On Creating Imaginary Worlds: Fantasy

Discussion in 'Writing Resources' started by Malloriel, Oct 22, 2008.

  1.  
    Malloriel

    Malloriel Creative Mastermind

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    Need help with your fantasy world? Stuck on an issue you just can't seem to get around? Does your magic system just not feel right? Pose your questions here. Help with fantasy races, magical powers, spells, or objects, magical or medicinal plants and wildlife, all will be provided within.

    State your question and the help you're looking for as clearly as possible. Just like in Critiques, tell us what you're looking for so we can offer the best help we can.

    Give as much pertinent information as possible
    and any other information you think will help give an overall idea of what you've done already if you think some likely suggestions given by others might be something you've already resolved.

    Be grateful. The help being offered throughout these forums is voluntarily given in the hopes that it will be useful and in no way is meant to compromise your vision. Whether the suggestions are actually what you find helpful or not, remember to be thankful that those who take the time to respond wanted to give you a hand.

    -------------

    When I first arrived at this forum, the sticky sharing this title really caught my eye. As many of you know, I've been building a world for the past eight or nine years that is in a fantasy setting. Now, I may apply what I understand of physics and universal laws to how it works, including genetics, but that's for my own understanding. Everything else is strictly fantasy, even for being technically science based.

    What is the point here? Everything I've seen in the above thread pertains to the more scientific SF world building aspects rather than the fantasy side, and with so many pages to filter through dedicated exclusively to the SF world building, I became discouraged and didn't feel I could insert a fantasy world building question in there. Obviously, it's not stated as being strictly SF, but those are the people who flocked to it most readily. One of the obvious reasons for this is the fact that when working with SF, you want to make it as scientifically plausible as possible, whereas in fantasy you can make or break as many rules as you want. However, that doesn't mean we fantasy folk might not need support from other fantasy folk in our own world building, so I thought I'd start a category just for us.

    I request consideration for sticky status, possibly dependant upon popularity of the topic, but possibly regardless, just for those who happen by and really need the help.

    So have at it! ^_^ Please pose all your fantasy world building issues or ideas here and rest assured you'll get help from like-minded people. Obviously feel free to continue using the rest of the Aspiring Writers forum if what you have is a very specific question you'd like to stand alone, but don't think that's the only place you have now. Posting here could guarantee you get the kind of help you really need.

    Cheers and good luck!

    -- Mally
  2.  
    Cheehwawa

    Cheehwawa ΩSIRIS

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    Would there be any "natural" occurance for a centaur-like genus homo species, or would such a being need to be genetically-engineered? Howbout a satyr-like being (I think this is more believable, just a person with a leg structure adapted to mountain climbing?)

    Do you think that, over thousands of years, humans who live in the mouth of an ocean and spend all of their time in the water catching food and such could develop "gills" AND retain a minimal variant of a modern lung to breathe above water, too?

    Would a massive burst of energy created by a pure good and pure evil God re-combining into one unstable being have the force behind it to completely oblderate a moderately sized island-kingdom in the South Indian Ocean? Say that the explosion would consist of anti-matter (or dark matter?), would it be able to blow apart the edge of the Southern ice sheet, causing Sea levels to rise and aiding in the end of the last Ice Age? If the explosion occured on said ice sheet, could the wall of water potentially wash over the island-kingdom I mentioned earlier, or would it be more scientifically-correct if the explosion happened on the island itself?

    I too have been developing a universe over the past 8-ish years, Ive just began going away from the SciFi aspects that are predominant through most of the series, and Ive been planning a fantasy prequal set during the time of Atlantis (9500 BCE) on Earth, before most of the Gods were killed. I just want the fantasy elements to meld with the SciFi (at least behind the scenes)


    I can tell that this thread is going to be very helpful for lots of people, props on starting it Malloriel :)
  3.  
    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    Not over thousands of years - the number of genetic mutations required would be enormous (unless you go by some other means of "evolution"). However there are characteristics that humans already have, that could develop because those that have them best would be more successful at breeding. What you need is high lung capacity, a strong Mammalian diving reflex - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and various other physical adaptations that the most successful freedivers have, such as larger spleen, ability to relax and slow heartbeat, that would enable them to spend longer periods underwater. You've also got to think about how they would see - presently human vision underwater is too poor to hunt unless you have an air space in front of the eyes. It takes 200 diopters of correction to enable human eyes to see underwater.

    Edit: if you look here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquatic_ape, there is a theory that our human ancestors did once live in the kind of environment you describe.
  4.  
    chrispenycate

    chrispenycate resident pedantissimo Staff Member

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    Starting with the menagerie, the satyr should be no problem, although hooves are better adapted to quadrupeds; keeping your balance on the tiny little surfaces shown in most illustrations would be akin to stilt walking. Check jack Chalker's satyrs from the "Well of souls" series (sorry, can't remember which volume; they've all melded together in my memory); they pretty well have to keep running all the time to stay upright.

