The small listable things

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Ban, May 12, 2018.

  1. Ban

    Ban Staff Article Team

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    Before I get into the topic, I want to preface it by saying that I love worldbuilding and this is a thread aimed at fellow worldbuilders. I've been on this lovely forum long enough to know that if I don't nip this inklingbof frustration in the bud right away, this thread will devolve into a whole slew of iterations of 'you only need whatever your story requires'. There are multiple approaches to fiction and I have no interest in having to argue for my preferred one.

    With that out of the way I ask you to give me inspiration for lists and maps of info I can make for my Zeniru world (big parts can be found in brainstorm).

    I have maps for most popular drinks, which eating utensils are used. List of marriage customs, legality of indentured servitude.

    Please share with me the small worldbuild details you use or think I might want to use. I like specific smallscale things, as I have the big important stuff mapped out already. THANKS
     
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I've done all of this stuff. For me some of it was useful, and for much of it I knew it was kind of an extended hobby on my part.

    You can find good lists on wikipedia. Just add the word "lists" to the search. For example:

    List of eating utensils - Wikipedia

    Then you adapt them a bit to your setting. For me that means adding lots and lots of fantasy.

    In one setting of mine it was important to have the ecosystem developed on a high level. I had a list of unique fruits and vegetables, as well as wildlife. For example, there was a lizard that used a fruit's outter skin like a snail shell, crawled up trees, and when it was scared it would pull into the shell and let itself just fall to the ground.

    I'll give it a little thought, I may have more to add later.
     
    Ban likes this.
  3. Ban

    Ban Staff Article Team

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    I take a similar approach to it. Wikipedia to the rescue. Now if only wikipddia had a list of lists for this.
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    Hats. Hats are surprisingly important in traditional society.
    Jewelry and types of jewelry.
    Clothing in general. Or even clothing in sergeants.
    Swear words (wonderful variety across cultures)
    Monsters
    Religious sects--separate lists for Christianity, Islam, Hindu, etc. The details of organized religions fascinate me, esp. rituals and taboos.

    But, really, the list of lists is incredibly long.
     
    Ban likes this.
  5. Ban

    Ban Staff Article Team

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    Ooh I haven't even thought of listifying swearwords and hats yet. The clothes for now have merely been a rich vs poor, male vs female per culture type of thing. I should get to the uniforms and other spdcific wear. Thanks
     
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  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    When I was teaching I'd do a whole bit on hats. Take a look at any painting or illustration from the late Middle Ages or early modern period. You can identify king, noble, peasant, merchant, cardinal, bishop, monk, etc. just by the hat.
    Similarly, do some image searching on "traditional dress" or "folk costume" by region (Europe for me, but it'll work most anywhere). You'll quickly see that the small details--boots, hats, aprons--are what set apart the peasants of Region 1 from Region 2. I've got scads of these; they are a great quick reference for descriptive passages.
     
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  7. Ban

    Ban Staff Article Team

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    Will take a look into that Skip thanks. Time to write some lists of status and profession specific hats boots and other wesr. Yay! (That is a genuine yay, I love this stuff)
     
  8. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Hobbies: What hobbies and other pastimes are common/popular among members of a certain race/culture? Example: Autumn Ane (an anfylk sub-species) enjoy doing crossword puzzles.
    Expressions: What are common expressions for this or that in various parts of your setting? Example: Everyone says "stupid" instead of using the f-word (sometimes it gets really stupid stupid, but usually it works fine).
    Practical Magic: Magic is pretty common in my setting. What are some professions in which magic can be used? Examples: Chocoloatier, Gardener.
     
    Ban likes this.
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Here's a big overlooked one: What would people put on their walls?
     
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  10. Ban

    Ban Staff Article Team

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    Going to use all of those!
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    Flora and fauna.
    I repeatedly find I want to know what trees, flowers, birds, ground animals, are in the area. Divided by geography: marshlands, coast, mountains, deep forest--all the main terrain types for Europe. With each plant or animal, I like to find alternate names, geography-specific if I can manage it, but also antiquated names. For invented worlds you could always jigger about with the spelling (jiggering about is, of course, an acquired skill unless you have rolled a perfect 20 for knacks).
     
    Ban likes this.
  12. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Master

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    Imagine your main protagonist is relaxing at home, reading a local newspaper. What sort of events would appear on the front page if it was a slow news day? What sort of things would be advertised and how much would they cost? To put the prices in context what does your protagonist earn and what's their rent, rates or taxes that they have to pay to keep the roof over her head? Does the roof leak? What does the inside of the house smell like? Incense? Perfume? Mould? A public toilet? Is there a musical instrument in the house? If so, what is it? Is it gathering dust or does it show signs of regular use? How good are they? What's their preferred genre of music? Are they into patriotic or religious hymns, traditional songs or contemporary music? What are they sitting on as they relax? A couch? A rickety but beloved wooden chair?

