World Building, How I Approach It: An Overview
My espionage campaign world is an alternate reality version of the world of today; it is our world with all the same past and present history, science & technology, and pop culture touchstones, but it also embraces spy fiction tropes from books, movies, television shows, as well as the pulp magazines of the 1920s-30s-40s and even comic books.
The missions are straight out of the spy fiction tropes playbook. They are fantastical in the sense of certain films of the James Bond film franchise or the storyline from pulp magazines. Alternatively, they might be gritty and tough, like a hardboiled detective novel. The plots might be Byzantine in nature: complex, filled with twists and turns, multi-layered; additionally, the machinations of internal agency and governmental bureaucracy could possibly come into play to taint the agents progress and impact the resolution of the case. There might also be a weird fiction aspect where occult & supernatural, macabre, surreal, metaphysics, mysticism, magic realism, etc. elements are a core element or major or minor plot point of the mission. Lastly, they may be a mix of all or some of the characteristics above.
Examples of Weird Fiction in spy fiction
- In the Wild Wild West, James West and Artemus Gordon were once transported to an alternate dimension inside a painting; James West was transported to an alternate plane of existence, Limbo; and James West was once shrunk to “doll-size.”
- In The Avengers, John Steed was once shrunk to “doll-size.”
- In the James Bond film Live and Let Die, fortune telling via tarot card reading is a major plot element/device. Also, Baron Samedi, the voodoo spirit of death factors into the plot, his “true nature” is never really explained/played up, but hit is hinted at in the end of the film; In Die Another Day, there were biopunk/genetic manipulation elements