Lets Build: Pantheon #2 with the World Builder’s Guidebook (AD&D 2E)

Time for another one off world building exercise with the World Builder’s Guidebook, rolling up and designing another pantheon.

For this one I am skipping the first step – the type of pantheon it is. It may link into the previous one that I designed or it may not. I haven’t figured that out yet.

Starting with the size, we roll Small, and the number of deities in it comes out as 1 Greater, 3 Intermediate, 3 Lesser and 2 Demi-powers. 9 all told. A decent number to be working with.

The organisation itself rolls up as Racial. This means that each race (or culture) has one deity who embodies the virtues of that people. So the God of Oceans and Trade will be worshiped by a people who are sailors and traders while the God of Dwarves, if of the traditional variety, would have the portfolios of mining, crafting and war. A good literary example of that is The Belgariad. This sounds an interesting option. We can roll up a bunch of different portfolios for the various deities and work out what kind of people their worshipers are from that.

Our roll for the involvement of the pantheon comes out as Moderate. Basically an average level of involvement. Sometimes they are involved in their own affairs and sometimes they are looking after their followers. Their most important followers get guidance and help and while avatars aren’t common, they won’t hesitate to manifest in times of danger or opportunity. So they are around, as needed, but not all the time.

Now lets see who makes up the pantheon.

Greater Deity; We roll up 3 portfolios for them and get War, Death and Sun. An interesting mix. It has some Aztec vibes about it. It is made even more interesting when rolling up their alignment and gender. They come out as a chaotic-evil goddess. Chaotic-evil believes in might makes right, with strongmen ruling by fear. If the most powerful deity in the setting believes this, and she has the domains of war, death and sun, the neighbours of their culture had best be watching out.

Intermediate Deity #1: They have two portfolios which roll up as Agriculture and Fire, and they are a chaotic-good female deity. Agriculture and fire make it sounds like a civilised community, of growing crops and cooking food, and being chaotic would indicate a less centralised society. Shades of The Shire by the sounds of it.

Intermediate Deity #2: They have two portfolios, Prosperity and Guardianship, and they are a lawful-good female deity. Much more centralised than the previous deity, they value guarding what they have and building a well ordered, peaceful and prosperous society.

Intermediate Deity #3: They have three portfolios, Fortune, Earth and Magic, and they are a neutral-good male deity. Thinking about this, I can see a way to work them all together – the earth, or more specifically, the land, gives the people who follow this deity both magic and good fortune. Outside of that geographical region the effects of it are not as strong.

Lesser Deity #1: They have the domains of Moon and Wisdom, and they are a lawful-good female deity. In effect they stand in opposition to the Greater Deity, but they are much weaker, both the goddess and her people. In addition, they value knowledge and understanding over war, but unlike the greater deity and her followers, they have friends.

Lesser Deity #2: They have the domains of War and Fortune, and are a neutral-good male deity. His people are warriors and are seemingly blessed with good luck in battle. Things just seem to go right for them, or wrong for the enemy, which helps offset their smaller size.

Lesser Deity #3: They have the domain of Wind, and are a chaotic-neutral female deity. The winds are fickle, blowing a soothing breeze one minute and destructive storms the next. So too are her followers, possibly creatures of the air who never stay in one place long, and who are regarded with some suspicion wherever they go.

Demipower #1: They have the domain of Darkness, and are a chaotic-neutral male power. The shrouded lands of the dark are a place of dreams and of nightmares, wherein dwells the one who brought it into being. Not a true god, nor a mortal either, he walks the divide between..

Demipower #2: They have the domain of Oceans, and are a chaotic-evil male power. From the oceans come reavers and raiders, who strike the shores seeking plunder and bringing death and destruction. Like the power of Darkness, they are not a true god, but seek to elevate themselves through the death their followers reap.

So there we have an interesting collection of deities, and one that I can work with. In fact I plan on expanding on it in further posts, of the powers and the cultures and races that follow them. So keep an eye out for that coming soon.

Lets Build a World: Part Thirteen: Details and Landforms

After selecting the region of the world map we want to explore and making a rough sketch of it, we come to starting to add the details to it.

The first thing to do is sharpen up the edges of the islands, to make it look more like coastlines. There are no rules for this, so just make it look however you want. In addition I throw in a bunch of smaller islands scattered across the map, forming lesser chains between the larger ones. One larger island is added as well, right in the middle of the map. I have plans for that.

