World Building from Square One: Part I

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Minibit, Mar 26, 2014.

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  1. This is my personal method of worldbuilding from square one. Others may have different methods, or may do things in a different order; there is no wrong way to worldbuild and these exercises are not intended to imply that one way is 'right' and the others are 'wrong' or 'inferior'. The intent is to share one fairly generic method in the hopes that it will help other structure-oriented worldbuilders find a method that works for them.

    1. Naming and Concept
    2. Mapping and History
    3. Culture and Technology
    4. How It Works
    5. Tying it All Together


    Coming up with a name is one of the most fun parts of worldbuilding; feel free to name as many things as you want; the world, the country, the towns, officials, sports, heroes, etcetera. Personally I start with the name of the world, then that of the country, a few important locations, and then I add names as things are invented.
    It helps with naming to try to put yourself in the shoes of the person who did the naming. People tend to name places and things in a positive, or hopeful manner. You're more likely to find a city named "Hope" than "Sorrow". Some decisive factors when choosing a name:
    • Is this something that could have been named after a person, in tribute? If so, think of important figures relevant to this place/thing.

    • The physical landscape of the area can influence a name; cities can be named for the landscape around them, or for other natural phenomena

    • The purpose of the place or thing is usually closely tied to the name. A place built as a barricade or fortress could be called "Fort ____", or a name related to walls, shields, or defense.
    If you're inventing a new langauge, or even just new names for your world, I recommend keeping two things in mind:
    • New languages, while multifaceted, often have a sound or other characteristic that makes them identifiable; if possible, try to use some of this consistency in made-up names

    • Pronouncibility is important. People should be able to say the name aloud with ease.
    Concept and Focus Points

    It can help to identify the uniting concept of this world; it is usually closely linked to the story the world was built for. Try to identify the main focus of the roleplay, and keep it in mind when designing your world. If you're not sure what your concept is, try asking the following questions, and see if the answers shed any light:
    • The genre a world is set in can heavily influence the style and tone the world should assume. Apocalyptic worlds generally have a grimdark, hopeless, or desparate feel, whereas Medieval Fantasy is often romanticized, and can have a more fantastical, carefree feel in general. The concept can still vary wildly within a genre, but this can give you a starting point.

    • Is there a particular element of the world this story will play with? (eg: dragons, energy guns, space ships) When I think of "A story about ELEMENT", what kind of things come to mind?

    • What elements of my world are most important to the story? Do they share a common theme or tone?
    Some examples of concept in relation to the style of the world:

    • If the story is about a haunted house, your world will probably benefit from a spooky element being present in the settings, and from the use and mention of ghosts and spectres in the local culture

    • If the story is an exploratory trip into space, you should leave lots of room for invention and creation in the world, and give the ship and its stations the most detail and resource info
    #1 Minibit, Mar 26, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2014
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