Thoughts on Setting: Fantasy in the Renaissance and Beyond, an Example.

This will be a quick post since WordPress has decided to saddle me with an unfamiliar interface and I have not figured out how to switch back to the classic interface. Updating for the sake of updating is not a good thing!

A few Sundays ago I wrote this post, about how fantasy is expanding into time periods other than the classical and the medieval. I promised an example, so here we go.

Let’s start with an important historical event. This is just a starting point, of course, but it does help to keep in mind the importance of the original event in order to address the themes that excite you about that event.

Taking an easy example, lets go with the American Revolution as our base event.

  • Square bullets (why WordPress, why did you change my interface?)
  • We need a mature colony with a impressive population
  • We need a distant monarchy that places heavy demands on their rich, established colony, but does not give it enough respect. Remember the slogan of the Boston Tea Party was not “screw taxes!” it was no taxation without representation, meaning that the colonists wanted seats in parliament and saw it as a right since they were contributing greatly to the Empire.
  • We need allies.
  • The themes of the American Revolution that interest me are the movement away from the monarchy, the trend toward religious freedom, and the setting of the stage for the revolutions that followed in Europe.

The Colony, Wesfoundland

  • Westfoundland is an enormous landmass best known for its farms, timbre, and an abundance of natural resources.
  • The People of Westfoundland are a varied group, many of whom fled conflicts in the old world to settle here and live in peace.
  • The colonies have a mixed reputation with the natives, many of whom they have driven from their lands.

The Empire, Engildom

  • Engildom is an Empire than has grown rich off trade.
  • It is ruled by a Queen and a parliament.
  • Engildom is constantly engaged in conflicts all over the world to maintain its Empire. These conflicts are expensive and the burden of that cost often falls on rich colonies like Westfoundland.

The Allies

  • Engildom is allied with the rest of its colonies, a native people called the Wolf Clan, and various trade partners.
  • Westfoundland is allied with the smaller Bear Clan, and has support from enemies of Engildom like Valdaran,

That is a basic, functional structure for a conflict that could drive a number of narratives.

Now lets add fantasy elements and mix them with our themes.

Moving away from the Monarchy

  • In history, the power of the nobility was tied to hereditary control of the land.
  • In our example we decide to mess with the feudal system a little bit. The nobility have all inherited ancient, powerful magical items that are tied to their bloodline. This is the source of their power, ownership and control of land is incidental in this system.

Religious Freedom

  • Lets avoid real world religions.
  • The orthodox religion implies that magic comes from the gods.
  • The new religion proclaims that magic comes from men.

Later Revolutions

  • What happens if Valdaran and Westfoundland have such close ties that the Westfoundlanders become embroiled in the Valdaran revolution, which would be the equivalent of Americans joining up with the French in the Napoleonic age.

So far, so good. But can we create a compelling narrative from this outline that will be of interest to fantasy readers?

The example continues next Sunday!


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