Initial world build
So this isn’t the intricate world building where we decide on the color of military uniforms or the number of orcs that make up a horde. Right now we are looking for a few key points to frame in the world. Just pick out the few key points that make your world different and exciting. After that tack in your generic points it take place in space, modern day New York, etc.
Your World: First lets look at the size of the world. Do you want a big unlimited universe or a tiny shoe box? A big world can leave room for exploration but a small one can be easier to fill in. Sometimes you may want to have a large world and only focus on a small section of it.
Second you will want to nail down some basic government and trade information. Is your world a lawless waste, an authoritarian uber-city, or something in-between? What is used as currency in your world? Is it a government backed coin, barter and trade only or the souls of vanquished enemies?
Third we will look at what makes your world different than any other. This can be something covered above or something new. It could be something silly or something dark. You may even choose to make your world generic and with out any new twist so the players can build their own.
Last you will decide what role the adventurer plays in your world. Are they revered or hated? Do the average people even know they exist? Are they major or minor players in the world? Why will it be fun to play them?
Working World: For Space Pirates the Musical I have decided to make the world large (all of space) but generic, leaving lots of room for the players to explore. The currency is government backed but the government is an iron-fisted authoritarian empire. The adventures will be big players in the world and revered by the average person but hated by the government. They will be fun to play because … space pirates, come on who doesn’t want to be a space pirate!
Resources: When looking for world building information many writers workshops and websites have checklists that can be of help. I also look to other games and books that I love. http://www.sfwa.org/2009/08/fantasy-worldbuilding-questions/ pod cast that discuss game development. https://delvecast.com/
Tips: This is not the only way to build a world, but it is what works for me. You can finish your world and fill it with cool people and things right now. However, I warn you this is where (in my experience) most people get lost. Many go on and on imagining an amazing new world and people. They do it for so long that they never get anything done. Games, books, movies that may have been ground shaking never left the artiest mind because they never finished. Don’t be that person. Resist the urge to day dream and lets get to some nice crunchy math. Doesn’t that sound like fun?