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Damage Permanence
http://arcadia.net/Cruinne/DnD/Articles/dnd.damagepermanence.shtml














Things worlds have:
  1. Economy
  2. Government
    1. Crime & the Legal System
    2. Foreign Relations
    3. Politics
    4. War
  3. The Land
    1. Physical & Historical Features
    2. Climate & Geography
      1. Natural Resources
    3. Population
    4. Rural Factors
    5. Urban Factors
  4. Society & Culture
    1. Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation
      1. Architecture
    2. Calendar
    3. Daily Life
    4. Diet
      1. Dining Customs
    5. Education
    6. Ethics & Values
    7. Fashion & Dress
    8. History
    9. Language
      1. Gestures
    10. Manners
    11. Meeting & Greeting
    12. Religion & Philosophy
    13. Social Organization
    14. Specific Countries
    15. Visits
  5. Magic & Science
    1. Magic & Magicians
      1. Magic & Technology
      2. Rules of Magic
      3. Wizards
    2. Medicine
    3. Science & Technology
    4. Transportation & Communication

  1. Economy
    • What goods are produced and where are they produced?
    • What are the major trade goods? Are there trading centers?
    • What economic systems are used?
    • Are there banks? Do people barter or use money?
    • If money is used, is it valuable itself or is it fiat currency? If it is fiat money, who guarantees it?
    • What are people's attitudes toward money? Poverty?
    • Are there generally acceptable standards for coins? How easy and common is counterfeiting?

  2. Government
    • What services does the government or head of state provide? Schools, wells, courts, an army to protect the people? What services are provided locally or privately? What services do people expect?
    • What do people "owe" the government? Taxes, labor, crops, military service?
    • Who has the right to levy taxes? For what purposes? On what or on whom? Can taxes be paid in kind, or do certain things always require money?
    • Who provides support services for the head of state? What are they called? King's Councilors, Cabinet Ministers, Secretary of State?
    • Are these office hereditary, appointed, career choices, or elected?
    • Is the relative power of a country or ruler usually measured by the size of the army, the number and ability of the wizards, or the amount of money and trade flowing through it?
    • Who will take over running the government if the current head of state is incapacitated? How is this determined? Is there an heir apparent (either actual or political)? What happens if the heir is a minor?
    • Who is responsible for protecting the head of state? Personal guard, Secret Service, an elite group affiliated with the regular military? What safeguards have they got against assassins, poisoning, direct assault, magical attack?
    • Who can give orders (to military, to tax collectors, to civil servants, to ordinary folks on the street)? How are such people chosen?
    • Are any activities licensed or certified (driving, dog ownership, being an attorney or a physician)? Who does the certifation or license grainting?
    1. Crime & the Legal System
      • What are considered normal and legal ways of gathering evidence and determining guilt? Is torture allowed? Truth spells?
      • Are arbitrary judgements by the lord or landowner allowed, or is there a standard that they are supposed to follow?
      • Is there an appeal system? How "high" can a case go before it is finally settled?
      • Is everyone tried in the same courts or are there special courts for special classes of people--for example, are mages tried in specialized Wizard's Court?
      • Are there separate courts for civil and criminal matters? For magical and non-magical matters? For humans and non-humans? What are the differences?
      • What things are considered truly serious crimes and why? (Example: a trade-oriented culture might consider counterfeiting or bootlegging a death-penalty crime; in a place where life is cheap, murder might be something that only results in a small fine.)
      • What are the punishments for serious versus minor crimes? Are there prisons, or are people punished and released? Are there degrees of punishment--fines, branding, public whippings, removal of body parts, executions--or do they just hang everybody?
      • Who is responsible for catching criminals? Who pays the crook-catchers--the king, the city government, a consortium of merchants, somebody else?
      • How are the law enforcement officers organized? Into independent precincts, overlapping districts, or just according to whoever wants to hire them?
      • Are there lawyers or advocates? Who can afford them? Who trains them? Are they certified? If so, by who?
      • Are people guilty until proven innocent, innocent until proven guilty, or does it depend on the mood the lord is in when the case comes in front of him? Are there assumptions made about how an accused criminal will be treated?
      • Are there judges other than the lord, king, or landowner? If so, how are they paid, and by whom? How often are outlying areas likely to see a judge? Is "mob justice" common? How is it viewed by society? Is it legal?
      • Are highwaymen, muggers, bandits, or pirates common or rare? What sorts of crimes would the average citizen be likely to run across during their lifetime?
      • Who can make or repeal laws?
      • How are alleged criminals treated before their trials? How are convicted criminals treated? Do the police, military, or city guard make a practice of roughing up suspects, or is this frowned upon?
      • Are there laws forbidding certain types of people (peasants, wizards, priests, women) from carrying arms?
      • Are there laws requiring certain people to be skilled with certain weapons?
      • Are certain spells (as opposed to magic generally) illegal? If so, how would a criminal magician be detected? Apprehended? Punished?
    2. Foreign Relations
      • Which nations have formal relations with other countries? Who can be ambassadors and envoys? Are there standing embassies and consulates, or are envoys sent only when something specific comes up?
      • How are treaties arranged? Are there any significant ones currently in force or coming up for signing?
      • How much do official attitudes toward other countries affect commerce and trade? Do merchants pretty much ignore tensions between governments as long as they can make a profit, or will this get them into trouble?
