Designing Fantasy Cities: Residents

 Posted by on December 23, 2011  Filed as: World-Building  2 Responses »
Dec 232011
Designing Fantasy Cities: Residents

This article builds off the concepts presented in Designing Fantasy Cities: Purpose. When we talk about who lives in a town or city, the first thing that often comes to mind is race. This isn’t a bad thing, as that often links back to culture in fantasy. Dwarves live differently than elves. It may make us all fictional bigots to think that way, but its useful, [Read the article]

Apr 202011
Making Place Names Match a Cultural Theme

Often when we name a place in a campaign setting, we pick something that “sounds cool,” whether cool is an evocative name like “Dark Skull Peak” or just a combination of sounds that sounds neat. While this will usually work fine, if you’re trying to make a given fantasy culture feel exotic or foreign, it helps to make the names of things match both the [Read the article]

Apr 062011
How to Create Interesting Location Descriptions

I’ve been steadily expanding my campaign setting “The Isles” for years. Most recently, I’ve been filling in basic descriptions of places which were nothing more than names on a map. Here’s a technique I’ve developed for generating ideas (when I don’t already have an idea in mind) for a particular settlement. I look at the place on my map and think about the local geography. [Read the article]

Mar 282011
Designing Fantasy Cities: Size, Part 2

So we’ve talked about the importance of population size. When we think of city size, we generally picture a particular kind of density as well. Hamlets and villages don’t take up too much room, but their populations are a bit spread out – they’re usually managing farms, with maybe a slightly denser center. Contrary to this, the cities and metropolises are generally pictured as much [Read the article]

Mar 162011
Designing Fantasy Cities: Size, Part 1

In our previous article we spoke about the importance of having a city’s purpose planned out in advance, even if it’s just a few sentences. Now we’ll each of our five facets of purpose, and talk about what each really means to our game. Our first facet of purpose was size. When designing cities quickly, say at the game table while playing, this is our instinctive [Read the article]

Designing Fantasy Cities: Purpose

 Posted by on February 18, 2011  Filed as: World-Building  3 Responses »
Feb 182011
Designing Fantasy Cities: Purpose

When you break D&D game play down, players are generally in one of three areas: the dungeon, the wilderness, or the city. Sure, the wilderness sometimes means Baator, and the dungeon sometimes means the wizard’s labyrinth, but these are rough ideas. Even if you don’t spend equal time in each area, your party is likely to spend a fair bit of time among civilization. It’s [Read the article]

The Devolution of Lizardfolk

 Posted by on February 7, 2011  Filed as: World-Building  11 Responses »  Topic(s):
Feb 072011
The Devolution of Lizardfolk

The Lizardfolk (or Lizardmen in earlier editions) have been part of Dungeon and Dragons since 1975, first appearing in the Greyhawk Supplement written by Gary Gygax and Robert Kuntz. That makes the Lizardfolk a part of D&D far longer than myself. I really got to know them when I was DMing my first campaign in 3X. Not even knowing their history, they struck me as [Read the article]

Jan 132011
A little less Drizz't and a lot more Conan

So, we’ve discussed the reskinning of the many races of 4th Edition D&D. We’ve talked about making monsters unique and monstrous, and we’ve talked about ways to alter the way Magic Items are used in the game. What’s left? The fun part. Actually writing a setting – thinking about what makes up “Classic Fantasy” as a genre, and extrapolating outward from there. Let’s start with [Read the article]

Making Monsters Monstrous

 Posted by on December 29, 2010  Filed as: World-Building  7 Responses »  Topic(s):
Dec 292010
Making Monsters Monstrous

Monster Truisms In classic fantasy, the following holds true almost universally: monsters are rare, monsters are either evil or instinctual (that is, operating on instincts humans cannot understand), and monsters are dangerous. Monsters do not think like humans. They have their own, alien kind of logic, or worse, no logic at all beyond the question of where their next meal is coming from. In short, [Read the article]