Constructed World

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Because why just stick to our world?

"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."
Star Wars' famous opening text crawl.

A constructed world is a completely fictional setting, rather than our world in The Future, another planet in our galaxy, or an Alternate History. The heroes of its stories are usually the locals, who neither have nor need a connection with our present-day Earth. In other words, a world that is not obligated to have a connection to a standard existing planet like present day Earth.

This world might be built from standard components, but there is deliberate World Building going on. It may or may not have a Fantasy World Map.

As one of the most common fantasy settings, some form of Functional Magic is typically present, but this isn't required: constructed worlds exist that have little or no magic. Most High Fantasy takes place in constructed worlds, as well as a great deal of Low Fantasy and Heroic Fantasy.

Compare A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away..., which is used more in science fiction but usually has the same effect. Contrast Magical Land, where the focus is on visitors to the setting and Like Reality Unless Noted. Earth All Along is a subversion of this trope.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Daikurikku in Simoun. In fact, figuring out its bizarre laws (and the meaning behind pseudo-Latin terms) is among the (many) fun points of the series.
  • The unnamed world of Eiichiro Oda's One Piece has very distinct geography and weather completely different from our Earth. And the Fantasy Kitchen Sink mythology and the Schizo Tech, like the telecommunication snails ...
  • Similar to One Piece, Dragon Ball takes place on an Earth-like world (also called Earth) that clearly has nothing to do with our Earth.
  • The original Fullmetal Alchemist canon is this. The first anime however seems like this but is eventually revealed to be an Alternate History.
  • Naruto is set in an unnamed world on an unnamed continent (or maybe subcontinent), but is clearly fictional and a lot of World Building is done early on (for instance, we learn about the politics and geography of the world hundreds of chapters before it really becomes relevant). Being a series about Ninja, it has a lot of Japanese influences.
  • Windaria, at least in Streamline's English release, is completely unexplained.
  • Record of Lodoss War, and its spinoff Legend of Crystania.
  • Amon Saga.
  • Digimon X-Evolution. This is the only version of Digimon that is all Mons and no humans enter the picture.
  • The world of Hunter × Hunter mixes a fantasy setting with modern day technology, Sci-Fi elements, and a wide variety of Mix-and-Match Critters. Not to mention they write in a different language. Of note is that the world map is basically an upside-down version of Earth, and there are places with names like Yorknew City. But then it's revealed that this upside-down Earth is only a small fraction of the actual surface area of the planet.
  • The Continent in Queen's Blade and in their Alternate Universe, Queen's Blade Grimoire has Melfareland.
  • Like the games, the Pokémon anime and Pokémon Special manga seem to be set in this - in fact, both resemble a Constructed World more than the games do!
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has no resemblance to our world apart from featuring humans, although certain references hint that it may take place on Earth in some distant future.
  • Seikoku no Dragonar is set in a completely isolated world built on magic and dragons.
  • Kemono no Souja Erin is a complete, isolated world.
  • Spice and Wolf.
  • Letter Bee is set in a completely separate world.
  • It isn't relevant to the story at all, but One-Punch Man (at least the manga and anime) takes place in one. Distance shots of the planet shows a giant continent shaped like Saitama prefecture, cities are named after letters of the alphabet, and one brief shot of the moon landing shows a flag that doesn't exist in real life.
    • Speaking of the moon, several shots in episode 12 reveal that it has lunar mare in the shape of Saitama prefecture as well.
  • Slayers takes place in a Medieval European Fantasy world whose only very occasional similarities the the real world fall under Rule of Funny (like a bandit leader disguising himself as Colonel Sanders because reasons).

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • The setting of Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnęamise is similar to Earth during the early Space Age—but not identical. Almost everything about the world, from geography to clothing to eating utensils, is at least slightly different.

