NOTE: If you were looking for the Zaharam-Chapelle-Parunas Ethnographical Questionnaire, you've come to the right place! The old Questionnaire has simply been revised and expanded into this new form!
Many years having passed since the old Questionnaire was first compiled, the Philosophers and Faculty of the University of Auntimoany's College of Geopoetry have determined the need for a new revision of the old. The tireless efforts of master Haristafaras Parunas and the many graduate students who have served under their gentle tutor these last seven years have thus brought forth from their labours this new Ethnographical Questionnaire.
The broad format of this new Questionnaire remains the same as that of the older versions: a series of broad & narrow categories, each containing a number of pertinent questions which the student of the arts of the geopoet might find useful in the perfection of their invented worlds and cultures. As with the older versions, the desire for a comprehensive Questionnaire has been the priority over the vain task of attempting to make a complete one.
At more than four times the size of the old Questionnaire, it will be noted that many Scholars and Philosophers of the art of Geopoesy have lamented the compactness of the old version. Happily, this new Questionnaire is, in effect, a complete departure in scope from the old. A large number of new Categories have been added and very many new Questions have been inserted to compliment and amplify the previous Questionnaire's capacity.
The Geopoetry Questionnaire: Questions for World Builders, Conculturers, Writers, Game Makers and anyone else who travels through the realms of Faerie is a tool designed to be useful in the art and craft of making fictional worlds, settings, and cultures. It's focus is on people, their daily lives and activities. This Questionnaire is designed to be answered on behalf of one country or region or polity of an invented world. It can & certainly should be used multiple times to answer for as many culture groups as you care to provide answers for!
While the Questionnaire delves into many topics, it is of course not all-comprehensive. There are sure to be missing questions and whole topics left out. That's okay! This was ever intended to be a tool to get you thinking about your fictional worlds and the peoples and cultures that inhabit them! It was never and is not now intended to pose every possible question you must ask in order to devise a fictional culture.
Although it has grown somewhat in the telling, there is no reason that every single question must be answered. Please feel free to answer only as many questions as you like! Some questions or even whole sections may not even be applicable to all races of people or their invented cultures. The Questionnaire is designed to be flexible enough to take those kinds of instances into account.
Since around 2006 or thereabouts, this little work of common genius (if I do say so myself), called the Zaharam-Chapelle-Parunas Ethnographical Questionnaire or by its shorter name, Dr. Zahar's Ethnographical Questionnaire has been in service to the geopoetical and worldbuilding communities. It's been lovingly tended, copied, stolen, borrowed, recycled, and used by countless creative folks from writers to world builders to game makers.
It's been a while since any kind of update was made to the Questionnaire, but between 2017 and 2019, a long overdue overhaul was planned and put into effect, drawing in more sources and questions. Some new categories have evolved and a couple adjunct tools have been incorporated. As has always been the case, the Questionnaire is meant to be of use to all you geopoets out there. And my hope is that this revision will be as useful as the earlier versions.
History of the Questionnaire:
Even before I became aware of either David's questionnaire or the various questionnaires posted by Sally Caves (predominantly on Conlang), I had the notion that asking and answering Questions was a key way of comprehending the shape of an invented conculture. The old books on the Daine by "Dr. Norwich" are essentially in the form of a questionnaire, though, I might say, without any particular rhyme or reason! These early question & answer writings date back to 1993 or 1994 or thereabouts.
The original questionnaire (that I had access to) was posted by David Zahir -- I added questions and named it "Dr. Zahar's Ethnographical Questionnaire" as an homage. Since that time, I've done the work of editing, combining, compiling and creating the Questionnaire as it then existed as well as subsequent revisions and versions.
The primary source for the present Questionnaire was a document containing a "basic list of questions, by no means complete, that should help any conworlders fill gaps in their culture." This was posted on CWBB by Daryush in 2006. Taking this document as a resource, I combined it with my own questions and at least one other list of questions; put them all in order; edited them; added a whole bunch of new questions and new categories.
The other source was a document called "Dr. Zahir's Questionnaire". To this, several other questions were added; some were removed; others were edited and the two documents were combined into one.
In 2007, Tom C. wrote: I submitted a copy of Daryush's "Questionnaire for Conculturers" as a file in ConCulture group's "Files" section. This had been posted at the end of 2006 in the CWBB by Dayrush. It would be worthwhile to see what questions on it are not on Dr. Zahir's current questionnaire but should be. I could probably answer the "what aren't there" part myself, but only you or Dr. Zahir could answer the "but should be" part AFAIK. If you'd like me to do something, ask me. (Or, if you wish I hadn't done something I've done, tell me so.)
I replied: Tom, I think it's a worthwhile project to combine the two questionnaires, as they both ask some really good questions that world builders and conculturers should be aware of. Therefor, I've taken the liberty of combining them: I've weeded out some redundant or overly detailed questions; made some of the very focussed questions more general and have added a few new ones. I've also removed all of the "how do they feel about" questions -- I thought it was a bit too cluttery, and anyway, such an opinion based question can always be tacked on to any of the questions already there.
I also added a whole slew of questions to the religion section. I found an interesting book called "The Handy Religion Answer Book" which, interestingly enough, is set up largely like our own little Questionnaire -- 500 pages of questions with shortish answers. Apart from being a good source of basic information on the main religions, it has a nice set of basic religion questions, so I adapted a number of those to the Questionnaire.
This work gave rise to the document called The Zaharam-Chapelle-Parunas Ethnographical Questionnaire or simply "Dr. Zahar's Ethnographical Questionnaire" during the summer of 2007.
On 20 September 2007, Eldin Raigmore (aka, Tom Chappell) uploaded the Questionnaire to CBB, CWBB, conscripts and scriptorium and a couple other places. At conscripts, he wrote: Chris Brown of Yahoo!'s egroup "ConCulture" has come up with the following questionnaire. ... Chris did it in a few days or a few weeks. I assume it took him a lot of time, but he didn't say. He was working from a few questionnaires other people had already worked out; perhaps he got them all into a text-editor and cut-and-pasted. If so that could have saved him some time and effort. Otherwise he must have just typed them.
Regarding one of the queries as to how I did it, indeed it was largely typed. Some questions were copy-n-pasted, but many required editing or rewording, which amounts to about the same amount of work! I have the original 2003 version around, and I know it's still on Conculture's file section, so the present version is a couple years in the works.
In July of 2016, considerable work was begun on editing and expanding the Questionnaire. At this time, I found a questionnaire in similar vein, the "Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions," compiled by Patricia Wrede. A number of questions were found to fit nicely within the scope of the Questionnaire and so work began on weeding out repetetive or unneeded questions and determining which of the remaining questions should be kept and where they should be placed.
That task was mostly done by October 2017. The early spring of 2018 saw the work of compilation and editing beginning. Summer and Fall saw continuing progress and the addition of a Shorter Culture Questionnaire and Interesting Questions to Ponder.
By the end of 2018, the Questionnaire project was approaching (another!) conclusion with the completion of the "Geopoetry Questionnaire: Questions for World Builders, Conculturers, Writers, Game Makers and anyone else who travels through the realms of Faerie."
Expected publication was delayed throughout 2019 with work on other geopoetical projects and is now expected in mid to late 2020. It is with great happiness that I publish this new and reworked Ethnographical Questionnaire with an actual publication date of 8.APR.2020!
My intention is for this to be a Questionnaire useful for geopoets, worldbuilders, writers of fantasy, and game designers in giving shape and form to the dark and unfathomed corners of their worlds. I very much hope you shall find it useful!
What is this invented world called?
What kind of world is this?
Is it Earth, an Earth-like world, an alternate history Earth a completely alien planet?
If it is an A-H, what is the specific historical point of departure (POD) where this world split off from the history of the primary world?
How long ago did this happen; how much has changed and will continue to change as a result?
If this planet is not Earth, how does it differ physically from Earth? -- is it of comparable size and composition or quite different?
Comparable density, gravity, ratio of land to water, atmosphere, etc.?
Are there any satellites, rings, unsuspected alien satellites or the like?
How many suns are there?
How many other planets in the system?
Are there spectacular constellations, comets, nebulae or other astronomical phenomena visible at night or even by day?
IJ. Questions on Geology & Climate
Describe the climate this society deals with. How severe are their seasons?
What kinds of natural disasters has this society gotten used to?
If there is more than one moon or sun, how does this affect winds, tides, and weather generally?
Are the axial tilt and orbit comparable to those of Earth -- i.e., does the world have similar seasons and length of year as Earth?
How old is the planet and its parent star?
How geologically active is this planet?
How are the continents laid out?
How much land is there, and how much of it is habitable?
How much land is in each of the equatorial, temperate, and polar zones?
How have peoples' activities affected climate & landscape in various regions?
Where are major mountain ranges, rivers and lakes, deserts, forests, jungles, grasslands and plains?
IIJ. Questions on Ecology: Natural Resources, Flora, Fauna & Sophonts
What is this region's most abundant resource?
What is its most valuable resource?
What resource is it most lacking?
Which natural resources, if any, have been depleted over time?
Is there usually enough food and water for the population?
How has the location and availability of natural resources affected relationships between peoples? -- are there conflicts over limited resources or active, peaceful trade?
