What is the economy of your fantasy world like?
Why does the thing function? Who greases the wheels? Who wins and who loses?
These are all things you need to consider when you’re writing, and you need to consider them early on. After all, they drive your characters and cement your setting.
So what is your fantasy world’s economy like?
- Maybe it’s capitalist, where everyone is scrambling to make a buck and free enterprise and initiative count for all.
- Perhaps you have a socialist system, where everyone gives most of their earnings to the state, and is in turn supplied with most or all of their needs.
- Could it be that you have a communist system, where everyone makes the same amount of money but everyone is provided for as well?
- I’d like to think some of you will enjoy a feudalistic system, where the rich manor lord takes all, but protects all as well.
- Ah hell, about a good dose of anarchy, perhaps a failed state or just plain old chaos?
Your economy is everything, as far as I’m concerned, but then I look at things through an economic lens. More and more I’m viewing things as an economic historian, trying to fit the pieces of the financial puzzle together while also measuring its slices of pie.
It’s tricky, and hard to understand at times. Your characters probably won’t understand your economic system, or exactly the part they play in it. But like all good cogs in a wheel, they are a part of it, and they are allowing it to function.
So that gives you a catalyst, a break – are your characters fighting within the economic system or against it? Most stories have characters fighting against it in some way, for even in the doom and gloom stories where money doesn’t play a part, that whole system will crumble along with everything else when the whole shithouse goes up in flames.
There are many battle hymns, and whichever one your republic is founded upon will probably have as its cement an economic system that holds it together.
- Trade and Goods;
The author mentions kingdoms and taxes and how “most people don’t join the army for fun.” You know those guys your heroes or villains are always fighting against? Remember how we talked about their families in our last post? Well, what about the money to pay them in the first place? And if you think about that, you realize the whole system that your fantasy world is built upon and the potential it has.
I really delved into fantasy world economics in my book The Hirelings. There we see a ‘down on your luck’ group of adventurers that need money – it’s their overriding concern. Well, perhaps more overriding is how unfair the current economic system is, how unjust it’s become.
Wow, that sounds like a great adventure, or a terrible dungeon crawl. Either way, these are things that you can use to drive a group of characters not through one book, but through an entire series. The economy can serve as the backbone of your world, creating one new adventure after another!
Another great question this site asks is about trade and transportation, and what “the possible pitfalls of trading” may be. Again, I think of old Drizzt books, like where he was on the ocean for several years. I also think of those old maps of the Forgotten Realms, with those vast road networks, and all the caravans that were ransacked.
There’s always need of mercenaries and guards to protect them. And there’s lots of bends in the road, and places that branch off…all perfect opportunities for adventure or calamity.
Those are things you can think about when it comes to your fantasy world’s economy. Hopefully they’ll get you another few thousands words further along on that book.