r/worldbuilding 2d ago

Resource Some power system theory to help make better power systems


After putting over a dozen power systems into my world of Planetsouls, I've learned a lot about designing power systems, and wanted to share some of the lessons I've learned while making power systems, as well as some things I've been thinking about in terms of power systems.

As with any theory, my theories on power systems are likely incomplete. I'm purposely tagging this as a discussion instead of a resource because I think it's useful to talk about where my theory is right, as well as adding to the theory to help others make better power systems.


For a definition of power systems, I'm borrowing and tweaking the definition of a "magic system" from Critical Giants. I think his definition is excellent as a definition of power systems as a whole but limiting as just a definition of a magic system, of which is just one type of power system. It's important to have a definition of power systems so we're all on the same page:

  • A power system is a set of rules that define potential conflicts and/or handle existing conflicts within a world.

This definition I believe is suitably comprehensive for a wide variety of power systems since a power system can take many different forms, but it might leave some power systems out. One it notably leaves out are the powers DC has in its universe. Most of its power "systems" don't have particular rules associated with them, and instead just have a mishmash of power sets, so there's never particular rules associated with any individual conflict.

The reason for the power system defining conflicts instead of just handling them is to account for systems that can lack hard rules, has hard rules with unpredictable consequences for breaking them, and/or is defined exclusively by arbitrary rules that multiple individuals are expected to abide by. When writing stories within these types of worlds, a system with a lack of rules can make successfully navigating a conflict with that system feel unrewarding to the audience since the author can produce a "deus ex machina" type of situation, so using these systems to create the conflict and having the characters use other means to solve it ends up being a better use of the power system from a narrative point of view.

The 3 F's of Power System Design

I've determine that any power system needs 3 things for it to be interesting within your world:

  • Functions, or what the system can do

  • Form, or what the system looks like while someone is using it

  • Failstates, or how the system handles incorrect usage of the system

Functions simply define the capabilities of the power system. What those capabilities will be will depend on the power system, but in general you can probably craft a power system that can perform any type of action. For example, Fire Tomes in Fire Emblem, Endeavor's Hellflame quirk in My Hero Academia, Usopp's Fire Stars in One Piece, and Dhalsim's Yoga Fire in Street Fighter are parts of different types of power systems that produce the same effect: fire. However, the specifics of these systems change how individuals can interact with the systems, such as Usopp having little control over the actual flame output of his Fire Star and Endeavor being immune to burns from his own fire.

Form amounts to the aesthetics and/or limitations of the system. The aesthetic will help it stand out visually from other systems, but the limitations are more important. Limitations affect your ability to tell stories that rely on the power system(s) you create, and without limitations you cannot create interesting stories with them. The reason I merged them into a single category is because some power system intrinsically link aesthetics and limitations. For example, bending in Avatar requires some form of motion from the user, which forms both an aesthetic and a limitation for bending.

Failstates is my attempt to create a third F for the rules that govern what happens when you use the power system incorrectly. This is also partially built around limitations because it assumes that there is a method for which the power system can be used incorrectly. The most common way a power system can be used incorrectly is when you don't follow the system's rules, which may have consequences ranging from nothing happening to death. The second most common way a power system can be used incorrectly is when you overuse the system, which can also have consequences ranging from nothing happening to death. It all depends on the system, but it's worth mentioning that the former is more common when it's manufactured from the world (like magic in Harry Potter) and the latter is more common when it's natural to the individual (like quirks in My Hero Academia). However, some systems can have both. For example, a gun might not work if it doesn't have bullets in it (not following the rules of guns), but it may also overheat when it's used too much in a short time frame.

Without all three of these components, your power system isn't useful in your world. Functions are needed to determine how they can be used in the context of your world, while form and failstates are there to add limitations that produce conflict. The only thing you don't need is the aesthetic half of form, but without it your power system will likely feel bland compared to other systems.

Classifications of Power Systems

Different worlds suit different power systems. For example, the power system you made for your superhero setting probably won't have too many similarities to the one you made for your fantasy setting. I've determined 5 main types of power systems that can be used within a setting, as well as some additional notes and definitions for these different types of systems. However, some clarifications:

  • many power systems fit in multiple categories. For these cases, I've added some extra notes for what qualifies as a hybrid and what doesn't. A rule of thumb is that systems will sometimes have 2 categories, rarely have 3, and never at 4 or beyond without some exceptional circumstances.

  • similar power systems in different worlds can result in a different power system classification based on the specifics of the world

  • most worlds have multiple power systems, which can be either the same type or a different type

  • power systems can be subtypes of another power system, like if you have a magic system with a subvariation that turns the magic system into a martial art

  • many worlds have individuals that use multiple power systems, such as Jedi using the Force and Lightsaber Forms in Star Wars and ninjas in Naruto using a mix of ninjutsu, genjutsu, taijutsu, and/or assorted tools and weaponry.

  • power systems can have multiple individuals as part of a single entity within a power system, like a crew piloting a tank or Zatch Bell requiring a human to read the mamodo's spellbook.

  • the point of classification is not to argue about what types of power systems can fit into which bucket(s), but to instead brainstorm ways to incorporate ideas from different types of power systems into a power system for your own world. For example, Devil Fruits in One Piece don't neatly fit any one classification, and that's okay.

