Worldbuilder is a shared world building game, based on other similar games like Lords of Creation and Dawn of Worlds, but with my own take on the genre.
Worldbuilder (ver 0.4a)
Worldbuilder is a shared world building game, which can help a novice game master or novelist create a fantasy setting from scratch. The players take on the roles of primordial entities that use their powers to sculpt the world and shape civilization.
What do I need to play?
Worldbuilder requires only a few things: a large blank map, a ruler, two six sided dice, some scratch paper and a pencil. The game can also be played using a computer and any kind of drawing software. Worldbuilder works best if you use a large hex grid, but can still be played if all you have is a ruler. You also need a group of players, one of whom can be assigned role of the Narrator, to settle any arguments or conflicts about the rules, but the role is not required. In the absence of a Narrator, at any point the Primordials are in disagreement, flip a coin, roll a die, or take a vote to resolve the conflict.
Maps & Themes
The first task is to decide what kind of map to use and what the theme of the world will be. Worldbuilder has two map types: Standard and Tabula Rasa. Standard games begin with a map that has a coastline already drawn by the Narrator. Each hex inside the coastline defaults to the grasslands terrain and hexes outside the coastline default to ocean. Tabula Rasa means "blank slate". The world is completely barren and devoid of any features or life instead of beginning with a coastline. This type of game can take the longest, because the Primordials are required to sculpt every hex to give shape to the world. This includes raising the land above sea level or deep gulfs between the continents and filling it with water for the oceans and seas.
Theme is a little harder to pin down, so Worldbuilder only provides the tools for two themes: Mundane and Fantasy. Mundane games do not allow the use of Sculpt Climate (magical), Sculpt Terrain (magical), Advance Civilization (Magic), and any Wonder which increases Magic. Fantasy themed games allow the use of all actions.
Each player takes on the role of a primordial entity, choosing an element and an alignment to represent their basic aspects. The combination of the chosen element and alignments helps to give shape to the Primordial and their role in the creation of the world.
- Choose one of the following elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Wood, or Ice.
- Choose one of the following alignments as the Major Axis: Law, Good, Neutral, Evil, Chaos. Choose from them again to determine the Minor Axis.
Order of Play
The game is divided into three segments: The Dawn of Creation, the First Age, and the Second Age. Additional ages can be played if the Narrator or players want a more mature world with a rich history or they're just having too much fun running kingdoms and deciding the fate of entire races. The ages are divided into a number of rounds and during each round, the players take turn spending Power to use various actions on the world and creatures living on it. These actions range from shaping the land, raising mountains, trenching rivers, or creating entire races and commanding them to build far reaching civilizations. Each age must last a minimum of ten rounds, though a Tabula Rasa game or large maps require a longer Dawn of Creation age. At the end of each round after ten rounds, the players vote to move on to the next age. The vote does not need to be unanimous, just a majority. In the event of a tie, the player with the most Power decides if the age advances.
The Dawn of Creation
- The dawn of creation represents the birth of the world and its shaping. During this age, each round represents roughly a thousand years and shaping the world is as easy as molding putty. However, the creation of intelligent life is difficult and time consuming and fraught with peril as the land itself is warped and twisted.
The First Age
- The First Age is the dawn of sentient life and reason. Each round during the First Age is approximately one hundred years. During this age many civilizations may rise and fall and the wonders of the world are often built. The land and climate can still be altered, but it becomes much more difficult as the world has settled into a more enduring shape.
The Second Age
- The Second Age represents the height of civilization and society. The Primordials care more about manipulating the people and shaping society than sculpting the world. Each round represents about a decade. Great heroes and leaders arise from the populace and lead their people in war, exploration, diplomacy, faith and more.
- Each player begins the game with 2d6 + 8 Power.
- The order of play is determined by comparing Power totals. The player with the highest Power has the option of going first, but they may choose to go last instead. Doing so is a gamble, but sometimes it's better to conserve your power until you know how your opponents have spent their Power. The round continues to the player with the next highest Power total until all players have acted. There is no limit on the number of actions a player can perform, as long as they have Power available.
The following list details the actions the Primordials can spend their power on to shape the world and create races, cities, mountains and more. The name of each action is followed by the cost of the action in parentheses. The first number is the cost during the Dawn of Creation, the second number the cost during the First Age, and the last number is the cost during the Second Age.
