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Averald: A Fantasy Sandbox, part 5

The following was originally posted on my old blog on October 10, 2011. I have since commandeered that blog for private use, and have decided to move my campaign development ramblings over here. They are presented here in their entirety, though they may be reformatted to be easier to see on this blog’s color scheme. Thanks for reading!

In part 4, we took our list of encounters and made some brief outlines for adventures. In this part, we’re going to take one of them and turn it into a full adventure.

Step 6:
Take your outline and expand it into a full adventure. Jot down a goal, a hook, obstacles, a climax, and a reward, then lay down your adventure step by step, making a note of any NPCs, monsters, or special items you need to create and anywhere that the adventure can branch according to choices the PCs make. Rinse and repeat for as many adventures as you want.

Each adventure needs several things:

  • Goal: What is the end goal for this quest? (Defeat the evil hydra? Protect the duke? Rescue the princess? Escape the minotaur’s labyrinth? Find the buried treasure? Deliver a letter to the king?)
  • Hook: While it’s possible for the PCs to just wander into the middle of one of the encounters on the map, it’s much more likely that you’re going to have to lure them there. The hook is how you do that. What makes the PCs want to get involved? At its simplest, the hook is how the PCs learn that there is an adventure to be had.
  • Obstacles: If it was as easy as walking up and taking the treasure, it wouldn’t be any fun, would it? What do the PCs have to get past to achieve the Goal? If you put together an outline in the previous step, you probably already have an idea of what these will be.
  • Climax: The goal is almost at hand, the obstacles have been beaten, only one more thing stands in the way…. The climax is what the rest of the adventure builds to. The point at which the PCs win or lose.
  • Reward: What are the PCs going to get for completing this adventure? Fortune? Fame? Experience? A warm, fuzzy feeling in their hearts? You’ve got to give them something, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be money and items.

6A: Brainstorm

On this section of the map here, I have a road through the forest (called the Hollowwood) with some villages along it, and inside the forest I have a nest of giant spiders, a poison glade, and an abandoned, ruined, tower. The spiders’ territory includes the road through those woods, so lets say the villages there are being bothered by them. But towns being attacked by monsters is a little boring, right? So lets come up with something a little more interesting…. What if the spiders aren’t attacking the towns… what if they’re kidnapping people in the night? What if the villagers don’t know that it’s spiders at all? People disappearing in the middle of the night could easily look like something even more sinister. Vampires, evil spirits, and dark magic are all good scapegoats. Maybe there’s even a nearby wizard to blame it on…. After a bit of brainstorming, I’ve got my plot.

6b: Essentials

  • Goal: Discover the reason behind the disappearances of several young women in the villages along Hollow Road, and put a stop to it.
  • Hook: The ruler of the region wants these disappearances to stop, and is offering a reward to anyone who can solve the problem.
  • Obstacles:
    • There is some debate on what is causing the disappearances — the PCs will have to investigate for themselves.
    • The forest, infested with giant spiders, is out of control and dangerous.
    • Once they have found the ruined tower, the PCs will have to figure out how to get to it. They can…
      • …go straight through the spiders’ lair, and take the underground tunnels.
      • …go around the lair, through a poisonous glade, and climb the rocky cliff.
      • …go the long way around, through the forest and hills and risk getting lost.
  • Climax: When they get into the tower, the PCs will reach the Spider Queen, a highly intelligent — and quite mad — giant spider who is controlling all the others and forcing them to bring her victims from the villages.
  • Reward: The favor of a local ruler, some loot.

