Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Building A World - Part 1 - A Place In Space

We're building a world! With each of these posts there will be one or more questions for you to answer in the comments, and those comments will be used in shaping parts of the world. Any information regarding stuff not currently under discussion will be discarded in order to keep the focus on the topic at hand.

Now, in the announcement post we already made the first decision: this is a low fantasy world. By low fantasy we mean that while magic may be present it is very rare and generally not seen by the common populace. Think "Game of Thrones" more than "Lord of the Rings" and you've got Low Fantasy. Low Fantasy tends to also have an extreme minimum of non-human/non-monster races, but that won't be relevant for a few more posts.

Sound like fun? Then come on in. The hopeful idea here is to both build an interesting world, and to go through one of several approaches to building a world to play in.

A Place In Space
Where a world is situated, and what is around it, can be very important developmental aspects of a world. In general you want to go from big to small, which with worlds often means working from outside to the inside until you are closely inspecting not just a continental land mass but what might actually take shape on it city and country wise.

Speaking of Shape...
For simplicity's sake I am pre-ruling that this will be a normal spherical planet similar in shape to that of our Earth.

Stars In The Sky
Looking up at night from Earth can be a real treat. Our sky is full of countless stars and almost every faith, religion, and/or culture has come up with some explanation for what they were. Stars are important, and for more than just their gravitational function on a planet and the area around it, so what are the stars in the sky like for our world?

Are they...

...just like on earth where the sky is full of countless stars, all of which except the north star - from the perspective of the earth - move and rotate in a set pattern?

...just like on Earth, but... they don't "move" or otherwise are stationary for some reason

...the night sky is dark and stars don't exist where try as you might, barring any lunar celestial bodies, there's just nothing in the night sky but the abyss.

...there is no night... perhaps due to a second sun or other light source, the world never gets dark.

something else if you have some other idea share it, if enough people like it (or if you have no competition) we'll go with that.

The Sun Is The Center Of The Universe...
Or is it? For that matter do we even have one sun or do we have multiple suns? No suns at all? This is more of a straight count for people to vote on, but also feel free to vote on whether the planet revolves around the sun, the sun revolves around the planet, or the planet revolves around something else besides the sun (like if it were to be a moon of a bigger planet.)

In other words, how many "day stars" do we have, and how are they set in this system compared to the planet for purposes of movement?

Number of Suns
1) 0 Sun (where does light come from then?)
2) 1 Suns
3) 2 Suns
4) 3+ Suns (give answer)

1) Planet around Star
2) Planet around something else around star
3) Star around planet
4) Star around something else around planet
5) other

Do Planets Have Moons?
With the sun out of the way we have the same question about the moon. Is there a moon? Is our planet a moon itself? is it a moon that also has other moons? How many moons are there? What are their relative sizes?

Choose One
1) "World" is a moon of a nearby planet (what kind of planet if you take this?)
2) "World" is a planet in and of itself

How maany moons?
1) 0 moon
2) 1 moons
3) 2 moons
4) 3+ moons (how many?)

Is there anything special about one,  or more, of the moons?

The Importance Of These Questions
To be clear, these questions are about more than just window dressing. These are going to impact the world in numerous ways. Religions and cultures take lots of cues from the celestial bodies that surround a planet. Times of activity vs. times of rest are decided by things like the rotation of the planet around the sun (or vice versa) and when it is easy to sleep (it's dark, yo) vs. when it is hard to sleep (light bright...) or whether or not you want to be active or resting depending on ambient heat.

This is also a way to make the world immediately stand out as different, or harken back to Earth with similarities. Doing this exercise at a convention the crowd called out for 1.5 suns and decided that one of the moons was highly volcanic which made it glow bright red and giving a sort of "half light" to the night time. That then sprouted off in a dozen other sections with various effects and impacts. Just as much  as if it had never happened.

So take a moment, think about it, and make your choices. Voting closes at noon on Thursday.


  1. World circles a gas giant planet that is at the minimum distance from the sun as allowed by astrophysics. Almost like a binary system, but world orbits only the gas giant rapidly. Many moons of various sizes also around gas giant. This would lead to extreme interest in astronomy. Likely affect biorhythms of animals and humans. Ancient historical accounts of world shattering asteroid collisions. All this could lead to religions explaining their cosmology. Some quick, random thoughts.

  2. I think the idea of circling a gas giant is interesting one. I'm actually going to throw my vote at that one. Let's go with 13 moons for the Gas Giant including our planet.

    Let's say that the planet of focus is the mid sized "moon" of the gas giant ending up a little larger than mercury. Gravity due to the density of the planet is approximately earth norm.

    One of the other moons could be called a sister moon, with an identical or nearly identical orbit. Due to the location of that even during the times when rotated away from the gas giant the side of the planet the sister moon is on gets constant semi light.

    A new artifact of fascination for the astronomers is the recently spotted stellar body that is much closer than any other yet recorded. In this case, the "sun" of the system.

  3. I too vote for a world I or it around a gas giant in orbit around a sun. I also propose a second smaller star which orbits the primary star at a long distance, not enough to remove the night, but if its orbit were an elipse instead of a circle, then you could have a cycle of "dusk-night" years when the second sun isn't so distant and thus half lights the night.

    Since this is a fantasy setting this other sun could be a source of "otherworldly" monsters, special magic, or other strange events, timed to when that sun (and any of its attendant planets) are closer.

    Also, it would be neat if the gas giant had its own fantastic ecology drifting on the upper atmospheric levels. Lots of possibilities for Jules Verne style adventures there...

    Oh, and lots of stars that move about the sky please. An active sky is much more interesting and useful for inspiring legend and religion than a dark, starless night.