. I signed my publishing contract on Thursday, and I can’t wait to get started this coming week with the publishing process! It’s so exciting. Today, I want to talk about worldbuilding! This is one of my favorite topics to talk about, and I haven’t written about it in a while. At Fluff About Fantasy, I have touched on questions to shape your world, naming places, and drawing out your own maps, to name a few. Today, I want to talk about a technique that spurred my creation of the Twelve Houses in the Upper Realm. I hope it will inspire you too!

The Twelve Houses

Now, just for a brief recap if you haven’t read about my universe yet: the Upper Realm in Chasing Fae is made up of twelve noble houses that have control over different portions of the land. Think of it like twelve separate kingdoms, but lorddoms instead. (That is actually a word! It’s a very old word, but it’s a word.) When I first began conceptualizing these, I wanted them to be distinct lands with their own cultures. There would be similarities between them like the agricultural production of one area in comparison with another and the governmental style. But the intimate details of each House would be unique to that area.

To accomplish this, I chose to pick one element that would be the essence of the House and then build every other detail of the culture around it. I really like using this method because it allows all of the details to fit together cohesively. Let me give you an example.

The House of the Evening

This is my favorite of all the Houses that I’ve created, and it is the one that I personally would want to live in the most. I wanted to make sure that the House of the Moon and the House of the Evening were very different places, so I let the House of the Moon center around the mystical, magical properties of the moon in terms of spell-casting. That created a more intimate, mystical society with priestesses and one of the highest concentrations of magic in the entire Upper Realm. For the House of the Evening, I decided to go with nightlife.

I grew up with my dad taking me to bars and restaurants to listen to live music most weekends. I fell in love with the atmosphere. Even as an introvert, there’s something about blending in with a crowd that’s all tapped in to the same rhythm, the same beat. It was the same thing at school dances; sometimes the animosity between people can disappear for a night when the bass is turned up loud and everyone’s jumping up and down to their favorite song. I wanted to capture that feeling in the House of the Evening.

The House of the Evening has the best nightlife and the best festivals you will find in the entire Upper Realm. Every night, there’s live music pouring out of every tavern. This is the place young musicians come to try their hand at the craft. You can travel all over the land and hear every genre of music you can think of. There are shops for craftsman instruments of all kinds, but particularly violins. (This becomes relevant in the series.) The House of the Evening brews the best beer and grow grapes to create amazing fine wines. People in the House of the Evening go about their own lives during the day, whether that’s in the home or out at their job. But in the evening, everybody comes together to spend time out on the town. Community comes alive in the nighttime. It’s late nights and late mornings in the House of the Evening. Looking over the towns at night lit by candlelight or tiny fairy lights, looking up at the purple hued mountains covered in snow, it’s just beautiful.

Thanks for reading, everybody. If you’re curious about the House of the Evening, you can read a profile here!

Names: Naming Characters and Places in Fantasy Writing

One of the first hurdles that comes up in writing fantasy can pop up before you even dive into worldbuilding and character building: picking names. I have heard of writers who use a placeholder name while they brainstorm other elements and then change the name once the right one reveals itself. But I can’t even imagine beginning my story without having a few names down to begin with.

This is one of my favorite parts of the pre-drafting stage. Names ground me in where I am and who I’m working with, and in some cases, give me ideas for setting aspects or personality traits for characters. When your book is out there in the world, your fans are going to know your characters by name. If you’re lucky enough to have international fame, your names can become a household phrase. Think of the Harry Potter series. Instant brand recognition. A true fan knows countless spells and can recite to you every Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts and which book they came from. Names are important.

Character Names

When I start with a book idea, I often start with an idea for a character. Usually, a personality trait or a specific conviction for the character comes first. From there, I move on to picking a name. Sometimes I’ve already got the perfect name picked out, but more often than not, I’ll head over to a baby names website or a name generator. If I know a meaning I want, I’ll search for that. If I have a letter in mind, I’ll sort alphabetically.

Make sure to craft first, middle, and last names. The whole package can be incredibly satisfying. I like to say my full names aloud to hear how the different pieces flow together. I would highly recommend using this technique; you’ll find that the right name just clicks in your head and on your lips at the same time.

