LESSON "I want to live there!" Making Worlds Fun!

Discussion in 'CREATING WORLDS & SETTINGS' started by Minibit, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. There are lots of ways to make a fictional world appealing to real people. How many times have YOU had a frustrating day, flipped a table and yelled "Forget it, I'm moving to Narnia/Middle Earth/The TARDIS!"?

    Today though, we're going to focus on toys.

    Yes, toys.

    Gizmos, gadgets, stuff you can goof around with.

    Everyone and their mom wanted to live in the Star Wars universe so they could have their very own Lightsaber, and don't tell me you know a Whovian who hasn't daydreamed about having their own TARDIS or sonic device, or an Archer who hasn't wanted Susan's Christmas Present (A bow and arrows that never miss their mark) for their own!

    Shallow as it may sound, we are attracted to worlds that have stuff we want to play with. So give your world some toys! But it doesn't work if you do it like "Hey there's this in-depth world of rolling hills and mountains... and they also have this shiny thing."

    The device has to be important to the story, or there's no reason for it to be there (this is true of everything! If it doesn't contribute to the plot, it distracts from it.) There wouldn't be much combat advantage to being a jedi if they didn't have special weapons, Susan would never have proved her and her siblings royal lineage without that Bow (Not to mention the battle against Jadis!) and the Doctor couldn't do jack without his TARDIS.


    So! When picking out some gizmos to fun up our new world, we need to make sure we can check off all of the following:


    • DOES IT BLEND?
      Does this toy/gizmo blend in with the established world or does it clash? A beam sword won't do very well in a medieval time frame (even a fantasy one, beam swords and other laser-like things just SCREAM scifi and steampunk), but an enchanted, sentient sword might!
    • OOH-HOO-HOO IT'S ALL BEEN DONE!
      The suggestion of an enchanted, sentient sword up there? Scrap it. It's been done to death. Find new ideas; they can be based off of old ones, but make sure they're not carbon copies. For example, I'd scrap a sentient sword, but a sword under a curse that it has to take X number of lives every month or year could make an interesting plot device. Don't worry too much about being completely original. Odds are, someone somewhere has had a similar idea before. So long as the similar idea hasn't been made into a known book or movie or game franchise, don't worry about it. Zelda doesn't have a patent on enchanted instruments, and Pokemon isn't going to scream copyright if you have a trainer of animals with special powers as your hero.
    • DON'T LIMIT YOURSELF
      A Gizmo doesn't have to be a weapon or a tool, though these are the most common examples, it could also be a pill that changes you if you swallow it, or a bonded spirit or pet (Who hasn't wanted their very own Pikachu?). The best way to be original is to take the most common element of a trope and cut it out completely. For example, let's take one of Harry Potter's (admit it) fairly common toys; Wands. In Harry Potter, "the wand chooses the wizard", and no two wands are the same, they have natures that compliment the witch or wizard. So, first let's chop Harry Potter Wands down to basic elements
      1) They are corporeal objects that need to be held to work
      2) They are each unique to their wielder
      3) Only witches and wizards can use them.
      If we make them non-corporeal, a wand becomes more like a spirit that will only bond with one magically-endowed person. That could be interesting!
      If we take away the unique nature of a wand from the beginning, it could be possible that the wand moulds itself to its wizard, which would make it possible to guess things about a wizard from his wand. It could also mean the wands remain uniform, causing fun wand-mix-up scenarios!
      And if we make it so that anyone can use a wand, for example, that a wand gives someone magic instead of helping them use present magic, we'd have to allow for wands falling into uneducated muggle hands, or being mass-produced to feed the bigger market for them. This would result in some cheap, unreliable wands that may fail at critical moments, or a real, working and reliable wand being expensive and hard to acquire.
      We still need to change things; these are still quite obviously taken from the Potterverse, but it's a good start to creating a unique gizmo!
    • THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A NECESSITY AND A CONVENIENCE!
      I can't reiterate enough that whatever your fun-factor gizmo is, it needs to be important to the story. Let's take my soul-eating sword idea up there again; yeah, it's pretty cool that our hero has a sword bonded to his soul that needs to take so many lives a year or else it takes his, but is this important to his quest to slay a dragon? If a dragon soul will slake the sword's thirst for eternity, then yes; because his sword-curse is now the story's tension, and killing a dragon it's resolving action. You can't have one without the other. On the other hand, if he's just a dragon hunter who happens to have a cursed sword, then there's no reason it can't be a regular sword instead. Make it something that NEEDS to be in the story for it to work, not something that just makes it easier or look cooler.


