Tag Archives: Worldbuilding

#WriteFriday – May 20th

I am super proud of myself – this week I actually finished editing and organizing my notes on Faeriia from my NaNoWriMo blob!  When I first started this process of consolidation, I said that I was falling in love with this setting all over again.  This is still so true; this setting has a history and characters that are very alive in my mind.  Of course it helps that several stories I’ve come up with over the years have all found a home in Faeriia.  I may abandon my goal for this year to edit my NaNoWriMo 2012 book in favour of either editing the NaNoWriMo 2011 novel (which is now set in Faeriia) or of writing something totally different (again set in Faeriia).

The final Google document is 24 pages long now.  Remember the comparison?  Imezza is 9 and City of the Dead is 8.  That also makes me want to work on Imezza again, fleshing the setting’s history out a little more (although that’s not super necessary; if I write some stuff in the setting, I’m sure it will slowly flesh itself out).

Oh yeah, thinking about goals, finishing this small editing project means that I have officially finished one of my goals for 2016!  Goal #9 was to take apart my NaNoWriMo blob, and finishing up with Faeriia means I did just that!  This took me a little bit longer to accomplish than I thought it would, but it is done!  I guess it’s another reason to be proud of my week. 😀

While I think I’m on track to finish a few other goals, it’s unfortunately the only one I’ve accomplished to date.  I haven’t worked on Tears of the King since early May, so it’s time to get back to that.


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Writing Update – March 18th

Okay, I’m really proud of myself.  Remember when I said I had taken the NaNoWriMo blob apart?  At that time, I said my next step was to consolidate all my notes on Faeriia.  Well, this week I started to do just that!

All told, I had about 28 pages of notes on Faeriia, and this week I’ve managed to edit and organize about 12 of those pages.  And let me tell you: I’m falling in love with this setting all over again!  Prior to 2015’s NaNoWriMo, I had a Google Doc on the setting that was ridiculously vague and only 2 pages long.  It’s now 14 pages long, encompassing some stuff on the world’s history, various religious beliefs, the world’s magic system (thank you again, Brandon Sanderson – you’re blog posts on magic systems helped me with this once again during NaNoWriMo!), dragons, and daimons.

Still to be sorted: more history (specifically some big wars), the social organization of some of the denizens of Faeriia, and some notes on other denizens of the world, and a few notes on specific characters.  I don’t know how much time I’ll have for this stuff, but hopefully I can get it done in the next two weeks!

For comparison, my Imezza document on Google Drive is 9 pages long (but I haven’t thought through the world’s history in the same way as I did with Faeriia) and City of the Dead is 8 pages long (I have some history of the world, but not as detailed as Faeriia’s).  So I guess Faeriia is currently my most detailed world.  But it’s also the world that several older stories I’ve had from the past fit into, so in a way it’s no wonder it’s so much more detailed.

Oh, I also wanted to mention that tonight was Write NOWW, a panel that was held at a local coffee shop.  My brother was the moderator, and it featured blogger Dahl Botteril, comic artist Bry Kotyk, and blogger Leah Wellwood (who are all local people).  It was interesting to hear from different local bloggers and my brother did a fantastic job moderating (as usual!)

Write NOWW

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Hello 2016!

Happy New Year everyone!!!  2015 was overall a really good year for me and I’m rather sad to see it go.  But hopefully 2016 will be just as good!

Here’s all the things I said I wanted to do in 2015:

  1. Read 50+ books off of The List -partial success.  I read 51 books this year, but only 25 off The List.
  2. Stay in shape – I’m going to say failure.  I did get back to swimming, but really late in the year.
  3. Get 2+ of my worlds that need building up to the point Imezza is currently at – success!  City of the Dead and Faeriia are not done but I can easily write stories set in them.  That sounds like the point Imezza is at to me!  🙂
  4. Finish the screenplay I started – failure because this was going to be a gift for a boyfriend who I broke up with in March (so I stopped caring about it).
  5. Write the Grief Project  – success!  A first draft was completed in my NaNoWriMo blob!
  6. Write a story a month for Apocalypse Madness  – success!  I actually wrote 13 stories plus wrote something with Chat mapper for Apocalypse Madness last January.
  7. Build a game – partial success. After Storynexus stopped being supported I switched back to RPG Maker (which meant switching to a different game).  Tears of the King is not completed, but I’m still working on it!
  8. Figure out Chat Mapper – I’m going to list this as a partial success because I did write that Apocalypse Madness thing in January.  But that was the last time I even looked at the program, so I don’t want to say it was a full success.
  9. Take a Lego Picture a month  – failure.  I stopped taking as many pictures in general this year and miss it, but I just haven’t had time!  😦
  10. Fix up my Red Bubble profile – I actually did do this early in 2015.  So it’s a success, but I haven’t added anything to it since then.
  11. Edit my NaNoWriMo 2012 book – failure.  Lack of time.

