Conworlding

Extra Little Worldbuilding Questions

Because my On the Edge of Exile campaign has had to be delayed for a few weeks, I've been going 'round in circles thinking about it. What this tends to mean is I write far too much about it, realise I don't want to plan/plot everything out, and then perform a cull. I'll add stuff, then trim it back, over and over again.

During this process, I've been thinking about some worldbuilding questions that rarely come up in guides to flesh out a settlement. These are pretty minor things, and not every settlement needs them all answered, but having an idea of them will help you stretch the verisimilitude of wherever the PCs go. Also note that for larger settlements - towns and cities - you can answer these per district or neighbourhood.

  • Who cuts the people's hair? 
    • A barber; 
    • The lord's ex-manservant; 
    • A communal hair-cutting circle; 
    • Everyone's Nan?
  • Who pulls teeth when they break or hurt? 
    • A barber-surgeon; 
    • The bartender (because they have a heavy door and string); 
    • They get in a brawl at the tavern; 
    • The local priest of the healing god?
  • Who maintains the well? 
    • A young chap with nothing better to do; 
    • A chartered guild of well-workers; 
    • The guards; 
    • A retired mason?
  • Who settles disputes? 
    • A travelling judge; 
    • Whichever outsider merchants are in town; 
    • A Mafioso; 
    • The lord's children, learning their command?
  • Where do people go when they want to relax? 
    • A back-alley dice game; 
    • A local pub; 
    • A drug den; 
    • A serene garden?
  • Who do people turn to when they have a problem? 
    • A local crime boss; 
    • The constable; 
    • A wise village elder; 
    • A kindly priest?
  • Who does everyone know you can rely on and trust? 
    • An honest bar fly; 
    • The bouncer at the pub; 
    • The sergeant of the guard; 
    • The Robin Hood-esque local pick-pocket?
  • Who does everyone revile or make fun of? 
    • A known thief; 
    • A disgraced ex-guardsman; 
    • The noble lord; 
    • The opportunistic mayor?

As a general rule of thumb, think about the things you do every day, and how the people in your world would fill those same roles. Every time you're out and about, think about how someone in your world would do the same. Where do you buy groceries, or do you grow your own? Who do you turn to when a button falls off your shirt, or do you stitch it back on? Where is everyone getting the thread, and the needles, if everyone sows their own buttons?

As I say, these aren't necessary questions to answer - but they are a useful tool, and they can make boring errands in your everyday life less boring! 

Published Settings: Wading Through the Muck

Of late I have been delving into the city of Marienburg, and as such have been reading lots of Marienburg: Sold Down the River. Reading through this material has kicked up my old thoughts on playing in an established setting, and I thought I would give my new musings a go...

Published Settings: Wading Through the Muck

Marienburg isn't the first published setting I've ever played in - but it is by far the most detailed. Usually, like with Praag or Into the Expanse, I find some way to bypass the majority of the information whilst still holding onto the mainstay themes - but something is different about Marienburg.

M:SDtR is such a comprehensive look at the otherwise unique city that I am finding myself both mystified by the wealth of knowledge and somewhat annoyed. I love that there are hundreds of ready made hooks for me, and I am adapting many of them, and shaping new ones from the information given, but I find something off about the process.

Whilst I am enjoying it, no doubt, I find the amount that is written is hard to wrap my head around. Unlike Praag, the setting isn't evolving naturally in my mind - it isn't built with broad strokes and then little bits are being added in. It is laid out in terms of districts, and then it goes through, important building by important building, with an important NPC accompanying each one. This is cool, because it gives me heaps of detail, but it is terrible because it references aspects that I can't find, or can't accurately remember because they were 3 chapters ago.

I'm finding that the whole thing should be written in a more concise manner, but then that asks the question, "How could it be done better?"