      • How much formal spying and intelligence gathering is normally done by governments? By the military? By merchants? Who has the best information-gathering system?
      • Which countries are traditional allies? Which are traditional rivals? How do these traditions affect current foreign policy?
      • Which heads of state are related by blood or marriage? How important are political marriages? How do ties of blood and marriage affect foreign policy?
    3. Politics
      • Does the level of technological advancement match the level of social and political advancement?
      • What are the major political factions at present? How long have they been around? Which factions are allies, which enemies?
      • Are there any potential new forces on the political scene (e.g., a rising middle class, a university gaining unexpected power because of certain discoveries, etc.)?
      • How much influence do "special interest groups" such as merchants, wizards, or religion sects, have on court politics? How do they exercise their influence?
      • What political positions are considered conservative? Liberal? Unthinkable?
      • Are there any shaky political alliances between disparate groups? Why were they formed? How long is it likely to be before they fall apart? When they do, what will the effects be?
      • What ancient rivalries and hatreds still affect current attitudes and political positions (examples: ethnic separatist groups; religious wars; family rivalries; racial hatreds)?
    4. War
      • Which peoples, countries, and races have been in conflict in the recent past? Why? When and what was the most recent war? Who won? Are there ongoing tensions?
      • What major weapons of war are available (e.g., seige towers, catapaults, cannons, A-bombs)?
      • How much as the presence of magic affected strategy and tactics? Do army commanders have to use specific unusual formations or techniques to deal with possible magical attacks? How can magic be used as part of a battle plan (example: getting a weather magician to make it rain so that the enemy cannons are harder to move in the mud)?
      • How are armies usually structured? Is there a formal, independent command structure, or is everybody officially under the command of the lord who brought them to the king's army? If there is a formal structure, what are the various ranks and titles?
      • Who can call up men for an army? How is this done? Does a head of state ask their subordinates for men or can a head of state go straight to the bottom?
      • Are there professional soldiers and mercenaries? Is a career in the army possible, or would one have to be a mercenary in order to make a living as a soldier? Does the army accept volunteers?
      • How large is a typical army? What percentage of the soldiers in it will be trained (knights, professional soldiers, guards, mercenaries) and what percent will be untrained recruits?
      • Are recruits and conscripts given training, or are they expected to learn on the battlefield?
      • How is the army supplied? Are soldiers allowed to live off the land and peasantry, or do they pay for what they take? How are supplies handled during long campaigns? How many days worth of supplies can the army haul along with them?
      • What are the accepted conventions for making war (example: only fight in winter when nobody is busy with crops; don't make war on civilians; only certain kinds of weapons are used)? Do they differ from race to race?
      • How does the presence of non-humans (dwarves, vampires, etc.) affect strategy, tactics, and battles generally? Are special weapons required if an army is facing certain kinds of non-human armies? How would non-human soldiers turn their physical differences from humans to their advantage?
      • Are particular non-human races traditionally better with certain weapons (e.g., dwarves with axes, elves with bows)? Why -- because they have greater strength, more acute eyesight, higher manual dexterity?

  3. The Land
    1. Physical & Historical Features
      • In which geographical areas will the game take place? How much ground will the game cover?
      • What are the most striking features of landscape and climate?
      • If there are non-human inhabitants, are there any areas or features they particularly claim as their own?
    2. Climate & Geography
      • Have human activities affected climate or landscape in various regions? If so, how?
      • How does the setting (multiple moons, suns, &c.) affect the climate in various areas?
      • How much land is in each of the equatorial, temperate, and polar zones?
      • Note: Climate affects landscape through erosion and weathering, the distribution of plants and animals, and soil formation. Winter freezing and thawing may change travel patterns as waterways freeze or flood, or mountain passes close. Weather also affects available sports, like skiing. Are all these things consistent with what you say the climate is like in particular areas?
      • Where are mountain ranges? Rivers and lakes? Deserts? Forests, tropical and otherwise? Grasslands and plains?
      • If there are mythological animals (dragons, unicorns, and so on) how do they fit into the ecology? How did they come into being? What do they eat? How much and what kind of habitat do they require? Are they intelligent? How common are they?
      • Are any endangered species of animals or plants? Is anyone concerned about this?
      • What geological formations can affect the weather or climate?
      • Where are the natural wonders of the world and where are they?
      1. Natural Resources
        • Which areas are the most fertile farmlands? Where are mineral resources located?
        • Which animals, birds, fish, and other wildlife are commonly found in which areas? If there are imaginary animals such as dragons, where do they live?
        • Which natural resources, if any, have been depleted in which areas over time?
        • Which resources (e.g., coal, oil, salt, iron ore, gold, diamonds, limestone, etc.) are particularly abundant, and in which areas? Which are scarce and where are they scarce? Are there places with major deposits that haven't been discovered yet, or where such deposits haven't been fully exploited?
        • How much conflict has been or might be caused by these imbalances in resources? How much active, peaceful trade?
        • What water resources are available, and for what uses?
    3. Population
      • How many people are there in the world? In the various countries?
      • What is considered a small town? A large town? A city?
      • How diverse is the population? How many different races (human or non-human), creeds, cultures, and so on normally live in various cities and towns? In what percentages?