No wonder 2015 was a good year for me – out of 11 goals for 2015, I completely succeeded with 4 of them (and 2 of them were quite sizable – writing a story a month for Apocalypse Madness and getting two worlds to the detail level of Imezza!)  I also made a valiant effort on a few others, with only 4 as outright failures!  What’s more, I actually succeeded on more writing projects than I did last year!  (I think my main accomplishment last year was to build Imezza).  So 2015 really was a good year! 🙂

So let’s look to 2016.  This year I want to:

  1. Finish Tears of the King.  That should obviously go without saying.
  2. Write four polished short stories.  I’m very proud of the work I spent writing for Apocalypse Madness this last year.  But Apocalypse Madness is all about writing first or maybe second drafts.  So this year I want to put the time into writing more quality pieces, not quantity.  I’m planning on perusing Duotrope for markets that I’m interested in and writing a story every quarter for one.
  3. Take a Lego Picture a month (and actually post it in a timely manner). I can do it!
  4. Eat healthier.  I’ve been so busy over the last several months in particular and I feel unhealthy.  So 2016 is the year I’m going to try to be healthier.  I’m just listing this here as part of my goals, but don’t worry, I’m breaking this down for myself in better detail!
  5. Be more active.  Going hand in hand with number 4.  Also breaking it down for myself into better detail.
  6. Read the anthologies I own.  Looking through my list of books, i have over 25 anthologies of short stories on there!  So this year I’m going to focus on getting through most of those (if I make it through 20 I will consider this a success).  As a side note, I’m going to mark my Goodreads Challenge as reading 40 books for the year. So that means I hope that half of my challenge will be made up of short story collections.
  7. Build 1 of my worlds that need building.  I don’t really need to do this this year, but I know there are two main worlds that need building (well, one world, one science fiction setting that in reality will be multiple worlds).  If I can get through one more right now, that’ll only help me more in the future, right?  🙂
  8. Edit my NaNoWriMo 2012 book.  This is the same as last year – I want to make it into a coherent narrative that I can share with people.
  9. Take apart my NaNoWriMo 2015 blob.  This sounds a bit silly, but I’ve already put it off for a month.  The blob is made up of worldbuilding, Grief Project, more worldbuilding, and several other, smaller things (stories, a blog post, etc).  I need to take it apart and organize everything (particularly the worldbuilding and Grief Project.  The smaller things are pretty much self contained inside of it).
  10. Work with Chat Mapper. This poor goal has been on my lists for the last few years (since 2013!)  It’s time to actually do some work with branching dialogue!

So there we have it – my goals for 2016.  The first five goals are really my priorities for the year.  Wish me luck as I work to accomplish everything!

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#WriteFriday – November 27th

I actually did some writing on a Friday!

This week has been so full of writing, it’s kind of ridiculous!  I wrote a stupid amount last weekend.  I think it was almost 5000 words before midnight, then another almost 5000 after midnight.  I started Saturday about 13,000 words behind, and ended Sunday only about 5000 words behind.  And as of Thursday, I ended the day with 43,399 words written; the target for the day was 43,333.  And yesterday I was about 1000 words ahead of target.  Seriously, check out these stats, it’s ridiculous!

So what did I write this last week?  As I already mentioned, I finished the Grief Project draft.  Then I went on to write a rough draft of a story for a friend.  His dog, who was rather old, wasn’t doing so well and my friend thought he’d have to put him down.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to give him this story, but it was written for him.  Well, I definitely won’t be able to give it to him as it is because it’s a very rough draft.  I set it in City of the Dead because that seemed appropriate.

