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craftomega

Easy way to create open world?

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As the title asks, is there an easy way to create an open world?

 

I am trying to make an open world style campaign but I don’t have the time to write/plan 20 areas.

 

So tips and tricks thread?

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Make it vague until the details are absolutely needed. Mono habitat worlds are rather rare, even in 40K, so setting up some different habitats with different themes could help you. After all can the acolytes not just get from one point of the world to the other just like that, so that would give you some time to fill in the details.

 

Beside that, even if it is an open world, then think a bit about where you want to place them, sure there is maybe a farm or an ocean in your world, but with no plots taking them that way, why should they then go there? It is not like you ever get any vacations in 40K.

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Steal liberally from others, and say so.

 

"This place is just like the wasteland in fallout. Over here is a hive like Megacity from Judge Dredd" etc. It will tell you all what to expect, generally, then you flesh it out as needed.

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Public transportation is also a good way to let a world appear open whilst still providing a level of railroading (quite literally, hah!) that limits the players' locations mostly to areas you already have some vague ideas on (expanding on what doomande wrote).

 

Like, give them a map of a planet's monorail system that connects the major cities, together with a couple "odd stations" like a service depot in the midst of a desert and so on.

 

Of course you'll still have to improvise once the players want to move beyond these areas, but the "getting around" part alone will already buy you some time to flesh out adjacent territories.

Edited by Lynata

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Using premade fantasy maps of both entire worlds and cities can be a great tool.

 

Also I think a top down approach to the world can be useful.  You are the main power factions, what type of government (or governments) controls the world.  If you answer this question it can help in painting a picture that cascades down across the whole setting.

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Maps of all the worlds, with small gazetteers for yourself, and edited down versions for the players to read. If you can try to get hold of some of Games Designers Workshop's Traveller. I has a really good hex map system for showing the entire surface of planets (which you can mark major cities on, along with mountains, seas etc etc) Maps really are the key to this preferably one "full" map for you, and one "stripped" map for your players to edit as they go along and find things. It also lets them choose exactly where they go and how they get there, while letting you adapt the story telling to their current environment. I would recommend looking at the rogue trader exploration rules for random encounters while travelling too.

The only issue with open world design in 40k is a true open world is more 'open sector'. Its the same principle as one planet but on a macro level. Its all perfectly doable with enough prep. Just depends on how much you wanna do.

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Are you creating a campaign where the players will investigate a specific mystery or threat within a very broad environment ("find Heretic X on the world of Scintilla"), or will they be wandering around a open world and conducting their own investigations ("let's see if we can find some cultists on Scintilla")?

 

For more general advice, make a rough outline of the environment your PCs will be exploring. This can be anything from a bullet-point list of interesting locations to a hand-drawn map complete with "here be dragons" markers, depending on your preference. Basically, give the players a few possible locations to begin their investigation so they aren't totally lost. In addition to giving them some guidance, this will allow you to have some advance plan when the PCs inevitably veer off on a tangent.

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Are you creating a campaign where the players will investigate a specific mystery or threat within a very broad environment ("find Heretic X on the world of Scintilla"), or will they be wandering around a open world and conducting their own investigations ("let's see if we can find some cultists on Scintilla")?

 

This is a good question, I thought I would leave this thread vague and let people translate it how they wanted to maximize what poeple say on the topic.

 

But I plan on having the acolytes work there way up the food chain, so for the first 2-3 missions they will be given directions and then I would make it more vague. When they reach level 6 or something I would open it up to doing there own investigations.

 

But the reason why I want to make it open world is if they decide to go balls to the wall and just do there own thing.

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EDIT: Warning! Rambling wordsoup ahead.

 

The first thing you should do, is defining your sandbox.
 
If your sandbox is Hive Sibellus you can't possibly develop an interesting scene for every square inch. We're talking a city with a surface area that's probably about the same as the entire Earth's.
 
The first thing you do then, is to break the place down into iconic locations. In the broadest strokes a the iconic locations of a 40K hive are the spires, the mid-hive, the lower hive and the underhive. Now you've defined what your sandbox is.
 
The next step is to fill the sandbox with stuff, and this is really a two or three step process.
 
First you develop some actual points of interest in the areas you just defined as your sandbox. The spires probably work with just two noble families. You don't need to write up their family histories or the layout of their demesnes, you just need keyword descriptions and 3 name-only NPCs for each. Both mid- & lower hive probably need a bar location. The mid-hive bar might be written up as the base for your PCs, in which case it's going to need a bit more than a keyword description, and probably 5 or more NPCs - of the kind you can develop into recurring NPCs if you need to. The lower hive bar, on the other hand, probably doesn't need more than 3'ish one line NPCs and a keyword description.
 
A handy rule of thumb is to have 5 regions, with 3 locations each. That's around 15 locations, but you're only going to need to develop one or two beyond a few keywords & one line NPCs.
 
Also, at this point I should probably give an example of Keywords and One Line NPCs:
 
FX: A keyword'ed Noble Spire: Sunlight, Majesty, Armed Guards, Fragrant Air, Hover Cars.
 
Basically, it's a description-at-a-glance that sets the mood, and has a detail or two you can use in case there's action.
 
FX: A one line NPC: Lord Winkeladvokat. Fat, Elaborate Holo-Dress, Bionic Eye. High-Pitched Voice: "My, my look what the servitor dragged in!"
 
Again it's basically just a name, a few words to describe the guy, and a one-line example of something he might say to the PCs. Mind, if you want to stay 40K you should probably Latin'ify names.
 
The next step is to look at your collection of locations and NPCs, and start making connections between them. Lord Winkeladvokat, for example, could be in the business of shipping weapons, which ties him to the gang you made for your undehive location. And of course the two noble houses you created are mortal enemies, whose kiddies are oh-so in love - because you can't have rival nobel houses without Romeo & Juliet.

 

Once you have a nice, untidy web of connections, you almost certainly also have a head full of how these people & organisations are related to the Mystery of The Week you have your PCs chasing. And as long as we're talking about a GM-directed sandbox, this is pretty much where your work ends.

 

If we're talking player-directed, however, you need to develop that last bit a little further. Because you need to be able to constantly give your players reasons to go interact with the places and people you have prepared.

 

In a sense this is very much like asking leading questions, but with the two differences that you, obviously, can't actually ask leading questions, and that things should happen even if your players do not interfere.

 

If your players don't decide to venture into the underhive, and thus don't secure a weapon shipment for an underhive gang likeable scum, who then don't turn those guns on a Nugle cult, a plague should break out in a way that affects your PCs, and they should be able to backtrack and at least get some sense that they failed, even if they subsequently destroy the cult and end the plague.

 

And that, my friend, is why spreadsheets are very helpful when you plot sandboxes.

Edited by Simsum

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