What water resources available, and for what uses are they put?
Which areas have the most fertile farmland?
Where are mineral resources located?
Flora, the Plants, Fungi & Similar
What are the most common domesticated plants here?
And what are they used for?
For how long a period of time have people been domesticating and propagating plantlife?
Are people actively seeking to breed plants for specific traits or purposes?
How hardy or fragile are the domesticated plants considering their yield in food or other useful materials?
What are the most common wild plants here and what are they used for?
Do any of the plantlife pose serious threats to people, animals or other plants?
Fauna, the Beasts & Animals
Which animals, birds, fish, and other wildlife are commonly found in which areas?
What are the most common domesticated animals here and what are they domesticated for?
What are the most common wild beasts?
How are wild animals treated?
Which animals are likely to be pets & which ones won't be?
If there are animals such as dragons or unicorns or megafauna such as sivatherium or mastadon or deinotherium, where do they live and how do they fit into the ecology?
What do they eat and how much habitat do they require?
Can they live nearly anywhere, or do they prefer or need specific kinds of climate or terrain?
Are there intelligent animals, perhaps nearing the threshold of awareness and personhood?
Sophonts: Races of People, Spirit Beings, Angelic and Divine Beings
Are there different races of sophonts on this planet or only one and has this always been the case?
How are living beings that are persons differentiated from living beings that are not persons?
Can one's status change: .i. from non-person to person or vice versa?
What are the other races called?
How long have there been people on this world?
Did they evolve here, or were they created here or did they arrive in some manner from elsewhere?
If there are several sophont races, how numerous are they and in what proportions are they to each other?
How openly present are they? -- do some hide themselves away from others, or do they not care whether their existence is known by others?
What regions do they prefer to occupy?
How diverse is the population of this country by race and ethnicity?
How does the cultural and ethnic diversity of this otherworld compare to the primary world?
IIIJ. Questions on Geography
Describe the geography of where this society calls home.
What importance, spiritual or cultural, do people ascribe to the geography?
How do people feel about local landscapes being altered or used for a purpose other than what is traditional or natural?
Where in this land do they congregate?
What parts of this place do they avoid?
Where did civilisation begin and how long ago?
Into what directions did civilisation spread?
How has its development been affected by the presence of magic, different sophont races, and the direct or indirect action of the gods or other great powers?
What is the population of this country and what percentage of world population does this represent?
How many people live in a small village, large town, or city?
What natural features mark the borders?
Who are the neighboring countries & peoples and what are they like?
Why did people settle in this country in the first place -- strategic location, trade route, water transport, minerals, good farmland?
How much has their situation changed since their first immigration, or has life changed little for them?
Is population shifting from rural to urban or mountains to coast?
Are the migrants being affected by war or plague or economic opportunity?
What effects has this had on the places being left behind and also by the places gaining people?
V. Questions on Time
Is there a single, generally accepted calendar and system of reckoning time, or do different countries or peoples or races have different calendars?
How is the day divided into smaller time units?
What are the names of the various units of time and how are they named?
Is the length of an hour fixed, or does it vary depending on changes in the length of the day as the seasons change?
What are the names of days, fortnights, months, years, decades, centuries and how many days or other subdivisions are in each?
How well in synch is the calendar with astronomical reality?
Are there leap years, and if so, who keeps track of them?
Which days are holidays or festival times?
What do people celebrate and what holidays are there that are only celebrated in particular countries, cities, or regions?
From what point of origin does the calendar begin?
Do they use a singular event such as the creation of the world, the beginning of a great dynasty or recurring events such as the terms in office of a ruler or consul or the numbered year of a dynasty or republic?
How do people tell what time it is?
Are there mechanical clocks, pocket watches, sundials, sand or water clocks or thaumological timepieces?
Do people simply listen for bells from the palace or church, or just eyeball the location of the sun?
Are there any extracalendrical periods of time?
How did these originate and how are these times customarily observed?
VJ. Questions on History
How far back does this society's written and oral history go?
How far back do its people believe it goes?
How widely known are these stories?
Do average people believe the old tales, or do they dismiss even some that have a basis in fact?
How was this society founded; who founded it and under what circumstances?
What were the chief powers in the time when this society was founded?
If it originated far away from its present location, how did it get here?
What is the worst disaster they believe they've faced?
What are the major events in this culture's past?
What was the best thing that ever happened to them; what was their greatest moment?
What in their past makes them feel ashamed and do they speak of it or hide it?
What are they afraid might happen again?
What are they hoping will happen in the future and do they think it likely to happen?
How strongly are people attached or connected to their heritage?
Who in the past are the greatest heroes and the worst villains?
Do people think the present better or worse than the past?
Do people believe the future will be better or worse than the present or past?
Which peoples are considered the most and least civilized?
Which are most and least technologically or thaumologically advanced?
VIJ. Questions on Race, Ethnicity & Constitution
Races of People
What are the chief races of sophonts in the region?
What do they look like and what are their most distinguishing features and characteristics?
What is their range of appearance: e.g., colour of hair or eyes or skin, height, build, and the like?
How are they related to one another?
Do they acknowledge any kinship or do they see one another as enemies or rivals?
Are there any physical, psychic or magical powers particular to this race?
What are the chief ethnic groups of each race in the region?
How are they distributed in place?
How do they differ by language, appearance or ancestry?
What jobs do the majority ethnicities primarily occupy?
Are any groups of people denied work because of racial or ethnic heritage?
What are typical attitudes of the native (or majority) ethnos to immigrants or travellers of other ethnicities?
How has the variety of ethnicities in the region altered social structure and culture of the country?
How are native minority ethnicities treated by the majority?
How are foreign ethnicities treated by the locals?
What is the average life expectancy of each race?
How does this differ between different regions, races or ethnicities?
What do people generally look like?
Would a blonde, redhead or brunette stand out in a crowd?
Would a very tall or very short person stand out?
Is there sufficient variety of peoples in this region so that it is considered ordinary to encounter people from other races?
How healthy, generally speaking, are members of a particular race or ethnicity -- hearty, sickly, prone falling prey to some disease or malady?
How many languages are there and which ones are related?
Do speakers of a given language tend to borrow words rapaciously or is there some means by which foreign words are expunged from the language?
Are some or all people multilingual?
Is there a common language many people of different backgrounds use?
Is it a creole or is it the native language of a dominant group or even the language of an imperial overlord?
Are there "secret" languages or codes known only by priests, soldiers, wizards, guild members, street urchins?
What are they like and how did they develop?
What are the variations in speech patterns, syntax, and slang from one social class, one trade, one region and one race to another?
Describe some local slang, colorful turns of phrase & curse words that people use.
What things in this culture would their language have many specific words for?
What do the people in this culture consider important enough to name and what does this say about the way they look at the world?
What things would people of this culture not have specific names for, or else have one word that covers numerous variations?
What do they consider too unimportant to name and how does this affect the way they see the world?
Are there words that must never be spoken except at particular times, in ceremonies, or under particular circumstances?
Are there words that must not be spoken before guests?
Do these words differ from culture to culture or race to race?
IIX. Questions on Family
What is considered a family?
How extended is an extended family?
How important are family connections and responsibilities?
How many spouses may a man or woman have?
Who decides on a marriage?
Can a marriage end in divorce and how would this work?
Who usually takes custody of children if a marriage ends for some reason?
How are families named?
What happens to orphans?
How are boy and girl children treated differently?
What, if anything, is considered a good marriage gift?
Does this society connect the ideas of marriage with love?
How big are families, typically?
What constitutes a household?
How many people live in one household?
How many generations?
Which members are expected to leave, and why and when?
What determines succession and inheritance?
What types of marriages and sexual relationships are required, encouraged, allowed, and prohibited?
What are the patterns of childcare?
Which member of the household cares for the children in what ways?
What is the division of labor among gender and generational lines within the household?
Are girls or boys preferred and why?
How common or rare is domestic violence?
Is this understood to be a problem, or a normal aspect of family life?
If it is seen as problematic, what is being done about it?
IX. Questions on Customs and Social Life
How is society divided into ranks or hierarchies?
What social classes or divisions exist in this society?
Are people able to move from one social class to another?
Are there any benefits to being of one class over another?
What are the various ranks and titles and their proper forms of address?
Which occupations are respected and which are looked down upon?
How firm are the divisions between social classes?
Is it considered beneath dignity for a noble to engage in trade or for a warrior to help with the harvest?
How difficult is it to rise or fall from one social level to another?
How much social mobility is there in fact compared to how much people believe there is?
In what ways do weather & climate contribute to the habits or customs of this culture?
What colors are associated with power, with virtue and with death?
If two men get into a fight, how is this supposed to be resolved?
If two women get into a fight, how should that be resolved?
How do people demonstrate grief?
How are matters of inheritance resolved when wealth, property, land, titles and position or office are involved?
Is society segregated an any way?
Is there any discrimination against or oppression of some groups be they racial, ethnic or religious in this society?
How independent or codependent are individuals?
What genders are biologically ordained and socially constructed?
What are the typical roles of individuals of different genders?
What are the expectations of children?
Does the government play a large part in individuals' lives?