After that, I really had to move away from stories about grief and pets.  Another friend told me Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void was out.  He started talking to me awkwardly about it, but didn’t want to spoil anything so I decided I had to go play it.  With my head firmly in science fiction mode, I turned away from Faeriia and another untitled world (I’m calling it the Centaur World right now.  It’s the world the screenplay I started for Script Frenzy takes place in) and started working on a science fiction setting instead.  This was helped by me rewatching Firefly as well.  I wrote down a random scene I’ve had in my head, which I have to admit, writing story makes the words go faster than working on world building stuff.  From there I decided to write another story for Apocalypse Madness (it’s set on Faeriia and called “Scourge of the Seas“).  And then I decided to write this blog post as part of the word count because I was just rambling otherwise.

I have to admit, writing 50,000 words of mostly world building is really, really hard to do.  Around the point where I started writing more stories (so I’m talking “Scourge of the Seas” and the other scene), I felt like there was no more world building I could do.  I know there are lots of holes in the settings that I’ll need to think through.  But right now I’m sitting at the end of an 80+ page document that’s basically just a big blob of text.  I tried to make notes and comments on the side of things that need doing.  But I know the way that I work, and right now I need to print out this document and go through it, organizing all the world building bits into their own documents to actually see exactly what I have and what I’m missing.  So here I am now, sitting with less than 3500 words to go to win, and I don’t honestly have anything in particular to write about (which is why I decided to write this blog post there, even though it sort of feels like cheating).  The sheer amount of world building stuff I’ve done this NaNoWriMo is awesome – I’ve got one world up to the point where I can easily start writing stories in it, even if it’s missing things, and two more (well, one world and one “setting”) in the works.  I’m super glad to be fixing some of the issues I had with my story ideas (namely the problem that almost all of them were stuck in world building).  But it’s super hard to remember everything that I’ve done these last few weeks (especially when I’m typing like a maniac to get caught up and jumping from setting to setting as it strikes my fancy).  I definitely think, if I ever decide to do NaNoWriMo again, I’m going to write a novel rather than another writing blob.

So apologies to everyone.  I keep saying I’m going to get caught up with your blogs, but realistically that’s not going to happen until after NaNoWriMo is over in a few days.  So wish me luck as I finish off the remaining 3000 or so words I have to write, and I’ll talk to you after the 1st!

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#WriteSaturday – November 21st

I still don’t like how it sounds, but it’s the truth – I didn’t write yesterday at all.  I actually haven’t written anything since the 17th, putting me 13,305 words behind where I need to be.  So time to get to work on that!

A couple of really exciting things happened this week:

  1. I got to interview local artist Chris “Merk” Merkley for TBPL Off the Shelf!  Merk’s interview is going to be #25!  It’ll be posted in December (I’m thinking of switching things to the first week of the month, rather than leaving it on the second).
  2. I finally joined NOWW.  My brother is one of the board members, and I’ve been going to their events, so I kind of thought I should probably join.  I was thinking about joining a few months ago, but finally got around to it yesterday.
  3. I’ve had Merlin for a year!!!  Exactly a year ago today I went to Animal Services and picked him out (or more accurately, he picked me out!)  I didn’t bring him home until the 24th though (I was still living at my parents’ at the time and didn’t want their cat getting mad at having another cat around; after the weekend, my parents told me to bring him anyway because they’d only be in the same house for a week and wouldn’t have to be together at all).

So on to the writing!

Earlier this week I spent a lot of time worldbuilding Ayvlin’s World.  I even managed to give the world a name!  I was thinking something along the lines of “emotion,” because emotions have become so important to the way the world works and its magic.  but I couldn’t find any words I liked for that (I spent a lot of time last weekend on Google Translate looking for words in other languages).  But then I decided that this really is the fae’s world, so why not name it for them?  After a bit of research and trying out a lot of different letter combinations attacked to “fae,” I decided to call it Faeriia (pronounced “fay-rye-a” for anyone who cares.  Those who don’t, feel free to pronounce it any way you want to).  I wanted to call it Faeria (with just the one i), but i discovered this game and decided not to.  I was also tossing around the idea of calling it “Faerin,” but thought that was a little too close to D&D’s Faerun.  So now that that decision has been made (and I’m quite happy with the name – I’ve been calling the world that all week and find it fitting), I’m going to switch the category for the world from “Ayvlin” to “Faeriia.”

