World-building is one of my oldest and most powerfully obsessive hobbies. I’ve always loved creating world and making places to visit in my mind. I would make an idea, sketch a boundary or a visual touchstone, and then I would visit that place in my imagination. I would discover details, record and organize them together, create connections and logical relationships. Repeat. Revise.
The place would build, and then build so big, parts would fall through my fingers. Stories would become bigger than me, leaking out my mouth and ears.
The first world I ever build was a house. I had heard, sometime around the age of thirteen, about the concept of a roleplaying game. I thought about the board games I loved, and with only a simple concept sparking in my brain, I made a map of a haunted house.
I enlisted two of my childhood friends in exploring my map, full of traps and hazards. I would describe the room, they would tell me what they wanted to do, I would decide what happened next, and they would react. Simple.
I LOVED it.
Probably also how I fell in love with maps…
My next project was inspired by one of my favorite moves: Terminator, and one of my favorite concepts, the ‘robot uprising’. Every time I watched the Terminator films as a child, I was more interested in that doomed future than I was in the time-travel or any of the events happening in the past/present. I made rules, characters, and maps maps maps.
I had a pad of graph paper, and I drew an interconnected and numbered system of maps that covered my entire living room floor. A huge space, mapping every inch of a hundred-square-mile area. Humans fought for survival amid machines executing a mysterious plan. I was fourteen.
A few years later I played 2nd edition D&D, and while I enjoyed laying the game, it was the books that really fascinated me. The tables, rules, the foundations of incredible imaginary worlds; I was drowned completely in the old TSR publications. Dark Sun, Planescape, Forgotten Realms… I read the books more than I played the games. I began to read more roleplaying books than I read fiction.
‘Rifts’ by Palladium books came next, a kind of ‘Gamma World’ on acid, really opened my eyes to what was possible in the extremes of fantasy and science fiction. GURPS, Fading Suns, Mutants and Masterminds. I absorbed everything I could afford to get my hands on.
As an adult, I do most of my world building in my efforts to create and write fiction or produce graphic art and illustration. The world-building is almost more of a ‘scaffolding’ for me to operate within. It has taken quite a few years to admit that I am better at world-building than at fiction, maybe better at world-building than at anything?
So here is a real world-building project. World first, and if I can make it into a narrative, or into it’s own unique game, or whatever media, great. Should be a fun ride.
Come with me, let’s see what happens.