This article is part 5 of the Instant World Builder series.
Starting small. Thinking big.
In the previous Instant World Builder article – Starting small – I mentioned that designing a small area to start a campaign is a great way to save time, but the campaign still needs a grand plan. So what’s the big picture?
What kind of campaign are you playing?
In my current campaign, most of the action takes place in a big city. My players sometimes make fun of me by saying their characters will leave the city and never come back! They know that the rest of the world isn’t designed as precisely as that city.
Of course the PCs leave the city quite often and they have traveled the whole world but they always come back because:
- That’s the kind of game we’re playing. The best plot hooks come from the city.
- They know that I can’t possibly create a whole world and still convince my girlfriend I’m not that much of a geek.
Expy the dragon says:
When in doubt emphasize
the awesomeness of
red dragons in your world!
So keep in mind the kind of game you and your players want to play and don’t bother with the areas that don’t fit your campaign.
How big should the big picture be?
I think the grand plan should be to have a good idea of what the world around the PCs will feel like. You know you have enough material when:
- You can come up with rumors and plot hooks on the fly – and they fit the campaign.
- You know what kind of mood or style of play each region of the world calls for.
- The players will feel confident they can go anywhere because you look like you know what you’re talking about.
- You haven’t seen another human being in weeks because you were drawing a map – a big map.
World building is addictive. Creating the best campaign setting ever can really eat up a lot of your free time. I suggest starting small and when you have a few gaming sessions planned you can switch thinking up the rest of the world.