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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Jan 2011

    Default Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    Sooo, if anyone is playing in a neew group in Trondheim, Norway, please get out ;)

    Stian: I'm looking at you ;)

    I've been both DMing and playing in several groups, where the motto pretty much have been to make the world yourself. So far it has gone well, but ATM I feel like I'm just throwing stuff at the plotrelevant places and all, so I've been spending some time mapping atm., and I feel stuck.

    Any advice on worldbuilding? On just throwing out a map? Any books (official or not) to look for, or online homebrew to Steal/get inspired from ? :)

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Jan 2007

    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    Just about any fantasy book will have some sort of map at the beginning. If you have the time head to the library or book store. If you don't got to google and do an image search on "fantasy world maps".

    Also, for general fantasy imagery, Deviant Art and Elfwood are some good sites to find artwork that can put you in the mood.

    I can't remember where I found it at, but I know theres some guides out there that give advice on how to make realistic geography when it comes to placing mountains/rivers.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Xuincherguixe's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    When it comes to map making, I'm not so great there. But what it physically looks like isn't so critical as far as I see. It's all about the specific locations than what's in between them. Map might be a nice touch, but it's not as important as content.

    My current DM is going way overboard on his game and I honestly worry. But we get into really intense in character arguments. And this is still just background scenes!

    His approach is to make a world, plot out a course of events as they will happen if the PCs do nothing, and then let us wreck it. Also doesn't think much about how to solve the problems, figures the PCs can do that.

    I take a bit of a different approach. What is the game going to be about? What do I want the players to get out of it? What is the message? Create places, and characters and events that advance that purpose.


    Your setting should have verisimilitude, which is different than realism. You want to draw the characters in, and make them think, "Okay, in the context of this story this makes sense." Less evil cult trying to destroy the world, more devils in disguise giving people a little nudge every now and again so they do it for them.

    Basically? Create a complex world, with complex problems. Then set your players in it and let them make a big mess out of things. They might make things better, they might make things worse. But they will have accomplishments.

    As far as good themes? I like the Nature of Freedom, team work, ambition(not strictly an evil thing!), and perception. There's lots of good themes that work with fantasy, but because of the nature of the medium those make a lot of sense.
    Last edited by Xuincherguixe; 2011-03-09 at 04:31 AM.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Ajadea's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    I do a similar thing as your DM, Xuincherguixe, I think.

    I write up a basic idea of the world. Low magic. Gray morality. Primarily humans and halflings. Elves aren't exactly the tree-hugging dabblers you remember from Races of the Wild. Grey morality. Forest in the north, fertile plains to the south, a big rocky steppe-ish area in the center, and mountains everywhere, for example. I choose what races go where, then add some general countries and big cities and cultures. Did I mention the really fuzzy and poorly defined morality?

    Then I add a load of strong characters. The ones who could carry a story by themselves. I draft them in a vacuum. I give them dreams, hopes, fears, desires, flaws, virtues. I take the people and places I write in the character's backstory and add them to the setting. I decide whether their goals are feasible and plausible within the context of the setting. No blowing up the universe in a low magic setting. If yes, and those goals are interesting, I add the tools they'd need to accomplish those goals. Loyal followers for the general, innately magical locations for the sorcerer who wants to change the world, demons for the drow high priestess, dire rats for the kobold armies.

    And then, I let those strong, willful, characters loose, and extrapolate how they'd react to each other. That gives me a story that actively changes based on the PCs actions. It has a tendency to produce a limited Butterfly Effect: because the PCs do action A, character X chooses to do action B instead of action C (what they would have done without the PCs getting involved), which triggers event E three in-game weeks before it occured in my original script (and targets it slightly differently), which in turn causes character Y to scrap his initial plan entirely and leave his alliance with demonic cult Z and city-state V because it is no longer beneficial, which means that coalition U can stomp all over city-state V (instead of coalition U being annihilated), which means that the quest-giver there is dead...

    Okay, not necessarily limited.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Feb 2011

    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    Here, this is awesome:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Stoughton
    How to build RPG Settings
    Background vs. Foreground

    A well-developed setting doesn't just have lots of background material. Background material entertains the gamemaster / reader, and it provides a wealth of description and fiction that isn't immediately relevant to play.

