I was visited yesterday by a friend of mine who lives nearby, he brought his young son (12 years of age) round with him, the idea being that we’d all watch some films, whilst we were chatting and having a couple of cups of coffee the conversation turned naturally to tabletop RPGs (since both myself and my friend are gamers). About halfway through this conversation my friends son spoke up and said, “Would we be able to do some roleplay now?”We agreed that we’d be happy to do some RP with him in the future (with his father running a one-off and with myself and him playing) but that due to time restraints it wouldn’t be possible today; what we could do however was start creating the world that we were going to actually game in. Now we didn’t go in for ludricously complex world building or anything, what we did is used a simple version of the rules from the game Microscope to create a very simple timeline and world, we then picked somewhere on that timeline to set our game.
1.Dos and Don’ts list
First of all we created a list of things that we definitely did and did not want to see in the gameworld so that it would act as a guide when we started creating our timeline.
- Blackpowder Technology
- Ancient artifacts of unknown power
- Low-key magic
- Sea monsters
- High-level inter-species diplomacy
- Technological development
- Wandering gods
- Magic weapons
2. What sort of races does the world have?
For the next step we decided to talk about what different races or species we wanted to see in the world and just made a simple list of a few with us taking it in turns to add a detail to the races.
- Humans : Skilled artificers and work as indentured servants to the greater nations.
- Mer-man : Amphibians who only come on land to breed, dwarves who are skilled artisans whose spirits are chiselled from the rocks and (if you believe legend) are born from those humans who are particularly skilled and diligent at their craft.
- Dryads : A race who were one with the woodland but afflicted by a great blight that caused them to retreat into the ancient forests.
- Morlocks : A race of underground dwellers who may be descended from humans who fled when the rest of their race was enslaved by the dwarves.
- Reptile Men : Chameleonic people who have eschewed technology to expand their minds and who wander the land as wide men.
At this point we decided that most of the races have a connection to a particular element and that there had been an almost forgotten race connected to the element of air who lived in distant lands but that they had died out.
3. Laying out the timeline
Next we laid out a simple timeline by taking it in turns to place events and detail them.
We ended up with a really interesting world where the air race had been destroyed by some sort of demonic blight, their servants the humans were blamed for this and were attacked until the dwarves noticed their talent for crafting and enslaved them; eventually the blight began to spread to the dryads who retreated to the old forests and eventually died out. The reptile race followed the teachings of a prophet who rose amongst them, roaming the land spreading tales of ancient lands across the sea. Eventually some ships discovered them and bought back blackpowder technology from the ruins, sparking and age of discovery where everyone is trying to get a piece of the new lands and the humans, whose previous revolution was brutally quashed look to the new lands with hopefully eyes.
We decided that we were going to play a ships captain and first mate (my friends son being the captain), he went for a dwarf and myself a human; given humans place in this society we needed to think of a reason for my character to be first mate, so we said that a pirate had stolen the Captain’s ship in the past, I had been part of the cargo (since my character has an innate talent where the wind favours the ship he is on), as they sailed away my character was able to pull the winds away (the only time he has been able to use his gift consciously) and help the Captain re-take the ship. His old first mate was killed in the fighting and, greatful for my help he promoted me.
My friends son jotted some ideas for his character down but we’re going to flesh them out next; we had an enjoyable couple of hours chatting about what sort of stuff we wanted in our world and by the end of it we were all enthused to do our first game in the setting.