Here are a couple links that I find useful:

Fantasy Name Generator: https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/

Random Name Generator: https://randomwordgenerator.com/name.php

Baby Name Generator: https://www.motherandbaby.co.uk/baby-names/baby-name-generator

Baby Name Genie (one of my favorites!): https://www.babynamegenie.com/baby-name-generator

World Names

Your universe is going to be made up of a lot of names across every level: universe, world, realm, state, city, town, village, etc. And not all of them are going to need to be come up with before you start drafting. But you do need a few basic place names down in order to start.

Now, I’ve heard conflicting opinions on whether you should try for simple names or super fantastical, difficult to pronounce names to make your story unique. While I think having names that have a little fantastical element to them is important, I think hard to pronounce names leave your readers guessing and posting on Reddit trying to figure out how to say them. I like a healthy mix of the two in a fantasy novel. Enough names that I can say out loud and then a few where I’m just like “how in the world did they come up with that, that’s so cool!”.

My world’s names are very simple. All of the noble houses pull their names from the elements and the day and the evening and war and peace and then just insert “House of” or “House of the”, depending on which one. I did that purposefully because I like the duality of contrasting houses. Day vs. Evening, Water vs. Fire, Light vs. Darkness. I want to play off of what you think those noble houses should be all about and then flip some of them on their heads.

Once I have the main names down, I usually come up with the main geographical features names. Mountain ranges, oceans, rivers, and the like. I tend to do all of the main ones up front. Then I come up with my city and town names as my characters travel to them. Eventually, I’ll fill all of them in, but it isn’t necessary before I start writing.

Here are a few links to get you started:

Realm Name Generator: https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/realm-names.php

Mountain Name Generator: https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/mountain-names.php

River Name Generator: https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/river-names.php

Water Name Generator: https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/water-names.php

Fantasy Kingdom Name Generator: https://springhole.net/writing_roleplaying_randomators/fantasykingdomnames.htm

Place Name Generator: https://www.namegenerator.biz/place-name-generator.php

Happy brainstorming, everyone!

Guest Post: Worldbuilding – Seeing The World In Different Colors

The possibilities of the human mind are endless. Man’s ability to imagine & manifest its thoughts into action has given us the ability to understand and create worlds. Literature has given us access to many worlds.

For centuries people have been reading and telling stories about Camelot, Shangri-La, and Utopia. Children have been in and out of Neverland whenever they hear the story of Peter Pan. Ancient Norsemen have always believed that if you die fighting on the battlefield, it secures you a place in Valhalla. During ancient times when science was at its infancy, people believed worlds such as Hades, Tartarus, and The Abyss were real.

Although these worlds are now used in science to represent the state of minds that are in anguish, their origins have always felt real. Why so? These stories seem real to many because it is rooted in our imagination, told over and over again through time. That’s why fiction has always been fascinating for everybody.

Worldbuilding is essential when creating a fantasyland. The works of authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are the perfect examples. Their written work was so vivid, and it has become an inspiration for modern creators who make use of interactive aural & visual media, such as films and video games. Bring out your colorful rainbow lenses because, in this article, we are going to tackle the crucial elements of how to create our fantasyland.

Let us start with the most obvious:

Geography

It is one of the most important elements of worldbuilding. It lays out the world’s basic landscape features. The best way to depict geography is to create a map of your fantasy world. In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, he wrote and described the map of “Middle Earth,” where it’s divided into hemispheres.

Physical geography is going to be the baseline of how the world you created would be. For example, in the futuristic world of “Elysium,” there are two major locations. First, the futuristic arc-like space station, and the rugged, post-apocalyptic remains of planet Earth. They equipped this space station with facilities that constitute the perfect living conditions for man, while the other shows the exact opposite.

Culture

Culture plays a major role in portraying how characters in your storylines get their act together. It starts by giving a backgrounder on the origins of the characters, what influences them, their customs, and the things they regularly do. In a nutshell, it shows the character’s civilization.

