Worldbuilding encourages you to think in terms of eons, continents, and mass populations. When it’s time to set the story hooks for your next campaign or novel, you’ll have to narrow your focus on the present and specific. In fact, your whole story might hinge on a single antagonist character!

Let’s dive into adding drama to your setting with conflict and characters!

Set story hooks by stirring up conflict

You likely have created factions, just from figuring out how things work in your world. Governments, bureaucracies, and armies are concerned with power. Universities, guilds, and secret societies accumulate knowledge – sometimes to spread it, sometimes to keep it hidden.

These factions help a civilization function. They’re also how one falls apart. Alliances bring stability, but one betrayal can shatter an entire diplomatic web. If you have seeded your world with historical rivalries, territorial disputes, and a fragile balance of power, that’s great!

Next ask yourself “Why now?” What changed to cause ancient grudges to ignite present-day conflict? Ideological differences, lust for power, and other conflicting goals and values can lead to intrigue. Intrigue can lead to tensions. Tensions can lead to open conflict.

All of this fuels drama to propel your story forward – whether it’s creating quest opportunities for a party of adventurers, or setting up your protagonist’s moral choices.

How to write a good antagonist character

Of course, the engine of your next story hook might be as small as one ambitious individual. And while everyone loves a good mustache-twirling classic villain, building a more complex antagonist can be even more satisfying.

An antagonist isn’t evil by definition; they’re just someone who is opposing your protagonist’s goals. They may be morally ambiguous, or even honorable but misguided. Perhaps something from their tragic past has given them a flawed lens on the world.

The best antagonists believe they’re the hero. Give them depth by outlining, in bullet points, their motivations, backstory and internal journey. A good antagonist should have their own character arc; even better if it parallels the heroes. Creating a personal connection between the party or protagonist can help raise the stakes and ramping up tension.

Again – more fuel for drama! Bwahahahaha!

Adding Drama to Your World

If you’re using World Anvil, there are some features you’ll want to visit (or revisit) as you set those story hooks and craft a compelling antagonist. The Drama tab in the Worldbuilding Meta is made for exactly this kind of stage-setting for adventure! It can help you quickly jot down dramatic elements like major characters, conflicts and plotlines.

Our worldbuilding templates include Conflict, with prompts for dates, short-term and long-term repercussions, and even which characters and organizations were on what side. All things you’ll want to be able to keep straight as you craft your long-term campaign or novel series.

If you’re ready to spice up your game or novel setting, you probably already have the big pieces in place. You just need to connect those pieces – and look for ways to turn their differences into drama. World Anvil is here to help! Create your free account today.