View Full Version : Advice on Creation of Homebrew

2006-10-15, 10:58 AM
Hello all!

After reading around this forum, I am completely astonished by the amount of unique ideas. Sometimes I get pretty jealous, actually. I want to ask, how do you do it? But that question is too broad/vague.

I am attempting to create a Campaign World. I have general story line and additional information already, but after that, I'm pretty stumped.

What is some good advice for creations? World? Campaign? Creatures? NPCs? Towns? Cities? How much should I flesh out, and in what detail? I understand that it should boil down to whatever I feel comfortable with, but I'd like to get a general idea of what others think... If trying to map ever little village is overdoing it, I'd like to be told so. That’s what I continually feel like I'm doing.

Names. Names are a hard one. How do you come up with them? Do you use a random name generator? I'd like to attempt to create a unique Pantheon for this world.

I don't have my complete notes on everything I've put together for it, so instead I'm going to just give a brief explanation of it.

Goblinnic is like every other world... If the population of goblins and humans/humanoid races were reversed. Goblin King Srek started by adventuring with a small group of human compatriots... Over time, the friendship grew sour out of envy and racism. He reached epic proportions and started to unit goblin tribes. Over a coarse of a decades, he managed to decimate the humans and thier allies. Now most of the land is controlled by goblins, grand human cities filled to overflowing, human fields tended by kobold slaves. Elves, Humans, Dwarves each have three cities left, the last of their strong holds. These races, along with those allied with them face genocide.

Anyways, I have a world map, some names, and campaign ideas made up. Except I have no clue where to start! It’s as if I start on an idea that I form... then it slips from my grasp like a wet bar of soap in the gym showers. I don't want to reach
down and pick it up in fear that it'll slip away again.

2006-10-15, 11:21 AM
Well you're off to a good start... I have been in the same position just a few days ago and found it useful to talk to my players. Once they come up with personality traits for the PC's it was a lot easier to make a campain, because it was based on what the PC's would want to do. As for the more deep world-building however, just think about the world leaders; what are their realations with each other? Is the whole goblin realm united? What about other races, and the geography for that matter? Once you start awnsering a few of these questions it the others will come more easily, I think. The main story is great, you just need to fill in the blancs.

Here are just a few general tips:
1. I wouldn't plan out every town in the world. I've tried, it doesn't turn out pretty...
2. For names, just try to make them sound like the general personality of the race. Goblins are (typicly) brutish and crafty, I would assign them names with a more hard sound. With a gental elven race I might assign softer-sounding names.

The Demented One
2006-10-15, 11:30 AM
For names, look to real world languages, and either borrow or imitate their phonemes. Fax Celestis has done some neat things with Hawaiian, and the names of a lot of what I make are puns made in some language or another.

2006-10-15, 12:57 PM
Thorgiid (Thor-g-Id) the man-slayer. When creating names for the 'evil' races, I tend to blend utter nonsense together with little used words. One thing to make sure of though, is pronuncibility.

Grothnokagar, is a great name, but if you have to say it several times in a row, you're going to get tongue tied.

Campaign names are usually easier, since you can usually add the name of the world in with them.They should be both memerable though. If someone says Greyhawk, you know exactly what they're talking about, right? Same with Faerun.

If I say Temple of Elemental Evil, or Baldur's Gate, you know exactly where I'm saying. Because they're both easy to remember.

2006-10-19, 03:44 PM
Some Ideas/Critiques/Questions/Queries or Theories:

1) You have a map. This is good. When ever I sit down to make a world I always start with a map because I find that geography allows me to flesh out characteristics of the people. The next question tied with a map is what age are they? Stone, Bronze, Dark or Crusades? This will allow you to decide how many cities etc., you are going to have. In some cases less is more but too little is not enough. As for fleshing out the cities etc., I normally only really flesh out the major ones or the ones that are going to get attacked. A small village in the middle of nowhere doesn't need near the detail that the Goblin capitol will. In some cases if you've been to one village you've been to them all.

2) Names are a tough one. They can make or break the adventure. Sure a lot of random names look cool but the players need to be able to say name to get any use from it. Having the internet makes this a little easier. What I do is break up the world politically and then steal or borrow traits and names from actually history (Wikki is a god). For example in the world I'm working on right now the main empire is much like the British empire so the nomenclature is essentially English. Names such as Dark Wood and Red Rock are common within the empire and only slightly modified in the conquered lands because English seems to steal words from other languages. Simple names will stick and adding a descriptor to a place can help flesh the place out. For people names I use as Baby names website that gives meanings to the names (http://www.babynamesworld.com/).