Does religion play a large part in individuals' lives?
In what ways has this society changed and do people make any importance of this change?
The Place of Myths & Folklore in Society
What are the most popular stories about the past?
Do average people believe old tales, or do they dismiss some that have a basis in fact?
What place do various kinds of traditional story have in this society?
Are they the primary means of passing on everything a young person needs to learn, or is folklore being pushed aside & replaced by "proper" science and history?
Or is the folklore itself come to be "proper" in its own right?
What's in a name?
Are names for things mere matters of identification or are there deeper meanings?
Are concepts other than people named, as well?
How are ethnonyms formed?
How are individual people named?
What constitutes an individual's name?
And what of toponymy, the names of places and geographical features?
Are towns & cities and woodlands & fields named?
And what of hydronymy, the names of bodies of water?
And what of oronymy, the names of mountains?
Are streets, roads, highways named?
Do rivers, railways, power lines, canals, mountain chains, roads & highways that pass through different jurisdictions & even different countries keep one name, or do names change from place to place?
Are private houses (mansions or cottages) and public buildings (schools, churches, temples, libraries, markets) named?
Are animals given individual names? What sorts of animals might be given a name and which are not?
Are vehicles or tools or weapons named?
Do names convey any kind of power over a thing or are they mere labels?
What rites or ceremonies pertain to naming someone or something?
Can one change one's own name?
Can one confer a new name, or a nickname on oneself or others?
X. Questions on Sex
How does this society define incest & rape; and how do people react to these events?
What secret vices are believed to be widely practiced?
What secret vices actually are being practiced?
What sexual habits are widely believed common among foreigners?
What sexual acts or behaviours are considered unnatural, and how do people react to them?
Are premarital or extramarital sexual relations allowed?
How is adultery defined?
What, if any, is the punishment and how is it decided to be an offence?
Is prostitution legal?
How are prostitutes viewed by people and are their views accurate?
What is the greatest sexual tabu?
What does this society mean by the word "virgin" and how important is it?
Is sex confined to marriage, or, is it even supposed to be?
What constitutes aberrant sexual behavior?
Are there any cultural or religious strictures, norms or tabus that specifically address sexual conduct?
Are there laws that control or restrict sexual behaviour?
At what age is it considered normal to engage in sex?
Are there tabus against sex with children?
Should sex be a one-to-one experience, or are groups allowed?
How much privacy is accorded to sexual activity?
XI. Questions on Food & Drink
What does the ordinary diet consist of in this region and how does it differ by social class or occupation?
What dishes are considered holiday food and which foods & drinks are associated with particular holidays or times of the year?
Describe how daily food is obtained.
What foods are staples, commonly eaten every day and does popularity of choice vary?
What are typical dishes and specialties of the region?
What type of food is the locality or region famous for?
What kinds of utensils, cutlery, & cookware, if any, do people use for cooking and eating?
Describe the eating arrangements: how is the table or other eating space arranged?
Where is the place of honor for a guest?
Where do the important members of the household sit or recline?
How do people sit when eating?
Is there any arrangement by age or dignity of diners?
How many and when are the main mealtimes?
Are there restaurants, popinas, street vendors or other places where food may be bought in public?
Is there a significant risk of food poisoning?
How many cases lead to death?
Is there understood to be a link between food and poisoning or illness?
How much does a typical meal cost, if bought and not grown at home?
What foods are considered exotic or expensive?
What things, while edible, are never eaten?
Are there religious or social norms governing what may and may not be eaten?
Are some foods commonly consumed by one race poisonous or revolting to another?
How many meals are considered normal in a day?
What times of day are they served and in what manner?
Which meals are substantial and which are smaller; which are more formal or more relaxed?
Are certain foods reserved mainly for a particular meal?
What dishes, seasonings, and drinks are considered typical of this area?
What foods are considered peasant food?
What foods are normally eaten cooked versus raw?
What herbs and spices are readily available, and what must be imported?
How common or expensive are imported foods and spices?
How is food preserved for later use and how reliable are the methods used?
When food is in limited supply, is there a scheme of rationing or if not, who gets to continue eating well and who starves?
What kinds of drink are most commonly served at meals?
What forms of alcoholic drinks exist?
Is sanitation good enough for untreated water to be safe to drink?
If not, what do people drink instead?
Do men & women, parents & children, servants & masters eat separately, or does everyone eat together and how is status displayed at the table?
What distinguishes a formal, high-court dinner from an ordinary meal, besides quantity and variety of food?
How do high-court manners differ from everyday ones?
What is the order of a typical upper-class meal? -- is there a particular starting dish followed in proper order, or are all the dishes brought out at once?
Are special arrangements necessary for entertaining guests of different races?
How do the eating customs of different races reflect their cultures and biology?
How difficult does this make social interaction among the races?
Describe the types of food or seasoning that are characteristic of the cuisines of different races & cultures.
XIJ. Questions on Clothing and Fashion
In what ways do people decorate their bodies?
Are tattoos, scarification, piercings or body paint common?
What forms do they take?
Are they monochromatic or tinted?
What kinds of jewelry or accessories are worn on the body?
Are hats or scarves or leggings or gloves worn?
What colors and combinations of colors are thought to look well or to clash?
Do opinions on this vary from race to race?
Are weapons of some kind a standard part of dress for any/all segments of society?
Are such weapons crafted solely with "utility" in mind or are they so decorative as to be nearly useless?
What areas of the body must be covered?
Or is clothing more a matter of individual taste?
What significance might these kinds of decorations have?
How important is fashion to people?
How does this vary by individual?
If such adornments are not used in this culture, how do people react to outsiders wearing tattoos or piercings, facial hair or cosmetics?
What articles of clothing do people habitually wear and how does this vary by season, ethnicity, age, profession, and the like?
Describe how the genders dress: what differences & similarities are there between men's and women's clothing and accessories?
How is clothing made, in small shops or larger factories?
What materials are used most commonly?
What materials are intended for special occasions?
Is the material be produced locally, or must some or all of it be imported?
How much does typical clothing cost?
Are certain articles of clothing customary or obligatory for certain occupations and how much variation is allowed?
Are there dyes for certain colors, such as purple or indigo that are very rare, making cloth of that color more expensive and/or reserved for nobility or other high-status people?
Are there sumptuary laws, defining who can wear what kinds of clothing?
How many changes of clothing can a person be expected to own or afford?
What are the penalties for breaking these laws?
Are there fashions or fads in things besides clothes? -- styles of carriages, furniture, race or gender of household slaves, modes of speech?
Are there fashions or fads in magical practice, religious devotion or in other areas of life? -- are herbal spells "in" this year and ritual spells "out," or is that god out while this new religion is in fashion?
What is the current fashion in clothing, haberdashery, jewellery, shoes & other accouterments?
Do such fashions differ between the races?
How marked are the differences in fashion between city and country and from one country to another?
How easily do trends in fashion travel across borders?
What articles are considered tacky and vulgar, and which are stylish?
What physical appearance types and characteristics are currently fashionable? -- tan versus pale skin, the "consumptive look" versus robust good health, fat versus thin, blonde versus brunette?
How pervasive is the culture of vanity and how are people who simply can not fit into a fashionable category affected? -- do they suffer along, or try to make up for their perceived deficiencies or do they simply create their own categories of fashion and vanity?
How do the fashions of the various races reflect their physiology & culture?
How much exchange of these ideas goes on between various races and cultures of the region?
XIIJ. Questions on Manners
When meeting someone, what gestures or words are used for greeting?
How did the greeting gesture originate?
Is there a difference between the greeting offered to an equal and that offered to a superior or an inferior?
Is there a difference between the greeting offered a man or a woman or between people of different races?
How are two people who have never met normally introduced to one another?
What is the order of precedence when there are several people of differing sex or social status or race present, all of whom need to be introduced to each other?
Are there classes of people who are never introduced to other classes of people?
Are true names significant, and if so, under what circumstances would someone be given another person's true name?
Are there customs involving the way in which someone is named when being introduced, such as using full titles at the first meeting, but never repeating them afterward?
Is there any difference in the way you greet someone you already know, compared to greeting a stranger?
How does someone acknowledge seeing an acquaintance at a distance, for example passing on the other side of the street?
Gestures & Body Language
Are gestures and body language in this society generally subtle or obvious?
Do people talk with their hands or other appendages, or is that considered vulgar?
Is there a way of changing a greeting gesture to make it insulting?
What is a comfortable and polite speaking distance for people in this culture and how does this compare with others?
How aware are people of these differences and are they well or poorly respected?
What gestures are insulting?
What do they mean?
Do some gestures differ in meaning depending on the culture, race, or era?
How do gestures and body language differ between races & cultures?
Are there signs that don't matter in one region but that are grave insults in another?
What are the ways of showing respect and to whom is one expected to show such respect?
Visiting & Hospitality
When a guest arrives, is food or drink offered immediately, after an interval, or only on request?
Is there a particular food or drink that is customary to offer a newly arrived guest?
Are there questions that must be asked or avoided?
Are there topics that can only be raised by the host or the guest?
How seriously does the culture take the responsibilities of host and guest?
What norms define the host-guest relationship?
