EXERCISE Populating your World

Discussion in 'DEVELOPING CHARACTERS & CULTURES' started by Minibit, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. I posted a little bit about John and Jane Doe in Lstorm's discussion about World Building Processes and thought I'd share more about this shortcut to culture development!

    Most of how you show off your culture in a world is through the characters. The only real alternative is to spend more time describing the scenery and expositing the how/why of everything that happens. I personally have never enjoyed reading this method; show, don't tell, they do say!

    Try filling out the forms below (or freewriting a short daily-life story for each one). As you answer the questions, you'll find yourself having to consider and fill in holes in the culture that you may not even have noticed. Probably not all of these issues will come up in your story or roleplay, but you should always consider them anyway; they can unlock new possibilities just by being present! some tips:


    • Try to avoid one or two word answers.


    • Keep in mind these are AVERAGE CITIZENS, and not main characters. It is easier to get a feel for how a world works if you work with the rules and not the exceptions; heroes and heroines tend to stand out from the crowd; we cannot use them to get a feel for said crowd


    • Skip any questions that do not apply to your character (ie: for an unmarried character, you need not answer the questions pertaining to spouse(s)).


    • You can add questions if you think of more.


    • I suggest creating a sheet like this for a male and a female (if gender roles are present, which they probably are if males and females look/behave differently from each other in general) of each different faction of your world. For example, a poor Jane and John and a rich Jane and John. A human Jane and John and a Pixie Jane and John.


    JOHN DOE:
    His Race/Species?
    Do they ever experience racism/prejudice?
    Does their race/species afford them any luxuries other races/species are ineligible for? (ie: scholarships, rank, membership of certain groups, admittance into certain places/areas)
    His Religious Views?
    How does he follow them?
    Is it easy for him to practice his religion?
    His job/trade?
    Is this job/trade respectable?
    Were John's job choices limited by his gender?
    Has he had any formal education?
    Is he married?
    How many wives/husbands?
    How did he meet them?
    Kids?
    How many?
    Does he employ a nanny?
    Is this normal?
    Financial status/class?
    What is John's house like?
    Did John build his house? Was it purchased? Handed down?
    Does John own the house or does his wife/husband(s)?
    Why is it decorated/furnished this way?
    Does he have a yard?
    If he has kids, are they in school?
    How many days a week are they in school?
    Do John or his wife/husband tutor them at home?
    Are they in apprenticeships?
    Are they raised by their parents, or the whole town/village?
    At what age did John leave home?
    At what age will John's kids leave home?
    How is John thought of by his employer?
    By random acquaintances (eg. a merchant he buys from)
    What kind of expectations are made of him?
    What is his wife/husband's role in John's life?
    Describe John's wedding
    Did he need permission to marry?
    Did he receive a dowry?
    His favourite holiday?
    How does he celebrate it?
    Does John have any pets/familiars/summons?
    How did he come by them?
    How would he react if one of his pets/familiars/summons were attacked?
    What measures does John take to protect himself/his family day-to-day?
    If the country is a democracy, how does John vote (if he is permitted to)?
    Who/what does he vote for?
    What are John's highest ambitions?
    How does he dress?
    How does he keep his hair?
    Does he grow facial hair?
    Does he shave at all?
    Are the answers to the last four questions especially fashionable? Deviant? Normal?
    How important are looks in terms of popularity/class?
    How does John react to a person of opposing social or religious views?
    Is this normal/acceptable?
    How does John treat people of other races/religions/species?
    Is this normal/acceptable?
    Is John part of any organized groups, such as political or military or religious factions, cults, or militia?
    Has John commited any crimes?
    If he was convicted/caught, what was his punishment?
    Is John in any organized sports?
    Does he follow any?
    Are his kids involved in sports?
    What does John do for fun (beyond sports)


    JANE DOE:
    Her race/species?
    Do they ever experience racism/prejudice?
    Does their race/species afford them any luxuries other races/species are ineligible for? (ie: scholarships, rank, membership of certain groups, admittance into certain places/areas)
    Her Religious Views?
    How does she follow them?
    Is it easy for her to practice her religion?
    Her job/trade?
    Is this job/trade respectable?
    Is she married?
    How many husbands/wives?
    How did she meet them?
    Kids?
    How many?
    Does she employ a nanny?
    Is the above child situation normal?
    Were the children delivered in a medical institution, or in her home?
    Did she employ a wet nurse?
    Financial status/class?
    What is Jane's house like?
    Did Jane build his house? Was it purchased? Handed down?
    Does Jane own the house or does her husband(s) or wife/wives?
    Why is it decorated/furnished this way?
    Does it have a yard?
    If she has kids, are they in school?
    How many days a week do they go to school?
    Is there much at-home learning (eg: cooking, sewing, household chores, small repairs)?
    More for daughters than sons? the reverse?
    Are they in apprenticeships?
    Are they raised by their parents, or the whole town/village?
    At what age did Jane leave home?
    Was she married when she left, or did she leave single?
    At what age will Jane's kids leave home?
    Are Jane's job opportunities limited by her gender?
    Is her education limited?
    Has she had formal education?
    How is Jane treated by her neighbours?
    By her employer?
    By acquaintances?
    What kind of expectations are made of her?
    What is her husband/wife's role in Jane's life?
    Describe Jane's wedding
    Did she need permission to marry?
    Did she bring a dowry?
    Did she take her husband's surname?
    Was she expected to?
    Her favourite holiday?
    How does she celebrate it?
    Does Jane have any pets/familiars/summons?
    How did she come by them?
    How would she react if one of his pets/familiars/summons were attacked?
    What measures does Jane take to protect herself/her family day-to-day?
    If the country is a democracy, how does Jane vote (if she is permitted to)?
    Who/what does she vote for?
    What are Jane's highest ambitions?
    How does Jane dress for a typical day?
    How does she keep her hair?
    Does she shave?
    Does she wear makeup on an average day?
    Does she wear jewelery on an average day?
    Are the above five questions especially fashionable? Deviant? Normal?
    How important are looks in terms of popularity/class?
    How does Jane react to a person of opposing social or religious views?
    Is this normal/acceptable?
    How does Jane treat people of other races/religions/species?
    Is this normal/acceptable?
    Is Jane part of any organized groups, such as political or military or religious factions, cults, or militia?
    Has Jane commited any crimes?
    If she was convicted/caught, what was her punishment?
    Is she in any organized sports?
    Does she follow any?
    Are her kids involved in sports?
    What does Jane do for fun (beyond sports)
     
