Worldbuilding from Square One part V

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Minibit, Aug 31, 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
    All right, we have the key points of a world figured out; now how do we combine all these separate parts to form a coherent setting?

    The Cream of the Crop
    Review all of your information; I really recommend recording everything you come up with either on paper or in a computer document; whether it seems like a good idea at the time or not, you never know if it could be useful in connection with stuff you haven't come up with yet. Go over this info now, and look for the following and fix or delete them:
    • Items that clash/contradict each other
      e.g.: You've decided that Elves are largely persecuted in human society, but you also have a large and well-respected human city that relies on Elvish resources, despite this culture wanting as little to do with Elves as possible.
      The fix: Come up with an easily apparent and understandable explanation, or delete one of the items

    • Items that clash with the world
      Worlds that are catered to a specific genre are usually expected to behave a certain way. Breaking this mold can make for interesting world, but there's a fine line between creative and confusing.
      E.g.: You've got a secret force that specialize in using pistols in a traditional fantasy world
      The fix: If you're combining genres, make sure you say as much in the recruitment thread, so that players know to expect elements from two or more genres. If you are not combining themes/genres, try to find an equivalent that makes more sense for the setting (e.g.: a crossbow, short bow, or blowgun)

    • Potential runaways
      We talked about this a bit in How It Works; keep an eye out for items that are loosely defined, or powerful enough that players may be capable of abusing them and making them "broken".
      E.g.: You've decided that this world has a commercially available energy source that never runs out, and is more powerful the bigger it is. Players could potentially abuse this by having a huge energy source in one place, that is channeled to a more mobile weapon that they can carry around with them.
      The fix: Set some limits on the thing in question, or provide other things in the story that would be able to combat/counter potential broken-ness.
    Now that your info is straightened out, I recommend getting it organized, if you haven't already

    I personally like to group my world info in files marked
    General Data (maps, info on specific places, technology info, time period and genre, and information to do with the land and vegetation go here.)

    Fauna (Information on the peoples and animals of the world, their physical characteristics, capabilities, and limits

    Culture (All the fun culture stuff we talked about in Part III. This file sometimes requires subfolders to organize stuff)

    Now you've got a working world on hand! Employing it in your roleplay is a simple two-part process

    OOC Info in the Ad/Interest Check:
    The information about your world that you provide in an interest check or advertisement post should be as simple and brief as possible. You don't want to scare new joiners off with a big list of rules and new stuff to memorize!

    Choose the info that will 'hook' new players (the stuff that sounds cool, that people will want to try playing with), and the stuff that tells them roughly what the world will be like. (e.g.: This world has self-aware robots designed to assist with household chores). I recommend using bullet points, or some other simple, quick-read format. See my workshop on designing an attractive roleplay ad for more info

    OOC Info in the Roleplay's OOC/Signups Thread:
    Once you've got your players and the game is started, Keep the info on hand, and store the stuff everyone should know about in the OOC (use spoiler tags to organize it, and when writing it out, try to avoid dramatic phrasing and huge walls of text; players are looking here for information, help them find what they need to know quickly and make it easily comprehensible), and make players aware of setting-related plot candies and such in the OOC as it becomes relevant. Be sure to give players plenty of notice when you're introducing a previously unexplained part of your world (eg: a spell that can block an opponent's magic, or the presence of an EMP in the building), so that players can prepare for it and avoid making contradictions with their characters.
    #1 Minibit, Aug 31, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2014
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