Podcast Episode 33 – World Building Strategies


Episode 33: World Building Strategies

Listen as host Randy Ellefson discusses approaches to world building, how to organize final and folders, ideas on partnering with others, and more.

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In This Episode You’ll Learn:
  • What a World Building Coalition is and roles to define
  • How to leverage top-down, bottom-up, and random approaches to world building
  • Ideas on getting organized with your files
  • Where to store files for easy retrieval and work at all times

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Episode 33 Transcript

Hello and welcome to The Art of World Building Podcast, episode number thirty-three. Today we’re concluding the podcast with some final tips. This includes approaches to world building, how to organize final and folders, ideas on partnering with others, and more. This material and more is discussed in chapter 11 from Cultures and Beyond, volume three in The Art of World Building book series.

Do you want practical advice on how to build better worlds faster and have more fun doing it? The Art of World Building book series, website, blog, and podcast will make your worlds beat the competition. This is your host, Randy Ellefson, and I have 30 years of world building advice, tips, and tricks to share. Follow along now at artofworldbuilding.com.

Approaches to World Building

Before we get started, a quick reminder that you can now buy transcripts of every episode of this series from Amazon.com or Artofworldbuilding.com.

This will most likely be the final episode of the series because, as you know if you’ve been following along, each episode is based on a chapter from the books, and this is the final chapter from the third volume. It’s possible that, in time, I might interview some other world builders or find some other topics to talk about, but right now I don’t foresee that, so this could be the final episode. Now, if I change my mind and another one comes up, all you have to do to be notified is to subscribe to this podcast, which we’ll talk about later.

The first thing I want to talk about is how we approach world building. One way is what might be considered the top-down approach. What this means is that you start at the biggest picture and work your way down into increasingly smaller elements. For example, maybe we start at the solar system, then work on the planets, then a continent, down to a sovereign power, a region within that sovereign power, and finally, a settlement.

That, of course, applies to the physical environment, but what about when it comes to life? In that case, we would start with the gods and then start worrying about animals, plants and other species. One reason we would do this is that the bigger picture tends to impact the smaller ones. If you’ve been following this series from the beginning, or especially the episodes from Creating Places, you know that something like the hemisphere that a continent is found in is going to impact the prevailing winds that are hitting that continent, and the mountain ranges. This combination is going to determine where precipitation falls, and that, in turn, is going to determine where forests are, grasslands and deserts. If we don’t consider that big picture first, then we might do something like place a forest somewhere, and then later, we decide to change which hemisphere this continent is in and it no longer makes sense that there would be a forest there. Granted, only a certain number of people may realize this, but that’s not the point. The point is that if we do things from that top picture down, we can do a better job of world building. This will be caused by using the knowledge we have gained from this series or any other resource on world building.

Another good reason to do this top-down approach is that it creates cohesion. If we need to create a handful of sovereign powers on the same continent, they can fit together in a way that makes a little bit more sense when it comes to variety, for example. There are some disadvantages to this approach, and one of them is that the whole project can seem like one giant homework assignment. We’re doing things in a specific order, and we may not have an idea for something. Do we let ourselves continue even though we haven’t made a decision on something like which hemisphere the continent is in? Hopefully, this series has given you plenty of ideas so that it’s easier to avoid getting stuck. Regardless, we could end up with a pretty big to-do list and just get overwhelmed and stopped working on it.

So, there’s an alternative, and that would be the bottom-up approach, which is basically the exact opposite of what I just said. In this case, we might start at a city and then worry about the sovereign power that it’s in later. And after that, where on the continent it is, and so on. The advantage to doing this kind of thing is that if our story is only taking place in one or two cities, we can focus on just creating those locations because those are the ones we’re going to be using. This will save us a lot of time and aggravation, and might also keep up our enthusiasm level. It can also make it easier to focus on our story needs. The bigger picture of something like how the solar system is laid out may have little to do with the story that we’re telling, and therefore it could be harder to make a decision about that. Creating something like that could feel like we’re just untethered and we’re sort of creating in a vacuum with nothing to guide what we decide on.

