Should You Worldbuild Before Creating Props in Tabletop Gaming?

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Should You Worldbuild Before Creating Props in Tabletop Gaming?

I have a problem where I like to take on more than I actually do. I have an original world created and full of life. I have the first kernels of some encounters for my players to take part in our DND campaign. The problem is that I find myself adding lore as I create terrain and buildings for them to explore. Is that a problem? Is that something you find yourself doing as well? After some reflection, here’s what I came up with.

It’s Okay to Add Lore as You Build

If you’re someone like me that builds buildings and terrain for their campaigns, then you may find yourself changing the story to match your builds. That’s okay to a point. As long as it doesn’t change the core concepts of your world, or break your history, it’s okay to change certain details about a city or town based on what you come up with as you build.

Here are a few reasons why you may end up changing your lore because of what you’ve built.

1. The Architecture Doesn’t Match the Species That Inhabit the City or Town

A common fantasy trope is that certain buildings are built in certain styles based on the prevalence of the race that resides there. For example, a dwarven city would have mostly dwarven architecture that makes up its buildings. An elvish city would have elven architecture.

You may realize that you’re building architecture that is either more realistic in nature or doesn’t mix well with the common race that lives there. You may have to invent some lore on the spot. Why does the particular building look the way it does? Perhaps there’s a unique story behind who built it and why. The building could end up being an entire encounter on its own.

2. The Materials You Use Don’t Mesh with the Technology Available

If you’re making a poor village, then the majority of your buildings shouldn’t look like stone. Poor villagers usually have homes made of wood or mud. If you realize that you made a bunch of stone huts for your villagers, you may be at a loss of how to use them.

Instead of scrapping the village you made, you can change the lore a bit. Perhaps this particular poor village is only poor on the surface. Maybe they traffic in something that might bring them some scrutiny. Perhaps the stone is special and can only be found and applied in that particular region.

There are a few tweaks you can use that can change your existing lore based on the builds that you make.

3. You Need More Pieces Than You Made

One advantage of worldbuilding before you start your terrain or building process is that you already know what pieces you need for your encounters. For example, if you build without any lore or plans set down, then you may end up without a map or area for your players to use.

If you decide to worldbuild and plan your encounters beforehand, then you know exactly what you need to make each time. This can save you time, materials, and ensure you have everything you need for each session.

The Advantage of Building First

Because I like to play devil’s advocate, there is an advantage you can have if you choose to build all your terrain and buildings before you sit down and start to plan out the world and its encounters. That advantage is that your builds can inspire you. If you already have a vivid and creative imagination, then building a forest or a tavern without any context may allow you to build on that foundation when you do create your lore.

It may even make your buildings and terrain seem more organic. They make sense in your world. It also means you’re free to create some seriously original designs. The lore you make afterward can make it all make sense.

Which Method Do You Prefer?

Are you someone that loves to plan out everything beforehand, then build their terrain and buildings? Or do you like to take a more creative approach and build terrain and buildings first, then create lore about them when you’re finished? I’d love to hear which method you prefer to use. Let me know in the comments and if you have any cool buildings or terrain pieces, feel free to show them as well! I love seeing builds.

How to Build a Convincing Steampunk World

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How to Build a Convincing Steampunk World

If you’ve gone past the standard fantasy genre and want to bring a new setting to your players or readers, then you want to give Steampunk a try. One reason why fantasy is so beloved is that it’s familiar. It draws on tropes and history that everyone has some understanding of. Steampunk does something similar. Here are a few steps on how to make your steampunk world convincing.

1. Create a Solid History

Steampunk describes a world in which steam power overcame electrical power. While there are sub-genres within Steampunk, the parent genre itself is all about steam-powered inventions. It’s an industrial revolution built on the power of steam. 

It’s also typically set in the Victorian era with the appropriate culture and clothes attached.

In order to make your steampunk world convincing, you need to firmly establish a point in history where your world branches off. Take a look through the busy historical events that occurred within the Victorian era. If your players or readers are well-versed in Victorian history, then you’re free to choose an obscure point in time that they may recognize.

Those who aren’t well-versed in Victorian history may need a broader and more general point in time where your world makes its own bold tangent. 

