Just recently, I stumbled upon a source of inspiration that I forgot I even owned, the World Builder's Guidebook. This book has provided me countless campaign setting ideas in the past and was the first time I ever remember really thinking about building a world of my own, as my first experiences playing were with my father, who used the old Greyhawk map (though I'm not sure he used any of the actual setting information) and the first campaign I ever ran was set in the Forgotten Realms.
Flipping back through this book for the first time in years, I've decided to go through the book step by step to further develop Vidarr, the setting for my still-in-development Shadow's Apex campaign.
For those who weren't in the loop last fall when I began this little project, you may want to check out the Shadow's Apex Campaign wiki and/or the previous Shadow's Apex blog posts. However, as this and the following few posts will briefly hit the highlights of what has already been written, it certainly isn't necessary to go back.
The beginning of the World Builder's Guidebook brings up various different approaches to building a campaign setting (macroscopic, microscopic, sociological, historical, etc). The creation of Vidarr has thus far been microscopic, focusing first on a very small geographical region, but it has some strong elements of the situation-based approach because I already know that at some point in the campaign one of the villains will attempt to merge the prime material plane with the Shadowfell.
Next is the world hook. The book provides a good list of hooks for inspiration and a little elaboration on each one. Because I have envisioned Vidarr as a world on the brink of destruction, I think the "dying world" hook is the best to begin with, as the PCs uncover hints of a coming apocalypse in their early (heroic tier) adventures. The villain's plans will finally begin to come to fruition during the paragon tier and the PCs will be welcome to interact with the changes as they see fit. In other words, I really don't care whether or not they try to stop the prophecy from occurring. Then, as the campaign progresses, the epic tier will be defined by either a post-apocalyptic hook (as the characters deal with the consequences of the prime material and Shadowfell merging) or an extraplanar hook (in which the characters who saved the world from destruction are called upon to follow the villain to his home in the Shadowfell to end his madness once and for all).
For now, a rough outline for the campaign looks something like this:
I don't want to go into too much detail beyond the heroic tier because I don't want to waste too much time preparing for something that will likely change over time, but I would expect the characters to spend the majority of their careers in the epic tier attempting to accomplish one of the following:
- Establishing a safe haven for themselves in the new world (if the villain succeeded and they don't mind the results)
- Reversing the process and restoring the world to its previous state (if the villain succeeded and the don't like the results)
- Tracking the villain after his escape to destroy him (if the villain's plan was thwarted but he wasn't killed)
- Defending the world from a second onslaught (if they thwarted the villain's plan but decide not to pursue him)
Next time, I'll dig into chapter two for climate and geography.