April Update – D&D World Building


Hello, I’m still around.

I’ve taken this past week off from work so I’ve been able to just relax at home. It’s given me the chance to refresh things: change my bed, get new clothes, shave, etc. Though probably the main thing I’ve been doing over the past while is trying to create a D&D campaign setting.

I’ll just say right now that it’s a “homage” (er, blatant rip-off) of the fantasy I’ve grown up with & enjoyed. With standard D&D lore as the baseline, I’m taking elements primarily from Heroes of Might & Magic, Warhammer Fantasy, Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls, & more; with names, items, etc taken from Magic: The Gathering, Heretic & Hexen, Lords of Magic, Diablo, & other media. It’s essentially a kitchen sink full of high fantasy, which allows the players to be whatever they want to be (this is the one campaign where I’m taking this approach by the way, I plan on being more original/restrictive in future campaigns).

Is this copyright infringement? Probably, but I’m only doing this with my friends & it’s just for fun.

I am of course adding my own flavour to the setting, things like:

  • No explicit “good & evil”, only perspectives, beliefs, & cultural values. That means creatures like goblins & orcs aren’t just pillaging & destroying “cause they’re evil”, it’s part of how they survive in the world. It also makes entities like angels & demons more interesting since these are meant to be the living essence of such moral forces.
  • Deities are ambiguous & every faction has their own idea of what the gods are; no universal pantheon. Clerics & the like are functionally the same but their powers come more from faith in the domain & ideals themselves; they’re the ultimate examples of the “power of belief”.

I started this thinking that I’d create the world in a simplistic manner; I won’t worry about things makings sense or there being consistent logic, this is fantasy for fantasy sake. Though as I’ve dug into this & added more & more, I realize just how much work I need to do.

One of the big things I wanted was a plethora of factions & nations. The idea is that, while the players are free to do whatever they want to do in the world, these forces will be shaping the world around them, maybe even directly affecting what they’re doing. It helps give life to the world & lets players know there’s something bigger going on.

I’m realizing there’s a lot of things you need to consider about a single faction:

  • What do they do/why do they exist? What are their goals?
  • Where are they based & what territory do they have?
  • What is their hierarchy/form of governance?
  • What do they value & belief in? What’s their motto?
  • Who are their allies & enemies, & why?
  • Who are the prominent people of this faction?
  • How prominent/influential are they in the world?
  • What are their colours/symbols/uniform?
  • What are the ranks & perks?
  • How do they view/utilize magic?

There are at least a dozen kingdom scale factions I have in mind, & I need to come up with details about all of these, plus their subfactions. I love trying to fill in all the blanks, but still – that’s a lot of detail.

Another thing I want is several other PC-like characters; other adventurers the players will encounter. Again, I don’t want players to think they’re the only ones doing anything. That means creating character sheets for all of them, which might be more work than the factions.

Why am I putting in all this work instead of just having them start in some non-descriptive town & giving them a dungeon? Simply put, I want this campaign to be as player driven as possible. I don’t want to plant a story onto them that they won’t really care about, so I’m letting them decide what they want to do. However, this requires preparing the world to a degree that they can become engrossed in it & can act accordingly.

I guess this counts as practice for open-world game design. Gotta love over-scoping things :).

So that’s what I’ve been doing over the past month, I think. Part of me feels like doing a series of posts sharing the factions/characters I’ve created for it, though I won’t be sharing all of them. Like I said I’m taking stuff from existing media so I’ll focus on the more unique stuff.


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