Once you have that point, it’s time to create your world’s history. How does it differ from real history? Who is responsible for emphasizing steam-powered engines and inventions? What’s kept the society from further advancing into electrical power? What does the political structure look like? 

Having a few key points in your world’s history can help you give your world a legitimate background that feels real and convincing.

2. Make Distinct Social Structures

Steampunk differs from fantasy worlds in that the stories are mostly in an urban setting. The adventures in a fantasy world have players exploring tombs, dungeons, and distant lands. Steampunk worlds focus mainly on the city or cities, themselves. While you may be zooming through a war-torn wasteland on a steam-powered motorcycle, it’s likely that most of your story takes place within the city, itself.

That’s because the city should be huge. 

It should also consist of blatant social structures. You should have the ruling class, the nobility, the merchants or tradesmen, the common workers, and the poor. Each one should reside within their districts. While there’s likely going to be transitional areas, you can make your world feel more convincing when your NPCs react to a player or character who doesn’t quite belong in the district they’re traveling to.

Each social structure should have their own clothes, hairstyles, the architecture of their homes should be different, and even the syntax or vernacular they use to speak with should vary slightly. 

All of these details can make your steampunk world convincing and feel real. 

3. Make Zany Inventions

A hallmark of steampunk is the incredible inventions that are made. They don’t have to make sense. They just need to be flashy and loud. You can always include standard steampunk tropes like steam-powered airships, Gatling guns, and eyepieces, but this is the moment where you can unleash your creativity. 

Perhaps there’s a central engine that powers your city’s lights and electricity. Why not come up with some incredible invention for that? Perhaps it’s a steam-powered man or woman that’s been tricked into slave labor. What consequences will the city face if your players or characters choose to free the engine and remove central power from the city? What kind of chaos will ensue? 

Why not have fun with your players by inventing incredible weapons for them to use? Or inventive enemies for them to face? 

Inventions that are out-of-this-world, based in steam power, and are just a lot of fun to use can make your steampunk world more enjoyable to be in and appear more convincing.

Build Your Steampunk World Today

Worldbuilding a steampunk world can be a lot of fun. It requires a different kind of creativity than typically used to build fantasy worlds. Following the above tips can help you build a steampunk world that is rich in life, fun to be in, and seems realistic. Let me know in the comments some details of your own steampunk worlds! 

What Worldbuilding Mistakes Should I Avoid?

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In the world of creativity, it can be easy to say nothing is ever wrong. That’s the art of creation. There are no wrong answers. That’s not actually true. There are a few mistakes you can make when worldbuilding. Here’s how to avoid them.

1. You Don’t Do Enough Research

Even if you plan on making a completely original world, you’re going to be borrowing from other cultures. It’s just how creativity works. Mark Twain put it best. How you write about an idea may be original, but the idea, itself, is not. 

That’s why research is crucial. It isn’t as important for the sake of making sure certain details are copied over correctly, but more so to ensure you don’t adopt stereotypes or racist charactictures in your worldbuilding. That isn’t going to do you any favors. 

It may take extra time, but when you do proper research on the kind of concept, culture, architecture, whatever, that you want to adopt, you can avoid problematic portrayals. 

2. You Don’t Record Your Lore

When you’re in the throes of worldbuilding, it can be easy not to make references to certain parts of your lore. After your session of worldbuilding is over, you may turn off the laptop or close your notebook and leave the world for a while. When you return, you may jump back in, but you’ll quickly find that you’re losing track of the lore that you already created.

Not having a reference for your lore is an easy mistake to make. It can also be a sign of amateur worldbuilding. Any time you create a concrete bit of lore, whether it be a war, a deity, a King’s lineage, a foundation of a realm, you should record it in a separate reference. 

This allows you to quickly refer to it to ensure your dates are correct, your names are correct, the geography is accurate, and you’re not duplicating deities. Not having a reference means you may have plot holes, your history may be incorrect, or you may be doing more work than you needed to. 

3. You Worldbuild Too Much

What do you mean I worldbuild too much? That isn’t possible! Actually, it is.

Sometimes, you need to let the world build itself while you create. For novel writers, that means letting their characters build the world through their actions and relationships. For game designers, it means doing the same with their players.

