World Builder’s Treatise – Part 2
Agriculture and Domestication
I’ve touched on it before, yes, but I do believe that there’s a bit more to be said here. Any civilization will require some form of sustenance. Sure, it could be said that all food is grown magically, but again, this seems like a cheap way out. If magic users are so powerful as to be able to do such, then that power would introduce hundreds of plot-holes.
Now, I won’t go too much into this, as it’ll be discussed further in the next part. But I should mention that every kingdom or empire or whatever needs food. Armies cannot march on badassery alone. Even the orcs of Mordor were supported by the farming in the southern reaches of Sauran’s domain.
When building your world then, it’s important to keep this in mind. Larger civilizations will have cleared more land to support itself. You won’t find a massive city of 100,000 people living in the middle of a forest without any land having been cleared for agriculture. Hunter-gatherer societies can only grow so large before the local area can no longer support them. Sure, it’s possible for 100,000 people to exist within the same forest, but that number cannot be formed into a unified nation as they would be spread too far apart to allow for effective governance.
Similarly, there will also be a need for domestication. Having large domesticated animals will allow for a civilization to further develop. The downside of this is that animals often require even more space than humans. As such, the terrain must be able to accommodate them.
Among the things needed for both agriculture and domesticated animals would be a river. This is why many cities and civilizations sprung up around rivers and waterways. A perfect example would be the Nile delta. Despite being surrounded by desert, the ancient Egyptian people were able to thrive by utilizing the resources provided by the Nile. Remove the river though, and no more pyramids and mummies.
Similarly, when writing and world building, larger civilizations that depend on agriculture will often be closer to rivers or other waterways. The river will provide irrigation for farming, water for animals, and eventually power for mills. Without the river, agriculture is still possible, but it becomes a lot more difficult as more complex means of irrigation must be developed. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but that’s for another post.
Well, that’s a lot said for now, but there’s much more to be said indeed. I’d rather not have these run for too long though, and I’m already nearing a couple thousand words. I may go back to this topic with more to say, but for now I’ll leave you all with some links that I’ve found to be very useful with regard to this topic.
Anywho, cheers, and until next time!
Some very useful links and applications
- The Cartographers’ Guild
- Tutorials from the above in PDF Format
- Guns, Germs, and Steel A book that I very highly recommend reading.
Also, if you can get your hands on it:
A World Builder’s Treatise by Lakan David D. Inocencio is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.