Here are some important features to consider when creating a culture for your fantasy world:

  1. Power: This facet of culture shows the hierarchy of who has the control, influence, and authority. It may also show the struggles each character must go through and how to achieve it.
  2. Religion: Though it may become controversial to a certain point, this facet of culture may create an added impact to your world. By creating deities and the methods of their worship, it adds definition to the storyline.
  3. Government: This facet of culture makes any storyline more interesting, especially on how they manifest power. It should tackle systems within your storyline, and the laws that govern the world you created.
  4. Relationships: It is what makes every storyline to every person. Relationships give colors to the characters and add depth.

Social Classes

This element of worldbuilding shows how the characters thrive in their world. It shows the diversity of the people within the story and creates a picture of people with different cultures, and how they handle their situations.

Like for example, in the game Starcraft, there are three different species (cultures), each with different social classes. There are several social classes, namely the warriors, healers, thinkers, slaves, and kings. These are similar to real-world social classes, which makes them relatable to many.

History

A good storyline can become more interesting if a major historical event is behind it. So if you’re planning to create a series for your storyline, it would be great if you could link a piece of history (from previous works) to your present and future production.

You could consider traumatic events, like, for example, on George Martin’s “Game of Thrones” character, Daenerys Targaryen. Her story starts as a royalty who was given by her brother to the Dothraki as a “gift” to the Khal, who later emerged as the queen of many kingdoms as her story goes. With this kind of history, linked to the characters in the world you created, would make your storyline very fascinating.

Magic

Adding something unexplainable in worldbuilding is the makings of a good storyline. Magic makes people wonder how certain mysterious powers came to be. Like many fiction works, magic comes from many sources; it can come from magical beings bestowing its “powers” unto another character. It can be something that the character was born with, but he or she doesn’t know it yet. It can be artifacts or things that heroes wield.

For example, the Norse god of thunder, Thor uses his magical hammer, Mjolnir, to create thunderstorms and summon lightning bolts. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, when Thor’s hammer was lost, “Stormbreaker” an enchanted ax was forged for him. This magical ax has the same powers as Mjolnir and can summon the Bifrost, a bridge that connects Asgard (The realm of the gods) and Midgard (Earth).

Technology

In worldbuilding, this is the opposite of magic because technology explains how something works, and why it works. Although it may be fictional, it is based mainly on science. Adding technology into your storylines can make younger generations appreciate your work more.

A good example of that is the Iron Man suit, based on Stan Lee’s works. In his work, billionaire Tony Stark created a suit of armor that attacks like a tank and flies like a plane. This technology was explained further in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; a world created based on the works of Stan Lee.

With all of these elements incorporated in your worldbuilding, you can create a masterpiece out of them. These details you created from each element may not suit every storyline, but you can always use them later. Make sure that each of these elements complement each other in the storyline you are making, and your worldbuilding won’t go amiss.

Author Bio

Lydia is a fashion blogger. She works at a tech company and writes as a freelancer for several fashion magazines both local and international. She has a pet terrier named Fugui. Follow her Twitter.

Sources

https://www.well-storied.com/blog/an-introduction-to-world-building

https://mekinkade.com/2015/07/30/the-nine-elements-of-worldbuilding/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worldbuilding
 

A Brief Classification Of Dragons

Hello everybody! Welcome back to Fluff About Fantasy. Today, I’m going to try something new. We’re going to talk about dragons.

Dragons!!! Get excited.

Thursday night, my boyfriend and I were throwing around some ideas for fantastical short stories. I’m trying to get back on the fantasy writing horse after a very busy half a semester. We were swapping various ideas, and at one point, we settled on the discussion of dragons. I have always been fascinated by dragons. They’re a very protective mythological creature, and I’ve always seen their strength as something to be celebrated. Their physical form captivates me; I own five different dragon statues ranging from small, singular dragons to entire families in which the father’s wings surrounds his mate and his child.

I am also highly interested in the concept of dragon shapeshifters in which very sexy mortal men can turn into dragons in romance novels, but that is a story for another day.

