Posts belonging to Category World-building

Cultures and Children

We don’t often think about children in speculative fiction or our games—at least, not once we stop reading entirely in the children’s section. They might be incidental characters, might possibly serve in a MacGuffin role, but they’re not likely to be the protagonist. As such, it’s easy for us to forget about them in a [...]

Exercise: Ten Questions

Sometimes, you have a character (or other story element or feature) who just isn’t coming through. Sometimes, you have a person—in your audience, in your game group, wherever—whose take on what you’re doing you just can’t figure out. And sometimes, you can get these two things to cancel out.
In some order, choose yourself a character [...]

Purpose-Based Location Design

(Yet another for RPG Blog Carnival.)
Locations don’t come naturally to a lot of people. Sure, they might have one feature they want to play with, or a very vague idea of outline, but the rest is the geographical equivalent of a probabilistic haze. Honestly, that’s normal. We don’t have to know everything. But we can [...]

World-building: Some Travel Questions

One of the nice things about the modern world is that we can take travel for granted, and never realize how much it helps us. There’s a lot more impact to what’s available than you might think—even owning a car vs. taking mass transit can be the difference between a half-hour trip to get groceries [...]

Thought Exercise: Fantasy World Weapon Control

Most cities in fantasy worlds have a vested interest in people not getting into fights to the death at the drop of a hat. It isn’t that different from the real world in that respect, after all. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to limit access to weapons. So that got [...]

Five Interesting Questions When Building a Society

Most of my posts on building worlds have been at least one post per topic, sometimes a full series—which is nice and all, but not very good when covering things that don’t need ages of explication. So instead, I’m looking at simple questions with far-reaching ramifications that make for an interesting way of characterizing a [...]

Weather and Vocabulary

Yesterday, I talked about narrative uses of weather. When I discussed this with my mother the linguist, she didn’t hesitate to point out another—the interesting things that weather does to a cultural vocabulary.
There’s an Old English word, wederian. It means ‘to be good weather.’ Think about this a bit. What does it say about that [...]

Three (and a Half) Narrative Uses of Weather

Weather is one of the easiest things for a writer to forget. It’s all around us, but while it impacts us, it doesn’t always impact us much—modern conveniences tend to work around the worst of it, unless it’s reached the point of catastrophe. As a result, a lot of us—particularly those of us in “Weather? [...]

Not Just What They Look Like

Remember when we were kids, and they’d introduce us to professions with the little Platonic Member of Said Profession? The doctors in their mint-green scrubs and their hats (often red-crossed), with stethoscopes about their necks and bandages in their hands, the police officers in uniform with badges and whistles?
We remember that. So most of us, [...]

The Joys of Rumors

Whether they like them in the real world or not, when it comes to their own worlds, plot creators—writers, GMs, you name it—tend to love rumors. Why?
Rumors are everywhere. You don’t have to worry about justifying people maintaining such a perfect oral tradition that the one little poem that perfectly describes how to circumvent the [...]