How NOT to Conworld.

Discussions about constructed worlds, cultures and any topics related to constructed societies.
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Zumir
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Zumir » 12 Jul 2012 00:21

Another conworlding trope that makes me want to burn the world is when a species is played up as being simply better than us morally. Elves are by far the worst offenders, but sci-fi is riddled with them as well.

It's bad enough if their superiority is based on something we can all agree with, e.g nonviolence or universal cooperation, but all too often they become mouthpieces for the authors' personal views. It becomes pretty unforgivable if these views don't even make sense for the setting of the story (for example, atheists in a high fantasy setting).
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by thaen » 12 Jul 2012 02:42

I quite agree, although if they are "better" than us morally, there should at least be a plausible reason for it.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by cybrxkhan » 12 Jul 2012 03:32

Zumir wrote:...they become mouthpieces for the authors' personal views. It becomes pretty unforgivable if these views don't even make sense for the setting of the story (for example, atheists in a high fantasy setting).
I generally don't like this, period. Putting your own views into the world, fine. But they better make damn good sense and not make the other side look like caricatures. Of course, even I'm not above that, and I myself have to constantly make sure I don't unconsciously make certain ideas or what not look better than other, but thankfully I don't think I have anything too blatant in my conworld.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Khemehekis » 12 Jul 2012 05:27

Thakowsaizmu wrote: Star Wars is pretty much the model of how not to conworld.
Whoever was editing Wikibooks seems to have overlooked this; go to http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Conworld and click on the link titled Exemplary Conworlds.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Aszev » 12 Jul 2012 13:43

Khemehekis wrote:
Thakowsaizmu wrote: Star Wars is pretty much the model of how not to conworld.
Whoever was editing Wikibooks seems to have overlooked this; go to http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Conworld and click on the link titled Exemplary Conworlds.
Judging from what that link directs to, I'd say it's more of a poor choice of words with the use of 'exemplary' on the main page.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Ollock » 06 Aug 2012 13:19

Theta wrote:
Micamo wrote: So I just reread this entire thread and it gave me a horrific idea: Eroworld, the conworld consisting solely of various sexual fetishes. Who wants to help me with this one?
Ooh! What if there's a specific fetish for each little society, and it dominates their culture; like the foot fetish people have a writing system that looks like a bunch of feet, and they never wear shoes. And people think ingrown toenails are curses.
That's actually not that far-fetched. For quite a long time, pretty much all of China had a foot fetish -- a *small* foot fetish. Causality with the practice of footbinding is uncertain. Apparently you'll still hear comments on the size of a woman's feet in some rural areas.
xBlackWolfx wrote:tell me, if you cant feature elves and dwarves and gnomes and maybe hobbit-rip-offs, what else is there? mostly the only alternatives are animal ppl, catfolk, minotaurs, werewolves, frog people. sure you can do something wierd like the zombies in WoW or the 'warforged' in eberron (warforged purely and simply are magic androids, or golems according to actualy DnD books). but the warforged are completely uninteresting, and unnecessary (they appear to exist solely so half-orcs dont have to be a playable race). and the zombies in WoW dont make any sense, infact the intro for the undead makes it clear that their joining the horde was purely and simply an 'alliance of convenience' and 'they harbor no true loyalty to their new allies'.
What's wrong with alliances of convenience? They happen all the time in the real world, and they're an excellent source of dramatic conflict.
the reason everyone keeps using elves and dwarves and other cliches is bc its nigh impossible to think of something that isnt just plain stupid, they just go with what clearly works. its like throwing away a perfectly good machine that works fine purely bc everyone else has one, and replacing it with a machine that doesn't work purely bc no one else is using it. and besides, its quite difficult to create a fantasy race that doesnt look like a dwarf or elf or hobbit or gnome or w/e without it looking like something from startrek rather than a fantasy setting. look at the dark crystal for instance, though normally billed as fantasy movie it does have alot of science fictiony elements. some of the flora and fauna of the world look like something from star wars. and gelflings look like a hybrid between elves and hobbits, and females have fairy wings (i've also noticed that reviews tend to refer to the gelflings as being 'elfin').
You can make elves and dwarves your own and quite interesting. You can also use other races and be just as interesting. Or you can do as a few recent fantasy novels and make the world essentially all-human, with other races rare and magical or nonexistent entirely.

A couple examples:

- Through much of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, we pretty much only see humans. There's talk of other races, but you don't see giants (great massive yeti-like creatures) for quite some time, and you have to wait even longer to see the children of the forest (magical cat-people, basically). But he manages to tell compelling stories of clashes between very different human cultures, anyway. The other races are mainly relevant to only a couple of stories. (And yes, I realize you see an Other in the prologue of the first book -- but you don't learn a whole lot about them for a while.)