     Films — Live Action 

    Literature 
  • Dragon Queen
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, as depicted in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, is the Trope Codifier. His own term for this type of setting was Secondary World. Hilarious in Hindsight, since according to Word of God Middle Earth, also known as Midgard, is our earth — only set in the far-gone mythical past of gods and monsters, as a far, far prequel to all Anglo-Saxon myths. So, in theory, it's Earth All Along.
  • The setting of The Wood Beyond the World. William Morris is usually credited as the creator of the modern "invented world" fantasy (departing from the tradition of setting fantasy stories in Arthurian Briton, fairyland or Arabian Nights-esque Arabia). Tolkien read the novel as a child, and it was a major influence on his work.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld has no physical connection to our own. However, its basic nature is based on several old theories about how our world works, such as it being flat, and being orbited by the sun, and being on the back of a giant turtle. Its cities, nations and sometimes individual people are often clear analogies to those from earth's past and present.
    • There are hints at there being The Multiverse, however, and memes and particles of inspiration as real physical things sometimes end up on the Discworld that are clearly from our world.
    • In the The Science of Discworld books, a clear connection is finally established, but characteristically it goes the other way around than you'd expect: the wizards at the Unseen University conduct an experiment to remove all magic from an area, which unexpectedly creates a Bigger on the Inside universe — ours, baffling in its lack of Narrative Causality. This also clearly establishes that the Discworld is set in an alternative universe with different natural laws.
  • Tarra in Arcia Chronicles.
  • Kertiana in Reflections of Eterna by the same author.
  • Terreille (the Realm of Light), Kaeleer (the Shadow Realm), and Hell (the Dark Realm) in Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series. They seem to bear no relation to our world, and the human races may not be human as we understand it.
  • In Michael Moorcock's The Elric Saga, Melniboné and the surrounding New Kingdoms. Like Middle Earth, it's supposed to be Earth's long-forgotten past, but is so different it may as well be another world.
  • Greg Egan's Orthogonal trilogy not only takes place in a fictional setting, it takes place in a constructed universe with unique and meticulously researched physics totally different from our own, and focuses on a race of aliens that evolved in such a universe.
  • Brandon Sanderson's adult fantasy all takes place in the same verse called the The Cosmere. Word of God has officially stated that Earth does not exist in the Cosmere.
  • Many novels by Nick Perumov are set in a multiverse called The Consistent. His series Chronicles of Hjorvard and Chronicles of the Rift (including the novel Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword) are set in worlds that are part of that multiverse.
  • Take Back the Skies is set in the fictional world of Tellus, notable for the thick, tumultuous storms that surround its islands.
  • Manifestation: The story takes place primarily in the fictional city of San Lorien, in the fictional Northern Union.
  • Steven Erikson and Ian Esselmont created a fictional setting that is used in the Malazan Book of the Fallen novels amongst many others.
  • The world of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. The story takes place exclusively on the continents of Westeros and Essos and their surrounding islands, but there's other lands as well such as Sothoryos and Ulthos. This also applies to its TV adaptation, Game of Thrones.
  • The setting of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time is implied to be set in a distant future Earth After the End, but the setting, geography, and cosmology are so utterly different from ours that it qualifies as much as Middle-Earth does.
  • Mid-World from The Dark Tower by Stephen King is something of a subversion; while it is completely separate from our world and has its own history clearly inspired by Middle-Earth, it also has connections to our world through various portals and the technology and culture of the Great Old Ones. Even in its current state, some elements from our world, such as Beatles songs and Amoco gas pumps have established themselves in Mid-World, and the majority of the plot is spent with the Mid-World-native protagonist hopping between his world and ours, and vice versa for his ka-tet drawn from our world.
  • Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's The Death Gate Cycle is, like The Wheel of Time, highly implied to be a distant future timeline of Earth's After the End, but between the magic, the sundering into a number of different worlds, and various other factors, it also qualifies as a Constructed World.
  • The setting of Dragonlance definitely qualifies.
  • The setting of Forgotten Realms qualifies as well.

    Tabletop Games 

    Toys 
  • The BIONICLE universe had no connection whatsoever to ours, despite inter-dimensional travel being possible there. Multiple alternate universes and pocket dimensions exist, but none resembling ours. The creators have avoided having live-action adaptations of the series for fear that this segregation from the real world would be compromised in order to make way for a Human-Focused Adaptation.

