Hey guys and welcome back to world building! Last week was hectic and crazy so I had to skip, but I’m hopefully back on track! We’re at the end of the series, not to say I won’t post other world building related material. Originally divided into nine parts I condensed a couple and so we end at lucky number seven. Thanks for sticking with me through this series over the last couple of months and I hope it’s helped bring some clarity and depth to your new world. Let’s get started!
We’ve actually already covered several aspects of culture, but today’s blog is intended to go into more depth. As usual! Culture isn’t just the aesthetics of a community, but also the way in which they interpret and handle it.
- Rites of Passage
There are many aspects to marriage other than the ceremony. Yes, the ceremony is important! And no doubt you can combine your culture with your religion to create it. In addition to the ceremony, you need to consider the laws of marriage. Is divorce allowed? Can it only be between elves/humans/orcs/pancakes? Is there interracial marriage? Is polygamy/bigamy allowed? Is it acceptable for an adult to marry a child? Once again I’ll point out our own real world has a slew of cultural expectations for marriage. In addition to all of these questions here are a few more to consider. Are there dowries? Are all marriages arranged? Is it scandalous for a noble to marry below his class? Is a father out to rescue his daughter from being a child bride?
Rites of Passage
In modern culture we still participate in rites of passage even if they’re not what comes to mind when thinking of the term. Graduations and birthdays are a couple of examples. At what age are girls considered women and boys considered men? Is it age specific? Or do they have to complete some kind of task first? A first kill? Having a child? And what of those who don’t pass those specific rituals? Are they pariahs or denied specific opportunities?
How do the people of your world celebrate? What do they do for holidays and marriage feasts and the birth of a new princess? Do they feast or fast? Play games or get on their knees in prayer? Of course the celebration in particular can affect how it’s celebrated. For the birth of an heir a religious nation might pray in thanks. For winning a battle they might do the same, or dance over the proverbial graves of their enemy.
Some cultures in our own world don’t celebrate birthdays whilst mine in particular puts a lot of weight into its acknowledgement. Of course there are also milestone birthdays to consider. Even if your kingdom doesn’t celebrate every birthday, they may put a lot of stake into the 10th, 20th, etc.
In Tudor England, women were put away for months at a time in the later stages of pregnancy. It was believed to aid them in delivery and to make both mother and child healthy. What rituals does your culture follow when one grows close to birth? Are there placebo potions made of ground up pancakes? Is a holy man expected to be at delivery? Are no men allowed or vice versa? There could be only males allowed to not mix up the estrogen or something like that (I know that’s not a possible thing, but ancient peoples believed some interesting stuff). XD
This would be heavily influenced by your culture’s religious beliefs. Is it the end all be all? Or do they move on to an afterlife? What kind of afterlife? Is there a funeral celebrating their life? Or rituals to aid in their travel to the next world? What are they buried with or in? Are they buried at all? Are there graveyards or is everyone burned? It’s always possible that death isn’t acknowledged at all and family/friends simply don’t talk about that person anymore.
What’s taboo in your culture? Is it normal for families to keep marriages within themselves? Is it acceptable for women to wear pants? Is anyone without a tattoo of your religious figure considered an outcast? If taboos are met then what is the result? Punishment or abandonment? Of course this would also be determined by how severe a taboo was committed.
Attire can be influenced by sex, class, and age in addition to the current fashions. Are only old women allowed to wear bright colors? Would a pauper be able to afford a silk gown? It’s fun to research fashion through the ages of our own world and piece together what you like. There are several sites dedicated to attire in history.
What instruments and songs do your people play and sing? Do they glorify battles or peaceful tidings? What sort of artists are celebrated? Painters? Singers? Fashion designers? What do those of high society pay to go see? Plays? Which leads into the header below.
What do your people do for fun? Keep in mind that class, race, and other difference affect the past times of your people. The wealthy might pay big money to watch a man carve a duck out of butter, but those without that kind of money to burn may spend a few coins on a sack full of sand to kick around. What sports are played? Are there tournaments or competitions like golf or rugby? Is there a limit as to who can participate in what? Keep in mind that not just anyone could walk in from the street and joust in medieval times.
Who are the poets? Who speaks for the common man against the corruption of the government on paper? What religious text is the end all be all for moral discrepancy? What shut in nobleman writes laws by day and trashy romances by night? How does literature affect your community? Is there an illiteracy problem?
Who’s famous and why? What are they famous for? Are they living? Dead? How much influence do they have over what’s fashionable or over government?
Is education a privilege only for the wealthy? Is there a sort of public school system set in place? Are women educated? Are there boarding schools and institutions? Or is there a private tutor? What doors does education open in your world?
Standard of beauty! I’m sure you’re aware of those popular youtube videos where they go over the standard of beauty in several countries over the last hundred years. Beauty is evolving much like everything else. What’s in style? I’m not just talking about people but decorum and architecture as well as many other things. What is beautiful in your culture?
Whilst language has been briefly touched on, lets not forget about dialects. Also, what kind of accents do people have? Even among those who speak the same native language, regional dialect can affect communication. Then throw in anyone who speaks it as a second language and are learning.
Is your culture very scientific? Do they call in the local priest to heal? Also, is there magic in your world that does the healing? Are there holy women? How does your civilization deal with sickness? Do they believe it to be a demon displeased with your actions? Or in the millions of tiny bacterium that riddle your body with symptoms? How does your world deal with outwardly obvious wounds? Do they clean a wound with fish oil? So many possibilities!
How does your culture fight in combat? Do they march across fields and engage in hand to hand? Is there guerrilla warfare? What rituals are centered around war? Is it glorified? Avoided? How are private disputes settled? Is there dueling or boxing? Is your society completely pacifist?
As I mentioned above, this concludes my world building series. Did I leave anything out? Oh yeah, I’m sure of it. Hopefully this will get you started and can help your world develop and flesh out until it evolves and grows on its own. This certainly doesn’t mean I won’t make other posts in the future relating to world building, but this is it for now! Thanks for sticking around and in the future I’ll see about making up some worksheets to get you started. Until next week!
World Building Part 1: Basics
World Building Part 2: Religion
World Building Part 3: Nation Creation
World Building Part 4: Government
World Building Part 5: Calendar
World Building Part 6: Map Making
Added 06/13/2016 World Building Part 8: Floor Plans & Architecture
Added 10/24/2016 World Building Part 9: Creatures
Added 11/21/2016 World Building Part 10: Science!
Added 12/12/2016 World Building Part 11: Medicine
Added 01/09/2016 World Building Part 12: Names