After I came up with the name, I felt like I was “done” with the setting, which is part of why I haven’t been working on the NaNo “blob” this week (but also because I seem to be ridiculously busy.  I also started reading a novel this week because I hadn’t read anything in almost a month!!!)  But after reflecting on the setting for a bit, I realized there are still a few major areas that need work.  So that’s my plan for tonight – try to tackle the 13,000 word deficit while developing Faeriia a bit more.  Wish me luck!


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#WriteSaturday – November 14th

I know, I know, it doesn’t have the same ring to it.  But I didn’t have any time to write on Friday this week, so I ended up writing on Saturday instead.

On Saturday I also went to a NaNoWriMo halfway party!  It was a little early (being the 14th rather than the 15th), but still roughly the middle of the month.  The party took place at one of our libraries.  A few people got together to chat about our progress.   A lot of the stories sound like a lot of fun!  I hope everyone manages to finish them.  🙂

Unfortunately I am still behind on NaNoWriMo.  On Saturday I had 14,438 words written, putting me behind by almost 10,000 words (8,895 behind to be exact).  I wasn’t going to write anything today either, but I got the worldbuilding bug while I was driving and had to get some ideas down.  I’m now up to 17,443 words, which is still behind (I should be at 25,000 words by day 15) but slowly closing the gap (now I’m only 7,557 words behind!)  Other than a brief random idea I wanted to write down for a future possible science fiction story, the entire week’s been spent worldbuilding.  I want to continue with writing the Grief Project, but as of right now I feel like I don’t have the time to be crying.  (On Saturday night I was switching between writing the blob and preparing for a possible interview, so crying while writing really wasn’t a good plan.  Then today I was writing for a bit then needed to switch gears fast for my other job, so again crying while writing wasn’t a good plan).  Hopefully before the end of the month though I’ll be able to get back to it!

In the meantime, like I said: worldbuilding.  I’m still working on Ayvlin’s world (which at this point does not have a proper name).  I wrote down some of the history of the world, which directly tied into the human’s beliefs.  I also hashed out the Fae’s history, which was a lot of fun.  I’ve been leaving comments to myself in the Word document’s margin, but even so it’s getting a bit harder to worldbuild like this – the writing blob is literally a blob of text, so it’s tough to remember what I’ve specifically written about some things.  I wish I had time to lay it out more like my documents for Imezza and City of the Dead.  But that’ll have to wait until after NaNoWriMo is over.

I did run into another problem in the world though: magic.  The fae’s magic is shaping up a little too much like magic in City of the Dead, which is a problem.  So now I’ve got to work through that as well as the whole Fae vs screenplay aliens.  Although at this point I’m sort of thinking that I’ll come back and deal with the screenplay aliens after I have the Fae all worked out.

I also need to go back and figure out how some of the other things that have become part of this world fit.  I had worked out how I could have something demon-like in the world (because the original RPG that involved Ayvlin had another character who was half-demon).  But now the entire history I worked out this weekend did not involve them at all, so I’m going to have to go back and see if/how they’ll fit with the new ideas.

So that’s it for now.  Good luck to everyone else who is participating – there’s still two weeks to go!

Also, apologies to everyone – life is busy and I haven’t had a chance to go and visit anyone else’s blog over the last week.  I will be catching up with everyone hopefully during the next few days!

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#WriteFriday – November 6th

What a great start to this #WriteFriday: I was ridiculously behind on my NaNoWriMo blob (I’m not writing a novel, so I’ve been calling it a blob).  Behind to the tune of being on Day 4 with only 1323 words.  But as of midnight on Day 6 (so 11:59pm on Day 5), I had written 4,346 words, bringing my total up to 5669!  I’m still behind a bit (on Day 6 the goal is to write 10,000 words), but at least I’m not nearly as far behind as I was.