The same goes for DMs and GMs worldbuilding a campaign for their adventurers. At some point, you need to understand that too much history isn’t going to interest your readers and players. They need enough to understand the background. Their true interest is changing the world, themselves.

You need to be able to walk the fine line of worldbuilding for them and worldbuilding for yourself. 

4. Worldbuilding Without Maps

This worldbuilding mistake may be more of a matter of a preference, but it can injure your process. Unless you’re able to keep a map of your various kingdoms, realms, cities, and continents in your head–which you are clearly god-tier if you can and I respect the hell out of you–you may want to scribble down a map. 

Maps are useful in terms of figuring out distances during each journey. Does it make sense for your characters or players to be able to reach their destination in a certain amount of time? What happens during that long trek? 

Not using a map can quickly make figuring out distances extremely difficult. Unless you have forgiving readers or players, you may be called out on it at some point. 

Maps can also help you keep track of geography and may even influence the culture that resides there. Those that live in the mountains, for example, likely have a very different culture than those who live in a desert climate. 

Avoid Worldbuilding Mistakes to Create a Unique and Practical World

Avoiding these worldbuilding mistakes can help you create a world that feels real, makes sense, and is easier for you to manage. You can avoid plot holes, discrepancies, and ensure that everything is tidy and believable. If you have any worldbuilding mistakes that you’ve made in the past, let us know about them in the comments below!

How to Build a Convincing Fantasy World

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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. 

Keep Practicing

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! 

Do Fantasy Writers First Create Their World or Their Story?

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Do Fantasy Writers First Create Their World or Their Story?

In a classic example of what “came first, the chicken or the egg?” you may wonder if fantasy writers, or Dungeon Masters, should first worldbuild or simply start writing their story and invent as they go along. It all depends on your own writing style and preferences. To help you decide, here’s how both strategies might pan out for you.

The Advantages of Worldbuilding Before Writing Your Story

There are several approaches to the writing, or creative, process. In fact, this list gives a few examples of the writing processes of a few acclaimed authors. You may find that some of their processes also work for you. You may find that they don’t. Being creative is, inherently, a personal process. 

If you choose to create your world before you start writing your story, then you may find it easier to write your story. This is a process I prefer, myself. I may have an idea of the general story that I wish to tell. I may even have a few names in mind. However, I never start working on the actual story until I have the history of the world, the geography of the world, the culture and politics, and some of the notable people of the world written down and developed.

This is because I consider myself a visual learner. It’s easier for me to understand and plan things better when I can see the world. 

You may find that this system also works for you. It can be easier to keep track of the story and the lore that you’re building while you write the story. For example, when you need to refer to a long-dead king in a certain city, you can simply refer to your notes. If you chose to write your story before creating your world, then you may invent on the spot. However, you’ll have to remember that name going forward. It can be easy to lose track of the history you’re creating during the story writing and have a few plot holes or retcons. 

The Advantages of Writing Your Story Before Creating Your World

There are other creatives who are able to just get right into writing and can create their world in real-time. I absolutely admire these folk. Some writers and creatives prefer to just throw a bunch of word vomit on a page and then edit it later. 

That can be a great process for certain writers. For creatives that do worldbuilding for tabletop RPGs, they might find the process a bit difficult in terms of keeping track of their lore. However, there are a few advantages that you can enjoy when you choose to write your story before you create the world.

The first advantage is that you may create more organic lore or you may think of something truly original or creative in the heat of writing. Sometimes the best ideas occur while you’re writing. You may think of something while your characters are tackling some obstacle that you would never have thought of before if you had sat down and tried to plan it all beforehand. 

Another advantage is that you can deliver the lore to your readers or players in a more organic way. If you have pre-existing lore, then you may struggle over how to introduce that to your players or readers. Simply giving them the lore may be boring or unsatisfying. Yet forcing them to listen to a historian prattle on for hours about the kingdom may bore them. When you’re creating the lore while you’re writing, you may do so in a way that interests the readers or players. 

Finally, you may find that writing your story before you create the world is also more of an immersive experience for yourself. Instead of breaking up your focus by having to stop and look up your lore, you’re able to create it on the spot. You’re learning the lore alongside your readers or players. This can make the experience fun for them as well as yourself. 

