PROJECT Sketching a Culture

Discussion in 'DEVELOPING CHARACTERS & CULTURES' started by Minibit, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. If you've been worldbuilding for ANY length of time, you know that building a world is a multilayered endeavour. There's everything to think of from what people to wear to funeral rituals to the local cuisine, archetecture, music, legends, the list goes on!

    So where in the heck do you start?!

    For different roleplays and stories, different parts of culture are going to be more important, so you probably already know a couple points that need to be more fleshed out for your story, but here's a skeleton sheet to try filling out to add some colour to your world:

    Don't be afraid to let answering questions lead to more questions, you can build and create for as long as you want!

    World Name: (And/or the name of the country where most of the story happens)
    How does the average commoner/noble person dress?
    Some common occupations:
    Education system: (What level of education is standard? What is considered advanced? Do people typically learn in schools, or under individual tutelage?)
    The dominant religion and a brief overview of how it is practiced:
    The main cities (or just the capital) and what makes them/it unique:
    What kind of food do the locals enjoy?
    Technological era:
    The most recent war or historical event that most effects the culture in the present: (e.g.: 9/11, Jack the Ripper, the Olympics, Bird Flu)
    Three important historical, religious, or magical sites:
    Some local slang words/terms:
    Any political conflicts going on: (a divide between classes, racial tension, border skirmishes, dangerous cult)
    Any particularly strange/unique laws:
    How are Criminals treated? (Outlawed, banished, tortured, imprisoned, put in a dungeon, etc)
    The most popular form of entertainment:
    The country's main industry for which it is known: (e.g.: Early Canada's Beaver Pelts, Chinese silks and spices)

    Some additional questions for a Fantasy World:
    Show Spoiler

    The races/species that live there and their relation to each other:
    Does the fantasy nature of the world affect the geography? (eg: Sentient mountains, enchanted forests, environments that look or behave differently because of magic or magical creatures)
    Some local fantasy wildlife:
    Do any gods or deities protect this world? Attack it? How are they worshipped/pacified?
    Talk about magic: (Is there any? Who can use it? How is it used? Are there schools for it?)
    The relationship between magic and technology:
    Are there any alternate dimensions from which things/people can be summoned?
    The most common form of transport: (technology, magic, a tamed animal)


    Some additional questions for a Sci-Fi World:
    Show Spoiler

    Some common aliens local to the main area the story takes place:
    Some forms of technology borrowed/traded/adapted from aliens:
    Level of intergalactic travel reached:
    How sturdy/refined is space travel/technology?
    Are intergalactic relations generally hostile, friendly, neutral?
    Is there a branch of military forces for intergalactic combat? Describe it briefly
    The main style of technology for humans/ other important races: (Clunky like TOS star trek; sleek, minimalist design; army bunker, comfort oriented, etc. )
    Time Travel?
    Any 'wormhole' or 'warp' technology?
    Teleportations? Lasers? Any other cool gizmos?
     
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  2. World Name: (And/or the name of the country where most of the story happens)
    The country where most of the story happens is called Skelocia.

    How does the average commoner/noble person dress?
    They dress nicely. The attire seems futuristic, advanced, with a touch of Asian influence.

    Some common occupations:
    Military-police, doctor, teacher, bureaucrat, engineer, architect. Teachers are, like the other occupations, respected and treated as professionals -- even those in primary schools.

    Education system: (What level of education is standard? What is considered advanced? Do people typically learn in schools, or under individual tutelage?)
    It is very normal to be highly-educated and literate, but not everyone has "professional" jobs and work as salesmen or service workers instead. Someone is "advanced" when they are not just knowledgeable but also clever problem-solvers. Everyone learns in schools.

    The dominant religion and a brief overview of how it is practiced:
    There is no religion per se (the government discouraged having a religion a very long time ago) but some isolated towns near forests or by the shores have superstitions based on these old beliefs.

    The pagan religion suggested there was a more intimate relationship between the dead and people.


    The main cities (or just the capital) and what makes them/it unique:
    The capital of Skelocia is Ashe'i -- this the largest, best protected, and most advanced city in the world. It houses the royal family and the military-police headquarters.

    Coirue Idelo -- a prosperous, therefore important, port city.


