Trouble in the Homeland
Creation myth: How does the race believe it came to exist and/or live in its current location. This need not be a true statement based on facts, but is usually an integral part of the race’s belief and story telling. It usually is reflected in the race’s religion or belief system.
How far back are there records or tales of historical events?
Do average people believe old tales, or do they dismiss some that have a basis in fact (as people dismissed Troy at one time)?
Who, if any, are their enemies and allies?
What do they look like if viewed from an anthropological standpoint as if seen for the first time? (Be sure to include average and extreme height/weight, build. Color of skin, eyes and hair are also things to mention. Anything to help an individual fully visualize this being is essential.)
How do they talk? This covers the basics of their speech. The details of communication should be covered under the subcategory of the same name (communication).
Does this race have any exceptional abilities such as speed, strength, flying, healing, see invisible, etc?
Do they have body or facial hair?
What do these beings cherish as their most prized possessions. What do they abhor or consider taboo to be caught with? These need not be tangible physical objects. Consider Japanese history and how highly a person or family’s honor was placed in the scheme of things.
Do they own weapons? What types?
Do they own armor? What types?
What do these beings shelter themselves in? Caves, Wooden structures, trees are all but a few examples. Don’t forget to include details to help someone envision this structure in their minds. Include things such as shape, colors, heights, etc. in your description.
What is the most common building material?
Why is it used (availability, cheapness)?
Does it have any major drawbacks (wood = the Great Fire of London)?
How many people usually live in a typical house?
How does this race mark the passing of time? Do they count days, months, and years? Describe their calendar and how they came to use it.
What are the names used/given to the individual increments used to measure the passing of time and seasons?
Are there specific racial holidays that everyone of this race observes? Ensure that any such holidays are not observed due to geographical location or by a higher authority. If so the holiday is best included in a kingdom write up.
How do they tell what time it is?
How do these individuals feel about people outside of their race?
How do they view change?
To whom is one expected to show respect—one’s elders, superiors in rank, social superiors, teachers, priests, etc.?
What is the common fare when they eat?
Where/how do they get their food?
Is anything poisonous to them?
Can they eat things that other races find poisonous?
Do they eat different foods during a special event or circumstance?
What do they drink?
Are any types of food revered or despised?
What does a common eating experience look like? Nuclear family sitting on knees around a triangle table? Father eats alone first then everyone else?
How if the food prepared? Is it eaten raw? Cooked in an oven? Broiled over a fire?
FASHION AND DRESS
What do people wear?
What is it made of?
Is it color or style that is most important?
Are the dyes for certain colors — purple, indigo blue, etc. — rare, making cloth of that color more expensive and/or reserved for special people?
What type of clothing is worn in specific social situations?
What are considered essential skills to learn for the males?
What are considered essential skills to learn for the females?
How are these skills learned and passed on to subsequent generations?
Is writing considered a privilege or a necessity?
What is the dominant language used?
How would it sound to a human if they heard it for the 1st time?
Do specific groups speak any special tongues?
Is there any slang dialects that are spoken?
What do the people in this culture consider important enough to name?
What will people swear a binding oath by?
What do people use as curse words?
Are gestures and body language in this society generally subtle, or not?
Do people talk with their hands, or is that considered vulgar?
What gestures are insulting? What do they mean?
What are the different ways of showing respect (bowing, saluting, etc.)?
Is there a difference between the greeting offered to an equal and that offered to a superior or inferior?
How are messages sent from individuals or groups?
Can they read or learn to read?
Is reading a common skill?
When meeting someone for the first time, how are they greeted—wave, handshake, bow, some other gesture?
Does this differ if one already knows the person?
What is the order of precedence when there are several people of differing sex, social status, or race/species present who must all be introduced to each other?
How does this race view mages and magic?
How does this race view warriors?
How does this race view thieves?
Are any other professions exalted or abhorred?
Do these beings excel at certain trades? Mages, Thieves, Merchants, etc.
Are any trades considered taboo?
Does this race believe in or have the ability to magically heal?
Does this race believe in or have the ability to utilize the natural healing art such as herbs and natural salves, potions and such?
How effective are the treatments?
Are there various kinds of healers (herbalists, wisewomen, pharmacists/apothecaries, surgeons, doctors, etc.)? If so, why are distinctions made?
Is there a special class of people (doctors, priests, funeral directors, untouchables) who deal with dead bodies?
How available are such services to ordinary individuals?
How much training does a healer normally get? Where? From whom?
Who normally handles births—midwives, or doctors?
What is the mortality rate for pregnant ladies, new mothers, and children?
Who can become a healer?
Is it possible to resurrect/resuscitate someone who has died? If so, how long is it before this becomes impossible?
How is insanity treated?
What things are considered shocking to this race that are not considered shocking to ours? (Examples: showing a woman’s ankles, eating left-handed, reading in public.)
What are the reactions of ordinary people when someone does one of these things?
What are the acceptable limits to honor and/or honesty to this race?
Are “white lies” acceptable socially, or is lying in any form unacceptable?
Are there certain classes of people (wizards, foreigners, children, peasants, women) who have fewer legal rights or less recourse than full citizens? Why?
What are the most controversial subjects?
What are the racial taboos—what things are “not done”, like wearing a bathing suit to the office? What things are never talked about?
What subjects or actions cause embarrassment or discomfort?
What are the race’s mores regarding courtship, marriage, and family?
How does this race view courtship and marriage?
What kind of ideal life do people aspire to?
What kinds of people are the rebels and outcasts of this race?
Which occupations are most respected?
Which are most looked down on? Why?
How much social mobility is there?
How much do people think there is?
What deity or deities do they worship?
How do they worship?
Do any special holidays exist?
Are any religions forbidden?
Are there places of worship?
Are there leaders of worship or heads of the religion?
What are their various rites like, and why?
How much part do various religions and philosophies play in public and private life?
Are there any special customs?
How do they view death?
What customs surround death and burial?
What mode of transportation is favored above all others.
Are there any modes of transportation that are considered taboo or beneath them?
How does this race protect itself to ensure its survival?
How do they view physical conflict?
What are the race’s favored weapons if used?
This does not necessarily refer to melee weapons.
How much as the presence of magic affected strategy and tactics?
Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning “to cultivate,”) generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. Different definitions of “culture” reflect different theoretical bases for understanding, or criteria for evaluating, human activity. In general, the term culture denotes the whole product of an individual, group or society of intelligent beings. It includes technology, art, science, as well as moral systems and the characteristic behaviors and habits of the selected intelligent entities. In particular, it has specific more detailed meanings in different domains of human activities.
Anthropologists most commonly use the term “culture” to refer to the universal human capacity to classify, codify and communicate their experiences symbolically. This capacity has long been taken as a defining feature of the humans. However, primatologists have identified aspects of culture among human’s closest relatives in the animal kingdom.1 It can be also said that culture is the way people live in accordance to beliefs, language, history, or the way they dress.
Certain animals not permitted
Not allowed to look at royalty
Mass slavery or no slavery
Mandatory military enlistment/Military service is voluntary basis
Separation or joining of church and state
Women do or do not have equal rights
Encourage or discourage education
Peasants are free people or virtual slaves (serfs)
Magic..Legal,Illegal or only used by nobility
Weapons illegal or must be checked by sheriff
Certain priesthoods illegal or one state priesthood