A back-derivation on the name of a setting I designed in my teens.
My childhood was delightful and unexpected in many ways; one idea that came into vogue was to design fictional worlds with two overriding constraints: Each world had some quasi-liquid substance called smord and some group of persons called motens. motens and smord. I named my world Slodoop, a name I had actually come up with for an earlier world back when I was playing with cold foggy swamps and towering metal mountains and walnut-ratsI still love walnut-rats… on a sea-air moon. When I redesigned Slodoop as the bottom of the universe I added a back-derivation for the name.
One of my goals in designing Slodoop was to ensure it was immune to large-scale history by being infinite and isolated. I thus defined the vast majority of Slodoop to be outlands Outlands: “wilderness” inhabited by “monsters”. . Scattered widely through this were settled lands called slos Slo: a region of land settled by “people”. surrounded by large patrolled regions called inlands Inlands: a 20–50 mile wide strip of uninhabited, patrolled, monster-free land surrounding a slo. .
One thing I was very clear on was that people would have to be crazy to live outside a slo. I never really defined what was so nasty in the outlands. I was pretty clear that goblins and other wimpy monsters could survive in the outlands without trouble, but that even the largest most militaristic slo couldn’t expect to caravan through the outlands to a neighboring slo and have more than half a dozen lucky souls make it to their destination. I did envision a few hermits living in the outlands, people the slo-dwellers regarded with mingled fear and awe and avoided as overpowered madmen.
I was also clear that slos were very far apart. Hundreds of miles. There weren’t such things as close-together slos, though it wasn’t till a decade after designing slodoop that I finally came up with an explanation for why this was. The existence of pipods Pipod: vaguely like a technological witch’s broom… provided some inter-slo interaction, albeit without much trade. Pipods were also how slos could patrol such a large area as the inlands.
So, we’ve seen what I did with the first part of the word “slodoop”. Now for the second half; but first, the breakdowns in settlements I termed along the way.
A vil is a collection of people who all know one another personally, led informally by whichever member(s) of the vil the others respect. A settlement with a vil social structure is called a village.
A tau is a collection of interconnected vils. Everyone recognizes everyone else and knows someone who knows them. Leadership is usually still informal with some type of vil of the leaders of the other vils. A settlement with a tau social structure is called a town.
A bur is also a collection of taus, but large enough that there are strangers in the burg. Leadership is an extension of tau leadership, with vil leaders grouping into tau-like leadership forming truces to leader larger groups, etc. A settlement with a bur social structure is called a burg.
A metro is large enough there are strangers but with structured leadership. This structure may be a militaristic dictator, a representative democracy, or anything in between, but it is not organic. Government is separate from society. A settlement with a metro social structure is called a metropolis.
The above ordering is important; later elements in the list are called “bigger” than earlier elements, regardless of actual size.
Any given slo can be characterized by the biggest type of settlement that the slo has more than one of. A small slo with several villages and possibly one town is called a vildoop. If there are several towns, it’s a taudoop; several burgs makes a burdoop; several metropolises a metrodoop.
Given the above, Slodoop is by definition a collection of slos. Some people argue that this means it might have one single larger-than-slo settlement, but since there isn’t a maximum slo size that doesn’t make much sense. Others argue that the outlands are not part of Slodoop, and indeed this has etymological support, but in practice Slodoop is used to refer to the outlands too.