Thursday, October 22, 2015

World Building

Today, I'm going to talk about what it takes to build a world. This applies to many scenarios, but I imagine it will find most use from Dungeon Masters and novelists. Keep in mind this check list is only a guideline. Take what I say with a grain of salt.

Seven Cities

The number seven is an arbitrary, abstract concept. Your world can have as many or as few cities as you like. Hell, they don't even have to be cities! Just give your audience a few venues to explore. It can even be fun to think about yourself discovering these places for the first time! What is the first thing you notice in this new place? What is the last? Thinking about the exits, where do they lead? All of them? What if someone steps off the beaten path and cuts through a person's yard to get to where they're going? What happens then?
Just because your audience does not get to experience every venue in your world does not mean they stop existing; Just because you've never been to Queens, or Cincinnati, or Albuquerque does not mean they don't exist. You may have even met people from those places without ever realizing it. So, why haven't your characters? What are the chances of never, ever meeting a man from China? What are the chances of running into a young woman from Kuwait tomorrow?
Honestly? Both are pretty high. The world is a huge place, and people don't like to sit around.

Seven People per City

Again, the number does not really matter, but on the off chance such strict numeration helps you further flesh out your universe, I will include it.
Include a multitude of people in your world. Not just one per venue: think about walking through a bazaar or a supermarket. No two faces, no two voices, are the same. There's always a grumpy old fart perusing the coffee isle, an annoying brat pestering his mother, a little girl browsing school supplies.
 Then you leave the market, and there are a hundred new faces. Each person in your world should have their own story, even if it is boring or uneventful.
 You aren't just writing one story. You're writing thousands, millions, one for every person inhabiting your world. All at once.

 Sounds daunting, doesn't it?

Seven Years

Time is the oldest thing you know, and it didn't start with you. The same way that it won't stop just because we stop experiencing it. Things continue moving, life goes on without us. The same can be said about your characters. What happened before your character's birth? What went on before your players or audience got to this part of the story? What was going on before you started writing up this world? What took place before you first said "Once upon a time..."?

And remember, retroactive continuity is your friend!

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