The process of creating a complete, coherent and convincing world to use as a setting for RPG adventures.

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69
votes
19answers
10k views

I'm creating an original setting for D&D—where do I start?

Creating a new fantasy setting for D&D is daunting but I don't want to use one of the published settings. I have a blank piece of paper in front of me and a whole world to create. My friends want ...
42
votes
6answers
909 views

What are the key considerations to creating compelling environments?

An area I am close to revealing to my players was barren rock, until I realised adding a few kinds of plants and some crystal spires (which have very good reason to be there) took the location from ...
36
votes
14answers
2k views

How can GMs make their game worlds more inclusive?

Many published roleplaying settings reflect our own cultural biases, for example, by putting white people in the "core" of the setting with "exotic" (i.e., not white) cultures around the less-detailed ...
33
votes
7answers
2k views

Pre-modern farming: What percent of the population is in agriculture?

I'm running a premodern setting where the characters will be involved in local administration. Assuming no magic, how many farmers does it take to support one non-farmer? Any statistics/estimates ...
31
votes
7answers
1k views

Has anyone produced a drop-in well-reasoned economy for a fantasy game?

I've seen so many attempts to justify this or that crazy thing in various fantasy RPG economies, but they don't tend to hold water as far as I've seen. I realize that suspension of disbelief is ...
27
votes
6answers
2k views

Fortifying & Defending a shop in a city

When they're not adventuring, the PCs in my campaign own a magic item shop in a very large city. They have a staff, inventory, marketing, and in general it operates like you'd expect an item shop to ...
23
votes
4answers
459 views

Giving a setting a feeling of ancientness

I'm creating a world for my next game and I want it to feel like a very ancient world with multiple fallen empires and wars in it's history. I want to build a very detailed setting and have my players ...
23
votes
6answers
808 views

Am I designing my campaign setting to be too specific?

I'm a first time DM (3.5e), and, being a passionate writer, I decided to create the entire campaign and campaign setting myself. It's been good fun, and I have about 12 pages of (elaborated upon) ...
21
votes
4answers
737 views

Location generation system?

I tend to GM campaigns where players travel a lot. Whether it is through D&D planes or in a space-opera setting, they are bound to visit a lot of very different and varied places. And I have to ...
20
votes
16answers
1k views

Why aren't magocracies and theocracies dominant in D&D settings?

Anyone has (or has links to) well thought-out, logical explanations for why magocracies and theocracies are not the dominant forms of government of D&D worlds? I'd also be really interested in ...
20
votes
7answers
2k views

Where can I find resources to create a realistic castle dungeon?

Shortly, I will send my PCs into a castle ruin, and I plan on them spending some time there, possibly to refurbish the castle and claim it as their own. I want to make this castle a realistic place, ...
20
votes
3answers
482 views

How do you customise swearing to a setting?

Good fantasy books often have 'custom' swearing, and they help provide a more realistic view of the world the campaign takes place in. For instance, in a book where metals are key to magic, a common ...
17
votes
11answers
1k views

How do you keep the party on the map?

I'm running a fairly sandbox game, where the party can wander around easily from place to place. When the party visits areas I've prepared something for, they generally have a good time. When they ...
17
votes
7answers
620 views

How do significantly differing male and female lifespans change my setting?

I am currently creating a dryad-themed fantasy setting and want it to feature a matriarchal society. My patriarchal-raised brain (needlessly) needs a reason for why this is so, and so I have created ...
15
votes
6answers
404 views

How to make players care about a community

I've built a lot of villages, some towns and a city or two but I've failed to bring them to life and make the PCs feel like they belong there (maybe not much belong but to just make them care about ...
14
votes
9answers
1k views

How to have a realistic set of languages without making adventuring prohibitively difficult?

"Do you speak Common?" "Of course I do! Everyone speaks Common..." My group is starting a somewhat experimental campaign. We're using a setting that is neither canon (e.g. described in a book) nor ...
14
votes
10answers
2k views

A game where death is permanent?

