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A blank map.
That’s what I decided to go with. Exciting huh? Also, not exactly true.
As discussed in the previous post, one of the things I dislike about GMing is saying ‘no’. I really want this to be player-driven so I have tried to keep my nose out of it as much as I can. I haven’t created a world as such. There is no government setup, or a big bad guy in mind (well, kinda but we’ll see). I really did not want to bog myself down with lore or bog the players down with lore when we started. I have some very rough ideas for what is actually happening in this land they are exploring, I’ll talk about them below.
I was stuck with how to handle backstory in a game like this. I know my player folk and they like to elaborate and create detailed backgrounds. Which is great but that’s not really what this is about. I was stuck with how to proceed. That’s when my buddy Russ appeared with the solution and the idea to Co-GM. ‘It’s a shipwreck scenario,’ Russ said. ‘There’s this fog that covers the land and it extends out into the ocean and they’re shipwrecked.’
I loved this. It meant whatever their backstory was there must be a reason that they were on the ship. I also made that ship a convict ship en route to a prison island (not an island that belongs to someone else’s culture). There might be crims, guards, sailors, administrators, or any other profession connected to a convict ship. We figured there might and 100 to 200 people on the ship and they will be the folks forging a new life on this island, or attempting to get back.
That’s the other thing, it’s an island. It’s not on any of the maps they searched in the captain’s quarters either. What does this mean? Well, I don’t know. Perhaps this is a Bermuda Triangle scenario where the fog transported them to a different dimension, in fact, I like that idea. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter for now. They have no way of knowing.
As for what is happening on this island, well, at the moment there are a bunch of low-level monsters running around attacking each other and the new arrivals. The forest is dangerous, with lots of beasts and wandering monsters.
I have two lore-based foundations, there was an ancient dragonborn civilisation and then there was an ancient elven civilisation. Neither exists in their old form anymore. What happened? Dunno. Where are they now? Dunno. Don’t care. That will come up as players interact with the world and ask questions. I will use how they connect pieces of lore to build that. All the ancient ruins, temples, towns, etc. will be either of dragonborn make or elven make. Until they aren’t. Because sometimes they won’t.
I have a vague idea in the back of my mind as to what happened to these civilisations, but I do not want to commit them to paper as they will change. Might change. The party might invent something even cooler. Which is the ultimate goal here.
Next up, maps!
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Other Posts In This Series
- A West Marches Experiment
- The ‘World’ – Prepping a world you know nothing about
- The Map, and maps in general – On Handouts & Accuracy
- Organisation – The filing system
- Adventure Preparation – My method for this and other possibilities
- The Chronicle – On player engagement
- Character Creation – Earned Options
- Overland travel – to adventure or not
- Northern Reaches 08 – Changing the Game