World Building Part IV – The Conflict

Heeeeyyyy….. It’s been a while. *cringe* You guys were supposed to get this post in like, January. I know, I know, it’s February now. But Atlas’s guest post was pretty great, wasn’t it? Sorrysorrysorry. I’ll either be more on top of things in the future, or I’ll forewarn you. (There’s a reason I pre-write posts.)

Anywaaaayyysss it’s time for the final post in my series on World Building. In my previous posts, The Basics, The Creatures, and The Cultures I kept mentioning how the inhabitants and settings of your world can lead to conflict. Today I tell you exactly how. (I know that those of you who have read all the posts have probably figured it out already, but I said I was going to write this post so here we go.)


This is the most obvious source of conflict in any world, real or imaginary. People are constantly in conflict with one another, whether they’re disagreeing over laws (look at the news) or fighting for control of a port (the Russo-Japanese war).

However, in a fantasy world, this can be given an interesting twist. Are magic users abusing their power over non-magical folk? Are magic users being persecuted? Is an army of particularly large and warlike creatures sweeping across the land, ravaging everything in their path? Hey, these are pretty common tropes. I could’ve come up with them myself. Hang on, give me a moment.

What if you have a race of creatures that are incredibly rare? Would they be hunted down for their novelty? Would they, or others, form a movement to protect them and their lands?

What if someone was intent on hunting down and killing every last one of these creatures? What if your main character was hired to commit these atrocities? See, conflict. By looking at history and current events, you can gather thousands of different conflicts on every level of severity. Then give them a little twist that fits in perfectly with your fantasy world.


Locations have also caused countless conflicts throughout history. (Points for alliteration.) Let’s go back to the Russo-Japanese war. To brutally summarize it, Russia had one good trading port, but because of it’s locations it was covered in ice most of the time. Czar Nicholas II wanted another another port and set his sights on one controlled by the Japanese. He tried to bargain for it, the Japanese refused, cue the war.

The same thing could happen on a much smaller scale. Two groups of people, one reliable spring of freshwater. Boom–conflict. Or if you have desert dwelling creatures, it could be an oasis.

Think about precious natural resources; oil, gems, ore, timber, coal, nutrient rich soil for growing crops. These conflicts can happen on a large or small scale. What about rivers? Whoever controls the river controls all imports and exports and can monitor all traffic. Same with mountain passes. It’d be awfully easy to bottleneck merchants and rob them.

And in these situations, the attacker doesn’t have to necessarily be the antagonist. Let’s say a great famine has befallen the land of your main character. Their people flee, trying to find new land that can support their numbers. They stumble upon a lush green valley, but it’s already inhabited and the natives don’t want to share. What happens then?

What if someone if desecrating a scared forest or lake? What if your main character has to venture into vast wastelands filled with unknown monsters? What if your main character is a merchant, exploring new waters in hope of great fortune? A world is a diverse and extensive place–anything can happen.

Problems (aka, Natural Disasters)

Problems? I thought you were listing problems before? Yeah, well, I couldn’t think of something else that started with ‘P’. Bear with me.

There are plenty of conflicts that aren’t directly caused by people. Famine, drought, earthquakes, tsunamis, everlasting winters… the list goes on. And let’s not leave out plagues.

All of these disasters start as something natural, something man had nothing to do with…. but it doesn’t have to start there. There’s a famine, yes? People are starving, getting desperate. Perhaps some turn to cannibalism, other’s to old, bloody religions in hope of some divine help. Of course, there will always be those who take from the weak, who steal and horde and murder. And then there are those (points for more alliteration) who will use the situation to manipulate people through fear and set themselves up as a ruler: the supposed only hope.

Path (Your Next Step. I Can’t Think of a Different Word)

Flip through a history book. (Or Google.) Look at all the conflicts and controversies that have happened throughout time. (The Pilgrims, the Russo-Japanese War, WWII.) Make a list of natural disasters (the Black Plague, Pompeii) and events (the Tunguska Event). Then think about how these events, and others like them, could play out in your own world. Before you know it, you’ll have more than a few ideas that just might make an excellent novel.

P.S. I may or may not have a post for you next week. Expect things to be a bit sporadic until further notice. Byeeee.

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