Spiros DrakatosToday we’re pleased to feature a guest post from Spiros Drakatos, Game Designer and Creator of Dimday Red. Catch their latest Kickstarter for Nodus 02, and be sure to check out the Dimday Red world on World Anvil!

The world of Dimday Red is full of wonders! Mutants, mechas, zeppelins, all-powerful conglomerates, religious cults, and an enormous dividing Wall are only a few. Still, one thing many people tell me when reading the lore I have written is how this world feels real to them. And that feels great because that is just the effect I was going for: creating an extraordinary setting that feels relatable so people can connect with it at a deeper level.

dimday red

Worldbuilding has always been the favorite part of any fictional story. In many cases, I didn’t care much about what would happen to the characters, especially when they were generically written. But give me a creatively built world, and you can have my soul!

Through the years, I have read, seen, and heard about so many imaginary worlds that when I set out to create mine, one thing was turning in my head: what will this world have to offer so that people deem it worthy of their time and attention?

Hooking an Audience: Relatability

Que the elephant in the room: these days, in any kind of creative medium, there is so much offering that even notable works are just another drop in the ocean. For any creative idea, world, story, or character, there is something out there that has already done it and many times done it better! To overcome this, I consciously work to create a world that, directly or indirectly, has hooks that connect with the average person, people like you and me.

Although we consume fiction mostly to escape our daily reality, most of the things we care about also exist in this reality. Our real-life connections, responsibilities, and hardships create emotions that are deeply rooted inside us, and as a result, we can understand and empathize with them. Escaping into worlds and situations that are completely detached from us may provide an easy fix, but more often than not, they can be superficial and forgettable.

For example, in Neu Bonn, the capital of the all-powerful Paneuropa, we find a very dystopian social divide. The people who work for the system and the outcasts struggling to survive outside it. There is nothing new there as a concept, but for most of us, the idea of fighting an uphill battle against a system we have no control over can feel very familiar. As a result, it makes the setting easier to empathize with and the stories in it more relatable.

Adding Wonder and Drama

Of course, nobody wants to relive their own uneventful, stressful life through fiction. It defeats the whole purpose of fiction existing! And this is where the weaving begins. Bringing the extraordinary side by side with the mundane, we can create unique worlds that spark the imagination but also connect with people.

The central premise in Dimday Red is that Earth has fallen off its orbit and has been heading towards the Sun for the past 93 years. Scientists estimate that in 52 years, it will be so close to the Sun that all life will be extinct. As the solar storms have fried all electronics, humanity can not leave the planet, and it is doomed to wait for its inevitable end. It sounds like a wild situation, and although it could happen if a rogue black hole happened to pass through our astral neighborhood, it seems very far from any reality we live in.

Even the idea of a world so close to extinction but still far enough for people to live in some kind of structured framework may seem too unlikely. Still, if you think of it, most of us as adults hope to have fifty-something years of life ahead of us. So we move towards a certain and inevitable end, our death, but the vast majority of us keep functioning in one way or another. This certainty creates a familiar feeling around the world of Dimday Red that some people find intriguing and some unsettling. This is the whole point for me: to create some kind of connection and reaction with people.

Layering in Unique Elements

Another idea I use in my work, and the main concept behind my Realm Weavers workshop, is that although all stories derive from seven basic plot archetypes, we all have unique tales of stuff that has happened only to us! So, if we utilize and weave them in our worldbuilding or storytelling, we can end up with something more than just another formulaic setting.

Although I consider DdR to be a work of popular culture, created to communicate my ideas with a wide array of people, I know that it will not connect with everyone. Some may be turned away by the lack of hope and the inevitability of death. But that’s okay because there are other worlds and stories that will fit these people better. The important thing for me is that my world reflects my thoughts and feelings; it has a certain kind of soul. And there is an audience out there, however big or small, that shares these thoughts and feelings and will find it engaging.

And so the extraordinary becomes relatable!