Ravenous Reviews: Worldcrafting

Just the Facts

Title: Worldcrafting

Author: Andrzej Stój

Publisher: GRAmel

Price Point: $9.99

Pages: 94 (96 PDF pages)

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From the opening page of the PDF: Worldcrafting is a cycle of essays intended for all roleplayers who would like to create a campaign setting of their own. It’s divided into 12 sections discussing each element of a complete campaign book – from the modifications of the rules, through geography and history to the idea for the plot point campaign.

Cover Art

Score: 4 out of 5

I really love the cover artwork. It evokes the world creation aspect of the book, but with the twist of an android (or other cyber-creation) touching God’s finger. This cover art is reflected in the rest of the book in the wide and varied topics the book covers. My only gripe (and it’s minor) with the cover is the layout of the world “Worldcrafting.” It appears to me as if the letters were simply tossed onto the cover by a child because of their haphazard placement. Again, it’s a minor nit.

Mechanics

Score: 5 out of 5

There aren’t many mechanics in the book. Then again, this isn’t one of those rule-heavy books out on the market, and that’s fine. This book is more filled with guidelines on how to build a world and adapt a generic system (Savage Worlds being the examples they use) to the world with slight rules additions or changes. There is a very good chapter on beta testing the changes you make to the core game to ensure they work as expected without breaking or unintentionally altering some other aspect of the game system. There are also two good chapters on “How to Meddle with the Rules” and “Hacking the Game” as well. Unfortunately, the “Mechanical Modifications” and “System Modifications” chapters are #10 and #11 while the “Beta Testing” chapter is #4. I probably would have swapped things around to put the beta testing instructions after the “modifications” chapters. Hopefully, if someone is putting this book to use, they’ll read the whole thing through before jumping back to chapter 1 and following the instructions.

Prose

Score: 5 out of 5

The text in the book is written very well, contains important (yet concise) information, and clearly communicates the information to the reader. I never found myself stopping in confusion at what the author had said. My favorite chapter was probably the one on geography (chapter 7). When I hit that chapter heading, I inwardly groaned and through I was going to see a brief (and inadequate chapter) on where to place water, mountains, swamps, hills, cities, etc. The topic of geography is deep and wide and entire books (or series?) have been dedicated to this information. Yes, a chapter on geography is needed in book with the title of Worldcrafting, but I dreaded a light treatment of a heavy topic. However, the author nailed it down quite well. He stepped away from the usual advice and took his own angle. Instead of diving into placing things in the world, he dove into how to make the points on the map important to the game, characters, players, and campaign. This impressed me quite a bit.

Layout

Score: 3 out of 5

The book was obviously laid out to be printed. The way the opening chapter images bled to the edge told me that the intent for this book is print, not PDF. The PDF is still fine, but the main thing I’m dropping a point on is the bookmarks. They’re there (which many PDFs do not have them at all), but they are out of order (#7 came first) and there are three extra “DdeLink….” bookmarks at the top that don’t quite seem to go anywhere special. This is probably me being overly nit-picky, but attention to these details is key and important in a product. Another reason I dropped the score to a ‘3’ for this area is the font used in the “Example Worldcrafting” sections. It’s a dropcap-style font with close kerning. This means the letters are very close to one another and makes for difficult reading in those sections.

Interior Art

Score: 4 out of 5

The interior art was sparse, but very well done. The images lined up well with the topic at hand. My chief complaint was that the opening of each chapter had full-page art covered in text. This makes it difficult to read the text and enjoy the artwork. Fortunately, the person that did the layout knew when to drop-shadow the white text on the darker background images. This made the legibility of the text go way up.

Bonus Points

Score: 4 out of 5

I’m a world building junkie. If I could land a job just building maps, worlds, histories, religions, etc. for people to run off and use in their own games, I’d probably jump on it in a hot second. This means the PDF was right up my alley. I was quite impressed with the overall product and gave it 4 bonus points. Yeah, I’ve read tons of material on this topic, but this is right up there as one of the better books. There are some flaws in it, but it’s damn hard to pull off 94 pages of perfection.

Overall Score: 25 out of 25

Overall Thoughts

Even if you’ve “been there; done that” with world building, there are some unique and creative approaches to crafting worlds in this book. I highly recommend this purchase. At a base price of $9.99, it’s really hard to go wrong with the investment. I think it’s a fantastic book for the topic at hand, and everyone crafting (professionally or personally) new worlds, should at least look through it. It’s not the end-all, be-all of world building books, but it’s definitely a worthy addition to a collection or library of books on the topic.

NOTE: I purchased this book myself. It was not given or donated to me for the purposes of the review. The author and publisher of the book have no idea I’m writing this. The only way I make any gains off of writing this review is if you go out and purchase the book using the link provided with my affiliate ID intact. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the link for your purchase, and it’ll allow me to build up credits to use on future purchases for future reviews.

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