Progress Report – Making a DnD Setting

Constructing an entire fictional world is difficult. Constructing an entire fictional world to fit a set of mechanics to allow it to be used in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, is doubly difficult.

As outlined in a previous blog post, I am creating a fictional world setting by combining elements of Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell’s fantasy series The Edge Chronicles with your typical fantasy setting, in which I will be DMing a DnD campaign for a group of friends. Over the last several weeks I have been looking in to the creatures, society, locations, and general world of The Edge, and have pulled out a number of loose threads of ideas, but it will be some time before I am able to weave these together into a functional tapestry of a world. Nonetheless, here is a progress report.

Progress Complete: Player Races

At the start of DnD campaign, the players must create their player characters. The starting base of any player character is their character race – are you playing a dwarf, elf, human, or other? For my Edge Chronicles inspired DnD world, I wanted to include some of the races found in the novel series.

Several player races found in the base DnD Player’s Handbook

Since I am working with my players to create a setting that we would all enjoy, I started by compiling a list of sentient races from The Edge and asking which races my players would be most conceptually interested in seeing in-game. I also asked which races from the Player’s Handbook they would be content with being removed. Fewer races will help the newer races be a bit more prominent in the world, and help simplify things when it comes to worldbuilding each race’s place in the world. As this is being made for a group of friends, some races were kept for simple reasons such as a player threatening to refuse to play if I removed Halflings.

Making notes on player races to discard or add

After finalizing the list of races, I consulted the Dungeon Master’s Guide on some tips for creating new player races with the mechanics of DnD. For three of my new races I was able to find an official DnD race not included in the Player’s Handbook who’s traits were similar (such as The Edge’s Shrykes with DnD’s Aarakocra), so they are simply a cosmetic change. For the other two races I created them from elements of other official and homebrew races.

I have also been looking into making sure these races are balanced, but I won’t know for sure until I we start playing sessions with them. Thankfully, as DnD is an analogue game, we can make rule adjustments as needed during play. So far, my team has been quite pleased with their options and one player is particularly interested in the Waif player race.

Upcoming Progress: A Pantheon of Gods

My current focus area is developing a pantheon of gods for my world, as this is important for the function of the Cleric class and will help inform a richer understanding of the cultures of the various in-world races, which will help with developing their cultures and relationships. The important thing here is making sure that each Divine Domain is represented, and I have been looking at information provided in the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide on what types of deities would fit each domain to help guide their creation.

Notes on Divine Domains, and the types of gods that would fit each domain

Miscellaneous Progress

Alongside the player races and pantheon of gods, I have of course been making progress on various other important aspects of a fictional world.

The Map

The world of The Edge Chronicles is predominantly a huge untamed forest and isn’t particularly geographically diverse, lacking any oceans, deserts, or mountain ranges. I find this to be quite limiting, so I’m been drafting a brand new world map with more diverse biomes, while incorporating some of the iconic locations of The Edge. So far, I’m unsatisfied with any of my attempts but I’ve been conducting research and working on it.

The Politics

For the plot of my campaign, I am looking to have the players investigate a small local problem which ultimately unravels into a greater and greater conspiracy of political intrigue and machinations as the plot continues. To accomplish this narrative I need to have a clear and communicable idea of the existing political tensions and power plays within the world, and why they exist. Again, I’ve been conducting research and am adapting some ideas from The Edge, but this is all still a work in progress. One example I have been toying with having one group being an economic power due to controlling the supply of “flight stones” which power the flying vessels of The Edge (and my campaign world).

The Creatures

While I’m mostly going to be using the pre-existing DnD creatures found in The Monster Manual, there are some creatures in particular I’d like to develop.

The Gloamglozer and the Caterbird are two diametrically opposed mythological figures in The Edge Chronicles which I’d like to make an appearance. Of course, since this is DnD, I need to give these creatures gameplay statistics. At the moment I am considering having the Caterbird mostly be a cosmetically altered Roc. For the Gloamglozer I have yet to find a pre-existing creature to use as a base, so I may be needing to create it by combining elements of other creatures. To try to make sure these creatures (and enemy encounters in general) are appropriately challenging encounters, I will be using Kobold Fight Club to help determine the difficulty my players would likely face against them.

There’s a million and one things to do before this project is usable (let alone complete), but come back in a few weeks for another progress report!

This blog post was written as part of BCM 300 – Game Experience Design, as studied as part of my Digital & Social Media major at the University of Wollongong.

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