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40

This isn't a science, it's an art. You'll get better with practice, and nobody's process will work for you except your own. That said, here's some of my precepts and guidelines. Please keep in mind the order I'm presenting them has no bearing on importance or chronology: it's all a big jumble of sorta-thinking that I let bubble around in my head for a ...


32

From the ever-essential Medieval Demographics Made Easy, I find that: A square mile of settled land (including requisite roads, villages and towns, as well as crops and pastureland) will support 180 people. This takes into account normal blights, rats, drought, and theft, all of which are common in most worlds. From Medieval Manors I learn that a ...


29

There are a few games with reasonable economics: Runequest (2nd or 3rd ed, not the Mongoose versions) and Pendragon (all editions). Fantasy Wargaming, for all its derision as a game, has decent econ research. Later versions of Chivlary & Sorcery also do reasonably well at it. Several supplements for Hero System also have decent price lists. There are ...


28

I think a good question should be "why are they going off-map?". You're running a sandbox campaign, so you're generally waiting for the characters' own motivations to lead to the next adventure. These motivations can be one of several things: they can be hunger for adventure, gold or power - in which, case, you're in control, since you determine where these ...


27

Well... first you actually need to have ancient history to call on. If you don't, it'll be hard to just simulate. That's what made LotR work in this way; Tolkien had all that history at his fingertips and could refer to it casually in passing. Pulsehead's answer provides one way to accomplish this. Assuming you've done that work already... Physically layer ...


27

Security is always a function of risk mitigation. Specifically, it must cost less to secure the goods than the total value of the goods, and make accessing the goods a cost higher than the total value of the goods. What compounds this problem is that you're talking about doing this in a game that is designed to let "good guys" penetrate the defenses of "bad ...


25

Obvious note from a theoretical ecologist: if females have several times longer lifespans than males, and nothing else changes to compensate, that's going to significantly skew the sex ratio (several times more living females than males). That suggests that (at least) one of the following options should hold: If the society is monogamous and the birth sex ...


24

I think the most likely explanation of the phenomenon is that fantasy is normally in a medieval setting, and when we think "medieval", we think of kings, not of theocrats or magocrats. In other words, what limits clerics and wizards is our imagination. If you're looking for in-game explanations, I can think of three Tradition: If the people are used to ...


24

There's two ways that I can think of. If you want a really simple solution? Declare that "Common" is a common second language. It's by no means universal - and as you move further away from major borders and trade routes it can completely disappear - but it's common enough that almost anyone could know it without straining plausibility. In mechanical terms, ...


24

Eberron has maglev trains Eberron, which was originally written for 3.5, has the so-called Lightning Rail, which is basically a magical maglev train. It’s a fairly major part of the setting, and certainly doesn’t ruin anything. Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk don’t have trains, or, apparently, mages who think As you say, considering the ...


20

I don't see a problem with it, as such. If it's made sufficiently clear to the players what will happen, it gives an interesting dilemma for them. Stop the unimaginable horror of prince Orcus letting his horde of undead loose, or keep the ability to Raise Dead. Not every campaign has big (and I do mean BIG) choices like that.


18

Three basic techniques come to mind: keep a "Big Enough" map keep the edges really unpleasant keep the central areas really interesting A couple more are more "corny" but can work... a literal barrier at the edges Wrath of the Gods at the edges End of the world at the edges Have your players agree not to go off the map Some expansion on these ...


18

What's important to the setting? Rude words are rude only because we decide they are. The word and phrases that a society feels are inappropriate say a lot about the people and culture, so you're going to need to start with a solid understanding of the values and beliefs of the society. Consider what is commonplace in your setting, what's sacred or ...


18

First of all, a "warning": Many computer RPG worlds have way more background info available than the casual observer might hope for at first or second sight. Google is your friend, as usual, in this, if not your BFF. Search for game-world specific names (locations, NPCs, creature and equipment names) and look for wiki-like sites among the hits. (Wikia, for ...


17

Latin (and to some extent Greek) used to be the lingua franca during the middle ages. Later on, French became the language of diplomacy and nobility. Everyone that mattered [1] speaks a local variation of said language which should still be understandable by another speaker. For example, Quebecois and French or American and English. So, you could have ...


