Last time we looked at some of the benefits of using published adventures and campaign settings. This week we will explore building a world from scratch! Put on your God pants ( in a D&D Pantheon sense), we are going to create stuff.
Setting is a key element in almost any story. The more rich and vibrant it is, the more invested our players will be. During discussions with my play group about a possible campaign, we decided that it might be interesting to run an evil setting. Ultimately we went with our current Masque of the Red Death game, but not before I started working on the world for this potential game.
I went with a big picture approach to deal with the many issues that can pop up during the infamous “evil campaign” (more on this topic in the future). I decided that the multi-verse itself was in danger from a vast inter-planar war. The multi-verse setting would allow me flexibility to plug the characters into whatever situation I needed them in. The group was loosely based on a Suicide Squad type team of bad guys being coerced into fighting for good. Flexibility was key for this to work.
Once the big idea was set, I needed a place to start my story. I wanted a world that could exist in a classic fantasy setting with the added bonus of being important in a cosmic sense. Looking at some Sci-fi artwork gave me the inspiration to develop a system of planets, 9 Worlds, connected by magical gateways. These worlds we’re once a key area used to travel to other parts of the multi-verse. The orbits of these planets create a cosmic teleportation sigil which greatly assists planar travel. So the Nine Worlds of Auth’a we’re conceptualized.
As I continued with my top down approach, I moved to the area where my players would first be seeing action. I focused on one of the worlds in particular. Each of the Nine Worlds of Auth’a are governed by a general of Gronthak, the Demon Lord, and as a result of this they tend to take on aspects of their Governor. “Despair” is the world led by Orden Mosk, a powerful summoner who is Gronthak’s primary source of magical research. The true names of the Worlds of Auth’a have been lost to history, instead each has a nickname of sorts.
The native people of Despair are all slaves feeding his magical research engine. Gronthak has granted him the use of a powerful artifact called the Throne of Command that allows Mosk to extend his influence over the entire world. Most of the world is a vast magical industrial complex of resource gathering and experimentation. The main continent holds Mosk’s Black Citadel, the center of his research. Despair is different from the rest of the worlds because four of the Dragon Roads lead directly to it. So we hit a few key points:
- The world is strategically important
- The world has a theme
- The world is tied into the story
- The world has a general history
T aking a top down approach can lead to some very exciting developments in world creation. Alternatively you can start small and build up the world as the players explore. Next time we will continue to look at Despair, narrowing our focus down to the capitol city and the people who inhabit the world. As always, if you have a topic that you want me to go over, make a comment. Happy Gaming!