      • Is population shifting from rural to urban, south to north, mountains to coast? Why? What effects has this had on the places being left? The places gaining people?
      • Is there much immegration into or out of various countries? Why?
      • Which geographical areas are most heavily populated? Least? Why? Are certain regions or types of terrain more popular areas for non-humans? Why?
      • How are roads built? What state are they in? Who pays for them? Who maintains them?
    4. Rural Factors
      • Given the magical and technological level of this society, what is an appropriate ratio of farmers to urban residents?
      • Given the state of roads and transportation, how much food is it possible to ship to a given location before it spoils?
      • Are rural areas primarily farms, forests, fields for grazing, or wastelands? In outlying areas where there aren't many people, how many roads are there?
      • How reliable is the weather from year to year? Is crop production relatively dependable, or do people have to cope with regular famines due to drought or floods?
      • What kinds of catastrophic weather events are common? Are there tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, waterspouts, dust storms, sand storms? How do people cope? How do non-humans cope?
      • How are farming areas divided between humans and nonhumans? What kinds of conflicts are likely (example: expanding human farms encroaching on the forests elves use for hunting)?
      • Can common people own their own land, or does it all belong to a lord or other figure?
      • What kinds of rights over land, crops, game, and resources does the landowner have?
      • How are country dwellers viewed by city folk?
    5. Urban Factors
      • Does the layout of cities reflect some philosophy (religious or architectural or political), such as that the "head" of the city must be at the center or the highest point? Were layout considerations mainly practical? Or did most cities "just grow"?
      • Are there public or private parks in any cities? What kinds of activities take place in them?
      • Are cities generally laid out on a square-grid system of streets or are things more labyrinthine? How wide are the streets and alleys normally?
      • What are the landmarks in each city? Where are the interesting neighborhoods, like Chinatown, the dwarvish section, &c., and what things give each area its special character?
      • Where do people go to shop? To eat? To have fun? To do touristy things?
      • Are certain cities known for certain activities or industries?
      • How are city dwellers viewed by country folk?

  4. Society & Culture
    1. Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation
      • What is the status of the various arts (dance, music, theater) in society? How are artists viewed? Are they considered to be low or high class?
      • Who supports the arts? Which arts are most highly valued and why?
      • Are there permanent theaters or concert halls for the performing arts? If so, who owns and runs them? Are there also traveling troupes of performers?
      • What do people at various levels of society do for fun?
      • What sports or pastimes are common (hawking, hunting, skiing, baseball)? Which ones take skill, money, or liesure time?
      • What games are commonly known? Chess, dice, poker? Which are common among everyone, and which are limited to the peasantry or nobility? Are any games or pastimes illegal?
      • Are certain countries or cities known for a passion or expertise for particular games or pastimes?
      • Are there non-human races who tend to be naturally talented painters, dancers, and so on? How does this affect human practictioners of these arts?
      • Do non-human races have their own games and liesure pastimes? How do they differ from human games? How do they reflect the physiology or particular talents of the non-human races?
      • What kinds of people are likely to face prejudice: dwarves, werewolves, merchants, women, undertakers? Is this institutionalized (i.e., a matter of law), or is it mostly a matter of public attitude?
      1. Architecture
        • What is the most common building material? Why is it used (availability, cheapness)? Does it have any major drawbacks (flammability)?
        • How are buildings normally ornamented? Carved gargoyles, painted murals, geometric patterns?
        • How tall a building can be constructed at a reasonable cost and in a reasonable time?
        • What are typical floor plans like? Can people afford to waste space on hallways or do they just have a series of rooms opening into other rooms? Are people's businesses in their homes?
        • Are buildings normally built square, triangular, domed?
        • How large is a typical house?
        • How many people usually live in a typical house?
        • What are the differences in materials and appearance between lower-class, middle-class, and upper-class housing?
        • How do city houses differ from those in rural areas?
        • How are living quarters arranged? Are bedrooms on the top floors for privacy or on the ground floor for convenience?
        • Are parlors or libraries common? Are there special rooms for guests? Are parts of homes restricted to certain members of the household?
        • How are houses heated and cooled?
    2. Calendar
      • Is there a single, generally accepted calendar (including time measurement) or do different countries or peoples or races have different methods of measuring time?
      • How is the day divided into smaller time units? What are they (Hour of the Lark, Sunrise Bell, Nones)? Are the names relevant to anything? Is the length of an hour fixed, or does it vary depending on changes in the length of the day as the seasons change?
      • What are the names of months, and how many days are there in each? How many days in a week? Months in a year?
      • Are there leap years?
      • Who keeps track of the calendar? Who could make adjustments if necessary?
      • Which days are general holidays or festival times? What do they celebrate? Are there any that are only celebrated in particular countries, cities, or regions?
      • What events do people use to date years? Is it a single occurrance (the creation of the world, the end a war, the invention of atomic power)? Are events dated based on arbitrary things (the 12th year of Tiberious's reign, the 300th year of the Han Dynasty)?
      • How do people tell what time it is? Are there clocks, watches, sundials? Do people have to listen for the bells from the castle or church, do they just eyeball the sun?
      • Are there any days that are considered "outside the year" (such as Mardi Gras)? How did they originate?
    3. Daily Life
      • How do people feel about foreigners? Non-humans? How ready are they to accept different ideas? How cosmopolitan are they?
