Posts Tagged ‘how to build realistic storyworlds’

Welcome to this week’s Craft Post, coming to you late, because Friday’s just seem to come out of nowhere and I forget to write it by the time I realize I need to. Enough of my excuses. For those who are new or haven’t been around lately, we have been in a nearly a year-long series on Worldbuilding. To get caught up, you can find all the posts under the World Building link in the toolbar. Last week we started a new sub-series on Magic and Technology. You can find that post and all the posts in this sub-series here. So, just to be clear, today’s post and our next post will be focused on magic and the following three posts after that will focus on Technology. I am doing that to give technology the time it deserves. All right, that’s enough let’s dive into it.

Should Magic be Mystical or Knowledgeable? That’s the question every fantasy writer and reader argue over. Well, not everyone. Several authors will tell you it doesn’t matter, but they prefer one or the other. Then you have the others who believe their side is the only way. If you have been following my blog at all, you know that I have my view on this topic. I fall clearly on the Knowledgeable side of the line. The mystical side is great, but I find it too much of a plot thread that authors use to get their characters out of a jam they can’t seem to find an answer for. It doesn’t always happen, but it has happened enough to shun me.

That speaking, my first book ever was written has magic that falls more on the mystical side than the knowledgeable side. (Note I am talking about Seeing Through the Veil). Before we get any further, let’s go over what I mean by Mystical and Knowledgeable. It’s time for the Line:

This line is usually a visual given when explaining the differences. A lot of magic systems out there fall somewhere on this line. If a system falls completely to the left it is completely mysterious and the reader knows nothing of how it works. If it falls completely to the right, the reader knows exactly what magic can and can’t do. The rules that govern it. Anywhere is a mixture of both. Examples of this would be the Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time Series.

While some people believe they figured out Lord of the Rings Magic rules, they haven’t because Tolkien was taking from myths and folklore for the creation of Middle Earth. I wouldn’t be surprised if he and an idea in his head of what magic could do, but it very well possible he didn’t. So those are the extremes. Where do you fall on this line? I am not completely with the Wheel of Time, but I can get close at times.

Before going any further, please note that once you pick where you fall, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck there. Maybe your current WIP (Work in Progress) you want more knowledge base magic. However, your next project could have magic more mystical form. But knowing where you fall on this line is very important because it will help you with your writing. There is one more line we need to cover and that is the middle. Why do we need to talk about the middle? Simple, if you can’t figure out where you want your magic system to fall, or where you fall, the middle is a great place to be. You get both worlds. What series could fall there?

Why not Harry Potter. If I actually had to put Harry Potte on the line, it would probably be just shy of the middle to the mystical side. Solely because while we know about magic, we don’t come close to knowing what it can completely do or can’t completely do. (Beyond not being able to bring someone back from the dead). The middle is a great place to give your readers some knowledge of magic and still keep it mysterious and open to new possibilities. Note: If you do this, or if you fall on the mystical side as well. I would say know how magic works yourself. This way you don’t use it in aways that can used as examples of magic being used to solve your plot because you can’t come out with away out without it.

What do you think? Should Magic be more Mystical or should it be more Knowledgeable? Or is the Middle a good place? Time to figure that out.

That’s all I got this week. Check back next week for How your World Affects Magic. Also, be sure to check back on Monday for my Weekly Writing Wrap-up!


Welcome to last Friday’s Craft Post. Sorry for the late posting. For the reasons see my post about being late or my Weekly Writing Wrap-up. For those who are new, we are currently in a massive Worldbuilding Series. We are currently on our seventh sub-series, economics. This post will be the last post in this sub-series. Friday we will start a new sub-series. To get completely caught up, check out the Worldbuilding link in the toolbar. To read all the posts in this sub-series you can find them here. Let’s get started.

Current Prices
Pounds Ounces Gram
Gold  $39,063.13  $1,214.70  $389.9500
Platinum  $30,205.60  $939.50  $30.2100
Palladium  $23,505.39  $731.10  $23.5100
Silver  $241.32  $16.57  $0.5400
Copper  $3.68  $0.23  $0.0055

Before we go into Goods and Services I want to talk more about the value of money. It plays into them. Today’s prices for the top precious metals. Well Gold, Platinum, and Palladium, don’t know where Silver and Copper come on the list overall. I have four tables for you to look at.

