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Trouble with my main culture and peoples


Normally I am proficient with cultures/peoples, but I am struggling with my “main” culture, the one a majority of my story is supposed to take place in. The main influences are Japan and Ireland, but I'm having difficulty meshing them [especially when it comes to clothing].
I know things the people value: pride in their country, being true to one's word, chastity, and zealous workers. However, they can be very superstitious, self righteous and judgemental [as they demonstrate each year in a festival basically rubbing in their victory of the most recent war].

The land itself is moorish, chilly and damp and green in the north but gradually goes from that to forests and meadows to a more mediterranean climate.

The people have brown hair and eyes. Occasionally black hair pops up -a sign of beauty- and rarely a blonde is born [not a sign of beauty]. I'd love another eye colour but frankly it's hard when all my other cultures/peoples have green, hazel, blue, lavender, and gold which leaves me limited with choices. Unless I feel like overlapping colours, and I'm unsure of how I feel about that.

I haven't developed the main religion much, I just know it's monotheistic. Any help or even questions are appreciated.
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It might help to think about the country's economy - how is it structured? Who controls resources? How are they distributed? What types of resources are exploited? Which resources are the most valuable to the culture and can they produce them or do they have to be imported?

A few examples of economical aspects:
Classical Athens was able to pay for its navy after discovering rich silver mines in its territories. Silver is essentially useless - except as a luxury good or to make coinage - so Athens was able to turn its silver mine into naval dominance.

Classical Sparta didn't use coinage. It was largely cut off from trade, deliberately. A Spartan king (probably) thought luxury would make Spartans soft and weak, so introduced a different type of money - iron bars soaked in vinegar that could not therefore be melted down for useful iron, and which no other city would accept as money. Their value was set very low, so to buy something even halfway expensive you'd need a whole cartload of it. Instead the economy, such that it was, was based on land ownership and what could be produced from that land. Only those with enough land to produce a required minimum amopunt of food to contribute to the common messes could be Spartan citizens.

The city of Rome imported huge amounts of wheat, olive oil and wine from the rest of the empire. Egypt was the empire's breadbasket. Imperial estates in Egypt had particular rates tenants had to pay, which was quite high for the main three products but much lower for things like beans and lower still for honey - I believe tenants were encouraged to keep bees deliberately because of their usefulness in polinating plants.

And if I remember correctly, a medieval monastery near Hull in Yorkshire, England, became quite wealthy off the back of wool production, because it controlled all the land and farmed sheep there, then exported it through their own ports in Hull to Flemish traders who were desperate for it. Possibly.

Working out what kinds of materials or resources are valuable, needed or common will give you an idea of what kind of professions are valued, how people view ownership and class, and in general give greater depth to your world.

Good luck.


I'd mix the supersitions of the people with the religion, perhaps even having them come from the relgion. Also worth considering is the role of religious leaders in your society. Wars have been started over religions in the past, and in a medieaval time religions where chosen by the King, rather than the people. Hope I've helped!
Just as a practical exercise, create two lists (1) A list of similarities you can use, e.g. feudal system, warrior class, metal craftsmanship; (2) a list of differences. You may need to do a little research, but that's always fun.


Thank you. I've been putting more thought into the economy and now know they export rope, wool, and various weapons. :p


So I've done some research and thinking: Economically, they export a lot of cloth and metals/minerals, some weaponry and ship things too. They make most of their money off wool, but there is a luxurious cloth made by my merfolk that the people trade as well.

What I really struggle with is how they dress. Once I know how a culture dresses, I take off. That or their religion. So if anyone's good with religion, that'd be a fantastic help.


Also, consider whether there is a caste or class system. Take for instance in Indian, the lowest caste would be the untouchables which basically did all the dirty jobs. The Japanese also had a class like that in their Edo society. The system could be based on wealth, family heredity, or even shades of skin color (ex. the Japanese class that was looked down on as being the lowest in society and would do all the dirty jobs like touching and preparing the dead were mostly of a darker skin color than the rest of society).

Having a caste/class system would also help with clothing. Different levels of society could also have different dress codes. Like lets say that this would be visibly seen with the length of the hem of the clothing. Like the lowest may have shorter clothing, while the richer classes/castes may have longer clothing that might even trail behind them. Also, you can add layers of clothing into the mix. There was a time when the Japanese nobles and the Chinese nobles tried to outdo each other (I think this was the time period around the Heian Period). So to outdo each other they would try to wear more layer of clothing than the other. Of course this was not the best solution since they could barely move in their garments.

The caste/class system could also be seen in religion. The poorer people could worship in simpler places and have simple rituals whereas the richer people, like nobles, could worship in elaborate places and participate in elaborate rituals. Also, the richer people may have more time to spend on the rituals whereas the poorer people might just do the basic things.

On another note, remember that there are two aspects of religion. There is religion in the sense of the belief system. These beliefs are mostly pure and outlined as to what the people should believe in and practice in their lives. Then there is the aspect of "rituals". These are what shape the culture. "Rituals" dictate what people eat, where they live, how they build their houses, even how they celebrate certain events. These rituals may or may not have an actual basis in the people's theology. Take for instance Taoism. The ideology basically states that there is no real god or mythology of gods; true Taoism is very philosophical. But then there is all the rituals and ceremonies and pantheon of gods that are not only mixed in from other religions/cultures but also from superstitions, etc.


...this is perfect. It simply fits perfectly. It explains why they're so worried about image and honour... all I really knew there'd be is some sumptuary laws...
Even the religion part. It just clicks. Thank you SOOOOO MUCH!!