Determine Supernatural Prevalence - The Art of World Building
Jan 182021
 
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Throughout this chapter, we’ve touched on the idea that supernatural elements may only sometimes be available for our characters to encounter. This is true for beings and energies that might exist all the time but only periodically flare up in a given location. However, we also need to decide how prevalent the supernatural is generally in our setting. Do we want a world that is mostly like Earth in the medieval ages with a little bit of magic? This is a default depiction found in fantasy.

Or do we want a setting where the supernatural is as common as electricity is in Earth’s modern times? This will have a significantly greater impact on the world and our story. If we want this, we can benefit from reading fantasy works where others have already thought through this impact and given us ideas. Otherwise, we’ll have to do a mental deep dive into questioning everything about everyday life. This can be an exhausting exercise due to the sheer number of modifications we’ll envision, but it can be well worth it; we’ll look more at this in the next section.

The prevalence includes attitudes about the supernatural. People fear the unusual, but even the deadliest phenomena can elicit indifference if it’s commonplace. If we are used to harnessing and controlling the supernatural, this can also lead to complacency about its dangers. This correlation is built-in; we just need to be aware of it and make a note in our files about it. If the supernatural is everywhere, only someone traumatized by it is likely to react strongly to its use.

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