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:bulletgreen: Worldbuilding Guide: Intro

• OW Challenge

The OW Challenge System

Hello, and welcome to the brand new worldbuilding guide! This will serve as a reboot of the earlier, incomplete guide.

I’m hoping to provide an overview of the creation of a world in a way that will spark ideas and help those who need it over rough spots with their own worlds. I will also be building an example world as the guide continues; this will hopefully clarify anything that I don’t communicate well and help you to generate ideas.

Note that this guide is geared toward the creation of worlds more or less like Earth – that is to say, rocky planets that humans would probably be able to survive on without fancy gear.  

If your world does not fit this category – for example, a gas giant inhabited by sentient rocks – then much of this guide will not apply to your worldbuilding. If your world is an alternate Earth, then depending on how alternate it is, you may not need to figure out much of the basic groundwork. That’s fine; feel free to use what will help and ignore what won’t.

This guide also strongly reflects my own style of worldbuilding. Not everyone does it by the same method or in the same order as I do, so if you want to use the guide but prefer to skip steps or do them out of order, then be my guest. However, the way I will be laying things out works pretty well for me, and I hope that it will be helpful to some of you.


There are two major methods of worldbuilding, usually known as the top-down and bottom-up methods.  If you envision your world as a giant pyramid, with the basic laws of nature at the bottom and fine details of culture, biology, etc. at the top, the names may make more sense.

The top-down method starts with the details and builds outward and downward from there, figuring out what kind of world would be needed to produce a specific result. The bottom-up method does exactly the opposite – it begins with creating the planet itself (or solar system, or universe) and builds up to the details. Both methods are excellent and when done well, can lead to realistic and well-realized worlds.

I, however, find that both can be daunting even to someone who isn’t scared off by the prospect of building a whole world, not to mention that it can be boring to work so systematically. So I actually use a combination of the two, starting initially with the details, then using that knowledge to create the world’s foundation, and finally working to bring the two together. That will be the method used in this guide.

Let’s start, shall we?

The Seed Idea

The first thing to do is to form what I call a seed idea.  This is probably the most important step in your worldbuilding. A seed idea is the foundation of everything in your world – you will be building on it and drawing from it throughout the worldbuilding process. It can be anything that represents your world as you want it to be – a concept, an image, a bit of dialogue. You may have one already. If not, think about what you want your world to be like. What first inspired you to make a world?

When you have your seed idea, preserve it. Write it down, draw it, keep it in your mind – whatever works for you, as long as you have it available for your future worldbuilding. Make it as detailed as possible, engaging all the senses if you can. The more that is in your seed idea, the more you will have to grow into a world.  

If you want an example seed idea, mine is here. I would, however, advise trying to generate your own first. If you don't get anything right away, let it sit a while and come back. Next time, we will be using the seed idea to lay the world’s foundations.

Skin by CypherVisor
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JDTcreates Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I guess in my case, my seed idea was the variety of beings based on the various races I wanted to populate the world. Then I built the world around them along with a collection of stories to take place in it.
LunarNightmare Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I like the guide! I'll be excited to see it added to. However should the OW Challenge be taken off though considering its not active? Unless your hoping to bring it back?
Jestloo Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014  Student General Artist
I really liked the last guides. Excited to see the new ones. :D
mikeyquig Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hello :-) I'm trying to build a bunch of different worlds and races to fill my stories universe each with its own cultures and codes this guide looks awwsome so far :-) I like the bottom up and top down methods, I'll be looking forward to more
TEK427 Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
For me, my "seed idea" was my two fantasy races. I then built a world to house them. So I guess I used a mix of "bottom-up" and "top-down" methods too. I think I've got the basics of my world down, but I feel like I need to fine tune the details. So I wanna read more of this guide! :D
Saskle Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2014  Student General Artist
:eager: This is really helpful, I'm looking forward to part two!
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