6C: Adventure

The Bloody Countess

  1. The PCs hear rumors of disappearances along the Hollow Road. The ruler of the region, Count Alevor of Lorhaven, is offering a reward (up to the GM) to anyone who can solve this problem.
  2. If the PCs investigate, they can learn several things:
    • The villagers that are being taken are almost exclusively young women.
    • Many of the families (those that can afford it) are offering rewards to anyone who can find the girls.
    • Scratching sounds were heard in the houses of the girls that were abducted, as if something with claws was wandering around outside — or even inside — the house. (It was the sound of the giant spiders climbing on the walls of the house.)
    • No footprints were found anywhere. The villager who gives the PCs this knowledge will speculate that whatever kidnapped the girl must have been able to fly. (This is false — the spiders just did not leave any footprints that were recognizable as such.)
    • One girl was taken while meeting her sweetheart in secret late one night. The young man should have seen everything, however he can not remember a thing from that night. He has been sick in bed since it happened, and has strange bite marks on his neck. (He was bitten by one of the spiders. He will eventually recover.)
    • Strands of spider silk were found in the room of a girl who was abducted. A villager saw a huge spider web when he went hunting in the forest recently. He had heard rumors of giant spiders attacking hunters deep in the forest, but has never heard of them going anywhere near the villages.
    • All of the villages on the Hollow Road have been affected except for Fellwick. The NPC who gives the PCs this knowledge may also have heard rumors of a dark wizard living in that area. (This may lead to the PCs chasing after the sorcerer of Fellwick Forest, but he is just a red herring.)
    • If the PCs spend a night in one of the villages, looking for whatever is taking the girls, they may see or be attacked by spiders, which flee into the forest. If the party has a young female character, she may be kidnapped by the spiders.
  3. One way or another, the PCs will eventually have to make their way through the forest, which has several dangers.
    • Groups of spiders wander the forest, trying to keep out intruders. The PCs could come across a small scouting party that attacks on sight.
    • The forest is home to a few other types of monsters, though most of them have been pushed out by the spiders recently. The PCs may encounter an animal or monster that has been injured by, is fighting off, or is being driven off by the spiders.
    • One of the kidnapped girls, Winbri Toravest, has attempted to escape from the spiders. She is being chased by a large group of spiders. If saved, she can offer information about the spiders and their lair. Her father, Arsam Toravest, is a merchant who will reward the PCs for any information regarding her.
    • The PCs will eventually come upon a huge cavern in the ground filled with spiders — mostly small ones that will flee at the sight of them. Skeletons wrapped in spider silk are all over the cave. From the mouth of the cave, the PCs can also see a ruined tower in the distance, looming above the forest on a rocky hilltop. Attempting to go around the spider pit toward the tower will take the PCs through…
    • …A glade between the hills filled with a light mist. The PCs will encounter no spiders here, but will find dead ones curled up on the forest floor. The PCs will begin to feel light-headed after a little wandering in the  misty glade. The PCs will notice huge flowers blooming here, and if they examine them, they will find spiders stuck to the insides of the flowers, partially digested. After some time in the glade, PCs must resist a poison that causes paralysis.
  4. The tunnels in the spider pit will lead all the way to a ruined tower. This is a pretty linear dungeon-crawl, with mostly giant spiders in the PCs’ way.
    • If the group decided to bypass the tunnels and go around to the tower’s door (either by walking the long way through the forest, or by going through the poison glade and climbing up the rocky hill), they will find it barricaded shut — bulging outward ever so slightly from where things inside the tower have been crammed up against it.
    • A clever party might still be able to find ways around this by climbing the tower walls and going in through a large hole near the top of the tower.
  5. The plot will culminate in a battle with the Spider Queen and her minions. Upon getting inside the tower, the group will find it covered in bloody spiderwebs. An absolutely massive spider sits at the back of the tower, being served by several other spiders. If the PCs do not immediately attack, she will not be hostile, but rather, curious. She will ask if the PCs think she is beautiful, and will ask for lessons in “the art” from any mages in the group. If she is asked, she will say that she has been taking girls from the villages because she believes their blood keeps her young. If the PCs attack, call her ugly, or refuse her requests, she will order her minions to attack. When half of them fall, she will attack herself. When in danger, she will attempt to flee through the hole in the top of the tower and into the depths of the forest. If she is attacked while on the outside of the tower, she may fall into the poisonous glade, where she will be rendered immobile by the toxic mist.