I'm running a D&D 4e campaign where the underlying story arc features Orcus and his followers. It starts with a run-in with a Cult of Orcus, and gradually escalates with the party finding that the ...
14
votes
3answers
603 views

How should a GM best handle a lack of canonical lore in a pre-existing world?

Occasionally, players may want to play in a setting which does not have a detailed canonical lore. Consider, for instance, many computer RPG worlds; their lore tends to be very localized, however, ...
13
votes
6answers
575 views

Regional Resource Management and Trade Rules

I've been looking at TSR's old Birthright setting lately, searching for an easy way to quantify trade between political entities. I'm thinking about ways for a city or region or planet to develop ...
13
votes
9answers
596 views

How do you make a new NPC likable?

The players in my campaign will soon rescue a woman who's been trapped in an awful dimension (think Jumanji, if that helps) for ten years, and bring her home. After 2 sessions, they'll realize that ...
13
votes
7answers
438 views

Looking for resource material for a dream world

I have started working on a world that is set in a dream realm. I am using it to create one-off gaming sessions that I can do in a single day and pull in any characters that are currently being used. ...
13
votes
2answers
404 views

City Services Generation

I'm looking for a way to determine typical numbers of services that would be available for a medieval city/town/village based on population which I can then project into a fantasy setting. (System is ...
13
votes
4answers
269 views

How do I make Locations important?

This is a two-part question about Locations in Fiasco: How do I make Locations important to the story? In every Fiasco game that I have played so far, the story has been driven by the Needs of the ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

Does anyone have any templates for Scrivener?

I want to start using Scrivener to plan a game and am looking for some templates for characters, locations, encounters, etc.
12
votes
10answers
683 views

Flat or flattish earth issues

What major effects would having a flat or rather flattish earth instead of a planet on a game world? (Technological, social, physical etc.) Mind you, I'm not looking for fully detailed scientific ...
12
votes
5answers
760 views

In a high magic setting, how should I introduce “unnatural” magic?

I am going to run a game of 13th Age, which is pretty high magic - the industry of the world is primarily enhanced by ritual magic (wind elemental bind to sailing ships, rituals ensuring good weather ...
12
votes
5answers
769 views

Dark Ages/Middle Ages marriage age?

I am trying to keep a fair degree of verisimilitude in my fantasy games (outside the obviously fantastical elements like magic and dragons). As part of that, the normal/average marriage age for ...
11
votes
6answers
3k views

Fantasy economy: how to design a deep, sophisticated crafting system?

I want to construct an immersive, complex and functional fantasy economy in order to inform my world-building process. I'm interested in finding a working economic model and applying that into ...
11
votes
5answers
398 views

I want to design and write a setting book. Where do I start?

I want to design and write a professional quality setting book for FATE 3.0, with the possibility of adding custom mechanics later and turning it into a full on game of it's own. I have the outline of ...
11
votes
4answers
424 views

Is there a game that places a similar amount of emphasis on the creation of worlds by player characters as the Myst series?

A major part of the premise of the Myst series is that a number of characters in the setting can 'write' worlds (mostly ones you could walk across in a few minutes). The gameplay of the series is ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Are the orcs of the D&D core canon not above eating sentient humanoids?

Are the orcs of the D&D core canon cannibals, i.e. not above eating sentient humanoids? As far as I can remember, Tolkien's orcs seem to have no qualms about doing so (thanks for the link, ...
10
votes
4answers
603 views

Investigating suspects and evidence in a D&D3.x based world

First of all, I know there's been a question titled Crime Investigation in a fantasy world. My question is only partially similar to that, though. The problem: In a DnD3.x based world (including ...
10
votes
3answers
609 views

What setting changes need to be addressed in order to convert Golarion to the E6 variant system?