    Video Games 
  • The Twin Worlds of The Longest Journey are somewhat of a gray area. On one hand, its starts off as your regular run-of-the-mill Cyber Punk dystopia. On the other hand, we soon learn, that what we perceived as "Earth" is actually a world called "Stark" and it has a twin world named Arcadia that does not follow the laws of science but instead is governed by chaotic magic. What's more, these two worlds are, in fact, Earth... or, at least, they were Earth twelve thousand years ago. Therefore, there is a connection called "Balance" between them which has its own eerie rules...
  • Strangereal, the original Ace Combat setting, is a completely independent world, despite being heavily based on modern-day Earth. Word of God is that it was constructed so that the game could feature large-scale conflicts between superpowers without the nuclear deterrent (nukes still exist on Strangereal, but are much rarer and treated with the same level of horror as they were back in World War II.)
  • The Iron Grip series has Theia, a Planetary Romance Earth analogue with wildly anachronistic Punk Punk societies and nations, an ice age climate and a Purely Aesthetic Era feel.
  • The noir fantasy world of the Thief series (though it does have characters with Earth-like names, it's very clearly set in a setting completely removed from everyday reality).
  • The unnamed but obviously constructed world of the Drakan series.
  • Celenheim in Enclave.
  • Azeroth from the Warcraft series and World of Warcraft.
  • The Elder Scrolls is set in a very well-constructed world called Aurbisnote , though the games are set primarily on a single continent called Tamriel.
  • Shining Force has its own fictional map.
  • RuneScape is set on the Medieval European Fantasy planet of Gielinor. Although it's supposed to be a planet in our universe (most of the life on it was imported from Earth by Guthix), it might as well be a separate world.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura: The eponymous Arcanum.
  • Diablo: Sanctuary.
  • Dragon Age series: Thedas. Incidentally, even the name of the world is constructed: it was a shortcut for "The Dragon Age setting" used by the developers until they decided to Throw It In.
  • Dungeon Siege: Aranna.
  • Pokémon is a strange case - All main-series regions (and some side-series ones) are based on ones in the real world, real-world animals and locations are referenced in older Pokedex entries, and a Team Aqua grunt mentions Poseidon in OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire. However, the unusual technology, elementally-superpowered wildlife with no onscreen real-life animals in sight, increasingly complex and unique mythology and history, and plain old Word Of God, among other factors, make it very much seem like a Constructed World.
  • Sacred: Ancaria.
  • Septerra Core: Septerra.
  • Siege of Avalon: Eurale.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule.
  • Super Mario Bros.: The Mushroom Kingdom. Originally Mario and Luigi were supposed to have come from Brooklyn, where Donkey Kong and the other early games were set, and then they got sucked down a drain-pipe into the Mushroom Kingdom; later games, like the various "Yoshi" games involving Baby Mario, contradict this (at least for the Bros' childhoods), and the idea has basically been abandoned.
  • Star Fox: The Lylat System.
  • Almost all of the Final Fantasy series: Every game takes place in its own constructed world.
  • The Neverhood: Constructed out of clay.
  • Early western promotional materials for Sonic the Hedgehog presented the games as being set in this. Later the games established that they were indeed on Earth.
  • Dark Souls: Lordran, Drangleic, and Lothric, which all (probably, given the nebulous nature of the franchise's lore and storytelling) exist in the same Constructed World, just during a different Age of Fire.
  • Dark Souls' spiritual predecessor and successor, Demon's Souls and Bloodborne, take place in the kingdom of Boleteria and the city of Yharnam, respectively, both of which are obviously single locations in a larger fantasy setting.
  • Ar tonelico: Ar Ciel.
  • Dishonored is set in the city of Dunwall, on the island of Gristol, capital of the Empire of the Isles. Next to it there's the unexplored Pandyssian Continent. That's about all we know of the setting... apart from one passage from a book by a Mad Scientist, describing how the planet and its Sun are hurtling through a dark, howling Cosmos towards a Void that will eventually consume everything. It's that kind of setting...
    • The sequel is set on the island of Serkonos, the southernmost island of the Empire (and Corvo's hometown).
  • The main setting of The Night of the Rabbit, Mousewood, is based on unpublished tales written by the game designer Matt Kempke. These stories can be unlocked during gameplay, though.
  • Fire Emblem is set on the continents of Archanea, Valentia, Jugdral, Elibe, Magvel, and Tellius, with the first three sharing the same world. Ylisse and Valm, on the other hand, are simply the future versions of Archanea and Valentia, respectively. Hoshido and Nohr presumably takes place on a different, currently unnamed continent separate from the others.
  • Gears of War: Sera, a rare non-fantasy example that serves as a dystopian Science Fiction version of this trope.
  • All of the Infocom (later Activision) Zork games. The games make satirical references to Earth culture but there's no evidence that this is Earth. Some sources suggest that Zork is the name of the planet on which these games are set.
  • A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky is set on a world (the Lydian continents and the surface below) whose history, and prehistory, is fairly in-depth, including a few things that almost no one knows, and the PCs have to rediscover.
  • The only evident similarity between the JASF: Jane's Advanced Strike Fighters universe and the real world is that all the planes are the same. You're flying for the Eastern Democratic Alliance (implied to be something like either United States or NATO; no real explanation is given), and the game takes place on an island divided up between two Quracs called North and South Azbaristan.
  • Both of Supergiant's games, Bastion and Transistor are set in different examples of this.
  • The world of Hillys in Beyond Good & Evil.
  • Lunarosse. Since Corlia made it herself, it literally is a constructed world.
  • The Ogre Battle series takes place primarily on the continents/nations of Zenobia and Lodis, whose geography has nothing to do with Earth's.
  • Dragon Quest games from IV onwards take place in such worlds; the first three look that way at first, but arguably subvert it as III reveals that it all takes place on a very Earth-like world, and that the differently-shaped lands of the first two games (which III is a prequel to) are its Hollow World.

    Webcomic 
  • Tower of God is set in a tower that has at least 135 floors, with each floor being several kilometres high and having a surface the size of North America. They don't breathe air but Shinsoo which gets more viscous the higher you get, which is why swords are replaced by simple rapiers called Needles. An outside world exists and people are faintly aware of it, but it's the kind of world where people build gods and children get trapped in caves for eons.
  • Overside, the setting of Rice Boy, Order of Tales, and Vattu.
  • Archipelago is set in a world built upon the ruins of infinitely giant ships, which crashed a long time before the story.
  • Kubera
  • Bits Fair is set in a fictional pre-industrial world that feels like a mix between Asian and European cultures, featuring a vast empire that encompasses an entire subcontinent and mindly powers.
  • Unsounded is set on an entirely invented continent divided between several nations, with an enormous amount of background detail devoted to showing that this world is nothing like ours.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Conworld

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ConstructedWorld