1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Developing the 19 Kingdoms

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Kevin Beck, Feb 7, 2020.

  1. Kevin Beck

    Kevin Beck Acolyte

    I am trying to develop a world setting where nineteen kingdoms exist. I have a basic idea of what I want to do but I am having a hard time developing interactions between the kingdoms that make sense. It is a large task to undertake. Can any of you give any advice for building something like this? I have attached a map I created to represent my setting.

    Dropbox - The Nineteen Kingdoms 4.2.jpg - Simplify your life
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    What is the basic idea of what you want to do?
    Why nineteen? Why not start with two or three, work out those interactions, then add more?
    Are you trying to work out interactions as of today (in world time)? Or are you trying to work out a thousand years of history?
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie and Yora like this.
  3. Are the nineteen kingdoms all individual/independent or is this an Empire comprised of the nineteen but under one overseeing guide or rule? If the latter, were they conquered? Bound by treaty or trade alliances? Is it a democracy or a republic? For me, it would be hard to imagine nineteen independent territories that close together geographically that are all just sort of fine with each other fr any long period of time. :) Lots of ways to go but I think we'd need more info to help further!
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  4. Yora

    Yora Maester

    There could be nineteen, but I would only work out five or six of them at the most. The others can simply be names on a map to make the impression that there is more.
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    It’s going to be extremely hard to do justice for nineteen different countries in a story. Not impossible but hard.

    I have an outline for an old story that would come close. There were fifty provinces for an old empire that only exists on paper (50 is never supposed to be stated in story). But several of those are merged with each other, so there’s a working number closer to 12. The story involves the capitol of the empire trying to reassert its authority over them. Hence the story covers them and they become important.
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  6. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    I like your map.

    My advice would be for you to find a few thematic elements and, first, organize your kingdoms' interactions around those.

    For instance, one element could be religion. Perhaps some of those kingdoms have the same religion, X. Others might have the religion Y. Some might be Z. And perhaps these religions—either their gods or their adherents or both—have historically fought one another. The kingdoms, then, will naturally fall into potential ally groups and enemy groups, even if they are not perfectly aligned or at odds due to religion.

    Another example: some reverberations from much older historical event or events. Let's say there was once an empire that fell apart. Some of the current kingdoms rebelled against the empire. Some fought heartily for the preservation of that empire. Others were neutral, perhaps never members of that empire—on the fringes. While yet others, also not in the empire, were constantly under threat by the empire. Many of these realities or relationships (i.e., stances) could linger today.

    Other historical reverberations might be possible, depending on the kind of world you are designing and the themes you want to explore.

    A third element you might consider: economic codependencies, economic disparities, economic monopolies, etc. (These kingdoms look so close to one another on the map, the trade between them or at least between the civilians living in them would seem to be very important thematically. Trade routes could become occasions for friendship or hostility, also.)

    Okay, once you've settled on a few thematic elements and drawn some broad outlines, then explore the interactions of individual nations while keeping in mind how you've arranged them in thematic groups. Just because two nations are slave-holding nations (for instance!) doesn't mean they'll automatically get along, heh. But at this level, I'd look at history again. What unusual or odd events may have permanently marred or improved relations between two kingdoms? This could be something as simple as, "Former King of X kingdom wed daughter of King of y kingdom, then had her beheaded because he wanted to remarry." Yadda yadda. Or maybe, "Kingdom Z appeared with rations, wood, and workers one day after a mass flood wiped out half of Kingdom Q; they have been fast friends ever since." Etc.

    Finally, while considering all these things, keep in mind also the story or stories you want to tell using this world. You might be inspired to create some elements because those elements will especially help tell the tales you want to tell.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
  7. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    Interactions between nations are usually based on needs and wants. Some good reasons are: The trade of goods and services, military support, common religion, marriage between ruling families, people moving to look for work, to handle a disaster that affects each nation. Some bad reasons: war for profit, religion clashes, revenge, lies about the other nation.
    You need to give each nation a personality. What each one as a whole stands for, favour, dislike. How do the people dress, worship, foods they commonly eat, languages they speak. Type of military, strength of military, how each one is ruled. if any of the nations part of a larger one previously.
  8. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

    My advise would be to not even try.

    I think it's much better to go deep rather than wide when world building. It creates a more believable world if you know "everything" about 2 countries and their interactions then if you know the basics about all 19. So focus on the countries that feature heavily in your story and handwave the rest.

    It's even fine from a storytelling perspective. In your case, a character from Ukaric probably has very little reason to know the details about the interactions between Pulnar and Agnarn. As such, there probably is little reason to go into depth about those to a reader, unless the story can't be told without that knowledge.

    That is of course assuming that you want to tell stories. If instead, you want to go full "Tolkien" and spend the next 15 or so years building your world then ignore the above. Then just start exploring the big historical events and working out who has what form of government and religion and so on and work out all the interactions from there.

    Just make sure in that case to keep meticulous notes that are easy to oversee and search. Because otherwise you'll lose track of what happened where and why and you start contradicting yourself after a couple of years.
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  9. Kevin Beck

    Kevin Beck Acolyte

    It is my intent to eventually flesh out all nineteen kingdoms but I have decided to start with Renda and work my way out from there.
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  10. Kevin Beck

    Kevin Beck Acolyte

    My vision is that at one time there were two great kingdoms in the territory I am exploring one centered on Renda and the other on Tugravic. Over time both kingdoms have gone through various upheavals and broken apart into separated states. I have decided that I am going to focus on Renda for now.
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  11. Kevin Beck

    Kevin Beck Acolyte

    Thank you! I feel like I need to have somewhat of perspective on what the other kingdoms are doing even though I have decided to focus on Renda for now. Your ideas will help me in doing that.
  12. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

    My advice is - create only as much as you need to, BUT remember that once you have created "canon" you can't easily change it. Don't be like Oliver Stone in Alexander, where Alexander names all his father's generals in one meeting and most of them say nothing and the audience is bored and just wants to get on with the battle scene. Give yourself wiggle room in your canon, while looking authoritative. If you are a DnD GM, you can map out a world, but most of it will never be used.
    19 is too few for a whole world, and too many for any reader to take in. No-one is going to pay attention to 19 different kingdoms in one story.
    if your 19 kingdoms are from the break-up of only two great powers, you need to think about who the two powers were and how the world was ever reduced to only two powers.
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  13. MythicLearner

    MythicLearner Dreamer

    Kevin BeckKevin Beck, wow, your map is beautiful. What software do you use?
    What is your novel's genre? The low fantasy or classic fantasy.

    Do you start upward or downward? It is your choice.

    What perspectives do you choose? The first person, the third person [I am just personally intersting]

    My advice would be diplomacy.
    How much the kingdom fights and how much do the kingdoms trade? Or how much they protect each kingdom?
    The backstories would help seal the plot holes do not worried, Just do free writing.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
  14. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    I am reminded of DeCamp's 'Unbeheaded King,' part of a series set in a world that featured a multitude of small, unique nations.

    The Unbeheaded King - Wikipedia
  15. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    If it were me, I would just start with the basics for each of the 19 realms. What land area of your map do they control? What sort of government? Rulers, principal trade goods? Monetary system? Religion? Just getting these basics will start you down the path of fully fleshing them out. That being said, I agree with others that you should focus mainly on a few; perhaps those at the center of your stories and go more in-depth, leaving the others with just that minimal world-building. As you write a story, often times little things will come out of that; how a nation sees their neighbors, or what sort of things they trade; things that could be added to your countries as you go.

Share This Page