Anyway, Daniel and I were swapping some awesome images of different kinds of dragons, and he mentioned that one of them was called a Leviathan. I had never heard of one before, and he gave me a basic explanation of the creature (see below!). But when he mentioned drakes later and I still didn’t know what he was talking about….

He pulled out a figurative blackboard (literally, in asterics. *pulls out a blackboard*) and said, “Cady. It’s time for a comprehensive training on dragons and classifications.”

I was so ready for this. It’s so much fun to see my boyfriend nerd out over things we can be fascinated by together. And I’m excited to share that information with you for your fantasy writing endeavors. This article will be a short list of the types that we discussed and some basic information. I’m hoping to expand it as I explore the topic more. But its current form will be a good list to start with and hopefully inspire you to write new stories or go do some research of your own.

Dragon Classifications: A Partial List

Chinese Dragons: In Chinese culture, dragons traditionally symbolize power and strength throughout Chinese mythology, folklore, and East Asian Culture. A variety of dragons can represent balance, intense power over the elements, and luck. Chinese dragons usually have long serpentine bodies and are often brightly colored. Although they are without wings, many have the ability of magical flight.

Leviathans: An oceanic behemoth, much like the kraken, in the form of a sea monster. Originates from Jewish belief and is referenced in the Hebrew Bible. Often depicted as an aquatic dragon. 

European Dragons: Usually consist of the modern conception of dragons. Large bodies, flaming breath, and reptilian wings characterize this form. In traditional folklore, these dragons’ blood contains magical properties that can poison or heal depending on the dragon or the story. Generally found in an underground lair.

Drakes: Smaller lizard-like creatures usually portrayed as wingless. An example of these would be the Komodo dragon, a minotaur lizard originating in Indonesia. Tend to keep low to the ground.

Wyverns: No forelegs or arms traditionally with a tail often ending in a diamond- or arrow-shaped tip. Faster, more aggressive than territorial as opposed to drakes and European dragons.

Nāga: Originates from India and is common to all cultures influenced by Hinduism. May have several heads depending on their rank. Traditionally have no arms or legs and more resemble large snakes, but the ones that do have limbs look similar to Chinese dragons.

Slavic Dragons: Resemble the European dragons, but are multi-headed. Represent evil.

Worldbuilding: Mapmaking

When you’re worldbuilding, creating a map for your world can be helpful in seeing how kingdoms, cities, and towns fit together. Especially if your novel involves some sort of journey, a map can show you the logical paths to take to your characters’ destinations. A map adds an element of reality to your world and will absolutely make you feel like you’re getting somewhere.

Now, you can get into all types of mapmaking software that will allow you to customize every detail to your desire. But why get into spending money and learning how a software works with complicated instruction manuals that will take you at least a few days to learn the basics? My recommendation is getting a pen and paper or if you prefer, opening up a PowerPoint document and going to town.

Let’s begin.

Step 1: Understand the regions of your world.

Before you start mapping your universe, you need to understand how the world is broken up. Do you have multiple realms that you need to take into account? How many kingdoms or states do you have? How are those divided up: cities, towns, villages? You also want to make note of main geographical features that may divide up your land as well. Mountains, rivers, and forests can divide land or encircle it in such ways that can be important notes in your book. Go back to your notes from my Worldbuilding Questions series for help.

Step 2: Decide how to represent each place.

If you’re a fantastic artist who can draw beautiful buildings and detailed trees and mountain sides, you can skip over this section. If you’re like me and can’t really draw to save your life, you’re going to want to come up with some simple icons to represent your regions whether you’re drawing by hand or creating by computer. In terms of my PowerPoint, I used clipart of small houses to represent villages, a town hall to represent towns, and a group of skyscrapers to represent cities. Triangles became mountains, and blue lines became rivers. Make sure you write down your key so you’ll know what your icons stand for when you go back to edit your manuscript six months later.

Step 3: Create.

Once you’ve got all the logistical brainstorming out of the way, it’s time to create! Plan on spending at least an hour or two on your map even if you’re working with simple icons. This is a real opportunity to ground yourself in your world before you write your story. Really enjoy the process of creating your map. It’s fun!

Examples: The Three Realms

The Upper Realm
The Middle Realm
The Lower Realm

Happy mapmaking!

