View Full Version : Creating a campaign setting: How do you organize it?

2013-09-23, 09:30 PM
Hey, folks. I've been bouncing ideas for a campaign setting around, but am having trouble figuring a good way to record them.

How do you keep track of your ideas and quirks? Is there a specific process you use to help crystallize them?

2013-09-23, 09:53 PM
I find the best way is to keep a notebook specifically for creative ideas and whatnot. I have four notebooks currently, one completely filled, one half filled, and two others partially filled, that I use to record my ideas and sketches as they come. I also have a 3 ring binder with a couple hundred pages worth of printer paper in plastic sleeves (full of notes on one game world).

Usually when I come up with a new setting or idea, there is one thing in particular that really sticks out to me, the thing that sparks my imagination and makes me want to create an entire world just so it can exist. Figure out whatever that is for you, and start writing.

I've found that once you start writing about one area of your world it makes it easier to see what other areas need to be filled in. Once you're in the habit, things tend to flow more naturally and you're able to cross-reference and add new things that fit.

2013-09-23, 10:09 PM
I don't actually like making campaign settings because most of the ideas I have never get written down and most of the ideas that get written down are never read by the players.

But, I've found wikis to be a pretty decent tool for the job. I don't want document with a linear order. I want to be able to write a blob of text and then take any noun in that text and give it its own blob of text. Sure, you could have a countries chapter, and a cities section within each of those, but the wiki format just does a better job for an organically grown document.

Kol Korran
2013-09-23, 11:21 PM
I also like using Wikis- they are easier to navigate, you can write things more orderly, without having erasions such as in folders and such, and you can have cross links and the like.

Also, it's then much easier to give your players online content. I like to have one wiki for the players/ campaign, where all players known knowledge is kept plus other functions, and one wiki for myself only, where I keep world notes, campaign notes and the like.

I often also have some sort of folder for very raw ideas, or inspiration I just don't know where to put (Like an idea for a cool situation or NPC), but these are just to keep till they get transfered to the wiki.

PBworks (http://pbworks.com/) has seerved me really well. It's free, and intuitive (Like using Word). It has a few tiny issues, but nothing you can't get the hang of.

Obsidian portal (http://www.obsidianportal.com/) is a free sites that focuses on wikis for campaigns, and can include setting info. I heard good reports about it, and some of the campaign wikis they share look awesome. I played with it but a little, but I guess I was already used to the PBworks. It's also free.

Here is a campaign example (http://witchlingisles.pbworks.com/w/page/50238619/FrontPage) that I made on the PBworks, it's a group site, but some of the links on the sidebar (such as "Tales of the wind singers" and "Player's handbook") lead to world info. Not exactly what you seek, but an example. No need to go all flashy with the pictures and such, but an idea.

Good luck to you!

2013-09-23, 11:45 PM
I usually scrawl everything down on several sheets of paper to begin with, but that's partly because whenever I'm thinking of something like that I tend to draw out what I'm thinking and it's a good deal easier to do that on sheets of paper than in other ways. To begin with I write down everything that comes into my head, sketch out some ideas for interesting looking things, and then figure out where I really want to go with the setting and narrow things down from there.

Once I have a fair amount of stuff down on paper, I usually bring it together into a bit more coherent written form using whatever word processor I feel like at the time. If I really feel like getting everything organised I make a subsection of my webpage for it, but I rarely do that.

2013-09-24, 09:42 AM
I use Wikispaces (http://weird-west.wikispaces.com/The+Weird+West). It's nothing fancy, but keeps my notes organized. In between updates, I just make notes in a Word document or a notebook, adding it to my wiki when I get the chance.

2013-09-24, 01:10 PM
I use an MS Access database.

2013-09-25, 08:26 AM
I'll second Obsidian Portal.

When I create a setting, I personally like to read Giant's The New World (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/YPgbz2j3PckGjjviJU5.html) Articles, and I end up following, more or less, the same steps.

2013-09-25, 08:29 AM
Folders within folders within folders, full of files (RTFs for all the notes and info). My RPGs folder currently contains 6,828 files. Easiest to edit, easy to use during play when you have a tabbed text editor.

The files are usually on a narrow topic; a single location (city, dungeon, whatever) gets one file. Big dungeons get a folder, with separate files for each level.

2013-09-25, 09:28 AM
I usually have two separate documents (although I've been thinking about switching to wiki for one of them, which I'm now probably going to do). One is the public information that all of the players see, and the other is the thing that only some players will see. If the politics of a particular country are going to come up and one player has some background skills there, he/she will see the relevant portion of that document, but the others wont.

I'm not sure about any of the linked wiki sites, but I know that with some wiki programs you can create different "portals", so you if your group had two or three different campaign worlds being built you could make an article titled "Steampunk Portal" and all of the information on the steampunk setting could be listed in that article. That plus being able to make a forum on wikis means that making one for your group would be a pretty useful resource.

2013-09-25, 09:56 AM
First step is recording all the ideas, its practically a folder with a billion text files, images etc

After that I use a wiki page (tiki wiki to be precise) where all my campaigns are.
The best thing about using a wiki is that its so easy for your players to access the informations you want them to have.

With this you not only create a well structured campaign setting for yourself, you also have a well structured document for your players to dive deeper into the setting :smallsmile: