The Ultimate Worldbuilding Checklist

INTRODUCTION

Two of the main challenges of worldbuilding are to know how big and detailed your world needs to be and how to organize it. If you separate elements between general categories and specific objects, you will be able to simplify your job a lot. Here are checklists for everything you need split between general and specific considerations. That way, you will never forget a key aspect again and you will also avoid the common traps and make your world more elegant and interesting. As an example, you will need to think about how many main characters you will need in your world and then how to create each one. This is why you will need two checklists and how these two levels relate to each other.

WORLDBUILDING

META

WORLDBUILDING

LEARNING

• How to learn more about worldbuilding?

STAGE I - CONCEPT

WORLD CONCEPT

EXTERNAL CONSIDERATIONS

MAIN CONFLICT

• What is the main conflict?

MAIN STORY

• What is the main story of your world?

• How can you make sure it is the best fit to your world?

• How does your story support the themes you want to explore?

SECONDARY CONFLICTS

• What are some secondary conflicts?

• Are your secondary conflicts related to your main one?

• Are you adding secondary conflicts in order to add variety away from the main conflict or to support it?

SECONDARY STORIES

• What are the secondary plots in your world?

• How do your secondary stories relate to the main one?

• How can you make sure all stories are consistent and do not conflict each other?

SETTING

• What is the setting of your world?

• How can you make sure your setting is the right one to explore your ideas?

INTERNAL CONSIDERATIONS

EXPERIENCES

• What experiences does your world allow your audience to explore?

IDEAS

• What are the main ideas of your world?

LIFE

• How can you make sure your world feels full of life?

THEMES

• What are the main themes of your world?

LOGLINE

• How can you summarize your world in a sentence?

• At its core, what is your world about?

NAME

• How to give your world an interesting name?

• How to find a name which people can easily remember?

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

COLLABORATION

• How many people will work on the world?

• How will decisions will be made about which world elements to include?

• Is everybody a worldbuilder generalist or are there specialties?

PLANNING

• How will you plan the development of the world?

• How can you set realistic deadlines and milestones for the delivery of the world?

• How can you track progress?

• Will elements in your world be versioned?

STAGE II - EXECUTION

CHARACTERS

ALIGNMENT

PLANNING

• How to decide which characters are going to be good and which ones are going to be evil?

• How to create neutral characters and factions to make the story more interesting?

• What are good motives for somebody to be truly evil?

• What makes somebody fundamentally good?

• Is good and evil just a matter of perspective?

• How can we ensure that the actions of a character are consistent with his alignment?

• How do good characters perceive evil characters and their motives?

• Which shortcomings of the good philosophy does evil reveal?

• Does the world reward good or evil?

EXECUTION

• What is the reason for the character to be good or evil?

• Does the alignment of the character evolve through the story?

• How to make the audience identify with the character's motives?

• If the character is evil, how do they justify their evil to themselves?

• Does the character come to regret their alignment?

• Does the character take responsiblity for their alignment or do they put the responsiblity on something external?

• What is the influence of the alignment of the character on the story?

BACKSTORY

PLANNING

• What kind of backstory will your characters have?

• Will the backstories of your characters will have common themes?

• How much do you want backstories to reflect the present of your characters?

• Should your audience look for foreshadowing of interesting clues in backstories?

• How much did characers evolve from their backstories?

• Which specific elements made them who they are today?

EXECUTION

• What makes a backstory interesting?

• How will the backstory influence how the character acts?

• How long should the backstory be?

• What are the three key points of the backstory?

• What does the audience want to learn from the backstory?

GENERAL

PLANNING

• What is the function of characters in your world?

• What makes a character interesting?

• How many characters do you need?

• Should characters be based upon people you know?

• When should a character be introduced?

• How should a character be introduced?

• Should characters have simple or complex names?

EXECUTION

• What is the name of your character?

• What is the gender of your character?

• What is the function of this character in your world or story?

• Will the audience experience the character from an external or an internal POV?

• What is the class of your character?

PERSONALITY

PLANNING

• How to choose an interesting personality?

• How to create a personality the audience can relate to?

• How to avoid stereotypes?

• What kinds of personality traits do you need for your story?

• How to create complementary personalities between characters?

• What was the influence of their upbringing on the personailty of characters?

EXECUTION

• How smart is your character?

• How does your character see life?

• Does your character care more about other people or more about themselves?

• Is your character artistically enclined?

• Is your character more introverted or extroverted?

• What are the objectives of the character for their life?

• Were they scared during their childhood?

• What are the values of your character?

• What is the alignment of your character?

• Is your character religious?

• Does your character have a mental illness?

• Does your character have moral taboos?

• Are they more happy or unhappy with life?

• Which personality profile does your character have (Big Five, MBTI, Enneagram, ...)?

• What is the sexual orientation of your character?

• What kind of situation would your character excel in?

• What is the education of your character?

• What are the skills of your character?

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES

PLANNING

• What do physical attributes say about a character?

• How to make characters easily recognizable from each other?

EXECUTION

• How tall is your character?

• How old are they?

• What is the build of your character?

• Does your character have tattoos?

• Does your character have physical illnesses or allergies?

• How attractive is your character?

RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN CHARACTERS

PLANNING

• How to create interesting relationship between characters?

• How to create a spaceship crew or a fantasy

• How to create chemistry between characters?

EXECUTION

• How does your character view friendship?

• What is the relationship of your character with their mother and father?

• Who are the role models of your character?

• Which organization does your character belong to?

LANGUAGE

NAMES

PLANNING

• How can you come up with good names?

• How to create names easy to remember for the audience?

• How to create names which go well together?

• Where can you find inspiration for names?

• Can you take names which already exist in other worlds?

• What makes a good name?

• Should different categories such as characters and locations have different kinds of names to make it easy for the     audience to make the difference?

• Should you take simple or complex names?

• How can you test whether your names are good or not?

• How to come up with names which evoke particular emotions?

EXECUTION

• Which real languages will it be inspired from?

• What kind of emotions do you want the name to evoke?

• Should it be short or long?

• How to make it easy to remember?

SCRIPT

PLANNING

• How many conlang alphabets do you need in your world?

• What is the reason of creating a new alphabet instead of using a real one?

• How many symbols should made up alphabets have?

EXECUTION

• Which real-world alphabet will it take inspiration from?

• How can you make the script appealing?

• How many symbols does it need?

• How complex does it need to be?

• Do you want people to be able to guess what symbols mean?

• Is it an esoteric language or something everybody understands?

MAGIC

MAGIC SYSTEM

PLANNING

• What is the best way to organize your magic system?

• How to create a unique magic system?

• What do people find interesting in a magic system?

• How to make the magic system

• How can you avoid contradictions in your magic system?

EXECUTION

• Will the magic system be soft or hard?

• Will it have visible effects or not?

• Are everybody capable of using it or is it restricted to specific people or beings?

• What is the narrative function of the magic system in your world?

• Is the magic system occult or known to everybody in your world?

• How was magic discovered?

• Is it allowed to use magic or restriced/forbidden?

• Do people need to train to use it or do they acquire it in a different way?

SETTINGS

CITIES

PLANNING

• What makes cities interesting?

• Where should cities be placed?

• How far away should cities be from each other?

• How big should cities be?

• How to give cities interesting names?

EXECUTION

• What is the function of the city in the story?

• How much of the city will the audience get to see?

• What is the visual style of the city?

• Which themes does the city represent?

• Who is in charge of the city?

• How big is the city?

• Is the city on a river?

• IS the city level or are there some cliffs or hills?

DUNGEONS

PLANNING

• How many dungeons do you need?

• What kinds of dungeons do you want?

• What is the function of dungeons?

