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Xtreme Culture Questionnaire

For anyone doing some hardcore world-building.


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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?

1797 notes / 7 years 4 months ago
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