What similarities do writing and Dungeons and Dragons have in common? Honestly, that’s an excellent question, and the answer is simple: world-building. Creating fascinating, living, exciting worlds in which to tell stories for readers and players is arguably one of the most difficult things to accomplish. How do you create something that will catch people’s attention, how do you create something that is largely original and has its own idiosyncrasies, and how do you create something that people will remember and enjoy? Well, let’s talk about that!
- What’s The Goal?
This seems like an odd question in the world of writing, but setting a goal of what you want to accomplish in your storytelling can help create a framework for your creativity. Is the goal to create a world that feels comfortable or may be familiar to your players or readers, or is the goal to create a world of eldritch horrors where nothing is as it seems?
You can also use this goal to dictate the story you want to tell. Maybe the overall goal is to lead a rebellion against a corrupt monarch, and then you can work backward from there building the world around it. Just keep in mind that your goal doesn’t have to be too specific as long as you know what it is and can build from it!
- Keep It Small
Trying to build a world from scratch is daunting, and can easily become overwhelming. When you are starting out with your first campaign or your first book focus on one central place where a lot of the action can happen. Then as your players or characters move through that world you can build the world around that. Remember, not everything has to be completely fleshed out, just the parts that your characters interact with!
- Make History Your Friend
Looking at the past and finding events that can serve as stepping stones in your story or using a historical event as the foundation of the world you are building is very common, and helpful. Change the names of some historical figures, places, and you will create something truly unique. Look at Game of Thrones, it is simply a reimagining of the English Civil Wars known as the War of the Roses!
- Be Cultured
Finally, and probably one of the more difficult things to really make the world you are building feel alive is to create different cultures. However, this doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds. You don’t have to build a culture from the ground up. If you want there to be a variety, just ask yourself some basic questions.
- “Does this culture have a particular greeting and goodbye?”
- “Does this culture have a specific diet?”
- “Does this culture speak a different language”
- “Does this culture worship a specific deity”
World-building is absolutely one of the most daunting aspects of writing any good, original, and unique story. It is probably one that most people struggle with, but it really doesn’t have to be. Keep things small, flesh out the things your characters or players will interact with most, and take cues from things that have already happened! Keep these things in mind and your next campaign or next fantasy adventure is gonna feel c