• Xtreme Culture Questionnaire writing tips writing advice character help writing help conworld clevergirlhelps •

Xtreme Culture Questionnaire

For anyone doing some hardcore world-building.

Religion

  • What - if any - deities are there?
  • What do they do?
  • Is there an important manuscript?
  • How did the world begin?
  • What - if anything - happens after death?
  • What - if anything - will end the world?
  • Are there holidays?
  • How do people worship? Where do they do it?
  • Are there different sects?
  • How do they feel about atheists? Anyone of a different religion?
  • Are there any superstitions or pagan rites existing side-by-side with this religion?
  • How does being a nonbeliever affect someone’s life, if at all? How are nonbelievers treated by the religious group?
  • Why do nonbelievers not follow the religion? Other religions?
  • What is religious art like?
  • How important is this religion to the culture as a whole?
  • What are the guiding principles?
  • Are there any holy sites? Why are they holy? Are worshipers obligated to go to one or more of these places in their life?

Warfare

  • What is the definition of war?
  • Who are the soldiers? The generals? Who is the supreme commander?
  • Are there ranks?
  • Do they have laws governing warfare?
  • Is it honorable to kill? If so, why?
  • Who is their greatest rival? Why?
  • What is their strongest branch (air, sea, land)? Why?
  • Does conventional strategy call for a direct attack or guerrilla warfare?
  • Are there any forced conscription laws (military obligations, drafts, etc.)? How does the public feel about this?
  • What gender is most involved in warfare?
  • Is there an army even in peacetime (a standing army) or are soldiers only called on an as-needed basis?
  • How are the opposition’s civilian casualties treated? Friendly fire?
  • Can the military seize or occupy private property without an excuse?
  • How are veterans treated?

Gender Roles

  • How many genders are there?
  • What is considered beautiful in each gender?
  • What is considered ugly in each gender?
  • Is one gender more important than another? Why?

Talkin’ Bout Love

  • What constitutes love?
  • Is there a taboo on nudity?
  • Is the virginity of any gender important? Why or why not?
  • How is sex viewed? Is it different for genders? Why?
  • Are there contraceptives? How are they seen?
  • Is abortion legal? Why or why not?
  • Is homosexuality a sin? Pedophilia? Bestiality?
  • How are orgies viewed?
  • Which is more important: physical beauty or mental compatibility?

Family

  • What kinds of romantic bonds exist between people?
  • How much input do outside sources like family, tradition, religion, or politics have on these bonds?
  • Is there a process that leads to the cementing of these bonds?
  • To what degree is religion involved in these bonds (if at all)?
  • Who rules the family? Why?
  • What does the typical family group look like?
  • Where do people like to live?
  • Who or what people have primary responsibility of the children?
  • How do they raise their children?
  • What is the average age of the parents on the birth of their first child?
  • Do most people have children because they are obligated to (increasing population, providing heirs), because they want to, or a mixture of both?
  • Who does the household chores?
  • Who is the biggest wage earner?
  • Who cooks?
  • What is the ideal family?
  • What is the ideal house?
  • When do the children move out?
  • Is it taboo to remarry?
  • Is divorce legal?
  • Is there a taboo on having children out of wedlock?
  • What role do the grandparents have? The aunts and uncles?
  • Is marrying your sibling legal? Your cousin? Your second cousin?
  • Is it acceptable to put one’s children up for adoption?

Manners

  • The table?
  • The streets?
  • Talking to or dealing with a superior?
  • Talking to or dealing with an inferior?
  • Talking to or dealing with another gender?

The Arts

  • What artwork is there?
  • What art is most popular?
  • Is there a guild or other organization for that?
  • Who patronizes the arts the most?
  • Does one gender monopolize the arts?
  • What music genres are there?
  • Which one is the most popular?
  • What are the instruments?
  • Are there songs of immense cultural or historic value?
  • Who writes the songs?
  • Has the printing press been invented? If so, who controls it?
  • What is the most popular genre?
  • Are there famous books? Famous authors?
  • Is there poetry? What kinds?
  • Who writes?
  • Is there fiction and nonfiction?
  • What sort of performing arts exist?
  • Who – if anyone – goes to displays of the performing arts?
  • Where are the performing arts done?
  • Are any types of artist held in especially high esteem?
  • Are there special schools for artists?

Skool is Kewl

  • How literate is the population?
  • How mathematically adept is the population?
  • Where do they learn their skills?
  • Are there specialty schools for certain occupations?
  • How often/for how long does the population attend school, if at all?
  • Does religion play any part in education?

Language

  • What is the official language? Where does it come from?
  • Are there other languages or dialects coexisting with the official language? Who speaks them?
  • Has a large organization tried to stamp out an existing language? Why?
  • What do people name their children after?
  • What are the biggest insults? Why?
  • Are there any idioms?
  • Does this culture use parts other than their mouths to speak? To convey an idea?

