forum Worldbuilding a periodic table?
Started by @Purple-Cat location_cityThe Worldbuilder

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@Purple-Cat location_cityThe Worldbuilder

I want to make my worlds version of the periodic table but I’m not sure how. I’m not too good when it comes to science but I’ve been creating metals, gems and flora lately and thought ‘there would elements that would make up these things, what would they be?’

I don’t care about realism, since I’m thinking just straight up ‘magic’ might go on there and there would also be a lot of metals, as well as some normal earth elements light hydrogen, oxygen and maybe some others I can’t think of right now. But other than that I’m not sure what else to do, how do I organize it? What other elements should I keep in mind or create myself? What classifies as an element and what doesn’t?

I’ve tried to look at the real periodic table for inspiration but it just confuses me.

@Eldest-God-andrew health_and_safety flash_onAdmin

This is a really cool idea. Maybe someone with more science know-how can jump in for more of the structure/design of the periodic table, but one thing I do know is that elements are intentionally placed along each axis according to increasing/decreasing values.

I don't know what most of these words mean (and you don't need to either!), but a cool result of this kind of organization is that you can have "gaps" where certain elements should theoretically be, but just haven't been discovered yet. With this logic, you should be able to pick anything for your two axes and be able to organize everything almost like a quadrant graph. For example, make your left-to-right axis be "amount of energy" or "ancient-ness" and your vertical axis be "rarity", "expensiveness", or even something more boring/sciency like "malleability".

The real periodic table also puts elements in groups, but that seems like it'd also naturally occur if you're already organizing elements on two scales. Feel free to color-code each group to look even cooler, though. :)

@OctavioDurell pets

elements are basically unbonded particles, like for example you have oxygen (O), thats an element, just a single little guy floating around in our world. Now, lets look at Carbon Dioxide (CO2), pretty fun; we breath it out all the time. It is however not an element but a compound as it is made up of more than one separate element.

Elements, back in the very early days of science (think Greek philosophy) were thought to be the smallest possible building blocks of the world (we know now that there are many other particles that make up each of the elements, and even more that make up those).

So all in all, unless you want to include super small subparticles in your universe, you can really just classify an element as anything that can be broken down anymore (the pure material essentially), so basically pure unbonded Iron or oxygen or any other element you want.

Hope this helps somewhat!


Hello! Cellular/Molecular Biology Major here. First of all, that's an awesome idea! Good on you.
Elements are always the absolute purest version of a chemical substance. They're most of the time pretty unstable unless bonded to other elements - the only exceptions are our "noble gases," because they are basically just full of electrons and vibing in their row of the periodic table.

Something interesting for if you are wanting to write a more science-y story: basically everything in life happens because elements are trying to get to a lower energy state (like noble gases) by bonding with each other. If you want to make something cool happen, say it happens because it can get one of your made - up elements to a lower energy state and BAM. It's totally not magic, it's science what are you talking about. A great example of media that did this is Fullmetal Alchemist, another is Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. If you're trying to make your own periodic table, make a series of inert (full, lazy elements like noble gases) and layer everything after that by how many electrons it needs to be inert. (The further out you go, the more electrons it needs).

Hope that helps! If you have literally any questions lmk, I absolutely love talking about science.

@Purple-Cat location_cityThe Worldbuilder

Hi! Thanks for your reply, i do have a couple questions.
There are two things i struggle to understand with our periodic table

  1. There are metals such as gold, iron, copper, silver ect, and you said the periodic table is elements in their purests chemical form. Yet my understanding of metals is that they are mixes of other chemicals taking form? Unless i am wrong about that or confusing it with something else, i'm not very well versed in science.

  2. The numbers on the table are protons or the numbers of atomes i believe? How would i go about finding/desiding that factor with my made up elements (that i still have yet to make) and is it possable for an element to have the same number of protons/number of atoms?


Great questions!!