    Growing extra limbs is a fairly standard birth defect. If you got an arboreal predator, a marten perhaps that grew a balanced pair of limbs, instead of just vestigial, or singleton extremities, it could be quite successful, ultimately getting too big to climb trees, and taking up a plains existence. It's not much like a centaur yet, as it hasn't hooves like a horse (closer to human feet, tree gripping extremities modified for land locomotion) but it has got forward gripping manipulators strong enough that it could swing from a tree, and eyes set forward to concentrate on prey; it could take up archery well enough, if it became intelligent enough.
    But is there the stimulus to develop intelligence (when sober, they're supposed to be wise and knowledgeable)? After all, if you're a good enough predator (Why predator? looking at all that body that's got to be fed through that little mouth I was reminded of the marsh-wiggle's description of a centaur's breakfast in "the silver chair", and wanted to get in food in as concentrated a form as possible, which means meat.) what's the use of intelligence?

    For the mer-folk. I really think gills are impractical for mammals (and it is generally held that mermaids at least have mammalian characteristics, mermatrons presumably more so. To get enough oxygen out of water you would need an immense surface area of blood almost in contact with water (cube/square law), and this would call for a very low (and preferably variable) body temperature, or an enormously active metabolism, which would call for still more oxygen and thus more surface area…

    If we allow them to be cold blooded, then we could use one organ for getting oxygen from either air or water; the two requirements are not that different, you just need more water. Perhaps slits above the collarbones, and a valve system forcing the fluid (air or water) out below the stomach?

    I suppose the smaller, animistic gods (not much more than natural spirits, really) must have have power limits; but your major monotheistic or bipolar manacheean deities are essentially infinite power sources. Fortunately they're not matter; mutual annihilation of even a few kilograms of matter would render the Earth uninhabitable, and gods are reputed to be quite big. Indeed, mere conflicts of gods have been known to cause severe flooding and mountain ranges; a mutual elimination could cause just about anything in the way of effects.

    But when it comes to tsunami production, standing on top of the ice sheet isn't a good way to go about it. Dropping ice sheets into the sea makes a nice splash, but it's localised; melting a few megatons of ice will bring the sea level up fractionally, but it's slow. Perhaps divine combat causes earthquakes; a nice submarine fault shift can get some water moving.

    But have you considered holding the competition on thick sea ice, over a bay? As the the battle warms up, they melt a hole through the ice, ultimately finding themselves deep under it, with penguins wondering why there are flashes of light and vibration under their feet. The ultimate discharge vaporises a couple of cubic miles of Antarctic ocean, producing steam. Some manages to escape through the hole they came in through, throwing huge plates of ice (and penguins) kilometres into the air, but most doesn't, and the expanding cloud forces water out from under the plate ice, a shock wave which turns into a water wave the moment the sheet is thin enough to break up, ten, fifteen metres in height in the open ocean, five times that when it's impeded by anything solid, water warmed as much by friction as the original generating steam, with icebergs floating in it up to the equator, and further…

    *Looks around. Sorry, must have got a bit carried away, there. I'll go and rhyme something, shall I?*
  5.  
    Malloriel

    Malloriel Creative Mastermind

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    WON'T SOMEBODY THINK ABOUT THE PENGUINS?!

    I'm very glad to see this being put to good use. ^_^

    For the water beings, I agree with the increased lung capacity. If there are mammals that are going to develop gills from extended exposure to the water, I'm wondering why whales, dolphins, porpoises, penguins, seals, sea lions, and walruses haven't done it already. Yeah yeah, penguins not mammals. Point stands. If a species is going to develop gills because of the circumstances you describe, then why haven't these already?

    Now, you might ask Chris what sort of evolutionary steps it would take to get that underwater vision, unless HB's articles help answer it for you.
  6.  
    Culhwch

    Culhwch Not actually a dinosaur. Staff Member

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    As I think this is a good idea as well, I've stuck it, and changed the title of t'other thread to 'OCIW: Science Fiction.'
  7.  
    ktabic

    ktabic Save punctuation!

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  8.  
    Malloriel

    Malloriel Creative Mastermind

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    Yay! I'm a sticky! *Does a little celebratory dance.*
  9.  
    Saeltari

    Saeltari Druid Trainer

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    Good to see this stickied.

    Here is my request, two of them actually :D

    1 the First: Towns and Villages, I seem to be having a terrible time getting my mind around how to set them up. I have hit a wall, literally, the wall of the town my characters are soon to be entering. It isn't just this wall, though, any wall or space that has a town or village on the other side just appears blank in my mind.

