Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 32
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Exclamation Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Very often we have people come to this forum who have an idea for a setting, which they would like to turn into something they can use for a game, a comic, stories, or other purposes. However, everyone has questions about how to start the whole thing, and most of the time people have questions about the same subjects and ask about very similar things.
    Giving very similar answers again and again, each time getting shorter and more general with what we type in response, some of us thought that it would be great thing to take some of the most frequently discussed issues and collecting our words of advice into one big guise, for which we take the time to type our thoughts down in a detailed way once. So when these questions arise in the future, you can have our collected wisdom in one place, instead of getting shown a handful of links and short summaries of advice we had given to others before.

    If you think we missed an issue that would be important for many newcommers to the world-building forum, let us know in this thread. If you want to contribute your own words of advice to any one, some, or all of the topics discussed here, add them to this thread or send them to me by PM, and I'll add them to the appropriate sections.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.
    Ancient Lands - PF/d20 Sword & Sorcery campaign setting

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding - Getting Started

    Getting Started

    How do you start?
    Quote Originally Posted by akma
    Spoiler
    Show
    I go by inspiration, and my general intent is to have as little settings as possible, and have them as diffrent from each other as possible. I think a few detailed settings is better then many similiar settings with little fluff. So if I think of an idea, I will try to integrate it in one or more of my settings instead of building a setting around it (in extreme cases, it means adding a plane). Sometimes it is not possible, and then I decide if to bother working on a setting based on that or not. Usually not.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deploy
    Spoiler
    Show
    Set goals, what do you want from this setting? What do you want others to get from this setting? Deciding early on that you want a very hack and slash world will affect every choice you make. This goal can be achieved by literally getting rid of government and other sources of intrigue. The races culture would revolve around combat. Diplomacy amounts to if you're strong enough to kill this guy or not. One little decision has led to a world uniquely suited to play this type of game. The earlier you decide this the better, if I had been mulling it over for a few days and in that time decided I wanted elves that couldn't lie. That's still interesting, but in this world you won't need to lie. Swords don't lie either, and they're the ones doing the talking.
    Quote Originally Posted by flabort
    Spoiler
    Show
    I start by thinking of a single aspect of something I may have seen before. With "The Simulation", I thought of the trap commonly known as the "Hypercube-dungeon". I think of a way the whole world might be something like that, but really it's just finding something weird and unusual that you don't see in the real world, and fixtate on it. Once you've got something to fixtate on, think of little things that you can turn into major details. Don't do too much planning early, though. Just get a basic idea into your head. Planning leads to getting hung up, and getting hung up leads to never finishing.
    Quote Originally Posted by SheepInDisguise
    Spoiler
    Show
    I get some sort of inspiration, and build on it. Sometimes it as as simple as "Campaign setting set in the Feywild or something as weird as "Texas Hsitory class somehow got mashed together with D&D in my mind and now I have the urge to create a wolrd based on the Texas Revolution." I'll usual write about a nation, and get inspiration from that, and causes a chain reaction of ideas. What caused the Orcs to flee there home nation to go to the newly discovered continent? What caused the home nation to suddenly stop talking to the colony?
    Quote Originally Posted by SpaceBadger
    Spoiler
    Show
    Making a new setting is a lot of work, so before starting that work there has to be a reason for doing it. The reasons will vary: "I want to GM, I need a world to run games in, and I'm not happy with published stuff"; "I have this cool idea that won't work in my current setting, so I need to make a new setting where it will work"; "I want to run a different flavor of game, and need a new setting to capture that flavor"; etc. As others have said, the foundation is to think about the kinds of stories you want to play or GM, but I would add that you need to think about whether you actually need a new setting for these stories or whether you can run them in your existing setting or some published setting.

    My first setting was unplanned and just grew because I wanted to GM and needed a world to do it in. We started out with the D&D Basic Set, which didn't talk about anything outside the dungeon, so we thought we were being incredibly inventive with the idea of mapping a world outside the dungeon and populating it with characters who would be controlled by the DM, sort of like monsters but with options for interaction other than just fighting and killing them. Then the AD&D books started coming out and we learned that that was actually how the game was supposed to be played, and that our "DM characters" were properly referred to as NPCs. My first setting thus started with a dungeon, then grew to include a ruined castle on the surface above, then a nearby town, then a whole continent with places mapped that could give a context to the campaign, even thought most of them were never visited or detailed beyond labels on that continental map.

    I'll skip over the many settings that I have thought up in the years since then, most of them never having gone beyond ideas in my head and maybe some notes or a map. I have two settings that I am working on now. The first of these was made for the basic reason that I again needed a setting to GM in, and wasn't happy with my previous setting. I wanted a more sword & sorcery feel than the standard D&D world, with magic uncommon and kinda scary, a world where Conan would feel right at home. I'll save the various ideas that went into this setting for the "Where Do You Get Ideas?" section below, but from those ideas came a rough map of the area of the fallen empire and some extent beyond, some notes on history, more detailed map of the area the first adventures would begin, and we started playing. We aren't currently playing in that setting as I started it with GURPS rules, then shifted to Pathfinder, but still haven't found a good fit for the sword & sorcery feel that I was trying for. The setting is there, I just need to decide on a ruleset for playing in that setting.

    My other current setting, in which both I and my oldest son are currently GMing a couple of different campaigns, grew from a completely different set of ideas. I wanted to go with Pathfinder and minimal houserules, lots of magic, lots of playable races, plenty of room for different kinds of stories. None of this fit with the Dark Age sword & sorcery setting that I described above, so I needed a new setting. Again I'll save the various ideas that inspired the setting for the "Ideas" section below, but the start of it was a need for a new setting for stuff that wouldn't fit in my previous setting, then deciding on the overall defining characteristics, then history, then rough mapping, then detail of the area of the first adventure.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vknight
    Spoiler
    Show
    Define the base world were you expect the players to travel give it details and other things. You don't have to go beyond that the world outside of that map can be whatever you need. A new continent for explorers, a archipelago the remains of which are a civilization.
    Give plenty of detail to the back-story but leave room for interpretation between player and Dm's. Maybe the Cerulean Empire was controlled by Dragonborn or maybe Halflings or even Humans, we do know it wasn't elves or Tieflings though. There are details left for the individual Dm to decide so a player cannot rules lawyer a situation.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yora
    Spoiler
    Show
    I think the best first point to start is to think about the kind of stories that you want to be told in the setting. A setting by itself is just maps and stat blocks, it only becomes interesting and alive by the things that happen in this world.
    It's very complelling to make a setting that includes everything, caters to the tastes of all people, and can serve as a background for every story one can think of.

    But in practice, my experience is that you only end up with a very generic setting that is just like any other fantasy world and completely unremarkable, and just kind of boring. When you think of really great settings you love a lot, it's mostly because of the stories that you have seen taking place in them and the interaction between the groups. So I think before you do anything else, you should set yourself a goal by thinking of the kinds of stories you want to take place in the world.

    Star Wars is a setting of knights and scoundrels fighting in a massive and eternal war between the forces of good and evil. Middle-Earth is a setting of great knights sacrificing everything they have to stop the forces of Darkness (with the most popular stories about about small and weak people fighting the same battle even though they should not have any chance to make a difference). And my own setting is about warriors defending their clans against monsters and supernatural threats. You could play a campaign about art thieves in all these settings, but that's not really what comes into your mind when you think about these settings.

    By thinking about the kinds of stories that facinate you, you get an idea of what roles player characters could have in the world and what kinds of activities they do. When you have that figured out, it is a lot more easier to know what kind of things you have to come up with to make the setting grand.
    My setting is about warriors braving the unknown that is hidden in the wilderness. I do not need to create a complex system of noble titles, court etiquette, and lots of secrets plots of courtiers trying to blackmail each other. Having a lord and a captain of the guard is all that most settlements need. Instead, it is much more important for me to come up with a detailed history of the past, so I can tell the players from which civilization a ruin or an artifact is, so they can piece together what happened in a place and what a magic item might have been used for.