Mix and Match

You may even discover that a bit of both is your preferred way to create. You may have a general outline with information about the world. Yet the majority of your lore is developed while you write. Because the creation and writing process is so personal, it may take you a few different tries and using a few different methods until you find the one that fits you. Let us know in the comments what your preferred process is!

How to Know When You’re Done Worldbuilding

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How to Know When You’re Done Worldbuilding

Fantasy worldbuilding, or worldbuilding of any kind, can take a long time. Depending on how extensive your lore is, you could easily spend months just developing it. There is a point, however, where you may be reaching further than you need to. Here’s how you can tell if you’re done worldbuilding. 

1. You’re Stretching for Ideas

One of the easiest signs that indicate you’ve finished worldbuilding is that you’re out of fresh ideas. Whether it’s laying out a history of the world, country, or city, or if you’re unable to come up with any more ideas about a religious order, it’s time to put down the pen or save the document. 

If the history is written and you can’t think of anything, then you’re done.

If you’re worldbuilding for DND or another tabletop RPG, it’s important that you know when to stop building your world. At some point, you need to let the players build the rest of the world with their actions. Which leads to the next sign. 

2. Your Players Want to Help

In the case of tabletop RPGS, you may find that your players want to help worldbuild. In this case, all of your independent worldbuilding should come to an end. Allowing your players to take part in the worldbuilding can help them feel invested in your campaign and immersed in the world. If you don’t like giving your players complete reign over your worldbuilding, then you can always have them worldbuild events, towns, or characters that interact directly with their characters in regards to their background. 

Your players may have specific ideas about what their neighborhood is like or about their specific deity that they worship. It’s time to put your own ideas aside and let them shine. 

3. Your Players Don’t Care

It’s one thing to worldbuild for yourself. It’s another to worldbuild for your players. If you’re worldbuilding for a tabletop RPG, then you likely require a good deal of lore to flesh out the world that your players inhabit. However, there may come a point where you’re created more lore than you need to.

If your players don’t respond to the lore or don’t seem to care who the fourth king of the dynasty was, then it may be time to put the pen down. While there are ways you can make your players care about the lore you’re creating, you shouldn’t force it on them. It can detract from the story that they’re creating, themselves. 

It also saves you from having to do a ton of work that no one will know or remember but yourself. That being said, if you get a kick out of creating extensive family lines and deep history, then go for it. 

You may find that having compact lore, rather than extensive lore, allows you to create in-depth histories that are easier to recall and can have a greater impact on your players. 

Know When To Stop Worldbuilding/h3>

It’s important to know when to stop worldbuilding. Pushing yourself too hard can quickly lead to burnout that can impact your storytelling, game design, and how you perform for your players. Recognizing the signs above are a good indication that you have finally finished worldbuilding. 

Are Tabletop Games More Social Than Video Games?

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Are Tabletop Games More Social Than Video Games?

In a time when Coronavirus is keeping us apart from our friends and family, you may be feeling the need to socialize more than ever. Perhaps part of that need has taken you to playing more multiplayer video games. Does that actually provide better socialization than playing tabletop games? The answer may surprise you. 

1. Toxicity is Less Apparent in Tabletop Games

As someone who plays both video games and tabletop games, I am well aware of the toxicity that exists in video games. PVP games or even MMOs are key examples where toxicity can really impact a player emotionally and psychologically. Because large-scale games have an open chat that exists across the server, players are constantly subject to speaking with tons of people in a given time.

Some of those people are genuine players who are just enjoying the games. Others are what are considered Trolls. These are individuals who have taken it upon themselves to grief the other players as much as possible. That may be by hurling insults in the chat, using sexist, racist, or homophobic language in the chat, or performing some action in-game that impedes the progress of the character deliberately. 

Because most online games don’t allow you to choose the kind of players you’re settled with, there’s no real way to escape the toxicity in a video game. You may be able to turn off the chat, but that also means that you may miss vital information given by a genuine player. 

Toxicity in video games is well-known. 

It also exists in tabletop games. Many DMs have nightmare experiences of players trying to sabotage one another–and not for fun’s sake either. Players also have nightmare experiences with DMs with control issues. However, it isn’t as prevalent in tabletop games. 

