Planet Building Was Not My Thing, Until I Found This Guy

I assume people get into world building for all sorts of reasons, and I can confidently say that an interest in space was NOT my way in. I’m much more of a human ecology type world builder, interested in how different geographic environments might shape and influence human behaviours and cultures. I’m not an astronomy oriented world builder:
The thought of reading up on orbital physics, planetary science kind of jargon intimidated me (Tidal locking?? Lagrange points??). Until! I found the glorious Artifexian YouTube channel.

ARTIFEXIAN: Build your Own Terrestrial Planet: Physical Characteristics

I’m a total Ravenclaw and love learning new things, so the channel was a great because it kind of felt like walking through a workbook of astro calculations for world builders. And that’s ultimately the best thing about these guys, it’s that they communicate to fellow world builders who want to know how our world’s physics work in order to build hypothetical fictional worlds.

So I had three physical conditions for my world:

  1. Have a habitable planet or moon where it’s closest satellite looks really large and impressive like in those SciFi illustrations.
  2. Maybe have two moons?
  3. Have the world made mostly of cold climate dry biomes.

Point three I’ll talk about in another post, so let’s talk about the satellites. The main reason I wanted the large Moon was because it looks cool (1 point to the rule of cool vs realism). Additionally I like how it instantly makes things more alien and vast. The reason for having a secondary moon is also basically the same, but I got sold on the idea of cultures building systems of meaning around two moons… gets my creative gears heard in motion!!

ARTIFEXIAN: Terrestrial Moons

So then my quest to calculate how this would work… Being the kind of person who likes to have some basic understanding of fundamentals and how things are built up, I started with building the sun, a so long at system, then my habitable planet, then it’s satellites. B that took a while weekend haha NO REGRETS. I got a great intro into basics of orbital physics, interest and appreciation of space etc. The sad thing is though probably that the calculations I did have small errors on my part, and ultimately the very large moon-thing wouldn’t really work with real gravity and physics BUT WORLD BUILDING 😀 At least there’s some kind of conceptual logic that I can accept, which is maybe all that really matters from a world-building-for-story point of view.

I also built some calendars based on the oribtal particulars of this planet. Will put that up next time 😀

Artifexian Links

How to Build A Star

Gas Giant Moon Systems and Habitable Moons

Artifexian on Reddit



Familiar but Unfamiliar: Elements of Making A Fantasy World

“Asian” civilisations. I want to make an unfamiliar familiar world in part to

  1. Break overly familiar styles to make world truly “inspired by”, not “appropriated.
  2. To flag explicitly that this is NOT based off our world’s history.

Because I draw heavily on the Mongol conquest of Eurasia, there’s a real danger that this world will look and feel too much like commentary on that period in our history . If that’s what I wanted to do, I would do a historical fiction. As much as I love historical fiction, I find it too restrictive because I feel honour-bound to get historical details accurate. Which would necessarily mean that I couldn’t explore ideas such as “how would a non-patriarchal society organise it’s self?”.

There are many ways for one to distance their world from their source material. In my case the visually easiest (ha!) way to do it seemed to be “have two moons”. Evident that it is not on our earth. Plus, from a world building perspective there is a lot you can play around with if you have two moons… the calendar system would be entirely different, societies would attribute different significances to the two moons, have totally different mythologies to ours… Makes things instantly more complex, but that’s also very exciting!

The next couple of posts will be about how I went about building a coherent(-ish) orbital system. It’s a pretty labour intensive process, but  absolutely worth it!

~ iyo

PS. After that I’ll go into some thoughts about the difference between cultural inspiration vs cultural appropriation. It’s something I think about and talk about with others often, is topical, and relevant for projects like this. That’s unlikely to be until 2018 (!!).