Whether for a campaign or a novel, making a fantasy world can be a fun yet scary mountain to climb. Almost anything you imagine can become reality in your world. Fantasy towns with advanced technology. A setting that’s not modeled after medieval Europe. You are limited only by what you can imagine. But, that also means there’s a lot to consider and you don’t want a reader to point out a plot hole. This guide will help you create an engaging and realistic fantasy world.
To break it down for you, here are the different elements that go into fantasy world-building. Keep these in mind. You don’t have to address everything. Flesh out only the things that apply to your story or campaign. I rarely go deep into trade or religion. I only recently started getting into fantasy languages.
Creating A Fictional World
Country, towns and villages, your characters need to live somewhere. I generally model the basics ( layout, weather, climate and building types) after real-world places. But that’s where it ends. I’ll fill the locations with people, natural formations, plants and animals of my own making.
A World Building Guide to Creating Fantasy Races
I don’t mind reading about dwarves, elves, and dragons but I love when authors create entirely new fantasy races. If you want to make something new and unique, here are a few questions to ask yourself.
Fantasy Plants and Animals
This is really fun. Making animals straight out of mythology. Shadow creatures. Glowing wolves. Dragons that turn into anime-style blades. It is so much fun to draw inspiration from a million different places and create plants and animals that I kinda wish actually existed. This is your guide if you want to add unusual or magical plants and animals to your world.
Creating a Magic System
Fantasy doesn’t mean magic. You don’t have you write any characters with powers. I prefer fantasy with magic but some people don’t. If you’re a world builder who wants to make a new magic system, this guide is for you.
Making a Fantasy World Map
If you’re building a world, you’re going to need a map. It makes life so much easier when you can see how far one location is from another. Where are the natural formations like water sources, mountains and forests? I make my maps in Photoshop but there are easier apps to use such as Inkarnate.
Fantasy Landscape Inspiration
A good image can jump-start your muse. Here are a few fantasy landscapes to inspire you if you’re stuck in your world-building journey.