World Building 101

Pay attention class, the elder geek will now offer some advice on world building. So crafting your own campaign world can seem daunting for someone just starting out. It can be if you think about the big picture first. Moons, cycles, calendars, days of the week, days in a month, months in a year, cosmology and everything else. That is just a small taste of what you have to factor in. The best thing to do is to start small and work your way out. Start the characters off in a town or a city not a city like Waterdeep, mind, but something more manageable. Your town will have a population, it will have a major feature or draw that made people settle here. Fertile farm lands for a farming community, a large dungeon nearby which would make it a goods and services town catering to adventurers. Maybe this place is a small fiefdom under the rule of a local baron or lord? Use that ‘feature’ to start your first quest. Create local exports and trade routes in and out of town, make up the surrounding topography. Is it mountainous, hilly, plains or desert? Are there any near-by settlements they trade with or local tribes/people they are allied with or armed against? Obviously with a town that has a dungeon the adventurers would have been drawn to the area for the dungeon. For a farming community maybe the characters start out as farmers and respond to a threat to the local populace. Goblins, kobolds and orcs oh my. Afterward the intrepid adventurers stay on the adventuring path. Maybe they liked it, maybe their holdings or family were wiped out leaving nothing but the road for them. Who knows?

That leads us to the next town, city, village or major feature in the area. Then build that locale, so on and so forth. Don’t forget local landmarks like popular trade routes, forests, landmarks, ruins and anything else you can throw in there. If you take your time with it and let your players help you build it it becomes a less daunting task than you might think. Plus if you let your players help you craft the world they will all feel as if they are actually a part of a living breathing work in progress.

Sample Town
Starting Area: Brolin’s Mill
Population: 268
Farming Town
Main Exports: livestock, grain, food.
Major Buildings: Festival Grounds, Brolin’s Mill, General Store, Jousting Arena/Race Track, Mayor’s Home (Eldest in the village), Stock-in-Trade Inn, Greystone Manor, Wizard’s Tower (John Cornelius, 14 Wizard/Planeshifter)

Just as simple as that, this is the starting town for my most recent game. It is a town that was put on the map by Cornelius and his adventuring party which consists of most of the players currently in the game.

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~ by lordnightwinter on October 31, 2012.

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