A big of an empire is expansion and often that expansion requires colonizing other lands, usually with people already living on it. Famous examples include the New World and Australia, but the fantasy world also has great examples like Skyrim for example.

But all of theses examples are different in their own way and mine should be just as different if not more, but how? How can I make the colonial history of my empire feel realistic? I am specifically focused on how nations would react to indigenous populations.

  • $\begingroup$ You should give some specifics of your colonizing civilization, and factors like climate and culture. Otherwise the question is completely open ended. I'm voting to close. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Oct 3, 2016 at 3:12
  • $\begingroup$ There are simply too many factors that determine expansionism, ranging from rival nation-states to religious doctrine to a need for resources. Tying these together properly is what makes history realistic, which is what I guess you're looking for, but "properly" is a subjective concept. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Oct 3, 2016 at 4:52
  • $\begingroup$ You can't. Unless you want to portray the one doing the colonizing as bad guys. $\endgroup$
    – Euphoric
    Oct 3, 2016 at 6:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Euphoric I do. $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Oct 3, 2016 at 6:32
  • $\begingroup$ Can you provide any more context of your fictional world and empire and cultures which will be colonised? Without context I can't offer any comparative historical analysis. Either that or rephrase the question to be a specific aspect of colonialism? $\endgroup$
    – user20787
    Oct 3, 2016 at 6:44

3 Answers 3


Like Cradle2theGabe said: start with researching historical examples.

However, I would also encourage you to read outside the box by focusing of different voices, looking at different time periods and seeing how colonies fitted in on the world stage.

To expand a little:

1) You could try reading about colonialism and the ongoing effects of colonization from the viewpoint of colonized peoples - either during colonisation or afterwards. This research might give you perspectives that you can use to make your colonialism different from stories that focus more on the invaders' points of view. Reading histories of the British Raj written by Indian authors will often paint different aspects of the same events in comparison to British-authored histories of the Raj.

2) Have a look at events that happened during the lifespan of an empire - how the colonizers and the colonized would have thought about the empire will change over the course of the colony as it's fortunes rise and fall. The colonizers may not initially think of themselves as colonists for example, "We're not invading! We're merely protecting their trading interests and ensuring the safety of some of our citizens!"

The events around WW2 also make for a good RW example - particularly in colonies that were occupied by forces other than the original colonists, or were in danger of being attacked. Here, the locals will have witnessed the potential panic and confusion on the part of their imperial masters and perhaps begun to doubt the 'rightness' of being ruled over by people who aren't so mighty after all.

3) Colonies are not isolated from their neighbours who might or might not be colonised themselves. Different stresses and strains will impact colonies who are surrounded by independent countries, compared to those surrounded by colonized countries (whether colonized by rival states or friendly ones). Again real world examples will give you good ideas on how colonies might be made to differ depending on the state of their neighbours and the world around them.


You are already on the right track investigating into historical examples. Borrow certain elements from different regions and eras of history. Many notable sci fi and fantasy authors do this to some degree, i.e. the Roman Empire IN SPACE, the British Empire WITH MAGIC, Mongol Empire WITH MONSTERS. If your world takes place in a version of our own Earth you can even make specific in-universe allusions to historical empires as influences No one can write your history for you. Have fun with it!


True all those examples are different but the all have certain things in common, found out what those things are and put them in your empire. I which I could give you more ideas but I can't without you giving more details of your world.


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