- Similarly, Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles, has two races, human and Fae. But you don't meet a Fae until the second book, and much of the time Kvoth is busy interacting with various other human cultures (some of which may be more believable than others). When you do talk to Fae, their motivations are alien and amoral, making them into a very interesting race to juxtapose with humans.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Torco » 06 Aug 2012 22:27

speaking about races, I really hate the monorace polity trope... just because ye yanks are segregationist racists, and racially segregated ones at that, doesn't mean the entire world is like that... there's plenty of non-monoracial cultures in the history of the world, and a HUGE amount of reasons why, given greater diversity of intelligent things, monoracial polities wouldn't be any more common than on earth, perhaps less so.

I also hate how people call species 'races'. fantasy is so racists.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Shanhoia » 07 Aug 2012 00:57

I think attitude, more than content, is what turns me off a conworld.
On the intellectual side, I like to see people thinking things through to their (sometimes unexpected) logical conclusions, and making lots of neat connections between elements in the setting. So what bugs me isn't elves, it's when you didn't think about elves, you just inserted them from something you're familiar with. Or you didn't try and integrate all the different elements of your world, you just threw in every weird/cool/shiny thing you could think in a haphazard manner. The worst case of that I can think of is Wicked (the book).

On the emotional side, I dislike conworlds that seem to have been created just to be cool or bizarre or disturbing. Concultures are like characters. I can identify with people who are very different from me, if they seem real and they have a certain human warmth. But if they don't care about each other, have no everyday concerns, never make mistakes, never seek comfort, and never get cranky when they're hungry, I'm bored. Similarly, I'm not that interested in concultures where everyone seems perfect, solemn, and dedicated to weird rites or epic causes.

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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by anacharis » 08 Aug 2012 00:23

Ollock wrote:
Theta wrote:
Micamo wrote: So I just reread this entire thread and it gave me a horrific idea: Eroworld, the conworld consisting solely of various sexual fetishes. Who wants to help me with this one?
Ooh! What if there's a specific fetish for each little society, and it dominates their culture; like the foot fetish people have a writing system that looks like a bunch of feet, and they never wear shoes. And people think ingrown toenails are curses.
That's actually not that far-fetched. For quite a long time, pretty much all of China had a foot fetish -- a *small* foot fetish.
And it hardly needs to be pointed out that even today, vast swathes of the western world have a breast fetish in one form or another.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Chagen » 08 Aug 2012 00:53

All I have to say is:

Do not make your conworld an incoherent mess of "Shit I Think Is Cool" unless you really know to make it work.

Otherwise you end up with Full Auto.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Lambuzhao » 08 Aug 2012 01:11

Torco wrote:speaking about races, I really hate the monorace polity trope... just because ye yanks are segregationist racists, and racially segregated ones at that, doesn't mean the entire world is like that... there's plenty of non-monoracial cultures in the history of the world, and a HUGE amount of reasons why, given greater diversity of intelligent things, monoracial polities wouldn't be any more common than on earth, perhaps less so.

I also hate how people call species 'races'. fantasy is so racists.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by thaen » 08 Aug 2012 01:12

You aren't scrapping that idea, are you? [O.O]
Edit: Once again, lambu, you have ninja'd me. Prepare to die.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by cybrxkhan » 08 Aug 2012 02:15

Torco wrote:speaking about races, I really hate the monorace polity trope... just because ye yanks are segregationist racists, and racially segregated ones at that, doesn't mean the entire world is like that... there's plenty of non-monoracial cultures in the history of the world, and a HUGE amount of reasons why, given greater diversity of intelligent things, monoracial polities wouldn't be any more common than on earth, perhaps less so.
Thanks for pointing this out.

This is generally something people don't really know about history - and one that I've grown to appreciate more and more as I continue my study in history (history major here). Many historical states were quite multiracial. Rome, for instance, was very mixed, and many Roman Emperors came from North Africa, the Middle East, non-Italian Europe, and so on; in other words, contrary to common perception of Romans as pure white dudes, some Roman Emperors might as well have looked like Bin Laden's cousin or something. Many medieval Islamic states were also highly diversified; medieval Spain, for instance, was a huge mess of what we would call "white", "black", "jewish", and "middle eastern" folk; many of the Turkish sultans were of mixed ancestry - if I remember correctly Suleiman was half-Greek or half-Slavic or something (might be his successor). And on and on.