6D: Details


Count Alevor of Lorhaven

  • The count is a stylish, haughty young man in his early twenties, who inherited the title of Count when his father died some time ago. He is accompanied by his viscount, Wrivyn.
  • The Count is widely considered to be a self-absorbed good-for-nothing, but he seems to have a genuine interest in this case.
  • If the PCs are sufficiently important, Count Alevor may deign to speak to them himself about the matter, in which case he will tell the PCs everything he knows — that all the kidnappings have been of young girls, that they all have happened at night with no witnesses, and the names of the villages that have had the most abductions. Otherwise, the PCs will be turned away and told to come back when they’ve sorted the matter out.

Viscount Wrivyn of Lorhaven

  • The viscount is a stately, grey-haired man in his late fifties. He does most of work involved in running the region, and is generally exasperated by the inexperienced Count’s antics.
  • The viscount, usually working, is still vastly more approachable than the Count. If the PCs seek him out, he might be convinced to spare a moment to tell them what they know about the disappearances — that is, the same things the Count knows. He will also warn the PCs not to stray into Fellwick Forest, a little ways north of Hollow Road — that it is a place of dark magic.

Arsam Toravest

  • This merchant is a chubby, well-dressed man in his early forties. He is a good-natured fellow, but currently very distraught.
  • He is on his way from Lorhaven to Fellwick, and is currently staying in one of the villages on Hollow Road. His daughter was taken several nights ago, and he will not leave until he has found out what happened to her. He will pay for any information that could help him find his daughter.
  • The PCs can earn his favor by saving Winbri Toravest from the spiders in the Hollowwood.

Winbri Toravest

  • She is rather pretty, in her late teens, and well-dressed compared to the village girls.
  • She is the daughter of the merchant, Arsam Toravest. She is a brave girl who will try to escape from the spiders if given the chance.
  • She can be found in the Hollowwood on the way to the spiders’ lair, or otherwise in the prison chamber inside the lair.
  • If the PCs try to rescue her or the other girls, she will attempt to help them.


Giant Spiders

  • These spiders come in two varieties: smaller males which will attack with a paralyzing poison, and the larger females which will try to trap their victims with webs and carry them off.

The Spider Queen

  • The Queen is a massive spider, taller than a human. She has dressed herself in the tatters of a velvet curtain and wears a little crown made of sticks tied together with spiderweb.
  • The Queen rules her subjects with a mix of superior intelligence and subtle magic.
  • The Queen is mad. She is having human girls brought to her because she believes that drinking their blood will give her magic and immortality.
  • Unless the PCs push her berserk button, the Queen will always attempt to persuade or charm rather than fight. Humans do not visit her often, other than her victims, and she will want to use the PCs to her advantage, especially if any of them are magic users.
  • Flattery will get the PCs a long way with the Queen. However, if at any point they call her ugly, she immediately order her servants to attack.


The Spider Pit

  • This is the spiders’ main nest, a hole in the ground with lots of tunnels and rooms to explore. Important areas of the Pit will be examined when we discuss dungeon maps later.
  • Near the end of the tunnels is the prison chamber, which contains the few village girls that the Queen has not yet killed.
  • The tunnels end in a small tunnel into the basement of the ruined tower.

The Spider Queen’s Tower

  • This is the home of the spider Queen, which consists of:
  • A basement, which is connected to the Spider Pit.
  • The main tower (most of the floors have been knocked out or destroyed.) This is where the PCs will meet the Queen.
  • The top floor, which serves as the Queen’s personal room. If the PCs can find a way to get to it, they will find the Queen’s meager treasures here, including her book of spells.

As you can see, I tried to incorporate not only the spiders, but also the poisonous glade, the ruined tower, and the villages nearby. I left a hook to another adventure in Fellwick, assuming the PCs haven’t already found their way there, and I put in a little side quest involving the merchant and his daughter. I might mention that I tend more toward dark fantasy/horror sorts of ideas than the usual high fantasy elves-and-dwarves-and-fireballs sorts of things, so make of that what you will. The Spider Queen is inspired by the legend of Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian countess who supposedly bathed in the blood of young women to retain her youth and beauty.

