World Building Part 2 – First Things First

So, you have officially decided that you are no longer satisfied with the many worlds that exist for role-playing and that you want to build your own. OK. Your world building journey begins now.

Getting started with world building can be a pretty big task, but honestly, there are a few things that you can do to really make the whole process a lot easier and more enjoyable. The first tip that I want to give you might sound stupid or obvious, but in all honesty, it can be a lifesaver.

My first tip is to never forget about the World Builder’s best friend… the good old fashioned notebook!

Honestly, I think a lot of people, in this day and age, look at all the tools available out there and skip getting their hands on a good, bound notebook full of wonderful lined paper. I know that when I first started out trying to build my first world, I did everything on my computer. I started off using my blog and Obsidian Portal (a site which I will talk about in a later post) to keep track of everything. While this is all well and good, there were a lot of times that I would have an idea that would go to waste because I didn’t write it down.

What I recommend to anybody looking to start world building, is to go out and buy yourself a cheap, small notebook, which you can fit inside a back pocket or inside a small bag. My weapon of choice is a college ruled Campus notebook, with a nice glued binding. It is just the right size for my back pocket if I roll it up (this also makes you look like a hipster in public… or maybe not).

Once you have your notebook, start writing. Don’t worry about maintaining any sense of order or working on specific tasks. You should feel free to jump around, make notes, write comments on things that you come up with, make diagrams, doodle, draw maps, and draw pictures. Creating a game world should not become a chore. You are doing this, after all, to have fun. Right?

I like to do the majority of my world building using my notebook, but I still use a lot of the online utilities that are out there. I picked up a free paint program, similar to Adobe Photoshop, to make some really cool maps with (but will be doing some hex maps later on) and I also use Obsidian Portal and my daily blog for keeping track of everything.

My one warning for using your notebook is this: don’t go too long without doing an upload. You should not go for extended periods of time without backing up what you have in your notebook into some electronic medium. I have lost notebooks, have had bags stolen, have dropped notebooks, have spilled coffee all over notebooks, and have generally destroyed my world builder’s notebook in a number of different ways, a number of different times. Every week or so, take your notes and type them out into a word processor program or into one of the other online tools that are available. If you want to be really high tech, and probably save time, you can even scan your notebook, page by page, and keep all the images in a single folder. Doing this is actually a great way to keep track of maps, diagrams, and other random thoughts that you have which don’t really fit into a text block or even a wiki link.

Next time, I will talk about coming up with a world concept and editing that concept as your progress through the world building process.

Again, if you want, you can check out my current world building Genesis Journal at my website, The Dump Stat ( also, you can e-mail me directly at thedumpstat(at)yahoo(dot)com. Thanks! Happy world building!