For those who are confused what E6 is, please go here: E6: The Game Inside D&D I will be running an E6 game in Golarion in a few weeks. Two main assumptions I have made in the E6 version I am ...
10
votes
2answers
212 views

Mutant Chronicles: Luna City and Moon physics

Okay, this is in fact a bunch of related sub-questions, but I'll try and sum them up in one: How has the physical workings of the Moon -- home to the new central hub of humanity: Luna -- changed in ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

What's the up side of aquatic campaigns in Pathfinder?

Everything I've found about aquatic campaigns would suggest that they are inherently more difficult than traditional campaigns, for the GM and player both. The Rules Difficulties For one thing, ...
9
votes
2answers
420 views

Fantasy accent and dialect, or how do I speak like Tom Hanks in Cloud Atlas?

For example, inhabitants of Planescape setting say things like "chant" for news or gossip, "berk" or "cutter" for a kind of adventurer, "barmy" for crazy, etc. I want to portray a guy from a far away ...
9
votes
2answers
439 views

Resources containing practical, yet non-combat, non-adventuring D&D spells

Continuing the train of thoughts emerging from the discussion of this previous question (about magocracies and theocracies in DnD), I'd like to know if there are any good official or unofficial ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Looking for a nice magic system to convert to FATE

I'm playing around a lot with the FATE system at the moment (particularly with Diaspora) and I'm now looking at how I might apply it to a fantasy setting. What I'm looking for is a nice magic system ...
8
votes
3answers
522 views

How do I safely break stereotypes in my games?

In the LARP system I play, there are some stereotypes heavily in-grained into the player base. For instance, goblins are squeaky-voiced, hyperactive, and (often) violent humanoids. These sorts of ...
8
votes
4answers
888 views

List of (small northern US town) occupations?

Let's say I'd like to run a campaign inspired by David Lynch's Twin Peaks, and would like to learn a bit about the everyday life of such towns outside what's been presented on the show - as a first ...
8
votes
2answers
262 views

How to make rituals a part of everyday life

I would like to know how to make it clear that little, non-magical rituals such as a blessing before eating, drawing water, harvesting grain, starting a fire and the like are a part of everyday life, ...
7
votes
4answers
386 views

How do I get my dresden files players involved in city creation?

I've tried to involve my players in city creation a few times through the course of the game, usually whenever they are about to finish up a story arc, but I usually all I get are just get a few ...
7
votes
4answers
201 views

Resources for designing aquatic campaigns

General world building information is easy to come by, but I have trouble finding information about underwater environments in AD&D 2e. While I am open to non-AD&D resources, I would prefer ...
6
votes
1answer
487 views

Stats for a Sorcerer King in 4E's Dark Sun?

I am in the middle of building a campaign and part of it takes place in the Athas. I am wanting to present the party with an actual threat towards the end of their stay in the hellacious world of Dark ...
6
votes
2answers
259 views

Size of a campaign world?

At this moment I am creating a world for my pathfinder game and I have no idea what the world's size should be. I know it ultimately depends on each GM and their group, but some information on the ...
5
votes
5answers
580 views

In depth world building. Making connections [closed]

I was reading an article (I lost the page due to Internet failure and don't have the link) on world building and it was talking about in depth world building, the article begins by talking about ...
5
votes
1answer
262 views

How can established settings contact each other, and are there rules about it?

I've actually had some of my questions answered browsing through the forums; however, I wanted to address some issues that may come of my conclusions! First off, I haven't DM'd since the first ...
5
votes
4answers
330 views

World Development - A Fresh Start

If this is not the place for this type of question, redirect me - I am new here, and apologize in advance. So. My group is looking for something new. Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 in my own setting is our ...
5
votes
4answers
550 views

Is it possible to run a simulationist sandbox game? [closed]

Context I grew up playing video games like Morrowind or Baldur's Gate where all the content is already there and all you do is go out there and interact with it, with all the limitations of having a ...
5
votes
3answers
215 views

Incorporating smell, taste, and weather underwater

Related to this question and this question. I am interested in building up the atmosphere of my aquatic campaign, and to do so, I would like to incorporate all the players' senses. But I am at a loss ...