Principals of World Building

There are generally considered 2 methods of World Building, which are not mutually exclusive (in fact, almost every World Builder I've ever met has used both for the same world at different times). These are Top-Down and Bottom-Up

Top-Down

Top-Down World Building assumes that the World Builder is starting with the broadest strokes possible. They may create a planet, with its climate features, tectonic plates, etc, and will leave massive gaps. They will name a few countries, maybe, or even just continents.

In terms of Marienburg, this would be drawing the map, naming the districts (or Wards), and perhaps loosely outlining what each is: Tempelwijk is where the temples are, Suiddock is the main dock, Elftown is where the Elf Enclave is. Simple, and broad.

Once this first step has been done, the World Builder will go onto create the major trade centres, or cities, etc, in each country. They will probably name the government, and outline some basics about it. For Marienburg, they will talk about the Ten, and the Directorate, and the Guild We Haven't Heard Of.

They will keep going down a step when they have finished the previous level, filling in the gaps of people once they have outlined the roles and the whys.

This system is great, because it gives everything context, but is difficult because it presents to much work from the get-go. A World Builder working at this level has to think of a lot of things at the same time. So, many turn to Bottom-Up...

Bottom-Up

Bottom-Up is the inverse of Top-Down. The World Builder doesn't care about the world as a whole, but the individual. They will begin with a concept, like a guild, or a character, or even a system of magic. Suggest it begins with a Crime Lord. They will work him out, fill in his details, and then build his gang members, and then the Guild itself, then the location it is based in, then the city, country, continent, world from there.

In Marienburg terms, you'd start with the secret that St. Olovald isn't actually a saint, but a god in his own right. Then you'd make Sister Hilli to tend his shrine, then his history, etc.

This system is great because it allows more thorough creativity and individual cool ideas, as well as a much more manageable work load. It falls down, however, in that the World Builder often ends up with many small islands, barely connected to one another. Doesn't that Crime Lord need to interact with other organisations? Now you have to go back and edit!

What Does This Have To Do With Published Settings?

Everything. The way a published setting is written determines how it is read, and therefore, learnt. I suggest, like good World Builders, to create and write about a setting in a mixed way. Obviously one can't do both in book form without copying all the text twice and presenting it first by broad strokes, and then by individuals... But they could do that with a wiki...

Using a wiki program, or a wiki-capable program (like MyInfo, which I have now been using for a year) allows the World Builder/GM to slowly add to his work and manage it, whilst linking to other threads, and organising the entire thing into manageable chunks/folders/tags.

My Advice on Published Settings?

If I could say one thing about published settings it is that they will never be as good as your setting. You will always present your own setting better than a book ever can. This doesn't mean you should throw out your source books, but it means you have to make them your own.

Get a wiki together, and build it as you will use it. Don't include everything, otherwise you'll just be copying the book, but include enough that it makes sense, and allows you to access everything you'll need to, session to session. Keep it updated, and you'll manage that setting, and wade through that muck.

Starting a New Game with New Players

I added something new to the Bucket List. Check it out. It is going to be rad...

Recently a few friends of mine have all been talking about starting their own games, with either new or experienced players, new or experienced GMs, or some permutation of the two. Essentially, somewhere, someone is doing something new.

So, I thought I'd jot down some advice I've picked up from various sources and that I've learned myself to help this process along, for as you all should know I love it when new people join our hobby.

Starting a New Game with New Players

Starting a new game is always scary, but if it is scarier than it is exciting, you should definitely try to change that! As a new GM or Player, you should be at ease with your role if you want to have a good time and if you want everyone else to have a good time with you. As such, I've broken this up into five areas: things a GM should do for their players and themselves, and things a player should do for their GM, their fellows, and themselves.
This is what GMing is like. Exactly like this.
Always remember that a roleplaying game is a COLLABORATIVE game. If at any point you're not having fun, there is a problem, and if at any point another player isn't having fun because of you there is a problem. This problem may not be your fault, but it never hurts to help try and fix it.

So lets jump in!

