Zier worldbuilding fun

Desert image

Note: “Possession” was the working title for Pawns of Zier.

Desert image
Copyright: woodkern / 123RF Stock Photo

This month, I’m prepping for writing the first draft of Possession–my fantasy novel about a dying woman who who tries to take control of another guy’s body to survive. I’ve got a whole bunch of experimental scenes written, but the whole of it is a bit of a mess and I’m currently busy figuring out what to make of it. One of the things I’ve been doing is digging into the worldbuilding, which is always a lot of fun! Not to mention, it makes me itch to play Civilization. 😉

There are three main cultural groups in the book, which takes place in the desert city (and important trading post) of Zier. The first is the citizens themselves, who are actually a rather disparate group, with everyone from poor whores to craftsmen, plantation workers, wealthy merchant Houses and the impoverished shadri, the old nobility who used to rule Zier, but are currently on the run and facing all their shortcomings in horrific ways, desert-survival not being recommended for the weak or ill-prepared.

Then we’ve got the Acoi, the rather conquest-minded, nomadic people presently in control of Zier, with some peculiar marriage customs and a great fondness for justice and honor, not to mention meditation and self-inflicted pain to gain access to magic–which they’re consequently a good deal better at than the other cultures, unpleasant as that may be.

Finally there are the nomadic clans, which I think won’t make much of an appearance in Possession, but who return with a vengeance in Dual (the sequel, currently in first-draft form). They’re in some ways the most primitive culture–hunters and gatherers, with a dollop of trade–but in some ways they also have the most fun, and I like writing their warm, close families. (Except Eet, the protagonist of Dual, is a bit of an outcast…)

Lately, I’ve been fleshing out these three groups with everything from government, legal systems, trade, magic and technology, to family structures, sex, marriage, childhood, old age, death, religion, and a bunch of other things. How do they envision life after death? Do they consider themselves superior to other races (mostly yes, especially the shadri and the Acoi)? Is it OK to have sex before marriage? Do they even have marriages? What constitutes a crime, and who determines if you’re guilty, and how you’re punished?

Can you tell all the what-ifs are making my writer-brain giddy with joy? 😀

The best thing about doing this is that a whole bunch of ideas and complications for the book (or future books) come to mind right off the bat! For instance, if water is controlled by the government, and you live in the middle of the desert, what would happen if the price goes up? You’d be damned concerned, that’s what! But if you’re in the City Guard, and the new masters raise your pay and give you the right to have a family, well, maybe you’re not so keen on getting rid of them either…

Or if you’re a shadri nobleman trapped out in the desert without funds, maybe those rules of decency you used to follow, such as caring for the ill and weak and not abandoning them to die alone, start to seem less important…

The Acoi was the culture I knew the least about beforehand (as they appear the least in Dual), so I naturally learned the most about them, and now I’m itching to put some story smack within their culture! Maybe a romance with a criminal trial thrown in, and definitely something requiring a birthing scene! Well, maybe for another book. For now, I’ve got to consider what Acoi characters might serve this story best… Hmm…

Leave a Reply