Lets start making a world.
As previously mentioned, it is going to be done using the World Builder’s Guide, a AD&D 2E accessory.
For those who don’t have a copy, I thoroughly recommend it. If you don’t mind it in PDF form, you can grab it fairly cheap over on DrivethruRPG. There are always copies up on Ebay, but they come at a much higher price.
This first part is going to relatively simple – we are going to generate the World Hooks for the setting, a factor that is central to the entire design effort.
For example, Athas of the Dark Sun setting has hooks of a desert world, psionics, unusual magic in the form of defiling that has ruined the world and of course ancient, extremely powerful kings who ruled over a scattered handful of city-states.
The chart for world hooks given a number of categories, those being Climate or Landform, Sites of Interest, Cultures, Situation and Historical.
Climate or Landform can result in archipelago worlds, desert worlds, subterranean worlds or worlds with wild or unusual weather as examples.
Sites of Interest deals more with what the PCs in a setting will be dealing with; cities, dungeons, ruins, wilderness or the like.
Cultures establishes what the principle culture of the campaign setting will be like, based on real world cultures, such as Arabian, Barbarian, Renaissance or ever Seafaring.
Situation covers a wide range of factors that may influence the setting, such as if it is a dying world, or if there is an unusual technological or religious situation or if a deity plays an unusual active role in the world.
Lastly in Historical, were some past event has left a legacy upon the world. There may have been crusades of mass migrations, or the primary culture is caught in a potent civil war.
When rolling up for a hook, you could roll just one, or you could roll for a number that could provide an interesting mix, even if at first they don’t seem like they could work.
For the purpose of this world, we are going to make three rolls.
So drum rolls please.
83 – Situation
88 – Historical
14 – Climate or Landform
For Situation we roll Warfare
For Historical we roll Balkanisation
For Climate or Landform we roll Archipelago.
That gives us an interesting picture of the world, and one that gels together nicely. Not all rolls might work together so well.
So let us see what we have, using the descriptions given in the book.
Warfare: The primary culture of the campaign is locked in a cycle of warfare. The conflict may be internal of external. Military expeditions, espionage and sabotage are a principle source of adventures for the heroes.
Balkanisation: No powerful empire has ever united the central culture of the campaign, leaving a world littered with hundreds of counties, baronies, estates, principalities and city-states. Shifting alliances and strife between rivals and neighbours creates many adventure opportunities.
Archipelago: No large continents exist, only countless islands (Ursula K Leguin’s Earthsea is a good example.) Kingdoms could be limited to one island apiece, or multi-island trade empires could be prevalent.
From that we can start to get an idea of the region we are working with, of many islands, each independent, locked in struggles with each other. It doesn’t mean the whole world is that way; in fact most of the world could actually be arid, with one large sea on which is scattered the archipelagos.
But it does give us a starting picture, that may include pirates and hidden treasure, sunken cities and shipwrecks, of wild storm-wracked seas. Or maybe viking style raiders, of cold, grim islands with ruined towers of past ages upon them.
As we progress we will find out more about it. Are we dealing with classical style triremes, or medieval caravels or even age of sail tall ships? Are there those who have tamed sea monsters to aid their causes, or fly across the sea on carpets or dragons? What races live there and how do they live? Are there aquatic races who live beneath the sea, and how do they interact with the surface dwellers?
As we continue on, we will work that out. And more.
In Part Three we take a look at the Pantheon.