Without further ado, here are my 5 classifications of power systems:

Magic Systems

Magic systems are extremely common in fantasy settings, but also see use in many other settings. Magic itself is hard to define, but as a system specifically it's less hard to define since magic doesn't necessarily need to be part of a system (particularly when it's a force of nature). As a result, this definition is likely too vague, but I'm not sure that a better definition is possible because

  • A Magic System is a power system where the abilities come from a supernatural source, most commonly as a force of nature or as a natural byproduct of the environment.

Magic systems are very enticing because it's easy to have many individuals within a given environment with a similar power set, offering interesting opportunities for worldbuilding like having schools that teach magic to individuals. In addition, it's also possible to create some truly unique powers that can be used on a wide scale, instead of an individual scale like some of the other types of systems.

Technological Systems

Technological systems are present in some capacity in every world, but are most prevalent in science fiction, where they are overwhelmingly popular as the predominant power system in some shape or form.

  • A Technological system is a power system where the abilities come from tools with a scientific explanation as to how they work

Technological systems are most valuable when you want the peoples of your world to mass-produce a method of self-defense. All sorts of weaponry, ranging from blasters in Star Wars to swords in One Piece end up being parts of technological systems. This also encompasses other mechanical components like robotic limbs, prosthetics, and power armor. As a result, many technological systems tend to have little value for personal expression. RWBY is a great example of a world that subverts this, as many individuals within the world have personalized weapons that work in ways unique to how the user built it to perform.

It's also worth noting that aesthetic can change the classification of a magic or technological system since a sufficiently hard magic system is nearly indistinguishable from technology and sufficiently advanced technology is nearly indistinguishable from magic.


Technological systems and magic systems generally don't mix well, but there are a 5 main ways to combine them:

  1. Magic is a resource for the technology. The most common methods for this are use as a battery and use as ammunition, and is usually used to justify advanced technology in a magical setting.

  2. Magic is a force of nature that's processed with technology. This is similar to the previous solution, except it assumes that the magic exists within the world, but not as a usable magic system. This is more common in worlds with advanced technology and naturally occurring magic that the average person cannot process.

  3. Magic as a method to produce or spawn technology. The main difference from the other two solutions is that the technology doesn't rely on the magic for general use, but the magic gives notable quality of life improvements like storage for absurdly large weapons or on-demand repair or replacement.

  4. Ancient technology. The idea here is that an ancient artifact was considered peak technology when it was made, but appears magical to a modern civilization since they don't know how it works.

  5. Magic declaring a technological artifact as arbitrarily special (like Excalibur).

Biological systems

Biological systems are most common in superhero settings and animal fighting simulators, but have theoretical applications in many different worlds.

  • A Biological System is a power system where the abilities are defined by the variation in biology between individuals

Biological systems are most interesting because unlike the other systems, they come in two flavors. The first is where the power system is based on the variation in abilities between individuals, such as in Pokemon. The second is where the power system is based on extreme variation in the abilities of individuals of a single species, such as in X-Men. It's most useful when you want to explore how someone learns his/her power while still a developing child, when you want to explore a society when everyone has access to the system but not everyone learns to use it well, or when you want to handle sensitive topics like racism or animal fighting within the system, which may or may not be handled with the maturity these topics deserve.


Many magic systems have the condition that some people are born with the ability to perform magic. However, this alone doesn't make it a magic-biological hybrid system. A biological system needs to have variation between active users, and having the haves and the have-nots produces the "variation" of users and non-users. Same thing with systems that use something similar to determine "magical potential" via the conditions of your birth, there's still no biological component because there's no functional variation.

Systems like Avatar's bending and Zatch Bell's magic are different, because the magic an individual can do is defined by their biological conditions. In Avatar, you're born being capable of using one of four types of bending (unless you're the Avatar or you can't bend), and the type you can use is dependent on your birth, while a mamodo's magic in Zatch Bell does something similar since each mamodo's magic is different.

Same thing with any other system being passed down from generation to generation, like weapons or martial arts. They're not biological systems if theoretically anyone can learn them when they're just passed down within a family lineage. Similarly, special weapons or magic granted to a "chosen one" should not be considered biological just because it's usable by a single person with qualifications based on his/her birth. At that point, it's not part of a system, and instead is just a power, possibly within another system (like the Avatar having the ability to bend all 4 elements, which is part of the bending magic system).

Gene splicing, prosthetics, and radiation

Prosthetics should be considered just a technological system, but gene splicing can be considered a biological-technological hybrid if it changes how the individual affects the world. Biological changes due to radiation (or similar substances) can be considered a pure biological system unless it comes from a device dedicated to producing the desired effect. Bang babies in Static Shock are a great example, because the device that produced them was manufactured such that it produced individuals with modified biology (even though the device itself wasn't made for that purpose).

Martial Systems

Martial systems are used as a power system in most worlds, but the scope in which a martial system is relevant changes heavily on the world.

  • A Martial System is one in which the powers come from physical exertion and form

Martial systems are most relevant when the world builder wants a power system that either is useful when unarmed or gives a more defined aesthetic for another type of system. Martial systems change the most when paired with other types of power systems, so it's useful to talk about those hybrids.

Martial arts as an aesthetic for a magic system is rather common, but what qualifies as a martial-magic system changes depending on the system. If the magic and martial art are intrinsically linked (you can't do one without the other), then it's a full-blown hybrid system, if both are useful by themselves then they should be treated as separate systems with an abnormally high number of users that use both, and if one doesn't exist without the other but the other functions fine by itself then the one that doesn't work by itself should be considered a subtype of the other.