Looking at the map, I also decide that I want to break up the larger island in the southwest a little as well. It is a large landmass and so I break off two smaller islands from it while still retaining the original shape overall. This is, after all, a world of islands and archipelagos and a land mass of that size stands out.

With shape given to the landmasses, and islands added, we begin to add in landforms – mountains, hills and the like. We already know where the mountains go so we add those in on the map, following the outline we previously sketched. How exactly to shape them is left up to the world builder.

If we were starting fresh with no world map to draw from, we would roll for the mountains. Each region would have 1d4+1 mountain systems, rolling 1d4 for which quadrant of the map they were in. The systems themselves are 4d8 hexes long, rolling a 1d12 for the direction they run in. Each system can be flanked by 1d4-1 lesser systems, shorter in length than the main system. But we don’t need to do that.

With the mountain chains put in, I also add the volcanoes that we had marked down early as well. I add one extra one, in the new island in the middle of the map.

Next step is to add foothills. On either side of the mountains we have added, foothills 1d3-1 hexes wide exist. On some sides the mountains can rise sheer up, while others others can extent out into rugged hills. There isn’t a lot of room on the islands for these, but we add them in as best we can.

In addition to foothills maps can contain rolling hills, much less rugged and more inhabitable. Each region would have around 3d4 of these, though given we are a mostly water map there isn’t much room for that. On a mostly land map we could add that many in. Instead we find a couple of islands where we can ad in a couple of patches of hills.

Maps can also have special features, like depressions, gorges and escarpments, usually about 1d6 in number. Again, given our lack of land, that isn’t something we can really add in on our map.

As can be seen, a lot of fun can be had rolling up landforms and experimenting with where to place them and what they look like. At some point I will do it as an example given they can’t really fit on a mostly water map.

The end result of placing all of the landforms and detailing the islands produces a map that looks like this;

The map is made with Wonderdraft.

Next time we will be working on the climate, weather and terrain of the region.

Lets Build a World: Part Twelve: Continents and Geography

We’ve finished with Chapter Two of the World Builder’s Guidebook, covering Worlds and Planetology. Now we are moving on to Chapter Three: Continents and Geography. This is probably the stage of world building that most are familiar with as a lot of fantasy is set at this level, with a continent or continent-sized region. Middle-Earth. The Hyborian Kingdoms. The Wheel of Time. A Song of Fire and Ice. Earthsea. The Belgariad. Faerun. The list goes on. It is a large area of multiple kingdoms and nations and plenty of scope to travel.

This is also a very good starting point for worldbuilding with the guidebook and possibly the most common too. The book covers how to do that, by rolling the hydrography of the world, ranging from a region of archipelagos all the way to a region with little to no water, draw up a rough map of the region, followed by rolling for the landforms of the regions, its mountains and hills, its plains and gorges and more and placing them on it.

We aren’t doing that though. We have a world map to work from and so we are going to select a region from that. For that you select one of the twenty regions on the world map, or an equivalent area, and roughly sketch them on a new map. As the book points out this is a vast area. If working from an Earth-sized world, one of the twenty regions is equivalent to about to twice the size as the continental USA.

As I mentioned previously, I had an idea of where I wanted to work with, as indicated on the map below.

Why that region in particular? I thought it looked an interesting spot, with the volcanic activity and the layout of it. As can be seen, it isn’t centred on any one region but is about the size of one region.

The next step was to roughly map it out on a new map, and adding to it the wind and current movement, the presence of the plates and the mountains, to produce the following map.

Each of those hexes is about 100 miles across, so that larger island is about the size of France. As can be seen, in the southeast corner, we have low mountains running along the islands there with extinct volcanoes, while to the north and west we have medium mountains, with active volcanoes present. A deep ocean trench lies to the northwest and we have wind and current patterns.

All right, so what is next? Well, now we start adding details. We will take the rough map and give it proper coastlines, followed by expanding on the mountains and hills and then moving on to the climate and terrain.

Lets Build a World: Part Eleven: Climate

Last time we worked on starting to map the world, which included working out tectonics. This time we look at the last part of the entire planet build, and that is its climate.

