View Full Version : An issue with world creation

2007-08-20, 06:01 PM
Okay I've been trying to create my own setting for a while now, as I'm to cheep and dont like the established ones, and I figured it shouldn't be that hard.

Well it seems my brother pointed out an interesting ability of mine, any society I create will be a utopia. For example, Orcs aren't evil beings that loot and kill everything in sight and create unwanted half-orc spawn. My orcs are an 'insane' race that chooses to live in a desolate storm-filled wasteland that kills many people, and gets 10" of rain in a total of three days every year. Frequent sand/lighting storms are laughed off as tests of their strength delivered by their gods. Very few people venture into this wasteland and those that do are taken in and housed. There are open tournements held near human territory for all the tribes, any non-orc that participates and wins is often asked in a very polite manner if they would breed into the tribe and are given a choice of willing mates and are paid for their 'service'. Thus Half-orcs are welcomed into the world.

I could go into detail with the other two races I've got material/ideas for, which are similarly utopian (which means I've got no ideas at all for racial strife, besides war, but the way the societies are set up no one's got a reason to start one) is there any suggestions anybody could give to help with this?

Thanks in advance.

2007-08-20, 06:08 PM
The most obvious cause of racial tension is resources. Sure, they can be as utopian as they want, but they'll still have limited resources. Maybe one race has a large forest in their territory that another race doesn't. As a result, the wood allows them to build larger, stronger houses than the other race. Alternatively, that other race might have more fertile grassland or valuable underground minerals that are hard to come by in the wood-owning race's territory.

Now, this could be a plot point for starting trade between the races, but in the case of your Orcs it is more likely to lead to conflict. Consider present politics too: America funded Sadam Hussain's campaign into power so they would be able to get the oil reserves in Iraq. Now, they're charging in head-first to nab him because they don't want to lose those oil reserves to anyone new in power. (Yes, that's very much out of date, but it's a summary after all). Perhaps the Humans with the forest helped the present Elven Duke into power in exchange for access to court spellcasters.

2007-08-20, 07:59 PM
Yes rescource shortage would seem like the best explanation for tensions, have each faction control a specific major rescource and have the trade of said rescources as a point of contention.

2007-08-20, 08:03 PM
Seeing as how both races are in a wasteland a lot of the racial tension should be about water. It happens in real desert societies. People argue over who owns which oasis and whether everyone should be able to use a certain oasis. This goes with the resource shortage that the others have been thinking about.

2007-08-20, 09:36 PM
The orcs alone live in the desert/barren wasteland, I'm sorry I wasn't clear. The other 'sane' races don't go any further then an tall mountain ranges that keep the climates separates. The humans live in a large verdant plains, and the elves live in a forest modeled after pre-columbus washington state (high in food resouces)...

That's my problem, I'm modeling my campagin setting after a game of Civ3, hmmm to fix that I have to toss the Gnomes into the desert and rip down that mountain range.

So in the end we'll have a sub tropical drought prone climate with the following Racial distribution:
Human: plains, have two or three nations, variety of PoV's and temperments and produce much of the campaign worlds food.
Orc: Desert/Wastelands, several individual tribes, considered insane by most races, throw yearly intertribal festivals/tournaments, survive indipendent of the other races
Elves: Forest, A slow acting race that follows a "Tomarrow will always be there" philosophy. Don't need to struggle that hard for food so has rutimentary hunting desires, and is actually primitive compared to the rest of the setting.
Gnomes: Relocated to desert, I don't know I'm thinking of an a dugout city near the forest (See Stargate the movie for reference), not so much tinkerer's and jokesters, but more Arcane than most races due to the needs for survival in the desert.
Halfings and Dwarves: No idea really I haven't goten all that far really

Halna LeGavilk
2007-08-21, 12:26 AM
What I think you should do is, keep the orcs, humans, and elves as is, reestablish the mountian range, and put the gnomes, dwarves and halflings in it. These three races are constantly competing for the metal and precious mineral resources to sell to the other races. Each race not in the mountain range has essentially allied itself with a race in the mountain range (humans-dwarves, halflings-elves, and the gnomes are like mercs.) The allied races generally buy stock from each other, and the gnomes develop arcane magic to make better materials to sell, seeing as most metal is bought in the allied races.

2007-08-21, 09:36 AM
I do the same thing in my worlds.

Few races are purely "evil" or even have a society that seems to intentionally promote evil.

Conflict comes from drastically different social structures and norms.

2007-08-21, 01:02 PM
What I think you should do is, keep the orcs, humans, and elves as is, reestablish the mountian range, and put the gnomes, dwarves and halflings in it. These three races are constantly competing for the metal and precious mineral resources to sell to the other races. Each race not in the mountain range has essentially allied itself with a race in the mountain range (humans-dwarves, halflings-elves, and the gnomes are like mercs.) The allied races generally buy stock from each other, and the gnomes develop arcane magic to make better materials to sell, seeing as most metal is bought in the allied races.

This might work and I'll run with it to see what I can come up with.

