I've been playing 5e for a couple years here and there, and last year I decided to DM for a group of friends. I took up the mantle because I wanted DnD, and no one else had the gumption to do it. So after having only played about 5 actual sessions, I dove in head first and started a homebrew world. I watched a lot of CR, MCDM videos, read the players manual and DM's guide cover to cover, and scoured the internet for DM advice, things to look out for, etc. I learned a TON, and fast. I was a sponge!
I adopted the Lazy DM's method, and would only plan what what right in front of the players. This worked well and they were able to make some great progress, and even complete a great story arc, but for me, the whole thing just felt hollow. I had no plan, I was just improving 75% of every session with a few notes on a few things here and there, and letting the players get away with basically anything they wanted, though one of them did die (which was another whole thing, and awesome experience for everyone),
Now we're at a point where I literally have no plans for them. No hooks, no villains (they killed the low level bb), and it's been about 5 months since we've played.
Then I found Worlds Without Number. The world creation resources, tables, and overall method of thinking about things when world building has completely altered my approach. The free version has enough content to completely overhaul my campaign, but keep the canon in place. These tools are system agnostic and for me, act like a bag of seeds to pull from and plant in my world. It's so approachable, step by step, omit the things you don't want, and in a few hours time, you can have a fully fleshed out realm, with relevant history, that could support years of play with naturally occurring plots and events. Hooks of all kinds just seem to emerge when you start linking the dice rolls and table outcomes together.
Cliffs: if you're a GM looking for some inspiration or have been a lazy GM and want to try to change that, WWN can be an invaluable resource.
The extras in the Deluxe version are more great inspiration, but the free version contains everything you would need to really flesh out your world and add some depth. https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/348809/Worlds-Without-Number-Free-Edition
Edit, here's the first few sections of my document for reference. most of this will be given to the players as a handout before the next session to hopefully get them more immersed in the world as well. Some of this was floating around in my head, but the majority was created by using the tables mentioned.
World Name: Vygdra
Natural Laws: Common/Earthlike
Alternate Worlds/dimensions/etc: Elemental planes, Underdark
– Orcs, Known as the Ta’an. Eastern continent of Ta’. 100 years prior to campaign setting, they defeated the great black dragon Mogerro, seizing control of the central islands of Yab, and established a trade empire through force, and the help of the an unknown magical force.
– Dwarves, Known as the Dwerg. Ancient craftsmen, and conniving, brilliant and cunning diplomats. Fiercely loyal to their own race, and look down on all others. Seeks to cleanse their continent of Dwerg of all Elves(Vygdran). Though currently not engaged in active war, tensions are generally elevated between the two races.
– Elves, Known as Vygdran. The oldest race in the realm, now being driven to extinction by the Dwerg. They value tradition and honor, and work to spread knowledge of their history so as not to be erased.
– Humans, Known as Imeni. Favor peace above all else. Not known for military might, but renown as crafty diplomats who use their resources, knowledge, and general friendliness (Dwerg and Ta’ see this as weakness) to maintain peace and prosperity.
Travel: Travel between major cities seen on the Basic Map is generally easy. Trade routes over water and basic roads over land. Small hamlets and communities are vast in number, spread throughout the realm, with varying degrees of accessibility, generally based on their proximity to one of the larger cities.
Name: Continent of Imen, Southernmost continent in Vygdra
Major Geographical Features:
– Blackward Mountains, Southern geo. Feature. Home to the first Fey Sanctuary known since before Mogerro was defeated (100 years prior). Dangerous. Due to the presence of the Fey Sanctuary and corrupted magics, there are said to be ancient sites and relics here.
– Cursed Forest, Surrounding Alireza and extending to the west, north of the foothills. Little is known about this area, as those who enter seldom return, or turn back before they meet their fate.
– Perdo – Capitol city of Imen, and home to the leadership. Large sprawling urban city. Fed wealth by from Morntas and trade.
– Morntas – Morntas is the coastal city that developed from Perdo’s primary sea-trade port. Thus the two cities are linked and allied in all things.
– Palom – Southwestern most major city on Imen. Culturally isolated, the inhabitants generally share the customs of the rest of the Imeni, with some notable exceptions. They worship no gods, and hold human thought and reasoning above all else. Knowledge being the ultimate source of power and valued highly.
– Alireza – More or less secluded city North of the cross-country trade routes. Borders the cursed forest, but the city has been growing under it’s own power for several decades. Most of the trade and tourism comes in the summer/fall months, and Alireza stays isolated most of the rest of the year. Currently the home of Thaddeus, Glartuck, and Tanyl, who are now part of the city council and act as the head of the armed guard.
– Sai Shalath – Easternmost city on Imen. Prosperous trade routes and cultural influences from and Nagrat have made this a free thinkers paradise. Loose laws, but strict honor and customs. Mixed races of all kinds are welcome, and the area is ruled by a rotating council.
History of the area: (pg139)
Perdo – Prior to Mogerro’s defeat 100 years ago, Perdo was a cesspool of indulgence and crime. For generations leading up to that point, the political landscape was wrought with bribery and corruption. Almost overnight it seemed, there came great change. The next era was that of renaissance and prosperity. The Imeni had discovered a new source of power, and used it to pull their society up from the dregs, into the prosperous nation it is today.
Morntas – Morntas was once a growing and thriving city of its own, until the Great War. Mogerro didn’t just unleash hell upon the Ta’an. He sent his minions to each continent to wreak havoc as well. These minions tore the city apart, leaving only scarce survivors. It was after this time that Perdo sent Pilgrims to Morntas to help rebuild. In doing so, they indebted Morntas to them forever, and have controlled the city since then, keeping the working class in poverty and the elite rich wealthy.
Palom – The modern city of Palom stands is built upon a vast foundation of carved stone. Towers, parapets, and fortified walls, along with an ingenious aqueduct system leftover from ages past keep the citizens of Palom safe and happy. They pledge their allegiance to the Capitol in Perdo, but in reality, they are fully self sustaining. This is largely due to the influence of Dwerg culture. Many Dwerg and half-Dwerg reside in Palom. It is through this alliance and blending of cultures that the Dwerg and Imeni have a long standing peace. Palomites also maintain mines along the southern coast of the Blackward mountains that line the continent. Shipping everything back to their docks and then transporting/trading from there, across the relatively calm southern seas.
Alireza – 87, 82
Sai Shalath – 2, 25
these last two are the numbers to reference on the table. just haven't written them out yet. Alireza is the city the entire campaign has taken place in thus far, so I paused before writing that section out so I can make sure to add more depth to the history/etc. and include canon from our campaign.
- And Knowing Is Half The Battle
- Need help with fleshing out villain’s goal
- I may have royally fucked up and feel like crap
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