One of the problems with doing this, at least when it comes to places, is that we may not have worked out all those landscape features and other things that are definitely going to impact this city that we’re creating. We might find ourselves thinking that certain land features are in this or that direction, and incorporate that into our story, only to then work on those features later and realize it doesn’t make sense. However, this series may have given you enough options on this that you can find leeway. And, as I’ve said more than once, there’s often no such thing as getting it right in world building so much as getting it plausible.

The other disadvantage to the bottom-up approach is a lack of scope where we may focus only on what we need and not the bigger picture. However, this is only going to happen if we don’t follow through, but there is a bigger risk that we won’t follow through if we’ve already created what we feel like we really need.

There is a third approach, and that would be the random one where we just do it in whatever order we think of stuff. There’s no plan at all to this. One of the advantages of this is that it can really lead to some quick invention where we aren’t feeling like we have to get things right or that there’s any sort of rule or something that we have to do first before we’re working on the thing that has captured our attention at this particular moment. This is almost like stream of consciousness invention, and it’s a great way to work. The big problem is that we might create some things that don’t really work together, so we have a lack of cohesion.

Fortunately, there is a fourth alternative. That is basically to do all three of these approaches simultaneously. This can get us the best advantages of all of them and mitigate the worst disadvantages of them. In order to do this successfully, there is a way that I would recommend going about it, and that’s what I’m going to tell you now.

One of the tricks is to do at least a framework of the biggest picture. This would be from the top down approach. In other words, we want to decide if this is an Earth-like planet, and that means stuff like it’s rotating in the same direction, so the sun is still coming up and going down on the same sides. And we can make a quick decision about which hemisphere the continent is in. One reason to care about that is, of course, these prevailing winds and the effect on the vegetation. The other reason is that either us or the audience is going to be more comfortable with colder climates being either north or south. We could either give them and us something more comfortable, or challenge us.

By starting with a continent like this, we have an overall sense of where everything lies. Now, if we have a map or not, the next thing we want to start doing is determining where settlements are. Generally, these are going to be where a significant source of freshwater is. A continent-sized level map is too big for us to be indicating anything smaller than a town, so we’re mostly looking at the major population centers. In order to determine where that freshwater is, we’re going to need those mountain ranges and have a sense of where the rainfall is coming from. At this point, we don’t need to be too specific, if we don’t want to be, about exactly what size and shape these mountain ranges or forests are. We just need to know, generally, where they are, and when we draw these rivers and lakes, we are indicating a flow from higher ground to lower ground.

If we really want a city on the coastline and we haven’t drawn a river there, this would give us a place to indicate where that river is coming out because, of course, many deltas have a city right there. The point here is that we can decide where we want a city, and that will sometimes help us decide where the end of the river is. If we already know where the mountain range is, well, then this gives us a kind of starting and stopping point to draw a wavy line from.

Once we’ve done this, we can kind of go to doing this free reign approach where we just create at random. If we have an idea where every sovereign power is, we can do that, but if we only know where one or two of them is, we can just do that and worry about the other territories later. These sovereign powers will certainly have one or more major cities, and now that we’ve got those on our map, if we have one, or at least a sense of where they are, we know the kind of territory that it may need to include.

Sometime during all of this, we’re going to need a bunch of names. One of the things that I will do after putting these names on all those cities and towns is I will create a file that’s basically a spreadsheet, and then it has rows for each city and then columns for things like the population, how old it is, the symbols and colors, and I will fill out that information for many of the major settlements all at the same time so that I can avoid doing something like giving two of them the exact same symbol or color combination.

This is, once again, a kind of top-down approach on creating many of the settlements, but we’re not doing a deep dive into each one of them. We’re just doing a basic look at all of them. As we do this, it gives us a sense of where the oldest settlements are and which ones are the biggest and, therefore, the most important. This way, later, we can do this more random kind of thing where if we want to set a story in one of those cities, then we go ahead and create the file using the template that I gave you, and you can just start filling that out as you need. It might be a long time before you ever fill out other cities. You may never do other cities if you’re never going to use them, but at least you know where they are and how old they are, what symbols and colors they’re using, and, generally, how many people are there. So, the general pattern with this is to create that loose framework and then fill in stuff at random when you need it.