Economy

  • Is it a command, market, or mixed economy?
  • Who controls the economy?
  • What role does the government play in the economy?
  • What economic classes exist?
  • How much attention does the average person pay to the economy?
  • Who is the richest person in the world?
  • What is the most valuable asset (jewels, gold, land, etc.) someone can have?
  • Are there stocks?
  • Are there joint ventures? Corporations?
  • Do economic groups have any say in government?
  • Where do people store their money? In banks? If so, how reliable are they?
  • Can you take out loans?
  • What groups – if any – impose taxes? What taxes? On what groups? For what reasons? On what percent of someone’s earnings/purchase/etc.?
  • Is there a universal currency? If so, what are the coins/paper pieces/etc. and their denominations?
  • What are the coins/paper pieces/etc. made of? What do they look like?
  • Are there laws against counterfeit coins? What are they? How common are counterfeits?
  • How much money does the average person have? How much do they carry around with them?
  • How rampant is inflation?
  • What happens when someone goes into debt?
  • What happens when someone close to you (spouse, child, parent, best friend, aunt) goes into debt? Does that affect you?
  • What must they import?
  • Where do they import it from?
  • How does that affect their relationship with the place these imports come from?
  • What do they export?
  • Where are the exports made/grown/gathered?
  • What is the most valuable export?
  • What is the best or most reputable job to have? Why?
  • What is the worst or least reputable job to have? Why?
  • Are people mostly self-sufficient or do they rely on a larger economy?
  • What is international trade like? Who controls it?
  • Is the government in any trade agreements with other places?
  • What is the black market like? What is on it?

Politics

  • What form of government is there?
  • How long has this government been in place?
  • Are there factions or political parties? Which are the largest?
  • What would unseat the ruling person/group/party?
  • Does the government have a flag and/or seal and/or national animal and/or other form of identification?
  • Is there a codified set of governance laws?
  • How much can citizens participate in their government? Does it depend on age, gender, beliefs, race, or ability?
  • If a democratic government, how often are the elections? Who votes?
  • What sort of monetary assets does the government control?
  • Where is the capital? Why?
  • What building(s) house the government? Does it/they carry historic or cultural value?
  • What form of government came before this one? How did they fall?
  • What are their international relations like? Who is their greatest ally? Their greatest enemy?
  • Is the government a part of a larger organization (such as United Nations, the European Union, etc.)?
  • Do people take pride in their government?
  • What role – if any – does religion play in the government?
  • Are government officials primarily one demographic? Why?
  • Who founded this government? What were their values?
  • How does the government treat the impoverished? The middle class? The wealthy? Why?
  • Is there a hierarchy in government (for example, town < county < central government)? How are the governments of towns different from county, city, or official governments?
  • What powers are exclusive to town government? To the government of intermediate power? To the official government?

Judicial System

  • What is the biggest crime someone can commit?
  • What are some other terrible crimes?
  • Is the judicial system weighed towards a certain group? Why? In what situations?
  • How are criminals apprehended?
  • How is guilt determined?
  • How are judges appointed?
  • Who alters the law?
  • Who enforces the law?
  • Do people try to uphold the law?
  • Is the average person well informed to their rights under the law?
  • How are minors treated under the law? The weaker gender?
  • Who pays for the trial?
  • Is there a judge in every town or does the judge have a circuit of towns they travel through?
  • Does religion weigh in on issues, if at all?
  • Can someone sue?
  • Is there a hierarchy of courts?
  • Is there a jail? Who maintains it/pays for it?
  • How is serving time seen in the society?
  • Is there a death sentence?
  • How are people executed? Is it a public event?
  • Is there any organized crime? If so, why? Who participates?
  • Can citizens change the law? If so, how?

People

  • What is the main ethnic group? Other sizeable ethnic groups?
  • Are there any ethnic stereotypes?
  • How often do people bathe?
  • How are the physically disabled seen? The mentally disabled?
  • Describe a day in the life of a typical person
  • How much is someone’s solemn promise worth?
  • Are there any common mannerisms?
  • How do people feel about accepting charity?
  • How do people feel about giving charity?
  • How much to people gossip?
  • What does the fashion look like? Does it vary based on occupation or income level?
  • Are there laws governing what people can and cannot wear?
  • Are there any rules of hospitality?
  • What is the percentage of people living in the countryside? In the city?
  • What do the country people think of city dwellers?
  • What do city dwellers think of the country people?
  • How to people feel about strangers?
  • Do people prefer close-knit communities or a constantly changing scene?
  • Who (religious group, gender, occupation, race, etc.) constitutes the highest class?
  • Who constitutes the middle class?
  • Who constitutes the lower class?
  • What do buildings look like?
  • Do they form cities or any other large gatherings?
  • Are there any favorite pastimes? If so, what are they?
  • What role do sports play? Are they war games or strictly for entertainment?
  • What are the three most popular sports? Do they have teams or leagues?
  • Do people keep pets? If so, what are the most popular?
  • How do people get around?
  • How up to date are people on recent events?
  • Should problems be resolved quietly or as publicly as possible?
  • How do people feel about drugs? Drunkenness?
  • Is body art popular? Piercings? Plastic surgery?
  • How do they feel about their environment?
  • Is there some form of news media?
  • What is the media like?