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #15 – Daily Life

Welcome everyone! This is the very last post in this worldbuilding questionnaire series. I’ve really enjoyed connecting with you all on this particular subject, and I look forward to guiding you through others. But don’t worry! I’m not swearing off the discussion on worldbuilding forever. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing fantasy, so you’ll definitely see it again.

Without further ado, one last time, we are working from this link for our last section.

General

First, let’s talk about social mobility. How easy can social advancement occur? What items are considered luxuries in your society?

What are acceptable norms of personal hygiene? What systems and tools help to assist that? For example, plumbing systems assist with keeping running water moving to and form the house.

How is garbage and waste material disposed of?

Think about the interior of a typical citizen’s home. What does the furniture look like? What kind of material is it made from? Think about the craftsmanship, whether it is kept fairly simple or is more elaborate. Does more elaborate design mean a more expensive piece of furniture?

How early do people tend to wake up in the morning? How do they know what time to wake up?

Fashion and Dress

What do people wear in your society? Consider all walks of life and all species. What kind of fabric would this clothing be made from? Also think about professional uniforms like healers or soldiers or the dress of the politician.

What does current fashion look like? What’s considered trendy? How about physical characteristics, like tan skin or curly hair?

Manners

I believe most of these have been covered in previous sections, but essentially we want to focus on respect of procedure. Who walks through doors first? Who should be introduced to who in what order? What rules surround a formal court dinner? To name a few.

Diet

Food! Glorious food. This question section will focus on the typical diet of the average citizen as well as traditions involving food. This will require you to look back to what crops and animals are available to use. Think about what kind of dishes a person would eat in a day and when. Does your society eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or are there entirely different norms? Are some dishes local to certain areas? Different cultures tend to have different signature dishes. What herbs and spices are available to season foods? What kind of foods are eaten around the holidays?

Education

Is there an organized system of education? How many levels does it consist of; does some education happen primarily at home? Is literacy considered a necessary skill to the society? Who teaches in these schools? Where are those people trained?

Think about what is being taught in these schools. An educated populace or an uneducated populace changes the course of society. It changes what it allows its government to do to it. This can be a massive plot point. Don’t forget about magical education!

Calendar

Time! A world must run on time. Or be timeless! This is fantasy, after all. If your world does in fact adhere to the laws of time, consider having a universal calendar that your people can run on. Divide up your days in a way that’s understandable. Feel free to use the time scale we operate on now (second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, etc.). It might make it a lot easier for your reader to follow. Feel free to modify it by making the week longer or changing the names of the months. Think about what holidays are celebrated around certain times of the year and plan accordingly.

We have reached the end, my friends! This series constitutes the best and most comprehensive worldbuilding questionnaire I have ever seen. I have really enjoyed walking through this with you all. I hope the resource has been super helpful to all you writers out there. Much love. <3 Happy writing!

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #14 – Commerce, Trade, and Public Life (Part Two)

Hey readers! Only ONE more post left in the worldbuilding series! It’s been such an honor to walk through the SFWA questionnaire with you all. I’ve enjoyed breaking it down into manageable pieces and providing commentary that hopefully has inspired some of you to create. Without further ado, let’s get started! Today, we’re going to be focusing on the second half of the Commerce, Trade, and Public life section.

Medicine

What do doctors and surgeons look like in your society? Do they go by these names, or are they healers and clerics? How are healers trained? How accurately can they diagnose medical conditions? What methods do they have of diagnosing the issues, physical or magical? How accessible are healers to the community around them? Are they too expensive? Having access to a doctor ultimately makes a society more healthy. Imagine if there were wars held over having access to a healer. Imagine undertaking a war without any doctors or medics available.

How much is known about the anatomy and physiology of the body? How were treatments for various conditions discovered? Do your people understand the reasons behind why treatments work, or are they sailing by just by knowing that something work? Compared to the modern era, specify where your world is in medical development. It should be understood whether your society is more medieval, more modern, or more futuristic.

Is healing a magical process or a physical process? Go back to your notes on magical spells and clarify what can and cannot be fixed by magic.

