Dungeons & Dragons Online

World Building Might Be Making Me Insane

Content of the article: "World Building Might Be Making Me Insane"

It started so easily – a creation story, deities, and the existential conflict.

Then the mortals. Non-human races tend to be cloistered in their own pockets of land, whereas humans have divided up into four countries (all of which take up about a quarter of the map).

I gave each human country a single-word descriptor to start – "knowledge", "military", "industrial", and "arts". These descriptors drove the personality of each region. Each country had a city, ~3 towns, and ~4 villages. Villages generated food for the towns and cities, towns generated resources for the villages and cities, which allowed the cities to be seats of power and influence.

Each settlement was given a name and a general purpose. But when it came to details, I realized I was doing it all wrong. I wasn't creating a compendium of settlements; this was supposed to be a bottom-up approach, not a top-down approach. So I held off on getting into details until it was necessary.

So I created a localized map of the starting region ("knowledge"). I started with natural features, and worked in the settlements, as it works in reality. Each town was placed on the map where it could maximize its draw of resources, each village placed where it could support a town. And each city where it was most strategic for trade and protection. Roads were added as they might have formed organically based on the locations of settlements. I figured the details could come later.

Then I began designing the first quest. This quest has the characters going underground for a bit before being spit out into the wild. Based on the map, they would wind up near a village, and therefore not too far from a town.

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And this is where things exploded.

In my mind's eye, I saw that the town (a mining town) started as miners trekking to the mountains and living in a camp. But the workers needed local lodging, so barracks were built. Their tools needed work, so a blacksmith set up shop nearby. The workers needed entertainment, so a tavern grew (and started drawing entertainers looking for coin). Before long, the once-camp became a bustling settlement. It continued to grow over time, requiring someone to keep charge (the mayor) while growing more permanent buildings. The path to that place went from a dirt trail to a road, to accommodate the traffic of travelers, resources, and goods. And inns were built to house the merchants now traveling here to peddle their wares.

After a while, the town became so big that it needed its own food supply. So another settlement (the village) grew nearby. It started as farms, then grew to include small shops to support the people traveling to and from the town (it's no coincidence this village sprung up at a crossroads), and then homes to house the now-permanent residents. And the local people required their own tools (blacksmith) and entertainment (taverns), as well as inns for the travelers.

And just like that, those settlements were born and developed with full histories, grown from seeds that the players would never even know about. None of these details were planned – I just saw them when I looked in closely. The birth of these two settlements came almost unbidden, based on the world built around them.

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It was a very weird experience. And a damn cool one.

Source: reddit.com

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