Review: The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding

The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding, a collection of essays on world building, ended up on my wish list somehow. Overall it is in an interesting read but as one might expect from a collection, some of the contributions are more useful than others.

The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding

Edited by Janna Silverstein

The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding contains essays on world design written by some of the great contributors to the field of roleplaying. The topics range from building religious organizations, and whole societies to the role of technology and magic to creating a convincing history.

Some of the highlights as I saw it include:

  • Playing in Someone Else’s Backyard by Janna Silverstein which talks about the pitfalls and restrictions of working on a licensed world as a professional.
  • It’s a Mystery! Designing Mystery Cults by David “Zeb” Cook details creating and using mystery cults in your game.
  • Why No Monotheism by Wolfgang Baur which asks the question of why we see so few monotheistic worlds in games and what can be done about that.

For the record I have run a monotheistic world with religious strife (sort of). The establishment was taken by surprise by their goddess’s decision to end her life and the world as a whole. Luckily the PCs managed to save the latter.

The book is slim, only a 124 words long. Most of the contributions come from Wolfgang Baur (8 out of 18 essays). He tends to plug his game world as an example of what to do. This gets a bit tiresome.

If you’ve read other books on worldbuilding, particularly building game world then this book is not terribly useful. There are plenty books devoted to world building which provide much more value. On the other hand, if you get it as a gift, its worth a quick read. But I’m not sure paying for the physical book is worth $20.