Silverkiss' Blog

Abandon Ship!

Posted in Uncategorized by Silverkiss on May 9, 2010

That’s it, folks, good-bye.

Not getting any comments really cuts your willingness to continue a column, so I’m just going to shut this blog down and continue the work on my world in private.

C’est la vie!

DMCrafting: Gods, Dragons and other Divine Fun

Posted in DMCrafting, Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Role-playing by Silverkiss on April 30, 2010

Good night, folks!

I know it’s been a while since the last update, but as it is known already, real life is a bitch. Either way, here I am again, with an update to our marvellous column; I’ve had some free time this morning, because one of my classes was cancelled (or rather, was reserved for students who wanted to go over their exams to see if the correction had been done wrong) without my knowledge, and so I had a great opportunity to organize all my thoughts and ideas I had these past days after the last update, giving me enough material for a new article. Onto new waters!

First, last time I established that I was going to shift the design of “Planes” to the design idea of “Mirrors of Existence”, with the Astral Sea surrounding those “Mirrors” and the Realm of Dreams being an abstract realm, connected to all but not really tangible. Looking good so far. Now, I need to design and establish the Gods of this world; as I talked last time, I don’t want differences between Gods, Primordials, Primal Spirits, etc… But as I was thinking these past few days, I went further, and decided that I wanted to radically shift the standard assumptions of gods in 4e. Instead of having these divine beings that rule over the cosmos, I’m going to do it differently; there are only three goddesses, the “Cosmic Goddesses” (name not final, but I like it), who created the Cosmos and hold unlimited power together. Beneath them in the divine hierarchy there are Archangels (and Archdemons) who embody concepts of the cosmos (like gods do in most settings; there’s an Archangel of War, and Archangel of Love, an Archangel of the Sea, etc… And similarly, an Archdemon of War, an Archdemon of Love, etc), and beneath them angels/demons who do their biding. These Archangels and Archdemons are set in an eternal war, the “Astral War”, in which they fight each other for supremacy, using mortals whenever possible.

Other than these divine beings, I decided to grant dragons the position of near-god power as well. Dragons, therefore, embody the world itself, being paragons of elemental forces, of the spirits of the world, etc. The dragons, too, are divided into “ranks”: the Ancient Dragons, the most powerful of their kind and whose each embody a single, specific concept (with power equal to a couple of archangels/archdemons each), beneath them the High Dragons, evolved beings with tremendous power (almost equal to an archangel/archdemon each) and beneath them common dragons, who while not nearly as powerful as their older brothers, they are much more powerful than your regular fantasy dragon.

So, summarizing what we have so far:

Cosmic Goddesses

Archangels and Archdemons | Ancient Dragons

no counterpart | High Dragons

Angels and Demons | Dragons

That sounds good. I’m going to discuss their specific relationships and characteristics a bit further in this article; first, I have a note to make about religions. The three Cosmic Goddesses will be aloof and distant; perhaps intervening in great, epic matters, but usually remaining away from matters that range in all the Mirrors of Existence, especially the Mortal Mirror. Therefore, while they may be worshipped and paid respect to, they will have little influence in the daily life of common people. Therefore, religions will be much more geared towards the Archangels, and more importantly the Dragons, since the latter are really concerned about the Mirrors themselves, and not some astral war going on with a dangerous foe. Therefore, while religions and cults will be covered in detail in a later article, it is good to already have in mind that the system of religions will not be exactly the usual.

Now, let’s tackle the Goddesses themselves. I have them already pretty defined: Lady Amaranth, the Eternal Goddess, Lady Solaris, the Sun Goddess, and Lady Lunaris, the Moon Goddess. Lady Amaranth is the Goddess of Life, Death and Balance, while Lady Solaris rules over the domains of Emotion and Sun, and Lunaris over Reason and Moon. Together, the three hold infinite power, and they were the creators of the cosmos and the ones who ordered things to be as they are; basically, they are the strongest beings in the universe. The three divine sisters, however, do not enjoy ruling the world they created; instead, they like to see how it develops on it’s own, left to it’s devices; they hardly act to influence the events of the world. On the matter of Archangels/Archdemons, there will be many of them, and they will be detailed in later articles. For the Ancient Dragons, I’m thinking of at least eight: one for each element (fire, water, earth, air, darkness and light), one for time, and one to symbolize the world as a whole – more about them later as well.

