View Full Version : World Building tips

2007-01-02, 04:49 PM
I've decided to make my own campaign setting. Does anyone have any suggestions of where to start? Any tips on any subject related to world building would be great.

What I have so far:
An idea of what makes my world different

2007-01-02, 04:54 PM
Well, it'd help if you told us what that idea to make your world different is....

2007-01-02, 05:01 PM
Remember to think of everything from the PCs' view. I remember how I spent days designing NPC backgrounds/stats/stuff before realizing that PCs will propably never hear it, so I can just improvise if such thing comes up and rather concentrate on stuff that they will see...

I think that when designing stuff, you should think of how you would describe it to PCs when they see it. How is the city diffrent from the last one they were in, for example?

As a question, what makes your world diffrent?

2007-01-02, 05:01 PM
you could always look through the world building articls here (http://www.giantitp.com/Gaming.html)

2007-01-02, 05:02 PM
As for me I like to start like this (though the order goes back and forth as i think of new things quite alot):

Important houserules, differences that exist in this world rule-wise
Creation of the world (if applicable), cosmology
Major Geography (Shape of continents, Islands, Oceans)
Important Cities, settlements, other features (Important Mountain Ranges, etc)
Important Historical Events
Less important towns, global politics
Important figures
Racial attitudes (though this might be much higher up, effecting cities and historical events, depending onthe campaign world)
How these apply to your players
What players will have to do in your worldOr something of that nature. Like a good book, revision of ideas is really important, every step you take will have you retroactively changing your choices in the steps before, and each question you ask yourself will better help shape the campaign setting.

Hope this helps!

2007-01-02, 05:11 PM
There are generally two ways to go at it: Building inwards, or building outwards.
The way you should choose depends on several things, like how much time you have before you want anything usable, how good you are at making up stuff on the fly and whether you want to create a campaign set or not.

If you build inwards, you first think of a overarching concept for the world. For example for Eberron, this is high magic, decadency and mago-tech. Then you work inwards, creating continents, then nations, regions, cities, etc.

Building outwards, you still need the overarching concept, but then you start with a small area, something you can create within a small amount of time. Just make sure you have a general idea of the country your story will start in and maybe neighbouring regions if that's viable. You then fill in the details of other regions as your party goes there. You may need to come up with lots of stuff on the fly as your party catches you off guard and suddenly travel somewhere.

My personal preference, if I have the time, to work mostly inwards, because I find it hard not to fall back to cliche's while making stuff up on the fly.

2007-01-02, 05:21 PM
As a note to Halcyon Dax's list, sometimes it's easier going through that list in reverse. It all depends on how you reason things out. Sometimes you're better off starting small, make a region, rather than an entire world in one go.

If you define the entire world right at the beginning, it does produce limits on what you can incorporate from outside material. For example, if you define all the continents in detail, and you buy a module that involves discovery of a new continent, you're now faced with extensive changes to the module or retrofitting your campaign. If you've defined all the intelligent races in the world, and a new Monster Manual is published... you're retrofitting again.

The game world I DM has been evolving over twenty-some years. I *can't* use stock material from any source because there are so many details to this campaign world that don't mesh with standard D&D publications.

Also, to be honest, the players rarely care. They're interested in the history of the campaign, but only when it becomes important to the plot they're trying to figure out. They know that there was a race called the Kreen that ruled the world long-long ago, but they don't really care why that race was exterminated by the Dragons. (They grew too powerful and challenged the gods themselves. The Kreen managed to breach the planar barrier between the mortal world and the plane of the gods before the gods created the Dragons to exterminate them.)

2007-01-02, 05:29 PM
You'll notice I've been inspired a bit from Eberron and some other sources but:

I'm thinking that my world is a Biological Computer that another Race created for some unknown purpose. At first they watched the world as life grew, having some hidden outposts full of technology. Eventually something unexpected happened, The Beings of this world had a force under their control that no one the race had ever encountered had, Magic. Three Major races decided to repel these beings. These races were Dragons, Fiends, and Celestials. Teaming together only long enough to repel these beings, The Fiends quickly betrayed the others. The Dragons Leader Bahamut and A great Celestial (who as of this time has no name), made a deal. The Celestials would guard against the Watchers, and The Dragons would take care of the Fiends.

What the races didn't realize is only the Watchers knew how to keep the world whole, and the world soon fragmented into different planes. The gods, The strongest of the beings that served in the war, each found an artificat in an outpost of the Watchers. Using these Artificats they gained the power of Gods, and were able to stop the world from fragmenting.

Thats the basic Idea anyway, I've just really started on it.

2007-01-02, 05:36 PM
i like what the DMG says about it, you can do one of two things.
1: start small. make a city, be sure to announce hose rules, and give enough story to your players so they know what kind of area they are in, and what kind of government there is. when the group leaves the city, start making a map. by this time you should have a few cities fleshed out.

2: make a world map. pick a continent, divide it into countries. pick a country, place a few geographic features, and cities. pick a city, flesh it out, put the characters in it.

i prefer making a city like step 1, then desining everything i can from step 2. and mixing it all up.

edit: i took su long to hit the post button people beat me to it in more detail... stoogid me and my getting distracted.

2007-01-02, 05:36 PM
Wow Giant made articles about World building?!?!? *Runs off to read*

2007-01-02, 05:43 PM
Good idea behind the creation of the world, it's always the hardest part if you want to do it well. Now you've got how the multiverse works, but now have to focus on the "prime material". The Giant's gaming articles helps a lot with that. It describes eveything really well.

For starting, I'd suggest:

1. First you should decide if it's generic or has some major tweaks with it, perhaps banning certain races or classes from the list.

2. The setting is really important too, it creates the atmosphere. High-magic Eberron, overpowered FR, Dark Sun-esque medieval? This also helps with #1.

3. The basic geography also decides major things. One large continent you don't need many pirates or ships, and it strenghtens a medieval scene. An Archiplago brings a totally different atmosphere. Also, they ways of travel define the techological advancement of your setting. Horses, carts, triremes, sails, airships, teleportation, dragon riding, etc?

4. By the time you should have some basic ideas about the history of the prime material, and forces present nowadays. Using real-life examples from histroy helps a lot and makes your setting much more easily believable, don't be afraid from it.