What kind of treatments are available for various medical conditions? Think about everything from the common cold to the most rare of cancers. Now, not all of these need to be specified in order for you to write a good story. Is it possible to revive/resuscitate someone after they have died, either through physical or magical means? Can healers potentially revive the dead if ever necessary. Please do not forget about what institutions are in place to address the issues of mental health. Or if there is a lack of mental health solutions in place, which may be interesting to play around with in a story.

Arts and Entertainment

Let’s switch gears entirely and discuss leisure and the arts. How important are the arts to your society? How does your society define what art is? Remember, art is quite a fluid word. It can mean the practice of visual art, or it can be expanded to encompass theater, music, and writing. How much support is there in the community for artistic pursuits? Are any artistic practices outlawed?

Are there permanent theaters and concert halls, or do buildings or rooms have to be temporarily converted to serve as such? This point can stem from how important the arts is in your society. Do artists tend to stay in one place, or do they travel around from town to town in troupes? Are they typically trained professionally, or is it a learn on your own kind of trade?

How does magic factor into the arts? In what ways is art enhanced by magic? In what ways is the practice of magic already art on its own?

What do people in your universe like to do for fun? What kind of games are well known and played across the world? This can range from card games to children’s games and magical games. What about sports? Are any sports widely popularized? Are there traveling sports teams? Feel free to make up as much as you want. Do different species have their own kind of games and activities for leisure?

What is your world’s standard of beauty? This factors into more than appearances and talent. This can play into societal splits, societal advantages,  and advantages of being a specific species or race. This can also influence portrayals of both men and women in art. Do different races and species have different standards of beauty? I think this is one of the more intriguing questions of this section, for sure.

Architecture

How are buildings usually constructed? What are the available materials for building, and does it vary by area? What are the differences highlighted between wealthier sections of town and poorer sections of town?

On the exterior side, how tall can a building feasibly be given the current state of construction technology? Are there any architectural features that buildings tend to highlight (i.e. the windows, the doors, exterior walls, etc.)? What architectural styles in the modern world mimic your world’s styles? On the interior side, how are buildings typically designed? Most likely, this will differ depending on whether it is a business building or a housing building.

How do people like to decorate their buildings, both inside and out?

Urban Factors

Most of these questions have been addressed in earlier sections. The more unique ones to the bunch focus on the city’s layout. Are there any blatant landmarks in the cities that your story covers? Are the cities laid out in a grid pattern, or have they just grown naturally in every which way? What about orientation: is the center or the head of the city oriented in a strategic location like the highest point in an area?

Rural Factors

How do the rural areas compare to the urban areas population wise? Is it primarily farmers out in these areas or do any other trades dominate? How easily can goods move between the rural and urban areas? Pay attention to this because depending on how well food can keep, it can limit the size and proximity of cities.

How is the weather in the area? Is it fairly consistent? This can help determine whether crop production is consistent or very inconsistent, which in turn influences your economy. Don’t forget to account for catastrophic weather like cyclones and dust storms!

Hope you all have enjoyed today’s post! See you all next time.

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #13 – Commerce, Trade, and Public Life (Part One)

Hello readers. Welcome back to Fluff About Fantasy’s worldbuilding series. Today, we’ll be talking about commerce, trade, and public life; focusing on the first half of the SFWA questionnaire section. Without further introduction, let’s get right to it!

General

Pretty much all of the questions in this category have been referenced in various earlier sections. I won’t be going back over them!

Business and Industry

I’m not the best authority on this subject, but I’ll try to walk everyone through this as best I can. To start off, how is business organized in your universe? Are there organized trade unions in place, or would you prefer to create a guild structure? Is there a merchant class of people? What kind of regulations has the government placed on business, if any?

An interesting question is whether people are able to learn multiple trades, otherwise known as cross-crafting. Is it an automatic right, or can people be locked in to only one trade for the rest of their lives? This could create an interesting social dynamic where each person is tied to one trade for the course of their life. Another point to consider would be whether various industrial processes can be considered common knowledge or trade secrets. Maybe certain industries can be so locked down that it’s almost impossible to break into the trade without their explicit approval and invitation into their circle.