What things are considered courteous to offer a guest? -- food, reading material, personal guards or attendants, music, entertainment, a person of the opposite sex to sleep with?
What is considered a courteous response to a host's offer?
Are there things it is considered rude to accept or rude to turn down; rude to ask for or not to ask for?
How do different eating customs of the various cultures and races interact and conflict?
Who speaks first at a formal gathering?
What kinds of gifts are considered appropriate or in extremely bad taste?
How do younger adults address their elders?
When is it rude to laugh at something funny?
What kinds of questions cannot be asked in public? -- or in private or even not at all?
What parts of the body are routinely covered?
How private are bodily functions like bathing or defecating?
What are the rules of precedence? -- who gets to go through doors first and who gets introduced first?
How important are "good manners" in this society?
What constitutes everyday good manners?
How do "good manners" differ from race to race?
How do different peoples react when someone has just been, by their standards, unspeakably rude?
When and where are people supposed to be on their best behavior?
Tabus & Faux Pas
What are considered controversial subjects in this culture?
What things can you start a friendly disputation about?
What things will automatically result in an unfriendly argument?
What are the primary social tabus? -- what things are simply not done and what things are not talked about?
What would happen if someone broke such a tabu?
What are the greatest social faux pas?
What subjects or actions cause embarrassment or discomfort?
XIIIJ. Questions on Morality, Ethics & Faith
What is the ideal life that people aspire to?
What virtues are held in greatest esteem?
What are the virtues and vices within this culture?
What kinds of people are the rebels and outcasts of this society?
How does society deal with them?
Do wild and rebellious young people dress any differently from anyone else and are they tolerated within society or are they in some way living marginal but socially sanctioned lives outside the normal bounds of good society?
What ideas or words or actions will result in making one a social outcast or exile?
What happens to people who don't fit the accepted social order? -- do they live and work in their own sections of town, or are they invisible, or are they expelled altogether?
What will people swear a binding oath by?
What is the most desired or most valuable object in this society, be it gold, jewels, drugs, money, furs, reindeer, knowledge or virtue?
Why is it so coveted and valued?
Do different races value different things?
What attitudes, speech or actions are considered normal and acceptable in this society that may not be so considered from an outsider's perspective?
What attitudes, speech or actions are considered shocking in this society that may not be so considered from an outsider's perspective?
What would be the reaction of an ordinary person who sees someone doing one of these things?
What are the acceptable limits to honor and honesty in this society?
Are "white lies" acceptable socially, or is lying in any form inconceivable?
Is thievery an accepted, if disreputable, occupation, or is it a crime?
Is a binding oath absolutely unbreakable or can one consider the arrangement broken should the other party turn out to have had ill intent or withheld key information?
What is considered the right thing to do if two oaths come into conflict?
What are attitudes toward ownership of crafted objects, of intellectual property, of chattels, slaves and of land ?
What constitutes "theft" and what can be stolen? -- gems, gold, someone's good name or reputation?
Can a slave steal himself and what would the consequences be?
Are thieves independent criminals, members of a guild or businessmen licensed by law?
What is the overarching moral framework of this society like?
Does morality arise from philosophy or descend from religion?
How are the morals within this system known to be true?
What actions are considered moral and immoral and amoral?
How do the systems of morality of different races and cultures interact and how are conflicts between them resolved?
Do all races or ethnicities agree on some basic framework of morality, or are there grave and insurmountable differences among them?
Are moral systems enshrined in secular law, religious law or ancient custom?
What systems of ethics is in use in this region?
Who are the persons or groups of people to whom one automatically owes a duty simply by being born to a particular estate?
What is the hierarchy of duty among them and what do the various duties consist of?
Who are the arbiters of ethical matters, as opposed to legal matters?
Which ethical or moral decisions are considered the province of religion, and which are not?
Faith & Religion
Are the people of this culture religious or nonreligious?
What are the major religious groups in the region?
What are some of their core doctrines, dogmas, beliefs and practices?
What is the overall cosmology and eschatology in religious terms?
Is religion a cause of dissatisfaction, dissension or hostility in the region?
Are religious traditions and any scriptures oral or written in nature or a combination?
Is there a set canon of what constitutes officially sanctioned scripture?
How are scriptural & traditional exegesis accomplished and by what hermeneutics?
What is the role of myth within the religion?
Is there a formal creed or set of credal statements that define the faith?
What are typical symbols used in the religion and their meanings?
What ritual objects are used in the religion (relics, talismans, medals, charms, etc)?
What religious officials are there?
Is there a formal clergy and how are they organised?
Are there monks, saints, faqirs, nuns, prophets, apostles, disciples, preachers, friars, shamans, martyrs, mystics, seers, vates, sages, ascetics, religious heroes, saviours, redeemers, etc?
What do people believe happens to them after death?
How, if at all, can they influence this?
What happens to those who disagree with the majority on questions of religion?
Are there any particular places considered especially sacred?
Is there a fixed religious calendar?
What are the most popular rituals or festivals?
Are there liturgical, meditative, and contemplative aspects to the religion?
What is the basic structure of the religion (unitary, dualistic, etc)?
What is the basic theology of the religion (i.e., monotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistc, atheistic, etc)?
What do people have to offer to their Deity or deities?
What do people want from their Deity or deities?
How do they try and get it?
Are there differing denominations or sects of the religion?
How do their religious practices differ from their neighbours?
Are issues such as orthodoxy, heterodoxy, heresy and apostasy keys in the religious life?
What gender, ethnic, national or racial issues exist within the religion?
Is ecumenism engaged in, or are other traditions treated as adversaries or enemies?
What is the most commonly broken religious rule?
What is the least-violated religious rule?
How are such infractions punished?
Is it possible to expel a community member?
How can an outsider join the religious community?
Does the religion send out missionaries and what roles do they play?
What factions exist within the dominant religious institutions?
How do they compete?
Are the differing groups a result of schismatism or mutual and cooperative separation?
Are there monastic groups?
What do they do and how are they organized?
How do you join one?
Are there cult groups within the religious community?
How are those who follow different faiths treated?
What relationship do religious and political leaders have?
What superstitions are common?
What kinds of supernatural events or beings do people fear?
What kinds of supernatural or othernatural beings exist (angels, demons, devi, asuras, spirits, ghosts, sprites, etc)?
How are dreams and visions encompassed by the religion?
How is religious action expressed (spontaneous or ritual liturgy, song, dance, music, ritual action, sex, miracle plays, etc)?
Are any divine beings present or distant; and do they take an active role in temple activities and the lives of everyday people?
How many gods are there?
Do they exist within a hierarchy and do they form various classes or groups?
Which ones are good or evil, or somewhere in betwee?
Is this distinction even applicable when speaking of gods?
From a religious perspective, how are miracles distinguished and differentiated from magic?
Is there tension, rivalry, or outright hostility between any of the gods?
Does this spill over into tensions between various temple organisations or secular polities?
How does religion mesh with society?
How do people view its actions (or inactivity) within society?
Is there an established church?
Is freedom of religion the norm or is there some amount of compulsion?
Do the gods care how people behave?
What part does faith play in the worship of gods?
Do people choose one or more gods to worship and ignore the others, or does everybody officially worship everyone?
How is it determined which god an individual will worship or temple to be affiliated with; or are all gods worshiped indiscriminately?
Are philosophers and theologians considered ivory-tower academics, or do they debate in the marketplace for all to hear and consider their perspectives?
How much influence do their theories have on the way people actually behave?
Are priests and philosophers full-time workers, or do they support themselves through working at some other craft?
If they are full-time, who supports them? -- the congregation, a wealthy patron, the temple's investment fund, the god they serve?
Why are the gods interested in people?
Are they like a family pantheon (quarrelsome, larger-than-life humans), or are they transcendent and incomprehensible?
Are gods limited in their powers and capabilities?
Can gods make mistakes? -- where can a person go to seek redress against a god?
How do the various temples and philosophies explain the problem of evil?
Do they think bad things are always a just punishment for some transgression, a character-building exercise, the result of an evil antagonist or simply something the gods can't overturn?
What are the various rites like?
What offerings are considered appropriate or insufficient and are different sacrifices required for different gods?
Are there times when people are expected to fast, or feast?
Are there rites or temples that are off-limits to outsiders, or even uninitiated insiders?
XV. Questions on Arts & Aesthetics
What are the favourite & least favourite art forms?
Is there a distinct musical or literary style; and what are they like?
How respected are artists?
Do artists require official or unofficial protection or patronage?
What kinds of trouble are artists in particular likely to find themselves in?
How might a very successful artist live?
What forms of theatre does this society have?
How naturalistic or stylized is this society's art?
What shapes are most common in this society's arts, like embroidery or architecture?
Which art forms get the most and least respect or receive the most attention?
What form does censorship take?
Who may not be an artist?
What qualities equal "beauty" in this society?
What makes a man or woman especially beautiful?
What are the standards of beauty for people; paintings and sculpture; clothing and furniture?
How do standards of beauty reflect the physical traits of the various races?
What is the status of the arts in this society?
Are artists revered or mistrusted?
Are there permanent theaters or concert halls for the performing arts?
Are there also traveling troupes of players/musicians/dancers?
What things are considered appropriate subjects for representational arts and which are not?
