Designing an economy was not an issue that was in the front of my mind as I began my first novel. It still a piece of the geographic puzzle that I am teasing out. Certainly every location or culture that exists in a trade network must have distinguishing features or goods. And unless you are going really ancient or really tribal, your culture is going to be in a trade network. Marudal sits next to copper rich mountains. That’s where I started. The next step was making that visible as a part of the story: people using copper tools, trade shipments of copper, etc. Of course the writer is free to be as general or complex as they like; economics is not a key aspect of my plot per se, so it doesn’t feature as strongly in my story as others. However economics, like religion, is something that should be at least mentioned in any story since it deeply affects the lives of people, and it’s those people who are your story.
This article will encourage you to explore different approaches to economies in your fantasy world. I will use the Clarndor as an example, as they have a reasonably unique economy. Economies may not seem like the most interesting aspect of world building (at least if you are not interested in economics and/or resource management) but it plays a fundamental role in determining the form of any culture. An over abundance of a resource may just as easily lead to conflict as an under abundance. Trade will facilitate exchange of more than just physical goods, but also culture itself in the form of language, religion, art, philosophy, technology, etc. A self sufficient culture may become relatively isolated and conservative, while a culture that has high demands for items it can’t produce itself, may develop a more open, progressive and multicultural society.
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