The Card Deck

One of the most important parts of a collaborative worldbuilding project comes with the development of the world’s structures and substructures. The four broad categories (governance, economics, social relations, and cultural influences) and the fourteen subcategories that reside within them describe the social at forces at play in the fictional world. Assigning a numeric value to each of the substructures helps collaborators work toward a mutual understanding of the world’s most prominent social features and where possible lines of tension exist within the society.

The worldbuilding deck assists in the development of the structures and substructures. The deck consists of three types of cards–category cards, numeric cards, and trending/stable cards–and can be used in several different ways. The deck is most commonly used to generate a world from scratch, where the collaborators shuffle and deal out the numeric and trending cards, and then they discuss the different ways of interpreting the values. A second way is for a group to choose certain values for specific categories but then deal out random cards for the rest.  Finally, the deck can be used as an analytical tool to model of popular fictional worlds or the world of a specific culture or geographic area at a specific time; for example, the deck could be used to show the social differences between the Shire and Gondolin in Lord of the Rings, or it could be used to model Athens and Sparta of Ancient Greece, or of your local town in the present. This exercise allows collaborators to explain how they view the categories and values working in well-known fictional worlds as well as how they can be applied to the world we live in.

There are two versions of worldbuilding decks. One is printed on professional cardstock with color artwork and is available for purchase through The Game Crafter site. The other is a black and white print-and-play deck available for a free download. The decks are otherwise identical in terms of the number of category, numeric, and trending cards.