Are certain races or cultures considered better at some arts than others?
Where do the best dancers, painters, musicians, actors, and so forth come from?
XVI. Questions on Entertainment
What are popular games, sports & pastimes?
How important are they?
How do such activities vary from one race or culture to another?
How much free time do people usually have?
What do they spend this time doing?
Does the culture have outlets for dramatic arts (theater, puppetry, kinematography)?
What other major forms of entertainment are there?
Is the populace literate and numerate?
Do people read for pleasure?
If so, what do they read?
How much do books, magazines, broadsheets and the like cost?
Is there a public library system; and who uses it?
Who are popular authors and poets?
Who are some of the more famous characters from literature?
What are some of the more well known story lines from literature?
How embedded have scenes or lines from literary works become in ordinary language; what are the equivalents of "a rose by any other name" or "it was a dark and stormy night"?
How do people listen to music: in a theater, making music at home, street musicians, mechanical reproduction & playback?
Does music influence people's behaviour?
Does this culture have a typical dance form; and what is it like?
Who is able to see such entertainments and what restrictions might there be against some people?
XVIJ. Questions on Healing Arts
What access do people have to clean drinking water, either at home or in public?
What access do people have to proper sanitation, either at home or in public?
Do houses or public buildings have plumbing? -- and does it involve cold and warm water plus sewer?
Describe any public or private bathing or toilet facilities.
What level are the healing & medical arts at?
Is there an understanding of or distinction between quack medicine and valid medicine?
How is healthcare delivered in this society; what are its foundations?
Are there hospitals or sanataria where many forms of health care are concentrated; or are practitioners more diffuse within the community?
Do people have access to any form of medical aid for emergencies or for less urgent problems?
What kinds of ailments or injuries are treatable in the locality using available supplies and expertise?
What does typical healthcare cost?
Regarding healers, how are they chosen and educated?
What divisions or groups are there?
Are the divisions hierarchical or horizontal in nature?
Is healing generally a magical process?
How does the magical healing talent work?
Does a magical healer have to consciously direct the healing process, or does magical healing simply speed up the normal, unconscious healing process in the patient?
Is there more than one kind of magical healer?
Are there both magical and non-magical healers, and if so, are they rivals or simply different specialties?
How do this society's healers try to treat wounds and sickness?
Which medical assumptions of this society are wrong?
Do people seek care on an as-needed or emergency basis; or is health care seen as a preventative endeavour; how often do people typically engage witha healer?.
Is a distinction made between physical and nonphysical ailments?
What happens to those suffering from extreme mental or spiritual illness?
How do people react to physical deformity, both congenital & acquired?
What level of medical care can be found in this region and how reliable is it?
Which is better to be suffering from -- the disease or the cure?
How accurate is the diagnostic process?
Do healers have ways of telling two diseases with similar symptoms apart?
How much is known about anatomy, physiology, pathology, etc.?
Are treatments based on purely practical experience, or do healers understand at least some of what they are doing?
Who normally handles issues of fertility and childbirth -- midwives, doctors, or someone else?
Are birth control or abortion or infanticide tabu or practiced freely; and under what circumstances?
What is the mortality rate for pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children?
What kinds of treatments are available, be they herbal teas, vaccinations, acupuncture, spells, and the like; how effective are they?
Is it possible to resurrect or resuscitate someone who has died; and when is it to late for the process to be successful?
Is such a person considered normally alive, a zombie of some kind or some other category?
Are there diseases that only affect one race or another?
Are there diseases that affect everybody, but with different degrees of severity, regardless of race?
Do healers have to take specialized training in order to properly treat people of different races?
IIXX. Questions on the Life Span
How long do people of various races or ethnicities live?
What factors explain any discrepancies?
What subdivisions exist that describe the various times of a person's lifespan?
What rites mark these times in a person's life?
What rights or duties do people have at different times in their lives?
What emoluments or considerations do people have at different times in their lives?
IXX. Questions on Birth, Childhood & Adolescence
What customs surround a birth and the introduction of a new child to the family?
Is the mother sequestered for some period; or is the child?
Is there a formal presentation of the new child to the parents, grandparents, overlord, priest or community?
Is a feast and celebration declared, or does everyone keep a low profile to keep from attracting demons or bad luck?
Who is normally present for births?
Is childbirth strictly a matter for women, or are men involved as well, or is expectant mother secluded and expected to give birth entirely unaided?
Who raises the children?
At what age do they begin to be educated or trained for a craft?
Who normally educates children?
Are children dressed differently from adults; and if so, when do they change to adult dress?
XX. Questions on Rites of Passage: Coming of Age, Marriage, Anointment
What are the rites of passage in this culture?
Are there formalized rituals or is the transition more informal in nature?
Are there different rites for men and women or other groups of people?
When and how does someone go from child to adult?
How is a marriage defined?
How is a marriage contracted?
What are the society's mores regarding courtship, betrothal & marriage?
Is marriage primarily a civil or a religious institution?
What is the term of a marriage contract?
What gifts are considered appropriate or inappropriate for a wedding?
How are marriages celebrated?
What is considered too great a difference in age for a couple?
Do relationships allow multiple partners?
In what ways is a marriage considered broken?
How can a marriage be terminated?
XXI. Questions on Death and Funerary Customs
What is their understanding of death and dying?
What does this society do with their corpses?
What customs surround death and burial?
How are dead bodies disposed of?
Are there lands set aside for burying grounds, are dead bodies cremated or left to be eaten by scavenging birds?
Is the family responsible for the body or are there specialised craftsmen that handle corpses?
What part do the priests or other clerics play?
Are bodies buried in the ground or in caves or catacombs?
Does each family have a crypt with all their relatives gathered together?
Do people visit the dead?
If so, how often and what is done while visiting?
Are the dead feared, revered, or ignored?
XXIJ. Questions on Unnatural Death: Suicide, Abortion & Exposure, Murder, Killing, Judicial Slaying
What views do people in this culture have about suicide?
Is it the greatest sin one can commit or is it seen as a civic duty under certain circumstances?
Or is it even a sin at all -- is it the great and last comfort of a tormented soul?
Is it worse than murder?
Abortion & Exposure
Under what circumstances might an infant be aborted in utero or exposed after birth?
Are such killings viewed as legal or moral?
What features might mark an infant for abortion or exposure?
What circumstances surrounding the infant's conception, gestation or birth might mark the infant for abortion or exposure?
Are such children ever rescued, and under what circumstances might this happen?
Murder & Killing
Is there a distinction to be made between a planned murder and an accidental or incidental killing?
If so, how is this reflected in cultural lore, the justice & penal systems?
Are either ever justifiable or even outright permissible?
Is the execution of convicted criminals permitted?
What laws must be broken to warrant such a punishment?
What forms does this punishment take?
Who carries out the sentence, and is it done in open or in secret?
XXIIJ. Questions on Education
Describe the education of the society's people: is there formal schooling, apprenticeship, etc.
If education is mainly by apprenticeship, how is this accomplished?
Is education compulsory or voluntary?
Are educational opportunities open to everyone?
What is the cost of education?
Between which ages does education happen?
How are academic curricula and years arranged?
What is the typical courses of study?
What degrees or diplomas are offered?
Does this society have its own language?
Its own writing system?
How common is literacy?
How is literacy understood as a continuum within society?
Is universal or selective literacy a goal of society?
What form and value are books?
Who decides who learns to read or write?
Are foreigners ever brought in to teach new skills?
How educated is an average person living in this region, and what does this education consist of?
Is it enough to be able to count and do sums; to be able to read a little bit?
Who are the most and least educated people in society?
Are there schoolhouses in every town, or do people travel if they want to be educated?
Are there universities or colleges?
Are there private tutors?
What things are considered absolutely necessary for a noble or other well to do class of people to know?
What must a tradesman or a peasant learn to function in society?
XXIIIJ. Questions on Daily Life
Does a city's layout reflect some particular philosophy, such as that the ruler of the city must be at the center or at the highest point or at the most strategic location within the city?
Are practical consideration such as the confluence of rivers or trade routes of greater import?
Are cities planned and laid out or do they grow in a more organic fashion?
Are there public or private parks in cities?
How wide are the boulevards, streets and alleys?
What are the chief landmarks in a typical city?
Where are the interesting neighborhoods in town: the districts worth visiting and those worth avoiding at all costs?
Do neighborhoods, wards, roads, courts and alleys have names?
How are houses or shops addressed?
How can an unfamiliar visitor find a location?
Where do people go to shop, eat, have fun, worship or visit culturally significant places?
What sorts of goods, foods & entertainments are available in large cities that are not available in the country or smaller towns?
What are houses in the city like: their size, layout, manner of construction and available ammenities?
When might a city house be abandoned by its inhabitants?
What is the composition of the rural landscape: small farmsteads; semi-independent manors; vast latifundia?
Are peasants, farmers, yeomen or serfs tied to their land by law or custom, or can they move from place to place or even to a town if they desire?
Can they own their farms and property, or is all land held "in common" or is it rented from a lord or landholder?
Given the state of roads and transportation, how much food is it possible to ship to a given location before it spoils?
Are rural areas primarily farms, forests, grazing meadows, or waste land?