In a typical Earth like world, there are five climate bands; arctic, sub-arctic, temperate, sub-tropical and tropical. That isn’t necessarily the case in all worlds, and each band can have variance based on a number of factors, such as altitude, weather patterns or even more extreme things like the presence of a deity. Adding a second sun could also change things up substantially as well.

Our first step to determine the climate is to work out the mean planetary temperature. Is it similar to Earth, or is it hotter or colder? The hotter it is, the further north people have to live as the equatorial regions become to hot to live in, at least for humans and others like them, whereas the colder it is, the further south people need to live as it may resemble an ice age.

On a 1d100, we roll a 43, which results in a normal temperature, similar to Earth. Not super hot or super cold. Which means we can find people all across the globe.

The next step is seasonal variance. Seasonal variance is produced on Earth by its axial tilt. The more a world tilts, the more extreme seasonal variance is. Of course, axial tilt doesn’t have to apply to fantasy world. There could be other explanation for seasonal variance, ranging from the sun waxing and waning in strength or an eternal war between the gods. A Song of Ice and Fire is an example of a world with extreme seasonal variance.

Rather the roll on the seasonal variation, I instead choose, going with mild. This results in a world with less variation than on Earth, resulting in the arctic circles being pushed back further north, and the ice sheets being smaller. Seasons are present but reduced in strength, with the tropics and sub-tropics seeing no seasonal variation, while temperate and sub-arctic bands have warmer winters and cooler summers.

This could explain why, at least from a scientific view, the world has more oceans. The warmer temperatures in the the artic regions caused the ice sheets to melt and raise the sea levels.

Now we know what the temperatures are like, we have to work out the prevailing winds and ocean currents which drive the weather. For both, north of the equator, they move in a clockwise direction, while south of it they move counter-clockwise.

For currents, take a look at the major bodies of water and draw a circle in the appropriate direction depending on what hemisphere they are in. They will follow along the edges of land masses, which in the case of my map will be the undersea mountains and island chains. In the map below, the currents are marked in blue.

For prevailing winds, they are generated by oceans and large land masses, the latter of which we are lacking. Unlike ocean currents, they aren’t impeded by shorelines, but mountain ranges, especially large ones, will hamper them. For my world, the wind currents are shown in orange.

And that is it for the planetology stage of the world building. Next time we will choose one of the regions on the map and drill down into it, starting the Continents and Geography chapter of the book. And looking at the map, I have a fair idea where I am going to choose.

Lets Build a World: Part Ten: World Mapping and Tectonics

After a long break we are back to the world building process with The World Builder’s Guidebook (AD&D 2ed). We have come to the slowest part of the process – maps.

The book came with a pad of blank maps to use, as this was in the days before mapping software was really an option. The expectation was that it would all be done by hand. For the world map, they provided a polyhedral map, as seen below. The world was split into 20 sections, as we previously rolled for, and you assigned the various sections based on the continents you had rolled up.

While it does make for a more realistic global map, not all worlds are necessary global, and if you are using other means to map, such as mapping software, they may not always have the option to be polyhedral.

So for this I am going with a more standard looking map. We place the two continents we rolled in squares 4 and 7 and then assign the rest of the options were we want. The end result looks like this.

That is, of course, the easy bit. Now we have to sketch out the shape of the world based on what we have. Half land/half water is what is says, while major islands have around 25% land and 75% water. Minor islands have a scattering of land, maybe 5%, while water is pretty much just water, with maybe a small island here or there. On a piece of paper I map out a rough design of the world, as show here.

With an idea of how the world works, we come to the next stage, the seismology and tectonics of the world. This, of course, is based on the concept that your world is similar to Earth. You may not need to worry about this step if you are going for something wild and unusual, but for this example we are going to keep following the book.

A Earth-sized world has 4d4 plates, each of 1d6 regions. Our roll is 11 plates, so we start to roll to see how many regions each has. We start rolling with 6, 2, 2 and 5. That brings us up to 15 regions already, leaving just 5 left. As we have rolled more plates than that, we just add 5 more of 1 region each and drop the last 2. It may be that you end up with not enough regions, in which case you can just add the left over region to the last plate.

Now we have the plates we need to add them to the map. Generally along the boundary between land and sea, or along island chains is a good place to put then, though they don’t necessarily have to follow that; looking at Earth’s plates you can see one running right down the middle of the Atlantic. One to three plates per ocean basin or continent is recommended. The red lines on the map below are how I allocated them.