Averald: A Fantasy Sandbox, part 4

The following was originally posted on my old blog on October 5, 2011. I have since commandeered that blog for private use, and have decided to move my campaign development ramblings over here. They are presented here in their entirety, though they may be reformatted to be easier to see on this blog’s color scheme. Thanks for reading!

Now is the time to decide how many adventures we want in our little sandbox. If you wanted to, you could just go with whatever you decided or rolled in Step 3, but a bunch of unrelated one-shot encounters just isn’t very satisfying sometimes. So let’s take a couple of these and make some bigger adventures.

Just for the record, I’ve got 41 map objects on my map of northeastern Lorthera. I’ve separated them into:

  • 21[1]Settlements (this includes any settled area that is not immediately hostile toward the PCs.)
    • 1 City
    • 6 Towns
    • 8 (marked) Villages — villages are small settlements, usually not marked on the map. The ones that are marked are the ones that have inns[2], or possibly something interesting going on.
    • 7 Miscellaneous Settlements (including hermits, fortifications, religious settlements like monasteries, etc.)
  • 5 Ruins (probably infested with monsters.)
  • 9 Monster/Enemy Locations (either in lairs or wandering; this includes any place whose denizens are immediately hostile toward the party — monsters, bandits, etc.)
  • 6 Miscellaneous Locales (natural resources, odd patches of wilderness, bad weather, etc.)

So, that brings us to…

Step 5:
Decide how many adventures you want to lace your sandbox with, and decide how big you want them to be. Using the resources you’ve already built (maps, history, list of encounters), put related encounters into groups of about five each.

I find a spreadsheet to be very helpful at this point, though if you’re allergic to them, notecards would work as well. Take all of those things you generated randomly in Step 3 and group them according to subject, proximity, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Here are a few ideas:

1. Take a group of encounters that seem related and arrange them in the order they appear on the map, from one point to another in the order they’d be traveled through. As you go, jot down notes about why the PCs might go from one of those encounters to the other.

06024: Lorhaven – adventure starts here.
09024: Fortress – ore stolen from mine nearby.
10024: Natural Resource – investigate mine.
11022: Encampment – track thieves to their camp.
15019: Fort – follow map to bandits’ lair.

You might notice that I don’t have a “11022: Encampment” on my map — remember that it’s fine to add or alter things as you go! Also notice that the outline doesn’t have to be detailed at this point — it just has to get from one point to another, we can add details later.

2. Take a few encounters that are in the same area and think about how they are affecting one another. Put them in the logical order in which the PCs would encounter them, and jot down notes about why the PCs might go from one of those encounters to the other.

05020: Village – adventure starts here.
06018: Village – investigate monster attacks.
09019: Poison Glade – hazard in the forest on the way to…
08019: Spider Pit – dungeon with tunnels leading to…
10019: Ruined Tower – boss monster (spider queen.)

Once again, remember that these don’t have to be detailed yet. We can work that out later. I try to put about five encounters per adventure, but sometimes encounters are optional, like the Poison Glade in this example.

3. Take a few encounters with a similar theme, even if they’re far away from each other, and decide how they relate to each other. Then put them in a logical order and — surprise, surprise — jot down notes about why the PCs might go from one of those encounters to the other.

07022: Ferry – the adventure starts here.
06017: Fellwick[3] – take a boat to investigate…
07016: Shipwreck – find some artifacts from…
10006: Cult of the Water God – get map to…
08014: Lost Temple – boss monster and treasure.

Looks like there will be a lot of water travel in this adventure.

After we’ve done this for most of the encounters on the map — leaving a few that aren’t related to anything else is fine, just as long as there’s a hook to them somewhere — it’s time to start turning those little outlines into real adventures.