      • How much social mobility is there? Is it easy or hard for a person born in the lower class to advance to the middle class, or for a middle class person to advance to the upper class or nobility? How much resistance would there be? Would such a person ever be socially accepted?
      • What things are considered luxuries?
      • What do people in general look like? Who would stand out in a crowd?
      • What is furniture like? It it big and blocky, delicate, simple, elaborately carved, decorated? What is it commonly made of? Are certain things (like chairs with arms) reserved for high-status individuals?
      • In what ways does furniture design reflect the customs of people (example: beds with drapes for privacy in places where servants are likely to enter rooms without warning; chaise longues as common furniture in a society where people are accustomed to reclining rather than sitting)?
      • What are plumbing and sanitary systems like? Who builds and maintains them? How reliable are they, and who do you call when the drains back up? How do they differ from city to farm?
      • How do people cope with various disasters--fire, floods, volcanoes, plague? How common are such disasters?
      • How early do people get up in the morning in the city? Country?
    4. Diet
      • What dishes are considered to be holiday food? What foods and drinks are associated with particular holidays and events or times of the year?
      • When a guest arrives, is food or drink offered immediately, after an interval, or only on request? Is there a particular food or drink that it is customary to offer a newly arrived guest? A guest who is departing?
      • How many meals are considered normal in a day? When are they served? Which are substantial, and which are smaller? Are certain foods reserved mainly for a particular meal?
      • What dishes would be considered typical of the various areas? What wines or beers?
      • Is there a safe supply of drinking water, or do people (including children) drink ale or beer exclusively because local waters are contaminated?
      • What foods are considered peasant food? What foods are staples and commonly eaten every day? What foods are rare? What foods are normally cooked and which are eaten raw?
      • What is the food like? What herbs and spices are readily available, and which must be imported? How common and expensive are imported foods and spices?
      • Do people tend to like highly spiced food?
      • How is food preserved for use during the off-season--smoking, freezing, canning, salting, drying? How reliable are the methods used? How often does "preserved" foods spoil?
      • When food is limited in supply, who gets first dibs?
      • What things are never eaten? Why?
      • What foods do non-humans like, and how do these differ from those favored by humans? Are some foods poisonous or distasteful to one species that are delicacies or necessary to another?
      • Are any classes of society limited in what foods they may eat? Do special circumstances (such as pregnancy) ever restrict diet? Do religions have any beliefs about food and diet?
      1. Dining Customs
        • Who dines together and who always dines separately? Do men and women, parents and children, servants and masters eat together? How is status displayed at the table (seating "below the salt," proximity to the head of the table, first choice of foods)?
        • Are special dining customs observed on certain holidays or for certain events (such as weddings or funerals)?
        • What distinguishes a formal or high-court dinner from an ordinary meal, besides quantity and variety of food? How do formal manners differ from everyday ones?
        • What eating utensils are used, if any? Have utensils developed in the culture or been imported (as with Catherine de Médicis bringing our modern day dining utensils to France)?
        • What is the order of a typical upper-class meal? Do they start with wine, then a sweet, then stew, then salad, or is everything brought in at once?
        • What shape are tables and eating areas? Where is the "place of honor" for a guest? Where do important members of the household sit?
        • Are special arrangements necessary for entertaining guests of different races or species? How do the eating customs of different races reflect their cultures and biology?
    5. Education
      • How much does it cost to get various levels of education?
      • What education is available, and where? Are there schoolhouses in every town, or do ordinary people have to travel if they want to be educated?
      • Are there universities? Private tutors?
      • What is the literacy level in the general population? Is literacy considered a useful or necessary skill for nobility, or something only scribes, clerks, or servants need?
      • What areas are considered absolutely necessary knowledge for a courtier (poetry, languages, skill at arms, &c.)? Which are nice but not necessary? Which would be slightly embarassing if anybody found out about them (such as a passion for comic books)?
      • How respected are teachers and scholars? Who supports them? Are there anti-intellectual groups?
      • Is education legally restricted in any way? Are there people for whom education is illegal?
    6. Ethics & Values
      • What will people swear a binding oath by? What do people use as curse words? Why are these used?
      • What are the most desired and most valuable things in this society--gold, jewels, drugs, money, furs, reindeer, oxen? Why is it desired or valued?
      • Do different races value different things? Is there a race or culture for whom non-material things (information, time, spiritual enlightenment) are the valuable things? How did they get that way?
      • What things are considered to be normal and acceptable in this society that might be considered abnormal or unacceptable by our standards (dueling, drug use, homosexuality, polygamy, brother-sister marriages amongst royalty, infanticide)?
      • What things are considered shocking in this society (a woman showing her ankles, a person eating left-handed, reading in public, using magic)? What are the reactions of ordinary people when someone does one of these things?
      • What are the acceptable limits to honor or honesty in society? Is a binding oath unbreakable no matter what, or can people get out of oaths it if the other party turns out to be evil scum, or if one party wasn't fully informed or competent? Are "white lies" acceptable socially, or is lying in any form unacceptable?
      • What are the attitudes toward ownership? What constitutes "theft" and what can be stolen with few repercussions? Are thieves organized in a guild, licensed by law, or freelance?
      • Who is considered to be a citizen, with the rights and privileges thereof? What are those rights and privileges (voting, protection from thieves, the right to a trial of peers) and what responsibilities go along with those rights (jury duty, providing funds or knights for the lord's army)? Can citizenship be revoked?
