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When creating a fantasy world, would it be better to first come up with the land or decide the people living in it?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Dan Smolinske, JDługosz, Serban Tanasa, grimmsdottir, Ghanima Apr 14 '15 at 5:49

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ As written this is too broad (as well as being basically an opinion survey). However, if you were to edit in something about your constraints and goals, that could make it more answerable. For example, the considerations are probably different for an RPG (interactive and modifiable), a work of fiction (non-interactive and unmodifiable), and an ongoing dramatic presentation with a strong fan base (a mix). And it varies depending on whether your goal is worldcraft, creating a window into people/societies, or probably other things. Can you flesh this out some more? $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Apr 14 '15 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Monica. I can see excellent reasons to begin at either end. It depends on what sort of end you envision, and what constraints you want to be binding as opposed to fungible. For example, if you want geographic concerns to be absolute limitations, it might be helpful to start with geography, but then again, it might be better to start with the characters and then figure out what geography will produce the needed constraints. $\endgroup$ – CAgrippa Apr 15 '15 at 3:00
  • $\begingroup$ I agree that this is opinion based, so I am going to give you my opinion. I say start with the land, this will be the 'natural' way and it will save you from patch working the land of your world to 'fill' the description of your races and their needs. Probably the best way is to do these things together. $\endgroup$ – Robin Apr 15 '15 at 7:12
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I would go with character development first. Giving the characters different abilities and or features would help in developing the environment they live in. For example quick reaction times could be from living in an extremely hostile environment where quick reactions can mean life or death or night vision could come from living under ground or at a polar cap where there is little to no light for long periods of time.

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