Several months ago I began dreaming up my own fantasy setting for D&D 5th Edition. It was (and still is!) a very daunting project to take on, but one I personally find very rewarding and exciting. I'm still very early in the process, but here are three things that I think help me keep going and enjoy the work I'm putting in.
1. Started with a "What if...?" question that excited me
However you arrive to this question, I think its important to have one core idea that gets you started and you can fall back on when you dry. For me, my core "What if?" randomly came to me while I was reading other established campaign settings from Wizards of the Coast.
What if magic was so widely available that it actually impacted how society was built?
This is a theme largely explored in other campaign settings like Keith Baker's Eberron, but I wanted to find out how widely available simple magic like Produce Flame or Message would impact society at large.
2. Stole from my favorites
Here's just a short list of works that I've been inspired by or straight up lifted things from for my setting, Aeubrin:
- Keith Baker's campaign setting Eberron
- Jim Butcher's urban fantasy series The Dresden Files
- C.S. Lewis' seminal children's series The Chronicles of Narnia
- Christopher Paolini's young adult high fantasy series The Inheritance Cycle
- The second novel in Terry Goodkind's problematic Sword of Truth series Stone of Tears...
Again, thats just a short list that got me started. Some of these are simply engrained me as a person at this point, like Narnia and The Dresden Files, so I think they influence almost everything I produce. At the same time, when I have a huge sandbox like creating my own world, I get to pull some of my favorite concepts/themes/character ideas from these deeply influential pieces and play with them.
3. Scheduled my first game session
This one was huge for me because it gave me a deadline to get at least some things on paper and semi-fleshed out.
Getting a game on the calendar does not mean that the world had to be done in time for the first session! It did mean that I had to make a choice and focus. For the first campaign I would set in Aeubrin (which I've ominously dubbed "Incursion", mwahahaha), I chose a city that my players would be based in and worked on it. One of my player's characters (PC for short in D&D shorthand) owns a bar, so I conveniently placed his bar in this city.
Staying focused on one small area has really served me well - as of writing, we've played every week for a month now and the players have only spent their time in the city of Kengarde and a hamlet outside of the city named Harveen (which I stole directly from Christopher Walz's fantastic adventure The Midnight Revelry I ran for the first two sessions).
I could say a lot more about working on Aeubrin (and I will!), but I'll stop there for now. I think this is a good start for the Storyrollers blog and me putting some ideas out there.
If you'd like another perspective on worldbuilding, check out this great series of articles from Tribality.
Have questions? Reach out on Twitter! See you on Monday.