Worldbuilder’s Workout – Transport

Worldbuilder's Workout

In our last Worldbuilder’s Workout, we talked about Distance. Well, today we’re going to look at Transport.

By Land

By their very nature, fantasy worlds are usually medieval, in technological terms. What did people use back then to get around? Horses and their own two feet? It’s sort of correct, but not very imaginative. Horses/mules were important because they were the tools that drove society. They drew wagons and carriages, helped farmers work their fields and transported goods from one place to another. However, they were also expensive; in much the same way that some people can’t afford to buy a car nowadays. Bicycles weren’t invented until the 19th century, so walking was the other option. But that shouldn’t be the end of the matter. Think how someone who buys a horse and cart could profit from it. The medieval world had taxis, just not as you know them today.

Carriages

By Sea

Sailboats and rowboats are usually the transport of choice for the high seas. When you start bringing in steam-powered ships, you edge out of fantasy territory and start to add in steampunk elements. There’s no reason why you can’t do this, but I’m talking about standard fantasy here. Writing about ships and adventures at sea can be really good fun, but you need to know your stuff. Look up some basic information on sailboats so that you have a good idea of where everything is on one and how they worked. You can adapt things for your story’s needs, but I find its always best to stick relatively closely to established real-world rules.

By Air

Now, this is an interesting one. Airships or dragons/giant birds are usually what we’re presented with in fantasy. I find airships don’t sit well with me. Warcraft uses them, but I feel they detract from the fantasy setting a little. Giant winged creatures, on the other hand, can sometimes work if done well. However, I would advise steering clear of dragon riders or anything similar, as this has now become a huge fantasy cliche, in my humble opinion. Magic systems providing flight is another option, of course, which I cover in the final section.

Airship

By Any Means

Depending on how cleverly you can do it, you could try to invent new ways for your world’s inhabitants to get around. It could be magic-based or not. What about a new species of animal that’s different to a horse in some way? How about a crude and unexplained form of electricity that is used to give speed to ships? Or what if instead of roads there were tracks and horse-drawn wagons ran on them? The possibilities really are endless, it’s just up to your own imagination!

What’s your view on transport in fantasy settings? Got any ideas/questions for the community?

* * *

Remember – if you missed the chance to take part in the second episode of our community-written fantasy story, you can still leave your entries by following the below link!

Friday Fiction: The Story – Episode 2

More Worldbuilder’s Workouts…

Worldbuilder’s Workout – Distance

Advertisements

Worldbuilder’s Workout – Distance

Worldbuilder's Workout

It’s Wednesday, it’s time for a brand new Champion Post! I figured I’d kick off the new Worldbuilder’s Workout feature with the topic of Distance.

When you’re creating a fantasy world, one of the most important things you need to work out is how big it is. It’s no good creating a smorgasbord of countries and regions if, when you start writing, it only takes a few minutes for your characters to traverse them. Similarly, you don’t want to get to the climax of your story and then realise your protagonist needs to travel for six months before they can take on the bad guy.

So, here’s the big question. How do you work out distances?

First, you should work out what sort of size you want your world to be. Is it roughly the size of Earth? Is it smaller? Larger? Here are some rough measurements for our own world:

Circumference = 24900 miles / 40000 km

USA coast to cost = 2500 miles / 4000 km

UK north to south = 420 miles / 680 km

Once you’ve decided what size the world/landmass is, you need to choose a unit/units of measurement to be used by the inhabitants of your world. For my own story, I currently use leagues for distances traveled and a unit of hands for height. It feels satisfyingly medieval/old world and yet it still gives an accurate impression of distance and movement.

Here’s a few simple conversions for changing our modern measurements into archaic ones. If we look at the unit of one mile, the other measurements are:

Miles = 1

Kilometers = 1.6

Yards = 1760

Feet = 5280

Leagues = 0.3

Furlongs = 8

Link = 8000

Chain = 80

If you want to be really original, you can always create your own units of measurement. It might be a good idea to keep the calculations the same as one of the above, though, to make it easier for you.

Now that you have your world measured out and you know roughly how long it takes to go from A to B, you can go ahead and plan out how your characters will move around their environment.

I hope you enjoyed reading today’s post – let me know what you thought. Next time we do a Worldbuilder’s Workout, I think I’ll talk about transport, whether it’s on land, at sea or otherwise.