Project Horizon - A Worldbuilding Extravaganza! [Part 1]

Started by Cosmic Latte, February 09, 2011, 11:19:24 AM

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Cosmic Latte

Hello everyone, hope you are all having a good day today. I know I am I don't have to drive up to college today, meaning I get to stay home, and relax. As you might or might not know I am the significant other of the much more popular (and better writer in my opinion) Crystaltears. We joined this site a while back together, and we are both trying to get back into things. Anyways without further interruption I will explain the name of this blog, and what it means.

Note: If I put something in spoilers, or label a blog [No Crys Allowed] that means that I am writing stuff that I don't want Crystaltears to see. I want her to read this blog, but there are still things that she shouldn't look at since it will spoil things for her. Please do not quote anything that is hidden in spoilers. You may do this in threads that have the [No Crys Allowed] label though since she wont be allowed to read them at all.

Project Horizon
In the real world I am running a solo Dungeons and Dragons (using the Pathfinder rule set from Pazio) campaign set in hastily created homebrew setting modeled after Ancient Greece before the Delian League. It has the typical gods like Apollo in it along with gods from other pantheons from other nations (for example Isis is a goddess from the nation Karathi, which is obviously molded after Egypt). I spent all of a hour or so making the bare bones of the setting, and then I ran her through a converted Village of Homlet adventure. Good fun all around, they almost died to the 'Master' of the Moathouse though.

I am now running them through the War of the Burning Sky from ENworld, so I have given myself some breathing room so to speak to design the next game. Now when I say solo D&D game, I mean she has made a party of four characters, and is playing them all which is also what she will be doing for the next game sometime down the line.

Alright so long story short, Project Horizon is going to be the world that I am creating for not only my next D&D game for Crystaltears, but I want it to become the main setting for my other D&D games as well, maybe even freeform too. I am going to try to create a living, and breathing world. This is something of a tall order, and will take some time. So I though that I would post my project on Elliquiy to help me visit the site more often, and help me flesh out my world. Also I know there are other homebrewers out there, and people that have made their own fantasy settings I would love to get feedback, advice, ectcetera. Maybe I will even inspire others to do what I am doing or give them some good idea's. Now on with the main part of this post.

With each D&D game I tell either in real life or online I try to give myself goals to help me become a better Dungeon Master/Storyteller. However before I even get that far I need to decide on the tone for my world. I have been listening to podcasts about worldbuilding, and making settings for D&D (or fantasy in general), and one of the things that I have read that I haven't tried before is before you do anything else you should give your setting a tone. Now what do I mean by that?

Well I mean what is the feeling you get from the world as a whole condensed down into a word. Words like grim, cruel, morose, jovial, etcetera. Crystaltears as told me that she wants to play a group of characters who's goal is to create a thieves guild. Other than that she hasn't given me much else as far as details go since the next game I run for her is very far away.

My gut reaction is to use words like morose, gloomy, grim, dark, and the like since that is typically what I think about when I think off settings, and games that deal with thieves. When I think about a world like that the world created by Batman comes to mind, a world of Gothic darkness. Now is that what I want for my world? One of my goals (see below) is to create a world that uses as few cliches as possible, and by that I mean typical cliches you see in fantasy writing these days. Things like in the first age (or whatever they call it) there was a mighty magical empire that fell because of its own decadence, or the elves are dying off, or magic is fading away.

There is nothing wrong with these idea's but they have been done so many times that I want to try to do something different. Though I don't want to make it so alien that Crystaltears wont enjoy it, but I digress those sorts of decisions are still in the works. Now how do I want my world to feel? Well that is a good question, and I been thinking about it for the past few days. At this point I think I have come up with a few words:

Tone Words: Hopeful, Grand, and Corrupt.

The world that is a misty haze at this moment is a beautiful world, though it is a world of corrupt governments, though with a people that are not so lost that they can't hang on to hope for a better world. The world is large, beautiful, and even a bit overwhelming at times filled with high mountains, and dark unexplored forests. There is a conflict between those that want to make the world better, and those that want to make their own lives better, who is winning this battle I am not sure yet.

I might change my mind, something else I tend to do is shackle myself to a idea. I am going to try to not do that, if I get a better idea later, I am going to switch over to that. Maybe I will even switch back if I decide I don't like it *Gasps in the crowd* Yes I know! Its crazy!

Again I digress, for now I have a handful of words that only generally explain my world. I could add a forth one, dangerous but lets be honest. It wouldn't be a D&D setting if it wasn't dangerous. Who wants to sit around for three or more hours rolling checks to see who made a better basket rolling Profession (Underwater Basket-weaving).

Project Goals
Another thing I read about is it is a good idea to know why you are making a world in the first place, and to place some goals ahead of time to know at least generally where you are going. So I have made a brief list of some of the goals I have for Project Horizon. There are two types personal, and world goals. First the personal:

Personal Goals
I have picked up some bad habits over the years, here are a few things that I want to break with this next game:

1. Don't Over-explain: I tend to explain things in too much detail, and give away too much information. I tend to also explain things to the point that I will give the answer to Crystaltears without her even having a chance to think about it. Bad Dungeon Master bad!

2. Character Voice/Narrative Voice: I am going to try to do almost every NPC (Non Player Character) interaction in Character Voice, meaning that I will talk to the Crystaltears or the adventurers in the voice of the NPC in question rather than explaining things.

World Goals
The following are the goals I have for this world.

1. Finish it!: I am really horrible at finishing things, hopefully I will be able to finish this project.

2. Give the world emotion, and life: I am going to be a history teacher, because of this I tend to explain things/make things like a textbook would. I get rid of the bias that a NPC might have, thus draining the emotion from the story. I am going to try to not do that.

3. Characters, characters, and more characters: I tend to focus on nations, cities, and the like. This time around I am going to try to make a large pool of characters that Crystaltears can interact with.

4. Make something I will enjoy: My hope is that I make a setting I will want to keep updating again, and again rather than starting over to make something new every couple of months. I want this world to be mine, something of my own creation that I raise from the first seeds that I have laid here. I have read about people that have run D&D games in the some homebrew setting for years, that is what I want to make.

Well that is all for now, next time I am going to be starting with the nuts and bolts of my setting. Most of the early work is going to be on a Macro level, which means I will be focusing on the world at large, the gods, the cosmology, mythology, and the like. Once I get a good feeling for that I am going to start working on the city, and nation that Crystaltears party is going to come from.