    When she goes to the toilet does she use a chamber pot? A throne (Western style) toilet? A latrine? A squat (hole in the floor) toilet? Do they wipe their backside with toilet paper? Newspaper? Rags? Leaves? What do they wash their hands with? Soap? Sap? The intestines of their vanquished enemies?

    When your protagonist is relaxing at home do they wear the same clothes as they do when they go out somewhere? Are there colours or fabrics that your protagonist must wear or isn't permitted to wear? (In the medieval world colours and fabrics were often used to designate a particular rank or title so there were restrictions as to who could wear them.) What do they like to wear at home? What do they wear when they go to their place of worship? When they visit the market? When they visit the local tavern? What are their undergarments like? Do women wear bras? Do they sleep with undergarments on or off? (This question is not as crude as it sounds. My late mother was raised to believe that a woman was not permitted to wear undergarments to bed!)

    If the protagonist has children do they wear smaller versions of adult clothing or are there specific clothes intended for children? (Children's fashions have only been around for the last 80 or so years so think of what they might've worn before then.) What toys do boys, girls or other gendered children play with? Do they each have their own rooms or do they sleep in the same room? If they have books lying around what do they like to read? Where are the children right now? Have they done their chores? What chores do they do? Are chores gender specific? How are they disciplined if they spill their milk or if they set fire to their sister's homework?

    Are the lights in the house powered by electricity, gas, whale oil, kerosene, mammoth shit or magic? How is the oven heated? Wood, coal, dead pixie corpses or electricity?

    What type of bed does your protagonist sleep in? Are the sheets made out of silk? Alpaca wool? Cotton? Do they make their own bed or does someone else do it?

    What alcohol (if any) do they drink? Is it socially acceptable to drink alcohol? Does alcohol get served with meals? What are the attitudes towards public drinking or being drunk? Are children allowed to drink alcohol? Is alcohol used in any form of worship? (Think of the Communion or Eucharist.)

    Admittedly, these questions don't always touch on objects or small things but they help shape the community your protagonist lives in, especially its economy.
     
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  13. Ban

    Ban Staff Article Team

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    Miles I want to thank you twice, thrice and perhaps a dozen more times. That is a fantastic list that I will spend tons of hours on. Thank you
     
  14. elemtilas

    elemtilas Mystagogue

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    Hmmm... Lists.

    Musical instruments. By type.
    Lucky numbers.
    Unlucky numbers.
    Queens.
    Earls.
    Sheriffs.
    Mayors.
    Kinds of pipe weed.
    Kinds of soda / tonic waters.
    Writing utensils.
    Kinds of paper.
    Paper sizes.
    Political parties.
    Prime Ministers.
    Light bulb types.
    Planting zones.
    Time zones.
    Materia medica.
    Surgical instruments.
    Body parts & subparts.
    Musical composers.
    Bards.
    Rights granted to counties & townships.
    Spices & herbs.
    Genii loci.
    Lares.
    Manes.
    Penates.
    Saints.
    Gurus.
    Yogi.
    Yoga positions.
    Asterisms.
    Types of magic.
    Fonts / typefaces.
    Library catalogue system.
    Nicknames for coins or banknotes.
    Prices.
    Ships in the merchant fleet (a very large part of news in the broadsheets of old was lists of ships coming in to port and leaving port that day, their cargoes, where located, what's to be sold, etc., etc.)
    Warehouses.
    Trading houses.
    Gazetteer for cities, counties, grafdoms, etc.
    Temples.
    Churches.
    Shrines.
    Sacred groves.
    Wayside grottoes.
    Stars, arranged by names' source language.
    Kinds of braids.
    String figures, by type & complexity.

    Just some random thoughts off hand.

    For topical maps of small-scale stuff, look into a "reverse dictionary" or a "topical dictionary".
     
    Ban likes this.
  15. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Master

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    Your protagonist is taking a stroll around town. What's the main thing they smell? Salty air? Coal Burning? Fish? Cherry blossoms? Pine needles? Carbon monoxide? Horse manure? Is her dwelling a single story stand alone dwelling? An apartment? A double storey timber house? A bach/cottage?

    Now look at the street. Are there street lights? Are they powered by magic crystals? Electricity? Gas? Oil? Are there motorised vehicles on the road? Are there a lot of them or only a handful? What type of vehicles are there? Do they resemble past or present types of vehicles here on earth? Does your protagonist own one? Do people use motorcycles, bicycles and tricycles? How do people who don't own a horse, cart or vehicle get around town? Are there trams, trolley buses or buses? How are motorised vehicles powered? Steam? Diesel? Petrol? Alcohol? Orc piss? Are there airships, aircraft or trains? If so what powers them? Steam, petrol, jet fuel or helium?

