Building Worlds

Building Worlds: A brief look at infrastructure

So I’d been struggling with infrastructure in my current setting for a while now. How characters get from point A to B isn’t always important and honestly, often times it can work best to leave most of the details out because they don’t matter. But sometimes they do. Sometimes I just don’t know yet, because I haven’t figured it out yet. The latter was my reason for a long time.

Under infrastructure I think of everything that involved traveling, transport, and communication. These include roads, bridges, vehicles, public transport, telecommunication devices, logistics, etc. Thus not only transport for people, but also for goods and information. 

It’s important to know what your characters options are in terms of transportation when you have a quest plot. Or maybe a heist or something. But it also informs your worldbuilding. Economy needs good infrastructure to get goods to customers. Military needs fast travel to quest threats. Certain aspects of your setting will go hand in hand with others so keep those in mind. Do your research in how these systems actually work before you develop your own (or model off theirs, while still knowing what you’re doing). 

And there’s multiple ways to approach infrastructure as well. Is it accessible with free or cheap public transport or is it a case of “everybody takes care of their own”? What does the land look like, because lots of rivers and lakes will increase boats and docks. How technologically advanced are the people? Do they use vehicles with auto-pilots installed or are beast of burden the norm? 

What about information? How accessible is it and how is it spread? Are there newspapers, or does everyone have access to the internet? 

And that’s not all. There’s a lot to think about in terms of infrastructure, but it’s important to keep in mind how subjects can influence each other or go hand in hand. Infrastructure is one of those things which influences a lot but often doesn’t end up showing extensively, or just ends up being a couple of details in a description (depending on the type of story you’re writing). Or perhaps that’s just me overlooking infrastructure, lol. Anyway, work with the details, but also keep the big picture in mind while you develop.

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