Worldbuilding: To Zom, or Not To Zom, Be

Zpoc this, end of the world that… why can’t we just have a good old-fashioned Undead Horde arising, terrifying the living because it’s an army that can’t be normally killed, instead of an existential threat to Life As We Know It?

No, seriously, why not? Continue reading


Worldbuilding: People Like Us

I was watching an episode of Unfettered Shogun, many of whose episodes can be found here on And it struck me how many tropes we think of as modern were here in 1700s guise. Traveling entertainers who are actually seeking information on the whereabouts of someone who “mysteriously disappeared”. Said lost at sea guys actually being the kidnapped experts who created the Secret Formula! (How to make expensive white sugar from local brown sugar.) A dogged investigator tracking down details that indicate Foul Play has occurred. There was even a case of “impersonate the chauffeur”; a ninja knocked out a boatman and took over poling so he could listen in on the Evil Plotting. Continue reading

Worldbuilding: Who Speaks?

Interesting detail I ran into about the Ming Dynasty, researching the place and time Chae comes from. Most people who think of Chinese as a language think of Mandarin; in the 1600s it was “court speech”, mostly based on the language of the area around Beijing, and not native to most of China. Especially not to most of the coast of China. The Fujianese dialect, in particular, was considered incomprehensible. Continue reading

Worldbuilding: Dragging in a Dragon

Here’s another case where I have a detail I want in the story. Yet said detail means I have to work backward from it to find out what the consequences are and what else I need to change in the setting background or timeline so events work out to the situation I plan my characters to end up in.

The detail: I want an actual black dragon to be involved in the Imjin War… which was so named because 1592 was the year of the Black (Water) Dragon. Continue reading

Worldbuilding: Crafting Lunacy

One way to bring better magic into your fantasy is to dig into the past. What did people believe was the cause of magic, curses, and disease, and what did they try to do about it? This can lead to digging up odd and intriguing bits of lore, like the fact that some Balkan dhampirs/ vampire hunters were called “hawthorns”. Yes, after the wood their stakes were made from.

But you can also dig into cutting-edge science; looking at what we know as fact today, to work backwards into how that could affect the powers and limitations of magic in your world. Continue reading