Your plot is like a stage, your characters the cast, and your plot is the script.
A story with only the last two has nothing on which to stand.
Setting is paramount to a story, and as any fantasy author knows this is especially true in this genre. When writing the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Tolkien spent years devising worlds, cities, languages, and cultures all for the sake of his stories. The same goes for Brandon Sanderson, who crafted an entire solar system in which his stories take place (look up the Cosmere and you’ll see what I mean). Ursula K Le Guin, Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, George R.R. Martin, and many other great fantasy authors devote their writing not only to the plot and characters but to the world itself. Though their worlds vary one thing is for certain: the setting is paramount if the story is to get off the ground.
Hence, when I created Fire and Stone, the first thing I created was a stage. Thus the Two Cities came into fruition.
The Two Cities – A Legend
Nearly a century ago, the Two Cities were once one. Bound by the teachings of The Savior, known as the Will of Fire and Stone, their society came out of barbarism. Eventually a war broke out, and the city was split in both people and ideology.
To the east, a society known as Romanica was born.
To the west, a society known as Al-Hascio was born.
The Two Cities: An Overview
The story takes place in a massive forest. And when I say massive, I mean that if you climb to the top of a tree and look out, you’ll see more forest. The forest itself is extremely dense, so much so that almost no light escapes the canopy. Those who live in the Two Cities avoid the forest, for its inhabitants are the source of many superstitions and mysteries.
The Two Cities themselves are about 10 sq miles (16 sq km), and are currently undergoing a transition. With the invention of farming and smithing, the Two Cities are in the dawning of an Iron Age, and with it all the social unrest and anxiety that brings.
Though they share a common beginning, the two societies are different in both management, culture, and magic. Decades of isolationism tend to do that with relationships, no matter how close they once were. Observe:
Romanica: The Society
Romanica is a Theocratic Matriarchy. In essence, they are a deeply religious society in which the political and social norms are determined by females in power. The citizens are devout followers of the Will of Fire, and attend a weekly mass held in the city’s tallest structure: The Ivory Tower.
The most powerful woman in Romanica is the Noru, who is also the head of the Fire Clergy. She, like the Pope, is the ultimate say in the religious goings on that encompass the society. As the political leader she is the final say in every economic, legislative, and judicial proceeding. You can probably guess she has a lot on her shoulders.
Inherent to their society is a magic called “The Inner Fire” in which practitioners can use their emotions to summon flames and keep themselves warm. This magic is not unlimited as the body uses one’s hydration as fuel for the flame. In addition, one’s own control of their emotions determines one’s ability to control the fire, for the soul acts as a spark for the flames.
Al-Hascio: The Society
Al-Hascio is a Democratic society built into a nearby lone mountain. Those who live here were the descendants of those who instigated the War of Fire and Stone, and as such they hold great pride in their history. Built on the Will of Stone, the other half of The Savior’s Teachings, these people fought for their freedom from the Noru and the Fire Clergy, and now live within a mining society.
True to their symbol, everyone lives within one of five “paths”, or careers. The five paths are: Scholar, Guardian, Politician, Mason, and Labor, though not all paths fit neatly into one category (for example Teacher falls between Scholar and Guardian.) Children in this society are raised in such a way that they experience what it’s like to live in all five paths. When they come of age they are expected to marry and choose a path from which to serve the city.
Within their city are gemstones called Sceon. When touched, these dull blue gems steal warmth from whoever makes contact with them and glow brighter for every bit of warmth they took. They have the consistency of gems but are oddly malleable and capable of being grafted into everyday tools. Doing so enhances the tool’s properties (a metal knife can easily cut through stone, a hammer hits with more force, etc.). When not being a tool these stones act as a renewable light source for the cavern dwelling people of Al-Hascio.
I have much more I could put down here but I would rather not, seeing as the Word Doc for this is over 40 pages. Instead I consider this to be an acceptable starting point for these places.
I can’t say I knew exactly what I was basing these from but I can say I had a lot of help from peers. I asked my History and Anthropology friends what all is necessary to make a society, as well as looked into cultures myself. Any blanks were filled in by going to websites like The Seventh Sanctum or Hiveworld. This information served me well, and hopefully it would do the same for you.
So that’s some insight into the world of Fire and Stone. Do you all like to make worlds of your own? Do you think worldbuilding is necessary when your story takes place in the real world? What do you like most about worldbuilding?
On Friday i’m going to post some basic info on the cast of Fire and Stone. Until then, happy writing everyone.