This is the last batch of questions from the Deadman’s Guide to Dragongrin folks. It has been fun and inspirational to look at Conquest of the Sphere through a series of questions I might not have ever asked. I’d definitely like to hear more questions from people who’ve read about it on this blog, or from people who’ve read my ebook Four Tales.
What is the most misunderstood playable race?
Once again, race isn’t a thing. As far as misunderstood playable species, that would be the Yaro, and they’re only misunderstood (I’m assuming), because I haven’t really written about them all that much, and haven’t done enough to show their biology and cultures. As a species with three sexes (males and females are rare, androgen are most common), and distinctly non-simian social structures, they should be interesting and challenging to play. They’re not so removed from Una, because both have a long shared history, some shared mythology, and related origin. But biologically they are very different, and so their biological drives can be quite different, too. As Yaro are somewhat rare in the region I’m focusing on to start, it may be awhile before I delve too deeply into them. One short story I’ve been working on does feature a family of nomadic Yaro who live as a sort of old-timey circus/acting troupe. They travel near the mountain chain that serves as a defacto border between the lands of the Yaro and the lands of the Una.
What deities dwell in your realm? Are they involved?
None. But many are believed in. As they don’t exist, they are not actually involved. Their followers, however, are involved in many things. Religion will play a major role in various aspects of the world. The devout clash with those of other beliefs. Cultural practices, fashion, and even construction might be wrapped up in various groups’ metaphysical concepts. Yet, no supernatural forces will actually play a part in the life of the characters.
Do any people of your world revere nature? How deeply?
I’m sure there are groups that do. Probably people who find the city alienating and dirty, or too much for them, eventually gather up some like-minded friends and family and go to live in nature and ‘revere’ it. Most people who are born into nature know that it wants nothing more than to kill and eat you, so revering it isn’t the number 1 priority. Fearing, respecting, and combating it is. There are some groups that try to live in a sort of harmony with nature, understanding that they are not separate from it. But again, reverence isn’t really the attitude.
What character would you play in your own world?
I guess this would depend on a lot of factors. But I think playing a merchant could be very fun. Travel through hostile territories, find new trade routes, explore new cultures and customs. I’ve written one story and prepped another about a naturalist. I think that could make a very cool type of character to play. Again, he’d be an explorer, but this time focused on flora & fauna, or maybe he’s a bit more of an anthropologist. There’s no end of possible characters to play. It’s a big world with a lot of potential for conflict and story.
One type of game I’d love to play in is the sort of ‘open world’ ‘sandbox’ story. The sort of thing where you assemble your characters around some central concept/location. Perhaps you’re all based in a block of a city, or you’re all merchants in a caravan. From that starting point, you simply build, build your block, build your trade network, build your stories and histories, build your legends. This would be great for proactive players, who can go out and find things to get involved with, and not sit around waiting for a carrot to be dangled. In such a game, I think I’d like to play either a scholar of some kind (like the above naturalist), or an inventor. A combination of the two might work, too. Someone who scours old texts and ancient ruins for hints of technology and knowledge, then tries to apply them in whatever way he can to make something new and useful.
What is a legendary relic of power in your world?
I like this question, but I don’t really have a good answer at this point. I imagine something like a ‘Holy Grail’ or ‘Gold Monkey.’ Perhaps there are stories about the Ship of Bazin, the vessel he used in his many adventures. Some claim it was destroyed in his final battle. Others claim it was gifted to the Queen of Na’Hulimal when she wed. One tale claims that the ax wielded by the chief of the Bomtak tribe was made from the shattered hull of Bazin’s ship.
There should probably be a handful of ‘powerful items’ that have myths around them. Some, no doubt real items linked to historic or religious events. Others, just made up. The obvious thing to look at are the weapons and tools of mythological and historical figures. I could also see classic, medieval-type relics being important in some religions/areas. The finger bone of Urialla gives blessings against the poisons of the blight…supposedly. That sort of thing.
Are the lands cartographed? Where are the boundaries?
Similar to our own world during the time of the Renaissance, parts of the world are mapped. But not everyone shares maps and not all maps are accurate. On a small scale (towns, cities, and maybe some regions), maps are fairly accurate. On a larger scale, there tends to be less accuracy and more guesswork. Rival city states and kingdoms jealously guard many maps that might show better trade routes or natural defenses. Nautical maps and such can fetch a high price from interested parties. I’m working on a story that kicks off with a murder and the theft of some maps.
Referring back to Day 28, a cartographer might be a really cool character to play. As part of an expedition or even just a merchant caravan, he or she would take note of local landmarks, take various readings and surveys, and generally build a better understanding of the world, who and what is in it, and how to get from one part to another. He or she might sample local foods, listen to the music and stories of different villages, and generally learn about the people as much as the land. Maps and guidebooks could earn the cartographer a good income over time, and give an excuse for venturing back out into the wide world.
I enjoy the heck out of worldbuilding. One has to be careful not to get consumed by it, because it’s easy to let get out of hand. The characters and stories are what will keep a reader interested and invested. The worldbuilding is kinda the icing on the cake. But trying to wrap your head around things, how one change here or there might totally alter the way people live…it’s a wonderful puzzle. And it spawns to many story ideas. I definitely had a few come out of this month long examination of Conquest of the Sphere.