Exercises, worldbuilding

Worldbuilding: Resources and Civilization

In my last worldbuilding post I talked about the different types of terrain. Each type has its own dangers to consider, but it also provides its own resources. Civilization of any level is heavily dependent on resources. Basic survival needs include food, water and shelter which all need to be met by the environment. More complex ideas such as trade and politics also depends on some level on the available resources.

Survival is the most obvious reasons to know what resources your setting offers. Both food and water are heavily effected by this. Not all farming techniques suit every environment and water is needed not just for basic survival, but also for farming and hygiene.

Shelter however, is perhaps where the natural setting plays the largest role. Grasslands and deserts both tend to be open areas, without a lot of natural cover, but they have very different things to offer in terms of building materials. Stone or clay may be plentiful in desert settings. Mud or woven stalks might be easier to gather in a grassland area. Not only do different materials affect the appearance of structures, they also provide different benefits. A woven grass wall will allow for more airflow than a stone one. Stone will provide more security and resists damage.

Because of this, different building materials affect architectural styles and as a result, has some influence on early culture. This is also seen in art, where traditional art uses the natural and readily available materials to craft things like wooden masks, clay dishes and grass or feather dance costumes.

Trade is also another place where resources have a large say. When dealing with market value, common resources will have a lower value than a rare one. This is also affected by how useful a resource is. A resource with multiple uses can have its price driven up. When dealing with direct trade between cultures and regions, resources common to one area can be valuable in another, and common resources between the two may be bartered and exchanged.

When considering interactions, also keep in mind that limited resources can spark conflict. This isn’t restricted to conflict between differing nations as maintenance can become a serious concern. Environmental damage from over harvesting may lead to restrictions and regulations, which can cause disagreement between interest groups, businesses and individuals.


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