Did you know that a world can be more than just a place where things happen and life may exist? It can also be the catalyst that moves a story forward, shapes a character, and shows a path. Certain worlds, especially in science fiction, tend to embody certain storylines. Keep in mind, a world need not always mean a planet. These could just as easily be related to continents, regions, or starships. Not every world falls under just one category. Some have several. Not every category of world is necessary for a complete story. Plenty of stories take place wholly in one setting. Still, should you choose to use these worlds, here they are: The sixteen worlds. The Unified World: Moral or Ethical Compass for the Setting The Unified world is a world in which there is no war between countries and there is usually a unified government or economy. Very often, this world acts as a nation of its own, providing a pointed thrust that reflects a certain moral view. Because this world is often the representative of an even larger group that it may be a part of, it becomes a gauge of just how important to the plot something is going to be while giving a moral compass to follow. Earth in Star Trek is a prime example of a Unified World. While humans may not have founded the Federation, they are the most vocal members when it comes to reflecting a way of life that members of other races seem to adapt to. Remember Worf drinking prune juice and tying his hair back? The City World: Final conflict and seat of power. The City World is the epitome of a Unified world, but it is often characterized by much darker impulses. The world, in this case, is no longer natural. It has been brought completely under control of those who have unified and is thus often the dark truth, the threat that lies out in the open. It becomes very clear early in the story that this world is a seat of darkness or, at least, extreme moral challenges. It is also a hotbed of political scheming, but the results of this particular facet usually show most prominently in the world it affects, usually the Craft World. Coruscant is a good example of the City World, and likely the most universally recognized. Should the hero rise to good and save the day, this is the most logical ending world for a series of story arcs. The Advanced World: Spiritual and health recovering and downtime. Author’s views. This world is an example of a more forgiving, emotionally in touch world. Unlike the Unified World, it may have many societies living in relative harmony or even having occasional wars. The advanced world is usually stunning to look at with rolling hills and deep forests and lovely cities that nestle naturally in valleys or on hilltops. This world, moreso than even the Religious World, is the spiritual nexus to the Universe. It is here that the party will retreat to when one is gravely wounded or after an extreme plot point occurs. It is here that the hero is reminded of the balance that must exist in the world and it is here that most often reflects the author’s view of life, which is why the Advanced World can vary so radically. It is here we see, finally, the path the hero and friends must embrace if they are to succeed. Often, it is also the world that offers them an out, where they are confronted by their cowardice and complacency, and must overcome it before they can overcome the external evil that may have so recently bested them. The Pleasure World: Embracing the self, invigoration and enlightenment The Pleasure World is a world driven by emotions, giving a paradise to retreat to and allowing a much needed break from a story that has become too heavy. This world can be used to lighten spirits and invigorate weary warriors. It is the mead hall after a hard day’s war or the loving wife waiting to tend to the hero’s armor and horse. The Pleasure World is succor for a weary mind and heart. Here, the internal challenges will have more to do with self realization, embracing a hard truth and learning to let it make the hero more whole. Without the distraction and pressing urgency of the quest, the party has time to reflect and learn things about themselves and one another that they did not know or had only suspected. The Taboo World: Transformation and future consequences This world is one of the most difficult to detail. It is often full of strong willed people who defy convention and more often than not embodies the quirks of the characters, only in a larger than life manner. Here, characters are tempted to change, to undergo a transformation that may tear the group apart or draw it together. The full implications of this world are often not seen until long after the characters have left it, often not until the Warring or Pleasure worlds. This might be a world where anything goes or a world that appeals specifically to one or more characters’ hidden natures. Many times, this may be a pirate base or library world. Often, this world is in direct conflict with the Unified World on a moral level and is often the world upon which characters do things they may later regret. The Taboo World will have consequences, usually near the end game, even though it normally appears early or midway through the story. The Religious World: Disillusionment, realization of place as