More inadvisable solutions for how those two RPG villages apparently have regular contact with each other in spite of every square inch of territory between the two communities being overrun with bears that shoots lasers at you:
The villagers know to travel only on foggy days, when the atmospheric moisture attenuates the range of the lasers
The region’s broken terrain offers ample hard cover, and its people are masters of defensive parkour
Intercommunity travel is accomplished principally by means of a pair of very precisely calibrated catapults
The laser bears are kept mollified through the regular sacrifice of picnic baskets
There exists a special caste of entertainers whose job is to keep the laser bears distracted, their hunger for human flesh being exceeded only by their hunger for interpretive dance
The laser bears aren’t very bright, and can be induced to target travelling villagers’ large and fanciful decoy hats
All travel between the two villages occurs during the laser bears’ union-mandated lunch breaks
The laser bears have little interest in travellers, being obliged to conserve their energy for their ongoing territorial standoff with an invasive population of chainsaw moose
It’s actually just the player characters in particular that the laser bears are trying to kill
Nobody told the player characters about the secret tunnel
hey red, I wanted you to know that Aurora is a huge inspiration for me and my webcomic that I'm working on, it's really incredible. On the flipside I got really into reading this blog and the worldbuilding that's in it yesterday and now I'm doing worldbuilding for the world of my comic that is very fun but frankly NOT important to the actual story. Any tips on cultural worldbuilding that both makes sense and also remains relevant to your story?
That's great to hear!
Worldbuilding is a delightfully inescapable vortex. It's like putting together a puzzle you're drawing yourself and also there aren't any edge pieces because the ride never stops. Essentially, you have to decide which approach is better for you personally: to build a world that serves the story, or to write a story that explores that world?
If you're building a world around the story, you basically just need to focus on worldbuilding the parts that engage with the story and making sure there's enough connective tissue that the cohesive whole kinda holds together. If you just need a setting for a really cool swordfight that advances the plot from point A to point B, you can worldbuild a towering ancient ruin or a floating sky-fortress or whatever to have the fight in without having to go too in-depth on who built it and why, but you also can go more in-depth with those things if you want to make the setting more than just "place where swordfight happens." Maybe the sky-fortress is a Laputa-style ancient superweapon or the ancient ruin was abandoned after being overrun by sentient skeletons or something. Maybe you decide that an ancient group you've already worldbuilt for other plot reasons was responsible for building this too, so you can loop in whatever lore you've already made for them. The possibilities are pretty close to endless, as is always the case with fiction you're writing yourself - in this approach, the challenge is mostly making sure that the disparate chunks of worldbuilding you're shaping around the plot actually fit together cleanly, rather than clashing or leaving plothole gaps between them. For this reason, it's good to have a base skeleton of Things You Know For Sure About The World so that there's consistency between worldbuilding chunks - fundamental principles of reality, magic systems, major historical events, stuff like that. They don't need to be super detailed, they just need to serve as anchor points to hold all the story-centric worldbuilding together.
This is why some people prefer the other approach - building the whole world and then writing a story to explore it. This is a favorite of sci-fi, spec-fic in general, magical otherworld stories and almost every TTRPG ever made, as the whole premise of those genres is "what would it be like if the world looked like this instead?" In these stories you can worldbuild to your heart's content with no regard for plot or characters, since the plot and characters will arise from the exploration of that world once you've got it fleshed out. This is a great idea if the world is probably the most interesting part of the story, and a less-than-great idea if you really want the plot and characters to shine as the stars of the show. Larry Niven, prolific hard-SF writer, took this approach almost exclusively and came up with some incredibly unique settings and alien races - my favorite being Ringworld, a book entirely about exploring an ancient alien megastructure rotating around a star. It has characters, but, like, barely. They're just a vehicle to explore the worldbuilding, and it is some very cool worldbuilding.
