Category Archives: World Building

The Valley of Primordial Evil

A crazy and dangerous idea for the World of Yarc.
Imagine an area that is evil. It’s in a key location but nothing can be reallly done about it. It’s like an artifact that can’t be destroyed. A place where even the land itself is corrupted. It beckons to the weak willed and the power hungry. It draws them in and offers them great power.It can turn a peasant into mighty Lich. Corrupt a paladin into being a genocidal maniac.
Situated strategicaly between the Eastern and Mid Kingdoms, The Land of Primordial Evil is a power and dangerous place. Many fools have tried to harness its power with disasterous results.
Well meaning kings have attempted to build a wall around it but only to have some knight or even a lowly laborer fall under the spell of the land. If left alone or ignored. Someone will eventually be drawn in. The Valley of Primoridal Evil cannot be blocked off, guarded, blessed or dispelled.

Humans Are Boring

I thought of this other day. Humans are the most boring race in fantasy RPG’s. Yes, there’s that human diversity, spirit and all that but compared to everyone else they’re kind of blah. So why not twist things up a bit? Let’s make them and their place in the world just a little more interesting.

  • Bottom of the Food Chain: Dwarves are resistant to poison. Many races can see in the dark. Simple things like this don’t exactly make humans the best. So play it up. They’re at the bottom of the food chain. They’re the lowest on the totem pole. You get the drift. They might not even have their own cities and kingdoms. They just hang out with the other races.
  • Invasive Species: Who says humans have to be natives to the setting? Maybe they’re from another world or plane. They showed up, escaped, got exiled or whatever. Anyway, they’re the newest race and they’re breeding like cockroaches or kudzu.
  • Not A Pure Strain: Maybe humans are the result of an odd pairing. Maybe they’re half-dwarf/half-elf. Neither of the ancient ancestors want to talk about and they probably blame each other for the mistake.
  • Wizard Did It: Yes, it’s the go-to, pat answer but it can work. Humans are artificial race created by some ancient and probably alien wizard. Maybe laughs, labor, or experimentation.
  • I’m sure there are plenty more ideas out there. Just run with it, folks. Everything in your setting should be interesting.

    Do you really need a world map?

    I remember when I started my first D&D campaign. It was the early days. Those funny dice were nearly impossible to find. Miniatures were made out of lead. And we made up the campaign world as we went along.
    The first thing I want to say is that there are many fine maps that are works of art. They’re beautiful and inspiring. I’m not trying to denigrate anyone’s work. But I’ve been thinking. How much does a DM really need that world map?
    My first world map was just some random notes. This was to north. That was to the east and so on. Later it turned more into something that looked like a cross between a flow chart and a poorly sketched dungeon. It was simple. The player characters knew (usually) where they were. They knew there was village that way. Some mountains in that direction. And big city over there. They knew roughly how long it would take to their destination. And that was enough. If there was something interesting out there, it would end up in their path. Nothing about “If they had only been walking a few more miles to the east then they would have found something interesting.” As a DM, you’re supposed to know where everything is or might be in the world. But a detailed map isn’t all that necessary. Flying without a map also let’s you throw in those interesting little extras that pop up after the campaign has started.
    So discuss away. World maps. Great as art. Optional gaming tool. What?

    Flail Parties

    OK, this crazy idea popped into my head. You know about Flailsnails right? Basically, it’s a little OSR thing. Bring whatever character into a campaign. Fun and simple. If that sounds cool then check out the Google + Community for it.
    So here’s a thought. What about place that’s a repository for OSR characters. Let’s say there’s a game going via Google Hangouts or maybe you’re a running a game at a convention or at your FLGS. Somebody shows up without a character. Just go to the repository and pull a character and play it. Then the character goes back into the repository when the player is done. The character gets adjusted for experience, loot, or any other things that might happen. The character’s go up in level but get played by different people. New characters get added. Old characters die and get removed from the data base and so on. I know folks will be more likely to pull a character and use it rather than spend the time to update it and put it back into the rotation.
    I’m not sure how exactly this should be implemented whether via Google drive or a blog or a wiki. Right now, it’s just an idea bouncing around inside my head. Thoughts? Critics?