    From my experience, it is very easy to lose focus and start to create all kinds of things that had nothing to do with the kind of setting you originally wanted to create. A great number of good ideas come while you are working on other things, but I think it's important to keep focus for what a setting is all about. By thinking of the stories that will take place in the setting, it is much more easy to remember what you really want to do.
    Where do you get ideas?
    Quote Originally Posted by akma
    Spoiler
    Show
    My first setting had the premise of "a generic campaign setting, so I could make adventure more easily without spending much time on background information" (ended up not being so generic). My second was originally part of a multiverse with each plane based on an element (and idea I later grew to distaste), but I ditched the rest and focused on it. My third came from the name of the second world, I felt that it was unfitting, and thought about how a setting with that name should look (Everain). My forth setting idea came from this forum. There was a vote up a campaign setting 2, and one of geography themes suggested was space. I thought it would be nice to see a world with space travel without technology (not even magitech), and although people thought about science fiction theme with space, I voted for it. Garden world was chosen at the end.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deploy
    Spoiler
    Show
    Look to the real world. Study a culture or geographical trait for a little while. Take the parts you like and make them your own. Say you've found an article about xeric shrublands and you're intrigued by plant -rich deserts. You decide to create a desert campaign that feels like a forest one. You now have a unique setting, and this aspect will lead to all sorts of things like races, wildlife, and so much more. Similarly, you want a mongol-like culture. Well that means horses and steppes. Just look for interesting ideas in the real-world and make them interesting ideas in your world.
    Quote Originally Posted by flabort
    Spoiler
    Show
    Often from something I encountered in the Playground . Really, If I've seen anything, often on the internet, or tried putting two ideas that didn't work together into the same thought, and the result was "Huh, that's interesting", I find it's a good idea to make something out of. Worlds, or just homebrew.
    Quote Originally Posted by SheepInDisguise
    Spoiler
    Show
    I usually use a real world thing and add fantasy/neccasary genre to it and then make it unique in some way. With luck, nobody will realise you took from something else. Mongol spin-offs? Genhis-Khan was a dragon in disguise sent by Tiamat to spread dsicourse across the land. The goal is to start with something recognisable and twist it into something unique. The "mongols" couldn't have had detecction magic, so perhaps they had no magic, and they were anti-wizards, and bla bla bla........
    Quote Originally Posted by SpaceBadger
    Spoiler
    Show
    I get ideas from all over the place: books, movies, history, geography. It is a lot like writing fiction, in that ideas are plentiful, the hard part is deciding which ideas work well together to make something greater than the sum of the parts.

    I mentioned my two current settings in the "How Do You Start?" section above. Here are some of the ideas that came together in creation of these two settings:

    For one setting I wanted a more sword & sorcery feel than the standard D&D world, with magic uncommon and kinda scary, a world where Conan would feel right at home. I'd been reading Bernard Cornwell's Warlord novels (retelling of King Arthur as a Briton fighting Saxon invaders after the Romans withdrew from Britannia) and decided that a Dark Age after the fall of a mighty empire would be interesting; decided also that the fall of the empire was connected to some kind of cataclysm that not only depopulated a lot of places but also made the primary source of magic go away, so the magi-tech that had supported the empire was no longer there and what little magic was left was based on older traditions of shamanism and demonology. To go with the sword & sorcery flavor of this setting, I decided that Humans would be the only playable race and that other races would be rarely encountered. Elves had left the known world at the time of the great cataclysm that ended the empire; dwarves stayed in their mountain caverns away from humans; other races were either nonexistent or only lived in exotic locations, such as lizardfolk in their remote jungles and swamps.

    For my other setting I wanted lots of magic, lots of playable races, lots of options. I had been thinking of a world in which elves were not a playable race, but instead were the unseen powers manipulating much of the known world. I read S.M. Stirling's "In the Court of the Crimson Kings" and decided that the Martians had a lot of the feel that I wanted for the elves, with their biotech and genetic castes within their own race. Another inspiration came from the GURPS Yrth setting, in which a magical backfire created the Banestorm which brought multiple races from their homeworlds to Yrth. I decided that the immortal elves were the true natives of my setting, and that their defining characteristic was that immortality was BORING. The elves therefore used a controlled Banestorm-like effect to bring other races to their world to liven things up a bit, let these other races build their cities and kingdoms, which the elves might manipulate from behind the scenes for their own amusement, then smash to rubble when the others got too strong - and the elves have been doing this over and over again for many many thousands of years, so there are deep layers of unknown history and ancient ruins. I wrote a lot of history for this setting before I ever started mapping or doing any specific preparation for actual gaming, but those basic ideas were what gave the background for how this place could have so many different races and such a variety of societies.
    How to make a world unique?
    Quote Originally Posted by akma
    Spoiler
    Show
    Since I don`t like using existing material or having something very similar to an existing material, making a world unique comes easily for me.

    If you want to make your world unique, use uncommon themes, or use common themes diffrently. If you feel your setting is too generic, break fantasy tropes until it won`t be generic. Don`t just reverse things (elves are evil and orcs are good), that won`t help. Ask yourself why do you feel the world is too generic, and how you could change it. The same priniciple if it`s too similiar to a diffrent setting.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deploy
    Spoiler
    Show
    What makes some settings not unique? Think of a typical campaign setting. Many aspects of europe from governments to geography with a hodge podge of other cultures monsters. Humans rule, elves are snobs, dwarves are short, scottish, bearded alcoholics, monstrous races are intelligent and yet considered as much a monster as a mindless owlbear. Dragons are mighty and fairly common. These are just a few things shared by many tolkienesque settings. What if you flipped all these on their head? Aspects of precolonial america for the people and landscape. Exclusively russian folklore. Humans exist in tiny communities and are a rare sight. Elves are savages that paint themselves and wear shrunken heads around their necks. Dwarves are still short but their just humans born with dwarfism and are much more prevalent because they wiped out human civilization and have taken its place. Monstrous races are sophisticated tribes that want only peace (owlbears are also geniuses). And dragons are tiny beasts commonly used in paintings. This setting is radically different then most others. you don't have to change everything. Just making monstrous races misunderstood nomads will make it unique.
    Quote Originally Posted by flabort
    Spoiler
    Show
    It should be unique just based off what you started with! But beyond that, you're going to need to think of various steriotypes and tropes, and either Subvert, Avert, or Invert it when you feel it's played straight too often, or play it straight when you think it isn't played straight often enough. Or just because you feel like it.
    And think little things through. I thought, "OK, Flabort, what's the result of a place with subjective gravity?", and that was a major aspect of what "The Simulation" was about.
    And finding a good inspiration for an origin story is important for this aspect, too. No-one ever actually got it, because it was somewhat disguised, but if you've heard of the "Dream of Metal", a popular-but-somewhat-obscure TOp 'build', and you look at the origin story I created for The Simulation, you might be surprised.
    Quote Originally Posted by SheepInDisguise
    Spoiler
    Show
    Every time you are tempted to satiate the neads of the Cliche monster, take the temptation and chop it with the metaphoricle +5 clichebane waraxe. NO idea is too "diffrerent" to be used. Orcs as the agents of the Shadowfell? Sure. Kord is the son of a half-snarl kitten? Sure. Elves are frail magic wood-dwellers skilled with the bow? NO. It is not thinking outside the box, it is chopping the box up with the previously mentioned axe. Don't invert cliches, because they are still cliches, just of the inverted variaty.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yora
    Spoiler
    Show
    I actually dislike complete worlds. Somehow settings that have blank spaces at the edges of the map are much more appealing to me than those that provide a complete world map. Once a world has been completely mapped, it's mysteries are solved and it becomes merely a low tech world with magic to me.
    But to me much if not most fascination for a world comes from not knowing everything about it. Same things with deities or ancient empires. They are fascinating because you don't know exactly what you are dealing with. But then the deities get stat blocks that reduce them to high CR outsiders and the entire history of and society of the old empires gets explained. And at that point, I usually lose interest in a setting.
    It basically comes down to a setting being pre-enlightened or post-enlightened. The unknown is what makes things interesting in the long run. When you already know everything about an ancient civilization, what fun is left in exploring an ancient temple? The players know who build it, when it was build, why it was abandoned; the symbols on the walls tell everyone instantly what deity was worshiped here and what rites it had, and so on. It's certainly not the only way to play an RPG and design a world, but leaving lots of blank spaces is very important to me.