My time runs short, and I must end this article here. There were many things I wished to speak, but I am tired now. I will come back to them tomorrow, if I can – I make no promises, however.

-Silver

DMCrafting: Mirrors of Existence, Gods, and more!

Posted in DMCrafting, Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Role-playing by Silverkiss on April 18, 2010

Hello, my friends!

Last time around, I shifted the essence and core of the standard planes of 4e and came up with my “Mirrors of Existence” concept, where all planes are mirrors of the material world – or, in better words, of each other, since the material world is just another “mirror” like the others -, or, more precisely, infinite worlds filled with live and energy, floating in the Astral Sea along pocket-dimensions that are finite in extension, and therefore not mirrors themselves. I turned each of the important planes of 4e into a Mirror, with the Astral Sea connecting all and filling the mysterious “Void” that would otherwise exist. I’ve spent this last week thinking, and I really like my decision; there’s only one thing to add to the cosmology: a realm of dreams, where mortals and immortals alike go when they sleep. So far, then, we have…

  • Mortal Mirror: The place where mortals live, and where the greater part of adventures will take part. I want the other Mirrors to be able to be visited and explored, but not as easily as plane travelling is in standard 4e.
  • Nature Mirror: Taking the role of the Feywild, a Mirror filled with natural beauty and lush sceneries – but also full of primal beasts and dangers.
  • Death Mirror: Taking the role of the Shadowfel, a Mirror filled with death and decay – but not evil.
  • Elemental Mirror: Taking in part the role of the Elemental Chaos, a Mirror filled with the unbound natural forces of the elements.
  • Darkness Mirror: Taking somewhat the role of the Abyss, a Mirror filled with darkness and evil.
  • Madness Mirror: Taking the role of the Far Realms, a Mirror filled with madness.
  • Astral Sea: Morphing somewhat the roles of the standard Astral Sea and Elemental Chaos, the connection between all Mirrors and other pocket dimensions.
  • Realm of Dreams: A strange place where mortals and immortals alike go to when they sleep. Nothing matters in this realm but the dreamer’s own willpower.

I think that’s pretty good a concept for the cosmology; it covers all of the standard bases, while shifting things a bit to make for a new and original experience. Shifts in small details about how the planes – or better, the Mirrors – will work ensures that players will have new things to face, and that their knowledge of the standard planes won’t be so useful in the game, leading to interesting adventures of true exploration. With this settled, I only need to find appropriate names for those Mirrors, but that can be done at a later date, when things are better set and more of the setting is fleshed out. Now, following our guideline of working from top to bottom, the next thing that we are faced with are the denizens of the cosmos – and, still from top to bottom, the strongest such denizens, like gods, primordials and primal spirits, so important in the standard lore.

Well, I think the developers of 4e did a very good job developing the gods and primordials and other “powerful” beings, because they put just enough information for the game to be playable, but also little enough that anyone can easily shape the lore to their tastes. Because of this, I have an easier time, and I’m thankful. First, while I think the developers accomplished what they wanted by separating Gods, Primordials, Primal Spirits and other such beings, I don’t really like it. In my opinion, there should be only one “type” of supreme beings: Gods, and that’s it. Whether they’re tied to the natural world, to the elemental forces or to abstract concepts shouldn’t matter, for in essence they’re all the same: ancient beings with near-unlimited power. Therefore, I’m doing away with these different creatures: there will only be Gods, and likewise for evil/aberrant/whatever beings.