    A well-developed setting needs foreground material; the problems, threats, resources, and rewards that get right in front of the players. Not all foreground material is immediately available to the players - but it is designed with their experience in mind. Foreground material shouldn't all be placed in teh first scene - but it's still designed with that use in mind.

    As I've remarked elsewhere, the best foreground material comes in 4 flavors: Problems, Threats, Resources, and Rewards. When all these elements are present in a roleplaying game, that game is wide open for all players to be active participants.

    Art Gallery or Amusement Park?

    There are painstakingly developed settings that are all background, no foreground. These settings feel like art galleries: They are filled with artistically appealing efforts by the author that evoke emotions from the reader but do not lend themselves to interaction.

    Other settings are like amusement parks, and the content is deliberately interactive, with other considerations de-emphasized in favor of the experience of the visitor, or player.

    The latter is far superior for a roleplaying game.

    Depth

    Now some will object, "what about depth? An amusement park doesn't have depth. It's just dumb show." While that's a fair assessment, it's no excuse to go back to the art gallery: A setting with reams of information that the players never care about or interact with is just as shallow as one that simply wasn't prepared. Depth in an RPG setting has to help the GM engage the players - not just speak to the GM.

    A setting's depth is the ability for changes caused by player-characters to have consequences that cascade through the setting and thereby provide feedback or consequences for the players. If you want a deep setting, relate the elements players can change back onto each other over and over again.

    The Approach

    Think of the campaign setting like an amusement park - but the players are halfway between visitors and employees.

    As you design your setting, you can use a map of the physical landscape, or you can leave that for later. The most important thing will be placing the stuff that player characters can really interact with. These are rides, restaurants parades, and other special events.

    Rides

    Rides are the cool and important locations where player-characters go to experience something dramatic. These could be dungeons, evil citadels, ghost towns, hives of crime and corruption, battlefields, places that will come under attack, and so on. They are the big-money sets of your campaign.

    Restaurants

    Restaurants are places the player-characters can interact with others without (normally) assuming a threat of physical danger. They are the home bases for your players, the spots where they can take a few minutes to recover or gather resources.

    Parades and Special Events

    These are major campaign events. They can be localized and change existing rides and restaurants, like a dragon attacking, a meeting of a coven of witches, or a natural disaster. Some can be used in multiple locations, or have ramifications for the whole setting.

    Now that we've got a basic idea of the setting, we move on to the people:

    Just as important are the employees - especially those in charge of the rides (villains and allies). Don't forget vendors (home base NPCs) and performers (wandering NPCs). For the purpose of the analogy, centralized management of the theme park has totally collapsed - so determine what cliques (factions) have formed, who's in charge, etc. Most of all, think of how they would react to the PCs showing up - would they shun them, throw food at them, try to scam them, get a hand calming down some belligerent visitor, or put them to work?

    Visitors fall into two categories: Peasants and monsters. Neither really has any idea what is going on, but the former just do what the employees tell them to do, and the latter mess things up for the employees. Vandals, as well as the scary guy who owns the farm next door and hates the amusement park also fall into the monster category.

    Don't worry so much about the boundaries, except to make sure that on the way to a boundary there is always a ride or restaurant that will look like more fun than the parking lot.

    Last of all is the special guests - bands and whatnot that come with big events. What's their story? Are they just trying to sleep with the waitresses or are they looking to cause a riot?

    Don't stress out over plot. Plot-heavy linear isn't everyone's style, and I think it creates a problem when you have Location A leading to Location B leading to Location C rather than the players having freedom to go back to places they've been and find interesting stuff to do near the places they'd like to go to.

    What you want to watch for, though, is anything uber. If only one guy sells bulletproof t-shirts, or the cotton candy vendor can basically kill everyone in the park, you hit deadlock. The players basically fixate on that one element forever. Even if bulletproof t-shirt guy balances cotton candy vendor, it makes the whole rest of the place less fun.

