About the Book

Collaborative Worldbuilding

Collaborative Worldbuilding for Writers and Gamers is an accessible guide for the co-creation of vast fictional worlds for use in a variety of storytelling projects. Using the expansive fictional worlds of Star WarsLord of the RingsA Game of Thrones, and Dungeons & Dragons as models, this book guides readers through a step-by-step process of building sprawling fictional worlds that are coherent, consistent, and completed at a pace that works for all contributors. Projects begin by establishing a framework that determines the project’s genre, audience, scope, and identifies major historical events in the world’s fictional timeline. The next step is developing the competing social forces at play in the world, a process that is aided by an innovative card deck that acts as a generative tool. Finally, the collaborators populate a catalog with hundreds of unique people, places, and things that become a rich repository of story-making potential.

The worldbuilding methodology described in the book is based on the author’s decade of college-level instruction and draws on diverse theories from writing studies, education, digital media and role-playing games. Participants in collaborative worldbuilding projects have used their co-created worlds in original works fiction, graphic novels, game design projects, and as unique settings for role-playing game campaigns.

The worldbuilding options are endless. What kind of worlds will you build?

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Worldbuilding Card Deck

The Collaborative Worldbuilding Deck assists in the development of the social structures and substructures of a fictional world. It consists of three types of cards: category cards, numeric cards, and trending/stable cards. There are 4 broad structural categories (governance, economics, social relations, cultural influences) and 14 substructures beneath them. Using the deck, you can generate a world from scratch by randomly dealing out the numeric and trending cards, one for each subcategory.

A color deck with professional artwork can be purchased from The Game Crafter or you can download a free print-and-play version.

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World Anvil Partnership

World Anvil is a creative online platform that helps you build and organise your world.

Write articles, build your timeline, create interactive maps, link everything together and use imagery, video and audio to create a vibrant catalogue of your world. With options for co-authors and other collaboration features, it’s perfect for collaborative worldbuilding.

“World Anvil’s features integrate so well with the concepts in the book, you’d think that we’d worked on them together. Highly recommended…”
Prof. Trent Hergenrader

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Worldbuilding Worksheets

These Worldbuilding Worksheets are referenced in Collaborative Worldbuilding for Writers and Gamers are can be used to collect and organize your group’s ideas during the early brainstorming phases of the project. Use them to record the values of the social structures of your world, draft your world’s historical events and timeline, and ensure that your world has a diverse variety of people, places, and things.

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Cornerstones: The Worldbuilding Blog

About the Author

Trent Hergenrader, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor of English at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he teaches courses in creative writing, media studies, and literature. His research is at the intersection of creative writing studies, digital writing, and games and game-based learning. He regularly publishes and presents scholarly work on using role-playing games to teach concepts of narrative craft and using digital tools in collaborative projects in his fiction writing classrooms.

A 2004 Clarion Writers Workshop graduate, his speculative fiction short stories have appeared in Best Horror of the Year, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk, Realms of Fantasy and others.

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