So what have I written in my so-called writing blob?  The first thing I wrote (which was on Day 3) was a random dream I’d had the night before.  I don’t know what, if anything, I’ll do with it yet.  But it was neat and I wanted to record it somewhere; the blob seemed as good a place as any to write it.  Also on Day 3, I sat down and wrote a story for Apocalypse Madness (this was the story I mentioned on my ridiculously late October 30th #WriteFriday update).  Day 4 saw me worldbuilding so I could fit Ayvlin into another world I’d already thought up (which I also mentioned on that last update).  This ended up actually much easier than I originally thought it would be back in Grand Marais when I thought it up.  The world actually does fit her and her story.  It even fits the other characters that were with her in that roleplaying adventure.  So I’ve mainly been working on that world, although I had a brief tangent into yet another world (I realized I have never written any of the ideas  down for it and decided to remedy that immediately).  I ended up working through a couple of things I’ve been struggling with on this world (“Do dragons belong here and what are they like?” being the main question I managed to finally answer).  I also managed to tie in another world with this one.  As I was worldbuilding, I started to realize that the second world, which I had long thought didn’t belong with this one, actually did fit quite nicely.  So that was awesome! It’s looking like this world is going to be my most “stereotypical fantasy world,” even though it’s already got things going on to make it anything but stereotypical!

I did run into an unexpected problem though.  Back in the summer of 2010 (which is just after I finished with the class I started this blog for, but way before I started using this blog for writing), I took a screenwriting course from Gotham Writers Workshop, during which I started writing a screenplay.  The screenplay was a crazy science fiction adventure which I was having fun writing.  Unfortunately after the class ended, life got in the way and I never did finish a first draft.  But it had two science fiction races which I really, really liked the idea of.  Hilariously, the faerie creatures that live on what I’m currently calling “Ayvlin’s World” have ended up an awful lot like one of the science fiction races.  I’m currently not sure what, if anything, I need to do about that, because the similarities that they both have suit them both.

So after writing a bit more (about 600 words), I went to bed, thinking I’d have more time for writing today.  But then I found myself at 11:39 having not written anything else for the NaNoWriMo blob all day (I had hoped to have another 4000 word marathon to get caught up with where I should be for word count).  Between what I’d written earlier and those twenty minutes I managed to crank out a total of 1,380 words, bringing my total for the day up to 7049.  I’m still about 3000 words behind where I should be (day 6 should put you at 10,000), but at least I’m not falling too far behind now.

For those twenty minutes (and about twenty minutes past midnight), I also did something extremely difficult: I started writing the Grief Project.  For anyone who doesn’t remember, what I’ve been calling the Grief Project is the project I was going to write after Tink passed away last summer.  But the grief was too raw and I wasn’t able to do it right away.  So I put it aside, much longer than I had planned to.  The grief is no longer so raw but it is still present; I’m not going to lie, I started crying a few times while writing it.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with the Grief Project (if anything).  But it’s well past time I finally got to it.  NaNoWriMo (and this NaNoWriMo in particular) is actually in some ways the perfect place to tackle it because I can let it be whatever it wants to be.  Especially since it’s just part of my writing blob (which means I don’t even care if the Grief Project falls short of 50,000 words because it’ll just be part of the bunch of writings I’m doing this year).

Good luck to everyone else who is participating this year!

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Short Story-based World Building – Guest Post by Deborah Teramis Christian

Deborah Teramis Christian is a sf/f novelist published by Tor Books, professional game designer, and founder of the World Building Academy. She is on Facebook, Twitter (@Teramis), G+, and offers free world building tips here. At IndieGoGo, she is crowdfunding a story collection, many with roots in rpg settings, and is offering video tips on the connection between rpg and fiction writing during the campaign (Sept 18 through Oct 18, 2015, at this link).

Short Story-based World Building: Unpacking Fiction into a Complete World

There are many ways to approach world building. A lot of writers start with the story itself: we let creativity carry us along, and simply put whatever makes sense in the moment on the page.

This approach can work really well for short stories in particular, where the implications of tiny details often do not impact the main story itself. But if we move on to book-length works, or create game worlds based on fiction, suddenly our world building needs to change.

In those larger creative works, there are a lot more unknowns, and because we are playing on a larger field, now we have time to see the consequences and impact of details that may only have been mentioned in passing in a work of short fiction.

It is at this point that we need to pause, take a step back, and begin to unpack the nuances and implications of the world building we have put on the page of our narrative.