  2. His Race/Species: Merman

    Do they ever experience racism/prejudice: The mer races never interact with other races seeing as how they are the only race that lives in the ocean. So no.

    Does their race/species afford them any luxuries other races/species are ineligible for: Mer people can breath underwater, unlike other races.

    His Religious Views: John, like many mer people, is not at all religious.

    His job/trade: John is a seaweed farmer.

    Is this job/trade respectable: Of course, sea weed is the main food of the town and everyone needs it. It is even made into clothes.

    Were John's job choices limited by his gender: No, both mermen and merwomen can be seaweed farmers.

    Has he had any formal education: No, most mer people who were born into farmer families do not.

    Financial status/class: John is a higher class citizen thanks to him being a member of a large seaweed farm family.

    What is John's house like: John, like all other high class mer people, lives in a strong house built from a color of coral that he got to choose. It is large, many rooms for a potential family that he will get later in life. Inside most furniture is made from various different ocean plants. Such as the bed and chairs behind made from anemones.

    Did John build his house? Was it purchased? Handed down: He got his house thanks to his social rank, it is personalized but he had it built for him at no cost to him.

    Why is it decorated/furnished this way: Sea plants like anemones are used for comfort and to hold you in place while you sleep which is why they are used for furniture.

    Does he have a yard: Yes, he has a good sized back yard with a personal food garden.

    At what age did John leave home: Like all mer people of middle or high class John left home as soon as he left his teens.

    How is John thought of by his employer: They love him, since his employer is his family.

    By random acquaintances: He is respected because he is a farmer and he helps feed the city.

    What kind of expectations are made of him: He is expected to go to work every day and work until the waters grow dark and the street lights come on and then he can head home. He is also expected to be polite and sell to anyone who can pay.

    His favorite holiday: Ascension Day. The day that all the mer people came up from the ocean chasms where they had hid when all the bombs went off all over the world.

    How does he celebrate it: Like others of his race he ventures out from the city and with the large crowds of mer people he dives down into the chasms to aknowledge how hard it had been.

    Does John have any pets/familiars/summons: No, no mer people have any pets, basically no one anywhere has pets, it's very rare.

    What measures does John take to protect himself day-to-day: He, like all smart mer people, avoids the outskirts of the city and never leaves it alone.

    What are John's highest ambitions: His highest ambition is to one day become the head of his family which owns the biggest seaweed farm in the city. He is well on his way already

    How does he dress: Mer people do not wear clothes often, they have scales on their upper chest, sides, upper arms, neck, chin, and their whole lower body. Also, they have no legs and have thin scaled tails instead, so pants aren't possible or necessary.

    How does he keep his hair: Mer people have no hair, instead they have frills on their heads of varying colors and shapes.

    Does he shave at all: Mer people can not grow facial hair either.

    How important are looks in terms of popularity/class: Well, looks would refer to scale and skin color and frill looks seeing as how those vary greatly. Those matter quite a bit, the better your scale and skin colors and your head frills the more likely you are you get a family and family means higher class.

    How does John react to a person of opposing social or religious views: They aren't the most peaceful race, so while he is usually happy and nice he can be judgmental and harsh to people of different ideals.

    Is this normal/acceptable: Very, it happens all throughout the mer community.

    How does John treat people of other races/religions/species: He, like many of his species, never has and very well never will see other races. Though there is only one religion that any mer people at all follow and it's uncommon but not rare. He does not like them and he does not treat them well.

    Is this normal/acceptable: It is very normal, no one really likes the religion other than people in it.

    Is John part of any organized groups, such as political or military or religious factions, cults, or militia: None, unless you count his family owned farm.

    Has John committed any crimes: John was once caught in an intimate situation with a low class mer woman which is not allowed, you are only allowed to be with people your rank or one lower.

    If he was convicted/caught, what was his punishment: Luckily, thanks to his importance, he was let off with a warning.

    Is John in any organized sports: No

    Does he follow any: He does like to watch others play shell ball, basically like soccer but with a circle shell and you have a fin instead of feet to use. Also since it's in water the shell can go up into open water, it doesn't have to stay on the ground.

    What does John do for fun: He goes out drinking with his friends at the city bars. Drinking is harder than you would think when you're underwater. Drinks come in capsules that you break in your mouth.
     
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