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The Douchey DM » Adventure Design, Advice » Thoughts on World Creation

Thoughts on World Creation

I’m in the planning stages for a GURPS Fantasy game I’m planning on running with Google+ Hangouts and one of the several online RPG tools that works with it.

I’m starting with world creation, and the picture to the left (as well as a multi-page setting description) is the sum of it. It is a very large island with two large cities, a couple outposts to look out for invaders and a large forested/marshland area controlled by hostile amphibious goblins who worship the dark god of the underseas.

The humans who live on the island have made several attempts to settle the goblin-controlled Eastlands, but all attempts have met with failure and death. Additionally, there mountain range in the Westlands is rich with silver. Several mines exist in the mountains, and the powers that be in the two major cities are constantly vying for control of the best, most productive mines.

So the question most players would ask is, “is there shipping? What exists past the surrounding seas?” The answer to the first question is, “yes.” As for the second question, that’s where the collaboration begins. Not so much a “you tell me” proposition, but more of a, “let’s see what kind of characters get made before that gets determined.”

Will there be vast empires? Is this island a backwater of a much larger civilization? I don’t know. I have ideas, but before I decide on anything I want to see the characters. Once I see what kind of characters the players make, I’ll get some insight into their expectations.

In the meantime, there’s plenty to do in this little corner of the world.

I often use a “start small” approach to world creation for a couple different reasons. Firstly, it’s less daunting than trying to build an entire world (and perhaps beyond) before I’ve even had a session. Secondly, it tends to curtail some of the questions like, “can I play a half-minotaur ninja?”

There are some big questions I do try to answer, however, as they are relevant if I’m detailing even one small island on an an entire planet.





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Stu Venable is the producer of Happy Jacks RPG Podcast and writer and editor of He is founder and director of the Poxy Boggards and a member of Celtic Squall. He holds a degree in Journalism and Public Relations from California State University, Long Beach. He is a husband and a father. He hates puppies.

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One Response to "Thoughts on World Creation"

  1. Kevin RNo Gravatar says:

    sooooooooo……can I play a half-minotaur ninja?

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