In outlying areas where there aren't many people, how many roads are there, who builds them, and to what standards are they built and who maintains them?
How reliable is the weather from year to year -- is crop production relatively dependable, or do people have to cope with regular famines due to drought or floods?
What kinds of catastrophic weather are common -- tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, waterspouts, dust storms, thaumic typhoons and how do people cope with them?
How are agricultural areas divided up between the different races of people?
What kinds of conflicts are likely to result when two or more groups' territories & interests intersect?
What kinds of rights over land, crops, game, etc. does a landowner have?
Is poaching a problem?
What are houses in the country like: size, layout, manner of construction, ammenities available?
When might a country house or farm be abandoned by its inhabitants?
Matters of Daily Life
What are accepted norms of personal hygiene: do most people bathe regularly, or is bathing considered a health hazard?
How is rubbish and other waste material disposed of?
What kinds of furniture are in common use?
What is furniture like in design, shape and decoration; and what is it usually made of?
Are certain articles of furniture reserved for high-status individuals?
In what ways does furniture design reflect the customs and lifestyle of the people?
What are the plumbing and sanitary systems like; and how reliable are they?
How do they differ between country and city?
How do people cope with various domestic disasters like fire, floods, tornadoes and the like?
How common are such disasters?
How early do people get up in the morning?
Are clocks common, or do people tell time by the sun or by listening for church or town-hall bells or some other public alarm?
XXV. Questions on the Technological Level of the World and its Regions
Are philosophy and science unified, or do they exist as separate and independent disciplines?
What devices and technologies are available for ordinary people's use?
Are such devices taken for granted?
What sorts of devices or technologies are available for a limited, priviledged sector of society?
How is the knowledge base of this culture distributed?
Is it freely available to all, or are certain segments kept hidden from the uninitiated?
What is the level of technology in this society comparable to -- stone age, bronze age, iron age, silicon age or some combination of eras?
What is the basis of technology: agrarian, manufacturing, military?
What important inventions or advances have been made; which ones are about to be made?
Have any of these inventions reached the point of affecting the daily life of the average person, or are they absurdly rare curiosities?
What inventions or advances have not been made that you would normally expect to see at this stage of technological development?
How much is known about the laws of nature, be they physics, magic, chemistry, etc.?
How much of what is commonly known and assumed to be correct turns out in fact to be quite wrong?
Is there a scientific or philosophical method used to arrive at an understanding of the facts of nature?
Where is research done: universities, private laboratories, under the auspices of the ruler or government or religious institution?
In what areas might magic replace technology, and thus perhaps suppress its development?
Or are science, technology and magic wedded together?
XXVI. Questions on Magic
What is the nature of magic in this world?
Where does magic power come from?
Is magic an exhaustible resource?
If a magician must feed his spells with his own willpower, life-force, or sanity, what long-term effects will this have on the health and/or stability of the magician?
What can magic not do: what are the limits to magical power?
How do magicians try to get around these limitations?
What is the price magicians must pay in order to work magic?
Is there a difference between miracles and magic?
If so, how are they distinguished?
What is needed in order to cast a spell; and are there different ways of obtaining a similar end?
What kinds of paraphernalia, such as staffs, wands, crystal balls, skelletons of animals suspended from the ceiling, are required for the proper working of magic?
How do wizards obtain these things?
Do they make their own or buy them from craftsmen, inherit them from their teachers, or order them from a supply shop?
Can two or more wizards combine their power to cast a stronger spell, or is magic done only by individuals?
What makes one wizard more powerful than another?
What general varieties of magic are practiced, e.g., herbal, ritual, alchemical, demonology, necromancy?
Does one particular variety of magic work better than others?
Are there quack forms of magical practice?
Are certain kinds of magic practiced solely or chiefly by one sex or another?
By one race or another?
Does a magician's magical ability or power change over time -- e.g., growing stronger or weaker during puberty, or with increasing age?
Can a magician "use up" all of his magic, thus ceasing to be a magician and what might he do after?
Can the ability to do magic be lost or taken away?
Are wizards organized or hierarchical?
What happens when the person at the top dies; who takes over and how is this determined?
Are magicians a force in politics or religion?
Are there national policies that revolve around or involve magic in some way?
Are wizards above or below the law -- or are they a law unto themselves?
Do they have full rights as citizens, no rights, or can they do as they like without regard to anyone else's rights?
Are there statutes, constabularies and law courts that handle thaumic crimes?
How does magic and the people who practice it figure into the power or international prestige of a country?
Is a magician's lifetime normally longer or shorter than the average?
And does this vary for the different races?
Are there races all of whose members are magic users?
Are there fashions or fads in magic?
Are there certain kinds of magic or particular spells that are illegal to practice?
If a wizard casts such a spell and is found out, how would such a criminal magician be detected in the first place; how might he be apprehended, tried & punished?
Is the catching and punishing of lawbreaking magicians the responsibility of the guild, or do the ordinary courts have to handle it?
What effects have magic had on ordinary technology?
Are the two married into a single discipline, or is magic above or otherwise insufficient to manipulate ordinary technology?
Are there thaumological means of transportation such as thaumically motivated waggons or airships?
How do they compare in speed, safety and expense to non-magical means?
Are there any drawbacks to thaumological travel?
How commonly are such methods used, and for what purposes?
Are there thaumological means of rapid communication?
Of waging wars?
Can ordinary objects be enchanted to make them (or their users) supremely good at something, like a Sauce Pan of Gourmet Cookery?
How common and useful are such enchantments?
Do they endure indefinitely or does their efficacy wear off?
Are there especially constructed thaumological devices that serve (for better or worse) the purpose of a device of ordinary technology?
To what degree does the presence of magic, enchanted objects, and wizards in general replace technology?
Is technology frequently duplicated or merely supplemented?
Is daily life made demonstrably better or worse or simply more perilous by thaumology and magic?
Can spells and/or magical items be mass-produced?
Are there magic carpet factories and boutiques selling magic rings, or must such devices be individually crafted?
Can spells and/or magical items be used to increase the efficiency of manufacturing or mass production?
Do businesses keep a wizard on retainer the way a business might keep a lawyer on staff?
If so, what, exactly, are they paying for?
XXVIJ. Questions on Agriculture
What are the primary crops of a given region?
Are any grown mainly for export?
What crops can not be grown in a particular region because of the soil, climate, or for other reasons?
What are the most commonly grown food crops?
What are the most commonly raised livestock animals for meat or milk or motive power?
What level has agrarian understanding achieved? -- slash & burn; passive gardening; active farming; crop rotation; advanced fertilisers, hydroponics & genetic manipulation?
IIXXX. Questions on Architecture
What major architectural styles are present?
What do buildings look like?
How does this vary over time and between places in the region?
What are typical buildings like inside and out?
What are typical floor plans like -- can people afford to waste space on hallways, or do they just have a series of rooms opening into other rooms?
Are buildings normally built square, triangular, domed?
Above ground or in ground?
How much use is made of natural spaces like caves or hills?
How tall a building can be constructed at a reasonable cost and in a reasonable time and without collapsing?
What materials are used in typical construction?
What materials have to be imported and from how far away are the locals willing to obtain those materials?
How are buildings constructed?
Are there construction machines or is work done by hand?
What are some famous landmarks in the region and why are they famous?
How many people usually live in a typical house?
How large or small is a typical house?
What are the differences in materials, construction and appearance of houses between the several classes & races of society?
How are buildings decorated?
Are there differences of ornamentation depending on the purpose of the building?
How common are windows and what do people use to cover windows necessary for ventilation and light?
How are living quarters arranged?
Are bedrooms on the top floors for privacy or on the ground floor for convenience?
Are parlors or libraries common?
How are houses heated & cooled?
Are wars and insurrections common enough that castles and cities are built with an eye to military defense first and appearance later, or are palaces and walless towns the rule?
IXXX. Questions on Locomotion, Transport & Communications
How do people travel from one place to another?
What kinds of vehicles are available in this region?
Do individuals or families own and use their own vehicles?
What are the common domesticated animals used for locomotion & transportation at various levels of society?
Are certain animals preferred by certain industries?
For traveling short distances within a city, what are the alternatives?
Can people hire a cab, a litter, a rickshaw, or do they have to walk or rely on their own servants or horses?
Is there any kind of public transportation system and how well is a typical city or town served?
Do people make long journeys?
If so, for what purposes & what are they like?
What are the roads like?
How do they vary from place to place?
How safe, clean & reliable are the various methods of transport?
What major fuels are used?
How available is water for transport?
Are there good canals, or navigable rivers?
How reliable is water transport and how dangerous or expensive?
How common is individual travel (for any reason)?
Does the concept of travel "to see the world," i.e. as a tourist, even exist?
How dangerous is travel; and how large a group would be considered safe to travel with?
Do coaching services provide security?
How much traffic is there inside and outside the main cities?
Which areas are best/worst?
What is the fastest means of traveling long distances over land, water, under the ground or through the air?
What is road transportation like?
Are there good roads?
Who built them?
Who is responsible for maintaining them?
Are there railways or trams?
Are there dedicated military or post roads or are all roadways open for public use?
Where would a traveler stay at night?