Note: Many writers also take a different approach: first creating the world, and developing cultures and context, and then filtering that so only what is needed appears   in the story. If that is your approach, the principle of unpacking here can still be of use in analyzing and elaborating on your own work, but the techniques mentioned in this post will be most useful to writers who start small, and then want to amplify their details to fill a larger stage.

What Does it Mean to “Unpack Details”?

I will assume our beginning case here is the short story, which we may want to see expanded into a larger fictional world, or even a role-playing game setting.

Unpacking is part art, and part left-brain logic. To do this, review your story and look for all those things that may be the “tip of the iceberg”.

  • What have you established that is merely the visible glimpse of something much more deeply seated in the culture or setting?
  • What conflicts to you refer to as backdrop, that really have a world-changing life of their own?
  • What customs are referenced that might represent something much more complex or even different in meaning, than the original short allusion infers?

These are just a few starter questions, but this is the vein you want to think along to do unpacking of fiction.

Here is an example of this in practice from a short story of my own. I used “Small Benefits” as the basis of my first role-playing game world. The setting it inspired (and the world building that grew out of it) also became integral to my novel The Truthsayer’s Apprentice.

What’s in a Name?

When I created my first rpg campaign setting, I wanted to revisit the world I had so briefly created in “Small Benefits.” That featured the stone-built city of Nimm-on-Witholl, capital of the Duchy of Nimm in a cold northern clime with a nordic culture. It was also home to an important school of magic, with an avaricious trickster gnome preying on students from that college.
That set-up was at the heart of my story (which you may read more about here).

When it came time to create an entire game world, this kernel was sadly lacking in detail. Yet like all good kernels, it held the seeds of a much larger creation, did I only have the eyes to see it.

I did this ‘unpacking’ thing on the story, and here are some things that leapt out at me.

School Name and Cultural Incongruity

The name of the magic school was the Collegium Magisterium. I choose a high-falutin’ name with Latinate roots because of what it invokes to an English-speaker’s imagination: a lofty hall of learning, professors in robes, stone hallways, a valued library, and, no doubt, a sophisticated form of magic taught and learned.

But stepping back, I also knew (from my original vision of the area) that this was a setting with a nordic culture. The kind of magic common here would be rune magic, totem animals and witchcraft, not rigidly prescribed fancy ritual magic, such as the Collegium taught.  If I had wizards being produced by this school, and hedge-witches and were-bears being produced by the local culture, how could I account for this discontinuity of magic practices? Why would the Collegium ever have come to exist in this place?

Then I realized my solution lay in the name itself. “Latinate roots” in our world stems from the language of elites: the Roman Empire in our timeline. Translating this to the world I was developing, I figured the magic school took its name from the language of elites in that time and place. I created the Korribee Empire (named for the major waterway that runs through it), and decided that at one time, the Empire had considerable influence in Nimm. No longer, though, for the Korribi sphere of influence has shrunk as the empire has undergone changes. Still, vestiges of imperial culture and learning are scattered across the lands they once controlled.

Nimm, I decided, was at the very farthermost reaches of their geographical influence. When the Empire’s real control faded away, they left behind a school of magic teaching spellcraft in the Korribi (not local) style. It is a practice that is stylized and formal, powerful but complex.  For most of the Nimmian natives, however, magic is homegrown and much simpler, and practiced in many small, commonplace ways. It is not, however, (usually) as powerful as what a Collegium graduate can do.

So: name mystery solved. And more importantly, I have uncovered the existence of a continent-spanning empire, now somewhat in decline, that nevertheless has left a cultural imprint quite far afield. The court of the ruler of Nimm will wear some of the Korribi formal wear (robes), a sign of their “worldliness” and sophistication. They have adopted many Korribi terms and concepts in the practice of administration and law, and some imperial concepts have shaped inheritance and governance. (See Video #1 at this link for a discussion of this example with Small Benefits and the Collegium Magisterium.)

Analyzing This Thread Further

Here I have to look at my world building solution critically.  “Some imperial concepts have shaped inheritance and governance.” What does this imply?

To me, it suggests that this must be an uneasy fit, because the imperial style is not in harmony with the local, clans-based affiliations that existed before the advent of the Empire, and which continue to dominate after its passing.