  1. A lot of the time, since these elements are so rare in their pure forms, they are mixed with other metals to make them more accessible. Pure gold, silver, etc. are so valuable because they're really rare and expensive. As a rule, nearly any pure metal = more moneys, and gold and silver are especially valuable since they won't oxidize (react with air to corrode overtime. In other words, the pure state will stay shiny nearly forever, which is pretty cool). Most stuff available to the general public will be a compound of some kind, but yeah you can definitely get pure metals (like iron, platinum, most of the elements on the periodic table tbh) which are only one element. I've actually worked with pure silver a lil bit, it's cool stuff.
  2. The Atomic number (the ones in order) is the number of protons in that atom - it's also what determines the weight. Listing your elements by either their number of (positive) protons or (negative) electrons and numbering them accordingly is probably your best bet there - and what determines an element is the number of protons, so no two elements will have the same atomic number/ number of protons (:

@Purple-Cat location_cityThe Worldbuilder

Cool! That makes sense. I have one more question, though.

How would I find out what atomic number my elements should have? Since I’m still not sure what kind of elements I’ll be making other than metals at the moment. Could I just make them up? Or could I depend on making up an elements weight first and go from there?


Weight will probably be Neutrons + Protons in the element, and the atomic number should probably be equal to either the number of electrons, neutrons, or protons the element has. IRL, the atomic # = the number of protons the element has, which is what sets that element apart from other elements. But it would be really cool to see a fictional world where either neutrons or electrons were the unique bit of the element!!

@Purple-Cat location_cityThe Worldbuilder

So, after doing some research and realizing that I technically wouldn’t be able to create a new periodic table if I follow the same rules ours has and would only be able to put new elements at the end of the table. I’ve decided to take a more fantasy approach to my periodic table, opting to make up information that I think would be more useful in a heavily magic based world. I’ve decided to make my left to right axis the element’s rarity and my vertical axis the element’s magic levels. I’m more than likely gonna have over 300 elements if I think of any gas or non metal elements to add, which I’m okay with.

But since my only system for making up rarity and magic level is how low/deep in the ground the element can be found or rolling a D20, with 1 being lowest and 20 being highest, I’m not sure how to handle converting them into higher numbers?


Sorry, what do you mean by converting them to higher numbers? Like, making compounds of different elements? Are we talking like transmutation/radioactive decay?

@Purple-Cat location_cityThe Worldbuilder

No, nothing like that. Since I am currently limited to 1-20 for magic levels and I have a lot more than 20 elements, I need to figure out how to give all my current elements with a number between 1-20 their own numbers. Because they would still have varying degrees of magic despite most of them currently having the same number.


Hey, sorry for the crazy late reply!
I don't think I quite get what you mean by 1-20 magic levels - does like each element have its own magical property? Are you looking for a way to tell ones with the same Atomic(?) number apart? because isotopes are a thing - I'd find what you can about valence electrons and reactivity, it kinda sounds like you might be going for something like that. An element can read as another element electronically if you mess with it a bit.
Sorry again, classes have kinda been scrambling my brain! XD

@Purple-Cat location_cityThe Worldbuilder

No worries, I don’t mind, classes of any kind can be time consuming.

When I say magic levels, I mean how much magical power an element might have, because the planet kinda has a magic core that seeps into everything up to the planets surface. There is likely different amounts of magic going up to the surface so that’s were the magic levels would come from.

I try to be as realistic as I can when worldbuilding, cause it’s interesting to figure out how the rules of our world might affect an entirely different one. But sometimes, when things get tricky and difficult to understand, I tend to ignore realising for a bit and just prefer to take the fantasy approach because then I get to make my own rules and reasons for things.

I’m using magic level and rarity rather than electrons, isotopes and atomic numbers for my table because I feel that would be a more important thing for the planets inhabitants to keep track of in a heavily magic based world. Plus, this way I can actually create my own table instead of needing to add to the already existing one.

I’ve figured out how to seperate all the elements when there’s only 20 numbers to go by too, I just make up 3 decimal places next to the number and that helps me organise them, for example, for elements with a magic level of 12, an element with the number 12.573 would have less than an element with the number 12.835.

I hope this clears up some of your confusion.


… U are now forever Brandon Sanderson Jr in my mind, that's so cool man. Like please publish this immediately???
It does clear that up! Good luck with your writing (…and maybe drop a little bit of it now and again for us poor starving STEM majors to enjoy!)

@Purple-Cat location_cityThe Worldbuilder

Thanks for the compliment! I don’t know if my worldbuilding will make into a written story any time soon, but I do have ideas for writing one, someday. I’ll be sure to give updates every now and then on how the elemental table is going. It’s a lot more work than I thought, but that’s what makes it fun!