Now, this is not to say that there won’t be spirits/elementals/other creatures, for they will be there. However, they will have much more limited power, and the only ones with true omnipotence (or close to it) will be the Gods themselves. Therefore, it is perfectly valid for there to be a strong spirit with god-like powers within it’s domain, or something of the sort, but those occasions will have “limiters”; said spirit, for example,  would lose most of his powers whenever he left his domains, or these powers could be neutralized somehow, or some other sort of weakness that true gods do not possess. Also on the matter of gods, I’m thinking of having a very small, defined pantheon, with little number of true gods, but plenty of angels, archangels and other near-god creatures. These servants of the gods would have immense power themselves, but not be gods, so they could provide plenty of opportunities for role-playing and epic quests without messing too much with the setting or with the verisimilitude of the world (you killed a god? really?).

I’ve been without time lately, so not much work has been done here on my blog, something which I am sad about. Either way, such is life, and I will endure it, even if with small updates like this one. Bit by bit, piece by piece, I will build this setting, no longer how much it takes. I hope to see you again next week!

-Silver

DMCrafting: Cosmos, Planes, and Other Matters

Posted in DMCrafting, Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Role-playing by Silverkiss on April 6, 2010

Hey, hey.

First, I’d like to politely say “I’m sorry”. Yeah, I know – a month without activity. Sheesh! I’d be lucky to still have any readers at this point. Nevertheless, things happened that were out of my power; University started, had problems with my internet/computer, had several holidays in the way, and all manner of busy appointments… So the blog fell a bit to the wayside. But do not despair, my friends! I have returned from the shadows of the world beyond, and shall retake my posting and my column. And I can promise you one thing: regular updates every Sunday! Yay!

Anyway, back to the interesting talk. Last week – I mean, month -, I laid out my objectives and prepared the ground for the initial build-up of my campaign world. Very well, I might not have posted, but I thought a lot about this project during this past month; and I’m swarming with ideas. Generally, though, my ideas come in torrents, which I have to filter and adapt to fit well with the rest of my work… Which is awesome for this project, since this process is exactly what I want to demonstrate. Still, let’s not count the eggs before the chicken; let’s stay on our course and follow the guidelines.

The Cosmos

So, I have laid out in my last post the seven major planes in standard DnD cosmology, and my intent to keep them all. However, I’m not going to keep them as carbon copies of the original – that’s not fun, after all. Instead, I’m going to retool them into something more usable, and something more interesting. I’ve said last time, and am copying here, for easiness to the reader:

  1. Material World: Well, this is easy enough. This is where mortals live, kingdoms are built, all the common things.
  2. Feywild: A mirror of sorts of the material world, it is home to the fey, including playable fey such as the Eladrin.
  3. Shadowfel: Akin to the Feywild, a mirror of the material world, home to undead and darkness, and also the the Goddess of Death (Raven Queen)
  4. Astral Sea: Home to immortals, namely the Gods themselves and other astral creatures, like devils.
  5. Elemental Chaos: Home to primordials and beings of pure elemental power, like Efreets.
  6. Abyss: Part of the Elemental Chaos, home to demons. Nasty place, overall.
  7. Far Realms: Place of madness and aberrant creatures.

Well, the Material World can remain as it is – there’s nothing much to change, after all. The Feywild and Shadowfel, however, I’m not so certain about; I like the concepts of both, but I don’t really like their implementation. For one thing, I think that fey and undead should originate in the Material World, not other planes. However, I like the prospect of having two mirrors of the world, one filled with beautiful, lush – and deadly – gardens, and the other filled with ruin, darkness and decay. How, then, to join the two ideas, to have the Feywild and the Shadowfel stay true to their concepts, but implemented in a different way?

On the same line of thought, I like the concept of the Astral Sea, a place were gods and immortal creatures dwell, but more than that a place that is a literal sea connecting all worlds and dimensions, filling the Void that would exist otherwise… Which, while I think about it, leads to another idea; not a dimension or plane per se, but I have an idea for the Void, a purpose for it. But I will talk about it later; let’s go back to analysing the Astral Sea: it is very interesting as it is, so I will probably keep it, perhaps only changing the name.

