Sign in to create or edit a product review. And let me say, this is far and away a departure from the normal means of setting design. While most resources typically take a top down approach and list repetitive if useful tools for designing fantasy settings, the essays in this collection approach individual campaign components in insightful, pragmatic, and logical ways. While this style of writing is not for everyone, nor is every essay of equal versatility, I found it useful in the following ways: 1. In General: The guide presents a well-rounded approach to a wide variety of campaign types and options without losing specificity or resorting to describing campaigns and options as extremes, thereby allowing exploration of a spectrum of options.
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I got it to help me spark ideas and provide some guidance on effective methods, exercises, and organization techniques for world-building for use in writing speculative fiction, especially high fantasy. The book is marketed as a tool for building worlds for tabletop RPGs with the aside that it should be useful for purposes like mine as well. While the editors might believe that to be true, the book was mostly pretty useless to me as a novelist.
I think they serve some introductory purpose, but they seem so vague and basic that I doubt anyone who is familiar enough with the term "worldbuilding" to pick up this book would really gather that much from them. But I suppose if your background is next to none, they may be useful as a long-winded introduction that takes up the first third of the book.
The next essay provides a pretty good quick guide to mapmaking that has some useful tidbits that could be helpful in designing a simple, but realistic and interesting map. This was one of the better essays in the book. The next four essays are more generally on designing cultures, citystates, and technology for your world. This really feels like the bulk of what a worldbuilding guide should focus on. I think all of these essays do a good job of outlining the role religions play in fantasy worlds, while recommending ways you could deviate or further explore those tropes in fun and interesting ways to fit your world.
I also felt like these were some of the essays most translatable to worldbuilding for fiction writing and just generally the most useful worldbuilding essays in the book on actually making your world interesting and fun. The next essay provides overview and explanation for what a world bible is and how you can go about building and maintaining one. I think this chapter is very useful both for RPG designers and fiction writers.
I have directly referred to this chapter when working on my own worlds. The references just felt like they went too far beyond their purposes. I will make the caveat that a brand new DM trying to design a tabletop RPG who could use a lot more of the very basic introductory information might still benefit a good deal from this. Digest-sized and running barely pages, the truly amazing thing about it is just how much good advice the writers have packed into it.
It helps of course that the collective contributors would have, at a conservative guess, well over two hundred years experience in the field of professional game design and speculative fiction writing. While the book is more or less focussed on the aspirant game-world designer - with a nod to those of use that The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding is a small book.
While the book is more or less focussed on the aspirant game-world designer - with a nod to those of use that do it as a sport and a pastime - much of the content would be equally applicable to fantasy writers looking to improve their world-building chops. Perhaps the most useful lesson to come out of the book, something repeated in differing contexts by a number of the contributors, understanding what to put in and what to leave out. Wolfgang Baur, the publisher and chief contributor, and his fellow world-smiths present the best ways to approach the creation of worlds that players or readers will find compelling enough to return to again and again.
Take it as read that The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding deserves the extra half-star.
Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding (Kobold Guides to Game Design)
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