Worldbuilding

Using Taboos in a Culture

Every society has different norms of behavior. Friendly greetings are expected; eating with your hands is frowned upon. Failing to follow the norms will make you stand out in negative ways, but you will probably be left alone by most people. Unless those norms are … read more »

Implications of Replicator Technology

Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced an amazing piece of technology, the replicator. These devices work by the same principle as transporters – making matter out of energy (or reorganizing existing matter into new forms, depending on which technical specs you’re reading). They were mainly … read more »

How to Create a Rational Magic System

Azula propels herself with blue flame.

Magic systems vary from colorful bears with tummy badges to ritual blood sacrifices. Magic isn’t real, so it can be anything we want. But that doesn’t mean all magic systems work equally well for stories. Some feel cohesive; others feel random. Read more »

Four Ways to Bring Swords to a Gunfight

We see no shortage of stories where heroes and villains insist on using swords despite the existence of guns. It’s used to show how awesome they are compared to everyone else. And to paraphrase Obi-Wan, swords in all their varieties are more elegant weapons. However, … read more »

Creating Factions in Three Steps

Factions add depth to organizations. They create internal conflicts that leaders must confront while facing external threats. They also highlight diversity that will make your world feel real and lived-in. Societies aren’t planets of hats, and great institutions aren’t monolithic. Read more »

The Seven Worldbuilding Sins of Storytellers

Planet colliding with moon

Last week, I described how avid worldbuilders often sideline the stories they’re telling in favor of parading the setting around. Now I’m pointing at storytellers who treat their worlds as an afterthought. We know who they are because their stories are committing these sins. Read more »