Now Available: Building Worlds 2

A minimalist 96-page guide with prompts to help you develop settings for any tabletop roleplaying system.

Worldbuilding can be a lot of fun. Whether you’re planning a campaign, designing your own tabletop roleplaying game, or just exercising your creativity with no set purpose in mind, developing a setting of your very own is deeply satisfying. You can spend hours, days, or years adding details and creating a world with no limits but your imagination.

Building Worlds 2 contains a series of prompts to help you increase the breadth and depth of your roleplaying setting. Develop every area of your setting, or just focus on the element you’ll need for player character backgrounds and the campaigns you plan to run. This book shows you how to draw worldbuilding ideas from the system of your choice, and how to use character options, implied setting features, and the events of adventures to expand the setting into the world of your dreams.

The main sections Building Worlds 2 include:

  • Setting Matters: How you intend to use the world that you build has significance to the process. The system you’re working with and the scope of the campaign you intend to run will affect the level of detail you need.
  • Fundamentals: This section covers a broad overview of worldbuilding processes. It discussed fundamental setting elements like genre, place and time, tone, and even the theme of the adventures you plan to run.
  • Nature: The basic elements of the physical world, including the geography, climate, and life forms, as covered in this section. The choices you make here can affect everything in your setting going forward.
  • History: Key events that have happened in your world’s past will help to shape what the setting is like in the player characters’ present day. It can also create context for those characters and their adventures.
  • Culture: Ethnicity, species, and even national identities will develop within your world. There are religions, traditions, and politics to consider. You need to work out what makes one culture in your world distinct from another.
  • Community: People band together in various ways for common and predictable reasons. The communities that exist within your world matter to the back stories of the player characters, and to the cultures and locations of your adventures.
  • Infrastructure and Economy: Money makes the world go ‘round, no matter what genre, time, and place you’re using. This section helps you to flesh out the resources that exist in various parts of your setting, and the way people use, manage, and abuse them.
  • Daily Life: As you develop your world, you’ll have to establish what an average day looks like for the regular people that live in it. This includes homes, jobs, food, fashion, and other facets of ordinary living.
  • Individuals: No matter what you plan to use the setting you’re creating for, worldbuilding should have a significant effect on player characters. This section covers the influences on characters and how the setting can inform their backgrounds.
  • Wonders: Whether your world has magic, superpowers, or advanced technology, you’ll need to know how those wonders work. This section covers the potential the impacts that unusual items and abilities can have on the rest of your world.

Available Now at DriveThruRPG

Get your copy of Building Worlds 2 now in  PDF at DriveThruRPG!

Building Worlds 2
Berin Kinsman, Dancing Lights Press
96 pages, PDF 


So Here’s the Plan

Since September I’ve been evaluating my habits. Heading into 2021 I want to use my bullet journal more effectively. I want to have a clear picture of the projects I’ll be working on. Anything that I can do to eliminate unnecessary tasks, streamline my workflows, and create more time for self-care is at the top of my list. This extends to the maintenance of this site, the operation of my business, and the management of my personal life. So here’s the plan.

No More Daily Blogging

I’m dropping back to a weekly post on Sunday. It will be a cross between an open letter and a newsletter format, with quick snippets on what I’m up to at the moment. The idea is to share less, but to make what I do choose to share more meaningful. Think of it as a more curated experience.

On an irregular basis I will be posting essays. These will be more of a deep dive into a topic I care about. Not so long that they’ll be difficult to read online, but more polished and well-researched than a typical blog post. When I say irregular, I mean I’m making no schedule. If I have the time and inclination to write one every week, then that’s what will happen. If it’s one per month, or one per quarter, that’s what it will be. The point is to strive for quality over quantity.

Oh. I will also continue to plug my books as they’re released.

Twitter and Email

Both my personal and business Twitter accounts are back to broadcast-only. Basically, they’re an avenue to let people know the respective blogs have been updated. I’m going back to checking email once per day, after dinner. That also applies to personal and professional accounts. Anyone that needs to reach me urgently has my phone number. That’s the plan.

The Business Site

I’ve already stripped the business site back to a basic information site. You can learn about the current product lines, a little about the company, and use the contact form to email me. Those will all be freshened up in the coming weeks. New products will be added as they’re published.

Here’s the plan: I’m not blogging there any more. My reasons for this are varied, but mostly have to do with the efficacy of blogging as a marketing tool for my publishing niche in the 21st century. It’s not the best way to grow my business. My time is better spent elsewhere.

I’m Taking the Holidays Off

This is my last post until after the New Year. I’m taking a couple of weeks off, not just from blogging but the internet in general. When I’ll be back is up in the air. It could be the first week of January, it could be later than that. Rest assured that when I’m back I’ll be back. There will be weekly posts, and hopefully a new essay or two.

Of course, if there’s any big news I’ll jump in and post it. I just need a break. According to WordPress I’ve blogged every day for 273 days. That streak began with daily covid updates. I wrote and published 11 books and 8 issues of a zine this year. There’s physical and mental health stuff that I need to deal with. On top of that is the wait for an immigration decision. Plus, you know, endless pandemic and political nonsense.

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

Be safe out there. Please be smart. Find joy where you can. I’ll see you again next year.