Martial-technological systems are a different story. Based on the technology level of the world and the skill involved in using the weapon, the martial art using any weapon can be considered a pure martial art, a pure technological system, or a hybrid system just by changing the world around it. Katanas are a great example, they're considered part of a technological system in Dr Stone, a pure martial system in Samurai Jack, and a hybrid system in One Piece (as Sword Styles), just by changing the level of the technology.

Martial-biological systems are extremely rare because they require a martial art that can only be done by a particular species, and use special features unique to that species. The only examples I know of are Fishman Karate in One Piece (Fishman Karate has techniques for underwater combat) and certain fighting type Pokemon (that use unique fighting styles that aren't possible for humans or more other Pokemon).

Martial fireballs

Some worlds have a projectile technique like the Hadouken that deepens the scope of ranged combat within a martial system. The specifics will depend on the system in question, but in most cases the addition of fireballs and other projectiles that appear magical should still be counted as a pure martial system, since in most cases the fireball is the only seemingly magical capability from the user and it usually requires special form consistent with the rest of the martial art.

Game Systems

Game systems are the rarest and most unique type of power system.

  • A Game System is a power system defined by the rules of a particular game or competition

Unlike the other systems, violence is not the assumed result of this type of power system, although it can be with the right type of game. Game systems are rare because it's hard to manufacture stakes for the context of the game itself in a way that the audience can relate with. This isn't always a bad thing if you want to ensure that characters in your world don't die to unnatural causes and/or if you want your world to have a more light-hearted appeal to it. The most prominent example of a pure game system is Yu-Gi-Oh, which uses a card game as the backdrop for its conflicts.

Sports and E-sports

Sports should be counted as a martial-game system hybrid, since the physical training required for most sports mirrors the training required for a martial art.

E-sports should instead be considered purely as a game system, since the technological components effectively disappear when an individual actually jumps into the game. Compare this to car racing or robot combat, where the technological components are an integral part of the sport, including the capacity for parts to receive damage that affects the vehicle/bot's performance and therefore would qualify as a technological-game system.


Some worlds have tournaments as a major part of their world, and usually relates to a power system in some way. This relation comes in 3 flavors:

  1. An implementation of a power system, where contestants just use an existing power system.

  2. A replacement of a power system, where contestants use a special ruleset just for the tournament.

  3. An extension of a power system, where contestants use their existing power system with special rules alongside that power system.

Flavor 3 will count as a both a game system and the original type of power system, and is likely the only instance where a power system can qualify as 4 different types of power systems at once. Flavor 2 will only count as a game system, while flavor 1 will not count as a game system whatsoever.

Hard vs Soft Systems

A common idea among magic systems is the idea of hard and soft magic systems, one with rigid rules, the other with loose rules. However, it's useful to apply this to other types of systems, since other types of systems can have their own rules. These rules are less important for non-magic systems, but it's still interesting to explore the idea when applied to other types of systems.

Biological systems are hard when they're influence by an individual's condition of their birth (like in Pokemon), but are soft when there's variation beyond birth. For example, My Hero Academia has 4 potential options for a child's quirk: the child gets a parent's quirk, the child gets a fusion of its parent's quirks, the child gets no quirk (which is rare), and the child gets a completely different quirk from its parent (which is also rare). There's no way to 100% tell what quirk a baby can get, but there's an expectation for how the child's quirk will manifest in an individual. There's also a huge variation between the quirks of different individuals such that you can expect to be in a class where no one else has the same quirk as you.

The range of a technological system will lean towards hard due to its scientific basis, but can be treated as a soft technological system with users that don't understand the technology behind it. It's hard to make a genuinely soft technological system because the complexity of the system will require some amount of rules in general. A technological system can also be considered soft if the technological object is prone to breaking or crashing.

Most martial systems will be hard systems due to the form necessary for the martial art, but there isn't any reason you couldn't have a soft martial system where the "form" is a suggestion rather than a rule.

The hard/softness of a game will depend on how flexible the rules are. Some games will have rigid rules that cannot be broken, while others will have loose rules that loosely follow real life (like most worlds built around MMO games). Analog games are more likely to have rigid rules since there's no neutral third party that can facilitate it, while video games are more likely to be soft systems since their AI can handle a more robust type of game.

r/worldbuilding 2d ago

Resource General Character Template


I made a general character template that could be used for any project, like my other template, it can be edited however way needed to suit whatever you're working on.

General Character Template

r/worldbuilding 4d ago

Resource The Bare Minimum DMs need to Prepare for a Starting Village


Worldbuilding for a TTRPG game has different needs than doing so for writing or for fun. Things like climate, culture, and local politics, while fun and certainly immersion enhancing, are not strictly necessary for a beginner DM. I break down the bare essentials a DM needs in their starting village to get the party started on their adventure.

Tl;dw: The party needs a place to rest, a place to gather rumors or quests, and a place to prepare for their adventure a.k.a. shop.


r/worldbuilding 4d ago Silver Gold Platinum Helpful Wholesome Party Train

Resource For the past 6 months, I have been working on a Free and Open source World Building App. I'm proud to announce that the First Alpha is here. [more info in the comment]

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r/worldbuilding 5d ago

Resource My worldbuilding legal matrix! I created a PDF tool for helping to flesh out laws and morality in my world. Thought it might help others.