Next, the Elemental Chaos… This one isn’t so heavy on me. Sure, “Elemental Chaos” is, by definition, and interesting concept, including for adventures… But the whole of “connecting sea” is already taken by the Astral Sea, and I think we can introduce some elemental chaos in the latter, basically joining what is now the Elemental Chaos and the Astral Sea into an “Astral Elemental Sea” of sorts, that is home to gods and immortals, and is also the connection point of all planes and dimensions, and has the added quality of being home to the sources of raw elemental power. Hmn, interesting idea… Seems like I will change the Astral Sea after all.

But this leave a blank space on what was once the Elemental Chaos, since it is going to be merged into the Astral Sea. Therefore, we need a place to be home to the elemental creatures, and the places and events that would have happened on the Elemental Chaos in the standard cosmology… Which makes me think about something; if we have a mirror of the world in natural beauty and a mirror of the world in decay, why not have a mirror of the world assaulted, and populated, by elemental energies? That’s an interesting idea…

…and it creates a trend. With only the Abyss and the Far Realms left, we have one “Astral Sea” encompassing the Material World and three mirrors of it… Which makes me think about the idea of having my versions of the Abyss and the Far Realms to also be mirrors of the world. Perhaps the “Abyss mirror” is a place of darkness – not death and decay, for that is the purpose of the “Shadowfel” – where evil runs amok, and the worst of emotions and feelings exist, are cultivated, and grow. Similarly, the “Far Realms mirror” would be a place of madness and aberrations, but with the structure of the known world, which makes it all the more disturbing.

My proposal, then, is the following:

Feywild: Remain as a mirror of the world filled with natural beauty, but not the origin of fey. Fey originate on the material world, though they also live here.

Shadowfel: Remain as a mirror of the world filled with death and decay, but not the origin of undead, and neither the realm where the God(dess) of Death resides. It is populated by undead and other decaying creatures, however.

Astral Sea: Fused in concept with the old Elemental Chaos, it will be the link of all the “Mirrors of Existence”, that which fills the Void between the worlds. It will also be the place where pocket dimensions exist, and the realm of the Gods.

Elemental Chaos: Another Mirror of the material realm, though dominated with elemental forces and elemental beings.

Abyss: Another Mirror of the material realm, though dominated with dark emotions and the greatest evils.

Far Realms: The last Mirror, a place of madness and aberrations.

The Void: The nothingness that would otherwise fill the Cosmos.

Okay… This is good work so far, in my opinion. I have a set cosmology in mind (the “Mirrors of Existence”), and I have defined their basic concepts. Now, I need to expand and add on them… Next in line, I need to think about names for these Mirrors of Existence and about the existence of Gods. I’m running out of time, however, so I will prematurely end this time’s post…

Until next Sunday!

-Silver

DMCrafting: The Dawn of a New Idea – and a New World

Posted in DMCrafting, Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Role-playing by Silverkiss on March 4, 2010

Hello, hello!

Continuing on my series of DMCrafting articles, I’ve come across an interesting idea. First, an anecdotal story: ages ago, when I had not yet found the fabulous Myth-Weavers site to play on-line, I was a member of Rich Burlew’s Giant in the Playground site, which is home both to his awesome Order of the Stick cartoon, and a role-playing forum. Well, but why does this matter, you might ask? Mister Burlew not only writes the awesome OotS web-cartoon, but he also wrote some articles in the past regarding role-playing in general. One such chain of articles, though sadly discontinued, was a kind of designer’s journal, as he went about creating a new setting, a new world, and commented on his decisions and choices along the way. Here is the excerpt of the introductory paragraph of his column:

This is the start of a new project to create a campaign setting, from scratch, in full view of you, my loyal readers. The idea is not only to craft a complete setting that can be used by others but to also show the decisions and processes that go into a final product. This will essentially be a sort of “design diary” of my thoughts and choices, written in a sort of semi-stream-of-consciousness format; you will get to see me consider and discard each idea, and I will talk about my reasoning as we go.

