alpharaposa: (micahicon)
Answering another weekend world-building question, this time about money. What currencies, if any, exist?

The elves don't use a common currency, per se. No coins, and no paper money. What we consider to be precious metals are in common use as the base of many alloys. (Iron is, in fact, rare, and also avoided. This is a realm in Faerie, after all.) Instead, most people use gemstones for trade. Gems are graded by clarity and size for easy reckoning.

Dunny elves provide most of the gems used for trade, but some wift elf families have trees that can be coaxed to grow them. Sunlish elves get theirs through business.

When bargaining, somebody might set a price by number, by size, or by weight. “Five cloudy grains” (small, occluded gemstones the size of a wheat grain), or “A palmful of clear color” (any size of gemstones, so long as they fill the elf’s palm and have no faults) are both easily understood terms.
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
This week, the question was how do people travel? How do things get moved around?

And the answer:
The elves use boats wherever there are rivers available inland, and along the ocean shore. The best boats are made of alloys of metal and swimming creatures (dolphins, fish, otters). The best sails are woven from clouds; they’re light, take no damage from damp, and catch the wind easily. It is common for large ships to have a pair of sunlish elves whose only job is to remove troublesome cross winds and twist them into ropes for later.

Where the rivers aren’t useful for travel, there are roads. The roads tend to be built of stone, in layers like a Roman road. In the mountains, the main pack and riding animals are goats, actually a variation of a markhor with more luxurious wool. They can be ridden, but carts are the norm. Carts, like boats, are made of light metal alloys which may or may not have anything living worked into it. Bells are common on merchant carts. Families often have bells tuned to matching notes so that the whole group sounds chords as they walk together.

In the lower forests and on the grasslands, the elves ride elk or use them to haul carriages or wagons. The elk are often shoed with split shoes.

Gryphons are never used to haul freight. War-gryphons may sometimes be used to haul gear during a campaign, but never when battle is expected. There are some gryphon subspecies that are too light to even carry a rider (racing and show types, mostly). Those who do own gryphons that are suitable for riding do so often, and there are gryphon riders who carry messages and mail. The fee for such service is higher, similar to the difference between paying for ground shipping versus air mail.

Gryphons cannot be housed in the same building as goats or elk. Even if the gryphon is trustworthy (not all are that well trained), the ruminants will not stay calm with a predator about. Wealthy nobles have separate buildings. Many households just have stables for goats or elk, while the gryphons are assigned perching space with a shed nearby for gear. Trained gryphons can be allowed to go hunt for themselves (best to ask first, though, in case the prize bull is rutting nearby), and will return when finished.
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
I've started a Weekend World Building thing on Twitter (hashtag #WWB if you want to join in). This week's question: Science or magic, or both? What do people use to manipulate the world?

The latest world I'm working on are elves. They use what we would think of as magic. There are dunny elves, sunlish elves, and wift elves (or weft? wys? still turning that one over). Each of them can directly manipulate one category of stuffs. Dunny elves can work inanimate things. Sunlish elves' domain is the weather. Wift elves manipulate living creatures.

So...

Dunny elves harvest the strength of diamonds to harden armor, or alloy a bend in a stream into a ship's keel to let it flex in the water.

Sunlish elves do things like twist wind into ropes and spin clouds into threads. They catch sunlight or moonlight if they want to make something that glows.

Wift elves can give a goat soft, luxurious wool, and change the wings on a gryphon. They can steal the reflexes of a cat to weave into a cloak.

The important part is that nobody does magic by waving their hands and saying magic words. Instead, the elves can grab and use unusual things to make new items with special properties. A hammer may have real thunder in it. A ship may have a dolphin bound into the keel. A guard dog might be given fire in its daily meat to keep it fierce.
alpharaposa: (wah)
Jasper and Berent are middle-aged right now, chatting with each other about their children.

Huh.
alpharaposa: (wah)
I need a name for the worldlet besides "The Worldlet". Obviously, the people living there don't call it that.

Garanemu informs me that the wahs call it "Annona's Garden" when they bother with such a thing. It figures.