So what are the rest of the markings on the map about? Well, where plates meet is a good place to find mountains and rifts as well as volcanic and seismic activity. Plates meet each other in one of three ways; away from each other, towards each other or alongside each other. Starting with one plate, you roll on the plate movement table to see in which way they are moving (and from that you know what the other side is doing), and see what it causes. Plates moving towards each other tend to make the largest mountains, while those moving alongside each other will result in seismic activity.

The red arrows on the map indicate the movement of the plates. As can be seen I didn’t fill them all in; you can if you want, but it isn’t required. The blue lines mark deep ocean trenches, forming where one plate is sliding underneath its neighbor. The brown lines mark mountain chains; 1 line for low mountains, 2 lines for medium mountains and 3 lines for high mountains. In this case the ‘mountains’ are submarine ridges that the peaks of form island chains.

World size can play a part in adjusting the size of mountains, if you wish for that. World’s smaller than average adjust mountain ranges up in size, while larger world’s than Earth adjust it down.

Volcanic chains are also marked on the map. The solid orange triangles active volcanoes, the solid yellow triangles are dormant volcanoes and the hollow orange triangles are extinct. Given that one of the most important deities in the pantheon of the world is the Lord of Volcanoes, these are liable to be important places.

I haven’t marked down anything about earthquakes, but will keep an eye on any regions that might experience them as we further explore the world.

Of course, if you are going with a fantastical world and don’t want tectonic plates, you can roll on a sperate chart to place mountains per region, ranging from normal mountains to fantastical ones, like ones that are gates to elemental plains.

Next time we move on to the climatology of the planet.

Lets Build: A Pantheon with the World Builder’s Guidebook (AD&D 2E)

For a project I am working on, I am going back to The World Builder’s Guidebook (AD&D 2E) to work out some details. First up will be the creation of a pantheon using the guidebook. I have some ideas which I want to explore but need to get a proper feel for the place before I get started. So lets get rolling.

Firstly is to work out what type of pantheon it is; the dice roll a 53, resulting in one pantheon per major culture, with overlapping deities. In effect this means that there is one deity per portfolio (war, love, sun etc), but that they are known by different names to different cultures. A prime example of that are the gods and goddesses of the Roman and Greek pantheons – many of the Roman ones were rebranded Greek ones, similar in a lot of ways but with different names.

Int his case, I am thinking that there would be one fairly large pantheon and that each culture uses elements of it. Some deities, the main ones, may be fairly universal while others may be more specific to only a few cultures. The relative importance of them will vary from culture to culture, so a deity of agriculture may not have much meaning to nomadic herders, while a deity of rain would likewise not be followed in a desert dwelling culture. The deity of war would be of far grater importance to a militaristic, expansionist culture than a more civilised, peaceful one.

Next we move onto the pantheon size. In this case it is the size of the pantheon for the culture we are working with, and not the size of the overall pantheon. A roll of 23 results in a Small pantheon. Given the culture involved it a relatively minor one that can work well. Rolling for the number of deities, we get 1 Greater, 2 Intermediate, 2 Lesser and 2 Demi, a total of 7 all told. We will work out who they are later.

With the size worked out we work out what the organisation of the pantheon is, or at least this portion of it. The larger pantheon will be a mixed one, with various elements as the pantheon evolved. This portion rolls a 63, a Natural pantheon. Basically, they represent various elements of nature; animals, plants, seasons, weather etc.

Lastly we work out the involvement of the pantheon in the affairs of mortals. A roll of 37 results in Aloof; the deities don’t get involved much, if at all, and only in times of great need. The Valar of The Silmarillion are an example of that, at least later on.

Now to work on the specifics of the Pantheon.

Greater Deity; We roll 3 on 1d3 for the number of portfolios they have. The first roll is a 19; Oceans. That fits in very well with the Natural theme of the pantheon and indicates that the culture we are working on has deep connections to the ocean. The second roll is 06; Animals. In this case it wouldn’t be all animals, but oceanic animals. Our last roll is a 36; Sun. That one doesn’t seem to fit as well, so I re-roll and come up with 51; Fate. Given the nature of the sea, that one fits in well.

