So, in the process of crafting entries for this blog, as well as waiting for the release of upcoming products (the One D&D playtest, the Dragonlance adventure, etc.), I have considered expanding the scope of this blog with other things than just me harping on about roleplaying games or product releases, much less getting on a soapbox and opening a Can of Worms or taking a minute for a Minute Musing.
As a gamer and all-around fan of the imaginative in general, I’ve often created various things for roleplaying games or my own fiction writing (which sort-of work hand-in-hand, but not always). A lot of the fundamentals of creating material for roleplaying games meshes well with creating for any fictional work, though there is the mechanical “crunch” of the game that the players will interact with most. Nevertheless, if you’re not wanting to just play in someone else’s sandbox and desire to make a sandbox of your own, then Homebrew How-To is for you.
Note that I won’t be talking about creating your own roleplaying game system, since that’s very time-consuming and gets into game theory, probabilities, and lots of other stuff that’s better suited for an online course. I’m just talking about creating a world for your games or stories (or both) to take place in. As I go through this process, I will make reference to the crafted worlds made through this process. I’m going to focus on two worlds in particular:
- The first homebrew world I’ll craft will be for a fantasy setting, akin to the various worlds of D&D, Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, Martin’s Westeros and so on. Using the oh-so-handy-dandy resource that is Wiktionary for name ideas, I scrounge the translations for the entry on “world” and stumble across a version of a Frisian word I like: Wrald.
- The second homebrew world I’ll craft will be for a supers setting; that is, it’ll be a variation of Earth as we know it, though modified to suit my narrative needs. Going with a modified form of the naming convention of variant Earths in comics, I’m going to use a letter rather than a number, and call this variant of our home planet Earth-O.
Wrald is made for a fictional setting where Earth is not the direct concern of the narrative (it can exist there, but it’s not the focus). I’m using Wrald for a fantasy setting, though zooming out to a galactic perspective, I could viably address science fiction/fantasy elements in the vein of Star Wars or Farscape. This setting is going to need a lot of newly-built elements that give form and purpose to the place.
Things that I’ll need to establish for Wrald include:
- People(s), nations and cultures
- Rules of reality: what exists here? How is it different from “normal” reality?
- Maps: potentially a world map, but definitely a regional map
- Religions and supernatural entities (gods, fiends, extraplanar eldritch horrors, etc.)
- Narrative threads: conflicts, relationships, tensions, potential events, historical legacies and the like
- For gaming, I also need to consider how they and their characters can engage in the world and take a place in it
Earth-O is made for a fictional setting where Earth very much is a concern of the narrative. This can apply to contemporary day stories, historical stories, or hypothetical futuristic stories akin to Star Trek, or all of them, akin to Doctor Who. This has a lot of stuff pre-made for it, if you will, but it will need to address a lot of “why” questions for anything that defies our standard of reality. This can be zoomed out to address galactic perspectives as well, much in the vein of Men in Black or Guardians of the Galaxy, but the role of Earth will need to be addressed.
Things that I’ll need to establish for Earth-O include:
- Changes between our Earth and this one: how is it different?
- Revisions: what changes have occurred, and how have they shaped the everyday reality? Are there new continents? New nations?
- Narrative threads: what is the role of characters in this world? Are they superheroes? Are they mercenaries? Are they everyday people suddenly thrust into a surreal world of unimaginable horrors? Are they a bunch of stinking teenagers with a mangy dog traveling the countryside in a beat-up old van?
The degree of changes from what is considered “normal” are all up to you. Does your variant Earth use a 13-month calendar or the World Calendar (with its intercalary leap year day and new year day)? Does your other world have rings and three moons and it orbits a blue star? All this is up to you, to meet the creative criteria you need and desire.