Monday, May 28, 2012
Designing a Planet Part 4 - Civilian Culture
Another shout out, this time to the Warhammer 40k Blog network for taking me into the fold. I've checked out several of the blogs that they have incorporated into their ranks and I liked most of those that I looked at, so please check them out and support the blogging community like you have supported me.
With the development of Purpose and all that entails you can really begin developing the culture of your planet, and this can be divided up into several groups, only one of which I will cover with this post and go into the others with later posts (in fact I won't even say what they are because I have yet to determine how much I want to talk about these different subjects). The category of culture that I will delve into now is the culture of the civilians, the ordinary citizens of your planet. By defining the culture of these people you begin to give some direction to the character of your planet aside from its anatomical nature, pointing out potential backgrounds and personalities for where one of your heroes or villains in a story could have come from. Fleshing out who these normal people are also can give a sense of what is at stake in a battle on the planet, details that can be developed further in your story in something like a scene between characters and some townsfolk or a protagonist speaking of their past and how it made them who they are and why their planet is worth fighting over (for those of us that need a cliché). The elements necessary in designing the Civilian Culture require defining what ordinary life is like for the civilians in general while making a note of other smaller groups that are still significant for their differences and their quantity even if they are not a majority (an example being a comparison of the farmers of an agri world with the dwellers of the capital and center of distribution, being the closest thing to a city the place has). Along with the everyday lives the specific beliefs and customs can help add some flavor to the people, and defining typical behaviors and characteristics of local personalities will create a marked improvement on the overall detail of the planet.
As seems to be my developing style I will now put this into an example format to show what I mean. For the Jungle planet (I leave it unnamed because I will probably run a poll or contest on naming it once it is finished just for the heck of it, but I won't look at any suggestions now, I don't want to give you guys an unfair advantage just because you found me first) it has already been decided that because of the purpose of the planet as a base to monitor the Eldar Exodites the people are used to discipline and value work, effort, and accomplishments. That is a part of defining the typical characteristics though this can be added to more now that I am specifically adding to them and not just showing the effects of adding purpose to the planet. What can also be added reasonably to the personalities would be a ruggedness of surviving the deadly jungle that ambushes everybody with its trickery, a distinct distrust and wariness for anything unknown, and a belief in self-reliance, a stubbornness to try and sort things out themselves without the help of anyone else because they have always done that themselves and they have never had the luxury of help to start with. Typical behaviors might include patrolling small areas that the person is attached to and wants to protect from the constant change of the jungle, a tendency to stay home alone or with only a few friends when any precious free time is to be had, and in general checking up on things to make sure nothing is out of shape so that they do not need anything more than they have to at any time. Local personality types would probably be quiet, independent, sullen, proud, stern, and stubborn, all characteristics that they would have obtained from their constant battle with the jungle and all that they have earned because of it. The everyday lives of people on this planet would likely consist of several things depending on how long it has been since the planet was colonized (we will say several millenia just for convenience's sake, I will develop history in a later post as well, probably after this section on culture). Because it has been such a long time since it was settled and the Eldar haven't seemingly done anything wrong (at least that hasn't been kept quiet and been handled behind closed doors or with secret special ops) the military duties of the civilians and the maintenance of the buildings would no longer be as stringent, now people had only to focus upon their own lives and homes to keep. The man would wake up before dawn (since in the 41st millenium feminism is dead and only men are worth anything for whatever reason) and head out of his house with a machette and several sons. For two hours they would hack up and uproot all the jungle that had tried moving near their home, garden, what-have-you, burning the ground and plants if they were wealthy enough to afford the flamer and promethium. After those two hours they would head inside their house (the style of which will also be developed later in time) and eat a breakfast consisting largely of nuts, berries, and veggies due to the abundant presence of plants and the danger of hunting animals - hence the lack of meat except on special occasions for families. From here the civilians would head off to their various jobs of supporting the local services such as house maintenance or being employed by the military to work logistics and have a desk job or something like that. After a long gruelling 13 hour day with a small 20 minute lunch break the family heads home, eats a dinner similar to the breakfast (there would be little difference to the families on switching the food in breakfast and dinner due to the presence of only certain foods anyways though those ones are in abundance. After dinner the family moves out to hack up and uproot plants again, and then they sleep until morning due to being exhausted from their job and the cleaning of the jungle. One person in each household would stay awake all night to protect from predators or dangerous plants that might get too close to the house and prove to be poisonous or have very strong roots that would be better removed before it became too attached to its current patch of dirt.
The culture would be greatly affected by the history of the planet, and this will be discussed at a later time than this, but to reiterate the purpose of developing the civilian culture is to provide the bedrock of what armies are fighting over or adding background to the setting that can be drawn upon to make a very compelling story or setting.