Mar 4 2011
So, since my world building series has now wrapped up, it seems appropriate to put together a little article linking to all of the posts in this series and provide you some links to these articles. The series was a long time running, but I think there is a lot more to be said and there is a lot of other advice out there on world building that you can find out there on the web. I encourage you to look around. It has been a lot of fun to write and it also really helped me to focus on my world building style and get ahead on my current campaign setting. I hope you were able to get at least a few nuggets out of this, but if not, I apologize and I offer, in exchange, some links at the end of this article to some sites that will actually help you manage and build your campaign setting. Check ‘em out!
This articles discusses the addiction that many of us GM’s face in gaming, the addiction that is world building. Many of us get hooked on world building. This article approaches that subject and introduces this series.
This article talks about never forgetting to build at least a little Old School; even though we might have tons of web based programs and sites which can help us build our campaign settings, never forget to pick yourself a good old fashioned notebook.
This article takes a look at world tone. Some worlds are going to be humorous and funky, some need to be spooky scary (as opposed to gory scary). Deciding on the tone you want for the world at large when you start building your world is probably a very good idea.
The Genre of your setting is second only to tone (maybe its more important, but that is really up to you). It is a good idea to decide early on whether or not your world is going to be high fantasy, super fantasy, or steampunk; it can be pretty hard to change setting genre mid-stream.
There are two pretty well accepted world building techniques – top down, and bottom up (macro and micro). But, do they really have to be kept apart? This article focuses on combining these two techniques to keep yourself motivated and your campaign setting construction process moving.
You should steal as much stuff for your setting as you are comfortable with. Just don’t get caught doing it. JK. Every good GM will look around the real world and take from it inspiration and ideas and use those to help build up their world. You should probably do the same. This post also focuses on some of the places to “research” for you setting.
Have you ever had a conversation with one of the NPC’s in your world? You should think about trying it. Having a convo with an NPC is a good way to see how your world is developing and make sure that everything is working the way you want it to.
Here, I discuss ways that you can kick off your campaign and get things rolling when you actually want to play with it (remember that is why you’re building a campaign setting after all). In this article, you will find some useful information regarding the different types of ways you can start your campaign. I take a look at the elevator speech and writing campaign setting primers among other things.
You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. Ok, that might be a bit harsh. Your setting may in fact be very special and actually, it is a very unique snowflake, but your world is one among many and it is very, very hard to sell your setting to a group of players. This article focuses on selling your setting to your players and getting them immersed in your world.
The last in my 10 part series on world building. Is the world going to come to an end? Only if you want it to, and even then it will always live on in your head. As long as you are passionate about your setting and want to keep working on it, your setting will live on. If you can get people excited about your setting too, than your setting will even live on without you.
Before I close things out completely, I wanted to mention some of the sites that I use for building my settings which I think you might find useful. First off, I wanted to bring up Obsidian Portal This site offers you the ability to put together a campaign wiki which you can use for whatever purpose you might desire. I use it to actually put together a campaign setting bible that uses hyperlinks between pages; I also use this site for actually tracking one of my ongoing games, a Play by Post Shadowrun game. The site supports just about any system you could possibly desire. I don’t have a paid membership yet, but I will be upgrading soon. With the free membership you get up to 2 campaigns for your account and you have access to all of the basic features – but, with the upgraded, paid account (which is pretty cheap actually) gets you unlimited campaigns and also allows you to store significantly more date. It also gives you some other cool features like the ability to send out e-mails to all of the players in your group whenever you update your campaign wiki.
I also use Artweaver, a German freeware image editing program. It works a lot like GIMP, but is a little bit less powerful, but what it does offer is speed and size. The program doesn’t require nearly as much processing power to use as other photo editing programs around the net, which means that if you are running a netbook, like I am, you won’t be burning out your RAM, but you still get all of the power you need. I use this program for doing banners and art, but mainly, I use it for doing maps.
Speaking of Map Making, I am a member of the Cartographer’s Guild Forums This is a really good spot to find tips on map making as well as some really amazing maps that users have generated. I troll these forums and pick up tips more than anything, but I’ve posted one of my campaign maps up their for critique.
Though I like to make my maps in Artweaver, I am also very aware of the power that hex maps have and I do like Hexographer. I don’t use this program very often, but it does offer a lot of powerful mapping capability, especially the ability to add little markings to your map. Very good stuff. This article may come out too late for most people, but Hexographer PRO is actually on sale right now for the GM’s Day sale, you can get it for $15.98; the free version of this software is only usable online, but the pro version works offline as well.
Finally, get on some forums around the net. That is just good advice. There are tons of forums out there. You can find one you like easy enough. Those are the areas where you are going to get the most feedback regarding your setting. Blogs might be good for writing stuff on your setting down, but actually, forums are still probably the best medium for getting quick feedback regarding your setting. Unless you have a very popular blog, it is going to be pretty hard to bring people to you in order to get feedback on your campaign world – you are probably better off taking your setting to the people.
Ok everyone. Thanks so much for reading this series. I really appreciate everyone that commented or mentioned these articles to me around the web. If you have any feedback that you want to share about this series – even if you just want to e-mail me to tell me how much I suck, fee free. I always love getting criticism on my articles. Good Night! Good Luck!!