rebeccadamian

Help with Building a New World

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I love world building!  

So.. I always start with:

At the end of the campaign...
"what's the hero's legacy?"  Did they save the world?  Restore the World to its former glory?  Overthrow a government?  Defeat a Zombie horde?
"Who did they have to defeat?"  Science / Mother Nature being twisted by Evil Genius?  An Unholy Horde?  A single fathomably old entity bent on doom?

Then I work it back a bit.  
"What did the world look like BEFORE the hero's were needed?"
"What tech / society was available?  Was it maybe one big trader's market or was it a Shadowrun Dystopia? "

Once you get that far, my brain can normally take off and fill it out as I ask myself questions that spawn from those 4 questions that spawn more questions.

 


 

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Just now, GroggyGolem said:

There's a great 30 questions for the GM to answer in the Pathfinder GM Guide that once complete gives you a great overview of the world. A lot of it is geared towards typical fantasy genre games but you could reskin that question to match your setting a little better.

I did not know this existed.  I burned out on 3.5X before my group ever got PF off the ground.  I must go look into this!

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22 minutes ago, ElderKoala said:

I did not know this existed.  I burned out on 3.5X before my group ever got PF off the ground.  I must go look into this!

PF burn-out is easy to do.

If you google words like "rpg world building questions" you can also find a variety of lists that give good ideas. Here's one: https://www.jsmorin.com/2013/10/20-world-building-questions/

Edited by lyinggod

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Reddit has a great worldbuilding sub.

Aside from that resource, the best advice I feel I can give you is:

Build as little as you must, to make your world playable.

People will craft universes, and creation stories, and world maps, and it's epic and awesome and it's their 10 year project brain-child, and they've persevered through all this burnout at such a project, and it's magnificent and...

...then they run a campaign that takes place entirely between two cities in two nations...

Create what you need, leave blank spaces for players, and yourself, to fill in as you go.

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Back in the late 90’s Dragon Magazine ran a series of articles called “Dungeoncraft” that are the best advice I have ever come across for starting a new campaign. Here is a link to an archive of most of the articles

http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/dnd/dungeoncraft/

 

i don’t think any of the maps or diagrams are included in that archive, but they aren’t strictly necessary. 

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7 hours ago, Forgottenlore said:

Back in the late 90’s Dragon Magazine ran a series of articles called “Dungeoncraft” that are the best advice I have ever come across for starting a new campaign. Here is a link to an archive of most of the articles

http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/dnd/dungeoncraft/

 

i don’t think any of the maps or diagrams are included in that archive, but they aren’t strictly necessary. 

I read and excerpted those articles back in the day. They are a great introduction to world building. Especially related to the necessities of a fantasy campaign.

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Over on the old Burning Wheel forums there were some questions that GMs should ask themselves when building a world. I'll post them here; I've always found them helpful and use them for almost every game I've run for any system. Mind, I like "focused" games that have particular themes and such, even if there isn't a plot. 

 

What's the Big Picture?

  • Campaign Setting and Style?
    Where do you want to play? In an Urban, Pastoral, Mountainous, Archipelago, Seafaring, Subterranean, Arboreal, or a Hellish milieu. What does the world look like? Idyllic pastures, or dark, brooding metropolis?
  • What's going on in this setting that makes it ripe for adventure? What's changing, evolving, declining?
  • What's the world's culture? What are the cultural analogs? Analogs can be taken from historical earth, current events or fantasy works.
  • What's the conflict in which the characters are involved? What are the sides? What's wrong?
  • What physical place does this conflict take place in? What ecology, environment, location?
  • What's the name of the most important place in this setting? Not the capital, but rather The Place where all the action goes down?
  • What's the name of a faraway place that folks talk about, dream about or mutter under their breath about?
  • Who are the antagonists? Who is opposing the goals of the characters?

Things to Consider

  • What is the prevailing Climate? Is there more than one?
    Desert, Tropical, Rain Forest, Temperate, Arctic, et al.
  • What is the weather cycle like?
    Static, Seasonal, Random, or approaching crisis.
  • What is the technology level of this area/world?
    Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Dark Ages, Middle Ages, The Renaissance, Age of Discovery, Modern, etc?
  • Which Character Stocks are allowed? Which is dominant locally? Globally? Which others exist?
    Man, Elf, Dwarf, Orc, Troll, Great Wolf, Spider, any others?
  • Do monsters exist? How? What kind of myths and legends exist?
    Are there.. angels, demons, zombies, vampires.. bullworks? What kinds? Is it common knowledge? Are the myths and legends real?
  • Does magic exist, and how?
    Is magic prevalent in the setting? Does it exist at all? How about divine and demonic powers? Are the Gifted and Faithful Traits allowed?
  • Which cultural analogies exist to our own world (for reference)?
    Anglo, Arabic, Japanese, Aztec, Germanic, French, Roman, Mongol, Slavic, Norse, Afrikaans, etc.
  • What is the dominant local government like?
    Monarchy, Republic, Theocracy, Democracy, Mercantile, Anarchic, Occupied Territory, Colony, Military Rule, Mageocracy, etc.
  • Are there factions that should be prevalent?
    Minority Races, Cultures, Religious Cults, Criminals, Mageocrats, Mercantile Guilds, Criminal Guilds, Military, Rebels, Slaves, Conspiracies, etc.
  • What's the local situation like?
    What's going on? What is the conflict that the protagonists and antagonists are fighting over? Who are the main players in this situation?

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Aside from setting and those tips already shared are there any good resources for tips on making good session kit (published pre-made adventures and the like) for RPG's in terms of putting together materials for GM and players?

How to make good game materials generally for RPG's basically.

 

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On 1/17/2018 at 11:58 AM, rebeccadamian said:

So I'm a new gm and I'm trying to build my world before I actually fling players into it so I can understand how it works.  What tools and useful tips do you guys use?  Thanks for your guys time!!

I would add that you are going to generate a lot of material in the form of notes, maps, and even pictures. Organizing your workspace as you start on the project is going to be very helpful later on when you have to cherry pick the stuff that you plan on using in the game. Essentially, game notes such as treasure, brief game logs, player names with contact information including the names of characters and dates played will help as you build a world. It might seem like a bit much, but you will save time later on when you have to reference it for things like adventures, encounters, or entire family trees for the characters.

Edited by adderworks

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