The taboo in your fantasy world


Episode 171 The Taboo in your fantasy world

Today’s Topic How I failed at understanding taboos until I started researching this episode

I always overthought what a taboo was. I focused on the idea that taboos are these forbidden ideas, but how do you create them. How do these ideas form in a culture? Some, like murder, seem to be universal. However, others will be very culturally specific.  Some taboos seem to be old cultural norms.

Wait, you are saying that some taboos use to be considered cultural norms

Yes, and this is the secret that made me realize the true pattern needed to create cultural taboos. They are much more simple than forbidden acts in a culture.

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The secret pattern to create taboos original to a fantasy culture

The truth in all of the research I have done is most taboos are really things as small as impolite and end in the death of people break them. And they seem to form up in 4 categories:

  1. The negatives to important cultural norms
  2. Extra holy acts
  3. Reactions to changes in religion
  4. State embracing cultural outrage

Wiki has a great place to start looking at taboos.

Taboos should be easy

You had done all the hard work when you created the history, cultural norms, the state, and the religions of your fantasy world. Join Michael and Jeffery in this podcast episode at they look at the wonderful world of taboos.

Podcast Show Flow

  • Shout out to undercroft group (Jennifer B.) for the suggestion
  • Taboo is created when cultures believe certain acts are too sacred or accursed
    • Really just forbidden customs
  • From cultural beliefs, Religion, or State
    • Links from the past shared experience
    • Misunderstanding of the natural world
    • Deal with risk
    • Sometimes replacing existing norms
  • Consequences
    • From impolite to death
  • Freud’s universal taboos
    • Incest and patricide or matricide
  • Common Taboos
    • Sex Insect, necrophilia, interracial marriage, adultery (More so for woman), pedophilia
    • Food
    • No eating of sacred cows, kosher diet
    • Murder
  • Neat taboos
    • Don’t hog the butter knife in Sweden
    • Kissing on the lips (only part of courtship in NA or Euro)
    • Not seeing or speaking to betroth until marriage (Afghan)


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For complete Fantasy Worldbuilding, show notes go to


The Worldbuilding Task for the Day

Look at this what are important customs that if interfered cause offense

Look at sacred religious acts to perform

Look at behaviors the state supports changing

The Real-world Task for the Day

Break the most sacred taboo in the world. Go to join the Facebook group

Michael's Resources

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