Well, it is safe to say that mister Burlew has some astonishing articles, this series included. In fact, this very series was one of the first centred works about world-building that I’ve ever read, and my own creations and thought processes have been heavily influenced by it. I recommend the Giant’s articles to anyone interested in good, throughout revisions of whatever the subject is, including world-building.

Then again, we’re not here to talk about mister Burlew’s work, as good as it is. Instead, this was just warm-up for my own idea: like the Giant did long ago, I’m going to use this column, DMCrafting, to brew an entirely new world, under the Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition rules, and I will expose my thoughts and decisions along the way, discussing about them in detail. This project will have two objectives: first, it will hopefully be helpful to anyone seeking advice on the subject of world-building, as it will, at it’s finished state, provide a complete walk-through from the spark of an idea to a finished campaign setting; and secondly, it will be a ways for me to create a cohesive and extensive campaign world where I can run my own games.

So yes, I figured this is a good way to mix a selfless objective with a selfish objective. Onto the article!

First things First

So, we’re going to create a new world together. As the title suggests, “First things first”. We must keep in mind three important concepts: “Organic World”, “Creative World” and “Verisimilitude”. We must strive for our world to be both organic and creative, while remaining believable and natural. Check. Now, we move to the next part – but without starting the work quite yet:

  • Objectives, Objectives, Objectives!

Right, I need to lay out my objectives if this project is to succeed. What do I want? Well, that is clear enough: I want a setting where I can run games in. So, I want to create a campaign setting; a place where many adventures, unrelated and with different goals and scopes themselves, can take place. So I have to create a breathing, living world, where many plots and schemes can happen – and where there is enough room for multiple games to take place.

Already in this phase we can notice that my work is not going to be easy. I’ve went for the most extensive, most difficult task possible: creating a whole setting, not for a single game, but extensive enough for several campaigns to be played. Think something along the lines of Forgotten Realms or Eberron.

  • Organization

Well, there won’t be much problems here. Since I’m going to relay all my choices and decisions through these articles, I automatically have an on-line “folder” to keep all my information ready. Of course, I’ll still have off-line backup information and a place to store any resources I might need or use… But we’re set on this account, methinks.

  • Inspiration and Preparation

Well, I intend to figure out most of the setting as we go, to allow everyone to see my creative process – but I do have a tone and mood set for the world. In my games, I tend towards a Dark Fantasy feel; even the good guys do evil acts, sometimes justified, sometimes not, and that doesn’t make them any less “good”. Morality is something fluid, and good and evil depend on point of view; as much as the core setting of DnD always placed Good and Evil on pedestals of absolute objective truth, I do not like that, and do away with it. Even better that 4e has already diminished the mechanical aspects of the game that rely on such absolute Good and Evil, which makes my work easier.

Now What?

Well, now we must think about starting this seven-headed monster. As I outlined on my previous articles, I think that working from top to bottom is best, especially on such huge undertakings; let’s do that, then. Let’s start with the top of the top, of which nothing is above; the Cosmos itself.

So the core setting of DnD4e has quite a few assumptions about the cosmos: more importantly, that there are at least 7 well defined “planes”, regardless of actual classification or position in the cosmos: the material world, the Feywild, the Shadowfel, the Astral Sea, the Elemental Chaos, the Abyss, and the elusive Far Realms. Some argue that Sigil, the City of Doors, could be counted as an eight plane in itself… But it is not essential to the working of the system. The other seven are, in fact, necessary not only for fluff reasons, but also for mechanical reasons: each have mechanics associated with them, be it in the form of rituals (Feywild and Shadowfel), monsters (Abyss, Far Realms, Elemental Chaos, Astral Sea), or other concepts. Now, to see what each of the seven realms mean in the core setting:

  1. Material World: Well, this is easy enough. This is where mortals live, kingdoms are built, all the common things.
  2. Feywild: A mirror of sorts of the material world, it is home to the fey, including playable fey such as the Eladrin.
  3. Shadowfel: Akin to the Feywild, a mirror of the material world, home to undead and darkness, and also the the Goddess of Death (Raven Queen)
  4. Astral Sea: Home to immortals, namely the Gods themselves and other astral creatures, like devils.
  5. Elemental Chaos: Home to primordials and beings of pure elemental power, like Efreets.
  6. Abyss: Part of the Elemental Chaos, home to demons. Nasty place, overall.
  7. Far Realms: Place of madness and aberrant creatures.

