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World Building Design Books or Other?


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#1 MrHemlocks

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 04:06 PM

I consider myself to be very creative but would like a good book to read explaining how to build a fantasy world. Like the various types of land formations, weather patterns and other advice to help best make the map somewhat believable. I heard about this one, KOBOLD Guide to Worldbuilding, but there must be others..unless it is the best.:-/

Edited by MrHemlocks, 10 March 2014 - 04:13 PM.


#2 Atgxtg

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 04:19 PM

I consider myself to be very creative but would like a good book to read explaining how to build a fantasy world. Like the various types of land formations, weather patterns and other advice to help best make the map somewhat believable. I heard about this one, KOBOLD Guide to Worldbuilding, but there must be others..unless it is the best.:-/



There are better ones out there, but they are for fantasy worlds. Some of the SciFi RPGs have some good stuff on world building. But with fantasy, a lot of real world stuff doesn't always apply. For instance Glorantha really is flat.
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#3 Thalaba

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:27 PM

A Magical Society Guide to Mapping is quite a good, free, product that will walk you through the basics of physical geography and help you create a plausible world that functions much the way earth does.
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#4 MrHemlocks

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:28 PM

There are better ones out there, but they are for fantasy worlds. Some of the SciFi RPGs have some good stuff on world building. But with fantasy, a lot of real world stuff doesn't always apply. For instance Glorantha really is flat.


Can you tell me what some of the others are, that are better, for fantasy world building?

#5 Atgxtg

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 07:17 PM

Can you tell me what some of the others are, that are better, for fantasy world building?


Yeah, but remember in your orginal post you mentioned "the various types of land formations, weather patterns and other advice to help best make the map somewhat believable". Now with fantasy worlds than isn't necessarily the case. But with scifi worlds it is more the general rule.
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#6 madprofessor

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 06:42 PM

I have used the old TSR Worldbuilder's Guidebook for years. It has what you are looking for including advice and tables for building believable landforms and weather patterns. It also has charts for the shape of the earth, the layout of the cosmos, cultures, kingdoms, religion, races, history, technology levels, trade routs, and just about anything else you can think of. The writing is pretty dense. There is advice, but the focus is on usable content. It also has a complex mapping system that moves in successive layers of detail that I have not used. It covers the possibilities of fantasy worlds from gritty/realistic to silly/gonzo pretty thoroughly. It is a second edition thing from the silver age when many TSR products weren't too good, but I have found the book useful and the charts entertaining food for thought. I have consulted the book at least a little bit in most of the settings/worlds I have created, though I have never used it exclusively to create a world. Surprisingly, it is also system neutral. Its not perfect, but it is one of the more useful TSR products that I own. It seems to fit the bill for what you need - if you can find it.

Personally, I think the KOBOLD stuff is a lot of hype and very little content. Yes, there are some famous game designers as authors, but I found the information to be extremely basic, abstract, and not very usable. There is a lot of advice but nothing to sink your teeth into, and the advice was all stuff I already knew or understood through common sense. The articles are inconsistently written, which is to be expected, considering that they were written by different authors, but I found the majority of them to be hastily thrown together, and frankly quite amateurish. There is a lot of excess verbiage and nothing that can be directly implemented and used. The KOBOLD guide to worldbuilding might be good for beginners, I don't know, it seems like it would just confuse them. As an old hand GM, I would be hard pressed to find anything of value in it for the gaming table. I was lured in by the reviews, but I am thoroughly disappointed in the content. It might work for you. Obviously, some people like it. I just fail to see why.

#7 Sven Norén

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 07:22 PM

I seem to recall that the old Chaosium Gateway boxed set had something on worldbuilding, specifically what mountain ranges did to rainfall and such stuff. I have to dig it out of storage...

#8 Matt

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 06:15 PM

Isn't Harn supposed to be good for this? All the rivers and weather patterns are supposed to be based on science. I tend to use real maps and change the names but I'm not too worried if something's a little off. All the same, any good resources for this would be great to know about for any future fantasy games I might GM.

#9 Atgxtg

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 07:11 PM

I seem to recall that the old Chaosium Gateway boxed set had something on worldbuilding, specifically what mountain ranges did to rainfall and such stuff. I have to dig it out of storage...


You're thinking of Questworld. The "open" world that Chaosium came up with for us to use as an alternative to the "closed" world of Glorantha. It was a great idea, but died a quick death when Chaosium did the RQ3 deal with Avalon Hill.
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#10 Sven Norén

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:48 AM

Yup, dug it out yesterday. Interestingly Chaosiums "own" continent, Kanos, stretches from the equator to about 75 deg. south; I don't think I've seen a setting map where the action takes place in the southern hemisphere anywhere else!

#11 NickMiddleton

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 08:14 AM

Yup, dug it out yesterday. Interestingly Chaosiums "own" continent, Kanos, stretches from the equator to about 75 deg. south; I don't think I've seen a setting map where the action takes place in the southern hemisphere anywhere else!


Thedas in Green Ronin / BioWare's Dragon Age appears to be south of the equator - the Korcari wilds in the far south are sub-article tundra and swamps and the jungles are on the extreme northern edge of map of the known world.

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