View Full Version : Ideas for a Fantasy Setting?

08-26-2013, 03:30 PM
It's for a story I'm working on. I'm trying to steer clear and avoid the typical fantasy setting, which is a quasi-Western European style monarchy, or duchy. I already have some ideas myself:
- A taiga-like climate (an underused climate, IMO) with icy mountains and wild, untamed forests. Although sparsely populated (due to the lack of resources and harsh climate), the area would be home to groups of fiercely independent, semi-nomadic tribes who war for dominance.
- Although the terrain would vary depending on the area, a temperate climate, with some mountains and fertile lands next to rivers and seas. This would be a larger area than the first setting, maybe even a small continent. Several city-states, each unique and powerful, vie for control over the land, but not always using military means. Think the polis of Ancient Greece, or the Italian city-states.

Which one sounds the best? Any other suggestions? And what is your favourite fantasy setting (either your own or in existing literature)? :)

08-26-2013, 05:18 PM
... Which one sounds the best? Any other suggestions? And what is your favourite fantasy setting (either your own or in existing literature)? :)

Taiga would be cool. Fun to map, too :)

Favorite fantasy setting... tough... I'm not sure it's really the setting or the entire story and plot structure combined, but here's a few titles/authors in disorder: The Warded Man, The Imager Portfolio (the Imager books are set in a large city for the most part, and Scholar is set in a northeastern country), The Kingkiller Chronicle, Lynn Flewelling's books (more traditional setting, I suppose) as well as Terry Goodkind's, Raymond E. Feist's worlds, Ann McCaffery's Pern and also Black Horses for the King (post-Roman England, etc), Islandia and its sequel (extensive coverage of the setting), The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley is an old favorite (desert to forested hills and canyons), and She Who Remembers and its sequel (Western American prehistory setting). Ha! That was a lot, huh?

08-26-2013, 06:16 PM
Something like the russian principalities or the mongol khanates ?

08-26-2013, 06:32 PM
I like the Taiga idea. Though I always wondered how interesting a world would be if it was mostly water with islands scattered throughout instead of whole continents.

08-27-2013, 12:21 PM
There are so many endless genres and subgenres for fantasy, that asking for a favorite is subjective to each person. For example, recently I've seen many wahoo, martial arts based oriental settings cropping up, and my past experience with oriental settings were not very authentic. So being half Japanese with a great interest in a more authentic presentation, I created the Kaidan setting of Japanese horror (PFRPG), a feudal Japan-based setting crossed with Asian horror, that's been out in publication for 3 years with numerous adventure modules, one-shot adventures, and supplements - I publish this as an imprint under Rite Publishing.

You could take any already created setting genre, add a twist and it's something new.

I've thought about a Russian taiga type setting myself, combine Russian Empire, Mongols, Taiga-based native tribes, a wintery druid-flavored setting of shaman, shapechangers, ghosts, stirgloi vampires - there's lots of flavor that you could give an authentic Russian twist. It works.

08-28-2013, 03:48 AM
Although choice of setting is subjective, i do think some settings enhance the story. I like your Taiga because it has "fiercely independent" peoples, and fighting in dense forests and icy mountains would give you many options for interesting battles, hidding places, mobile towns (if they are semi-nomadic). It does remind me a little of the Asturs, historical characters in the Cantabric mountains on the north of Spain - fierce tribes that lived in the mountains and fought all types of invasors, even the Romans.

08-28-2013, 03:54 AM
Barbarians from the frozen north? Interesting.

09-19-2013, 12:01 AM
Hmm. That cold tundra description is giving me some ideas. You could use an earlier historical period for you cultural base, and resource gathering is still a major concern. Would the people be nomadic, constantly traveling in order to find fresh food sources? If so, they would stick to small bands (around two dozen). Alternatively, they could be semi-nomadic, spending summers in one 'village,' and winters in another. You could scatter lakes across a broad open plain like in northern Canada, and border the south with mountains like in Russia. If the magic were animist (shamans, not wizards), you could set a compelling story against a backdrop of inter-clan politics.

Whatever you go with, have fun and keep us posted!

10-09-2013, 09:30 AM
I have run my campaigns in the cold tundra setting. It gives the PC more challenges due to weather and have to use survival skills, and several other skill that are usually overlooked.

10-09-2013, 06:26 PM
Steven Erickson seems to run his novels in pretty diverse fantasy settings pretty far removed from the typical Arthurian/European models you seem to think stale. I love Steven Erickson. Oh and there was a chick who wrote a great first novel about Northerner barbarians and hammer men and all sorts of cool **** like that, but then the second book kinda blew. For the life of me I can't remember her name though, there was a female orphan in the snow or something in the beginning.... damn... second book started off in some retarded slave mines... I wish I could remember.