Things a GM Should Do for Themselves

First of all, every GM should get a firm grasp on the rules and setting they are planning on playing in. For a first time GM, this should be an established setting and rules system. You may want to jump in and make your own, but this is suicide so early on.
Hell, even Gary Gygax was a long time wargamer before inventing DnD.
Secondly, you're going to want to prep out your first session really easily. Write down a few things - who is the bad guy, why are they bad, and what are they doing at the beginning of the session. Grab some stats together for the guy, and you should have the basic bare bones for the game.

Next think up where he is doing this bad thing and why the players should care. Usually the players will handle this one for you, but it is a good idea to think it through for yourself. If at any point in time you wouldn't care, then how can you expect your players to?

Lastly, grab a map to represent the area. There are hundreds of thousands online, just a Google search away. If, however, you can't find anything good, drop me a line and I'll email you a bunch.

Also, remember to take it easy. GMing is supposed to be fun (in my opinion, the funniest part of roleplaying), so stay cool and just go with it. If you stop having fun, so will everyone else.

Things a GM Should Do for Their Players

Next you're going to want to jot down a few things for your players. They will have a lot of questions and make it well known that you will answer anything they ask. But try and answer it in the barest way possible that still leaves questions dangling. They will become intrigued enough by what you say to ask more questions and so on. You don't want them becoming bored at any time during this early stage.

Make sure you have some notes detailing the basic concepts in the game. If you're running Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, make sure to mention that whilst magic exists, it is dangerous, rare, and mistrusted by nearly everyone. Mention that Elves and Orks and Dwarves exist, but your average Human wouldn't interact with them on a day to day basis - if (hopefully in the case of Orks) ever.
Friendly Orks. They come around to your house and eat all your legs!
Then set aside an entire session just for Character Generation. This is going to take a loooong time and you need to be ready for it. Don't just expect to be able to breeze through it in an hour.

Also, remember the rule of "Yes"! Saying "Yes" is infinitely better than saying "No". Unless there is a damn good reason why something the players' suggets wouldn't work, just let it. Trust me, it will be way more fun for you anyway.

Things a Player Should Do for Themselves

As a player, you're going to want to try and grab a hold of as much of the setting as you reasonably can. If they exist, pick up a novel based in the setting and give it a read - even the blurb will do. If it is a good book, it should tell you enough for you to get a quick grasp of the setting. Is it fantasy? Is it sci-fi?

The first page of all Black Library books is great for this.
Literally everything you need to know.
This will also give you an idea of the sorts of characters you could play. For your first character, don't be afraid to base them heavily off your favourite book, TV or film character. Even experienced players and GMs do this, as it is a ready made outlook you can adopt. Later on as you get used to the concept of roleplaying, you can tweak it, and make it your own, but copying at this stage is fine. Just keep your GM in the loop.

Looking up some pictures doesn't hurt, either!

Also, give yourself a break. Roleplaying is fun. Make sure you remember the playing part of roleplaying and you should be fine.

Things a Player Should Do for Their GM

Next, you're going to want to ask your GM a lot of questions. A lot. Like... Seriously... Heaps. If your GM is a good GM, they will be excited about the campaign enough to answer your questions (perhaps even answer them too much). If they don't want to answer any questions, then that should be an indicator that perhaps you shouldn't be playing under this person...

You should also endeavour to help your GM build the world - suggest things you want to do, or parts of your back story. Work with your fellow players to tie your story in with their's. Trust me, your GM will love you for this, as this is the hardest part of their job.
Be this guy. This guy is keen.
Finally, MAKE SURE YOU MAKE AN ADVENTURER. So many players go into games with a good heart but then dodge the conflict saying "It's just what my character would do".

That is boring and pointless. You're playing a game of heroes, so make a hero and don't be too cautious with them. Some of the best playing experiences come from character deaths; don't be silly, but don't be so careful that you don't do anything... You may as well not play if that's your plan.

Things a Player Should Do for Their Fellow Players

One of the greatest things all new players - actually all players - need to remember is that everyone is there to have fun as a group. Share with everyone, and everyone will share with you. Don't play an island. Islands are dicks.
See, what a dick. Oh, excuse me, just belongs to a dick...
Be courteous, be polite and be interested in other people's characters. The best part of playing is inter-party communication and activity. This can only happen when you talk to the other players. Seriously.