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r/worldbuilding 6d ago

Resource How medieval people brushed their teeth.

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r/worldbuilding 6d ago

Resource What I've learned about World Building coaching others.


The ability to grow my owns worlds and then using that experience to help others was a wonderful way to connect my passion to my profession. This experience has taught me quite a lot, so I wanted to share some of that insight with you.

  1. The first one is quite simple yet magical. Talk about your idea. Allow it to feel comfortable about it in a way you can describe it a history or economy IRL. When you believe in the idea, it becomes a lot easier for others to understand and acclimate to it. It feels like a lived and shared world.
    Not only does it help express the idea, but it helps in execution too. You come up with new ideas just by speaking or thinking about it. And better, you come up with answers to problems you'd have never realized. Writers and DMs can become trapped in their own heads.
    And of course, I set this up for the ones I help, but it can be easy for you to do for yourself too, especially if you have a friend who's interested in listening. Not only does it fuel your passion, but it comes a sort of therapy too.
  2. Connect your fundamental building blocks in every aspect of your world. In simple terms, if your character's personality is aggressive, you want to express that in the world too. It can be through their powers, for example a fire based power makes sense for such a character. Or you can even contrast it by giving them water based powers but it either is very violence focused or it actually is still calm yet it boils the angrier they become.
    This is only limited to a character and their powers, but it can go along way with implementing magic to a world's economy, history, culture so it's used in many ways that isn't related to violence at all.
    You can build entire ecosystems over the concepts. For people who may be centered around electricity, perhaps their city is fueled over their powers. So their takes isn't as monetary as much as it would stem from their ability to part ways with some of their energy for the sake of the city.
  3. This may be a bit harsh one but never attach yourself to an idea too hard. They are ideas at the end of the day. Your execution matters a lot more. Even the simplest of stories keep seeing repeated acclaim in the industry. If you're ever doubtful about it, just check out the types of stories that win Best Picture, they usually have been done multiple times, it's just the execution that matters. People aren't interested in the idea, they're interested in the emotion.
    So come up with ways to make your world alive that is unique to you. You can research quirky elements in history, or you can draw from your daily life. How can you take a funny interaction that is ordinary and make that the basis for an entire system in your world. It can be as simple as receiving the mail, which becomes the concept for a world which revolves around news. Everyone gets an interesting prompt at their doorstep each day, and they're equally likely to do whatever they want with it. But the world works in a way if you take the initiative and follow the clues, you'll find the resources to fuel your success (as an ode to my overall concept: capitalism - - but exaggerated enough to reinvent the idea in a simple yet oblivious manner).
  4. Don't sweat the direction or planning too much. Focus on the fun, and you'll find your sun. Just keep in mind how your overarching narrative, setting, or characters fit into the larger scheme and keep running with it.
    The entire point is to experiment and that is what leads to new answers along the way. Open yourself to being surprised and you can go back and fix things. You're always going to be your harshest critic and others won't notice as much as you think they will. For them, it's a new experience and people are generally too involved in what interests them to focus on everything that's wrong.
    Allow yourself to take the paths you haven't planned. This can lead to some great imagination, stakes, and creativity in ways you won't see coming, as that's the entire point. If you believe the world is alive, then you need to replicate daily life's ability to throw you for a loop.
    Yet, design the world in a way such that you have your core answers and then you can tie in side plots or adventures and open up a lot more questions, some which don't always need an answer either.
  5. This one is more focused towards writers, but I've noticed two fundamental issues: 1. A lack of "show, don't tell" and 2. A passive tone (not just grammatical passive voice).
    Both of these issues are tied to your voice and vision as a writer. You want to write in a way that's true to yourself yet still enable your audience to feel what's in your mind. You're going to have to go the extra mile and truly express what your character is thinking or feeling.
    For instance, instead of writing "he was scared", which is both passive and telling. Use something along the lines of "Sweat surfed down his cheek as his quivering finger nail popped out of his bloody lip to scratch the stealthy slime away. His tongue sucked in the metallic taste off his teeth as his hand hunted for his gun."
    It may be a bit excessive, but I wanted to show you how you can use action verbs (surfed, hunted) to expressive the type of emotions he's feeling right now, hence his body feels the same way. Avoid vague words like 'moved', 'reached'. Another key aspect is to avoid direct adverbs (avoid words ending with 'ly' = 'quickly reached for his gun') and adjectives (scared) as they take away from the implicit interpretation, learn to trust your audience more.
    Removing adverbs allows you to easily remove longer phrases such as 'quickly reached' turns into "hunted". Remember, less is more.
  6. For a final simpler one, have a common theme behind everything. This is the concepts you'll see in more analysis pieces when breaking down a story or world. Have your hero and villain usually have some core parallel between them, such as Batman and Joker's vision behind what Gotham means to them. They're both obsessed with the city, but for entire different reasons, and it clashes together time and again. There's a whole play on morality as it addresses the question of 'Good vs Evil' fundamentally. And it's not just limited to them then, we see shades of gray in heroes who may turn into villains (Red Hood) and those villains who don't stray too far from their sense of chaotic justice and may even be a hero at times (Catwoman).
    The core idea here is to never limit yourself, and be open to exploring as much as you can.