This approach is a good way to get a very cohesive world that fits together well, but it also runs the risk of getting away from you. Anchoring the worldbuilding into a linear plot or single region or relatively small cast of main characters lets you stay focused on what actually matters for the story you want to tell, rather than burning years or even decades building out the tiny fractalized details of what exactly this long-extinct civilization wore on their second-best festival days. Coherent large-scale worldbuilding is fantastic if you're designing an open-world game or setting - Breath of the Wild's worldbuilding is a standout example of this, as the entire map and the items/creatures in it paint a very beautifully detailed picture of this environment and what happened in it, from ancient ruins with several very visually distinct architectural styles, to a fireball-slinging wizzrobe hanging out in a burned-out village, to a massive tree that collapsed down the side of a hill, to a huge fuckoff hole carved through a whole-ass mountain, to the battlefield Link later finds out he died in being absolutely carpeted in an army of completely destroyed inert Guardians, cluing us in that whatever battle went down here was rather more crazy than what went down in the other battlefields we pass through, where only a few guardians are scattered around and some sneaky ones are actually still active. The world isn't just there to serve the linear narrative of the main questline, it's there to present the player with a very big picture and let them piece it together themselves.
For a game as freeform as Breath of the Wild, this is a great call. For a linear written narrative with only one plot, it's completely unnecessary. It's best to find what balance works well for you so you can stay focused on the point of the story without getting bogged down in the stuff that ultimately won't matter. Worldbuilding can also be super fun, though, so like - do whatever makes you happy, really.
Pixandrian Customs: the Saxós and the Drús
Here is an exciting piece of trivia that may be of interest: the sun is bright. Very bright, in fact. This fact is especially relevant to Pixandrians. Traveling long distances without a means to protect themselves from the sun is something that Pixandrians prefer to avoid.
Kohl, known as píyal to Pixandrians, is a popular choice, of course. However, it’s less useful for laborers who may sweat it off throughout the day or for people who simply don’t enjoy the sensation of foreign materials caked onto their face.
For the working Pixandrian, the saxós provides a comfortable alternative. It’s a veil made of loosely woven linen, usually undyed, that covers the eyes, nose, and mouth. Typically, it will be pinned in place over a hood or headscarf and will drape about halfway down the chest. This is simply to make sure there is enough fabric to cover the face effectively; a shorter than average saxós would not be considered immodest. Rather, the saxós is also prized for its ability to keep sand out of one’s face.
Etiquette surrounding the saxós usually forbids wearing it inside or during casual conversation. While few people would be stupid enough to raise their saxós during a sandstorm, Pixandrians–as with most other nations–prefer to communicate face to face when possible. The saxós will be flipped back over the head when not in use to keep it out of the way, though, again, there is no cultural taboo against simply removing it altogether if one prefers. In fact, there are Pixandrians who don’t bother with a saxós.
The item that no Pixandrian will leave their home without is the drús. To an outside observer, the saxós and the drús are nearly indistinguishable. The fabric of the drús is more likely to be dyed, but that is not a guarantee, and it is also a loosely woven linen veil that covers the entire face. In fact, poorer Pixandrians may also use their saxós as a drús. The primary difference between the two is the context.
The drús is worn by attendees at funerals and deathbeds, by those who go to pay their respects at the Vigil, by those who dress bodies for burial, and by clerics giving services of remembrance and mourning. The word “drús” is also used to describe the burial shroud that a Pixandrian will be wrapped in before their inevitable return to the desert. Whether this superstition serves to ward off death or to invite it in amongst the mourners is unclear, but even guests who have no part in Pixandrian religion will not be permitted in the aforementioned situations without wearing a drús themself.
There is only one person who steps onto Pixandrian sands who will not be asked to wear the drús should the need arise: the Copper King himself. Indeed, Lenva Pikseste the Third was famously removed from his position when he was seen wearing the drús at the Vigil. These days, it’s rare for Copper Kings to even wear saxóso, preferring píyale or headscarves that leave the eyes exposed.
I find people often overlook the value of sauces and the like, and all they can add to a dish. What sort of sauces /condiments can be commonly found in the provinces?
Ooh, sauces are always fun to make, and always make dishes more exciting! These are some of my favourites from across Tamriel. And yes, you may note that I'm particularly partial to a good cheese sauce...
Peach and white wine sauce over mint sorbet? Of course the High Elves have a dessert sauce, you're thinking. Well, obviously. Peach and white wine sauce is jelly-like in consistency and is served with ice desserts, fruit, and peach-and-cream pie. Light and fruity, this is one way to liven up any dessert!
I thoroughly enjoy an Argonian chili sauce called sambal, which is made from chilis and other ingredients ground by hand with mortar and pestle. Commonly mixed into the chilis are things like lime juice, ginger root, vinegar, and scuttlebloom nectar, and there are many varieties of sambal originating in Black Marsh.
