50 Worldbuilding Prompts

Welcome to another worldbuilding post! Today, I wanted to share with you a list of worldbuilding prompts (in no particular order) that I’ve used when developing Deseran, specifically, that have helped me delve into some of the beliefs and the details of various cultures I’ve built, beyond the basics. Many of these I came up with myself; others I got from other lists and found helpful.

  1. Who does this culture believe shapes time? (A sovereign god, a specific god from their pantheon, mankind, magic?)
  2. What are this culture’s rainy day activities?
  3. Snowy day activities?
  4. Do any of your cultures believe in reincarnation?
  5. What do various cultures believe about intermarriage between species?
  6. When and how does this culture celebrate the new year? Or do they?
  7. Are birthdays observed? If so, how?
  8. Are streets kept lit?
  9. Are there curfews?
  10. Is there street crime?
  11. How do citizens influence their culture/government?
  12. Who has the most cultural influence?
  13. What are the bedtime stories told to children?
  14. How is knowledge maintained in this culture? (Books, scrolls, oral tradition, people with magical memories?)
  15. Does this culture have libraries? How is knowledge shared?
  16. Are there museums in this culture? What items are preserved?
  17. What are this culture’s taboos?
  18. Where would visitors to this culture find lodging?
  19. Where would someone in this culture go if they were seeking guidance on a tough issue?
  20. How are mental illnesses handled in this culture?
  21. How are disabilities and handicaps handled? What is or isn’t accessible to those with disabilities or handicaps?
  22. What groups or individuals in this culture are considered “weird”?
  23. What does this culture’s wedding attire look like?
  24. What groups or individuals in this culture are considered dangerous? Are they really?
  25. What is entertainment like for different sub-cultures/social classes in this culture?
  26. How are the arts viewed in this culture?
  27. How is insanity handled in this culture?
  28. Does this culture have any public gardens or greenhouses?
  29. How does this culture keep time?
  30. Does this culture have tattoos or anything similar?
  31. What methods of transportation are common in this culture?
  32. What sports are common in this culture? Are they for recreation, competition, or both?
  33. Is there any slavery in this culture? If so, where do the slaves come from? How are they treated?
  34. What is the highest place of education in this culture?
  35. What are some common desserts in this culture?
  36. How are homes decorated in this culture? How does it differ by class or sub-culture?
  37. What are the most common weapons in this culture?
  38. What are this culture’s naming conventions? How many names does each individual have by the time they’re an adult? How are they structured? Do different people use different names for the same person?
  39. What are this culture’s beauty ideals?
  40. What are this culture’s standards for modesty?
  41. What would someone in this culture wear to a formal event?
  42. Is this culture’s history recorded? How so?
  43. How does this culture treat the poor?
  44. How does the general population feel about the government?
  45. How does this culture handle foreign relations?
  46. What are common communication methods in this culture?
  47. Is jewelry common in this culture? Is it purely decorative, or does it have meaning?
  48. What are the most important words in this culture’s vocabulary?
  49. What are some common idioms or phrases in this culture?
  50. Who is or is not literate in this culture?

There you go! 50 worldbuilding prompts to help you go beyond the basics and delve into the details of your fictional cultures. For more worldbuilding prompts, I recommend the list linked at the beginning of this post. If you want some ideas of different ways you might answer some of these (e.g. different ways cultures have communicated throughout history, how common phrases come to be, etc.), I recommend Marie Brennan’s New Worlds: Year One (this link includes multiple links to add/order the book, depending on your preference).

Which of these prompts are most interesting to you? Do you have any other prompts you’d add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Want to learn how to leverage these prompts to build a meaningful world that readers feel immersed in? Check out The Worldbuilding Toolbox!

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