    What kind of food do the locals enjoy?
    Skelocia is pretty big, so there isn't a uniform "culture." Rather, the "culture" is determined by region and the further away from Ashe'ian authority, the less influence it has. So, less important coastal cities tend to enjoy seafood and seaweed -- these aren't usually considered to be dignifying foods. Coirue Idelo, however, is strongly influenced by Ashe'ian authority and so only "luxurious" and rare foods (from sea or brought from other places, mainly meat) are viewed as acceptable to eat. Near forests, people usually hunt their meat. In mountains, they eat the goats that they care for. In general, red meat is the most preferred of foods in Skelocia.

    Technological era:
    In Skelocia, there is such thing as high-technology, but a disproportionate amount of people (compared to the total population) actually have a mastery of it. These are usually only those in some way affiliated with the military-police. So although hi-tech is available, it is not distributed throughout the country equally, leaving it to appear lo-tech.

    The most recent war or historical event that most effects the culture in the present: (e.g.: 9/11, Jack the Ripper, the Olympics, Bird Flu)
    There is an unnamed war going on against "the Outside." The common person will ignorantly spew protests of the faceless enemy, as they do not even know what "the Outside" looks like. In Skelocia, having knowledge (being a doctor or engineer or whatever) does not equal to being free of ignorance. They do not question what they are being told by the government. Everyone takes the fact there is a war as common sense knowledge and they never question it. Propaganda is a common sight and people would even use propaganda as a form of entertainment.

    Three important historical, religious, or magical sites:
    History and religion has been pretty much erased by the current operating Skelocian government many, many years ago (no one remembers when). The only surviving tales of before the government are those passed down by parents, and these tales are by now so skewed and unreliable that they are now thought of as made-up and fantastical. The only surviving magical sites are islands off the coast of Skelocia, known only by the military-police.

    Any political conflicts going on: (a divide between classes, racial tension, border skirmishes, dangerous cult)
    Supposedly Skelocia is egalitarian, but there are still some tensions between foreigners and natives, people of different classes/rank (differences are less obvious than in our societies but a division of classes still exists), and males and females (due to unspoken gender role rules still in place), etc. However, between males and females there isn't really an obvious political conflict -- still, the tension is there. Every now and then, a conflict arises due to attacks from evil spirits, but the government and everyone else (except those directly involved with the incidents) refuse to accept these were caused by supernatural forces.

    Any particularly strange/unique laws:
    If a thief is caught stealing, they will be executed. Skelocia is very strict and intolerant of those not following laws. Also, those who speak against the royal family will be taken away for a week. It used to be worse before, when the current government first took over long, long ago. They executed all who were believed to be speaking against the government -- but no one remembers that anymore.

    How are Criminals treated? (Outlawed, banished, tortured, imprisoned, put in a dungeon, etc)
    Criminals would either be executed, or taken to a building where they would be "treated" for corrupted thinking. Treatment involves some psychological torture, lack of food and sleep (like in taming of a wild animal), and finally brainwashing.

    The most popular form of entertainment:
    Attending cultural festivals (at least the version of the ancient pagan festivals that remain in the collective memory of the people).

    The country's main industry for which it is known: (e.g.: Early Canada's Beaver Pelts, Chinese silks and spices)
    Technology.
     
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  3. World Name: Feylore

    How does the average commoner/noble person dress?-Theywear little to no clothing mostly wearing the local Green growth, all natural organic materials, every style varies from one to the next

    Some common occupations: -Merchants, Inventors, Carpenters, Artists, Warriors, Elders, City council members, Teachers, Mentors, Apprenticeships, Blacksmiths, builders, and much more.

    Education system: Apprenticeships - For a various amount of years one learns under a master of the trade and is mostly one on one, masters can pick up two - four apprentices at a time. Schools, Are taught Compassion and how to Use the natural renewable resources of Feylore, The world itself has magical properties, so magical energy manifestation is widely practices and used for various things.

    The dominant religion and a brief overview of how it is practiced: -Gaia- Gaia is not the religion but the best way to discribe it. This world is full of dirt-worshiping-tree-huggers. They don't call it god o give it a name they just refer to the energies around them as the Ether.

    The main cities (or just the capital) and what makes them/it unique:-FEylore is set apart for it natural resources and how the renewable is used broken down and reused, nothing is ever wasted and this cycle keep the Feylore sacred and clean.

    What kind of food do the locals enjoy?- Feylore is all based around the food chain like we have, nothing is feed what it doesn't naturally eat.

    Technological era:
    Technology in Feylore is not needed everything taps into the Ether and communicate through those connections.