      • Are there certain groups of people (wizards, foreigners, children, peasants, women) who have fewer legal rights or less recourse than full citizens? Why? Are they considered mentally or morally deficient, a danger to the state, or is there some other reason?
      • What are the most controversial subjects in this culture? What things can you easily start a friendly argument about in any bar? What things will automatically start an unfriendly argument?
      • What are the social taboos? What things are "not done"? What things are never talked about?
      • What would happen if someone did something socially unacceptable? How do social taboos vary for different races and groups of people?
      • What are the biggest social faux pas? What are considered to be faux pas--drawing steel in the presence of a king, noble, or their legal representative, asking a dwarf whether it's a male or a female? What subjects or actions cause embarassment or discomfort?
      • What are the society's mores regarding courtship, marriage, and family? Is marriage primarily a civil or a religious institution? Why are people usually married--to produce legal heirs, for love, to keep fortunes "in the family"?
      • What are the standards of beauty for people? For paintings and sculpture? For clothes and furniture? How do they reflect the physical traits of the various peoples?
      • What kind of ideal life do people aspire to? Does everyone want to be an country squire, or is it the New York social whirl, or the jet-set lifestyle, that attracts most people?
      • What kinds of people are the rebels and outcasts of this society? How does society deal with them--prison, exile, decapitation, re-education camps?
      • Who are the arbiters of ethics (as opposed to law)? How did they get to be the arbiters? Who are the arbiters of the social milieu?
    7. Fashion & Dress
      • What do people wear? How expensive is it? Can the material be produced locally, or must some or all of it be imported?
      • Are certain clothes customary for certain occupations? Are there military uniforms, judges' wigs and robes, sports team uniforms, chefs' hats, and king's crowns? How much variation is allowed? Could a scholar wear a flourescent green robe as long as the cut was right, or would that be too much?
      • Is it quality or style that is most important?
      • Are the dyes for certain colors rare, making cloth of that color more expensive or reserved for nobility or other high-status people?
      • Are there sumptuary laws, defining who can wear what? What are the penalties? Who decides when changes are needed? How often are they adjusted?
      • How many changes of clothes can a normal person afford? A noble person? A peasant?
      • How often do people change their clothes? Wash them?
      • What are current fashion in clothes like? In hats? Jewelry? Shoes? Do such fashions differ for humans and non-humans? From country to country? From ethnicity to ethnicity?
      • What materials are appropriate for the climate? What cloth must be imported, and is therefore used only for expensive clothing?
      • What styles are considered tacky and vulgar, and what is stylish? Who decides whats stylish (the wives of noblemen, high-class courtesans)?
      • What types of decorations and accessories are common? What colors and combinations of colors are thought to look well together, or to clash? Do opinions of this vary from race to race?
      • What physical types and characteristics are currently fashionable--tan vs. pale skin, "heroin chic" vs. robust good health, fat vs. thin, blonde vs. brunette, muscles vs. "dead poet"? How does this vary for non-humans?
      • How do non-human fashions reflect the habitat and physiology of non-humans? Do mermaids have a nudity taboo, for example? Do dragons dress for dinner?
    8. History
      • How far back are there records or tales of historical events? How widely known are these stories?
      • Do average people believe the old tales, or do they dismiss some that have a basis in fact?
      • How long have there been people on this world? Did they evolve, were they created by the gods, or did they migrate from somewhere else? If there are non-humans, how long have they been around and where did they come from?
      • Where did the civilizations begin? What directions did they spread? How was development affected by the presence of working magic? The presence of non-human races (if any)? The actions of gods?
      • Which peoples, countries, ethnicities, and races have, over the centuries, fought, been allies, traded, or traditionally been rivals? Where are such old events still important or still causing hard feelings?
      • Which peoples, countries, ethnicities, and races have been in conflict or have allied in the recent past? Why?
      • Which peoples are considered the most civilized? Which are most technologically advanced? Most magically advanced? Least advanced?
    9. Language
      • Is there a trade language that facilitates commerce between countries that don't speak the same tongue?
      • Is there a "universal language" spoken by educated or noble persons, as Latin was in the Middle Ages and French was later?
      • Is there a liturgical tongue? What language are religious documents kept in?
      • Are some or all people bilingual? Is there a common second language many people know?
      • Are there "secret" languages or codes known only by priests, soldiers, guild members? If so, why were they developed? Are they fully functional (they can express anything one could normally express in language) or are they limited to a certain scope (metallurgy, trade, or religion)?
      • What are the variations in speech patterns, syntax, and slang from one social class to another? One occupation to another? One region to another?
      • From what areas do local slang phrases come? What kinds of colorful turns of phrase do people use?
      • For what things would a local language have many specific words to indicate fine differences? What do the people in this culture consider important enough to name?
      • What do people use as curse words?
      • How many languages are there? Which ones are related and why? Which languages borrow words or phrases from other languages? Which are likely to be most widely spoken?
      • Are there different languages for different races (dwarves, elves, etc.), or is language based more on geography than race or species? Is there a special language you need to learn in order to talk to dragons or other beasts?
      • Do wizards have a special language that is used for magic? If so, where do they learn it? Is it safe to chat in this language, or is everything said in it automatically a spell?
