LESSON Fantasy Worldbuilding - Post-apocalyptic Worlds

Discussion in 'BUILDING WORLDS' started by Malkuthe Highwind, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. Previous Workshop

    Alright! Now that all of that is taken care of. We can move on to the fantasy post-apocalyptic world archetypes. Now, do note that some of these may bleed well into the modern-fantasy genre but it still has fantasy in the name, so it counts. Shut up genre purists.

    The Not-So-Apocalyptic World, #850000
    In some post-apocalyptic fantasy worlds, the apocalypse was some long period of time ago. The world has settled down and civilization is starting to claw its way back to decency. In these kinds of worlds, adventure and politics are rife as people in positions of influence vie for positions of governance. Here you will find the rise of the theocracies, the aristocracies, the mercantile states and the slaver states. Political intrigue will be rampant, but at the same time, tensions will still be pretty high as the emerging states fight over territory, sometimes awakening horrors from the apocalyptic past.

    The Just-after-the-Apocalypse World, #850000
    Some fantasy worlds, like my very own Lux Tenebris, have their plots take place right after the apocalyptic event that changes the face of the planet. By right after, I do mean right after. From hours to a few days after the apocalypse. In these worlds, the primary theme is that of survival. There is no sense of morality, only basal instincts.

    In these worlds, everyone is in the dark. No one knows quite what exactly happened. Most if not all of civilization has been decimated. Cities will be leveled. Everyone will be doing what they can to survive, good or evil be damned. These worlds are perfect for character studies on high-tension situations and/or extended periods of isolation.

    What would your character be willing to do to survive? Will they be willing to band together with others? Or will they kill others to eat them in order to ensure their own survival?

    The Shattered World, #850000
    Let us not forget that these are fantasy worlds we're talking about. Things that are entirely unrealistic can happen here. One of them is an apocalyptic event that is so catastrophic that it shatters the world, leaving it in solitary fragments drifting through space.

    Now, there are two kinds of these shattered worlds: worlds where each shard of the original world is a self-contained dimension/plane of existence, and worlds where all the shards are simply parts of the old world adrift in a vast void.

    Examples of the first one will have to be the plane of Alara in Magic: The Gathering, and that of Kingdom Hearts. In these worlds, typically, most memory of the old world is forgot and what little of it remains is ascribed to myth or legend. A common plot thread for this kind of post-apocalyptic world is the invariable reunification of the shards that will cause even more catastrophe and instability.

    Examples of the latter are few and none come to mind. Perhaps you, dear reader, could help me out? One thing I know for certain is that one of my stories, The Spark, happens on just such a world, and I think that this kind of world lends itself very well to the "still-breaking-apart" trope as well as the "scavenger" trope, with people flying about collecting what they can from the many different islands floating in the void.

    The Imbalanced World, #850000
    The apocalypse has thrown the world's mana into disarray. The magical energies that once kept the land safe, and stable, now causes instability wherever it gathers. This kind of world is torn by desert storms, hurricanes, firestorms, earthquakes, deathly mists, and all manner of perilous magical events. Society will be concentrated in places where the mana is more or less stable for the time being.

    The big problem with this world is that nowhere is safe, and that at any moment, even the stable pockets of the world can be thrown into utter chaos.

    The Creeping Death World, #850000
    Not all apocalypses have to be one large event that ravage the entire world all at once. Some apocalyptic events can last for a very long time. Whether it is the world being slowly eroded away by the waterfall at its edge, or a desert slowly taking over all the land, or a blight creeping from the mountains of doom, people living in this kind of world typically try to deny that something terrible is happening.

    The death of this kind of world can be reversible, but not without much difficulty as for the sake of stability a lot of governments will vehemently deny what's going on.

    Have I missed any post-apocalyptic fantasy archetypes? If so, remind me by commenting! I hope the workshop helped, and I'm considering posting another post-apocalyptic workshop at some time in the future!
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  2. I don't know if this would fit into one of the categories you listed or not but what about diving intervention? Like the gods (or god) of that world gets really angry or goes all evil and starts wrecking godly havoc on the world all over? It might fall into creeping death but I was thinking like what the god (or gods) does could potentially be repaired but there is the risk of things not being fixed fast enough and then people lose the chance to fix it because they lose the supplies needed or the god completely finishes the job when they try to fix it. So basically, it's kinda like creeping death but it's more of working fast while others try to stop the god. I don't know, I'm just spit balling. :P