    The most recent war or historical event that most effects the culture in the present: Darkness came over the Feylore blocking out the sun until a "chosen one" brought back the light.

    Three important historical, religious, or magical sites:
    The feylore rings, stone laid in a circle by their ancestors ((much like faerie rings)), The darkness ((CHALIAEE MURHPAHHH EVERYBODY!! no jk jk lol)), and the Sunspotting, Which is when the sun gets so close to the planet it causes one place to burn and as a ceromony they plant a single seed in the center of the sunspot and often visit the sapling to watch it grow.

    Some local slang words/terms:
    orgone- means to collect a certain type of life energy, Zertz- means now energy tiered or sleepy, Circs- chores, hizitch - Dammit

    Any political conflicts going on: Feylore has mortal enemies the Humans.

    Any particularly strange/unique laws: Never waste any part of what you kill to eat, Never travel anywhere in the dark, and always keep your magic outdoors.

    How are Criminals treated? Criminals are banished to a small Island to live with each other and collect natural materials.

    The most popular form of entertainment: Light shows that the people put on with their honed magics.

    The country's main industry for which it is known: Manifestation of Free energy.
     
  4. World Name: Yuriaah
    Country Name: Shiade (Shi-ah-de)

    How does the average commoner/noble person dress?
    Social classes aren't really apparent although some jobs like trading, teaching and healers tend to dress a bit more nicely while other works demand more sturdy and comfortable clothes.

    Some common occupations:
    The most common is to work in the mines, but inventor, merchant, teacher, trader and healers are all common as well, there are blacksmiths among this quite small race but they are not strong enough to handle all kinds of metals or making too large objects.

    Education system:
    High level of education and intelligence are praised highly, and a trait of the Mukannu is a higher intelligence. Children learn from their parents but as they age all children are sorted judging from what they want to work with later and assigned a teacher that will school them in their chosen proffession and other important subjects. As they close in on adult hood the teen agers are spread out in workplaces in an apprenticeship almost before they get to work fully with a pay. Some also choose to go abroad to study in the White Court Academy, the highly thought of magic academy but it also teaches other subjects and a degree from it is highly regarded.

    The dominant religion and a brief overview of how it is practiced:
    As a people that live off and take from the mountains the Mukannu honour the goddess Xala, the lady of the earth and gems. They are not a deeply religious people however, the largest part of their religion is to honour the mountain by not digging to deep and not exhaust every mine, to respect the earth. But they have days and festivals in honour of Xala, the theme is earth and the Mukannu believes Xala has blessed their home, the Angan mountains, and their own race although they also do not think of her as a goddess chained to their belief and home, recognizing her as a goddess of the earth that has her rule everywhere.

    The main cities (or just the capital) and what makes them/it unique:
    Their city Tskakka lies in the heart of the Angan mountains and while the Mukannu only have one city it is a vast and varied city. The housing caves are built under ground and the cover of the mountain, tunnel systems with larger caves for rooms are common "houses" for a Mukannu family, then there are large, spacy caverns and plazas of sorts, above or partially above ground, where the people gather for all the social events they have.

    What kind of food do the locals enjoy?
    Sea food is relatively rare as it has to be imported from the coast and as they live in a mountain vegetables and fruits are not readibly available except from a few successful tries to grow them in greenhouses. Common food is mountain goats, mushrooms growing underground that's used mostly to add some flavour and fill out a stew, fowls are kept as a source of food as well and raptors are kept by a few to allow the hunting of smaller animals on the plains.

    Technological era:
    Yuriaah has no advanced technology, no electricity or steam powered machines, but the Mukannu is one of the most skilled at building contraptions and inventions of simple means that allow them to work in the mountain despite their slim build and stature.

    The most recent war or historical event that most effects the culture in the present:
    When Niahu Meph (the shadow plague) spread across the world Shiade was infected as well and wiped out half of the population.

    Three important historical, religious, or magical sites:
    Akka, a city in the north, was one of the most important places for the Mukannu as a port city but is now a ruin buried in the past. Gansoua Xala is the highest mountain peak in the Angan mountains and is regarded as a holy place that is touched by Xala. The rare tunnels that contains the Etron metal, it is a highly prized metal for it's magic storing abilities and it is regarded as a gift of Xala to the Mukannu.

    Some local slang words/terms:
    Artseta - Cave in. Foutati - Damn. Urnune - Traveller. Waever tsuen Oaktuna - Thank the Goddess.

