Creating Items: Ownership - The Art of World Building
May 172021
 
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There are three main categories of items we can create: magical, technological, and ones that are neither. In this chapter, “technology” means SF items that don’t exist on Earth, as we don’t need to invent things that do (italics) exist. Such items are in their own section, “Regular Items.”

Ownership

Regardless of type, the question of ownership matters for world builders. We need to know who’s got the object now and whether they’re considered the real owner or not. Lost items add intrigue, especially if someone’s got it and doesn’t know what it really is or who owns it – and how much peril this may place them in. Even an item created for someone may never have found its way to that person. Decide if the current possessor is the rightful owner; if not, invent another character and a story about how it transferred. It’s likely that the owner, if still alive, wants it back and may appear in our tale. Or the item might be famous, and others covet it.

Games like Dungeons and Dragons are full of items our characters acquire and little is done with origins, but storytellers should pay attention to where they found it. If characters are in a ruin, long abandoned, this suggests any claimants are long gone. But if they find something lying in the middle of an alley in a thriving town, that means someone (who is still around) owns it. An ancient item covered in rust is likely the discoverer’s to keep, but a freshly oiled blade may provide conflict.

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