Cultures and Beyond: Introduction


Note: this is the start of Cultures and Beyond (The Art of World Building, #3).

With the creating life and places covered in volumes one and two, we turn our attention to everything else about setting that characterizes our world, inhabitants, and storylines.

In this volume, we’ll discuss:

  • Cultural vision, scope, origins, and manifestations
  • Organizations like organized crime or secret sects
  • Armed forces (the army, navy, and air force)
  • Religions and how to leverage deities we’ve invented
  • The supernatural and its impact
  • Items, whether supernatural, technological, or neither
  • Languages and the impact they have on setting
  • Names and techniques to invent them
  • Educational, legal, commerce, health, and IT systems
  • Approaches to managing our world building development

Examples included in the text were created specifically for this guide and are not drawn from any setting I’ve created, or stories I’ve written or published.

Chapter 1 from Creating Life (The Art of World Building, #1) (italics) includes discussion of some principles referred to here, the main one being the use of analogues. This means inventing something that is based on an Earth equivalent but making enough changes to it that people are less likely to recognize the influence. This is known as the Rule of Three.

The book has a website at, where you can find additional resources, information on other volumes in this series, and other items as they are added.

Where to Start

The series and chapters within each volume can be read in any order but are arranged according to what might come first in a world’s timeline. This volume is an exception; one chapter has little to do with the next. If you have an idea for something covered herein, write down everything you’re thinking of before reading about other things you might consider. This will keep you from forgetting your idea or becoming overwhelmed with feelings of needing to get it “right;” there’s really no such thing. Then you can read on for new ideas to enrich your setting.

So where do you start? Where your heart lies.