World Building Post #3 – A Second Example

If you remember from the last post, we had created two humanoid races – Southern Race and Northern Race. We went over Southern Race in detail creating the basis of a culture. I’d like to do that again, a little quicker this time, for the Northern Race.

Start at the top – cultural evolutionary starting point. Last time we went with a combination hunter/gatherer and agriculture. This time lets go with Feudal Europe with heavy agricultural base (think Arthurian times). That means we’ll need a king, lords, merchants, knights, and soldiers. It means we’ll need metal workers for weapons and armor. You can already see all the differences here.

Next – gender roles. Traditional patriarchal, or non-traditional matriarchal? For simplicity let’s go male dominated. Males hold leadership roles, males control the land and money, males run the church (whatever that might be), inheritance passes to the males.

Social hierarchy – Obviously the king is at the top. Here’s how I generally stack this: King, Royalty, Nobility, Merchant Class (upper and lower), Artisans (upper and lower), Freemen (farmers), Peasants or Serfs (farmers, labourers) with women and children as a half caste within each.

Religion – same set of choices, and we want to avoid sounding too much like Earth so a monotheistic male-dominated religion is out. Also, at this time period in European history the old Gaelic and Druid traditions were “fighting” with Christianity so you may want to avoid those too. We’ve already decided patriarchal so a male based polytheistic or an abstract religion would be best. Why not have two gods and a goddess and make the goddess the trickster, against tradition. Just be careful that the book doesn’t come across as anti-feminist or “all women bad”.

Practices probably lean more to the ritualistic – prayers, ceremonies, official places of worship. Maybe some sacrifices still, all very ritualized. Highly controlled.

Magic – we’ve established that. 20% of women, 2% of men. The 2% of men go into the church – but they aren’t the only men serving the church. The 20% of women are closely watched and taught so that the trickster goddess doesn’t influence them. Lower class women use their magic to help with the fields, etc, just as in Southern Race, upper class women need another outlet for their magic since they can’t go working in the fields or divining for wells. Since the upper class makes up only 5% of a population (maybe 10%) there still wouldn’t be too many women with magic in the upper classes, not as many as among the farmers.

A quick look at the math. If you have 1000 people – 50 would be upper class, 100 would be merchants, 150 would be skilled workers, 250 would be Freemen, 450 would be peasants and serfs. If there is an even split, male to female, your numbers are 25, 50, 75, 125, 225 – and the number of women with magic would be: 5, 10, 15, 25, 45 for a total of 100 women out of 1000 people and 10 men out of 1000 people. Consider 1000 the size of a large city plus surrounding estates and farms and you get the idea of what the population spread looks like if the births are even. That 20% isn’t going to pay attention to class distinction so the numbers can vary greatly, but shouldn’t veer too far from 100/1000 for women and 10/1000 for men.

Yes, this level of math is something I often do for figuring out magical density and frequency, population spread and size, and country size. I use similar math for geography but we’ll get to that on the map post.

Oh, we forgot one thing. The Southern Race, with their blue-green hair, live near the water. The Northern Race let’s say lives in a heavily forested area backed by mountains so to explain the brown hair and the access to metals for weapons and armour. Maybe the Southern Race has no access to such resources and that’s why they haven’t taken that step yet.

The two cultures are similar – patriarchal, magical minority, with similar but distinct religions and a distinguishing physical feature. In my next post we’ll return to these two civilizations and go over fine-tuning the culture and adding language. Then it’s on to mapping!

Signing off …


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