My question is « kinda » basic : Which are, for you, the points and basic rules when creating a credible and coherent FANTASY world ?
By this I mean what’s for you the most important things to think about (and why) when coming up with things such as the different races, their location on the map, kingdoms' borders (this one could be answered using the realistic world creation thread as a base I guess, but if you have anything to add about it), possible wars and their outcome, resources scattered throughout the world, social relations, and so on.
I’m precising because I of course searched a bit before asking and I saw pretty good threads about « realistic worlds » creation, I’m halfway through them but I still strongly believe a fantasy world is called this way for a reason and most of the rules that apply while creating a realistic world just can’t fit to a fantasy one.
When creating those kind of worlds, you need to take into consideration things that wouldn’t even exist in a realistic world and would hardly impact the possibilities of evolution it could have.
Everything you could add to what I’ll list below will be another stone for me and others to build a decent world! Of course it’s not rocket science, I’m not a famous writer nor am I the next Asimov/Tolkien. Hopefully you’ll correct me whenever you feel like I’m wrong!
Here is what I couldn’t get out of my mind ever since I started working on a world:
Races & biome affinities
Assuming our world is a Tolkien-like one (for the most part), we will have wizardry, monsters and all the generic races along with humans, such as orcs, elves, dwarfs and so on, and this inevitably means that a coherent world must take into account a race’s affinities for a specific biome. I won’t go through all the reasons why biologically and anatomically dexterous & noble elves have a preference for Mother Nature along with wizardry while robust and energetic dwarfs are more likely to settle where mineral resources are abundant to forge the best armors & weapons, simply because this is obvious and kinda off-topic, but it’s clearly a critical point for me.
A wide range of species, and it’s more of a personal rule, but try to let your imagination flow.
Continents & overall map shape
There needs to be a reason why the world looks like it does. Now don’t get me wrong: it’s of course more of a background and credibility thing, secondary in my opinion, but a coherent world comes with a coherent global story & series of events that leads to its actual state where your story will eventually take place. To take an actual example, we first had the Pangaea, but it eventually collapsed to be what we live on now except we are in a world where gods, mythical creatures, ancient wisdom are all part of what made our world.
On top of that, more continents means more complicated race distribution, diplomacy, etc… Different continents possibly means a different inner development for each of them, different cultures, war state, relations between races, and a much more complex world depending on the development state you chose to settle your the story of your world in.
Creatures/Monsters & Places
Because a kingdom’s capital probably won’t put itself near a dragon’s nest or some creepy equivalent, I think it’s an important issue: Knowing where to place your creatures, holy temples, cursed places, dungeons, and so on according to logic and overall common sense since it’s most likely to impact everything near it in many different ways; you need to place them smartly. Quick example I can think of at the time I’m writing this: If two races are in conflict, but there is a greater threat rising not far away from their lands, would they keep fighting each other while defending themselves, would they have an alliance, could it result in a providential peace ?
Also, as said in Races & biome affinities, you need to take biomes into account when placing them; geography can behave both as a natural border and Stronghold
Resources & Trading
Same goes for the resources they need to be placed following a certain degree of logic, what I’m unsure about is whether or not it’s important if you place them or your races and their kingdom first. Depending on which one you choose to place first it may or may not change the overall shape of your city’s distribution on the map.
Resources also means trading, each race has its up- and downsides, except for the human who are decently average in almost everything, but also their own needs which makes it so they probably will settle where the most important resources for them are (be it minerals with magic properties, high value, high resistance, as a minor example, or even water, food, etc), and since you can’t have everything at the same place, it may bring a lot of (welcome) political & trading complexity into your world, which is something you definitely want to keep an eye on.
Minor thing but trading and commerce includes maritime trading, routes, and every threat that goes with it (sea monsters, pirates, and so on), depending on how your world is designed. I’m thinking about including sky commerce and transport as well taking WoW and FF14 as a reference for vehicles, but it’s something I would need to research about.
Kingdoms & Affinities
As for the kingdoms, I can’t help but think that there may be kingdoms composed of multiple races along with the generic race-based kingdoms, which means even more complexity, yet like many of the rules I’ve written above, it’s all about logic & common sens, this is impacted by everything going on around it, especially relations between other local kingdoms and races, monsters, etc
Factions could be a thing, I thought about them but focused on other things instead since I couldn’t find a way that I liked to include them, so I can’t really extrapolate on what they could be at the moment (sorry), but it’s clearly an interesting way to add complexity and credibility to your world.
Wizardry & limits (reference)
I’m just giving a reference point here as it’s very subjective and opinion based when it comes to wizardry’s limits and spell casting. In my case I go for the « No limits except mastery » rule, and I’ve a more « game/anime-influenced approach » where I think that a wand is not needed, can be a plus, but not needed. I would also like to discuss this topic a lot as there is clearly not only one valid answer and it could open new horizons (at least for me), but I believe it deserves its own thread on top of the fact that this one is already filled with plenty of topics to discuss about.
As for what « wizardry » include and is related with, I would clearly add things such as spell casting, healing, summoning objects and creatures, enchanting, potions, scrolls, race-related magic attributes and affinities, etc.
Wars unfolding & wizardry (reference)
This one is more of a reference as well for almost the same exact reasons: It’s kinda off-topic, too broad, opinion-based and would need me to go deeper into the details to expose my point. I’ll try to stay evasive while giving and overall idea of what I consider a War would look like in a fantasy world.
I’ve talked about that earlier, global peace is, in my opinion, overly incoherent, there need to be tensions, pressure, be it between kingdoms for things such as resources, territory, trading, secrets, military power, holy places or even race-oriented reasons, and even between continents for cultural reasons or resources. And it’s also a good way to generate tensions and define social & trading state between kingdoms and races.
Now talking about Wars themselves (we already exposed most of the possible reasons multiple times above), I believe conventional Medieval wars is a good « base » when thinking about the unfolding, if you want to describe entire battles for example, but we need to keep in mind that strategy won’t be the same as there is magic and race « bonus » or even sky control involved depending on the scale (kingdom on kingdom, coalitions, factions, etc), vehicles and mounts used, you need to think about troop arrangement as well since you need to include wizards and non-expert magic users among soldiers, along with specific groups such as healers and destruction/defense oriented spell casters. I won’t go deeper than that, I think you’ve got an overall shape.
That’s it for me; I’ve nothing more to add I believe!
Thanks for reading, it’s a pretty long post that I’ve rewritten quite a few times already, it’s always pretty hard to organize what’s in your head in a « readable » way, so I apologize if I’ve been quite unclear/rough on certain points!