I am working on a single world to encompass my future creative projects both for games and storytelling and thought it might be helpful to share my steps in the hopes it will help others in their creative works. There are two schools of thoughts when world building, well more like two ways to begin, the macro and the micro. The micro is where you start with the character and build outward. For instance, I once started a short story about what if a fairy princess was a reality star like the Kardashians. So, I had the center character, and I knew I wanted to explore her growth as she experienced a life suddenly devoid of privilege. So, I knew I needed it to be an urban fantasy world. I knew it had to be a world where magic was an accepted part of daily life. Then I began to build outward, really as it came up in the story. This is a great way to do it for shorter projects, if the focus is going to be personal growth, then magic might not need to solve a lot of problems in the plot and could be a very loose collection of rules, what is generally referred to as a Soft Magic System.
Now with my upcoming project I wanted to focus from the top down. I have always loved the steampunk aesthetic and it seemed a good setting to be able to mix magic and some technology but not enough that it would interfere with the plot. So, I started doing some research on the Victorian era and the first thought popped in my head was why is this considered a happy setting. It was a dark and twisted time and filled with many of things that most people associate with cyberpunk settings, corporations with private armies, large power discrepancies between the classes and turmoil from the rapid advancement of technology. (Though thinking about it if you wrote cyberpunk story from an upper-level manager’s perspective it might not be as miserable.)
Thus, I started down a darker path, one where the heroes would not be just fighting against some great evil but also about struggling to just make it through a day when the whole of society tries to keep you in your place. The next thing that came up might be the result of me watching too many home design shows with my spouse. I came up with a term for the theme I was going for to give it a broad comprehensive theme. The name I came up with was Absinthe Noir, mixing the time frame and the broad “feel” I wanted the stories to have. After that I started a concept board, basically a list of inspirations both to help me envision elements of the world and so that I could have things to listen to / watch when I needed to get into the headspace to create since my mind can wander when I am not careful. Some people use a program like Evernote or make a Pinterest board both things I have had success in the past with but for this one I just started with a list of movie trailers and music videos to help me and introduce people who might be participating into the mix.
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