Well, there are mechanical reasons to keep all seven planes, and I like the symbolism of the number 7, so I’m going to keep them all. I’m thinking about it, however, and I’m already brewing some changes for the basics of each realm. I have to go now, though, so the rest of this initial planning will be postponed to the next article. Until next time!

-Silver

DMCrafting: World-Building Basics

Posted in DMCrafting, Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Role-playing by Silverkiss on February 27, 2010

Hello again, fair random people of the internetz! This time around, I’m going to continue to write about the theme of the moment: Worlds and Campaigns.

First, there’s something I should have said in my previous article, which was the first of this series; but alas, I forgot! You will have to forgive me for these newbie mistakes, as I’m just a beginner in the world of writing! Either way, what I forgot to say was that World-building and Campaign-making, while two subjects that are closely related and are going to be treated at the same time in this column, are also independent of each other. Sometimes you will build a world just for the sake of building a world, and sometimes you will make a campaign with no world – either using a generic setting, like the core “Points of Light” of DnD 4e, or using another author’s work, which is completely fine. However, if you do intend to create your own world AND run your campaign in it, then there is a natural order of things: first you make your world, then you make your campaign. Therefore, I’m going to explore those two subjects in this order.

Now, onto the article!

Last time, I  presented three core aspects that should be followed to make a successful world; however, those three aspects are nothing more than characteristics you look for in a finished product, and have nothing to do with the process of making the world. Now, I’m going to present some thoughts and worries we all must have before and during the work – thoughts that will make the world itself easier to come around, and that will lessen the job on our shoulders as we go along. So now, I present thee…

Before you Start

  • Laying out Objectives

It is very important to have clear objectives. It is very easy to lose track of one-self and either work too little, or work too much. If you write down a few lines with basic, clear objectives, your work will be much easier, and you will have a guideline to follow, preventing basic mistakes. First of all, the scope of the world-building you’re going to do is something to be thought about: are you going to be creating a whole world? A nation? A continent? Are you going to mess with the cosmos, and different planes? Do you need a persistent world, or one that is good for a one-shot campaign? These are all thoughts to be had; these will lead your work: if you only need to create a small nation of humans and elves, for example, you don’t need to worry about dwarves or dwarven gods.

At this time, another very good question to make yourself is “how many of the standard work I’m going to use?”; for example, are you going to use the core cosmology and the core gods, or are you going to create your own? Both paths have their pros and cons; while using more standard stuff means less work for you and a greater familiarity for players/readers, using your own stuff means more original work, and more surprises to your audience. Regardless, however, you need to set what you’re going to use and what you’re not going to use before you start, because then you’ll know what you need to work on.

  • Organization

Now that you have your objectives clearly outlined, you need to organize your soon-to-start work. Granted, organization varies wildly from person to person; there are those who like to work on a digital environment (ie the computer), while others prefer to do all of their world-building on paper; regardless of your choice, you need to have your work clearly labelled and separated, and easily accessible. For example, if you’re going to work on your computer, the least you can do is create a folder for your work, and create sub-folders for major key points: geography, history, key people, whatever you find necessary. If you’re organized, you can more easily access your work and it becomes easier to piece everything together when you’re nearing completion.

