Worldbuilding prompts are one of the best tools you have to expand your worldbuilding. But finding the right prompt can be a bit overwhelming, sometimes. Well, good news, you can make ANY prompt be the “right prompt” for your world! So let’s look at some tips to worldbuilding with prompts.
How to use Worldbuilding Prompts
Worldbuilding prompts are really useful, but it’s also easy to get distracted or derailed if you don’t know how to use them! Because these prompts aren’t tailored to your specific world, some prompts might be about something you’ve already written, while others might be about things that don’t fit in your world. But the thing is, prompts are just guidelines to inspire you —no one’s coming to check if your answer is correct!
The first thing you need is a source of prompts —and if it’s a random prompt generator, that’s even better! Check out the worldbuilding prompts page on World Anvil for an example, and we’re currently running a worldbuilding version of Mapvember too. In any case, find a prompt that inspires you. Don’t try to make it fit into your world yet, that’s the next step —as long as it gets your creative juices flowing, it’s a good prompt!
How to incorporate worldbuilding prompts into your worldbuilding?
Now that you’ve found some prompts, let’s take a look at how to incorporate them into your world. We’ll use this prompt as an example:
Write about a disease with an unknown origin in your world. How do people treat it?
(Answer it on World Anvil!)
Start by writing down what caught your attention from that prompt. Was it the disease, the mystery that surrounds it, or the treatment? Or maybe it was everything! But knowing this will help you approach this prompt from a perspective that’s interesting to you. Then, it’s brainstorming time! Even if you already have a good idea of what to write, you might find something better. For example, for this prompt, I would look at parts of my world that are also mysterious or secretive. Or, if I wanted to explore how magic or technology is used, I would focus on the second part of the prompt. If you’re still stuck, then go back to your worldbuilding meta, and see if you can link the prompt into your world’s genre, focus, theme or drama. This will reinforce aspects of your world you’ve already established.
Sometimes you like part of the prompt but don’t really connect with the rest. That’s not a problem! There’s nothing wrong with changing or ignoring the parts that you don’t like. For example, if I don’t feel like writing about a disease, I could create some other kind of condition. And it doesn’t need to be negative: a mysterious blessing could be equally interesting (and who says “treat” has to mean “cure” here?).
But anyway, now that you know how to use prompts, here are a bunch of prompts for you!
10 Worldbuilding Prompts for Writers and Dungeon Masters
Here’s a small taste of the 100+ prompts we have on World Anvil!
- Describe a famous criminal organization and the unlawful acts they commit in your world. (On World Anvil)
- I’m a thief in your world and so far I’ve never been caught. Who’s my next target? (On World Anvil)
- Describe a geographic location beneath the surface – what can you find lurking there? (On World Anvil)
- Describe a historically significant piece of jewellery in your world. What stories does it carry? (On World Anvil)
- Share some common idioms and phrases from a culture in your world. (On World Anvil)
- Describe a military unit in your world that is famous for its unique ranged weapon. (On World Anvil)
- I want to woo the person of my dreams. In your world, how do I go about this? (On World Anvil)
- Describe a winter tradition that exists within one culture of your world. What is celebrated, and what’s involved in the festivities? (On World Anvil)
- Write about a technology that has greatly impacted daily life in your world. (On World Anvil)
- Write about a city or town in your world which is unusual or unique in some way. (On World Anvil)
Past prompts from World Anvil
Want more prompts? Well, lucky you, we’ve got them! Summer Camp is a yearly challenge that’s all about answering 30 prompts (or more). Check out the Summer Camp page to see all past prompts! We’re also currently running the Mapvember challenge with worldbuilding prompts —that’s 30 more prompts for you!
And if you’re looking for a spookier tone, we also have our 30 Spooktober prompts! These are one-word prompts, which means that you can go absolutely wild with your answers —they don’t have to be spooky at all if you don’t want them to be!
Even more prompts on World Anvil
Looking for EVEN MORE Worldbuilding Prompts? We have a whole page of them on World Anvil, which you can find right here. Some even have videos that expand on the prompt, so check them out if you’re stuck. And even better, most prompts also have answers submitted by the community, so it’s an endless source of inspiration!
Prompts for WorldEmber 2021
WorldEmber is a worldbuilding challenge run by World Anvil every December. This post is designed to get you ready for that event by helping you focus on what you want to achieve during the month! And this week’s task is all about using prompts to your advantage! Here’s your homework:
- First you’ll need prompts. Choose 10-15 prompts from this page (or any other page) and add them to the Pledge Document you created last week. If you already chose prompts last week, then you can use those (or add more if you’re feeling adventurous).
- Now, it’s time to expand your plan. Create a stub for each prompt, a short plan of how you plan to answer it. Remember that it CAN’T go over 50 words —otherwise, it won’t count for WorldEmber!
- During WorldEmber, this will act as your own to-do list —just reset the date of the stub (you can do this under advanced options in the edit interface) and write on the prompt!
- Get stuck during WorldEmber? Come back here to get all the inspiration you’ll need to come up with something truly awesome for your world!
By the way, Tillerz, an outstanding member of our community, has put out this amazing prompt map for WorldEmber 2021 with prompts that are themed to a story in their world. So check it out if you’re looking for even more prompts!
Share your updated Pledge Document in the comments! We’ll be sharing our favorite on the community stream!
Oh, and if you have questions about the challenge, check out the WorldEmber 2021 official page here. If you STILL have questions, you can throw those in the comments too!