Today, a Template

Published July 4, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

While it’s not the only thing I accomplished in my writing today, one thing I did was to set up a template to use in the world-building for my low-fantasy-with-a-dash-of-steampunk novel series.  (Which I am also using in a video game where you get to control one person in the employ of an international trading conglomerate.)  As most of this template feels like stuff that would be useful in almost all world-building endeavors, I thought I would share it:

Basic Template of What I Need to Know for Every Single Country

    (for the game)

 

  1. Name of Country (obviously)
    1. Name of Capital
    2. Name of Other Cities and Villages (at least 5-10)
    3. Storehouse of names for NPCs in correct linguistic tradition
    4. Agriculture and Industry Details
      1. What the primary crops and industries are
      2. What part of the country grows and makes each one
      3. Natural side effects of each, for example:
        1. Poor districts filled with underpaid factory hands
        2. Heavy pollution from over-industrialized regions
        3. Reduced population in heavily agricultural regions
        4. Places where the soil is weak from over-growth of a single crop
        5. Prosperous districts where the wealthy factory owners live
        6. Social unrest
        7. Growth of charities to resolve above problems
      4. What items are necessary to run the industries that are not locally sourced?
        1. For example, in reality, Britain’s textile industry needed to import cotton; my England-like country probably has the same problem.
        2. Any industry centered around manufacturing needs raw materials, usually metal (of some sort), wood, cotton or wool.
    5. Most Desired Imports
      1. These include the necessary items from above
      2. Also luxury items people simply want but don’t need
      3. Also any daily goods not locally produced
      4. Basic but not strictly “daily” goods not locally produced (e.g. clothing, which while needed on a daily basis is not bought on a daily basis)
      5. How do needed goods change between city and village?
      6. How do they change between regions of the country?
    6. What do they do for fun?
      1. Is it the same in the cities as in the small villages?
      2. How do pastimes of the wealthy differ from those of the poor?
      3. Young and old?
      4. Male and female?
      5. What the f*** is that noise?  Is someone mowing their lawn on the f***ing 4th of July?
      6. Do their pastimes require any items that need to be created or imported?
        1. If so, where are they made?
        2. If they are made locally, is there a special part of the country where they’re made?
        3. If they must be imported, where are they made?
    7. What kind of government do they have?
      1. Most of the countries I’ve planned so far have been monarchies, and likely most of the others are as well (except a few tribal examples), but if they’re monarchies, are they constitutional or absolute?
      2. What is the government like at the local level in cities other than the capital?  And in towns?
      3. What is the character of the current mood of the government?  Tolerant or tyrannical, or somewhere in between?
    8. Important Military Information
      1. Is the military important to the country’s culture, or merely tolerated?
      2. Is there a draft?
      3. Is the military feared by the people?
      4. Is it used as a peacekeeping force inside the country?
      5. Who serves in the military?
        1. Minimum age?
        2. Maximum age?
        3. Males, females, both?
        4. Any restrictions beyond physical incapability?
      6. What are the uniforms like, and do they have any meaning or tradition?
      7. How long has there been a standing army?  (Most of them have probably been there the whole time since the Conjunction, since the kings did not forget war existed.)
    9. Religion
      1. Yes, including all the myths; I’ll have to write Fergus’s entire book for this project
      2. Who are the gods?
      3. How important is religion in the day to day life of most citizens?
      4. What role does religion play in government?
        1. Is it a theocracy?
        2. Is there separation of church and state?
        3. Or something halfway between, like the Church of England?
      5. What kind of buildings are dedicated to religion?
        1. Are they open to foreigners?
        2. Are they open year-round, or only on certain days?
        3. If there aren’t any buildings, then where is the religion practiced?
      6. What kind of religious holidays are there?  How are they celebrated?
    10. Special days
      1. What kind of non-religious holidays are there?  How are they celebrated?
      2. Are there “observed” holidays when the government gets to shut down so the civil servants get a rest?
      3. What are these secular days about?  Historical events?  Secularized religious days?  Celestial events?  Seasonal?
    11. National neighbors
      1. Which nations do they share borders with?  (And what is the obstacle at the border?)
      2. What are their relations like with each of their neighbors?
      3. Do they trade freely?
      4. Are they trying to exploit their neighbors in any way, or are they being exploited?
    12. Social (in)tolerances
      1. Obviously, for the novels I need to know each country’s attitude towards homosexuality, so Cal & co. can tone themselves down where necessary
      2. How do they feel about foreign visitors?
        1. Do they react differently towards traders than towards tourists?