Saranac informs me that the Sea King considers it all his. This is not actually helpful. I can't tell if he's being sardonic or stating an obvious fact. I haven't figured out Saranac enough yet to tell when he's sarcastic. Or if he ever is.

Maybe if I poke at some of the other people I know, I can get something more. *gets a sharp stick and hunts for Jasper and Berent*
alpharaposa: (Default)
Saranac is the man with the steel sword.

Even as a child, it's said he was only defeated in battle once, and that was by the Sea King himself. Now, he's the general of the Sea King's army. He wears the serpent armor, with glittering scales that permit no blade to cut him. He rides the sunburst aurn, a mutant bird bred by the darkest magics.

He went north and tricked from the dwarves the magics of their forge for his steel sword. He and his knights drive back the nomad raiders. They cut down their enemies like sickles through grain. He will carve out an empire for the glory of the Sea King.

He is a man to be feared.

****
More worldlet musing. I've been nailing down some personalities. I think maybe all the Dynasty Warriors I've been playing lately might have something to do with this. ^.^

"Going north" is a phrase that began with the merchant traders to describe an action that's risky but has the potential for great reward. Few traders actually cross the mountain pass to the north, but those that do and survive come back with amazing goods. Obviously, the description above is from the perspective of somebody who admires Saranac. Ask a nomad what they think of him, and you'd get a different response. Ask an actual dwarf, and if they've heard of him, they probably won't be nearly so impressed. They might admire the technique for his armor, though.
alpharaposa: (otaku)
I was going back and reading through some of my old worldlet entries in my memories, and it's funny the differences. The worldlet started out as a steam-punk kinda place, with dwarves tapping into geothermic heat and humans with grown up cities full of fired brick houses.

But as I fleshed it out, it didn't turn out with that kind of technology. It's much, well, earlier. The beast-kings still struggle under the yoke of the fey up north. The dwarves are still pushing carts by hand. Wahs are mysterious 'little masters'. Nomads roam pretty freely, and coinage is a recent invention by that upstart King out conquering the countryside.

I've been pondering over the conflicts between groups as rich fodder for stories and plots. The King has mounted soldiers who can finally take on the nomads if necessary. Bands of young nomads form raiding parties to plunder traders and vulnerable settlements. (Kind of like going viking.) Beast-kings fight the fey and each other. Dwarves juggle the needs of growth against the limits of living (mostly) underground.

I started working on this setting, off and on, back in 2004.
alpharaposa: (Rumex)
While sitting at work today, waiting for our network to have its outages resolved, I had a thought struck me. I mentioned it on Twitter so I wouldn't forget it, but couldn't go into specifics there because of the 140 character limit.

It occurred to me that a good name for a Dwarven town in AD&D would be Wort. I even had a good place to put such a town. I have a little crystal sphere sketched out under the 2nd ed Spelljammer rules, and I haven't yet located a significant Dwarven stronghold anywhere there.

In any case, Wort is a town at the edge of some hills on the most typical of the several planets in the system. It's surrounded by grain fields and known for its beer. It makes LOTS of beer.

The reason is simple. Dwarven ships in Spelljammer are literally powered by creativity. Dwarves get an asteroid and go to work, and all that sculpting and mining and smithing creates magical motive force. In order to keep moving, the dwarves must work constantly, until the asteroid is completely worked over and hollowed out and there's literally nothing more that can be done to it. At this point, the dwarves pack up their forges and tools, load them onto a new asteroid, and start all over again.

However, it is very difficult to grow grains on what is essentially a mobile art project. Any plants growing there would be temporary, valued for oxygen production, and likely potted. So, how would a crew of 500 strong (or more) get their beer?

Thus, the town of Wort. Practically unknown to humans or elves of the world where it sits, but valued by every dwarf out sailing the empty skies of Wildspace. At least in this little sphere.
alpharaposa: (Rumex)
There's so much that's difficult about drawing a beast king. Of course, I couldn't write about something that's easy to depict, now could I? That would be cheating!

A beast-king is basically an anthropomorphic megatherium, but that doesn't help much. Nobody has ever seen a live megatherium, and the pictures we have are other people's guesses of what they looked like.