This is because players are, usually, face-to-face with one another. Even when playing virtually, many opt to use a camera or at least have audio recording enabled. Being face-to-face with someone, rather than being protected by the anonymity of the Internet, automatically puts a person on slightly better behavior. 

It doesn’t work for everyone. Yet when comparing video games to tabletop games, there’s less toxicity that gets in the way of proper socialization. 

Except for that one extremely competitive family member that always ruins things . . . 

2. Tabletop RPG Games Encourage Socialization

Unless you’re playing a multiplayer video game, most video games are designed to be played on your own. They’re great and fantastic experiences, but they’re not going to give you that sense of socialization that you need. Even if you talk to your friends or an online community about the game, they’re all separate experiences that aren’t shared together in the moment.

Tabletop RPG games provide that experience. They have groups of friends, or strangers, come together and play a silly game that encourages working as a team. The best part is you don’t even have to play yourself. This can give people an opportunity to come out of their shells if they’re naturally shy. 

I’m an introvert. Yet when I’m DMing and playing my NPCs for my players, it’s a freeing sensation. I’m able to get out of my own head and just have fun. Tabletop RPG games reward socialization. It rewards players that speak with one another to overcome an obstacle. A good DM always rewards its players when they take their roleplaying in earnest. 

Socialization is at the very heart of tabletop RPG games. 

Unless you find yourself with a party of murderhobos

3. Tabletop RPG Games Let You Share Emotions Together

One of the hurdles that video games have yet to jump successfully is being able to make players share emotions simultaneously. We may all choke up over a particular part of a game, but we rarely do it together at the same time. 

Tabletop RPG games, because they happen live, means your emotions are also unfiltered. A great DM can bring a party together, take them through several adventures, and make them care about each other and their own characters. When something terrible happens, like the death of a party member, the rest of the party can allow themselves to feel it.

Sharing emotions like grief or anxiety builds bonds between people. 

The same goes for feelings of triumph or victory. When the players defeat a difficult boss, they’re ecstatic. They celebrate together. They go home taking that feeling with them. It’s something they continue to talk about several campaigns down the road. 

 By sharing emotions together, especially for men, it can help break down the stigma associated with feeling emotions. 

And toxic masculinity is definitely something that needs to die with the old world. 

And the Winner is . . .

It’s pretty clear that tabletop games, particularly RPGs, are more social than video games. While video games can bring friends together over long distances, it doesn’t provide the same enriching socialization that tabletop games do. If you want to feel connected to your friends more or just want to enhance the bonds that you have with them–or to meet new friends!–starting up a tabletop RPG like Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, or Pathfinder is a great choice to make. 

Let us know in the comments some of the great experiences you’ve had when playing tabletop games with your friends!

African Mythology You Should Study for Your Tabletop Lore

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African Mythology You Should Study for Your Tabletop Lore

In our last post dedicated solely to Black History Month 2021, we’re exploring the rich and fascinating mythology based in Africa. While many tabletop adventures typically use mythology and tropes centered around Western Europe, you’re only doing yourself a disservice by relying on the myth and lore from that world alone. Africa has just as many interesting myths and legends that can create a unique basis for your tabletop game, novel, or even your video game. Here are a few African myths you should study to inspire your next campaign. 

Twin Divinity

Several African religions place a focus on twin divinities. These twin divinities are either responsible for the creation of the world or are somehow linked to the superior creator that they follow. In Ghana, for example, the Asante people consider twins to have a divine status. They’re often treated as living shrines. 

You can use this concept for your own lore. Perhaps in a world where twins are rare, your characters or the great event of the particular continent surrounds the birth of a set of twins. In a tabletop setting, the twins may be player characters. Those who only have one or two players in their campaign can have an interesting and unique world if the rest of the country sees them as a kind of deity or some sort of special sign. 

Just as there are people who may worship or obey the twins, there are likely just as many actively out to remove them. Perhaps there’s another set of twins whose prophecy was taken from them because of the emergence of a new set of twins. Perhaps there’s a cult that opposes the ideals the twins embody. 

If none of your players or characters are the twins, then you can always use the birth of a pair of twins in the world as the main conflict of the story. Perhaps a war emerges because of the birth. Maybe it literally starts to rip the world apart. There are tons of different storylines and adventures that you can utilize the concept of twin divinity for. 