[1] This seems like a lot, I’m sure — just over half of all the objects on the map — but I enjoy a lot of roleplaying in my games, and I like adventures to take place in towns as well as the wilderness, so that may be why. I like to give players opportunities to roleplay and use non-combat skills, so I want to develop at least a few adventures that don’t involve a lot of combat. Also keep in mind that a lot of adventures start in towns, even if it’s just as a rumor of an unexplored dungeon in the area.

[2] A lot of gamers seem to take it for granted that everywhere they go, there will be an inn for them to stay at and some shops to buy stuff. Many villages do not have inns, or even many stores. For somewhere to stay the night, they will have to rely on the kindness of strangers, and for things to buy, they will have to find the right people to barter with or wait for a market day.

[3] I should mention, at this point, that the town of Fellwick (06017) on the map is intended to be the Fellwick for which I drew a map a few years back. It was drawn with the intention of being a hub for a roleplaying game, and I’ve never used it, so I figure I might as well now. It has a little bit of history that I can tie in quite nicely with the rest of this little setting.

Averald: A Fantasy Sandbox, part 2

The following was originally posted on my old blog on September 26, 2011. I have since commandeered that blog for private use, and have decided to move my campaign development ramblings over here. They are presented here in their entirety, though they may be reformatted to be easier to see on this blog’s color scheme. Thanks for reading!

Last week, I talked about my general idea for a campaign setting. Today, I’ll talk about the next step — coming up with a brief history in order to give myself a better idea of the setting.

Step 1:
Write a brief history of the entire setting, and draw a small map to go with it. When you’re done, pick a smaller area to detail.

In a nutshell, this basically comprises steps 1-3 of Rob Conley’s “How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox” series of articles (which are an interesting read, if you’re into that sort of thing, which you probably are if you’re reading this.)

In addition to this little history (which has been revised a bit to make it read a little more nicely), I also drew a map as I wrote. (My original page of history, randomly-generated names, and hacked-together map is provided here for your amusement. And yes, I like to draw on graph paper. And yes, I changed all of those names in my final revision. They were awful. I still used ones from the same list of names I generated at the beginning, though!)

A Brief History of Averald

By the year 473 (350 years ago), the Sumradine Empire had conquered all of Averald and beyond. The people of Chauntyle were crushed to almost nothing, forced into the depths of the Glassmarsh. Chauntyle’s most powerful mages came together and, with the most powerful display of magic ever seen in Averald, threw up a chain of mountains between themselves and the bulk of the Sumradine Empire. Cut off from their reinforcements, the Sumradine army was suddenly outnumbered, and was forced to flee south into the ancient Lorthera Forest, where they survived in hiding.

In 648 (175 years later), the stranded Sumradine people rallied arouned a powerful leader, Tiaeroth, who conquered much of the southlands. Tiaeroth’s son, Honroth, was the first king of the new Sumradine kingdom of Lorthera – named for the forest that had sheltered them in their time of need.

The kingdoms of Chauntyle and Lorthera warred almost nonstop for the next 75 years, until the coming of the great sorceror Neghamos. Neghamos was a Chauntylian mage who – with ancient Sumradine magic he found in the Glassmarsh, it is rumored – conquered much of Lorthera. But just as Chauntyle was rejoicing at the defeat of its old enemy, Neghamos turned his magic on them. Soon, both kingdoms had fallen under his rule, and Neghamos made himself supreme emperor of Averald.

His reign was brief. In 727, only four years later, Neghamos was overthrown by an alliance of Chauntylian and Lortheran rebels. A year later, the Charter of Two Kingdoms was signed, creating official borders for the kingdoms of Chauntyle and Lorthera.

There was a brief peace until 752, when Lorthera was thrown into a civil war by political unrest. The Kintai rebellion – known to them as the Uprising of the Purebloods – was short-lived, being brutally crushed by the Lortheran King, but it inspired the Chauntylians to turn a series of keeps on their northern border into a curtain wall.

