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Summary

The essential elements for building a world.

Roleplaying games and fantasy fiction are filled with rich and fascinating worlds: the Forgotten Realms, Glorantha, Narnia, R'lyeh, Middle-earth, Barsoom, and so many more. It took startling leaps of imagination as well as careful thought and planning to create places like these: places that readers and players want to come back to again and again.

Now, 11 of adventure gaming's top designers come together to share their insights into building worlds that gamers will never forget. Learn the secrets of designing a pantheon, creating a setting that provokes conflict, determining which historical details are necessary, and so much more.

Take that creative leap, and create dazzling worlds of your own!

Essays by Wolfgang Baur, Keith Baker, Monte Cook, Jeff Grubb, Scott Hungerford, David "Zeb" Cook, Chris Pramas, Jonathan Roberts, Michael A. Stackpole, Steve Winter, with an introduction by Ken Scholes.

Nominated for two Ennie Awards: Best Writing and Best RPG-Related Book.

©2012 Open Design LLC (P)2017 Open Design LLC

What listeners say about Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Only the second half is good

I nearly abansoned the book during the first half because it didn't say anything useful, only filler and stories.
After 1 and a half hours or so it started saying more useful things, and altogether, I felt like most of the relevant information was crammed into the second half of the book.

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geared towards D&D campaigns.

I was expecting it to focus on worldbuilding in a general sense, but instead every chapter seems to have the players and how your world relates to them as the focus. Not good for writers or authors looking to get some tips on how to deepen their world. GMs might find it quite useful though.

1 person found this helpful

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  • John Koehler
  • 26-10-18

A must read for World Builders

The essays here are fantastic and well worth the time. many game concepts are discussed in detail, putting voice to some things that I had already been thinking.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kyle
  • 18-11-17

Awesome world building tool.

This is a great tool for any word builder. I make home brew worlds for RPGs and while listening to this it just filled me with more and more ideas. I will continue to come back to this book whenever I am preparing to create a new world. The narrator was very engaging. The way he read kept my attention which, I'm my opinion, is what you need in a compilation of essays.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-04-20

Much to be desired

I got this book hoping to get some help on how to construct a world of fantasy. and although there is some good advice to be found in here, I feel most of the listening is a drudge through a swath of unknown worlds and fantasy RPG projects these authors have worked on, and assume the reader knows which worlds they're referring to.

The narration feels like I'm being read a night time story by my babysitter, make it harder to take seriously and get through.

1 person found this helpful

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  • James
  • 06-04-19

A must read for Game Masters

This is a great set of reports that can help any GM grow their games and worlds. They cover everything from drawing maps, to building societies and factions, to licensee work. 10/10 I’ll read again and again.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nitoro Hakubo
  • 01-01-19

Insightful for writers, Gms, and designers

A short but sweet info packed book full of knowledge and experience from some of the game industry's finest. This book is handy for anyone looking to build and manage worlds- nor just gamers.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Alexis
  • 11-01-22

Stating the obvious

While I agree with most of the advice shared in the book, they are often commonplace principles such as "your material must be consistent and plausible", "users must be engaged in your universe before they'll even consider learning about the history and lore of your world", etc.

In-between each declaration, authors illustrate those principles with stories drawn from their own life experience. I felt they were not very informative, and rather uninspiring.

I was hoping for substance to actually build your world brick by brick. Address the principles of geography (cartography, plate tectonics, water flow, climate, minerals, metals, ...), metaphysics (physical properties the universe, deities, ..), biology (flora, fauna, biomes, ecosystems, ...), society (politics, lifestyle, economy, culture, religion, ...), human sciences (psychology, group dynamics, ...), science, magic, what makes a story compelling and what doesn't, etc. In turn, how they can be used to build plausible worlds -- instead of hammering that same advice over and over through several chapters with little in the way of how to actually achieve that. Put this information into context by referencing existing works, and go through the thought process that might have lead their author to successfully build their universe. In short: the actual meat of "building" a "world"...

Overall, I think there is little to be learned from this book that you wouldn't already know if - like most people living in developed countries - you have access to a rich choice of cultural work, and spent a little time reflecting on them. And this is from a place of someone who has little experience in writing, playing table top games, or world building. I am surprised by the enthusiastic reviews from other users and am curious to understand what new information they have gained from listening to this audio book.

The narration itself is good, in my opinion.

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  • Tessa Lowe
  • 26-12-21

very well done.

Even though this is just a Collection of essays, the content of each is very useful for shaking things up in your own mind or how you might approach something going forward. I recommend this anyone who is just getting started in their world building journey.

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  • Nickolas Landry
  • 15-12-21

Solid guidance that covers a lot of ground

I really enjoyed this book. Experienced GMs and designers will of course recognize many tips they already apply, but there's something for everyone here. I switched back & forth between book and audiobook, and while listening to the audiobook I had to skip back often because the topics discussed would send my mind wandering into game design mode.

The book is more a collection of essays by a group of select designers, and less of a cohesive whole. It's well edited and there are essays that provide callout to others. Just don't expect a conductive thread from beginning to end. You can easily listen to the chapters relevant to what you're looking for, but I myself enjoyed it from beginning to end. Some essays can be a bit light on content, but that's relative on your expectations. Some chapters definitely could be expanded into an entire book, and I'd read it.

The book is very focused on fantasy settings and while the advice presented here can be used anywhere, you won't find many relevant examples if you're a sci-fi designer.

Another odd note: the audiobook is missing a chapter on "Technology and Magic" by Wolfgang Baur. It's otherwise completely unabridged. The audiobook is well read and the narration is friendly and approachable.

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  • Donald
  • 24-09-21

Falls short of other Kobolf quides

I came to this one after guide to dming and was left disappointed. There are plenty of great essays in here but at least half of it just felt like an advertisement for Midgard and why Midgard is better than other worlds. Worth listening to if its free but I wouldnt spend money on it again.

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  • Joshua Rodgers
  • 05-02-21

Incredibly inspiring

This book and performance are brilliant. I’ve listened to several chapters five or six times. So much creative inspiration here, though it does follow a sort of DnD theme, you can apply the worldbuilding concepts to any creative style.