The Trickster

In almost every religion there is always a trickster. In Christianity, it’s the Devil or Satan. In Norse mythology, it’s Loki. In African mythology, there are also an abundance of tricksters. The interesting thing about African tricksters, however, is that they’re not simply causing chaos for chaos’s sake. It’s done with a purpose. The trickster of the Fon people is known as Legba. He goes around the world and causes havoc and turmoil. Yet the Fon people don’t consider Legba evil. 

This is because Legba also serves another purple. He takes the cryptic messages from their Superior Being, Mawu, and translates them for the Legba people. The idea behind the mythos is that the world is always in change. While divine order is something everyone wishes to experience, the reality is that mortals exist in a plane of constant change. Legba is only doing his part to maintain the divine order by causing change. 

This idea that tricksters aren’t always evil can also influence your campaign or story. Everyone has villains that they hate to love and love to hate. Those individuals are typically given a lot of life and three-dimensional character development. All villains believe that what they’re doing is right, either for themselves or for their cause. Using the African idea of what a trickster is, you can create some interesting and original villains. 

Those who play Dungeons and Dragons may even find that a Trickster could be a great Patron for the Warlock class. If a Party Patron is something you’re interested in, then a Trickster could also be an interesting entity that guides your adventurers in your campaign. 

Develop Your Lore!

This general overlook of African myths and religious beliefs is just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of legends, gods, goddesses, lesser spirits, and beliefs that are worth investigating and exploring. Not only can they give you a closer insight to African culture, but they can help inspire you to create your own lore for your tabletop game, book, video game, or other creative project. Let us know how these concepts inspire you in the comments!

How to Make Your Games Avoid Racism

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How to Make Your Games Avoid Racism

When worldbuilding, it can be easy to fall back on tropes and stereotypes in order to imagine up civilizations, societies, and people. However, those stereotypes and tropes can sometimes call to mind certain racist caricatures.  

To ensure you create a diverse and interesting world without including these stereotypes, here are a few tips to consider. 

Avoid Tropes

There are a lot of fantasy tropes that are problematic. Elves are typically lighter in color and are associated with goodness while dark elves are associated with evilness. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a common trope nonetheless. You only need to look at orcs to see that they are, typically, the only ones wearing dreds and are depicted as evil or monsters for heroes to defeat. 

Avoiding these tropes is easy. You can reinvent them. You can simply leave out the certain characteristics that are associated with certain racial qualities. Let’s examine elves. Why do they always have to be good? Surely living as long as they have might push them to feeling more godlike or superior over the races in the world? If you make elves as an enemy, regardless of their skin color, then you’re already starting to reinvent the common fantasy trope that light-skinned elves are good beings. 

Half-orcs and orcs can be difficult to get right. They’re often entrenched in African or African-American stereotypes. Some are even darker in color. To avoid racism and be able to keep your half-orcs and orcs in your world, then give them a diverse range of skin color. There are several shades of white just as there are several shades of black and tan. Think less about depicting your half-orcs and orcs on race and more on their environment. 

For example, half-orcs and orcs that live in the mountains may be greyer in color. There may even be different shades of grey based on how high in the mountains they live. Think about how they survive there. They must be able to keep warm, so perhaps they’re hairier. Then consider half-orcs and orcs that live in a different climate. Those that dwell in the forest may be greener in color. They may be smaller to hide in the brush or lithely in order to flee larger predators that live with them. 

When you create your characters and societies based on their environment, you can already shed several racial stereotypes. The key is to ensure that each society is diverse within itself. 

Keep Creating

Avoiding stereotypes and tropes that are rooted in racist requires a lot of effort of thought for those who aren’t part of a minority. Yet doing so is a great step towards removing racist culture from our own society. Following the tips above can help you worldbuild your game, novel, video game, etc., and keep those qualities absent from your own work. Do you know of any racist stereotypes or tropes that DMs, writers, and other creators should avoid? Let us know in the comments!

Forest Ruin Battlemap Part 1

Buried thick in a creeping forest is a ruin long forgotten by any local residents of the area. What sort of enemies and history can you uncover here? This forest ruin battlemap is part one of two for this map series! Check out our continuation next week for the final part of the map!