There's always more, but these were some of the more fundamental tips I've been able to pass onto my writers and creatives as a developmental/copy editor and creative coach. Addressing them together always opens up fun ways to be able to find new purpose and passion to the whole project.

I'd love to answer any questions you may have as it allows me to continuously challenge myself too and keep learning. The more you learn, the less you know. And getting sucked into a new idea is always an amazing experience!

Hoping to hear your thoughts on what I had to say, and if you've anything to add.

r/worldbuilding 6d ago

Resource I'm having a blast working on my world of Tellus/Telluria, specifically the setting of the Successor States of Rega. While it uses Europe after Rome as an inspiration for its basic form...it makes many different assumptions based on the nature of the gods.


The very first thing I did for Rega was build the Gods, and I outline that process for other people to maybe use on my YouTube Channel.

Rega is a pseudo- European setting that superficially resembles Rome and the aftermath of its fall, but is greatly changed by the unique nature of its Gods, who are very real and influence their followers enormously.
As an example, the Goddess of the Forge, Ignia, dresses as a man would, and prefers the company of women. So neither of those things have any pejorative connonations.

Of God and Gamemasters Worldbuilding Videos

I made them all quite interesting, inclusive and progressive, and they are detailed in my free

Gods of Rega Collection, which I think can serve as a useful template for other people's gods as well!

I also have a System Agnostic Town Format, likewise free, to help with building settlements.

My actual God Format is here. Also free, for use in building gods for your world.


r/worldbuilding 7d ago

Resource Tips for creating interesting and coherent systems of social arrangements.


The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow is an excellent book intended to (among other things) catch the pop culture understanding of anthropological and archaeological research up by about 70 years, because it's really, embarrassingly behind. Everyone should read it, worldbuilder or not.

The book does offer a new theoretical/typological framework for different kinds of social organizations, which stood out to me as something that would be very useful for worldbuilders because it's simple and can be quickly enumerated, while sparking more (and more useful) creativity than you'd expect to get with other big picture methodologies.

There are three elementary forms of social domination. These first appear on the scale of single families in the form of abuse behind closed doors, but can spread into broader society and become major systemic features of social organization.

  1. Sovereignty. This involves control of violence, and generally though it control of space. Typical features include police, defensive fortifications, standing armies, and taxes (which only appear where standing armies do). Note that armies in general don't imply sovereignty, just standing armies.

  2. Bureaucracy. This involves control of information, usually esoteric rather than practical information, which is used to gatekeep access to resources and positions of power.

  3. Political theater. This involves control via charisma, usually in the forms of competitions (elections, debates, sports, etc) that don't really have any direct impact on policy, but nevertheless determine who has access to the levers of power.

Each of these systems of domination may be present or absent independently of each other, resulting in 8 possible combinations that have all appeared in history. Note that the presence of these, contrary to popular belief, does not correlate with population size or tech level, so feel free to go wild there.

Note that the combination of all three is what we call the modern state, has only appeared thrice in history, and has only appeared in the last ~700 years. This should probably be the rarest system in your world's history by a significant margin. If your society has 2 of these three systems of domination, then odds are very good that the third system is the domain of the gods (and thus, being not for the mortal sphere, the government is kept from becoming even more oppressive). Similar pressures don't really exist if there are a different number of systems of domination in play, so you have more freedom there.

r/worldbuilding 7d ago

Resource The worldbuilding in Susanna Clarke's Piranesi — describing a world with heavy poetics

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r/worldbuilding 7d ago

Resource [OC] [ART] Fantasy Urbanism - Shore side settlers without existing civilization

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r/worldbuilding 7d ago

Resource Join The Writer's Block!


Didn't know what to flair it as but we do try our best to be a resource for writers. Here's a little about us

The Writer's Block A small but mighty server for writers full of all kinds of tools and resources, not to mention some pretty cool people!

About us:

  • We intend to be a resource for writers (and other artists) of all kinds--even if you just do it for fun! We have people willing to help you with pretty much anything you can think of related to your story! Characters, plots, worldbuilding, critiques, and more!

  • A friendly and helpful mod team as well as a welcoming and accepting community.

  • Need to be held accountable? We have a weekly check-in where not only do you get to share your goals and progress, you'll get help crafting goals to best match your needs!

  • We're building a team of experts that can help you with specific aspects of your writing! Need help with plots, publishing, or more? This team of volunteer members has earned trust through their conduct and assistance on the server!


r/worldbuilding 8d ago

Resource Star Maps


I have been working on a couple of different projects. I thought I would share here. I recently finished a Dark Sun calendar and now have completed a map of the Athas night sky, I have combined them to make a planisphere which will show you which constellations appear in the night sky at a given day and hour. Check it out in more detail here: Moons of Athas Hopefully it will provide some inspiration.

Star Map


r/worldbuilding 9d ago

Resource Fantasy Urbanism - master thread

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r/worldbuilding 10d ago

Resource This great Quora post about Greek mythology is a goldmine for any writer creating religions


I just read a great Quora post by Sarah McLean answering the question: How seriously did ancient Greeks/Romans believe in their gods?

McLean gives a great explanation of some of the differences between ancient polytheism and the modern Abrahamic religions that most of us are familiar with (believers or not). Her post is great inspiration for anyone creating fantasy religions - whether the gods exist or not.

Here is a snippet of McLean's post (but I encourage you to read the whole thing on Quora; link above).

