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XXI: The World

Creating something from nothing is REALLY hard, especially when it comes to world-building. I've always ran with the platitude of "start small, think big later". When creating a setting or main adventuring area, I've got a process I run through that generally helps get the creativity flowing and that doesn't need to be performed in any real order:

The History:
This is just a general three-sentence description of the history of the setting or area the players are going to be adventuring in. It doesn't necessarily need to just be three sentences, but I've found that this is a good amount of space to let creativity branch out later.

The Encounters:
If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you'll probably know that I am a BIG fan of small tables. I generally like making a small table of encounters to gauge what enemies or allies may be seen when going through whatever fresh hell your players are going through.

The Bestiary:
This step is the simplest, and should probably be completed after making the encounters. This is just kitting out the monsters you put on the encounter tables, maybe add one or two more monsters if you want to stock up the encounter table every now and again.

The Rumors:
Rumors are everywhere in OSR games, and I personally love them. For just about every setting, I make a D6 table of rumors, if you don't like rumors you could replace these with three adventure seeds for the players.

The Title and Picture:
This is honestly one of the hardest parts, and should be completed last. It might just be because I am a more visual learner, but I like to give a picture of a scene possibly within the setting. If you can't find good pictures, go search here, here, and here for good doses of inspiration.

Hopefully this isn't too giant of an ask, for me it takes about half an hour to create a pretty solid setting.Personally, I execute the process in the order I presented it in, as I find that the easiest. Without further ado, lets do an example:

Wicked Kingdom playing card art by Wylie Beckert - ©2018 Wylie Beckert
The Land Of Plenty
(Wylie Beckert)
The King Of Spades has become ascetic in his age, abandoning his, and his kingdom's, worldly interests for boundless botany. Most villages, castles, and battlefields have disappeared beneath his encroaching gardens, with plants that have human likeness growing from those cursed plots of earth. The Spaded Kingdom has grown even more vulnerable over the years, as seditious scavenging efforts take place in nature's wake while the kingdom's guards are nowhere to be seen.

D6
Encounter Table
1
5 Scavengers, currently looting a large cart. They are too busy squabbling between themselves about shares of loot to notice anybody who would sneak up on them. The person who owned the cart is gagged and will make noise if they are not freed and they see any chance of rescue.
2
3 Scavengers camping, one is resting, one is wounded, and another is keeping watch. The one keeping watch in paranoia has a weaponized arcanum, the one wounded has a bomb (D12 blast)
3
A small caravan of 8 Scavengers, currently traveling to the same place you are going to. If they see you, and they think you look rich, you might be the victim of a robbery soon.
4
2 Twig Blights, draining the corpse of some weird giant for sustenance. Not so interested in your corpses, yet...
5
A giant log blocks the path, in actuality, it is 5 Twig Blights resting and basking in the sun.
6
The Grand Stag, currently hunting and getting intruders away from the encroaching gardens.

Scavengers - Rag-covered petty thieves
3 HP, D6 Shortsword, 10 STR, 12 DEX, 8 WIL
- Driven to loot and riches.
- If they deal critical damage to somebody, they take an item of theirs.

Twig Blights - Shambling mounds of twigs, branches, and ivy
6 HP, D6 Claw, 15 STR, 10 DEX, 10 WIL
- Driven to feast on blood and sunlight.
- Takes double damage from fire.
- If motionless, it can be mistaken for a brush.
- If they deal critical damage to somebody, the victim gains the flowering rot. In about a week, the victim will sprout flowers and wander off into the woods.

Grand Stag - A big old fuck-off stag with antlers protruding from its eye sockets
15 HP, D8 Antlers, 18 STR, 12 DEX, 12 WIL
- Driven to protect nature and hunt oathbreakers.
- Once the stag runs out of HP, it goes into a frenzy, gaining three random nature-related mutations.
- Can spit out projectile antler chunks, dealing D6 damage from afar.
- If they deal critical damage to somebody, the victim gains a random nature-related mutation.

D6
Rumor Table
1
A giant made of veggies roams these lands and eats those who are too rich, such as those damned lords and ladies!
Utterly False
2
Ghosts of the King Of Spade’s wardens burn our field, farms, and families. Hide your kids!
Partially True, they aren’t ghosts, they are just leftover soldiers from a fort nearby that are starving
3
Bandits have taken over Fortsholm Hill, and have been rebuilding it for some strange purpose.
Partially True, the fort is being rebuilt by a militaristic lich-druid and their liege of vine-ridden skeletons.
4
Many potent potions and poultices can be made from herbs deep within the overgrown ruins of the kingdom.
True
5
The thieve’s guild has recently unearthed something weird in the forest.
True, the cache of the magical items of an old lord
6
I hear the local witch has a pretty hefty bounty on her head.
True

See, now we're cooking with gas. This gives you just enough information to start branching out with things like more monsters and rumors. You could add in some factions, such as the king's guard who are insistent on restoring order because the mad king promised them riches, or a thieves guild hellbent on causing anarchy because their Raccoon God of Chaos shall favor them if they do so. You could add locations, such as witches huts in the forest, overgrown ruins, maybe even the King Of Spade's Castle. The possibilities are only limited by your creativity, which should hopefully be bountiful by now. Enough from me, go on and start creating!

Just in case you were wondering about my formats for the tables, it goes like this:
Encounter Table
1-3: Common enemies, different variations of the same enemy.
4-5: Uncommon enemies.
6: Something really weird.

Rumor Table
1: An utterly false rumor.
2-3: Rumors that hold partial truths to them.
4-6: Rumors that are utterly true or true to a great extent.

Comments

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