There are no actual rules for determining gender or actual alignment of the deities, beyond a range of them. Animals, oceans and fate could be of any alignment. My house rule is to just flip a coin for gender and use the alignment chart for cultures to figure out the alignment of a deity, re-rolling for any non-allowed ones.

Rolling gives a male god who is neutral-good, completing the picture of him. The God of the Ocean is seen by this culture as a benign ruler, concerned for the well being of his people over the rules of law and individual liberty. He preaches acceptance of the fate that comes on all, whether raging storm or unexpected wealth, and the creatures of the sea are his, the bounty of them provided to his followers. The sea drakes that explore the depths of the ocean are his sacred creatures.

Intermediate Deity #1; We roll 2 on 1d3 for the number of portfolios they have. The first roll is 73; Music and the second is 54; Fire. They are also female and of a neutral-good alignment as well. At first glance it seems a bit of an odd combination but I can see how it works.

The Lady of the Flame, at least in this culture, welcomes all to her warmth and represents all that is good about fire; the provider of heat and of cooking. Moreso, hers is a place where people gather around to share, to sing and make music. She represents the good aspects of fire and most likely was one of the early deities worshiped by early people, simple hunter-gatherers at their campfires.

Intermediate Deity #2; We roll 2 on 1d3 for the number of portfolios they have. The first roll is 10; Earth and the second is 80; Trade. I like this combo and will keep it for the overall pantheon but I think I will set it aside for this pantheon and roll again as it doesn’t quite fit the picture I am building up in my head for them. Instead we roll 27; Seasons and 37; Sun. They are a male neutral deity.

The Lord of the Seasons is even more indifferent to the fates of mortals than most, caring simply for the rise and fall of the seasons, from summer to winter and back, and with it the waxing and waning of the strength of the sun.

Lesser Deity #1; We roll a 1 on 1d2 for the number of portfolios. The roll is 52; Fertility. They are a chaotic good female deity.

The Lady of Birth and Growth cares little for the rule of laws, instead being about the growth of all things, the blossoming of new life, the birth of new creatures. Given her inclusion in the pantheon and the more chaotic nature of her personality, the culture in question might have looser laws on such matters as marriage, and less stigma on those born out of wedlock.

Lesser Deity #2; We roll a 2 on 1d2 for the number of portfolios. The rolls are 100; Time and 31; Sky. The deity is a lawful good female.

The Lady of Time is closely connected to The Lord of Seasons. Perhaps related, perhaps married. Perhaps both, depending on the culture and mythology involved. They mark the orderly passage of time, displaying it in the heavens with the wheel of the stars and the moon, and like the Lord of Seasons, being indifferent to all else, but in a far more orderly manner than the passage of seasons.

Demi-power #1; They have a single portfolio, rolling a 78; Thunder. They turn out to be a neutral-evil female deity. An unusual one, but given the oceanic theme of the culture, one that could fit in. The Lady of Storms is a selfish deity who rages at will, caring little for the deaths she brings to those caught up in her displays. For such reasons mortals fear her but also respect her, seeking to appease her nature with offerings in return for their safety, but they don’t exactly love her.

Demi-power #2; They have a single portfolio, rolling 48; Death. They turn out to be a Lawful-neutral female deity.

Death comes to all. It is part of nature, unavoidable. While her sister, The Lady of Birth and Growth ushers you into the world, it is The Lady of Death who ushers your soul on. She is not a cruel or uncaring deity, merely one carrying out the natural order of things, regardless of the standing of the victim. All in the end come to her, and hers is a place where suffering and pain are no more.

That is the pantheon of the culture that we are working on, an interesting mix. The details of the pantheon can now be fleshed out as the culture is built up on but as it currently stands we have a few points of interest to look at. But as you can see, you can get some interesting mixes and from that try and build a story around them, to see what ideas it sparks. You don’t have to stick exactly with what the rolls give you, though they can certainly help get the creativity flowing.

30 Years of Dark Sun

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of my favourite fantasy setting. October 1991 saw the release of the Dark Sun boxed set by TSR for AD&D 2ed.

When I say favourite fantasy setting, I don’t just mean for gaming, but overall. Books, movies, gaming, this is my favourite fantasy world.

I remember picking up the boxed set in my local (long since closed) gaming shop and being intrigued by it. When I got it home and opened it up and read it, I was amazed. Here was a world so unique, so different to any other fantasy world I had come across before. At the time, most fantasy was very similar, a fantasy world of vaguely medieval European influence. Dark Sun was nothing like that.