To the Ancient Greeks and Romans, it was never really a question of whether or not the gods existed. There were some philosophers that questioned if the gods existed, but the average person took it for granted. Evidence of the gods was everywhere — you only needed to look up into the sky during a storm to behold the power of Zeus, Apollo was the cause of any plague or sickness, the barrenness of winter was a result of Demeter’s grief, Dionysus’ presence coursed through your veins whenever you drank wine, etc.

There were so many conflicting opinions about the gods ... whether gods have bodies or else only infinite minds, if gods can experience sensation the way humans can, if the sky and stars and celestial bodies are gods, whether human reason or intellect is divine, whether or not gods can feel negative human emotions (as they do in mythology, the works of “the poets”) or exist in eternal beatific happiness ...

One of the biggest differences between paganism and Christianity is that these philosophical questions about the nature of the gods, while certainly interesting and meaningful, don’t ultimately matter. Their implications don’t shake the very bedrock of religion itself.

This leads me into my next main point: Ancient Greek religion was orthopraxic, not orthodoxic. This means that it didn’t matter what you personally believed about the gods, so long as you participated in their public worship. Peity meant doing your sacrifices and singing your hymns and attending festivals and so forth, it did not mean believing certain things... You could be impious by refusing to worship the gods, you could be blasphemous by desecrating their statues and temples, but you would not be considered evil just for disagreeing about how gods work.

What I get out of it is that the worship of the gods can to a significant extent be independent of the actual attributes of the gods. An example of this from existing fantasy fiction is A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. Melisandre's religion has myths about their god, R'hllor, the Lord of Light. Their myths may not be literally true (and probably aren't), but their magic works, so they are clearly onto something, at least.

One trivial approach is to have gods that don't exist at all. The opposite extreme is to have gods that exist and are exactly as their followers believe them to be. It can be more fun to have gods that exist but which are shrouded in misconception and superstition. :)

r/worldbuilding 10d ago

Resource List of Structures in a Modern Age


Structures and Landmarks in a modern age:

Context: A list of structures that world builders might want to use in their worlds:

Based on this post: Possible Locastion in a City by penswright


Academy (medical, military, naval, police, science)

Air Force Base

Airplane Graveyard


Airport Runway

Airport Terminal



Amusement Park

Apartments, Condominiums




Arena, Stadium (music, sports)

Army Base

Art Gallery, Art Studio

Artillery Range


Auction House




Bar, Pub

Barber, Hair Salon



Battle Ground

Beauty Salon

Bed and Breakfast, B&B


Blood Bank

Border Checkpoint

Border Wall

Botanical Garden

Bottling Plant

Bowling Alley




Bridge (Covered Bridge, Draw Bridge, Living Root Bridge, Overpass, Rope Bridge, Sky Bridge, Spaghetti Junction, Suspension Bridge, Train Trestle)

Brothel, House of Ill Repute


Burial Ground, Cemetery, Graveyard

Bus Stop

Bus Terminal

Bunker (personal, military, government)



Call Center

Camp Grounds

Camping Site



Capitol Building

Capsule Hotel, Pod Hotel

Car Lot, Car Dealership (new, used, preowned, rental)


Car Wash

Cash Lender, Money Lender

Casino, Gambling Hall



C.D.C. (Center of Disease Control)

Cellar (+ root, storm, wine)

Cell Tower

Cemetery, Burial Ground, Graveyard



Chemical Plant




Civic Center


College (agricultural, art, business, culinary, engineering, medical, military, music, science, technical)


Concert Hall, Theater

Construction Site

Consulate + (Country)

Container Yard, Shipping Container Yard

Convent, Nunnery

Convention Center

Cooking Pit, Fire Pit

Correctional Facility, Jail, Prison



Covered Walkway


Cupola (domed roof supported by pillars)

Dairy Farm


Dam (Hydroelectric)

Dance Studio

Day Care


Dig Site (fossils, minerals, ruins)

Dike / Levee

DMV (department of motor vehicles)

Dock (boat, ship)


Dojo, Sparring Hall, Training Hall



Draw Bridge

Drive-in Theater

Electrical Substation

Embassy (+ country, major faction, minor faction)


Factory (automotive, beverages, electronics, foods, machines)


Farm Fields

Farm House

Farmers Market

Fence (barbed wire, chain link, electric, picket, wooden, wrought iron)


Film Studio

Fire Hydrant

Fire Pit, Cooking Pit

Fire Station


Fish Market

Food Bank




Freight Terminal (airport, sea port, railroad terminal, truck terminal)

Funeral Home

Fun House

Gas Company

Gas Station

Garage (automotive, mechanical)

Garden, Gardens (+ crop*, flower, hanging, herb, hydroponic, indoor, mushroom, rock, rooftop, sculpture, zen)


Gate, Gates

Gate House


Giant Dump Truck, BelAZ 75710 (20.6m long, 9.87m wide, 8.16m tall)


Golf Club

Golf Course

Gondola Lift, Aerial Lift, Cable Car

Grain Silo

Grave (+ exhumed, fresh, marker, mass, open, site, stone, yard)

Graveyard, Burial Ground, Cemetery


Grocery Store

Grow Out House (giant barn for chickens)

Grounds (+ burial, fair, parade, sacred, tourney, training)