Are there enough travelers to support inns, or do people have to stay with a conveniently located farm or monastery?
Are some classes of people such as slaves or serfs not expected to travel at all?
And are some people such as heralds or messengers expected to travel constantly?
Are such official travellers accorded any particular respect, even by highwaymen or ruffians?
Apart from face to face, how do people communicate with each other?
Is there a postal service?
How fast is it?
How much does it cost to use?
What restrictions are there on packet delivery?
Does the post operate internationally?
How likely is it that an article sent in the post will reach its intended destination if within the province or same country?
How likely if sent abroad?
What technical or mechanical means of communications exist?
How are messages sent when necessary?
How fast does news spread point A to point B?
News and Information
How do people find out what is happening in the world?
Are there equivalents of the rumor mill or water cooler; or more official means such as a town crier, newspapers, tele and radio?
How slanted is the news people receive by these means, and in what direction?
Is there freedom of the press, or are the media owned or controlled by the state?
Who controls and censors the news and by what means and what is their agenda?
What materials are used to make newspapers, broadsheets and books?
Is the written word transmitted via some kind of printing, or are all written communications hand written?
How are books produced and are they common?
What kinds of scribal technologies or techniques are in use in this region?
Where are the great libraries or collections of books, scrolls, codices & manuscripts?
How accessible are they to scholars, wizards, monks and the general public?
Who supports them?
XXX. Questions on Money
What forms of currency exist?
What is the local currency like? -- i.e., paper money, metal coins, large immobile stones set up in the forum, tallies stored in the local banking offices?
Is currency and coinage standardized, or is there a system of exchange?
What are typical denominations?
What types of currency is a traveler or merchant likely to carry on a trip?
What are different coins called, and what are they worth?
How is currency exchange handled, and by whom?
What is the local currency based on: metal, labour, fiat?
How does it compare to other neighbouring currencies?
How has the value of the currency changed or fluctuated recently?
Who is responsible for coinage: the ruler, local barons, local merchant guilds?
Are there generally acceptable standards?
How easy or difficult is it to counterfeit the currency, and if caught, what punishments do conterfeiting bring?
How are coins and notes produced?
How common are forgeries?
How is wealth distributed?
Is there a public banking system?
Who uses it?
What benefits does it bring and at what cost?
Is there a large gap between the wealth of the rich and poor?
What expectations do each group have from the other?
What constitutes "poverty" in this society and also "wealth"?
XXXI. Questions on Trade & Commerce
What is the local economy based on?
How is commerce engaged in?
If levied, how are taxes collected?
What are such revenues used for?
How does taxation affect the people?
What does this country import and export?
How important is trade to the economy?
What trade routes, commercial & trade relationships and economic activity exist in this region?
Is there a lingua franca or trade language that facilitates commerce between countries that don't speak the same tongue?
Is there an universal language spoken by educated or noble persons, as a matter of philosophical or scientific communications?
What does this country import & export?
How important is trade to the economy?
Why did people settle in this country in the first place -- strategic location, trade route, water transport, minerals, good farming, etc.?
Have things changed much since, or do they still depend on whatever brought them in the first place?
How much do official attitudes toward other countries affect commerce and trade?
Do merchants pretty much ignore tensions between government as long as they can make a profit, or will this get them into trouble?
Are there Customs inspectors or their equivalents at border crossings?
Is the export/import of some technologies/magics/commodities regulated by the government, or by non-governmental cartels?
How does this affect political relationships between countries?
How is business organized?
Are there trade unions?
Are people able to cross-craft, .i. learn or perform different trades?
Does cross-crafting require guild permission, a writ from an overlord, or is it automatically guaranteed by law?
How rigid are craft laws: e.g. are carpenters the only people allowed to build houses?
What types of trades would be represented in a small town or large city?
Are industrial processes (e.g., swordsmithing, weaving, etc.) considered "trade secrets," or are they common knowledge?
What is the process a young person goes through to enter a craft or trade?
Are the requirements for various ranks, such as apprentice, journeyman & master standardized, or does rank depend more on the good favor of guildmaster than it does on skill?
Do different regions or cities specialize in specific crafts, processes, or products (e.g. Damascus steel, Bordeaux wines, Chinese silk, Wisconsin cheese)?
Do different races specialize is some crafts?
What regulations, if any, has the government placed on business practices?
Are there antimonopoly laws?
Are there standardized systems of weights and measures, or does a merchant have to specify "a London bushel" of grain rather than "a York bushel"?
How do differing systems affect shipping and trade?
Are any new industries developing?
Which old ones do they compete with or make obsolete?
How are records kept: tally sticks, quipu, parchment or paper ledgers, clay tablets, beads?
Is there a merchant class?
Where do they fit in society?
Are there trading guilds?
If so, how are they organized?
How much power do they have to control trade?
How much infighting is there among them?
Are there trading organizations that transcend countries, like the Hanseatic League?
How large a presence do they have locally?
Is this a money-based economy, or barter or gift based?
What goods are commonly available in small town markets vs larger towns and cities?
How do goods get to market?
What industries -- mining, fishing, shipbuilding, lumber, farming, manufacturing, etc. -- are important, and in which areas?
Which depend on materials from other areas (as shipbuilding on wood, or weaving on wool)?
What happens if supplies are disrupted?
How much smuggling goes on?
What gets smuggled and, whither and whence?
Describe any kind of division of labour, such as into physical versus mental versus spiritual.
Is there any especial prestige attached to some category of labour or a particular job?
What jobs are considered mucky or are particularly depreciated?
What professions or activities are considered masculine?
What professions or activities are viewed as feminine?
What are usual working hours?
Are there days of rest or holidays?
How does this differ between different jobs?
What jobs have few workers and why?
What are typical wages for various jobs?
How does work affect lifestyle and health?
What sort of jobs are preferred by which people?
Are some jobs denied to certain groups?
What are the ethical oaths or codes that govern various jobs?
Is there a difference in ethics between manual and mental or spiritual work?
XXXIJ. Questions on Government & Politics
Citizenship & Rights
Who is considered a citizen, with the rights and privileges thereof?
What are those rights and privileges; and what responsibilities go along with them?
Are there certain classes of people who have fewer legal rights or less legal recourse than full citizens?
Are they considered mentally or morally deficient, a danger to the state, or is there some other rationale?
Is there a group of people who do not have full rights in this culture?
Are they considered mentally or morally deficient, a danger to the state, or is there some other rational?
Are wizards or priests or prostitutes or certain classes or races of people barred from certain kinds of government jobs or offices?
Do some government jobs require that their holder be of a particular race or social group?
What are the easiest or most common ways to advance in status?
How much resistance is there to someone advancing in social status?
Politics as Usual
What is the political status of oppressed communities?
Is bribery allowed?
Under what circumstances?
What makes someone a bad ruler in this society?
What can be done about it?
What major political factions exist at present?
What are their core philosophies?
How long have they been around?
Which factions are allies and which are enemies?
Are there any potential new forces on the political scene?
What are the controversial political issues?
What positions on these issues are considered normative, radical or even unthinkable?
How much influence do organisations such as guilds or universities or monestaries or temples or merchants' unions have on court politics?
How do they exercise their influence -- indirectly, e.g. by talking nobility or council members into taking their side; or directly, e.g. by bribery, coercion or having their own representatives on the council?
Are there any shaky political alliances between disparate groups?
Why were they formed?
How long is it likely to be before they fall apart?
When they do, what will the effects be?
What ancient rivalries, prejudices and hatreds still affect current attitudes and political positions?
What kinds of people are likely to face social or political prejudice, by race, ethnos, gender, trade or place of birth?
Is this enshrined as a matter of law, or is it primarily a matter of public or individual attitude?
Is the ruler powerful or influential enough to defy this prejudice and appoint a Dwarf as Chief Councilor or Secretary of Defense and make it work?
Are there people who have great influence on government or politics, but who do not hold any official position?
Who are they?
Why do they have influence?
How do these people wield their influence?
Form of Government
What is the form of government and how is it structured?
What are some of the most fundamental policies of the government?
How are government officials chosen?
How are new laws created or old ones changed?
Who has the right to give orders, and why?
What titles do various officials have?
How are the rules different for officials as opposed to common people?
How do government officials dress?
Who cannot rise to positions of leadership?
What is the basic form of government? -- feudal, aristocratic, oligarchy, monarchical, democratic?
What forms are used in neighboring countries, and why are they the same or different?
What services do the government or state provide: e.g. roads, schools, wells, courts, an army?
What services are provided locally or privately or through non-government means?
Who has the right to levy taxes and for what reasons and upon whom?
Can taxes be paid in kind, or do certain things require money?
Who provides support services for the head of state?
Are the various offices of government hereditary or are they appointed or elected?
Who will take over running the government if the current head of state is incapacitated and how is incapacity determined?
What is the structure of the line of succession?
What happens if the heir is a minor?
What safeguards exist against general attack, assassinations, magical assault, seditition & revolt?
Is there a civilian police force, or is law enforcement the province of the military?
Is the police force a nationalised one, or are there multiple regional forces?
How militant or vigilante are they?
Are they usually or ever armed?