    Any suggestions on towns and village creation and integration? Are there any good sites or books that will give a visualization of such? I have done web seaches and I have the book "Life in a medieval village" and other type of books but they just don't seem to be doing it for me. Any suggestions or ideas in this regard would be helpful. This is for a full fantasy setting with magic and creatures and other things of a fantasy nature.

    2 the second: Guilds. Help. Any good information or resources for medieval guilds and their usage in fantasy? This one I have a lot less info on.

    I am not sure how to explain more than the above, but this has been causing me issues for awhile now.

    I think of a town I think of a street with a tavern and a few houses. I have seen the towns in fantasy games such as Oblivion or NWNII but those don't seem to be helping. I was trying to see a historical layout of towns and villages in my mind that I could alter to a fantasy world.

    I see I am starting to ramble, sorry :rolleyes:
    Thanks for stickying this.
  10.  
    Natasha_Rogue

    Natasha_Rogue New Member

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    I find sometimes visuals from actual places help me figure out how to set up scenes so maybe some old paintings (whih can be found online) of old villages would help...also try reading discriptions in books like LOTR and some of the Dragon Lancebooks (I find they do a great ob seting up scenes) and see if it helps. Good luck!
  11.  
    Dozmonic

    Dozmonic Member

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    Google image search "medieval town map" will reveal some images of how medieval towns looked.

    http://www.mylearning.org/learning/local-history-pack-a-how-to-guide/Hull1640.jpg
    http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/shepherd/plan_rome_middle_ages.jpg

    Are two such examples.

    Further to this, check any local history sites you may be able to visit to get an idea of how they might have been set out. Here in the UK there are no end of archaeological dig sites, or tourist sites which will have a map of how the place would have been set out. If you CAN find a dig going on then any historian will talk until the world's end about this kind of stuff. Especially if plied with beer ;-)
  12.  
    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    I find I have several pages of notes on crafts and trades from a book called The Middle Ages, by Morris Bishop. There's also information on village life. I checked it out from a library, but you can get it in paperback from amazon.com

    Amazon.com: The Middle Ages: Morris Bishop: Books

    (In fact, now that I've checked and found that it's easily available, I'll probably buy a copy myself.)

    An excellent book (if you ignore the commentary and stick with the information) is Lost Country Life, by Dorothy Hartley. It's out of print, but you can buy it used on amazon Amazon.com: Lost Country Life: Dorothy Hartley: Books and probably from other places online, too. It tells things like what time of year they cut the reeds for basket-making; how they tanned leather; weights and measures; different kinds of smiths; how saddles were made; and other great details for worldbuilders who want to create a Medieval or Renaissance type of setting. There is even a long list of sixteenth century "jobs." A self-sustaining village would have much than a tavern and a few houses -- for instance, there has to be a blacksmith, or who mends the tools when they break?

    I know it's easier to look things up on the web, but you can get much more information from books like these.
  13.  
    sffhound

    sffhound Lesbian vampire goblin

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    Hello all! :) This is a GREAT thread!

    I don't know if this question belongs here, but here goes anyway: How to write believable combat? Any tips about recourses for both miltary tactics and general knowlegde on the subjects of weapons and fighting styles would be greatly apreciated.
  14.  
    Saeltari

    Saeltari Druid Trainer

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    Thank you Natasha_Rogue and Dozmonic (those maps were interesting, especially the first one!) for the suggestion. Teresa thank you very much for the book links, I think I will be picking those up :p.


    sffound,

    check out -> ADVANCED TECHNIQUES IN SCA COMBAT . Looks interesting.
  15.  
    sffhound

    sffhound Lesbian vampire goblin

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    Thanks :) Though it looks to be a little over my price range at the moment
  16.  
    Saeltari

    Saeltari Druid Trainer

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  17.  
    Adaram

    Adaram New Member

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    Does anyone know where to find information on boats/ships. Looking for information on boat design, nautical speeds, and/or any other information that would help determine how to best include practical and logical information for scenes involving people taking trips on boats/ships. This is for a Fantasy setting, somewhere between Medieval cultures and Roman cultures, perhaps even Chinese/Japanese.

    Thanks in advance to anyone that can point out a good place to fnd reliable information on these topics!
  18.  
    Dozmonic

    Dozmonic Member

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    Glad you asked - I could do with that information for later books in my series!
  19.  
    Saeltari

    Saeltari Druid Trainer

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  20.  
    Saeltari

    Saeltari Druid Trainer

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    Fantasy ecosystems.

    That is the question.

    When creating your fantasy world do you go that deep? What do you use as a base if you do? Do you think it would add verisimilitude to the world if you mention it here and there? Should the characters even be aware of the idea or just the author?

    I have been studying up on my forest ecosystem for reasons that are probably obvious, was just wondering what others did.

    Do you think about what eats what?

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