      • How close to people stand when talking? Does it differ from place to place? How do people with different ideas of "personal space" react to one another?
      1. Gestures
        • Are gestures and body language in this society generally subtle?
        • Do people talk with their hands, or is that considered vulgar?
        • What gestures are insulting? What do they mean? Do some gestures differ in meaning depending on the culture or time?
        • How do overall gestures and body language differ between countries? Are there things that don't matter in one area that are mortal insults in another?
        • What are the different ways of showing respect (bowing, saluting)? To whom is one expected to show respect?
    10. Manners
      • What are the rules of precedence? Who gets to go through doors first? Who gets introduced first in a social setting? In a formal setting?
      • Is there a distinction between "formal" good manners and informal, everyday manners? When and where are people expected to be on their best behavior?
      • How important are "good manners" in this society? How do "good manners" differ from race to race? How to people (dwarves, elves, dragons) react when someone has just been, by their standards, rude?
      • Are people shocked when an "outsider" learns their manners? Patronizing or condescending? Supportive?
    11. Meeting & Greeting
      • How do people greet one another and how did this greeting originate? Is there a special I-am-not-armed gesture for wizards or others with dangerous abilties?
      • Is there a difference between the greeting offered to an equal and that offered to a superior or inferior? Between that offered a man or a woman? Between that offered a human vs. a non-human?
      • Is there a way of changing a greeting gesture to make it insulting?
      • When meeting someone for the first time, how are they greeted? Does this differ if one already knows the person? If you see someone you know on the far side of the street, how do you acknowledge them?
      • How are two people who have not met before introduced to one another? What is the order of precedence when there are several people of differing sex, social status, or race present who must all be introduced to each other?
      • Are there people or beings who are never introduced to each other? Are "true names" significant, and if so, under what circumstances would someone be given someone else's true name?
      • Are there customs involving the way in which someone is named when being introduced (giving all of a person's names and titles at the first meeting, but never repeating them afterward)?
    12. Religion & Philosophy
      • Are there actual gods or god-like beings? If so, do they take an active role in the religions that worship them? Do they take an active role in the lives of everyday people? Why?
      • How many gods are there, and is there a hierarchy among them? Which ones are good or evil, or is this meaningless when speaking of gods?
      • How do various religions view non-believers? Foreigners? Non-humans? Which support the government, and which are more interested in ordinary people?
      • Is there a difference between miracles and magic? If so, how are they distinguished in everyday events?
      • Is there tension, rivalry, or outright hostility between any of the gods? How does this affect church politics? People's everyday lives?
      • Where does religion fit into this society? Is there a state church? Is freedom of religion the norm? Do people generally think of the temples and churches as parasites, or as useful parts of society?
      • If there are actual, demonstrable gods, what part does faith play in their worship? Why do they want worship? What are their various rites like, and why?
      • What offerings are considered good? Best?
      • Are people supposed to pick one or more gods to worship and ignore the others, or do most people pray to whoever is most likely to grant results in a specific situation?
      • How do people decide whom to worship or which temple to be affiliated with?
      • What part do various religions and philosophies play in public and private life? Are philosophers and theologians considered academics, or do they debate in the marketplace like Socrates? How much influence do their theories have on the way people actually behave?
      • Are priests or philosophers full-time occupations, or do they need day jobs? If they are full-time, who supports them?
      • Why are the gods interested in people? Are they like the Greek pantheon (quarrelsome, larger-than-life humans), or are they more transcendent and incomprehensible? Do the gods have limits to what they can do? To what they will do? Can the gods make mistakes?
      • How do the various temples and philosophies explain the classic "problem of evil"? Do they think bad things are always a just punishment for some transgression, a character-building exercise, the result of an evil antagonist (such as Satan or Loki), human nature, or just something the gods can't prevent?
    13. Social Organization
      • What are the easiest and most common ways to advance in status? Can one attain higher status by amassing more money, marrying well, getting the king's favor? How much resistance is there to someone advancing in social status?
      • What are the various ranks and titles and proper forms of address for the aristocracy and nobility? For addressing peers, social betters, or social inferiors?
      • Which occupations are most respected? Which are most looked down upon? Why?
      • How many levels are there in this society? How firm are the divisions between these levels? Is it possible to move between them?
      • How difficult is it to rise or fall from one social level to another? How much social mobility is there? How much do people think there is?
    14. Specific Countries
      • What is the basic form of government in this country? Feudal aristocracy, oligarcy, absolute rulership, democracy, theocracy? What forms of government are used in neighboring countries, and why are they the same or different?
      • Who are the rivals or enemies of this country? How close are they physically? How powerful?
      • Who are the heroes and villains of each country's history? Why are they heroes, and what does this say about the country and people?
      • How accessible is this area? What natural features mark the borders? Who are the neighboring countries and peoples and what are they like?
      • Why did people settle in this area in the first place? Is it a strategic location, a trade route, a good place for a harbor, rich in minerals, good for farming? Have things changed much since people entered the area, or do people still depend on whatever brought them here in the first place?
      • How do the weapons of this country compare with those of surrounding cities and countries? Have there been recent innovations that may upset the balance of power, or is everyone more or less equal?
      • How diverse is the population of this country? How many different races (human or non-human), creeds, and ethnicities normally live in various cities and towns in this country? In what percentages?
