I have been working on the campaign for several months now, with two re-sets and a couple of playtest sessions. I’m haveing a blast, this part of the hobby is really fun for me, like building and painting minis is the most fun part of miniature wargaming for me.
World Anvil is holding a Worldbuilding Summer Camp, and I have decided to use those prompts, and the WA tools, to work on the Faerie Realm for World of Weirth.
You can check out the first efforts here: the Terciated Land
It really is a very helpful site, with some good inspirational blog posts, like this one on Dark Settings:
HOW TO WRITE DARK CAMPAIGN SETTINGS – 5 TIPS AND TRICKS
Sometimes a story is only as good as its setting. And when it comes to roleplaying games, in particular, the setting itself is quite often the starting point. It’s almost as if RPGs only truly come to life once the worlds they occupy become fully realized for everyone invested in those shared narrative experiences.
If you’re anything like me, you probably enjoy a fair measure of the morose in your storytelling. The dark fantasy and horror genres excite me in a way like no other—by challenging my mind to explore the grotesque and tenebrous aspects of humanity that my body dares not. You can see this portrayed in my work on projects like Empire of the Ghouls from Kobold Press or the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount for Critical Role and Wizards of the Coast. Even when we consider a lot of classic fantasy settings, like Tolkien’s Middle-earth, Howard’s Hyborian Age, Leiber’s Lankhmar, and such, we find them riddled with oppressively dark scenarios and maniacally perverse villains who all-too-eerily echo the more dreadful aspects of the real world.
When creating your own dark campaign setting, you may or may not find yourself struggling to walk the line between truth and trope. How dark is too dark? And how does one establish an oh-so-necessary, yet elusive, mood? With so much inspiration and intent, it can be hard to know where to start. But don’t sweat it—we’ve got you covered with five easy* tips on how to create your very own dark campaign setting.
* Disclaimer: nothing is easy. Just ask any 12-year-old who tried to read Lovecraft without a dictionary.
Fear lingers. Fear goes unforgotten… your dark new world [will] remain in the hearts and minds of your players for lifetimes to come. — Chris Lockey
TIP 1 TO WRITE A DARK CAMPAIGN SETTING? WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.
If you’ve ever taken a creative writing class or studied your favorite author’s words of professional encouragement, this tried-and-true axiom may feel a bit hackneyed. But the simple fact remains that your personal experiences—in both life and literature—are the most vital resources you have at your disposal as a storyteller. Do not shy away from your own story. Instead, I urge you to embrace, examine, and exploit those details from your past that can effectively inform your narrative decisions today.
I find this pretty serendipitous, as I’m afraid of arachnids, and I am using them extensively in the World of Weirth setting. I’ll be writing more as this project moves along (and don’t worry, KotB will keep pluggin along too!), you can follow along on this tag: WASC2020.
The Setup for Worldbuilding the Faerie Realm
There were four “Prep” blog posts written in advance of the Summer Camp kickoff, and they gave us a chance to get some ideas straight in our heads before we started the process. My notes on these prompts are as follows:
- What is my motivation? Pretty much I just want to get the Faerie Realm out of my head and down on paper. I think I understand how it should work, with regard to the setting and travel back and forth, but I’m not sure. This should give me the impetus to get it all written down and figured out.
- What is the Genre? High Fantasy (as opposed to the gritty low-fantasy of the mundane campaign world)
- How big will it be? Just a “Regional” sized area, a little smaller than the starting campaign area.
- What is the Mood? “Noble-Grey” a world where the inhabitants have agency, but many parts of it are ugly and dark.
- What is the Theme? The tension between the two “sides” created by the bifurcation of the Fae Realm itself – the benevolent beings in the Cloudlands, up in the light of the sun are eternally on the brink of war (if not actually involved in skirmishes and raids) with the tyrannical beings of the Underworld.
- What is the central conflict? The denizens of the two worlds are forever at odds with one another, due to the difference in their lands, and perceived levels of power and respect. Both groups are long-lived, effectively immortal, and due to the saturation of magic in the Faerie Realm do not need food or drink. The truth of the matter is that the beings of the Cloudlands gain their life energy from the sun (a manifestation of the Positive Material Plane), while those below, in the Underworld, are technically Undead and gain their energies of Unlife from the Black Spire at the center of the realm (a manifestation of the Negative Material Plane)
Yes, there will be undead spiders…