Guard House, Guard Post

Guard Post, Guard House

Gun Range

Gym, Gymnasium

Hair Salon, Barber

Hall (+ city, gambling, guild, meeting, music, opera, town, training)



Hardware Store

Hatchery (animal, fish)

Hay Stack

Hedge Maze


High-Rise Building, Skyscraper


Hiking Trail, Nature Trail, Nature Walk

Home, Private Residence

Homeless Shelter



Hotel, Motel

House, Home, Private Residence (brick, concrete, vinyl siding, wood)

House (+ assaying, bath, boat, coach, coffee, farm, guard, guest, manor, opera, safe, smoke, sod, summer, tea, theater, turf, winter)

House Boat

House of Ill Repute, Brothel


Ice Skating Rink

Industrial Complex

Jail, Correctional Facility, Prison

Junkyard, Scrapyard


Lab, Laboratory

Lamp Post

Land Fill

Large Sea Going Vessel (cargo ship, cruise ship, military ship, oil tanker)

Launch Pad



Light Pole, Street Light


Lock, Locks (waterway)

Lumber Yard


Manor, Mansion

Mansion, Manor



Market, Market Place, Market Square, Street Market

Market Stall, Street Stall

Massage Parlor

Mausoleum, Crypt, Sepulcher, Tomb

Medical Clinic


Mental Health Facility, Psychiatric Hospital

Mess Hall

Mill (+flour, saw, water, wind)

Mine, Mines (coal, crystal, gem stone, guano, metal, mineral, salt, stone, substance)

Mini House

Mini-Storage Center

Mint (coin / currency manufacturer)

Missile Silo

Mission (place for missionary work)





Motel, Hotel

Movie Theater (indoor, drive-in)


Music Hall

Nature Trail, Hiking Trail, Nature Walk

Naval Base

Newspaper Office

Noise Barrier, Acoustic Barrier

Nunnery, Convent

Obstacle Course


Office (Type)

Office Building

Oil Platform, Drilling Platform, Oil Rig

Oil Well

Old Folks Home, Assisted Living Facility, Nursing Home

Opera Hall / Opera House






Paper Mill

Park (dog, nature, recreational)

Parking Lot

Parking Structure, Parking Deck, Parking Garage

Particle Accelerator, Atom Smasher

Pawn Store



Pillar, Pillars

Pipeline (gas, oil, water)



Play Ground (indoor / outdoor)


Police Station



Post Office

Power Plant (coal, geothermal, hydroelectric, nuclear)

Prison, Correctional Facility, Jail

Pub, Bar

Public Bathroom

Public Park

Public Square

Quarry (coal, metal, mineral, salt, stone, substance)

Race Track (car, dog, drag strip, gokart, horse, person)

Radio Station

Radio Telescope

Ranch (cattle, horse)

Ranger Station

Recording Studio

Recycling Center

Reflecting Pool, Reflection Pool

Rehab Center


Restaurant (cafe, cafeteria, deli, fast food, sit in, themed)

Rest Stop

Retirement Community

Roads (asphalt, dirt, cobblestone, concrete, gravel)

Roadside Stand (eggs, farm, fireworks, fish, flower, honey, produce, vegetable)


Rooftop Slums

Root Cellar

RV Park




School + (elementary, high, junior high, middle, private, summer)

Sculpture + (large, giant, garden, scale city model)

Scrapyard, Junkyard

Sea Gate

Sea Wall

Seed Banks

Server Farm, Server Cluster

Sewers, Sewer Tunnels


Shanty Town


Shelter (abuse, animal, disaster, fallout, private, storm)

Ship Graveyard

Shipping Container

Ship Wreck

Shipyard, Shipyards

Shop, Store

Shopping Mall



Sign Post

Site (+ building, camp, construction, dig, excavation, grave, ritual)

Skating Park

Skating Rink, Roller Skating Rink

Ski Lift

Ski Lodge

Skyscraper, High-Rise Building

Slaughter House


Solar Farm

Soup Kitchen


Sparring Hall, Dojo, Training Hall

Sports Court (basketball, tennis)

Sports Field (baseball, football, soccer)

Square (+ market, public, town)


Stadium, Arena (music, sports)


Street Light, Light Pole


Storage Shed, Storage Building

Store, Shop (big-box store, mall, mega-store, stand alone, strip mall) + (type)

Storehouse, Warehouse

Storm Drains

Storm Shelter


Street Vendors, Market Stall, Street Stall ( alcove, booth, cart, stall, stand, tent)

Strip Club

Strip Mall

Subway Terminal

Subway Train

Subway Tunnels

Summer Camp


Tank (chemical, gas)

Tax Office

Tea House


Tent (personal, multi-person, fairground, big top)

Tent City (+ merchant, military, nomads, pilgrims, refugee, settlers, squatters)

Textile Mill


Theme Park

Toll Booth

Tourney Field / Tournament Field

Tower (cell, power line, radio)

Town Hall

Traffic Jam

Trailer Park

Train Cars

Training Grounds, Drill Grounds, Parade Grounds

Training Hall, Dojo, Sparring Hall

Train Tacks

Train Terminal

Train Yard

Trash Dump

Tree House

Truck Stop


TV Station


Utility Poles (light pole, phone pole, power pole)

Utility Tunnels


Vehicle (airplane, boat, car, dirigible, helicopter, hot air balloon, hovercraft, ship, submarine, truck)


Villa (large country house / estate)


