Creative Corner: World Building

Note: This article primarily will focus on asking you, the reader, questions on how you want to build your world. We hope these questions inspire you and gives you some thought provoking insight into creative avenues you can take while world building. We also plan to dive deeper into topics discussed here, so be sure to check back at Variant Ventures for more posts!

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Hello Variants! Do you want to start your own homebrewed campaign or expand or build onto established stories? Looking to create an immersive environment for your players, but not quite sure how to grab their attention? Though many creators and storytellers find it daunting and energy consuming, world building is a HUGE factor in storytelling. How you present your world to your players will add excitement, lead them down unexpected paths, and allow them to truly enjoy the world you have built for them.

Though a tavern is a tried and true excellent place to begin an adventure, some parties may be looking for a more creative introduction to the world you present, especially if this isn’t their first campaign or time at the table.

Here are some tips and tricks on world building and immersion:

Establishing The World:

This may seem silly or simple for a beginning, but without a firm foundation you may find yourself cornered in the world you have established story wise.

  • Does your tale take place in a world in high or low magic setting?

  • Are there multiple suns or moons or does it reside in an expanse?

  • Is the world itself closer to other planets?

  • Is your planet or world artificially created?

  • Has technology advanced far enough for air or space travel to be available?

These elements can be key anchors for you to base more advanced stories off of and allow your players to branch off into unexpected but delightful experiences.

Another aspect of play to think about is what kind of planet does your story take place on. Is it primarily aquatic, stormy, desert, gaseous, volcanic, broken apart, or is it a healthy series of ecosystems and mild to extreme climates similar to Earth?

Note: It is VERY important when creating your world to share the starting environment with your players. For example: If you have a primarily aquatic planet a player may be interested in playing a different race from the standard array. This also opens more creative opportunities for even the most seasoned players to have a chance at trying something new.

Building from the Group Up:

Once you have established what kind of world your players will be traversing you can include details like continents, terrain, regions, cities, towns, villages, and maybe an intricate underground or underwater network. Let’s break these down.

  • Do you want your planet to house a single continent with a series of islands similar to Matt Mercer’s Exandria?

  • Or expand into multiple continents with either similar or different climates and/or ecosystems?

  • Does your world take place in a multiverse or multidimensional setting and are you willing to allow them to travel into the unknown?

Establishing these details will help you to solidify your storytelling while also adding some wiggle room should your players take an interest in further exploration.

The World Populous:

Though it may seem like overkill, in my own home-brewed world I established the major cities around the globe and actually mapped out the general populous down to race and age percentages. I won’t say everyone has to have those number established the moment your players meet, but having a general idea of the population does allow for you to properly describe the kind of place your players are in.

  • Is it a bustling metropolis with millions of people, an abandoned apocalyptic hell scape where animals won’t even traverse, can humanoids survive without assistance in these locations?

  • Do you want your world to have an “under world” or series of cultures that tend to stay below ground or under water? Or does the populous primarily reside on the surface of the world?

  • Is the primary race on your planet humanoid, or is it full of monsters and creatures with smaller clans of humanoids just looking to survive?

  • Are there prejudices against various races in certain areas or do the people live relatively harmoniously while still respecting individual cultures and customs?

These factors will give you so much room for creative storytelling that your players will be eager for more, but can also be used as tools to help you as the DM/GM to move the story along if necessary.

Now that you have a solid idea of how your planet operates and what to expect from the world populous at large, you can start getting into the nitty gritty such as establishing cultures, phenomena, lore for the various aspects of your planet, beliefs and pantheons, and more!

We hope you found these probing questions useful and we can’t wait to dive deeper into world building with you!

Do you have a topic you would like us to cover? What aspects of world building are you the most interested in? Which of these ideas would you like us to elaborate on? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments and/or feel free to message us directly with your suggestions with our Contact Us page!

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