    Got that? Let's Play!


    The name of your toy/gizmo/thingumy:

    Why is it so named?

    Describe it's appearance:

    What does it do?

    How does it work?

    Does it need anything (a resource or situation) to work properly?

    Are there any situations/things that could cause it to not work correctly or at all?

    Conversely; is there any way this thing can make a plot point TOO EASY to solve?

    How will you prevent this?

    Is there a way it could be used for an unintended purpose?

    Can it be used in conjunction with other things in the universe?

    How common is it?

    To the holder/owner, is it omnipresent, or does it need to be summoned/physically fetched?

    Is there any difference between genders, races, magic-users and non-magic users, concerning the ability to use it?

    Do you have to have a special ability, background, or skill to use/have it?

    And the big 'un...
    HOW DOES IT'S PRESENCE CONTRIBUTE TO THE STORY?
     
  2. Just as an example, I'm going to run the Doctor's SONC SCREWDRIVER through this workshop:

    The name of your toy/gizmo/thingumy:
    Sonic Screwdriver
    Why is it so named?
    It's a screwdriver. That's Sonic. Many of its uses are like an amped up screwdriver.
    Describe it's appearance:
    (Going with 10's) silver, about the length of a pencil, with a blue glow at the end when in use.
    What does it do?
    It opens doors and unlocks things; it can send commands through computers and alter sound waves and radio signals
    How does it work?
    Mystery
    Does it need anything (a resource or situation) to work properly?
    It needs to be intact
    Are there any situations/things that could cause it to not work correctly or at all?
    If it is overloaded with power (like when plugged into the MRI machine) or smashed in any way, it becomes unusable
    Conversely; is there any way this thing can make a plot point TOO EASY to solve?
    If the plot point is opening a door, yes. But the sonic can't do Deadlock Seals, so even a door-based tension wouldn't be an easy fix.
    How will you prevent this?
    The Sonic has limits; it can't do wood, it can't do deadlocks, and it "Doesn't kill, doesn't injure, doesn't maim." It doesn't increase the Doctor's own abilities in any way, and it can't cripple or stall an oncoming foe for more than a couple minutes.
    Is there a way it could be used for an unintended purpose?
    The Sonic Screwdriver is a multi-purpose tool; it can lock a door, but if someone wanted to let something out, they could also unlock with it, so yes, if in the wrong hands it could be used for the wrong purposes
    Can it be used in conjunction with other things in the universe?
    Yes, the Doctor uses it in conjunction with other machines and the TARDIS several times. There doesn't seem to be a need for machine compatability, either.
    How common is it?
    Jack, the Matron, Amy and the Master have all produced sonic devices of their own in the series, so while Sonic Devices are not popular or commonplace, they're not impossible to get, either.
    To the holder/owner, is it omnipresent, or does it need to be summoned/physically fetched?
    It needs to be carried with. The Doctor has been put to difficulty a few times because he doesn't have the sonic with him.
    Is there any difference between genders, races, magic-users and non-magic users, concerning the ability to use it?
    No
    Do you have to have a special ability, background, or skill to use/have it?
    No
    And the big 'un...
    HOW DOES IT'S PRESENCE CONTRIBUTE TO THE STORY?
    The Doctor can't think or talk his way out of everything. he needs to have some kind of tool to help him with the physical stuff, and to use in defense, but it's not like him to carry a weapon, and it wouldn't make sense for an alien to carry an earth gadget. He needs the screwdriver because without a tool of some kind, he'd be shut down by a locked door.