The year is now 823. In the wake of the peaceful times the two kingdoms have been enjoying, there has been an age of expansion for both of them. The Lortherans are slowly purging the monsters that make the land uninhabitable, and the Chauntylians are expanding into the northern sea and the islands there. Much talk has been heard of going east, past the Shield Mountains, to conquer Sumradine.

But unknown to the people of Averald, what was once a fertile, forested land is now a desert wasteland… and the surviving Sumradine are angry. Very angry….

Wait, that was ‘brief’?

Well, let’s just say it was.

Step 2:
Revise and redraw your map, if necessary, and then put it on some sort of grid so that it can be scaled up easily. Name important areas of your selected region.

So I redrew the map on another piece of paper, seen here. (I also picked a nice big chuck out of the middle to map more fully.) You can see I’ve gotten more randomly generated names, hehe! When I’m fitting the details of a setting to an idea I’ve decided on previously, I’ll come up with names myself or look for something appropriate. When I don’t have a solid idea, though, random names can spark interesting ideas. For example, one of these names was “Brightcliff”… what would make people name a town that, I wondered? Maybe the cliffs have a certain pale color, or shine in the light of the sun. Maybe it’s a certain type of rock, or maybe it has some shiny ore or mineral in it. Maybe there’s a mine nearby where that shiny something is being mined. What could be mined there? Silver is an easy answer, but maybe something else. I’ll keep thinking about it.

After I’d done all of this and pondered everything for a while, I decided to add a few more places to the map and make it into a hex map, to make mapping the smaller regions accurately easier. Here’s the finished hex map of Averald.

The eastern country, half desert, is of course Sumradine. The western ones are Chauntyle (northern main continent) and Lorthera. The island continents are a new addition: the western island is Saboro, and the northern group of islands is the southern end of Ildaunt, both of which are being colonized by explorers from Chauntyle.

What I am thinking right now is that this map needs some labeling and a nice map key up in that empty northeast area.

 Resources used so far:
Rob Conley’s “How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox”
The Welsh Piper’s Hex Map Templates
Samuel Stoddard’s Fantasy Name Generator
Serendipity Random Generators
Hexographer Hexmapping Software

And I can’t mention maps without a shout out to the Cartographers’ Guild, without whose accumulated map-making wisdom, I would doubtlessly be quite lost.

Worldbuilding Day 4: Cataclysms

30 Days of Worldbuilding: Day 4

The exercise today is to come up with the “Really Big Land Features” I want to put on my map and think about how they came to be.

At first, I was completely vexed! I had a fair idea of what I wanted to do with this setting and for the most part, “Really Big Land Features” just didn’t really feature in.

Mt.Pinatubo, Philippines

A caldera is basically what's left of a volcano after its squishy bits collapse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I thought about it a little. I said I wanted a large body of water nearby, right? Maybe a lake or a bay. Is there any way that something like that could be created by a natural disaster? What if it’s the crater from a massive asteroid strike? Or the caldera left by the eruption of a huge volcano?

But why does that matter? I can hear you asking. Who cares where a big hole in the ground came from? If it’s a plot device, the players are going to smell it a mile away, and I can hear the groans already. So. Obvious.

Okay, but what if it’s not going to become a plot device? What if it’s just a distinct geographical feature? Distinct geographical features are what often give places their names! If something neat like a caldera or an asteroid crater is nearby, I get instant name fodder! Always nice. I suck at names.

I’m leaning toward a caldera, if only because caldera is really fun to say. Caldera.

Do any of your settings contain Really Big Land Features that were caused by cataclysms? Are they part of the (back)story, or just distinct geological features? If they’re more than just neat-looking, how do they play a part in your story?

Worldbuilding Day 3: Mood and Setting

30 Days of Worldbuilding: Day 3

This is one of those exercises that can be difficult to apply to a large setting with varying moods and atmospheres. In a case like that, you might want to divide your setting into a few “sub-settings” and do this for each one. In some cases, there’s just really no way to make this fit. Them’s the breaks.

