A Worldbuilder’s Guide to Societies

Essentials for Writers, Game Developers and Dungeon Masters


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About the Book

In fantastic worlds like Gondor, Westeros, Ankh-Morpork, Waterdeep, and Hogsmeade, the societies that inhabit them play important roles in capturing the feel of their settings. Societies create characters and plots, provide space for action, and reflect history. Building vibrant and interesting societies is a core element of worldbuilding in the fantasy genres. This guide walks the reader through different aspects of societies to help construct fictional worlds with greater ease. Examples of societies built by numerous authors in the fantasy, urban/modern fantasy, and paranormal romance genres are interwoven to illustrate concepts. Throughout, this book is descriptive and suggestive rather than prescriptive, and is intended to inform as well as inspire the worldbuilder.  Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Brent A. Stypczynski is an independent scholar with specialties in medieval, YA, and fantasy literature. He is the author of multiple books, and his articles have appeared in Extrapolation and The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Bibliographic Details

Brent A. Stypczynski

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9363-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5109-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1. Concept 9
2. History 21
3. Governments 41
4. Religion 57
5. Magic 79
6. Technology 100
7. Education 112
8. Species 126
9. Language 141
10. Sex and Gender 152
11. Organizations 161
12. Geography 171
13. Places 191
14. Finishing Touches 202
Appendix A: Divine Spheres of Influence 211
Appendix B: Recommended Resources 213
Appendix C: Selected Primary Texts and Series 217
Chapter Notes 219
Bibliography 229
Index 233

Book Reviews & Awards

“Stypczynski offers an ordered, categorized, and academic approach to help aspiring writers, game developers, and game players construct fantastical societies and transform their ideas into fully realized and immersive worlds. He makes frequent reference to his own experiences as a writer and also highlights the notable world building of other creatives, as well as their advice and suggestions for further reading. Stypczynski is careful to prompt aspiring word builders with thought-provoking questions rather than supply them with a one-size-fits-all approach. …[He] expertly guides readers through techniques for how to craft both the broad strokes and detailed minutiae that make up an immersive fantasy world.”—Booklist