Shape Land, Mundane (2 / 10 / 20) – The Primordial may remove, alter, or add one of the following terrain types to a single hex: Arctic, Barren, Desert, Forest, Grassland, Hills, Mountains, River, Lake, Sea, Ocean. Each terrain type has a base Population trait.
Shape Land, Magical (3 / 15 / 30) – The Primordial may remove, alter, or add an exotic and magical effect to a single hex. The effects can range from floating mountains, to waterfalls that fall into the sky, or an eternal patch of snow in a desert.
Alter Climate, Magical (3 / 15 / 30) – The Primordial can alter local climate conditions beyond what would normally happen due to the surrounding terrain. This can also be used to create never-ending storms or fields of lightning.
Create Avatar (50 / 50 / 50) – The Avatar of a Primordial is a physical shadow in the world of their true power. Each Avatar has a pool of 10 Power it can spend on Shape Land (Mundane), Shape Land (Magical), and Alter Climate (Magical). This power refreshes at the beginning of the controlling Primordials turn.
Create Faction (30 / 20 / 10) – The Primordial creates one of the following: Guild, Order, Religion, or Sect within a race, city, or another faction. The faction begins at Rank 1 and starts with one Stronghold in the selected town or city. The Primordial can create a secret faction for an additional 10 Power when creating the faction.
Create Race (30 / 10 / 30) – The Primordial shapes the elements of the world into a sentient race and selects one hex. During the next round, the cost of building a Town and upgrading it to a City is halved. Races without a city or town are nomads, brigands, or monsters and may be controlled by the Primordial with the highest ranked faction amongst that Race.
Create Subrace (30 / 10 / 20) – The Primordial creates a cultural, physical, or religious divide within an existing race. The new subrace may or may not live in harmony with their parent race. If they do not, the Primordial that creates the subrace must build a Town or City for the subrace
Advance Faction (5 * Rank / 5 * Rank / 5 * Rank) – Increase the rank of a faction within a City or Town. The player that controls the faction with the highest rank controls the City or Town. In the event of a tie, the Faction that reached the highest rank first controls the City or Town.
Advance City (15 * Rank / 10 * Rank / 5 * Rank) – Increases the rank of one of the following traits: Agriculture, Medicine, Metallurgy, Faith, or Magic up to a maximum of Rank 5. Any Primordial can advance any City.
Advance Town (15 / 10 / 5) – Increases the rank of a Town by one point. At Rank 5, the Town becomes a Rank 1 City. Any Primordial can advance the rank of a Town.
Build Town (20 / 10 / 5) – Creates a Rank 1 Town in an empty hex and may not be built within two hexes of another town or city.
Build Wonder (50 / 50 / 50) – Three Rank 5 Towns controlled by the same Faction or a Rank 5 City can build a Wonder of the World. Each wonder is unique and can only be built once, even if destroyed. Wonders provide a +1 Rank bonus to two different city traits. In a mundane game, there are six wonders and ten in a fantasy game.
Cataclysm (30 / 30 / 30) – Cataclysms come in many forms like tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, firestorms, and more. They can decimate towns and cities, permanently reducing their rank by one point. If they are reduced to Rank 0, they are destroyed and must be rebuilt. Cataclysms can also be used to destroy a Primordial Avatar.
Winds of Fortune (30 / 30 / 30) – Winds of Fortune can be used to negate the effects of a Cataclysm. This power may also be used to temporarily increase one trait of a City, Town, or Faction until the end of the Primordials next turn.
Command City/Town (40 / 20 / 10) – The Primordial which controls the highest ranked faction in a Town or City can command the people of that settlement to perform a variety of actions. These actions are Build Walls (+1 Defense), Build Towers (+1 Attack), and Build Farms (+1 Population). Walls and Towers provide bonuses when armies siege the city and attempt to breach the walls. Cities and Towns may only build farms if the surrounding land is Forest, Hills, or Grasslands.
Raise Army (10 / 5 / 1) – The Primordial commands a Faction to raise an army (1 unit). Cities and Towns can only support units equal to their Population trait. (Population = Base + Agriculture + Farms) For example, a Rank 4 City with Agriculture 3 (+3), four surrounding Farms (+4), in the Forest (+2) can support 9 units. Units above the Population limit can be supported by spending 2 Power per unit above the Population limit. It costs 1 Power per unit to order an attack on an adjacent hex or move to an adjacent hex.
Terrain Base Population & Modifiers