Mixing mammoth cheese, egg yolks and jagga, you get a yummy cheese sauce that's unique to Valenwood! Served over roasted meats, casserole dishes, and even mealworms, this cheese sauce is even better with a bit of bacon (of course).
Who doesn't love a Breton red wine sauce made with a base of beef jus and a good amount of cracked black pepper? This fancy sauce is delightfully simple to make, and goes with red meats like a dream. Also fantastic with mashed potatoes and beef stew.
Scuttle sauce is more or less identical to Breton cheese sauce, except for colour and ingredients. It is thick but not runny, cheesy but not too mild, and it goes fantastically well with everything from kwama eggs and nix-hound bacon to fried saltrice.
I will always stand by the creamy mushroom sauce that comes with Colovian veal escalopes. I don't even like veal, I just want the sauce! A cream-based sauce with a blend of forest mushrooms, this also goes well with other meats, eggs, and even vegetables.
Sweet and spicy go hand in hand with a mango and ghost chili chutney hailing from Elsweyr! Sweet and fruity yet delightfully hot, this chutney is great for rice, meats, and dipping flatbreads. Definitely one for the adventurous eaters.
You won't find many Nords who disagree with the fact that we make Tamriel's best brown gravy, full stop. It's imperative that one learns to make brown gravy as soon as they learn to cook, because it's the backbone of our cuisine from rabbit meatballs to steak pies, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. I'm not revealing what's in in besides onions and bone marrow...that's a Nord secret.
Wrathberry jelly is always there to accompany every meat from echatere to timber mammoth! Sweet yet bitter, this jelly goes well with roast lamb, beef, pheasant, and venison. Use in moderation, as too many wrathberries can cause an allergic reaction!
Mint yoghurt sauce is the perfect cooling sauce to offset fiery hot Redguard curries, and are usually served with soft flatbreads for dipping. It can also be drizzled over grilled or roasted meats, like goat seekh kebabs.
I was going to make a post about the chaotic being known as the Nilbog (A goblin with reverse damage powers). There would have been Sevles and a Frawd... However, I realized that there are already more canon backwards creatures!
For some reason, the Spelljammer campaign setting decided to refer to all of the space orcs as "Scro". Probably the nice people at TSR wanted to make them more alien. But I think the Scro deserve some more interesting lore. What if they come from an alternate dimension? The Scro are a mirror of orcs, favoring red outfits and goatees. They traveled to our universe because their home has fallen to the Mind Flayers already. As an empirical empire, they will keep testing different variables until they solve the Illithid Paradox or are forced to move on to the next universe.
Some notes on designing a simple alien written language to make graffiti and signs with.
You read a word by following the line starting from it's leftmost line end, and the sound each letter(?) makes is different depending on its shape and length.
Shapes that are long and go down below the mid point have a lower tone and tall shapes have a higher tone like in mandarin Chinese but centered around a middle tone.
The diacritics and floaties are vowel sounds.
None of the words have sounds yet, I started with word structure and some random shapes to find some asthetically pleasing letters that can be stretched to indicate a different sound.
What’s a song virtually everyone in your setting knows?
Well, Im gonna try and build some confidence and start posting more of my sketches.....!
So heres some wips >_< I've been designing domesticated fauna for my fantasy alien world Archai. First sketch is of a Centicore (common name is Yale), a goat like creature that can move its horns like additional limbs for foraging and combat. Second are some notes on the common domesticated cockatrice, and the third is a concept for a draquine which takes the role of a horse-like mount on Archai. Animals that would take the place of ungulates on Archai stem from the Basalisk family tree, but the relation is very very distant.
A steampunky version of my bardy boi.
Ratuary Day 23
Another zombie snake not having the best day.
I love WorldBox sm <3
anyway here's Adaveil, my main campaign setting
Dead Wolf Inn
Weekly menu, please ask our friendly staff for specials of the day!
Roast pigeon with salt and pepper. Served with buttered potato dumplings.
Vegetable quiche a la Shornhelm. Served with salad.
Wild boar roast with Breton red wine sauce. Served with mashed potato.
Pea stew with chunky, crisp lardons and mustard. Served with hot bread.
Rabbit pie with mixed vegetables and a buttery pie crust. Served with salad.
Elk escalopes with creamy chanterelle sauce. Served with buttered potato dumplings.