    When your protagonist walk past the shops are they boutique stores (shops that specialise) or are they trading/general stores? Does the town have chain stores? Or are they owner-operated? What sort of things do they sell? Can they purchase everything they might need in the town? Do the shops operate on a cash-only basis or are there other forms of payment as well such as credit cards, EFT-POS (Electronic Funds Transfer - Point of Sale) or cheques? Do they have bartering? Do the shops have signs? Are they painted, carved or neon? What are their normal business hours?

    Is the urban area where your protagonist lives a capital city (i.e the seat of government)? Does your protagonist have a government job or work for a business that relies on the government for its revenue? Is your protagonist a member of the ruling party, elite or royal family that rules the region or nation? Can your protagonist vote? Is voting restricted to people who own property, persons from certain classes, persons of particular races or skin colours or persons of a particular gender? Are votes equal? How do people vote? In other words, are politicians elected by secret ballot, the raising of hands, dropping a ball into the box of the candidate they support or by paying a bribe? Do political parties or candidates campaign? If so what medium do they use? Radio? Billboard? TV? Movie reel?

    If the house is rural what does the protagonist do to pay the bills? Raise animals? Rent out land to other farmers to graze their animals on it? Crops? Drugs? Magic plants and herbs? Organic magic crystals? Slave plantation owner? An aristocrat lording over an estate? Hunting or poaching? Fishing? Logging? Mining? Ferry man or woman? Crazy old cat witch or crazy old dog man? Do they answer to a superior such as a lord or do people answer to your protagonist?

    Is your protagonist married? If so, how is marriage defined? What are the requirements to marry? Can your protagonist marry more than one person? Can they marry people of the same gender? Is the marriage a shotgun marriage (i.e they married because the protagonist or their partner got pregnant)? Is it a financial or political arrangement? Is it a romantic love marriage? Can anyone marry? Can people get divorced? How is adultery perceived and is it a crime? Are there relationship types that are similar to marriage such as civil unions and de facto? Is marriage respected as an institution? Are there social or criminal consequences for having children outside of marriage or a marriage like situation?

    How are the laws of the land enforced? Are there religious courts that rule on matters of faith or morals? Are the courts that try criminals perceived to be fair? Are there courts? Are there uniformed police? Are they armed normally? Is there a secret police? Are there restrictions on what law enforcement can do? Are they corrupt? Is bribery a common way to deal with things? What are the penalties for crimes like burglary, robbery, assault, molesting children, beating up your spouse, drunkenness or running a red light? Are the police used to break up strikes or intimidate political opponents? If there are no police are laws enforced by town or country guards or the military? Are extra-judicial killings such as lynchings common? Is law enforcement under local control or under state control? Is there more than one type of police? Does your protagonist feel safe or comfortable dealing with law enforcement? (You don;t need to be a criminal to be weary or afraid of the police.) Is your protagonist a criminal (past or present)? What weapons do soldiers and law enforcement use normally? Do they have access to other weapons in times of conflict?

    Is your protagonist heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, asexual or pansexual? Is there hostility towards any of these groups? Is this hostility religious based? Is your protagonist hostile towards any of these groups? Which of these sexual orientations are the majority of the people? (In my fantasy story most people are bisexual.) Are there more than two genders? Can people change their gender naturally? (That is, without drugs or surgery.) Are certain items of clothing gender specific? Do females menstruate? Do persons go through puberty? (For a very interesting take on puberty check out Mewberty in Star vs the Forces of Evil). Do they have an age of consent? Does that age vary by gender or race? (Note that the absence of an age of consent does NOT mean that sex with children is lawful. In countries where there is no age of consent sex with someone who hasn't reached puberty is a serious crime.) Are thee sexual double standards? Are public displays of affection frowned upon? (Here in New Zealand public displays of affection are a social taboo.)

    Questions like this will help you think about how the big picture stuff actually effects your protagonist on a day to day level.
     
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  16. valiant12

    valiant12 Mystagogue

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    Shoes. I alaweis forget abouth shoes when worldbilding, but shoes are wery important if your main character is walking a lot.
    Basick food preservation.
    Books. What are they made of in your world. Paper? Parchment? Someting else?
     
  17. DragonOfTheAerie

    DragonOfTheAerie Valar Lord

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    I wrote like three pages about magical candy.
    I'm also fond of hoarding insults and swearwords.
     
  18. DragonOfTheAerie

    DragonOfTheAerie Valar Lord

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    In a book i'm planning, a character's job is making hats for rich people. Having an incredibly fancy hat is a way of showing off your wealth so aristocrats are forever trying to one-up each other with the size and elaborateness of their hats.
     
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