What would be the process of entering into a trade? Should a person get an educational degree first or enter into an apprenticeship? What kind of requirements need to be met before a person goes from a novice to a practitioner of a trade?

What types of trades would you typically see in a small town vs. a big city? Are specific areas in your world known for certain trades? What about different tribes or species? How is the balance between new industries and old industries? Is innovation high or stalled? Don’t forget to clarify which goods are available as well!

And of course, we can’t talk about trade without discussing the presence of a black market! Does your universe have one? How prevalent is it? In my novel, the black market has a prominent role in both Upper Realm and Middle Realm politics. Several of the events could not have been set into motion without it!

Transportation and Communication

What kind of transportations are available? This can include anything from:

  • Domesticated animals (oxen, horses, camels, etc.)
  • Motor vehicles (cars, taxis, buses, etc.)
  • Airplanes
  • Magical means of transportation (flying carpets, witches’ brooms, dragons, teleportation spells, etc.)
  • Water transportation (yachts, boats, cruise ships, canoes, etc.)

How common is it for people to travel?  Do people only travel when it’s necessary to shop and trade, or do people take trips regularly? How dangerous is travel? Are there good roads in place, or is it all through rough terrain? Where do people stay if traveling over night? Do they have to rely on friends, or are there inns and hotels available?

On the subject of communication, how are messages sent? Is there a public system in place, or has the practice been privatized? How fast does news travel from one place to another? How accurate and efficient are communication and newscasting in your world? Is there freedom of the press or heavy restrictions?

How are books produced? Are they considered to be common or a rare item reserved for the rich? Who produces them? Where are the libraries and large collections kept? How accessible are they?

Science and Technology

Describe the level of technology present in your world. What time period of our history can you best relate it to? What advancements have been made that benefit the common man? What advancements are considered luxuries? Are there any advancements that have not been made despite the level of technology available?

How much is known in the scientific field? Are they even related to science, or are explanations primarily made in the areas of magic and religion? Where is this type of research conducted?

How do magic and science play together? Do they interact at all? Where does magic replace technology and potentially inhibit its development? In what places has magic actually sped up the process of scientific and technological development?

Thanks for reading, everybody. Happy worldbuilding!

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #12 – Social Organization: Foreign Diplomacy and the Waging of War

As promised in my last post, I’m going to be alternating between worldbuilding and building an author platform for a little while until both series are complete. Today, I’m bringing you a new set of questions dedicated to diplomacy between lands and the waging of wars.  Now these elements play quite heavily in my trilogy. I’ve really enjoyed building the stepping stones of war, in particular. I find it intriguing to see what issues can spiral out of control until the kingdoms blow up and war becomes inevitable.

As always, we’ll be working from this link.

Foreign Relations

The first step of establishing both peacetime and wartime is establishing what kind of relationships already exist between kingdoms or worlds. Make sure to pay attention to the state of both historic and current relations. Are there standard embassies that exist in other nations or do ambassadors travel infrequently without a real home base? How do the relationships between lands affect trade and commerce?

How are treaties negotiated? Do the rulers negotiate directly, or do secondary parties take care of that? Are there any treaties in place that directly affect the course of your novel? Are any currently being negotiated?

Don’t forget to establish whether any high profile families in various lands are related to each other. It could be interesting to play around with.

Waging War

What major weapons of war are available? Make sure to list everything you can think of, including magic. Think on both a large and small scale. Swords, knives, bombs, siege towers, nuclear weapons. Are any weapons restricted to specific classes of soldiers and/or citizens? Please make note of the weapons subsection of questions for more details to consider.

How has magic affected strategy and war tactics in general? Can magical espionage be conducted? Are there any special techniques that could be used to counterattack large scale magical attacks? How do you conduct a large scale magical attack? Is it a combination of individual powers and spells or a concentrated effort of merging magics together?

Now contemplate the structure of your various armies. Think about having a structured hierarchy to keep your soldiers organized within themselves. That will be especially important if you have to merge armies with others. Of course, you could make things a little more loosely defined in case you want to create conflict there. Also, who is the army made up of? Are they specially trained or is it any Joe off the street? How many people make up the armies, approximately? How are they supplied?