It is best to prepare an opening scene or dialogue for your character - a sentence or two of what they're doing when the other characters first meet them. Even if your characters know each other in their back story, the first time your character comes "on screen" should be memorable, and it will stick in the minds of everyone at the table.

Also, a name card never hurts!

Hopefully this advice has been helpful, and will lead to smoother first games for all!

Here is another great article on a similar subject, and I encourage everyone to read it!

The Dangers of Playing with Established Canon

The Dangers of Playing with Established Canon

Who could resist, honestly?

When it comes to running an RPG in an established setting, there are pros and cons everywhere. Many would agrue that the cons outweigh the pros (and would push for a homebrew setting) but I disagree. I'll try and outline my thoughts on it below... Let's see how this goes. 

The Benefits

I'll start with the benefits of playing with established canon/settings.

No! Nothing like this... Oh Sigmar, nothing like this please.
Firstly, for the lazy or busy GM, one of the greatest benefits is that more than half of the work is done for you - in session and pre-session - in that you have tonnes of material already written and (hopefully) balanced to the game world. Not to mention art to go along with it, sometimes novel series, and if you're very lucky, music and movies. You can throw together a perfect immersion track, or give your players an info dump without having to hold a seminar... Just lend them the book, or have a movie night. Plus, you can steal their favourite aspects of these things for your campaign. They really like Hoth? Well, set an adventure there. They are massive on Spiderman? Well, have your new Supers meet him.

Secondly, feeding off the first, is that you don't have to re-establish mood. If you're working with a setting everyone is familiar with, you shouldn't have to explain the sorts of characters you want, nor the feeling of each session. If you're playing Hellboy, then they know what to expect. This means you can focus on key points which make your game cooler - as contrast is easy to build here. They know what should be, but if you change that, it is way more effective.
Hopefully they wont look at you like this, though!
But the biggest thing is probably player expectation. You'll find your players riffing off of the setting a lot more when they know it intimately. In a homebrew Sci-Fi setting you might have players in a bar ask "Who can I go to for spare robot parts?". In Star Wars, you'll have "I look for a Jawa so I can buy some spare droid parts." See the difference? The players know what the world holds and will be able to seamlessly play in it without feeling like they're stepping on the GM's toes doing so.

However, it isn't all sunshine and daisies...

The Problems

Sorry to kill the good times, but I should probably mention the bad things that come along with established settings.
It isn't all this...
One of the worst ones for a GM who likes to world build is definitely the constrains on creative freedom. If you change something too big in someone's favoured setting, they're going to let you know. Very vocally. Some, in our sub-culture, will even let you know vocally for minor things; insignificant to you in the face of a good story, but heresy of the worst kind to them... This can stifle a GM and make them resent planning the sessions because they can't tell the story they want to tell. And be assured of this, nothing, nothing, NOTHING, breaks a game quicker than a GM who hates his job.

Next, and again somewhat feeding off the first, is that is becomes very difficult to break existing tropes. For instance, if you're playing in a Golden Age Superman game, there probably wont be any death. If you put in death, someone is going to become upset, or doubtful, or confused. Likewise if you give your 40k Space Orkz a Welsh accent instead of Cockney Hooligan... People will look at you funny and you'll break immersion pretty quickly. This can cause in group arguments and halt game play for the evening. I know, it sucks, but as I've already said, our culture is based on knowing way too much about something, and introducing cognitive dissonance into that mix rarely works out well.