    As a creator, you obviously have to put some thought in almost any aspects of the world to create consistency. But in many cases, I leave lots of things open as well. My setting consists only of half a continent and that already includes the far away places where merchants go to get their wondrous goods. The rest of the continent, and the other continents of the world, are left blank. No knowledge of these places exist in the locations that are part of the setting, and if the players and also the NPCs are not supposed to ever hear anything about it, why write it down in the first place? Also history goes back only 4000 years at the most. Some general facts about earlier times are known, much like we have evidence of prehistoric times today. But nobody knows who exactly build the old ruins for what purpose, and there's no knowledge of the names of the builders or what they called these places. And as another example, there are no stats for gods. People worship deities and priests can cast magic spells. It's assumed that deities exist, but what a deity exactly is, is not answered. Some people in the setting will have their own theory, but as a whole, the setting does not provide a definite answer.
    Last edited by Yora; 2013-11-22 at 01:58 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding - Races, Classes, Countries, and People

    Races, Classes, Countries, and People

    Help chosing races, classes, and monsters.
    Quote Originally Posted by akma
    Spoiler
    Show
    I focus on humans and races I made up. I don`t like the core races, I think they are too similiar to humans (humans with pointy ears, short humans, short fat bearded humans, etc).
    I try to give each race either two or more kingdoms or no kingdoms, and there are kingdoms with mixed races in them. Racism plays a part in the settings, but as a negative thing (=people who slaughter random orcs won`t be the good guys). I have one setting with only humans in it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deploy
    Spoiler
    Show
    Before you decide these you should have a good idea of the geography and cultures you want to present in this world. You like mongols and so you make a world of steppes and plains. Now who would live in this place? Yakfolk of course. Mongols were known for their military might and bloodthirst, well that screams hobgoblins. Also if you decided early on that you wanted gods to be unknown and have atheism be a logical conclusion, then you know to cut out clerics and paladins, or retool them some. Monsters can be a combination of geography and culture. Mongols revered horses and horses are perfectly suited to the steppes this world draws on, so how about unicorns, nightmares, dire horses, and others. The horse can become a major motif in this world. So when deciding on races, classes, and monsters think of culture and geography and it should flow from there.
    Quote Originally Posted by flabort
    Spoiler
    Show
    I don't have much to say on races; Pick what appeals to you, or leave the choice fairly ambiguous and open. Maybe make a modification here or there, but if I have something to say, I'm going to say it: "Fixtate or procrastinate". deal with what you want to deal with, when you want to deal with it. And let your current decisions affect your future ones, but don't plan FOR the future decisions.
    Class-wise, Often the default standbys are "good enough". Sometimes they won't fit, though. In a world with a major Britan-like empire, it doesn't make much sense for there to be many barbarians where the law is enforced so well. In a world where the god's are suppressed, or there are none, divine magic wouldn't exist, so priests would only be members of 'class X', rather than a divine casting class. Try Expert for your pulpit thumping God-Men.
    Quote Originally Posted by SheepInDisguise
    Spoiler
    Show
    I will say this, I LOVE it when people don't make the world "Humanz rule the world, just cuz". Most people see human dominance as a must, so it isn't reallly a problem. Many people don't like elves because they are overused, but if you have a new, creative use , go ahead! Many settings, such as Ebberon and Dark Sun introduce new races, like the Shifter and Mul. I like having at least one new race for variety, but it neads to be actually different. "Elves, but with four arms and one leg" isn't creative enough, but "A race of pale reptilian humanoid that posses four arms and one leg, and are descended from extra-terrestial beings sent here as scouts for an alien invasion who are now extinct" is okay. In a similar vein with elves, Orcs and Dwarves are over-used, but not as much as elves. Feal free to incorporate them with the usual fluff, but try to be creative as possible when using them in your setting
    How do you create unique cultures?

    Quote Originally Posted by akma
    Spoiler
    Show
    I tend to go with a major theme for the culture, and build around it. By the theme I can probably deduce if it`s unique or not - for exemple, a culture based on a real world culture will probably be cliched. Sure, you can create a culture based on a real world culture without it being cliched, but you will have to work on making it not cliched and unique. If you start with a unique major theme, you don`t have to do that work, and making it unique comes more naturally.

    After having the major theme/s, the work comes in one or two ways:
    A. Making logical conclusions. Harsh rule probably encourages reballions, but becuse of the strong police and army it wouldn`t work; Groups and religions that would be unashamed to be public in other kingdoms will hide themselves among the population, for fear of the police, etc.
    B. Putting ideas I like and finding excuses to have them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deploy
    Spoiler
    Show
    Look at real world cultures again, they are unique. Copying them exactly is not unique, but taking bits and pieces and making a new one is.
    You like bedouins traveling the sand, the rigid caste system of India, and the raiding aspects of the vikings. mash them all together and you have a people that travels the desert raiding every oases they come across, and which weapon each of them is allowed to use is determined by what their ancestor chose.
    You can also think up something completely different based on what the race is. Octopus people can't talk and so the speak sign language. What kind of a culture would this create? Language is very important so don't forget it. It dictates naming convention, attitudes, social norms, and how they communicate with others.
    Quote Originally Posted by flabort
    Spoiler
    Show
    Oh, boy. I don't have much experience in this category. I'm used to using the default Britain-like society. Even in the middle of the dessert, it's the Brits. Although the characters might be rather Canadian-like, just because that's what I know. But tweak. That's my advice. Take a culture. Tweak it. Hmm, you don't like kings? How about an elected council? Feel like becoming a parent should be more important than becoming wealthy? Yeah, while you're at it you could maybe make them not care about individual wealth, but as a group; 'clan', 'family', 'tribe', 'nation', whatever floats your boat. The more you tweak, the less like the original culture it becomes, and the more unique it becomes.
    Spoiler
    Show
    Culture Building, by Deam Shomshak, posted by Lord Raziere
    Dealing with Magic in the World
    Quote Originally Posted by akma
    Spoiler
    Show
    I go with lots of magic, but the general power levels differ from setting to setting. In one of them there is a lot of high level and epic magic, in another anyone above level 3 is rare.
    Magic items are uncommen to rare. There are no magic shops for magic items, although in one of my settings there is a trading organization that trades magic items on several planes. While there are all sorts of NPCs with magic items, finding a specific magic item would likely require a quest, and selling a specific magic item will be much easier then buying a specific magic item.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deploy
    Spoiler
    Show
    Do you want the conventional magic system? What would work better in your world than others?
    If the setting is a huge desert than somebody who can control sand would be entirely reasonable and likely more powerful in certain areas than other types would be.
    Quote Originally Posted by SheepInDisguise
    Spoiler
    Show
    In your traditional fantasy setting, you can't have too much magic, even if it is high-magic. Why? Beccause if you logiclly think about the consequences of high level magic, you end up with the tippy-verse. Think before you add magic. Will this cause a tippy-verse? The tippy verse can be fun, but you don't want all your settings turning into it.
    Last edited by Yora; 2013-11-22 at 01:59 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding - Planes, Dimensions, Deities, and Religion