Same Gram in coin Different Gram in coin
Gram Worth Coin = Gram Worth Coin =
GP 4.5 175.27 1 GP 4.5 175.27 1
SP 4.5 1.03 180.52 SP 9 4.77 37.31
CP 4.5 0.02 8763.5 CP 7 0.38 4612.36

Base one these two tables you see how many silver pieces and copper pieces to make one gold coin based today’s prices by the gram. The first table uses the same amount of grams per piece. The second uses different levels. Based on today’s prices, if the same about of copper is in a coin as there is gold that’s 8763.5 pieces of copper to make one gold coin. It a changes to 4612.36 when you change the grams. You may wonder why this is important. We will cover that. I would like to think more about how great the difference is in worth.  180 pieces of silver is a lot of coin to carry around. So is over 8000 or 4000 copper pieces no matter what table you use. Let’s see how much this changes when we use Platinum gram price for silver and Palladium for copper.

Same Gram Different Values Different Gram Different Values
Gram Worth Coin = Gram Worth Coin =
GP 4.5 175.27 1 GP 9 350.55 1
SP 4.5 135.94 1.2 SP 4.5 135.94 2.57
CP 4.5 105.79 1.6 CP 2.5 38.77 5.96

Wow, that’s a huge difference. Way too high. Only .2 difference in value if you use the same grams. 2.57 is better, but not as good. The same goes for copper. Under this value, you have to care less money but at the same time, it isn’t the best value.

You might be asking why does this matter? My point is simple. If you go play any RPG video games or RPG table top games you might find pricing for goods and services that have one GP for a loft of bread. Or 2, I am looking at you Skyrim. Based on what one gold coin is worth of 4.5 grams of gold costs $350.54. That better be the best bread I will ever eat to cost that much. Skyrim doesn’t have any other coinage other than gold, so it isn’t as bad. However, what if everything is based on gold like bread but you have lower coins?  That would make no sense? You’re an idiot of you pay 4 gold for a hammer. That should be something far less. Maybe 5 silvers.

The best example of goods and services is in D&D

Adventuring Gear
Item Cost Item Cost Item Cost Item Cost
Acid (flask) 10gp Firewood (per day) 1 cp Mirror, small steel 10 gp Sledge 1 gp
Alchemist’s fire (flask) 20 gp Fishhook 1 sp Mug/tankard, clay 2 cp Soap (per lb.) 5 sp
Antitoxin (vial) 50 gp Fishing net, 25 sq. ft. 4 gp Oil (1-pint flask) 1 sp Spade or shovel 2 gp
Backpack (empty) 2 gp Flask 3 cp Paper (sheet) 4 sp Spyglass 1000gp
Barrel (empty) 2 gp Flint and steel 1 gp Parchment (sheet) 2 sp Tent 10 gp
Basket (empty) 4 sp Grappling hook 1 gp Pick, miner’s 3 gp Torch 1 cp
Bedroll 1 sp Hammer 5 sp Pitcher, clay 2 cp Vial, ink or potion 1 gp
Bell 1 gp Ink (1 oz. vial) 8 gp Piton 1 sp Waterskin 1 gp
Blanket, winter 5 sp Inkpen 1 sp Pole, 10-foot 2 sp Whetstone 2 cp
Block and tackle 5 gp Jug, clay 3 cp Pot, iron 5 sp
Bottle, wine, glass 2 gp Ladder, 10-foot 5 cp Pouch, belt 1 gp
Bucket (empty) 5 sp Lamp, common 1 sp Ram, portable 10 gp
Caltrops 1 gp Lantern, bullseye 12 gp Rations, trail(per day) 5 sp
Candle 1 cp Lantern, hooded 7 gp Rope, hemp (50 ft.) 1 gp
Canvas (sq. yd.) 1 sp Lock, very simple 20 gp Rope, silk (50 ft.) 10 gp
Case, map or scroll 1 gp Lock, Average 40 gp Sack (empty) 1 sp
Chain (10 ft.) 30 gp Lock, Good 80 gp Sealing wax 1 gp
Chalk, 1 piece 1 cp Lock, Amazing 150 gp Sewing needle 5 sp
Chest (empty) 2 gp Manacles 15 gp Signal whistle 8 sp
Crowbar 2 gp Manacles, masterwork 50 gp Signet ring‡ 5 gp

This is from D&D 3rd edition. To see all the goods you can find them here. D&D Wikia.

If you look over the items list you see prices that cost different values. This isn’t based on our values of gold, silver, and copper. There value is 10 sp = 1 gp. 10 cp = 1 sp. Simple, but gives you an idea.