Which brings us to this obvious question: What does this suggest about the state of political affairs in Nimm?

Well, that is another excellent unpacking question, and one I will leave to your own imagination to answer.  The important thing to note, though, is that this is exactly the train of thought and kinds of questions that fall out of the unpacking process.

 * * *

For each thread of implications I tease out of the short story, many more consequences and interactions suggest themselves. I’d say I end up with a big ball of yarn, but at first it can look like a big can of worms, instead.   Some things will seem pressing to explore and develop; others inconsequential (until you need them for your setting, anyway).  But however you prioritize sorting the threads you are teasing out, this process can take you relatively smoothly from short story with hints of larger world, to full-fledged larger world.

If you like to start small and don’t want to build a whole world before you start writing, try the unpacking approach. You might be happily surprised what kind of world you reveal as you go.


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#WriteFriday – April 10th

So it was #WriteFriday once again.  It was a busy day, with me getting ready for Ad Astra and whatnot.  I didn’t think I’d have a whole lot of time to write.  On top of that, I don’t specifically have a project I’m working on.  Over the last month or so, I’ve primarily been working on City of the Dead.  I’m actually feeling that the setting is at the point Imezza is at (by which I mean, it’s not done, but it’s fleshed out enough that I can start doing things with it).  So while I was on the plane today, I decided to just start thinking through what exactly I’d like to do with City of the Dead.

To that end, I wrote 9 pages in my notebook.  Way more than I thought I would.

The original plan for City of the Dead was to make a StoryNexus game.  As I mentioned before, City of the Dead was kind of perfect because it has the sort of city setting that Alexis Kennedy said seems to work with the toolset.  But as I’ve developed the setting more and more, it felt like it had a very certain and unique story.  A linear story.  Which is not what I need for a StoryNexus game.  So I’ve been wondering more and more lately what exactly I should do with the setting.

But now: I have a plan.  I’ve decided that I am going to make a StoryNexus game with it as the setting.  But I’m going to leave that main story arc alone for now.  Instead I’m going to look at another part of the world, flesh that out a little bit, and make it into a game.  I thought this was a good idea for a number of reasons: chief among these is that I’ve never built an entire game with the toolset before (I’ve just played around with it a bit).  So I want to make something that can be small, but that will fit within my whole City of the Dead framework.  Plus it’ll help me continue with the worldbuilding (and broaden my focus a little bit within the world, too!)

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Filed under Game Development, Tools, Worldbuilding, Writing

Magic Systems

I’m going to admit, I’m not really a “systems” or “rules” sort of person.  I’ve always preferred a good story, and never really cared about how exactly the magic works.  Which left me in a bit of an awkward spot when I realized that magic is an extremely important component of City of the Dead.  So during this last #WriteFriday, I spent a huge chunk of time trying to think through the magic system of the world.

To that end, I needed some help.  So I went online and found a couple of great articles to get me started.  There were three in particular that I found really helpful:

  1. Janice Hardy’s Do You Believe in Magic? Building a Magic System for Your World
  2. Brandon Sanderson’s First Law
  3. Sanderson’s Second Law

(I also found Sanderson’s Third Law of Magic, but that was after I was done working on City of the Dead for the night).

Sanderson’s First two Laws were great for helping me think through the beginnings of my magic system.  Do I want it to be a soft magic system?  Hard magic?  Somewhere in between?  What will people be able to do with this system?  What are its limitations?  By the end of the night (and with some help from my friend Scott, who let me bounce some ideas off of him), I had a basic system that I was rather happy with.  Of course now, I’m going to have to rethink through some of the setting pieces, which no longer work.

On a related note, that Apocalypse Madness story I wrote for January no longer works either.

Hardy’s article likewise had some great advice for starting off, but didn’t go into as much depth as Sanderson did.  So I definitely recommend starting with Sanderson’s laws.  But once you’re past the initial stuff, Hardy gives you some great questions to think through how magic will work in both your larger world and your story.

If you’ve found any other articles to be helpful when designing magic systems (or have your own tips), please post them in the comments!  I’d love to see what other people have to say on the subject.

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Filed under Worldbuilding, Writing