More Resources

If you’re looking for more world building resources, Artofworldbuilding.com has most of what you need. This includes more podcasts like this one, and free transcripts if you’d prefer to read an episode.

You can also find more information on all three volumes of The Art of World Building series, which is available in eBook, print, and audiobook formats. Much of the content of those books is available on the website for free.

You can also join the mailing list at artofworldbuilding.com/newsletter. This gets you free, reusable templates from each published volume in the series. You don’t even need to buy the books to get these. I also send out contest information, free tips, and other stuff to help with your efforts. Please note I do not share your email address with anyone as that’s against my privacy policy, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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File Storage

The next thing I want to talk about is how to handle our files. We need somewhere to store our ideas, and the best scenario is one where we have access to those any time we have a device, whether it’s our phone, a tablet, a laptop computer, or even if we’re borrowing someone else’s computer.

There are two kinds of files that we need much more than anything else. The main one is any sort of word processor-like file, and then we may need a spreadsheet program. Only a certain number of us are going to get into doing maps, in which case we need special map-making software. Something like that needs to be installed on our device, and usually they don’t work as well on something like a phone, if they work there at all, or on a tablet. We might need a more powerful computer for them. So, what I’m talking about in this section is not that kind of program so much as the basic one where we need somewhere to write down our ideas.

Back in the day, the only option we had was the local computer hard drive. That was the only thing that was writeable. When I went back and forth from home to work and I wanted to take some files with me, I used to use a writeable CD, and then a DVD, and finally a thumb drive or pen drive. Some of those are still an option today, but one of the problems with those is that we have to take it with us and we could, of course, lose it. I’ve had a couple close calls with that, where one time it fell out of pocket in my car, but I didn’t know that, and I thought it fell out somewhere between my desk at work and my car, and I was kind of in a panic because my life’s work was sitting there on this pen drive. Of course, I had a copy at home, but if someone else found it, they also had a copy at home.

After that, I began encrypting those drives, but that was kind of a pain. Fortunately, I found it and let out a huge sigh of relief. Today, I don’t do any of that because I use Office 365, which I’ll talk a little bit more about later.

One of the problems with a hard drive is that they can fail, so we need another one to back up our content to. We used to have to connect another hard drive to our computer, but today we can have a home network where one is installed there, and we can even have a RAID setup. What that means is that there could be two drives in that backup setup, and when you copy something to one, it automatically gets copied to the other so that if one of the drives crashes, you’ve still got a backup. What this is not going to help with is if your house burns down because that’s going to kill all of your computers, including those backup drives.

So, it could be smart to take a copy, once every month or two, offsite to another location where you know it’s going to be safe, like your parents or someone else — another relative. Another option, and the one that I use, is to have a safety deposit box. This might cost me something like $60 a year, but that is a small price to pay for the peace of mind of knowing that if my house burns down while I am not there, I am not going to lose 30 years of work. This is not only a world building issue, but if you’re an author, it’s about all of your stories. And if you’re a gamer, it could be the same for all of that if you’ve got it digitally stored.

We have another option today, and that is to store our information on a website of one kind or another. They offer the opportunity to access our files from anywhere, and this is a good thing. However, we all know that websites get hacked, so there’s that. However, our local home computer and network can also be hacked. The question is how likely is it that someone’s going to target us? The answer is not likely, unless we’re famous, but it’s possible that we could get caught up in just a general hack. However, they probably weren’t looking for world building stuff. So, even if they find it, they probably are going to look right past that because they’re searching for our credit card information, for example.