      • Are people immigrating to or emmigrating from the country? Why?
      • Is magic legal there? All magic, or only some types? Do laws governing magic vary widely from city to city, or are attitudes generally similar?
      • What does this country import? Export? How important is trade to the economy? How is currency exchange handled, and by whom?
      • What is monetary system used, and who mints it?
      • How much of this country is farmland? Forest? Desert? Mountains? Plains? How much of it is arable?
      • What are the primary crops? Are any grown mainly for export or for trade?
      • What crops can not be grown here because of the soil or climate?
      • What water resources are available here, and for what uses?
      • What wild animals live in this area? Are any of them potentially useful (for fur, oil, hides, magical ingredient, feathers) or dangerous to the population?
      • Which animals are commonly domesticated in this area? Which aren't there, but are elsewhere?
    15. Visits
      • Are there questions that must be asked or avoided when visiting someone? Are there topics that can only be raised by the host? By the guest?
      • How seriously does the culture take the responsibilities of host and guest? What rules define when someone becomes a host or guest?
      • What things are considered courteous to offer a guest: food, reading material, personal guards, attendants, music, entertainment?
      • What is considered a courteous response to a host's offer? Are there things it is considered rude to accept? Rude to refuse? Rude to ask for? Rude not to ask for?
      • When a guest arrives, is food or drink offered immediately, after an interval, or only on request? Is there a particular food or drink that is customary to offer a newly arrived guest?
      • How do the different customs of various countries and races interact and conflict?

  5. Magic & Science
    1. Magic & Magicians
      • How do various religions view magic? Do any forbid it? Require it? Why? Do any require or forbid magicians to be priests (as opposed to simple members of the congregation)?
      • How has the presence of magic and magicians affected law and government? Are wizards barred from certain kinds of government posts? Do some positions require that their holder be a wizard?
      • Are the laws of nature and physics actually different in this world (to accomodate magic) or are they the same as in real life? If the same, how does magic fit in?
      • Which peoples, races, cultures, countries, or ethnicites are most technologically or magically advanced? Least advanced? Why?
      • Is magic legal? Any magic, or only some types? Do laws vary widely from country to country, or is the attitude generally similar?
      • Are there magical artifacts? If so, who makes them? How? Are they permanent, or does the magic wear off after a while?
      • What effect has magic had on law? Art? Technology? Entertainment?
      • Where is magical research done?
      • Are magicians a force in politics, or are they above it? Are there national politics that revolve around magic or wizards?
      • How much as the presence of magic affected military strategy and tactics in general?
      • Is healing usually a magical process? If so, how does the magical healing talent or spell work? Does a magical healer have to consciously direct the healing process, or does magical healing simply speed up the normal, unconscious healing process in the patient? Is there more than one kind of magical healer and if so are they rivals or simply different specialties?
      • Is forensic magic possible? Commonly used? Used only to investigate certain types of crimes (and if so, which)? Are the results of forensic spells admissible in court as evidence?
      • Can magic be used in the arts, and if so, how? How do "normal" artists feel about this?
      • How do magicians feel about non-magical people? Do they have a name for them? How are magicians regarded by society?
      • Are spells fast enough to be useful in hand-to-hand combat, or is magic more of a seige weapon, useful only for long, slow things?
      1. Magic & Technology
        • Are there magical means of transportation (teleport spells, magic carpets, magical gates and portals)? How do they compare in speed, safety, and expense to non-magical means? Are there any drawbacks? How commonly are they used, and for what purposes (industrial shipping vs. travel for fun)?
        • Are magical weapons available? Can magic be used in warfare? In what ways?
        • How has the presence of magic affected weapons technology? Do you have to do anything special to armor, weapons, walls, to make them better able to resist spells?
        • Can ordinary objects be enchanted to make them extremely lethal or will this work properly only on things that are already weapons? Can ordinary objects be enchanted to make them (or their user) much, much better at whatever they do? How common and useful are such enchantments?
        • To what degree do magical objects and the presence of wizards and spells replace technology? Duplicate technology? Supplement technology?
      2. Rules of Magic
        • What things can magic not do? What are the limits of magical power?
        • Where does magic power come from? What is its source?
        • Is magic an exhaustable resource?
        • What does one need to do to cast a spell?
        • How long does it take to cast a spell? Can spells be stored for later, instant use? Do spells take lots of long ritual, or is magic a "point and shoot" kind of thing?
        • Can two or more wizards combine their power to cast a stronger spell, or is magic done only by individuals? What makes one wizard more powerful than another? Knowledge of more spells, ability to handle greater quantities of mana, having a more powerful patron?
        • Does practicing magic have any detrimental effect on the magician? If so, is there any way to prevent these effects? Are the effects inevitable in all magicians, or do they affect only those with some sort of predisposition? Do the effects progress at the same rate in everyone?
        • How much is actually known in the world about the laws of magic? How much of what is "known" is wrong?
        • What general varieties of magic are practiced? Do any work better than others, or does only one variety actually work?
      3. Wizards
        • Is there a numerical limit to the number of wizards in the world? Why?
        • Are different races good at different kinds of magic? If so, what types are associated with what species? Are there species that use magic more or less unconsciously?
        • Is a magician's lifetime normally longer or shorter than average? Why? Does this vary for different races and species? Are there races or species all of whose members are magicians?