    Planes, Dimensions, Deities, and Religion

    Creating other Planes and Dimensions.
    Quote Originally Posted by akma
    Spoiler
    Show
    I hate the alignment system and dislike the idea of element based planes, so I ditched the "core" planes [of D&D]. My cosmologies are not in some structure, I just add planes when I think of some. I like the idea that traveling between planes is generally difficult, but that some beings can do it freely. Beings from diffrent planes generally don`t interact with each other, but some beings went to a diffrent plane for personal goals, and don`t cause great changes. Exept from a certain region, there is only a slight focus on interaction with the plane with the humans, and that`s becuse he is more easily accesible then the rest.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deploy
    Spoiler
    Show
    Decide what you want from this plane. Why isn't it just another continent on the material plane? Why does it need to be in your setting? Do you really want it in your setting? Your answers to these questions should stem from what you've decided is important in this world.
    Going back to the hack and slash world, I want a plane for demons. its another plane because that way if you're strong enough to get there you might survive. It needs to be there so they have an unlimited source of fodder without any sort of moral conundrum. i want it because its cool (which is a perfectly acceptable reason). Answer these questions and you're on the right track.
    Quote Originally Posted by flabort
    Spoiler
    Show
    You don't necessarily have to create your own. My most popular setting, AKA the one which got the biggest amount of praise, "The Simulation", is a plane simply to be tacked onto whichever setting you like. Ebberon, or Greyhawk, or whatever. It behaves differently, very much so, and is an entire setting unto itself, but if you do any plane traveling, you'd end up in whichever setting you put it in.
    If you don't feel like making your setting part of another, and don't like the planes from other settings, do the same thing you did to create the premise of the setting.
    Quote Originally Posted by SheepInDisguise
    Spoiler
    Show
    I find often that the standard planes [of D&D] are okay to use, but creating your own is fine. You need to decide yourself how planes affect eac other,. The main way they will is proably through outsiders. Decide how prevalent outsiders are. If you are doing a Lovecraft-esque horror setting, alien beings from beyond the cosmos who are invading is more approiate than incarnations of good and evil. Don't be afraid to use tradiational outsider names such as Angel and Demon, but make sure you differentiate them from the standard versions.
    Creating Deities and Religions.
    Quote Originally Posted by akma
    Spoiler
    Show
    In only one of my settings I did a lot of work on the subject. They have a lot of importance, and not only gods are worshipped - also demons, animal spirits, and a certain race worships a gargunton version of themselves. For some beings, there are more then one faith in them, and they generally fight (some of the demons manipulate it to be like that for their amusement). Both the worshippers and the beings they worship have a lot of importance on the setting, but they don`t need worshippers, and some of them don`t like to be worshipped.
    In a diffrent setting, planetery objects are worshipped, and it is not completly clear if all of them are realy sentient or not.
    The gods are handled diffrently in every setting - in one of them each god is a manifistation of some aspect of the world, and to kill him without him reforming would also require to destroy that aspect of the world. In another setting there are many gods, and a lot of gods are simply beings that gained a lot of power and want worshippers. In another the planets are considered gods, and in one of my settings there is no religions at all.
    I didn`t make any pantheons. I don`t use pantheons, each god gains worship individually.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deploy
    Spoiler
    Show
    Look at real world ones. Pantheons of humanoid active gods are reminiscent of Greek beliefs, but the Aboriginal dreamtime and the rainbow serpent are totally different from that. Also pretend for a moment that the gods aren't real. In some settings that's downright ridiculous, but for now just pretend their not. Now look at the people you've put on this world. Stop wondering why gods created them and ask why they created gods? What were they trying to explain? Are their volcanoes all over? Well obviously its a god vomiting after partying all night. this god is obviously incredibly powerful because he literally pukes lava. The mountainside is covered with wild boars so the volcano god is probably one as well. You now have a god that logically fits in your world. religion stems from the nature of your god and how people react. The volcano boar is a rampant partier, his worshippers bring hangover cures after every eruption so he'll feel better in the morning. Take the people you've made and the world they live in and how they'd react to the divine.
    Quote Originally Posted by SheepInDisguise
    Spoiler
    Show
    You should have most of the major domains covered. You should have a death god, sun/light god, a main evil god, main good god, sky/wind/storm god, ocean god, nature god, for example. Some of these can roll over, and you don't ALWAYS need them. Those are just the basics for how you could start. Decides yourself how ative the gods are. Do want their priests and outsiders a comon occurence? OR are they absent from the world, no longer affecting mortal life. If you usee a creation myth, a great waar coulld explain why they were inactive (weakened from the war) or active (still fighting the war).
    Alignment and Cosmic Forces.
    Quote Originally Posted by akma
    Spoiler
    Show
    I hate the alignment system [of D&D]. Alignments doesn`t exist in any of my settings. While there are a lot of beings in my settings that can be considered pure evil, alignments leads to unintresting oversimplification. Exemples: "He does this becuse he is evil", "His personality is chaotic evil", etc.
    While this unintresting oversimplification can be avoided if you bother, it still leaves the fact that I simply don`t like the idea.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deploy
    Spoiler
    Show
    Do you want to keep traditional alignment? If so which axis do you emphasize? Law and chaos, or good and evil? If not what's the conflict, orange vs. blue? How does this conflict show itself in this world? Think of alignment as black and white. somethings either good or bad, lawful or chaotic, orange or blue. There are no lines in between. Or is it Gray and Gray where you have evildoers with good intentions, chaotic rogues dedicated to honor, and devoted orange who are striped blue.
    As for cosmic forces. Where do they fit on the alignment scale? Are they even using the same scale? While mortals squabble over orange and blue, the gods are concerned with red and green, all the wile the demons war over yellow and purple.
    Last edited by Yora; 2013-11-22 at 01:59 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding - [Reserved]

    Creating Interesting Locations

    Quote Originally Posted by flabort
    Spoiler
    Show
    Whenever you feel like making a specific place, go for it. Feel like your setting could use a tea house, for wizards, where the 'teas' are very... unique? Go right ahead. You can then use these locations for devising the broad aspects of your world, if you like. What kind of place would surround a tea house for wizards?
    Think of as many as you like. You should keep to anything you've already devised (That tea-house would look out of place if there are NO WIZARDS, eh?), but allow your locations to also affect anything else. This is my exception to my "No Planning" rule, as anyone in your world will rarely actually visit a specific location you created, unless you DM this world yourself and SPECIFICALLY try to lay down hooks to get players there.
    "Fixtate or procrastinate" applies here, too. Focus on what you feel like at the time, you can worry about the rest later. So you got a tea house? Where wizards frequent? OK, do you feel like fleshing out the owner? No, what about the walls? Ah, you would like walls of tinted glass, reinforced and opaque! apparently, that's just your whim at the time. So, what does that do? Ah, the place is always brightly lit due to that. And has a mysterious AND cheerful environment. Oh, yes, just because, you feel like the walls should be twisted/gnarled/wavy/weird patterns/lumpy. Alright, what do you feel like next? Is there an inn in the tea house? It doesn't make sense to you (although it might to someone else), especially with the colored glass walls, so you decide no. Is there a second story? Sure, you decide, and you decide it's got a balcony, and is open to the bottom floor. Suddenly, you decide you want to work on the owner now. What kind of person would run a tea house for wizards with psychedelic glass walls?
    It goes on. Fixtate on what you feel like, and ignore what you don't feel like working on at the time. And just let stuff flow. If, for whatever reason, you devise the tea house before you decide on classes, well, now you know there will be wizards.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiwaxia
    Spoiler
    Show
    A good way to get a unique and unusual, but believable, settings is to take something very small or large, and scale it to human size. You could make an ancient temple inspired by a bismuth crystal or have your PCs walk through a field of miniature "mountains", complete with forests and glaciers, that are only as tall as they are. Likewise, if you're out walking and see an interesting rock formation, or a hollow under a root, or a little niche in a cliffside, or some intriguing bit of rusted machinery, or a tiny mica-filled creek, imagine putting a city or a dungeon in it.
    Also, obscure science-y stuff can be a great source for ideas. Imagine a dungeon or monster based off a siphonophore or a Venus's flower basket or a radiolarian or a ferrofluid.
    Other
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-02-02 at 06:01 AM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Savannah's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Texas. It's too hot here.
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    May I suggest including this (probably under getting started or making the world unique)? It's one of my favorite pieces of advice for world building.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
     
    SamBurke's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    You lost the game.
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    AOK, thanks for the link! Now bookmarking... where do we offer advice/put in our own two bits?
    James/TheDoge Avatar by Ceika!

    Quotes:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Quote Originally Posted by TravelLog View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SamBurke View Post
    *snip* ...Hands down the funniest class critique ever... *snip*
    I cannot tell you the number of times I laughed while reading this.

    Homebrew Awards:
    Spoiler
    Show

    First Place Pathfinder Grab Bags:
    XIII
    XIV
    XV
    XVIII

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Either her, or send it to me as PM. As I said in the guide.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.
    Ancient Lands - PF/d20 Sword & Sorcery campaign setting

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Durham
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Define the base world were you expect the players to travel give it details and other things. You don't have to go beyond that the world outside of that map can be whatever you need. A new continent for explorers, a archipelago the remains of which are a civilization.
    Give plenty of detail to the back-story but leave room for interpretation between player and Dm's. Maybe the Cerulean Empire was controlled by Dragonborn or maybe Halflings or even Humans, we do know it wasn't elves or Tieflings though. There are details left for the individual Dm to decide so a player cannot rules lawyer a situation.
    Check Out
    The Most Recent Scrap Iron Chef Challenge!