I read descriptions. The head has tapir qualities (the tapir is a distant relative), while the body is more like our modern sloth. There's one very long claw on the middle toe of each back foot, and two on the middle "fingers" of each front foot. All the rest of their digits have shorter claws. They have tails.

Scientists think that megatheriums walked on the outside of their feet, holding the claws off the ground. This would give an anthropomorphic megatherium a pidgeon-toed walk, which is made weirder by the claws and the fact that they have a short, thick tail. Picture trying to walk while holding a pencil between your big toe and second toe off the ground. That's what I picture they walk like. That's what gives the warriors that rolling, off-balance "swagger" Jasper talks about when he first sees them.

Megatheriums were about the size and mass of a modern elephant. Seriously. When standing erect (like to reach high branches), they could be anywhere from 18 to 24 feet tall. I've read accounts where people thought they ate mostly plants, and others where they were supposed to be scavengers. I know their teeth were far back in their mouths, with a long tongue, but the jaws were strong enough to crack bone.

But what does this add up to? Maybe I should doodle tapirs and sloths for a while, then make another attempt at a beast king. I may decide to move away from certain aspects of megatheriums. I ran with the idea that they were omnivores, and I'm not changing that now. And they have to have thumbs. Other things may change.
alpharaposa: (Default)
I started writing a story and got distracted before I'd finished the first sentence. I wanted somebody to start a story by looking at a shiny piece of coal.

Read more... )

These are the questions that occupy my mind, sometimes.
alpharaposa: (Default)
I've been musing over the worldlet again - all my posts about the place are marked in my memories under "world-building" for those of you who're interested.

Today, I'm thinking over food.

The human nomads in the southern half of the main continent ride and herd birds. They have big riding birds, smaller herd birds, and work to keep their smaller birds from being eaten by medium-sized carnivorous birds.

Traditional nomad herding food is usually heavy on meat and milk in our own world. When you travel with cattle or goats, you get lots of both. The bird nomads, though, wouldn't have any milk. They'd have lots of eggs, though. Ostrich-sized eggs, even.

So, I've been thinking over what their meals would be like. They'd have eggs, meat, and certain plants you can gather. Bird meat doesn't dry out with the same texture as red meat like beef. I wonder if somebody from the city would find aurn jerky objectionable because of that.

Foresters would have fruit and nuts to trade. The fishing villages would have fish (naturally) and salt. The farmers would have grain to trade.

I don't see the nomads trading peacefully with the farmers much, though.

So, nomad cooking? What could you do with meat and eggs and only a handful of other ingredients? What could you make that would keep, long term?

Oh, and [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar asked today whether or not tea is strange in various fantasy cultures. The bird nomads have a tea plant - something that produces tannins and caffeine and antioxidants. It grows naturally out on the plains. They brew it strong for tanning bird leather, or weaker for drinking or cooking.
alpharaposa: (Default)
I've been musing on clothing today. Specifically, on what people on my worldlet wear and where it comes from.

Beast-kings frequently hunt large game, so have a ready supply of hides and leather. Dwarves hunt boar and keep deer, so they have a source as well. But what about cloth? Beast-kings aren't built for weaving, so they'd most likely have felt, if anything. I suppose the hair scraped from a hide might work for that, or would I need another source of textile fiber?

Turning to the southern half of the continent (on the tropical side of the mountains), I suspect hemp (or something hemp-like) is a cultivated plant there. It makes clothes and rope, and would explain why the fishing villages would be culturally bound to the settled kingdom.

The nomads have birds for both feathers and leather, and probably weave the abundant grass from time to time into hats as well as baskets.

And I have an idea for a "fur" tree in the forest. The seeds all have several very, very long strands attached to them that tend to cling to fur or catch the breeze. It's a short, shade-loving tree that only grows in rich soil. Most of the time, it looks completely normal, but during the hot season, the seed pods split open all over the tree and it suddenly looks like a mad tinseler has struck.

And somehow, this doesn't seem enough. Maybe something from the sea? Giant silkworms in the mountains?

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