    Any political conflicts going on:
    Not at the moment.

    Any particularly strange/unique laws:
    Do not cause any loud noises beneath the mountain. This is a strict law since in some tunnels caves can collapse from loud noises and it is also disrespectful to Xala and her domain.


    How are Criminals treated?
    A race strict on the rules the Mukannu have a simple system for criminals, for more minor crimes the criminal is thrown into the Niatsu Suelte (Pit of Darkness) a small cavern deep in the mountain that has been fully mined and is now used as a confinement for criminals. Banishment or execution follows more serious crimes, however execution is performed through a small vertical tunnel close to the Niatsu Suelte, it is counted as bottomless, a sentanced criminal is basically pushed down.

    The most popular form of entertainment:
    Since they live in and around caves the Mukannu aren't known for loud noises or festivals. A large gathering at night by large fires with stories and legends, both historical and fictional, are a popular entertainment of both young and old, their skill at telling stories vividly yet in no high voice are widely known.

    The country's main industry for which it is known:
    Mining metals and gemstones.

    ---

    The races/species that live there and their relation to each other:
    There live many races on Yuriaah but only two still resides in Shiade, the Mukannu, a subrace of humans, lives in the Angan mountain and the Assuyu are nomads that pass through once a year. The Mukannu and the Assuyu get along quite well, they do not trample on each other's space or claim the same resources, they trade when they can and Mukannu's that leave their home often follow the Assuyu to Aldeor or Zarradeo where they then continue on their own.

    Does the fantasy nature of the world affect the geography?
    In some places yes, one example is the eastern part of Xylia forest has been named Witold and lies under the rule and protection of the Zaitra, it is well known as a confusing place where trees grow close and people can not find their way. People who have strayed to far find themselves at the forest edge and those who harm the forest are never seen again. It is said that only one guided can reach the centre where the Zaitra have their cities.

    Some local fantasy wildlife:
    The Anona are a family of feline like carnivores living in several countries where they have adapted to a certain life style and climate. The Serlitz Elk and Drurum Elk are two related species, the Selk is a mount used by the Assuyu and Ilanad, their slim build requires a small rider. The Delk is kept by humans, especially the Zith'ogana of Brichana, as a source of food and resources, they also live in the wild just as the Selk. Jhala is a sacred bird species living on the island Ta'ane that is believed to be tied to the goddess of time Jhiagna. Cark'ei is a large, slender water living carnivore that lives it's life blind in the depths of the Baktu Ocean.

    Do any gods or deities protect this world? Attack it? How are they worshipped/pacified?
    There are many gods, there ar many religions, way of worshipping and not all gods are believed in by every race. The Dala are the original four that do not rely on anything to live and are connected to life, death, time and spirit passing. The Feila are tied to the four seasons, their life is tied to nature. The Ethul are gods of independent things, like the sun and moon, dreams and winds, they are tied to the element they represent. The Laor are gods that rely on mortal belief to continue living, when mortals loose their faith a god will slowly succumb to a stony death, ending up as a statue in the end. The Nanja re the four mortals raised to demigod status and was worshipped by the races during their life. Waern are the children between mortals and the gods.

    Talk about magic:
    There is magic, it comes in many form and some races have a closer connection to it and have an easier time learning magic, essentially anyone can learn magic except a few races that simply don't have the ability to use magic. Written magic is rare, it use ancient runes that only a few knows and is also a more difficult skill to learn, it's a common magic among the Yuine. Spoken magic is the skill of the summoners, people that summon beasts, the power of the elements and so on, it's hard to learn mainly because the spells have to be memorised to work, but it also works in every language. Normal magic requires neither runes nor spells, it is a more intuitional magic, it is tricky to learn, to get the feeling right but it's also easy as it requiers nothing but a persons intention and skill with magic in their bodies. The White Court Academy in Cinna is the only real school for magic, it also teaches other subjects but it's focus is on magic in all forms, you can learn magic on your own but this is a popular choice for eager students of magic.

    The relationship between magic and technology:
    Usually it's a good relationship, technology is not very advanced so the ability to improve machines or other simple things with magic is a common thing for people.

    Are there any alternate dimensions from which things/people can be summoned?
    Yes and no, summoners can call upon magical beasts and elements from another dimension but the gods that also reside in that one can not be summoned by mortals.

    The most common form of transport:
    Walking, riding, animal pulled carts, ships.