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Miscast_Mage View Post
    You're a frickin' ninja below me, too!? You got mad skills, Vknight.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Rogue vs. Dog. (The new Cat vs. Commoner, only not amusing!)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    You are making the assumption of rational planning. After 37 years of dungeon crawling, I still have zero evidence that the average dungeon was designed by the sane.
    "Sleep is optional, just ask Vknight" Someone I Forget but thanks... I don't

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    I'll add that to How do you start.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.
    Ancient Lands - PF/d20 Sword & Sorcery campaign setting

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    SpaceBadger's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    How Do You Start?

    Making a new setting is a lot of work, so before starting that work there has to be a reason for doing it. The reasons will vary: "I want to GM, I need a world to run games in, and I'm not happy with published stuff"; "I have this cool idea that won't work in my current setting, so I need to make a new setting where it will work"; "I want to run a different flavor of game, and need a new setting to capture that flavor"; etc. As others have said, the foundation is to think about the kinds of stories you want to play or GM, but I would add that you need to think about whether you actually need a new setting for these stories or whether you can run them in your existing setting or some published setting.

    My first setting was unplanned and just grew because I wanted to GM and needed a world to do it in. We started out with the D&D Basic Set, which didn't talk about anything outside the dungeon, so we thought we were being incredibly inventive with the idea of mapping a world outside the dungeon and populating it with characters who would be controlled by the DM, sort of like monsters but with options for interaction other than just fighting and killing them. Then the AD&D books started coming out and we learned that that was actually how the game was supposed to be played, and that our "DM characters" were properly referred to as NPCs. My first setting thus started with a dungeon, then grew to include a ruined castle on the surface above, then a nearby town, then a whole continent with places mapped that could give a context to the campaign, even thought most of them were never visited or detailed beyond labels on that continental map.

    I'll skip over the many settings that I have thought up in the years since then, most of them never having gone beyond ideas in my head and maybe some notes or a map. I have two settings that I am working on now. The first of these was made for the basic reason that I again needed a setting to GM in, and wasn't happy with my previous setting. I wanted a more sword & sorcery feel than the standard D&D world, with magic uncommon and kinda scary, a world where Conan would feel right at home. I'll save the various ideas that went into this setting for the "Where Do You Get Ideas?" section below, but from those ideas came a rough map of the area of the fallen empire and some extent beyond, some notes on history, more detailed map of the area the first adventures would begin, and we started playing. We aren't currently playing in that setting as I started it with GURPS rules, then shifted to Pathfinder, but still haven't found a good fit for the sword & sorcery feel that I was trying for. The setting is there, I just need to decide on a ruleset for playing in that setting.

    My other current setting, in which both I and my oldest son are currently GMing a couple of different campaigns, grew from a completely different set of ideas. I wanted to go with Pathfinder and minimal houserules, lots of magic, lots of playable races, plenty of room for different kinds of stories. None of this fit with the Dark Age sword & sorcery setting that I described above, so I needed a new setting. Again I'll save the various ideas that inspired the setting for the "Ideas" section below, but the start of it was a need for a new setting for stuff that wouldn't fit in my previous setting, then deciding on the overall defining characteristics, then history, then rough mapping, then detail of the area of the first adventure.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    SpaceBadger's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Where Do You Get Ideas?

    I get ideas from all over the place: books, movies, history, geography. It is a lot like writing fiction, in that ideas are plentiful, the hard part is deciding which ideas work well together to make something greater than the sum of the parts.

    I mentioned my two current settings in the "How Do You Start?" section above. Here are some of the ideas that came together in creation of these two settings:

    For one setting I wanted a more sword & sorcery feel than the standard D&D world, with magic uncommon and kinda scary, a world where Conan would feel right at home. I'd been reading Bernard Cornwell's Warlord novels (retelling of King Arthur as a Briton fighting Saxon invaders after the Romans withdrew from Britannia) and decided that a Dark Age after the fall of a mighty empire would be interesting; decided also that the fall of the empire was connected to some kind of cataclysm that not only depopulated a lot of places but also made the primary source of magic go away, so the magi-tech that had supported the empire was no longer there and what little magic was left was based on older traditions of shamanism and demonology. To go with the sword & sorcery flavor of this setting, I decided that Humans would be the only playable race and that other races would be rarely encountered. Elves had left the known world at the time of the great cataclysm that ended the empire; dwarves stayed in their mountain caverns away from humans; other races were either nonexistent or only lived in exotic locations, such as lizardfolk in their remote jungles and swamps.

    For my other setting I wanted lots of magic, lots of playable races, lots of options. I had been thinking of a world in which elves were not a playable race, but instead were the unseen powers manipulating much of the known world. I read S.M. Stirling's "In the Court of the Crimson Kings" and decided that the Martians had a lot of the feel that I wanted for the elves, with their biotech and genetic castes within their own race. Another inspiration came from the GURPS Yrth setting, in which a magical backfire created the Banestorm which brought multiple races from their homeworlds to Yrth. I decided that the immortal elves were the true natives of my setting, and that their defining characteristic was that immortality was BORING. The elves therefore used a controlled Banestorm-like effect to bring other races to their world to liven things up a bit, let these other races build their cities and kingdoms, which the elves might manipulate from behind the scenes for their own amusement, then smash to rubble when the others got too strong - and the elves have been doing this over and over again for many many thousands of years, so there are deep layers of unknown history and ancient ruins. I wrote a lot of history for this setting before I ever started mapping or doing any specific preparation for actual gaming, but those basic ideas were what gave the background for how this place could have so many different races and such a variety of societies.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    This is indeed getting really long really quickly. I didn't expect that.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.
    Ancient Lands - PF/d20 Sword & Sorcery campaign setting

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    SpaceBadger's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    This is indeed getting really long really quickly. I didn't expect that.
    Now that you copied my stuff into the compiled posts, should I delete my posts from this thread?

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    I think that really doesn't make a difference. Since I won't mark every new addition to the guide, having them as posts probably makes them more visible to returning users.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.
    Ancient Lands - PF/d20 Sword & Sorcery campaign setting

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Madara's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Up north, dontcha' know
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Let's see, this guide covers almost everything I want to know about building a world, but what about how to work change in a world. For example, after the most recent campaign, the elves lost the war with the orcs. How do I make a transition, how do I determine what changes occur without re-doing an entire country?
    Quotes:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Hashmir View Post
    When I die, I donate my body to the cause of whatever ******* finds it first.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bloodgruve View Post
    Really though, how effin scary would the beach be if an octopus could launch itself outta the water at a 200' move speed every 6 seconds. I'd never go to the beach again... I thought flying sharks were scary...
    Blood~

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Thinker's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Quote Originally Posted by Madara View Post
    Let's see, this guide covers almost everything I want to know about building a world, but what about how to work change in a world. For example, after the most recent campaign, the elves lost the war with the orcs. How do I make a transition, how do I determine what changes occur without re-doing an entire country?
    Why would you have to remake a country? When land is conquered, very rarely are major settlements destroyed; more often they are repurposed. Names of local locations generally stay the same throughout time, with only minor adjustments based on letters that may or may not exist in the new peoples' languages. Boundaries also rarely change significantly, with the old divisions in provinces being convenient ways to divide up the spoils of war by the new conquerors. You will certainly have to alter the leaders and aristocracy, perhaps the religion, too, but you won't have to make everything all over again.
    "Only I may walk in the shadow between realms. Though I go mad, I do so to awaken those who came before and shall once more come again."

    "Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it." ~ Mark Twain

    - Fair Use has a Posse -

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Coplantor's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Conquering Monochromia!
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    I have an advice of my own to give, it would fit in the "countries" section.