An elf markswoman from the Wesnoth fantasy set...

It's not that kind of fantasy. For once. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My “climate list” is built with high fantasy wilderness adventuring in mind (because let’s be honest here — I do everything with high fantasy wilderness adventuring in mind) so it’s really not a big use to me in this project.

I want this campaign to be set in a huge metropolis in an area where I can get a good mix of weather — snow in the winter time, maybe heat in the summer. I’m wanting there to be a large body of water nearby, as well. A general sort of overcast would be a plus, since my concept is a tad morbid overall.

For once, it’s not terribly important to me to be geographically accurate. Maybe one day I’ll world map this thing, but for now, I’m content to keep it contained.

Just for fun, I’m going to do the exercise at the bottom. What kind of atmosphere do I want to give my players?

  • Adjective: run-down
  • Adjective: dark
  • Verb: investigate
  • Noun: city

According to the exercise, there are pine forests in my future. Maybe I can work with that, haha!

What kind of atmosphere do you like to give your settings? Does it vary by story or campaign, or is there a particular one that you like best?

Worldbuilding Day 2: Physical Planet

30 Days of Worldbuilding: Day 2

“Physical Planet” is kind of a funny name to give an exercise that deals primarily with weather, but oh well. Day 2 is another exercise that you only have to do once if you want to — making a list of weather-related plot devices.

My new setting, though, is throwing me a curveball — Morbid Magics takes place in a relatively modern city! What kind of weather-related plot devices are applicable to that kind of setting?

  • Flooding — makes travel difficult, damages property
  • Snowstorm — makes travel difficult, fun day in the snow, trapped out in the cold
  • Heat wave — annoying, AC broken down, heat stroke
  • Fog — good for sneaking around, getting lost in the fog and ending up somewhere unexpected
  • Thunderstorm — power is knocked out, fear of lightning strike, dangerous while in a boat

I don’t really like this exercise (I’m so bad at it, hah…) and I have plenty of resources on the subject, so I’m going to leave off at 5. Hmm? What’s that? But I was supposed to do 10? It’s my 30 Days and I’ll do what I like with it! And I recommend that you do the same. If an exercise is boring or doesn’t seem applicable to the world you want to make, skip it. If you feel like you need to do it later, do it later. This isn’t school. Have fun.

It’s really more important to build a list of these than it is to come up with them yourself. If you find yourself at a loss, check out Wikkid Woman’s excellent list of weather-related plot devices and of course, TVTropes’ list of weather and environmental tropes.

Can you think of any interesting weather-related plot devices?

Worldbuilding Day 1: Climate and Variety

30 Days of Worldbuilding: Day 1

Climate zones of the world

Climate zones of the world (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 1 of 30 Days of Worldbuilding is an exercise in relating different types of climates to words that describe what sort of feeling or atmosphere that climate provides.

For this exercise, you only have to really do it once. No matter how many worlds you build, this is probably going to yield similar results. It might be a good idea to keep a list like this (and update it from time to time) as a reference for later worldbuilding projects.

For me, I’m going to take the results from a previous time that I went through this and go over it to see if anything needs clarifying or changing — it’s been a year or two, and perceptions change over time.

  • Arctic/Tundra — lonely, empty, stark
  • Swamp/Marsh — lost, scary
  • Mountains — sharp, hostile
  • Savannah — wild, hunted
  • Desert — hot (heh), exhausting, endless
  • Jungle — paranoia, exciting, exotic
  • Forest — mysterious, adventure
  • Pine Forest — dark, dangerous
  • Tropical Beach — relaxing, breezy, fun

Do you think I missed any important climates? What kind of impressions do they leave on you?


As an aside, it has been brought to my attention that has a series of articles on worldbuilding! I don’t know how good they are, but they generally have some neat stuff, so let’s check it out sometime. One must wonder how I missed it.