Worldbuilding projects

On this page are some information about my worldbuilding projects. They're all fairly long-running, but they have wildly different amounts of care and attention given to them. Actual information about these things are elsewhere on the internet and for the most part won't be available here.

They all have something called a topic symbol, which is a list of strings with letters in and around them. We'll discuss topic symbols in another page, but for now we'll leave it be with this: the topic symbol is made with writing on paper in mind, and it does not translate too well to a digital format, especially one limited to plain text. As such, we will use an as-of-yet undocumented version of the topic symbol in this page where all the shapes are replaced with Lisp lists. They should regardless be intuitive enough for an average human to convert to and from the traditional shapes.

Overview of projects

Lock screen image displaying some representative art of the three worlds 🖼️

Lock screen image displaying some representative art of the three worlds

J.-Pasaru

        Symbol: (square *)

        Alternate name: The Yellow Series

The J.-Pasaru is the first, largest, most worked-on and oldest project in the series. It's large enough that taken as a whole it does not make fit in any single genre, but small fragments of it does fit into (sometimes very disparate) genres.

The idea behind the setting, and why it ended up being this way, is that it was "the land between lands" – everything that I have ever read is to be put together and live in a single planet, no matter how weird they might be to live with each other. Though this starting point has mostly been moved past (though by no means is it not true of the setting now!), its ramifications have been the driving force for much of the worldbuilding that I have for the project, and the all-encompassing nature of the setting is a key part of what supports this setting.

Of course, that's not all. The other thing that supports this setting is a broad emphasis on language-oriented worldbuilding. This is where the constructed language is the item to focus on, and the thing from which all aspects of the world are examined with. The world boasts a large number of languages, and they all have their own quirks as well as a shared pool of quirks. Interactions between languages are given a greater emphasis than most other conlang systems that I have seen, so the languages are little bit quantity-over-quality (note specifically that it's the /other/ way around from how the phrase usually goes) though certainly no small amount of care has been given towards both.

List of languages

List of languages (in HTML)

All of this is laid out in a "big history" style, where the attendant civilisations, and the history of the universe before them, are laid out in a 50 billion-year timeline, divided into seven time periods. Using the big-history approach allows me to write almost anything that strikes my fancy into the world without having to worry about cohesion with the rest of the setting. This hodgepodge approach is a consequence of the origins of the setting (as mentioned earlier) and also a defining characteristic of the setting as a whole.

The presentation of this setting is largely as a series of scans of pages from notebooks whose covers (which are very occasionally scanned and therefore visible) are yellow, or have a yellow dot sticker on them which makes them yellow. There are too many of these scans to display in a meaningful fashion here, but they are all posted on my Tumblr.

Ùzje

        Symbol: (square H)

        Alternate name: The Purple Series

In contrast to the sprawling and cosmopolitan nature of the J.-Pasaru, Ùzje is a much more provincial and geographically very much smaller. Where the J.-Pasaru lives in the genre "big history", Ùzje's primary classification is that of a GTA-style parody – not a parody of Grand Theft Auto, but a parody of something else in the same way that GTA is a parody of something else. In this case, the "something else" is something very near and dear to my heart: Hong Knog, the very place I grew up in.

The exact details of how that turns out to be I have already written about somewhere else, but this is only the first of the four specific focuses that Ùzje as a setting would lean onto.

The second focus is on names and naming: a parody name and a parody setting makes for a good setting for every parody-related thing to show up in this world, and that's how it ended up being. The setting is littered with names that are dead-ringers for something else in the real world, inspired by how in some stories brand names are occasionally distorted when one cannot secure the rights to display them in distinctly out-of-universe reasoning. In Ùzje almost every name is like that, both in- and out-of-universe.

The third part, to support the second part, are parody languages to support the manipulation of names described above. While aspects of language-oriented worldbuilding are in play here, especially with regard to adding to the parody-making nature of the world in general, they aren't the focus of the world and in some sense are primitive, and are transparent distortions of the natural languages that you might expect. They do nevertheless have a bunch of interesting features that I believe are interesting in and of themselves, and they are mostly capable of standing outside of the world.

The fourth part, which is also the part that eventually got this setting off the ground, is all about transport and travel. Whether it's road signs and traffic lights, or buses and routing, or trains and timetables, the thing that makes Ùzje a world and not a mere backdrop to whatever is going on is the inclusion of traffic of every type to the world. Indeed, the idea of building a network of public transport and a road system to go along with it makes Ùzje part of a genre that is frequently called "deification", but honestly deserves the name "urban fantasy" more than the real urban fantasy does: it is a wish that the urban world around me can just be that little bit better (and full of timetables and fare charts and that twelve-second jingle you hear when the train is coming).

Unlike the J.-Pasaru, which is pretty much guaranteed to never have a grand overarching story written for it, stories for Ùzje are planned out, though not actively. I have thought of an object show that might be a good fit for it, and also bring out the rest of the "obscure topics that I really want to harp on about for ages but don't really have an opportunity to because it never comes up in normal conversations and those that would understand probably know more than I do" bucket. A couple of pages do exist for Ùzje in a purple notebook but there isn't much. They're also on Tumblr.

Ùzje mahjong, a thing I wrote for the setting

Metric Magic

        Symbol: (square-bracket (square M))

Instead of writing lots about the story and motivation behind this setting, it would be much easier to just write the thirty-second pitch, which explains all that just as well.

The late sixties were a time of great upheaval in the world, but it was not because of war or famine or plague; it was because of the rise of the metre, the kilogram and the coulomb. As the dominance of the metric system becomes clear and clearly inevitable, the magical kingdoms and republics around the world, dependent on the mundane world for supplies and tired of its own systems of measure for magical artefacts, come to grips with their own metrication projects. These are their stories.

The focus on this world will be fairly simple, as the premise says it all.

The first is a specific discussion on a quantitative version of "magic". To that end, magic is understood as a classical field of some classical particles, with all the fancy equations to go with it. This might seem entirely over-the-top, but while it isn't necessary it is the easiest way to create a system of magic that can be metricated in the first place. The departure from real physics would be the lack of a quantum realm and an unspecified interaction with normal fields and matter that results in the primary observed result of magic: a change in likelihood for something to happen.

The second part is our old friend language-oriented worldbuilding again, but this time it would be more of an a-posteriori mishmash of existing languages with some fun exotic changes thrown in, rather than the a-priori system that dominates the conlanging done in other projects. The idea is that the magical kingdoms all speak an anachronistic blend of historical and modern languages, which are in fact those languages stuck together with unrealistic sound changes. They might even be unlikely – perhaps an artefact of the probability manipulation that is inherent to this world's magic.

https://www.frathwiki.com/A_priori_conlang

https://www.frathwiki.com/A_posteriori_conlang

A third part is the exploration of the idea of a magical enclave mostly isolated from the rest of the mundane world nevertheless being known by the mundane world and having some level of contact with it. Most of the time such settings tend to explain how the magical world has hidden itself from the rest of the world, and therefore does not ordinarily affect it; however this usually manifests in some kind of superiority complex for the magical world. In this setting, in support of the reason of why metrication has to happen in the magical world, the relationship between magical and mundane is much more involved with each other, and in a sense they are co-dependent on each other, just like in most relationships in real life. It's partially a personal appeal to some sort of parity, but also it is simply a less well-explored idea.

This setting is in its very early stages and no real progress has been made on it. There are a couple of prospective drawings and text but nothing substantive has been written.

Other things

Some other bits of worldbuilding I did include things like fanworks, which I will discuss later in this section.

^