Let’s talk about some ideas to really set your world apart.
There comes a time in almost every DM’s life when they want to move beyond the existing settings and create one of their own. Maybe you have an amazing story to tell, and it needs its own world to be told in. Perhaps you have a super awesome idea for a world and want to run adventures in it. Maybe you just like making up settings. Whatever the impetus, creating your own setting can be fun and rewarding both to you and your playgroup. In this ongoing series, we will look at the steps you can take to create your own setting (a process known as world-building), and we’ll look at some tips and tricks of excellent world-building and some common mistakes people make. Along the way, we will build our own setting and world.
Welcome to World Building Workshop, let’s get started.
Last time on World Building Workshop, we talked about some free map building programs you can use to make your world. We went over the pros and cons of them, and anyone could be a great way to bring your world to life. Now sometimes when making a world, you want to not just bring it to life, but really have it stand out. Today lets go over a few ideas, a few twists, you could use to really make your world different from your run of the mill game.
This is an idea I’ve seen explored a few times. Basically instead of oceans you just have sky, with all your landmasses floating in the air. You can also have variation where only some landmasses, normally islands, are flying, though I prefer it when all the landmasses are airborne. This twist can lead to a really interesting map and world, as you’ll have to figure out how people evolved to live here. Without fishing, how do people near the edges eat? Do they “fish” birds? How do people travel from landmass to land mass? There are lots of great things to be explored. I think this is great setting for a high fantasy adventure game, as it lends it self well to fantastical travels on sleek airships,and daring escapes from sky pirates.
Going to the opposite of previous idea, you can set you world entirely underground. Here the world is made up by a series of caves and tunnels, with possibly no knowledge of the above ground. These could be natural/magical caves under another world, or a kind of sub-dimension like the Underdark from D&D. Again this basic idea forces you to think through a lot of stuff and allows you to make up a whole ecology. What do people eat without the sun to grow most crops? Where do they get wood, and other resources from? There are tons of great questions. This kind of world leads to a smaller, more claustrophobic game, with areas being tightly contained. It’s great for a more horror or survival game, or a gritty adventure.
The Mechanical World
This is someways the closest to a normal world of the three, or at least the map will look most normal. Rather than being created through a natural process, this world was made. The world, from the bones, and natural features, to much of the flora and fauna is made up of machines imitating life. Think Mirrodin or Phyrexia from Magic the Gathering. While the world may seem normal at first glance it ends up being filled with strange and wonderful sights, mirror dessert, falls of flowing oil and Cogwork Mesas are just a few of the wonders. This world is a great for a game ripe with mysteries and exploration. Humans are clearly not made for this world, so how did they get there? Who made the world and why? You’ve got a ton of rich ideas with which to build your world and your story.
Let us know what your favorite world building twist is, down in the comments!