Here is the opening of the campaign setting journal that came with the boxed set;

I live in a world of fire and sand. The crimson sun scorches the life from anything that crawls or flies, and storms of sand scour the foliage from the barren ground. Lightning strikes from the cloudless sky, and peals of thunder roll unexplained across the vast tablelands. Even the wind, dry and searing as a kiln, can kill a man with thirst.

This is a land of blood and dust, where tribes of feral elves sweep out of the salt plains to plunder lonely caravans, mysterious singing winds call men to slow suffocation in a Sea of Silt, and legions of slaves clash over a few bushels of mouldering grain. The dragon despoils entire cities, while selfish kings squander their armies raising gaudy palaces and garish tombs.

This is my home, Athas. It is an arid and bleak place, a wasteland with a handful of austere cities clinging precariously to a few scattered oases. It is a brutal and savage land, beset by political strife and monstrous abominations, where life is grim and short.

That description right there just invokes everything you need to know, of a inhospitable world where survival is a struggle. And it was amazing. The artwork that went with it too, especially from Brom, really helped get a feel for the world.

For those who haven’t run across Dark Sun before, it is well worth. Athas, the world of Dark Sun, was once a pleasant world, but magic was fuelled by life energy, and spell casters plunged the world into an ecological disaster through rampart and greedy use of magic. Civilisation, what remains of it, clings on in a few city-states on the few remaining patches of fertile land, ruled over by tyrannical and all powerful Sorcerer-Kings and Queens. The races, those that have survived, bear little resemblance to their traditional fantasy counterparts. Metals is rare and water is a precious resource to fight and kill for. And everywhere there are deserts.

Yeah, a very different world. The creators of the setting, Tim Brown and Troy Denning, and its best known artist, Gerald Brom, were recently interviewed for the 30th anniversary of the release of the setting, going into how it all came about as well as other thoughts on Dark Sun, including thoughts on if it could have been released in current times or not, and on the direction the setting took after they were no longer working on it.

If there is one world that I wish I could have created, it would have been Dark Sun. Of course, my version would have been a little different – I tend to stick to a vision of it as first seen through the original boxed set. A lot of what was released later on, including the metaplot and revealed history of the setting I would have ignored, but most of that is fairly irrelevant when playing the game. When you are out on the desert with no food or water, being stalked by hungry braxat, the history of the world doesn’t matter much. In this regards I am a bit of a original boxed set purist – or heretic, depending on your view.

But one thing the setting did do is heavily influence my view on what fantasy could be. It didn’t have to be knights and castles and dragons in a psuedo-European setting. It could be something else entirely. And ever since then it has fashioned the way I have GMed and written. It may not always be front and centre, but something of Dark Sun seeps into the fabric of all those worlds I have played with and made them different.

And it is for that reason I am eternally grateful for Dark Sun. It may have been a brutal world where life was cheap but it made me a better GM and writer for it.

Let’s Build a World: Part Nine: Planetology

In our return to the world building through AD&D 2e’s World Builders Guidebook, we are going back to the beginning, to the Worlds and Planetology.

Specifically, we are going to look at what the world itself looks like. From our early cosmology section, we rolled up a terrestrial water world that appears to be our campaign world.  But as we go through the next stage that may or may not be the case.

The first part of the chapter deals with the shape and size of the world and the first table deals with the sizes.  Is it a regular planet shape or something else?  A disc, a polyhedron or something even more bizarre.

On a D100 we roll 26 – a sphere.  So basically a normal looking planet.

Next comes the size of the world – anything from 800 to 16,000 miles in diameter.  Earth is about 8,000 miles for comparison.

On a D100 we roll 25 – 4,000 mile diameter.  In effect our world is only about half the size of Earth, or around the size of Mars.

After that comes hydrography – how wet the world is.  We know that the setting is archipelagic in nature so rather than rolling I select 80% water.  This gives us only around 20% of the world as land, which is still a lot of land as it comes out to maybe a third of Earth’s land surface.

Table 5 in the book deals with the starting of the mapping stage of the world, giving an outline of how much land and water each section of it has when mapping out on a 20 section polyhedral map. Even though I aren’t going to use a polyhedral map, it does give some decent indications.  At 8-% water, 8 sections are water, 6 sections are water with a few minor islands, 4 are water with major islands (around 25% of the section) and 2 are water and land sections, with about half and half of each.