But if we are on Google or Office 365, those are pretty big targets and there’s a decent chance that they could get hacked and our information could be taken. There are also smaller sites that are catering to world builders, and it’s much less likely that anyone is going to go after those simply because there aren’t going to be enough people there and there’s probably not nearly enough financial information, which is what hackers usually want, or something personal that they can compromise us with.

Another consideration about websites is the terms of service and whether or not we are the sole owners of anything that we upload to those sites. I think a while back, Facebook caused some controversy by basically saying they can do whatever they want with your information, and they acquired some copyright in it, and then people pushed back on this. It may not have been Facebook, but you get the idea. These sites can do this kind of stuff, and sometimes they insert language into their terms of service, and most of us just click the “OK” button, we don’t bother to read it, and then we’re hoping that somebody, somewhere will notice it if there’s something really offensive in there. Then, of course, we all freak out, we make a big fuss, and then a company like Facebook back walks on that. Creative people often worry, sometimes unnecessarily, about other people stealing their ideas. But if this is something that concerns you, it’s something you need to pay attention to.

Another issue about websites is that most of them cost money to operate, and so they may be charging us a fee that’s either monthly or yearly. For those of us who are already making money from any products released, this can be something that we can tolerate a little better.


I briefly want to talk about a few specific websites. The first of those is Microsoft Office 365. One factor to consider here is that you can access the online versions of all these programs, like Microsoft Word, or you can do it through the installed program. Well, the installed ones are usually the fully featured ones, and the website version is usually limited. What I have found is that I typically do my work through the installed version because pretty much every computer I use has it installed on there.

Another issue with Office that’s a good thing is that they have mobile apps. In fact, I’m actually looking at the mobile version of this chapter on my phone while I’m dictating into another computer. It is fairly seamless to transfer between each of these so that my updates on one immediately show up on the other.

Something I forgot to mention is that we need to also be worrying about whether the website does backups. A site like Office 365 is almost certainly doing robust backups so that if their servers fail, they’ve got a whole other server that has our information still on it. We might lose a day of our work, but we’re not going to lose five years or, in my case, thirty years of work if I choose to put it all on there — and I don’t. I only put on there the stuff that I am most likely to need on a regular basis and actually change, and I’m only going to want to do that if I’m away from my home. That’s the other consideration. I basically use Office 365 for my mobile files. When I was writing the book that this is from, Cultures and Beyond, that manuscript was in Office 365. The other two first volumes, those were removed because I didn’t need to access them regularly.

When it comes to backups, the great thing about Office 365 is that it automatically syncs files to your home computer, for example, so that you can still do backups the old fashioned way: two hard drives.

Another option that most of us have heard of is Google Docs, and this is one of the few that is free. I don’t believe this allows the same kind of synchronizing automatically, but you can click a folder and download stuff immediately. I used to use Google Docs, but one of the things that I don’t like is that I really do most of my work in Microsoft Word, and I found that the formatting of the fonts in Google Docs did not really line up well, and there was no easy way to convert it. I mean, they say you can download it and choose a format, but it never looked the same as my other stuff. So, I always had to use the format painter to fix all of the text, and this could sometimes be quite tedious.

However, one of the advantages to Google Docs is that it’s really easy to share a file with somebody else. They’re also, presumably, doing significant backups so that we would not lose much if one of their servers failed. They also have a whole bunch of mobile apps that you can work on through your phone or a tablet. However, there is no installed version of their apps, and one of the problems with this is that it’s not going to be nearly as powerful as something like the installed version of Microsoft Word. That said, we probably don’t need most of the features of Word.

In addition to those two sites, there are a number of world building sites that have cropped up in the last few years. I’m not going to list these because they could change at any time, and all you have to do is google “world building sites.” These are going to be websites, so they do offer the ability to log in from anywhere. However, I don’t think any of them have a mobile app. They may also limit your ability to download your files because they’ve got a specific format where everything is being typed into not an open text editor, but a field that has been set aside for you to enter that information. Some of them probably do have editor-like features, but I don’t think they’re going to be as robust as either Google Docs or Microsoft Word and the Office 365 platform.

