Setting building: quick and drity

Creation of your own world usually takes a lot of time and is often a fun on its own, sometimes surpassing actual play. World knows millions of fanmade realities. Some among them rival works of greatest storytellers, some are total crap.

…and all women shall be tormented by sudden changes of mood for no apparent reason. Ya, Glory unto me, for I am the compassionate God-Creator!

Yet, we’re not discussing advanced, detailed “full realities” here, but merely those simple, underdeveloped worlds serving as the background for a session or two, perhaps for a single campaign at most. They might evolve into “full-reality” some time in the future, but that’s not the main goal.

The problem is that way too many worlds are too similar to each other. So, how to quickly make up a world that looks at least a bit differently?

Bucyrus uses 4 steps for that.

  • Select a random object. It might be first thing that comes to your mind, or something in the range of your sight. Make it a central piece of your world.
  • Introduce improbability aka “this is different”
  • Think about children! Heh, sorry for that. Think about common folk. What inhabitants of this world do for living?
  • Name and address a few most obvious issues.

Let’s see that in action, shall we?

  • An object.

So, a few days ago Bucyrus ate a fish. Fish are built around such an object:

You think you won? Think again – my flesh is now your flesh. I am literally YOU. Mwahahahaa, all according to the plan!

This will be the centerpiece of the setting then.

  • The Improbability (this is different!)

Ok, so… There are fish or whale like creatures floating in the void. For some reason, when they feel they are soon to die, they all travel to this certain place – a single, red sun. They reach it and die. Myriads of their corpses formed an enormously huge ring around the central sun. This – the Gargantuans’ Graveyard – is the place where the adventures will take place.

Also, there’s an air, because why not?

  • People

Somehow, there are whole countries and societies living on this graveyard. Nobody remember how and why they found themselves in this place, they simply are there. Perhaps they were star sailors, perhaps one of bigger “fishes” swallowed their whole world. Who knows?

Anyway, they move from a skeleton to a skeleton, travel on small bone “ships”, build houses from bone and scales.

There are bone pirates, there are magicians who deal with some form of necromancy (animate skeletons, create bone/flesh golems, speak with dead). There are religious sects each and every explaining the reality in their own fashion. Simple folk harvest the flesh of recently dead Gargantuans (that’s how colossal fish are called), cultivate and harvest some edible fungi (yummy), prepare oils, gather ice and melt it into water.

Adventurers? Plenty of stuff to do! There are expeditions attempting to reach other parts of the Ring (usually descend further inbetween skeletons), there are legends of Gargantuans who swallow whole planets, starships or starbases and who are still full of alien artifacts and weapons, there are valuable thing to find, like very strong fish scales, or especially durable fishbone. Sometimes people disappear, and there are legends of very fearsome things living between skeletons…

  • Issues

Man, where to start…

  • Science: Gargantuan animals traveling the void – such a thing couldn’t exist in vacuum. Distances. Air. Gravity. Cold. Solution: Look, a bird! More seriously: no need to care about that, really. This world isn’t mean to last long enough for players to learn about its secrets. Things are like that and the inhabitants of this world simply take them for granted. To them it’s normal, there’s really nothing really peculiar in this big mass of decaying corpses, really.
  • Stench: Damn, it must be overwhelming. Solution: People live there for so long they simply adjusted. They smell no thing. Rebuttal: You don’t have to actually smell some “flavors” for them to influence you. For example, some there are odorless, poisonous gases. Solution: Bucyrus has nothing. Let’s just say “evolution” and get it on with it.
  • Water: There’s plenty of “edible” liquids in corpses, like oil. There’s an abundance of ice – some Gargantuans emerge from the depths of space completely frozen, there are ice meteors and probably the outer layers of “Graveyard” are very, very cold – it’s in the center where warmth is and the civilization thrives.

So, that’d be it for now. The premise is done, all it takes is to develop it a bit more, work on details, throw in some names, titles, interesting places (like “the Cathedral of Bone”). Who knows, perhaps with time the answers for the rest of questions will be provided. Perhaps players will learn that during their adventures?

Rule of thumb: not all answers must be provided. The Game Master is not there to spoonfeed everyone, but to provide a scene and pieces – players are actors and the story is a mutual effort.

So. Was that useful? Bucyrus thinks yes. Let it serve you well. Good gaming!

Setting building: quick and drity

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