We have an idea of how much land and water there are, but what do they actually look like?  The book moves on then to the continents, islands and coastlines part of the chapter.

If you have a water dominated world, you roll to see the number and size of continents you have and vice versa if it is land dominated.

For our world, we have only 2 regions that are at least 50% land so we have 1d2 continents of 1-2 regions in size according to table 6.  If we were at only 60% hydrography, that would give us 9 regions made up of 1d6 continents of 1-8 regions in size.

The roll gives us 2 continents which means that each will be of 1 region in size.  The other regions with islands in them will be scattered around.

Now to placing them.  If you are using the polyhedral map you just use a D20 and roll to locate where the continents or seas are to go.

The first roll is a 7, which is in the centre of the middle latitudes while the second is a 4, placing it up in the northern reaches.

Next time we will start doing some maps of the regions, basic ones, and work out other matters of planetology, such as tectonics, mountains and climates.

World Building One Off

As you read through the World Builder’s Guidebook, you follow the process of creating a world from the start, from the initial design of the world all the way through to the creation of a single kingdom.

There is also a single one off example of a design of a single location at the cities and provinces level, an area of 40 or so miles, which in the case of the example was a tropical island ruled over by renaissance level elven pirates.

So as an example of building from the bottom up, rather than the top down, I am going to do a one off, of a small region with a handful of settlements and some places for adventurers starting out to explore.

Starting off, I roll on the World Hooks chart, coming up with subterranean initially.  While I do want some subterranean elements involved, I also want a more regular above ground region as well, so I roll again, this time getting arctic.  This also covers sub-arctic, which strikes me as the preferred option.  Those that live there will rely heavily on herding, hunting and fishing to live and the region will have summers with long days and winters with very long nights.

Moving on to see what the region looks like, I roll up coastal or peninsular for the seas and rivers in the region, gentle hills for mountains and hills, moderate for seasonal variation, meaning much as Earth experiences and for humidity, I went with arid rather than humid.

The next step was to work out the predominant terrain of the region – the dice came up with rocky desert, a region marked by boulder fields, stony wastes and weathered bedrock, no doubt wind swept and cold, and probably forming where the hills are.  There will also be regions of the other types of terrain found in the area, such as light forests of needleleaf evergreens and grasslands in the form of dry steppes.  These would be where the inhabitants mostly live.

As to who lives there, a roll on the dominant race comes up dwarves, and there are also three other races, those being goblins, aarakocra and humans.  For each I roll to see how they relate to the dominate dwarves.  The goblins life separately, the aarakocra are completely intermixed with the dwarves, living alongside them as equals, and the humans live separately but are considered equals to the dwarves as well.  The goblins aren’t considered equal for whatever reasons.

Continuing on, a roll on the Cultural Archetypes table comes up with Dark Ages Europe.  This is a time of tribal warchiefs and their warbands, prior to feudalism and the landed nobility.

Rather than rolling on the tech level, I just select dark ages technology.  Don’t expect plate armour to show up here.

The government of the region turns out to be neutral-good theocracy, which is interesting.  In effect the region is ruled over by priest-kings.  Given that religion is obviously an important element here, I roll up the primary deity worshiped, and come up with fire and sun for their domains.  Given the cold of the region and the long winter nights, that fits in well, as the priests provide light and warmth and comfort during that time.

Lastly we roll on subsistence levels, to see how people live in the region.  The result is predominantly by herding/grazing, keeping their herds upon the steppes.  There will also by some light levels of farming, hunting, fishing and mining as well.

Working out the population density, we have a base level of 2 for grazing, +1 for the hills and -1 for dark ages, giving us a level of 2, or low density.  That gives us a town and around 5-10 villages in the region, with a population of around 5000 people or so.

With all of that worked out, I made a map of the region.

Subartic 2 copy

(The map was made with a program called Wonderdraft)

Sunfire Keep is the main settlement, and home of the local Priest-King, with four other villages were the dwarves and aarakocra live, and two of humans, on the coast, each with a local headman.  The goblins have a den up north, leading into the subterranean regions.

