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Worldbuilding in RPGs (Part 2)

Worldbuilding Part 2


So, now that we have the theme and the scope (while we decided for that to be a country last time, it can also be a matter of levels, or goals (end-of-the-world vs. local bandit incursion for example)) in place, it's time to look at the physical dimensions of any map.




First of all, you need to decide whether you actually even NEED a map - not all campaigns need one, but I will say that having one will normally help with keeping your campaign focused and on track, and it also avoids the wandering mountains and terrain shifts mentioned in last week's blog post.

Once you've decided on that, you need to decide upon the topography of the world that you're making as well as the age. If it's a big world, like a whole planet, this probably will be in very broad strokes, but it's a good idea to take inspiration from the Civilization games, where the younger the planet (3 billion years in that game), the more rough the terrain will be. You'll need to decide how much water there is on the planet, and how dry it is in general as that will affect the lay of the land (the drier the planet, the lower the waterline and less coastline to worry about), and how warm it is.


Obviously, that is a lot to worry about when worldbuilding, but it will, to some degree at least, inform how your world will look, and where the regional powers will emerge. Just like in the real world, empires and countries will tend to cluster along rivers and other fresh-water sources, along with wherever natural resources can be found, though the first consideration tends to be food. So the more fertile the area, the more likely it is that civilization will have started here and that it'll be the center of young countries, but as they get older, that becomes less necessary, and it tends to become a question of accessibility. The more accessible it is, the more likely it is for there to be a city, and most capitals will tend to have more trade.


So as before we'll keep this to a small scope, of a single country. But we'll want some resources, so the country will have a river (a VERY basic map will be made next week) that bisects the country (I've not yet decided where), there will be some mountains, to the south, that are nearly impassable, and there will be a coastline as well. The country will only have one neighbor (with another south of the mountain range), and a capital that has been destroyed due to the fighting between the factions of the country. There'll also be at least 2 "faction capitals" with an undecided amount of other cities as well.


Now it's time to decide on the resources themselves that are available in each region, and just like on earth, a lot of it will depend on location and temperature, but diving into that will take more space than is possible here. If you want to look into it, a good place to start is Wikipedia (and the Civilization games). For now, we'll decide that our country has ready access to metals (especially iron for use in their technology) and lumbers. It has to import food now (due to the war), but it used to be able to sustain itself on the crops it grew. To make it more interesting, now those crops are under the control of one of the factions, while the lumber and minerals needed to make war are under the control of the other.


That’s where we will leave it for this week. Join us next week for more World-building fun. 😊

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