Lastly is more on cognitive dissonance. If someone knows something, and they are told differently, they are very unlikely to believe the new information. The more that new information conflicts with what they already know, the more likely they are going to disbelieve. Imagine the following scenario: you're GMing a game of Dragon Ball Z, and the players are talking to Goku's father, Bardock, who they've found. Whilst chatting, he reveals that Goku is actually half Human, with a Human mother! Wow!
What're you saying about me?!
This could fly. Goku is unlike most other Saiyan's we meet, and he looks Human enough. Fine. The players might accept this. Instead, say that Goku's mother was Namekian. Yeah... No dice. People are going to argue this. He can't regrow limbs, doesn't have green skin, doesn't shoot eggs out of his mouth when he dies. He has absolutely no Namekian traits whatever... You simply wont get away with that.

But never fear! There are definite solutions to these problems...

Solutions to Said Problems

If you're planning on playing with an established setting (which I hope you do, as there are many great ones) I would suggest using the following solutions to avoid the above problems.
But what are the dragons doing there?
The easiest fix to the continuity/conflicting problems is to set your game somewhere else in the setting. Pull a Fantasy Flight Games and set your 40k RPGs in the Calixis Sector, a previously unheard of portion of space. It is just 40k enough that everyone who loves 40k can get involved, but removed enough that no one kicks up a fuss about all the apocrypha. Perfect!

Just grab a map of your setting, look for a section that isn't detailed much (trust me, unless you're playing the most ridiculous settings out there you shouldn't have a problem with this) and plonk your campaign down in it. Or, alternatively, grab a section of the timeline where nothing much is happening and put it in there. This way you get the locations everyone loves without fiddling too much with everything. I would suggest putting it far enough in the past or future that no one would alive in it that is alive in the canon setting.

But probably the best way to go about it (only if you have an understanding group) is to add into your gamer charter a section detailing the rule YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary. Basically state that this version of the setting is the group's version (don't say your version, but the group's) and that it is alternate to the canon one. It still has everything in the canon one +/- some of the stuff you don't like...
Midichlorians anyone?
But set up a Nolanverse or a where you can do no wrong, and that everything odd is just a quirk of this version of the setting. This solution wont work for every group, but if you have understanding players (and if you include them in the change making process sometimes) they may be more forgiving and just let it slide and enjoy your setting for its oddness.

I hope that has settled some of the problems with using established universes, and I hope it has encouraged you to give it a try! Have you ever had good experiences with established canon? Bad ones? Let me know!

The Importance of Myth


First of all, I would like to apologise for my lack of posts this week. I would like to give you a grim tale of adventure and heartbreak that would act as an excuse as to why I didn't post... But I can't. Sorry.

Hopefully this very long post will make it all better?

* * *

The Importance of Myth

Nothing evokes the human creative spirit more than mythology. Mythology binds a culture that is alien to understandable ideals – love, courage, adventure, fear. By studying the mythology of a culture, one can see how individual nuances of their lives match up to the human condition and ‘make sense’. For this reason, myth is utterly important to creating a Conculture.

What is a Conculture?
I have talked before about Concultures, but I have never really defined them. A Conculture, like its similarly named brother (a Conlang), is a constructed culture for use in world building and storytelling. Concultures are one of the greatest ways to evoke a sense of fantasy in a world: familiar snippets of the real world, maybe a mixture of Nordic practices with Mesoamerican religious ideals, are able to clash with purely made-up concepts to breed new and interesting worlds. This union of the alien and the familiar allows the reader to be sucked in and ‘understand’ the world they are viewing, but also to be lost in its complexity. The world isn’t a cardboard cut-out. It is living and breathing and not fully understood.

How can Mythology be used to evoke Culture?
As stated, mythology can reveal ‘reasons’ behind practises. This could be the meaning behind a certain ritual, the origin of a certain phrase, or why one culture despises another.  Mythology reveals the motivations behind a culture’s people.

One only needs to look at examples of world mythology to see how it can assist in evoking the feel of a culture. Consider Greek mythology. The stories of the various heroes depict a very clear message to the audience: the price of immortality is unhappiness. All the great heroes who strove for immortality (and thus, being equal to the gods) were met with sadness and hardship. Heracles was more beast than man and killed everyone he held dear, Achilles ended up in a meaningless existence in the Underworld which he would have traded for a normal life, and Jason ends it all with being undignifyingly hit on the head by a cross-beam.

