Today's exercise is to expand on one area of the culture you've created for your world. We have a bare-bones timeline, the bare-bones elements of a language, the bare-bones of an economic and political scene. Today, select one of these areas to flesh out. If you're writing a novel with a more political plotline, flesh out the politics and economics. If you're writing something really "alien" in feel, or if you're writing high fantasy, flesh out the languages. If you're writing a story whose plot hinges on the past, fill in your timeline (probably not needed if this novel is a sequel, though).You know what? Today is a Sunday, I got the time; let's work on them all (or as many of them until I get distracted).
500 years? Man, that's a long time. I need to take into consideration when technologies were developed and when planets and races were discovered. Hell, I need to finish figuring out the majority of the races to begin with. I'm going to go over this later...HistoryWrite a complete timeline for your setting (last 500 years or so should do, unless your characters are long-lived or major forces earlier than that are truly world-shaking) and for your protagonist's life up until the novel opens. Make notes on how these forces will later impact the story (ex: Expansionism one hundred years ago is going to lead now to revolt in the Islands; the hero lives there and is going to get caught up in the revolution).
Aright, this one is a little more useful. Let's start here, and start with "The Union". I sort of want to call them "The Garden Union", but that just sounds lame. "The Stellar Union" is a little better. "The Nebula Union" is just clunky. The seat of the union lies on the planet Kel, so I could simplify it and call it "The Kel Union". That would fit more with the mentality that the humans of Kel are the driving force behind the Union. I feel like they're shooting themselves in the foot though, and that someone would have pointed out that a more generic name would entice more worlds to join. Maybe instead of "The Stellar Union", it's called "The Galactic Union", but is that too presumptuous for a political alliance that's from a region only tens of light-years across? Man, names are hard...Economics/PoliticsWrite a 1-paragraph description of each major political body (churches, governments, kingdoms, factions, economic forces, guilds, etc.) and name them now so you can refer to them as needed later. If you want, take extra time and write one sentence about how 3 of your groups (the 3 most important groups) feel about all the other groups.
AH! I got it; the Union of Garden Worlds.
Interchangeably known as the Garden Worlds Union, the UGW was formed years ago when the Kel Colonies entered into a formal treaty with the N'guli of Baram to counter the threat of the Drachon Clans. The combined efforts of both naval forces provided the Drachon clans with enough of a fight to blunt their attacks outside of Clan space and hold them back. Since then. the UGW has spread across the Garden, petitioning individual worlds to join the Union while being petitioned by others.
At this time, 19 systems within the Stellar Garden are members of the Union. 5 worlds are on the Union Council; Kel, Loros, Baram, Corbak, and Kaval. The Prime, the title for the executive leader of the Union, is elected every 5 years from one of these worlds. The other 14 worlds (along with the 5 worlds of the council) elect three representatives to form the Union Parliament.
The Danali Revolutionary War
The relatively short amount of time since it's formation, the UGW has undergone some growing pains. The economic and logistic requirements of governing 50 billion beings across 19 star systems is incredible. As such, there have been several decisions and policies put into place "for the good of the Union". This has included the authorization for strip-mining worlds and seizing other natural resources that are needed to keep the Union functioning. Several years ago there was a Revolutionary War with Danal, a former human colony world. Danal was important to the Union because it was the only planet where a large creature called ku'jai thrived. It was discovered that the excrement from these large beasts could be used to fuel jump-drive engines. The would allow ships to be able to trigger a jump-drive without the need of a jump gate, something that until recently was only possible by massive jump engines carried by the largest jump ships. The ku'jai could not survive on any other world (the Union tried), so the Union took control of ranching operations on Danal to the objection of the native ranchers. Eventually the objections of the Danali people became protests, the protests became riots, and the riots became an out-right revolution that lasted for several years. It ended with the defeat of the Danal Army, allegedly as they were trying to release a planet-wide toxin that would kill the entire ku'jai population. The military and political leaders of Danal were captured, tried, and executed for crimes against the Union. To this day, ranching on Danal is a Union military controlled operation and the people of Danal suffer from constant distrust and scrutiny from the Union.
The Union Calendar
After new common calendar began, with the date of the Union's formation as the first of the year. By that calendar, it is now Year 59 of the Union Era.
It's funny how that sort of snowballed there; I ended up writing a bit about the Danali War, and gave some background into how folks get around the Garden. It definitely became more than a paragraph. Let's see if I can tone it down a little for the next two...
The Drachon Clans
The clans hale from five worlds in the Stellar Garden, each world belonging to one clan of the same name; Cragar'rus, Arc'tus, Tira'nus, Infirg'nus, and Vas'tus. The drachons are a warrior culture, they display their dominance over all others through combat. The clans frequently take territory, but they rarely hold it for long. It's not that they can't; it is glorious to be a warrior on the front lines of battle in the thick of combat, but the average clan warrior becomes bored with the effort needed to garrison captured territory. The 5 clans rarely trade or conduct commerce with each other, but they do meet annually in great moots to extol on their victories since the last moot and to form a general plan for attacks in the coming year. The leader of these coordinated assault come from the clan that was most successful in the prior year, measured in "claw marks". The clan with the most "marks" is the "Grand Clan" for that year.
That paragraph gives me some awesome plot ideas concerning claw marks, coordinated attacks, and places a Clans could conquer that someone would attack in an attempt to retake it.
The Bathal Host
The Host rule a vast galactic empire that controls more than half of the Vortex Spiral Galaxy (of which the Stellar Garden of Ulmac is a part of). They have recently become aware of the denizens within the Stellar Garden and are moving on the Garden to bring it under control of The Host. The Bathal are religious zealots who's faith is drawn from a being they call "The Dark One". The Bathal possess previously unheard of powers that they refer to as "blessings" from their dark goddess. With these unusual abilities and their bio-organic technology, they plan to sweep aside resistance within the nebula with ease and purge its systems of the "heretic infestation".
The arrival of the Host is going to start the Trinary setting, or at the very least the first campaign.
As I was going through the above points, I had thought about moving back the Drachon attacks and the Union formation 100 years, to give it a sense of history and establishment. I then decided against it; I want the Union to be a fragile thing, to be a political entity that's stumbling and trying to figure out how it works. It made a harsh choice with it's handling of the Danal Revolution, one that set the tone for policy going forward and may have alienated several potential members (and current ones). Finally, it gives the players a social playground to romp in, as they could be contacted by various factions within the Union who want to fix it (or make it worse).
Tomorrow looks like it is actually going to draw a bit from today's results; it's all about the "What if"? Not like Marvel's What if comics, where history goes differently. It's the assumption of what is not true in present day Earth.
I've got a grocery list of those to put in here...