Tuesday, November 29, 2016

World Building is a Skill

It was only recently I realized World building as a Skill. As a skill it has many components with the goal making an immersive setting. Immersive settings have many traits that make it so: ideals, mechanics (it has laws that can be acceptable or makes sense), and engages us in many levels.

To some gamers, like myself, Science and the understanding the world we live in all contributes to my World building. When I read about current events, cultures, people, economics, psychology, history, politics, etc... all contribute to my World Building because I work these all in the narrative and details of the worlds I make.

Other gamers find Literature, Stories, Characters, ironies, tragedies, sufferings, Ideologies, human virtues, etc... are more the focus of their World building. We all have very different values and focus or clarity in an aspect of the world we live in that make it engaging to us and we reflect that back into our World Building.

Understanding the Fantasy

below are a couple of key information I try to look for that is absent in most RPGs. While most RPGs deal with Characters and Peoples, i like looking at demography and economics. With these two very broad elements the world becomes more real for me.

Currently my studies are about the Axial Age in 5-4C BCE China and Hellio Centric World (from the Balkans to India) and their economies and demography. I'm butchering Middle Ages data to create my made up data for this era. A mixed blessing that I'm too busy to play but I can do some research into some worthwhile answers to these questions. 


Demography helps in painting a picture of the population and the kind of life the people lived. It gets the world builder quickly into what matters and the mortality of the population. 
  1. Child mortality, ex. ~33% before reaching the age of 5 in pre modern times and in poor undeveloped states and regions. 
  2. Maternal Death ex. 20%. It makes one think of the role and value of women and mothers in society. their challenges and risks. 
  3. Median average life expectancy. Ex. mid-40s. this limits the ages of the characters and gets the players thinking of what maturity means. 
  4. Median Population Age, Family starting age, 
  5. Family Size 
Useful sources
  1. Dorsey Armstrong The Medieval World (i forgot her sources)
  2. Life Expectancy in the Middle Ages (quick search on the web)

Basic Economics

At the most basic level, economics deals with the reality of having to prioritize where the next meals is going to come from and what it is going to taste like. Tackling the most basic elements of the economy: food production and the patterns and exchanges make deviations to the norm all the more special. It also allows the world builders to frame the risk, rewards, transactions, value, and
  1. What is the most common crop and why?
  2. What is the output of land to weight of crop produced, in its basic usable form?
  3. What is the amount of man days it takes to Prepare and Harvest the land?
  4. What is the supplementary diet of the people?
  5. What is the sizes of the household?
  6. What is the cost of living? What are their buying and spending habits, what do people spend on which they shouldn't, and what are their key economic virtues and practices?
  7. What are the Patrons, the Elite, Indentured Servants, Servants, Slaves, and Clients like?
  8. What is their technology like?

Useful Sources

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