Some of these sites offer world building advice or prompts to help you get going, but of course, you can get that from anywhere, such as this podcast or the series of books, or podcasts and books from other people. You don’t necessarily need it from a website where you are storing your ideas. That would appear to be one of the main draws of these sites.

Something else we must be concerned about here is how they are doing backups. These sites are being run by individuals, maybe a handful of them. Do we know if they’re storing all the information on a server in their basement or if it’s stored in a professional web service provider? This is something that may be spelled out on their site, and if it’s not, then I would strongly suggest that you ask before putting your material on there. I have heard of a few people saying that there was a server crash, and despite the best efforts by the site owners, they lost everything.

One of the advantages of these sites is that some of them are setup to allow you to connect a lot of your ideas on a webpage so that people can have a kind of interactive experience. But what I would suggest, and if I ever did this, what I would do is I would still work offline away from that site, but then if I wanted to give my readers that experience where they can click on a map and a little window will show up with a bunch of information about a city or a land feature, I would just set that up for each book and use it as something that’s cool for that book or a series. I wouldn’t necessarily store my personal world building files in there.

And I don’t mean to sound negative about these. You should look at them and decide if they work for you because a lot of people do love these sites. Personally, I don’t need them, and that’s partly because I was world building before some of those people were even born. In other words, aside from occasionally switching from my hard drive to Google Docs and then to Microsoft Office 365, I’m basically fine with word processing files, Excel spreadsheets, and then, of course, the occasional map program.

A final word on this is that most of these sites have a cost, although they sometimes have a free plan that can get you started.

World Building University

If you’d like to learn world building skills through instruction, I’ve launched World Building University. There you can find one free course you can take just by signing up, which has no obligation. Other courses are in development and available now. You can preview parts of every course, all of which include video lessons, quizzes, assignments, and sometimes downloadable templates that are even better than those found in the books.

To get your first free course, just go to worldbuilding.university.

Get Organized

Since world building can produce a lot of files, one of the things we need to do is get organized if we are not already. Some of those world building sites will basically take care of some of that organization for us because they’ve got a set way of doing things. One reason to check out those sites is that you might like the way they organize things. But, then again, you may not.

What I’m going to suggest now is a potential folder structure, and this is one that I have used before, and I’ve also changed it many times. I would suggest that you choose something and then live with it for a while, and if you want to change it, you’re going to know why. Something won’t be working about the way you’ve got it set up.

So, you may not like this idea, but what I do is, of course, I have a folder for the name of the world. Within that, I might have another folder for life. Within that, there could be another folder for animals, one for plants, monsters, the supernatural and species. At the same level as that life folder, I might have multiple folders, one for each continent. Then, within each of those, I might have another folder for the maps, another for the settlements, and another one for the sovereign powers.

But let’s talk about another way of doing this. I could have a folder for all of the animals, with each animal being its own file. Or I could put all of the animals into a single file. In that case, I wouldn’t need the folder. I could do the same thing with species, where I have 10 species files inside a folder called species, or I could just get rid of that folder called species and have all of my 10 species inside a single file.

One reason not to put so many species, for example, in a single file is that it can be hard to navigate within that file. However, Microsoft Word has something called the Navigation Pane, and this basically opens up, on the left side, a collapsible and expandable outline of where everything is. Basically, you can jump within your file very easily by clicking on one of the headings that you’ve used. This is a feature that I swear by. If Microsoft ever gets rid of it, I will likely storm their offices and demand that they put it back. What that feature allows me to do is put a lot of information into a single file and keep it easily organized and navigable. This is one reason why I didn’t like Google Docs because that did not exist.

When it comes to files, I’ve already discussed a few like that spreadsheet listing all the cities and giving high level information on them. In a spreadsheet, you can have multiple tabs, so I have one for cities, another one for life forms, like species, another one for animals, another one for plants and another one for, say, the gods. The information that I put into those is the high level stuff so that I can see, at a glance, a bunch of information about all of them at the same time. Otherwise, if I have, let’s say, 10 species, and I have 10 different files, then I have to open up 10 different files to see what’s going on.

