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Resources/ideas for quick building societies?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by buyjupiter, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    I was happily zipping along in my outline, filling in the details so I have a good working order of how things should progress from the first plot point/first protaganist reaction (which is where I stopped writing to do some world building), when I realized "oh dear, if she's off travelling in another part of the world, I'm gonna have to build a whole new culture." I'd just gotten two of the world's cultures settled in the back end stuff, when I started outlining. And, it's not just one new culture I need. I need, um, three? Four, maybe? She does a lot of travelling.

    I'm starting to think that I may need to have multiple books just to handle the amount of material. And to think it started out as a short story!

    My question is: has anyone come across any resources or ideas about how to make societies that aren't just blatant rip offs of each other with minor adjustments to take into account differing geography? I've seen resources that show (for character archetypes) how each type is working with or opposed to a different type and wondered if something like that had been made for cultures. Does something like this exist (at a basic level) for cultures/countries?

    For example, if I have a society that is progressive and tech minded they might be working in opposition to a society that is totalitarian and forbids the use of any tech past a certain point (for example: in David Weber's series Off Armageddon Reef, he has one society that is forward think in direct opposition to the "main" society that prescribes use of tech beyond a certain agricultural level.)

    I would think this would be useful as a quick guide to understanding at a basic level where long standing conflicts come from, without having to make up a 2000 year long world history. And like the character archetypes, serve as a jumping off point.

    Because, right now, all I wanna do is just copy and paste some of the other stuff I already have and add "but with bunny ears" or something.
     
  2. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    I kinda answered part of my question, by someone suggesting this resource: Chaotic Shiny - Civilization Generator

    I think the random gen will be effective enough, as I can quickly make up wars based on some of the criteria they provide and alliances shifting and breaking once I get enough of the basics of each society figured out. I have some playing around to do, but I think I'll be able to break through this roadblock with a minimum of fuss.

    Without having to resort to adding bunny ears to people, which is always a plus. :)

    But if someone does come across a "color wheel" guide to driving forces of civilization...I'd love to see it. Just as a quick reference guide to make sure that I don't have the aristocrats funding peasant rebellions in other countries without some really good reasons behind that decision. (Or some such idea that generally speaking would be the antithesis of the main driving force behind the culture in focus.)
     
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  3. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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  4. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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    Sorry - I linked to the wrong page - if you scroll to the bottom there's a bunch of links that go w it (Introduction + days 0 - 7).

    You can always take elements from real cultures that you like/dislike and include those.

    I had a roommate in college who swore we needed "fresh air" ALL the time & (even when it was raining) would leave the doors & windows open. [She'd also run the heater b/c it got too cold like that but she swore there was a difference b/n air in the apartment & air outside of it & that she felt better w the windows open.] It drove me crazy. It was a cultural difference that confounded me [air is air and in a big city with smoking neighbors it's not any more "fresh" outside than in].

    You can make your cultures obviously dichotomous or you can string together lots of small factors that make them different from one another- whatever works best for you.

    Other subtle things you could include would be references to their economy - barter-based, open-market, or little individual shops?

    I'll have to check that Generator out and I'd live to know of any "wheels" too. <-- You might be on to something.
     
    buyjupiter likes this.
  5. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I like this generator and will probably get some use out of it. I love the broad strokes it gives you for potential civs, ones that can be refined, discarded or altered as you see fit.
     
  6. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    @CatholicCrow: No, I hadn't found that yet. That may help me sort out the broad strokes I want to paint, for the moment, but I don't want to get into the Patricia C Wrede "How to create a fantasy world" questionnaire for each and every society I create in this world. I've done that questionnaire (or the relevant parts of it) for the two main societies...and it takes forever.

    @Saigonnus: Yeah, I've genned four civs thus far and I think I'm gonna mix and match from those results for the next two societies I create, just so I've got some fairly varied social orders w/in my world. (I'm also going to make use of their law generator and holiday generator, at least for some of the broader things I want to have in my world.)
     
  7. DeathtoTrite

    DeathtoTrite Troubadour

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    I like fusing real historical cultures together- but carefully, to avoid the "oriental empire" or "Mayaincatec". Maybe the social values from one, a taste of another's religion, mixed in with different movements in Europe. History always seems the best source for me.
     
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  8. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I have already managed to start up a new oligarchal culture in a tropical setting. Among other things, they harness the lava from a fairly active volcano to make black steel weapons which are given to the tribal leaders the monks deem worthy of possessing one. I just started outlining it earlier, so I haven't gotten too far with it yet, but at least I am doing something constructive.
     
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  9. Swordfry

    Swordfry Troubadour

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    donjon; Fantasy World Generator

    You might find this pretty useful. Not really for creating cultures exactly, but a lot of other things like demographics, calendars, and even inn/tavern generators.


    Also, thank you so much for the Chaotic Shiny tool. This is really going to help me out with the finishing touches on my own world building.
     
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  10. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    Heh. As for the doing something constructive for me...I just got my to do list written down. It's two pages of decisions that I have to make. Granted, some of them are really easy (like deciding coinage and exchange rates: they're gonna be simple) but some of them are really hard...like deciding religious stuff/rituals/superstitions.

    And one of the "suggested" civs came up as monotheistic matriarchy which I just have to give a whirl. Normally, when you see a matriarchal society at all, it's very polytheistic. So the monotheism should make things just the right amount of...interesting...for me.

    Obsidian is awesome. Obsidian knives are some of the best that I've seen (when it comes to paleolithic tools; in more modern weaponry steel always trumps rock, no matter how sharp the rock gets). And quality obsidian is hard to find, even in volcanic regions--not all obsidian is equal. Good luck with this Saig, sounds cool thus far. (I could get a lot geekier about rocks, but I should probably restrain myself...given that I've already referred to the new Eisenstein Ring discovered in space today as the "Eye of Sauron"...)
     
  11. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    Thanks. I was reading recently on CNN about the difference between medical tools of the present and of the past. A scalpel from before the industrial revolution for example is better than the titanium alloys we use now. At a microscopic level the obsidian cuts a finer line than steel does; as if you compared a razor blade to a chainsaw. The steel tears the skin, the obsidian cuts it. This means faster healing times and less scarring.

    Anyway, back to the civ. Mine is a pantheistic matriarchy; with a slightly skewed male-female ratio (weighed on the side of females; hence the matriarchy) The trick with black steel is that the volcano is active almost constantly, like Krakatoa here on Earth, so expels large amounts of lava; which they harness, purify and mix with steel (using magic of course) for extra durability; since obsidian tends to flake off or outright shatter. Their deity (unamed yet nicknamed "the crafter") grants the monks a special spell to allow the blending of things that ordinarily wouldn't work well.

    Another sect of monks that share the temple are assassins; ones that will turn themselves in if they get caught, for dishonoring the goddess. Otherwise, it is silently applauded that they pulled it off. Could be fun to play with this more, and perhaps may give rise to rebel assassins that don't follow the Goddess any longer.

    Overall the civ is largely agrarian; with only 10% of the population living in "cities"; the rest live in small farming or fishing communities.
     
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  12. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    I was thinking about how you could do the handover of the weaponry to the tribal chiefs who are in favor with the priests...and wouldn't it be interesting if sometimes (since the quality of obsidian is variable) they make a big to do over giving a weapon to someone they don't really favor and have it be a dud?

    It all looks a-ok, then the chief tries to actually use it and it shatters in their hand, leaving them vulnerable in war/battle and oops. They're dead.
     
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