LESSON World Logic

Discussion in 'CREATING WORLDS & SETTINGS' started by Lstorm, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. What is World Logic?
    Simply defined, World Logic is the set of core principles which form the pillars of a fictional world. They are laws and rules without which everything would fall apart. They are what makes a certain world different from others, defining what is possible in the constraints of a world and what is impossible. World Logic also sets the tone for the whole setting, sometimes even establishing the overarching themes that seep into its aspects. It establishes what makes the world tick, puts limitations on technology, magic or the abilities of the characters which are going to live in it. In other words, World Logic is what makes a world recognisable even if it is stripped of everything else.

    Why is World Logic important?

    As it was stated in the previous paragraphs, World Logic sets limitations on what can be achieved and establishes what is impossible. World Logic is also responsible for keeping the basic principles of the world consistent, mapping out how these principles interact, then incorporating them into the setting itself. Without a well-established World Logic, worlds can quickly fall apart on the logical level as they go against their own rules and suddenly, even the one who builds the world might start to question if the events should really play out this way or if they are following a logical line of thought.

    Out of these, the most important aspect of World Logic is that it establishes which concepts exist in a world, and which do not, thus establishing the first pillar on which a setting stands. After all, one simply cannot build a world without knowing if magic exists in it or not, nor can they build it without knowing if deities really do exist in it. It should be noted that this first pillar is for the creator of the world only, as even though something does not exist in a world, it does not meant that its inhabitants do not believe in it. Similarly, something may exist, but its existence may be questioned because of lack of evidence.

    The second most important element of World Logic is the possible and the impossible. Even if certain concepts exist, they always have to be limited or else they could get out of hand. For example, consider a setting where magic has absolutely no limits, which would mean that a powerful wizard could create their own setting inside the setting, or re-work it entirely during the course of the world’s history. While this could make an interesting element, it could get quickly out of hand, especially if the setting was made for role-playing.

    Limiting the concepts of the setting is also useful for differentiating between certain concepts and their effects. As an example, if neither the soul, nor the body has limits in the setting, then the two become virtually indistinguishable from each other. Souls will be capable of moving objects while bodies will be capable of telepathy. Now, if the soul is limited to performing actions in the abstract world and if the body is limited to performing actions in the physical world, then these two concepts no longer blend together and both of them have purpose. Of course, there can be some overlap between concepts, but if there are too many, they will start to become one.

    Another important part of World Logic is deciding how these concepts will interact, if they will work against each other, if they will work together or if they are completely neutral. To give an example, life and death are two concepts which are perceived as working against each other, heat and light would work together, while religion and planets would be probably neutral. It should be also discovered if the interaction of two different concepts is able to create a new concept, or in other words, one should decide whether the world is always changing or it is constant. Note that a world may change without changing its World Logic as the various cultures and civilizations that live in it will discover more and more of the World Logic.

    But the setting already has a history, characters and everything!

    World Logic can be very subtle sometimes, not to mention that it tends to lurk in the background most of the time unless one is intending to come up with something extraordinarily radical. This is because most people have an idea of what magic, technology, religion or other concepts are capable of, whether through it is personal experience, personal beliefs, or research. It is quite easy to build a setting without ever thinking too much about world logic, as one just has to refer to the collective subconscious of mankind to look for concepts which are already well-defined.

    One other problem with a radical World Logic is that it is quite easy to write a story based on rules which everybody seems to know. However, introducing new ideas, new concepts, or even new interpretations of already existing concepts takes time, not to mention that radical changes have the potential of alienating a reader or a role-player. As such, a lot of settings are based around already existing ideas with a few rules which have been changed to keep everything fresh, and the power of a setting tends to shine because of its plot, characters or depth, not because it introduced something brand new.

    With that said, even if one does not think about World Logic when they are making a world, large, complicated settings require a great amount of thought put into their concepts, limitations and interactions between said concepts. Thus, the more complex a world is, the more likely it is that its World Logic has to be written down in order to be kept track of.

    World Logic – A tool for completely original worlds.
    Building a completely new world which has not been done before, or its concepts are completely different than normal is not an easy task. People automatically tend to reach for mankind’s collective subconscious even if they do not intend to, and build a world upon the concepts which come from there. In fact, while it is quite easy to find a world which introduces one new basic concept, it is hard to find one which introduces multiple ones. Many settings are just variations on already existing ideas.

    However, if one starts building a world from its basic principles, rather than thinking of a story and then making a world which seems to fit it, it is possible to create inventive and sometimes downright surreal worlds. Just consider what would happen if the concept of death was unknown to the universe, or maybe the concept of a physical body did not exist. There are many possibilities in starting a world from purely World Logic, and then work one’s way towards telling a story with the elements which are already present.

    Establishing basic World Logic.
    Unfortunately, the topics which World Logic covers are very extensive and it is nearly impossible to summarise them. The sheer number of possible concepts, limitations and interactions cannot simply be summarised in the space of this workshop. However, this workshop will provide a guide to constructing a world’s basic principles, without knowing anything about the world itself.

    Step 0: Imagine an empty void.
    This is perhaps a trivial step, but it must be mentioned. If one is to build a world from the bottom up using purely world logic, then they must empty their minds of the already present ideas and start from scratch. A good method to do this is to sweep every single thought of one’s mind, then taking a piece of blank paper and a pen so that one can make notes.

    Step 1: Think of what exists in the world.

    During the first step, one must establish the concepts which exist in the world. These concepts will form the core upon which this world will be built, and as such, they must be very broad, such as life and death. A good idea is to write a short description of every concept so that they know what it means on a basic level. These short descriptions may also help one with coming up with new concepts that are built upon the already established ones, or are concepts necessary for the already existing ones to work. This workshop also advises that one try and think of concepts which they have not seen in any other world yet, so that their world may be unique.

    Step 2: Establish two possibilities and two impossibilities for each concept.

    Now that the world had its basic concepts established, it is time to consider their limitations. For each idea which was written down during the previous step, one must think of at least two actions this concept can do, and two actions this concept cannot do. This is so that the ideas are solidified and made more distinct, but it also allows for grey areas which have not been decided on. As with step one, this step may also shed light on some concepts which are needed for the world to function properly. These concepts should be written down and left alone for now.

    Step 3: Make relationships between the concepts.

    Now, one should take the description of concepts and their limitations into account, then they should figure out how they interact with each other if they interact with all. The best-case scenario for this step is that if one takes time to think about how every concept interacts with every concept, but that is likely to take a very long time. Therefore, this workshop recommends that one mark the most important concepts, the ones they consider absolutely necessary to the world, and only discover their interactions. One should also note down these interactions to their respective concepts.

    Step 4: Define any new concepts which came up during these steps. Do not add impossibilities or relationships to them yet.

    Step 5: Take everything into account and make a list of three concepts which do not exist.
    This is probably the hardest step to take, because it deals with what is not in the world rather than what is in it. After coming up with the three concepts and defining them, one should see if their definitions would cause conflict with any of the existing concepts. If so, then one should revise their notes and correct the errors which have popped up. Then, one should think it through if these concepts really should not exist.

    Step 6: Add impossibilities and possibilities to all concepts which do not have them, and introduce new relationships between concepts.

    Step 7: Expand the list of impossibilities, possibilities and relationships as needed. Make sure that everything is consistent and there are no contradictory elements in the World Logic.

    Step 8: Start building the world itself. Be sure to keep the World Logic in mind so that the world remains consistent.

    And that is the process if one would like to create a world that has started from World Logic. If you have any questions, feel free to message me or post them in the thread.