But one of the things we need to try to avoid doing is duplication of information. So, let’s say that I’ve put the city colors into my spreadsheet, listing the city colors of every settlement, and then I have a file for that settlement and I’ve listed the city colors there again. There’s a likelihood that, at some point, I might change it, and I forget to change it in both locations. This is one reason not to do that kind of thing. Or we have to make a mental note that one of these is always going to be canon, or the master. That way, if they get out of sync, we know, “Okay. The spreadsheet, in my case, is the master. That’s the one. If there’s a conflict, I know that the most up-to-date and accurate information is the one in that spreadsheet,” and I am very diligent about this.

There’s another problem we can have with world building, and that is that sometimes we are not trying to do world building. We might be trying to work on something else, like a novel, and then we have an idea for the setting. And if we open up a file, like a species file, we might see other stuff in there that also attracts our attention, and the next thing we know, our attention has been taken away from what we were working on and now we have been pulled back into world building. To avoid this problem, I keep a file for each of my settings, and it has the name and it basically says, “Changes to make.” What this allows me to do is collect all of my ideas in that file, and that’s a kind of list of impending changes that I want to make to that setting. But I’m just listing it there temporarily so that I don’t open up my files in that setting and get sucked in.

I also recommend having a single file like that because I do something that you may be doing, as well. Sometimes I email myself an idea. Sometimes I open up a calendar item and I type it into there because I have a kind of daily schedule of stuff I need to do today. For example, today on there is “record a podcast episode.” But, you know, later today, I’ve got other stuff I need to do. I might have just opened that calendar item and jotted my note there, but eventually it needs to move to that file that’s called “changes to make.” I also sometimes jot notes down on the notes application on my smartphone. All of those places I consider to be temporary locations before they get moved to that “changes to make” file, and that’s also a temporary location, but at least it’s one where I’m not going to lose track of that. A note on my phone, or especially an email, is going to slowly get lost in time as I accumulate other emails and notes.

So, I try to be pretty good about taking those notes that I’ve made to myself and I copy them to my “changes to make” file. And eventually, when I make a conscious decision that I’m going to actually return to world building on that setting and I want to look at some of those ideas, I go back there, take one of them, open the appropriate world building file and I start fleshing it out.


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For iPhone, iPad, and iPod listeners, grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes Store and search for The Art of World Building. This will help you to download the free podcast app, which is produced by Apple, and then subscribe to the show from within that app. Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right onto your device.

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This only needs to be done once and at that point, you will never miss an episode.

World Building Coalitions

The last thing I want to talk about is a world building coalition. This is an idea that I brainstormed a few years ago. It’s a way of possibly partnering with other world builders. Consider this a thought exercise, and it may be something where you like the idea, and maybe you don’t, but at least you have some idea of whether this is even feasible for you. Since I haven’t actually done a world building coalition, I would be the first one to admit there are details that you would have to work out with others in your coalition if you decide to go through with this.

A world building coalition, or WBC, is a collection of people who have agreed to build a world together, sharing the labor and the fruits of that labor. Certain high-level ideas would be easier to share, such as the overall world feel, the gods and maybe many of the lifeforms that are on that planet. We may even be able to share sovereign powers, although I do recommend that each person get a sovereign power of their own that they can do whatever they want with, and they are the owner of that, basically. Such a person would be a world building owner, or WBO.

One of the things that would be needed for this to work is what I’m going to call a covenant, or kind of a contract or agreement about what is possible. I’m going to go into some details here, but the basic point is that no one wants to go in assuming that everyone’s going to be fine with everything that’s happening, and that if a dispute comes up, everyone’s going to just figure out how to work it out. An analogy that comes to mind is with rock bands where they don’t have any contract in the beginning, whoever’s writing music is just writing it, and then they become famous, for example. And then some of the writers are getting the money and the people who are not writing are not getting any money, and there starts to be all this tension about who’s making what More than one band has broken up over this, and more than one friendship has broken up over similar disagreements. So that’s something you want to consider and avoid right from the beginning if you can.

