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Valuable Resources for a Realistic Fantasy


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Hey, guys.

I know this is a bit irregular, but since we have a few fantasy stories emerging into the works on here, I thought I'd post some of the resources I've used in the worldbuilding and drafting of my own story, which is very much based in a realistic medieval European setting (though still containing fantastical elements). These are a conglomeration of youtube playlists, articles, and a few other resources. Hopefully, this doesn't offend anyone, but I thought that rather than posting this information over a few threads, I'd just go ahead and make a post here with the information in a central location.

Hope this helps!


Knyght Errant - I haven't watched all of his videos, but I've found his playlist on medieval armor very enlightening with regards to its function and wear, and he goes into detail over every piece of a suit of armor, including its individual functionality, and history. This guy does historical reenactments, and owns a legitimate set of armor. Pretty neat.

Shadiversity - Again, I haven't watched all of his videos, but he has a couple of good playlists on castles and swords that I think are worth a look if you're not overly familiar. The castles playlist is especially enlightening, because Shad has done a lot of research into castles and has even built his own 3D rendering of a castle. He also has a Fantasy Re-armed series, where he looks at common fantasy ideas, and then casts them into a more realistic idea.

The Metatron - Really valuable youtuber in the standpoint that he's rather similar to Shad in his subject matter, but where Shad tends to focus on castles and ways to make fantasy more realistic, Metatron focuses on comparisons of actual medieval historical arms and armor, as well as information about the middle ages in general.


Rosalie's Medieval Woman - Contains articles about the life of medieval women, relating to culture, fashion, hygiene, etc. Very helpful, though I wish she had some more in-depth articles, rather than the brief overheads. Still valuable, though.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Contains several articles about medieval arms, armor, and religious influence that are very thorough, and written by the museum's curators and experts in their fields. There are so many, that I'm only going to link to the essays list.

ARMA (Association for Renaissance Martial Arts) - Provides a good overview of sword stances, as well as a collection of articles and essays about historical fighting.

Medieval James - This guy has done a study on how things were actually performed in the medieval period, and has many videos that showcase that work.

Storm the Castle - Contains articles about medieval castles, arms, armor, and warfare, in brief, bite-sized overviews, with resources for further research.

History of England - Contains articles about English (British) history. I've linked to the 'medieval' search I use, but it has a bit of other information too.

REDDIT - Ask Historians - A reddit forum dedicated to actual historians answering questions. Very valuable resource.

Website: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/


And I think that's probably enough to get you started, if you need it. :) If you have any questions, or have your own sources, feel free to ask/share!

Edited by Alderant
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I used to post a lot of links too, for a while. 

I always recommend Medieval POC (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook) for epic fantasy research, because it highlights the diversity and interconnectivity that abounded in the medieval world.

Speaking of interconnectivity, ORBIS is an interactive travel map of the Roman empire, and can give a great idea of how fast travel was in the days before cars and airplanes (it was faster than you think!). 

For an introduction to historical figures and a really good source for character ideas, I like Rejected Princesses. He's an amusing writer and always cites his sources. 

If you are planning to write people with different skin tones, even in a fantasy setting, Writing With Color is a great technical resource.

Additionally, there are several well-researched essays by Kate Elliot, such as "Writing Women Characters into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas" and "The Status Quo Does Not Need Worldbuilding," which are great reads for thinking critically about what and how to use the sources you find.

Writing the Other is an amazing website, for the courses it offers, and for the free resources it hosts. It's Cultural Appropriation Primer is a great list of essays about this topic.

And of course, Kameon Hurley's essay "We Have Always Fought" is good food for thought when writing fantasy, as well (it's also great for harvesting more links from, plus it won a Hugo in 2014).

The Neopronouns thread that's stickied in this forum has a bunch of great links to resources on using new and different pronouns in your writing, which is good to know not just for science fiction, but also for all those fantasy creatures, too.

and lastly, Power Searching With Google is a great short course put out by Google on how to make the best use if its search engine. It's good general knowledge, but especially for writers who do a lot of online research.


I'm still not firing on all cylinders yet, so I can't find my link archive at the moment. @kais what am I forgetting? I know I had a list of sources on digital literacy and evaluating and determining biases in online source materials.... 


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Great stuff, Alderant! Shad for one has this series called Fantasy Rearmed, where he comes up with realistic weapons for fantastical monsters: really gets the gears turning. 

I'll add a few resources -- some light reference books, mostly-- just for grins:

A Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer is a fantastic resource if you're gunning for that authentic High Middle Ages feel. It's funny, readable, and full of references, and because it's meant for a hypothetical "traveler," it includes a lot of practical details -- the type reenactors obsess over and normal social historians don't -- that you might want to filch for a fantasy setting. 

- Kristina Sessa's Daily Life in Late Antiquity lacks the premise but fulfills much the same function for an earlier era. It condenses a lot of archaeological studies and denser social history work into a few short chapters that give you a surprisingly vivid picture of what it might have been like to live in the 4th-6th centuries in the Roman Empire.

- For rural settings in an early industrial world (something we never quite think about -- it's always Bas Lang Steampunk, I find), check out Jack Larkin's The Reshaping of Everyday Life. It's written by the resident historian at a living history museum representing an 1830s village in rural New England, and damnation is this thing detailed (I can now tell you, for instance, why my Necromantic Blacksmith's Apprentice does not, in fact, wear gloves). 


Edited by Severian4Scadrial
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