    I like to know exactly the relations between kingdoms, empires, countries, etc... in my settings, mostly because I love and abuse the BIG HUMAN EMPIRE cliché and I need to know why it isn't invading everyone, why the world is calm enough for the players to have adventures around the world without war stepping in the middle. Each country/regions has it's own beliefs and political system, so I look for inspiration in history. I look for situations similar enough to what I'm doing and look for answers in there, I have a setting heavily influenced by the civil war era USA politics, even if it is a medieval setting. Another trick is to arm well enough your main kingdoms, if you have A, B and C, then maybe A is more technologically advanced, B might have powerful magics and C is a land almost inhospitable except for those already living there.
    I WAS THERE
    Life is like a dungeon master, if it smiles at you, you just know that something terrible is about to happen

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Fullbladder, Master of Goblins View Post
    Sane.... isn't the word I'd use with you, Coplantor. Or myself, in fact. With myself, I'd say obssessive. With you, I'd say.... Coplantor.


    Now I haz deviant!
    The DnD Logic
    Now I haz Blog!

    avatar by Me!

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Tzi's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Also an addition to the countries section, adding onto what Coplantor said, there are many ways to deal with countries and war.

    One aspect about war is the concept of cold war. In my campaign setting the world stands on a heir trigger for what will likely be its first global war of the "modern," era. In that sense you don't need a big bad human empire, but merely several small and fairly equally matched empires or powers that both know a war would be a brutal and bloody affair.

    In mine, two great powers have forged various alliances, ensuring that no side can easily win a possible war. So you have basically two powerful rival Nation States with multiple client states that they influence and ally with. The technology, magic and manpower of a war between the two is costly and could be devastating, maybe other factions are hoping to broker peace. (In mine it would be the largely neutral Elven Nations.)

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    A topic that I noticed is unaddrassed here is how to publish a world (in the forum, for exemple). Also, I noticed I have no input here on how to make unique cultures.

    On unique cultures:
    Spoiler
    Show
    I tend to go with a major theme for the culture, and build around it. By the theme I can probably deduce if it`s unique or not - for exemple, a culture based on a real world culture will probably be cliched. Sure, you can create a culture based on a real world culture without it being cliched, but you will have to work on making it not cliched and unique. If you start with a unique major theme, you don`t have to do that work, and making it unique comes more naturally.

    After having the major theme/s, the work comes in one or two ways:
    A. Making logical conclusions. Harsh rule probably encourages reballions, but becuse of the strong police and army it wouldn`t work; Groups and religions that would be unashamed to be public in other kingdoms will hide themselves among the population, for fear of the police, etc.
    B. Putting ideas I like and finding excuses to have them.


    On publishing a world (not finished):
    Actully, this would never be finished, becuse I realy don`t understand in this. But I will let it remain here in it`s original form.
    Spoiler
    Show
    First of all, don`t look at the number of views. There will most surely be dozens of views before the first post. Having dozens of views before the first comment is something that always heppens in forums, no matter what the topic is about.
    I`m not a big expert on the subject, but here are some things that would make me stop reading a post about a world:
    A. Extremly long history. Starting with detailing about how the world was created.
    B. Cliches and genericness.
    C. Starting the description of the world in saying: "high magic..." "log magic..." and meta-gaming descriptions in general (they should come, but not in the first sentence. And I mean it in a literal way)
    D. A world that is a map and barely anything else.
    E. Walls of text.
    But I generally don`t read and comment on other people creations.
    Last edited by akma; 2012-05-04 at 02:26 AM.
    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.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Coplantor's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Conquering Monochromia!
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Quote Originally Posted by akma View Post
    A topic that I noticed is unaddrassed here is how to publish a world (in the forum, for exemple). Also, I noticed I have no input here on how to make unique cultures.

    On unique cultures:
    Spoiler
    Show
    I tend to go with a major theme for the culture, and build around it. By the theme I can probably deduce if it`s unique or not - for exemple, a culture based on a real world culture will probably be cliched. Sure, you can create a culture based on a real world culture without it being cliched, but you will have to work on making it not cliched and unique. If you start with a unique major theme, you don`t have to do that work, and making it unique comes more naturally.

    After having the major theme/s, the work comes in one or two ways:
    A. Making logical conclusions. Harsh rule probably encourages reballions, but becuse of the strong police and army it wouldn`t work; Groups and religions that would be unashamed to be public in other kingdoms will hide themselves among the population, for fear of the police, etc.
    B. Putting ideas I like and finding excuses to have them.


    On publishing a world (not finished):
    Spoiler
    Show
    First of all, don`t look at the number of views. There will most surely be dozens of views before the first post. Having dozens of views before the first comment is something that always heppens in forums, no matter what the topic is about.
    I`m not a big expert on the subject, but here are some things that would make me stop reading a post about a world:
    A. Extremly long history. Starting with detailing about how the world was created.
    B. Cliches and genericness.
    C. Starting the description of the world in saying: "high magic..." "log magic..." and meta-gaming descriptions in general (they should come, but not in the first sentence. And I mean it in a literal way)
    D. A world that is a map and barely anything else.
    E. Walls of text.
    But I generally don`t read and comment on other people creations.
    Hehe, well, I better go edit my own post, *swoosh*
    I WAS THERE
    Life is like a dungeon master, if it smiles at you, you just know that something terrible is about to happen

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Fullbladder, Master of Goblins View Post
    Sane.... isn't the word I'd use with you, Coplantor. Or myself, in fact. With myself, I'd say obssessive. With you, I'd say.... Coplantor.


    Now I haz deviant!
    The DnD Logic
    Now I haz Blog!

    avatar by Me!

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    When you have something to go in the guide, please mark it clearly as such. There seems to be some work in progress going on here, which is fine.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.
    Ancient Lands - PF/d20 Sword & Sorcery campaign setting

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Wiwaxia's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    no

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Here's something for the guide.

    On creating unique settings:
    A good way to get a unique and unusual, but believable, settings is to take something very small or large, and scale it to human size. You could make an ancient temple inspired by a bismuth crystal or have your PCs walk through a field of miniature "mountains", complete with forests and glaciers, that are only as tall as they are. Likewise, if you're out walking and see an interesting rock formation, or a hollow under a root, or a little niche in a cliffside, or some intriguing bit of rusted machinery, or a tiny mica-filled creek, imagine putting a city or a dungeon in it.
    Also, obscure science-y stuff can be a great source for ideas. Imagine a dungeon or monster based off a siphonophore or a Venus's flower basket or a radiolarian or a ferrofluid.

    Another idea I've toyed around with, but haven't really tried, is making a list of 100 adjectives (good ones, too, not just "blue" or "ruined"), and rolling for 2-4 of them every time I need to make a dungeon or a city.
    Last edited by Wiwaxia; 2012-01-29 at 12:43 AM.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    The Underlord's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2011
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    I would put a link to the Giant's wordbuilding articles, they have some fantastic advice in them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kuulvheysoon
    The Underlord, you are clearly awesome.
    Winner of Zinc Saucier 4-The Assassin
    Current avatar by TinyMushroom
    Online gaming stuff
    Spoiler
    Show
    Steam profile: Triginomicon
    TF2 Backpack-http://www.tf2outpost.com/backpack/173057
    Minecraft user name-The_UnderlordITP
    Smite IGN:JoJoMCFroYo

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    --Lime--'s Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Far East

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Talking of links, I find this from Wizards to be a very quick and highly effective way of building a city. The first time I read it, it changed everything about how I designed them in my head.
    It is what it is unless it is what it isn't. Or isn't what it is. But if it isn't what it isn't then it is what it is.

    Dungeon! game currently being run. If this tickles your fancy, and you'd like to be notified when the next round of signups opens, come and say hi in the OOC Thread!

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Quote Originally Posted by The Underlord View Post
    I would put a link to the Giant's wordbuilding articles, they have some fantastic advice in them.
    Good idea.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.
    Ancient Lands - PF/d20 Sword & Sorcery campaign setting

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Some new advice by WhatThePhysics.


    How do you start?
    Spoiler
    Show
    Making a list of what I want to showcase. As generalizations, Faerun has high magic, Dragonlance has epic wars, Dark Sun has brutal environments, Eberron has magitech, etc. It's less "What makes my setting unique?", and more "What do I want my setting to revolve around?". The list itself is never final, but, it serves as a thematic "anchor" to get me going.


    Where do you get ideas?
    Spoiler
    Show
    During the brainstorming phase, I keep my mind open to anything. Movies, television, literature, and even real life can give me the most random of inspiration. However, to prevent outright plagiarism and imitation, I devote a little time to filtering through all the little notes I take. Taking an idea, flipping it inside out, then merging it with the others helps enrich the world I work on.


