1. ## Jef's world building

First of all I want to thank TheHoarseWhisperer for this thread, and everyone here for the comments.

I have my own way of world building, especially when I am building a RPG world, and I use both the top-down and bottom-up methods, following these 7 steps:

1. Universe creation: I make a quick scratch of my universe lifetime, when it begun, and where is it now in time.
1.a. Conected universe: My universe is never alone. I always say that is some other parallel (or connected) universe, but not how many, or how can someone travel between them (I only make that when I need it).

2. Star system: I choose how many stars (or suns), planets, and moons for the main planets.

3. The main planet: it's size, length of day, length of the year, seasons, and so on.
3.a. Natural satellite (moon): How many moons, distance to the moon (or moons), size of the moon, the moon cicle. If there is more than one moon, how the moons interact?

4. Planet's surface: I choose the main places, like the biggest country (or continent, or the most important one) and it's surroundings; I do the same for other places, if there will be several important countries (or kingdoms, or anything like that).
4.a. Tectonic plates: I make the plates that are near the main places.
4.b. Geography and Geology: I make a scratch of the boundaries, the mountain ranges, the forests, rivers and lakes, the minerals, the hazards, the politics, economy, and the cultures of the main places.

5. BOTTOM-UP: Now I choose a place to begin my story (and/or map), and make the details, like the place's history, the cultures, the main towns and cities, the economy, important people, heroes, local folk tales, and so on, trying to make it concise and "realistic" (or plausible).
5.b. Neighbors: I don't make all of them, just make some details like alliances and politics of the neighbor lands.

6. The plot: I create a main plot, an epic one, like the resurrection of an old evil god.
6.a. Political plot: I try to make something like a big war, conquest, or something more "mundane". Epic, but not as epic as a resurrection of a god.
6.b. The initial plot: I make the beginning of my campaign, where the players (or the characters) will start, and things like that.
6.c. Local plots: I make some local plots, to make sure I have an "emergency" story (or campaign).

7. The maps: this step is spread along the other ones, as I do the maps along with each phase of my project, but sometimes I make the maps only when I'm finished building the world.

The first three steps I did only once. With a few exceptions, I don't build another universe, I just use the one I made a long time ago, but do I change it when I need, to make improvements and corrections.

And to my main RPG setting I still use the same world, creating new places for new adventures, and making a world full of stories and heroes (and maps).

I am a RPG Game Master for about 12 years now, and I still didn't finish my main world, but I love improving it. I still have the first character sheets we'd used, and that chars are the world's greatest heroes of the today.

Hope this can help someone.

2. Originally Posted by TheHoarseWhisperer
New member Okami recently asked where people start with their maps, and since I’ve been neglecting my duties in this thread (it’s harder than I realised to think of new topics), I thought I’d post some ideas. These are ideas for starting new worlds, not new maps, but I’m finding the line between the two is starting to get rather blurry.

So, you want to start a new world, do you?

Unfortunately, because of the topic, I’ll have to try not to ramble all over the place.

<<Snip>>

Plate tectonics, generally speaking, are where you get to be creative – they should follow some rules, but otherwise, you can make them up. For this reason, people often like to start with plate formation or landmasses. I would actually recommend starting a little earlier than that – begin with your planet’s star, moon/s and solar system (this applies to fantasy AND sci-fi – remember, jsut because the inhabitants of your world don’t know about planets orbiting suns, doesn’t mean YOU can leave it out). Why do outer space first? Mainly because you’ll need to do them eventually, they’re not too tricky, and it’s handy to get them out of the way. Also they do have some visible effects – eg. on daylight hours in different latitudes, average temperatures, year length, even tides (not to mention whether said planet can sustain any life at all). I’ll possibly write about solar systems/stars in the future too – I seem to be getting quite a list ready.

<<Snip>>

PS: Check out Okami’s post that I mentioned at the beginning – jbgibson’s answer I think is particularly good. (URL: Where Do You Start?)
Enjoying your thread. I'm a history nerd so most of what you have been saying I already knew... You're doing a good job at jogging my memory and getting me to say "hey, why not also use X Y & Z in addition to the A B & C that is being said"

I am mostly into Sci Fi but am working on Fantasy Setting.

Your idea about starting with the solar system makes a lot of sense. How often in history or fantasy do ill omens appear in the sky (comets). Meteor showers would mark the turn of the seasons as much as the weather getting warmer or colder. Also by working out the solar system you can come up with at least crude calendar and Zodiac. "When the planet Mongo is in the House of the Flea it will bring fortune to his majesty the king!"

While in a fantasy campaign the distance from the sun (and what kind of sun) might not make a huge effect. If you play a bit more modern (Wild West and above) having a sun that shoots out solar flares every so often can create some misery. In the 1800's a solar maximum shorted out telegraph wires causing massive brush fires in the American West. Depending on the magic system (might even work in a Supers game) having a sun that goes wonky with solar flares and sun spots might effect the magic and super powers.... That is if you have the powers/mana linked to the sun.

Also don't want to forget the axial tilt, if you want to go that far. In the Northern Hemisphere the earth is closest to the sun in winter, just that the top half of the world is tilted away. Having a wild axial tilt can explain massive shifts between the summer and the winter.

Given the star type and distance a year can be either shorter or longer than your average earth year. Given a bit of a larger or hotter sun a place like Mars might be livable but have 1.88 MYears for each Earth Year.

you can either put a lot, too much, or window dressing on this subject.... But it can add so much depth to story lines.