2007-08-21, 04:29 PM
Within any culture there will be people who hate. Even if the cultures are not opposed to one another, individuals within those cultures will be. So take one of them, perhaps a very charismatic one, a natural leader, and get him to tell his own "truth" about the other race. Let him create the "evil" in the other race, and start a war. Deception and propaganda are always fun.

2007-08-22, 01:18 AM
The first step in removing utopia: make sure none of the races have an inclination towards good. This means no more elves who are good-natured, artistic nature-lovers; it means you have elves who are capricious and arrogant, who view other races as lesser and tolerate them at best. It means dwarves are no longer stalwart defenders of law and good, but are now legalistic and vengeful defenders of their homes. Races are less likely to like each other if they aren't all good-natured.

But you should also take out the inclination towards evil of goblinoids, orcs, etc. If people are mostly opposed to an evil race, well, that sort of puts them back on the 'good' side, doesn't it? Replace that with an inclination towards barbarism and being a warlike people, and instead of 'these people are evil!' you have 'these people are inferior!' which is probably what you want. This one might be optional, depending on the fluff, but if you decide to keep these other races as evil, this next step becomes even more important.

That next step is to write a flaw into every society. At least one, preferably more. Not just a flaw like 'is too generous!!!' or 'is trusting to a fault.' I mean a flaw. 'The humans of X are imperialistic expansionists who believe they have divine mandate to rule the world.' 'The elves are xenophobic, and are known to treat non-elves on a level about equivalent to slaves.' 'The dwarves hold the descendants of their ancient enemies responsible for the crimes of their ancestors, and will seek their recompenses in blood.'

Oh, and those are just the flaws they have when dealing with other cultures.

Intra-race flaws are also important, but are fairly easy to do. First, try to define what crime tends to be in these societies. In human societies, this is easy. You just need to decide if there's organized crime, or if crime occurs in loose pockets. Is it rampant, or controlled? In other societies, it's a bit harder. Dwarves are less likely to be petty, sneaky thieves, but I can imagine a dwarf as an unscrupulous merchant, or even as a con artist--just try to imagine how a dwarf might break his laws. Elves, being less materialistic and more chaotic, tend to have fewer laws to break. You're more likely to see political crimes and espionage than anything else.

Second, try to determine how much corruption and infighting exist. Are the local authorities a small bastion of virtue in a den of corruption? Are the local authorities corrupt? And how does this manifest? In human society, corruption tends to be based on materialism--the leaders are bribed or easily bought or even participate in crime. In elven society, a lot of corruption could mean the society has a lot of 'community leaders,' all of whom hold a lot of sway. Lots of infighting and vying for power. Similar in dwarf societies: you could have a lot of clans bickering, and leadership that doesn't care (or, so much bickering that they can't stop it even if they tried.)

2007-08-22, 10:45 AM
Also, really big one: Religion. Got gods that demand sacrifices? Got gods that hold particular animals or days of the week sacred? Got gods that demand marriage before procreation? Got gods who view transmutation or conjuration as a crime? Got gods who disapprove of all arcane magic?

Just take a moment to look around at the history of religious warfare and then add in all the ones that COULD be there too if magic really existed.

mabriss lethe
2007-08-22, 10:52 AM
Now..another thing. Considering orcs.

If you treat them as just "insane" for living in a wasteland, they'll sort of be irrelevant as a race. They need some resource that makes others want to interact with them. None of these races should live in a total vacuum. Perhaps this wasteland is the only trade route between two very wealthy cities, and the Orcs sell their services as guides. Or (after recently reading some old Melanie Rawn novels) they might see the desert itself as a resource, melting down sand into glass and either exporting glass as ingots for trade, or by becoming some of the most well known glass blowers in the world. Another option is that the wasteland exists because of some sort of cataclysmic/apocalyptic event. Ruins of ancient civilizations still dot the sand and those so called "insane" orcs make a living be reclaiming artifacts and lost magic from the ruins. Heck, you could go with all of these if you wanted.

2007-08-22, 03:56 PM
mabris lethe, those are good points and I'll work toward... something, I think I'll throw the desert between the elven forest and human plains.

dr. cello, I like your ideas, and will cover a lot of the issues I've got. Thanks

2007-08-23, 02:50 AM
Good luck with that.

Also, listen to the people who talk about resources creating conflict. Wars are fought over lands and resources just as often as they're fought over What The Crown Prince Said About Our Sharon.

2007-08-23, 03:50 AM
few more ways to end the "rule of good":

create some groups of power-seekers that have no moral code what-so-ever. then think of what they will do to gain power in your world. i insure you some of it will involve fighting.

create a situation that is "ready to blow" but will not happen until mid-game, a plague is a good option. or an old king that upon his death his two sons will fight over control. this will add some mayhem to the world. demon invasion is not recommended as its done so many times.

make a natural disaster. people don't act the same after these. riots, looting, gang-fights, all are common after the entire area is destroyed from an hurricane, or an earthquake. (unless properly handled by the government. but you can assume they failed...)

political stress always adds some good conflict. toss in an assassin guild, spy's, and general hatred between some highly influencing politic forces, and it can lead into a civil war...

most easy yet overdone option: create an evil overlord that attempts to take over the world have give him an army.