How to use this tutorial: This is one geek adapting the theories backing Anthropology and similar disciplines for the purposes of understanding, embellishing, and creating fictional cultures. Whether you’re working on a novel, fanfiction, the setting to a video game, or an RP character – I hope you find something of value to ponder here.
Culture is the “shared, socially learned knowledge and patterns of behavior.” (Essentials of Anthropology, 2002) Literally, it is everything that goes into how we grow up and there’s more than the extremes of an ancient village or a modern metropolis. Over 90 varieties of hunter-gatherer societies that exist to this day are covered in The Foraging Spectrum (2007), but I’m willing to bet that most of you won’t read either books cover to cover, even to help you create a fictional culture from scratch, will you?
What I’ve distilled here are the Five Pillars of Society, presented like 20 Questions from an inclusive perspective. Meaning, imagine someone asking you – an adult member of your imagined culture – these questions. No society can exist without addressing these 5 topics – no matter how big or small. I could have started with any one of the five pillars – they are all intertwined with one another; they're that important. You can basically think of it as the five reasons we bother organizing ourselves into groups and how those interactions play out.
· Economy: or how we acquire resources
· Enculturation: or how we learn & grow
· Governance: or how we resolve conflicts
· Spirituality: or how we perceive the unknown
· Tools: or how we customize our world
P.S. There’s a Challenge at the end
Disclaimer: I’m assuming that if you don’t know what a word means that you have google or – gasp! – a dictionary handy. If something interests you that much, I also assume you will do additional research through a local library or worldcat.org to learn more. In fact, I encourage both of these!
1. What ecosystem surrounds us? (Inedible)
a. Weather & seasonal patterns matter as much as coast vs. mountain and latitude / longitude for determining flora, fauna, skin pigmentation, residence patterns, trade routes, and all kinds of other background information.
b. Resources in abundance
c. Rare resources
d. Acquisition and Utilization [Tools]
e. Housing [Enculturation]
f. Treatment [Spirituality]
g. Are certain areas restricted? [Governance]
2. What comprises our diet? (Edible ecosystem)
a. Agriculture vs. Pastoralism vs. Hunting & Gathering vs. Horticulture vs. Domestication
b. Direct or indirect (Farmers vs. trade)
c. Anything required to tend to animals or plow fields or gather fruit [Tools]
d. Taboo foods [Spirituality]
e. Festival dishes – usually from rarer resources or public abundance [Enculturation]
f. Are certain foods ever restricted, taxed, or requisitioned? [Governance]
3. What facilitates a trade of resources?
a. Gifts & reciprocity
b. Obligations & ceremonies [Enculturation]
c. Money, stamps, and equating value [Tools]
d. Taxes or other rules [Governance]
e. Pacification Rituals (one-sided) [Spirituality]
4. What kind of stratification exists?
a. How rich is rich? How poor is poor?
b. Is it an “everyman” system, or profession-based? [Tools] Or Religion-mandated? [Spirituality] Age-ranked? [Enculturation]
c. How can we move between the strata? [Governance, usually]
5. How are our families structured? (Sometimes it’s a whole village)
a. Kinship lineages
b. Residence patterns
c. Marriage [Spirituality, Governance]
e. What makes a good spouse?
f. Bridegroom payment [Tools, Economy]
6. How is age marked?
a. Age of majority
b. What is expected of pre-adults?
c. Rites of Passage [Celebrations – Spirituality. Crafts – Tools. Test or documentation – Governance.]
d. Welfare / what happens with age [Governance / Economy (often one-sided). For moral justification, sometimes Spirituality.]
7. How are trade skills (occupations / jobs) learned?
a. Not everything is interviews or apprenticeships – sometimes it’s as easy as family members
b. Medical Quality / secondary life skills
c. How much do the people know about… anything?
e. For profit [Economy]
f. For prestige [Governance]
g. For leisure
h. For divine supplication [Spiritual]
i. With what are these skills performed? [Tools, if not by hand.]
8. How are the sexes and sexuality treated?
a. Romantic advances, lusty fun, and conception
b. The ecology of pregnancy and birth intervals
c. Gender discrepancies or lack thereof
d. Ease or difficulty in transitioning across the gender spectrum – believe it or not, plenty of “primitive” societies make this much easier than “modern” ones
e. Sexual division of labor [Economy]
f. Age discrepancies
g. Cycles and Child Carrying [Spirituality]
h. Displays [Tools]
i. Gauges of attractiveness and worthiness of long-term commitments
9. What are the acceptable morals and etiquette?
a. Who controls / teaches them?
b. What counts as “status”?