3. Hi all, just wanted to thank you all for the info you have posted here. It's really interesting and useful

4. Originally Posted by jkat718
@kirkspencer Using the data you so generously gathered, as well as some gratuitous rounding to make my math easier on me, I created an equation to find the (approximate) forest reduction as a percentage, given the population density and vice versa.So, if you have the population density (in people per square mile), to find the approximate forest reduction (as a percentage of original forest), multiply the PD by 0.45 and add 17. To go in reverse (FR to PD), subtract 17 and divide by 0.45. I'm not sure why you would have the FR and not the PD, but it might be useful somehow.
Not really a good fit. This looks much more like an asymptotic function, in the family of f(x)=1/x or suchlike, since forestation approaches a limit as population density increases. (E.g. you can't have less than zero forestation.) I'd have to play around to get a nice fit, though.

5. I haven't taken calculus yet, so I only really understood the second half of what you said, but that part made sense.

6. This is a great guide, you really put a lot of effort at this TheHoarseWhisperer. have some rep and a question:

Unless I'm missing something, I haven't seen an explanation on how climate/temperature affect population density/crop yield. I know that higher temperatures and more water allow to grow more food but I don't have any numbers.
What I mean by climate/temperature is a mix of precipitations and temperature across the year and not just the annual mean because I suspect that using the average does not give a good idea for crop yield. Some place have harsh temperatures in winter but also a hot summer. While some other places have a short winter but the temperatures rarely go over 15 degrees in the summer. My guess is that the first place will be able to grow more food thus might have a higher population density.

The other factors that affects population density are the percentage of arable lands (or the % of settled land) the level of technology. The number of sunshine hours must also play a role but I don't know if it should be considered separately for the temperature.

7. I'm new so I don't really have any credit, but I just took a Middle Ages history course this last semester and would be willing to share my notes if anyone would be interested. They have a lot of info on how towns / cities form, how people interact with the environment, technological advancements, architecture, etc, at least during 800-1400ish. Azelor, I don't think my notes have any numbers, but they do have some info on how environment shapes crop yield.

Thanks so much to everyone who has posted amazing stuff here, I have read all of it! Thanks for all the hard work and great information.

8. Hey, melp (may I call you that?)! Welcome to the Guild, I'm sure you'll have fun. I would be very interested in reading your notes; is there any easy way to summarize them for us? If not, I don't mind reading them as-is, but some people might.

9. I don't mind And thanks for the welcome. I don't mind summarizing them but it would take me a little while, so I could upload the full version and then give summaries for those who don't want to read the full version as I have time to make them. I'll try to get some of the most relevant ones up tomorrow.

10. Above are the full notes for the rise of counts. I know this seems oblique but it was a huge part of how societies shaped. I apologize for any grammatical errors / typos, I haven't really edited them since I took them in class. Also they are pretty rambling and sometimes hard to follow because I wrote things down as my professor said them and that was the way he taught.

For those who don't want to read the several pages, I have summarized the main points of how counts came to power and why its important:

1) People spread into an area that is empty. If this happens quickly (under one ruler, or maybe two or three but not many) then it will happen systematically. The land will be divided in increasingly large areas away from the center of power, and trusted leaders will be placed in each region and will create a fort / battlement to hold the area. These are trusted friends or family of the main ruler; the land is their payment for serving under the ruler.

If it happens slowly over time, more like migration patterns or population overflow, then the areas and cities will be haphazard and unorganized. People will just pick up and find a new area.

2) When empires are created, there are a few less important people in the beginning that push the snowball up to the top of the hill. They start building
the army, instill nationalistic pride, gather funds, maybe gather technological resources. Then there is one really important person that pushes the snowball
off the top and rolls it all the way down really quickly. What they do is built on the backs of the few people that came before, but those people are not really remembered (ex: Clovis preceded Charlemagne, made a few conquests, built the empire a little, Christianized the people, but Charlemagne did most of the expansion and was a great leader who everyone remembers).

3) Under this leader things are organized well during expansion, as under point 1. Then this leader dies and if there is not someone as strong to take their place, there will be a power vacuum. The people left in charge of each region, the settlements mentioned previously, will take the opportunity to establish themselves and gain power. These small groups will either be killed off / absorbed by a more powerful neighbor or will gain control and expand their power. There may be a replacement of the great leader during this time, like a king, but they won't have much power because their power only comes from having people under them that remain loyal. These become powerful nobles / feudal lords. They force those under them to pay homage and in turn allow lesser leaders to continue ruling smaller pieces of land. They can do this only if they know they are strong enough to crush a rebellion from a lesser lord.

4) Some of the farthest settlements will be abandoned. People who no longer have anything to gain from being stationed out in the middle of nowhere will leave and attempt to gain power closer to home or will join forces with someone else. These outlying regions will be forgotten. Later on, the abandoned forts will be repopulated (that will be in notes later on).

Of course this all only applies under certain cultural / technological situations, and it's pretty specific, but I thought it was a pretty good formula for how a powerful noble class forms, which seems at least to me to be applicable in a lot of fantasy settings. I think it could also be adapted however you wanted - more back and forth between powerful ruler / powerful nobles, etc.

Hope it all helps! Let me know if there is anything more specific you would like.

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