Let’s talk about a few potential roles. The most important of those is the world master. This is the person who has the overriding authority for that planet, or a group of them in something like a solar system if that’s the scope of what you’re doing. Maybe this person has tie-breaking authority, and they would have the responsibility of moderating disputes, laying out some rules and just general administration of everything in the world building coalition. In most cases, this would probably be the person who created the WBC in the first place. This person would probably need a backup person in case they are indisposed temporarily.

Another important role would be the continent master or CM. Imagine that your WBC has seven continents, each with a CM. This allows each person to have some ownership of something, and they are the final authority on that particular continent. So, if you’ve got a continent and I’ve got an idea for it, I can run it past you. And if it’s agreed upon, then it becomes accepted and any of us could use it, but if I’m suggesting a change to that continent and you don’t like it, you get to overrule me.

One of the things that we’re alluding to here is that anyone can use things in a kind of read manner versus a write manner. What I mean is that if you’ve created something, I can go ahead and use that. But I can’t make changes to yours, or at least I can’t do it without your permission. Maybe there is a 2,000-year history on your continent and you have decided to let me have the years 500-1,000. During that period, I can make various changes to kingdoms, making them rise and fall, as long as I don’t change the future that you have set up. There are various ways that this kind of thing could be done. You could have seven people in your group, and each one of them has a period of 1,000 years where they can do whatever they want. They are the owner of that timeline.

One of the things we’re getting to here is that the WBC must decide what items will be shared and what will belong to each world building owner. Anything that’s shared must be voted upon by the entire coalition, or however you decide to set this up. If it’s maybe just the majority rules and the change goes into effect, or does it have to be unanimous? We could also have other roles besides the continent master, such as a sovereign power master or even just a settlement master. Each of these roles is the final authority, and it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world building coalition wants to do with one of those territories. Whether it’s a city or a sovereign power, they cannot overrule the master of that.

Something else that should probably be considered and spelled out in a covenant is the life cycle. World building can go on forever, and some of the people involved in that coalition may come and go. So, what happens when this happens? For example, if I leave your coalition, do I lose my rights immediately or do I never lose them? Can I transfer my stake to another world building owner? What happens if I get suspended, such as I need to go away for a long period of time? I won’t be around to cast my vote for any WBC business. What happens if I abandon my stake in the WBC? I just simply stop responding and no one knows how to get ahold of me. What happens to my properties? Is there a period of time where I lose my status as a world building owner of something? And, of course, sometimes people might get terminated. They might actually get kicked out of the coalition. What happens in this case? Does that person still own their property? Can they still use it, but they can no longer make changes?

In order to run a world building coalition, you would presumably need an ability to track the information that everyone is doing, and even stuff like the meeting minutes for any business that you’re conducting. Some of those websites that I was just talking about could be ideal for this. Now, I don’t know if a world building coalition would work. I’d certainly be curious to see what happens. If you ever form one and you’re running into problems and you want to talk to me about it, I would love to hear what happens and how you guys are resolving things and whether things are working out or not.


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Well, we’ve come to the end of The Art of World Building Podcast. I hope that you’ve learned a lot from this and benefited from it. And if you have, feel free to drop me a line and tell me what you loved, tell me what you didn’t love. Feel free to tell other people what you loved and not tell them what you didn’t love. And, you know, if you want to leave a review, again, that would certainly help me. Part of me is excited to be finishing this because it is time consuming, even though I love doing it, but I have many other things that I want to do, such as going back to writing more of my own books that are not about world building.

On the other hand, this is a sad occasion because it is the end. So, we’re going to end with a different song of mine. This one is called “Tears” from the Serenade of Strings album. I’m going to end with two phrases that I thought of somewhere in all of this, and have been repeating. One of them is: “Build better, faster.” And, of course, the most important thing is remember this: “world building is fun.”

Goodbye, for now, and thanks for listening. This is your host, Randy Ellefson, signing off.