10. How is bad behavior policed?
a. Warfare and “the little brother of war” (sports)
b. Can “criminal” behavior be remedied? [Enculturation / Spirituality]
c. How are estrangers marked, if at all? [Enculturation / Tools]
d. What negative and positive effects does the criminal activity have? [Economy]
11.What alliances or hostilities exist?
a. Intra-/extra-societal, such as stratification-based (Classism) or profession-based (Butchers are icky) [Economy]
b. Resources imported or limited [Economy]
c. Objects crafted from imports or gifted from outside the culture [Tools]
d. Integration of “Other” groups, ex: Black Egyptians, or adopted and multi-ethnic children [Enculturation]
12. What is the conflict resolution style for non-criminal activities?
a. Between people, or with a 3rd party (leader, chief, religious leader)
b. How are those people chosen? [Virtue – Enculturation, Status – Governance / Economy, Divine Mandate – Spirituality]
c. Making requests of the leadership – bribery and supplication [Economy]
13. How is the connection defined?
a. Dreams, etc. that everyone could manage?
b. Physical distinction, as by birth or accident or accomplishment?
c. Wisdom or age? [Enculturation]
d. Skillset [Enculturation]
a. Writing or other communication system [Tools]
b. Leisure class or everyman?
c. Magical powers?
d. Extraordinary physical abilities?
e. Self-promotion? [Governance]
f. Physical spaces of worship [Economy]
14. What are our holy days? (Holidays)
a. Participants and Leaders
b. Food [Enculturation]
c. Games, dances, and other leisure festivities [Enculturation]
d. Gifts of obligation [Enculturation / Economy]
e. Place [Economy]
f. Origination [Enculturation]
g. Special creations [Tools]
h. Participation or condemnation [Governance]
15.What is “divine”?
a. Heroic or saintly ascension
b. Organization: Mystics, Priesthoods, and Soothsayers [Economy]
c. Origin mythos beings
d. Object personification [Tools]
e. Ecosystem spirits [Economy]
f. Celebrations and other temporary divinity [Enculturation]
g. Mandate of Heaven [Governance]
h. Monotheism, Pantheons, “they walk among us,” & other systems of organizing spirits.
16. What is “profane”?
a. Cults and other underground spiritualities
b. Monsters, their creation, and moral stories for children [Enculturation]
c. Taint / sympathetic magic [Tools]
d. Damning immorality [Governance]
e. Black Markets [Economy]
17. What sort of clothing and textiles (Rugs, etc.) do we make?
a. Who crafts the tools to accomplish this?
b. How detailed / time-consuming is the technique?
c. Resources utilized (Animal and plant byproduct) [Economy]
d. Crafters and how the methods are learned [Enculturation]
e. Reserved materials, colors, symbols, etc. [Spirituality / Governance]
18. What communication method do we have?
a. Language(s) and cant
b. Cuneiform and writing
c. Obelisks and totem poles
d. News [Economy]
e. Town Crier and the Pony Express [Enculturation]
f. Information from other groups [Governance]
g. Trade Routes
h. Divine Command [Spirituality]
19. Accouterments of demarcation?
a. Bestowed between family and romantic interests [Enculturation]
b. Raiment of a profession or class [Economy]
c. Age [Enculturation]
d. Sacred objects [Spirituality]
e. Rare or limited resource [Governance/Economy]
20. What crafts can we make?
a. Leisure (Art) vs. necessity [Enculturation]
b. Weaponry [Governance]
c. What can they not live without? Starbucks vs. electricity (Modern day) and cows vs. electricity (agricultural based society)
Challenge Mode: Revisit this entire list making notes about how your society’s past accomplishments, folk heroes, and emigration or immigration informed their present culture and the diaspora.
The author, pseudonym Frudence, is a graduate of The Ohio State University in the studies of Cultural Anthropology and Folklore, a paid author of RPG adventures, and a paid speaker on the intersection of genealogy and technology. A self-professed nerd, she has been playing and DM-ing / judging tabletop RPGs for over 16 years and has helped organize the RPGA sections of conventions alongside her father.
( Middle Ages )
( Recent )
- A version of the game of Hurling (note: not curling) played with cut wheat stalks, and not on horseback like Polocrosse - although kids continue to try it.