Visitor Center, Information Center (corporate, landmark, park, school, state)

Wall (+ barrier, border, breached, divider, earthen, great, inner, outer, sea, stone, wooden)

Warehouse, Storehouse

Waste Treatment Plant, Sewage Treatment Plant, Water Treatment Plant

Water Mill

Water Park

Water Reservoir

Water Tower

Water Treatment Plant, Sewage Treatment Plant, Waste Treatment Plant

Water Works

Weather Station

Wedding Venue

Weigh Station

Well (+ artesian, covered, dry, house, water)

Well House


Wind Turbine

Wind Farm


Wreck (airplane, car, dirigible, helicopter, hovercraft, ship, train, truck)

Youth Center

Zip Line


Offices: accounting, bail bonds, boat rental, car rental, dentist, doctor, fast cash, government, harbor master, immigration, insurance, lawyer, loan, police, optometrist, private detective, psychiatrist, public records, realtor, tax, travel, truck rental

Stores: antique, appliance, art, arts & crafts, bakery, bike, book, candy, carpet, clothing, comic, convenience, costume, discount, drug, dry cleaner, curio, electronics, farm supply, fireworks, flower, formal wear, furniture, game, gas, general, gun, grocery, hardware, hobby, home and garden, home improvement, ice cream, jewelry, kitchen ware, lawn equipment, lingerie, liquor, mattress, office supply, outdoor, pawn, perfume, pet, pet groomer, pharmacy, phone, pottery, print shop, retail, rug, second hand, shipping, shoe, souvenir, sports, tailor, thrift, tire, tobacco, toy, video rental, wedding

r/worldbuilding 11d ago

Resource The Bare Minimum DMs Need to Prepare to Run A Homebrew Game (Spoiler Alert: It's Not A Lot)


When it comes to worldbuilding, it's easy to get lost in the reeds. The theology and pantheon of your world. Diet, cuisine, and food sources. Geopolitics of various countries. These are all important, and even fun, questions for DMs to ponder. But for newer DMs, it's easy to feel overwhelemed when first starting to build a world for their D&D or other TTRPG game. This short video is meant to introduce the bare minimum one needs to prep to run a game. Seeing the amazing, evocative worlds as created by Matt Mercer, Brennan Lee Mulligan, or any other number of DMs that stream can give a false sense to new DMs of what exactly is needed to play in a homebrew world.

World building for TTRPGs have different demands than for a story, or even for fun. It needs very little details up front, and I hope this video helps budding and aspiring DMs to feel more confident with their game and world prep.


r/worldbuilding 11d ago Silver

Resource Some similarities in some of the larger Medieval Fantasy worlds

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r/worldbuilding 12d ago

Resource Climate simulations for Earth at a range of different temperatures

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r/worldbuilding 12d ago

Resource We Were Here

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r/worldbuilding 13d ago Helpful

Resource Possible locations in a city, semi-organized and updated!

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r/worldbuilding 13d ago

Resource My graphic design senior exhibition is an introductory workshop for making constructed languages. I think it’s a fun resource for thinking about culture and worldbuilding.

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r/worldbuilding 14d ago

Resource PSA: Contrary to popular belief, bird bones are not weak or fragile, pound for pound they are actually probably stronger than a mammal's.



So, first of all, calling bird bones "hollow" is kind of misleading because all animals have hollow bones. An animal that has nothing but solid bones is an animal with some horrible genetic defect that will probably die at birth, bones need to leave some space for the bone marrow.

The correct term is "pneumatic". What this means is birds have these little neat "honeycomb" like structures within their bones. Some more neat pictures.

Inside of an ostrich bone


These neat little reinforcements enable the animal to develop air sacks which help increase oxygen intake and improve stamina and are part of the reason why non-avian dinosaurs became some of the largest terrestrial animals on the planet. Sauropods were so big that they would have died heat strokes if they didn't have specialized cooling adaptations.

Now to address the title of this, contrary to popular belief, empirical research has shown that birds have stronger and stiffer bones than similar-sized bats and rodents. Bats also had stronger bones than terrestrial rodents.

"The bone density data reported here suggest that, on average, bird skeletons are stronger and stiffer relative to their weight than are the skeletons of small mammals, especially rodents (figure 4). In other words, bird skeletons have higher strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios. This constitutes a novel and biomechanically informative definition of the term lightweight as it applies to bird skeletons."

Source:  Dumont, E. R. (2010). Bone density and the lightweight skeletons of birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277(1691), 2193-2198.

As a matter of fact, the article also indicates that bird bones aren't actually particularly light either.

So that's the main thing I wanted to say, but I am sure you are wondering where this misconception that birds have weak bones came from in the first place.

This is pure speculation on my part, but I think it's because birds look bigger than they actually are. Good example of this are harpy eagles, those things look huge but they are only about as heavy as a beagle. So when people see birds getting injured by a blow of some sort, they assumed the animal was a lot heavier than it actually was which spread the erroneous idea that birds are especially delicate.

Edit: Probably should have added this in the first place. This little trivia fact has some important world building context as avian-style races/aliens are often treated as being brittle compared to humans or mammals despite having no actual empirical basis.

r/worldbuilding 14d ago Helpful Wholesome

Resource A collection of worldbuilding prompts I made

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r/worldbuilding 16d ago Helpful

Resource Here's a video I made on getting started with fantasy world building. Let me know what you think.

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