February 9, 2010
World Building with Loaerth & Feywyrd (1)
As some of you may or (more likely) may not know is that I've started putting together a lightly developed campaign world called Loaerth over at Nevermet Press. The goal of the project is to build a campaign setting that is essentially an empty slate, while still giving the GMs (and the folks over at Nevermet Press) with just enough hooks to play off from for interesting new content and great adventures. Some campaign settings are so over developed that running an adventure in them often runs into Me vs. The Canon . So, with Loaerth I want to develop it just enough so that I can get to the really fun part - a full blown adventure set in this new world. The way I see it, this is probably the best way to introduce this world to players without setting out to define everything under the setting suns.
So, here's the thing. I'm new at world building. I've done it a few times, but not in quite this way or on this scale. So, I'll be writing about my reading and research on world building here at TCM. I figure, this blog and the great community of readers that frequent this site are a great sounding board; you all no doubt have far more experience with this than I - so, I would be wise to get your input whenever possible.
My first steps in designing Loaerth & Feywyrd were to come up with a good hook. Sort of, what makes L&F different from the next setting. Take one part steam punk, one part fantasy, add a dash of manifest destiny, hit the delete key on "elf", and then click the undo button, and finally sprinkle some bonafide demihuman race wars on top - and viola: you have Loaerth and Feywyrd. You can find out more about what I'm talking about over on Nevermet Press. The way I'm decided to engage people in developing L&F's "mythology" is through a series of fictional interviews with Felix Sundown, an escaped feytroll who was the thrall to the Regent of Loaerth for centuries. So far, no one has taken a bite - but I'm hoping that will change.
The other first step is to design a map to place the relevant locations in; a world map that I can drill down on to a tiny scale to add detail where needed. I'm using Campaign Cartographer plus Fractal Terrains to design the world - it's relatively infinite zooming features makes it a very nice tool indeed. You can see the basic landscape layer of the world above. Thankfully, I'll likely have the help of Nevermet Press's resident cartographer Paul King to help add details where they are needed, but the goal is not to define or develop everything under the sun - only the content which we develop on NMP. The rest will be left either completely open or only very lightly commented on. The first area's I'll be adding some detail to will be Loaerth City and The Island, which I'll place on the above map in the future.
 This happened to me tons of times with Forgotten Realms. My players and I all loved the setting, but I also loved tinkering around with it so much that at times it became a nuisance . There's were often very long lists of house rules and changes to the Realms' history and politics.