I recently came across a fun little 30 day challenge for world builders. Folks doing a Kickstarter for A Dead Man’s Guide to Dragongrin put out #My30DayWorld, where each day asks a question about the setting you’re working on. I’ve been trying to look at Conquest of the Sphere from different angles, so answering these questions are a nice thought experiment and creative prompt.
What follows are my answers for the first six days.
What is the 30 second elevator pitch for my world?
A vast world of beauty and violence awaits. Two species vie for control beneath an unmoving sun. Ancient secrets and bold innovation, combined with will and muscle are the tools with which you can build the future. This is the Conquest of the Sphere.
What is the name of your world, and why is it called this?
Each culture has its own name for the world they live in, just as we have Earth, Terra, Benben, etc. So, I’m gonna kinda cop-out on this one.
Who is the most nefarious villain in your world?
To this point, I don’t have a single, villainous person. I write with the idea that everyone is the hero of their own story, or to paraphrase “Zero Effect,” ‘there are no good guys or bad guys. There’s just a bunch of guys.’
That said, the city-state of Daan is probably the single nastiest place I’ve come up with for Conquest of the Sphere. I describe them as a mix of the Antebellum South with mid-Cold War Eastern Europe. I haven’t gone too far into exploring them, though an escaped Daanite slave is one of the protagonists of the novel I’m working on.
Who is the most renowned hero in your world?
Definitely Baal. This isn’t just because she’s the character I’ve written the most about. She’s sort of the Hercules of Conquest of the Sphere. There are plenty of stories and legends about her, but she also wanders into the stories and legends of others. Inspired by Conan, she’s a perpetual outsider and her exploits are made all the more memorable for it. The only other candidate, I think, would be Kadima, who is somewhere between Herodotus and Genghis Khan.
What event in your world altered its history?
This is a big question. One of the themes I’m exploring with Conquest of the Sphere is ‘deep history,’ where everywhere you look, there are signs of what came before, civilizations piled upon civilizations going back not just by generations, or thousands of years, but by species over millions of years. Another theme is that everything is connected, and nothing happens in a vacuum. Each life, each event, each rise or fall of a city or nation, has a ripple effect on the world, changing everything, even if those changes are small. Like how the embrace of Confucianism in China effected the economy of southeastern Africa. Or how a few people carrying a sickness they were resistant to caused an apocalypse in the Americas.
The ‘Fall of Tranth’ is a historic event I’ve referred to many times as a sort of historic/cultural touchstone. Honestly, I haven’t really worked out the details of it, but it seems like it’s important. Something will happen at the end of the novel that will change the setting forever in a very, very big way.
How prevalent is magic? Where does it come from?
Conquest of the Sphere is not just a ‘Low Fantasy’ setting (where magic is rare), it’s a ‘No Fantasy’ setting, where there is no magic. Now, there are things that seem like magic, but like in our own world, it comes from a lack of understanding of how the world works, just as a cell phone would seem like magic to a Medieval Knight, or how illnesses seemed like punishment by the gods before people understood viruses and bacteria.
More to come. Hopefully these questions will produce more material, more conversation. And of course, I’d love more questions from readers. I want to know what you want to know about Conquest of the Sphere. Read the stories (here) and tell me what you think.