In Case You Missed It

so Here’s The Plan


Has Fiction Made the Pandemic Worse?

A few days ago I watched a video by PsychIRL about how the media affects our perception of mental illness. In brief, the needs of story in films and television shape the portrayals of various conditions. The hero needs to overcome their obstacles in order to create emotional beats, and to deliver a satisfying ending. This runs counter to the realities of mental health. Most struggles aren’t overtly dramatic. Rarely are people “cured” or just “get over” mental illness.

The following day I was still mulling that over when I saw the trailer for the new miniseries based on Stephen King’s The Stand. A pandemic strikes, and people immediately suffer visible and violent symptoms. Within a short period of time most of the world’s population has been wiped out. This seems to be the typical portrayal of a pandemic in fiction. It covers everything from semi-realistic thrillers like Contagion and Outbreak to most zombie apocalypse tales. The effects of the illness are swift, consistent, and obvious.

Has Fiction Made the Pandemic Worse?

I’ve written before about people who don’t take covid-19 seriously. Like most things where there are ample amounts of reliable data available, I’m baffled by a lack of “belief” in objective reality. Now I’m wondering how much of their reactions were programmed by media portrayals. We’ve been primed for a sudden onset of worst-case symptoms; the movies don’t show asymptomatic people, or mention the possibility that most people could catch a mild case. The fiction gives us bodies in the streets, abandoned cars, and government teams wandering through empty cities in hazmat suits.

Faced with a lack of general education, a profusion of anti-science propaganda, and a huge void where critical thinking and empathy ought to be, I understand why people some people still don’t see covid as a threat, It doesn’t look like the movies. Reality doesn’t align with fiction, therefore it’s reality that’s wrong. If civilization didn’t collapse within a week like on The Walking Dead (that bastion of verisimilitude), then what are we even worried about?

This is why I fear the virus less than I fear other people.

Seasonal Depression and Migri

We’re in the throes of the Long Dark. We should hear the decision on our immigration status by the first week in January. Between seasonal depression and Migri, I’m more than a little stressed right now.

Somehow I made it through November without much difficulty. I was too busy to think about anything, by design. I overloaded my schedule by design. This past week, though, things have slowed down a bit. It’s given me the chance to think about things. News keep creeping through my filters.

The Reality of the Situation

Should immigration deny our residence renewal, we will be given 30 days to leave. That’s from the date we’re informed. 30 days to wrap up the life we’ve built here over the past 6+ years and get out. Katie’s got a gallery showing that runs from 11 January into February, and that’s the least of our logistical nightmares.

Depression is the inability to construct a future.

Rollo May, Love and Will (1969)

I do not want to go back to the United States, especially in the middle of an unchecked pandemic. Biden can make all of the plans he wants, but the other guy is still calling the shots until 20 January, and the GOP are still going to retain a lot of power in congress. The conspiracy theorists will still be out there, with their disinformation, misinformation, and assault rifles. I find the stories of people being beaten up for asking others to wear a mask, or for wearing a mask themselves, to be nothing short of barbaric.

A lot of people have suggested just moving to another country in Europe. As if it’s as easy as moving from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, or Indiana to New Mexico. That’s not how it works. If our residence is denied, we’re barred from the whole Schengen Area for six months. I am looking at other fallback positions, but most safe places have travel restrictions that could keep us out. Plus, there is the cost of moving and setting up life again in a new place.

Seasonal Depression and Migri

The only thing that gets us through this, one way or the other, is money. Either Migri is satisfied that we make enough of it, or we have enough to set up housekeeping in a country that’s maybe not as pleasant as Finland, but not violently deranged either. This is why I’m a workaholic. It’s why I’ve been grinding, not just to avoid seasonal affective disorder but to have my ducks as neatly in a row as possible.

Want to help? Buy one of my books, and tell as many people as possible to buy my books. Buy original, one-of-a-kind artwork from Katie’s shop. Even if you buy me a coffee, it helps. All I’m trying to do is hang on and survive.

The Midnight Bullet Journal Brain Dump

One of the ways my anxiety brain expresses itself is through insomnia. I have difficulty getting to sleep because intrusive thoughts won’t leave me alone. They’re not dark thoughts or anything. Most of them aren’t even stressful, like feeling that I’ve forgotten to do something important. The majority of the time my mind is problem-solving, trying to figure out how to avoid trouble, or to handle a situation that is currently complicating my life. This is how I came to adopt the midnight bullet journal brain dump.

The Midnight Bullet Journal Brain Dump

Before I go to bed I go back to my desk, open my journal, and free write. Most people advocate doing this in the morning, but I need to get it all out of my head. It all gets put through the GTD meat grinder, dealing with quick and easy things on the spot and scheduling anything obviously actionable.

After doing this for a couple of weeks, I can say that it’s working. I know that things are going to be handled. Nothing is going to be forgotten, because it’s written down. As long as I’m not dealing with chronic pain issues as well, I tend to sleep like a baby. In the morning I review it all again, with a clear head, and make adjustments as needed.

In my revised workflows for 2021, this will be part of the process. Built right into my schedule. A habit worth continuing. The bullet journal saves my life yet again.