As I ease back into RPG blogging, one of the things I want to do is share some of my process. That includes things that provided inspiration, my methodology for creating, and the things that I learned over the course of working on specific projects. For the sake of this post, I’ve narrowed down 3 things I learned writing Worldbuilding Power. There are many more, and I will probably discuss those in future posts. Most of them aren’t specific to this project, and are equally applicable to writing or game design in general.
3 Things I Learned Writing Worldbuilding Power
The frustrating thing about writing a series like Worldbuilding Power is that you’re constantly having little epiphanies. When something clicks during the creation of the third book, you become tempted to go back and make changes to the first two. Then you get to the ninth book, have a brilliant idea, and want to go back and tweak the first eight. You just can’t do that. As tempting as it is, it’s not practical. I still love each and every volume that we’ve released, even though as a creator I’m never satisfied. All I can do is keep taking what I learn and make each release a little bit better than the last.
1. Worldbuilding Should Serve a Purpose
This was something I already knew, but each one of these titles drove the point home further. There are reasons to shine a spotlight on the mountains, as opposed to undergound realms. Aside from being different environments, they support different types of characters. You can take two characters and make them identical mechanically, same statistics, same abilities. Change where they’re from, and you end up with very different people. The more you dig into the worldbuilding and add details to those places, the more unique those characters become as well.
The same goes for a story. You can do that same adventure, beat-for-beat, encounter-by-encounter, and adapt it to emphasize different creature types. Maybe for novice characters you use ordinary animals, but for expert protagonists you swap them out for aberrations. The same back story for a character shifts dramatically, whether their parents were eaten by wolves or devoured by something out of Lovecraft. There is shifts in tone, in genre, in elements required to support that.
Worldbuilding works best when it’s in the service of something. It’s there to support an adventure idea, or a character concept. Some things will exist in order to support other worldbuilding elements. The presence of steel swords means that there are blacksmiths, and further down the line, someone mining iron ore. Those support systems require other support systems. They don’t need to exist in great detail, and often just acknowledging them is enough. Whatever concept you require, however, is the center of a ripple effect.
Writing Every Day Matters
With some planned exceptions for sales and events, I want to release something new every week this year. That means I need to have something completed every single week. Even though I started preparing for this early last year, it still means that I have to write every single day.
What I’ve learned is that tracking how much I write isn’t want matters. As long as I make the time to sit down and write, I will make enough word count to hit my deadlines. Having a specific number of words that I have to write is too much pressure. If the words aren’t there, forcing things doesn’t help. It also incentivizes me to stop once I’ve hit that word count. Having a deadline, and writing every day, allows me to be as productive as I’m able to be, where that means I write 10 words or 10 pages.
Alternating Projects Keeps Things Fresh
When I settled on doing the three series-within-the-series, I thought about doing all of the magic titles first, then all the creatures, then terrain. There were clear benefits to being in one frame of mind for a longer period of time. As a writer, though, I knew that switching it up would keep it interesting. An epiphany I might have while working on a magic title might spark an idea for the next terrain title. Having a little space would also help me feel like I wasn’t writing the same thing over and over, especially since there’s a consistency to the format.
Switching between the Worldbuilding Power titles and working on the Lighthouse System titles was also useful. When I would stall out on one project, I could move to the other and keep working. It kept me energized and productive. Doing just one thing for a long period of time can make it feel like work, even if you’re excited about it. Stepping away and working on something else means renewing that enthusiasm for a project once you get back into it.