Let’s look at a crafting your own goods and services. Depending on how functional you want it to be, determines how much you work on this. Think of things like this. If you want a realistic as you can. Your prices will be different everywhere you go. Example:

I am currently living in New Hampshire where there is no sale tax. This means that what the price is what it is. Cross the board to Massachusetts, there is sales tax. What a can of beans costs in New Hampshire is different in Massachusetts. This is the rich area as well, so going somewhere else like Arizona, prices are cheaper. How much, there’s a difference. This will go the same in your world.

Paying to rent a room in the capital of nation will be different than a room in the middle of nowhere. Beer, a few coppers it should cost in the poor areas of a city while in the rich districts you may pay a silver or gold for the best wine in the house. To make things simple you could have a set price for items overall, or to make it a little more complex one price for poor areas and another price for rich areas.  Same goes for cities and villages. It’s up to you. Just remember sometimes prices may be high in nowhere due to the cost to get items there.

That’s all I got on this topic. It is a very complex topic if you really want to make it real. Read The Name of the Wind and see how Pat Rothfuss does it. Also, you could take courses on economics or read some books.

On Friday we will start our next sub-series. I am thinking it might be time to discuss Governments. Not sure if that will be the next topic or not, but as of this moment, it is. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.


Welcome to this week’s Craft Post. I hope everyone has had a good writing week. For those who are new, we have been going through a massive series on Worldbuilding. You can find the whole series thus far under the Worldbuilding link in the toolbar. Today we will be covering the second post in the new sub-series on Civilizations. You can find the first post here.

Now that we know a city can be whatever we decide it is, the question is where do civilizations tend to show up? There is only one way to know for sure and that is studying history. There is a major historical event or should I say information that led to the formation of permanent settlements. What was it? Guess! Either you guess right or wrong. The answer: Farming. Learning how to grow and harvest food allowed the early man to start to settle in one place instead roaming the lands.

In that, we have the answer to our question, to where settlements tend to show up. They show up in areas that are fertile. You can’t have a lot of people living in an area where you can’t grow crows post-Neolithic Revolution. Look at where early settlements were located. The fertile crescent in Mesopotamia, China, Eygpt, and India. These are only a few areas. When you are developing the history of your world, and if you cover the area this age, you should remember this.

While we have our answer, we still really don’t have our answer. Settlements appear elsewhere after hundreds of years adapting. Eventually, whatever race or races that mostly populate your world, will have more than they need. They will find other resources other than food, such as ore, or rare and precious metals like gold and silver. (Note, just because gold is the most valuable metal in our world doesn’t mean it has to be in your world.) Also, different settlements will meet up and find resource the other doesn’t have and will want. Trade routes will take place.

This is where another part of the answer comes in. Instead of traveling hundreds of miles to a settlement to settlement, it is easier to meet half way. What happens at these locations, settlements form. Same goes for ports. These areas are where larger settlements will form while smaller villages will form nearby or near farms.

Again, it looks like we have our answer. However, there is one other thing area that needs to be examined. Religious sites. Look at Isreal Judaism or Mecca for Islam. Certain lands, paths, or even regions can be seen as important. This goes back to our religions we craft. In these areas, you can bet all different size settlements will spring up. If we are talking about religion, how about magical lands or sites? If you have Leylines, areas where magic is stronger, I would think people would settle there, especially if you could use magic or learn it.

The closer we get to modern day, we will get settlements that are in remote areas. For these civilizations to form, someone or a group of people had to have reason to settle there. Maybe they wanted to get away from the world. Who knows. However, there is a reason. Depending on how advance your world is or where in history the story falls, you can have random settlements in areas that make no logical sense to settle there. Just be sure you know why the people who founded the town, village, or city.

Before we wrap up today, there is one other thing I want to bring up. While we have a well establish timeline of when civilization started, we are learning that it may not be as clear as we once thought. Areas around the world, we are discovering sites either religious or settlements that predate our earliest known civilizations. This is something you may want to put into your world. If you map out the whole history up to your story, you should know when these areas were settled and by whom. As well, why the abandon them or how they were destroyed.

That’s all for this week. Next week, we will be wrapping up this sub-series with a post on Formation of Settlements. Right now I am looking a what sub-series will be next. I am thinking about Governments, but I feel like I should hold off for a little while. We will see. Check back on Monday for my Weekly Writing Wrap-up. Now on Wednesdays for the month of October only, I will be posting a mini-series on NaNoWriMo Prep. You can find the first in the four post series here.