    More Gonzo Space Opera

    You ever have an idea that you just can’t get out of your head? That’s the way it is with me on the idea for a Gonzo Space Opera campaign. I just can’t seem to shake this and it keeps coming back into my little brain and bouncing around. Sort of a mix of Farscape, Lexx, Heavy Metal, Firefly, Fifth Element, Dune, and Star Wars thrown into a blender and seasoned with other nifty ideas.
    What I want is something cool, weird and just a bit crazy. Heck, an average party just might look something like this:
    And they just might end up fighting a bunch of guys sort of like this:
    I want a game that is simple and gritty but still cinematic. Basically, I want the threat of character death there but not so much that the players won’t be scarred to do crazy, outlandish, and cool stuff. I want starship combat to simple and not like a whole separate war game. I don’t want characters to have to min-max in order to fly or participate in shit-to-ship combat. I want an easy way to have just about any kind of alien race that a player can imagine (within reason). I’ve thought about this and have been scribbling down random notes at lunchtime in a little notebook. So here’s the rules that have made the final cut.
    1. An OSR Hack: Start off with Machinations of the Space Princess mix in some Hulks & Horrors and generous dose of little bits from other retro-clones. Make it simple and easy. An interesting thought about this option is that there is so much OSR stuff out there that with just a little bit tweaking could go from fantasy to far out space opera. Plus many players are already familiar with the basic mechanics.
    2. D6: Really, who doesn’t have some good memories of the first Star Wars RPG by West End Games? Heck, there’s still thriving fan base for the system. I don’t why there isn’t more love about this system. I don’t know maybe it still has to do with the flaming wreckage caused during the death throws of West End Games. I’d probably start off with Antipaladin Games Mini-Six and work from there using the freely available supplements and source books.
    3. Savage Worlds: Yes, I love me some Savage Worlds but the folks of my gaming group aren’t that fond of it No biggie. It’s still an option in my head. I don’t have the new SciFi Companion yet (plan on getting it when it hit the shelves of my FLGS) but I still have the old Tool Kits. I probably simplify a few things here and there and start with Daring Tales of the Space Lanes as starting point to throw things together. I grabbed some of the freebies when it first came out and like it.
    4. HardNova 2: I’ll admit that I don’t know enough about HardNova 2. But as I did numerous web searches it kept coming up and always in a positive light. This got me thinking seriously about the game. And bonus a new revised and expanded edition is coming out soon. While it may be a new set of rules for many, it still sounds simple and easy to learn.
    So those are my thoughts. Tell me your opinions, oh Great and Powerful Internet.

    Sword & Sorcery: It’s more than “No Elves”

    Let’s face it. The “World’s Most Popular Fantasy Roleplaying Game” was more influenced by Tolkien than Robert E. Howard. So, the first step many folks take when trying to do a Sword & Sorcery game is just “D&D with just humans.” For me, Sword & Sorcery is about attitude and atmosphere.

    It needs to be sex, drugs and rock & rock. It’s heavy metal and punk rock all rolled up into one big crazy world. It’s twisted magic and monsters. It’s lost temples, forgotten gods and scoring that one big pile of loot before you die. Sword & Sorcery stories are about mean streets, wastelands and corruption. In a way, S&S has a lot in common with cyberpunk. I’ll let that one inspire you for a moment.

    But here’s some elements that are bouncing around in my little head for some house rules for Crypts & Things. Yep, there’s going to be follow up posts as soon some more of these ideas start come together.
    Humans Only. Sticking with that but doesn’t mean that it has to be bland. Humans from different cultures and lands will have slightly different skills. So just because everyone is human doesn’t mean that they are all the same.
    Classes. The heroes of S&S stories have checkered pasts and a wide variety of skills. Classes can have their niche but characters need to flexible to survive. The two little keys here are no weapon and armor proficiencies and let the characters try anything. Plus throw on a level cap. I’m considering doing something along the lines of E6 for Crypts and Things. Just make an additional chart similar to the background chart. When a character “levels up” past sixth level, they roll and gain a new bonus.

    Magic is dangerous and corrupting. The first thing, Vanceian magic is right out the window. Magic isn’t flash and bang. It’s creepy. It’s about how big a price someone is willing to pay for power. This is a major tweak and well worth it’s own post.
    Monsters should be unique, twisted and frightening. It’s not a horror game (although there elements there) but players shouldn’t be yawning and saying, “It’s another shambling mound.”

    Combat is freaking dangerous. Hit points are cool and easy but with Hit Dice, the numbers can just end up too big to keep things gritty and dangerous. So here’s my little idea. Hit Points equal Constitution+ (1/2 Strength). That’s it. It doesn’t matter how many levels a character has. Getting a sword in the gut in a back alley brawl could it end it just as quickly as facing an other worldly horror. Now is the time I bore you with some math. Let’s say we’ve got a character with average stats of 11. That means 16 HP. At low levels, that’s a good chunk of HP but once you get around 4-6 not so much.  Also, there really shouldn’t be “heavy armor”.   I don’t see S&S characters running around in clunky plate mail.  Probably, chainmail at the best. And I know somebody is going to make a chainmail bikini comment.  Correct, it really isn’t armor. Neither is a fur lion cloth.

    I usually don’t load a post with so much artwork but like I said at the beginning it’s about atmosphere and attitude. And a picture is worth a thousand sword cuts.