Amongst my many flaws is that I’m a gamer. One of the old school style. As in pen and paper RPG gamer.
I’ve played many different systems over the years – and own even more.
One of my favourite was AD&D 2ed. Yes, the one with THAC0. I much preferred it to 3ed, but more of that on another day. AD&D 2ed had one of my favourite world settings of all time, that being Dark Sun. Again, something that I will discuss in more detail at another time.
Among the many accessories that were released for 2ed was the World Builder’s Guidebook. Pretty much anyone who has DMed an RPG has thought about designing their own world and setting at some stage, and this book was designed to help that.
My copy of it has seen so much use over the years that it has become rather worn. One of these days I am going to have to get a replacement that is in a little bit better condition.
The book goes through a step by step approach as to how to build a world, starting at the top and working down, or starting at the bottom and working up. Or either starting in the middle and working in either direction. There is no right or wrong way to do it – the book simply provides the tools for you to do what you want.
It is also crammed full of many handy charts that you can roll on to generator all manner of information for the world, for anything from cultures and religions, to racial make up of the world and even the type of world and the cosmology it inhabits.
The book is split into six main chapters.
Chapter One deals with approaches to designing your world – and the all important world hooks that make it up. Are you designing from a character driven approach, a sociological approach, a macroscopic or microscopic approach or even a mix of then and others.
Chapter Two covers the Worlds and Planetology – designing the whole world, its size and shape, hydrography, tectonics, climatology and basic look.
Chapter Three covers Continents and Geography. Starting with a continental sized region of the world, you fill in its landforms, its climate and weather, terrain, waterways, and where the main races of the region live.
Chapter Four is Kingdoms and Sociologies. Starting with a single kingdom or region, you work out who the inhabitants are and their culture, their government and technology, the physical cartography of the region, such as cities and towns and roads, its population and resources and settlement patterns.
Chapter Five is Cities and Provinces. There you start with a single city or major population centre, and its surrounding region, more details on its cartography, the populations and services available, and the monsters and ecology of the region, as well as any sites of interests for adventures.
Chapter Six is History and Mythology. Here you can design the pantheons of the setting, the cosmology the world inhabits and the history of the world. it isn’t quite to Dwarf Fortress level, but it is good for a starting point.
You can jump in at any of these chapters and design a world.
And that is what we are going to do over the coming weeks and months (though hopefully not years.)
In Part Two we deal with World Hooks.