Diary 2021-08-27

By Max Woerner Chase

Okay, so, I forgot there was a judging period for SoME1, which gives me an excellent excuse/reason to not touch the entries for the next week or so. It's only fair.

Anyway, while I take a break from coding (but not enough of a break that I haven't been researching stuff; I've decided to try replacing Flit with build to see what happens; if it works, I get every compliant builder "for free"), I'm trying to work on a worldbuilding project. I forget if I've talked about it in much detail before, but I was all like "here's something I could try doing with a language ... oh no, I have sketched out an entire cosmology and history, albeit in extremely broad strokes, to contextualize this language that I have barely worked on". I don't begrudge all of that for existing, but I'm sensing one of the failure modes I've noticed before in my world-building attempts: focusing on particular areas out of a sense of "obligation" to "shore up" some other part.

The solution I want to try for dealing with that is to give up control over the focus, by turning what I have now into a very bare-bones RPG setting, and run games in it. (I'm also trying to find good phonaesthetics for some naming languages, because those should at least take less effort than something fully developed.) In any case, the next big step I want to take toward that is to put together a setting reference based on the stuff I have currently. And one of the things I want to have for that is...

Okay, this is going to take a little explanation. One idea that I've wanted to apply to a bunch of these attempts at fantasy worldbuilding is not in the worldbuilding itself, but in the presentation. I'm not sure how to articulate my feelings about the concept of "canon", but I want to avoid writing stories that present themselves as "this is what definitely actually happened [in this world that doesn't exist]". And I want to achieve this by relying on in-setting authors, unreliable narrators, etc. And I want this to be reflected in the stories that the setting document supports.

In practice, I suppose that works out to, among other things, "Well, the dragons did X, Y, and Z in the game, but that wouldn't happen in 'grounded' stories"

And to support that, I need some way of augmenting the "grounded" presentation with stuff like "the following simplifications are acceptable in such and such circumstances" or "similar technology takes this more fanciful form in more fanciful settings, and is available sooner". And, similarly, if I get to the point of describing possible personal names (which the initial draft of the document will not do), I'd maybe like to be able to present some spectrum between "just roll on this table to get going", "here are the phonological constraints on names, to varying degrees of detail", and maybe "here are the kinds of things the names can mean, if those sound on the nose, then turn to such-and-such chart to de-Englishify them".

Anyway, I need to really think about all of this, but I figured I'd write down what I want to be thinking about, in order to have a post. I want to get to bed now.

Good night.