Macaroni gratin with cheese sauce, spinach, bacon, and fresh mozzarella. Served with salad.
If your story has an idle nobility class, their culture shouldn't just be different from the general population, it should be an over-the-top caricature of the common folks' culture. Whatever the population generally agrees is ideal, fair, admirable, or good, the nobility will take into stupid extremes.
Contrary to the beliefs of many, people are actually not at all happy when they're idle - a person with no assigned task or duty will go out of their way to come up with one. And all around the world, whenever there's been an upper class with nothing to do, they've started to compete with each other over stupid shit, but always stupid shit that the culture they live in considers positive qualities.
From the noblemen in Europe challenging each other to a possibly lethal duel over insulting someone's hat, to a Chinese noblewoman being moved to tears by the beauty of someone's calligraphy, bored elites everywhere have always wanted to outdo each other in their expressions of possessing all the noble traits that this culture in particular holds in value.
You can, and should, use this as a way to highlight what the actual values of this society is. In a setting where being religious is held as an admirable trait, there is nobility coming up with new ways to one-up each other in their expressions of worship. Society that values art and music will have them competing over who hires the most artists, and who employs the most talented musicians. Aggressive, war-like people will have fuels to the fucking death over a stupid hat.
Literally anything can be competed in, and bored people with far too much time and money in their hands will become competitive over the most ridiculous things. This isn't just an useful tool in worldbuilding, but also a fun one.
concept: there are lots of different worlds and all of them have different levels of access to magic. Some are just all over the place and some have no magic at all.
You would think that we would be one of the strictly non-magical worlds, but actually, that’s not the case—we don’t have like, a huge excess of magic, but we have, like, dreams, and the placebo effect, which puts us pretty solidly in the “Numinous” world category.
Is bestiality legal in your setting? If not, what punishments do people who engage in it suffer?
Horses are really fragile animals. Is it still a death sentence for a centaur if one of their equine limbs gets hurt? Or can they help it somehow?
Oh god, now I'm thinking of amputees and how those would work
Horses are SUPER fragile, or maybe more like delicately balanced.. but particularly their crazy spindle-legs which centaurs get to deal with! But a big part of why hurt legs are a death sentence for horses has less to do with "It kills them" and more to do with quality of life, which a centaur can get around!
A horse with a broken leg doesn't understand it can't put ANY weight on that leg for an extended period and will attempt to go about their daily life and act normally, which basically guarantees re-injuring the bad leg and a high chance of injuring the other 3 legs as they try to cope with the change in balance and weight distribution. It all leads to a really poor quality of life with almost no chance of truly healing properly. The story of all they did trying to save Barbaro the racehorse is a long sad story that illustrates a lot of the issues even with modern veterinary medicine with trying to deal with a broken leg in horses.
Thankfully with centaurs, They understand the need for healing, are able to manage their own quality of life and have the gear to support themselves in the time it takes for the injury to heal!
Also perfectly good for long term use in the case of aging, amputation, or general disability! Which is common with the front legs and lower backs of centaurs given the unusual stresses caused by their body-plans. They were created with thicker and more robust front legs to cope with the permanent added weight of the torso instead of a horse head, but injury and disability in that area is still very common!
Injuries to the hind are less common and usually less severe, and given the hind legs bear less direct weight than the front they can usually get away with wraps and limping until it gets back to weight-bearing. Something like a rear amputation or ruptured tendon would probably require a custom harness/brace attached to a wheel like these and/or basically a peg leg!
I’m not even joking- has anyone ever done lovecraftian eldritch abominations that, like, go out of their way to avoid bothering humans?
Because if you want to run with the “we’re like ants to them” metaphor, most people who aren’t total assholes are making, like, an active choice not to stomp on anthills or squash random bugs. They step over or around. And it’s not the bog-standard indifference of the genre, there’s an active thought process of “You’re not bothering me so I won’t bother you.”
I want a story about people exploring an eldritch horror-city like Ryleh, and eventually it turns out that all the bizarre psychological torture and warping environs and all that are an elder god’s equivalent of trying to shoo out a fly or a spider without killing it.
I want a story about how the empathy of an elder god is just as dangerous as it’s wrath.
Photo from around ~2002 inside one of the fully enclosed trails within the Mystery Flesh Pit National Park. These trails were some of the most expensive to both construct and maintain, offering unparalleled access to the interior of the park to people of all physical conditions.