- Alpaca-camelid mounts (the same "horses" that start getting traded elsewhere)
Trade name: Mummers
I intend to write a book (or more) about our secret world of journal-based gaming and I'm trying to narrow my focus. Eventually, come January or February, I'll start asking for submissions as I know it'll be a collaborative work, but I'm looking for some input so here are my initial ideas!
* History: How we transitioned from AIM chatrooms to LJ & facebook to DW & plurk
* Sociology: How we all get along (moderators & players) + how we represent ourselves and our characters
* Business: Moderator skills that are useful in the office environment (management)
* Literature: Creating our own sandbox, or a unique spin on an old idea, and player-plotting / collaborative writing
* Gender & Sexuality Studies: Straightforward (har) what we've researched, explored, and learned about ourselves and the world through RP
* Other: Open to suggestions!
So basically, if you were going to be assigned a book to read for class, what would you actually enjoy reading? Bonus question: which could you see yourself contributing a 5-25 page article to, for a nominal fee?
PLEASE DO SHARE THIS AROUND! I'm only screening anonymous comments, because I want to be able to hold serious conversations with people.
- Woobiesphere (purples?)
- Edenswhat (pinks?)
- Hobosphere (browns?)
- Sphereferno (reds/oranges?)
- Emosphere (blues?)
Any of those other words will end up in a different font than 'Edensphere' unfortunately, but you can pick either 'normal' (like a Times New Roman kind of font) or 'script' (cursive handwriting). Once again the picture references are full-size and zoomed-in. The details of the bag are: 13" wide x 14.5" long and 100% cotton.
( Progress shots from before, during, and after! )
Well at any rate, while all of that's pretty cool, probably the best known thing is a cheer normally used at football games that extended to an expression for the whole university, for alums all around the world, and sometimes random strangers passing in the street. Someone calls out "O-H!" and you are obligated by tradition to call back "I-O!" It's a lot of fun when not abused by drunkards at 3am.
This commercial tells it all much better, but the best reason to watch *this* commercial?
About 20 seconds in (it's a 30 second commercial), there's a line: "A proud union that makes the world a better place... through research and service." Somewhere around "research and" is when an image pops up with a bunch of people doing what looks like gardening. That was when I went with my sister down to Alabama to help with Hurricane Katrina relief (we were rebuilding a park). My sister is in the purple shirt below the "H"-girl, holding a trowel. I'm two people to the right of her, between the "I"-girl and "O"-guy, in a white shirt, jeans, and my dad's Army cap.
Our photo was chosen from among "a collection of more than 1,600 O-H-I-O snapshots taken around the world."
2 seconds of fame. I'll take it. ♥
"Photos from the site were used to create Ohio State's fall TV spot, the 30-second commercial that will air during football games. See a slideshow of the photos used in the spot." <-- We are #33 in the slideshow. :D
Sora, Riku, Kairi,
( Yay memories~ )
This commemorates me beating KH2 for the first time ever! x3 (lol I only bought it a month or so ago.) Yes it was on Beginner mode but I started a new game on Standard so we'll see if that's any tougher. ^^;;
As for my Muse Mission: my goal is to have 3 applications in by the time I leave for Missouri so that I get to play them by the time I get back XD; (Well, and a hiatus restart, maybe.) BUT I STILL NEED TO WATCH SOME MORE YYH FOR KUWABARA. D8
Turn Ouran On Again! Youtube LINK :: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
Remember When, Haru-chan? Youtube LINK :: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
*** This video is currently entered in a contest! LINK :: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
Please vote for me! :-D
LINK, clearer version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
(Unclear version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLdK-
I was inspired by Krys Yuy's video "So In Love With Two" :: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
( Summary )
Holy cow, apparently I really can make AMVs! O.o Who'd-a' thunk it? I've only been wishing I had the ability to do so for about ... 8 years now, geez. The only bummer is the utterly terrible job that YouTube did at rendering the quality of my video._;
15 pages only $1.00 + shipping/handling, but not bound in book format (loose-leaf paper)
Pairing(s): ? (Hints of DK)
Notes: In the matter of my sons, remember this well: the woman does not matter except as Mother to each son, regardless of how many Mothers I support...Chief Sha. The story of two brothers, their mothers, & the father. [PlotHoleFiller,Smoke Signals,HintDokuKou]
Chapter One: Your Mother
Chapter Two: Our Father