Even the stories of the gods represent a confined universe where one must not reach beyond their station: Uranus is usurped, as is Cronus, and so does Zeus fear it himself. Persephone attempts to avoid her marriage to Hades, but is bound by the covenant that was forced upon her. Hera constantly attempts to tame her wayward husband. Prometheus is chained up and tortured for sympathising with humanity. And so the list goes on…

From these stories we can see the ideas of the Ancient Greek culture coming forward: the choice between family and fame, the virtue of humility, the role of the father patriarch who fears the usurping son, the bonds of marriage, the effects of infidelity, the consequences of disobedience…

So how can I make my own Myths?
The process is, unfortunately, a difficult one. World mythologies seem to surround a few core concepts, and almost all world religions have stories that concern every one of these events and concerns.

Creation: Creation myths tend to focus on a cyclic Mother Goddess who gives birth to the world and everything that stems from it. Sometimes, as in the Judeo-Christian religions, this figure is male, and acts as a benefactor-creator to existence. But nonetheless, the creation is always intentional, and the world is always created out of a primordial ‘nothingness’ or ‘chaos’. Furthermore, there is always a residing fear that this ‘chaos’ (which often takes an ocean motif) will once again take over the world.
The Independence of Man: Mankind is either liberated from the clutches of evil or ignorance, or is ejected from bliss by the god/s for some slight. This event represents the beginnings of human civilisation and is often put against the concept of ‘free will’. Mankind is allowed to act as it will, but with the threat of damnation should it stray too far.
The Golden Age: A Golden Age of Mankind begins in which heroes exist and do great deeds. However, the depravity of mankind eventually wins through, and, despite the efforts of the heroes, the end comes and the concept of Death is made very VERY evident.
The Calamity: Chaos returns to destroy mankind for its sins and the god/s regret having made mankind in the first place. However, the piety or justice represented by a select few humans turns the tide of this calamity, and Order is once more restored to a world which is to be rebuilt by the gracious survivors.
The Cycle of Nature: With the world restored, nature is made abundant again and the Creator once again accepts their children and restores the tri-part cycle of nature – Birth, Death and Rebirth – which represents the crops, the cycle of pregnancy and the human condition. Common motifs are seeds and the moon.

In addition to these few ‘core’ myths, there are many parables which are woven into these myths and others. These are culture specific, however, so one must look at what their culture would find important, and then write myths detailing those features.

Now that you have your core concepts understood, you are able to make your myths. Like any stories, these need central characters, but these characters should be simplistic and represent manifested ideals, rather than true humans. Generally, these tend to surround a familial structure. So, one would need a Father, Mother, Son, Daughter, and possibly a Brother and Sister role. Further, the concept of a Justice and a Trickster are pretty universal. These roles can blend together, but they should be defined. (Note, you need not make these clear cut family members. Just simply symbols of those familial obligations. Therefore, you could substitute the “Father” with a bear, and the “Mother” with a doe, for instance (which is actually the system used by the Vendri).)

Now that you have your characters, consider what would happen were these archetypes to interact, and play off of those results. This should be very easy for you to do, so I won’t detail it specifically. I will, however, mention that in many world religions, the Trickster is often to instigator of events.

You should be all set now! HAPPY MYTHOLOGISING!

What myths have you made for your Conculture? What myths do you think are interesting to point out that go against the conventions I have listed above? What can we learn from these myths? Put your answers to these questions in the comments section below! And don’t forget to subscribe to ‘versamus’ on the left side of this page!

Idioms and Their Place in Conlangs...

Culture is central to idioms, certainly, but idioms can also be central to culture. Granted, a language's culture creates its idioms, but one can, when conlanging and conworlding, explore ones conculture through the creation of idioms.

What are Idioms?I guess the first thing we need to focus on, is, what exactly an idiom is. An idiom is a phrase or word that is taken to mean something that it literally doesn't within the normal confines of the language. In this way, an idiom is a figurative phrase.