Anyway I would say start off with world paradigms you yourself are not so much familiar with. As with the taiga you mention or arid areas or deserts. Or start off with setting paradigms untypical to fantasy, it worked for Josh Whedon in Firefly. Just decide whatever push off is more important or meaning full to you and then start building it from there, add characters you'd think would populate this area or culture and the things they'd value etc. Wow.. totally rambling tipsy here, sorry. Have fun with it but remember stories come from defining parameters and limits not from endless possibility.

10-10-2013, 06:44 PM
Falconius: I think you're thinking of Cavern of Black Ice (http://www.amazon.com/Cavern-Black-Ice-Sword-Shadows/dp/044652414X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381444840&sr=1-1&keywords=cavern+of+black+ice) by J.V. Jones. Second book IS kind of bad, but it picks up again in the third. If only she'd write faster... I think there's still at least one or two books left to go in the series.

10-12-2013, 03:30 PM
Diamond, yeah that's the one. I was really into that first book. I should have a look at the third one if I can find it. Kudos for figuring that out from that scant description :)

10-12-2013, 10:53 PM
It was the 'orphan in the snow' bit that did it. :D

11-25-2013, 01:27 PM
Barbarians from the frozen north was done in a game I played a while back.. It was a most interesting concept and It worked. They were barbarians because they had a lot to endure between the cold and finding food. They were rustic because that was all they could do at the time. They foraged to warmer areas for wood and food. It was well written and well done.
The DM for that particular game was all about the story about why they were the barbarians in his world. It was great Roleplay!


11-25-2013, 03:57 PM
I say this every time this kind of discussion comes up but I love the Pern kind of setting, it has all the "right" elements. Dragons (and telepathic talking dragons at that) A monstrous voracious villain (even if it is unintelligent and a natural occurrence) and all the political intrigue and back stabbing you could ever ask for. Oh and DRAGONS !! :)

11-26-2013, 01:52 AM
I like the underused climate/environment idea. I think taiga mixed with a tundra or polar climate could be interesting. Perhaps the war could be tied to the overall all lack of resources and harshness of the environment.

12-06-2013, 12:58 PM
Instead of just "taiga" how about "Siberioid" or Central Asian? So there's bands: tundra, taiga, steppe. Have a people like the Saami in the tundra along with Yakut-equivalents, etc. Cossacks in the taiga. Mongols and Turkic horsemen on the steppe. Also a breadbasket like the Ukraine on the steppe somewhere, as a target for the aforementioned Mongols, Turks, etc.? GURPS Russia might be handy- great worldbook.

Or, Icelandoid? (That's pretty much just Vikings, though...)

Or Thule-oid? There's a really neat timeline at alternatehistory.com about an ascendant Thule: The Lands of Ice and Mice (http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=222103), though it starts in 1717AD. Still, nice ideas on the culture.

12-12-2013, 08:16 PM
The most remarkable setting is Ring World.. a similar setting is in Avatar with floating mountains.. more down to earth would be an ocean planet with floating islands similar to the Life of Pi but with soil deposited on layers of dead vegitation. Perhaps asteroids with interior worlds of habitation.

12-12-2013, 08:56 PM
I was wrong. The book I'm remembering to poorly was not a construction but a naturally occurring environment in space where there was an atmosphere and many forms of places.. some of rock some of other material. In this non-world which completely encircles the sun like a ring. Take the asteroid belt and situate it in a habitable distance from the sun, provide an atmosphere and water. The water would sometimes be held by the weak gravity of a large asteroid but at other times be a free floating blob the size of the asteroids themselves with their own separate ecosystem. There would be huge plants freely floating with their own eco system. Life would be abundant with a number of intelligent species.

I've gone overboard, straying from the world dimly remembered. Someone please help me out.

12-13-2013, 09:23 AM
I've gone overboard, straying from the world dimly remembered. Someone please help me out.

Could be the other Niven series The Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring: Larry Niven: 9780345460363: Amazon.com: Books (http://www.amazon.com/The-Integral-Trees-Smoke-Ring/dp/0345460367)

-Rob A>

12-14-2013, 09:49 AM
That's it exactly! Like I said, it was a long time ago. This environment would be quite the challenge for a mapmaker.

12-24-2013, 08:51 AM
In large part because the surface area of any ring world or dyson sphere would be absolutely enormous. But it leads to curious possibility especially as regards to the structure itself, the sub and service areas, etc. Undoubtedly such an enormous thing hanging out there in space would also be frequently hit with meteors. That would also have to be dealt with.