Saturday, July 30, 2016

World Building Part 3: War and Rumors of War

So far we have laid out some of the big picture stuff and some of the things I see as carry overs from those big decisions. We even have a bunch of peoples that have not really been fleshed out. So lets take a moment to flesh them out a bit. If you are just stepping in to this exercise here are the links to the previous posts in this series:

Part 1: Initial Arbitrary Decisions
Part 2: Airships


In working on this post I had a few thoughts that are unrelated with this post's topics, but are tangentially related and I would like to devote a little space to talking about them.

The purpose of your world
If the world you create is for you alone then you can build it as a utopia. If the world is designed as an exercise in understanding a specific world view or philosophical model, then you can also construct it as a Utopia. If you are attempting it for something else though, Utopias are right out. If other folk will be looking at it you need to at least answer why the bad things don't happen. Even when dealing with a philosophical ideal you need to have some sort of answer as to why things work, and why human nature has somehow been abrogated.

If your world if for use in some form of drama(whether for book, game, story, or whatever)then you must make the world capable of supporting drama. Things must be happening. Generally speaking the things that must be happening must drive action and have solid reasoning as to why the things happening are happening now. What I mean is that if the interesting or conflicting things could have happened earlier or later than the "now" of your setting you need to address why it is happening now. So while I was working on the various intelligent species that inhabit the world I needed to come up with interesting things that happened in the past and interesting things that are about to happen. I am still not quite sure what I will eventually do with this world, but it is very much out there for others to look at, so I need to have reasons why things are the way they are and interesting conflicts and passions that drive the world to more drama.

All that said lets dig into the peoples of the world.

So the problem comes in on what to name the various sentient species  and people groups of the world(which still has no name, but we will get to that later). Also what to call them as a whole group is a bit of a problem. With Dungeons and Dragons they called their various intelligent species, "races." However that leads to complications in the setting that I don't really want. I thought about going with Sophonts, which is my favorite sci-fi term for intelligent species. However that adds a science fiction feel to the world, and I am aiming for a very fantasy feeling world. In the end I think I am going to go with People, and having decided that lets dig into the various Peoples of the world(that still has no name.

Bit-Bit: After a long and involved discussion I decided that the sprites who ride flamingos and live in the deep forest will be called the Bit-bits, as that is adorable and easy to pronounce. I also decides that their war flamingos will be called Gelves. They are children of the forests and the swamps, using the magic of water and earth to bend plants to their will. They live in vast mangrove-like tree cities. They stand between two and three feet tall and tend to wear clothing adorned with bright feathers and leaves of the various beasts of the forests and swamps. Long ago they were protected by a holy order of Knights who wielded powerful magics and rode forth on the fiercest of gelves. One hundred years ago the The Human Empire invaded the forests, defeated the Knights, and conquered most of the Bit-bit's ancestral homelands. Now they are a people on the ropes. They have only one last fortress left and the war has used up much of their resources. They sent out small groups of ambassadors to the other peoples of the world in the hopes that together they can retake their homeland.

Njan: Cat people who live in the desert lands near the volcanoes. they stand at around five feet tall on average, all of it muscle and grace. They are masters of technology and swordsmanship. They are pragmatic and practical people, uncaring about the outside world or anything but their own pursuits. They are divided into hundreds of factions and clans. A passionate people who hold to their ideals no matter the opposition dueling became a cultural norm. Outsiders have a difficult time understanding the social situation in any given moment. To most outsiders their society seems like controlled anarchy, but it all makes sense to the maze-like minds of the Njan. When the Human Empire began its big push for conquest a hundred years ago, the Njan were initially shocked at the invention of airships. However they swiftly crafted their own and were able to hold back the human fleets. However now that the border has been held for such a long time the various political forces within the Njan held cities are back to fighting amongst themselves. If the humans could ally with a few of the factions against the others they might win a near bloodless victory. Well, bloodless for the humans.

Fa-chia: Flying Lizard barbarian nomads. they build cities in the clouds and claim to be from the Thousand moons(the asteroid belt that orbits the planet). They follow the stars and are great oracles and students of history. During the war humans conquered several key elemental locations that the Fa-chia held sacred. They have mined them to near nothing, draining most of the elemental magic energy from them leaving behind what the Fa-chia call, "holes in the sky." The Fa-chia live in various allied bands that form larger tribes and those tribes have treaties and allegiances with other tribes. They are not a naturally violent species. Most conflicts involve displays of might or logic in order to make it understood that the opposing force should not attempt to attack. Needless to say they are terrible at warfare, though there is a growing number of the youth who wish to see the Humans pay for their encroachment.

Humans: The most creative and passionate people, they conquered a majority of the world a hundred years ago. I guess I decided to make them the bad guys of the setting, or at least they are the biggest threat to the various other peoples. I think I will need to work out how best to handle them so as to avoid straight up mustache twirling evil. So perhaps there was an event that predicated this conquest a hundred years ago. The humans had just discovered airship technology and were quite comfortable being master traders and making huge amounts of money(now I need to figure out how money works in the world). Then their was a natural disaster and some vital resource became very scarce. Perhaps the government went back and forth on what to do and society was on the verge of collapse. Tired of the bickering by various political factions the military took over and managed to make a stable government, however the shortage was still there, so they did what they knew how to do. They invaded their neighbors. They were not evil, directly, they were just desperate and made a bunch of terrible mistakes. Also this can lead to lots of interesting stuff with the descendants of the original government leader forming a rebellion against the current military regime, and the odd populist movement or some such. Humans are the most technologically advanced, though the Njan are very close behind and may catch up if they were less busy with their own maddening politics.

So that is what I have so far for this, I think next I will need to deal with religion, elementals, and perhaps how the universe works in a bit more depth. I would love to hear any thoughts, comments, or critiques on the project so far. Let me know what you think!