What is the extent of their authority: e.g. can they shoot you or use magic or telepathy or torture or otherwise force a confession from you?
Are there individuals or groups who are above the law?
Are there secret police forces of any kind?
What is the role of police informants, if such exist?
Is there an organized system of education?
Who provides it and how is it supported: e.g. government via taxes, religious houses via donations (or taxes), private persons by philanthropic gift?
Are there occasions when the ruler is expected to provide a celebration or spectacle for the people to enjoy?
XXXIIJ. Questions on Law and Justice
Who in society benefits from the Law and from the Justice system?
What groups are excluded and why?
Is there a parallel or subordinate or extra-legal system in place used by such people?
How is it determined whether someone has broken a law and who judges the case?
Is there some form of clemency or pardon?
Is the law codified and written down?
Who are the interpreters of the law?
Once accused, what recourse does a person have?
Is torture allowed as a general aspect of criminal justice?
What kinds of torture are allowed and against whom may they be applied and under what circumstances?
What are considered normal and legal ways of gathering evidence and determining guilt?
Are arbitrary judgments by the lord or landowner allowed, or is there an independent judiciary?
Is forensic magic possible and if so, is it utilised and by whom?
Are the results of forensic magic admissible in court as evidence?
Are there separate civil, criminal, ecclesial and thaumic courts?
Are there different legal systems in place for different races or ethnicities living in close proximity?
What is different about each type of court?
Are judges or other court officials required or forbidden to have studied magic?
Is evidence obtained by magic considered more reliable or less reliable than physical evidence or eyewitness accounts?
What things are considered truly serious crimes and why?
What are typical punishments for serious vs. minor crimes?
Who metes out punishment?
Are there prisons, or are criminals physically, spiritually, emotionally or economically punished and then released?
Are there varying degrees of punishment based on circumstance, gravity and even judicial whim?
How are alleged criminals treated before and after their convictions?
Who is responsible for catching criminals and by what rules do they operate?
How are the police or watch organised within a polity?
Are there volunteer posses, or is the right to apprehend an evil doer the sole prerogative of the watch?
What arms do they carry, if any?
Are there lawyers or advocates who plead for the defence?
Are there lawyers or advocates who prosecute?
Are they arranged in a relatively equal adversarial system or is one side stronger than the other?
Are people guilty until proven innocent, innocent until proven guilty, or does it depend on the mood the lord is in when they bring the case before him?
Are there judges other than the ruler, lord, or landowner?
If so, how are they chosen and how are they maintained?
Are appeals possible, and if so, to whom?
How often are outlying areas likely to see a judge?
Is "mob justice" common or uncommon and how wide an approval does it receive?
Are there sumptuary laws regulating what different classes or races of people may wear or display or even purchase or trade for in the market?
Do judges and lawyers wear special clothing to indicate their office?
What sorts of crimes is the average citizen likely to run across during her lifetime?
Who can make or repeal laws?
Is there a legislative body or is the ruler the sole legislator?
How much can the nobility, middle class tradesmen and the like influence the lawmakers?
Do the police, military, or city guard make a practice of roughing up suspects, or is this frowned upon?
XXXIIIJ. Questions on External Relations
What is this country's overarching foreign policy?
Have there been recent innovations that may upset the balance of power, or are most countries in the region more or less equal as regards industry, technology, magical capacity and culture?
Who are the rivals or enemies of this country?
How close are they geographically?
How powerful are they, and how prestigious?
Do relations between countries depend mainly on the relations between the heads of state or upon ministers and diplomats?
Does this country have formal relationships with other countries?
If so, how are embassies formed and what is their function?
Are there standing embassies and consulates, or are special envoys sent only when some issue of import crops up?
How are treaties arranged and who negotiates?
Are treaties ratified or confirmed; how might they be broken?
How much do official attitudes between rival governments affect commerce and trade across the border?
Are there customs inspectors or their equivalents at border crossings?
Is the export & import of some technologies, thaumologies, magics & commodities regulated by the government, or by non-governmental cartels?
How does this affect political relationships between countries?
How much formal spying and intelligence gathering is normally done by governments, the military, guilds or other business, social and magical interests?
Are there actual governmental bureaux that collect such information, or is espionage done by diplomats or freelance agents?
Which countries or races of people are traditional allies and which are traditional rivals?
How do these traditions affect present-day relations between countries and races of people?
Which heads of state are related by blood or marriage, and how important is this in determining foreign policy?
XXXV. Questions on Weapons & Warfare
How do the weapons of this country compare with those of surrounding cities and countries?
What personal weapons are available to anyone who can afford them?
Are some weapons considered "for nobles only" or "for carls only" either by custom or by law?
Are there laws forbidding certain classes from being armed at all?
Are there laws requiring certain classes to learn particular weapon skills?
Are magical weapons available?
How is magic used in warfare, apart from charmed or ensorcelled weapons?
Is spellcasting fast enough to be useful in hand-to-hand combat, or is magic use slower and more suited to laying or breaking sieges?
How has the presence of magic affected the waging of war and progress of weapons technology?
How readily does magic backfire on the weapon wielder or spell caster?
Can magic be used defensively as well as offensively?
How much has the presence of magic affected strategy and tactics in general; is it for example a matter of study in war colleges?
Are there weapons (defensive as well as offensive) of stone, bone, horn, bronze, iron, glass, obsidian, steel, titanium, thaumium or some other ever more exotic material?
Are weapons all close range, or do long range weapons exist as well, such as bows or atlatls or gonnes, and if so, how sophisticated are they?
How are such ranged weapons used tactically?
What small arms are in common use during war: e.g., melee weapons, edged weapons, unconventional weapons?
What major weapons of war are available: e.g., siege towers and engines, catapults, bombards, thaumic bombs, holy grenades?
What weapons and armor are standard for an army's low ranking footsoldiers?
What about the weapons of mercenaries and their noble leaders or even the average peasant trying to defend her home?
Does a soldier provide weapons and armor from home, or are these provided by the army?
Are weapons, such as swords or pistols, a standard part of dress for any and all segments of society?
Are weapons kept by individuals or are they locked up in an armoury?
Does the country have a standing army or navy or air corps?
How many soldiers can the state afford to keep at the ready?
How do the armed forces compare with others in the region or world?
Who has the power to declare conditions of war and peace?
What happens to prisoners taken in battle?
What weapons are favoured by the various armed forces?
What form of warfare does this society use: e.g., close-quarters hand-to-hand; stealthy attack; long range fighting?
How do battles in the airs or waters or underworlds differ from surface warfare?
Who are the elite warriors?
What distinguishes them from ordinary soldiers?
How does someone get command of troops?
Where do the loyalties of military units lie?
Do they make up the bulk of the military?
What is campaign or camp life like?
What ethical or moral codes do warriors adhere to?
How are battle injuries treated?
How long do wars typically last?
Has this society ever attacked another?
What was the nature or pretext of that war?
What would make this society go to war?
Has there ever been a civil war or a revolution?
What do soldiers do when there's no war going on at the present moment?
Are there any current tensions or outright wars with any other nations?
Who are this country's enemies and allies?
Who's winning the war?
What defences are available to cities and towns and other polities?
What are the accepted conventions of making war: e.g., only fight in winter when nobody is busy with crops; don't make war on civilians; only certain kinds of weapons are available?
How are armies typically structured?
Is there a formal, independent command structure, or is everybody officially under the command of whoever brought them to join the ruler's army?
If there is a formal structure, what are the various ranks and titles used?
Are there legal, customary, or biological restrictions on the types of weapons different races or magical beings can use?
Are battlefield commissions or knighthoods possible during wartime, or must such promotions wait on formal ceremonies?
Do normal social restrictions apply during times of war, or is everyone equal on the battlefield?
Who can call up men for an army, and how is this done?
Does the ruler ask the nobility for men, who in turn draft their peasants, or can the ruler go straight to the bottom as it were and raise her own army?
Are there professional soldiers and mercenaries?
Is a career in the army possible, or would one have to become a mercenary or hired sword in order to make a living as a soldier?
Does the army accept volunteers, or only draftees?
Can an ordinary soldier rise to officer ranks by displaying courage and merit on the battlefield, or are officer positions reserved for a higher class of person only?
Are there officer academies or war colleges?
What percentage of the soldiers in an army will be professional soldiers or mercenaries or veterans or academy trained and what percentage will be untrained recruits?
Are recruits given any kind of training, or are they expected to learn on the job, i.e., in battle?
How is the army supplied with food, shelter, medical care and ordinary necessities that aren't carried by the soldier in his kit?
Are soldiers allowed to live off the land, or do they pay for what they take from local peasants?
What happens if the supply caravan gets lost or captured?
How are supplies handled during long campaigns?
How many days' worth of supplies can the army haul along with them?
How does the presence of varied races of people affect strategy, tactics, and battles generally?
How might soldiers of various races turn their physical differences to their advantage?
Are particular races of people traditionally, or even actually, more capable of wielding certain weapons or using certain techniques better than others?
Are certain races or groups isolated into segregated units or are the armies reasonably integrated?
If so, are those segregated units considered elite troops or the most expendable soldiers on the battlefield?
How do the inter-species attitudes of the leadership affect their strategy and planning?