Point is, I think this problem in fantasy is something that is rooted in common perceptions of history - that people have kept to themselves historically.


Actually, this goes to another point, and one I feel very strongly about when it comes to history. Historically, many cultures themselves were mixed, the result of centuries upon centuries of influence and counter-influence from one group to another. Early medieval Islamic culture, for instance, while obviously founded on pre-Islamic Arabian culture, was heavily influenced by Sassanid Persia, which itself was influenced by Achaemenid Persia, classical Greece, and India. Historical religious sectarianism and secret societies of southern China, for instance, drew influences from local Chinese traditions, Buddhism, and even Persian religions such as Manichaeism - I did a research paper on this, and was surprised at the plausibility of a Persian Manichaean influence on things such as Chinese triads or religious rebellions as late as the 20th century. A modern-day example might be Jazz: influences draw from classical European music, traditional African and Amerindian musical traditions, ragtime, and even Asian music. This was how ideas and inventions spread so quickly: Paper, Gunpowder, for instance, spread along the Silk Road from China to the Islamic World to Europe.

My point is that this is often not reflected in stereotypical fantasy where every culture has kept to themselves for 1038032424 years until the magical hero comes along and forces everyone to work along, or something like that. Those immortal elves always keep to themselves in their magical trees, the dwarves are always inside their mountains doing dwarven stuff, and so on - nobody exchanges culture, ideas, inventions, religions, anything. And not only that, nobody even mixes. Even if two groups come into contact, they always sort of keep to themselves and don't change at all - elves are still their same elfy selves or whatever.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Lambuzhao » 08 Aug 2012 08:34

thaen wrote:You aren't scrapping that idea, are you? [O.O]
Edit: Once again, lambu, you have ninja'd me. Prepare to die.

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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Ànradh » 08 Aug 2012 10:30

I think the two largest contributing factors to mono-racial consocieties are laziness and the idea that long distance travel was rare in 'the old days' (which, I suppose, amounts to a lack of research and perhaps is covered under 'laziness').
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Micamo » 08 Aug 2012 13:50

Chagen wrote:Do not make your conworld an incoherent mess of "Shit I Think Is Cool" unless you really know to make it work.
And it took you less than a year to figure this out!

*claps*

Bravo, bravo!
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by thaen » 08 Aug 2012 17:26

Lambuzhao wrote:
thaen wrote:You aren't scrapping that idea, are you? [O.O]
Edit: Once again, lambu, you have ninja'd me. Prepare to die.

Trial by Stone - Haaaaaakskeeeeeeeeekaaaaχχχχχχχχχχ!

Beware the dreaded Crab-jutsu
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIklYwwd4wE
That was great. The best part was the reed popping up out of the water. [xD]

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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by Lambuzhao » 09 Aug 2012 01:27

No video necessary.

http://www.toplessrobot.com/Jaxxon.jpg

See, you didn't know that I knew.

But here's the video anyway.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ty3dmkuDZs
[}:D]

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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by thaen » 09 Aug 2012 04:24

Ah! [:x] You know. [>:(] I can't believe it. I'll kill the infidel who told you! It must have been Lady Macbeth...She's probably mad at me since I sold here for meat.
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Re: How NOT to Conworld.

Post by k1234567890y » 02 Jan 2019 01:51

To make a human culture, it is better not to violate the proposed human universals, even the universality if many items of it, or even the existence of such universals, can be controversial.

http://condor.depaul.edu/mfiddler/hyphen/humunivers.htm

This is a list of the proposed human universals. I have never read Brown's book, but I think something needs to be clarified, for example, the "magic" part should be "beliefs of magic" e.g. "magical thinking", and the "magic to increase life", "magic to sustain life" and "magic to win love" parts should be "beliefs in magic that can help increase life, sustain life, or win love, and the practice of beliefs in magic."

Also, I think the "spear" part may actually indicate "tools and weapons used to stab and pierce.

Some persons might claim the "murder proscribed" part has exceptions e.g. human sacrifice, but it seems that human sacrifice is only acceptable in extreme circumstances, and a human sacrifice custom that is practiced on a regular basis always gets widely despised and criticized; also, some cultures have "honour killing", but for peoples who practice honour killing, the killed ones are lawbreakers, so it is more the matter of "what crimes are serious enough to deserve a death.(the definition of criminal behaviour itself can vary, but there seem to be some universals behind it e.g. no group of people would intuitively accept unharmful things such as 'a male or female living to an old age' or 'loving one's own parents and children' or 'having sex with only one person throughout the life' as crimes") and the ban on the killing of innocents(i.e. people who are not criminals) in usual circumstances is still universal.
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