Thursday, January 9, 2014
Setting Creation 101 - Back to Basics
In this article the standard parts of beginning the creation of a setting are established.
There are times when you want to do more than just write an Army List, create rules for a campaign, or design a Planet. So here we're going into the long ago promised series on more than just planet construction, here we'll go into the fundamentals of what can go into the lore you write for yourself before you hit the tabletop.
When you're trying to come up with a setting there are a couple of questions you need to ask and concepts you need to clarify. First you should ask what your goal is, what are you planning on doing with your setting when its finished? The purpose behind this is to determine the amount of freedom you have and to establish some structure and help you find some guidelines to help you more easily find where to take your setting. For instance lets say you're planning to use your setting for some personal fan fiction that you'll simply be writing stories for with no influence from other people or games, and so you can have as many or as few factions involved. However if this is for a campaign, say an escalation campaign between 5 friends you'd only have access to 5 armies and you would need to find reasons for these 5 armies to all be present and to in fact send more forces to this area. It also means that you don't need to worry about adding other factions to the region.
Now that your final result has been established we can move on to other parts and ask more questions. What kind of scale would suit your purpose best? If you're just writing a story about one particular invasion of a planet then you only have to create one planet. If it’s a two player personal campaign, a planet could also do the job all by itself. Perhaps you have a unique idea of telling the story of an invasion from the strictly space borne part of the military with fleet actions and naval officers but never touching upon the standard boots on the ground or fliers approach. What that would mean is large movements and maneuvers across whole systems, so you might need to create anywhere between 3 and 10 different regions depending on the detail you want to go into and how much work you want to put into your setting. The idea of scale consequently also determines where you want to devote your energy and how potential developments might turn, for instance if you constructed in detail a nation about 100 square miles across, with political factions and geography. So as your setting progresses you'd work your battles (if that is your plan with it) into that particular area and can involve the landmarks and adjust them with time. If however you instead made detailed notes on the industries of 3 different planets, the kinds of people and experts that live there, the standard type of terrain, then perhaps you'd focus more on why the battles are happening or how their products are affected by the conflicts.
Now I'm sure you're wondering: how is this any different from creating a planet? Well there isn't actually very much different at all. The only change might be your purpose and the scale of it all. Everything that is going to be mentioned in this series can be used to fully detail that special planet, and I may even have mentioned it before so you'll have to bear with me unfortunately. But maybe by rewording some of it there'll be some new spark, some understanding that wasn't there with my original telling of the method or principle. But that’s part of the beauty of lore and the creation of it - once you learn something you can apply it to so much more and enhance everything that much more. And if even I can come up with these methods, then any of you can put them into practice (and probably better than I can, I'm always disappointed by my own writing as it stands and all the details that I either can't embellish well enough or take too long with).
Perhaps the best tip I can give for writing your own stories is to sit down and do it. Once you get started with something, if you're actually passionate about it or even if you start out melancholy, just getting ideas out on paper can often start you thinking and get your juices flowing. As it goes on and the words start to pour out of your fingertips you start to realize that what you had originally passed off as mediocre could develop into something really cool that you want to tell all your friends. That’s how most of my work goes, and its one of the reasons that I post here, simply to share it with others because I think it is interesting and I'm hoping that someone else will at least understand why I think it is such.
Hope you enjoyed the article, I'll switch off posting informative articles about Setting creation and writing about my own personal ventures into designing my own. As you've already read last night, I've established the Purpose and the basics to my setting, I've already established which factions it will be as well. As always feel free to leave comments or message me on twitter, email, or even skype me, I'm frequently up for talking about most anything (though I will admit that while I can understand technical things and parts of the game its not my area of expertise though I do enjoy discussions about rules as well as lore and hobby and trends).
And to close it out I'll give out a shout out to Adam from War and More Radio, he's a totally chill guy that is always willing to talk to people and has a lot to say. He is always willing and patient enough to explain all the things about the industry I don't keep track of and don't understand and is an awesome partner to have a conversation about. His twitter is @ATT64 if you want to head on over there and give him a follow I'd highly suggest it.
This has been Charging Carnifex and I hope you guys will tune in again to Vox Diaries of the Imperium.