Putting the “Story” in “Storyworld” – Part 1

Posted on February 13, 2017 By

As you might guess from my endless blog posts, RPG projects, and various freelance projects, I’m a little obsessed with storyworlds. But obsession isn’t always a good thing. While I get caught up in the characters, setting, and conflicts of the storyworld, it’s sometimes easy to forget that they aren’t the point.

The point of a storyworld is help tell stories. The only reason it exists is support the stories you want to tell. If you have an amazing storyworld, but no stories, it’s a fun thought exercise, but ultimately useless.*

Similarly, stories aren’t about their worlds. Stories are about characters. Now, those characters may be shaped by the world around them, and their conflicts may arise from that world, but without characters… well, you don’t really have a story.

Over the course of the next week or so, I’ll be looking at how stories and storyworlds relate to each other. Specifically, I’ll examine how stories themselves help develop storyworlds, and how much worldbuilding should actually be exposed in the story. Should be a good time!


* One sort-of exception to this rule is the ever-popular tabletop RPG sourcebook. A guide to the Greyhawk fantasy setting for Dungeons and Dragons, for example, is a full-blown storyworld, but contains no stories. As such, I’d call it futile except for the infinite player stories it supports at the table. While the product doesn’t have stories, it inspires the audience to create their own stories, and that’s just as good.

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