    How to make a world unique?
    Spoiler
    Show
    Two simple words: don't try. It's that simple. As long as I focus on making it my setting, it gradually becomes unique in its own right. It's an organic process that takes time, and it can't be forced without feeling completely contrived. As an analogy, would you prefer microwavables to a well-cooked dinner?


    Help chosing races, classes, and monsters.
    Spoiler
    Show
    I focus both on tropes and mechanics, at this stage, preferring to tweak before axing. "What can be optimized?" and "What wouldn't make sense?" are key questions. What do dwarves eat? Which druid feature should I strip? If neither can be fixed, or both conflict with the initial list I've made, then I boot them. I don't try to get rid of their niche, though; I can always try to find or make a replacement.


    How do you create unique cultures?
    Spoiler
    Show
    Look at history. Cultures act as if they are alive, and living things follow certain universal rules. Anything that alters these basic patterns will ultimately create something unique by itself. This part requires a bit of brainstorming, since I simulate timelines until I find one I like. The more I try to make things real and living, the quicker things become unique.


    Dealing with Magic in the World
    Spoiler
    Show
    As with races, classes, and monsters, I tweak before axing, and stick to realistic consequences. Generally speaking, I've found that trivialized magic can make a setting hard to get into, so I keep things both low-level and specific. I pick out which magic I like, then remain silent on the others. That way, the world follows the rules of normality I've chosen; but, it doesn't mean psions don't exist.


    Creating other Planes and Dimensions.
    Spoiler
    Show
    Though the Great Wheel is awesome, it's pretty big. At this point, I tweak less, and merge/axe more. At its core, each plane needs a purpose. Do I want a home for an unearthly foe? An afterlife? Can I combine them? A one-trick plane can just be a demiplane, in my eyes. A full-fledged plane is another world in its own right, with as many forms and facets as the home plane of the PCs.


    Creating Deities and Religions.
    Spoiler
    Show
    I keep my deities aloof, and my outsiders active. That way, (N)PCs can think they know everything, but they really don't. As with cultures, I look at the development of religions in the real world, then tweak them to match the unearthly elements of my setting. Do shamans consider demons evil? Do priests make sacrifices to long-dead dragons? What race is the supreme deity of a multiracial civilization?


    Alignment and Cosmic Forces.
    Spoiler
    Show
    I'm not fond of black-and-white morality, especially in a world with creatures whose sense of morality may differ strongly from out own. That way, positive energy and negative energy aren't associated with good or evil; we living creatures just see it that way. When designing cosmology, I try to straddle the fine line between objective and subjective views. It keeps things vague enough for everyone to think they know what's really going on.


    Added it to the main content section.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-08-06 at 04:44 AM.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Lord Raziere's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Gender
    Male2Female

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    I believe this has relevance, it is not by me, I am quoting it.

    Culture Building (By Dean Shomshak)
    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Shomshak
    Designing made-up societies is a craft, and like any craft you can get better at it. Here is one of the techniques I use in critiquing and designing societies for game settings. I’ll draw examples from Exalted, but what I’m talking about will work for any kind of setting.

    Be warned: I draw on a notion I took from a book about history and social science, but I’m not a historian or social scientist. Experts can probably tear all of this apart.

    THE GOAL: While world-building can be fun in its own right, the purpose for a game is to create an exciting and memorable setting for the PCs’ adventures. Preferably, for more than one adventure: If you go to the trouble to make a cool setting, you want to get plenty of use from it, yes? And if your players think the setting is cool, they will want to see more of it.

    THE PROBLEM: All too often, a game writer had one idea for a society, and didn’t look for a second. The resulting society looks boring or gimmicky or just doesn’t make sense when you look at it closely. Exalted fell into this trap early in 1e, with “gimmick” cultures such as Chaya, Varangia or Paragon, and the setting has struggled to get out ever since.

    Even if it’s a cool gimmick, building a society around just one idea limits the stories you can tell about it. Fine, the PCs had a fun adventure coping with the Chayans’ yearly freak-out. Then what?

    There’s no sense that a country could be a real place, with people who have lives apart from when the PCs show up. (To use Tolkien’s terminology, it does not inspire secondary belief.) It’s hard to care about such a setting or the people who live in it.

    ONE PARTIAL SOLUTION: To make a culture more interesting, start by looking at it from more than one perspective. Real people never lead simple, one-dimensional lives: Neither should the people of your imaginary world.

    Then use the different aspects of the society to generate factions and conflicts, both internal and external. These conflicts, in turn, present members of the society with choices — and choices are the stuff of drama. But that’s a subject for another essay.

    THE PENTANGLE OF ALL-ENCOMPASSING POWER

    Lucky for you, social scientists already came up with a set of perspectives by which you can view your made-up society: Social Forces. I learned about them from a course on Introduction to Historical Analysis, and have found them useful. (Specifically, see Carl G. Gustavson, A Preface to History, though I have changed Gustavson’s ideas somewhat.) Examining a society through the filter of each social force won’t guarantee your society is cool, fun and playable, but by Gods, it will work and you will know that society inside and out.

    "Social Forces" are ways in which people and groups, including governments, can get things done. There are many specific forms of power, but they fall into (appropriately) five general categories: Political, Economic, Ideological, Military and Technical power. In most societies, all five forces are at work to some degree, but a few may dominate. Look at a society from these perspectives to see how it works, who has power, how they use it and what they want.

    POLITICAL power comes first because all other forms of social power comment on it to some degree. Political power is all-pervasive, yet becomes shifty and circular when you look at it closely. In brief, though, this form of power grows out of the social structure itself. Somebody has to make decisions for the society, so societies invent ways to appoint Deciders. Political power is legitimate, in that most people agree that certain individuals have a right to tell the rest what to do. Usually, this act of collective make-believe is so ingrained that nobody notices it. In short, "Do what I say because I am the person who says what to do."

    Most importantly, political power is "whoever" power: whoever holds the office, gets the power. If they leave the office, they lose the power. The other social forces tend to create or define their own offices, without regard to pre-existing social structures or notions of legitimacy. Given time, though, power entrenches itself and becomes routine and political. Once an institution appears, its members try to perpetuate it, entrench it in society and maybe even extend its powers. The institutional drive for self-preservation and expansion is another aspect of political power.

    Examples of this social force include kinship and hereditary leadership: The authority of parent over child is the first and oldest form of political power. Smaller societies may structure themselves entirely through kinship. Other examples of political social structures include elections, courts and judges, and any sort of social contract. How does your society decide who gives the orders? ... Even if these “legitimate” leaders aren’t the people with the real power. What entrenched institutions will resist any attempt to change society? Conversely, what institutions might back a person who seems likely to aggrandize their power?

    Case Study: The Scarlet Empire. Her Redness began as utterly illegitimate. She had the biggest beat-stick in Creation, though, and most other institutions were in ruins. She made herself legitimate through the Thousand Mazy Paths of the Realm bureaucracy: Final decisions were not possible without her to resolve bureaucratic conflicts. She also had parental authority over the Scarlet Dynasty, even if this was not explicitly coded into law.

    Case Study: The Haslanti League has an explicit political system, consciously designed by the nation’s founders as a social contract between the various city-states and classes of Haslanti society. While the election process is cumbersome, it ensures the many divisions of Haslanti society believe their interests are all represented at the highest level of power.

    Case Study: An-Teng’s matriarchal clans are an implicit political structure, maintained by pure tradition. Men ostensibly dominate business and politics… but only so long as their grandmothers allow it. The Three Princes — hereditary monarchs who nominally rule An-Teng — simultaneously show fealty to the Realm and to native traditions through the legal fiction that the Scarlet Empress is the matriarch of their “clan.”

    ECONOMIC power is control of the production and distribution of goods and services. As the old saw goes, it's the Golden Rule: "Whoever has the gold, makes the rules." (Though in Creation, it’s silver, salt, cowries or jade.)

    Economic power means a lot more than mere wealth, though. Farmers and artisans wield economic power because other people need what they produce. As a society becomes more complex, exercises of economic power can include control over hiring and firing, wages, prices, transport of goods, consumer boycotts, national fiscal policy, striking for health benefits... on and on.