Food

  • How many meals do they eat a day?
  • Who do they eat meals with?
  • What is the typical diet?
  • Are there any foods unique to this culture?
  • What is fine dining?
  • What is the equivalent of pub grub?
  • Is the water safe to drink?
  • Do people make their own food or buy it?

History

  • Who is a hero to these people? Why?
  • What other nations, religions, ethnic groups, etc. influenced the culture into the shape it is in today?
  • How did this group come into being? Was there an event that cohered them or was it more gradual?
  • How long has this group existed?
  • What came before the group/nation/realm? Was it a different group, chaos, or nothing?
  • Important Dates
  • How important – if at all – are birthdays? How are they celebrated?
  • Are there any secular holidays? Why are they holidays? How are they celebrated?
  • Are anniversaries celebrated? Which ones?
  • What is the most important day all year?
  • What does the calendar look like?
  • How do they measure time?
  • What is a long time to this culture?
  • What is a short time to this culture?

Where do you go to …?

  • Vacation?
  • Buy black market items?
  • Find a job?
  • Get a drink?
  • Lodge a complaint about the government?
  • Have fun?
  • Send a message?

Technology

  • Are they more or less advanced than the technology of present day?
  • Why are they more or less advanced?
  • Who makes the most technological breakthroughs?
  • Is technological development speeding up or slowing down?
  • How do people feel about technology?
  • What are the top five most important pieces of technology? Why?
  • (If culture is sufficiently advanced)
  • How do they feel about robots?
  • Are robots self-aware?
  • Are there cyborgs?
  • What rights do self-aware robots and cyborgs have that humans do not? 
  • What rights are denied to self-aware robots and cyborgs, but not to humans?

In Sickness and Death

  • Are there institutions to care for the sick? Who runs them?
  • What is the most common illness in the world?
  • What is the most deadly illness in the world?
  • How common is sickness?
  • Is gangrene still a problem?
  • Has penicillin been discovered? Opiates?
  • How are the sick treated?
  • What is the stance on mental illness?
  • What is the treatment – if any – for mental illness?
  • How long does the average person live?
  • What is the childhood mortality rate?
  • What is the biggest killer?
  • How do they feel about suicide? Is it forbidden, legal, or legal only in certain situations? Why?
  • When someone dies, who receives their money or belongings?
  • How is the body prepared after death?
  • What are funerals like?

report
1797 notes / 7 years 4 months ago
Xtreme Culture Questionnaire
For anyone doing some hardcore world-building. Religion What - if any - deities are there? What do they do? Is there an important manuscript? How did the world begin? What - if anything - happens after death? What - if anything - will end the world? Are there holidays? How do people worship? Where...
Wolf Body Language
Affection – nose-pushing; touching with forepaw; jaw-wrestling; cheek rubbing; facial licking Afraid – wolf tries to make their body smaller; ears flat on the head; tail tucked between the legs; arched back; whines or makes short, sharp barks; runs away with its tail between its legs Angry – ears er...
Writing the LGBT Community
Writing the LGBT community can be hard, especially if you don’t know what you’re talking about. So to start off this post, here’s just a few things that are easily confused both with writers and with society in general. Being gay is not a personality trait. This basically means no stereotyping. Don&...
Let's Talk Sub-Plots and Character Arcs: Time to Work on Character
Now, if you’ve read my post “How to Plot A Complex Novel in One Day,” here’s your next step. It’s character day! Now let’s think about those characters you came up with. You know a little bit about them, but now let’s look deeper, get them more rounded out s...
answer
Writing Tips #168:How to Make the Reader Give A Damn.
Tips by: NaomiOriginally posted on: Confessions of an Opinionated Book Geek. Here’s the thing about Harry Potter. Sure, the magic is great, the villain frightening and the action hard to look away from. But, do you know what really made J.K. Rowling’s series sell billions of copies? We...
image
Guide to Writing and Publishing a Book
Have you always wanted to publish a book, but don’t know how? That okay! I created a step-by-step guide that can help you put your story down on paper and get it out in the world. On my blog, I now have a Starter Kit for writing your first novel. I’ll take you through the following steps...
Guide: Timelines
Anonymous asked: You suggest a timeline a lot but how would one actually look like? You can do timelines several ways. One is to actually draw out a line and plot dates on it. You can make them online at sites like this one or in a program like Liquid Story Binder. Liquid Story Binder does a ta...
writing creative writing writing tips writing advice writing help writer-blood
Writing the Ending for Your Story
As some of you already know, I just finished a book a few days ago titled The Glorious In-Between that contains two asexual, aromantic characters. It took me almost a week to write the ending. This has been true for every book I’ve ever written, from When Stars Die to The Stars Are Infinite. I...
Major Writing Errors: How to Fix Them
All writing advice is subjective, but there are some mistakes in writing that WILL ensure your novel’s failure, not only to your readers but to those who might be your potential agent or publisher. I’ve never really come across these mistakes when I used to review short stories for my literary magaz...
Save Your Computer
I have the worst luck. I’ve broken five computers and four laptops but I’ve finally learnt my lesson. After losing my work so many times, I have been great at rewriting because I’d never backed anything up. Take it from me: Even if you backup your work in one external source from your computer, back...