• Where do dungeons come from?

• Do dungeons look alike or are they all unique?

EXECUTION

• What is the theme for the dungeon?

• Who built the dungeon?

• Is the dungeon inhabited?

• What will the audience experience in the dungeon?

• What is the visual style of the dungeon?

• How dangerous is the dungeon?

• How will going through the dungeon affect the story?

ENVIRONMENTS

PLANNING

• How many different types of environments do you need?

• How will you represent environments?

• Are environments representative of a particular theme?

EXECUTION

• What is the function of that particular environment?

• How big is it?

• What is the visual style of the environment?

• What will the audience feel about it?

MAPS

PLANNING

• What kinds of maps do you need?

• How detailed should maps be?

• What kind of style should maps be?

• How big should maps be?

EXECUTION

• Is a black and white or color map better suited?

• How detailed should the map be?

• Where to place cities?

• Where to plce dungeons?

• Where to place deserts?

• Where to place forests?

• Which software to use to create the map?

• How big should the map be?

• Will it require a legend?

• How much should people be able to understand about the world with this map?

• Are there hidden places?

PLANETS

PLANNING

• How many planets do you need?

• How different will planets be with each other?

• Should planets be realistic or not?

• Will planets have one or several biomes?

• What will be the size of the areas of your planets explored by the audience?

• Will you have rogue planets?

• How to create interesting planets?

EXECUTION

• What is the planet about?

• Does the planet have one or several biomes?

• Does the planet have a breathable atmosphere?

• What is the function of this planet in the story?

• How dangerous is the planet?

• What is the story of the planet?

• How many locations will the audience explore?

• What is the inspiration for the planet?

• How realistic is the planet?

VEHICLES

PLANNING

• What is the function of vehicles?

• How realistic will vehicles be?

• Are vehicles more realistic or whimsical?

EXECUTION

• What is the techology used by the vehicle?

• What is the style of the vehicle?

• What is the function of the vehicle in the world?

STAGE III - PRODUCTS

PRODUCTS

PRODUCTS

ARTBOOKS

• How to publish an artbook with your world?

• Do you have the necessary art skills or do you have access to the means to have somebody else produce enough art of     your worldbuilding to procude an artbook?

COMIC BOOKS

• Can you produce an interesting comic book with your world?

• Does your world suit the visual style of comic books?

D&D CAMPAIGNS

• Can you plan a series of D&D campaigns to give or sell to interested players?

• How is your world different than other D&D worlds?

• Can you give sample campaigns to players to generate interest?

ILLUSTRATIONS

• How much illustration does your world need?

• How expensive would it be to produce the amount of illustrations you need?

MOVIES

• Do you have the means to produce a movie with your worldbuilding?

• How much would it cost to build an indie movie about your world?

• Do you know some people who could help you coproduce your film?

MUSIC SONGS

• Are you a gifted musician who could produce some songs about your fantasy world?

• Can your world be put into a saga and sung?

• Can music be a good addition to the other format of your world?

NOVEL

• Can you write a set of interesting novel about your world?

• Is there an interesting plot in your world to explore as a novel?

POETRY

• Can your world work as poetry?

TABLETOP GAMES

• How hard would it be for you to create a tabletop game?

• How much does it cost to commercialize a tabletop game?

THEATRE PLAYS

• Is a theatre play the best format for your worldbuilding?

VIDEOGAMES

• Do you have the means to produce a videogame for your world?

• How much videogame do you need for your worldbuilding?

• Can your world work as a low-budget 2D game or does it need expensive 3D and animation?

OTHERS

WORLDBUILDING BIBLES

• How to create a worldbuilding bible about your world which people want to read and buy?

• Are people interested in worldbuilding bibles?

MARKETING

SEO

• How to make your world discoverable online?

• How to make your world easier to share on social networks?

SALES

REVENUE

• How to make money with your world?

• How to monetize your worldbuilding?


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