    Sometimes, economic entities such as corporations or trade guilds get mixed up in government. If the businesses create a government, you have Syndicalism, with the Italian merchant princes as RL examples. If the government directly controls economic activity, you have Socialism, more or less. Other forms of economic power include land ownership (particularly in pre-technological, agrarian societies) and plutocracy (political power explicitly limited to people with great wealth, however that's defined, from livestock to corporate stock).

    How does your society organize itself to produce and distribute the necessities of life? Or the luxuries? What are the necessities and luxuries? What do people eat? (How people feed themselves may be the most basic economic issue.) Who has the wealth, and how do they get it and keep it?

    Case Study: The Realm’s system of banking and jade scrip is both a source and exercise of economic power. The conversion rates between jade scrip and actual jade make the system deeply unstable without the Empress backing it up through her possibly imaginary Privy Purse. However, loss of faith in the system would harm just about every power broker on the Blessed Isle — so the Great Houses play along. For now.

    Case Study: The Guild. Duh. See Masters of Jade, coming soon!

    Case Study: The Lap indentures everyone at a young age as a way to control their labor for state benefit. Officially, no one has a chance to gain private wealth until they are over 43, or acquire any privilege they can pass along to their children. Unofficially, money talks as loudly in the Lap as anywhere else.

    IDEOLOGICAL power is the power of belief. Political power arises from the social structure, but ideology claims authority beyond the social structure, and tries to create its own social order. Ideological leaders justify their power in ways that have nothing to do with decision-making: The Pope is Christ's vicar on Earth, so if you believe in Christ you should obey the Pope. Or, the Communist Party will create the utopian Classless Society, so you should obey the Party. Even mob rule is a savage form of ideological power, driven by primitive ideologies such as "Let's Get What's Ours From Those Rich Bastards" or "Keep Those Dirty <Insert Ethnic Minority> In Their Place." Cults of personality are also examples of ideological power — a belief in the superhuman qualities of the Great Leader. On a brighter note, abolitionist and civil rights movements demand that societies change their structures for the sake of fairness, inalienable rights endowed by a Creator, or other transcendent ideals. Whatever the ideology, followers believe that they act as the vehicle for some greater power and purpose: "I'm on a mission from God."

    Theocracy — rule by a god or divine representative, such as a priest-king or church — is one manifestation of ideological power, but other forms can exist. What transcendent values does your society endorse? Or at least claim to endorse? Who defends and promotes these beliefs, and how, and what privileges do they claim for doing so?

    Case Study: The Scarlet Empire operates in symbiosis with the ideology of the Immaculate Order. It doesn’t matter, the Order says, what you think of your Dragon-Blooded master personally. The Dragon-Blooded are higher beings, and disobedience to them violates the fundamental order of Creation.

    Case Study: Halta and Linowan have spent centuries locked in a religious war over which type of forest is better, evergreen or deciduous. What began as a spat between their patron gods has become a mutual hatred so deep and pervasive that either society would likely disintegrate if it gave up the war — it’s one of the few things every member of these far-flung wilderness empires has in common.

    Case Study: Sijan exists to honor the dead. Everyone wants a little respect when they die, and Sijan serves that purpose. Its holy mission lets Sijan remain neutral and unarmed; its morticians travel unmolested. Any warlord, prince or bandit chief who ordered an attack on Sijan would find his own troops in revolt, and not just from fear of revenge from angry ghosts. Desecrating the dead, and their keepers, is just wrong.

    MILITARY power is simple and obvious. "Do what I say or I'll kill you." Or for a slightly subtler form, protection from enemies and dangers: "Do what I say or they'll kill you." Or "Do what I say and I'll kill them," if people feel aggressive.

    Military organizations can achieve political legitimacy if they adopt rules of conduct, a chain of command, and other formalities. A military might even take over ordinary social and political functions. Warlords, on the other hand, make no pretence of legitimacy. In this mode, soldiers don't follow a chain of command; they are personally loyal to the warlord (if only to the warlord's money). Criminal organizations often show aspects of military power, even if the criminals don't explicitly rob people: They use force to protect their turf and profits from other criminals and to intimidate legitimate authorities.

    In your society, who uses violence to gain power and get what they want? (Besides the PCs!) Is their use of force sanctioned by some other group, or is it raw threat of force?

    Case Study: The Realm Defense Grid is the greatest source of military power within Creation. (It is arguable whether the Daystar counts as “within Creation,” and anyway it is rather firmly kept out of human hands.) The Realm’s legions, however, are far from insignificant. The satrapy system ultimately rests on the threat of retribution by the occupying legions.

    Case Study: Through the Staff of Peace and Order, the Perfect of Paragon literally holds the lives of his subjects in his hands. His subjects can die if they consciously violate his law. This is not as sweet for the Perfect as you might think… But every citizen knew the deal when they swore their oath on the Staff, legitimizing his power.

    Case Study: The Mask of Winters maintains a façade of government in Thorns, but he is about the most brutally illegitimate a warlord-conqueror one could imagine.

    TECHNICAL power is the power of specialized knowledge and skills. Scientists and inventors possess technical power because their discoveries and inventions change what people can do and what they know. The priests of Egypt held technical power because of their monopoly on writing, the calendar and geometry. Nowadays, lawyers wield technical power because the law is so complicated that only a specialist can understand it. Any group based on technical power can claim authority on the grounds that only its members possess some skill that society needs to function, whether the skill is writing, law, engineering or alchemy: "Leave it to us, we know what to do."

    What does your society treat as specialized skills and knowledge? Who has power through their possession of such skills? How do they use it?

    Case Study: The Realm may appear somewhat weak in the field of technical power (though the sorcerers of the Heptagram qualify as possessors of specialized knowledge, and so do the artisans who increase the Dynasty’s panoply of artifacts). Keep in mind, though, that the complex bureaucracy of the Thousand Scales is a form of technical power. Prudent Realm-folk should not ask how much that power is meant to assure competent administration and how much it screens the people who really run things.

    Case Study: In Creation, shamanism is not always coupled with piety. Small gods and elementals have power; the shaman develops special skills to chivvy the spirits into using their power for the benefit of the tribe (or at least not to use their power to its detriment). While shamans might learn thaumaturgy for this purpose, just the diplomatic skill to bribe, browbeat, wheedle or otherwise persuade a spirit is a form of technical power.

    Case Study: The astrologers of Varangia decide everyone’s occupation, as well as the times to initiate war and peace and just about everything else. Their divinations are real, if not infallible. This assurance that everyone and everything is in the right place, doing the right thing at the right time makes Varangia an example of a government that is explicitly based on technical power.

    AFTERWORD

    Keep in mind that every social force can affect the other four, and institutions often combine more than one social force. In the Scarlet Empire, for instance, the military occupation of the satrapies brings in the tribute that enriches the Great Houses and opens the way for Immaculate missionaries. The Lap’s enormous food surplus, an economic resource, is used tactically to reward and punish societies through half the South. Or, the Varangians guide their lives through astrology because of an ideology that elevates stasis as a social goal, and ordains astrology as a way to achieve it.

    Conversely, activities and institutions that seem similar might operate within a context of different social forces. For instance, look at religion in Creation: The Immaculate Order is explicitly ideological; but shamanism is often an exercise of technical power. A god who extorts worship by threatening mortals uses military power, whereas a god who promises boons in return for worship enters into an economic relationship. Spirits can even become legitimate heads of state, as the Syndics of Whitewall have done — albeit by promising safety and prosperity as well as honest and competent government.

    As an exercise, you might look at a country’s description in the CoTD books and see how each social force operates within it. If you want to use a country as the core setting for a campaign, the Pentangle of All-Encompassing Power can suggest areas to develop your own material.
    Monkey Playwright of the Improbability Drive Fan Club, Regardless, orcs should be people.

    Raziere Watches: One Piece Curse of the Thriller Bark Part 5, UP!



  29. - Top - End - #29
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    Great. I think I just put a link to this post in the lists. Do you have a specific source for this?

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Lord Raziere's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Gender
    Male2Female

    Default Re: Playgrounders Guide to Worldbuilding

    You ask, and I give: Behold.
    Monkey Playwright of the Improbability Drive Fan Club, Regardless, orcs should be people.

    Raziere Watches: One Piece Curse of the Thriller Bark Part 5, UP!



Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •