Practicing the art and skill of building worlds.

Posts tagged “Plot device

Worldbuilding Day 4: Cataclysms

30 Days of Worldbuilding: Day 4

The exercise today is to come up with the “Really Big Land Features” I want to put on my map and think about how they came to be.

At first, I was completely vexed! I had a fair idea of what I wanted to do with this setting and for the most part, “Really Big Land Features” just didn’t really feature in.

Mt.Pinatubo, Philippines

A caldera is basically what's left of a volcano after its squishy bits collapse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I thought about it a little. I said I wanted a large body of water nearby, right? Maybe a lake or a bay. Is there any way that something like that could be created by a natural disaster? What if it’s the crater from a massive asteroid strike? Or the caldera left by the eruption of a huge volcano?

But why does that matter? I can hear you asking. Who cares where a big hole in the ground came from? If it’s a plot device, the players are going to smell it a mile away, and I can hear the groans already. So. Obvious.

Okay, but what if it’s not going to become a plot device? What if it’s just a distinct geographical feature? Distinct geographical features are what often give places their names! If something neat like a caldera or an asteroid crater is nearby, I get instant name fodder! Always nice. I suck at names.

I’m leaning toward a caldera, if only because caldera is really fun to say. Caldera.

Do any of your settings contain Really Big Land Features that were caused by cataclysms? Are they part of the (back)story, or just distinct geological features? If they’re more than just neat-looking, how do they play a part in your story?


Worldbuilding Day 2: Physical Planet

30 Days of Worldbuilding: Day 2

“Physical Planet” is kind of a funny name to give an exercise that deals primarily with weather, but oh well. Day 2 is another exercise that you only have to do once if you want to — making a list of weather-related plot devices.

My new setting, though, is throwing me a curveball — Morbid Magics takes place in a relatively modern city! What kind of weather-related plot devices are applicable to that kind of setting?

  • Flooding — makes travel difficult, damages property
  • Snowstorm — makes travel difficult, fun day in the snow, trapped out in the cold
  • Heat wave — annoying, AC broken down, heat stroke
  • Fog — good for sneaking around, getting lost in the fog and ending up somewhere unexpected
  • Thunderstorm — power is knocked out, fear of lightning strike, dangerous while in a boat

I don’t really like this exercise (I’m so bad at it, hah…) and I have plenty of resources on the subject, so I’m going to leave off at 5. Hmm? What’s that? But I was supposed to do 10? It’s my 30 Days and I’ll do what I like with it! And I recommend that you do the same. If an exercise is boring or doesn’t seem applicable to the world you want to make, skip it. If you feel like you need to do it later, do it later. This isn’t school. Have fun.

It’s really more important to build a list of these than it is to come up with them yourself. If you find yourself at a loss, check out Wikkid Woman’s excellent list of weather-related plot devices and of course, TVTropes’ list of weather and environmental tropes.

Can you think of any interesting weather-related plot devices?