  • Inspiration and Preparation

It is very important to have the tone and general direction of your world in mind at all times – to be prepared. While no one can know everything beforehand, and inspiration comes as you write (myself, for example, like to start working and add on things as I go, having more inspiration the more I write and the more I have settled), it is necessary to have a general idea of what you want, and at the least some basic notions laid out, because if you don’t, you’re probably going to start creating contradictions and paradoxes on your world. It is very important, also, to keep in mind what campaigns you want to run (or want to be ran) in the world; if you have in mind a hack-and-slash world, for example, you need plenty of threats, dungeons and wildernesses for the PCs to explore; if you have in mind a political intrigue/scheme world, you need developed NPCs and sub-plots everywhere to provide fertile grounds for campaigns. Obviously, the ideal world has hooks for all kinds of adventures, but that is a lot of work; it’s best to concentrate on one major mood/theme, and then add the rest in time.

Getting the Work Done

Now that you have the basics laid out and your objectives clearly written, a place to store your information and your ideas, and the basic theme/mood for the world set, it is time to start working on it. First and foremost, this is pretty much an individual job, since the world is ultimately yours; no matter how much advice I give you, if you want to throw it all away and do the exact opposite, do it. The world is yours, not mine; if you’re going to feel better and have more fun doing otherwise, then go ahead, and don’t let anyone talk you otherwise.

  • Working from Top to Bottom

My first advice is to “work from top to bottom”. Pretty and simple, but what does that actually mean? It is indeed simple: working from top to bottom means to first create the large concepts of the world: the cosmology, the planes and the gods, then working down to create the world itself, the continents and islands, then the kingdoms and nations, so on and so forth. Personally I think this way of working is better, because when you create the large picture first, the small details fit into place automatically, without much work; if you do otherwise, working from bottom to top, you’ll face much more work, and will have to keep an eye for inconsistencies and problems as you go.

  • Keep it Simple

Perhaps one of the greatest advices of all: you don’t need to have everything defined from the get-go. Take your time as you create your world. As an example, you don’t need to have the whole nobility and aristocracy of a kingdom defined as you create it; go slowly, create first the ruler, and maybe his family. Then, as time passes, work on the kingdom; create one or two influential nobles, a family of wealthy merchants. Before you realize it, you will have done a lot already, but since it will be a spread out work, it will not have been a burden to you.

  • Don’t Lose Focus

Sometimes, when you start to create a world, it’s easy to be mesmerized and to want to enlarge and expand things, going beyond the objectives first settled by yourself – avoid this at all costs. Organization is everything. You need to keep by your objectives; if you build more than what you need, it will only be unnecessary work, and you might even end up depressed or let-down if a great part of the world you created ends up not being used. So, focus on your objectives, and don’t stray from them. They have to guide the whole creation process, so that the final result is exactly what you needed in the first place.

Final Considerations

Never give up, and constantly work on your world. This way, you’ll soon have a wonderful place to run your games. It can be tiresome some times, and other times you may feel like your work is all crap or that you don’t have the inspiration to carry on – however, this is normal. As long as you endure, you’ll finish your world-building, and you’ll be pleased when you do. (:

And now we reach the end of this article. I hope you enjoyed it! See you next time!

-Silver

DMCrafting: World-building and Creating Your Own Campaign

Posted in DMCrafting, Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Role-playing by Silverkiss on February 24, 2010

Hello, hello!

After a long period of inactivity, I’m back, and not only am I restarting the blog, I’m starting a new “column”, DMCrafting. In this series of articles, I’m going to speak about my experiences with world-building and creating your own campaign (hence the title! =P). Granted, my experiences are geared towards DnD 4e, hence the DnD 4e category, though most of the experiences and possible advice I give here can be applied to other systems as well, if with some changes.

First, some background information: creating worlds is, and always was,  a great seduction to me. It was what draw me heavily to DMing in the first place, and still remains an enjoyable creative process to me. In truth, creating the worlds for my games is one of my favourite hobbies, and I even create worlds without games in mind from time to time, if just to exercise my creative skills and settle down the maelstrom of ideas that always surround my mind. Because of these reasons, I have created worlds practically since I started playing RPGs (I did indulge in such exercises before, but these attempts at world-building only found organization after I was entranced by the world of RPGs), and have read and searched for information and tips on the subject since then as well. More than a tentative to impress the reader, this little “credentials” are actually just something I needed to blurt out to strengthen myself and re-assure me that what I have to say is actually worthwhile to someone… Talk about lack of confidence.