But idioms are more than that. Idioms are colloquial language. They share similar routes to slang, and slang is developed from language creativity. Idioms only exist because someone within the language chose to bend the literal meaning to emphasis the event or phenominon that they are now describing.

As such, this is a very good way for conlangers to give weight to words and to show the importance of some features of their culture.

So, how do I make Idioms?
There are a couple of methods to make idioms, but each requires a different level of planning before hand, yet neither are exclusive of the other. Sorry to confuse you, but you'll shortly understand what I mean.

The First Method: What Do Humans Find Interesting/Annoying?
Most idioms concern things that all humans find interesting and or annoying. Even if some languages take the idiom to new heights, they will, at their core, be about something that all humans must face.

So think about these things. What do you find inherently interesting, as a human? Food. Sleep. Love. Sex. Safety. Wealth. Family. Friends. Those are the main things that almost all humans care about (I say 'almost', because some people might not care about love or wealth etc, but they are still important to the list as someone within the language, at some point, is certain to have cared about it). So that is a good starting point.

Now imagine the extremes of these 'interesting' things:
Food = Hunger, starvation, famine : bloating, fatness, gluttony.
Sleep = Fatigue, being overworked : Apathy, laziness, being well-rested.
Et cetera, et cetera.

These are the extremes that people think about on a somewhat daily basis, and are therefore, quite possibly, the things that are going to be discussed regularly. No one likes repeating themselves, so these are going to be the things that are exaggerated and are going to have new and, sometimes funny, ways of being expressed.

GOOD! You have your idiom topics.

Now just repeat for things we find annoying (note, these sometimes co-incide with the previous lists, which just means there may very well be more of those types of idioms).

The Second Method: What Do Your Conpeople Care About?
Ok, this might sound a lot like the previous method, but it is drastically different. Whilst previously we were talking about universal concerns, here we are talking about VERY SPECIFIC concerns...

What do YOUR PEOPLE care about? Are they philosophers? Farmers? Warriors? Do they focus on a horse dominated society? Is pottery sacred to them? Are some forms of food forbidden? What is there take on gender equality? Are women feared, reveared, or sheltered? Are men just there for procreation, or are they Gods gift to the world to keep order?

These questions will fuel your idioms, but will also come from idioms created through the previous method. Whilst you are thinking of clever ways to express deep hunger, or tiredness, or a lack of sexual happiness, think about the words you are using... Think about the word routes you are using.

For instance, take a look at my conlang, Fengwë:

The Fengwë word for 'hand' (dar) comes from the word 'woman' (da), because it is assumed that women are nurturing and protective and that they 'hold the children'. The word for 'wife' (koda), therefore, comes from the conjuction of ko- (beautiful) and -da (woman). However, the Vendri (the people who speak Fengwë) have made a little joke, and have named the 'hand one uses to masturbate with' as the kodar; which draws parallel with ones wife in an example of Vendri humour. Furthermore, this is made 'funnier' by the fact that the verb 'to fornicate' comes from ko- (beautiful) and -daros (to hold), meaning something along the lines of a beautiful embrace.

As you can see, the Vendri have a very childish sence of humour, but it is a good way of expanding the language and the culture in directions you wouldn't normally think about.

Don't even get me started on the Vendri word for flatulence!

Ok, so, that done, now what?
So you have your lists, and you have your ideas for silly little cultural nuances... Well. Go at it! Think of the most absract ways you can express your topic in your language (hell, make up some new words if you have to) and you'll be surprised with what you come out with!

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Here are some Fengwë idioms to get your creative juices flowing:

Izi anëtisë?
"Are you at peace?", similar to English "Are you OK?"
Fezosusëoi dë sayirg.
"He is cleaning the arena.", to be delayed so long that the awaited action is no longer desired
Peyisosë mën Fengrufol!
"I received two winters!", to feel hard done by
Ellwësosesë tesisik yelli!
"I shout your victories!", warrior greeting