heroes The Religious World may be the Unified World, the Taboo World, or a world all its own. Glorious cathedrals and specific dogmas define this world. It is often skewed by devotion, full of those who mean well but may be rigid or overzealous. The Religious World is a holy city on a grand scale. Here, the party learns their place as outsiders, realizing that they can no longer return to a world or system that has not seen or will not see the reality of the universe. The Religious World is often a world of self and universal denial, holding that blind faith will see all things well. It is often a world of conflict, especially for the supporting cast who may find their faith tested. The religious world is most likely to cause a fragmenting of the party, sending characters off on their own paths for a short time as they seek to resolve the fact that they are no longer “inside” the universe they protect. In the end, this world draws the party together by showing them that they have to rely upon one another. This world is often a prelude to the Warring World. Unlike the taboo world, the reunification the Religious World causes is often seen by the time the team leaves the planet. The Warring World: Camaraderie, conviction, and a challenge of strength and teamwork The Warring World is a world that is either torn apart by its own physical or political conflict or one in a series of worlds to be fought for or with. It is often here that soldier characters and political opponents find their mettle tested. The Warring World is often the last major conflict before facing the antagonist, and doing so may still happen on this world or on another such as the City World. It makes sense that the conflict comes into full strength on a world based on conflict, such as Planet P in Starship Troopers or the Death Star in Star Wars. This is rarely the end of a hero’s path; instead, it is a proving ground that reveals weaknesses and strengths. It may end an arc and start another or lead up to the end of an arc. It is rare for allegience to be tested in such a world, for the Warring World is meant to draw upon and create camaraderie and strength of conviction. The Scarred World: Temptation or wrath of the hero In contrast, the Scarred World is a world where the heroes have seen a major defeat or come across the ruins of an ancient and defeated society. The world may be smaller and the defeat more personal, or both may be on a grand scale. Often, morals and ethics are put in a tug of war and the protagonist becomes his own worst enemy as he wonders why he could not save the world he stands upon. He must choose good or evil. This is often the world upon which the villain will explain the follies of the race that destroyed their world or their reasons for doing so. If the battle is purely internal, it is the stage upon which the hero finds himself faltering in belief or gripped by rage. He has a chance to fall here, and on no other world will this chance be so dangerous. The Craft World: Loss of humanity and/or redemption The Craft World is a world whose primary function is to produce something important to the setting. This world is similar to the function of the Dwarves in Norse Myth and thus can be related to their home in Svartalfheim. If is very often acted upon by the City World, or may be a facet of the City World itself. Usually, however, it sits apart from the City World, justifying the actions the City may take upon the Crafters should they fail to produce. The Craft World may aid the protagonist or antagonist and often does both within the same story, following a redemption or fall cycle of its own. Should a hero be destined to lose his humanity, the Craft World is a fitting place to end an arc, as a dramatic race against time may lead them to question their own values in trying to prevent the unleashing of a devastating weapon. On the other hand, should he avoid this temptation, the Craft World will often point him in the direction of the City World. The Trade World: Treasure Trove for a Price Unlike the Craft World, the Trade World rarely produces anything of vital importance. However, one can usually find anything they need short of a quest item here. Consider this world the marketplace of plot devices. Anything you need to get characters moving will be found on this world, including cursed items and misinformation. The Trade World is the place where wishes come true in the worst ways and is thus very much akin to the Djinn from legend who will give you all you ever wanted... at a price of their choosing. Often, the trade world remains unchanged moreso than the craft world, instead acting as a point of stability in a tumultuous universe. However, occasionally it too will have a redemption cycle, such as was seen for Ferenginar in Star Trek DS9. The Untouched World: Ethics vs. Morals This world, undeveloped or protected, is often the cause of heavy dispute. It often has something necessary to save the day or protect the plot but is so heavily hidden or guarded or just so dangerous that retrieving the item is nearly impossible. The party’s ingenuity is tested, for pure strength alone won’t win the day. Often, at least one of the characters will have to swallow their pride or look past ethics to retrieve what is