This is just the local starting area and later on you can expand outwards.  There would be other small nations of the same culture out there of similar size ruled over by other Priest-Kings, as well as other nations and cultures and races as well.  There are other aspects you could expand upon, such as the nature of the religion, the presence of the goblins and what else dwells in the subterranean regions.

But for now we leave the example here and return to the ongoing world building project.

Let’s Build a World: Part Eight: History

As previously promised, we are finally going to cover the history of the region, with a view to working on the background and trying to make some sense of it.

For that we are going to roll up a campaign timeline that sketches out the history of a region/kingdom/culture.

It is nothing more than a rough lists of dates and major events, and is divided into three sections; ancient history, middle history and recent history.

The events for each section are a little different; recent history has events that people can recall, occurring in the lifetime of many people, even characters, while the events of ancient times are hay and il-remembered, coming down through the ages as myths and legends.

For each we roll to see how many events happened and how many years apart.  Ancient ages have 2d6 events set d6+4 x 100 years apart, middle history is 4d4 events set d6+4 x 10 years apart and recent history has 2d6 events set 1d6 years apart.

So time to roll and see what we get.

Ancient History

0: Technological Discovery – (An important breakthrough in physical/magical technology took place, perhaps the invention of a new school of magic, the development of the printing press, or the introduction of a new weapon of warfare.)

700: Magical Discovery  – (As above.)

1200: Expansion/Exploration – (An ancient people expanded into neighbouring territory or conducted exploration of nearby lands.)

2200: Migration – (An ancient race or culture passed through, settled or departed the kingdom in question.)

2900: Empire Falls – (An ancient empire rose or fell.)

3800: Epic War – (Epic wars refer to great conflicts of ancient history, in which, (for example) all dwarves and orcs struggle for decades or centuries, or the gods themselves take an active hand.)

Middle History

3860: War, Conquest

3940: Intrigue/Scandal – (Some kind of far-flung conspiracy or shocking behaviour rattled the leaders of the area.)

4020: Plague – (Disease swept the region, decimating the population.)

4090: Revolution – (A revolution seeks to overturn the entire social order and replace it with another one.  For example, the serfs or peasantry might rise in an attempt to drag down the nobility and make their kingdom a democracy)

4180: Magical Discovery

4240: Legendary Character – (A particularly famous or noteworthy person lived during this time.)

4290: Invasion/Raids – (The kingdom in question was invaded at some point, and possibly conquered.  The people may have eventually integrated their conquerors, or fought back and threw them out.)

Recent History

4293: Intrigue/Scandal

4296: Natural Disaster/Plague – (A storm, flood, fire or similar local disaster struck the area in question.)

4299: Internal War – (A civil war, failed revolution or war of succession is an internal war, fought primarily between parties or regions within the same nation.)

4304: Raids/Brigandage – (The kingdom was looted and pillaged frequently during the period by foreign raiders or by large and well-organised bands of outlaws.)

All right, lets have a look at some of this.  I’m not planning on working out all the details of what all of it means just yet, but more the basics, and later on I can go back and fill in details.

The ancient period seems fairly easy – breakthroughs both magical and mundane – probably related to build building and navigation and the harnessing of the magic of the seas – saw people spread out through the archipelagos, settlings new lands and forming a grand empire.

But it fell and turmoil followed in the aftermath of that, culminating in an epic war that saw the gods involved, with the Storm Lord and his daughter at the centre of it.

The turmoil continued on into the middle period,  with wars and revolution following, marred by a great plague the ravished the land.

And while this wad going on, someone discovered the secrets of the magic of the Darkness, unleashing necromancy and dark magic on the world.

In 4240, a legendary female warrior arose, sickened by the conflicts that plagued the land.  She in time grew to be the demi-goddess previously created in the pantheon section.

That was only 64 years prior to current events, and despite her efforts, the recent period has been marred by more conflict, with raiders loyal to the Storm Lord and his daughter threatening to once more destabilise the whole region and plunge it into a war in which the gods are drawn into.

And with that we finish up with the history and mythology section of the book.  It does go on a little bit more discussing things like races and classes and kits, magic and monsters, but it is more hints of what you can do rather than rules, and we haven’t reached the stage of world creation to think about that kind of thing yet.

So next time we go back to one of the earlier chapters and start looking at what the world may or may not look like, and the type of people and nations that inhabit it.