How to Build a Convincing Fantasy World
This series will offer tips on how to create certain worlds that are realistic and convincing. As a writer or tabletop worldbuilder, your readers and players won’t be convinced of the world they’re in if the world doesn’t make sense. This can break immersion completely. In this post, you’ll find out how to build a convincing fantasy world for your book, game, or tabletop campaign.
1. Determine Laws of Magic
Every fantasy world has some form of magic. If you’re going for historical fantasy and don’t intend to include magic, then you can skip this step. For the rest of us, it’s vital that you lay out how magic works in your world. Is your magic strictly elemental-based? For example, do magic users have to hone to a specific element (water, fire, etc.,) in order to cast their spell?
Or does the source of magic rest in some deity? Once you understand the source of the magic, you can then write down laws that govern it. What is and isn’t possible with the magic? Is it widely accepted? Or are there cities and kingdoms where magic isn’t allowed?
Once you have that written in stone, you can write NPCs, characters, and even larger cities with a more natural and organic relationship with magic. You won’t be pulling things out of a hat. This removes the chance of seeming like you’re using magic as a matter of convenience rather than it being a natural part of the world.
2. Use Your Own Slang
Every world should have its own slang terms. It gives credibility to the world. No one ever speaks in perfect English or diction unless one is trained to do so. Even then, such diction is likely only used in the presence of other nobles or royalty. That being said, your commoners should have a lot of syntax and vernacular that’s used exclusively for them.
The slang should also make sense. You can think about slang that we use in our own world to guide you. “Cool,” “that’s lit,” “cash me outside (please don’t use that one),” “salty,” “ghosting,” and so on are some common and modern slang terms that can be converted into slang that makes sense for your world.
The important part of using slang is that it needs to be done convincingly. The terms should be used consistently among those who use it. But you shouldn’t force certain dialogue just to use the terms. It also helps to have grammar snobs look down on the use of such slang terms. These smaller details can make your fantasy world more convincing.
3. Have a Set History
Figuring out how to deliver your world’s lore isn’t easy. But it has to be done in order to make your fantasy world convincing. Sometimes that may be as simple as including a map of the world or region. Or you may want to toss in some family trees for the readers or players to consult. However you choose to deliver your lore, you need to have a set history for your fantasy world.
Even more importantly, it’s a history that your characters or NPCs need to acknowledge. While the expanse of their knowledge may differ based on their education level, everyone likely knows some part of the history of the world. Referring to historical events or people from history can make your fantasy world feel entrenched in reality.
It makes it feel as though it has existed for several centuries rather than it being just made up a few months ago.
To make your fantasy worlds seem more convincing, it takes a lot of practice in the art of worldbuilding. By following the tips listed above, you can start off with a strong foundation for creating a world that makes sense and seems real. Do you have any other tips on how to make a fantasy world more convincing? Let us know in the comments!