        • How are illegal magicians apprehended? Punished? Is this the responsibility of the magician's guild, or do ordinary law enforcement agencies have to deal with it?
        • How does a magician tap magical power? Does becoming a magician require some rite of passage or does it just happen naturally, as a result of study or as a part of growing up?
        • Are there things such as staves, wands, familiars, and crystal balls, that are necessary or useful to have before casting spells? If so, where and how do wizards get these things?
        • Are certain kinds of magic practiced solely or chiefly by one sex or another? By one race or culture or another?
        • Does a magician's magical ability or power change over time?
        • Can a magician "use up" all of their magic, thus ceasing to be a magician? If this happens, what does the ex-magician do?
        • Can the ability to do magic be lost? If so, how?
        • Can the ability to do magic be forcibly taken away? If so, how and by whom?
        • What is the price magicians pay in order to be magicians? Years of study, celibacy, using up bits of their life or memory with each spell?
        • Is magic a profession, an art, or just a job? What is the status accorded to magicians in this society? Are they forbidden overt political action, or are wizards or the wizard's guild knee-deep in political intrigue?
    2. Medicine
      • What level is medicine at? Who are the healers? Do you have to have a talent to heal? Who trains healers, herbalists, apothecaries, surgeons, magical and nonmagical healers?
      • What customs surround death and burial? Is there a special class of people (doctors, priests, funeral directors, untouchables) who deal with dead bodies?
      • How accurate is the diagnostic process? Do healers have ways of telling two diseases apart if they have similar symptoms? Do healers depend on standard physical medical tests (reflexes, temperature, dilated pupils) or do they normally use spells for diagnosis?
      • How expensive are healers? How available are such services to ordinary people?
      • How much is known about anatomy, physiology, pathology, psychology, and so on?
      • Are treatments based on purely practical experience, or do healers understand at least some of what they are doing? Alternatively, are there stories (true or false) about why certain remedies work or don't work?
      • How much training does a healer normally get? Where? From whom?
      • Is healing generally a magical process?
      • Is there a reliable method of birth control? Who normally handles births? What is the mortality rate for pregnant ladies, new mothers, and children?
      • Who can become a healer? Are there various kinds of healers (herbalists, wisewomen, pharmacists, apothecaries, surgeons, doctors, nurses, witchdoctors)? If so, why are distinctions made?
      • What kinds of treatments are available? Herbal brews, vaccinations, accupuncture, surgery? How effective are they?
      • Is it possible to resurrect or resuscitate someone who has died? If so, how long is it before this becomes impossible? Before serious brain damage sets in?
      • How is insanity treated? Are there asylums or treatment centers? How effective are treatments for insanity?
      • How much do the physical differences between human and non-human races affect their medical treatment? Are there some diseases that only affect non-humans, or only humans? Are some treatments lethal to one species but effective in another? Do physicians have to specialize in non-human medicine in order to do a good job of it?
    3. Science & Technology
      • Is the level of technology in this society comparable to that of ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution?
      • What important inventions or advances have been made (the wheel, gunpowder, printing, flush toilets)? Have any of them been produced in quantities sufficient to affect the daily lives of the average person, or are they a luxury for noblity only?
      • What inventions or advances have not been made that you would expect to see at this stage of technological development? Why? Which ones are about to be made?
      • How much is known about the laws of nature, physics, and magic? How much of what is commonly known is wrong?
      • Are the laws of nature and physics actually different in this world, or are they the same as in real life? How does magic fit in?
      • Where is scientific research done? Universities, private labs, under the auspices of the government?
      • In what areas might magic replace technology, and thus suppress its development? In what areas might magic cause more rapid technological or scientific development?
      • How do the technology levels and scientific knowledge of non-human races compare to those of humans? Are there significant differences, and if so, why?
    4. Transportation & Communication
      • What are the common domesticated animals used for transportation at various levels of society?
      • Are there magical means of transportation?
      • For traveling short distances within a city, what are the alternatives? Can people hire a cab, a litter, a rickshaw, or do they have to walk or rely on their own servants or horses?
      • How are messages sent when necessary? Is there a public or private postal system, or does everyone of importance have to send messengers? How fast can news get from one point to another?
      • Are there magical means of communication? How common? How reliable? How expensive?
      • How available is water transportation?
      • How common is travel (for any reason)? Does the concept of travel "to see the world" or for fun, even exist? How dangerous is travel?
      • How large a group is considered safe? How much traffic is there inside and outside the main cities? Which areas are the best and worst?
      • What are the fastest means of traveling long distances over land? Over water? Which are the safest?
      • What is transportation like? Are there good roads? Who built them? Are there tolls? Are they guarded or patrolled?
      • Where would a traveler stay at night? Are there enough travelers to support inns, or do people have to stay at monasteries or in people's homes?
      • Are some classes of people (slaves, peasants) who are not expected to travel at all? Are some (heralds, messengers) expected to travel constantly?
      • How do people find out what is happening in the world? How slanted is the news they get this way, and in what direction? Is there freedom of the press? If not, who controls or censors it, by what means, and for what purpose?
      • How are books produced? Are they common (has the printing press been invented), or are they valuable hand-written objects? Where are the great libraries and collections? Are they to scholars, wizards, the general public? Who supports them?

















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