Hey! Today is the first open slot on my schedule! I didn’t want to feel like I was letting y’all down, so I figured I’d give you guys a bonus book club. I needed to do a bit more work on it anyhow, so it’s good for both of us.
Useless Sidebar: Belle’s not home yet, but she’s way better with taking photos than I am, so I’m going to have her take a picture of the map when she gets home. If we get lazy or forgetful, it’ll be updated on this post pretty quickly.
Okay, so last episode of book club covered the basic pitch for the setting as it stands now. Today I want to be delving more into some more basic worldbuilding 1 questions. To that end, I’ll be basing today’s club article on a list of questions sourced from SFWA.org. The list is wonderful, and I hope that it might be useful to you all as well. With that said, there will be no need to flip back and forth to understand, because that would be absurd.
Last week we covered the basics of nature and physics in this setting, along with how magic and magical beasts fit in. In interest of readability, I’ll be including the important bit again here:
The major metaphysical difference is that in Valdur there exists a sort of essential energy in the world, much like chi exists in the body in Chinese metaphysical models. This energy gives birth to a set of phenomena known as magic. As to magical creatures or beings, their existence is generally linked to a more magically rich environment (like how salt-water fish can’t usually live in fresh-water).
With that in mind (you’ll see why), we’ll be covering the peoples of this world. Since I love metaphysics, I’m gonna do a bit of rationalizing on how the presence of magic energy in a particular environment (think of it like a cross between air pressure, radiation, and gasses in the environment, I guess). I’m going to posit that the reason that magical creatures exist in more magical zones is that environmental magic ramps up ‘positive’ mutations fantastic four style 2. Just wave away the fact that this makes no real sense, it’s called ‘suspension of disbelief’ and it is okay.
I’m going to suggest that the intelligent people of this world are all of one root variety, with the differences between them (which can be as extreme as that between a fantasy dwarf 3 and a fantasy minotaur 4) being real and physical, but somehow not core to their beings. So a person in this world can be anything from a standard human to a full on scale-skin lizard person, given that the environment has enough magic energy to support the mutations (or required symbiosis with their magic rich environment) that would get them to that point.
The real beauty of this schema is that it opens up the possibility of a fantasy world that it both has peoples of different types and avoids the horrible cliches of elves and dwarves. Peoples in our world are differentiated by their history, descendance, looks, and actions. Two different dwarf-looking creatures could be from radically different home environments and cultures. They might be very physically similar, but past the very base anatomy they will look wildly different because of their practices, way of lives, way of dress, and any body modifications their cultures practice. An inhabitant of Valdur will be able to tell these two individuals apart, and all these things will be key in how they must interpret their lives.
I’m pretty proud of how this setup is coming together, it’s giving me a very good base from which to write about the world in a way that doesn’t feel like a disjointed sham. I want the world to feel very much like a real place that moves and functions, even without the characters and plot of any specific story I write.
- From our friends at wikipedia:
Worldbuilding is the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe.
“After being exposed to cosmic rays”
- Wikipedia on Dwarf:
(in folklore or fantasy literature) a member of a mythical race of short, stocky humanlike creatures who are generally skilled in mining and metalworking.
- Wikipedia on Minotaur:
In Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man or, as described by Roman poet Ovid, a being “part man and part bull”