3) NPCS!! I usually have a set of Important Peoples (IPs) who are political leaders, villains, thugs, and randoms but after that I use the rule of creating a NPCs as need to advance whatever is going on. It comes down to how many IPs are going to interact with the PCs and for how long. In less you foresee your PCs killing all the IPs there is no real need to roll them you just need to flesh out their personalities a little.

4) What kind of campaign are you running? Is it a total war, chose your adventure, we'll see what happens, or extreme plot driven? Are you PC's going to be Goblins or are they going to fight the "evil" empire? Once this is identified it becomes easier to create adventures or side-quests as the case may be.

5) As for starting to write this is the hardest of all. What I normally do is create a short test adventure as a hook for the PCs as this allows us all to test classes and rules. It also allows the PCs to get used to your style and serves as a starting point for writing. I find that once I start writing something/anything everything starts to click together and I go from there. A big thing to keep in mind is don't be afraid to trash something that you don't like or is not working/going anywhere.

6) I like your idea btw. Its a very interesting reversal of what normally goes on. Fleshing out the politics and alliances between the various groups will also give places to attach plot. Assassination of an IP can be fun. Do the dwarves trust the humans? Do the Kobolds resent their bondage? Insurrection is fun.

7) Remember before you get bogged down in all the details you are telling a story. An interactive story but a story none the less.

You are off to a good start. Now the real fun begins. I'd be interested in hearing more about the place as you get more done. Hope this helps.

2006-10-19, 06:50 PM
I think the way you are going about it is good. Two things:

Don't plan out every little detail. Get an idea of the local geography and then work from there. Plan places nearby in detail, farther away in general idea (maybe who's in charge but not a streetmap).

As for names: I tend to do everything at my computer which is surrounded by my several bookcases. I pinch authors names (first or last or middle) or flip to random pages in my Aesop, Grimm, Anderson, Bulfinch, Shakespeare, Bhagavad Gita Homer etc and see if one of the names on the page rings for the chracter. Usually one of them does and pretty much all of my players have a passing aquaintence with these books so none of the names are really WTF?

Fax Celestis
2006-10-19, 06:58 PM
This (http://www.behindthename.com/random/) is a useful tool for determining names.

2006-10-19, 07:05 PM
I love making up names! But then, I'm a hobby language maker. If I were to create a fantasy world (and believe me, I do have the urge, who doesn't?), I'd probably spend an inordinate time finetuning the phonologie, typographic flavors and grammars of the languages and never get around to finishing anything.

I did create an island culture for the German fantasy RPG "Das Schwarze Auge" (The Dark Eye in English print), though. For anyone who can read German, it's here (http://www.cinga.ch/dsa/Starringmark/starringmark.html). And as predicted, it's not actually finished, though closer to completion than anything similar I've done. It's people are a somewhat more civilized exclave of the Viking-like race with a light admixture of Elven blood.

I'm not going to do your languages for you (I'm not very teamworkable when it comes to creativity), but here are a few pieces of advice:
Don't. Use. Gratuitious. Apostrophes. Unless you really make them count in pronunciation. Most people who write use them don't. It's just cheap.
Don't use sounds and sound combinations you can't pronounce, since that means you'll invariably mispronounce your own names! However, do try to use sounds and combinations you can pronounce but sound unusual in your ears. Can you say mlavrast (MLAH-vrahst)? Not that difficult, is it?
Give each culture a distinct sound. One language might use single-syllable words exclusively, others eschew consonant clusters wherever possible, yet another uses only 3 vowels...
Also give the languages a recognizable flavor in written form. Even if the sound inventory is rather boring (say, you use the Spanish sounds), you can spice things up with a few unconventional choices. For example, represent the long 'ee' and 'oo' sounds with the letters y and w, making tyrwm sound like "tea room". Or, for instance, use the letters e and o for the glide sounds of English y and w, making eang oan sound like "young one". Don't go over the top, you don't want people to constantly mispronounce the names because the spelling is nonsensical.
Don't imitate everybody else and make all the baddies use coughing, gargling and hissing sounds, while the good guys converse in only the most mellifluous utterings. Beauty is in the ear of the listener. I, for one, find the sound of Welsh and Gaelic rather ugly, quite contrary to the opinion of Tolkien (and, by imitation, 99% of fantasy fans). Be original. Of course, you might not share my distaste for clichés, so feel free to disagree.

Argh, there it is again, that creative urge to build a fantasy world... must... resist... ;) I can tell you one thing though: It won't have any dwarves or elves. That would just be plagiarism. ::)