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Nalani Ashmore
03-07-2009, 01:15 PM
I've had some fantastic ideas for stories. The only problem is which of my two settings should I go with. The first one is the traditional fantasy setting. The second is also a fantasy setting, but with a high level of technology that hasn't even appeared in our time. I'm leaning more towards the second setting since even though there is an advancement in technology there are this many things that have remained archaic. Swords, shields, bows, staff and other weaponry are still in use, but traveling means are advanced and other

Of course, there are pros and cons to both choices that I haven't thought of and won't go into that this moment. With either choice there are going to be very different races and cultures along with them.

1. Where can I find a typed racial creation profile dealy that will help me focus my idea of what I want the race to be like? If not, then what really important questions should I answer?

2. How do I go about combining magic and technology? How do I make it so the major industrial cities aren't clogged with an overabundance of technology?

3. Should I go into detail about flora and fauna that inhabit the world?

I guess those are the only questions I have right now. There's a high probability that more questions will be asked.

Dale Emery
03-07-2009, 03:21 PM
Where can I find a typed racial creation profile dealy that will help me focus my idea of what I want the race to be like? If not, then what really important questions should I answer?

A question to answer (that may help us help you): What leads you to want different races in your story? If you have different races, what does that do for you that's important?

Your answers will tell us about your deeper purpose, which may give you and us some ideas about what kinds of races, or what characteristics of races, would help you to achieve that deeper purpose.

2. How do I go about combining magic and technology? How do I make it so the major industrial cities aren't clogged with an overabundance of technology?

In our world not every major industrial city is clogged with technology. I think that comes about because of differences in resources and differences in the way power and wealth are concentrated and distributed. Similar forces in your world would have similar effects.

If you don't want any major industrial cities to be overwhelmed with a given technology, one possibility is to set the story at a time when the technology is new and expensive. Another is to create cultural inhibitions or barriers such as social taboos, religious proscriptions, or government prohibitions.

3. Should I go into detail about flora and fauna that inhabit the world?

In general, describe them only to the extent that they affect the characters' thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

Dale

Danthia
03-07-2009, 05:23 PM
1. Where can I find a typed racial creation profile dealy that will help me focus my idea of what I want the race to be like? If not, then what really important questions should I answer?

Holly Lisle (http://hollylisle.com/fm/Articles/faqs8.html) has a pretty good world-building question dealy. She's probably a good place to start. My best friend also does a wonderful world-building blog here (http://talktoyouniverse.blogspot.com/)that can be helpful as well. She's covered a lot of the questions you've asked.

When I start a world, the first thing I do is figure out geographically where it is. Climate and geography play a large role in how a society develops. People living in the mountains where it rarely gets warm face different problems than those who live at the equator where it rains all the time.

Once I have that, I start to think about what life if like for these people. What's their industry, government, education, economy, and religion like. I don't go into huge detail, but I need to know enough to build a rough framework for the world. What do they value, what is shunned. How they view themselves and others. Many of the conflicts come from this, so now I know what my protag will face on an average day. Building a society that has lots of inherent conflict works very well from my experience. Perfect worlds don't have problems. Imperfect worlds give you lots to work with.

Then I look at the story problem and see how it fits into the world I've created. I've found the best problems are the ones that can't be seperated from the world and still work. If the problem is an evil dude is about to find some artifact and wreak havoc, well, that is something that can go in any world anywhere. Find a problem that is integral to your world. They got themselves into trouble because of how they developed. The solution comes from something only someone in that world could do to fix it.l And that resoltuon is unique to that world.

2. How do I go about combining magic and technology? How do I make it so the major industrial cities aren't clogged with an overabundance of technology?

Technology advances at a certain level and tends to pull up the other tech around it. For example, you can't have cell phone without ever having discovered radio waves. Planes but no cars. Tech takes steps to reach, and discoveries will branch out. Your world will have tech that allows them to live business as usual (however you deem that to be). The magic will likely have progressed the same way. You'd have to determine what the magic does for the culture that the tech doesn't and vice versa. PLus, how they interact.

Keep asking yourself questions. Why do these people have this tech? What is it for? How do they use it? What are the social norms and taboos? What are the economic pros and cons? Ask the same things about the magic.

Also remember that all cultures are not all the same. Some people will be more advanced than others. Different societies will view things differently. Think about science and religion. One is faith based, one is logic based, but both coexist. And within both is a huge variety. Tokyo is different from London, Miami is different from Tel Aviv. They're all different from a small village in Uganda.

3. Should I go into detail about flora and fauna that inhabit the world?

Only if it matters to the story in some way. For example, the main city in my world in on a lake and it has lots of canals. My protag has to escape from bad guys and jumps into the canal to hide. One of the things she worries about are the crocodiles that are frequently found in the canals. I don't stop the story to talk about the fact that there are crocodiles in this world. I show it by having her worry about them while she's doing something related to the plot.

Backgrounding details like this has always worked best for me. You can describe your world and make it very real to readers, but at the same time you use details that also advance the story or add something to that story. They aren't just details without context. You're going to be describing things anyway, so if your prtag is running from something, let the details you pick be things that show something about your world as well as what something in your world looks like.

Chris Grey
03-09-2009, 11:18 AM
I think you have three facets but it's all the same question. Good answers so far, so I'll refer you instead to something else. World-building in a fantasy setting is something that comes up often for roleplayers. The line between roleplaying and writing is pretty thin in some areas, so a lot of the resources for one are very helpful for another. I would suggest hitting the archives of a site like RolePlaying Tips (http://www.roleplayingtips.com/archives.php) for world-building advice (on races as well as magic and technology) and how to integrate it all in a way that is meaningful for your story. For example, recursive questioning in world development (http://www.roleplayingtips.com/readissue.php?number=308).

More specific to your first two questions, I refer you to a recent series of blog posts on creating a culture. What is a race but a genetic culture? What is a city but the manifestation of a culture? When creating a race, the important question is always why. Why a new race, what can this race do that humans can't? What does this race tell us, by contrast, about what it means to be human?
Distilled Cultural Essence - Part 1: Creating a different society (http://www.campaignmastery.com/blog/cultural-essence-1/)
Distilled Cultural Essence - Part 2: Expressing a different society (1/3) (http://www.campaignmastery.com/blog/cultural-essence-2/)
Distilled Cultural Essence - Part 3: Expressing a different society (2/3) (http://www.campaignmastery.com/blog/cultural-essence-3/)
Distilled Cultural Essence - Part 4: Expressing a different society (3/3) (http://www.campaignmastery.com/blog/cultural-essence-4/)

The value of RPG resources for a writer is this: the difference between a GM (the guy making the world and narrating the story) and an author is that the GM does it live. A GM has to make a story world with enough depth and coherence that he can take it in any direction with no warning (because players are unpredictable) without ruining suspension of disbelief, and he has to do this all fast. An author has the luxury of time and getting to go back and revise.

Remember: just because nobody wants to read your D&D campaign doesn't mean the tools don't carry over. A story is a story is a story, you can learn from any medium and apply to your own. Hope any of this helps.