Who can call for the army to go to war? Is declaring war a formal declaration or can your lands just attack each other on the spur of the moment?

How do the presence of non-human magical beings affect battle strategy? Can they be recruited into the regular army or is there a special army specifically for them?

Thank you so much for tuning in this week. Much love!

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #11 – Crime and the Legal System

Hey everybody! I’m super excited to bring you a new worldbuilding post today. Today’s gonna be a bit of a short one as I’m preparing for travel to my internship this summer! Hopefully, I’ll be able to wrap that up soon and settle in for some more interaction with my followers and the ever supportive #writingcommunity.

Today, we’re going to talk about building the laws of your universe. We’ve covered metaphysical laws and magical laws that have governed the greater world. But it’s time to focus on the laws of humans and/or magical beings on a more intimate level. Crime and law can play an interesting role in a fantasy novel. It can create intrigue in a character who’s been on the run from the law for years. It can call into question a ruler’s legitimacy. Law creates a framework for what’s acceptable or unacceptable in your society and can be portrayed as both a social and a moral issue. It can showcase what is important to the people in your world or to the founders of your societies.

Let’s get started! (Again, we’re working from this link!)

Law

Before we start with a few of the more specific questions, I’d like you to sit down and make a list. The first section is going to consist of standard laws that are going to be your basic expectations. Include the magical laws you created in post #5 in this. How does your society feel about murder? Are there any situations where murder is acceptable, such as in self defense? How about theft: common theft and grand theft? Where does kidnapping fall on the scale? The second section is going to include any laws you can think of off the top of your head that will directly play into your story. Don’t be concerned if you can’t think of any at this stage. It isn’t necessary, and you can always add to it later. Now go back through that list and name the punishments for breaking each law or code.

Now, let’s get in to more specific questions. What are the typical and legal ways for gathering evidence? Does your society follow a more standard system of obtaining search warrants, questioning witnesses, and following a structured path? Or can you obtain information through more violent methods such as torture? Are there any magical methods to add to this list? In my world, the Upper Realm has a few users of forensic magic, magic that can backtrace a spell and pinpoint it to a specific magical signature. Mages who have the gift and have studied this extensively can pin down the sex, birthplace , and current location of the caster. Can evidence collected by magical means be entered into a court?

What is the status of weaponry? Can anyone own a weapon or certain types of weapons? Are any groups of people restricted from having access? Do some groups of people who are required to carry a weapon by law?

Are certain spells illegal? Why? How are magic users punished for casting illegal spells? Are there gradations of punishment? Are any magic users above the law? Keep this section in particular in mind as this can influence your characters’ minds as whether to break or not to break said laws.

The Legal System

Are there separate courts for civil and criminal cases? Do separate courts exist for humans and magic users, or are they all tried by the same system? Does a special court exist for the trials of magical crimes? Take care in the choices you make here. If your intention is to create a fair system, you have to have a system of judges that can be impartial. That would require them to have an understanding of both magical and non-magical affairs, whatever that means to you. If you want a corrupt system, feel free to disregard that and blow your whole court system to hell.

Who is responsible for catching criminals? Again, you will need to establish whether there is a separate enforcement group for magical and non-magical beings. How are these people organized? Do they work full-time, part-time, or do they volunteer for the assignment? Are they paid by the government, or has the practice been privatized? Now that I think about it, it could be interesting to see a story where police work had been entirely privatized.

Once someone is caught in violation or in suspicion of violation of a crime, how are they treated? Are they innocent until proven guilty, or guilty until proven innocent? Are they held anywhere special?  What is the procedure for arresting someone?

Who represents the parties of a case? Are there lawyers and advocates, or do the people have to represent themselves in a civil or criminal case? Are there judges other than the ruler or the legislators themselves? How are those people chosen?

I hope I’ve given you a lot to think about today. These questions are super interesting, and I can’t wait to hear what all of you do with it. I love to hear interesting ideas, so feel free to comment below!