needed. This world helps characters become more well rounded and, while generally not party shattering, may cause some friction. Very often, the lost item IS part of the party itself, someone who has fallen into the planet’s grip and must be saved, despite the protectors’ agenda. The Untouched World is not always devoid of higher life. In fact, it may be home to primitive cultures that others may overprotect or seek to exploit. The Primal World: Physical hardships and widening of party armor gaps By far one of the most dangerous worlds, the Primal World is akin to the protected world in that it is hard to find what one wants upon it. However, unlike the Untouched World, the Primal World is an enemy or challenge in and of itself. The heroes find they must overcome physical tests and hardships and rely on training and instinct to get them through. This world may replace the Warring World or the Untouched World, depending upon its true nature. However, instead of inspiring camaraderie or showing the party their own ethical limits, it tests physical limits and has a great chance of widening gaps between the party unless it is already at a solid point. If a secondary character is showing weakness of resolve or fortitude, this is the most likely place that they will leave the party. The Lawless World: New members and unexpected kindness. Timing. This world is often chaotic, anarchy leading the way in place of rule. Sometimes, it may be run by warlords who have managed to win over pockets of the populace. Other times, street gangs and wild men rule the streets and it isn’t safe to go out at night. Here, the hero will see evils up close, but may also see that there can be kindness in even the darkest of situations, be it through the act of a kind child helping another off the street or in a housewife turned vigilante who pulls the group into a safehouse. Despite the darkness of the world, the party may actually acquire new and valuable members here, those who either wish simply to escape or who have higher ideals than the general populace and wish to do greater things. In addition, the hero and friends may realize the futility of fighting when they cannot hope to win or in fighting the faceless mob. Instead, they discover that they need to attack the source of the problem and that this isn’t always easy to do. The Frontier World: Mistakes, insight, sticking to one’s guns The Frontier World rests on the edge of a territory. Often, inhabitants are left to their own devices and, though they are technically bound to the more central and sophisticated planets, they often have their own laws, prejudices, and culture. It is here that the heroes may be tempted to meddle most, seeing the backwards ways as in need of repair. Because of this, the team may have to decide if they should try to educate the frontiersfolk. Often, however, this meddling has negative unforeseen circumstances and the “backwards” culture may have very good reason behind being that way. This is another wonderful world to add to character development. The Border World: Test of Kindness and Faith The Border World, unlike the Frontier World, is or was often populated and a home to culture and the arts. Now, it is caught in between warring powers and has either been put on a path to destruction or is fighting for its survival. Unlike the Neutral World, the Border World usually belongs to one of the powers at war or an unrelated power that happens to share a border with the warring parties. Either way, this world is of importance and there is likely to be battles upon it there if there already isn’t. The Border World may be home to underground rebellions and unspoken treachery. The party must tread carefully here and is often called upon to liberate this world. Unlike the Warring World, the Border World is usually not encountered near the endgame, instead seen around the midpoint. It is a test of kindness and compassion as well as a willingness to be carried where fate leads. The Neutral World: The Truth of the Darkness on all sides The Neutral World is the world that refuses to get involved. While a Border World will end up in a dispute, a Neutral World will do everything possible to remain neutral. These worlds are often vast databanks, worlds with their own problems, or worlds with a pacifist philosophy. The function of the Neutral World is to show the battle and the moral compass objectively. Characters who journey here will often see the extent of evil on all sides, not just the one they expected to see it in. Heroes will suddenly be faced with the dark deeds of the side they fight for, and it is here that a hero is more likely to turn antihero or vigilante than anywhere else. Alternatively, they may decide that the good fight is still worth it and have stronger conviction than ever. This world functions similarly to the Pleasure World in that both cause the party to have to cope with realizations about things they thought they knew. Should you choose to let your character journey through these settings, it will be a wonderful and enriching journey. Just remember, not all of these worlds are needed in every story. Use them to craft your own, adapt them, straight up change them. Which of these worlds appeal the most to your story crafting urge?