        2. Are there tourists?  If so, what are they there to see?
        3. What about the rare people who try to leave their homeland permanently?  How do the people of this country react to immigrants?  (Other than mild confusion, since it’s so rare to break that part of the generational programming.)
      3. What are the penalties for taboo behaviors?  Are they social or legal?
      4. For that matter, what are the local taboos?  (Beyond the typical, present-in-pretty-much-every-human-culture-ever taboos against incest at the commoner level.)
      5. Are social attitudes towards certain behaviors dictated by the local religion or something else?
    13. Bureaucracy
      1. How much is there?
      2. At what level is it, national or local?
      3. Tolerant?  Inflexible?
      4. Honest or corrupt?
      5. Who makes the rules?
      6. Who runs the day to day affairs?
        1. What qualifications were necessary to get the job?
        2. Does it pay well?
        3. Is it a popular position, or one taken only out of desperation?
    14. Law and Order
      1. Who makes the laws?
      2. Who enforces them?
      3. How strict are the punishments?
      4. Are there jails?
        1. Who staffs them?
        2. Where are they located?
        3. How do the locals react to the presence of the jails?
        4. Are they houses of rehabilitation, or centers for punishment?
        5. Are they where prisoners are kept prior to trial?  (Assuming that they have trials…)
      5. How are the laws enforced on outsiders?
      6. Is air traffic control part of the law and order side of things, or the bureaucracy, or a bit of both?  Or maybe the military?
    15. Children and Education
      1. Who raises the children?
      2. Does the country have childhood as we think of it?  (Since that was a construct of the Victorian era, it’s an important question.)
        1. If it does, do they have a consumerist toy industry akin to ours, or at least akin to ours in an earlier era?
        2. If it does not, what is life like for children?
      3. Who educates the children?
        1. Are there schools?
        2. Are they mandatory?
        3. How do they differ in the cities and the country?
        4. How does the education granted to the children of the elite differ from that given to the poor?
      4. Do children work?
        1. If they do, who gets their pay, them or their parents?
        2. Is there an age at which it is illegal to hire them, and if so what is that age?
      5. Are there any legal allowances made for children?
        1. Do they receive lenience if they are accused of crimes?
        2. Are their parents ever given lighter sentences to allow them to take care of their children?
        3. Do parents receive any financial assistance to offset the cost of raising their children?
      6. What happens to children without parents?
        1. Are there orphanages?
        2. Are they left to fend for themselves?
        3. Are they raised by the community as a whole, outside any bureaucratic institution like an orphanage?
    16. Economy and its Social Status
      1. Is money important to the culture, or is it merely tolerated for use with outsiders?
      2. Is being wealthy viewed as ideal or is it a sin?
    17. Social Structure
      1. Is this a society with classes?  How rigid are they?
      2. Is there upward mobility?  How common is it?
      3. If there are classes, how do the upper class react to the lower classes?
    18. Travel and Transport
      1. Are airships exclusively the property of the elite?
        1. What animals pull the airships?
        2. Are there cheaper ships/animals for the less well-to-do?
      2. Do they have any transport other than airships?  For example:
        1. Fishing vessels
        2. Carts pulled by the flightless animals
        3. Trains
        4. Human-powered vehicles (bicycles, rickshaws, etc.)
      3. What laws are applied to travel, particularly airships?
        1. Who enforces these laws?
        2. How many of these laws are forced on outsiders merely passing through?
    19. Care of the elderly
      1. Do people care for their parents/grandparents themselves?
      2. Are there retirement homes?
      3. How does society react to people who place their parents/grandparents in these homes if they exist?

 

Meh, looks like WordPress doesn’t let you do fancy lists that alternate between numbered and lettered at each level of the list.  😦  Anyway, obviously the order of things is kind of random, just in whatever order I thought of it.  And I’m sure I left out a lot of things I’ll want to figure out.  Um…and I just noticed I didn’t actually put gender roles on there anywhere.  *cough*  So, yeah, there’s still a lot I’ve left out….

I’m still going to need to research the real world cultures that inspire each of my novel’s countries, but at least now I have some areas of focus.


Today’s time: ~58 minutes

Total time in July to date:  ~5:32:22.53

I say they’re both only about that long because there were several times when I stopped or started writing today and forgot to stop or start the timer accordingly.  I then tried to make up for it in whatever direction was appropriate, but I can’t be sure how accurately I gauged any of them…

And, technically, I’m about to spend a lot more time on writing, after a fashion, because I’m gonna go post the first chapter or two of my fanfic, which will require me to give it another proofing as I post it, because I’m OCD about that.  Oh, and I also have to write up a summary of the previous fic in the series, because a lot of people didn’t read it because it involved something particularly awful.

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