LESSON World Logic

Discussion in 'BUILDING WORLDS' started by pyra4eva, Dec 8, 2017.

  1. Over the years, when talking to people about world building, the thing that I've noticed people overlook in the whole grand scheme of what they think they should do or should have is general world logic.

    Let's start at the beginning.

    What do I mean by world logic?

    The way I define world logic is simply what is true about the world and how it works. Things as simple as the physics of the world, the limitations on technology, and if you're in a fantasy setting, how magic works. Think of it as the mechanics of the world. If you've ever played a videogame or a roleplaying game like D&D (dungeons and dragons), it's the general mechanics that run in the background that allows you to do the things that you can do in the world. Breaking the world logic or the mechanics that control the world can cause some issues, much like when a videogame glitches (A glitch is when the operating system isn't working properly and/or the code isn't working properly. It's what can lead to a system crashing.).

    How to situate the world logic:
    When thinking about a world, it doesn't matter if you have a small village to start with or a whole solar system you're working with, the internal logic of the world will be able to support your setting and ground it into whatever setting/genre you're doing. The world logic can be as easy as if a character lets go of an apple, it falls to the ground. If that apple doesn't fall, it's because there is a force acting upon it. The exception could simply be that the character is in space and the artificial gravity isn't turned on. World logic doesn't have to be complicated. I have always encouraged people to go the simplest route and whatever feels right. The world we live in is very intuitive so I encourage people to use that in the internal logic of the world that they're building. World logic can also give a hint to the world's lore. From simply watching/reading the Lord of the Rings, people can figure out that there is magic in the world without anyone having to look in the Silmarillion. People can figure out little things from simply watching/reading those books. Like the scene where the fellowship decides to climb the snowy mountain. Legolas is walking on top of the snow where everyone else is trudging through it. No one has to go into depth in the lore to tell you that this is unique to elves and they must be super light since Legolas doesn't seem to have magic. World logic can help show off lore that you might never be able to get to in the story. World logic will build upon the main ideas and rules that you establish. If there are a million exceptions to a rule that doesn't connect to any other rule, then it isn't a rule. Another words, if only creatures with wings can fly, then a creature without wings shouldn't be able to fly, especially if there is no in-world reason why. If there is no magic in the world, then it can't be magic. If there is no technology in the world that would come close and no one else has it, then they shouldn't have special tech that's thousands of years ahead of the rest of the world. If a creature does fly without wings and there is magic, that's perfectly fine because you have already established that magic exists so it is connected to a rule that exists.

    When adding more layers:
    Worlds have layers. There are scifi genres that push the idea of what is possible in this world. Shows like Gundam and videogames like Zone of the Enders have giant mech suits that fly in space and all that. There are fantasy genres with magic and mythical creatures. There is still logic behind all that. It's easy to just say "well, it's magic" or "well, blam blam science, man!". But that kind of thinking leads to people pushing and eventually breaking the world logic to a point where nothing is grounded within the genre and immersion can suffer. There are plenty of examples in various media where there is an episode or character that breaks the logic of their world that leads to people getting rather miffed. Not everyone can explain why they feel so upset but it's based on the fact that immersion has been ruined and nothing in the world matters after that. Tension is lost and stakes have no meaning when a character doesn't have to abide by them. Without looking at the lore of something like Pokemon, people can figure out fairly well that fire types are strong against plant types. It makes sense that a plant won't do well if you throw fire at it. Plant types are strong against water types. Well, plants live off water so that makes sense. Water types are strong against fire types. Well, you use water to put out fire. Knowing nothing about the lore or saying any Pokemon names, the world logic has been established that some Pokemon have advantages to others and it's based on simpe intuitive knowledge. Expanding past that, people can intuitively figure out that electric types are weak against ground types. In our own world, when it comes to electrical appliances and sockets, there are things called 'grounders' that help prevent people from getting electrocuted and electronics from getting fried. Going deeper into things, someone brings up a Pokemon that creates electric shocks. So do eels in our world. It makes total sense even if people don't know how eels produce the electric shocks. With all that said, still using the example of Pokemon, if you suddenly come across an electric type that is all of a sudden strong against ground types when using nothing but their electrical abilities, it's going to catch people off guard and break the internal logic that has been presented. When playing the videogame, people would instantly mark it as a glitch or accuse people of hacking (or breaking) the game. If watching the tv show, people would be up in arms about this OP (overpowered) Pokemon breaking all the rules that have been established. It's because those moments where the main electric type pokemon in the series Pikachu had to work around dealing with ground types and other more powerful electric types by using other moves like his quick attack and had to not rely on his signature electric abilities to win lose their weight. All that tension is lost and so when that situation comes along again, people are going to roll their eyes and point out the OP Pokemon that can just wave it away because the rules mean nothing after that. The lore doesn't matter if the world doesn't support it. The rule should be the rule without having a million exceptions. When adding layers to the main foundational rule, have them connect to the rules already established.

    Stretching/Pushing the limits:
    Once you have the world logic and have things working properly like a well oiled machine, there will be moments where you might want to push the limits. The best way to push/stretch the limits of the rules is to give a plausible reason for it. This is especially the case for fight scenes. In so many videogames and roleplaying games, there are skills/feats that people can have their character have that explains why, even if all of their hit points/health is gone and everything is saying that they should be out for the count, they are still going. This will also back up the lore. In a videogame where there are nanites in a characters blood, maybe you got an upgrade that makes it where if your heart stops, they give it a shock but it can only be done once because they short circuit in order to do it. This adds tension and gives a new element to the lore. A person can easily deduce from that situation that the character will have to somehow replace those nanites and that this is it, the last chance to win the fight. Of course, that means that once this is done, when the character is knocked out again, much like in a videogame, it's game over. Pushing/stretching the limits of the world logic has it's own limits that are reinforced by the base rule. In this case, nanites can help keep the character's health intact but unless coded to, they will not do anything to damage themselves because if they damage themselves, they have to be replaced. No one needs to know how nanites are made or what they are made of to come up with that conclusion. Having nanites be expensive also makes it where everyone knows that this is something that is hard to get and increases tension. It also implies that nanites are expensive to make if they are expensive to buy and reinforces again why they are programmed to not damage themselves. This also means that restraint in using this is needed. That's why in videogames certain skills have cooldowns (a set time that you can't use a certain ability again) or resource requirements. It makes it where a character can't constantly push/stretch the limits of the world's logic because when it happens all the time, it isn't pushing/stretching the limit. I think Dash from the Incredibles said it best: When everyone is super, no one is. Another words, if something happens all the time, it becomes routine and the norm.

    Now, this is just a general explanation and not a full in depth exploration of world logic. There are so many genres out there and so many worlds out there that have their own internal logic. This whole thing was simply to have people think about how their world works. Another words, the general truths that people can test and reinforce. Just because your world works different from someone else's doesn't mean you built it "wrong". It simply means that your world works differently and that's perfectly fine. In one world, magic might be rare and weak. In another, it can be wide spread with only a few that have super strong magic. In yet another, the world can have magic everywhere. In yet another one, there might not be any magic at all. All of those worlds are perfectly fine. You don't NEED to have something in your world. As long as things run smoothly and make sense, it's perfectly fine. Lastly, I do encourage people to post about worlds that have internal logic that they enjoyed and maybe even inspired them to look further and deeper into the lore. Thanks for reading.
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