17

I was in exactly the same boat as you a year ago: introduced to Fate with Diaspora, loved it, and then wanted to capture than in a fantasy setting. This is where I went with it: Dresden Files RPG has a comprehensive, flavourful, flexible, and very Fate-like magic system that easily translates to a fantasy setting. For an incredibly-good explanation of its ...


17

I have to reverse @Phill.Zitt’s opinion, personally. The males are young, brash, short-lived, less to lose. I see the females as not needing to reproduce on a regular basis. I could see the males having situations where most of the females he knows aren’t interested in anything “right now” for the entirety of his life. As a result, ...


17

Give them unique resources/opportunities It may seem callous and calculating, but a town that gives discounts to the adventurers has a special place in the heroes' hearts (and pocketbooks). Services and opportunities help disguise the ploy a little better; perhaps the town is unusually good at generating cool quests or provides unusually good legal counsel ...


16

Directed towards your second question, assuming you aren't running a real world campaign, make sure you clearly detail not only the differences between your world cultures, but perhaps the background / history of the differences. Create cheat-sheets for players playing characters from those cultures, which you (and maybe with the help of the player) update ...


16

There is no legal problem with using intellectual property in a private game. Unless you're making money off it or making it available to large numbers of people, what you do in your game probably isn't interfering with copyright. Of the established settings you're mentioning, only Forgotten Realms is codified in 4e. D&D Fourth Edition has its own ...


15

The book Castle by David Macauley is my go-to, along with pulling up floor plans of whatever various real castles I find. The book goes into details about the construction -- which will be important for describing the state of decay accurately, as well as informing what the players will need to find/do to repair/rebuild it -- as well as describing in great ...


14

I see several factors at work in the D&D worlds, especially in 3.X: Rarity, Motivation, lack of solidarity, Social Contract, and the frankenstein effect. Rarity: Wizards and Clerics are surprisingly rare... typically under 1% each of the population using the 3.0 DMG methods. The smaller the segment of the population, the harder it is to take over. ...


14

It has been my personal experience that when trying to hammer in "flavor" details such as these, what works best is a combination of pre-game exposition and some in-game uses. Allow me to elaborate. When you explain to your players how your campaign setting works and such, be sure to at least mention these rituals. If you go into a lot of detail here, your ...


14

Creating slang and dialect is an art, not a science, and there are two basic strategies: invent it, or steal it. If you invent dialect, don't invent words Berk, from Berkeley Hunt or a rhyming insult. Cutter, definition 11. Barmy, Etymology 2, from balmy. and chant is just a description of oral news services. You can see that the slang used in ...


14

This is not an art, it is an science. BESW's superb answer does a really good job of detailing things, go read it and up vote it. His comment inspired me to write this. However, I disagree (a little) on the science vs art form. We only have one example of an inhabitable planet (at the time to writing) and we have only a few examples of how life affects it. ...


14

Use Chaotic Shiny's Civilisation Generator. Setting-agnostic: Yes. It covers a few date ranges from the past to the future, and is generically applicable enough. Scalable: Yes. As you take this smaller-scale, you may want to de-emphasize some generated details, ignore them, or treat them as properties of the larger civilisation this village belongs to. ...


13

Professional Look For the layout, learn and use a page layout program. Word is NOT a page layout program; it's a word processor with delusions of page layout capability. Word is excellent for doing the original files, tho'; generate the RTF files using the styles system in word or another styles-using wordprocessor (I use Pages; I used to use Appleworks and ...


13

When we run RPGs I believe we tend to start with the familiar and work our way out in an attempt to explore and experience the unknown. Which is fine. If you want to make your game feel more exotic I'd work my way there instead of plopping them down in the midst of something to which the game should build, in my opinion. In my RPG campaigns, I let the ...


13

Being something of an economics wonk, I've found it easiest to back out of RPG-space by doing some rough conversions of the currencies moving around and the value of goods, and then build a coherent economic system without a lot of detail - basically writing an economy at the narrative scale. When it's time to move back into the game world, at whatever ...



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