    As a final note, it's a theme park. Design everything along your theme. A good setting will have enough premise-appropriate content to fill all the roles I designated above.
    Source: http://rycanada.livejournal.com/613.html

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Sep 2010

    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    there's a certain comics creator who has lots of solid advice:

    http://www.giantitp.com/articles/YPg...kGjjviJU5.html

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    May 2010

    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    As has been pointed out, Mr Burlew's own articles, one of which I read before [shamelessplug]creating my own maps for the campaign setting in my signature[/shamelessplug], are a great start when it comes to world building. I used paintshop pro to create that one, but it took much too long for me to start making a map for someone else.

    I would somewhat prefer if you did not steal the maps, by the way. I don't see much harm in using the entire setting if you want to though. I'd have to finish it first, but only a few touches are needed before it is complete (finish the wild animals list and name some of the dramatis personae).
    Brewing a new setting (3.5 ed D&D). The setting is complete and ready to play.
    Indeed, here is the recruitment thread for the first run.
    The above post was probably snide, snippy, tongue in cheek and/or opinionated. Consult your sense of humour before vexation. If still vexed, attempt to cease giving a damn. Thank you for reading this public service bulletin.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Mayhem's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    Something I don't often see in campaign settings is culture, especially with regards to region armour and weapon preferences. Have a think about what armours regions prefer, and think about what weapons they would most favour. For example, the greatsword might be an exotic weapon to all but one region in which its martial. As for armours, dwarven nations might favour plate, and maybe one area favours scale and studded leather. In such areas weapons and armour that are unfavoured might be difficult to find and cost twice or more the base price.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Land Outcast View Post
    Here, this is awesome:

    Source: http://rycanada.livejournal.com/613.html
    Thanks alot! Bookmark'd!

    Thanks for all the help :) Any good map-editors out there?

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Icedaemon View Post
    As has been pointed out, Mr Burlew's own articles, one of which .
    D'oh!!! I remebered reading something good somewhere -.- Guess it was even before joining these boards!

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Aergoth's Avatar

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    Jun 2008

    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    Also, remember the best part about being a DM: You can fake it.
    If a character points out a hole in your setting, instead of scrambling to find an answer, or admitting there's a whole there saying something like "An excellent question, maybe someone knows" and then work out the hole after the session is done and the players are gone.

    (All credit to Rutskarn for that particular bit of wisdom, which I learned watching spoiler warning.)
    You don't want the monster? You don't throw the switch.
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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    Focus on what makes your world special.
    Also, themes are a great working tool. Makes inventing stuff and making them unique much easier and faster. The themes don`t have to relate to the entire campaign setting, they could be related to a very specific part (in the bla bla region hats are a sign of political affilation).
    I see a lot of people talking about maps, but I think they are not important. Sure, they are nice, but are not realy neccesery.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mayhem View Post
    Something I don't often see in campaign settings is culture, especially with regards to region armour and weapon preferences.
    Which reminds me about clothing. What people wear sounds like an unimportant question, but it will be one of the first things you will need to describe.

    Some things that would be nice to add, but not "mandatory":
    A. Naming system. http://www.ogmiosproject.org/articles/roses1.html
    B. Detailed background.
    C. Other planes (unless planes are relevent to the adventure, in which case they are "mandatory")
    A world behind the mirror (stand alone plane)
    (Wall) passer, a rogue variant
    My not realy extanded homebrewer signature

    Quote Originally Posted by Grinner View Post
    In a world ruled by small birds, mankind cannot help but wonder how this state of affairs came about.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Aergoth View Post
    Also, remember the best part about being a DM: You can fake it.
    If a character points out a hole in your setting, instead of scrambling to find an answer, or admitting there's a whole there saying something like "An excellent question, maybe someone knows" and then work out the hole after the session is done and the players are gone.

    (All credit to Rutskarn for that particular bit of wisdom, which I learned watching spoiler warning.)
    Alternatively, smile knowingly and say nothing. I've found that it's a DM's most important resource.

    Then, immediately run home and frantically try to come up with a solution for this huge blunder you made.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
    "

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Jun 2008

    Default Re: Worldbuilding adwise D&D

    Focus on fluff, don't worry about crunch - the latter can easily be done afterwards. Oh and make it consistent and believeable - it something is cool but doesn't fit the flavour of your world, it's better to safe the idea for later.

    And if you have some time: http://www.imaginaryworlds.net/
    What can change the nature of a man?

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