These silly matters past, onwards with the article!

World-building is an wonderful ‘thing’, for lack of a better word. When you create a world – be it a small “world”, like a city, or a nation, for your game, or a large “world”, spanning the entire cosmos and different planes inside it -, you let your creativity thrive, you create societies (or sub-societies), you open the proverbial Pandora’s Box – and I know that, when I open my creativity stash, not even I know what may come out, or what may be shaped by my writings. Even being an agnostic myself (and this is not a debate for this blog – at least not for this article), I’d say that one of the greatest beauties of world-building, and of DMing in general, is the idea to “play God”; especially when you’re creating a world, you get to decide everything, from the tiniest detail to the largest assumptions, and you alone have the power to create and change at this stage.

However, all the beauty aside, it is not to say that world-building is an easy process. To create an organic, creative and above all BELIEVABLE world requires a lot of work, and a lot of thought. These, to me, are the three core aspects a world must follow to be successful:

  • Organic Worlds

Worlds must be organic, that is to say, they must have a life of their own. Players or readers (for this applies as much to RPGs as it applies to writing in general) must look upon the world and spot organic developments; specific results from certain actions, cause-and-effect, and what is usual to be seen in certain situations. Unless your world is completely alien, there are certain familiar elements that must be present for the world to feel organic and smooth; the reader/player must be able to visualize those elements and recognize them, joining the pieces together to form the greater picture; if your world is organic, it is far easier to structure it.

  • Creative Worlds

Let’s face it; most ideas have been used and re-used to death. Granted, it’s near impossible to be completely original, but to be successful, a world needs creative implementation of ideas and original concepts. Perhaps your world doesn’t even have any original concepts; as long as you match and combine old concepts in a new way, you are being creative, and more importantly, you are innovating. Innovative worlds always find success with their players/readers, if only because they present something new.

  • Verisimilitude

Most of all, a world needs to be consistent. Of course, your world probably doesn’t follow our world’s laws (perhaps even physics work differently in your world!), but it needs to be internally consistent. If it is not, then it becomes difficult to believe in anything that happens inside it, and you pigeon-hole yourself to using deus ex plot-holes in your games/stories. And let’s face it – no one wants that.

Alright, I think I’ve wrote enough for an introduction to my column. Next time around, I’m going to start with the basics of world-building – we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg with this post, folks! Stay tuned!

-Silver

The Prodigal Child Returns!

Posted in Uncategorized by Silverkiss on February 24, 2010

Rejoice, for I have returned from the shadows of death as Gandalf the Wh-

Yes, that IS getting old. Nevertheless, after an extended period of inactivity, I have finally normalized my schedule enough to restart work on this little pet project. It is with gusto that I announce a new post – and a new article – coming up in a few minutes, or hours if the clock stretches itself as I write! The theme of the moment is DMCrafting: Worldbuilding and Creating Campaigns! Stay tuned!

-Silver

Period of Inactivity

Posted in Uncategorized by Silverkiss on February 11, 2010

Hey, guys. Just checking in to say that I don’t have much time on-line at the moment, and neither will have until Tuesday, because of some personal matters. Therefore, there won’t be any new posts or updates until Wednesday at the least.

-Silver

4e: House-Rule Addenda

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Role-playing by Silverkiss on February 8, 2010

It has been brought to my attention that my house-rule regarding the Alternate Attribute Distribution isn’t exactly fair to humans. Therefore, I’ve changed it; instead of gaining an additional skill, humans gain the Back From the Brink racial feature:

Back From the Brink: Whenever you spend an action point or recover enough HP to stop being bloodied, you gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls until the end of your next turn.

-Silver